When I Don’t Desire Sex {Because I Don’t Feel Sexy}

By October 27, 2016 Christian Living, Confidence, Intimacy, Marriage, Sex, Sexuality, Worth

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It was the summer of 2004 and I was in the best shape of my life. I was running 6 miles a day, going to the gym, and eating tons of green leafy things-But then it would happen,every single time. Just when I thought I was looking my best, I would always bump into no shortage of women that were skinnier, prettier, more talented, and smarter (so annoying!).
Then I would look in the mirror, and it would reveal even more horrors that somehow I must have overlooked the last time.
Insert: more running, more broccoli, more discipline.

I was like a hamster in a ball, working really hard and getting no where. Why? Because my identity was wrapped up in external beauty and the world’s standard for beauty is always changing – I couldn’t keep up! If we are chasing the culture’s standard for beauty, we might as well hop on in the hamster wheel and prepare for utter failure and disappointment.
Listen, it doesn’t matter if you made the “hot list” or the “not list.” It doesn’t matter if you eat green smoothies every meal or McDonalds is your second home. It doesn’t matter if you are 18 or 68 (lipo or no lipo), most all women at some point in their life will struggle with not feeling beautiful.
Beauty in the Bedroom
Take a look at what the Shulamite woman says to her husband in Song of Solomon 1:6,“Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has looked upon me.”

She was embarrassed and wanted to hide because her skin was nice and dark. What??!!! Apparently back in the day pasty-white was in.

If I would have lived in those days, I would have been awesome with my pasty-white Twilightesque skin coloring.
Just like the Shulamite woman, we know every little hair that is out of place, every roll that shouldn’t be there, every blemish, and every crooked tooth. Because we don’t like what we see (and it certainly doesn’t match up to the Victoria’s Secret girls), we try to hide – where is my fig leaf!?
Before marriage, I was insecure about my microscopic spider veins and hairy arms. An “I do,” 11 years, and 3 children later, my tendency is still to hide, but this time I’ve got much bigger problems than my arms and tiny veins. Giving birth to three babies takes a toll on a woman’s body – one that is well worth it. Our last bundle of joy left a bundle of weight on my body – a whopping 60 pounds that is.
Being 5’11, it is a little easier to hide junk in the trunk, but honey nothing hides naked!
During this time in my life, I felt so fat and ugly that I just didn’t want to be touched. I mean, “Who wants to hop into bed with this muffin top!” So much of our sexual desire is wrapped up in whether or not we feel desirable. I did not feel desirable. I did not feel worthy of my husband’s affections. I certainly did not feel “sexy.” However, one thing I have recently learned is that you don’t have to feel desired in order to be desired. So often our husbands don’t necessarily want what we think they want; they just want us.
I still struggle with insecurities.
I will be eating right, exercising, taking showers (more often) and start feeling good about myself. Then it happens. I look in the mirror and I’m like, “AHHHH, who stole my body!!”  

Or Yesterday…I got a precious reminder from my daughter, when she asked me If I was sad that I do not have a belly button anymore.  I said, “No, not really.”  Then she said, “Well..I just think it is really sad.”  
Maybe you can relate: You are growing older and your body is starting to become more and more like something you would see on the Discovery Channel. Maybe you are thinking, “Umm, did I sign up for tribal? Can we please fast-forward?” I know my husband signed up for better or worse but I don’t think he realized he’d be getting this (at least there is proof gravity exists!)

Then you get off the Discovery Channel and start flipping through the channels and everyone seems to be in better shape, with perkier everything.

None of them seem to have cellulite or wrinkles, and of course they are having very, very hot sex (or so it seems).  Like..”The Notebook” hot sex!
You don’t want sex because you feel too ugly, too fat, too skinny, too old, too frumpy, too tired!! If our sex life is a game of hide and seek, our husband is doing the seeking, and we are doing the hiding (under the covers, with the lights off).
As you’re contemplating how good you don’t look anymore, you pull out your cell phone and start text bombing your husband all of these attributes you hate about yourself, as if you are filling him in on something he has not heard a hundred times before. Really, what we want from him is affirmation – that yes, he knows our flaws, but yes, he loves and desires us. This is the greatest longing of every woman, to be fully known, and yet still fully loved.
I can assure you ladies that the whole complaining about your BIG ugly to your husband is not increasing his sex drive or yours.
So what is a girl to do when she has lost her groove, and sexy walked out the door last year taking your sex drive and confidence with her?
Lipo? Spanx? Kale? Buy new clothes? Makeup? Hot Yoga? Running or other forms of torture???
Don’t get me wrong; exercising is crucial for your health mentally, physically, and sexually.However, what our marriage really needs is a heart change.
Looking into the mirror will always leave us with a lacking sex drive, because let’s face it: there will always be someone prettier and skinnier, and we could always lose a few more pounds.

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Our true identity is discovered through the lens of God’s Word where our unworthiness is met with met with His unrelenting love.
The Bible teaches that we are all fat with sin (Romans 6:23) and no amount of running around doing “good deeds” could work this load off. We were spiritually ugly from conception (Psalm 51:5), and no amount of self-righteous makeup could hide this blemish. If it were not for Christ, we would have all stayed in this estate: hiding, ugly, disgraced, and slaves. However, God, out of his great love for us, sent His beautiful Son to rescue us and release us from the heavy load we have been carrying. Jesus never sinned; He was a sacrifice without blemish. He was sacrificed on the altar of a cross for all our Ugly. The Beautiful One became our ugly so we could become beautiful to God. If you are a Christian, when God looks at you, He sees Christ. You are hidden, but you are not hiding under a fig leaf. You are hidden in the righteousness of Christ. Christ is beautiful, and when God look at you, He sees beauty.
Get this…God did not choose us because we were beautiful; there was nothing noteworthy or admirable about us that would draw Him to us. Instead, Christ was drawn to us because of our UGLINESS!
Our sin drew Him to our rescue. It’s our ugly that attracted Him to us, because He gets the glory in our makeover!
Jesus did not save us because we were beautiful; He saved us to make us beautiful.
It is living out of this acceptance that changes your attitude about your body.

As a result, living out of God’s acceptance changes how we approach the bedroom. We do not come as insecure women but as confident women because we are well-loved by a GREAT God.

A woman who understands how much God loves her will be like a magnet pulling others towards her, including her husband. Living out of acceptance makes a truly beautiful woman.
Beauty in the marriage bed is found when we know we are already accepted. Therefore sex is no longer viewd as a way to earn our husbands favor, instead it becomes away to enjoy Gods beauty together. Living out of acceptance allows us to pursue our husbands because we have been wonderfully pursued.
Please hear me say that your identity is not in that you are a sex kitten, supermodel, great housewife, mom, or wife. Your identity is found in Christ.  Stop looking at your imperfections and lift your eyes to a perfect savior!

