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The Beauty that Remains

re·fine   rəˈfīn/ verb: to remove impurities or unnecessary elements from (a substance), typically as part of an industrial process.

As most of you know, I am entering a new season of my life. On September the 1st, I became Mrs. Michael Mason. I have a new name, a new address, new family members but more than those wonderful things, I also have been given a renewed hope, revived joy and a refined love! Oh what a sweet, sweet beginning to this new chapter that I am believing will be unlike any I have ever experienced.

One of the things I believe the Lord has shown me over these past several years, is that it is only after you walk through the “fire” that you can see AND fully appreciate the beauty that remains. When you know what it is to go through a season of grief and you’ve had to wake up alone day after day, year after year, that then your heart is overwhelmed with gratitude when you open your eyes each morning and you see your new love’s eyes looking back at you. Once someone you love looses their ability to speak, hearing those three simple words…I LOVE YOU…is like breath to your soul. You recognize just holding his hand is a gift that is far more valuable than gold.

You see, walking through the fire has a way of removing the things that really don’t hold the value you once thought they did and it leaves behind the breathtaking beauty you would have never understood or appreciated had God not allowed the refining. My love and passion for the Lord has been refined because of what Arvid and I walked through…it has allowed me to love Michael with a love I didn’t know existed until God brought me through that fire. NOTHING is EVER wasted when it is placed in the hands of my Savior. I love The Passion Translation of Romans 8:28…

So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.”

Satan wants to destroy us as we walk through the difficult, sometimes excruciating seasons of life. The enemy’s subtle, destructive way of doing this may be to simply still your joy, whisper in doubt, feed your anxiety, sell you the lie that it would be better if you choose the world instead of God…so many ways he operates that are all LIES.  But when we choose to trust God and operate out of His strength, His power and His truth, He will take those same things and strip away the “impurities and unnecessary elements” from our life (doubt, fear, selfishness, pride, lust, addictions, etc…) and what remains is beauty…all that remains is a reflection of Him. I am thankful that God has shown me that He is the beauty that remains when I empty myself of me and allow Him to have full control over my life. I not only believe but have experienced that no matter what our circumstances are He is a God of His promises. He is Good. He is Joy. He is Peace. He is Love. He is my Comforter. He is my Healer. He is enough…EVEN IF…

HE IS THE BEAUTY THAT REMAINS.

Psalm 27:4 Here’s the one thing I crave from God, the one thing I seek above all else: I want the privilege of living with him every moment in his house, finding the sweet loveliness of his face, filled with awe, delighting in his glory and grace. I want to live my life so close to him that he takes pleasure in my every prayer.

Psalm 34:1-4 “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”

2 Corinthians 12:9,10 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Take It All Off

I don’t know about you but when I look in the mirror I have a tendency to see each and every imperfection that’s looking back at me. I see each line that wasn’t there 10 years ago. Every blemish that reveals I’m not 30 any more. So many things that are so far from perfection that it makes this girl beyond thankful for clothes and make-up. Can I get an “Amen” right there?!

You give me my make-up bag and an outfit that hides those many flaws and you will see a woman that appears confident and secure in who she is but is that really a true reflection of the woman you see when you look into those “cover girl” dolled up eyes?

The more women I have the honor of mentoring and ministering to, the more I see that this is a struggle that many of us battle each and every day. And not just issues with our body image but also with that woman we know inside and out that looks back in the mirror at us every morning and finds herself listening to the enemies’ lies that she’s not enough more than the truths from her Savior that truly define her.

The women that I have come to find the most beautiful, are actually the women that have chosen to take it all off and let me see them for who they really are and all they have walked through. It’s the women that have stripped themselves of pride and stopped trying to convince the world they have it all together when the reality is their family is broken and they’re falling apart at the seams and realize, in their own strength, they will never be enough but walk in the truth that their Savior is ALWAYS enough. They’ve taken off their mask that led to the misconception that they are flawless and don’t seem to struggle and choose to walk in the confidence that they have a purpose to fulfill that is as powerful as Mary, Ruth, Sarah, Esther or Naomi in His Story. They admit their weaknesses, struggles and battles they may be walking through–they get real with whatever “it” is in their life that makes them feel “less than”, battle weary and honestly, at times, like a complete failure and they step into the power that only comes from being filled with The Holy Spirit. The same power that rolled the stone away. The same power that conquered death once and for all!

