Thursday, October 16, 2014

"Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God's children." - 1 John 3:1 #WhatLoveIs 


As part of Kelly Minter's Social Media Launch Team, I am honored to be able to share these images to promote and encourage involvement in her brand-new upcoming study, which will be available on November 1st! It's going to be a wonderful experience!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

ACCOUNTABILITY, IN ALL THINGS

Accountability, a word that we don't hear very often, and an action that we strive to follow even less. Sometimes by accident, sometimes by oversight, sometimes because we are just too overwhelmed in busyness with everything we have said yes to. However, accountability is crucial to living a Christlike life. It is crucial in keeping commitments, having your walk match your talk, and making sure that we are not stretching ourselves too thin. Contrary to what many may think, accountability includes calendars, alarm clocks, reminders, schedules, lists, and verbal promises. Many people think accountability is just following up with someone real quick, telling them you did what you said you were going to do. That is wonderful, but it goes so much deeper than that. Accountability is one of the strongest foundations you can have in your faith, your relationships, your work, and your study habits.

So, who should we be accountable to? How do we decide who gets what piece of us and how we can please everybody and do everything that we want to do and have signed up to do in this life? Well, the answer to that is that we don't need to please everybody. We should be focused on pleasing God. Through God we receive his mercy and grace which pleases us and brings us joy. Then, by us enjoying our life and being consistently accountable, it can help others in their walk to see the blessings and receive their own pleasure of having a life of accountability. Let's walk-through what Scripture says about a few places we need to be accountable in our lives. We will briefly cover the following: 1) God, 2) ourselves, 3) our spouse/family members, and 4) our church community.

Accountability To God-contrary to what many believe, God does not ask us to put him first (He asks that we put the Kingdom first and look to Him in all we do). We should strive for that, and it pleases him, but what he genuinely wants us to do is put him as the solid center in our lives. Because if we take this stance, then we will automatically put him at the forefront of our thoughts, actions, and decisions. This is how we maintain a solid foundation, and allow others to see Christ in us. Romans 14:12 tells us: "So then, each one of us will give an account to God." Now, if that is who has the final say on how we spend eternity, does it not make sense to put Him and His Will and Purpose at the center of everything we do, and do we not owe Him accountability in all things? For it is because of God that we have all things, and it is God we have to answer to.

Accountability To Ourselves-we need to be sure we are searching our own hearts for motive and goodness. We should serve others and walk in God's Way out of joy and gratitude, not duty or grumbling. WE need to examine our hearts and our minds and pay close attention to be sure that our talk matches our walk. What we do and say shows what is really important to us, and what is really important to us ends up being what/who we are accountable to. Are we walking in God's Will, allowing our hearts to be filled with His desires, and obeying Him in everything we do? Or are we allowing people, objects, and goals to be the focus of our desires, thereby linking our accountability and worth to the things of this world? We are reminded in Matthew 7:6 that our accountability shows our character: "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces." If we are accountable to ourselves, we can be sure to remain straight on our path and not wander from God's plan for our lives. Otherwise, lack of accountability to the Almighty One, can lead to the lions of this world devouring us whole.

Accountability to Our Spouse/Family-we are told in Proverbs 27:17: "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another". This was not just meant in the sense of man alone. It is meant in the sense of partnerships and relationships. When two people come together with a godly foundation as their rock, they complement each other in a way as to make the other better and lift them up in their strengths, and support them in their weaknesses. Our spouse, children, and family members can challenge and inspire us. Through this, ideas and knowledge can be combined and sharpened, thereby benefiting both parties in the relationship. Whether it be a partner or spouse, child or family member, or even a friend or co-worker. When we look at others as a helper to us and not competition, we will become accountable to them in a way that we desire to serve them and grow them, not a way that we desire to comet with or compare ourselves to them. That is healthy accountability.

