Short shorts, tank tops and temptation

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Contributor: Emmarie Moon

I cannot dance. Seriously, ask any of my high school friends how good of a dancer I am and I promise they will all laugh, especially when it comes to freestyle. I’m pretty sure I did the sprinkler at my senior prom.

So when I found out that we had dance fitness (formerly known as Zumba) at my college for free, I was super excited. I can at least functionally do choreographed dance moves, and most of the other Dutch girls could move about the same as myself.

Along with having a great time working up a sweat doing fun dance moves, we have an amazing instructor. Jenna is an extremely fit, godly mother of three kids. She is not only a really great and encouraging dance instructor, but she likes to give us really great (sometimes uncomfortable) advice on female matters. She talks about her kids’ puberty issues, her gynecologist, and sex very openly. A few weeks ago, she talked to us about the frequently asked question “how far is too far?” She talked about how she dated a guy for six years before her husband, and although they hadn’t slept together, they did some things that don’t make her super proud. She also talked about how  it was hard for her to “flip the switch” when she got married.

The switch? What’s the switch? I have only heard about this so called “switch” for a few months. It refers to the mental change from being in a relationship to being married, the switch from telling yourself “no” when it comes to sex to suddenly saying “yes” and being expected to love it. Because Jenna spent time engaging in activities that were questionable, she often had to say “no” before things went too far. When she got married, she had to spend a lot of time changing the thoughts in her head when she was with her husband.

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How Perfectionism Drove Me to Pornography.

To be honest, this is probably one of the hardest things I have ever written about. God placed this idea on my heart for a while now, and I’ve avoided it like crazy. But here I am. I’ll let you decide who won that argument.

You ever meet those people who walk around classrooms fixing every table so that they’re all lined up perfectly to one another? Or the kind who go around working every little detail that doesn’t make sense to them? Or better yet, the ones who come across as super controlling and an idea generally never works for them unless it’s theirs?

Yes. I am all the above. Every single one.

I absolutely Love to plan things and I LOVE when things turn out PERFECT to the T…at least my version of perfect, anyway.

I think that in many ways, our culture glorifies this. The idea that we need to know what we’re doing and that we need to constantly be pushing ourselves to not just win some sort of (success) race, but to win that race by ten miles. Coming in first is no longer enough. In order to be happy, life needs to be perfect, Right?

I mean, how many times have we watched movies in which the woman is looking for the ‘perfect’ man or someone is looking for the ‘perfect’ job? How often has that happy ending been the ‘perfect‘ ending–where everything goes back to the way it’s supposed to be?

But here’s the real truth:
My obsession with perfectionism, drove me into an addiction to pornography.

Growing up as a pastor’s kid, I never thought that I would ever struggle with porn. And I was a woman, so the odds of me ever dealing with something like this were super slim…right?

That was probably the first mistake I made: When we underestimate the power of temptation, we fall right into it.

How does perfectionism play into this?

You see, when you constantly live with the idea that life needs to be perfect in order for you to attain true joy, you get muddled up into a whole lot of bad habits because you’re chasing after something that really isn’t there.

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You can’t fix him… and why that matters.

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I have spent about a year wanting to write about God-centered relationships but my heart wasn’t in the right place. I felt like a hypocrite.

My ex-boyfriend is a “Christian”. However, we didn’t view our faith in the same way. He believed in God, but didn’t like going to church, praying, reading the Bible, getting involved in youth group or even talking with me about how amazing the God we serve really is.

Depending on where you are in your relationship with God, that might not seem like a big deal to you. But for me, it was. My relationship with God comes first in my life and I wanted to be with someone who felt the same way. I spent a lot of time asking God whether or not I should be in a relationship with this guy and whether or not he was a part of God’s plan for my life. I so badly wanted Him to show me the “right” path to take. Beyond that, I wasted countless times listing pros and cons trying to figure out if being with this guy long term was something that I really wanted.

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Identity Crisis? Call it what you will.

Contributor: Emmarie Moon

I’ve been hearing a lot about identity the last couple of months and really felt a continuous nudge to write about it. What is identity? The word itself means the qualities, beliefs, etc. that make a person/group different from others; who someone is. Everyone has an identity. As you get older, the sense you have of who you are becomes stronger and more in depth. Children might say they are a daughter/son, student, classmate, teammate and friend. As we get older, we start to broaden our views of who are, including our job, car, spouse, kids, even personality traits. These are all good things to associate with, but are not where identity comes from.

