Friday Finds: Words to Read

Friday

To those of you who struggle like M on a daily basis, I wanted to share some words that I believe can challenge and encourage you in the midst of self-esteem challenges. I strongly believe that God does not desire for us to stay in that muddy place of anxiety and confusion. He wants to pull us out of the pit. A huge portion of that journey is believing what HE says about you in His Word. But the words of others can also encourage us and remind us that others have hurt and found victory. Here are some of my favorites. I hope you check out one of them.

1.    Lies Young Women Believe (blog and book) by DeMoss and Gresh

2.   The Search for Significance by Robert McGee

3.   Graceful by Emily P. Freeman

4.   You’re Already Amazing: Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be by Holley Gerth

5.   Redefining Beautiful: What God Sees When God Sees You by Jenna and Max Lucado

6.   Perfectly Unique by Annie F. Downs

7.   Authentic Beauty by Leslie Ludy

8.   Me, Myself, & Lies by Jennifer Rothschild

9.   2nd Corinthians chapter 10 (especially verses 4-5)

“You are a beloved creation of the God of the heavens, that created you just like you are. When you look in the mirror and you don’t like what you see, you need to remember that the God who remade this sunset right here, He formed you in your mother’s womb, every part of who you are. And there’s nothing to be ashamed of, there’s nothing to look at and say,

“It’s not beautiful.”

You can’t look at some airbrushed picture of someone who doesn’t even look like that in real life and compare yourself to that. That’s not the reality of life. But what you are, is perfectly made by God of the heavens and He meant it on purpose.” 

― Lacey Mosley

Happy Friday, Friends.

Following,
Ginger

Dear Ginger: Uncomfortable in my Own Skin

dear ginger

Hey Ginger!

I am struggling about my self-confidence. I know that I am supposed to love myself for who I am and everything. But I am truly stuck. Some girls at school are calling me names, and it is just bringing down my confidence in myself. I don’t cut myself or anything, but I have tried cutting, but I just won’t let myself do it. I was just wondering what would be the best way to raise my confidence in myself. I have talked to my parents, but I am just too scared to tell them that I don’t feel comfortable in my own skin. Have a great day.

-S

S- Thank you so much for your note and for sharing what’s going on in your heart. I’m so sorry this has been such a season of pain and sadness in your life. I want you to know that I’m praying for you especially today.

First of all, I want you to remember that you don’t have to be afraid to share with your parents about how you are feeling. I think they would care deeply about your hurts, just like they care about your successes in school. This is a tough battle for a lot of teens, and especially a ton of teen girls, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a big deal. Bullying is a really big deal and I can understand why it leaves you feeling negatively about yourself.  I want you to really think about telling your mom or dad. I know there have been times when I’ve been scared to share things, but it’s usually because I want to protect someone else, or because I’m afraid that they will be disappointed. Trust me, your parents will love you no matter what.

Secondly, I’m sorry that you feel so STUCK.

I know that I was stuck in a pattern for a long time in my life. I felt like I was a car in the mud and no matter how hard I pushed on the gas, the wheels would just turn and dig me down further.

You see, I’ve always struggled with loving the way that I look – especially when I felt that I didn’t fit in with other girls my age. It seemed like everyone else could eat whatever they wanted and still look the same. I felt like there was nothing I could do to stop worrying about my boday and start actually be comfortable in my own skin.

I didn’t try cutting, but I did make myself throw up. Sometimes we think we can do something drastic to feel differently or make a change, but the truth is I needed something stronger than myself to create change. I needed something stronger than self-esteem, self-confidence, and quick fixes. Hurting myself was only… hurting myself. I was digging my wheels deeper into the mud.

Even now, as a 30 year-old, the lie that says: You aren’t good enough because of the way you look – creeps in and wants to threaten all the confidence I have in the Lord.

So what do I do when that lie knocks on the door of my heart?

