Lizzie Valasquez, the “Ugliest Woman in the World”: A TRUE Beauty Hero

ugliest woman

While Kim Kardashian is hard at work building her empire- including her {nearly} one million-dollar make-up room –  there are women embracing a much different approach to beauty.

And Lizzie Valasquez is one of them.  Lizzie’s story is remarkable – both for its unimaginable pain, but equally for her courageous response to that pain.

Yesterday, we met Kim.  But today, let’s meet Lizzie.

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Imagine it is an ordinary afternoon.  You are 11 years old and just home from school.  Finishing up a snack, you sit down at the computer and begin visiting your regular sites.  And you click over to YouTube.  YouTube is a favorite, and there is always something entertaining to be found.

And then you see it.   A video with your name on it.  How strange.  You cannot recall posting anything.

Curious, you click on the video.  And there, an 8-second clip without sound.  Just a still-shot of your face.

A single image.  And underneath your photo, the caption:

“Ugliest Woman in the World”.

ugliest woman2

You reel in shock.  In horror.  Your mind cannot process what you are seeing.

Is this a hoax?

You scroll down a little bit more, and glance to the right of the video clip.  And there you see it:

4 million views.

4 million people have found a YouTube site in your name, entitled world’s ugliest woman.

You scroll the comments for clarity.  You are confused.  Surely this is a terrible, cruel joke.

But it is not.  In those comments are remarks so vicious, you are knocked breathless.  There are suggestions as to how you can kill yourself.  Jokes about your abnormalities.  And offers to assist you in your suicide.  Because, you know, you are so ugly.

Not one comment has been made in your defense.

Photo courtesy of: {www.wonderfullymade.org}

Photo courtesy of: {www.wonderfullymade.org}

 What does an 11 year-old girl do with a cruelty imposed on her like this?

Well, at first you cry.  You cry for yourself, for your broken heart.  And you cry for your Mom, because when she finds you, her mother’s heart will split in impossible pain.  You weep for a cruelty you cannot comprehend.

But then, if you are Lizzie, you grow contemplative.  And you turn over in your mind what might be gained in an innocence that has been lost.

If you are Lizzie, you wipe your tears and then, you get to work.

Identifying an inner determination, you decide to channel it and raise a flag in honor of true beauty.

Ugliest Woman3

If you are Lizzie, you stand up in the face of cultural beauty-mandates, and you dare to re-define them.

You stand up for yourself, because in so doing you stand for others who have yet to find their voices.  And step by small step, you begin to change things.

You walk onto a stage in front of high-school students drowning in insecurity, and you show them that beauty is found in what God has made.  Nothing is without value that He has made, you say.

And people begin to see what God sees.  Their minds grow bigger.  Their hearts grow softer.

And you, the “ugliest woman in the world”, become a living illustration that He makes everything beautiful in its time.

In your determined, heroic beauty you show that sometimes it just takes people a little while to see it.

 

 

 

 


TRUE Beauty and the Lie that Kim Kardashian Believes

tarte photo

When is the last time that you had 3 hours a day or $20,000 a month to spend on your beauty routine?

This, a record of annual time and money spent by a well-known Hollywood celebrity –  and this number just the cost to maintain body and face.

In fact, according to a recent statistic, more money is now spent in the United States each year on beauty, than is spent on education and social services combined.

A fit, trim figure is now the expectation for women on into their 50’s and 60’s.  The cosmetics industry waves its fist at us and warns: Do not age.  You are not supposed to, nor are you allowed to.

nail polish

Yet, we are aging.  Each year, we succumb a little more to gravity’s pull, struggling to keep ourselves buoyant, fresh and youthful.

Culture has introduced an unfair fight, and as our consumer-dollars convey, we are more than willing to participate.

So does the Bible offer any wisdom to women as to how we should perceive beauty?

Or are we left alone to battle a message of: Looks Matter? 

 

Confronting The Lie

We cannot help but be aware of reality star, Kim Kardashian. And according to entertainment news, the celebrity is up to something new.  Kim is building a house!  And as part of the design, her new space is to include a “glam-room” where Kardashian can apply her make-up.

 

kim kardashian hat

Price-tag for the room where Kim will become glamorous?

$870,000.

To state it lightly, Kim Kardashian’s life is hardly about reality!

