Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Beauty IS the Beast

Ancient beauty in an English castle
The other day while I was riding my bike through our subdivision, I saw a very attractive teenager walking up her driveway. At least I thought that's what I saw.

And then she turned around.

It wasn't a teenager, or even a twenty-ager. The strikingly beautiful woman with long shiny blond hair, stylish size 4 skinny jeans and awesome boots, was 50. I know this because I met her and her young daughter ten years ago.

Ah, her daughter. That's another story. Keri, as I'll call her, was chubby, nondescript, and shy from the day she was born. Now nearing twenty, she's still, well, chubby, nondescript, and shy.

How must it feel to grow up with a drop-dead gorgeous mother? I thought, pedaling my bicycle. Usually it's the other way around - we moms fade into the background as our lovely daughters come into full bloom. That's hard enough. But to be the plain-Jane daughter of someone who turns heads wherever she goes?

Gotta be rough.

But don't we all live on some sort of comparison hamster wheel? There's always someone prettier around to compare ourselves to and make us feel that we just don't measure up. A sister ... cousin ... neighbor ... co-worker. And it's rough.

Then I remembered something from my book, More Beauty, Less Beast. It was in the chapter called, "Not Just Plain Vanilla," about the tendency we women have to focus on the external rather than the internal to feel more beautiful. It can become an obsession if we're not careful.

"The real issue is our dependency upon augmentation of our God-given appearance for acceptance and self-esteem, whether through makeup, surgical alterations, or high fashion. How dependent are we on external fixes to feel that we fit in? Are accepted? Are attractive?

Papa God created us, each and every one a masterpiece - in our natural state, rough-hewn and raw. And He loves us lavishly, just that way.

Not one of us is plain vanilla! Our flavor comes through the creative passion of our Master Designer, not how we decorate ourselves."

I hope sweet, dear Keri realizes she can be mocha mint chocolate chip if she wants to be. Because her unique flavor comes from the inside out.

So what flavor are you?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How To Dissolve a Worrywart (Part 2)

Be sure to scroll back to Part 1 before continuing with Part 2.

Check out these simple-to-implement solutions for dissolving worrywarts:

  1. Postpone worry. Set aside 15 minutes a day as your Designated Worry Time (DWT). Then, whenever a niggling fret tries to worm into your brain during the day or night, jot it down. Then forget about it until your DWT.
  2. Morph worry into prayer. Fretting is not productive. Prayer is. Prayer is the nerve that innervates the hand of God. When you do get to your DWT, turn each problem into a prayer request and turn it over to the One who can actually do something about it.
  3. Become a busybody. When you realize you’re beginning to worry about something, redirect your thoughts by giving your brain – and body – something else to do. Action defuses anxiety. Get your hands busy and your mind will follow.
  4. Go to your happy place. Another gem for worry-redirection, especially late at night when your whirling mind won’t let you relax. Imagine that you’re in the special place that brings you calmness and happiness … maybe the warm surf of a favorite beach, or a lovely mountain trail. Ahh. Feel the anxiety melt away.
  5. Rest in the Word. Another great worry-buster for restless nights when you’re more uptight than a twisted thong. Reflecting on a favorite scripture brings peace to your soul. Say it aloud then let it roll through your mind over and over until you can think of nothing else.
  6. Perform emotional triage. Sort your nagging concerns into two piles: those with outcomes over which you have no control, and those that are potentially solvable. Give the first pile to the Lord, turn your back on it, and focus on the solvable problems. Once you come up with an action plan and begin seeing results, your worry will diminish.   
You know, worry is the result of putting our faith in the wrong place – in ourselves (instead of Papa God) to figure it all out, maintain control, and provide protection from what might harm us.

We don’t have to be worrywarts. Our loving Father really will take care of us if we just let go of our worries and trust Him. Things may not always turn out the way we want, but they’ll always turn out the way He wants.

“Don’t worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done,” Phil. 4:6 (NLT). 

*More about defeating fear in my new book, Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolate (Barbour Books). Excerpts, reviews, and purchase info at

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

How To Dissolve a Worrywart (Part 1)

Have you ever been secretly scared that if you stop worrying, the very thing you’re afraid might happen most definitely will?  

That somehow the energy generated from your fretting is the force field keeping the dreaded outcome at bay, and if you lower the force field for even one minute … Blam.  Annihilation. Devastation. 

The end of the world as you know it.

If you’re like me and the majority of folks, I’ll bet you’re picking up exactly what I’m putting down right now.

Yep, worry makes the average woman's world go round. We have watched our mothers and grandmothers worry themselves into a tizzy, and we’ve learned to do the very same. Fretting and stewing and fussing seem perfectly normal because we’re so used to it. We’ve fooled ourselves into thinking we’re doing the responsible thing by agonizing over our dilemmas. 

And the scariest thing is that we're passing this legacy of lunacy right on along to our children. When will the cycle ever be broken if we don't do something about it? 

Worry is a type of fear that loves to masquerade as responsibility. By dwelling on our troubles, we think we’ll somehow become enlightened with magical answers that will change inevitable outcomes.

Is there any other way to intimately care about our family and friends besides obsessing over their problems? 

Well, actually there is. “Don’t worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done,” Phil. 4:6 (NLT).

Stay tuned for Part 2 for some simple-to-implement solutions for dissolving worrywarts.

*Adapted from Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolate (Barbour Books). 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Listen to the Birdies Teach

This morning on my prayer walk, I happened upon a pair of cardinals on the ground at a neighbors house, apparently shopping for a nice grass seed breakfast.

They were so busy pecking here and there, they didn't notice me or my nosy dog approach. But Fenway sure saw them.

He began straining at his leash for enough leeway to get up close and personal with the new couple on the block, but I held him back so I could study them a spell.

The little mister, in his gorgeous flaming crimson suit, became aware of us first. He skittered a bit closer to the female, in her much more subdued red plumage (like a faded housecoat), who was preoccupied with her shopping list. When she still didn't look up as he hopped about in a distressed little "Hey, Edna, pay attention, will ya?" circle, he just up and flew away.

At first glance it looked like the cowardly thing to do. Desert your woman at the first hint of trouble. Don't hang around to help, just go do your own thing. Humph. I was totally indignant on her behalf. She just kept on pecking away at her chores, oblivious to the potential danger not ten feet away.

I found myself channeling to my little feathered sister, "You deserve better than him, honey. Good riddance. What a jerk!" when the twit suddenly chirped a piercing chirp from a nearby branch so loud it made Fenway and me both jump.

The lady bird immediately looked upward to where her fella sat perched high above the fray and flew directly to his side. I can only surmise he had squawked something along the lines of "Edna, get your tail feathers up here RIGHT NOW!" He then gently tapped her beak with his (could that have been a kiss peck?) and together, they gazed down at Fenway and me, both gawking up at them.

Oh. Apparently I was mistaken. He wasn't leaving her. He was leading her. The same way Spouse sometimes leads me when I won't listen the first time he makes a suggestion. The way Papa God sometimes leads me when I'm too busy to hear His voice.

Oh. Maybe I should try a little harder to pay attention in the first place to those who love me and are trying to look out for my best interest, instead of staying immersed in my must-do list.