Are There Legitimate Excuses… Reasons?



“No excuses!”

I have read the motivational phrases and the examples that have been lauded for us to follow: women and men who never quit and never say never.

I understand why they are lauded.  These are men and women who have faced incredible challenges and yet have never allowed their challenges to keep them from reaching above-average goals.

I love reading the story of Nick Vujicic for that reason.  The man is one of my greatest heroes!  He was born without limbs, and yet, he has accomplished far more than most people who have been born with limbs.  Nothing seems to daunt that man!

The truth is some of us need to believe more so we can live the more.

For some of us, our perspective is just not big enough.  Our dreams aren’t big enough.  Our belief isn’t big enough.  

On the other hand, there is another side to this whole “No excuses” motto.  There is a lot of pressure behind this, telling us that once again we are not enough or that we are making wrong, lazy, or even selfish choices if we decide that enough is enough.

The danger is that our culture is constantly telling us as women that being a wife and mother isn’t enough.  We hear the phrase “I am just a stay-at-home mom.”  There seems to be a sense of shame with that — as if raising future human beings with all of their God-potential is substandard.

I am all for education.  I am all for being a Proverbs 31 woman who is a skilled business-woman.

What I don’t like is when I hear the pressure being put on women that somehow they are wrong if they decide that they like to live a simpler life.

We put so much emphasis on performance and praising the women accomplishing “super-woman” feats that it makes every other woman feel like she has to do the same or she is living a substandard life.

The question is, “Who determines fullness of life?”  It’s not a company.  It’s not a title.

Can I just say that fullness of life is found in living fully the life that God has given for you to live — not another person’s life?

Can I also say that if you live for the more, to be more, or to accomplish more, you will never be content nor live the full life?

More is always that indefinable goal that is ever elusive and never truly attainable.

I am going to just say what I have been thinking for awhile:

There are good excuses/reasons for not doing more.  The truth is when you say “yes” to one thing, you are always saying “no” to something else.  Sometimes, the something else is actually the thing you should be saying “yes” to instead.

There will always be business ventures and some new product to sell.  There will always be something new to buy or admire.  There will always be something you will want to change about your physical appearance, BUT…

Your kids won’t always be in your home. They won’t always be little enough to hold on your lap. You won’t always be able to watch them blow dandelions in the wind. You and your husband may not always be able dance together, play Nerf gun wars with your boys, and go for a run together.  Each of these moments can’t be recaptured.  Today can only be lived today.  

Reaching a new level of achievement is exciting, but can I be very direct with you?  You are not going to be content at that new level if you haven’t learned to be content at the level where you are currently.  I know this sounds counter-productive to any type of sale’s job, but I am telling you that at the heart of the constant pressure for more is discontentment and a lack of identity or simply being.

A full life is a place of understanding the simplicity of fully “being” in the moment.  It’s being content where you are.  That’s what it means to be fully in the moment.

The invitation God has given to enjoy Him today and set aside distractions can’t be accepted tomorrow.

Dream for tomorrow, but live in today.

There are many things that call for our attention. The question is, “Which invitations will you accept, and which ones will you regret you didn’t accept?”

I want to live, knowing that I have accepted the most important ones, and often those aren’t the ones that others see or for which I will ever be recognized.

May it not be that what we do is what defines who we are, but may it be that who we are defines what we do. There is a difference.

Is There a Witch Hunt for Men?

Arm Men 1

( Hanlon)

Today on Facebook, I saw a man ask the question if it’s starting to become a mania to bring accusations of sex crimes against men.

I think he is concerned that there is a witch hunt against men.   Are his concerns unfounded, or is there some merit to them?

Let’s look at the overall picture of what is happening and being said on public forums.

Recently, the public was made aware of sexual crime allegations leveled against high profile people in Hollywood.

To increase the attention and to make it more personal, there was recently an awareness campaign on Facebook that used the two words “Me too.”  A lot of women posted that on their Facebook status, and some shared their stories of grief and abuse.  For some women, it was the first time that they had acknowledged the wrongs done against them.  It became a step towards healing.

I believe that the purpose of the “Me too” campaign was to draw attention to how immense the issue of sexual offenses against women is.  Increased awareness is needed and beneficial.