Traeling to the Garden of Eden, we see that the very first curse to fall on humanity was that of deception. Satan whispered untruth to Eve, and since that time, the world has been under a curse of whisperings of its own- of lies that pose as truth.

One of the primary lies spun to women, is that perfect beauty can be attained.  And if it is not, we are destined to be miserable.

As Carolyn Mahaney observes in her book, True Beauty, Satan is in charge of a master-mind plan, intended to distort our beauty-reality.  Placing trust and hope in our physical beauty, Mahaney warns, is to fall for Satan’s original Ponzi scheme.

true beauty

You may remember the Lehman Brothers, notorious for embezzling billions of dollars out of Wall Street accounts.

Well, they came, they lied, they conquered.

We cannot afford to invest our own theology of beauty in a house of cards.

 

A Theology of Beauty

What is a right theology of beauty? 

My friend, Gloria likes to say that: Women don’t have time for false hope.  And nowhere do these words ring truer than in the sphere of culturally-imposed beauty standards.

  inner self beauty

Let’s re-visit the Garden of Eden for a moment and engage with the truth.

Does it astound you that upon completing the work of creation, God stood back and declared everything: GOOD?

Nowhere in Genesis do we encounter a God standing back, declaring Eve BETTER  – as though a few tweaks, stitches and augmentations might make her complete.  No, God declared Eve GOOD because she was made according to His creative design.  In His image, for His good purpose.

Your body and face likewise, delight our God.  His is a meaningful and unique creating, with purpose mapped out in every freckle, with every extra pound.

you are beautiful

 

So, Now What?

Don’t we love to parrot phrases to our girls?  Like, it’s what is on the inside that counts.  But in order to be substantive, confident women, there must be something on the inside or they {and we} will be led swiftly astray in our thinking.

 

set you free

The prophet, Zephaniah is just one man who speaks of God’s joy in His people :

The Lord your God is with you.  He is mighty to save.  The Lord will take GREAT DELIGHT in you.  He will quiet you with His love.  He will REJOICE over you with singing.

Self-acceptance is based in a God who delights in us- mind, soul and body– and it cannot be bought.  Kim Kardashian’s millions can never purchase what God freely gives.

But we know better.  By God’s grace, we have the Truth. 

And the TRUTH will set us free.

 

 

 


5 Excellent Summer Bible Studies For You and a Friend

let the word

Summer is fast approaching, and with it a change in scheduling.  Kids will be out of school, families will be traveling.  And in all of the fun disruption, devotional time will require its own flexibility.

The long and free weeks of Summer are a great opportunity to re-group and gain new direction. 

Why not consider a new personal Bible study or organize a book study for a group of friends?

Here are 5 books for personal and group study, that are appropriate in length and level of study for a Summer focus.

 

 1.  Disciplines of a Godly Woman

Don’t we assume a negative connotation of the word discipline?  Oh no, we think.  Legalism.

disciplines

Yet, Disciplines of a Godly Woman could not be further from rules-based approach.  Barbara Hughes has produced an excellent resource in her book.   Disciplines approaches various angles of Christian growth – church, Bible study,  marriage, contentment.  And she provides encouragement and guidance as to how to become more disciplined and committed within each of these realms.

I would easily recommend Disciplines of a Godly Woman for both personal and group study.

2.  Calm My Anxious Heart

 Though the title is a little misleading, Linda Dillow’s excellent book is more a study on contentment, than anxiety.   Having spent many years  raising a family as overseas missionaries, Dillow has a wealth of experience in learning contentment.

calm heart

 Within Calm My Anxious Heart, she asks questions such as:

Why are women prone to discontent?

What does God say about contentment?

How can we develop a renewed sense of contentment in our lives?

Linda Dillow has wrestled and attained a wisdom and beauty that comes from learning that Christ is enough.

 Calm My Anxious Heart is another book I would recommend as an excellent personal and group study.

 

 3.  The Friendships of Women

Dee Brestin’s book The Friendships of Women, is a book which is both useful and broad in scope.  After all, which woman does not relate to issues of friendship – the desires, the pain, the tensions, the inevitable conflicts?

 

friendships of women

Woven throughout Brestin’s book are personal accounts, helping to make the book identifiable.  And within each chapter are thoughtful questions, which allow for personal evaluation and reflection.

And it is especially helpful within a context of varying church backgrounds.  Because the book is topical in nature, it can be easily appreciated by anyone.  But as a leader, there is wide opportunity to insert extra biblical content, if desired.

