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Beauty From Ashes

Title: Beauty From Ashes
Materials: Hand-lettering and photography
Artwork by: Jenessa Wait
Description: God doesn’t make trash. Period. All that He creates is beautiful, and a reflection of who He is. It’s easy to buy into the lie that “I’m too messed up” for redemption, but that’s far from the truth. God is not intimidated by brokenness. He is the one that has what you need on the other side of that pain. If you’re lonely, He is acceptance. If you’re brokenhearted, He is the mender of your heart. If you’re afraid, He is your safe place. There is always an answer to brokenness and His name is Jesus.

 

Beauty for ashes, joy for mourning.

God’s not intimidated by your mess. He’s secure in who He is. Run to Him just as you are!
“You’re altogether beautiful my darling, there is not flaw in you” – Song of Solomon 4:7
Jesus paid it ALL and because of the cross, there’s hope and redemption.
You are not defined by your past, but by who God says you are.

The Beauty of Broken

Written By Elisa Morgan

Elisa Morgan is a speaker and the author of The Beauty of Broken and Hello, Beauty Full. A graduate of Denver Seminary (MDiv), she served for twenty years as the CEO of MOPS International and now is President Emerita. Along with Mart DeHaan and Bill Crowder, she co-hosts the daily syndicated radio program, “Discover the Word” (www.discovertheword.org). Connect with Elisa at www.elisamorgan.com.

 

Most of us don’t want to talk about the not-so-pretty stuff of life. We’d rather focus on loveliness. Hued sunsets. Bursting flowers. Downy ducklings and fluffy lambs. Holidays. But I’ve discovered a beauty that God brings in the unseemly, unexpected, broken things. He brings beauty into broken relationships, shattered dreams and painful realities.

I come from a broken family. When I was five, my father sat in a white easy chair in his home office and beckoned me to his lap. He looked into my eyes and said, “Elisa, I’ve decided I don’t love your mother any more. We are getting a divorce.”

My family broke and I wondered how I could fix it.

My broken family – my mother, sister, brother and I – moved across the continent where my days started with the sound of my mother’s alarm down the hall in our ranch-style home. I pushed back the covers and padded into the kitchen where I grabbed a glass, plunked in some ice cubes and poured Coca Cola over it. With a handful of chocolate chip cookies from the cookie jar, I made my way down the hall to my mother’s bedroom. There I placed “breakfast” on her nightstand, turned off the alarm and began the process of getting her up and ready for work. As a single mom, she needed to work and it was my daily job to wake her up. My mother struggled with alcohol.

My mother broke. I wondered what I could do to fix her.

When I had a chance as a grownup to start fresh, I determined it was my responsibility to make an unbroken family. After all, I had become a Christian as a teenager, had been involved in ministry, even gone to seminary, where I met and later married my husband. Precious, stable, rock of a man. I honestly believed that if I implemented “perfect family values,” then I would have a perfect family.

Problem is, I’m broken. Everybody is. Even God’s family was broken – beginning with Adam and Eve and moving forward to you and me. No matter what we do, we all end up in broken families. In one way or another.

There’s no such thing as a perfect family. Instead of fighting this reality – and failing – God invites us to embrace it. And to see the beauty he brings in the broken.

I come from a broken family. And despite my very best attempts to produce a formulaically perfect Christian family in my second—the reality is that I still come from a broken family. We are messy – gooey in the middle – and I love my family more than I ever thought possible, brokenness and all. I love who they are and I love who they have made me to be.

I’ve come to discover that God offers hope in the form of “broken family values”—values like commitment, humility, courage, reality, relinquishment, diversity, partnership, faith, love, respect, forgiveness and thankfulness. He understands that no one is perfect. He knows the unique journeys of loved ones. He gets it that abnormal is actually pretty normal. That people mess up and yet are worthy of respect and love and are never—ever—without hope. God holds each family close, crying with his wounded children, tenderly assembling and reassembling fallen fragments, creating us into better versions of ourselves.

God doesn’t sweep the broken up into a dustpan and discard it. In order to reach the broken in our world, God himself broke, allowing his own Son to die a broken death on a cross for us. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 3:5). God brings beauty in the broken. God loves the broken. God uses the broken.

What if we move away from the myth of the perfect family and toward the reality of our beautifully broken ones? Might we then breathe air clean of the stench of shame and saturated with the grace of God? And might others find in us, not the exhausting chasing of some impossible dream but fresh hope for the real life they are living? A life where Jesus comes, in a broken body, to provide the beauty of healing?

I come from a broken family. I still come from a broken family. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. I’m pretty sure that my story is likely yours too.

 

Click here to order “The Beauty of Broken”.

What if God Made Me Pretty?

Written By Agnes Lee, Singapore

I am short, stocky, and average-looking. When I was growing up, people used to comment about how flat my nose was. A friend even told me that my nose looked like it had been hit by something.

I was introduced to Barbie dolls as a kid; they were so pretty, tall, and slim. Lead actresses of my favorite television series were similarly attractive, and I wished I looked like them. Though I knew it was more important to be healthy than pretty, it was difficult to accept that God gave me such ordinary looks compared to other females around me.

