What’s in a name?

I’ve seen him before, the man in the wide-brimmed, floppy hat with the steady gait. We both like to walk around the park in our neighborhood; he travels clockwise, I go counterclockwise. We are different, the man and I. Different generations, different ethnicities. Yet, if I go for a walk mid-day, our paths will likely cross.

As we approached each other last week, I remembered that I’ve seen him before. I remembered his hat. 20 feet away, the man veered off the path to give me a wide berth. Perhaps he is concerned about contracting COVID; perhaps he was being considerate in case I am. As we pass, I smiled and called out.

“Hi. I’m Kristen.”

A slight pause. He smiled.

“I’m Tom.”

“Hi, Tom. Nice to meet you.”

He continued clockwise. I continued counterclockwise.

The next lap, I didn’t see the man in the floppy hat. I saw Tom, my neighbor. We are the same, the man and I, fellow park-walkers.

“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” – Galatians 5:14

In recent months, following tragedies, there have been passionate calls to “Say her name!” Naming personalizes; it humanizes. But what if we didn’t wait until after? What if we were to be more intentional on a daily basis about really seeing people, saying their names, and recognizing their humanity? Would it change the way we view and treat others?

How can we better love our neighbors? Maybe we should start by saying their names. The weary store clerk who didn’t make the rules but is required to follow them has a name. The online commenter you are tempted to respond to aggressively has a name. That person down the street with the yard sign for the candidate you don’t support has a name. The man in the park with the big floppy hat has a name. Each name represents a person, made in God’s image, who is far more than what we can see.

On my final lap, Tom and I passed again.

“One more time around?” he asked, making a circle with his finger.

“Last one for me today – I’m out of water,” I replied, pointing to my empty bottle.

He gave a little shrug and nodded knowingly as if to say, “I understand.”

I smiled to myself as I walked away.

Until we meet again, Tom.


I was issued the “Thankfulness Challenge” from two friends. And I will admit, it IS a challenge for me, but not in the way you might think.  The challenge was to come up with 3 things I am thankful for every day for 7 days…That’s 21 things. (Yep, I did the math, be impressed.)  ONLY 21? THAT’S the challenge!  How do I pick ONLY 21?  Thankfully, I have much to be thankful for! (That one doesn’t count, by the way.)

The other challenging part for me would be to try to prioritize them. As a chronic editor (occupational hazard), I knew I trying to group my blessings three at a time would bring me great angst, so I’ve decided to take a little license with this challenge and list 21 here.  I hope you’ll indulge me for the sake of my sanity. The writer in me simply can’t do it any other way.

1. Grace – This has to be my number one. Without grace, I am nothing. Less than nothing. Honestly, even with grace, I’m nothing too impressive, except in God’s eyes.  To Him, I’m precious and perfect, loved and redeemed, but not because of anything I’ve done. ALL because of Grace. I blow it every day. Every hour. Every minute. We all do. That’s why we need grace! I don’t even pretend to be “good”. I have NOT kept the Commandments. I can’t; you can’t. That’s the bad news. But Jesus did! THAT’S the GOOD NEWS! The Bible tells us that “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10) But, OH, AMAZING Grace, how sweet the sound! THAT saved a WRETCH like me! I could stop here – that’s all I need, really… but I did promise 21.

2. God’s Word – We live in a world of many voices. I am so thankful that there is ONE constant voice I can turn to that I know is true. Oh what a treasure trove of wisdom lies within! I have God’s infallable, complete, unchanging, Holy Word recorded and available to me 24/7. How cool is that? And I don’t need anything else besides the Bible! Nothing more, nothing less! It says so!   

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” – Romans 15:4

3. Faith – Are you sensing a trend yet? Good. Yes, I am abundantly thankful for my faith in Christ alone. He is my “rock, my strength, my shield.” But MY faith has little NOTHING to do with me. My faith is a gift – given to me, by Grace, through His Word!

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” – Romans 10:17

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  – Ephesians 2:8-9

4. Marriage – Another gift God created and has given to ME! I have had the underserved blessing to be married for over 21 years (hey… there’s that number again!) And guess what – it hasn’t always made me happy. You know why? Because we are both selfish sinners!  Yep. Every marriage has ups and downs, but we made a VOW before each other and God. We’re in this for the long haul – for better or worse. I think it’s been mostly “better”, but I don’t always bring my A-game, so we’ve had our share of “worse,” too.