The Friendships of Women is a book I would highly recommend for group study.

 

4.  Desperate

Who does not fell desperate sometimes?  Like life is full to the brim with tensions and burdens?  Desperate is a book which meets women in the feelings that can propel us into shame, and gives credence to why we feel overwhelmed.  Why we feel burned out.  Why we struggle at times to love our families.

desperate

Far from being a to-do-list book, Desperate is a walk through Sally Clarkson’s own experiences as a young Mom.  And with the amazing grace that is characteristic of Sally, Desperate guides and motivates.  Sally is a question-asker.  And she expects her reader to consider her questions and to do something with the resulting answers.

Desperate is a wonderful personal study.  However, I think it would also be valuable in a group setting, in which friends want to support and keep one another accountable.

 

 5.  Treasuring God in Our Traditions

Why are family traditions important? 

Why does it matter that we cultivate and honor traditions within our homes? These are the questions Noel Piper asks in her inspiring book, Treasuring God in Our Traditions.  If you are seeking to establish traditions within your own home, and wonder how to make a rich memory-life possible, this is a helpful read.

traditions

Because Treasuring God is a book that inspires creative thought and interaction, I think it would be a fun book for group study.  There is much scope for comparing notes and sharing ideas.  And room for propelling one another along in establishing rich home-lives.

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Finally, if you are a note-taker or journaler.  If you feel like notepads might be helpful for your personal or group study, Dayspring sells 3-pack mini-notebooks for $2.47.  I have bought several of these- they are inexpensive and fun to look at.  These notebooks would be ideal hand-outs at the beginning of a study, so that participants have a place to jot down thoughts as you go.

dayspring journals

Enjoy growing in your walk with God.

And this Summer, consider asking others to join you!


Inconvenient Worship, or Being MOM at Church

susanna flowers

 Do you find Sunday mornings difficult?

Admittedly, some weeks, I do.  Waking on time, feeding, packing snacks, dressing and re-feeding so that stomachs are not empty mid-morning.  And all with the hope of arriving on time for the next part of the race – the service.

For many Moms, Sunday mornings are the hope held out that is not delivered.  No sooner is everyone seated than the first bathroom break commences.  This followed by a sibling-squabble, requiring discipline.  And so on.  Sunday’s are supposed to be the best mornings, but sometimes they are the toughest mornings.

So, what do Moms of young children do?  Do we give up and quit attending church until the kids are older?

Or is there hope and a better perspective to be had?

 

 

susanna

This morning, my sister shares her thoughts on what Sunday worship looks like, as a Mom with 4 small children.  This article originally appeared at True Woman, but the topic was pertinent enough, I knew it might encourage some of you.  Here is Susanna, on worshiping in the midst of inconvenience.

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“I don’t want to go to church this morning! There’s no point,” I told my husband despondently. Our eleven-month-old son hates being left in the church nursery, so I end up spending the service time in the nursing room or pacing the halls.

Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful for the nursing room because it’s a sisterhood of nurturers. Yet looking at the rest of the congregation through the one-way window, we see and hear what’s going on, but it’s still not the same.

Why does it seem like so much of motherhood has to be lived away from community?

Most of life as a mother is worshiping when circumstances are inconvenient.

Fortunately, God challenged my wayward thoughts and transformed my mind to think beyond me. He directed my focus toward the witness I have before my other three children in this season, nevermind my own spiritual well-being. What does it say to my children if I stay home from church, not because I have to, but simply because I’m frustrated that I need to spend the service tending to Josiah rather than being where I’d like to be—right in the service? Yes, being in the service is a good desire. But right now I’m called to worship right where I am—in the midst of inconvenience.

bible keep calm

Most of life as a mother is worshiping when circumstances are inconvenient. I read the Bible while my baby is tugging at my feet and my three-year-old is wanting my lap. I pray broken sentences in the car while there is arguing in the back seat, and I want to yell for quiet.

I do get it “right” sometimes and wake up in the calm morning hours before the kids are up. Those mornings offer the ideal quiet times with God where I have the opportunity to really reflect on Scripture. There’s a mug of coffee beside me and the promise of a bright day that began well.