Thanks to increased public awareness and media exposure, the sexual crimes against women are going to have greater accountability.  This is a good thing.

Yet, I do hear this guy’s concern.  He was a brave soul to mention his fears.  He wasn’t saying that bringing evil men to justice is wrong.  He was expressing concern that all men, including innocent men, become the targets of revenge.  I believe that his concerns are not unfounded.

If you look back at the history of humanity, you see that movements that begin from reaction rarely lead to a positive conclusion.  Take the French Revolution and the Bolshevik Revolution as examples.  These movements started because there was injustice against certain classes of people.  The injustice was absolutely wrong.  Yet, what happened is the movements led to a blood-bath where no one was safe.  The cry for “justice” became an excuse to accuse anyone against whom you had a personal vendetta or to simply steal the property from an accused individual.  Instead of justice and a solution, the movements led to even greater injustice.  

Let me clarify that I am all for truth-speaking.  Anyone who knows me knows this.  I am not afraid to stand and speak up against injustice.  I will… to my dying breath.  That being said, if I am not careful, my cause becomes not about working towards positive change but about me being right and the other being wrong.  My motto becomes more about vindicating myself — actually more taking revenge for myself — than about helping both parties.

It is also true that if I continually focus on what was done against me, I never become more than the victim.  What was done against me becomes what defines me.  I am re-victimized again.

What I am not saying is that we should ignore evil and abuses.  Part of healing does mean that we need to address the wrongs.  Justice does need to be meted out to offenders.  As ugly as it is sometimes, the truth of an offense needs to be revealed.  There is healing for the victims in this and even the abusers in this.

What I am saying is that there is more complexity to the issue of sex-offenses and sexual innuendos, and we need to shoot effectively at the right target.

The reality is if we don’t address the root issues of these offenders and the attitudes and actions that led them to what they became, we will forever be “shadow-boxing” (as a good friend likes to say).

The questions then to ask are the following:

“How did we as a society get to where we are?”

“Is it because all men are bad, and all women are good?”

“Is it because men are just scum-bags?”


As a married woman, I recognize that my husband is made differently and thinks differently.  Most men are just wired with a greater sex drive, and they can’t help that.  They think about sex all the time.  It’s the way their brain, hormones, and physique work.  If I don’t understand this, I will try to control and shame them, and that doesn’t help anyone.

A greater sex drive does not give excuse though for becoming a predator and viewing women as objects to fulfill your lusts.  That actually dishonors men and women.  We are sexual creatures, but we are much more than sexual creatures.  We are created with three parts: spirit (spiritual part of us), soul (mind, will, and emotions), and body.

Humans are not just bodies walking around.  We are bodies with souls and spirits.  To harm a person’s physical body is not just a crime against their bodies, but it’s a crime against their souls and a crime against the spiritual being they were created to be.   

Therefore part of the solution is to understand that all three parts of a man and woman need to be helped and nurtured in order for an individual to be healthy.  The answer then is to address the spiritual parts and soul parts of that individual in order to bring the individual back into proper balance. 

A sex predator is a person who has a huge lack in their spiritual and soul parts to the extent that the only thing that controls them (and imprisons them) is the sexual lusts of the flesh.

If we want to see solutions and true change, then we need to begin to ask the difficult questions.  We need to begin to see the parts that are lacking not just in individuals but in our society.

Our society represents what is happening on the individual level.

Do we dare acknowledge that we as a society are running wild with unbridled passions and lusts — doing whatever feels good to us, regardless of whether it’s right or wrong or harmful to anyone else?

Do we feed the lusts of our flesh — rather than feeding our souls and even more importantly our spiritual beings?

Sex was created for enjoyment, but we are not just sexual creatures.  More importantly, we are spiritual creatures.  When our spirits are being fed, our souls are nurtured and flourish, and our bodies, including our passions are fulfilled in a way that doesn’t imprison or harm anyone.

Is Religion The Only Offender Against Women?

praying woman


I recently saw a friend’s comment on Facebook about how a lot of issues within the church are based on gender issues.  I understand the validity and even pain of what she is saying because I certainly saw the reality of some of this personally.  Yes, the Church has allowed some of those false ideas and lies from the past to remain.  They are just labeled with “religious-sounding” terms so it sounds better or more Biblical.

