Guard Your Heart

Proverbs4-23

I know, I know… it’s high time for a quinoa recipe, right? I have one for you – lots of them for you, actually – and, I promise: one will come soon. (Actually, I post quick and easy meals all the time on Instagram – are you there with me?)

Today, though, because of something I went through yesterday, I thought I’d repost something I wrote awhile ago called “Guard Your Heart”.

Yesterday words punched me right in the gut when I least expected it and I fell to my knees gasping for air. They came hard and fast and just so happen to hit the one spot in my spirit prone to bleed with the least provocation: the spot of “I’m worthless and I can’t even do the small things right”.

(Oh, I hate that spot.)

But then I was reminded through my tears: Elisha, guard your heart… guard your heart… guard your heart. 

Yes, GUARD MY HEART. I must.

And, since I needed the reminder… I thought you could use it, too.

Here ya go:
I remember when I turned six years old. I was in my favorite red corduroy overalls with my yellow and red gingham shirt. I had my white mary janes on, and I topped off the outfit by wearing giddiness all over my face.

There was not a lot of good that went on in my house… but that day in particular, we were celebrating! There was no fighting, no yelling, no anger. My birthday had brought joy with it!  There were people, and streamers, and smoke from my nana’s open fire pit where she was cooking up some steaks. There was music and laughter, pretty ladies that I didn’t know and burley guys that had followed my dad home from the gym.

I remember the cake – wow, what a cake! It was a real cake from the Safeway bakery and it was decked out with circus animals and a circus tent and a ring leader. I had never seen something so beautiful with my name on it. That gorgeous cake made me feel loved.

My best friend, Lee – he saddled up beside me when it came time to sing. I knew he was probably close just to get first dibs on licking the icing off the cake decorations. But, it didn’t matter. He and I – we were two peas in a pod… and if he hung around to simply get the perks of pre-cutting cake disassembly, that was alright by me.

In the midst of the glory of that day, it figures something would hurt me deeply. Someone, I should say. I mean, in my world nothing stayed good forever.

I don’t even know who she was, or why she was in my house at my birthday party. But she was there – and she was snotty – and she had no respect for the fact that day was supposed to be pain-free. It was my day – my day to celebrate and be the center of attention! So, since it was my day and it was my house, I happily took charge, not thinking anyone would mind.

“We are all going to go play in my playhouse,” I announced. “Follow me”.

As I led the small tribe of birthday friends down the stepping stone path to our backyard, when I hit the fifth stone with my left foot I heard from three heads back, “You know what?”

We stopped. I turned. I remember looking her right in the face, not expecting what came out of her mouth next.

“If you’re always so bossy no one will ever want to really be your friend.”

There was dead silence. Crickets. My heart sunk and I stared at this girl I didn’t even know and felt the poison of her nastiness settle on all of the kids in earshot.

Bossy? No friends? Ever?

I was sick.

I don’t remember how we got off that stone path, or whether we ever even made it to my playhouse for some fun. As a matter of fact, I don’t remember anything else from that moment forward – it is all a blur. I don’t remember presents, or how the party ended, or whether or not I even had fun. Her face and her slapping words are the last memory I have from turning six years old… the year I was told that as long as I’m bossy no one will ever – ever! – want to be my friend. That was it: I would be friendless for the rest of my life.

Funny how stuff like that sticks to us, isn’t it? Biting words from childhood (or even from our adulthood!) that should have been passing daggers, yet manage to burrow and wound and cause aching on cold days. We grew up singing ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’. Who is the crazy that came up with that one?

Words hurt because truth hurts. I’m not saying everything someone else says that’s horrible is actually true… what I am saying is this: what we think is true in our heart will determine how we are affected by words. For example, if we think in our heart we aren’t worth anything, critical words from another will fertilize those weeds of insecurity already planted in our souls. (When I was six I was a very insecure child… so when that girl spoke words that reflected the truth of my innocent heart, they pierced deep.)

On the other hand, if we are confident in who we are, critical words don’t wound so much. Yes, they may make us wince – and they may even make us reflect on whether there is truth in them. But again, how we see ourselves on the inside will determine how we accept the criticisms of this world.

Insecurity in our heart = sensitivity to this worlds meanness.

Security in our heart = not easily broken.

See, it all comes down to our heart and what lies down in it’s deep depths that we’d never think to share. As we think in our heart, so we shall be. (Proverbs 23:7). Even King David said, “Great peace have they who love your law: and nothing shall offend them.” (Psalm 119:165).

If we are grounded in Christ, nothing shall offend us. Why? Because when we give Him reign over our heart, He becomes our Truth. He becomes our Defender and our Refuge – and by His Truth, we are set FREE.

