Today, I Was Mad At The Mirror… (And Everything Else)

JenniferKostick.com(2)

Life is messy and mirrors seem to reflect the mess. Sometimes I hate mirrors. I fully believe that everyone owns a unique sense of beauty, and completion of our souls begin when we connect to the lovely parts of the inside. However, there are days I just wish I was taller, thinner, and could wear that little black dress on New Year’s Eve. (Not that I go anywhere to wear one, but you get the point.)

I had a ridiculously, immature argument with my husband this morning that sent me to the freezer grabbing a container of Haagen Dazs Carmel Cone ice cream. I ate the whole thing! In other words, it’s time to burn the little black dress. True confession: My name is Jennifer Kostick, and I eat my feelings.

Later in the day he sent me roses. I wanted to post a picture on Instagram until I wondered what in the world I would capture it… Maybe something like, “Here’s what you get after acting like an adolescent. Go me!” News flash: I’m not someone that posts pictures on social media acting like everything is perfection when it isn’t. What you see is what you get.

I’m telling you all this because as wonderful as it is to write about the hope that comes with the celebration of our Savior, Christmastime also evokes emotional tantrums. I don’t just unwrap hope at Christmas, I unwrap a little crazy too! Did I hear someone say amen?

Life gives us days when hope seems incognito, as if it’s never going to show up, and our flesh has a way of falling for the nonsensical lies from the enemy that tell us it’s coming for everyone but us.

Today I was mad.

M.A.D.

Mad that I’m not more patient, mad that I fall short from being the person I want to be, AND, mad that I can’t fit into even one of the black dresses in my closet. I was mad over superficial ideas of who I would like to be, and now that I’m thinking clearly, I can hear God saying, “JUST STOP IT!” Encouraging, right?

I mean seriously, you probable thought I was going to tell you that God said He loves me, or that I’m special, beautiful, and blah, blah, blah… Nope. He told me to stop it. Not audibly of course, but in the way you know something greater is speaking and it’s time to listen.

Sometimes we just need to stop and force ourselves to look around at what we have instead of what we don’t. Friend, I have more than most. It’s silly to argue over issues that have no long term meaning. It’s even worse to worry about fitting into little black dresses. (But I’m human, and female, so I will be working on that in 2016!)

Distraction is part of our inability to find hope. We lose focus and forget rather than hone in on the beauty of everyday.

We are all going to have bad days. Days that include silly squabbles with our spouses or significant others. At one time or another, our dresses won’t zip. And if you’ve never had that problem, I’m happy for you. And a little jealous too. I digress. The point is that we have made-up definitions of what our lives should look like and when something disturbs it, we lose focus and hope seems as if it doesn’t exist.

It does exist.

If you’ve suffered a not-so-great-day, maybe you need to stop it too.

Stopping forces stillness, and stillness enables us to focus on the hope that’s headed our way.

Don’t let yourself become lost in the trivial matters of whatever this day holds. Instead, find hope in spite of those moments.

No matter how faraway it seems, hope is coming. In fact, it’s knocking on the door right now.

It’s okay to have bad days, as long as we allow hope to pull us back toward the good ones.

Hope is coming.

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

Why I Was Mean and How I’m Going to Fix it

Gracie's Crazy Hair_nIvana Trump said, “Gorgeous hair is the best revenge.” Well, okay then.

Last Saturday morning, I woke up and thought that if I didn’t do something to make myself feel better about my appearance, I just might die. I’m not dramatic or anything!

I already had a salon appointment booked, but instead of having my roots done and leaving it in the same style I’ve had since what seems like 1996, give or take some bangs and a few inches in length, I decided to get it cut in to an inverted bob.

The next morning while at church, someone walked up to me from behind and said, “Hey, I like your hair!” My response: “I figured it was either wake up tomorrow thirty pounds lighter, or cut my hair. I did the only thing I could.”

Why didn’t I just say thank you?

Have you been there? Do you constantly humiliate yourself so often that you don’t even recognize it?