Then there’s reality.

rose kids

With small children or nursing babies waking in the night, those mornings are not going to happen on a regular basis. My time with God may have to be broken up throughout the day or delayed until evening. But God desires us as we are, not a flawless performance. Christ has already done that on our behalf. Through His strength, He enables us to pursue holiness. However feeble these earthly bodies may feel, we can find sustenance at His feet for another day . . . and another week.

One of my favorite verses from the Bible is Mathew 11:28–30.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

These words are balm for a mother’s heart.

Because of Christ, God accepts our worship to Him, messy or neat.

mothering as worship 2

In surrender of my frustration to God, I experienced a newfound joy and sense of community with my brothers and sisters in Christ. My seven-year-old son convinced us to stay for our church’s fellowship lunch that morning, instead of sprinting to the car, and I’m thankful he did.

On the van ride home, spirits high, appetites satisfied, and new acquaintances made, my five-year-old daughter stated exuberantly, “Mom, I love Sundays! I love being together as a family!” Our hearts were full. I’m so grateful that God is giving me the grace to embrace worship in every stage of life—even the most inconvenient.

How are you worshiping God through some of the inconveniences that come with motherhood?


How a Treehouse Reminded Me to Put Down my Phone

A bright yellow sunbeam pattern on vintage paper.

Recently, I was driving home from my son’s robotics class.  As usual, we were enjoying the sunshine on an open country road.  Just ahead of us, traffic slowed down for a moment as a school bus ground to a stop.  Its doors opened, and a girl -12 or 13- stepped out.  She reminded me of my daughter – back-pack, pony-tail, tennis shoes.  But what intrigued me most as I looked her direction was not her, so much as what lay just past the house she was walking toward.

Just to the right of her gravel driveway was a tree-house.  A well-designed tree-house, yet one beginning to show its age.  Boards warping.  Wood dulling.  Paint peeling.  Beneath the trees were a handful of stray pieces of ply-wood that had fallen  and were lying, forgotten.  And as traffic picked up again, I was left to contemplate:

Once upon a time, that tree-house was new and the girl was small and excited.  And now she is grown, and the tree-house is worn.  And the years are over.  Fast.  So fast.

treehouse steps

 

Put the Phone Down

NPR recently posted an article on plugged-in parents.  Jenny Radesky, a pediatrician specializing in child development, has become concerned about the digital generation’s parenting, and set aside a Summer to observe families.  She and two other researchers studied 55 sets of parents in restaurant settings, finding that 44 sets of parents pulled out their phones immediately upon being seated.

“They looked at it, scrolled on it and typed for most of the meal, only putting it down intermittently.”  Not surprisingly, Radesky also noted that of those 44 sets of plugged-in parents, behavior in their children was more disruptive and chaotic than in the families whose parents were not plugged in.

emma brown dress

 

Plug into Your Kids

What will be the long-term effects on a generation raised by constantly distracted parents?

There is no way to know, but here are 2 primary concerns I have:

1.  Children will not feel validated and listened to, while little.  This will create ambivalence in their minds as to parental authority in the older years.  After all, if Mom has always texted her friends before responding to your need, and if Dad has always said: Hang on a sec, while he scrolled his Twitter feed, why would a response of parental validation suddenly develop in a child?

Children require enormous amounts of encouragement and affirmation.  And there is room for little beyond a response of irritability in a parent who is endlessly plugged in.

will green shirt

2.  Children will find answers independently.  There is no room for conversation in a room with a Mom and her phone.  Uh-huh, is the response.  Just a minute, the constant reply.  But kids will not wait til your thumbs stop texting, to grow and develop.  Their minds are always on and ready to engage.  They are naturally inquisitive and insatiably curious, eager always to piece together information about the world they live in.

Parents are needed to read, to think, to respond, to ask questions back.  Children will demand answers, and if their parents come up empty, they will find answers somewhere.  Among friends, Internet, their own phones.

But this begs the question: Do we really want them looking? 

Back to the Treehouse

What does any of this have to do with a treehouse?  Well, once upon a time, the middle-school girl stepping off the bus, was little.  But now she is not.

As Sally Clarkson reminds, the second law of thermo-dynamics states that all things are plodding along, yet wearing out as they go.  Your kids’ child-hoods are not forever.  And they are wearing out, as they get closer to adult-hood.

There are some things we should live to regret: our sin, our harsh anger, our poor choices and our arrogant words.  But there are other things we should fight to protect from regret.