Accountability To Church Community-the church body is designed to work together, just as our feet and hands do. We are not meant to be separate entities, but instead the Bible urges that we gather in fellowship often and not be isolated from one another. There is strength in numbers, especially when those numbers are filled with Christ followers! So we must be accountable to each other in service and in working together to live out God's Purposes for each of our lives, and God's Purposes for His Kingdom. In 1 Corinthians 12:12, we are told: "The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ." So when we individually lack accountability and follow-through, it also affects others throughout the body of Christ, even if we cannot see it or do not realize it. God is the only one who sees all, but He has given us instruction that we need to have accountability towards each other in order to work as one unit, thereby being able to fulfill His Works. We need to search for ways to function in communion with other believers, and this will help keep them accountable to the body of Christ as well. We are the Church, and we need to each do our part.

There are countless areas in our life where we should strive for solid accountability, but I believe if we focus on these four specific areas, it will set the stage for consistent accountability in all other facets of our lives. If we remain strong in Christ, we remain trustworthy and in servitude to ourselves, our family, and friends and do our part to make the church community work as a single body...we will experience full success is accountability!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Hello, Beautiful Readers

I am so sorry for my absence this past 6 weeks. I have taken some time to pray and be led by the Lord as to my blog, ministry, and what lies ahead. And as always, He Speaks! I am so grateful for a relationship with Jesus that allows me to speak directly with the Father.

I have a new series of blogs on different topics that I will be doing, as well as leading a Bible study that I would love to welcome you to be a part of! I will be co-leading with Women's Bible Cafe in our upcoming study of Jeremiah. For the link to sign up for the study, or for more details, you may find us at the following link: Women's Bible Cafe . I will be leading a group that meets online at 9am Monday mornings, and also one that meets online at 4:30am on Wednesdays. But there are also several other groups with wonderful and blessed leaders that you can choose from. We have groups every day of the week, and our study will begin on October 20th!

 If you have any questions at all regarding that, please feel free to leave a comment below, or text me at 530-314-9109, or email me at mylifeinchrist2012@gmail.com . Be sure to check back tomorrow for my newest blog post which is focused on "Accountability"! You are all a blessing and an encouragement to me!

 Blessings, and I appreciate each and every one of you!
~Debbie~

Saturday, August 16, 2014

What We Think, What God Knows

I have been working from home for about seven years now. It's a blessing, and a curse in a way. But for several years, I have had my heart set on a career in law-enforcement. I've gone to college and obtained my associates in psychology, and I am currently finishing up my bachelors in business administration with a minor in criminal justice. Every class that I've taken towards criminal justice exuded such a passion in me and such excitement. I just love the field and I love what it stands for. So naturally, my thinking has been that my dream would be to have a career in that industry. So for years I have studied, researched, applied for positions. Well, just about a week ago I finally got the call! An interview for a position in our county law-enforcement office, in the probation department, no less. Dream job!
 
The big day came, I was dressed in my best, fully confident because I know I was more than qualified for the job, and I knew with the passionate love I have for the field that I was the perfect candidate. I went in there, checked in, and sat there – ready for the interview of my life. This was it, this was going to change my whole life if I got this job! However, it only took a few minutes of sitting there waiting for them to call me for the Holy Spirit to start speaking to me. I heard, "Okay, this is what you thought you've always wanted. This is what you been working towards. This is your dream, right? Here is step one to the life that you think you truly want." I looked around, the place was dirty, it's smelled not so great, it had a very cold aura to it, and some less than desirable characters came in and out as I was sitting there. Now, of course, this is a probation office and this was all to be expected and were things that I have had knowledge of for quite some time, in how these things work and what you have to experience and deal with on a daily basis in a job like this. 
 
But I sat there taking everything in and realizing that this wouldn't just be a job, this would be a lifelong career and this would be one of the centers of my life. I would be at this job more than I would be with my children, I would be at this job more than I would be with my church or my fellow believers, I would be at this job more than I would be at my home practically. What kind of changes would that invoke in me, in my lifestyle, in my actions and deeds? So I needed to take it all in and instead of the dreamy episodes of Cops, Lockup Raw, or Jail that I am so intrigued by, I had to take in the reality for a moment of how it might change me, might change my life, might change my love of the field.
 
The interview went great and I walked out of there feeling good about it, still excited, but not quite as certain. The drive home left a lot of time for thought and it all comes back to this: we always think we know what we want, we can be dead set on it for weeks, months, or years. We can strive, stay up endless nights working hard towards our goal, in the end to only realize that it was never God's plan but our own. When it is our own plan it will never satisfy us, it will never fulfill us, it will never give us all of the beautiful illusions and circumstances that we have always pictured would be tied with that specific thing or position. Because if it is outside of God's will, if if it is something we are doing because it is our own passion and our own desire and we are controlling what we want and striving to make it happen ourselves – it will never be the right thing to do. 
 