1. I claim truth. I read and remember the words that God has said about me.

2. I remind myself the value God has placed on my life.

3. I drop the lie that if I can just raise my self-esteem everything will get better.

4. I keep myself encouraged and grounded by reading the words of others who have struggled just like I do.

5. I cling to WHOSE I am, rather than who I am or how I’m failing.

6. And finally, I remember the hard road that I’ve walked and how I don’t want to go back there again. I’ve got too much to look ahead TOWARD. I want to keep fighting.

I needed something outside of ME to pull me out. In my own story, God has used His Word and Truth, books, accountability, and especially counseling to give wisdom and insight into my “stuck” situation. But more than anything, God has replaced my self-doubts with confidence in Him through a deeper relationship with HIM.

I believe that God does not desire for us to stay in that muddy place. He wants to pull us out of the pit. That’s why I want to recommend some resources for you today.

1.    Lies Young Women Believe (blog and book) by DeMoss and Gresh

2.   The Search for Significance by Robert McGee

3.   Graceful by Emily P. Freeman

4.   Perfectly Unique by Annie F. Downs

5.    2nd Corinthians chapter 10 (especially verses 4-5)

God wants our hearts, and is fighting for them. I truly believe this. And I’m happy to say that He is helping me get free, even in the smallest of ways. That’s my same prayer for you.

No matter what I might infer about my looks or weight… or even what others might say – the TRUTH is what I must cling to, even if I don’t feel that it is true…

“You are a beloved creation of the God of the heavens, that created you just like you are. When you look in the mirror and you don’t like what you see, you need to remember that the God who remade this sunset right here, He formed you in your mother’s womb, every part of who you are. And there’s nothing to be ashamed of, there’s nothing to look at and say,

“It’s not beautiful.”

You can’t look at some airbrushed picture of someone who doesn’t even look like that in real life and compare yourself to that. That’s not the reality of life. But what you are, is perfectly made by God of the heavens and He meant it on purpose.” 

― Lacey Mosley

I’ve found the secret of freedom to be different from what the world says. I haven’t learned 6 steps to higher self-esteem. Instead I am learning to reprogram my mind and know my Heavenly Father MORE. How He sees me is the only thing that matters.

Praying for your heart today, S. Please write again soon.

-Ginger

Grace for Today

This is the God of the gospel of grace. A God who, out of love for us, sent the only Son He ever had wrapped in our skin. He learned how to walk, stumbled and fell, cried for His milk, sweated blood in the night, was lashed with a whip and showered with spit, was fixed to a cross, and died whispering forgiveness on us all. 

…To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, “A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.”

-Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

 

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found,

Was blind, but now I see.

-John Newton

 

May His grace be yours this day and always…

Following,
Ginger

It’s the final day to enter the GRACEFUL GIVEAWAY! Two copies of “Graceful” by Emily Freeman are up for grabs. Follow this link for details and entry form!

“An invitation has been offered, but only the desperate can hear it. Dare to life your eyes up from your books and achievements. Tilt your head toward the gentle whispers of a God who says, What is it you truly seek?” (Emily P. Freeman, Graceful)

 

Grace in Relationships

I love my friends. But I also often struggle with feeling responsible for the behavior and happiness of everyone around me. Can you identify? I will pretty much do whatever it takes to keep the peace and avoid conflict. But I’ve taken that behavior to the extreme. I will offer five hundred restaurants for my group of friends to choose from, but I do not want to be the person in charge of making that final decision. That’s too much pressure. I could choose the WRONG place.

As a recovering “good girl” I’m learning that having grace-filled relationships doesn’t mean avoiding conflict at all costs. Ephesians 4 does remind us “keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace,” but I would be doing a disservice to my friendships if I never expressed my own opinion. Loving someone doesn’t mean just appeasing them. Love wants the best for another, even if that process is initially painful.

“Wounds made by a friend are intended to help, but an enemy’s kisses are too much to bear.” (Proverbs 27:6, GWT)

“It is so hard to receive criticism, but if you can’t you are showing one of the prime characteristics of a fool, according to Proverbs. Understandably, it is easier to receive criticism from someone who really loves you, but even then, it is always hard to listen to something that will bring you pain… I believe that one of the purposes of best friendships is to help one another recognize blind spots.” (Dee Brestin, The Friendships of Women)

My desire for approval sometimes puts me on the defense when it comes to receiving constructive criticism in my life. But thankfully, a new understanding of God’s grace is changing the way I give and receive love. His grace frees me from the need constant approval. Living in light of grace means that love is the highest priority in all relationships.