And our kids’ childhoods, full of life, love and listening, are one of them.

 

 

 

 

 


Recommended Reading: {Desperate}, by Sally Clarkson

pray image Congratulations to Sarah Jordan, winner of The Ministry of Motherhood and $5 Starbucks card!  Sarah wrote that she is a homeschooling mom of 9 children, so I am thrilled that a very busy Mom is receiving these little gifts of encouragement.  Sarah, please message me at foryourtomorrowblog@gmail.com with your mailing address.

Though I had a post planned for today, I am going to stick with the theme of Sally Clarkson for one more day.

Why?  Because Sally is writing what I believe to be some of the most encouraging mothering books in the Christian market today.  And I want every Mom I know to spend some time absorbing her encouragement and wisdom.

Having dropped by Barnes and Noble to pick up the Giveaway prize last week, I casually dropped Sally’s book Desperate into my cart as well.  It has been some time since I have read a book specifically addressed to mothers, but the past few weeks have made me feel the need.  I have felt weary and dull lately, certainly not encompassing the passion for parenting that I desire my children to see in me.

 

desperate

I brought Desperate home and flipped through it for a few moments, while the kids were asleep.  And instantly knew it was what my desperate heart was needing.

In the honest fashion I have come to appreciate about Sally Clarkson, the book begins with this phrase:

“I just can’t be a mother today”.

And so begins a raw, but inspiring conversation about the struggles we face as mothers.  As we battle our ideals, comparing them to our sinful reality.  As we struggle with perspective – feeling sunk beneath hopelessness.  As we fight for JOY in our day-to-day, exhausting ministry to our families.  Desperate addresses fatigue and the depression that results.  It speaks of the role that friendship and support plays in our mothering.  It relates the need to draw close to other women, so that Satan does not find us easy targets, due to our loneliness.

desperate book tea

It is truly God’s gift to me that Desperate found its way into my shopping bag last week.  It has begun already, to unveil some of the reasons I have been wrestling with discouragement.  I am tired.  I am lonely.  I am facing the darkness, without honestly confiding in anyone.  And I am just one woman experiencing these emotions.  I have a feeling that many of you are struggling, too.

But, isn’t this what we do?  We put on our Facebook personas, and ride through the days as though they are endlessly sunny, with only charming quotes from our children.

And then we lie in our beds at night, washed over with a loneliness and anxiety.  We are sad.  We are fearful of our inadequacies.  We are needy for support.

We are desperate.

If you need encouragement, or if you could use a Mother’s Day treat for yourself, please order Desperate today.

It will refresh you.  It will motivate you.  And it will encourage you that far from being alone, you are one of many women who simply needs to hear a message of HOPE.


Mother’s Day Giveaway: { The Ministry of Motherhood and a $5 Starbucks Giftcard}

messy hands

 Nancy Leigh De Moss asked the question best:

Have you ever considered that in becoming a mother, you have been called to a ministry?

Have you though about motherhood like that- as a ministry?  Or is ministry something you are waiting to do when the kids are a little older and you can leave the house?

These were questions entrenched in my mind as my youngest was little and I was contemplating a new life of serving, and yes, a life of ministry.  And so it was no accident when I happened upon Sally Clarkson’s The Ministry of Motherhood, while at Barnes and Noble one day.

ministry of motherhood final

I could sense that in reading The Ministry of Motherhood, I was going to be led.  But what I did not expect was to be mentored and inspired, through the gentle grace of the woman behind the pages.  Sally Clarkson has a tremendous gift.  Not only is she an engaging writer, but she is wise and she is kind.  Do I know her personally?  I do not.  But there are writers who convey their sensitivity with every word, and Sally Clarkson is one of them.

In reading The Ministry of Motherhood, it was as if layers of discouragement were lifted from me.  Rather than feeling stuck in the monotony of so many same days, I was inspired, renewed and compelled to embrace this sameness- to recognize it as ministry life. 

Last week, I emailed Sally in the hope that she might respond to 2 questions I wished to ask her.  I was eager to give her book away, but I wanted her two cents’ worth on the passion behind her writing.   So, imagine my delight when she not only responded quickly, but was open to sharing her thoughts on the mission behind The Ministry of Motherhood.

sally clarkson

I asked Sally:

What inspired you to write The Ministry of Motherhood?

