I have decided I AM beautiful.

Before you decided I am the most arrogant person you know, hear my story.

It was a week before my 6th grade graduation.  I was 11 and as innocent as they come. My parents went away for the day. We were with a new babysitter. She was state approved as my brother Lukie has down syndrome and had special needs. This woman left us with her son. Which was of course not state approved. This man watched us at the pool for several hours. The first thing I remember him saying to me was, “you are so beautiful, you will need to be careful in life, people will want to hurt you because you’re so beautiful.” He proceeded to molest me off and on the entire day. It wasn’t even the actual act that was so damaging for me but the seed planted deep into young soil that “beauty is dangerous.” I concluded on my own that Jesus must not love me as much as other little girls because He LET something so bad happen to me. I was pretty clear on His sovereignty at 11 years of age. My understanding of His goodness had been shaken.

I have navigated this world for 25 years since that day. I have struggle for 25 years over beauty. 25 years! Wow! I shared previously about the healing God has worked in me over the years earlier other post.  You can check those out for some sweet God glory if you like. It has been such a journey.

On the matter of my physical appearance, I have always refused to think that I was attractive/beautiful.  I desperately wanted to feel beautiful and all in one tornato of emotion I was terrified of it.  I have done study after study on the beauty. Learning that God finds the hidden person of the woman heart beautiful. I always cringed at Palm 139 when God would tell me that I am fearfully and WONDERFULLY made. I have a husband who has been attracted to me for over 13 years….one would think that may convince me that I am a little bit good looking at least.  But, no. I have always been trying to lose weight and hoping that if i was skinny enough one day I might be beautiful. I still have weight to lose but something has changed.

My thinking.

It finally clicked that saying I’m not beautiful in unbelief. If the Creator says He he carefully put me together in my Mom’s tummy that He knows me and loves me the way He made me then who am I so believe otherwise.

No one. I really have no place to tell God that He is wrong that I’m not wonderfully made but fear takes us to incredibly irrational places in our thinking doesn’t it?

I have been afraid of being beautiful for 25 year. The seed planted said, “Beauty is dangerous.” As I have grown in the Lord and stay in His word, He keeps whispering to me, I love you, My BEAUTIFUL girl. I have had it backward all this time. I have been apply my life experience to God’s character instead of applying God’s character to my life. I have aloud this world and all its terrible to shape my God, instead of believing the truth of who He is and allowing that to shape how I perceive the world.

This happens to change everything for me. Do I still want to lose weight, sure. Do I NEED to loose weight to be beautiful. No. I AM fearfully and wonderfully made and that my SOUL KNOWS VERY WELL. There is so much space freed up in my heart to worship and serve others now that I am not consciencely and unconsciously obsessing over self. When I say I have DECIDED that I am beautiful, it is a statement of freedom and agreeing with my Creator and Savior. Being willing to say it out loud. Its a big deal for me after 25 years of lies!

Is there something in your life that God is pretty clear in His word about that you are refusing to believe? May I encourage you to believe and if you can’t cry out to Jesus to help your unbelief. I am so thankful He answered my cry!

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Oh just little O’ me being beautiful with my husband. Never shared the pics before cause I thought I was to heavy to be pretty…

View More: http://piercedphotography.pass.us/obrienfamily

 

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UNITY

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Paul and I had an unexpected blessing back in August of 2017. We where blessed with a trip away together. We ended up having to pay something like $27 for our plan tickets and we of course went to San Diego and stayed with my parents and used their car! 7 whole days just us. It was the first time we have gotten to indulge in such a blessing since becoming parents 10 years ago. Needless to say we had a blast. We also worked through some long overdue misunderstandings and became more unified in purpose and partnership!  Like we totally had one stupid day of fighting and anger and ugly.

While there we got to dream about the future. Something we don’t always do in the thick of everyday life. Almost everyday we would “coffee walkie” Wake up, head to La Jolla and walk for miles as we drink the dark beverage of life! I love those miles. They keep me going in our current season.

While we enjoyed our week of sea air and being still God put a word/theme on our hearts. BE BOLD. Of course we had no idea what that entailed but we were excited to walk it out at home in Kentucky.

Upon returning home we picked up sick kids, I fell and snapped the main ligament in my ankle and struggles at the fire house became discouraging. Huh? How does that and boldness go together!!!

I have learned with my Lord that sometimes he will give encouragement in advance. It may take a good bit of time to understand how good He is in this way.