Stop looking side to side, comparing yourself with other women that appear to have it all together. Comparison is a liar and a thief! Instead reach over and take your sisters-in-Christ hand and look straight into the face of Jesus knowing you were beautifully and wonderfully made for such a time as this! Be real. Be transparent. Be all that He created you to be! We are a force for the Kingdom to be reckoned with if we choose to stand together. We can be a beautiful light that shines bright into a lost and dying world and show them Who our Hope is!

I challenge you my sweet sisters to take it all off knowing that when we choose to live an authentic, transparent, fully surrendered life we will be blown away at what our God will do in and through us. There’s no amount of pretending that will ever transform itself into reality. It’s when we’re at our most vulnerable, admit our weaknesses and cry out to God that Jehovah Jireh, reveals that He is enough, even if…

“Charm and grace are deceptive, and beauty is vain [because it is not lasting], but a woman who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord, she shall be praised!” Proverbs‬ ‭31:30‬

Grace Upon Grace

What is grace? In the New Testament grace means God’s love in action towards men who merited the opposite of love. I have heard it said many times that grace is the unmerited favor of God. An Old Testament word describing God’s grace is chesed. This word speaks of deliverance from enemies, affliction, or adversity. It also denotes enablement, daily guidance, forgiveness, and preservation. The New Testament word is Charis. It focuses on the provision of salvation. There are many scriptures I love about His abundant, endless grace. Scriptures that talk of the grace that radically changed this undeserving, unworthy soul. SAVED METRANSFORMED ME. Grace that is STILL transforming me.

But what has brought me to my knees over and over again for the past several months is realizing that grace isn’t just something that He does for us, it’s also something He gives to us. It’s so much more than what simple words could ever describe. Anything I type on a page feels so inadequate. Trust me I’ve tried many, many times. Oh how I wish I could open my soul and let you see what my heart feels!

God has given me the undeserving gift of tangible grace. His beautiful grace manifest in my life. Grace that I pray I will never take for granted. Grace that I choose to reconize as the miracle that it truly is. Grace that I can see, touch, hold, smell and taste. The people in our lives that love us unconditionally even when we don’t deserve it. That is grace. The children that still choose to honor you even when they know how far from perfect you really are. That is grace. The friends that choose to walk this journey with you. Holding your hand and fighting in prayer and speaking words of encouragement over you each step of the way. That is grace. Those beautiful, breathtaking grandgirls that look at you like you hung the stars and the moon. That is grace. That unexpected miracle of someone He places in your life at the very moment and place in time where He knew you would need them most. That is grace. Grace that takes your breath away and brings you to your knees when you realize the hope that God has breathed back in your life through the gift of them. THAT IS GRACE.

Oh sweet friend, look around you right now. Look for Him. He is there. His grace is there, you need only look. It’s been there all along but for so long I missed it. I pray you don’t have to walk through the journey that I did to finally open your eyes to the tangible, miraculous evidence that is in the room with you right this very moment. Grace upon grace upon grace. But I would walk that same journey again a million times over if that is what it took to bring me to this very place…eyes wide open to the grace that abounds in my life, choosing to reach over and touch grace’s face, place it’s hand in mine while standing in the truth that He is enough, even if…

“For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16

 

Take a Deep Breath

I want everyone to stop and just take a deep breath. If you are reading this and you could follow those simple instructions I have good news!!! He’s not finished with you yet. It has nothing to do with the color of your skin. If you’re a man or I woman. If you’re tall or if you’re short. If you’re young, middle-aged or old. It has everything to do with Him. If He has breathed His breath into you today, He is not finished with you yet! Isn’t that amazing?! Doesn’t that make you want to get up and do a little happy dance?! It sure does that to this Jesus-Loving girl!

I know that it gives me so much hope to know that His mercies are new today and that He has a plan and a purpose for my life. He designed ME and YOU for a specific purpose and plan! He created us to reveal His hope and glory to a dark and dying world. And until we take our last breath there is kingdom work still to be done. And you know what blows my mind more than anything…because of the blood that He shed on the cross it levels every single one of us at the feet of Jesus. There is no sin greater than the other! There is not one of us that can live a perfect, blameless, and sinless life. Not one that does “it” better so that He loves you more than someone else. Not one of us more or less qualified for the calling He has given. When we become His children we are clothed in His righteousness.

We can not operate in our own abilities to live a life that makes us deserve one single ounce of His grace and His mercy. It’s the power of the Holy Spirit alone that makes all things possible! What?! Yes! All that He is, fills us from the top of our head to the bottom of our feet from the moment that we accept Him as our Lord and Savior.