I felt that the vision for motherhood had been lost and diminished in our culture and even in our churches. I wanted to write a book that would inspire and equip mothers to have confidence and empowerment to truly love, inspire and build the souls of their children with godliness and faith. I wanted them to have a book that would give them handles on how to approach this great task each day.

What do you hope women will gain through reading your book?

When women have a vision for how powerful an influence they can have on their children, and even on generations to come, by training, loving and discipling them, they will have energy to make each day meaningful in light of eternity.

ministry

Are you in need of encouragement?  Do you feel the need to be mentored?

If so, this book is for you.  Sally Clarkson will motivate you.   She will draw you to a deeper walk with God.  She will leave you feeling more directed in your mothering, more purposeful and refreshed.

And she will remind you continually, that ministry to your family is the highest calling.  As she states so honestly:

“I always wanted to be a hero–to sacrifice my life in a big way one time–and yet, God has required my sacrifice to be thousands of days, over many years, with one more kiss, one more story, one more meal.”

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If you are thick in the middle of the ministry years to your family, or if you are a few stages beyond and would like to give this book to a younger friend who needs encouragement, please enter the Giveaway for The Ministry of Motherhood.

Oh, and because books are lonely without drinks, I am also including a $5 Starbucks gift-card with this book.

You may enter the giveaway in one of 2 ways:  1.  Click over to the Facebook page.  “Like” the page and share the link on your FB page.  2.  Comment at the end of this blog post, stating why you would enjoy this book.  3.  Email me at foryourtomorrowblog@gmail.com, and state why you would enjoy winning this book.

Sadly, due to high international postage rates, the hard copy of this Giveaway and the enclosed Starbucks gift-card is open to US residents only.  However, if you are Canadian, please enter and if you win, I will send you the Kindle or Nook copy of the book, instead.

I will announce the winner on Monday morning.

Happy Friday, all!


Guest Post – Megan: {When A Casserole Is Enough}

hands holding strawberries

I can recall moving to the South, and immediately noticing that casseroles were a staple here.  But it was not until the birth of our first child that it became apparent how valuable a baked dish of something could be.  The casseroles we were brought following the birth of our first-born were not appreciated only for their dietary provision.  But to a weary first-time Mom, for their communication of love and support.

Megan Hill recently wrote an article on her blog about the value of food delivered in time of need.  Megan is a pastor’s wife, who has had many opportunities to carefully coordinate and prepare meals for others.  I asked Megan if I could borrow her article, as I believe she summarizes beautifully how a community of women can serve one another.

Even through casseroles.

megan

 

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I have made some casseroles for people. I’ve assembled dozens of lasagnas. I’ve made chicken spaghetti and chicken enchiladas and chicken with broccoli, baking them in countless disposable pans. I’ve simmered pots and pots of chili, too, and purchased enough salad-in-a-bag to feed several colonies of rabbits. Oh, I have made some casseroles.

And then I’ve driven them to the homes of church people in need, walked my dishes to their kitchen counters, chatted for a few minutes, and left. Sometimes I’ve cried all the way home.

The casseroles for new moms are great. Everyone is happy, lasagna is just what they need, and I get to hold a newborn for a minute or two. But it’s the other homes that afterwards leave me shaking over my steering wheel with grief and inadequacy.

Chicken Taco Casserole

A casserole, baked until bubbly, seems like such a small offering in a home where someone is lying in the bedroom, fighting that last enemy, death. Cheese and noodles in a foil pan—so flimsy in a place where a child is chronically ill, where a family has been deserted by a sin-craving father, or where cancer is every moment growing under a woman’s skin.

Waving chicken-and-rice in the face of death seems pointless.

But—as my husband so kindly reminds me—it’s not.

Bacon-and-Egg-Breakfast-Casserole.jpg-700x1050

For one thing, people need to eat. And, if some of them have no appetite, it’s a sure bet there are cousins or neighbors or friends—people a few steps removed from the struggle—who will wander into the kitchen wanting a meal at some point. My nine-by-thirteen may not meet all the needs in the home, but it meets one.

