{Celebrating Beautiful} Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, by John Hambrick

In blogging for the last 5 years, I’ve written about many different topics, but one theme that has remained constant has been my focus of sharing about how our family is discovering the beauty in difference and choosing to celebrate the incredible beauty all around us, and how we want to encourage others to do the same. After connecting with and reading about so many amazing people and families doing so many amazing things, I started a guest blog series called Celebrating Beautiful, as it relates to beauty however it can be interpreted: motherhood, faith, your kids, an experience, home, and so much more.
 
I got to connect with John Hambrick when I reviewed his book, Move Toward the Mess, and really enjoyed it. He has a wisdom that comes with experience, both in living out Jesus’ calling for his life and within parenting, and his words today offer such encouragement, especially for those of us with younger kids who are looking toward the teen and young adult years ahead.
Here is John Hambrick on Celebrating Beautiful…

It’s a pleasant memory.

My wife, Patty, and I are in our Jeep Cherokee, driving down the road. It’s a gentle sunny morning. We’re on vacation. Our two kids, JD (age 6) and Carrell (age 3), are in their car seats. Sandi Patty’s music fills the car. At the end of one song, she recites the following:

For Thou didst form my inward parts
Thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise Thee for Tou art fearful and wonderful
Wonderful are Thy works!
Thou knows me right well.    -Psalm 139:13-14

JD and Carrell are smiling; in that moment, they get it. They know that they are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Fast-forward 10 years. Carrell and JD are now in middle school and high school. It’s harder now for them to be confident that they are the wonderful creations of a loving God. I remember Carrell’s tears over a verbal slight, suffered at the hands of her peers. I remember JD coming home one afternoon saying he felt invisible. What happened?

I worked with church youth groups and Young Life for 18 years. Sadly, JD and Carrell’s experiences are too common. The sense of being fearfully and wonderfully made takes a beating when you’re an adolescent. Granted, some days adolescents feel great about themselves. But lots of days they worry that they are not smart enough, not pretty enough, not cool enough, not coordinated enough. A lot of days they feel like their hair, their face, their clothes and their personality are all wrong. How did our kids morph from the smiling little urchins in the back seat into angst-ridden adolescents?

Fast-forward another 10 years. Today, JD and Carrell are well-adjusted adults. They are college grads, gainfully employed and leading full lives. They emerged from that adolescent angst in tact. As I reflect on their teenage years, I am tempted to say, “Well, that’s just what happens during that phase of life. Most kids go through it. That’s just the way it is.”

Well, maybe that’s often the way it is. But Psalm 139 suggests that’s not the way it should be.I’m not in the “every kid should get a trophy regardless of how they played” camp, but there are some things we can do to reduce the number of days that our kids feel like they aren’t good enough…

First of all, be vigilant. This is not a new idea. We are vigilant about movies and friends, about music and the Internet. But we need to be vigilant about something else: what happens at faith-based groups and events. If you’re like me, you tend to relax your vigilance in this area. It’s church after all – that’s supposed to be the one safe place we can count on. And it often is. But not always. I’m not talking about anything spectacularly horrible here; it’s more subtle than that.

The concern can be summed up with a simple question: how does the church youth group make your kids feel about themselves? Do they come home lit up or put down? Granted, every kid has bad days, and youth ministers aren’t perfect. But if your kids consistently come home from the youth group feeling badly about themselves, then it’s time to dig around a little bit. Don’t go overboard – you don’t want to humiliate your kids. But a few gentle questions are entirely appropriate, and any youth minister worth his or her salt will want to help.

The second thing we can do to help our kids feel good about who they are is to challenge Madison Avenue. The meta-narrative that undergirds almost all advertising is this: “There’s something wrong with you. Our product will fix it.” It’s a very successful approach. But the sad thing is that once the doubt has been planted, we discover that the product doesn’t really help. An occasional session where you sit down with your kids and point out how silly this approach is will go along way towards helping them see through this clever ploy. I mean really . . . can shampoo change your life? Is toothpaste the key to happiness and success? Sheesh.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, take care of yourself. Kids’ self-image is profoundly impacted by their parents’ self-image. So, how are you feeling about yourself these days? Seeing and celebrating the way God made you makes it easier to see and celebrate the way God made your kids.