You may be wondering why on earth I’m writing this blog if I’m just going to rip your sense of who you are right out from under you. Don’t worry, I’ll give it back. But it might look a little different.

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Real or Fake: Photoshop in Real Life

Those glossy images on magazine covers…. long legs, thin torsos, sun-kissed skin tone.

I wouldn’t call them “fake”. But I wouldn’t call them”real” either.

After all, the photoshopped photos of Jessica Simpson are, in fact, Jessica Simpson. But it’s not reaaallly her. It’s not reaallly real. It’s not down to earth. Authentic. Genuine.

Which is why Cindy Crawford, a famous actress, is quoted as saying. . . “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford.”

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Make-up or no make-up? That’s not the question.

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Alright, ladies, admit it. We’ve all had those days. The ones where we wake up in the morning, feeling pretty good about ourselves, and then, we look in the mirror. And we see it, the red, ominous dot on the center of our face, the zit.

Well my wedding day was one of those days. No amount of airbrushed make up or a side swept bang could cover up the giant blemish marking the most important day of my life.

Everyone told me I’d grow out of it. The oily skin I had when I was younger would give my skin a healthy glow when I grew up… but I turned 22 years old to find myself a grown married woman who still battles the not-so-beautiful marks on my face. Not exactly the skin that Proactive promised me.

I still spend money on face scrubs, more money on name brand lotions for sensitive skin, and even more money on makeup to cover up the zits when those products don’t work. It’s a seemingly hopeless cycle of covering up what’s underneath.

And, it makes me question, what else do I try to cover up? How often do I try to present the best version myself? Am I trying to be someone else rather than being who I truly am?

I wish I could say that someday we’d get over it, that adults do not obsess about their appearance. But anyone who has a grandmother knows that she still spends an hour curling her hair and applying lipstick for the morning church service. Women want to be beautiful.

And the glossy magazine covers don’t help. We thumb through page after page of long legs, thin torsos, and sun-kissed skin as we wait for our spot in the grocery line, wishing we looked like someone else. Teenagers want to look like Sarah Hyland, middle age women want Jennifer Aniston’s body, senior citizens want Meryl Streep’s timeless beauty, and almost every woman envies Beyonce’s curves.

But the perfect images we see give us a delusional version of reality. I wouldn’t call those images “fake”. But I wouldn’t call them “real” either. After all, the photoshopped photos of Kim Kardashian are, in fact, Kim Kardashian. But it’s not really her. It’s not really real. It’s not down to earth, authentic, genuine.

I bet even the stars wish they looked like the pictures they see of themselves. Cindy Crawford, an ‘80s actress, is famously quoted as saying “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford.”

So ask yourself. Do you care more about being picture perfect? Or showing this world who YOU truly are?

I know what God would want. He created you. Not the airbrushed, filtered version of yourself. He created the real, down to earth, authentic, genuine you.

Psalms 139:14 says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Now, don’t get ahead of yourself. It seems that the counter cultural reaction to all of the Botox injections and fake baked skin would be a complete rejection of everything and anything that enhances our beauty.

But Paul’s warning in 1 Timothy 2:9-10 against women with braided hair and jewelry was never meant to discourage women from being beautiful, it was meant to discourage women from being a distraction.

It isn’t wrong for me to enhance my God given beauty, wear make-up or cover up my zits in the morning. In fact, I recommend it. But it’s wrong if those things become a distraction. When I become dependent on my appearance for my confidence then I’ve neglected one of the first truths that God’s Word revealed about human beings in the very first chapter of Genesis.

We are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).

Our identity isn’t in our appearance. It is in Him. When we find our confidence in what we look like, we freak out. Because, no matter how pretty you are or how pretty you think that you are, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have one of “those” days. If we find our confidence in what we look like, we’ll be disappointed.

But, when we find our confidence in who God is, we’ll never be disappointed. If we realize that his plan for our life is bigger than a bad hair day or a zit on our face, we don’t have to freak out over our outward appearance.