For me being bold has meant being ok and confident in our schooling looking different. When the Mom has surgery and a recovery that involves not walking on her own 2 feet for months things are not able to look like they once did. On top of that I finally said yes to the Lord about the Charlotte Mason Method of Educating our kids. It is a wonderfully rich method void of my check list I find so comforting. It requires me to truth the Holy Spirit as our teacher of all things and work extremely hard on the pre and planning end of things. Mostly, it was scary for me and after two years of God tugging on my heart about it, Bold meant saying yes.

Out of the blue Paul’s department offered to send him to Medic School. This was a massive answer to prayer that we are confident the we were to be Bold and take up the offer.

This season has been a rough one and it does not end until December. Having said that, our Lord allows and used pressing and trial for such sweet purpose! Our family has had to grow! Its been Do or Don’t make it! Paul practically visits us. The kids had to learn in a crash corse to serve with joy while I couldn’t walk. Paul and I have had to become extremely intentional in our family and US time. All great things.

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Did I mention Paul surprised us with a puppy?! 2 weeks before we found out I need surgery! EEK! Meat Hazzard.

 

There have been so many nuggets gained in this season so far but the one that seems to affect our everyday life the most in our family relationships is this: HUMILITY is the surest, straightest path to UNITY.

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I Therefore, a prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all HUMILITY and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the UNITY of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Eph. 1:1-3

 

HAND TO THE PLOW

Our Pastor taught on idolatry a few Sunday’s ago. He challenged us to “surrender the thing that is ruining you.”

Immediately I had something on my heart to surrender and a few days later, yet another! That’s how it works with me. So on our way home from Indiana (after dropping our kids off for 3 days and 2 nights!!!) I said to my man, “So I have been thinking about what Brian said today and my idol is wanting to control your relationships with your kids. I can see how it is not helpful but damaging and I want to surrounding it!” “So what’s your idol.” Long pause. Then Paul said, ” Sorry babe I don’t work like that. I listen to the teaching and it takes about of week for me to process the truth and walk it out. So I may have an answer for you in a week. I’m just not the camp counselor that gathers a group of people shares their struggle and asks everyone else to take a turn and share their heart.” Blahahhahahahahahahah! I just died laughing because there was so much truth in that statement and it cracks me up how different he and I are. As soon as God speaks to me about something I talk to everyone I know about it and ask if they can relate! My introvert of a man gave me a great word picture of how he functions in life in his walk with God.

He said, “Picture an old school plow. Its strapped up to a horse or ox and the man is plowing his filed. He has to get it done in time to plant and for there to be a good harvest. Picture the man plowing along and right in his way is a rock. He picks the rock up, gets it out of his field and keeps on plowing. He doesn’t talk about it. He doesn’t call up his farmer friends to come take a look at the rock and stand around having a conversation about where it came from or what its made of or just pondering the reason rocks have to exist at all. He just handles it and moves on with the desire to do his work well and there be a good harvest.”

     What!? I so would not handle it that way! Metaphorically of course, the rock is sin. I tend to have a process about the sin, confessing it to the Lord, grieving it and then hardest for me is moving on in grace. For my man the process is different and a bit more simple. I have to confess just hearing about his process convicted me about my desire to set up a tea party round my rocks. I do dwell on them to long instead of just acknowledging it to God and trusting Him to make my path straight. I’m sure that I have been helpful to him at some point in nudging him towards processing stuff a little more. Iron sharpens Iron and Paul and I are each others greatest iron in life.

I wanted to share because I was so encouraged by the word picture. First because I think its a great sneak peek into how men think (at least my man) and Second I was challenged not to linger so long on the problem but to acknowledge it, toss it out of the field, and get on with God’s kingdom work.

Do you have a rock in your field? (there goes the camp counselor in me! lol) Do you linger to long on it? Do you need to talk less about it and confess the thing to the Lord and get back to plowing? Or are you on the other end? You don’t communicate at all and the body of Christ would be extremely uplifted if you would share more?

I pray we would all plow well today!

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you

HEALED

I was invited to go to a woman’s retreat with ladies from my church and we would join with ladies from Ohio and South Carolina in a cabin in Tennessee. It all worked out for me to go days before it was time to jump in the car. I took my kiddo’s to grandparents in Indiana and then Brookie and Maryland met at my house so I could drive us to the cabin.

I didn’t know these ladies at all. I knew of Maryland but had never met Brooke. Brooke got to my house first and I wrapped my arms around her and said, “Hi! we are going to be best friends in 5 hours!” That’s how long it took to get there.