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Food is also fellowship. The breaking of bread together (both sacramental and ordinary) was one of the marks of the first century church, and it is still important for the Body today. Even if I have to leave my dish at the door, I have (as I tell my children) “baked the love in it.” My recipe, my time, my hands mixing and seasoning and assembling, are a bit of fellowship with me, delivered. And as I head home, often to eat the second batch with my own family, we share fellowship. Two families, tasting the same food at the same time: thinking of, praying for, and growing in love together as we eat.

creamy-chicken-and-pasta-700x1077

And, perhaps most importantly, the inadequacy of a casserole reminds me of the adequacy of my Lord. Even if I could do more than bring a casserole to seriously suffering people—if I could move in, do all the laundry, mop all the floors, play with children, and organize the medications, even if I could meet every human need in these homes—it wouldn’t even begin to solve the problem.

Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

Only Christ, drawing near by His Spirit, can mend broken hearts and broken bodies. Only Christ can bring eternal hope to the downcast and eternal life to the dying.

It is perhaps God’s kindness to me that the most I can do is something that fits in a pan.

That way, I’m not tempted to think for one minute that my efforts are enough. Instead, the meager mouthfuls I create point to Him who is the Bread of Life. And the one who tastes of Him will never be hungry.  A casserole is not enough. He always is.

So, I set my oven—yet again—to 350.

And while it warms, I pray.

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All recipes in this post are courtesy of Six Sisters, a group of {yes, 6!} sisters who compile affordable and simple meals.  Please hover on any of the recipes and add them to your own Pin boards.  And visit Six Sisters at their site, here.  Or if you prefer, you can find them on Pinterest. 

By way of reminder, all images on this blog {minus those of our children} are now Pin-accessible.  By clicking on an image, you are able to Pin any article to your own Pin boards.

Finally, here is a link to 25 Easy Casserole Recipes – inspiration for the next time your kitchen is needed.

Enjoy serving others, in love!

 

 


Loving Your Husband: {It’s Not a Competition}

husband quote2

 

I was fascinated when Kirsten Dunst revealed herself to be a traditional girl at heart.

And then Matt Walsh spoke out against men and women competing over whose role is more difficult.

And in the moments following,  I realized how refreshing it was to hear voices speaking toward the harmony that should exist at home, and against the wars that can find a place there instead. 

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What Are We Competing About?

A few years back, I heard it said: Your mate is not enemy.

At the time, I was full on in a stage of diaper-changes and interrupted naps.  And this did not lend itself to a kind or gracious spirit.  Sadly, much of my frustrated energy was pointed in Pat’s direction.

There were more than a handful of times when he became a target, rather than an ally, as I sought to make sense of a life of continual serving.

It took honest self-assessment and devoted prayer to see that I was directing much of my exhaustion toward him in anger.

And the accomplishment of this misdirected frustration?  A marriage not as close as we desired.

Clearly, nobody was winning.

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You Both Work Hard

Some of the statements tumbling out of my mouth in those conflicted months, sounded like this:

I was up all night.

I do this chore and that chore.

I work day and night.

I am always on-call.

In hindsight, I can see that it takes no effort at all to argue over marital role divisions, but it takes a strength of humility to concede that both partners contribute equally.  And both work really, really hard.

But they do work differently.

Mothers notice details. Mothers notice everything and all at once. Built into every component of a woman’s DNA, is a marvelous ability to observe detail about her family, and to compile that information into a whole which benefits her family.

Fathers notice the big picture.  Fathers note when the family is off-course, and they arm themselves with a plan.  They observe the “holes” in their family lives, and they seek to patch them.  Built into every component of a man’s DNA, is the keen ability to observe the big picture, and to use that information to better serve his family.

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Let’s Get Together

It is so easy to become tangled up in wars at home.  Women keep mental lists of the details we attend to, and we want our husbands to tap into our minds and read our thoughts, about what to do next.  We become so impatient when they fail to do so.

Likewise, men want women to notice the big picture.  Men recall the rescuing and helping they do- and they don’t want to be corrected in the process, but simply respected for it.  They become distant when we fail to do so.

These tensions allow us to feel stretched to the limit sometimes.  But, marriage is not a competition.  If it were, one of us would have to win.  And one of us would have to lose.

We are equals in this fight, matched by God to play for the same team.

We grow weary because we both work hard.

So instead of comparing notes, let’s lend a hand, tip our hats to one another, and keep on loving.

 

******

{Loving Your Husband – A Valentine’s Day Tribute, can be found here.}

{Loving Your Husband – An Ordinary Hero, can be found here}

 

 


10 Recommended Resources for Family Devotions

{www.foryourtomorrow.net}

{www.foryourtomorrow.net}

 

As Christian parents, we are instructed to raise our children in the fear and understanding of God.  This admonition seems simple enough, until our little ones arrive, wriggling and squirming.  And we are surpassed in energy level, and tapped out nearly every moment.

