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Bangs or No Bangs

The deed is done. There is not much use in asking now. But, the question plagued me from the moment I decided to try to grow out my bangs. It seems like such a small decision. Is it really that important of issue? It’s only hair! Or is it?

Toward July’s end, you might recall pictures of my highlighted hair. I like to refer to that stage as my “skunk style” because to me the large, chunky highlights looked more like streaks. It was not my finest hour. It was unplanned and not what I wanted, but I agreed to a “few highlights”. My mom texted me, “Don’t you know how to say ‘no’?”

Do I? This is difficult for me. I have a hard time saying “no”.

I tend to second-guess my decisions. I worry about what other people think. As I reflect upon my life, I recognize that many of my choices have been made based on others and not my own wants or desires.

As my bangs grew, before I had time to get a trim, I pinned them back out of my face. Sidenote: I cannot stand my hair in my eyes. I received a few compliments on my new style. Who doesn’t like compliments?

So, the next time I went for my trim, my stylist suggested that she liked my bangs off of my face, too. So, I agreed to let them grow, but it was a difficult choice because I prefer bangs.

I brought this up in a counseling session I attended. “I have a hard time making decisions.” The male counselor wanted an example, so I referred to my bangs. The funny part is that he had no idea what bangs are, so I had to give an entire explanation. I suppose it does sound confusing to think that bangs are actually created by cutting the hair. Generally, things that are cut off no longer exist, but in order for bangs to exist, you must cut them off. Interesting, huh? LOL.

Well, his advice for me was to look in the mirror over the next couple of weeks and decide what I like. I must not think of others, only myself. It sounds selfish, but in reality, who does my hair effect? Only me.

Guess what? I like bangs! On my face, I need my hair to be out of my eyes. Otherwise, I pin it back every day, or it drives me crazy. So, bangs it is.

Does this hair raising story have a point?

Even though there are times to prefer others and consider others’ feelings, it is important to make choices based upon what I like. I am the one who has to live with my choices, not others. My opinion matters. I can have a voice. I like what I like, and it may not be what you like, but that’s OK.

2 Corinthians 10:12

For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with them that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

Citizens: Know Your Rights

Philippians 3:20a (NLT)

But we are citizens of heaven….

Philippians is a short letter written by Paul to his friends in Philippi. Paul has been imprisoned for preaching the Good News of Jesus, but his concern is not for himself but to encourage others who might suffer a similar fate. I hope you can take the time to read the book in it’s entirety and feel empowered to continue to spread the gospel.

The simple phrase, “but we are citizens of heaven,” pricked my heart this morning. What does it mean to be a citizen? I imagine all the blessings I received as a citizen of the United States of America. I am covered by the Constitution and the laws of the land. I’m granted freedom of speech, the right to vote, the right to bear arms, freedom to worship, and so much more simply because I am a citizen of the USA. When I travel to other countries, I don’t travel in fear because I have the support of the American government and Armed Forces because I am a citizen. When I return to the USA from travels, I do not worry about crossing the border because I am a citizen. Being a citizen grants me special privileges.

How much more are the privileges of being a citizen of heaven? I am able to come boldly to the throne of grace and receive mercy because I am a citizen. (Hebrews 4:16) I receive the gift of eternal life because I am a citizen. (Romans 6:22, John 3:16) The angels rejoice over me because I am a citizen. (Luke 15:10) What ever I ask the Father, He hears, and He will give it to me because I am a citizen. (John 16:23) The list is endless.

The best part is that becoming a citizen of heaven is free; there’s no test; only one requirement: receive Christ as your Lord and Savior.

Galatians 3:26 (KJV)

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Will you believe today?

Will you become a citizen?

Titus 3:4-7 (KJV)

But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Throughout this Christmas season remember Jesus made the way for you to become a citizen.

Only believe.

