Today’s post is written by my sweet friend Amanda Jones. We met during all the training meetings for our trip to Haiti. After one summer meeting, we stood in the parking lot and talked for an hour. It felt we were immediate kindred spirits. Amanda is LOVELY. She is flawed. She, like all of us, bears scars from her past. She is redeemed. Forgiven. Beautiful. Talented. Smart. Kind. Loving. Sweet. Amanda is a passionate Jesus-follower. Amanda became my sister over the past few months. I know you’ll love her too! Learn more about Amanda at her new blog www.ajfallingintograce.blogspot.com
By Amanda Jones
A few weeks ago as a team of ladies and I jetted from airport to airport on our way to Haiti I poured through the pages of a book loved by Christian women everywhere, Captivating. For years I have listened to ladies just cherish the sweet secrets of every women's heart that unfold in the pages of that book. But to be honest, I had never really read it. I mean I had flipped through the pages here and there. I had from time to time grabbed a verse or read a chapter that seemed needed at the time. I figured that a long day or two of journeying to a foreign country where our mission was to love and teach women was a great chance to see what I had been missing. What a timely opportunity. If you have read the book you know that more than a few times the author highlights the desire of every woman's heart to be seen as LOVELY.
When I was graciously brought back to the Lord five years ago and began going to church again, I remember looking around and thinking, “Wow these women are so beautiful.” At the time I believed it was because they had done things right -not at all like me. I had stumbled so many times. The idea that I could even begin to build relationships with these women seemed impossible. I remember one night going home and weeping to my mother, "I will never be like these girls. They never laugh too loud or cry too hard, they never say the wrong thing. Surely they have never fallen away or made mistakes that seemed to swallow them up." I thought they were perfect and I wasn't blind to the fact that I was far from that. But what I didn't know is these women I looked up to, revered, and admired, were not perfect. They were Lovely.
The years progressed and the Lord blessed me with friendships, sisters, and women in my life that would open up their lives with vulnerable courage and begin to show me their hearts. I began to see the truth. These were not women that had somehow evaded the trials of life. They had stories. They had hurts and wounds, pains and failures just like me. These women were not perfect at all.
The most beautiful women I have been blessed to come to know over the years are not the ones that always have the right answer, dress size, or eloquent speech. Don't get me wrong, they work hard, they seek the Lord to become more like Him, and take care of their bodies and blessings they have been given. But, the most beautiful women I know are the ones who like Esther, went into the palace of the King and were washed clean.
Beauty shines through their love, healing, and surrendered lives. The image of God is what makes their eyes sparkle. Their smiles draw you to them. They are strong and vulnerable, courageous and dependent on the Father, beautiful and unashamed. This loveliness does not only shine through women in my town, my church, or my family. This is a loveliness I have been blessed to see in some of the ugliest situations and horrific circumstances. In far-off countries like Haiti where the world has literally crumbled around them.
They reflect the Lord’s…
Wisdom and Kindness
Tenderness and Innocence
Heart For the Broken
Thank you Lord for all the women who have opened up their lives to share their loveliness with me.
With all my heart,