Standing in the aisles of the bookstore looking through Bibles and devotionals, might seem like just one more impossible thing to do.  In honor of your limited time and energy, here is a list of 10 family-worship resources that we have found helpful over the past years.  Many of these sources were recommended to us by older parents when we were starting out, and have proven extremely helpful.

1.  The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes

Kenneth Taylor’s “Baby Bible”, as we termed it, is a wonderful beginner Bible.  Taylor masterfully combines both simple teaching and beautiful, engaging illustrations.  This Bible is an excellent place for 2- 3 year old’s to begin learning.

 

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2.  My First Bible

My First Bible combines longer stories than Baby Bibles, and uses bright and fun illustrations.  Yet, its content remains true and un-compromised.  This is a great place for 3- 4 year-old’s to learn.

 

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3.  Big Truths for Little Kids

Big Truths For Little Kids, written by Susan Hunt, teaches concepts from the Westminster Catechism, using stories from the lives of 3 young friends- Cassie, Caleb and Daniel.  Throughout the book are application questions which can be asked of readers, which I found very helpful.  This book is a great place for 4 and 5 year-old children to learn.

 

 

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4.  Leading Little Ones to God

Leading Little Ones to God, by Miriam Schooland, is a combination of Bible stories told in a captivating style.  Schooland weaves together great truths, but retains a very casual style so that readers remain engaged.  Leading is a great place for 6 and 7 year-olds to learn.

 

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5.  Jesus Storybook Bible

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones, burst onto the devotional scene several years ago, to excellent reviews.  My children agreed.  This Bible masterfully weaves stories with beautiful illustrations, and points the reader to the necessity of Christ’s death with every chapter.  This Bible is a valuable place for 5- 8 year-old children to learn.

 

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6.  Missionary Stories with the Millers

Missionary Stories With the Millers is one we have read through several times now.  A combination of stories of those who have served on the mission field, each chapter is both fascinating and inspiring.  Children need heroes, and this book supplies them.  Missionary Stories is a place where children of all ages will grow.  My youngest to my oldest still enjoy these beautiful accounts.

 

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7.  Hero Tales

Hero Tales, by Dave and Neta Jackson, is another collection of missionary stories our family has enjoyed.  Told in a simple, but engaging style, this book walks readers through the lives of several Christians who lived boldly and courageously.  Hero Tales is a family book, for all ages.  My children of varying stages all enjoyed hearing this book read aloud.

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8.  The Seeds CD Collection 

I do not know how many hours we have spent, driving around hearing “The Word of the Lord Stands Forever!”, but it has been more than an handful.  The Seeds CD Collection is selected Scripture verses set to music.  Catchy and fun, this collection is divided up into character traits- courage, faith, praise.  Each CD has 10-15 songs that will set your children to learning Scripture.  We have loved these.  {As an added bonus, each CD comes with a second copy, meant to be given away, so that others can learn too}.

 

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9.  The Jesus Storybook Bible DVD Collection

While on the subject of media, the Jesus Storybook Bible recently released an accompanying DVD collection.  I cannot speak well enough of these.  Beautifully presented.  Engaging.  Lovely to listen to.  My 4 year-old has enjoyed and benefited from this collection.  These DVD’s are a great place for younger children to learn – however, if played in the car with a captive audience, I am certain all of the kids would gain from them.

 

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10.  The Story Bible for Older Children

It is difficult to find content that is complex enough for older children, and yet easy to listen to.  The Story Bible for Older Children is an excellent resource for fleshing out biblical accounts, without watering down content.  The Story Bible has 2 volumes- Old Testament and New Testament.  We are working our way through the Old right now.  I cannot recommend this Bible enough.  It has sparked many conversations, and it has taught thoroughly.  This Bible is meant for older children – so would be best suited for ages 7 and up.  I cannot recommend this Bible enough!

 

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For more resources we have enjoyed for teaching our children, please visit my Family Worship page on Pinterest.

What about you?  What resources would you recommend for use in family devotions?  

I would love to hear!  Email me at: foryourtomorrowblog@gmail.com

Happy Friday, all!

Looking forward to being here again, on Monday.