It was a hard pill to swallow that for several years while still following Christ, I was trying to control my outcome as far as where I would end up in a career, what I would be doing, the kind of money I would be making, and whom I would be serving. The thing is, only God can see far down the line. He can see what happens to us, what will make us happy, and what will spiral us downward. When we don't get something we want, or we get something we think we want and it's not all it's cracked up to be, I'm learning that it may not just be God saving us FOR something better, but maybe saving us FROM something much worse. Perhaps I would be miserable in that workplace, perhaps I would experience a hostile environment or people and situations that made me fearful. Perhaps I would develop a distaste for law-enforcement after seeing it from the inside, perhaps it would put out the fire of the passion I have for that industry. And whether I work in that field or not, I don't ever want to lose a passion for how I see our officers, sheriffs, patrolmen, prison guards, etc. I hold them in high esteem and I want to continue doing that.
 
So that evening as I came to my room and engaged in a time of thinking – I gave everything over to God, and told Him I would be happy to follow Him wherever He led me. Whichever path He chose, I was content that it would be the right one. I released anything that I wanted for me, any plans I have made for my life, any control I still had in my own grasp. I laid it all at the foot of the cross and allowed Christ to bear my burdens and make my decisions for me. You see, just a few days before this interview took place I was awarded a second job working at home. Only a couple of days after the interview took place, I was awarded additional hours from both my first and my second to home jobs. And at the same time one of my clients let other people go, and I was solely in charge of the department now. 
 
God was giving me job security in what I already had. God was adding additional income where I was lacking. My view had been that I had to have a government job, a long-term brick-and-mortar career in order to have enough money to provide for my children, benefits to make things a little easier, and retirement to secure my future as I age. What God showed me was that I will be okay no matter which way it turns out. He ensured that I had the opportunity to chase my dream, and then get a reality check. He also provided the opportunity for me to open my eyes and see that the work I already have would provide for my family in abundance, if only I would embrace them and work at them joyfully, as we are supposed to do as if doing all things for the Lord. So instead of a cushy 40 hour a week job at a government agency with amazing benefits, retirement plan, and a fancy title – I was now finding myself quite peaceful, with an attitude of great gratitude and humbleness, and very joyful at the idea of staying right where I'm at. Working from home. It may be twice as many hours, no benefits, and no retirement plan - but then again, not all benefits come in monetary form. 
 
I would be able to continue to be with my children 24/7, I would get to continue to have my own flexible schedule to take off when and how I need in order to attend Bible study groups, school events, and ministry conferences. With the double income from working over 75 hours a week, I can save my own money towards retirement, I can afford my own benefits, and I can secure the future I desire without punching a time clock for a government or corporation. I can punch a time clock for the Lord, for my kids, and for myself. See, the Bible tells us we are not to ask for our lives to be easier and without struggle, but instead are supposed to ask to simply be equipped with the strength and perseverance to walk through our trials and hard seasons victoriously. 
 
I can now look around and see the blessings that are already in abundance around me. I can see I already have the perfect life, though it comes with much longer hours and much harder work…I don't think I'd have it any other way right now. My children are still young, there is so much I don't want to miss. Is this law-enforcement job the opportunity of a lifetime? I'm a mother, I'm a child of God - to me, those are the opportunities of a lifetime! So I'm choosing the long and narrow road of perseverance and trust in Jesus Christ, not the wide and easy path of financial gain and worldly recognition. Storing up treasures for Heaven, is there anything better?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

"Protective Instinct" Blog Tour


Gliterary Girl Book Tours presents the blog tour for the release of PROTECTIVE INSTINCT, Book #4 in the Time After Time Saga, by Authors Lynette Endicott and Tami Dee.

Protective Instinct



ProtectiveInstinctCoverArt72dpi__94617.1402191584.1280.1280Sabrina Bridges clings to her birthright as a Heartmark woman, convinced she will overcome the time-traveling enemy that plagues the women of her family. She is certain she will obtain true love with the man she gives her heart to. But how will her trusting heart survive when she learns that very man has deceived her since the moment they met?

