Since it’s been a little over a year since I first launched my blog tRUTHfulonline.com (Copyright 2017) I thought it might be fun to highlight some of my “top hits”. You may have noticed many of the titles of my blog posts are titles to songs. I don’t know if you can relate, but I often have what I like to call “the soundtrack of my life” on loop in my head. Plus I LOVE music! If I’m sad I listen to music, if I’m pumped I listen to music. I sing to my daughter daily at bedtime and during daily routines. I definitely sing in the car. I mean who can resist a jam session with three adorable back up singers? Of course now that my soon to be 12 year old likes to play DJ, I don’t always know the words!

*tRUTHful Greatest Hits*

The Show Must Go On – Queen

Reckless Love – Cory Asbury

Broken – Seether

Look What You Made Me Do – Taylor Swift

Live Like You Were Dying – Tim McGraw

Mama’s Broken Heart – Miranda Lambert

I Will Remember You – Sarah McLachlan

Nothing Else Matters – Metallica You Give Love A Bad Name – Bon Jovi

I Can See Clearly Now – Johnny Nash

Give Me Something to Believe In – Poison

(this one is a bit of a teaser because I called in Give Me Something to Believe in, but also referenced Forgiven by Alannis Morissette and Not Guilty by Mandisa)

Poker Face – Lady Gaga

Young and Beautiful – Lana Del Ray

My “album” even has some original tracks:

Old New Blue Jeans – Inspired by a couple of old country songs about Blue Jeans

Taste and See – Inspired by Hillsong/Oceans

Weed Em Out – Inspired by my garden

Burnt Buttermilk Biscuit – inspired by Sir Mix Alot

The Inspiration – inspired by Chicago

I hope you will enjoy checking out my labor of love over the past year. I leave you with my favorite bible verse containing the word Greatest.

So these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:13‬ ‭

Nothing Else Matters

So, if you’re like me you maybe spent longer than you’d like to admit trying to fit into someone else’s image of what beautiful is.  Or maybe every time you looked in the mirror you saw something different from what was actually there, because of what you thought society’s expectations were. Or maybe it wasn’t that obvious but you just felt inferior and couldn’t put a finger on why.

The realization that so many of my life’s strivings, so many of the things I anguished over and spent a RIDICULOUS amount of money and time on, don’t even matter.  I wish I  could go on a tour around the country and somehow reach (mostly) young girls who are already being unconsciously conditioned to think their looks define them.  If it wouldn’t be scary as all get out, I’d like to go up to each of them and tell them “Don’t spend your life comparing yourself to those figures you see on the TV screen and in magazines.  In the end, looks don’t matter!”  Maybe I feel that way because I wish someone would have done that for me.

If you understand what it means to be authentic, you know that it goes much deeper than what you see in the mirror.  However the superficial mask that I wore started with my self-image.  You see, somehow I got the idea that one of the worst things I could be would be to be ugly or over-weight.  It was an idea that was reinforced in my environment and consequently I found myself staring into a mirror and hating any fat I saw on my body.  I grew up in an era where fat was “out” from super models like Kate Moss, to Diet Coke and Rice Cakes!  Being a short girl and a late bloomer at that, I rarely remember looking in the mirror and ever being satisfied with what I saw.

I remember I dated a guy who was pretty open about the fact that the reason he looked at magazines like Penthouse or Playboy was because “I’ll never have a chance to be with a woman LIKE THAT.”  I wish I would have been raised to have enough self-esteem or self-worth to be able to hear a comment like that and not compare myself to the subject and come back with the understanding that I was less than.  But I did.  When I look back now at pictures of me when I was younger, I can now see a beautiful young woman, but at the time I was just trying to be something “better” or “more”, and of course a lot of it came down to being that way so that I could please others, not myself.