F.R.E.E.

PRAYER: Father, Thank you for loving me. Today may I not forget that my worth does not come from this world – my worth comes from You and the fact that I am Your child. Make me one that is not easily offended. Give me Your strength and Your grace as I give you my insecurities, my hurts, my heartaches, and my worries about never really being good enough. This life is tough, and people can be so mean and hurtful. But, thank you that You cover me and that You guard my heart with the Truths of Your Word. I thank you that You make me new… and that as long as I am grounded in You, I will have peace. In Jesus Precious Name, Amen.

Real Beauty

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind… Romans 12:2

_____

I’ve watched this several times now, and I cry each time. I cry because… I hear the voices.

…the voice of the girl in 5th grade that said, “Why is your forehead so big?”

…the voice of the old boyfriend that said, “You know, there are lots of girls more beautiful than you.”

…the voice of the ballet teacher that said, “Your knees are way to big to ever dance well.”

…the voice of the world telling me all my life, “You know you’ll never measure up to that… to her… to ‘something wonderful’.”

I look at the women that went through this exercise, and… I relate. I feel their weight of their heart and their self-descriptive words. I see the girl in me: Insecure, critical, self-deprecating. And that girl – oh, my heart aches for that girl that I was (and can still be).

But thankfully, the Sweetest Voice I’ve ever heard breaks through all the noise. It’s a voice unlike any other – it’s small and quiet and whispers drips of Truth into my heart.

And the Truth is this – the Truth I wish I would have known before a I allowed all those other voices a place in my soul: We are not beautiful because of what we look like; our real value is not determined by our appearance.

Beauty isn’t the exterior. It doesn’t come from fixing up our hair and putting on makeup and letting it all hang out for ‘admiration’. (1 Peter 3:3-4). No. That’s the world’s definition – the definition that keeps us women hostage and broken and vulnerable.

The Sweet Voice told me (and continues to remind me every day) beauty is borne in gentleness, in sweetness, in a laugh, and a friendly wink, and soft words that build others up and not tear them down.

Beauty is confident and strong, yet humble; it is modest and captivating, bright and gracious.

Beauty is tenderness with my babies.

Beauty is a confident, lingering kiss with my man.

Beauty is my uncontrollable laughter with my girls that brings out every wrinkle around my eyes.

Beauty is my warm arms wrapped around a sister in need.

Beauty is heavy tears shed with a friend over loss, or heartache.

Beauty is thoughtfulness and unselfish presence and compassion.

Beauty is kindness to a stranger.

Real beauty emanates from me when His Spirit emanates from me… when His brightness overtakes the darkness that struggles to keep it’s hold on me. It’s when His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control trump my human tendencies to be anything but. (Galatians 5:22-23).

Real beauty isn’t dependent on what I look like… real beauty is Him living out through me.

So, today: LET’S BE REAL BEAUTIES – REBEL BEAUTIES. Let’s remember that we can’t make this dark world more beautiful with more lipgloss – we can only make it more beautiful when the fruits of His Spirit bloom on the trees of our lives. (Psalm 90:17).

Children of the Rebel Grain

As you all know, my ‘big girl’ turned 12 recently. The ’12 years old’ of today is not the 12 I experienced. She is growing up in a culture of narcissism and instant gratification; a culture that is sick physically, as much as it is emotionally.

The fight for what is good and right and pure is a tough one.

I bring this up because, as much as I want her to eat intentionally, I want her to live intentionally. Just as I am training her to make the right choices for her physical body, I am training her to make the right choices for her spirit:

I want her to choose kindness.

I want her to choose humilty.

I want her to choose modesty.

I want her to respect authority, always recognize she has something to learn, and understand she was put on this earth for one purpose alone: to bring glory to her Creator through all that she is…. whatever she may choose that to be.

Be careful little eyes what you see…
Be careful little ears what you hear…
Be careful little mouth what you say…
Be careful little hands what you do…
Be careful little heart whom you trust…
Be careful little feet where you go…

I’m not naive. I know I will not always be with her when she’s at the food buffet with plate in her hand – just like I will not always be with her when she’s presented with life’s buffet of choices and temptations.

God will be with her, though. And, if I can train my girl up to keep her eyes on Him, then she’ll be able to rebel on through life with the supernatural humility and grace that we are hard pressed to find in today’s culture.

See, I don’t want my girl – or any of my kids! – to just blend into the sea of humanity. Not physically, not spiritually, not emotionally. I want them to stand out… to shine… to be set apart. I want them be bold – I want them to fight for good, for truth, for purity. I want them to be rebels that live against the grain of this world.

In the world, not of the world.

The Rebel Grain.

Rebel on,
e-