As we drove we each took turns sharing our stories like I knew we would. As I listened to Brooke’s story about her meeting her husband of 5 years now and how she honored him and spoke of him I was encouraged and convicted. I loved hearing stories from Maryland on becoming a Mother-in-law twice in one year. How she was seeking to respect and honor the new unions.

Marylin
Brookie

When we arrived at the cabin (It was really huge! ) I began to feel my heart drop. I felt like all those teen girls that would come to camp when I served in Head Waters that would say, “I don’t know why I’m here.”

That night Maryland was the one teaching. I felt so proud of my new car buddy bestie. I listen and of course was the first to break down and cry. I had been so concerned for my husband working 94 hours a week and not sleeping at all on fire nights. Marylin said, “let’s ask God to give you the desire of your heart that the needs would be met with just the fire job and not a second job also.” She prayed over me and challenged me that it was time to ask and be content at the same time. I had to humble myself and agree. I was so scared to ask God for anything I wanted. I shared about being molested and how I struggle to believe that God wants anything good for me and those connected to me.

Like I mentioned in my last post I could explain to you why and how this event in my life was robbing me of truth to that day!

The next day I had a terrible head ache all day and really felt like what is the point of me being here if God was just going to let me be in so much pain. I did get to share about my heart for painting God’s word and had supplies for all the gals to paint if they wanted to! It was so cool. A vision come to life!

That night we were had time set aside for a testimony. Guess who was sharing? My other new bestie Brookie!

What she shared and how she shared, oh man, I have never heard a testimony like it. I think it was also so powerful to me because I got to hear all the other stuff in the car as she saved her story of coming to Jesus for that night.

Brooke too was messed with sexually as a child. She rebelled in different ways than me but she didn’t have a trace of the old life on her. I spent 5 hours in the car with the woman, and I was shocked by her story because I would NEVER have guessed it. God had truly, redeemed and healed and given her a life and purpose completely centered on Him. As I listened I started to feel this weird, “wait a minute, I don’t sound like her.”  I am not free of my past like she is. I still smell like smoke from the fire. After she was done we had a time of prayer. I began to feel agitated. I knew God was offering me healing right then. I wanted to be healed but I didn’t want it from Him. You see I have been angry at God for 24 years. He could have rescued me and He didn’t. At one point Brookie shared about her years of healing from her abuse and her choices that proceeded. One night she was so angry and crying and asked her Mom, “Why did Jesus let this happen?” A familiar question right? I listened almost breathless for the Mom’s answer as Brooke continued. “I don’t know Brooke, but look at the cross.” When she said that it bugged me. Ugh! What does that even mean!

Back to that time of prayer as Jesus was offering to heal me. I was angry. I was hot. I was sitting on the ground Indian style with my head in my hands refusing to acknowledged the gentle whisper to come. “No, Lord, ” I said in my heart. “why should I come to you when its your fault I got screwed up in the first place!” ” Look up Jess, look at Me on the cross.” I did. My first reaction to thinking about Jesus on the cross with all my pain boiled to the surface was, “GOOD!” “If I have to suffer so should you.” Then the strangest thing happened. It really isn’t strange at all I because this is Jesus we are talking about but it was new for me. As I kept looking as Jesus bloody, and dripping to pay for my sin, its like all my pain and anger and suffering over the years was simply ABSORBED. He took it for and from me. I didn’t have it any more. It was like a digging in the soil of my middle, my heart and he pulled out the broken, and burnt thing in my heart and put it in my hand. I could see it for what it really was and I gave it to Him. See there is  a big difference between “getting over something,” and giving it to Jesus in the great exchange of Beauty for Ashes. The gals prayed over me and I prayed for the man who molested me and asked God to be merciful to him. I released him of any blame in my heart and forgave more deeply than any forgiveness I have ever given in my life.

The next day several other women broke down and I hope made that great exchange with Jesus. Everyone in the room has very serious faces but I couldn’t hold back a giant smile because I was free. I was healed and I knew God was offering the same to them.

Before this, I had settled on the idea that I may just always struggle with this thing. I don’t think that way anymore. When people have pain, or a wound I know God can heal completely! I have a desire to be used in any way He wants. I want to walk with other on this road to exchange their ash for His beauty.