5. Mike – He’s stuck with me. Not sure there are two more opposite people around. The introvert, quiet, sensible, jock accountant and the extrovert, loud, impetuous, klutzy teacher. An unlikely pair to say the least. Our common denominator? (More math! I’m out of control!) We both love Jesus. Having that at the center of our marriage has made everything better – because we both realize: it’s not about US. It’s not about our happiness. It’s about bringing Him glory in all things – today and for eternity.

6. Motherhood – Another undeserved gift.  Holy cow, I am one blessed woman!  That God would entrust me to actually raise two human beings is a little overwhelming.  Have you met me?  I can’t even keep fish alive. (Seriously, Rainbow Swimmy Longtail, I’m sorry I let you go down the sink.  But I’m NOT sorry that I hit the disposal button instead of sticking my hand down the drain to get you out, because you were a fish and fish are slimly.  Yeah. Sorry, not sorry.)  Somehow, in God’s infinite mercy, he has blessed us with two of the most amazing kids in the world and we get to love them and try to raise them in a way that is pleasing to Him!

  • Ryanne is quite simply the most diligent and disciplined kid person I’ve ever met.  It might be easy to chalk her successes up to “luck” or even “talent,” but others don’t see the HOURS of practice she puts in daily.  This teenager rarely watches t.v. or movies, instead she reads classic literature and blogs about it – all the time.  And, honestly, she was born this way.  That a disorganized, easily distracted mom would be given a kid who actually asked for a LABELER for Christmas is evidence not only of God’s unmerited favor but of His sense of humor.
  • And Seth – I know at 15 it’s not “cool” to call him sweet, but that kid has a heart of gold.  I wish I saw the world the way he does.  A friend once described him as “without guile.”  Oh, to be without guile!  To think the best of everyone and everything?  What a gift!  His accomplishments don’t always come with a blue ribbon, but he is a 1st place friend.  Loyal to the core and faithful to the end.  You seriously want Seth as your friend.  He would give you the shirt off his back, unless you want his “More Cowbell” shirt… he might keep that one.

But beyond any traits they might have or accolades they might earn, the biggest blessing is that they both love Christ and have committed to following Him and honoring Him with their lives.  That’s enough.  Anything beyond that for me is icing on the cake.  (Oh, and I’m thankful for cake!)

Okay, I’m going to pick up the pace now…

7. Family – Thankful for amazing parents and wonderful inlaws. That both Mike and I were raised in Christian homes is a blessing for which we are both grateful. We have incredible extended family, far and near, too. We love and pray for all of you regularly!

8. Our church – We may not have a building (yet), but we belong to the most amazing fellowship of believers! Thankful for a church where God’s Word is faithfully preached and imperfect people come to learn about and serve a perfect Savior! This is our forever family! Love our STBC peeps! Need a great church? Look no further than San Tan Bible!

friendship19. Friends – To have ONE friend is a blessing. To have MANY?  Oh, what a joy!  I know I’m “a bit much” at times… maybe all the time. But I’m thankful for friends who know me well… and love me all the same! My dance card is NEVER too full for another friend.  If you think of me as your friend, know that I’ve got your back!  Thanks for having mine!

10. Prayer – People, if we know Christ as our Savior, we can “boldly approach the throne of Grace!” Whoa…. We have, in Jesus, a savior,  a friend, AND the ONE high priest who intercedes on our behalf. Isn’t that AWESOME?! Seriously, I can’t even…. Can I pray for YOU? I consider it a privilege and an honor. Will you pray for me?

11. Laughter – Oh, what a gift. We MUST laugh EVERY day… not because every day is fun, but because there is always reason to rejoice. I hope I make you laugh from time to time. Laugh with me, laugh at me. I’m a dork; I own it.

