When Self-Love is Wrapped in a Giving Shawl

The Giving Shawl

My husband gave me a soft nubby-textured shawl for my birthday. But it wasn’t just any shawl. It was a Giving Shawl.

I recently spotted it in a local gift shop but didn’t pay too much attention to its name. So when I released the soft ribbon surrounding the shawl to find a label with the words Giving Shawl sewn onto the pocket, I was torn.

I loved everything about it but felt an odd sort of guilt for wanting to keep it. After all, the shawl was created to be given away.

In the same pocket was a cloth bookmark with these words:

“We all need a little comfort now and then…A reminder to help us know that we are not alone in the world…That there is someone in our corner, ready with a hug, no matter what. Always know you are being thought of, cheered on, And loved for exactly who you are⏤Someone who is beautifully and wonderfully made.”

 

It was the last line that left a lump in my throat.

 

You see, this year I’ve gained more than two books on the Amazon shelf. I’ve also gained weight and a lot of it. I shun the camera and scold Brian for posting my picture (unless it’s pre-2016) on his Facebook page. The mirror is my foe, not my friend. I avoid seeing people who knew me before the shift in weight, imagining the words they must be thinking when they see me.

 

Maybe I was, in fact, the intended recipient after all.

 

The Giving Shawl lay bare my desire to offer grace to others but receive it at sloth-like speed for myself.

 

Love Yourself

 

Growing up, weight was a dirty word on my dad’s side of the family. The recordings to stay a particular size for everyone’s benefit have played in the background of my mind for most of my life. So while this post isn’t written from a place of victory (yet!) it is written from a place of desire. A desire not only for myself but also for my granddaughters because the way we view ourselves affects those in our sphere of influence whether we realize it or not. Just as I prayed the destructive cycle of divorce would end with my boys, I now see the need to pray with the same fervency that a Christ-centered cycle of healthy self-acceptance begins with me.

 

So, as I drape this Giving Shawl around my shoulders, I will remember:

 

  • The only weight that defines my worth is the weight of my sin Jesus bore on the cross.
  • My heavenly Father, husband, family, and friends love me unconditionally.
  • Just as I pray to see others as Christ sees them, I can embrace this desire for myself as well.
  • Acknowledging the need to take better care of myself physically is a gift from the Lord.
  • Even so, if the scale never budges, I will still be the apple of my Father’s eye. (Psalm 17:8)
The only weight that defines my worth is the weight of my sin Jesus bore on the cross. Click To Tweet

One last tag in the box calls the shawl a “Giftable Hug” and that’s exactly how it feels.

The Giving Shawl is available on Amazon but if you’re local to Upstate SC, it can be purchased for less at Expressions Unlimited in Greenville.

 

 

4 Ways We Can Pray for Our Adult Children

Praying for Our Adult Children

I wish they could have started sooner⏤the prayers for my children.

When I entered into a relationship with Christ at the age of twenty-seven, my boys were ages 6 and 2.  I desperately wanted the cycle of divorce to end with me and for a new legacy to begin with them⏤one that would carry on to future generations I would never know. So I began praying specifically for:

  • Their future spouses and their families.
  • Our sons and their future wives to remain sexually pure until marriage.
  • Them to know Christ at an early age —  by experience, not head knowledge.
  • Godly friends.
  • God to use them for His glory.

Years passed, the boys grew up and married two amazing young women with God-shaped hearts. They now have families of their own.

When the boys became husbands, I admit that my prayers were not as fervent for them as they once were. I don’t know why. Maybe without realizing it, I believed this momma’s prayers weren’t needed as much. And then I recalled separate conversations I had with both grandmothers when I was in my early 40’s. Each shared how they had prayed for me every day of my life. Wow, just wow.

How many can say they are prayed for daily? Let's be that person for our family! Click To Tweet

Today I’m sharing specific ways I’ve started praying for our sons and daughter-in-laws. I hope these will resonate in some way and inspire you to write out your own prayers.

I pray

Their hunger and thirst for Christ will only increase as they grow older

With a birthday just around the corner, I’m reminded how vital it is that I don’t become lazy in the faith. It’s not a realization that jumps out like a bad prank but rather one that eases in the back door of our heart with a pack of chips and a million excuses. I want to finish strong and I desire this for my children as well.

 

That they will grasp the depth of love God has for them

I want our children to be convinced of God’s love at a gut level because let’s face it, this truth is a game-changer, and one the enemy desires to keep hidden away in his slimy pocket.

I pray the following for my sons and daughter-in-laws, inserting their names in place of the pronouns. Whose name could fill in your blanks?

