Why Your Looks Matter Less Than You Imagine

I had serious self-esteem issues in high school. Didn’t we all. (To those people who say high school’s the best years of your life, I say, “Couldn’t pay me enough to go back.”) Part of it was curable. I did eventually learn to fix my hair better. I learned how to dress in a way that flattered my body and made me feel comfortable. I learned how to put on makeup without getting mascara on my contact.

But you know what? I’m still the same height, aka, it’s hard to find clothes that aren’t too short. I’m still too skinny and lacking curves. I’m back to having to wear the glasses. I never grew Victoria’s Secret model hair. And I almost never paint my nails.

It’s not just that things are the same; they are worse. I’m pregnant with my fourth child.  I’ve aged through the entire decade of my 20s. I have a prominent gray hair by my face and numerous scars on my legs from who knows what. And yet, I feel much more confident in my physical appearance.

When You Want Personal Growth

I went up for the hit at practice and barely grazed the ball. I might not have played volleyball for six years but there was something else wrong with my hitting. So I asked. Even though I was a coach and maybe should have had it all together, I walked over to another coach, who is an excellent hitter, and said, “ok, what am I doing wrong?”

He told me. The next hit wasn’t great (remember that whole six year gap?) but it did feel like hitting when I corrected the problem.

So much of growth comes from being teachable. It was the first thing I told my girls when we held our first practice alone. Learning to play volleyball is, in a large part, based on how teachable you are. Will you be offended when you’re corrected? Will you do what you’re told, even if you think you know better? Will you complete the practice necessary to get better and refuse to give up?

Sports don’t prepare most people for a life of sports. Sure, a talented few will move on to play in college, and an even smaller number will play some type of professional ball. But for most of us, sports is a fun outlet where we can learn skills that will help us in life.

We’re All Older Women

I’ve never been a good fangirl. When I was at Declare Conference in July I did go talk to Kat Lee because when else am I going to meet Kat Lee? At Influence Conference last year I had my picture taken with Ruth Simons and Erin Loechner. But as much as I admire these ladies and learn different things from them I know they are just women. They’ve wanted to pull their hair out in frustration at ten in the morning when the baby is crying and a toddler is clawing at their legs. They’ve had to apologize to their husband more than once (a day) because of a bad attitude or a snippy tone. They’ve also gone to bed at night discouraged with where they are in life and how much they have left to learn.
 
They are just like me and they are just like you. However, I’m thankful that they don’t allow that to stop them from sharing what they’ve learned. They don’t let the fact that they’re human keep them from using the talents God’s given them to help others. They keep writing, keep podcasting, keep painting because they have a story and they want to help people.
 
Phylicia and I receive quite a few emails from podcast listeners who lament that they don’t have advisers. There’s no one in their lives to ask their questions about sex, motherhood, and marriage. There’s no one willing to invest in their lives and get involved and see the mess and not run away.

Attention Christian Women: Stop Being Nice

Y’all (you did realize I’m from the South, right?), I’m really passionate about women. Young girls, college girls, single girls. Married women. Women with children. I get discouraged at many of the messages I hear directed at women because they aren’t right or helpful or anything any woman needs to hear.

One of those messages is that girls are supposed to be nice.

Doesn’t sound so bad, does it? What’s wrong with being nice (besides the fact that it’s a little vanilla)? After all, nice means “pleasing, agreeable.”

Except, what if that’s not the goal? Where are women ever admonished in Scripture to be nice? Please fill me in here if I missed it somewhere but I haven’t found it. Nice means you smile (nothing wrong with that), agree with what’s said, and apologize excessively for things that aren’t your fault. And I’m working on that since my husband always says, “What are you apologizing for?” My response is usually “ummm……nothing”

5 Ways to be a Good Friend

Last week we talked about dealing with women who aren’t your close friends. It’s a totally different story when it’s your homegirls. There’s nothing wrong with recognizing that some people earn a spot in your inner circle. Jesus had an inner circle. Everyone should not be allowed the same access to your heart; the ones who earn those places deserve to get a good friend.

I am surrounded by talented, brilliant, caring women. And I call a handful of them close friends. Women I can share my heart with, women I trust with my story and my problems, women who love me and mine well.  Some of them are walking similar paths; some are in other stages of life. I often walk away thinking that they are much better to me than I am to them and that I have so much to learn from them.

 

4 Ways to Relate Well with Women

This isn’t one of the tips but I have to say- sometimes people just won’t like you. 
 
Shocking, right? 
 
You are not responsible for this. You don’t have to be “nice” at all costs, bending over backward to accommodate every whim or quirk of every person you ever meet. Should you be gracious? Always. But don’t dim your red lipstick, your vivacious laugh, your love of Harry Potter, or your obsession with social justice. It should never be your all-consuming desire to have everyone like you. Everyone will not like you.
 
And even if they like you, it doesn’t mean you are actually going to be friends. I love women. I like to form relationships with other women and encourage them and learn from their strengths. But not all women are my best friends and I should have a mode for social interactions that measures above stranger but well below best friend.
 
I think the fact that I even felt compelled to write about this points out my introvert status. I’m an extroverted introvert to be sure (You have taken the Myers-Brigg, right? Here’s a free, but not as in-depth one) but when I’m around a lot of people I don’t know well I want to go home and be around people that I know like me, quirks and all. Maybe I just got out of practice staying home with the boys for a few years but I had to put some serious thought and practice into how to handle myself. And here’s what I’ve found. 
 
1. Realize not everyone is a close friend. You don’t have to let everyone speak into your life. You don’t have to ask their advice or give weight to their opinions. Sometimes light chatter is fine. If you are into small talk this probably doesn’t bother you. I would rather cut down to the meat of the issues and discuss things that really matter. You can discuss the new road they’re building across town, how old her baby was when she walked, and your favorite dish at the Mexican restaurant.

