BEAUTY

Polished Perfect

“Whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones…”  -Matthew 23:27

As silly as it sounds, every time I paint my nails I’m reminded of the horrific events that took place in the spring of 2012.  One of my best friends left her apartment, checked into a hotel and consumed an entire bottle of 500mg Extra-Strength Excedrin, another of Tylenol and a 2-liter energy drink.  When we found her, she was hardly responsive and her skin had green undertones.  As tears were falling from her face faster than her sleeves could catch them, my other friend, Cara, called an ambulance.

I couldn’t even function.  I just sat there in silence at the foot of the bed, blankly starring at my gorgeous friend’s near lifeless body.  As I picked up her hand, I noticed her fingernail polish was chipped.  Not knowing what else to do, I grabbed a bottle of polish and tried my best to paint her nails.  Looking back on this, we all laugh at how stupid I was to paint her nails in such a time of absolute crisis.  I still kick myself for doing something that was so entirely irrelevant to the situation.

You will be relieved to know and I am thrilled to report that after three days in the ICU, my friend survived and was released without any stomach or liver damage.  God is sovereign.  She is an incredible woman and has a jaw-dropping testimony nothing short of an amazing miracle.

As I was thinking back on all this the other day, I realized that I’ve been painting my nails in the midst of crisis for as long as I can remember.  My coping mechanisms have always been to hold everything together.  Be perfect.  Or at least act and appear to be put together.  Maybe, if I looked whole on the outside, something would transform on the inside to match.  The more I struggled internally, the more I tightened the mask strings.  But inside, beneath the image was always a little girl—and she was completely falling apart.

Image: An imitation of a person or thing; a representation, likeness, impression or conception of oneself; an illusion.

I learned at a young age that the world doesn’t care about how the girl in the pictures really feels.  I quickly learned to have a positive outlook, stuff my emotions, and fight for a flawless reflection.  But this was never a lasting identity, it was only an image.  The more pain, loneliness, rejection and insecurity I felt; the more I strived to paint an inaccurate picture of a girl who had it all together.

Beneath the facade I had no idea who I was or where my value was found.  I fought my hardest to maintain an image that had absolutely no relationship with reality.  But the outside couldn’t fix what was happening inside.

We live in a world that applauds, endorses, and super glues on the masks.  Our world worships images.  We’ve learned by example to push the limits and see how far we will go to maintain the image we want others to see.  We want people to view us superficially so they won’t look past the masks, or God forbid, stick around long enough to see how we really are.

“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  -1 Samuel 16:7

Thankfully, God doesn’t buy into “fake”.  He isn’t fooled by facades, intimidated by masks, or takes us at our word when we say that we’re “doing great!”  He sees past the act and speaks to our hearts.  He sees us falling apart and breathes life into us.  Like the woman with the alabaster jar, sitting at Jesus’ feet in the midst of her filth, mess, insecurity and pain.  This kind of vulnerability pulls on His heart strings.  He faithfully seeks us out to break off the things that hold us back, threatening to hold us captive.

“All of us then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces.” –2 Corinthians 3:18

This kind of matchless beauty is so raw and undone it scares those who are still in chains.  This reckless transparency with messy hair, mascara running, bent knees and a heart of flesh cannot be fabricated.  It’s as real as they come.  This absolute humility is so authentic it makes others uncomfortable.  But it’s the imperfect that the Lord chooses to use.  Our weakness allows Him to be our perfect strength.

He sees us. Fighting to be faithful, wrestling through motherhood, trying to parent perfectly, in yesterday’s topknot, with dried spit-up down our shirts. He begs us to leave the dishes and climb over the dirty piles of laundry. He beckons us to come away with Him. To sit at his feet. To rest in Him. To just be His daughter.

When your need for approval is fulfilled by what you do, how you parent, or imperfect people, you will always be left desiring more.  I encourage you; Run to the One whose perfection isn’t painted on with brushes, designed by the fashion elite, studied in Ivy League classes, or worn as couture. He is simply perfect so we won’t have to be.  He is the answer to our imperfection.  The sooner we take off our masks and come face to face with who we’ve become, the sooner He can intervene and make us who we were born to be.  It’s still a daily struggle to be real,  but I’m learning how to walk in freedom of who He has created me to be.

His absolute security beckons me to be renewed.  He loves me just as I am.  Broken, hurting, confused, crumbling; real.  And He desires to make me whole and lacking nothing.

So, which is more important to you—your outward persona or your inward well being?  Don’t paint your nails while dying—it’s senseless.

“He said to me… ‘My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” –2 Corinthians 12:9-10

2015: All Things Lovely

Rachelaz.com

Twenty-fourteen was a wonderful, but it’s a new year and I love it already.  We’re new parents, we own our own little business, and I’m transitioning into becoming a stay-at-home momma. So I’ve decided to broaden my scopes, challenge myself, draw up a few plans, and set some new goals.

