Do You Crave Beauty?

Winter brings a bleakness to the landscape unlike any other season. Even the sky reflects its sadness.
Inside, the dreariness affects moods, clutter seems more pronounced, houseplants visibly wilt from missing the sun. 
As a gardener, I find hope in seed catalogs, with the promise of green coming soon.
I force a few bulbs, bringing color and fragrance within my closing walls.
Even when spring comes, winter fights to stay, rushing back after bulbs emerge from the ground.
Will the bulbs overcome? 
Glancing  at other’s landscapes only heightens my quest for beauty.
There’s no landscaped yards or parks to be found. When we first moved, I was shocked when Lowes had nothing in their garden center—no plants at all.
How are you inspired by nothing?

Yet others think winter is beautiful.
Is all beauty defined “in the eyes of the beholder”?

I asked my granddaughters what they thought was beautiful.
One, three-years old, had a list that included octopi. 
I won’t look at octopi without remembering her thinking it was beautiful.

Is there a standard for beauty?
Proverbs 24:3-4 say, By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
To have space for precious and pleasant riches, one must remove unnecessary clutter. Things that distract. Things even harmful. 
But who determines what is precious and pleasant and beautiful and what is unnecessary?
What’s the criteria?

God’s criteria is…
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8.

Clutter must be recognized and acknowledged. 
God’s Spirit makes us aware of those spiders in the corners or skeletons in the closets. Or distractions in our path.
But it's His Beauty that determines that's what they are—distractions at best, substitutions of what He wants.
Often we fight to irradicate them ourselves, like the toddler who wants to do it “himself.”  
God waits until we figure out we can’t rid those things on our own. 
When we give Him control, it’s like the Master Cleaner, Who does it, magically, with just a Word, without effort.
Don’t we all want what is precious and pleasant?
No. My clutter stays, not because the Master Cleaner can’t clean it, but because I want to keep it.
It's my will, that I must fight with...

If we used what is precious and pleasant as a standard for bringing anything into our houses, what would we have?
Maybe it would be easier to ask, "If Jesus were to visit, would we watch that movie with Him?"

Does tv enhance your beauty within?
When we’ve tried to watch movies with the boys— What actors say is shocking—not commendable, or lovely. 
What about their attire? Is it pure? Or worthy of praise? 
We do have a different standard from the world. Albeit hard sometimes to find something modest that fits.
I Timothy 2:9-10 says, “Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control,… but with what is proper for women who professing godliness—with good works.”
We can’t, nor should we expect, the world to live up to God’s standard of modesty, for they are of the world, but if we are bringing it inside our houses, it should conform to God’s standards. 
We haven't even gotten to the values that they present in their plots and dialogue.
Disney has for years presented the rebellious child who disrespects her dad, yet ends up getting her own way and it's great.
Someone in church bemoaned the commercials slant toward guy couples.
I wondered why they continued to watch them!

Analyzing everything under the definition of God’s beauty removes the “pleasure” from the movie, doesn’t it?
Maybe we’d forego that movie with Jesus sitting beside us.
What else could we do?

When people visited us, in spite of having a house full of busy boys, people would say, “It’s peaceful and quiet.” 
We had no busy traffic on our street, but that’s not what they meant. 
We choose not to allow the “distractions and pleasures” of the world into our house. 
[A side note: the beauty of children is recognized by God through His Word. That can't be overstated.]
God’s quietness and stillness gave beauty to a peaceful night full of chirping frog and days listening to hawks—because they were able to be heard.
It was a beauty of quietness.

Ever go camping and stay beside someone who shared their music with the world? (This is prior to earbuds.)
Don’t you go camping to get away from everything? Not take it with you?
Man has become so use to having some noise ALL THE TIME. 
Can't we stand our own thoughts?

The tv used to turn off at midnight. There was nothing more to watch. Now, you can binge watch anything you want.
Music must be non-stop in the car, house, or while you walk or run.
Can man just listen to quietness?
There is a special beauty of stillness that enables you to hear insects buzz, birds chirp, leaves crunch— that allows God’s Spirit to be heard.
Remember it was God’s still, quiet voice Elijah heard, not in the roaring thunder.

We once rented a house for a family gathering.
Their decorations reflected their values.
Some things I hid until we were leaving. They made me cringe. My husband felt the same thing. It was a Spirit battle.
The owners reflected the god they worshipped. It showed by what they allowed in their house.

That’s what Psalm 34:5 means, Those who look to Him are radiant and their faces shall never be ashamed.
They looked to God for everything in their lives. It will change how they look.
When Moses returned from the mountain where he listened to God, his face shone so the people were unable to look at him.
Rather than changing and preparing themselves so they could see Moses, they demanded he hide the radiance of God behind a veil.

How do we reflect the beauty of God?
Isaiah 62:3 says of Israel, You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

Often my husband tells me I am his crown.(Taken from Proverbs 12:4).
People see me without ever meeting me. Why?
Because of how I take care of my husband.
I make his lunches every day.
He prefers to come home rather than go out after work.
People don’t look at his crown, they look at him. and he is favored.
God is a spirit and not seen by the world. But we, as His bride, are His crown. 
We should reflect Who He is.
And He is beauty.

How does this beauty affect others?
As Israel obeyed God, and became His crown, Ezekiel 16:14 says of Israel, 
And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty,
for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord God.

As God’s crown, we point people to see God.
The world doesn’t have this. It makes them wonder why Israel (or now His Bride) was different.
They don't blend in with the world—they were distinctly different.
When we reflect His beauty, the world knows we are different. They crave that beauty.

We reflect His beauty He gives us.
It’s not what we do that makes us have beauty; 
it’s what God works in us.

Why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Matthew 6:28-29.

God’s beauty must develop.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. Ecclesiastes 3:11.

Like the beauty of the butterfly is appreciated all the more after the caterpillar stage.
Or like what God must do with us. 
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, all new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17.

We are given new birth, but maturity takes time.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10.
It’s His workmanship. We don’t work to get it.

Ezekiel 16:14 says it like this, And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty,
for it was perfect through the splendor that I had bestowed on you, declares the Lord God.

When people know they have beauty, they lose it. 
Pride is ugly. Pride destroys its innocence.
Like Ezekiel 28:17-18. Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade, you profaned your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out from your midst; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you.

It's not our beauty—it's God's.
It’s not what you do, that brings that beauty.
Jesus warned the righteous religious people in His day, 
So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy, and lawlessness. Matthew 23:28.
Let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. I Peter 3:4.

No man can create that beauty. 
Ever watch a humble, quiet man serving?
He’s not looking to be recognized, in fact when he is, he’s embarrassed.
He doesn’t want acknowledgment.
Because he knows it’s not him.
It’s God.

Ever know a beautiful woman?
She has no outward beauty that would attract others to her.
Her spirit is in-tune with God’s Spirit. 
That’s what Psalm 34:5 says, “Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”
She emanates peace, gentleness, love.
But it draws people to know what that beauty is.
It’s not her.
It's God.

Are you craving beauty?
Go to its source.
God. Who is beautiful.

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I write about what you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what Him.
               Sonya Contreras

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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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