If I wasn’t writing this series, I bet I wouldn’t have noticed what I said that day. One painful foot-in-the-mouth moment at a time I’m detecting a pattern in my life. I am incredibly mean to the girl I see in the mirror, and I tell EVERYONE about her imperfections.

So I guess I played Ivana’s “deep words of wisdom” against myself. What am I trying to do… seek revenge for not being able to put down the Oreos? Should I have a staring match with the image in the mirror? I mean, her pants might not button but her hair is fabulous!

It’s ridiculous.

Here is what the Bible says:

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

-Genesis 1:27

None of us have ever seen God face-to-face, but we do know that He created each one of us in His image. That means we have worth, we hold value, and we are important to Him. Do you think for one moment He wants us to stand in front of a giant piece of glass, stare at the woman He created in His image, and belittle who she is?

I’m thinking that’s not His perfect plan for us! Not even close!

We have to get in to the habit of speaking life to ourselves. We must remind ourselves that we hold value. Here is how I propose we start…

  • Print out the Printable I created for Genesis 1:27. In the blank space, insert your name. I’ll show you an example with my name..

Beautiful_Blog_Series_Printout_Jen

  • After writing your name in the blank, hang it on the mirror you look in the most. Hey, print out as many as you need and hang them everywhere!

Sometimes, we need to remind ourselves of our worth. We have worth because Christ is worthy. We were created in His image. That says so much about who we are, friend.

I also want to say something else, and we are going to talk about this more on another day, but you don’t have to think of yourself as overweight to identify with anything I’ve said. You could be a perfect size two and have another complaint about yourself. The ugly whispers that start in our heads over the way we look, they don’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter what shape you are or what you look like, we all have baggage relating to beauty.

If you missed Monday’s post, we are starting something called Finding Her Thursday! It’s about finding who we are as individuals in the search for beauty and gaining encouragement through it!

For tomorrow’s first Finding Her Thursday, we are sharing a picture of our “grace art” to social media. We are using the hashtags #findingherthursday and #beautifulblogseries.

Take a picture of anything imperfect that you need grace for… burned Mac & Cheese, bed head, a sink full of dishes, a messy shoe closet. (Hello!) It’s for solidarity, sisters! We are going to give each other encouragement. Finding beauty means finding value in every part of our lives… not just our appearances.

The whole point is that we aren’t perfect and it’s okay to admit it. It’s our own personal mess art, our unique stamp on life, and we’ll get through it. Together. Many of us are raising kids and loving well. We need each other, and that is what #findingherthursday is all about. We are finding the beauty inside every facet of our lives. You know the old saying… “One person’s mess is another person’s masterpiece.” Or something like that!

In the mean time, remember that you were created in the image of God. You hold so much worth. You are beautiful!

Love,

Jennifer

Do You Want to Find Your Beautiful?

scaleI’m free at last! Well, I’m working on it, and I’m so happy you’re with me! We are on the road to new things! And by the way, I once read that one shouldn’t use the word things while writing. It’s been said that a writer should arrive at their point using fitting words and grammatical perfection with sentence structure to make the best of the best green with envy…

Disclaimer: This blog will not be your greatest literary experience. And that leads me to today’s first post in Finding Our Beautiful. (The Beautiful Blog Series.)

Do you know that for as long as I’ve lived, I’ve been trying to please everyone and prove something. You too? Most of the time, I don’t even know what I’ve wanted to prove. I degrade and devalue myself because I always want to be thinner, prettier, better, smarter, and more. I’ve had the hardest time accepting who God made me.

Why in the world would I ever question the work of the Creator’s hands?

Do we undervalue beautiful sights around us? Do we question the beauty of the Grand Canyon or the turquoise water of the Caribbean Sea? No. We look at them with wonder as we respect their beauty. And, yet, God created us with the same hands and all we do is down ourselves. We think of everything we can’t do instead of what we can. We forget who made us…

Have you forgotten who made you?

