A good friend encourages you in the daily ups and downs of life.  A great friend encourages you to make goals and plans for your future.  The best friends encourage you to dream outside the realm of possibility, because it's in our big dreams and greatest ambitious that we reveal who we truly are.

A good friend allows you to have a bad day without changing their opinion of you.  A great friend gets to the root of your bad week and helps you work through the real issue.  The best friends already know the back-story, see the stumbling blocks, and sit with you through the darkest nights while you're recovering from the worst of it, never asking, "What's in this for me?"

A good friend can come into your life and linger.  A great friend can come into your life and make a place for herself.  The best friends can come into your life and change who you are.  Because with them, you are more yourself than you are when you're alone.  

Who would I be without my friends?  In my friends, I see a more accurate reflection of me than in any mirror.  They echo back my strongest convictions, my deepest beliefs, and anything good that can be found in my thoughts and feelings.  They tell my story better than I can, a tapestry of all I admire and aspire to.  They are a suit of armor and at the same time, the comforting arms that cradle me when I'm at my weakest.  They are the band of crusaders, championing my cause, championing me in the fray of life.  And who would I be, if not for them?

Mirror Mirror

It's a constant struggle.  A daily dilemma. My desire to be a modest and feminine woman of God, cultivating an inner beauty of sound character VS. a culture that tells me my highest aspiration as a woman should be to look sexy at all times.  It's obvious on paper, isn't it?  But we are not a society of words, thoughts, and ideas; we are a society of pictures, commercials, and soundbites.  In 30 seconds, a girl can't get across the depths of her thoughts or the depth of her soul...but she can flash a little leg.  And after all, what's going to get the most attention?  

So, if getting the most attention is the main focus of an entire culture that politics via punchlines and educates via headlines, how do we, pursuing biblical womanhood, shun the status-quo and fix our eyes on higher and nobler ideas?

The answer:  Truth.  We are surrounded by lies every way we turn.  We can't avoid them!  They come in through our computers, our tvs, the radio, magazines, books, conversations, social media, memories from our past, glances from people we encounter.  We can't get away from all- the- lies!  We're being fed a steady stream of the world's opinion on how we should look and how we should behave and the only way to combat it is to take time for truth every day.  If we are to be women of God, then we must be women of the Word.  Only by feeding on truth, the daily Bread that has been provided for us, do we stand any chance against the enemy we are facing every second of every day.  Remember ladies, we have to stop trying so hard to fit in when we're so beautifully designed to stand out.  Light doesn't blend into the darkness!  It makes a statement in a sea of contradicting thoughts, even if its incomprehensible to those around us.  If we are truly living our lives as a reflection of Christ, it shouldn't matter what reflection we see in the mirror.

It's not easy.  But be encouraged that you are not alone.  Keep cultivating a submissive heart and godly character because that's what's truly beautiful to God.

The Broken List

There are always aspects of me that I don't like, things I'm always striving to improve upon.  If I had a task list of life-objectives, areas of my own self that I could find fault with, it would extend beyond any vision of the horizon before me.  I am never satisfied.

I feel like, if I could take my life and hold it at arms length, an intimate distance but a distance still, I would be uncomfortable with what I was looking at.  I would be consumed with all the divots of failure, chasms of bad decisions, canyons of perpetual disobedience that left me wandering in valleys of confusion and hopelessness.  I would see something broken.

In Sunday School, my students are reading through the book of John.  Our method is to read straight through a book or a chapter, dissect it as we go along, and derive truth out of what is in front of us.  We are determined to know John better than any other class in our church and with knowing John comes knowing Jesus.  I have stressed that as Christians, we should know as much about Jesus as we can learn.  After all, if we don't know Jesus, then we're missing Christianity entirely.  Jesus, if nothing else, is a brilliant historical figure!  He was not quiet or shy, defensive or obnoxious, insecure or proud.  He made fantastic statements like, "Destroy this temple and I will raise it in three days."  He called out hypocrites, called people "vipers" in public settings when He saw them propagating false teachings.  He turned over tables and took a whip to people dishonoring the temple.  He even disowned his own family members when they insinuated He was unstable.  He talked to people who others passed by and ignored, rejected, despised.  Throughout the biographies of Jesus (we call them the Gospels), we see a person who loves the down-trodden, the underdog, the broken.

And that's the best part, really.  The reality is that Jesus is so much more than just an historical figure, stuck in the passages of time gone by, teaching us from a comfortable distance.  He's actually even closer than the intimate distance of an arms-length away.  And He still has that soft-spot for the broken.  In fact, He said only the broken need a healer.

So when I'm making my list, that daunting list of all those things I need to improve on, as a follower of Jesus Christ, I have the option, the luxury of turning all of those things over to Him.  Then, and only then, will I experience true satisfaction, not in myself, but in Him.