 

HEALED

I painted this weeks before the retreat

Isaiah 61

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,

    because the Lord has anointed me

    to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

    to proclaim freedom for the captives

    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor

    and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort all who mourn,

    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—

to bestow on them a crown of beauty

    instead of ashes,

the oil of joy

    instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise

    instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,

    a planting of the Lord

    for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins

    and restore the places long devastated;

they will renew the ruined cities

    that have been devastated for generations.

All my girls where there!

IT WAS STOLEN

I was molested when I was 11. I could tell you in detail how this planted a lie in my heart so deep it has affected my bottom line belief about God and the ever crucial truth of His love towards all mankind including me.

Years ago I had the opportunity to pray with an amazing woman out in Head Waters and God gave me a vision of this man and I side by side worshiping Him in heaven. Forgiveness began. Who am I not to forgive when God obviously had.

I have “dealt” with this thing so many times in my adult life. Always knowing that most of my issues in life could be traced back to this one event  and the implanted lie that God so loves the world but just didn’t have love for me that day or He would have preserved my innocence. He would have protected my childhood and not allowed it to be stolen from me.

Its is true that we live in a fallen world and there for we all get affected by sin. Our own sin or others sin. This fact is not comforting to the wounded that have a clear understanding of God’s sovereignty. It feels personal. It “feels” like the God of scripture that is so for His own just isn’t for me. If we are deceived about this foundational truth the enemy can work all kinds of mischief.

Scripture states that, “The thief comes ONLY to STEAL, KILL and DESTROY. ” Ok, the word destroy is what I thought all three words meant before I study the original language. It means to destroy fully, to perish to lose, or mar. Now stick with me I will summarize all these details in a moment but there is such truth in the details. To lose, is so that there is little or no prospect of recovery. Ugg. To mar means to damage or spoil to a certain extent; rendering the thing less perfectless attractive or less useful, to impair or spoil. I have literally walked out years of life believing this was my identity. This is the dark, bad and nasty news of being messed with in this life by the thief through sin.

That word steal means to steal something in a gradual manner. Like a chipping away at something of great value. Quite sneaky. I can think of many things in my life that the thief has chipped away at without me realizing until there was a giant whole that caused a major problem! Not respecting and honoring my husband in years past for example. Selfishness. Idolatry over food and so on.  To kill means to rush. Isn’t that surprising? It has to to will rushed breathing and I suppose unto death but the word rush says one thing me, ANXIETY! Oh how anxiety, the sin of not trusting our trustworthy God brings immediate death to peace and the fullness of life Christ came to bring us! RIGHT!?

I have been painting with Bob Ross and he talks a lot about lighting. He says you have to have the dark to see the light and the light to see  the dark. So true Bob!

     This thievery happened in my life when I was 11. The devil set out to destroy me. In years to come he set out to steal and kill. I responded to the lie of lacking God’s love in rebellion. I decided that I wasn’t worth His love so I would make myself worth it. I call it rebellion because this decision was in direct conflict with how God calls us to come to Him. My salvation was secure when I was 5 so I am talking about my walk with him. I came to Him in the pride of “I got this.” I had even vocalized my goal in my early 20’s that I wanted to try and be the whole package. I was speaking of course about working towards being attractive, perfect and useful for my future husband but how interchangeable the concept is when you are single.

My pursuit to fix the damage left me with quite a list of good deeds and practically no understanding of grace. Until God wonderfully frustrated my entire life.

Our life fell apart. Three years ago my husband, three children and our dog found ourselves homeless in the dead of winter with whooping cough and no place to call home. It was in these pressing circumstances that I experienced God’s keeping power. I could do nothing. I couldn’t be good enough, I couldn’t control anything. I could get God’s attention with my self-deceived version of value or perfection. I found out in that moment that I already had it. His attention. All along God kept me when I couldn’t do a thing for Him.

I was so thankful and still am for that 9 days that felt like 3 months without a home. I was set on a course of learning who God really is.

I hadn’t given a thought to this being molested thing in years. Yet knowing it was the source of my lack of faith. I had “handled” it so many times I figure that was it, I was done with it.  I would just decide to be done with it and will myself out of disbelief. It doesn’t really work that way with God or even on a physical level. If you aren’t healed of a wound, YOU AREN’T HEALED. I didn’t even know I needed healing until this January. Yep like last month just weeks ago!

I think I will end this post for now.

Think on these truths. Are you wounded? Do you need healing because the thing has never been healed? Has the thief stolen, destroyed or caused rush in your life? Next time I write I will share about the wonderful BUT GOD and His redemption and healing in my life. I am praying that these words will quicken hearts to go directly to God alone for the healing we all so desperately need!