There’s a big movement with many people talking about art in life. From what we cook, to how we dress, to everything we do… it’s now classified as art. And it is! God lives in us and He made us with gifts, callings, and purposes to fulfill.

We live in a day and age where we can Instagram a picture of burned macaroni and cheese and deem it art! That’s called grace, friend. Take it and run!

And in all this, we still have the hardest time in the whole world looking in the mirror and finding something we love about the work of His hands. He stroked our faces with His paintbrush and the shade He used is from the palette of beauty. It’s unique and begins somewhere deep on the inside before it overflows to the outside.

We have to learn how to connect with His brushstrokes. For some, it’s the difference between life and death. It’s enough to break my heart wide open for the women who can’t catch their breath over the word beautiful. We have to talk about this. We must.

Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

-1 Peter 3:3-4

Gentle and quiet spirit? Hmmm. I’m still working to connect with those attributes on a deeper level, but I’m excited that the New King James translation uses the word merely. It’s okay to beautify (Praise God and pass the hair dye!) but it can’t only be outside beautification. We must look at our hearts and fix the not so beautiful. We all have gunk inside. Bitterness, anger, jealousy – pick your poison – not one of us doesn’t struggle with something. Regardless of that, God poured significant amounts of amazing inside each one of us. Yet, for some reason, most women refuse to acknowledge it.

Maybe we have a fear of sounding arrogant. Maybe we think it’s “unchristian.” And do you know something else? Maybe all that humility isn’t really humility. Do you know what I’m saying? Maybe in trying to be humble we are shaming who we are, and it’s leading us into a whole other prison, making us a sitting target for sin to entangle us. It’s easy to confuse humility and shame… Have you ever thought about that?

We need to break free, friend! It’s okay to look in the mirror and find something you like. You can do it! It’s okay to tap into a gift or talent and say, “Hey, I’m pretty good at that!” Because in all those things we can see the creator’s brushstrokes. We can give Him glory! It’s another opportunity to praise Him. And He deserves it ALL!!!

We are going to take a journey together. Are you in? It’s the journey of Finding our beautiful.

Here’s what we are going to do:

  1. Every Monday and Wednesday I will write to you about this topic. (Sometimes I will feature guests who will share their hearts on the subject.) On Fridays, I will do a short vlog (A video blog under five minutes in length) sharing encouragement for the weekend.
  2. Please join me over at my Facebook page where we will discuss questions about beauty. We will talk on twitter using the hashtag #beautifulblogseries. Invite your friends! Let’s be kind and build each other up as we dig to find the beauty we each possess. We are going to explore this in a brand new way.
  3. Every Thursday, we are going to Instagram a picture pertaining to our topic. This week we’ll start silly since it’s our first one. What is your “Grace Art”? How can we applaud you? Burned Mac and Cheese? A Messy Kitchen? Bed Head? Hashtag it #findingherthursday and #beautifulblogseries. You can post them to Facebook, and twitter, too!
  4. We are going to have a lot of fun with these hashtags! It will include prizes and amazing opportunities to share encouragement with women who need to hear YOUR voice, so stay connected to hear about that as well!

Friend, together we need to breakaway from the bondage that isn’t beautiful, and discover what true beauty is. We are going to find what’s been lost!

I sincerely hope you will join me. I would love for you to leave a comment here and tell me what you think of this topic.

I can’t wait until Thursday to see your “grace art” on Instagram and other social media outlets! I have so much planned for us.

Let’s see what God does in opening our eyes to finding beautiful!

Love,

Jennifer

Click here to share this post on twitter!

 

Why the Little, Teeny, Tiny Feminist Voice inside Wants to Scream…

mind_nThere are some writers who love to stir up controversy. I will tell you right now that I’m not one of them. I want to stir up encouragement. I desire to tell you how I see everyday life through the eyes God has given me. And, whether we agree or disagree, I hope to speak life as you read my words.

