Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Rare Woman

I am currently in a Bible study with a group of women from our church going through Beth Moore's study of Esther. Wow...it's really hitting home to where I'm at right now. Beth Moore talks about how it's tough being a woman in another woman's shadow. It's amazing how big of a struggle insecurity is for women. My heart is heavy once again about this issue and I had to get out my thoughts. I thought about writing a song, but.....I already did that:-) (If you haven't heard it, check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=600PLRY64ek) Time for another blog instead:)

This study of Esther talks about all the beauty treatment women had to go through before being presented to the King for him to choose who he wanted as queen. It was basically just a beauty contest. Somehow Esther stood out as a woman who not only found favor in the King's eyes, but also in everyone she met. Including all the other women she was surrounded with. In the work book, Beth says this: "You and I both know that a rare woman indeed is beautiful from a male perspective and favored by other women. Females tend to be highly threatened by a woman admired by men. A woman who can win the man and her female peers is in a class almost by herself." That really made me think. Beth later asked what qualities Esther must have had to be this kind of rare woman. I started thinking of women I know who are not only gorgeous, but who I also look up to and respect. What qualities do they have? Humility. Gentleness. A servant's heart. Depth. Character. 

Of course I had to ask myself...do I have all those? Every girl wants to feel attractive. Desired. Now that I'm married, I really want my husband to feel that way about me. And because he tells me I'm beautiful several times nearly every day (no joke:-), I know that I'm beautiful to him. But for some reason, deep inside my sinful heart, it's the favor of women that I find myself striving for. Which is why this particular portion of this study struck a deep chord within me. Yes, of course I want to be attractive to my husband. I will always work towards that. But I also way too deeply desire to be that rare woman in a class almost by herself. To be beautiful, AND have those qualities that other women admire. 

Once I got married two years ago, I gained some weight that has made me more insecure than I've ever been in my life. After a rough first year of change, the loneliness of living in a brand new town, and a job that literally sucked the life out of a me, food became my comfort. As a result, these last two years have been an intense battle with insecurity, and finding out what I do and should let define me. It's been sobering to find out what I let define me on a daily basis. God has smacked me across the face with harsh truth more than once and tonight has been no exception.

As I was going through this study, I found myself getting caught up in each of those qualities I listed previously about the kind of woman I desire to be. Beautiful. Humble. Gentle. A servant. There is nothing wrong with desiring to be those things. However, tonight I caught myself in the act of desiring those things for the wrong motives. I long to be those things to gain the approval of other women. I no longer need to impress any other man than my husband, but I find that the way I dress and look is based more on what other women might think of me than what my husband thinks of me. I want to lose weight to fit in with the women around me more than I want to lose weight to be attractive to my husband. 


I have always struggled with being a people pleaser. But a people pleaser with an insecurity complex? What a dangerous combination. I know that not every woman has had these same experiences or struggles, but I know that more have than would care to admit it. It's a difficult thing to come to terms with. It's embarrassing actually. But as I have realized that insecurity is just another form of pride, I am broken at the thought of everything I have let get in the way of my desire to just be Christ-like. I have been so insecure that I can't get over myself enough to let Christ be my identity. 

I am just so thankful for the power of the Holy Spirit in my life to convict the ugliness in me. To show me my true heart's desires so that I can bring them to light and be changed. Yes, I still want to lose some weight. Yes, I am still going to wear make-up and fix my hair. And yes. I still love shopping for cool clothes. But every once in awhile I need a harsh heart-check. Tonight God gave me one: 

How I look, or act, or serve, or dress, or talk, or sing doesn't matter if it's not so completely obvious that Jesus Christ is the love of my life and the only one I am living to please. Less of me so that there can be more of Him.

Now that's a rare woman. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I-69: The Story of My Life

I always love when God takes simple, every day things that I deal with all the time, and refreshingly reveals something completely new to me. A couple months ago, I was driving home from my friend Sarah’s house in Fort Wayne headed back to Noblesville nearly two hours away. Being a very sentimental person (that’s an understatement), I found myself on a mental journey back through my past as I passed exit after exit that reminded me of a significant time period in my life. Never before had I really noticed this during all the times I have driven down I-69, but this time was different, and it was hard not to get caught up in the emotion of all that I was able to remember about the special places each exit led to.
Let me give you a quick recap of my life down I-69:
Exit 96: Zanesville. The little town that housed nearly all of my best friends in High School. The group of people that I spent nearly every summer evening with there hold a special place in my heart. 
Exit 86: Norwell High School. Home schooler or not, Norwell was my school. I might be the only 25-year-old who still misses High School sometimes, but that’s the honest truth. I’m so thankful for the great group of people I met at Norwell and got to do life with during that crazy and confusing time.
Exit 78: Home. Need I say more? Home is everything. It’s where I grew up until I moved to college. It’s my family. It’s the house my baby sister was born in 21 years ago. There’s no place like it.
Exit 64: Indiana Wesleyan. This is where I spent my first year as a college student. I was young, nervous, broken, and vulnerable, and this school welcomed me with open arms. It was a refreshing year for me and I’m thankful for that time I was given to figure out who I was as a student, as a woman, and as a Christian.
Exit 59: Kokomo. Not too far from Indiana Wesleyan. Who knew this town that I had only visited once to get my nose pierced on a whim in college would be the town where I would marry my husband and start a new phase of my life as a wife. What a blessing my husband has been in my life. Not only does the entire Sprinkle family and some of our best friends still live there, but Kokomo will always hold sweet memories for us.
Exit 41: Ball State. Wow. Such a huge part of why I am who I am today. I experienced so much heartache there. So much change. So much breakthrough. I met several of the best friends I’ll ever have there. I met my husband there. I got a degree. I learned what I’m passionate about. God took me to new levels in my relationship with Him. What a valuable and precious time those years were.
Exit 34: Oneighty. The exit I now take weekly to get to Union Chapel and the 180 building in Muncie. Not only did this church play a huge part in my life during my time in college there, but over the last seven months I have been able to pursue my calling and my ministry on a deeper level as an Associate Youth Pastor there. At age 25 I had my “dream job.” What a blessing that has been.
Exit 10: Noblesville. Whew. What a ride. This is my stop. After some bumpy years, God led us here. To Genesis Church where my husband is the Creative Arts Director. I now own a business called CarisDesign where we specialize in photography and cinematography. I love our apartment. I love our community. I love our church. I know this exit may not be our stop forever, but for however long he has us here I will be so thankful.
Looking back through each stop off of I-69, I can’t help but get emotional. That’s just how I’m wired. However, rather than get caught up in the sentimentality of things that are permanently over, I look at the way God has been so faithful in leading me to the next “exit” where He needed to allow that place and those circumstances to grow and shape me. It was hard, and not all of my memories at each stop are pleasant. Some still hurt. But rather than focus on each “exit” and each memory, I somehow was able to drive two hours down I-69 and get a glimpse of the bigger picture. Glancing at each exit as I passed it, I saw God’s fingerprints all over that time in my life. Thank you, Jesus, for your redemptive work in my life. And thank you for highway I-69.