12. Music – Is there anything better? From those first “Twinkle, Twinkle” notes of a budding musician to a full Beethoven symphony… it’s all glorious to me!

quotes-about-music1 13. Babies – Their smiles, their smells (the good ones), their eyes, their laughs – if only someone could figure out how to bottle baby laughter. Oh, how can you look at the face of a baby and not know that he or she was intentionally, deliberately, miraculously created by God?

14. Teaching – I just love it. The end.

15. Struggles – Wait, what? Yes. I’m thankful for struggles. You know what has grown me most? Trials. What has strengthened my faith? Hardships. What leads me to depend more on the Lord? The “bad” times. And I’m thankful for YOUR struggles, too, because they can draw you closer to Him… if you’ll let them. Just don’t waste your struggles. Use them, grow from them, share them (just don’t always do it dramatically on facebook, because that tends to just be whining. K? K.)

16.Beauty – In creation, in art, in poetry, in music… Yes, there is ugliness in the world, but there is also great beauty! Take time to look for the beauty in people and the world around you!

17. Failures – Yes, thankful for those, too. Because they keep us humble… and I’m humbled ALL the time. We can’t give up. As a wise fish once said, “Just keep swimming!” failure 18. Ice cream (which sometimes helps with failures).

19. Literature – Read. But not just anything… something GOOD! Oh, how I love a good read!

20. Technology – Admittedly, a blessing and a curse. To be able to connect with someone around the world as easily as around the corner? Priceless. Technology can make the world small. Use it wisely.

21. Grace – Oh, did I mention that already? Well, it’s worth mentioning again, because I not only am thankful that I receive it, I’m thankful that – because of Christ – I can extend it. I blow it. You blow it. Just know that if you ever blow it with me, I’ll forgive you. I’ve been forgiven so much, how could I not?  I hope you’ll extend the same to me. Grace… it’s a most wonderful thing!

Thanks for reading my thankfulness list! I’m thankful that you did!  🙂 And if you did – I challenge YOU!  Share them however you want, even if it’s just a few things.  But be thankful – in everything!

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)

“A kid at a time, a school at a time, a year at a time.” Yes. Just. Yes.

I am a fan of Tim Challies, am a frequent reader of his blogs, and have learned a great deal through his “Discerning Reader” site.

As a Christian family with two kids in public school, we have often found ourselves having to defend our schooling choice.  It was not a choice we made without great, ongoing consideration and we have never regretted that decision, but it is nice to have someone else articulate our position.

We have thoughtfully and deliberately placed our children in public schools.  Our oldest will graduate – strong faith firmly intact- with top academic, music, and volunteerism honors next year. Our youngest will start high school in the fall.  Yes, there have been a few bumps, but that’s a part of growing up.  We have had mostly wonderful, caring, and competent teachers – and have yet to encounter the radical “indoctrination” so often claimed to be the norm (typically) by those outside the public school system.

One of the greatest blessings we have seen is that our children are both regularly commended for their character and leadership among their peers.  They are both bothered by the hypocrisy they see among peers who claim Christ one day and deny Him with their behavior the next – some of those peers are in public schools, some attend Christian schools, and some are home schooled.

As a “retired” secondary teacher with a degree in English, a Master’s degree in curriculum design, and various specialty endorsements, I am probably well-equipped to home school, but we did not feel called to that.  However,  I have told many friends who have had a desire to home school that God always equips those He calls – rather than always calling those who feel equipped.  I wish the same grace would be extended to us.

I have always contended that the most successful kids come from loving homes with engaged, involved parents – regardless of where they learn algebra.  We know some fantastic, smart, lovely children who have been homeschooled – as well as some amazing public school kids.  We also know homeschooled kids who are arrogant and condescending as well as public school kids who are disrespectful and lazy…all products of their home environments.

Every time there is a shooting at a school, at least one homeschooling friend will typically post something like, “That’s why we home school.”  Really?  Is that also why you don’t go to malls or movies?  This infighting needs to stop.  Supporting families raising kids in the admonition of the Lord should not lead to intramural insult.

So, thank you, Tim Challies.  Honestly, I couldn’t have said it better myself.


A Dream Deferred: A Reflection and a Resolution

No, this was not the summer we envisioned.

God is in control, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t disappointed, sad, frustrated.

