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Glossy or Matte?

We live in a world with images of the woman next door, her home, her kingdom, her power. Branding, lighting, taglines, followings, messages…tools to promote that can also enslave.

We have filters at our fingertips. Truthfully, people can present themselves any way they want in our digital age. In fact, the pursuit of promotion in this culture actually changes people from the outside in. It’s a subtle reverse metamorphosis.

What if the things that we think give us power and influence actually are hijacking our freedom? What if it’s all a lie? What if what we are promoting is not really there? Smoke and mirrors and emptiness…

Glossy, alluring, enticing, inviting us to want what they have–influencers portray a virtual life. We buy the tickets to get there…only to get to the festival and see the portapotties, the chaos, the fear. It’s selling a lie that we are believing as the truth. (Fyre festival documentaries, anyone?) Glossy is not real.

I want Matte. I want texture and divets. I want to enter into the real. I want to call b.s. on what you are portraying because it is going to devastate and destroy you.

Initially, this wrestling in my heart came from a reaction to how the game is played on Instagram. However, it’s true whether you are on Social Media or are in Amishland that we choose how we present ourselves. We choose Glossy or Matte. We are branding ourselves from Social media to our small towns to our churches.

We choose where we focus and spend our energy. We are building the wall of gloss or we are digging into the real. Where we choose to turn our heart slowly makes us what we are…

This painting represents what is really to be explored and shared behind the gloss. It’s messy, but there is real life there. Opening yourself up to others and admitting what is really going on in your life brings opportunities for real growth and real impact. In fact, it opens your heart to hear that you are in need of the One who will change your heart and mind and bring you freedom from the glossy prison of self.

We can easily live our lives on the surface, and look what we are missing. Is it scary and risky to dig deeper? Yes, but it can bring true life, and it is worth the pain. I promise.

As I have been wrestling with these thoughts, The Spirit just keeps whispering words and giving me visions of concepts of paintings. I have no idea what I am doing, but I am listening to and exploring the direction. I don’t have a formula for anyone, but I know it takes courage to break through the gloss.

I was an expert at gloss growing up. Look and perform this way, hide the doubts, please the people, don’t examine too much. As I have walked out the journey into the Gospel and into authenticity, it’s taken work and courage to punch through the gloss.

There are threads torn and it doesn’t just affect me. What I have found is that there are others who long to live that way, too. There are safe places to punch together and to talk about real hope and growth and life. The more we do that, the less gloss we desire. Our covering is in Him filled with color and the texture of matte and adventures that actually bring more growth and life and freedom.

The more we walk in this life, the more we see the gloss is a picture of this world that doesn’t satisfy like we hoped and wanted. We have a choice to see it as it is or to keep chasing the lie and gooping more on… (Gooping is the technical term I invented for how I painted the top of the first painting:))

We show what we really believe about the Gospel by how we walk this out. Is there really no condemnation for those in Christ? Then I can risk the punch. Does He really mean that thing about abundant life? Then I can trust His process instead of gooping the gloss. Am I really covered in the righteousness of Christ and by His death and resurrection? Then, I can walk in confidence not in what I look like to the world but who He is making me to be.

What do you desire? Where are you pouring your energy? Most times, all that glitters is NOT gold.

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Your personal state of the union

Nope–not gonna get political, however, I am going to get personal.

There are an amazing amount of moving parts in our lives. Mixed with an inordinate amount of information coming our way, and the more we know, the more we can be paralyzed in the execution. We can feel like we “should” be doing more or getting better results ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY!

As I hear stories and see patterns in my life and the lives of others, my heart and mind turn to the word Simplify.  This is not in reference to minimalism but to paring down and being aware of what is going on in our hearts and how we are executing leadership and life.

Simplify: to make it easier to understand; to remove the things which make it complex

As women, we tend to have lots of plates spinning at once…and part of that is a necessity.  The problem comes when we do not consider what adding plates will do to our hearts and effectiveness–we complicate things. 

