Just look at these beautiful people! They make me smile. I get a little flutter in my heart just thinking about them.
In my last two posts here and here, I’ve been telling you about my most amazing trip to Italy. This adventure was the brain child of Laura McCollough, A Kiss on the Chic. Laura has a heart for travel, women, art and Jesus. She and her daughter, Rebecca, plan and organize every little detail of the week, from the accommodations, dinners in amazing restaurants, side trips to area gems, extra excursions like cooking classes, kyaking or motorcycle rentals. She puts together thoughtful sersie packages in each room, gift bags in the workshop and gathers two amazing artists to share and teach. But even with all of the planning and thought for each retreat, she can’t hand pick who attends. She leaves that up to God. Laura admitted that she is awestruck every time to see who God puts together.
Of course, I’m thinking my reason for being in Bellagio is so I can do art and share faith in a beautiful setting. Which, don’t get me wrong, was exactly what I got, but God had so much more planned for me.
Meet my new soul sista, Stacey. Her momma, who was also in the trip, came to me one day and said “Thank you. Thank you for being you.” She explained that her smart, feisty, hand-waving-while-talking 100 miles per hour, little firecracker of a daughter had always felt like she didn’t belong. But somehow seeing me being me, (Lord help me….), she felt like it was ok being exactly who God created her to be. What?!? Me too! I’ve never felt comfortable in my fast talking, highly animated, loud, goofball skin. I was always told to hush, to calm down, to be more lady-like. I’m too loud, too wiggly, too colorful. Stacey came to me with tears in her eyes and said yes, she couldn’t believe she met someone like me, like her. And we were instant pals.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
I’ve always known that I am God’s handiwork. I know that I am uniquely me. I know that I have many skills and talents that are completely totally me. I know that God has great plans for me. Yet I have had the hardest time truly feeling it in my heart. You know that feeling of love you have for your children? Oh my. I would throw myself in front of a train, swim across the ocean, gather all the stars in the sky for those three, but do I love myself that much? You know exactly what I’m saying…there is no doubt in your mind how much you love your kiddos, but do you love you?
Something amazing happened in Italy. I met men and women who were kind, artistic, funny, encouraging, brave and who love Jesus. I felt accepted and welcomed. I was eating Oh My Stars deelishus food, pasta, fish, gelato, wine! I was walking the streets in one of the most picturesque places in the world. I was with my best friend Sissy. I was doing art! I really thought I was dreaming. I was sooo happy.Then Wednesday happened. I woke up feeling a little off. Did I take my meds the night before? I was walking a very thin line, that at any moment I was going to lose it and start crying. What on earth was happening? Here I am on a boat, cruising around Lake Como on an absolutely gorgeous day with my new best friends, why am I feeling so sad?
Then I realized I was being attacked by the evil one. I know many of you reading this are thinking I’m a little off kilter saying that. But I truly believe there is a demonic force out there that does not want us experiencing God’s goodness. It had me comparing myself to every woman there, the same women I adore and will get all mushy when I see them again. It used its cunning ways to distract me from what is true by slyly skewing the truth. He knows where our weak spots are and goes directly for the heart.
“Do you see her? Wow she really looks great in that outfit. Too bad you’re looking a little homely.”
“She is so smart! You? Hmm…can you even find your keys?”
“Look at how artistic she is! Yea, yours needs some help.”
It went on and on. Do you see where he twists the truth? Yes, she is gorgeous and looking awfully cute. That is completely true, but to turn it into a bad thing about me is not true. Is she artistic? Yes! Is she incredibly smart? Absolutely! And it was in this moment that I remembered…
These are the three books I brought with me on this trip. My bible, Priscilla Shirer’s bible study, Armor of God and Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequest. His Word, the bible, is true. I needed to strap on the belt of truth of the Armor of God a little bit tighter around my core and remember the words He has spoken about me. I needed to remember His promises for me. Then the words of Shauna rang out about her struggle to be perfect. Ding, Ding, Ding!! It all became abundantly clear. All of those lies that Satan had been whispering in my ears for 50 years, I know, I mean, I really really know deep in my heart and soul to.be.false. As Shauna reveals in her book, being imperfect is exactly who I am suppose to be.
Friends, seriously. I knew all of this in my head, but this was THE FIRST TIME the dots were ever connected!! CRAZY , I tell you! Crazy! Lessons learned. You were created with unique talents and purpose. Your beauty comes not from what the world says is beautiful, but from the joy of living with the Holy Spirit inside of you radiating out. Enjoy the moment you are in right now with the people you are with. Be present.Quit hurrying to fill every minute with have to’s and should’s. Leave some white space to just be.And most importantly, EAT GELATO EVERY DAY! A gelato a day keeps the grumpies away.
You, my friends are amazing. My prayer is that the dots will connect for you. Know it and feel
Thanks for dropping by!