(Hey!  If this post helped you in anyway, would you please share it on social media?  When you “like” a “share” post, it lets Facebook know that you think that post was helpful and they will put it in other friends news feeds.  If not, they put cat videos up instead. 🙂

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Let’s Talk About Sex {Stop Hiding Under The Sheets}

By October 15, 2016 Marriage, Pornography, Sex, Sexuality

Married couples should have AMAZING sex!

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BUT this does not always happen because ……LIFE.

You know what I am talking about…right?

The headaches, backaches, kids, exhaustion, the trash that STILL has not been taken out, feeling fat and ugly….you get the picture.

I will share our story in hopes that maybe you can relate…

Jamus and Annie sitting in a tree K. I. S. S. I. N. G.

Jamus, (my husband) and I started dating in college and I thought about him all the time. There was texting, phone calls where we would talk for hours, and just making up random excuses to be near one another. One night I called him because it was “unsafe” to run by myself and I needed an escort. Let’s just say I didn’t have to twist his arm.
As we spent more and more time together, I became increasingly infatuated with this Aston Kutcher look-alike with a country accent that loved Jesus with all of his heart. We got engaged after a few months of dating and were married within 3 ½ months. A significant part of the reason for this rabbit-like pace towards marriage was due to the fact that we wanted to “know” each other better (as the Bible puts it.) While dating, we couldn’t keep our hands off of each other! We were like magnets drawn together by a force stronger than ourselves. I remember one night we hung out in the Big Lots parking lot because that was one of the few places we thought it would be hard to fall into sin. As we approached the big day, I envisioned that every sexual encounter would resemble scenes from the Notebook, and I couldn’t wait to get the party started.
First, comes love, then comes marriage.
Married in the smothering month of July, we had a sizzling honeymoon (aside from the big fight we had on the 2nd night in the produce aisle of the Winn-Dixie) but then the weeks turned into months. Then the veil was lifted, and we quickly realized that had not necessarily married “Mr. or Mrs. Right,” but that we had married another sinner. We came to see that we had married REAL sinners who were selfish, hateful, rude, arrogant, annoying, stubborn, and jealous. Sinners who throw high-heels shoes at their husband’s foreheads. Sinners who slam their wife’s just-delivered, favorite pizza on the floor and say, “Eat that!!” Sinners who fought in such a way that the poor neighbors on the other side of those thin little walls at the seminary married housing must have thought, “My goodness, I feel sorry for whoever goes to their church!”
In spite of all of the drama, we were still having sex. Yet by this time, it was less of a strong, passionate pull, and more of a duty or obligation. My thoughts were, “I know, I should have sex with my husband. I know he has a ‘need’ and I would not be a good Christian wife if I withheld . . . after all, 1 Corinthians 7:5 commands me ‘Don’t deprive’ him . . . ”
However, I found it very hard to give myself physically to someone who would not give himself to me emotionally. He found it hard to open up to someone emotionally who did not respect him. It’s not that we weren’t thinking about one another, trust me, we thought about each other a TON – just not in the positive since of the word.
Then comes a baby in a baby carriage.
While we could barely keep our hands off one another in dating, it was a struggle to get us to put our hands on one another when married. There was one baby, two babies, and then three babies later. My pre-baby abs were gone, and my sex drive wasn’t far behind. I was up to my knees in diapers, spit-up, toys, laundry, cooking, cleaning, and not to mention it was as though my hormones had been sipping on a can of CRAZY!

Breaking up big brother and little sister fights, disciplining, trying to teach them the ABCs . . . I was thinking about our children all day. How am I going to potty train? What I am going to cook that is remotely healthy? How can I teach them the Gospel? Or, let’s simply things: how can I just keep everyone ALIVE?
Sex was the last thing on my mind – besides the fact that I felt condemned that it wasn’t happening nearly enough.

When your life is moving so quickly, you tend to only think of what is directly in front of you. And for me, it was my children.

It was easy to keep our hands off one other, because our hands were so busy with other things. Many nights we hit the bed too dead-tired to even think about sex, much less have it. Sure, there were other nights when we would come together simply because it had been too long – these nights I never regret.
But I’ve learned something over the past 11 years of marriage; it’s not just our husbands that need sex, girls, WE need sex!
God gave us this gift to bond us together not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually.

God tells us, “The two shall become one flesh . . .” – “one,” in the fullest and purest sense of the word. Studies have shown that human orgasm affects the same parts of the brain as heroine and cocaine. Because oxytocin and vasopressin are released slowly during sexual activity, these chemicals so heighten pleasure for a man that it essentially binds him to whatever caused it. Some call this the “biochemical love potion,” and God wired us this way to glue a husband and wife together forever. Thus, through the continual sexual act, a couple literally becomes “addicted” to one another.

Consequently, sex is one of God’s most profound and effective ways of ensuring that a husband and wife remain together until death does them part.

So then, how can we awaken sexual desire in the midst of the mess and exhaustion of life?

I’m thoroughly convinced that God wants us to have a desire for sex – a sexual desire for our husbands – a frequent “coming together” driven by desire, not merely duty.
How can we increase our desire?
If we would think about our husbands throughout the day, our desire for sex may be awakened.
I confess I have not thought about Jamus like I should. Yet the Bible teaches us that where our treasure is, our hearts will follow. One of our greatest treasures are the countless thoughts that we have every day, and so wherever our thoughts are, there our hearts (and BODIES) will follow.
Once we “make it to the bedroom” for that moment of intimacy, it’s great. But getting there can be a challenge. There are nights when we might say, “Do you want to?” . . . as we try to read the other persons non-verbals. This kind of half-hearted (secretly hoping they’re too tired) approach almost always leads to frustration, disappointment, and possibly even bitterness. Rejection from your helpmate never feels good.
In other cases, maybe he gives you that look across the room and you know what he is thinking, “It’s business time!” and you roll your eyes like “Are you kidding me?”

“Okay, fine, let’s get this thing over with,” or, “Alright, we can do it, but let’s make it quick.”
And then maybe you don’t say anything at all, and you are just watching the ceiling thinking about the long list of things that you have to do tomorrow.
But ladies, believe it or not, your husband does not simply want you physically; he wants you emotionally. He wants you to be excited about sex! He wants to know that you’re enjoying it.
After all, how would you feel if you were the one approaching him and he was like, “Alright, fine . . . I know I should, so let’s get er done.”
When Jamus and I were dating, I thought about all of his amazing qualities. Then we got married, and I started to focus on all of his flaws. This mind-set is like taking a wrecking ball to our sex drive. We need to practice giving thanks to God for our husbands. What we think in our head affects what happens in bed.
Listen to the woman in Song of Solomon think on her man:
Song Of Solomon 2:3 says, “As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men.”
NOT. . . “Looks like my beloved didn’t take out the trash again!” or “Of course my beloved is going to be late from work – again!”
Song of Solomon 2:8, “The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes, leaping over the mountain bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or young stag.”
This woman is thinking about her husband so much that it literally makes her want to seize him; what man wouldn’t desire this?
Song of Solomon 3:2, “I will rise now and go about the city, in the streets and in the squares; I will seek him whom my soul loves.”
The assumption is that the man should always be the initiator, and certainly as women, we have an innate desire and need to be pursued. But this gal in Song of Solomon understands that at the same time, there’s nothing wrong with the woman going after her man.
Ultimately, it is the Gospel that changes the way we approach our husband. The world says “scratch my back, and I will scratch yours.” The Gospel says, “You cannot do anything for me, and yet I will do everything for you.” We are not worthy of anything that the Lord gives to us. I often want Jamus to perform well (be worthy) before I show him love; this is anti-Gospel. The Gospel says even if you don’t take out the trash and you have been rude today, I will still pour out my love for you – even as Christ poured out His love for me on the cross when I was at my worst.