Around the age of 18, I decided that I wanted to change my appearance. Instead of my usual t-shirts and jeans, I started dressing more fashionably, wearing accessories, hats, and jackets.  I also started wearing make-up whenever I went out. However, make-up could only cover my flaws, not change them. I could not change my height. And despite exercise and sweat, I could not change my body shape either; all I wanted was a bit more curve. I wanted to be pretty and popular, like the models and actresses I admired.

In my early 20s, I met with an aesthetic doctor to talk about possible procedures to enhance my facial features. But after considering the risks and regular Botox injections required, I shelved the idea. Aside from changing my looks, I also wanted to change my body shape, but the doctor could not suggest any procedure that I was comfortable with. Height lengthening procedure is extremely risky as it involves major leg surgery, and the success is not guaranteed. After considering these risks, costs, and non-guaranteed outcomes, it did not take me long to put away the idea of cosmetic surgery.

On top of wishing that I were more attractive, I secretly wished to have a boyfriend. Many of the girls in school who had boyfriends were pretty, and I assumed that I did not have one because I was not good-looking. I was also shy and thought that pretty girls were confident, sociable, and popular because of their looks. I envied them. I hated God and felt that He was not fair. He made so many girls pretty but not me. I disliked my pretty friends. I did not like mixing with them because being around them made me feel ugly and uncomfortable. So I tended to ignore them and their feelings.

I simply could not understand Psalm 139:14, which says that we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made.” I felt that it did not relate to me. I was upset and told God, “You must be kidding me. If I am really carefully and wonderfully made, I would have been a pretty sweet young lady.”

It was not until I came across Proverbs 31:30 one day during my quiet time that I realized how God was speaking to me. It says, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Another verse which impacted me was 1 Peter 3:3, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.”

God is not looking for someone charming or beautiful, but for someone who fears Him. He does not look at our exterior beauty, but at our hearts. These verses humbled me and made me realize how superficial I had been by focusing only on temporal beauty instead of Him. God had never condemned me; I was the one who condemned myself because I felt ugly. In fact, God praises women who fear Him. So if I wanted to be praised by Him, I had to fear him. I had to honor Him by placing Him before myself.

Though I still do not know why God made some girls pretty and not others, I know we are safe when we run to Him with our feelings. His word speaks truth to satisfy the void in us. Bible says in Isaiah 55:9 that God’s ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts than my thoughts. Surely I can trust God that He has made me perfect in His own ways, as it says in Psalm 139:14. He made each of us exactly the way He meant us to be, in order to fulfill our unique individual calling and purpose in the highest manner.

As I progress in the knowledge of His word, I feel called to serve Him in writing. I feel God’s truth seeping into every area of my life and speaking to me. I also gain fresh insights when I read the writings of fellow Christians who share their thoughts about how God has worked in their lives. It encourages me. And I feel the burden to do the same, to share with others my own experiences and thoughts so that others can be encouraged as well in times of need. To write, I need not be pretty on the outside. What I need is a pure undivided heart that desires God above all else, and to make Him my sole desire.

Looking back, if I had been pretty, I might have my earlier dreams of being a model fulfilled. The nature of the job may not allow me to dress modestly, and I may also be too proud of my body. I may not treat my body with respect or remember that it is the temple where the Holy Spirit dwells (1 Corinthians 6:19). God has made me the way I need to be to focus on Him and to embrace my calling in Him.

Now, although I am still tempted to wish for physical beauty whenever I see someone pretty, I remind myself that the world’s definition of beauty is not God’s definition of beauty. I fully understand that I do not need to be pretty to be confident. My confidence is in God who praises those who fear Him and speaks to us in our calling. I am now assured in Psalm 139:14 that I am perfectly made. He gives me confidence that I am handmade by Him personally and that my identity is in Him.

Beauty in God’s Eyes

Title: Beauty in God’s Eyes
Materials: Calligraphy with lipstick
Description: Through time, society has set different standards for beauty. By fixing our eyes on Jesus, we can have confidence in the beauty that He crafts within us and not focus on what the world says is beautiful. We must never forget that how we look on the outside is not nearly as important as how we are in the sight of the Lord.

Artworks by: Phoebe Raymundo

 

BEAUTY-1

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. – Psalm 139:14

 

BEAUTY-2

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. –  2 Corinthians 4:16

 

BEAUTY-3

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. – 1 Samuel 16:7

 

BEAUTY-4

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. – Proverbs 31:30

 

BEAUTY-5

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

 

 

Artist Feature | Phoebe Raymundo

Why do I create?

For this reason: I do what I do because I owe everything to Christ! He is the reason for my being.
My name is Phoebe and I am a 24-year-old multimedia designer born and raised in Manila, Philippines. I was blessed to be born into a Christian family but it took a couple of rough bumps on the road during my time in school before I learned to fall in love with Christ again.

Photography was my first love, but I was encouraged to widen my boarders by taking up multimedia arts in college. Out of the many skills I’ve tried to master, hand-lettering was the one that felt like home. It very quickly became something I am passionate about not only because of the art itself, but because of the messages I am able to convey with it.

I draw inspiration from my own experiences and emotions hoping they point others to Jesus so that they may also experience fullness of life in Him.