The Reason I Am Taking More Selfies


I’ve had a personal revelation.

A few years ago I stopped taking selfies. I developed a general annoyance with the trend because it seemed like everywhere I looked there were prepubescent tweens (or adults) taking pictures of themselves making the dreaded “duckface.” (If you aren’t familiar with “duckface,” Google it at your own risk.) I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking a selfie … I mean, my best friend, Tori, takes selfies all the time and she makes it pretty dang adorable. In fact, I think the first selfie I ever took was with her.

Anyway …

I have realized recently that I’ve been shying away from having pictures taken of me in general. This seems to coincide with a drastic drop in my self-esteem over the last year or two. I started to hate pictures of myself and dread seeing them. In my mind, I was fat, ugly, too pale, whatever. This insecurity seems to run in my blood. As a child, many of the women I grew up around told me I was beautiful, but they weren’t shy about letting everyone know how much they loathed themselves. So when I saw these women look in the mirror and verbally abuse themselves, I took note. It’s a pattern I am desperately trying to break with my own daughter.

You see, there’s a very persistent and malicious critic who lives in my head and seems intent on making me hate myself and everything about my life. You’re disgusting. You’re so ugly. You’re fat. Why can’t you look like her? You are embarrassing. You are a failure. You can’t do anything right. You look terrible without makeup. I’ve always given way to this little devil in my mind, up until a few weeks ago.


I was hired into my position to replace a girl who received a promotion. Recently I met this woman and was literally floored by how beautiful she is. She’s a tall, statuesque blonde with these piercing blue eyes. Seriously, she looks like a Barbie doll. My first reaction after I shook her hand was to flee the scene because I was so intimidated by her beauty and my lack thereof. I remember going into the bathroom and looking in the mirror and beginning the usual critique on myself. But something unprecedented happened. A new voice spoke up.

Wait, wait, wait. Hold on, Sharon. You cannot do this again.


Seriously. Enough is enough. You don’t need to look like that. Do you hear me? YOU. DON’T. NEED. TO. LOOK. LIKE. THAT. Do you know why you have that fair skin? Do you know why you have that dark hair? And those green eyes? And that slightly crooked smile? And those bony knees? I’ll tell you why.

You have that fair skin because of your Irish daddy, who you adore so much. That dark hair is his too. Your green eyes are to remind you of where your ancestors lived. And that smile? It’s a combination of your dad’s, a silly smirk so few get to see, and your mom’s, a happy grin when she’s laughing from her gut. And you might think your knees are too big and weird looking, but they’re the same knees your dad used to lift you and carry you piggy back. You want to give all that up to be someone else? You look like this because of who you are. The critique is over. It’s done.

Somehow, things have started to change since that day. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being a statuesque blonde with blue eyes, but I am a unique individual, and my physical features are special and tell a story about who I am. Since that talk with myself in the bathroom, I’ve stopped beating myself up as much. I’m standing up to the critic in my head. And I realized that the real reason I stopped taking selfies was because I had developed such poor self-confidence that I couldn’t stand a picture of myself. I once begged my husband, Matthew, to delete a picture of us because I was so embarrassed about how I looked. I’ll never forget what he said after he gave in and erased it: There. You happy? Memory gone.

My new idea in self-therapy (is that a word?) is to take selfies, dad gum it. If I feel like I look cute, I’m going to give myself permission to take a picture. It’s all part of learning to accept that I really am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139). And you are too.

Sharon Early

With a bachelor’s degree in English, Sharon Early did not actually put her English background to use right away. She began a job as an animal trainer out of college and then moved on to become a marketing writer. Her latest role is now stay-at-home mom to her infant daughter, Mellie Christine. Married for almost 3 years to her pilot-husband, Sharon has lost 3 babies to miscarriage and is currently pregnant with a brother or sister for Mellie. A Lord of the Rings fan, Sharon once tried to learn Elvish, and dreams of visiting New Zealand where the movies were filmed. She also loves musicals, particularly Phantom of the Opera. Over the course of her life, Sharon has struggled with depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicidal tendencies, and promiscuity before coming to Jesus at the age of 23. Because she still struggles with many of these things, Sharon believes that the worst thing she can do as a Christian woman is pretend like these issues do not exist. Because she has been the recipient of judgment and criticism from other Christians for battling these demons, Sharon is passionate about letting other Christian women know it’s okay to not be okay, and that it’s only when we admit we are not okay that we can begin to fully rely on God’s grace. Sharon firmly believes that we defeat the lies of the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11).