Consider what you are spinning in your life—are you a spouse?  Are you a parent?  Are you caring for a parent?  Are you dealing with a chronic illness?  Are your kids in a lot of activities?  Are you working?  Are you chasing success?  Are you pursuing friendships?  Are you moving?  Are you volunteering?  Are you (GULP) building a house?  Are you looking for a new job?  Are you dealing with intense conflict?  Are you in charge of the chores at your house?  Are you meal planning and cooking?  Are you attending to your spiritual growth? Are you in charge of something(s)? Are you involved in activities at your church?  Are your kids in travel ball?  Are you in school?  Who is depending on you? how are you treating money?

Breathe and come down from the ledge. 

Some of these things are part of the choices in life that we have pursued…and some are chosen for us. The biggest choice is how we react to these.  Do we see them as opportunities to steward?  Do we have a cohesive heart and mind in how we choose what to add and what to say “no thank you” to?  What are we choosing to make more complex in this season? And where are we hurting ourselves and our families in the midst?

I could tell story after story of that one GOOD thing I added to my plates since being a mother that put us all over the edge. Usually, it involved me leading a Bible Study or a child participating in one more thing or getting out of balance with boundaries–GOOD things, but it spread me too thin and affected all my people in the worst of ways.

Cohesive: consists of parts that fit together well and form a UNITED WHOLE (integrated)

Oftentimes, we do not sit down to examine OUR SEASON and OUR HEARTS and THE NEEDS OF OUR FAMILY and how they fit together. Our lives look like a mosaic of different activities that we think we “should” do or that we “have to do to be a good parent or person” or “that’s just the way life is.”

The sum total of our lives are bearing fruit…and the question is “what is blooming?” Is there a stench or a fragrant offering? Does it offer life or death? Light or dark? Non-GMO organic apples or rotten apples? Healthy relationships or toxic relationships? Is there godliness (more of his character) or selfishness growing there?

Beward of false teachers…”you will recognize them by their fruits…Every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. THUS YOU WILL RECOGNIZE THEM BY THEIR FRUITS.” Matthew 7:15-20

So, it is so important for all of us to examine the State of our Hearts, our families, our patterns of life. They get easily complicated and disintegrate in purpose and direction. That is where our flesh and this world points us. “Our hearts are deceitful above all things”(Jeremiah 17:9). They are idol factories. We begin to see good things as the ultimate thing–our success, our parenting, our marriage, our status, our leadership…all can get way “out of whack.” God says “have no other gods before me,” Exodus 20:3, and we are experts in how to fashion gods. And, most often, they are made up of admirable things and that complicates our examination. He calls us to “examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize that this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you. “ 2 Corinthians 13:5

I come to you with hope. God simplifies this process in us by the power, life, death and resurrection of Jesus–when we come before Him with the reality of our complex lives that are not cohesive in loving Him fully (which is the greatest commandment). We have to recognize and admit the state of our union/heart…If we do not realize there is a problem, we are calling Him a liar. He is Truth–there is no darkness in Him. When, we go to Him, turn away from our other “loves,” we are given the gift of forgiveness and a new heart and a new life. We still struggle with making other idols/loves, and, even still, He NEVER forsakes us if we are truly in Him. This is why He says to REMAIN in Him everyday–He helps us simplify our motives, our plates and helps to bring cohesiveness to our patterns of life–what we put in, what we take out. He helps us understand–in this oft-times confusing life.

My prayer for me and for all who know Him: That we recognize today where our hearts are wandering and trusting other things and where our lives are bearing bad fruit. And, in that, that we may draw near to Him and the power of the GOSPEL that “by grace we have been saved through faith and this is not our own doing–accepting God’s gift–not a result of works, so that NO ONE may boast. I pray we remember that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10 May we remember that “there is no condemnation FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST JESUS.” Romans 8:1

My prayer for those who do not know the beauty of knowing God: I pray that you graciously open their eyes, Dear One. I pray that you awaken their hearts to Your worth. Lord, I pray that you cause examination that they consider their fruit–and their hearts. May they experience the freedom of being adopted as your Child…