One of my dear friends and mentors (leader of Grace Marriage) challenge me with the HEAD to BED CHALLENGE and I want to extend this challenge YOU:

Lets think MORE on our husbands POSITIVE qualities and LESS on the things we would like him to fix.

1.) Pick an activity you do everyday: laundry, dishes, cooking, driving…
2.) Dedicate this time to thank the Lord for your husband. Think on his gifts, qualities you admire, and then pray for his weaknesses. You can go totally “Ann Voscamp” and write it down in a journal if you so desire.
3.) Pray for the Lord to increase your sexual desire for your husband, and ask Him to give you creative ways you can bless your man.
4.) Share this post with your friends and encourage them to jump in bed or wherever they prefer!!!

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Discontentment in sin, Contentment in Christ

By July 13, 2016 Biblical Womanhood, Christian Living, Confidence, faith, Faithfulness, Family, Fear, Gospel Living, Grace, Greatness, Hope, Identity, Parenting, Worth

Discontentment

Sin slithers in when we least expect it and goes for the choke hold every. single. time.  Sin attempts to strangle us by twisting the truth with lies.  Gasping for air, we ask, “Does God really love me?”  “Does He really want me to have good things?” “Is His way really the right way?” “Is God really enough?”

Sin chokes out the light and in the darkness, the poison sinks deep, damaging everything in its path.  Sin will always break its promises and break our hearts.

Just like our sister Eve, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

We were created to be worshippers and whether it’s God Himself or a piece of fruit, we will spend our entire life kneeling before something.

Here under the sun, we will struggle to be content with Him alone.  As we look for satisfaction, our temptation will be to look outside of the boundaries He has placed around our lives.

The issue of contentment will always be an issue of the heart.

However, discontentment is always pointing the finger.  It is a perpetual blame shifter. If you.  If I. If we. If they.  Discontentment is always pointing the finger at others and circumstances, when in fact, the finger should be pointed at our hearts.

Sin always works from the inside-out.  Meaning sin comes from the heart.

The path of contentment is not through the road of having more or different.  It is through pouring out our lives at Jesus’ feet and saying,

 “I trust you to lead me wherever you so choose.”  

“Yes, you are enough!”

 “I want more of you!”

The secret to contentment is none other than Christ.  As pastor Tullian puts it: “Jesus plus nothing equals everything!”  If you have everything…what is there to need? All of our longings are met with a resounding “Yes” in Christ!

He is a God that longs to cover sinners with His love. No more hiding.  If you have been found in Christ, you are covered in HIS righteousness and stand faultless before the throne!

Throw off those cords of condemnation and live!!!  Breathe deep in His grace today!

 

Questions:

In what ways have you experienced His grace?

What lies are you tempted to believe?  What is the truth that sets you free?

What are ways in which we can extend grace to our children and those around us when they sin?

 

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The Unicorn Effect {setting unrealistic expectations}

By July 6, 2016 Christian Living, Failure, faith, Family, Identity, struggle

Unicorn EffectThis week is going on our 2nd full week of summer break and it has been awesome…..except when it wasn’t.

NOW….I had full intentions of rocking this summer break and don’t get me wrong, that first week I nailed it!!!!  However, the past few days the only “ROCKIN” I have been doing is this…..

What happened?

I am going to tell you, and I’m going to share how you can keep it from happening to you!

Get ready for parenting advice from “The worst mom ever!”

How did I fall off the awesome train?
Well…I call it the Unicorn effect.

I had set unrealistic expectations for our summer and for my children.

In a world where everyone has Pinterest pipe dreams, it’s easy to set unrealistic expectations…..am I right?

For instance, if you walked in my house, they may have made the assumption that I have a knack for growing beautiful flowers in my back yard because I have this bouquet of freshly cut peonies and hydrangeas.  Annie is talented.  Her home probably looks like something out of the better homes and gardens magazine.  Little do you know our home is a place where flowers come to die.  It is a graveyard for all things green.  I have even been known to kill houseplants labeled “resilient” but you would never know that.

We observe people on social media and make assumptions accordingly.  Oh I bet her cappuccino is always that perfect with the cute little frothy heart.  Her messy bun is always on fleek.  Her house is always that clean.  Her tummy is always that toned.  She never eats processed food. We are making assumptions about people that are not REAL.  No one puts their REAL life on social media.  That is why I call this the unicorn effect…..we are comparing our reality or better yet our worst day to someone’s best day online.

We are comparing our bad day to someone’s seemingly “perfect life.”  No one is perfect.  It is an illusion and that is why I call this the unicorn effect.  We are comparing our very real messy life with a UNICORN…figment of our imagination.

The unicorn effect DESTROYS us as parents.

We compare our parenting to the mom who is making ice sculptures for her daughter’s frozen themed birthday party like a Martha Stewart on crack and that just isn’t fair.

The best parenting advice I can give to you is this:

Change YOUR EXPECTATION!

Disappointment is really just unmet expectations.  So….if we change our expectations for people and ourselves…GUESS WHAT!!!! LESS disappointment!!!!

What are some unrealistic expectations we set for ourselves this summer as parents:

  • My house will always look clean.
  • The kids well play together like Laura Engle and her siblings.
  • The kids will want to play outside.

I want to help you set REALISTIC expectations for your summer break:

  • There will be constant NOISE.  It will be loud.
  • There will be so many messes that you will want to daily put your house up for sale and you will refuse to walk barefoot on your floors.
  • Your house will not look or smell clean the entire summer.
  • There will be many fights over who gets the front seat of the minivan.
  • The words poop, fart, butt, and turd will be in FULL force.
  • There will be sibling spats.  If there are more than two children in the house, expect civil war.  This is what happens when many sinners are living in one house.  After all, our kids need Jesus, just like mommy and daddy. There should be no surprise.
  • The food rations will be depleted two days after going to the grocery store.
  • Expect to mop, dust, vacuum, scrub and fold to no avail.

ALSO,

  • Expect many opportunities to cry out to JESUS.  You will discover this summer that you need him desperately.
  • OH yeah…and that patience that we have been asking God to grow us in….He has answered…this is it?  Expect more growth opportunities as the summer progresses.