Even on a day as important as your wedding day, you can look at the big picture and realize that something as insignificant as a zit doesn’t matter at all. I confidently marched down that wedding aisle toward the man that I loved, knowing he would love me the same.

This is the type of security and confidence we find in Christ. Because the truth is, you are more than your weight. You are more than your popularity. You are more than your beauty. You are His.

Sticks and Stones

“Sticks and stones may break your bones…. but words will hurt too.”

You’re fat.

I don’t like you.

You’re ugly.

Your’e dumb.

It’s amazing how hurtful words can be when we put our confidence in what people think.

[Insert the big BUT (with one “t”) here]

BUT You are more than your weight.

BUT You are more than your popularity.

BUT You are more than your beauty.

BUT You are more than your brains.

You are His.

Girls are picked at, made fun of, and sometimes put down just for being a girl. Watch this video and be reminded that God created you to be powerful, confident, and brave.

What Makes You Feel Beautiful?

It’s not up to someone else to decide if we’re beautiful.

This group of ladies discuss what makes them feel beautiful. And it’s not what you’d think.

It’s not their hair.

It’s not their skin.

Or their waistline.

Beauty is about more than what they look like. They feel most beautiful when they make others feel beautiful.

Making a deep connection.

Looking through the eyes of a loved one.

Fulfilling the purpose God gave them.

What we do says so much more about who we are than what we look like. 

Dear Brokenhearted

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Dear Brokenhearted,

You are not alone.

We have all been betrayed, abandoned, or wounded by someone we love. Some offenses are greater than others, but we all are familiar with the ache of heartbreak. The low, sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach as the person you thought you knew chooses to stop caring.

Hope dies, and your heart cries, “This is not the way things are supposed to be!”

And, you’re right, it isn’t.

We serve a God who is love (1 John 4:8), and what He designed was good, very good (Genesis 1:31). Heartbreak wasn’t a part of the original design but a product of the fall. It’s a fervent reminder that this is not our home.

The person that broke your heart, their lives are affected by sin just like yours is. It doesn’t give them a Get Out of Jail Free Card for their behavior or their inability to protect and treasure your heart, but it’s merely the reality of living in a broken world. People are going to disappoint you. In fact, although you may not want to hear it, I guarantee you disappointed them too.  This is because we are all constantly in a battle against our selfish flesh, struggling to die to self so that He may become greater (John 3:30), and so we can actually love the way we are called to (1 Corinthians 13:4-13). The sad truth is that often our hearts get caught in the cross fire of someone’s struggle to die to self. This does not make the person bad. This definitely doesn’t give you the right to hate them. It merely makes them human just like you.

You may have been disappointed by someone, they may have changed, but you have a Heavenly Father that is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He will never leave you, nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5), and He promises that nothing in all creation can separate you from His love (Romans 8:38-19).

God loves you. He also loves the person that broke your heart.

You have a choice to do the same. Although often it is necessary to distance yourself from a friend, boyfriend, or family member after a heartbreak, you can still choose to honor them by not gossiping or smack talking about them. They are a beloved child of God, made in His image, and therefore your tongue should respect them as such (James 3:8-10). It’s not easy, but it’s right. God is just, your difficult choice to do what is right in spite of your pain will not go unnoticed. (Galatians 6:7-10).

So my dear brokenhearted this is not just about your pain. It never is. You have a choice. You will either become a victim of your circumstance and allow it to define you, or you will allow it to refine you.

Romans 5:3-5 tells us, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

You can either listen to the voices that will trap you in a cycle of self pity, feelings of unworthiness, and distaste towards the one that caused your pain, or you can choose to allow God to define and refine who you are. He says you are loved (John 3:16). He says you are His child (1 John 3:1). He says you are radiant (Matthew 5:14). He says you are more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37). And even in your weakness He says, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

My dear brokenhearted friend, I am sorry. I’m sorry that you had to experience this, and I don’t want to make light of your pain. Trust me, I understand. All I want is for you to see there is more than this moment. God desires more for you than your broken state, and He’s ready to help you overcome it.

So, take a little time. Eat the ice-cream. Cry the tears. Mourn the loss.

But.

Don’t let it define you. Allow God to refine you.