Tired of "Pretty"



I must have been less than ten years old when it first hurt me - being called pretty. People where always commenting about my eyes and my complexion. To me, they where just the eyes and skin of any other Latin-American girl but then they started feeling like the only good thing I possessed.

I remember crying with hurt and anger. I never let anyone see me cry as a child but my mother saw these tears. "I want people to say something about who I am! I feel like all I am is pretty. I don't want to be pretty!" Did anyone know or appreciate my values? Did anyone care about my sense of humor? Did any of it matter to them or was I simply valued as a nice thing to see as they passed me on the sidewalk? I even remember hiding behind a friend once when a lady made a bold remark about how unique my eyes where. I did not want to be noticed.

I am not writing this post so we can vote on whether or not I was actually worth getting complimented. I am writing this post for every girl who has ever been where I was. I am writing it because I know I am not the only girl who has been terrified that the only thing people will ever see is whether or not she is pretty.

The truth is that you are beautiful but when you are tired of being noticed for your smile, or your hair, or your eyes remember this - man looks on the outward appearance but the Lord looks on the heart. The truth that you are beautiful does not change the truth that you are also funny, smart, kind, and full of passion and conviction. When people take time to express what they appreciate about you (even if it is not what you wanted them to appreciate), be grateful. Be so brave that what they say does not change you. Remember that the One whose opinion does matter absolutely values every aspect of who you are and let that be enough because in the end, it is.

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Photo credit: Stephanie Faith Photography: http://stephaniehanni.wixsite.com/stephaniefaith

Speak Life



It took two extra seconds for me to say it - something kind. It meant more to her than I could have imagined. Her overwhelming gratitude reminded me of how important it is to speak words of life and kindness.

I forgot how important it was to say thank you for the little things. I forgot how powerful it was to point out the strength of another. I forgot how meaningful it was to cheer one another on in our dreams. I was busy with MY life, chasing MY dreams. I was exhausted from working MY jobs and earning MY degree. I was overwhelmed by MY problems. I had forgotten just how badly that one person I always passed in the hallway of my daily living needed me to speak life into their soul.

Maybe we cannot all be headline heroes
but we can all be foxhole cheerleaders.

We can be the one person who says they can when everyone else says they can't. We can be the one person who sees strength in their weakness and beauty in their mess. I want to be that person - the one who sees what others don't. More importantly, I want to be the person who does something about it. I want to be the one to remind them of who they are in Christ and what that means for them.

To the girl who reminded me how important it was to speak life into one another's souls, thank you. Maybe you needed my appreciation but your gratitude was a wake-up call I did not know I needed.


*photo from the lovely Amy K

Comfort


My website has this nifty little gadget where I can view what posts are most popular with you my readers. I have been blogging for four years now but it is this post from February that has landed amongst your favorites.

Today I am sharing it again. It is comfort for the days when hard truths are hard.

http://www.moriahmari.com/2017/02/when-hard-truths-are-hard.



Life Is Not "Perfect"


I wanted to say something but I did not know how. If I scrolled through my Facebook timeline, I looked like a beacon of practically perfect idealism in the flesh. I knew my life was not as smooth sailing and joy filled as social media made it appear. I did not want to be the girl who thought the internet was her personal therapy session either though. That is when I stumbled across words I had penned a year earlier. "I believe in tears," the paragraph began. These were the words I had been looking for. I do believe in tears. I believe in exhaustion that fights through bad to find better. I believe in grief that shakes the soul because it knows something truly beautiful has been lost. I believe in bad days and the good that is waiting for us in them. I believe that sometimes in the pain we forget about the mercy hiding in it for us. We start to feel ourselves drowning. I believe that sometimes we have to feel the burn that comes from a lack of air before we will fight to stay above the water. I believe that despite the tears, grief, pain, and stress that we face there will always be hope. That is what the brave words and smiling photographs are about.

My life is not perfect and no one needs to believe that it is. I do not have it all together and I probably never will. Words and photographs though, they are my way of preaching hope and capturing joy for myself and others. We do life in a truly beautiful world governed by a good and merciful God and that is a truth worth proclaiming. Never think you are the only one with bad days. Do know you can have the same hope that others possess in the midst of their own personal tragedies.

Yes, I believe in pain but I also bear witness to brave smiles, courageous faith, and determined hope.

