Free to Be Me.

Hey guys. Yesterday's carnival was fantastic. You new friends are so fun. Thanks for taking the time to leave your "what I like about me" comments. I was astonished at how many Jesus-girls still struggle with being ourselves. "The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak"-or wrinkled or dimply or freckled or saggy or flabby. Well you get the picture.

I hope we can endeavor together to give up on ourselves, and find Jesus-yes, more and more and more of Jesus.

The winner of the $30 gift card from Francesca's is Lisa Smith from lifeoflisasmith dot blogspot dot com. This sweet sister is beginning a fierce fight against cancer. Lisa, email me at with your address, and I'll get the certificate out to you. Find you something special and girly. Know when you wear it that this little community of the blogosphere will be praying for you.

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The Proverbs 31 Blog Carnival

Hey friends. It's a party, and it's a big one!!! Nearly the entire Proverbs 31 team is celebrating today with giveaways, encouragement and fellowship. We are group of women as diverse as you can imagine held together by a passion for women and for the Word of God. Because we are all different, if you take the time to look around our blogs you'll find us all celebrating various things-things we've overcome, things we've endured, things we've experienced, things we've learned, things we've been changed by.

Today, I am celebrating me. Oh, please, please, please keep reading. I'm not egomaniacal. I'm not supremely arrogant. I'm just a girl who is FINALLY good with just being me. I am FINALLY comfortable in my own skin.

Have you ever felt like a human being trapped in a chameleon's body? I spent years feeling like I didn't really know who I was or maybe who I wanted to be. There's not time to deconstruct the whole saga so let me paint you a picture. In high school I endured several extreme makeovers.

I spent middle school working my way through the store 5.7.9. At some point that deteriorated because it's 5.7.9 not 13.15.17. So, I went through a grunge phase. That was easy because I was not affluent and the idea is to try to look poor, but it was too dark for me. Then I tried the Abercrombie phase-not so easy on a tight budget. It didn't last long. Oh, and I had a muffin top when I was thirteen. Abercrombie is not made for girls with muffin tops. So then I tried pulling off an athletic look. I'm too round for that. It was fashion, and it was fiction. Athletic I am not. I eventually settled on preppy. It was the best fit-part lazy, part chic.

Each phase represented a new effort to feel good about me. I tried relentlessly to figure out who I was. I knew God had made me me. I knew deep in my soul that I was uniquely Whitney, I just didn't know what that would look like. Please know, this wasn't just about fashion. It wasn't just about materialism. It was about a young girl wanting to feel good about who and how God had made her.

Eventually a young woman gave up. I just got tired. I stopped wanting to figure it out. I decided to just enjoy being me-today. Thinking about my public persona was too exhausting, and really too selfish. I stopped trying to find myself, and devoted myself to finding God.

Then unremarkably it happened. I just became myself. And now at 31, I kind of like just enjoying God. Unexplainably, as a result I enjoy me. I am the most transparent person you will likely ever meet. I am ridiculously flawed. I make the same stupid mistakes. My prayers aren't, but could easily be scripted. I'm on my face about the same sins over. and over. and over. I'm not proud of it, but I am me. And I am growing. I'm not so worried about how God wants me to appear as much as who God wants me to be. It's incredibly freeing.

So today I'm celebrating the journey of finding myself. It's a journey that I completed when I gave up. I gave up on myself. I'm a quitter, and I like it.

Now, I am a girl who still loves fashion, and I have found my "me" store. If you don't have a Francesca's Collections near you, find one. If you can't find one go online and enjoy a little fashion heaven on a mama's budget. I can't pull off everything on the site. But ya'll part of enjoying me is knowing I have one dimple in the right place, and a host of others in the wrong places. I have unruly eyebrows. I have enormous hips and tiny, um, let's just say that A-line is my friend. But I have a nice neck and really great earlobes. Play to your strengths girls. I love me some big earrings, a cute necklace and a nice tunic.

So leave me a comment about what you like about you. I'll pick a winner and send you a $30 gift card from my favorite little fashion joint.

Now go celebrate with some of the best gals in the world: (You'll find their links on my sidebar, so click away. They've got good stuff for you, and I don't mean the give-aways!!)

Wendy Blight Wendy is giving away a copy of the One Year Chronological Bible and her book Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner: The Transforming Power of God's Story.

Shari Braendel Shari is givng away 3 beautiful jewelry pieces to begin a spring wardrobe with! One for a Glamour Girl, one for a Movie Star and one for a Rock Star!

