Monday, March 3, 2014

When You Are Preapproved

Photo Credit

The one Grandma who raised eight children of her own, the one who wore a dress every day of her life, the one who walked with a limp and had a glorious head of white hair as long as I could remember, -she was the grandma who never played favorites, and I loved her back.

Her modest home was a bit dated and the furniture was never rearranged. When my mom would go to visit, looking for some adult conversation, they would usually sink into the overstuffed chairs that sat side-by-side in the living-room. Then I would slip away to the kitchen, reach on top of the old tin cupboard where there were always Shortbread Pecan Sandies stowed away in the vintage aluminum bread box. I would grab a few cookies and wander to the stairwell that led to the three bedrooms upstairs. With each step you took, the boards curved, becoming smaller on one side, forming a triangle, making it easy to lose your footing.

Upstairs was magical to me. My grandparents' bedroom, which sat on the southwest corner of their home, was filled with warm natural lighting streaming into the space.  Tall narrow windows were framed with lace curtains and wall paper with tiny flowers softened the bulging plaster walls. A long heavy dresser with an over-sized mirror dominated one wall. There, centered on a glass mirror tray, lay the only fussy things my grandma owned: a silver plated comb, brush and hand held mirror set.

My small hand would clinch the long slender stem of the mirror, then I'd extend my arm high to catch a glimpse from all angles. There I would stand, with my blunt-cut blond hair, complete with natural cow-licks having their own way, holding a silver plated mirror to examine my reflection. In the soft light, stealing moment of quiet, which are rare in a family of six, I would twirl around and wondered if I were really pretty. If I were really loved. If this face reflected in the mirror, was really enough.

As the years have scrolled by, I can tell you that again and again, I have answered that unspoken question with a "No."

Because the world has a way of telling little girls and little boys that they are not enough. And mirrors have no ability to reflect a person's soul or the deep worth that all people are to the God who created them.

If I were honest, I'd tell you that I've spent most of my life, trying to be "enough" in one way or another.

When it became obvious that I was never going to be enough by the standards of the world, I purchased a few self-help books, spent a fair amount of time living through my children who were brighter and more beautiful than I ever could be, and reaching for things that would fill me up for a moment. But one by one the things I've tried to grasp, evaporate, grow up, and become tarnished. Suddenly you find yourself half a century old, wondering why you haven't figured it out by now.

And as much as I never want to struggle in this area, I just do. It's soul deep.

I was reminded of this as I prepared to go on a trip recently. Just thinking about being around over a thousand women that appear to have it all together, struck terror into my heart. I went shopping for something to cover up my insecurities and shortcomings. To be honest I just like my well established, deep grooves of what is the familiar. I like my yoga pants and sweatshirts. I have trouble accessorizing well. I need to loose weight. I don't like being uncomfortable.

Did you catch all those "I's?"

This was at the core of my problem. The focus was on myself instead of what God was doing inside me and about to bless me with.

In Austin I got to hug this girl, Jennifer Dukes Lee.

I met her last year, at the Writers Retreat, Jumping Tandem. As she spoke there, she showed us pictures from a missions trip she had been on, of actual mud pies that are served in Haiti. She told of how the people make these pies to fill their stomachs because there is not enough food. They eat mud pies to fight off hunger pains.

In America I'm eating my own form of mud pies trying to find temporary relief from my soul hunger.

The things I possess, eat, purchase and the way I spend my time. So often I'm looking in crazy places like a mirror for some satisfaction and affirmation that is allusive. I think too highly of myself one day and too lowly of myself the next. Neither is how God sees me.

He is a God that doesn't play favorites. He is a God that has amazing plans for each and every person if we will be open to His leading.

And in less than a month Jennifer Dukes Lee has a book coming out. Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval – and Seeing Yourself through God’s Eyes.   Her book talks about idols in our lives and our need to identify them, so we can give up on some of the lies we've been telling ourselves.... about ourselves.

There is a ripple of movement in the ocean of souls, who want to move past the desire to be enough and to live as if what God did for us is more than enough. 

Those things that I try to fill myself with are most often idols.

It is called sin.

Not a popular teaching for sure.

There is a foundational identity problem. Understanding what Jesus did for me, living like, what the Bible says is really true. And the truth is this: that every single life is treasured, known, loved, and deeply cherished. That Jesus really did love us to death.... His death on the cross, so we can be delivered, redeemed, set free and made whole.

In my head I know that what is lasting and matters most, is how God sees me. It's my heart that trembles and staggers to fully embrace the identity I own in Jesus.

Fear really is a fraud.

The mirror is a liar.

And if I don't get this, it is easy to lose my footing in this one life I get to live.

The soul can only be fully seen and known by the One who designed it.

The path to discovering who we really are is a refining process. It is all about the glory of God. He is at work in each one of us, accomplishing what we cannot do ourselves, so that His name will be praised.

In this world I don't want to miss Jesus.

I want to embrace the real Jesus. The real me. The real you.

I'm looking for some heart change.

Today I want to walk in my pre-approved Jesus status.

I would love to have you join me.

 Love Idol

Jennifer shared this quote and I think it is worthy of passing on to you.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. 
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, 
gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
 There is nothing enlightened about shrinking,
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do. 
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
 It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
 And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
 As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.”
~ Marianne Williamson


The Lent season begins on Wednesday. There was a season in my life that I observed Lent, just because that is what we were supposed to do. In the past, I've given up ice cream and chocolate to name a few, but it never changed my heart. With the Love Idol  focus, embracing the Lent season as an opportunity to deal with idols in our lives, I've decided to step one shaking foot in front of the other and make a commitment. 

For me, food is an idol. (Certainly not the only idol) It's like a drug really. When I'm weary in spirit, tired physically, when I want to check out mentally. And to be honest, I really don't want to do the work of change. I really just want to eat fresh cookies hot out of the oven and warm homemade bread with equal parts of honey and butter dripping off the sides.

But I want to be free of this negative cycle and I desire deep heart change.  

So, for Lent, I am going to give up 'white stuff.' White flour, white sugar and the white noise in my life. The things that numb me and divert my energies from the Main Thing. Yes, I want to eat what feeds my body, mind and soul.

Like the Word of God. -So I have sweet words to share.

Also, I want to fast one day a week during this time, so perhaps I can better focus in my secret life with Jesus. Because secrets manifest themselves in our lives and I want this one life I have, to be evidence that I've spent more time with Him in the secret place.

Lent in the past was just another thing to do. This year Lent is about more of Jesus. Less of me. Because when I shift my focus from inward to outward, it will always lead me to Him.

Please friends, feel free to ask me how it's going.

I can already feel your prayers. 

Counting blessings and sharing hearts over here: A Holy Experience and at Jennifers.

2-25-14 - 3-3-14

-This song by David Crowder "I AM"
-Spending time with my husband home for over 24 hours
-Safe travels for our daughter
-A few hours with one of my favorite people. Love you Amanda
-The women who attend Tuesday night Bible Study
-The book: A million Little Ways. It is messing with me.
-Going to see my hairdresser. Blessed always.
-Kissing grandchildren
-My dad not being hurt worse in his fall
-Warmer weather. Yes. Yes. Yes.

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© Rhonda Quaney