I think I have an addiction to buying books… and I think it’s a big problem as I run out of shelf life! I have a poor habit of reading a couple of chapters of a book, only to be captivated by the cover of a new one, and end up ordering and beginning a new book before I have read the one I was enjoying before. I am easily distracted and discouraged in my goals of reading more books, and the stack of unfinished books continues to pile up.
Anyways, today was my last day of Christmas break before college. Oh my, how fast this break went by! Through it was exhausting, the Lord has been faithful in spending time with wonderful friends and being encouraged in time with Him and others. 
As I prepared for my last night’s sleep in my own bed in this small town in Virginia, I was a little dissatisfied with my reflection. My hair is pretty short and sometimes looks like a little boy, makeup is kind of a hassle for me, and I love a comfy outfit of sweats. In our society, beautiful women are often defined by long hair, perfectly long and painted eyelashes, and fashionable clothing. When I look in the mirror, I see the opposite of all of these things, and often quickly become discouraged and caught off guard. But tonight, my thoughts were a little different. 
One of the things I have been working on is rethinking my thinking. Choosing joy and love, and to cling to the truth in the midst of inward struggles and hardships. Although I am far from perfect (traffic and being late to things is a serious trigger for anxiety), I am amazed to watch how God has showed up as I seek Him more and more. 
So I stared at the mirror a little longer today, and looked a little deeper to remember and reclaim what is true about myself. I am a child of God (1 John 3:1), fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). Just like the intentionality and time that goes into making knitted works of art, God took time to knit me together in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13) because He loved and cared for me. A woman of God is created by Him, and whose beauty comes from the inside and radiates from her heart outwards. 

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” ~ 1 Peter 3:3-4
True beauty shines from the inside out and comes from being more and more like Jesus Christ. When we read and study our Bibles, talk with God, have fellowship and meaningful conversation with others, and encourage & affirm one another, we grow to love more deeply and therefore become more like God, who is love (1 John 4:8).
“…The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” ~ 1 Samuel 16:7
This verse reassures me that nothing I wear, nor any length of hair, or amount of makeup defines my beauty or worth. These things may look nice on the outside and are not bad things in themselves, but deep and lasting beauty radiates from the heart. May you and I rest in the knowledge that God made us beautifully and with intention. He is a good Father whose love is constant and faithful. He does not make mistakes and loves us always. Our beauty comes from being made by the Father and being shaped to be more like Him each and every day.

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