Just because I call a dandelion a flower doesn’t make it so.

So often, terms have been falsely defined, and so we reject the term without understanding that within every lie, there is often a nugget of truth.

When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he took God’s Word but twisted it and misapplied it in the wrong context, making it a lie.

There is the term submission mentioned in the Bible, but it has been often twisted and misapplied in the wrong context.  Within the same passage as submission is also God commanding husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church.

How did Christ love the Church?

How did Christ love the Church?  By domineering, forcing submission, commanding their service while lording His position over them, devaluing them, ruling with harshness and unrelenting pride…?  No!  Rather, Christ served.  He laid down His life.  He listened.  He healed.  He cried.  He restored.  He forgave.  Everything He did, He did for them.  Christ did not come to the Earth to be served and but instead to serve.  His was an example of humble, servant leadership, always seeking the best for the other person.  He saw the value of the weakest, most vulnerable in society and acknowledged them and gave them His time and attention.

What Scripture shows is not one ruling, and the other serving and submissive/subdued.  What Scripture shows is both husbands and wives are called to lay down their lives to love/serve another one.  Both are called to put the others needs first.  Both are called to Christ’s example of Agape love, which is the most selfless and humble love of all.  Both are required to lay down their life for the other.

I wrote the following in response to my friend’s FB post, with some additional thoughts:

It is sad the way religion has abused women. It is also sad the way the world abuses women. One tells us that we are inferior to men. The other often continues to promote the same thing by taking it from a different angle, telling us that to be important we have to prove we are like men or better than men, which only says, “We are only important if we can prove our worth by being like a man or better than a man.”

What if the truth is, our uniqueness is part of our amazing, beautiful package of worth?!!! It’s not in being like a man or better than a man, because that actually feeds into the lie; it’s merely a reaction to the lie rather than the authenticity of the truth.

It’s also not about us being a sub-category, inferior, subdued, oppressed, or dominated.

The truth of what I see in Scripture is God restoring the broken image — the bad rap. women got at the Fall (false teaching, BTW). In religious circles, women are often blamed for the Fall.

God always noticed the down-trodden, the wounded, the vulnerable, the oppressed, and the undervalued.  That is why I believe He made sure He restored that broken image by how He demonstrated His thoughts concerning women in His life on Earth.

Jesus revealed Himself to women who in that society often felt unnoticed, unloved, undervalued. He demonstrated that He saw, heard, and honored them.

Jesus allowed women to be the first ones present to testify of His resurrection. Women were the first ones to see and hear Jesus in His resurrected state.  Interesting how the very things that women seem to feel within in religion — not seen or heard — are the very things Jesus did for them.  He saw them and revealed Himself to them.  He spoke to them and heard their cries.

God speaks of many women in the Bible whom He showed He valued, regardless of how society at the time regarded them. By lifting these women up and telling their stories, God shows that He heard and saw their worth. (See Abigail, Hannah, Sarah, Rebekah, Eve, Esther, Miriam, Jochebed, Rahab, Bathsheba, Deborah, Lydia, Priscilla, Dorcas, Mary Magdalene, Mary, Elisabeth, Mary and Martha, Samaritan Woman, woman caught in adultery, Tabitha, Damaris, Naomi, Ruth, and the list goes on.)  Entire books of the Bible were dedicated to telling some of these women’s stories.

He showed in the Proverbs 31 woman a woman of amazing dignity, strength, resourcefulness, honor, and trust. She made the decisions for the running of her household, for doing business, for buying land. By sitting with the elders, her husband demonstrated great trust and respect in her abilities. She had freedom, responsibility, and the trust of her husband.

That’s the kind of woman God has called me to be, and I am thankful that His picture is of strength, dignity, honor, trust, resourcefulness, intelligence, wisdom, etc…!

God has restored in me so much of the image that was broken. God alone knows what our purpose looks like — religious doesn’t, and the world doesn’t. Each are just vying to react against each other — too busy pitting against one another.

The authentic image steps out and away from the mess and is secure in knowing her worth.

Religion rejects our image and undermines it.  It says we are inferior and meant to be controlled and dominated by men.