What She Taught Me About Friendship


We are crazy together. Unapologetically crazy (which is saying a lot because I have never been the crazy girl). We call ourselves wonder twins. She has taught me so much about embracing every aspect of the personality God  has given me. She has taught me that I do not need to hid my quirks. We are both dreamers. We love to scheme together, weather it be about writing a devotional or playing a prank. We might both bring tissues to a conversation (because it has just been that kind of day) but without fail we will end up laughing. She is the kind of friend you can do a tough workout with where you sweat like crazy or call for fashion advice before meeting up to attend a wedding together. She is the kind of friend you can call anytime with what is on your heart and she will want to be there for you. She is the kind of friend who makes you understand what having a friend is. We need more of that.

We are lonely generation carving out connection in a cyber world. We have seven hundred friends showing up on our Facebook feed hoping one of them will create community with us. We swipe right one too many times trying to uncover love. We hope and hope only to spiral into depression and jump off of the bridge of friendship because we are sure it holds nothing for us.  We are lonely but it does not have to stay that way.

She did not ask me to be her friend she just acted like a friend. She told me about her life and let me tell her about mine. Is she a perfect friend? No, but neither am I. The thing is we are not waiting for each other to be perfect we are just grateful that the other person is there.

So be there. Be there for the million insignificant things. Be there, because in the end being there is the biggest thing.

"Two are better than one, Because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who calls and has no one to help them up."
- Ecclesiastes 4:9-10


Overcoming Change



It would have been a horrible moment if it had been a moment but it was not. It was a slow fade. You never can quite tell when it started or how it will end, you only see that it is changing and you do not quite like it.

We talked all the time and then we did not. We saw each other all the time and then we did not.
While everything was slowly changing, I was trying to anchor a moment in which I could decide. Decide if we were done. Decide if this was a new season. Decide if I loved it or hated it. I needed a start or a stop on this journey. While trying to figure out if our friendship was over, I failed to recognize that something was already over. What we had once had was over. Our friendship (if we still had that) had most definitely changed.

Change, it is a word I have never been fond of.  As a child, when we uprooted from our tiny suburban house to a 7 acre ranch, I cried because it was not home. That being said, the most uncomfortable changes I have experienced in life have undoubtedly brought some of the biggest blessings. However, they were still awfully uncomfortable in the making. In America, our drive thru society has taught us to pick our favorite menu item and drive thru for a quick delivery. It has not taught us how to adjust to disappointment. It does not allow us time to grieve, especially when it comes to the daily heartbreaks.

Sometimes relationships change. Sometimes friends fade away. Sometimes a relationship does not happen that you thought was going to happen. A lot of the time, it hurts. No, it does not leave you crying for months on end and it certainly does not warrant a gravestone memorial in your memory bank, but it does deserve your attention. It does deserve you acknowledging that something changed and maybe you do not quite like it. It deserves you having grace with yourself.

Sometimes life happens and it is painful but dear gal, that is okay.

Beautiful and Bright


It’s not every night that’s as beautiful as this one.

It’s been a long day. I’m exhausted in all senses of the term, having worked all day while wrestling with issues concerning me, my future, my plans.

And it’s starting to feel like too much.

I crawl into bed and slip under my covers, pulling my fleece sheets to my chin and letting my soft white comforter envelop me. My head hits the pillow, Beethoven’s piano sonatas playing in my ears, and I finally have a chance to breathe.

Inhale.

Exhale.

My eyes lazily drift to the window next to my bed, and at once I see the stars glisten in the midnight sky, so clear, so breathtaking.

They’re beautiful and bright, and something hits me hard in this moment – something I can barely begin to put into the right words.

These stars were placed in the sky by the hand of God, creating an art so powerful I can’t fathom it – the very same God who placed me on this earth.

And today, as I stumbled through my day, studying, working, and struggling with the feelings of uncertainty, I just wanted to know that everything would be okay. I know how desperately I want assurance, hope, and peace in my turmoil of not knowing what the future holds.

And as I gaze at these stars, this art too vast and beautiful for words, I realize that I want God to write in me what He gifted to these stars –

I want my life to be beautiful and bright.

I’m not completely sure what that looks like for me, as I know my perception is so immeasurably different than God’s. When I look at my phone’s screen in the dark, I call it bright and powerful. When I see skyscrapers, I call them beautiful, breathtaking.