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What Women Find in Jesus

What Women Find in Jesus

Recently, my husband and I were fortunate enough to visit Israel. It came about in a roundabout way after a mission trip that we were hoping to go on to India was canceled. And while we completely understood why canceling was necessary, we were understandably disappointed.

After all, we had crisp newly printed passports. We had our hiking backpacks. We had wanderlust twinkles in our eyes. We had the time off and finances set aside. But now we had no destination.

So in a last minute decision that was bordering on nonsensical, we looked at the map and said, “Israel.” And then we laughed like crazy people. And then we got quiet and thought, “Why not?” We were well aware of the current situation in that region — politically and religiously.

But it was an open door, and we especially love those. So we laughed again, bought our plane tickets, and two weeks later, we were off.

While I was anxious, I wasn’t afraid. I was excited. I was eagerly anticipating everything that God would teach me and reveal to me and speak to my heart. Then I arrived in Israel, and everything that I expected to see and learn and feel was turned on its head.

Needless to say, my eyes were opened in regards to so many things, and I walked away with unexpected lessons learned. Adventuring through Israel didn’t make Jesus more real to me. He was real to me well before this trip. But aspects of His Word and His heart became more real to me, and it’s from that place that I’m writing this post today.

Ramadan, which began while we were in Israel, has never been something of consequence to me. But it was hard for it not to be as we walked through the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, our eyes trailing the lines of lights strung from rooftops. It was impossible to ignore during salat (daily prayer times) when speakers surrounding the Dome of the Rock would broadcast Islamic songs of prayer and worship over the entire city.

The reality of the Middle East situation wasn’t lost on us as we strolled down cobblestone streets surrounded by people whose religious beliefs, worldviews, and thought processes were fundamentally different than our own.

Mount of Olives view (1)

Adriana Western Wall (1)

This trip to Israel not only opened my eyes to the realities of the Middle East but specifically got me thinking about the women of this region. I didn’t feel that striking “fundamental” difference so severely as when I walked by a Muslim woman dressed in her hijab and burqa, covered from her head to her toes in black robes with only her eyes uncovered for the world to see.

In a singular way, she represented to me the whole of Islam. And as I walked by her, my lips moved with whispered prayers for her heart, her life, her family, her soul. I prayed that God would reveal Himself to her. I prayed that her life would be protected. My heart broke for her and for all of the things that I didn’t know about her.

And while the things that I didn’t know about her life greatly outnumbered the things that I did, I knew, with confidence, that she didn’t know Jesus, and that is cause enough for concern.

And then I attended a young adult service at a church in Jerusalem where the worship portion was led by a young woman. She was unassuming, in her early twenties, with a cute haircut and a great voice. But it was her heart for the Father that made her compelling. It was the abounding freedom that she displayed when she fell to her knees and worshipped.

It was what she said and how she said it as she encouraged us to press in deeper. Her place in God’s kingdom made her strong and free.

It was that mark of freedom that set one woman apart from the other. One woman had her eyes on Jesus. The other woman had her eyes on the ground. One woman leads. The other is led.

freedom quote

One woman walks, with boldness, in the promises of God. One woman doesn’t know the One who died to set her free. But both are lavishly loved by the Father. And that is what makes the reality of their separateness so heartbreaking.

God has a heart for women. It is apparent throughout the Bible. And Jesus’ interactions with women were so out of the norm for His time that it stands as one more piece of evidence of His divinity. He was man, but He was also God. And by virtue of that fact, He exists out of time. He wasn’t confined by the cultural standards of His time.

In 30 A.D., women were still worth little more than property, and yet, Jesus considered them something infinitely more valuable. There are examples all throughout God’s word of Jesus elevating women.

Women and the Heart of Jesus

When Jesus approaches the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, He crosses the lines of cultural propriety. She has a checkered past — five husbands, and currently living with a sixth man outside of marriage.

She is alone which probably indicates that people know of her sinful reputation and have ostracized her for it. And she is a Samaritan. Her race alone provides Jesus, a Jew, enough reason not to speak to her. Yet, Jesus does speak to her, witnesses to her, and offers salvation to her. He even discloses, for the first time, His own identity as the prophesied Messiah. And He does so because He sees her as valuable in spite of the racial lines and gender lines that divide them.

According to Luke 8, Jesus includes women among the ranks of His disciples. It is one thing to respect the teachings of a teacher. It is another thing to travel with a rabbi and his students. But women like Joanna and Susanna prove to us that Jesus looks beyond conventional lines straight through to the heart.

In spite of the fact that they were women, they had something to offer outside of what convention claimed. They both had lives outside of Jesus’ ministry. Joanna was someone’s wife. And yet, the Bible says that these women contributed to the support of the ministry out of their own means. They weren’t just keeping company with Jesus. He empowered them to work alongside Him.