The world rejects our image and tells us there is no value in the way we were created unless we compete to be like a man.  This is nothing more than once again undermining our image.

Christ shows the Father’s heart, and what we see is that women are unique, a glory to God, they are clothed with strength and honor, virtuous, and our voices are heard.  We are seen, we are heard, and we, as women, are valued.  We don’t have just a place in God’s Kingdom.  We are an integral part of His Kingdom!

If we want to know our value, we won’t find it in the world, and we won’t find it in religion.  We will find it in the God who made us, who loves us, and who shows the greatest servant-leadership by lifting us up and calling us into positions of amazing influence and honor.

We don’t have to be more or different to be validated!  We already are of infinite worth!

The Silent Voice



Growing up, I experienced the nurture of loving parents, but I also grew up in and around a culture where it was expected that women were to be the quiet, affirming, supporting ones.  In fact, a strong woman was perceived as a threat to most men in our spheres.  I remember wishing I was a guy… because I did think and wanted to be able to contribute intelligent thoughts and insights.

In and around some of those spheres, a “child” was considered a child until they had a home of their own.  As a female, my parental authority was then transferred to my spouse’s authority.

There is an element to this that is true and healthy: children are under the protection and authority of their parents until they reach adulthood.  It’s the parents’ job to train their children to take increasing responsibility until they are able to make the transition into adulthood.  Husbands do have a responsibility to protect and give spiritual guidance to their families, but this is not to the exclusion of the wife’s influence or voice within the home.

In my growing up environment, there were many families that took the authority issue to an extreme.  Children were considered “children” until they were given permission to marry, but they were also told whom and when to marry, where to work, what jobs to work, etc…  There were many adults I knew who still were not marrying the ones they loved because it was not allowed (in their 20’s and 30’s).

You might wonder why didn’t those adult “children” just do their own thing.  When you have been raised to obey and not question your authorities or you are considered rebellious, you dare not question the system.  Who wants to be guilted or called rebellious because you dared to question something?  The stigma would be too harsh.  My voice was controlled and “silenced” in some of those circles (not trying to reflect this back on my parents; this was the environment of the families and teaching in which I lived).

I remember going on a mission’s trip to Russia.  During my stay there, the wife of the main guy in charge of the entire operation in Russia pulled my sister and I aside and told us one day that we talked too much and that guys don’t like women who talk.  Again, my voice was shamed and silenced.

Within a number of church circles with which we associated, the women were also told to keep silent.  There was not a lot of opportunity for women to have a vocal presence within the church.  The result was I envied the men who had the honor of vocally getting to share because I had to silence so many thoughts that were brimming over in my heart.  I did share them with the Lord and even when appropriate with fellow women.  My voice though felt disqualifed.

[Note: The point of this blog is not to discuss what the Bible does and does not say concerning the roles of men and women.]

My husband is a quieter guy.  He also learned to be quieter, but that is his story…  Because he is quieter, I remember people accusing me of “wearing the pants” in the family.  Again, I taught myself through the continued experiences of my life to hold back, shut down, silence my voice because some male might see me as a threat.

[Note: I had no intention of being dishonoring of my husband, but I simply had an opinion that was articulate and insightful.  Somehow, wisdom and insight coming from a woman was a threat to some people.]

My longing to be heard, to have a voice led me to blog.  Some might be misinterpreting what I am saying as being a self-absorbed preoccupation with a need to be heard.  My motivation for blogging though was that God had given me a voice to be heard and somehow it needed to be heard so I began to blog.  The “voice” He gave me was to share the things that He is teaching me on this journey, called life.

There are times that I can be in a group of women and will even share a few things, but still feel not “heard.”  Part of that is because sometimes we are all so desperate to be heard that no one is really listening.

Sometimes, we are all so desperate to be heard that no one is really listening.

Why is being heard so important?

Why is it so painful to feel like no one hears or cares to really hear you?

Have you ever been in a room brimming with people, the noise is deafening, but in the middle of the noise, you feel unseen and unheard?

Is there more to “seeing” and “hearing” than the physical sense?

Is it more the sense of feeling loved, validated, wanted, respected, appreciated, and noticed for which we are really looking?