So, keep up the good work. Your ability to see that your children are fearfully and wonderfully made, especially when they are in their teens, can be just the positive influence they need to hang in there when the world is telling them they aren’t good enough.

Someday, when your kids become adults like my son and daughter, they’ll thank you for all the love you’ve sent their way. And those words will be some of the sweetest sounds you’ll ever hear.

John Hambrick is part of the leadership team at Buckhead Church, the urban campus of North Point Ministries. His book, Move Toward the Mess, is available on Amazon and in bookstores everywhere.

{Celebrating Beautiful} Overcoming the Fear of Rush, by Kelly Balarie

In blogging for the last 5 years, I’ve written about many different topics, but one theme that has remained constant has been my focus of sharing about how our family is discovering the beauty in difference and choosing to celebrate the incredible beauty all around us, and how we want to encourage others to do the same. After connecting with and reading about so many amazing people and families doing so many amazing things, I started a guest blog series called Celebrating Beautiful, as it relates to beauty however it can be interpreted: motherhood, faith, your kids, an experience, home, and so much more.
 
I met Kelly Balarie when we attended a writer’s program together last year, and we bonded while cruising around Nashville! She is so encouraging and such a bright soul, and her first book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, was just released in January! I can’t wait to dive into it.
Here is Kelly Balarie on Celebrating Beautiful…

CelebratingBeautifulTime never stops. I think this is what most aggravates me about it.

Sometimes, every tick is a tock that seems to reminds me: I have so much to do. Time is passing. I need to move faster. There is a window I might miss. There are people who may run there faster than me. I am late.

I used to wake up in the morning already feeling behind. As my coffee would drip in the pot, I would consider, “Okay, I have 1 hour to get my kids breakfast, get them dressed and get them to school. I can’t be late.”

Time used to make anxiety crawl up my skin.

It made me pulse with a nervous spirit. Have you ever found yourself on edge?

It made me rush my family. Have you felt behind?

It reminded me how little I was able to do. Have you felt ineffective before?

But through all of my rushing, I came to realize that to be strapped for time is to be strapped to a hurried pace that almost always steals God’s grace. For when you are in a rush, you can’t find your place of hush that lets you hear God. Don't rush ahead of

How I know this to be true – oh yes, I do! Yet, there is a difference between knowing and changing. We can know a whole lot of stuff, but at the same time, change nothing about our lives. God is much more about seeing our lives transformed, I believe, than seeing our minds filled with Christian-ese knowledge.

So  I continue to tackle this bear of time. I’ve been turning to God to tackle the issue in my heart and not my mind, and in the process, I’m learning:

  • God does not wear a watch. He is not limited by time. With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. (2 Pet. 3:8)
  • The fear of missing out is unfounded. Our God, who is unlimited in power, can break the limits of time – in half. He can help us do more than we ever believed we could, as we rest on Him.
  • What joy we crave, is only available in the present moment. By rushing ahead, we run past God. Life is found when we stay in step with the Holy Spirit. This is where we find beauty emerges.
  • What we cannot do, behind the scenes, God can. He can do more than me, always.
  • We step out of the pasture of peace, when we live by the urgency of the clock. If we pace ourselves to God, he will bring us exactly where we are supposed to go, but, with him, we’ll go with rest and fullness of heart, rather than tiredness.

We have a God who is unbound by limitations. There is nothing that can stop his power, except our mind that doesn’t believe.  What if, today, we step out, fearless, and walk – not hurried, not strapped, not overwhelmed, not agonizing, but at rest into his calling? What might God do?FearFightingAuthor and Speaker, Kelly Balarie is both a Cheerleader of Faith and a Fighter of Fear. She leans on the power of God, rests on the shoulder of Christ, and discovers how to glow in the dark places of life. Get all Kelly’s blog posts by email or visit her on her blog Purposeful Faith. Kelly didn’t always fight fear – for a large part of her life, she was controlled by it. Yet, in her book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, with God, Kelly charts a new course. Join Kelly on the journey to go and grow with Christ’s bravery, the Spirit’s counsel and God’s unending love that squelches fear. Buy Fear Fighting today or Join the 4 Days to Fearless Challenge!