So we don’t have to fulfill our God designed plan or purpose based on any of our own abilities . We only can fulfill them when we operate in His strength. His power. Everything that is Him, we have access to! Wow! Just WOW! Stop. Soak that in. The Christ. The Savior of the world. The Redeemer. The One who is my Enough even if!! If that does not excite you today we do need to check your pulse! Ha! We need to see if you weren’t able to take a deep breath earlier because you can’t be alive and kicking! If that doesn’t do something in you and to you, we may need to call an ambulance.

Never forget that when when we accept Him as our Savior it changes everything. It changes us! I don’t want to live an ordinary life just hoping I make it to Heaven. I want to live a life unabandoned for the sake of Christ so that all that He is, is what I walk in every single day! That’s what changes us! I want to know that you and every single soul that I cross paths with, can live a life that we were called to live because of Who’s we are. That we can live a life that is holy and fully based on what our Savior does in and through us. That is where my joy comes from. That is where my help comes from. It’s Him. All Him!

So today if you’re able to take a deep breath knowing that He has placed us right where He wants us to fulfill the very purpose that He designed us for, let’s rise up and walk in that Holy Spirit power that you and I are filled with! Let’s dance in the grace and the mercy that He gives us new each and every morning! And let’s walk out the calling… no let’s run to fulfill the mission that he called us to and let’s watch what crazy, amazing, life-changing things that He has in the days ahead for us until we see our Jesus face-to-face knowing He is enough, even if…

2 Timothy 1: 6-7  “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

2 Timothy 1: 12-14 “That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”

There’s No Instruction Manuel For This

For every season of life I have walked through, or am walking through currently, I have come to realize there is no perfect formula on how to ensure that everything comes out perfect or that I come through without experiencing heart break or pain. Marriage, divorce, weight gain (I’m a girl so you know it had to make the list), parenting, grief, widowhood…every season I’ve walked through I’ve read book after book. Scripture after scripture. And you know what? I have discovered that there is no perfect formula that guarantees each chapter of my life reads like I would write it if I held the pen. If there was a formula or check list we could follow for every chapter to only be filled with happiness, growth (but not my waistline), success, passionate filled marriages, spiritual growth, perfect children and all those details we want our lives to include, wouldn’t we all be following those steps? Wouldn’t there be story after story of lives filled with all that is good, beautiful and shiny? I know mine would selfishly be.

The reality is there is no perfect formula. There is no instruction manual. But there is a Sovereign God and His infallible word that He has left for us to cling to in every season. And one of the most powerful, yet beautiful truths I have learned through these past few years, is that I have to choose to seek, listen and walk with my Savior to know what I am supposed to do (or not do!) in each and every situation. I am called to have an intimate relationship with The One who will show me the way even on the darkest of nights. If there was a simple “cookie cutter” answer I wouldn’t need to seek Him in prayer or spend so much time soaking in His word to find Him. Find healing. Find hope. Find joy. Find whatever I need or am lacking of in that given moment…He is the one thing that meets them all!

No there’s not a check list we can follow to make sure we avoid every pot hole, valley or storm but my God is enough, even if that thing you fear most is written into your story. He is enough even when your parenting is lacking and your child has lost their way. He is enough even if they walk out on you. He is enough even if your Goliath walks into the doctors office with that diagnosis. He is enough even if He doesn’t heal him. He is enough even if it seems as though your whole world is falling a part around you. He is enough! I can honestly say I am grateful that He isn’t letting me write my story because I never would have truly known He was unless I had walked through each of those messy, painful, gut wrenching moments to allow Him to write the most beautiful love story I’ve ever known…the story of a totally surrendered girl that has fallen head over heels in love with The Lover of her soul! And I pray I will lean into Him each and every day until my faith becomes my sight, knowing and trusting that He is enough, even if…

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; And hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” -Romans‬ ‭5:1-3

One story, many versions

I love when God shows me something over and over again, confirming that there are specific things He wants to teach me in that moment. Something He knows I need or something He wants to open my heart and eyes to in His truth. Recently I wrote about a song He spoke to me so powerfully through that I had heard 100’s of times before and now it’s was when I was studying about the life of Jesus leading to His death, burial and resurrection. It was scripture that I have read many times over and now He opens my eyes to seeing things in those same scripture that I have never seen before! Those revelations that we’ve talked about before where He knew I needed that very specific truth at that very specific moment in my life. Those truths that take the scripture from being just words on a page and transforming them into powerful truths that transform me. Comfort me. Empower me. That just blow me away!