Our expectations for others and ourselves are extremely high, BUT our expectations for God fall incredibly short!

We expect that God parent like we do.  We expect that He is annoyed with us because we just can’t seem to get it together! We picture that He is upstairs rolling His eyes, slamming doors and stomping through the streets of gold, binging on a bag of dark chocolate chips because He cannot believe HIS kids are so stupid!

We expect because He is so TICKED off with us, that He has checked out.  Kind of like we do….uhh…parenting reminds me I am a failure so I am going to check out on FB for a while. We assume He would rather focus on other important things, than to be present with children who whine, complain and throw fits when they don’t get their way.  Yeah….we believe God exists but He doesn’t really have much to do with my life and struggles.

God’s love comes unexpectedly because we know that we do not deserve it. We don’t expect that God loves us like He does BUT we shouldn’t be surprised, because the bible teaches that He is “slow to anger abounding in love and steadfastness.” “Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest!” Instead of running from God, let’s run to Him!

He never grows tired of loving us!!!!

God’s love is unexpected because it is so different from how we love…..that it takes us by surprise. It is easy to love people when they do what you want them to!  RIGHT!  The kids who do everything right!  But what about the kid who screws up all the time….this is us….God LOVES US!  He loves the unlovable……that comes as unexpected!!!

Because God loves us in unexpected ways….we can expect the unexpectable!!!

What do I mean!

That all of these hard things in our life!  The daily grind, the mundane, the mismatching socks, kids who don’t obey, fighting, kids with disabilities, the ones with a personality that gets under your skin, the messy home…..God is using these things to draw you to HIM.  He is using these things for our GOOD!!!!

God gave us these specific children…He doesn’t make mistakes.

I kiss the wave that throws me to the rock!  This summer there are going to be many waves coming at us. We can be crushed and devastated by the weight or let them throw us to the rock!

 

 

 

 

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Calling BS

By June 29, 2016 Beauty, Christian Living, Identity

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SUMMER break is here and let me tell you……. the Edwards family is ready! We are ready to be schedule free! By August, I will be begging for a schedule!

Summer is great ….vitamin D…time with family…but it comes with its own set of struggles.

When it gets hot…the clothes come off!

When everyone’s clothing come off….my insecurities come out!

There is a unique pressure that society puts on women during the summer!

I have found this to be true, even more so, now that I am an online health and fitness coach.

I attended a pastor and pastor’s wife retreat in Destin, Florida a couple months ago, and I felt this added pressure to look awesome. DANG SHE DOES BURPEES.

I assumed the other wives would see me walk out on the beach and think “OMG BECKY, look at her butt! It is so big!”

As women, we feel the pressure from the magazines that remind us we need to get our bikini bodies ready. We feel the pressure when celebrities on those covers have six pack abs after popping a baby out last week!

We feel the pressure scrolling through Facebook and social media…..where everyone seems to be telling us they have a product that can fix us! And we may walk away from social media feeling like we are not enough.

The culture is screaming loud and clear that we need fixing. It will peddle us products to make IT better!

Whatever it is….as if fixing “IT” will bring us joy!

I am calling BS.

Do not believe the lie that you are less than because you have cellulite, wrinkles, stretch mark, and saggy skin…..DISCOVERY CHANNEL. Tribal.  These so called flaws… they tell our story!  A story, about a woman, whose value cannot be determined by the size of her JEANS or a number on a scale.  WE are so much more than what the eye can see!

Mamas out there….. You carried a human being in your body for 9 months!! You sacrificed to bring another soul into this world…. of course it’s going to look different! For most women….it is hard to spend 3 hours at a gym!

We are not defined by our scars …..we are defined by God! He made us in His image and for His glory!

The Problem

The problem with these so-called solutions is that they are skin deep.

These products lack the power to bring us JOY!!

Yes…. We can wrestle age and gravity with great products BUT true beauty is cultivated within the heart. Beauty that comes from inside.

This beauty is initiated and developed BY God.

Now you may be thinking, “Annie, haven’t I seen you posting all these annoying fitness and health posts…… aren’t you kinda married to the fitness industry? Don’t you want to look awesome?”

Yes…. I would love to have six pack abs and that used to be my ONLY reason for exercising and eating healthy.

But now my priorities have changed. I am going to continue to work on me but not become obsessed. I will not live for 6 pack abs and buns of steel…I workout to LIVE the life God has called me to.

My reason for exercise and eating healthy is to be the best I can be….for my family, friends, and God.  I want to build a body that I can do life in.

Don’t you have amazing products?

Yes, these product have changed my life in many ways.

I encourage you to be a discerning consumer. Do research. Be curious. Make sure the product promotes a lifestyle change, not just a quick fix. And do not lean on any product to determine your worth or value.

Our junk in the trunk may be annoying BUT it’s not the main problem!  Our main problem is lack of confidence in who God says that we are!

We are dearly LOVED by God!! He sees us, He knows us, and the joy that we are longing for can only be found in HIM through Christ!

Let’s stand united and say…No more BS!

I am not going to buy into the lie that fixing these things will bring me joy. I can live a joy filled life by practicing gratitude for the way God made me and all that He has done for me.

Does this mean we should live at McDonald’s and take an IV of diet coke to the vein…heck no!  Taking care of our bodies is a great way to show God gratitude for the life He has given us.

I hope that you will stand with me to call BS, and I pray that we will find our joy in Christ this summer!

I don’t know about you….but the one thing I will not be wearing this summer…SHAME.

 

 

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Beauty In The Fight: God, Cancer, & Hope

By May 19, 2016 cancer, Hope, struggle

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(This blog was written by my dear friend, Kayla Walker. You will both cry and rejoice as you read the story regarding her mother’s battle with cancer. I have always admired Kayla’s love for Jesus and for others. Our lives have been forever changed from knowing this precious family.)

I can still remember hiding the tears behind my sunglasses as I drove my mother home from that fateful doctor’s appointment. She held back her sobs as she spoke to my grandmother over the phone. “Mom, it’s cancer.”

When you’re a child, you think that your parents are invincible. Usually, the child is the one in need of comfort from their mother or father. Then, suddenly, the roles change. My life changed that day.

Maybe I was naïve, but I felt like “cancer” was a faraway kind of thing. I heard the sad stories and prayed for those affected, but it wasn’t tangible. I never thought it would impact my family. Then, stage four breast cancer invaded our home.

After following some other cancer stories, I was determined that my mom would be a “Survivor.” I remember my mom telling my grandmother in that car ride home, “Now, don’t you worry. I’m going to beat this.” I was encouraged by her determination.

Mom’s cancer was labeled stage four because the cancer metastasized in her bones. The first PET Scan showed dark shadows covering her body like a plague. Overwhelmed, our family turned to prayer as we sought medical help. We prayed for a miracle.