I never understood the concept of worth.  I didn’t have anyone sit me down and tell me that worth is far more than what you see when you look in the mirror. I remember styling my hair or choosing clothes to please people I was with.  I am so happy now when I hear people saying things like “I really want to get an undercut and fade cut in my hair but ‘Im afraid so and so wont like it” and the response is “But you would like it, right? Then who cares what so and so thinks anyway because its your hair”.  I mean if “so and so” doesn’t like you because you shave off part of your hair, then they clearly don’t like you for the right reasons.  Imagine if all your hair just fell out, would you be able to know without a doubt that that person would be right there beside you and going with you to your Drs appointments, even if you were cranky and in a bad mood and not any fun to be around?

Because at the end of the day THAT IS WHAT MATTERS. Those people that compare you to the airbrushed photos they see or tell you that wearing makeup is “false advertising” or who call you names, maybe even bully you for being different than what they have been conditioned to desire – those people aren’t going to define you.  Their cruel words or behavior do however define THEM. Why would you want to bend over backwards to please someone who would probably never treat you the way you deserve to be treated even if you somehow did fit their mold of perfection?  Because you don’t deserve that kind of conditional love.  You are beautiful exactly the way God created you, you are worthy and you deserve to be loved just like you are!

So, Moms especially, if you have boys, hear this.  Its our job to teach boys that women are not just beautiful when they are airbrushed and Photoshopped.  Start talking to boys about the true meaning of beauty.  See that expectant mom due any day standing in line at the supermarket? She’s beautiful.  The matriarch out for a walk on a cool morning   with laugh lines and a glimmer in her eye that can only come from wisdom and living a full life: she’s beautiful.   Maybe I’m doing something right because when my 11-year-old sees me applying makeup he tells me I’m wasting my time because I don’t need it, and I’m beautiful without it. Love that kid!

But don’t stop there! As women we have the unique ability to teach what beauty is in a more subtle way, by showing others that we love ourselves.  If you are critiquing your figure or hair in front of your daughter, she may decide to do the same thing to herself.  But if you say ” I feel so amazingly beautiful today’ (and do it when you are wearing yoga pants with your hair in a pony tail as often as when you are dressed up and have makeup on), then she will learn that beauty is not defined by what you are wearing or the size you fit into.  Try VERY VERY hard to not teach a girl her worth is in her beauty.  Society is already teaching her that.  It taught you that.  Why else would you be spending all that money on face cream and makeup primer? As a girl her first compliment will likely be “You’re so pretty” or “Your dress is so pretty”.  Start to point out to her the things that make her beautiful that don’t depend on her looks.

IMG_8015

It is said: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”1 Peter‬ ‭3:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬ http://bible.com/111/1pe.3.3-4.niv

As much as I’d like to protect my daughter from the world that thinks differently, I know the best thing I can do is teach her that she is “Not of This World” and do my best to surround her and point her towards other woman and people who are like-minded.

So, in tRUTHful style, I have found a way to weave the words of a song into a message I hope you will consider the next time you look in the mirror.  “So close, no matter how far, couldn’t be much more from the heart, forever trust in who we are, and nothing else matters!” You are a beautiful child of God.  God is right there with you, no matter how far away He may seem at times; trust that you are His masterpiece and perfect EXACTLY the way you are! NOTHING.ELSE.MATTERS!