Proud of my girl’s response (her blog post below) and thankful the outpouring of support by friends and pianists near and far.

A Dream Deferred: A Reflection and a Resolution.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  – Psalm 34:18

Countdown to Summer…

Ah… April in Arizona.  The time when “spring” temps start to creep into the upper 90s and kids begin their countdown to freedom.  As of today, we have only four weeks left of school.  Four weeks full of tests and projects and papers and assemblies and concerts and fieldtrips and… how in the world will we survive it all?  Something is sure to slip through the cracks.  At least, if you are at all like me it will.

Last week (in my excitement over surviving another tax season – Boo-ya!), I forgot kid #2 at school.  Not forgot a little, forgot a LOT. Forty-five minutes after school got out I looked around and realized “something” was missing… apparently it was my brain.  Sent the DH out to get him and found that he was nearly home, drenched in sweat, and slightly sunburnt.  (I did point out that if he had remembered his cell phone, he could have called to remind me that he needed a ride that day… so maybe technically it was HIS fault I forgot.  He didn’t buy it, but you can’t fault me for trying.)

Later, same kid reminds me that he needs materials for a big science project they were starting in class in the morning.  “Tomorrow?  And you’re telling me this at 8:00?!”   Yeah… he had given me the supply list two weeks earlier and I had promised to get right on it.  Strike 2.  Good thing Target is open late.

These things never would have happened in September. September Mom would have been early; April Mom is much less responsible.  I will admit, it’s good to know that at least I’m not alone.  Enjoy this hilarious blog post from last year and hang in there, moms; it’s almost summer!


A Dash of Color

What color are YOU reading?

A Bookish Charm

When we think about books, especially about what type of books we prefer, we tend to categorize them into genres, time periods, literary movements, etc. Today, during a visit to the library, my school librarian commented that The Maze Runner and Divergent are silver. This seemed a completely logical statement to me and I added that I needed a silver book as ebony (such as the works of Charles Dickens) was too deep a tinge for the moment. Then, I realized: books truly can be described simply through colors (and the occasional pattern.) This sounds whimsical, but to any serious reader, whimsy and sense are actually quite similar.

Anyway, my thoughts took the loveliest turn this evening as I considered which of my favorite books are best represented by which colors and I came to some entertaining conclusions. For example:

Anne of Green Gables– a pale, minty green speckled with purplish…

View original post 183 more words

The Trophy Generation

The year was 2002. A tall blonde girl with colorful ribbons tied in her hair that matched her jersey stepped onto the basketball court for what would be her first and last season. She “played” in every game, yet never scored a point. In fact, she only attempted two shots and rarely even touched the ball since she would duck and scream every time a teammate made the unfortunate choice to pass it her direction.

“Shoot it! Shoot it!” We screamed idealistically. Game after game. Alas, it was not to be.

If you are expecting a great comeback story or a tale about the triumph of the human spirit, you’ll need to look elsewhere. The truth is, this kid just wasn’t good at basketball and she couldn’t have cared less.

League rules required that each player participate for a minimum amount of minutes per game, so she was guaranteed time on the court. League rules also guaranteed a trophy at season’s end – win or lose – for every player. So the girl proudly stepped forward, posed for the team photo, and accepted her prize.


For what? Attendance? Heavens, give me the trophy. I’m the one who drove her to practices. I’m the one who sat through loss after loss with the forced smile and the “you’ll get ’em next time” attitude. I’m the one who organized the team snack schedule. I’m the one who avoided making eye contact with the parents of kids who actually knew how to catch and throw…Where’s my trophy?!

We’ve all heard the saying “If everybody’s special, then nobody is.”   Well, that’s only partly right; no, everybody can’t be special at EVERYTHING, but everybody can be special at SOMETHING. The key is to find out what that something is. And not all somethings give trophies, but that’s okay.

You see, the ribboned girl who was miserably bad at basketball would have much rather have been home playing piano or reading a book. So, not surprisingly, those are the areas in which she has excelled.  She’s earned numerous awards for music, writing, and academics. But you know what? She tends to question their significance. “Well, there were only ten other entries.” “I don’t think they must have been scoring very hard.” “I’m not really sure I deserved this.”