I’m not entirely sure why, but prayer has always been a struggle for me. When hard things happened in my life, I tended to go to other people before turning to God. I lacked trusting God with my needs, and, now, with my mother’s life.

Overtime, He showed me the real power of prayer. One of the greatest revelations came the night our church hosted a prayer service for my mother. After trying different chemotherapy treatments, the doctors chose to have mom undergo a mastectomy. Mom didn’t complain, but her fear was evident. However, she took that fear to God and trusted Him. Our family and friends united with her in that trust. As the pastors anointed her with oil and laid hands upon her, I felt the Lord move throughout the words offered up in prayer. That night gave us all courage for the coming surgery.

The next day, we praised God for hearing our prayers! Mom received results from another PET Scan, and her body was completely clear, minus one tumor in her breast. We were so excited because we just knew that the mastectomy would take the last tumor away.

However, after the surgery, dark clouds rolled in.

The surgery didn’t go well, and the recovery was even worse. An open wound appeared in her side and had to be cleaned every day. It was painful, but mom didn’t complain. She kept smiling through the staff infection that came, and the lymphedema that grew worse in her arm.

Because the recovery was so rough, we lost three months of treatment. Within that time, the cancer returned twofold, and she had to return to chemotherapy. Her body rejected treatment after treatment and eventually, she had to have radiation therapy. The radiation was brutal, and her immune system began to fail.

The hospital became mom’s second home. It was agony for her, but still she didn’t complain. Her spirit was amazing, and soon the nurses fell in love with her. It’s incredible when someone comes into the room and says, “I just had to meet the amazing patient that everyone loves.” Even in pain, mom loved people well.

If you didn’t know my mother, you missed out on an incredible blessing. I know it may sound bias, but she really was one of the best women in the world. Why? Because of her love for the Lord. That love was evident throughout her life, but during her greatest battle, that love was magnified. She united all of her suffering with God. Jesus Christ shined through her in a way that made this fallen world brighter, and if you came in contact with her, you walked away changed.

It made no sense to me how God could take such a beacon of light out of this dark world. But, mom was taken.

In a matter of days, mom’s health rapidly declined; more tumors began to cover her body. The once smiling woman became detached and unsure of what was happening. She stopped eating and drinking. When the pain would hit, she would say how ready she was to die.

It suddenly hit me. There wasn’t going to be a miracle. My mom’s cancer wasn’t going away. She wasn’t going to be a “Survivor.” All of my emotions and fears were magnified.

One of my greatest fears was that my mom wouldn’t meet her future grandchildren. My husband and I have been trying for a baby since 2014. I know that doesn’t seem long, but when you learn that your mother has cancer, and the only thing she wants is “to see her grandbabies,” your understanding of time changes. It may sound foolish, but I kept telling myself that a grandchild would save my mother’s life. Yes, it was irrational, but it was where my heart kept running.

As my mom grew sicker and no positive pregnancy test came, I began to feel helpless. I tried my best to help her in other ways, but it was so hard to physically comfort her. Praise God for the family and friends who sacrificed their time and energy for her. They did so much, but I hated that I could not give her the one thing she told me she wanted – a grandbaby.

Reluctantly, I took this fear and others to God. Like I said, it was hard for me to humble myself and ask God to take control. Because mom’s battle with cancer was so inconsistent with the good and bad news, I didn’t know how to come to Him in prayer. I would remember “thy will be done” as I prayed and often felt, “I’m going to pray this, but God isn’t going to answer.” I knew when God made this perfect world, there was no illness or suffering. However, sin entered the picture and with it came cancer. But, I struggled with the concept of God being in control of everything. I couldn’t help but ask, “Why? If He is all powerful and a miraculous healer, why is He not choosing to save my faithful mother?”

Through all my doubt, mom stayed strong and continuously quoted Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” She trusted in the Lord’s will, even though it became clear that it wasn’t what she desired.

As I witnessed my mom’s faith and willingness to humble herself in her suffering, my eyes were opened to the truth. Mom helped me to see that God is a loving Father who desires that His name be shared throughout the world. He reveals Himself through different people in different ways.

God knew His glory would be found in mom’s battle with cancer. There was a beauty in the fight that revealed itself in her trust and devotion to the Lord. God knew that my mom would praise Him through the treatments, the surgery, the wounds, the burns, and He knew that her humble praise would make people ask, “How could a woman in such pain still praise a God who could heal her, but wouldn’t?”

It didn’t make sense to the world, but it made sense to my mom. She wanted the world to follow her journey and see the belief she had in her God, the God that is mighty to save. And, He did save her – over 2,000 years ago when He allowed His Son to die the ultimate death. She followed Him to the cross and loved Him with all her heart. She knew her pain was nothing compared to the pain Christ experienced, and a death without Him would result in infinite pain. But, because of her faith, she would experience the ultimate way life was to be lived. Her life, full of hope and grace, led to eternal joy.

So, did my mom lose the battle with cancer? Yes. But at the same time, she was victorious, because Christ was victorious. And, with that victory, the world has witnessed beauty. Through her fight with cancer, I learned that the times we suffer could be the most beautiful if we have Christ to walk through them with us.

I can look at my place in mom’s battle differently now. I thought having a baby was the way to help her, but I believe now that there was reason that I never got pregnant. God protected me from possible complications via stress or the struggle with balancing time with mom and a newborn. I am so thankful for those days I had with mom and those intimate moments. God blessed me with those opportunities. He showed me that I did all I could do for her; I treasured her and all the wisdom she gave me. With the godly knowledge passed down to me, I was able to stay strong and share this journey with others through Facebook. It was a small thing, but I have been told how much it meant to those who loved her.

Now, as I suffer with knowing the pain of losing my mother in this earthly life, I know that my suffering is just for a little while. Someday, I will walk with my mom again, but she will be smiling, completely healed – no more cancer. What a beautiful life that will be! What an adventure! For now I will weep, missing her stories and smiles, but I will also sing praises for a mother who pointed me to Christ during the good and the bad. I remember her say, “Now, don’t you worry. I am going to beat this.” And I reply, “Well done, mom. You did.”

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

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Oh CELL No! {How To Be Present and Productive}

By April 28, 2016 Family, Iphone, Productivity, Technology

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I AM THE BULLY!

I have come to the conclusion that putting our three kids to bed is a lot like herding cattle. Just when you think you have corralled them, one goes rogue and sneaks off from the herd. All of the sudden you are in need of a lasso and a stiff drink. Needless to say, the bedtime routine is not for the faint of heart.

My tendency is to behave like a commanding officer in the army: brushed teeth. Check. 30 Second Bath. Check. “Hurry up!” I bark (as if I have an urgent matter to which I must attend – Netflix). I rush through the bedtime story by skipping pages and bedtime songs by speed singing through the nightly tunes (although this becomes harder as our children get older).