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen ________ with power through his Spirit in _______ inner being, so that Christ may dwell in _______ hearts through faith. And I pray that _________, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that _________ may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19

 

Their protection⏤spiritually, emotionally, and physically

None of us are impervious to the sin that awaits us around the next corner. (The moment we believe we are, watch out!) I pray for my children to continue to grow deeply in love with Christ and with their spouses. For outside negative influences to stand at the gate of want with no hope of entrance into the minds and hearts of my loved ones.

 

A covering of wisdom and discernment

“Listen, I [wisdom] have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness. All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse. To the discerning all of them are right; they are faultless to those who have knowledge. Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies; and nothing you desire can compare with her.” Proverbs 8:6-11

Proverbs says that nothing we desire can compare to possessing wisdom. Thankfully, we need look only one direction for this wisdom: up.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5

 

Linking arms in prayer

Imagine parents like you and me linking arms on the battlefield of prayer in support of our children⏤regardless of their age. If you’re not a parent, I can almost guarantee that you are influencing some young person in your circle of influence by your words and/or actions.

My arm is extended.  Wanna join me?

 

 

What to Pray When You Release Your Work Into the World

butterfly half

It all begins with an idea.

Maybe it’s a story, a blog, a song, a ministry, or simply a more productive way to accomplish a task in the office or at home. The idea percolates and begins to take shape⏤this could take minutes, months, or even years. The idea is relentless, clinging to our thoughts like a wet swimsuit. We pray over it, say no to things we’d rather say yes to, and grab every piece of chocolate in sight {okay, maybe that’s just me} in order to bring the idea to fruition.

And then it finally happens. We’re ready to release our work.

This year, I’ve learned a few things about what this means. My first book Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Beach released in May. My second, Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Mountains just released in September. I remember feeling physically ill when I first released the books to my critique group, beta readers, and finally, Amazon.

As I continue this journey, however, I’m learning the value of anchoring certain truths into place through prayer:

butterfly half

Stay focused on the why of the work.

 

Psalm 9:1 says, “I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” When we write, sing, counsel, teach, or whatever it is we do for God’s glory, His goodness is shared in a way that only we can tell it. Yes, the same story can be told by the multitudes but it’s how we experience God’s goodness that makes our story⏤the work of our hands and heart⏤unique and personal. If our ride-or-die why is to bring God glory then the missteps and disappointments we face along the way will not steer us off course because it’s not about us, our idea, or our atta-boys. It’s all His.

Father, You know my heart. Search it. Shine Your light to find any underlying motives residing in the nooks and crannies of my mind. If they are not of You, expose them as traitors, betraying my love and excitement for what You’ve put in my heart. Help me to stay focused on the why in order to guard against the voices in my head that will attempt to defeat and discourage me. May Your goodness emerge in everything I say and do.

 

Define success in my own heart before the world defines it for me.

 

Will the book sell more than a handful of copies? How will I react to my first bad review? If one person moves closer to the Lord as a result of reading the book, will that really be enough?

These questions ran through my mind with the same energy as a caffeinated child in a toy store. I knew it was time for a come-to-Jesus moment. There, I spilled all my expectations, desires, and hopes before the throne⏤the good, the bad, and the downright ugly⏤confident that nothing I said would catch Him off guard.

We all want our time, energy, and money to matter so when numbers in the form of books sold, clients or blog visitors don’t add up, the idea can feel like a failure⏤we can feel like a failure. That is unless we defined success for ourselves before the blog was written or the business began, or the story was told.

I personally define success as being obedient to what I feel God calls me to do. One of those things is writing this series of vacation devotional books. So if the books don’t sell as hoped, I may be disappointed, but I will rest in knowing that in God’s eyes, it is a success. When I get my first bad review, I will sob shed a tear, but I will rest. And if just one person moves closer to God as a result of anything I do, I will rejoice and rest in knowing that in God’s eyes, one person is equal to the world.

Father, show me how to measure the success of this idea by Your standards, not mine. Jesus says in John 5:30 that He doesn’t seek to please Himself, only God. Would you mold my desires in a way that mirrors that of Christ? I lay down my expectations, my desires, and dreams in submission to Your plans and purposes. Be glorified!

 

Release the results into God’s hands.

 

Flannery O’ Connor said, “When a book leaves your hands, it belongs to God. He may use it to save a few souls or to try a few others, but I think that for the writer to worry is to take over God’s business.” (Thank you, Marcia!)

Our responsibility is to work diligently in pursuing what we feel God is calling us to do. That’s the calling. The results of that calling, however, are God’s.

We release our work into the world and the results into God's hands. Click To Tweet

Father, it’s all Yours. The idea, the energy and creativity to do the work, and the bravery required to release it. What You choose to do with my work {for Your glory} is completely up to You. I rejoice in knowing that the definition of true success is being faithful to You, for being always trumps doing.

 

Does one particular truth from today’s post resonate with where you find yourself today?