And slowly, slowly, I’m learning to trust that God’s vision of beautiful and bright for my life probably isn’t what I would imagine. When I think I know what I want, I must remember that my view is limited and finite.

He’s the One who made the bright stars, the sun, the moon, the universe. Galaxies upon galaxies did He breathe into place, commanding them into existence, and from eternity past He saw it all.

He existed for infinitely longer than I can fathom, and yet – He planned me.

He imagined me along with the stars, and decided to bring me into the universe with a purpose – a purpose much greater than myself, to know Him and make Him known. And when I say I want a future that’s bright, I don’t totally know what that means.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t have a five-year plan.

I don’t have a list of jobs I want to have, or characteristics I want in a location to live, nor do I have all my priorities as straightened out as they could be.

But I have complete faith that God will lead me. As much as I want a safe, secure, and successful future, bad things do happen to good people, and none of us can prevent that.

I don’t believe God causes us pain or confuses us. But in this sinful and broken world, these things are unavoidable – and the one thing we can do is turn to the stability and hope of God Himself.

He doesn’t promise a life free of hurt, but He does promise His presence every step of the way (Psalm 139:7-10).

He doesn’t promise the easy life, but He does promise His peace (Philippians 4:6-7).

We don’t know what’s coming. But as God promised to Israel thousands of years ago and promises us today – He has a good plan for our lives, even when we can’t always see it.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Even if my views of beautiful and bright differ greatly from His – I think I’m alright with that.

I look at the sky tonight, and all the words that remain are these:

If the vastness of the universe is in the palm of God’s hand, I can trust Him with my future.

And if He can hold these stars, He can hold my heart.

I am learning to truly trust.

And that’s beautiful.


Amanda Beguerie is a college student, a pastor’s kid, and a writer from Massachusetts. She’s a coffee connoisseur, a city enthusiast, and she loves to cook delicious meals, read fantastic books, and learn for the sake of learning. She loves people, loves to laugh, and thrives on the connections she makes in various aspects of her life, including the ones she forms on her blog. Read her writings and connect with Amanda at scatteredjournalpages.com.


Imperfect Yet Beautiful


She wrapped her arms around me and said it was going to be okay. She had no idea why I was crying but she was determined to be with me in my moment of pain.

He told me to take care of myself and not work so hard. He told me to have fun. He would joke with me and make me laugh.

She sat across the table from me, our cups of coffee growing colder as we talked. She was honest with me and it helped me see the situation I was facing more clearly.

He told me I could do this thing called life. He always had the biggest smile for me and a kind word.

Facebook moments can look strong and determined. Blog posts can sound inspired and YouTube videos can appear to be filled with perfection but we are all human beings with cracks in our sidewalks. Sometimes our cracks get filled with pieces of broken glass from shattered bottles, crushed leaves from last fall, and bits of grass from the neighbor's freshly mowed yard. Other times our cracks are the recipients of tiny seeds that sprout beautiful flowers. I'm so grateful that my broken sidewalks have been beautified by friends who have taken the time to plant seeds.

You see, in the end, none of us get where we are on our own.

What Is Your Label?



I do not know who posted the first hashtag but it revolutionized the world. In one moment a labeling system was discovered that I am sure will go down in the history books for our generation. Funny thing is, we lived with the reality of the hashtag long before it came around. That person was (#) funny, that restaurant was (#) amazing, and her life was (#) boring. While the labels we carelessly slap onto the lives and actions of others can be life changing, perhaps the most defining labels are the ones we place on ourselves.

I was THAT kid, the one with her nose in a book, the one who was sitting with the adults at the family get-together instead of playing with the kids. There was nothing sporty or outgoing about who I was. Fast forward and I landed a job at my college's sports center/local YMCA. I would learn to spend my days talking to people, my evenings working out, and my weekends coaching volleyball. I was excited to prove my labels wrong. I would learn that in the end, that is all they ever were - labels. The only power a label has is the power you give it.

What are the labels that you have placed yourself under the power of? Broken? Unworthy? Unloved? Unwanted? Helpless? Hopeless? No matter the severity of the label you can change it. Change starts with taking one step towards your goal. Find your goal and do not let go of it. Be the author of your hashtags not the product of them.
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