Lord, help me if they want to have a life conversation at this moment. Seriously, don’t you know mommy is tired! Mommy has things to do! Why didn’t you ask these questions when it was daylight?

I don’t ask them these questions with my words, but they get the point with my body language. I answer in a quick and efficient way, trying not to show that I am rolling my eyes into the back of my head.

The other night, while wrapping up the bedtime extravaganza with the kids, I suddenly sensed I needed to slow down. So I cuddled up beside my eldest (8), and he started to pour his heart out to me. Just a few days prior, I had told my husband that I didn’t feel connected with him, but here he was displaying incredible vulnerability with his feelings. It felt so good to hear his heart.

He had wanted to play basketball with some friends, and they told him that he couldn’t. They didn’t choose him. My first inclination was to take names of these honoree children and have an intervention. How could they not want to spend time with my amazing son? It was probably because he was obviously far superior at playing ball and they were intimidated. The little bullies who made him feel unloved were going to pay; I had some serious poignant statements rolling around in my brain that would have rocked their little world.

It broke my heart that someone had made my son feel like he didn’t belong, that he wasn’t wanted.

Hiding my anger about the entire playground drama, I ran my fingers through his dark hair and looked into his big blue eyes. My job, to reassure him that he is an amazing young man, I was very proud of him for being brave enough to tell mommy his feelings.

I said: “Sweetie, I want you to know that you can talk to mommy anytime. I am on your team. I want you to know you can tell me when you are scared, hurt, or angry.”

Then, his words came at me like a wrecking ball. “I want to, but I can’t.”

“Of course you can!” I said.

“No, I can’t – because you are on your phone. Every time I want to talk to you, you have your phone in your hands.”

The scariest thing: admitting he was right. As of late, I had become a serial scroller. I was choosing my iPhone over him. Until I loosened my grip on my phone, I was not allowing myself to be free available to love those around me.

I had been angry at the ball hogs that had made my son feel excluded, but I was the real antagonist of this story. I had been making my son feel unloved and unwanted everyday. It wasn’t with my words, but my actions. I had sacrificed my son’s emotional health on the altar of Facebook.

“No, I can’t – because you are on your phone. Every time I want to talk to you, you have your phone in your hands.”

Mommy is unavailable. Mommy values what is on her phone more than you. Mommy thinks her phone is more important than hearing your story. Mommy thinks her social media friends are more exciting than watching you play in the yard.

Every time he saw me with my eyes aimlessly scrolling through another world, he saw a mommy who wasn’t choosing him. I was the bully.

I apologized to my son.

But here is the thing, I can say a lot of words, and I can apologize over and over again, but if my hands are continually on my phone, they are not free to love those around me.

My actions speak louder than my words.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick of living like this! I am the only one who gets to be a mother to my children and a wife to my husband. These are the gifts God has given me, and I have been wasting so much of it by being distracted.

Social media can be a blessing, but it can also be a curse. An old friend used to say, “If a good thing becomes a God thing, then is becomes a bad thing.” That means if anything becomes all-consuming (taking a God-like position is our life) no matter how good it is, it loses its value.

How can we take a bad thing and make it into a good thing?

There has to be boundaries when it comes to social media. If we are not controlling our time with entertainment, it will control us.

Being present is the best “present” you can give. When we are present with our families, we testify about a God who is present with us. Immanuel, God with us.

How can we practice being present?:

1. Admit. I had to admit I was an addict. Just like any other drug, our brain becomes accustomed to the high and we think we need it because it gives us pleasure and instant gratification. When our phone is not around, do we freak out or feel anxious that we are missing out on something?
Like any addict, I was hurting those around me.

2. Look into the heart. Are we on social media because we are power hungry, praise hungry, fearful, or lonely, to escape boredom and mundane activities? I have found myself scrolling mindlessly through Facebook in attempt to escape my own life. If we zoom into the heart behind all of the scrolling, we would find not so much a desire to be seen but a desire to be known – a desire to belong.

3. Detox. My husband and I try to plan out certain times where we completely “go dark” with social media. Strangely……the world keeps running!

4. Set boundaries. In order to connect with one another, we have to disconnect. If we don’t there is always someone beeping us or dinging or buzzing every second. It is not realistic to say that we will never get on social media ever again. I have friends that do not use social media at all, but my entire business is on social media. I am not suggesting we never use the “evil” i-phones because that ship is going down like the Titanic! I am suggesting that we learn to steer the ship to safer waters. I would also suggest having an accountability partner that you check in with daily. My accountability will be my husband and some friends who I know are not afraid to ask tough questions and remind me of my priorities.

5. Live by our priorities. I have found this activity to be helpful in determining how to spend my time. Take a piece of paper and fold it in half, long ways. On one side of the paper write your priorities. A priority is what is important to you. What makes you happy? What do you want to accomplish? How do you want to be remembered at the end of your life? My priorities are my faith, family, and fitness. Then on the other side write your daily activities. Cross out anything that does not help or support those priorities. How can you invest in these priorities? How will you use your time? Resources? Energy?

6. Understand the benefits of being disconnected. Contentment. Silent reflection. Focus. Productivity. Create. When we stop consuming, we are free to live. Sing a song, write a book, paint a picture, take a picture (without posting it), plant a garden . . . make something beautiful.

Being present is productive!

Most importantly, live life in such a way you connect to those around you, loosening the grip on our i-phones and free our hands to reach out to those we love!

Let’s stand for FREEDOM and say, “OH CELL NO!”

After all, “It is for freedom you have been set free. Stand firm, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

 

Original Post at http://thegritandgraceproject.org  Come on over!!!

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I’m Scared to Death

By March 28, 2016 Confidence, Failure, faith, Fear, Gospel Living

There are many things in this world that freak me out: tornadoes, spiders, snakes, tsunamis, men who wear Capri pants, ISIS, small talk, and yes, the Gremlins under my bed. These are all valid reasons for fear. Yet I’m also afraid of things that are less tangible – like chasing my dreams.

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Why am I so afraid of pursuing my passions? Here are just a few reasons:

 

I am afraid of being rejected.

I am afraid of being ignored.

I am afraid of living a life that doesn’t matter.

I am afraid that I am not doing it right.

I am afraid that there are already too many people doing what I want to do, and they are doing it much better.

I am afraid that my words are useless and don’t have the ability to help anyone.

I am afraid that I will be discovered to be a fraud.

I am afraid that I am wasting my life.

I am afraid that I am not organized enough to follow through with my ideas.

I am afraid that I lack the perseverance to push through to the other side.

I am afraid that I don’t have enough knowledge or skill.

I am afraid that maybe I will sin in the process by becoming prideful or obsessed.

I am afraid that I didn’t hear correctly from God.

I am afraid of being labeled a narcissist or an idiot.

I am afraid that my “glory days” are in my past.

I am afraid that I am too old and no longer relevant.

I am scared my children and husband will be neglected and therefore will need extensive therapy in the years to come.

