My ‘Popcorn Ceiling’ Life

28 Aug

PopcornCeiling2The first time I ever heard the phrase “popcorn ceiling,” I envisioned pieces of popcorn glued on to a ceiling and wondered why anyone would do that!

I wondered if bugs might eat the ceiling. Wouldn’t it eventually get moldy?

Yes, I’m serious. I had no clue.

Popcorn ceilings are so passe these days, and many people call them ugly. But there are plenty of ways to remove or cover them with boards or styrofoam panels.

It’s messy, but no one has to live with popcorn ceilings anymore!

I feel about a popcorn ceiling about the way I feel about lingering sin in my life.

It’s ugly, messy, and I don’t like it. And I don’t have to live with it.

But lingering sin, just like a popcorn ceiling, isn’t going to go away by itself. 

Lingering sin must be removed.

The Lord wants to remove our sin far from us (Psalm 103:11-12; Isaiah 43:25) through forgiveness in Christ (Ephesians 1:7Hebrews 9:26).

The result? We are beautiful in Him. 

 

When we trust in Christ, repent and confess our sin, God forgives and cleanses us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9; Psalm 130:3-4). He declares us righteous in Christ and there is no condemnation (Romans 5:1; 8:1). Salvation is the restoration of what God originally intended for us.

Jesus died to forgive and remove our sin. In Him, we have an unblemished record. Jesus perfected for all time those who He has sanctified (Hebrews 10:11-14). We can walk in confidence, knowing we are defined by our relationship with Christ, not our sin. On Judgement Day, we arrive in heaven with no guilt.

Yet we will arrive in heaven with the evidence, or fruit, of the choices we made to live out who we are in Christ.

Our justification at salvation is a one-time work of God; but sanctification is a process, beginning with justification and continuing until the day we pass into eternity.

And that brings me back to my illustration.

The Lord scraped off the messy, ugly “popcorn ceiling” of my life, and He is in the process of creating the beauty of His holiness in me. 

Are you in that process too? How do you know?

– Dawn

 

Beauty Beyond Barbie – WAY Beyond!

7 Aug

BarbieDoll1959_pic_PinUpGirlCosmeticsHumor writer Rhonda Rhea got it right when she said, “Barbie boasts a figure that would only be feasible if she totally rearranged several of her internal organs.”

John Kehoe, Barbie’s biographer (1998) said the doll, at human size, would be 5’6″, weigh 110 pounds, and have these measurements: 39-18-35! *

Another comedian, Anita Renfroe, said, “I’d like to see a “Comfort Loving Barbie.’ They could accessorize her with sensible shoes, white cotton granny panties, elastic waist jeans and a flannel-covered hot water bottle.” LOL!

One woman’s story is an example of the extent some will go to feel beautiful … like Barbie.

Cindy Jackson, founder of the Cosmetic Surgery Network, transformed herself into a living Barbie with more than $100,000, because she wanted to appear “breathtaking” like her sister … even “glamorous.”

I grew up with a Barbie because my mom thought I should have one. (I’d rather have erector sets and Lincoln logs to this day!) I played with them with my sister, but I always thought Barbie was “too primp-y.” At age 9, my Barbie was much like that 1959 version in the photo. (It was my mom’s not-too-logical step up from a Tiny Tears baby doll, but maybe Barbie was all that was available at the time.)

Even as a child, I compared Barbie with all the women I loved and didn’t like what I saw in her.

She didn’t have my grandma’s wrinkles or my mom’s thighs. Her measurements weren’t like anyone I knew, and all the Webb family had short, stumpy legs. I thought her tiny feet would be better suited to a China doll.

But really.

What can you expect from a plastic, pin-up-perfect doll except unreachable standards and superficial everything?

Elisabeth Elliot, a godly woman who died recently (June, 2015), described these impossible standards:

“People’s standards, of course, differ. Usually, in things that do not matter, we set them impossibly high and thus guarantee for ourselves a life of discontent.”

Author and speaker Tonya Ruiz wrote, “God wants us to be smart. He wants us to use our brains and ‘consider’ what we do. … Barbie’s head is empty — yours is not.”

God not only wants us to be smart; He wants us to be wise, and He is the source of wisdom (Proverbs 2:6). He is the source of wisdom about beauty,  good body image and every healthy thing women seek. It does not good to compare ourselves with each other. We must believe what God says about us.

So what does God say?

I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well” (Psalm 139:14, HCSB).