Have you ever thought about how in the four different gospels that there are four different accounts of the resurrection? Some parts of the story the same but all four telling us of some details the others did not. And have you ever thought about the fact that every word is God breathed? Every word is infallible? I’m sure I’ve heard many pastors, speakers and small group leaders talk about each of these facts numerous times in my well almost 50 years in church (I know, I know…I look like I’m 29! Ha!). This revelation that God was whispering over my soul wasn’t even about the resurrection or even a specific story in the Bible but it was if God chose to use Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to describe THE EVENT which makes my God different from any other, from each of their perspectives…through their own “lens” then wouldn’t you think He is still using each of His children to do that very same thing today. He designed us each so uniquely. Down to each and every detail. Could it be He wants to use those very unique things for very specific reasons?

It’s not just that the physical design of our bodies that are uniquely designed down to our fingerprints but our minds and even our personalities. Our likes. Our passions. Some of us are introverts. Some of us are not! I would raise my hand here if there was an insert in Word Press for that! Ha! Some sing soprano and some of us absolutely do not. We have different gifts and talents. We are very unique down to some of the smallest details…the very details He chose to place in us. Soak that into the deepest places within your soul. And after you soak that in I want you to grab onto to what God spoke so clearly to me. Truth that is not just for me but it is for you as well. There are many “versions” of His children but there is only one story that is being written. ONE. HIS story. We are each a part of that amazing story of love, grace and mercy and He so desires for us to fulfill our designed “role”. We get to be a part of The Story just like Moses, Mary, Martha, Peter, Paul, Sarah…well you get my point. We are just as important to Him (and isn’t that all that matters) as each of those we have read about in scripture. Just because we don’t hold a book in our hand with our names in it, never forget The Story is still being written. It is still being lived out and we are those called to this very moment in time to carry out what only we were created to do. It blows me away and brings me to my knees to think He wants to use me and you to fulfill His plan! Wow! Me. So undeserving, so unworthy but yet so loved by my Creator that has called me to such a time as this. When we choose to walk in the strength and authority of who our Christ is, He will use us to make an impact that could have a ripple effect for generations upon generations. Not because of anything in and of ourselves but totally and completely because of who He is. And the most beautiful part is that He will take us, even if we are a hot mess, and use us, when we choose to surrender to His will, in the most amazing story ever written!

Lord thank you for loving me more than my mind can fathom! I will trust You with everything I have and all that I am even if….

1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Psalm 119:73-74 “Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands. May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word.”

Psalm 139:13-14 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Echo of My Days

Don’t you love how the Lord speaks to you through something you may have read or heard many times before but then in that moment you have this amazing revelation that absolutely takes your breath away? Recently I was listening to Bethel Music’s “King of My Heart”, as I’ve done 100’s of times, but this time a specific lyric jumped out like it had never done before. “Let the King of my heart be the fire inside my veins and the echo of my days“. I don’t know why on this particular day, during this particular concert in my car (don’t judge me…they actually happen quite often) those lyrics spoke to me in the most profound way but they did.
Echo. Be the echo of my days. Wow! Think about that…how I live my life each and every day creates an echo that can be a reflection of Him. What words I choose to speak to others and over myself echoes. If I choose generosity it becomes an echo. If I choose to extend love to those that aren’t easy to love…another echo. He fills us with His Spirit so that we can live in such a way that there is a beautiful echo of His grace, love and mercy that reflects Him and Him alone. An echo that is repeated, reverberated into the lives of those He places in my path that allows them to see He is THE Healer and Redeemer that loves us wholly, fully and completely no matter what our story looks like. The echo of hope for the hopeless. The echo that reminds us that He trades our ashes for His beauty. Even when I choose to cry out to Him that I am broken and weary and can’t do this without Him, His echo comes back to me that He is my strength and my comforter. It is an echo that allows my life to reflect my Jehovah-Rapha and it’s His echo that comes back to me and fills me to overflowing of all that He is!
My prayer is that I will choose to make Him the echo of each and every day that God gives me. Nothing wasted. Nothing that doesn’t reflect Him even if tomorrow doesn’t look like I had hoped it would. The echo that continues long after this world forgets my name. The echo that, when I stand before my Savior and He calls out my name, will reverberate to all of heaven “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”. May He always be the echo of my days even if…