What have we done? Perhaps the “prizes for all” approach has more damaging effects than we imagined.   Perhaps giving trophies for everything affects our perception of accolades for anything. Maybe those early “wins” designed to spare littles’ feelings have resulted in making them feel that there really aren’t honors to be earned, but rather that every certificate, ribbon, and medal lacks true significance because so many are simply tokens of participation.  Not only are legitimate prizes devalued, but often the work needed to achieve an actual goal is undermined.

I get it. We don’t want six-year-olds to cry. But perhaps we should worry less about hurting their feelings and more about preparing them for life. In the real world you don’t get a trophy for showing up. In grown-up land, you are expected to show up and accomplish things.  In fact, you are PENALIZED for not doing so. Better to learn this lesson early.

I fear that society is already reaping the rewards of the “trophy for participation” generation.

I work with young adults who want to enter the teaching profession. To be fair, some of the twenty-somethings I work with are really, really impressive. For example, I supervised a young man last year who was bright, articulate, responsible, wise … oh, yeah, all while battling leukemia. He never made excuses. He never missed a deadline. He was never anything other than mature and competent.

Give that kid a trophy.

Actually, he doesn’t need one. He’s got something better going for him. He’s earning a living and establishing his professional reputation. How? By being really good at what he does every day. By showing up when others don’t, but not expecting any special recognition for doing what people have been expected to do for generations – their jobs.

Sadly, this young man seems to be a rarity among his peers. It has been my experience that many twenty-somethings expect to be given an “A” for effort… and sometimes not even that. They don’t seem to realize that when they don’t show up, complete the work, meet the deadline, or work well with others, it reflects badly on them and affects other people. They expect to be told “great job” regardless of how many mistakes they make. They want a pat on the back for doing the bare minimum academically or professionally and sometimes even CRY when their errors are pointed out. Seriously.

They seem to believe that “really wanting something” is the same as “really earning something.” It’s not.

We would do well to teach this generation about working hard and that includes expecting failure from time to time and growing from those experiences. And maybe we should think twice about just giving them all trophies so that they will know what it feels like to actually earn something of worth… so that when they do, it will actually have value and mean something rather than just being another mass-produced token of nothingness.

As the old Smith Barney ad used to say, “We make money the old-fashioned way. We EARN it.” Hmmm…maybe they had something there. We can’t afford another entitlement generation. Something’s got to change.

Oh, and don’t be surprised if you see a teacher-of-the-year named “Jake” in a few years. Because there are still good reasons for trophies. I’m okay with that.

Image Conscious (part 4)

fruittreeDiscontentment is nothing new.  In fact, it’s the oldest trick in the Book.

We all have a tendency to focus not on what we have, but rather that which we have not been given.  It’s been this way from “The Beginning.”

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of  good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that  you eat of it you shall surely die.’” – Genesis 2:16-17

But then… the distortion began, the questioning, the tempting.  “Did God REALLY say…?” 

And suddenly Eve, no longer content with the perfection God had provided, was enticed by the allure of the one thing that He had withheld.  Satan twisted God’s words, challenged His goodness, undermined His instructions.  And Eve bit.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.”  – Genesis 3:6

She had everything, but risked it all by following an empty promise that she could have more.  In doing so, she traded life for death, perfection for a curse, Truth for a lie.

“The Enemy succeeded in getting the woman to value physical appearance more highly than less visible qualities, such as trust and obedience.  The problem wasn’t that the fruit was “beautiful” – God had made it that way.  Nor was it wrong for Eve to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of God’s creation.  The problem was that Eve placed undue emphasis on external appearance.  In doing so, she believed and acted on a lie.”  – Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free

Let’s be honest, is your heart any different?  What lies have you believed?

  • I will never be beautiful because I am not perfect.
  • My value is defined by a clothing size or a number on the scale.
  • My appearance tells others who I am.
  • What I have/what I look like matters most.
  • The way I look is a mistake.
  • In order to be acceptable, I have to look like everyone else.
  • I am unworthy if I don’t fit the world’s current definition of beauty.
  • If only I were/had ____________, then I would be happy.