After I became a Christ-follower, I discovered a beauty far beyond Barbie. I came to understand and embrace the beauty of who I am in Christ and why He created me.

Elisabeth Eliot concluded her thoughts on physical versus spiritual beauty with these words: “In things that matter we set them (standards) too low and are easily pleased with ourselves.”

I think this is the balance. There’s nothing wrong with beautifying our bodies to the glory of God. Even my no-nonsense Grandpa agreed it’s OK for women to “paint the barn.” But in what really matters — inner beauty — our standards are often vague or shallow.

The Bible encourages discernment about true beauty: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30; also 1 Timothy 2:9).

In other words, God looks on and is more concerned about the precious inner “heart” than the outer shell (1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Peter 3:4).

Mary Kassian wrote, “The Lord wants us to clothe ourselves in fine, spotless garments of righteousness — in holy character and holy deeds. (Revelation 19:7-8). He wants us to be beautiful, and through Jesus, we are! The great story of the gospel is that God gives us the opportunity to clothe ourselves in the beauty of Christ.

“He provides the beauty,” Mary said, “and we don’t need to work or strive to measure up, nor do we need fear that we will fail to meet the standard.”

The King desires our beauty (symbolically illustrated in Psalm 45:11) because it is His gift to us, and it’s far beyond the beauty of a plastic doll.

How can you cooperate with the Lord as He makes your life beautiful?

* Reference to Kehoe: http://graphic.pepperdine.edu/living/2007/2007-03-22-barbie.htm

NOTE: Quotes by Rhonda Rhea & Anita Renfroe were found at ronandtonyaruiz.com.

– Dawn

Surviving the ‘Dog Days’

31 Jul

DogDaysOfSummerI watch my dog cool down every summer as August approaches in hot San Diego. Roscoe sits on the cool wood floor and camps out in front of our revolving fan. Sometimes he turns his head toward the fan, and I laugh as his ears fly out behind him. He moves his head back and forth to catch every bit of the cool, refreshing breeze.

As August continues, I often find him panting there. And believe me, there have been days I’ve wanted to join Roscoe on the floor!

It’s always tough going during the “Dog Days” of summer – unless you’re at the beach. Or running your air condition most of the day. ($$$$$$$!!!!)

I wondered where the phrase “dog days” came from.

I discovered in the Northern Hemisphere, these days occur most often in July and August. During this time, a constellation named Orion (the Hunter) appears in the sky. It is near the constellation Canis Major (greater dog), and according to tales about the constellations, Canis Major is one of Orion’s hunting dogs.

A star in this “dog” constellation, on the front of the dog’s neck, is called Sirius (the Constellations_OrionAndCanisMajorDog Star). It’s an extremely bright, intense star. As July/early August arrives, Sirius seems to get “lost” in the sky; but the ancients knew the “Dog Star” was still there. And they felt (logically, to them) the searing, bright star added to the heat of the season.

The Romans called these days “Caniculares dies,” or “days of the dogs.” According to Wikipedia,  the Romans even sacrificed a red dog in the springtime to appease the supposed rage of Sirius. Apparently they believed the star was the sinister cause of the “hot, sultry weather.”

These are tales from ancient mythology, but the name stuck. Weather-casters still refer to the “dog days of summer.”

Spiritually, I have days when I struggle in some “heat.” It plum wears me out until I look for the place of rest.

While some “heat” comes from the circumstances of life, there’s another kind of “heat” that comes from within.

King David understood this. He spoke of a particular time when this “heat” seemed to suck the life out of him. David said in Psalm 32:4:

“For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.”

What was David talking about? We find out in the next verse: “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin” (v. 5).

When we hide and refuse to acknowledge our sin, it adds pressure and stress to our life like “the heat of summer.”

Sin weighs heavy on our soul. Soon, we feel depleted — our strength and vitality plummet. Suffering spiritual “heat stroke,” we suffer until we seek relief.

The marvelous blessing is, there IS relief. Sin brings guilt, but that’s a good thing!

Guilt is God’s gift to us to drive us toward His love and forgiveness.

To “survive the heat,” must come to the Lord in brokenness and repentance, baring our sins before Him; then we can sit in blessing (v. 1), covered by the cool breezes of His forgiveness.

Do you feel like your strength is “dried up” under the weight of a particular sin? Where does this psalm say you can find relief and the blessing of refreshment?

– Dawn

Constellation graphic from here.

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