Like Mother, Like Daughter

My entire life, as long as I can remember, I have been told, “You look just like your mother.” Most recently, about 15 of my classmates met at the homecoming game of our alma mater, and again and again they remarked how I resembled my mom. My mom was one of our school teachers. For some, she was their 1st grade teacher, but for all of us, she was our junior high English teacher. I cannot recall actively participating in junior high English, but I know my grammar rules! And, when in doubt, I know just who to call. 😉

My mom’s penmanship looks sharp, neat, and highly legible. I suppose I inherited more than simply my mom’s appearance, in that I too, receive compliments on my penmanship. As I sit here today and compose my weekly blog, I’m reminded of my mother’s great talent for writing, as well. She’s penned a multitude of poems (we really need to get her published). Many of her writings carry on her legacy of an involved, loving school teacher. Each November our hometown, Edgewood, Texas, hosts it’s annual Heritage Festival. Children from various grade levels perform songs, orations, and dance. This year as my sister’s second grade class prepared to dance the Cotton Eyed Joe around the gazebo, we were reminded of our own heritage. The children began with the recitation written by my mom well over 20 years before. Earlier in the day you could hear a familiar tune around the flagpole as children sang the history of Edgewood, Texas to the theme music from The Beverly Hillbillies. The lyrics written by my mom.

My mom is not only beautiful and talented, but she is giving. She thinks of others, and her hospitality reaches beyond her doors. Time and again my mom prepares food for her friends and neighbors in need. She is a thoughtful, reliable, and faithful friend.

Two of the best weeks of my entire life are the weeks after my two children were born. Upon returning home from the hospital with my newborn baby, Mom was there. Even though I was a new mom, for a week I enjoyed the blessings of being a child again. My mom cooked, cleaned, did laundry, and let me sleep as an exhausted young mom had need. Even if I try to recreate a meal from that time, it never tastes the same because those meals contained a special ingredient that I cannot replicate for myself: unconditional mother’s love.

Perhaps, I also inherited a couple of Mom’s annoying habits. For instance, being a backseat driver, worrying over time schedules, and a desire for everything to go according to plan (Admittedly, the plans are often in my head & unknown to others, but there’s always disappointment when a plan doesn’t come together). But, even in that, I’m thankful because I know I can trust my mom to be true to her word, and I believe others can trust me, too.

During this week of Thanksgiving, I’m grateful and blessed for my entire family. My family loves the Lord, and even though we are not together often enough, our love for each other out reaches any divide. This Thanksgiving week just happens to be my mom’s birthday week, as well. Thank you, Mama, for believing in me, supporting me, and giving me your genes. I love you.

Proverbs 31:28-30

Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman that fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

Rescued

Psalm 34:4

I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me….

The entire chapter of Psalm 34 is worth a few extra minutes of your time to read today. What an encouragement! Sometimes we need a rescuer. David, the Psalmist, had many battles in his life. He fought giants and defeated them, yet he ran and hid from the wrath of King Saul. His own children tried to rise up against him and overtake his throne. He committed adultery and had one of his best friends murdered to cover his sin. David, far from perfect, yet still considered a man after God’s own heart, cried out to a merciful Father and received help in his time of trouble.

Psalm 140: 13b

…the upright shall dwell in thy presence.

Psalm 84:2

My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord….

Something great can be said of spending time in the presence of the Lord.

I think back to my childhood and how much I enjoyed spending time with my daddy. Many times as he would sit and watch TV, I would find my place close to him. Sometimes I would just sit on the floor, next to his chair, lay my head on the arm of the chair, and he would play with my hair or rub on my back. Those moments are treasured in my memory. It wasn’t about conversation or activity. In those moments, it was about spending time in his presence.

Similarly, we need to take the time to sit at the feet of our Heavenly Father. Not to receive a list of needs, not to check off a to do list, but we need to just simply be in His presence. I hope you will take the time this week to bask in His goodness. Click on the following link, close your eyes, and enter the presence of the Lord.

Feel His touch.

Allow Him to rescue you from the thoughts and fears that plague you. Hear the lyrics:

“I called. You answered, and You came to my rescue, and I want to be where You are….”

Embrace your time alone with Jesus. Be where He is. Let Him be your rescuer today.

How fruity are you?

Galatians 5:23b

…against such there is no law.

When a thing is so great!!! I mean there really just aren’t any negative words to be said about this this thing. This thing is desired. It isn’t just tolerated. It’s coveted. Yet, freely given! This thing is so amazing there are no laws against it! What is it?

It isn’t actually a singular thing at all but rather a collection of characters. The Bible calls them fruits, and you can possess them all. Let these fruits shine forth through your character: love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.

Love ❤️

Joy ☺️

Peace 🕊

Long suffering 😬

Gentleness 💐

Goodness 😇

Faith 🙏🏼

Meekness 🐑

Temperance 🤐

Stop and think about these things. Can you imagine if we all exhibited more of these fruits in our lives?