I’m a little worried concerning what I’m going to say to you today. Not because I don’t stand behind what I’m choosing to write about, but because I don’t want anyone to think I’m judging them. I’m not.

From the time I began this blog, I’ve visited the struggles women face with comparison, appearances, and what the word beautiful means. I’ve shared my own issues with the extra twenty pounds my body loves to wear, and I’m not shy when I tell you how I hate owning that additional weight.

I’m a woman who turns on the television, sees the tiny-morning-talk-show-host and swears off empty calories. I’m also the woman who decides by afternoon that empty calories include Oreos, and I don’t hate myself enough to ever say goodbye to anything with a sugar based, cream filling. This leads to a lecture with myself about starting again “tomorrow.” And then, with the sunrise, the cycle repeats.

My hat is off to women who ride a different cycle. I’ve come to find out there are people who actually cycle. Like on a bike. That doesn’t move. It’s called spinning, and whenever I decide to put the Oreos down, I just might try it. Or not.

I say all this to tell you that women love to compare themselves against other women. One of us wants her face, the other wants her body, somebody else wishes she had her money. Rarely are we actually satisfied when we look in the mirror.

However, It’s how we choose to fight the battle of comparison that bothers me the most. I detest the places we are willing to travel in order to receive the things we want. Too often, our escapes, which were originally meant to make us “happy” lead us to captivity.

Last week, I was doing some housework when a talk show came on television. I left it on as background noise until it caught my attention to the point where I had to sit down and stare with an open mouth at what I was watching. It was about a dating site that promotes young women to older (sometimes married) men in exchange for college tuition. One of the young women said she has a great relationship with the man who is helping put her through school. She just returned from vacation with him. He’s married.

What in the world are these women doing to themselves? Do they understand how they are hurting the women who are married to these men? Do they realize the long-term ramifications from this type of behavior?

This is taking women one million steps backwards in the pursuit of equality. The little teeny, tiny feminist voice inside me wants to scream at the ruin of our reputations. But even more than that, the Jesus loving voice inside me wants to sob at the loss of purity and true love that is absent from the lives of these beautiful young women.

I know it’s about choices, and many would argue that it’s their bodies, and they can use them any way they choose to get what they want. Well, I would argue that long after they receive their degree’s, they will wrestle with soul ties and the memories of men who paid their tuition in exchange for their dignity.

The talk show also interviewed a therapist that claimed 79% of women fall in love through sex. Apparently, men fall in love through trust. She also went on to say that men don’t usually trust women who are “easy.” I hate to say the word easy, because I’m not sure anybody is. I think they are wounded and want to feel better about who they are. Sex can easily be misconstrued for love to the heart begging for it.

And on top of all this, 50 Shades of Grey is coming to the big screen this weekend. I haven’t read it, and I know to some of you that will automatically disqualify my right to an opinion. In my defense, I’ve read countless reviews about it. I’ve had long conversations with women who have read it, and it doesn’t change the cry of my heart that says, “This is not the interpretation of love and sex that God wants for us.”

The mind is powerful, and if we aren’t careful, what we pump into it can work against the heart.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

-Philippians 4:7-9

I can’t read the above scripture and in good conscience pretend like 50 Shades of Grey doesn’t exist. I spend much of my time ministering to women, and it’s important to tell you how I’m feeling.

I want to end with this: I’m not anywhere close to perfect. I wrestle with things I shouldn’t say, do , and watch. In my younger years, I pumped lots of garbage into my head when I shouldn’t have. I love to read, and I’m a sucker for a good love story. I had to grow in wisdom, and that didn’t come because of age, it came because I sought the word of God. As I did, conviction came with it.

If you’ve read 50 Shades, I’m in NO WAY condemning you. If you are planning to see the movie… well, I hope you will reconsider but again, I’m not judging you. I’m just sharing the passion of my own heart.

If you are struggling with body image or the need to be loved, I want you to know that God has brilliantly designed your life. You were created in His image. I know we often scoff at that, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Everything about you was created to fulfill a purpose. And, when we mediate on truth and purity, when we exchange our desires for His will, we receive peace and endless love from the Giver of life.