Mary Magdalene, after being delivered and healed by Jesus, joined His disciples, like Joanna and Susanna. Additionally, she is listed along with Jesus’ own mother among the few women present at the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. And the Gospels tell us that she was the first person He appeared to after His resurrection. His love for Mary inspired her steadfast devotion. And it makes sense.

The Samaritan woman lived with a man. Joanna and Susanna were wives and women of means. But in Mary Magdalene’s case, there is never a mention of family — not a husband, parents, children. So for a woman, with no ties worth mentioning, to find family in Jesus is a supremely beautiful thing. Before Jesus, she was bound. After Him, she was free. Before Him, she was alone. After Him, she was home.

What Does this Mean for Us?

Jesus came that we might have abundant life. With that life comes identity, strength, boldness, purpose, and value. That especially applies to women who, historically speaking, have typically been considered second-class citizens. And the harsh reality is that there are women, all around the world, who are still considered that.

While the women in these biblical passages were limited and excluded because of their gender and actions, Jesus showed them that, with Him, they always had a place. With Jesus came grace and freedom. And that’s as true today as it was then. But if we, who do know Him, aren’t walking in that grace and freedom, then we aren’t experiencing the fullness of who He created us to be. It’s when we do experience that fullness that we can lift our faces like the woman leading worship because we are free, the kind of freedom that comes from being wanted and accepted.

If you are a Christian woman, then you are my sister. And as sisters, we absolutely need to push one another towards that abundant life that Christ offers. We should be praying for one another, shouldering each other’s burdens, seeking out and offering accountability, and doing what we can to make sure that no sister is left behind.

We also need to concern ourselves with the women out there who aren’t walking in that freedom. There are too many women out there who do not know the One who loves them best.

Where the woman in the marketplace is concerned, our paths will never cross again. I don’t know much about her. I don’t know what color her eyes are or if she has laugh lines on her face. I don’t know if she is married or a mother. I don’t know where she was going that day or if she was happy. But I know that she was lost, and that is a condition that we cannot afford to ignore.

We are sisters. If we aren’t walking in the fullness of who God created us to be, if we aren’t fully aware of the fact that we are loved by the Father, then that is where we start. And if we are full and fully free, then let us be prayerful for the women who aren’t. They are our sisters, too — even if they don’t know it yet.

Adriana Howard

Adriana Howard

Adriana Howard describes herself as "sort of a mess in pursuit of a great story." Adriana spent a year teaching high school English, and currently, she is teaching theater after school at a local elementary school. She also serves with her husband as a youth pastor at her church. One day, Adriana hopes to be a published author. For the time being, she wants to travel the world, adopt children, learn how to really love people, maintain a garden, go back to India, and work alongside her husband in ministry. Other passions of Adriana's include love war films, cooking, bulky typewriters, crowded airports, winter’s first snow, Elizabeth I, and books of all shapes and sizes. Last but certainly not least, Adriana has a passionate love for Jesus. You can connect with Adriana on her blog where she dabbles in fiction, nonfiction and poetry.

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How to Follow God’s Will


I remember sitting in Adams Park in Kennesaw, Georgia, with my husband back when we were teenagers and telling him that I knew I would have a hard life. I knew that I would never have the white-picket-fence life or be the soccer mom, because God had another plan for me. Let me stop here and say that I am not criticizing those who do have a comfortable life — I just have always known I wouldn’t.

But that’s about where the life-plan clarity ended. None of the specifics of my life — having children, making ministry decisions, and seeking job direction — have seemed to follow such a defined path. They’ve been hard for sure, and yet I haven’t had that moment where the sky opens up and God gives me clarity on a specific issue.

In all of my recent seeking for the Lord’s will, I’ve come across two schools of thought about finding it. One of them, proposed in the book What Am I Supposed to Do with My Life? by Johnnie Moore, says that we should, when faced with two equally good decisions and no clear word from God, choose what we feel and trust that God will bless it. The other school of thought, which I find myself leaning toward, says that we should hear a clear direction from God before we act. I may not be quite as specific as Gideon was when he laid out the fleece before God in Judges 6, but I am still looking for big and small signs of God’s will in the world around me and wondering if each one is God’s divine voice of direction.

Lately in our lives, Dusty and I have been trying to make a major decision. I wish I could say more, but then I wouldn’t be the woman of mystique and mystery that I am. It’s not that we haven’t tried to figure out the Lord’s will. Of course we have. We have, in fact, spent thousands of dollars and have taken some special adventures to try to figure out what God’s will is.

