Monday, April 29, 2013

The World's Most Beautiful Women

“Your adornment must not be merely external, braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” - I Peter 3:3 & 4

People magazine came out this week with their issue titled, “World’s Most Beautiful Women”.  I will admit it ... I skimmed through the pages of said issue while waiting in the grocery store line.  I was at once both amazed and sickened ...  concerned and insecure ... incredulous and disappointed.

I stared at page after page after page of beauty as defined by the world and by the standards of our culture.  Although I don’t know any of the women personally who were identified as “The World’s Most Beautiful” by People Magazine, I do know enough about them to know that their lives are not nearly as pretty as their sculpted faces and the inner workings of these very beautiful women break my heart.

Can I share with you who would be on my list of “The World’s Most Beautiful Women”? 

Now ... I am sure that none of you have ever met the unknown beauties that I am choosing to honor ... but I can tell you this ... they exhibit a beauty and a radiance that Hollywood could only hope to emulate.  Their ravishing beauty was not crafted by the hands of a world-renown plastic surgeon, by a famous personal trainer or with an airbrush.  Their beauty has been honed by day after day of choosing to serve Jesus when their lives fell apart.

The women who are featured on my list of “Breathtakingly Beautiful Lives” are living well and strong for the Kingdom of God at this time in history.  Although you might not know their names, you must come in contact with their hearts.

            1 - “Natalie” is a young woman who was married shortly after graduating from Bible College.  She and her pastor husband were unable to have children and for years prayed that God would enlarge their family.  When 2 precious foster children arrived into their home and into their hearts, Natalie was overjoyed.  Natalie and her husband were only days away from adopting this brother and sister dynamic preschool duo when Natalie’s husband decided he didn’t want to be a father. He left Natalie to adopt them as a single mom and to raise them alone.  Natalie is filled with joy knowing that she is making a difference in the lives of these abandoned children.  Natalie is my definition of beautiful.

            2 - “Shannon” is my friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 24.  She had a double mastectomy followed by months of chemo and radiation which caused early menopause.  It was worth it, though, because Shannon was declared cured of the horrific disease. Shannon married her college sweetheart and they adopted 2 beautiful children who filled their home with noise and joy.  3 years ago, at age 37, Shannon was diagnosed with stage 4 bone cancer.  She continues to lead 2 Bible Studies a week, disciples middle school girls and exemplifies a heart attitude that is nothing short of miraculous.  Shannon is one in a million ... truly breathtakingly beautiful!

            3 - I went to high school with “Nancy”.  We were cheerleaders together, studied Algebra together and had so many slumber parties that my parents wondered if they would ever reclaim their living room floor again.  Although I didn’t know it at the time, Nancy was being raised in an abusive environment with an alcoholic father.  Although the angry father never abused Nancy, he beat her brothers and mother and often mistreated them verbally.  Nancy came to school every single day with a smile on her face and a song in her heart.  She was so well-loved that she was voted “Best Personality” and “Underclassmen’s Favorite” in our senior class.  Since graduation, Nancy has met Jesus as her Lord and Savior.  She raised her 3 children in a loving and healthy environment and now serves as my traveling companion in ministry.  Nancy is one of those rare individuals who sparkles from the inside out.  She is living a beautiful life free from the wounds of her childhood.

            4 - “Gretchen” is a gorgeous grandmother approaching 8 decades of living.  She escaped from Poland after WWII with her sister, never to see their parents again.  Gretchen and her sister walked almost 500 miles across the European continent and nearly starved to death on the journey.  Their father had made arrangements with an American shipping boat to take his daughters to America.  Gretchen married the son of an old country family friend.  This horrible groom beat her on their wedding night and then came home drunk nearly every night for 4 decades.  Gretchen lovingly raised her only child, a daughter, in freedom and cheered the day that she graduated from an American university.  Gretchen now finds purpose and joy in loving her 2 grandsons and in serving at church as a greeter.  The smile on her face is etched in true beauty and her heart reaches out in mercy in love to everyone she meets.

Sorry, People magazine.  You didn’t get it right ... but then ... you rarely do.  I hope that some day you will understand what true beauty actually is and then find women who live it out every day of their lives.  If you need some suggestions, I would love to nominate Natalie, Shannon, Nancy and Gretchen.  Trust me on this ... the world is more beautiful because they are in it.