Micca Campbell Micca is giving away her book An Untroubled Heart, and a cute clutch purse for those fun summer evenings!

Melanie Chitwood Melanie is giving away One marriage conference call (see her blog for details) and her new book What a Wife Needs from Her Husband.

Lynn Cowell Lynn is giving away a prize for mom and a prize for a teen girl in her life – the 3 book series B.A.B.E. series by Andrea Stephens (Beautiful, Accepted, Blessed, Eternally Significant) for the teen and for Mom a $10 gift card to Starbucks along with Lynn’s CD “Building a Bridge to Your Child’s Heart”.

Karen Ehman Karen is giving away a Winter White Basket centered on Psalm 51:7 "Wash me and I will be whiter than snow" that includes Skin Milk body wash, a white loofah, Winter White Citrus Bath & Body Works products, white lily linen and room sprays, white hot cocoa, a white mug and white-chocolate macadamia nut cookies. Along with it, a copy of her book on celebrations entitled Homespun Memories for the Heart: More Than 200 Ideas to Make Unforgettable Moments.

Suzie Eller Suzie is giving away a webcam!

Zoe Elmore Zoe is giving away a journal, a copy of My Heart's Cry by Anne Graham Lotz and a piece of jewelry Zoe style!

Charlene Kidd Charlene is giving away a $20.00 Starbucks Gift Card and a copy of Karen Ehman’s book: A Life That Says Welcome, Simple Ways to Open Your Heart and Home to Others.

Tracie Miles Tracie is giving away her CD "Overcoming Stress with Extraordinary Faith" and a Soulmates Slipper with Christian Notepad and Pen.

Rachel Olsen Rachel is giving away Bread for Life": a hardback copy of The Daily Message: Through the Bible in One Year by Eugene Peterson (which you can read this along with her this year) and the Williams-Sonoma Muffins cookbook.

Wendy Pope Wendy is giving away a copy of her book Out of the Mouths of Babes and her CD Yes, No, and Maybe of a Balanced Life

Luann Prater & Luann is giving away an Encouragement Cafe mug and t-shirt for both sites!

LeAnn Rice LeAnn is giving away a copy of her cookbook Sharing Grace: Recipes- Family Traditions-Gift ideas and a Starbucks gift card.

Susanne Scheppmann Susanne is giving away her Birds in My Mustard Tree Bible Study with an I-tunes gift card.

Renee Swope Renee is giving away Lysa TerKeurst’s Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl DVD Set and her CD message, Living Beyond the Shadow of Doubt on DVD.

Lysa TerKeurst Lysa’s give away is a Mom's Book Club gift pack including 4 copies of Lysa's book, Am I Messing Up My Kids?and a 30-minute Q&A conference call with Lysa.

Van Walton Van is giving away her DVD for children - From the Pound to the Palace

Glynnis Whitwer Glynnis is giving away her book work@home: A Practical Guide for Woman Who Want to Work from Home and a French Country Wire Silverware Basket

She Reads She Reads is giving away two novels, Watch Over Me by Christa Parrish and Screen Play by Chris Coppernoll, and chocolate, courtesy of the authors. They will tell the story of how their writing brought them together - a love story, quite literally, fit for a novel!

RadRevolution Our ministry to teen girls is giving away a copy of Do the Hard Thing along with a RadRev t-shirt! /div>

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Work It Out Wednesday-2.10.10

Okay so this just barely counts as Work it Out Wednesday. My apologies. No real reason. No life shattering drama, just a rough day in the life of this Mom. My world isn't so different from yours. It's not more difficult. It's not busier. It's just life, and life today was hard.

I was not a great Mom today, and it was one of those tough days where I didn't care-at the time. Now, while my sweet boys quietly sleep, I feel the pangs of guilt, the sting of my tone, the hope of short memories. So I am sorry for them and to you. But there it is.

So for Work it Out Wednesday, let me just ask you this. Are you friends with those in your own home? Are you friends with your family?

Today I would have to say "no".

I have a bad habit of being too real with the sweet people who share my immediate space. On more than one occasion my beloved has said, "you would never talk to somebody at church this way." He is right. I am not confrontational. I am regretfully, perpetually happy. I am not easily angered. I don't get my feelings hurt very often. I love my friends, and I want them to love me.

At home, I am different. Maybe more real, but certainly less long-suffering.