We’ve prayed and we’ve fasted, we’ve listened to podcasts and sermons, and we’ve gotten advice from wise and well-meaning friends. However, we both know what it is to hear clearly from the Lord for ourselves. I don’t mean that we are waiting for His audible voice, but we want to feel a down-deep assurance of what we’re supposed to do. In this situation, we don’t feel clear about one way or the other, but we feel like we need to make a decision soon. We don’t want to bang on a closed door, but we don’t feel like it’s totally closed either.

Anytime I don’t know what to do, I feel that there’s only one place to go, and that’s God’s Word. If anyone knew what it was like to have to wait for a really long time, it was Abraham and Sarah, and so their story really inspires me not to give up hope that I will hear from the Lord. Let me share with you three lessons I learn from their waiting story.

Three Lessons on Following God’s Will

1. Sometimes we have to follow without knowing our destination.

We first read Abram’s story in Genesis 12. The very first recorded word from God to him is to leave his country and everything he knows and go to a country that God will show him — as in, show him after Abraham starts walking toward it. That is so scary! I can’t imagine getting up and going without knowing the destination, but maybe that’s exactly what God is asking me to do with my spiritual journey. He is asking all of us to trust Him when we can’t see what He’s gotten us into.

2. God is merciful even when we get sidetracked from His perfect will.

When we read about biblical people, we have the tendency to think of them as characters, and not only that, but we think of them as heroes who always made the right decisions and saw the supernatural. Abram seems like such a hero because he was willing to make a journey into the unknown, guided by only a word from God, and an incomplete word at that.

However, he missed God’s will at times. In a later section of Genesis 12, Abram pretends that Sarah is his sister and almost causes her to be violated by Pharoah, thus bringing disaster upon the people who are offering him refuge during a famine. In chapter 16, he listens to his wife’s poor advice to try to conceive his promised heir through a servant instead of his own wife.

Like the plagues that came because of Abram’s earlier deception, heartbreak came when Abram had to send his son Ishmael away. However, like is always the case with our great God, Abram’s promise of inheritance did come, despite his missteps. I don’t want to miss a step in God’s plan for me, but I am happy to know that we serve a God of mercy who will see our destiny through to completion when we trust Him to get us back on track.

beulah girl august september 1000x600 (1)

3. We will be blessed when we obey God’s will.

One of my favorite songs to sing in worship a few years ago was Hillsong’s “None but Jesus,” specifically because of the line that says, “When you call, I won’t delay.” It’s one thing to say okay to God’s call, but it’s another to go with it when He asks. Immediately. Without overthinking it. Abram followed God’s call way back in Genesis 12. However, it’s Genesis 17 when God appears to reconfirm his covenant of Abram having children, through renaming him Abraham and asking him to be circumcised.

By this point, Abraham is 99 years old, and to his wife Sarah, having a child is literally a laughing matter. But a year later, as God had promised, Abraham and Sarah give birth to Isaac. God may have seemed to delay the response they were waiting for, but they never delayed their obedience to His will, and for that, they were rewarded with the child of promise in God’s time.

I think I’ve come to this conclusion: some decisions are OK to just go with if God doesn’t speak, but others are such that we need to make sure we hear clearly.

When Abram went, it was because God told him to. He didn’t just have an unction or a feeling; he knew that God had spoken. By using Abram’s story as the template for my upcoming life decisions, I will do this — seek God actively, listen to what He says, obey without delay, and try not to get sidetracked. And because I believe what He says in Galations 6:9, I know that His promises for me and my husband will come to pass in every way.

Even if we have to wait 99 years.

Are you trying to make a difficult decision? Do you feel like you can’t hear God’s voice? Have you been waiting forever? Are you paralyzed with inaction? Please leave a comment below so that we can pray together. God wants us to know His will, and there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors.

Suzy Lolley

Suzy Lolley

Suzy Lolley taught both middle school and high English for many years, and is currently an Instructional Technology Specialist for the public school system, a wife, and a workaholic. She loves nothing more than a clean, organized house, but her house is rarely that way. She enjoys being healthy but just can’t resist those mashed potatoes (with gravy) sometimes. When she cooks, she uses every dish in the house, and she adores a good tea party. She loves Jesus and is spending the next year documenting her journey to a less independent, more Jesus-dependent life on her blog.

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Why Ignoring God’s Word Is Not Smart


What comes to mind when you hear the word “summer”? Do words like “sun” and “sand” and “water” pop into your head? Do you envision lazy days spent outside eating ice cream after grilling lunch or dinner on the back porch? Perhaps you think more broadly and the ideas of family and fun spring to mind?