Bear the fruits, plant the seeds, and reap a harvest for a future overflowing with more love, more joy, more peace, more long-suffering, more gentleness, more goodness, more faith, more meekness, and more temperance.

I encourage you to be more fruity today! 😂

In the meantime…

2 Corinthians 5:7 (NLT)

For we live by believing and not by seeing.

Oh, Lord, how I want my eyes to be opened to You. I want to see others how You see them. I want to see myself how You see me. I want to know Your perfect plans. I want to see through eyes of unconditional love, eyes of grace, and eyes of compassion.

Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Unfortunately, most of the time, I just can’t “see” it. So in the meantime, what do I do? God‘s perfect plan for my life is not rolled out before me like a treasure map. Life often seems more like a maze than a map. I have run slap dab into a dead end and had to retrace my steps to find another route. Sometimes I feel as if I am wandering in circles. Other times my way get shrouded in darkness, and I grope to make my way out. What then?

Reading this scripture last week was like a slap in the face. “Wake up, Amy, you don’t have to see to live, just trust Me.” Wow!

Isn’t that what Christianity is all about? Being a believer. Believing God works on my behalf even when I cannot see the results.

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.

Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Can you believe it? This familiar scripture conveys so much! We must believe. “We live by believing and not by seeing.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Lord, forgive me for not living my life by faith.

In Mark chapter 9 we find the story of a father asking Jesus to heal his son who is plagued with seizures. Jesus says anything is possible if we believe. The father proclaims in verse 24, “…I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

Contemplate this scripture. What has God promised you? What does God‘s Word say about you? Do you believe him?

I think back to the story in last week’s blog, 2 Kings 6:8-23. Elisha didn’t see the armies of God surrounding him, yet he believed they were there. Do we want to be like the servant whose eyes were opened or do we want to be like the prophet who believed by faith? The story of the servant is a blessing and a wonderful story of the spiritual realm surrounding us, but upon further reflection, I desire to walk in faith whether I see or not.

John 20:27-29

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”

“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.

Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

We can be among those who are blessed today. If only we will believe in Jesus without having to see Him with our physical eyes. Oh, I want to see Him! And, some day I will! But, in the meantime, I believe! Now, Lord, help me live everyday according to my faith in You.

What does your reflection look like?

2 Corinthians 3:18

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord, who is the Spirit, makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image.

Reflections. What stares back at us as we look into the mirror? Or take a selfie? What do we see? What do others see?

So often our vision is tainted by our life’s experiences. The way we view ourselves, the way we view others, and even the way we view God has been warped by circumstances and trials of this life. Oftentimes, we put God in a box because our vision cannot see any further than right now.

Have you ever watched a show on HGTV? The designers walk into a home that is outdated and often dirty and worn, but they see the potential for more. The home buyers seem discouraged and overwhelmed at the possibilities of a remodel. However, under the direction and vision of the designer, a transformation takes place. Instead of being content with the way the things look now, there is a greater vision of what could be with a little work.

Our lives are the same way. We are overwhelmed and discouraged at the place where we are. But God, looks at the potential we have. He can work through all of our mess and re-construct a new and better life for us. We must get a vision for what God wants us to do. There is much more than this for us. Let’s pray, “God give me the eyes to see what you see.”

There is a spiritual realm about us right now. The angels are constantly working on our behalf. If only our eyes could be opened.

Take the time to read 2 Kings 6: 8-23. It tells the story of when The king of Aram was at war with Israel and the prophet Elisha kept telling the king of Israel where the attacks were going to happen, so the king of Israel could be prepared. The king of Aram got so angry that he wanted to destroy Elisha. He sent chariots and soldiers to attack him. Elisha’s servant discovered the enemy surrounding them and cried, “what shall we do?”

Elisha famously replied, “There are more on our side than on their’s.” Now the servant knew there was only him and Elisha facing all of these soldiers. He was confused. What did Elisha mean? Elisha prayed for the servants eyes to be opened, and when they were, he saw horses and chariots of fire surrounding the enemy.

There was a spiritual army ready to fight and aid in their battle. If only we could see what God sees. We have a spiritual army fighting on our behalf, as well.

God has equipped us. God created us. There is nothing that we cannot accomplish with God’s help. Seek the Lord. The more time you spend in His Word, the more you will reflect Him.

You will see your situation more clearly. Others will see God when they look at you. Your reflection will change.