“Grace isn’t natural, but supernatural. The natural responses when you get hurt are either to strike back or to withdraw. When we instead step out of the way and allow God to work through us, responding with unfailing love, even perennials that have endured a deep freeze may lift up their wilting heads and live.” (Dee Brestin, The Friendships of Women)

How does God’s grace transform your relationships?

Following and learning,
Ginger

Heads Up!  A GRACEFUL GIVEAWAY! Two copies of “Graceful” the book by Emily Freeman are up for grabs this week. Follow this link for details and entry form!

“Because we are loved and known by a graceful God, we are free to relax our shoulders, unclench our fists, and open our hands to receive all he has to offer. And the best thing he has to offer is, quite simply, himself.” (Emily P. Freeman, Graceful: Letting go of your try-hard life.)

Graceful Love

Yesterday I mentioned that I have lived most of my life trying to earn the approval of God. I believed I was redeemed, and by no doing of my own. But I also believed that 99% of the time my Heavenly Father was thinking one thing about me: “I’m so disappointed in you.” 

Here’s how it came to a head this summer.

My counselor encouraged me to journal through some of my deepest fears. Here’s the list straight from the journal page:

  1. Fear of rejection.
  2. Fear of failure.
  3. Fear of disappointing others.
  4. Fear that at the end of my life I will be found wanting and faithless.
  5. Fear that I’m not doing or being enough.

These needs and fears keep me anxious, worried, frustrated, and discouraged. They cause me to keep walls up and to continue performing in my relationships with others and with God.

I’m like Sally Field at her acceptance speech for winning best actress. I desperately want to shout, “YOU LIKE ME, YOU REALLY LIKE ME!” 

And yet, somewhere deep inside my heart I’ve known the truth, I just couldn’t take hold of it.

One side of my mind yells: GINGER, you can’t keep the law. That’s not the point. It can’t be done. The purpose of the law is to lead you to grace!

But the other side screams back: BUT you aren’t even really trying! DO MORE NOW!

Pendulum living is depressing. I will admit that freely to you today. For so long I didn’t live aware of God’s grace. My emotional highs and lows were often fueled by the grade that I awarded to my own performance.

And then one morning as I lay in hotel bed in North Carolina I knew I had to get up and pull out my journal again. I pulled back the drapes in the early morning light and fell to my knees in tears. I was just so tired. I felt as though God was speaking freedom to my heart in a whole new way. Here’s what I wrote that morning.

Ginger, will I ever be enough for you? You are all that I want. I just want you- your heart, your dreams, your ministry, your future, your relationships, your words, your comings and your goings. Have I asked you to try harder or did I ask you to come with me and get some rest? Won’t you come and choose what is best… sit at my feet?

That’s your fear, isn’t it? That I’m looking for BEST and you aren’t it or aren’t doing it and if you COULD just read, do, love, serve, give MORE… then I would turn to everyone else and say, “Look everyone! Ginger chose what was best!” That’s what you want, isn’t it. You want my approval.

My child, you have it. You always have. You always have.

Perhaps you also have performance tendencies like me. Friend, we weren’t made to perform. We were made to live in freedom and grace. When we choose to make guilt and shame our daily companions we do not accept the gift of God. Of course, there is the good kind of guilt that leads to repentance, but if you find yourself living out of fear rather than faith, chances are that grace is a vocabulary word and not a lifestyle. I know. I’ve been there for far too long.

But I’m not going back.

“What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.

Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.” (Galatians 2:19-21, MSG)

Here’s to grace-filed living…

Following,
Ginger

GRACEFUL GIVEAWAY! Two copies of “Graceful” the book by Emily Freeman are up for grabs this week. Follow this link for details and entry form!