Nicolas Mitchell's loyalty to family and country are tested by the woman who may lead him to one who threatens all he holds dear. Nick must steel his heart against her, and deny his protective instinct for the woman who speaks of an ancient family legend and her belief that together he and she will forge a love that will last forever. Will Nick be able to complete his last mission as a spy for the Crown or will he betray his country for the sake of love?



 



 

 

BUY NOW AT:


 

 



ABOUT Lynette Endicott

Lynette EndicottLynette Endicott grew up in Illinois, met her husband in Western Nebraska, lived 25 years in Kansas where their daughter was born, and has been in Fresno, California since 2000. She has a son-in-law (who lives with her daughter nearby), and has rescued a dog, a bird and three cats. She and Ollie, her terrier mix, volunteer as a team at the local library, where children read to the dog.

At a youth camp when she was 14 the editor and teacher of a writing class challenged her to submit something to his youth magazine. She did and it was the first of 10 articles and stories accepted by the publication over the next few years.

Nothing like front end success to keep her writing! Lynette enjoys reading contemporary romance and speculative fiction and writes both. Her debut book, Starting Over Book One: More Than A Job, and two more books in that series, The Return of Joy and Finding Her Voice are available now. The first three of the Time After Time Saga with Tami Dee are available now, including Animal Instinct, Survival Instinct and Pioneer Instinct. The fourth in the series of six, Protective Instinct, will release in August 2014.

Because she didn't have pets until after her 50th birthday the animals she enjoys find their way into all her books. Usually you will also find a character with a disability as part of the day-to-day fabric of the story. In More Than A Job, Paige works in services to people with disabilities until she loses her job and starts over. In The Return of Joy, Atlas, the yellow lab, becomes a Therapy Dog. In the Time After Time series animal helpers assist the hero and heroine in all six of the books in the series.

Lynette loves hearing from her fans! Please connect with her on:


 

 



ABOUT Tami Dee

Becoming an author was a dream I never really thought would come true for me. I have dyslexia, yet, despite the struggle, I adore weaving stories for others to enjoy.

I am a member of Romance Writers of America, Desert Breeze connections, RWA San Francisco Area Romance Writers, RWA Scriptscence, and RWA Celtic Hearts Romance Writers.

You can connect with Tami on:


 

 



To celebrate the release of PROTECTIVE INSTINCT, Lynette and Tami will be giving away a $20.00 Amazon Gift Card to one grand prize winner, a $10.00 Gift Card to either Starbucks or Teavana to the second runner up and an ecopy of PROTECTIVE INSTINCT to the third runner up. Enter the giveaway every day for more chances to win. All entries must be received by August 18th before midnight.


 

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Debbie's Review:

Protective Instinct is a beautiful story about the fight AGAINST love. Yes, you heard me right. Sabrina and Nick are drawn to each other in a deep way, but because of circumstances surrounding who Nick is, they fight to not love each other and try to avoid relationship…to no avail. However, if you think this ends is a happily-ever-after walk down the aisle in a beautiful white dress, well…you will be pleasantly surprised. I love books that leave you clenching the pages with white knuckles and at the end saying, “Noooo, what happens next?” This book by Tami Dee and Lynette Endicott certainly does just that! The authors used real-to-life slang in the way of Nick’s speaking that helps you to actually read his character in the accent he has? How do I know he has an accent? You have to read this book to see what I am talking about. Lynette always has a way of bringing such animation and life to her characters so that it is as if you can actually hear them and see them. That is an amazing gift for an author to be able to portray. This book was a romance, a thriller, a drama, a comedy of sorts. A bundle of everything you could want wrapped up in one. Grab a cup of coffee, a nightlight, and bundle your excitement…you’re going to be up all night just to finish this one in one sitting!