What are we desperately desiring in the pursuit for validation, respect, and appreciation?  Isn’t it about connection, love, and belonging?  Isn’t that where we truly find purpose?

Yet, we look for purpose sometimes in the very things that disconnect us from connecting, from receiving and giving love, and from really experiencing the stability that comes from truly belonging. 

There is commitment that is required to really belong.  Yet, those who need that sense of belonging the most are the most likely to “shy away” from commitment.  It is frightening, risky, vulnerable.

As I seek to find my voice, I am also aware of the pitfalls.  It’s easy to try to find my voice and in the process I forget about everyone else’s voice. 

Do I enjoy my “shining moment” at the expense of others? 

Right now in my journey, I am still learning to find the courage to be heard, to not apologize for being heard, and to also in the process learn to listen to the silent cries of all the voices around me, longing for someone to care enough to truly listen.

Do The Women’s Marches Represent Women?

mother and daughter


As a fellow woman, I watched the coverage of the marches, heard the words of the pop stars at the women’s marches being held across the world, and I was disturbed.

I am a woman — honored to be a woman! My body is miraculous…! But, Madonna and Ashley Judd do not represent me or a lot of women. It saddens me to think that the language, attitudes, sexual innuendos, visceral attacks on those they see as their opponents are supposed to represent the epitome, courage, strength, and image of being a woman. Thankfully, they do not represent me!

Rather, I identify with the Proverbs 31 woman, Margaret Thatcher, Gladys Alyward, Amy Carmichael, Mother Theresa, Abigail Adams, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Jane Austen, and many such women who understood that it is not weakness to display a character that espouses sincerity of heart and intentions, intelligence, wisdom, unbelievable courage in the midst of hardships, and a willingness to put the needs of others first. These women are heroes — not because they used disgusting language to rant at those they hated and implied disgusting sexual innuendos.

If we want to make a difference, let’s be a difference!

I tell my kids that all the time… If you think something is wrong, how does that make it okay for you to do the same thing (same heart attitude) in revenge?

We call for unity, but where is the action being taken to step across the bridge?

…or does bridge-building mean that the other side has to cross to our side of thinking?

To be honest, I see very little attempts being made to actually build bridges, unify the country, seek common ground, and spread peace and good will.

Instead, let’s listen to those — truly listen to those who view things differently.  Let’s treat everyone with respect — no matter how they voted.

Let’s be the difference we want to see!

Embracing Womanhood

Amy 1

(Picture By Laura Patrick Photography.)

Today as I watched my kids play happily in the warm sunshine, digging in the dirt, and chasing balls, I couldn’t help but think what the miracle of their lives represent — the miracle of motherhood, the miracle of womanhood.

We live in a day when staying home and being a mom seems mediocre or insignificant.  When asked what we do as women, the expected response is often for something of worth or significance — something beyond being a homemaker.  The proper response of our worth or measure being that of some noteworthy career, where we can demonstrate our equal or superior intelligence, status, and capabilities with that of men.

There is nothing wrong with a woman having a good career and being educated.  The point is a good career and several degrees are not necessary to prove the worth of a woman.

Why do we as women feel that we have to compete with everything a man does to demonstrate our own worth?  Why do we feel that we must do and be everything a man is to prove that we are equal or superior to men?

What is at the root/heart of this competition?  Could it be insecurity?  Could it be a reaction to past history?

Women are of equal value, equal intelligence, and have gifts that equal men in significance!  Yet, in all our striving to prove something are we actually proving the opposite and degrading our own species and value?

If our value is in the variety, diversity, and distinctions of our particular genders, why do we strive to be like a gender we are not?  By trying to prove that we are like the other gender, do we not reinforce the image that our own gender is weaker, less significant, less valuable than the other?  If our gender has distinctive value in its differences, why do we try to operate as if we are the same as the other gender?

Motherhood, the demonstration of the uniqueness of our gender as a woman, is one of our greatest gifts to society.  Yet, it is often scorned, ridiculed, or viewed as subservient.  What enlightened/educated woman wants to be viewed in this modern culture as “merely” a homemaker?  “What honor is there in that?”