Yes, our struggles are more than skin deep: they reveal our idolatrous hearts.  Like Eve, we can be easily enticed by the allure of what we don’t yet have, believing that true happiness depends on gaining just one thing more.  And, like Eve, we have been deceived.

So, what’s the answer?  Take a good, long look in the Mirror.mirror

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” – James 1:23-25

Focusing on the Truth of God’s Word will help you to remember who you are and WHOSE you are.

  • Never forget that you are God’s wonderful creation!  (Genesis 1:27, Ephesians 2:10)

God knows you, loves you, and purposely created you exactly the way you are – and He doesn’t make mistakes!

“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.” –
Psalm 139:13-16

“But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’”  –Romans 9:20

  • Change your beauty focus.

Focus on developing heart traits, such as modesty, self-control, a gentle and quiet spirit, rather than putting an emphasis on externals.  (1 Timothy 2:9-10, 1 Peter 3:3-4, 1 Samuel 16:7)

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
– Proverbs 31:30

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” – 1 John  2:15-17

  • When tempted toward discontentment, renew your mind.

If your thoughts are constantly focused on the world’s values, your mind and heart will easily be influenced.   Your true value comes from God!  If you look to anything else in this world for your worth, you will tend to find yourself discouraged and focused on all the ways you don’t measure up.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Romans 12:1-2

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:8-9

  • Speak truthfully.

Your words can build up or tear down both yourself and others.  Be careful what you say – you might convince yourself of lies!

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”  – Proverbs 18:21

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” – Ephesians 4:29

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” – Proverbs 12:25

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14

  • Trust God with all of your circumstances

Don’t wait for “perceived perfection;” rest in the knowledge that God is in control of every aspect of your life!

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” – Isaiah 26:3

  • Remember that Christ redeemed you at a great price.

If you are a follower of  Jesus Christ and know Him as your Lord and Savior, you are His chosen bride, covered in His perfect beauty!  When you allow yourself to become dissatisfied, you are focusing on yourself rather than His righteousness.  It’s really not about YOU!

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20

“Do you not know that youare God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” – 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,  for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Where is your focus?  Is it on your image or His?

We have many voices vying for our attention, but focusing on the wrong ones can fill us with dissatisfaction in the riches we have been given and distract us from the promise of paradise yet to come.  I pray that we will encourage each other to keep our eyes on what really matters and not on the temporary, superficial issues of today.

“…we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:18

Image Conscious (part 3)

We don’t have to very look far to find a focus on appearance.
In fact, we don’t have to go looking at all; the messages are hard to avoid.

The headlines at the grocery check-out and on our computer screens scream: “Lose 10 Pounds in Two Weeks” and “A Sexier You in the New Year!”

Take a look at a graphic that accompanied an article on the MSN homepage about top diets:


So what’s the problem?  Look again.

If the tape measure is accurate, this woman would have approximately a 20 inch waist – 3-4 inches smaller than the standard waist measurement for a size 0.  Hardly an attainable, or even desirable, goal for most women.

Yet it sends a subtle message that says, “This is the standard and you don’t measure up.”

The impact of such influences on body image can start early…and can last a lifetime.

female-body-issues“Body image is the subjective sense we have of our appearance and our body. Unlike what others see when they look at us, our body image is often different from the objective size and shape of our body… Women in the general population report more negative attitudes about their physical appearance than do men.  Sadly, negative body image often begins when girls are young and extends far into adulthood.  For some women it lasts their entire lives. (National Centre for Eating Disorders)

There are many factors that influence body image including socio-cultural influences/media, family and friends, and personal choices.  Before we discuss how to combat body image issues and address the real underlying problem, it is important to identify influences that can distort our thinking in this area.

The Influence of Culture

In previous posts, I referenced statistics regarding the impact media can have body image; these influences are not limited to print and film sources.

You have probably heard the statistics about Barbie – that if she were human, her measurements would be approximately 38-18-34. Whether or not playing with disproportionate dolls has any lasting negative influence on girls is debatable, but the impact from seemingly innocent sources can be overtly influential even from very young ages.

barbiescaleFor example, in 1965, Mattel came out with a “Slumber Party Barbie” that came complete with a bathroom scale permanently set at 110 pounds.th[5]

The doll also came with a book entitled “How to Lose Weight” and inside  this book it gave the advice: “Don’t eat.”  A harmless toy? Perhaps, but the intended message seems clear.