I’m going to give this “lifestyle blog” thing a shot. 

So, I hope you enjoy my journey as I transform this space– where I’ll be posting the random tidbits of my life. Such as what God’s doing in our hearts; my foodie finds, the cooking fails; what I’m learning; the fashion my little family is wearing; what I’m reading; and stuff our small company is building.

Thanks for taggin’ along for the ride!

xoxo,

    -RACHEL

Pawn Shops & Louboutins

Pawn Shops & LouboutinsYou are fearfully and wonderfully made. For you are God’s masterpiece. He has created you anew in Christ Jesus.  Ps. 139:14, Eph. 2:10 

You can see them from the window. Some walk hurriedly by and don’t dare step foot in. They prefer quantity and would rather not invest on quality.

Locked away in those shiny cases, far above reach.  With bright, shiny lights positioned ever so perfectly showcasing their design. Here, you won’t find that they’re on sale. Or even 15% off.  For these items, markdowns don’t happen and member discounts aren’t given. No bartering is done.

Anything but ordinary, these items are bought with a price. And a pretty penny at that.  Alas, these are couture.

So I’ll admit it. I discriminate. Not all of my handbags are treated equally.  A few of my favorites lie safely stowed away on my top shelf; filled with stuffing to hold their shape, and carefully placed inside cotton dust covers to protect them. While others are sadly thrown aside, hidden in the corner and usually covered with dirty laundry. In my closet, it’s embarrassingly easy to determine which items I was willing to pay more for.

If you’re reading this, chances are, you’re a girl.  Why?  Because all girls love the ingenious brilliance and beauty of our ever-changing fashion world.  Chanel, Stuart Weitzman, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, Valentino, Chloé, Louis Vuitton, and Alexander McQueen top off my favorites list. Shoes. Yes, especially the shoes.

Though they have rightfully earned their name and price tag, I must admit at times I’m shocked to find what people are willing to spend on popular brands and fashion fads. I remember getting on to one of my girlfriends after learning what she paid. “Do you realize you’re just paying for that label!?” I exclaimed.

And that was just it. It didn’t matter where it had been, what color it was, or whose arm it was on. All that mattered was that tiny little label stitched on the inside. It alone determined its worth. And that pretty little label sells itself right off the shelf.

val·ue [val-yoo]  noun: merit, or importance, estimated or assigned worth.

Have you ever found those gorgeous, red-heeled, Christian Louboutin‘s at a pawn shop, or garage sale? I sure haven’t. Such beauty doesn’t belong there.  And quite frankly, most of their shoppers wouldn’t recognize their worth.

I had an epiphany the other day. And maybe you’re starting to join me in it. Much like designer wear, our worth is not found in our design, but is because of our designer. The name we carry inside determines our value.

Maybe this is the first time you’ve heard this. Or maybe you’ve heard it so many times you’ve grown seemingly numb.

So let it sink in…

You don’t belong at The Dollar Store, just any old pawn shop, or someone’s pile of dirty laundry.  And you weren’t born to be resold.

You were designed by the master of all artists. And it doesn’t get any more couture than you. You are one of a kind baby. Yes, you are His striking masterpiece.

And He died, just so He could call you His.

So dare to get to know He who created you and understands your original design.  Hold your head high because of what’s inside.

Stand fast, lead with character and fight off anything that threatens your value.  Don’t be a counterfeit, or envy how easy they are to come by.

Surrender everything and hold nothing back.  If you take pride in anything, boast in Him and what He’s done for you. Don’t compare yourself to others, it only aids in making you either prideful or insecure.

Learn to live in the season you’re in and don’t take it for granted. Because like fashion; it too will change.  Abide in the grace, peace, and joy He has provided for you in the here and the now.

If you’re a woman, don’t resent your covering, even when you feel hidden. And don’t settle in places that dumb-down your value, or guarantee that you’ll be taken quickly. Wait for the gentleman who knows, bears, and promotes the Name above all labels.

If you’re a man, don’t look for a cheap deal, but instead, hold out for the best– even if it costs you more.  Don’t just look for the “prettiest” design, but instead, observe and inquire if she truly knows her designer. And finally, only lead if you’re following.

I’ve come to realize that confidence in Christ is an ever-growing adventure. And I’m so thankful for the process the Lord started in me before I met my sweet husband, Johnny. Without it, I would’ve been sure to sell myself short and bound to have missed out on the wonderful marriage I’m blessed with now. But even after getting married, though I am proud to be an amazing man’s wife, I must still draw my value from Jesus Christ. I am thankful for His name that I bear. He alone gave and gives me my worth.