Don’t compare yourself, don’t misconstrue what a love story is intended to be.

You have worth because Christ is worthy. You were meant for beautiful things.

Love,

Jennifer

To find out about my book, Nothing to Hold but Hope, click here.

To get my eBook Mercy Waits for FREE, click here.

Transparency: The Difference Between Who I Am and What People See…

awaiting the sunrise photoI’m on another quest to shed some pounds. Those pesky unwanted rolls just keep coming back. I mean, it’s not like I invited them when I said, “yes” to pies, cookies, heavy cream, and butter…

I’m tired of this battle. I’m sick of saying, “yes” to Spanx and “no” to breathing. I’m entirely too focused on my muffin top. Mmm muffins…

But seriously, I’ve been fighting the feeling of inadequacy. It’s not just my body that bothers me. I have a large territory to battle and the troops are closing in on me.

The other night I spoke to a group of women on the topic of being transparent enough to let people see who we are and how Christ is working in our lives. Social media allows us to edit and airbrush who we are, not only in image but also in personality. Women tend to compete against false images on their Facebook walls. It’s exhausting.

You see, I am not interested in painting an image of someone I am not. I need to be me.

There is enough pressure in this life to accept who we are let alone work to be who we aren’t. (Tweet that)

Don’t get me wrong, where my heart is concerned, I must allow Christ to blot out my sin and mold me like clay into the woman He designed. However, He also wants to use me, right now, exactly the way I am. I have a tendency to shake off these opportunities or walk timidly inside them. I often feel as if I’m uneducated and untrained to do what He has called me to do. I don’t even want to put up a Vlog because I think my cheeks are in a chubby season…

“God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.”

– Unknown

Throughout my entire adult life,  God has called me to minister in areas where I’ve often felt unqualified. And in those places He has used my gifts and abilities tremendously. Yet, most of the time, I hide in fear feeling as if I’m a phony. These feelings aren’t of God, friends. He has opened doors and held my hand while walking paths he paved specifically for me. I need to be bold.

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.

-Acts 4:13

I recommend going back to Acts Chapter 3 and reading this story in its entirety to understand the complete context of this verse. To make a long story short, Peter and John performed a miracle in the name of Jesus and were arrested for it. They defended their actions with boldness before the rulers, elders, and scribes, as well as others. These people marveled at their boldness. They knew they weren’t trained rabbis and yet they spoke with complete conviction and passion while defending truth. Peter and John were not sorry for doing what Jesus called them to do.

I’m sick of apologizing for following where Christ leads. I’m tired of worrying about what others think. All I want to care about is what Christ thinks. And do you know what is on His mind?

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-Control
  • Grace, Grace, and more GRACE
  • Truth that screams freedom
  • And a beauty that lasts because we are created in His image.

When I apologize for the gifts He has given me then I’m in sin. I do NOT want to be ungrateful to my God who covers every step I take in grace. I’m going to use the gifts He gave me with boldness. After all, I’ve been with Jesus too! I’m with Him as I study the scriptures, and I’m with Him every time I pray. When I cry out His name with trembling lips, He is there. Jesus never fails to be with me regardless of whatever mistakes I make.

Listen, I won’t conquer these feelings of inadequacy overnight, but I will conquer them long term. I will continue to make mistakes. However, I will repent and learn from them.

I will most definitely eat too much butter and live with eater’s remorse. I’m not going to throw out my scale because if I do, I won’t have any accountability and before you know it, I’ll be living on heavy cream in my coffee and pasta with pounds of butter melted over it. Yum!

This is who I am, and I’m shouting it from the rooftops!

I’m not perfect, but I’m working to be who Christ wants me to be. I will use my gifts and work very hard to be confident in His call on my life. I want Him to work through my life. It’s important to me.