Interestingly, the matching Ken doll also came with slumber party accessories, but his were milk and cookies sending a very different message.

Statistics have shown that social media can have an influence on body image as well.  Teens were united in voicing concern that utilizing social media such as Facebook and Instagram reinforced cultural norms of beauty and objectified females.  A 2012 survey found that 41 percent of 18 to 24-year-old women retouch their own photos before posting them to social media sites.  With the widespread personal use of Photoshop and image-editing, young women may find themselves “competing” with unrealistic images of their peers online.

This powerful video from Spain clearly illustrates how the images we view may have been manipulated. No translation necessary to understand the message.

Watch: “Photoshop in Real Time”

It is important that we remember that media images and messages are deliberately constructed and are NOT reflections of reality.  Advertisements and other media have been carefully crafted with an intent to send a very specific message and/or to convince you to buy or support a specific product or service.  We must be aware that the world is trying to impact us at every turn!

The Influence of Family

  • According to research by two Texas A&M professors: “media influences on behavior and self-perception often over-emphasize the media’s influence. While the media may play a role in how we react to the world around us, peers and family have a more immediate influence on our everyday lives.”
  • According to a survey conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute: 5 in 10 girls believe their family influences the way they feel about their bodies. In fact, family was found to be more influential than the media. Only 1 in 3 believed that media influenced their body image.

So what does that mean?  Simply put, the family plays a major role in the development of perceptions in this area.  Parents and siblings have an influence – positively or negatively – by action or inaction.  Parents, we must be careful to set a good example in this area and to be careful with our words.  Do your words help build your children’s character or are you harming them?

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” – Ephesians 4:29

Moms, I want to address you specifically here:  What messages are you sending?  Where is your focus?  Do you complain about your looks?  Do you place too much attention on clothes, make-up, weight, hair?  What are you conveying to your family?  Are you more concerned with outward appearance than inward character?  The inclination of your heart in this area will have a major influence on your children.  If you struggle, you must work to resolve that and be careful not to pass the same wrong focus on to your children.

Dads, I don’t want to minimize your role because it is significant.  You may not personally feel the weight of this issue as intensely as women do, but you need to be aware of it and recognize that your influence and affirmation can do much to combat it.  Your daughters (and wives) are vulnerable to harmful messages.  Purpose yourself to speak truth into their lives be an encouragement to them daily.  They have many conflicting voices vying for their attention; make sure your voice is heard above the din that can so easily lead them astray.

The Influence of Friends

  • Although the media has commonly been targeted for its role in promoting body image issues among adolescent girls, research suggests that another factor may be more influential in the development of poor physical self-image: A girl’s group of friends
  • A study showed that members of friendship cliques do share body image attitudes.  Perceptions of friends’ behavior and comparison with friends were important predictors of body dissatisfaction and dieting. 

Yes, one’s peer group has an influence and this is not limited to teenagers!  Do you spend time with others who are very image-conscious?  That will likely have an impact on you unless you are very aware and deliberately focused on keeping your priorities straight.  Obviously, children and teens are especially susceptible to the influences of their friends. It is essential that parents know who their children’s friends are and help to guide them toward relationships that will be beneficial and not harmful.

“Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.”  – 1 Corinthians 15:33

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”    – Proverbs 13:20

Personal Choices

While outside factors can certainly have an influence, ultimately body image issues start within our own hearts when we have the wrong focus and believe in lies.

“Women strive to shape their lives after that which popular culture tells them is beautiful, and Christian women are no exception.  When we are preoccupied with physical attractiveness, we assert that the world’s standards of beauty matter more than God’s and we begin to reflect the values of a world that Jesus said we are not a part of even though we remain in it.” Regina Franklin, Who Calls Me Beautiful?


Being dissatisfied with our bodies is really not a physical issue; it shows discontentment in our hearts.

It implies a mistrust in God’s provision and calls into question the wisdom of the Creator.

But this is nothing new; it is a struggle that began long ago…