What is your definition of the word “beauty”?  Who is on your list of “Breathtakingly Beautiful Lives!”?

Carol McLeod of Just Joy! Ministries is a popular author and speaker at women's retreats and conferences across the globe.  She currently hosts a radio program call "Defiant Joy! Radio" in several cities, has written three books, "Defiant Joy", "The Rooms of a Woman's Heart", and "Holy Estrogen!", and is the founder and CEO of Just Joy! Ministries.

Monday, April 22, 2013

With God Nothing Is Impossible!

For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37, NKJV)

"I'm sorry, but you'll never walk again or be able to bare a child." Those were the words Cheryl Salem heard when she was just a little girl. You see, this child had just been in a horrific car accident.

Her face had gone through a windshields. After she went through the windshield, the motor pushed her back through it breaking her leg and back. Her left leg was crushed in 32 different places. Not only that, but she had over 100 stitches in her face. Well, Cheryl prooved those doctors wrong! Not only did she walk again, but she had 3 children and she became Miss America 1980! 

Now, you tell me ladies, is there anything impossible with God? I think she can say without a doubt in her mind, "no there isn't!" Whatever circumstance you find yourself in today, God can do all things! He can restore a broken marriage. He can heal a terminal disease. He can bring a lost child back home. Are you facing something today that man is telling you you can't do? Let me tell you something greater! Ladies, if God calls you to it, then He will give you what you need to get it done! For He says that "nothing...let me say that again...nothing is impossible with Him!"

Father, thank You that nothing is impossible with You. Lord if You call us to something, we know You'll give us the tools to carry it out. I pray for each reader. Let her know that no matter what she's facing, it isn't an impossible situation with You. 
In Jesus Name,

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Difference in Plans

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. 
(Isaiah 55:8, NKJV)

The tears streamed down my face in a steady pool of frustration and pain. "Lord, why? Why again?" I had just received notification that for the second year in a row, I didn't receive a scholarship to a conference. "Was I not good enough?" Lord, what's going on? The same day that I was notified of this, I was also notified of something
else. I had received a scholarship to take a mission trip. You see, God had another plan for me for this year. Have you ever thought His plan was one thing only to discover something totally different was in the works? Ladies, let me encourage you to follow God's leading. You'll be amazed at what you find.

Father, thank You for being all-knowing...even when we may not understand. Thank You for your love for us. Help us all to trust in Your plan. We love You Lord. Amen.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Do you need a new perspective?

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me." And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:38-42, New King James Version)

Ok, to say that Martha needed a new perspective was putting it mildly. When she couldn't get her sister to help her in the kitchen, she commenced to do what children do whenanother child does something to agravate them.   She tattled! There was an aspect here though that she wasn't seeing. With Mary ignoring her not-so-suttle hints to help her prepare the meal, she was missing the more important thing. She was missing the worship. She was missing the worship of the Savior. Mary knew what was important. Nothing, not even her sister's atempts for her assistance compelled in comparrison to the thing that the Lord seeks. He seeks worshipers, not busy little machines. I love what Jesus says in a later verse, "Martha, Martha, you are troubled and worried about many things. But Mary has done the right thing and it will not be taken away from her." I believe that Martha got a new perspective that day. Ladies, the next time you have a guest in your home, think of it as Jesus entering your home. Would you be more interested in preparing just the right meal, or would you bow on your knees in worship? Jesus would've been happy if Martha would've given him a hotdog on a bun, just as long as he could've had her worship. Let me encourage you, worship the Lord instead of making sure every little detail is perfect. He's not interested in a perfectionest,He's interested in a worshiper. So, let's worship before we work.

 Lord, help us to realize the importance of worship and not busyness. Help us get back to the worship of You. In Jesus Name Amen.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Who Do You Say He Is?

He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 
Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.” (Mark 8:29, NKJV)

Recently, our ladies group was given a chalenge. We were asked this question:

"Who do you worship, the Jesus of the Bible, or the Jesus we've made Him out to be?"

In essence, this is what Jesus was asking Peter. So ladies, who do you say that He is? Is He someone we worship with all the reverence He deserves, or is He someone we worship with the intent of our own making. With Easter upon us, ladies, let's really evaluate who He is.

Father, thank You for revealing yourself in such a powerful way. Thank You that even when we worship You the way we think You are in our minds, You still let us come. Help us all to worship You in spirit and truth.
In Jesus Name, Amen.