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Mess of Materialism

As I was watching yet another episode of House Hunters Renovation, I looked at the gorgeous kitchens that were transformed in these homes. Cooking and baking has always been a passion of mine, so I could honestly care less what the rest of the house looks like, but I am drawn to kitchens. In a big way. As I found myself going "ooohh" and "aaahh" over the granite, the marble floors, the cherry cabinets and stainless steel appliances, I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to me the word 'gratitude'. It stopped me in my tracks and I immediately went straight to my Bible. Throughout reading scriptures, the spirit reminded me that I've had all of those things and asked me if it made me any more happy or any more equipped to take care of my family than when I don't have those things? The answer was, no. In fact, several years back I had built a brand-new custom home from the ground up. I chose every single detail I wanted in that house and spared no expense. I had the marble floors, I had the cherry wood cabinets, I had the stainless steel appliances, and I had the granite countertops. I even had that vent where you push a button and it comes up out of the countertop, and then when you're done cooking you push the button it and it goes back down into the counter. You name it, all the bells and whistles.

But the voice was right, I live now in a home that would be considered much older and less apt than that gorgeous home that I built. It's been previously lived in, it's been very much loved on, and it is what most people would consider the deeply average. But yet I still have everything my family needs. As a single mom I do struggle, but I can look around and see that no matter what, God is with me and He is providing- because I always have a home for my children, we have safety, we have food for our bellies and clothes for our backs. We have a vehicle to get around in, and by God's Grace, the money in the bank to put gas in it. By no other means does this come to me except through Him. Because on my own I know I am not strong enough to provide all of this. But yet our 'needs' that are being met are more than sufficient, and our 'wants' are things that are provided at times for us still.

I've noticed as I roam around in my home day-by-day, I don't notice that everything is outdated, I don't notice or care that others would think this is a place they may not ever consider living in, because those are usually the individuals that have money, and base a person's merit on worldly things. That almost brings a smile to my face, because it reminds me that I've given up a lot of myself and my selfishness and instead accepted God, His Grace, and developed a heart of gratitude. So I started thinking, if I had these granite countertops again and the beautiful appliances and the perfect floor to glide around on as I baked…would my food taste any better? Would my kids be any happier? Would people love me any more or any less? Would my needs be any more provided for than they already are? The answer to all of these things is, no. You don't have to have a gorgeous kitchen or top-of-the-line and top dollar appliances in order to achieve a beautiful meal for your family and friends. You simply need a loving heart, a giving attitude, and appreciation in your soul.

I have seen some of the meals that women in third world countries cook: barely any utensils, over an open outdoor fire made of sticks, sitting on a dirt floor. And I'm going to tell you something, these dishes could revel any four-star restaurant here in the United States where they had an army of chefs and the highest quality kitchen equipment that money can buy at their disposal. So is the finished product a result of the grandiosity you have to cook it in and how much you have, or is it simply in what you're putting into it? In my opinion, having a beautiful home and meal is not as much about what you're surrounded by as much as it is about what you're making it with: love, a serving heart, the sheer joy of the task. So while we want and wish and envy and ogle over a granite countertop kitchen, stainless steel appliances, Cherrywood cabinets, and marble floors…there are others out there for doing exactly what we do with 10 times less than what we have. And you know what? Their bellies are still full, the food is still delicious, the joy is still found in serving one's friends and family. May we not focus on the 'what we have' and 'what we wish we had'...and 'oh, if only mine could look like that", or 'oh, I would love to have those in my kitchen because my old countertops are stained, they have ring marks from coffee, my fridge doesn't match my stove', etc.

Is your coffee any less delicious? Does your fridge keep the food any less cold or fresh? Does your kitchen have any less loved ones that trample through it? One day I hope all of us as a people become content with what we have, instead of what we see others have, what we see on TV on the home remodeling shows, and what our hearts are driven to desire a higher quality of. May we see the joy in those coffee rings, which probably means mornings spent getting the kids ready or urging off to a job we are blessed to have, a conversation with your spouse, preparing your drink to sit down and enjoy Bible study. And that refrigerator, it may be old and discolored, but think of all the meals you pulled forth from that and made for your family. Think of when you come home and unload all of those groceries and you have a cold and safe place to put those items to nourish your family with food every single day. So many don't have these things, and would be happy with the lowliest and most broken down stoves, countertops, and fridges they could get their hands on.