Listen here: Metallica – Nothing Else Matters

You Give Love A Bad Name

Shot through the heart, and you’re to blame, You give love a bad name (bad name)…
When I listen to that song I can just feel his anger, and that brings to mind a parallel idea. It’s become very obvious to me that as soon as many people hear the word “Christian” their reaction is one of disgust, anger, maybe even fear or hurt. Damaged by the church and now completely resistant to ANY Christians because of what some people did in the name of Jesus. Begin to mention your spirituality and they respond,”Nope, I know the likes of you and I’m not interested”.
So sad that this has all happened in what was supposed to be the name of Love!
     The Free dictionary defines Christian as an adjective: Manifesting the qualities or spirit of Jesus, especially in showing concern for others.
There’s also a definition that describes a Christian as: One who lives according to the teachings of Jesus. 
Jesus had a lot of teachings but I think the most basic is this:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
‭‭John‬ ‭13:34-35‬ ‭NIV‬‬ http://bible.com/111/jhn.13.34-35.niv
IMG_7794
photo credit Alexandria Bouillon http://alexandriabouillon.zenfolio.com/
But what if they can’t tell because they aren’t getting “LOVE” from you?  Can you blame them for not wanting to hear what you have to say?
     I overheard a conversation where two people were talking about how the world is so much worse now and how we are clearly in a bad time to be living. I was sitting there thinking that I am excited about the moves many people are making to love everyone regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation or political philosophy.
Isn’t that what Jesus said to do?!?
If we really want to represent Christianity to others, we aren’t going to be successful by coming up with a long list of rules and judgementally wagging our fingers when we see people doing things that are different.
     It’s cliché now and people may laugh when they hear it, but I still like the adage “WWJD:What Would Jesus Do?”
 I mean, Jesus mixed with all sorts of people, shunned no one, welcomed everyone, labored tirelessly, and made the ultimate sacrifice. What a cool dude!
So, what’s wrong with displaying kindness, tolerance, and grace to others?
If anyone judges you for loving others that is their issue, NOT yours.
I mean, it’s not a club.  WE don’t get to decide who is worthy of salvation based on what WE think is right or wrong.  And representing Christianity that way makes it sound exclusive when its meant to be ALL INCLUSIVE!
     The great thing I think about being a follower of Christ for me is that gives me the freedom to love others without judging them. Why? Because it simply isn’t my job. Nope. And I recall a great quote by one of the greatest women to ever walk out Christianity, Mother Theresa, when she said,”If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
I find this to be a very freeing concept.
What a great legacy to live and teach my children. I can think of no better compliment than if on my gravestone the words “Known for love” Were inscribed.
     If you want to look at it from a psychological standpoint, lets explore the idea of unconditional positive regard. What it means is that you respect the person as a human being and give them the same kind of dignity you would like to receive. Basically assuming that everyone you meet is likely fighting some sort of battle and give them the benefit of the doubt that they are doing the best they can with what they have. What most people want from us is just to be heard and understood.  They are probably dealing with their own internal thoughts and what they probably need more than anything is a smile. Not a solution such as “You need Jesus”  (interpreted as judgement) or a solution to their problem.
 As Christians, we are told “Love your neighbor”. And who is your neighbor?
EVERYONE is your neighbor.
     Being a Christian holds me to a higher standard than just liking people who are like me; that’s easy and anyone can do that. Personally, I find it enlightening when I take the time to look at something from a perspective different from my own, and gaining new understanding helps me to apply the concept of appreciating everyone, even if they do not think like I do. Finally I know my “job” as a Christian is to love others, and I leave the rest up to God.  I challenge you to do the same.
And because I know the song that inspired my title will put you in a good mood, check it out here: Bon Jovi – You Give Love A Bad Name
Photo Credit: Love One Another by Alexandria Bouillion http://alexandriabouillon.zenfolio.com/

Taste and See

I was shopping at Mardel the other day. It’s typically a place I go to for some much needed solitude in my chaotic life. It’s like when I walk in the door I just feel peace. I can almost hear the “Ahhhh” resonate within me as I enter. And oddly enough I often hear a song over the loud speakers in there that feels like a direct connection to Heaven; it’s kind of surreal when that happens! During a difficult period of my life after my divorce, the song Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong United (check it out here: https://youtu.be/dy9nwe9_xzw ) would play at just the right time, not just at Mardel, but on the radio and when I visited a church over a thousand miles from my home!  I figured God was trying to tell me something, and it turns out he was! I got through that rough patch in my life not by my own strength, but by persistently holding on to my Faith.