So for today, and tomorrow let's befriend our family. Extend the grace we would to our best friend. Hold our tongues because we would never say those words to a friend. Soften our tone. Drop what we are doing.

Come back Friday and let us know how it goes. Oh, and we'll pick back up with David and Jonathan next week.

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Meditate on It Monday-2.8.10

Friends and fans,

Here we are for the second installment of Meditate on It Monday. We had some great discussion last week about what friendships mean to us. You all had some great ideas about how (and why) we should nurture those.

I asked a question last week, that I'd like us to ponder a little more deeply today. I was curious if your friendships benefit you, your friend or both. Remember? Here's why I asked. I operate off a general friendship principle that this is a give-and-take kind of set-up. I have told you guys that I don't think I'm a good friend. I don't typically handle high maintenance relationships very well. I always feel like I drop the ball. Ugh. I don't like that about myself. (I'm working on it. Really I am.)

Alright, more confessions. I am also, unfortunately, coming to the realization that I am kind of a selfish friend. I like to feel valued, and needed, and to the degree I feel these things, I invest in my friends likewise. In short, relationships that thrive are ones where I both give and receive. I assumed this was a basic and universal tenet for friendship.

It is not.

Look with me at 1 Samuel 14:6. Here is a quick introduction to Jonathan, son of Saul. He is royalty's next in line. His father is King. In this passage we discover that Jonathan is a man of character, confidence and integrity. I like this kid.

So it's no surprise that when he is introduced to David in 1 Samuel 18 that the two would hit it off. David has just slain the giant. He is a veritable hero. Scripture tell us that the "soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul." (1 Samuel 18:1)

Well sure. They have a lot in common, don't they? Character. Confidence. Integrity. The list, well, kind of ends there. Think about it. David would never have run in the same circles as Jonathan. David would have never been afforded the company of the King. He's not royalty. He's not even wealthy. He's a shepherd. Under normal circumstances these two would not have been friends.

Did they have the same background? Hardly. Did they share similar interests? Unlikely. Did they have similar expectations for the future? Doubtful. I always thought these fellas were fast friends because of all they had in common. Now I think they were best friends in spite of it.

Look at the next few verses:

"And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father's house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David and his armor and even his sword and his bow and his belt." (vs. 2-4)

Jonathan does something remarkable. He gives David his most cherished and valued possessions. For Jonathan to shed his own clothing was not just sacrificial, it was monumentally significant. Jonathan was a soldier. His armor served to protect and project. It reveals that he is highly capable and highly valued. Without it he is vulnerable-in more ways than one. He literally gave David a piece of himself.

David gave nothing. What could he give to the son of a king?

Was their relationship mutually beneficial? Hardly. And Scripture records this relationship for all of human history as a hallmark of fidelity and friendship. I'd say that's worth pondering.

Meditate on that today. I'll be back on Wednesday with a way we can see this reality lived out in our own lives.

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Work It Out Wednesday 2.3.10

Hello Friendship Project participants!

(Don't know what the Friendship Project is? Join up! Read this and this, to be part of our 2010 campaign! It's not too late.)

For today's "work it out" assignment I'd like to challenge you to look at your list from Monday. Consider sending a note or email to someone on your list with whom you have a valued friendship. Make it personal. Make it real. Make it special.

Friendship is an investment. It takes time, energy and sacrifice. Thank those individuals in your life who have made an impact. Shouldn't they know that we appreciate their efforts?

Alright, go forth and thank friends. And remember to come back here for Feedback Friday. You don't have to wait until then to share your experience, but I'll be back with my update then. Can't wait to hear what you do, and how God ministers to your friends (and to each of us) through these efforts!


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Meditate On It Monday-2.1.10

Friends and Friendship Project Participants,

Happy Monday morning, well almost afternoon. I am sorry to be posting this later in the day that I would like. The dreaded sinus infection hit our house. I was sleepy, medicated and stuffed up last night. I was in the bed early though not sleeping as soundly as I would have liked.

At any rate, here is our topic for the day: Think about the relationships in your life. I'd like for you to consider how many valuable friendships you have in your life right now. Think about it, and maybe list them. Here are a few questions to ask yourself about these relationships:

-Why do I consider this relationship to be valuable?
-Is it valuable to me, to my friend or to both of us?
-What would be lacking in my life if this relationship were not present?
-Am I cultivating this relationship, or has it become stagnant?

Think about these things. As we move through this campaign, let's take a serious look at the friendship vacancies and friendship values that are present in our lives.

Proverbs 18:24 NIV

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

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