Motherhood is a distinct gift to society — perhaps the greatest contribution we can give to this world!  It is the gift of life, the continuation of the species, the formation of a character and life, the extension of the life cycle, the hope of our future, the potential for benefits to all of society through ingenuity, creativity, and new inventions produced by the next generation.

No other gender can create, bear, and nurture life!  No other gender can protect and bear life within its own body.  Motherhood is a unique opportunity — distinct from the other gender!

Distinct differences with women are their unique gifts to perceive, feel, nurture emotionally — not just physically, create, and color the world with passion, creativity, and a unique perspective.

The femininity of women is not a weakness!  Yet, modern society portrays attractive, sexy women as being as strong or stronger physically then men, aggressive, tough (emotionally and physically), and sporting clothing that decries hints at femininity.  The only hints of femininity is to continue to portray the wrong view of women: as objects of sexual gratification and lust.  Thus, these modern women are portrayed in sexy clothing, that is as raw in its design as in its message: women are meant to lust after, to be a sex object.

This view might illicit strong reactions.   Modern women will react to the idea of men lusting after them, which they rightfully should.  Yet, women have bought into the error — continuing to dress with raw, provocative clothing as if their only value is in being a sex object.  Why else would we put so much undue attention on sexual attention?  Is it to feel powerful?  Do we think by dangling this hold over men and then yanking it away, we control them?  Does controlling men somehow make us strong or stronger?  Does control ever demonstrate true strength?

Does control ever demonstrate true strength?

Does avoiding being a sex object mean we reject any intimation of our femininity or womanhood?  Does it mean we wear unattractive clothing that cover any hint of our feminine form or any hint of our distinct attraction to the creative, colorful, softer, more nurturing sides to our nature?  Would that also not be a disavowal of our womanhood, a perfidy of our distinctions as women?

To be a woman means you must be strong — a strength with its own distinctions and uniqueness!  The singular differences of our own gender requires a strength of character, strength of purpose, strength of physical endurance, strength of emotion.  As women, we expressly create, nurture, sustain, and contribute to life like none other! 

Not many men would readily volunteer to undergo the challenges that women must in order to preserve, nurture, and sustain life.  Most women would rather endure the challenges of pregnancy, child-birth, and raising young children rather than hear their husbands whine and suffer through it.  (Not that all men would be whiners.)  The point is that our womanhood proves our value because of our unique contributions!

Women are not valuable because they can be just like a man or be superior to men.  Women are valuable because of who they are!  The essence of womanhood is the very distinction that gives value to women.

If we want to be respected as women, then perhaps we should stop trying to prove we are the same as men — as if the distinctions of manhood are the only specifications of worth and value — and start walking with confidence in our own dignity as women.  We are not mere sex objects.  Our strength is not in our ability to manipulate or control another, including the opposite gender.  Our strength is in our singularity as women — not as women who haven’t recognized their own worth and thus are in the awkward state of trying to function as a man when they are a woman.

The diversity of the two genders is what makes them both uniquely special and independent from each other. 

As women, let’s embrace our womanhood and femininity, stop believing the lies, and walk with dignity because we are distinctly women!

What If You Really Did Marry Prince Charming?


My last blog I wrote was:

My focus was on being the “princess” and not waiting for Prince Charming to make your identity.  In other words, we don’t become a “princess” by marrying the perfect “Prince Charming.  We are princesses because we are daughters of the Heavenly King.  We are “princesses” when we allow our Heavenly King to transform our natures inwardly so that we become “princessy.”

Girl-friends, what if we are married to Prince Charming?  Really?  Yes, really!  What if Prince Charming is the man you married after-all?

Think about the fairy tale of Cinderella again.  In fairy tales, the story normally ends after the wedding, and “they lived happily ever after…”  If this story was real life, don’t you think a lot of women would have complained about Prince Charming?  After-all, didn’t his father dictate and plan his life for him?  Makes you question the guy’s backbone.  A redeeming quality was Prince Charming did seem to know a good thing when he saw it.  He also was willing to go to a lot of trouble to find the missing Cinderella.