Anyway, when I walked in yesterday I realize the store was under renovation and it wasn’t the usual quiet place I go to for solitude. Jack hammers and pounding replaced the usual calm atmosphere. The total layout of the store seemed to have changed also. How strange that even amidst all that construction noise I still begin to feel the same feeling of peace that I treasure when I go there!
So I was looking around trying to find gifts to put in my daughter’s time capsule for her first birthday, thinking about things that when she is 18 years old will speak to her about her future.
I really got very introspective about the woman that she will become and how I’m going to help her develop her spirituality and identity as a woman.
I thought about the innocence of a child and how adults expose children to faith.
Then, I thought about my own experiences with learning what religion was all about.
Then I saw it….

taste

The entire verse of Psalm 34:8 reads: Taste and See that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him (NIV).

When I saw this bag I thought “how perfect?!” I mean, isn’t that exactly what we do? We give our kids a taste of what religion is. Depending on how we present it to them, that taste can be sweet, sour maybe even bitter depending on the flavor we add. I mean, will they even want to taste it if it’s presented to them in such a way? Or are we figuratively or literally cramming it down their throats while screaming “Do as I say but not as I do?”Maybe, just maybe it can be something they savor and want to taste again and again and achieve what this verse suggests, taking refuge in the kingdom of God because we know its going to be soooo good!

spices

If you are just joining my blog, here’s the back story. tRUTHful is a blog inspired by the biblical character Ruth, being one of only 2 woman who have books named after them in the old testament.  My desire is to inspire and connect with other people interested in cultivating authenticity and character by the way we lead our lives.

Poker Face?

I’m SO not a morning person but this week ‘Im taking my kids to vacation Bible school, so I’m getting up much earlier than I normally do and you know what? Although I don’t think I’ll ever be a morning person, there’s something kind of refreshing about the cool morning air; you can still have your windows down when you’re driving since it’s not hot yet. It took me back to the years I lived on the beach in Florida when I was stationed there. There’s something about driving with the windows down feeling the wind in your hair that just makes you feel alive! It reminds me that I’m not just in survival mode, God put me here to enjoy life. I can hear the birds tweeting. I actually got to stop and get a cup of coffee alone which was nice.
Well, this morning I was driving around a town I used to live in, but no longer do because I moved to my hubbie’s hometown.With the windows down and the music flowing, no kids in the car so I wasnt limited to my usual “kid appropriate” group of songs I’ve heard a million times. You know, the ones I find myself singing even when my kids AREN’T around. Gotta love having “The wheels of the bus go round and round” stuck in your head!

So, on my random playlist the song Poker Face by Lady Gaga came on. That’s a song that took me back to being divorced and all the rawness of it just came back, being in this place I knew so well and a place that represents my singleness and overcoming of many of my personal issues; a place where I found myself.

I got to thinking about how I SO DON’T have a poker face. I mean, I can’t even look at my self in the mirror and keep a straight face, let alone not totally wear my heart on my sleeve, and all over my face. Apparently instead of having a poker face, I’ve got something that looks a little more like Michelle Obama’s face at the 2017 inauguration! If I feel something its going to be written all over my face. And you know, I used to really hate that about myself. I wished I could slap on the old poker face and not let things bother me. I still sometimes wish I could just let things roll off me with out them sinking in but the truth is my ability to deeply feel and connect with the people around me is really more of a gift than I once thought.

I mean, I can romance the idea of being comfortable numb, because feeling big emotions are painful.   But I’m so thankful God gave me the courage to step up to the plate and really get to play ball in life because I’m not just sitting on the bench watching the game of life play out.  Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 40ish years on this planet is that the worse think I’ve experienced is not feeling things so much, its REGRET. I’ve been bold and put myself out there and it wasn’t always appreciated or reciprocated but I didn’t regret it.
What I have regretted is not putting my self out there, not saying the thing or telling the person how I felt and they never knew and I never got a chance /:

The tRUTH is being real is being courageous. It’s being brave. It’s doing the hard things. I might not win big at poker, but I can rest assured knowing that I am being true to ME.