You can enjoy her and her company and not share your morning struggle with your children. You can even listen to her problems and keep your mouth shut about your own. Save the weight of your life for the people who have proved they can carry it. And if she wants nothing to do with you? Shrug and move on. Graciously, of course.
 
like you quote 
2. Avoid expressing opinions as facts. I have an opinion about everything. I have some friends that I tell these opinions too and they know that I am only half-kidding. I might think that but it’s not a conviction. I don’t care if you agree. Strangers don’t realize this. They only hear what I say. “Why wouldn’t you breastfeed?” (Well, I can think of several reasons.) “Pattern mixing is ugly.” (So false. I do it sometimes- only some pattern mixing is ugly.) “There’s no such thing as too much cheese.” (Unless you are lactose intolerant.) “Oh, I could never homeschool!” (Just an example- obviously I do. But I’ve heard this a million times.)
 
Without the second context those comments sound harsh and judgmental. Even while holding your stance you can acknowledge that different viewpoints abound. (And please don’t think I’m excusing you from holding your Biblical standards. I’m not. But even then you might not should shove your Bible in someone else’s face quoting verses over the chips and salsa.)

 

3. Aim to bless.

We women are bad about competing with each other, aren’t we? We measure ourselves against each other. We compare our work with their title. We evaluate our attractiveness by their good hair day. It’s easy to want to impress other women. But striving to impress other women means leaving your confidence in who God made you to be behind. You have to walk away from who you are and what God has called you to do to strive for something that looks good to others. There’s a better way.
 
Try to bless other women. Encourage them. Refuse to measure them by each other or evaluate a strength in them by your deficiency. You represent Christ. Life is not about you. We need to find confidence in God and and go forward considering others. If I don’t do that I will find myself searching for approval and validation and applause. This is self-centered behavior and never causes me to act in ways that glorify God. I want to approach life with a “there you are!” attitude instead of “here I am!”

 

4. Talk about yourself less. 

 

Let them share their experience and tell their story without having to best that experience (although by all means commiserate: “me too” is one of the strongest phrases in relationships.) Listen to what they are saying instead of preparing what you are going to say. Ask questions about what they are telling you. Be interested, not interesting.
 
We meet many different situations in life. And it’s not a bad thing to put some thought into how we should handle those situations and how we can best honor Christ. What are your tips for dealing with acquaintances and social situations? 

6 Ways To Be the Woman You Want To Be

I looked at the smiling picture of myself and thought “I’ve not been that woman lately.”

Of course there are always reasons for this- everyone’s been sick, the kids are in a phase, I’ve been too busy, the husband has been working late, yada yada.
 
But I get to choose. I get to choose what kind of woman I am every single day regardless of what’s going on around me.
 
I want to be that woman. I want to be that smiling woman who has three small children. I want to be the woman who has joy in Christ when life is crazy or difficult or pressed for time. I want to be that woman who walks in confidence when her husband’s schedule is busy and she works with small children while completing some creative work. I want to be the woman who runs a happy home because she has a happy heart and finds fulfillment in Christ and not her circumstances.
 
I don’t want who I am to be dictated by how I feel or how easy my day is or how well my children are behaving. I don’t want to be washed around by the changing of culture or current events. I want to be grounded and steady in Christ- rooted just like my word of the year.
 
Sometimes I’m not her.
 
 feeling quotes
 
It’s time to forgo the excuses, no matter how good they might be. Why not make the necessary changes instead of wallowing where I am even if I have a good excuse to be there? Life will never be perfect and you can’t even wait on it to be easy. Who you are now is who you are becoming.
 
It all starts by acting how I want to feel not by acting how I feel. Most days there is a drastic difference. It’s bad enough to feel crazy (and it happens) but I don’t want to act crazy.
 
Unfortunately I don’t have a easily-remembered five step program to being a joyful woman. I don’t have any mind tricks or books to read. My heart is the problem and so I must work on my heart. But here are some places to start.
 
1. Read your Bible. Not for a to-do list but to spend time with Jesus. Look for what He’s saying to you; the Bible is a living book after all.
 
2. Pray. Ask for God’s heart for your family and home or your place at work or whatever your issue is. Stay in communication with God throughout the day.
 
3. Pick your place. Go all in on the work God has given you. The grass is not greener somewhere else. Jim Elliot said, “Wherever you are, be all there.”
 
4. Dismiss your excuses. You pick the person you are every day regardless of what’s going on. Quit allowing yourself “reasons” to behave poorly.
 
5. Practice joy. What do I mean by practice joy? Smile when you don’t feel like it. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Kneel down and look those children in the eyes while you talk to them in a quiet voice.
 
6. Be fully there. Have a place for social media (I love it) and leave it there. Don’t be on your phone or computer all the time. Quit running away and engage where you are. Leave all the distractions behind.
 
All of this ebb and flows. When I get one in check another is out of place and I have to start working there. It’s a constant battle to serve Jesus well. Not to gain His approval/love/acceptance or earn salvation but to please Him with my life because, after all, it is His life. He died for it; He paid for it. I want it to make Him happy.
 
Smiling pictures aren’t always real life. Sometimes real life is cleaning the cereal off the floor again and breaking up another fight. But I can be that woman with joy in her heart regardless of what’s going on around me. I can choose to live in the confidence and calm of Christ when I’d rather spin out of control. But not by myself. I’m not that strong or self-controlled and I’m glad. Because if I could do it myself I’m afraid I would.
 
I need Jesus. So do you.