I am afraid that I am not like her . . . not funny enough, smart enough, wise enough, pretty enough, plain enough, popular enough, connected enough, exciting enough, or just TOO MUCH, which is another way of saying, “Not enough!” You get the point?

I am afraid that I cannot break my old pattern of quitting everything I start, because I am obviously not going to win at anything. I always lose, so why should I try. I’m tired of first-runner up.

I am afraid of getting close, but not getting to smoke the freaking cigar.

 

These are my current fears, and they were my fears two years ago as I began to write a book.

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In true Gideon fashion, I reminded God of my weaknesses, sin, shortcomings, and inconsistencies (as if He had forgotten them). I told God my exhausted list of concerns. I was quite confident He would agree with me that these fears are proof as to why I should never write a book or really do anything ambitious, ever again.

 

I was scared to write a story that was and still is in process.

 

Similar to Gideon, I was hiding. But instead of a winepress, I was hiding behind motherhood, my personality type (introvert), and a longtime struggle with depression.

 

“God, are you sure that I should write? Did you forget that I was not exactly a stellar English student” (after reading one of my papers, a college professor asked me if I had a learning disability). I didn’t; I was just lazy.

 

“Seriously God? Do we really need another writer? I will never be as thankful as Ann Voskamp or as witty as Jen Hatmaker! Why can’t I just sing a song or something? At least I have been trained to do that.”

 

But then the Spirit of God reminded me: God is not limited by our limitations. He was calling me to trust in Him to provide the inspiration and words. He didn’t need me to have confidence in myself; instead, He was asking me to place my confidence in Him and HHHHis perfect track record.

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So there I was on the elliptical machine, hashing it out with God . . .

 

I wanted to be a part of something REAL. I was sick and tired of small-talk-Christianity.

 

I wanted to talk to women who were REAL – women who had REAL struggles. I wanted them (and I’m one of them) to know a God who was REAL.

 

I was sick and tired of living in a photo-shopped world of women who always felt the weight of not measuring up.

 

I was sick of unrealistic and often unbiblical expectations – especially the ones I placed upon myself.

 

I was sick and tired of hustling for my worth like a psychotic hamster on the treadmill of performance.

 

I was annoyed by the Christian culture that held the The Proverbs 31 Woman over my head, like the golden calf of femininity. I wanted to be more than just a Proverbs 31 woman; I wanted to be an, “All Scripture is God-breathed and useful” type of woman. The Proverbs 31 woman was able to do all that she did because she feared the Lord and knew she was in desperate need of a Savior, just like myself.

 

If God didn’t need my performance, then why did other people? I wanted to help others experience something REAL, and God said, “It starts with YOU.”

 

God was faithful to give me the words to say, but fear was still holding me back because truth be told, I am scared of you. Yeah, you totally freak me out.

 

I didn’t want to tell you that I was writing a book, and I would have kept it from you if it weren’t for my husband who kept telling people.

 

Why was I scared of you, and why do I still struggle with these fears?

YOU ARE FREAKIN’ ME OUT!!!

I am scared that you will laugh at me behind my back. I am scared that you won’t understand my motives and intentions, or that you will understand me all-to-well and come to the conclusion that my weaknesses make me unworthy of trying. I am scared that you will think I have chosen the art of writing because I consider myself to be wise. I am scared that you won’t like what I say. I am scared my closest friends will distance themselves because they do not understand my new pursuit and the new ideas that are driving my all of my decisions. I am scared you won’t like the new me.

 

I share all of this to say two things. First, if you are reading this now, I want to say thanks for coming on this journey with me.

 

Every time I write, there is a chance that I will hear crickets. Awkward. Then, I am left out in the interwebs all by my lonesome thinking I am the only one that struggles in my marriage, rearing children, loneliness, and discontentment.

 

Thank you for the “likes,” “shares,” and “comments” which remind me that I am not alone. I truly feel the love. Please know I do not take this thing we have lightly.

 

It is an amazing day and age where we can connect with other people across the interwebs and say, “ME TOO!!! You are not the only one!”

 

I write for this reason, as CS Lewis articulated, “We read to know that we are not alone.”

 

You are not alone, friend.

 

Thank you for the laughs, tears, prayers, and constant encouragement. Thank you for being okay with my bad grammar and sometimes misspelled words. You are a very patient and understanding human. You have shared your hopes, fears, regrets, dreams, and other random thoughts. We are in this thing together, and I LOVE IT!!!!

 

We have a special thing.

 

-We just get it, right? Life is messy and God is good.

-Strong women build each other up, because of Jesus.

-It’s okay to not be okay, because of Jesus.

-Because of Jesus…we can try!

-Perfect people are boring and don’t make good friends.

-It’s okay to be vulnerable because we all have “junk in the trunk” and stand in great need of a Savior.

AND……

Sometimes you just have to laugh because your kid has dropped his drawers in the front yard and is peeing in the Jack-O-Lantern.

 

I write this blog post to say thanks, and I want to encourage you to do that thing God is asking of you. Do not let fear keep you from living. Place your confidence in the Lord and ask Him to give you the faith to step BOLDLY into the places He is calling you. I hope that you will feel encouraged to know that if I can do it (the girl who still thinks Gremlins are out for her), then so can YOU! Love trumps fears. Look to God and find your courage!

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I Hear Voices

By March 1, 2016 Freedom, rest, Worth

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I have given myself the diagnosis of spiritual schizophrenia, because I hear voices in my head.

If you research this condition on WebMd or other forums, you won’t find it. The reason you will not find it is because it is a self-diagnosis. I know I’m not the only woman who suffers from this ailment, and I find it helpful for all of us crazies to have a label. You are welcome.

Maybe you can relate.

These voices are diligent to remind us of past failures and our present inability to change. The voices say, “You will never be different. This is who you are and will always be. Look, you still have not folded the laundry and all of your socks are mismatched. Forget saving for your kids college fund and go ahead and put it towards their future therapy.” 

Other voices say, ‘You are too big. You are too skinny. You are too dumb. You are too single. You have too many kids. You should have kids.’

Then, the voice of Satan whispers in our ears, ‘You are unworthy of God’s love. Your sin is too great. You are a failure. You are never enough.’ 

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Yet while we all hear these voices, the voice of Christ is speaking even louder.

There is an anthem that all of creation is singing and we must tune our ears to hear it.

If we want to hear the rhythms of God’s grace, we must start talking to ourselves instead of listening to ourselves.

We must become women who fight to believe the truth.

We must preach the Gospel to ourselves daily, because every day we will be tempted to drink the Kool-Aid and hustle for our worth instead of resting in the fact that Jesus has already solidified our value through His death and resurrection. Instead of fighting to prove our worth, we should fight to believe our worth that has already been declared in Christ. Instead of pounding it out on the treadmill of life, we can pound it out in the Word of God and rest in His finished work. Ladies, rest in Jesus today; He is enough.