In case you are reading my blog for the first time, the back story is that tRUTHful is a blog about my quest for authenticity, through truth and inspired by the biblical character RUTH, whose name you see embedded in my blog title.

vegas
These are a couple of pillows I bought for my boys on a business trip I got to take to Las Vegas! 8 years later they still use them as seat cushions!

Weed ’em out

I was pulling weeds  this morning and, who knew, it is surprisingly therapeutic!  My almost 1-year-old just discovered dirt… it rained last night so I guess I should say mud. I was reminded of a time in my youth when I used to make mud pies and then take a bite, thinking it would taste delicious.  Not so much.  Apparently she concurs on the taste of dirt!  And so it begins…

I got to thinking about all those metaphors you hear about weeds and dirt and some of them are kind of cliché aren’t they? The one I’ll focus on now is feeding negativity, a major problem of mine. It’s a lot like a garden full of weeds. There may be some beautiful flowers in there but they’re hard to see because of all the weeds. Even worse those weeds start to choke out the flowers until the weeds take over and once those weeds are deeply rooted, they’re very hard to remove.

So, like a good gardener,  I took about an hour pulling up these weeds, and I thought the pile looked huge till I took a picture of it and though it looks pretty puny! Not only that, there are so many left I haven’t pulled. Isn’t that about how it is: the work we have to do sometimes is so overwhelming and such hard, hard work. Then we take a step back to see what we’ve done and it looks like almost nothing.

How do you handle the daunting task of weeding out negative thoughts?  One weed at a time!

weed pile
An hours worth of weeds,pulled one handed while attempting to keep my baby from eating dirt!
garden lol
So many more weeds to tackle!
In a protected, nurtured area we started some zinnia seeds. Zinnias must be a gardeners dream (first time trying them) because we planted them and they germinated within four days! They’re already peaking up through the dirt. So I know they are delicate and if I put them outside right now they won’t survive out here; we’ve got rabbits and all kinds of birds, bugs like grasshoppers especially that love to eat tender young plants.
zinnia
just sprouted Zinnia plants
Kind of reminds me of a situation I experienced as a young girl. Someone very close to me used to tell me all the time that I was fat and ugly and I would never have a boyfriend. So I decided desirable characteristics to gain a boyfriend must be pretty and thin. I was young and delicate and I didn’t have a great foundation of self-worth. It didn’t take much for me to succumb to this kind of bullying behavior.
So began years of starving myself to be thin even though I actually already was. And a beautiful flower has a hard time growing with no nutrients.
Oh how I wish I could go back as the woman I am today and speak to that girl that I was back then! Maybe tell her about Ruth and how she had a lot of negative things happen to her but unlike her mother in law Naomi who became bitter and even changed her name to “Mara” which means bitter,  Ruth chose to focus on the positive ones, and ended up being part of an amazing love story! The other great thing about the story of these two women is that even though Naomi must have been a hard person to be around with so much grief at the loss of her husband and both of her sons, with no grandchildren, Ruth stood by her.  She pledged her faithfulness to a woman that she could have easily left behind and went on with her life.
 The world will tell you you’re not beautiful enough you: need more curves, you need less curves, you need longer legs, bigger boobs,  you need tan skin, you need the fountain of youth…the list goes on. You may compare yourself to the women you see on t.v. and in commercials and just start hating yourself. The weeds just start growing and growing!
If you aren’t in a community of like-minded individuals, it might even feel like someone is throwing Miracle Grow on those weeds and making them grow faster and stronger.
If I can suggest one thing to you it is this, if you are feeling like Naomi, so bitter and overwhelmed with the weeds in your garden, consider finding yourself a friend like Ruth.  Someone who can build you up and be a good support system for you, and even help you pull some of those weeds!
Here’s the back story if you haven’t been following my blog, you may have noticed the name RUTH cleverly embedded in my title tRUTHful.  She is the inspiration for this and many other future conversations.

