What makes you lovely?

"I am lovely because I am not afraid to be myself, follow my dreams, and pursue rest in a rushed, rule-laden world.  Jesus said He came to give us life, and not just life, but life to the full (John10:10).  Knowing that, I see part of my task in life as embracing that fullness.  This is often a daily struggle, as I battle with the harder parts of being single in my thirties, some stress-related health issues, and juggling the life of a working grad student pursuing a very long Master’s program in art therapy.  After a “mountaintop” experience from 2007-10 doing ministry work in Pretoria, South Africa, returning to my hometown Portland, OR, at first, felt like traveling backwards.  I would rather have traveled the world than deal with any family issues back home, it felt like the vision God brought to my heart in South Africa was disintegrating, and the reverse culture shock was intense and persistent.  But sometimes God brings us through deep valleys to be shaped and formed, and that, without a doubt, was happening.  In the process I learned and am still learning that God is my sole provider, requires only daily dependence and trust in Him, is always with me, has GOOD (even great!) plans for me, and loves me beyond my wildest imagination.  As I continue to struggle to rest in Him through the harder seasons, I am reminded of why He came and what He went through to save us.  I continue to follow Him as best I can, living my life as uniquely me.  That authenticity and quiet fearlessness, I think, is what makes me most lovely and is the very best way for me to spur others towards the dreams God has put on their hearts.  As women, I believe we are each lovely in our uniqueness, and in our refusal to give into the despair and doubts of this world, instead delighting in God delighting in us.  Such true joy is beautiful to witness.  For certain: It’s a battle to pursue this True Joy (The first part of John 10:10 assures us of this “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy . . .”) but I can say from experience, it is the most worthwhile of pursuits, and we are never alone in doing so."