The mess of materialism has gotten so out of control in today's world. May we regain focus on the things that we need, appreciate the things that we already have, and push our wants away knowing that the Lord has already provided in abundance and that there are millions in this world that would give anything to have those coffee rings on their counters, to have mismatched appliances, and to have chipped up tile on the floor…because it would mean they had appliances to utilize and a kitchen to cook in, instead of an open fire made of sticks, a dirt floor, and handmade makeshift utensils. A serving heart, a heart of gratitude and thankfulness…not an 'I wish' heart, not an 'I want' heart, and not a heart of expectations and demands to be met with higher and higher provisions- without even recognizing the ones the Lord has already bestowed upon us. May we soften our hearts to look at the small as well as the big things, and not want the big things so much anymore. That means more of Him and less of us, and that is a beautiful thing!

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thessalonians 5:18ESV)

"But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6 ESV)

"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5 ESV)

"For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10 ESV)
   
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2 ESV)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Blessings By The Pound

As I began to approach the age of 40, about six months prior to that, weight started creeping up on me out of nowhere at an increasing pace. All of my life I was the type of person that could eat whatever I wanted, however much I wanted, never diet or exercise, and always stay the same tiny me. But as I began to approach this new decade of life, my whole body changed, and so did my way of thinking. I was disgusted with myself and embarrassed for anyone who had known me before to even see me...or anyone at all really). I stopped going to church and to my church groups, stopped going out for coffee with friends, stop doing outings with my kids. For the first time in almost 20 years, I actually had to buy bigger sized clothes. I sunk into somewhat of what I would describe as a light depression, barely leaving my room and never wanting anyone to come over, not even wanting to run up to town to the grocery store.
 
Funny thing is, no one else seemed to notice. My family did not blink an eye, my friends made no notations as to any difference in me, I still made new friends everywhere I went, and my children still hugged and loved on me like always. You see, I was the only one who noticed my jeans size went from a size 5 to a size 8...no one else did. Others were too busy focusing on the REAL me. My smile, my hugs, my bubbly laughter, my passion to serve, my love for my children, my excitement at packages in the mail, my scrumptious goodies I bake up and love to share with people wherever I go. Yes, they were seeing the real ME. Not some superficial hope or vision, not a jeans size, not a bigger-than-I-used-to-be person. Because to them I am still normal size, somewhat small still, actually. It was MY vision of myself that was causing pain and disruption in my life...a vision that no one else seemed to see.
 
One evening as I laid in bed watching yet another episode of House Hunters (TV seemed to be all I did anymore), I felt The Lord touch my shoulder and the Holy Spirit began whispering truths of Scripture into my ear and heart:
 
"Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the I fading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." (1 Peter 3:4 NIV)
 
"Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the fear-of-God." (Proverbs 31:30 MSG)
 
"The Lord doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but The Lord looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7 NLT)
 
"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." (Psalm 139:13-14 NIV)
 
You see, I was the one who had stopped loving myself simply based on changes in my physical appearance. This girl, who has wanted all of her life for people to just love her regardless of what's on the outside, had stopped loving herself in that same way. My family felt no differently towards me, neither did my friends. My God certainly felt no less towards me. My heart did not change, only the temporary vessel that houses it did. Jesus reminded me of that. He reminded me that even if I'm pale white, full of stretch marks from birthing 6 children, have a freckle or mole here and there, or even 20 extra pounds. With all of these imperfections I am more beautiful than I ever was at a size 5 with perfect skin. Because I have the love of Jesus in my heart now. I have accepted him as My Savior, and he finds me undeniably and seamlessly beautiful. That is the way he always has seen me and always will. That is the kind of beauty I want to strive for, beauty that radiates The Lord...and each day leaves less and less of "me". Those who will shutter at my outward appearance or imperfections are not those who are looking at me through a heart of love in Christ, and that is one way God shows us who to weed out of our gardens. 
 
I am grateful for my imperfections, I am grateful for finally being able so see myself as Jesus does. I may work on shedding the new pounds attached to me over time, but right now I love exactly who I am, and I am embracing all of the changes this new season is providing. It may mean I stay single forever if a potential mate can't look past the fleshly imperfections...but it means I will never truly be alone again because I am beautiful and favored through Jesus. So yes, I may work on losing these extra pounds someday...maybe...