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Lessons From Taylor Swift

By February 19, 2016 Adventure, Biblical Womanhood

Taylor Swift’s 1989 won album of the year at the 58th Annual Grammy’s!!!!! (At least that’s what people say! It was past my bedtime so I found out the exciting news via morning talk shows!)  

And of course, there were “those haters” that are always gonna hate!

But in normal Taylor fashion, she was “shakin’ it off!

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I love what she said in her acceptance speech which was directed towards nasty comments made my Kanye West…..

“I want to say to all the young women out there: There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame,” Swift said while she accepted the award for her album “1989”. “But if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you, someday when you get where you’re going, you’ll look around and you will know that it was you and the people who love you who put you there. And that will be the greatest feeling in the world. Thank you for this moment.”

and this is why we love her.

I am a Taylor fan, probably for the same reasons I go to all the “high schooler” movies and read certain sagas that pull in a very young audience.  High school kids are just fun!

It is a little embarrassing when you forget to turn off your ringtone and “I don’t know about you!  I’m feeling 22!” starts blaring VERY loudly and obnoxiously in the checkout line at Target.

I am 32….close enough!

My husband surprised me with a ticket to her 1989 tour in Louisville last year!!!  I know….he is a keeper! I went with my good friend Tara.

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We had amazing seats….so amazing, that at one point, I felt as though Taylor looked into my eyes and we had a “moment!”  My friend and I left the concert talking about how  much we love Taylor and we were convinced that she “saw” us in the crowd.   Then, we got in our mini van and drove back home.

There is no doubt that Taylor is talented but I believe it is her relatable personality that makes daughters and mothers (in mini vans) flock to her concerts.

There is one thing we can all learn from this young Icon.  (No, not tips on dating. Bless.)

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That’s right people; Taylor Swift is teaching important life lessons.

Get a pen and paper (or whatever contraption you use to remember things) – this is huge.

Why are tens of thousands of people willing to spend hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars to watch Taylor live?

Story telling.

Taylor fan or not, you have to admit, she is an amazing storyteller.  The songs capture all of our senses and make us feel as though we are there with her. It is like we are sitting on those cold bleachers in our old, comfy t-shirt and feeling the rejection of watching someone else who wears “short shorts” snag the guy – unless of course you were the girl in the shorts (different frame of reference).

When she sings “15,” as though it were yesterday, we remember that first day of high school and trying to figure out where we fit in.

After listening to“22,” I want to get dressed up like a hipster (which I am still trying to figure out what that would be exactly – glasses?) and then go out dancing.  However, I typically just end up in the living room busting out mad dance moves with the toddlers.

What does all this mean?  Here’s what it means: We need to get our “Taylor on” people!

No, I don’t mean having an air guitar show in the kitchen, hair thrashing and all.  Although, I do know from experience that this will get your kids’ attention (possible parenting strategy).  It does not mean we start writing angry songs about our husband when he forgets to take out the trash.

Getting your Taylor on simply means to be a storyteller.   There is a great story to be told.  “It’s a love story baby – just say yes!”  Say yes to telling yourself this story every day.

What is this story?  If you are a Christian, you have a story. Or, as Taylor likes to say, you have a song, but “our song” is not a “slamming screen door.”

Rather, our song is the fact that we slammed the door in the face of our great love – God Himself.   We said, “forget you;” I love myself more than I love you and I am going to write my own story.

Talk about BAD BLOOD!

The Bible teaches that this rebellion is called sin, and as a result, we deserve death (Romans 6:23).  If the story ended there, God would have been just to simply let us die in our sin – forever separated from Him.

But the story continues.  God sent His only Son, Jesus, who lived a perfect life for 33 years. Then, He was brutally murdered in my place on a bloody cross.  Not only was He publicly executed by the hands of evil men, but even more unfathomable, He was crushed by the wrath of His own Father for our sin.  Christ conquered death and the grave and now for those who believe in Him, they can be called the children of God.

He changes “our song” by giving us His story.

This story goes far beyond your Wildest Dreams!!!!

If you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, this is your song: you had nothing to offer a holy King but the sin that nailed him to a tree, and yet He offered you eternal life – not because you were lovely, but to make you lovely. 

But not just that, this great God offers us His unending and unconditional love.  Until we’ve been loved by Jesus, we’ve never truly been loved.

The gospel allows us to “begin again.”

Our soul must hear this story daily.  That is, that we had nothing to do with our salvation.  Not only this, but there is nothing we can do to keep our salvation – not even having a good Bible study.

The fact is, though many don’t even realize it, those around us are starving for this story.  Every woman desires to be loved for who she is, in spite of all of her flaws and shortcomings.  We have a greater story to tell than Taylor, and we must become Spirit-filled storytellers seeking to capture our listener’s senses with the great love of their heavenly Father.

When my kids are fighting in the backseat because apparently my oldest will not stop committing the crime of looking at his sister, the story must be told.

When big sister does not want to help little brother clean up the toys, the story must be told.  Jesus came and spilled His blood for our sins, all while He was sinless.  He cleaned up messes that He did not make.

When our children wake up with nightmares, tell them the story.  Christ is a conquering King!  He came to destroy not only Satan himself, but all of his boogey-men.

Additionally, we must pursue authenticity in our storytelling.

What do I mean by this?

Taylor has woven her life experiences – pain, rejection, joy, and confusion – into a melody that people can’t get out of their heads.    The media often pokes fun at Swift for getting inspiration from her breakups, but this is why we love her songs so much.  It’s because they are real.

Authenticity is something people will pay to see…It is like finding a golden nugget in the all muck.

I would argue that many Christians are afraid to be authentic.  “If they knew how crazy I was they would freak out!” On the contrary, I would argue that authenticity will draw people to you! Craziness and jacked-up-ness loves company.

I decided long ago that I only want to be friends with crazy people.

Authentic storytellers don’t “hide there crazy;” instead, they let it all hang out. They use it to point others toward the One who holds it all together.  God will use all of our pain, rejection, fears, joy, bruises, and scars for His story.  None of our pain is wasted. He is weaving all of these things together for our good and His glory.

We can step out in grace and be real with others because the cross has already told them how big of a failure we are and that we are loved in spite of it.  We don’t have to hide anything because the cross has already exposed everything.

Your kids, coworkers, church members, neighbors, and husband need to see you living authentically in the Lord.

Real Christians are not wearing a halo and smiling all the time (those that pretend to make me want to punch them in the face). So get over it!  Your kids don’t need a super-mom, they need to see your tears – and then tell them the story.

 People around you need to see you fail; then they are reminded, “Oh yeah! She is not saved because she is a perfect person, but because her trust is in a perfect Jesus!” Tell them how you sin, too, and that’s why Jesus came – to rescue this woman from herself.

Be an authentic storyteller.  If you need to use an air guitar, go for it!

(This article was originally published in 2014 at www.annieleigh.com and has been updated as of February 19, 2016.)

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