A beautiful fool she wasn’t

“And I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool”.
Do you know that line? It’s from  F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1922 novel, The Great Gatsby, and it’s a quote from the iconic Daisy Buchanan when asked about her young daughter.

Ruth is one of only 2 women who have books in the Old Testament named after them. My favorite thing about Ruth is that she isn’t known for her beauty, but for her character.

The reason I find this significant is because from my viewpoint, thinking about women of that time (and it’s still prominent) the first thing that’s usually noticed or commented on regarding a woman is her beauty.
And herein lies a major issue I think females face today that can affect their ability to be authentic. I think back to times I felt so much pressure to be beautiful,and the lengths I went to fit into what our society views as beautiful.
It may seem strange to contrast the Ruth of the Old Testament with Daisy but bear with me. Daisy didn’t buck the system back in the 20s and sadly assumed her daughter was destined for the same. I’m very glad there are women today speaking out!
I listen to the lyrics to Lana Del Ray,s song Young and Beautiful from the 2013 movie and the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Have you heard it? If not here’s a link!
Del Ray asked the question many a woman thinks about when she realizes she’s not sure she can still describe herself as young. “Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful”? You can almost hear the desperation behind the question.
It’s compelling, isn’t it?
Do men fear getting older like I do? I mean I’m sure there aren’t a lot of men out there who are afraid they’ll get traded in for a younger model (maybe literally)  just because their body has the expected wear and tear any woman who has lived and experienced fabulous days on the beach, maybe pregnancy, or perhaps child-birth and definately the effects of gravity!
I think about cultural reasons why woman develop this fear. Just watch any major movie where a male costar is like 50 and his female costar is in her 20s. What a pervasive message this sends consider how film influences our society.  Where else do many children first see relationships other than that of their parents? Then I think about how ironic it is that Reese Witherspoon is now an advocate for the limitations of women’s roles in film when I can close my eyes and still see her as the quintessential Elle Woods in Legally Blonde.  Well, she’s 41 now and in my opinion as amazing as ever!
So, it makes me smile that the story of Ruth contains no reference to her beauty and it’s not the reason we know who she is! Now that I have my own daughter I want to remember that while she is likely to always be first noticed for her appearance, I will strive to inspire in her the character and strength Ruth exudes and which gave her her place in a legacy we still talk about today!bookpink

-Here’s the back story! If you haven’t read my other blog posts my title, tRUTHful has the name RUTH cleverly embedded. She’s the inspiration for this and many other future conversations.

Inspiration

Ruth was a Moabite woman who ended up becoming a widow, but returned to Bethlehem with her Mother in law, Naomi. Naomi was in a particularly sad situation, as her husband and both sons were now dead, leaving her alone. She was bitter. And who could blame her?
What is it about Ruth that speaks to me? Her faithfulness. She lost her husband and did not bear him any children. In that time it was in her best interest to find a new husband, not stand by her MIL. But Ruth told Naomi, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”
‭‭Ruth‬ ‭1:16-17‬ ‭NIV‬‬
http://bible.com/111/rut.1.16-17.niv

Ruth was true to her word. What a comfort she must have been for a woman who had lost everything dear to her.
Her character traits inspired me and her name is at the root of the name I chose for my blog. I picture her as a woman who has courage, but most importantly, hope. There’s so many things that can steal a woman’s hope away in the world we live in, but that wasn’t where Ruth chose to focus her time and energy. She knew somehow that the best was yet to come!
More than that, I’m reminded of other woman of strong character that have inspired me. It is my desire to raise my daughter this way.
It’s kind of funny, when my sons were born I wasn’t nearly as passionate about this. There’s something about raising a daughter who will one day leave my home and it’s very important to me that she know her worth and be strong.

Read on, my upcoming blog entries will pursue authentically living in today’s world while we tackle issues relevant to people trying to keep the faith. IMG_6540

Who was RUTH? What amazing TRUTH can we learn from her? Stay tuned to read and share about my quest to live authentically as a woman in today’s world and to empower other girls and women to do the same!

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