In real life though Cinderella would have had the interfering father-in-law, the mean stepmother and stepsisters to still handle.  As a princess, Cinderella didn’t have a lot of say over where she went, what she did, and how she lived her life.  There are certain dictates of society for those who rule…

In some ways, I like the story of Beauty and the Beast better.  The story is probably the most applicable to some of us.  Belle meets the Beast, and he’s quite “beastly.”  Belle though is able to look beyond the gruff exterior to the tender heart within.  In the story, she falls in love with the Beast while he is still a beast.  Her kindness and love help with the softening of the Beast.  Yet, within his heart was a willingness and readiness to change.

Gaston was the handsome and popular dude who wanted Belle.  He was egotistical, controlling, self-centered, and cruel.  His outward appearance though made him charming with the girls of the town.  Even though Belle could have had Gaston if she wanted (he wanted her), she instead chose the Beast.   Belle saw past exterior personalities and appearances to the inner heart.

As wives, do we see past the gruff exteriors that our husbands may erect to protect themselves?  Do we see past the outward exteriors and personifications to the inner man?  Do we take time to truly get to know our men?  Do we seek to bring out the “prince” in our men — rather than relegating them to the status of  the despised or feared “beast”?

Grant it, some women are married to true “Beasts”– the “Gastons”.  If we are perfectly honest though, most of us aren’t married to “Gastons.”  We are married to normal guys who are sometimes a little “beastly” but when given the opportunity “transform” into true “princes” that totally out-shine the shallow “Gastons”.

The truth?  Girl-friends, the truth is that we do have a lot of influence over the men/husbands in our lives.  We can cut them down with our words, relegate them to the status of “beasts”, despise them because of our own shallow misconceptions, and as a result completely miss out on the transformation process!

The truth is that our husbands may not even need a transformation process.  It may be that we do.

Contentment isn’t a matter of circumstance or certain people.  It’s a matter of the heart.

The truth?  The truth is that a lot of — most of us — are married to Prince Charming!  We just haven’t learned to look into the hearts of our men or learned to act the “princess” part — to be the Belle who saw into the heart of the Beast.

It’s often not about how “princely” our husbands are.  It’s really more an issue of how we see them and treat them.  Anyone can be quite “beastly” when they are treated as such or seen as such.  It’s not even necessarily that they are even close to “beastly”.  They may be more “Prince Charming” then we realize, but we may be so busy lusting or longing after the “Gastons” or too busy complaining and finding fault to recognize how “princely” they are.  Our complaining or discontentment may be destroying our husbands’ desires to even attempt to be “princely” towards us or at the very least obstructing our perception of their actions.

In other words, our contentment is not based on our circumstances or the “Prince Charmings” in our lives.  Our contentment is a heart attitude.  It’s all about our perceptions.  No man can change the way we see/perceive life.

The question is whether we — you and I — will recognize that Prince Charming just may be the man we married after-all.

You see, it is possible to live happily ever after

Fully Entering Into The Gift You Have Been Given: Your Identity

The word identity has been in my thoughts a lot lately.

I am becoming more aware of how its perception shapes our actions and colors the world around us.

Discovering our “true” identity is perhaps similar to when an artist takes a paint brush in hand and with deft strokes reveals an image of substance and form that had been previously unknown.

We have an identity — a beautiful identity.

Some think their identity is wrapped in a twisted package of labels that others have given to them. It might be a wounded relationship between that person and a parent or parents.  It might be from a shattered heart, abandoned by a lover, spouse, or friend.  It might be the word wounds left by the strident or bullying tones of peers.  We might think our identity lies in scars laid physically bare for all to see.  Life is full of tragedies/imperfections/harsh realities that leave hearts, souls, and bodies vulnerable and scarred. We look at the scars and think that those are the identifying factors of who we are.

We flounder to find our roots/our identities.  We hope to discover, to create more to what we feel is who we are.

We view others through the scarred lenses of our hearts. 

We view others through their own scars.

We look at the puddles of paint, those smears. We grasp for the paint brush and try to fix the smears.  We mix the colors, hoping to create something that appears like someone else or something else, grasping for an identity.  Yet, we don’t know enough of our identity to perceive what it is to look like.

Our identities, true identities are not wrapped or grotesquely twisted to match the conclusions of others.

Our identities aren’t even within the definitions of our own minds and hearts.