“Instead of holding so tightly to the outcome, I can know that God is with me in the process. Instead of working to be right on my own, I can choose to believe God is gracious toward me. He lives in me, and he wants to flow gracefully out of me in every situation.” (Emily P. Freeman, Graceful: Letting go of your try-hard life.)

A Graceful Giveaway

 

I’ve been following Jesus for as long as I can remember. I went to a Christian school, Christian camps, and a Christian college. Then I worked at a Christian camp, Christian church, and for a Christian ministry.

I have the merit badge for Christianity. Bibles on my shelves: check. Bible verses on my walls: check. Small group: check. Bible study: check. Living a grace-filled life: . . .

There’s a reason why I’ve been crying through counseling sessions this summer and fall. I’m slowly beginning to realize how little I allow God’s grace to affect my life. His law shapes my decisions and His Word is on my tongue, but most days I live like someone who does not know the Grace of God.

I’ve always preferred reading the Old Testament to the New Testament. I felt like there were so many more stories that I had never heard before, and I LOVE a good story. I love reading the Gospels, too. Lots of stories in the Gospels. But the “ians” books (Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians…etc.), the letters? Not so much. Honest truth: I felt like I already knew that stuff and didn’t need Paul or Peter or whomever to remind me. 

Wow.

My church has been walking through the entire book of Romans this year. Since January we’ve examined Paul’s letter on Sundays and Wednesdays and every day in between. I wasn’t excited about it for a long time. I was shocked to hear so many in my small group mention how much they loved the book. I’d always found it to be a little… redundant. That’s AWFUL to say, right? Who admits something like that? But now I see the missing link. Grace was a word that had no real impact on my every day life. I didn’t get it.

It’s no secret that God has used Emily P. Freeman’s book, “Grace for the Good Girl” to reach my heart in huge ways. The lessons in grace kept flowing with Emily’s new book for young women, “Graceful.” My copies are both less than a few months old and are already folded, inked, and worn. God is the author of change and growth in my life and He has certainly used these beautiful words to finally reach my stubborn self.

I’m reading the “ians” books of the Bible again as if for the first time. I’m listening intently to the sermons on Romans. I went into my counselor’s office with shining eyes exclaiming how much I’m loving the New Testament. For so long I’d associated perfect performance with God’s favor. I believed that Jesus was the one who had saved me, and because of that I’d been redeemed. But I did not believe for one second that God was pleased with me… that He delighted in me. As hard as I worked, I would always be something of a disappointment to Him. I was the good girl who would never be good enough.

And to that, He has shouted to my soul: MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU, FOR MY POWER IS MADE PERFECT IN WEAKNESS!

“Somewhere along the way, I got the message that salvation is by faith alone but anything after that is faith plus hard work and sweet disposition. I lived under a system I designed for myself and I labeled it The Gospel. As a good girl, every choice I made was dictated by a theology of self-sufficiency. Life was up to me, and I was prepared to get it right.” (Emily P. Freeman, Grace for the Good Girl)

When I read that paragraph I knew He was calling to me through Emily’s words. So much has changed in my heart over these last few months, and there is still so much to be done – but my work is to trust the One whose power is made perfect in my weakness.

In hopes that our lives would all be marked by God’s grace, today kicks off a couple of exciting things on the blog!

1. A Graceful Series! All this week we will be talking about grace in our lives: grace from God, grace in our relationships, grace for the world, and grace for ourselves.

2. A Graceful GIVEAWAY. I want to share Emily’s words with you. I’m hosting a give-away of Emily’s new book “Graceful.” It’s written especially for young women, but aren’t we all still 15 at heart? My copy has been marked up and I know that you or one of the young women in your life would greatly benefit from reading this book. So whether you are 14 or 64, jump in on this giveaway!

“Life isn’t about trying hard to be good, it’s about trusting God to be graceful in us.” (Emily P. Freeman, Graceful)

Two copies, two winners, three ways (one option will enter you daily) to be included in the drawing! Contest closes Saturday morning, October 13th at 12:01am. The winners will be announced on Tuesday the 16th of October. See the swanky box below for details!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Swimming in Grace,
Ginger