Well, please allow me to briefly share what comes to mind when I think of summer. (Disclaimer: I’m a high school English teacher.)

The word “time” springs to mind when summer is mentioned. Time to finally do all those things I’ve been pushing aside during the busy school year. Time to clean and organize my house. Time to help my children sharpen their reading and writing skills. Time for doctors’ appointments, and time for the car’s oil change and finishing that Christmas project I started back in December.

Time to put my life back in order before the next school year begins.

And that is what I have focused on since summer began. That to-do list.

All that being said, I have also managed to carve out time for VBS and a trip to see my family, along with squeezing in a couple visits to the pool with the kids. Really, when all is said and done, I’ve been mighty productive. So why do I feel so unaccomplished? So unfinished and incomplete?

Recently, I asked my Jesus those questions, and I instantly received the answer.

I am feeling so broken lately because I have been making time for every other priority in my life EXCEPT for God’s Word.

The moment the Holy Spirit showed me my error, the words of Psalm 51 sprang into my heart: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”

Those words were written by King David after the prophet Nathan confronted the king about his sins against Bathsheba and Uriah. David was instantly repentant after hearing Nathan’s condemnation in 2 Samuel 12:9: “Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon.”

David had ignored God’s Word when he took Bathsheba (you shall not commit adultery, the seventh commandment) and killed her husband, Uriah (you shall not murder, the sixth commandment). I imagine David, like me, had not been spending time in God’s Word to have made such grievous errors in judgment.

Ignoring God’s Word can have severe consequences.

We see this truth when the Lord says this to David through Nathan the prophet in 2 Samuel 12:10: “Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.”

When we don’t make spending time in God’s Word a priority, disaster can and will, eventually, strike. A child of God found not spending time in His Word can be likened to a person driving a car in the pouring rain without the windshield wipers on. If you keep driving like that, you will crash! And David crashed hard.

As for me, I, too, have been ignoring God’s word. Like King David, this summer I have been living life according to my own whims and desires without taking any time to consult God’s Word — to consult God. By ignoring His Word, I have been leaving out a primary way God can speak to me and teach me.

Additionally, not spending time in His Word can lead to spiritual malnourishment. And that’s how I’ve been feeling this summer — starved. The reason I am feeling so fragmented lately is because I have deliberately cut off my spiritual sustenance and have been starving myself. No wonder I have grown weary and feel faint of heart.


Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)

How could I make all this time for temporal things and totally ignore what is lasting and true?

Am I alone in this? Do you also need to make time for the One who created time? Let’s make some mid-year resolutions and resolve to ignore God’s Word no longer.

Here are two things we can do to foster a growing relationship with the Lord:

1. Start your day in His Word. Even if you only have five minutes to spare, stop and acknowledge the Lord by reading His Word. The world in which we live is dark and scary. It’s a battlefield for the child of God! Philippians 4:7 admonishes us to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, and it just makes sense that it is best to do this BEFORE the day begins and not after the battle has already begun.

2. Study His Word. It is also important to become intimately acquainted with God’s Word. 2 Timothy 2:15 explains that you should “do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” We need to make time to really study His truth. Happily, one of the results of having a time like this is establishing a deeper relationship with the giver of life Himself.

Making these resolutions is simple, but putting them into practice can be daunting. I get it! If you are a busy working mom like myself, making the above two suggestions top priority in your life is a huge undertaking. But we must try!

The consequences of failure in this area of our walk with God could create irreversible damage. Just recall the loss of David’s first infant son with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12) and the adversity he faced in the later years of his life with his son Absalom (2 Samuel 15).

So, if you are feeling as if something is amiss in your life, perhaps you are missing out on time in God’s Word. Resolve with me to ignore it no longer. I plan on ending my summer and starting the new school year moving in the right direction — closer to God’s Word and thus closer to God.

Just a closer walk with Thee; Grant it, Jesus, is my plea; Daily walking close to Thee; Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

Will you resolve with me to spend more time in God’s Word? Post a comment about your plans, and let’s create a dialogue and solidify our intentions before the Lord.






Jamie Wills

Jamie Wills

Jamie is a high school English teacher, wife and mom. She is a marathon runner and writes regularly in her spare time on miscarriage, running, spirituality and everyday life on her blog -- posting things that God shows her that she doesn't want to forget, or "forget-me-nots." Jamie holds a master's degree in education and sponsors speech and debate at the high school level. Jamie is the mother of three children -- two beautiful daughters, Beth and Hannah; as well as Angel, a baby she lost in August of 2010. She currently resides in Georgia with her family.

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