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.

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.”

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

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

broken-heart

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.

The Power of the “Like”

Image

Popularity.

Aka – the favor of the general public….or something that used to be measured by whether or not you were offered an invitation to sit at the cool girl’s table at lunch.

But today we often judge our social status by the number of likes our latest post on Facebook or Instagram receives.

We’ve all done it. Posted a picture or updated a status only to check our computers or phones every five minutes to see if anyone has liked it yet. Once the first person likes it there is an instant relief at being accepted. Someone thinks I’m as cool as I want them too!

BUT…it’s followed almost immediately by the desire for another and another and another person’s approval. Especially if your friend has posted something at the same time as you OR something similar. Then it becomes an all-out war to see who is more “liked”.

This vicious cycle will repeat itself: two, five, twenty, maybe fifty times a day. The “Like” button has dangerous power over us that we don’t really want to acknowledge, but we know it’s there. We fear no being accepted. We fear not having peoples favor. We fear we are unlikable.

The Bible has something awesome to say about this, and I think that you’ll agree with me when I say that it’s pretty right on.

Proverbs 29:25 (GNB) “It is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you, but if you trust the Lord you are safe.”

When we place our value in what others think of us it is dangerous. Flat out. It gives people power they are not equipped to manage well. In the case of social media it’s not only what they say that concerns us but also what they don’t say. It’s not so much the fear of someone writing “Woah, that’s a horrible picture,” but the lack of “likes” that has us trying to find the perfect filter for our latest Instagram.

But God is so faithful. Not only does He take the time to point out to us that placing value in what others think is dangerous, but He tells us “Hey, trust in Me and you are safe.”

The definition of safe is: to feel protected from or not exposed to danger or risk; to be secure, protected, shielded, sheltered, guarded, and out of harm’s way.

Doesn’t that sound wonderful! I mean seriously, in a world where every part of your appearance, wit, humor, intelligence, and experiences are on display for the world to see who doesn’t want to feel safe?

I’m not saying to not participate in social media. It can be an awesome tool when used properly! It’s fun! It keeps you connected! I’m just suggesting that next time you post something be conscious. Choose to find your identity wrapped safely in the arms of your Heavenly Father. Know whose you are. You don’t need the acceptance and approval of the masses or even of one. That is not where your identity lies.

Placing your value in the hands of people is risky business, but placing it in God’s hands will never disappoint. You will always be safe.

Bruno Mars Wishes he had Chosen Purity?

Bruno Mars Purity

In a beautiful, yet little known track called If I knew, off of his latest album, Bruno Mars sings:

“I wouldn’t have done all the things that I have done/If I knew one day you’d come.”

The entire song is about how when he meets the woman of his dreams, he wishes he could give her “all of the innocence” that she gives to him. I encourage you to give the song a listen; don’t worry, it’s relatively short…

The first time I heard this song, I was shocked that a secular artist would admit that sexual immorality is not a wise long-term move. You see, purity is not just a Christian thing that we do because we are “good kids”, and we want to keep our parents happy.

God encourages purity because He loves us, and He knows there is no way we will ever regret choosing purity. Yet there are countless ways the lack of purity can bring about devastation. In my 24 years of life, I have never met anyone who says they wish they hadn’t saved themselves and their hearts for marriage. I have however met a tragic number of those who, like Bruno Mars, wish they had been wise enough to choose purity from the start.

Truth is, most of us have a strong desire to be married someday, a beautiful and God-given desire. The song greatly emphasizes how Bruno wouldn’t have done the immoral things he had done if he knew one day she’d come. If we desire marriage and are seeking after God, there is an incredibly good chance we will one day have that special someone come into our lives…after all, God is a big fan of marriage, He did create it.

Let’s not wind up with regrets like Bruno Mars where he is pleading with his dream girl to believe him that he would do it differently if he could. For me, that is a conversation I’d rather never have to have, and I hope you agree.

So ladies, instead of living 100% in the now and making impulsive decisions like many of our friends and celebrity icons. Let’s start thinking about the future. Let’s focus on when we someday meet that handsome man who we will want to give everything to on our wedding day and every day thereafter, and let’s make choices that will make our lives as joyous and baggage free as they can possibly be. In reference to what a Godly wife looks like, in Proverbs 31:12 it says, “She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”  Let’s start living intentionally today so we can be a blessing to that man we may meet tomorrow…or 10 years from now.

Guest Columnist: Laura Coulier

The Power of a Wrecking Ball

Songs can be so catchy, can’t they?!

You find yourself repeating the same tune and lyrics through your mind over and over and over again… and eventually you start singing it aloud (which isn’t always a good thing for some people) wishing it would go away. Well today I  found myself singing Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus…. not so good.

Miley_Cyrus_-_Wrecking_Ball_ Miley-Cyrus-Wrecking-Ball

You know the whole “curiosity killed the cat” phrase… that was me. I like to be in the know.

So I will admit it – yes I did watch the music video…. sadly. If you have not seen it, I would NOT suggest following in my footsteps. Images do not erase out of your mind easily/at all. But one thing that did come out of the song for me personally was the thought of redemption. I know this may sound a little silly but bear with me. Some members from our AMH team recently were talking about the power of redemption, and as Christians we can either shun away from all the things of this world, become a part of this world, or try to redeem it. For instance in this song, Miley sings:

“I came in like a wrecking ball, I never hit so hard in love. All I wanted was to break your walls. All you ever did was wreck me.”

This is a powerful image that is full of emotion and energy. When asked about the song Miley said if “you actually look at me, you can tell I look more broken than even the song sounds.”

This is a song about a destructive relationship between two people where they jumped into something without truly knowing the other person and came out hurt (at least that is my interpretation).

But look at it with me from a different perspective.

If we take the analogy of the power behind a wrecking ball and how it demolishes even the hardest of walls, then instead look at the resurrection power of Christ coming into someone’s life. When God enters our heart he comes with all the power of Heaven, walls crumble in the presence of our Lord. Sometimes you hear people pray to God – wreck me in the best way possible.

It is sad to look at how Miley has allowed the world to overcome her life, but God has said in his word that HE has overcome the world (John 16:33)! We have a powerful God and I think we can overlook God’s strength when we only focus on his love. They are synonymous – one and the same. God’s love is like a wrecking ball when it enters our life. He came in like a wrecking ball, by breaking down your walls. He only wants to free your heart. So you can fully love Him.

a normal wrecking ball

Dear Jesus, Thank you for being a redemptive God who is jealous for our love. I pray that you would powerfully move in these girls lives this week that they would be able to give up some of the strongholds in their lives to your wrecking power. Please wreck them in the best way possible that they would feel the power of your love.  Help lead them in your paths that they do not become over powered by this world but would bring your redemptive love to the world. Thank you for all of their beautiful hearts and willingness to follow you! In Jesus name – AMEN!

Epic zits of giant proportions

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.

Anyone who has been to an Across My Heart retreat, probably remember’s Ashley’s stories about zits. Getting a white head so big that it squirts the mirror and sprayed her in the mouth…. or the time she was too embarrassed to open the front door for her next door neighbor because she had terrible acne and hadn’t put on any make-up for the day. Yeah… embarrassing stuff. But, hopefully you also remember the point to those gruesome stories.

The punchline goes like this: 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. Instead, focus on who you are inside. Because who you are is what God cares most about. And, he has great plans for you.