How do we transcend beyond the false identity labels that we and others have generated?

We fight for meaning, for something beyond the hopelessness/the failure that so often we see.

Sometimes, we think we have found it when we experience a moment that leaves us speechless and full of wonder. In those moments, we might be a little closer to discovering our true identities.  Yet, our identities lie not within transient moments that sizzle with passion, emotion, wonder, discovery and then just as quickly fizzle into discouragement, frustration, apathy, disillusionment.

We know that we have not found our true identities when we seek to constantly create a continuous substitute for it.  When we seek the latest thrill, we have not found our true identity.  When we find satisfaction only within the narrowing confines of our closets, we are still missing it. When the opinions of others leave us devastated, we do not understand it.

When our mirrors, wallets, credentials, popularity, salaries, life experiences, job titles shallowly are the definitions by which we identify ourselves and others, we still have not discovered our true identities.

We endlessly struggle to create; yet, we merely accept the copies of ourselves and others/the misconceptions of our identity.

We struggle for “enlightenment;” yet, the understanding of our identities often lie within the gloaming shadows of our own misunderstandings.

Parents call their children into their identity. The challenge is in calling/leading our children to discover their “true” identities.

Friends can help each other discover or more fully walk within their true identities.  As friends, we look beyond the painful words, the angry exteriors and see a soul aching to find its true roots/true identity.  We hang in and hold on, even when the ride gets a little wild with those we love.

As friends, parents, and spouses, we hope and with faith glimpse the unveiling of the true identity.  We see the form that is emerging within the strokes on the canvas.

So many social or political movements are “knee-jerk” reactions to the false perceptions of identities. Yet, within these movements can be false perceptions as well.  We attempt to treat the false perceptions but with an obtuse acuity of our true identities.  So error continues.

An FBI agent (female) made these statements in reference to the feminist movement: [This is a woman who has a job that involves great risk, strength, intelligence, respect.  Her statements are insightful.  She doesn’t condone weakness.  She also challenges our perception of what we consider as weakness. ]

“In one of the tragic ironies of the twentieth century, feminists never fought for women to become more feminine… Instead of celebrating what it means to be a woman, to be feminine, to be an empowered female, they fought for women to act and be treated more like men. That’s why I call them masculinists.  Masculinists. Because in their fight for more rights, they ended up devaluing what it means to be a woman and emulating the very things they criticized most in men — imperialism, identity confusion, militaristic propagandism, dehumanizing competition, careerism…  Women should be extended the same dignity, opportunity, and respect as men but shouldn’t be treated in an identical way: equality without uniformity.  I want to be treated like a woman, not a pale imitation of a man…  Women should never be ashamed to be feminine.  Strength comes from conviction, not from acting like a man.  Being feminine doesn’t mean you’re weak, it just means you’re proud to be a woman.”

Note: This woman wasn’t arguing against equal pay for equal jobs.  She wasn’t arguing against treating women with respect or dignity. She wasn’t promoting the abuse of women.  She is protesting against how we have accepted the false identities of our past (abuse and unfairness) and have reacted by promoting another false identity that true womanhood and femininity is weakness and inferior to that of true manhood.

Nor was she arguing in support of the false identities of men: that all men are abusive, overbearing, superior. Nor was she promoting the reaction to the first definition of men by promoting another false identity: that men are weak, spineless, imbeciles.

True identity is found within the dawning, dazzling awareness that “I am loved, treasured, precious in the eyes of God. As His Beloved, I have been uniquely designed with gifts and abilities that I can offer to the world!”  Whether you believe in God or not does not change the fact that you need to understand that you are completely loved and precious — precious and loved by God!”

We are not the careless, cruel words that someone else has described us as being — they are not who God created us to be.

We are not the failures of our parents. 

We are not the blemishes of society’s air-brushed modeling icons of beauty. 

We are not substandard or superior intellects due to the presence or absence of a few letters following our names.

We are created to exceed, excel, transcend, surpass the bindings of false identities and to walk instead in the freedom of being who God created us to be, with all of our own unique gifts, talents, and abilities. 

We are children of God — the God of eternity — loved by Him and created to be a gift/a beautiful work of art — a “Master Piece”!