I’m going to slim down because it keeps my cholesterol levels lower, and I struggle with those numbers. I have children and future grandchildren to live for. What good was the agony of childbirth if I can’t be the one to drive them all nuts with my obsessive behaviors? C’mon, mamas and grandmamas shout, “AMEN” with me!

We all need to strive for who Christ wants us to be and not what others expect. If we truly follow His will for our lives then we will be okay. In fact, we will be much better than okay!

So, what about you? Are you working to overcome areas where you feel inadequate?

Love,

Jennifer

 

 

The Dreaded Bikini and How the Woman in it Inspired Me…

Girls_at_the_beachWho inspires you? Have you ever really thought about that question? Who has influenced you enough to leave a mark so deep you’ve actually made a change in life for the better?

Those who have inspired me are a long list of amazing people with many different personality types. Yet, between them, there is a common thread connecting each one. They are all brave.

You might be tired of hearing me reiterate what brave means to me, but I’m going to say it again anyway because God is chiseling it into my soul and we can all gather life from it.

Bold

Ready and

Available

Vying for

Everything God wants to do in our hearts and through our lives.

The people who have inspired me are hearts willing to follow God anywhere because they know He has called them. And that is exactly what I want to be. I want to be brave. I want to be willing. I want to be who He wants and not some random image of what I wish.

And speaking of images…

I’m spending the week at the beach in Mexico. I’ve had a lot of time to think about brave from many perspectives. From the women serving at the resort working long hours hoping for a better life to the women on the beach just like me who feel shame in their bathing suits, we are all exuding some type of bravery. (Whether we like it or not…)

I’ve seen women twice my size in bikini’s while I cover up as much as I can for fear my jiggle will be the source of someone else’s giggle. You see, I’m brave when it comes to speaking Jesus and encouraging women to pursue their dreams. However, when it comes to my physical image I’m downright tired and discouraged.

Last week I wrote a post entitled, What I Won’t say in Front of My Daughter. I’m so careful to protect her. I’m worried about her because I’ve had to fight how I feel about myself so fiercely that I live with some internal scars. The truth is I’m tired of society applauding supermodels. I would much rather applaud the women in the bikini who jiggles. Why? Because she’s choosing to live fearless. Whether she is confident or not, she is taking a step to be okay where she is.  And this week, it is those women who are inspiring me.

I always feel the need to add a disclaimer and say, I will still work to be healthy and make right choices. I’m not saying it is okay to throw healthy living out the window. It’s not. What I’m trying to convey is it’s time to allow God to work on our hearts so that we recognize our worth is not wrapped up in what we look like.  Every season of life is just that – a season. When we reach the next season, if it isn’t our weight it will most certainly be something else which pushes us into being brave.

We need to work on allowing God to change the inside. When we do, the outside will look a whole lot better.

Maybe you don’t struggle with body image. Your concerns could be different. Regardless, I need you to know that your life is a gift and you are an inspiration to people everywhere. You might not be aware of it, but you are. Your influence reaches further than you think.

Be careful about who inspires you and why. Are you inspired by a healthy positive image?

Be BOLD

Be READY

Be AVAILABLE

VIE for EVERYTHING God wants to do in your heart and through your life.

The above definition of brave begins with the recognition of your purpose in the Almighty.

You have a beautiful identity in Him, and you are worth so much more than you can begin to imagine.

Be brave, beautiful friends!

Today, I’m linking up with Holley Gerth for Coffee for Your Heart. Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

Holley has a gift for encouraging the soul. She has a brand new book entitled You’re Going to Be Okay, I’m giving away a copy. All you have to do is comment on this post sharing how you are working to be brave in life. If you subscribe and comment your name will be entered twice. If you are already a subscriber you can  comment then tweet, pin, or share on Facebook to be entered twice. Or just comment. Truthfully, I care about nothing more than blessing you! The winner will be drawn at random.

Love,

Jennifer

PS: I’m on vacation, so I won’t be able to answer comments for a few days. However, I can read them and will be praying for you.