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“How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You pretenders! You are like tombs that are painted white. They look beautiful on the outside. But on the inside they are full of the bones of the dead. They are also full of other things that are not pure and ‘clean.’ (Matthew 23:27 NIRV)

When I was a little girl, I loved tea parties. My mother put them together just for me and my sister. It was always a special time, away from our two brothers and childhood responsibilities. She would pull out her fine china, set the table with tea, milk, and sugar and listen to every word we had to say. But as a little girl the thing I loved the most was those little, delicate teacups. My favorite set was pure white, bore a gold ring around the rim, and was light as a feather. I remember lifting them in the light and looking at the shine of the glass and the glitter of the gold. They were beautiful and rare.

So, too, are the women who carry the torch of holiness. Our hair, manner of dress, and lack of worldly accoutrements stand out wherever we go. Because it is the most noticeable thing about us, like the outside of a pretty teacup, it easily, and often becomes, the focus. But just as the teacup served a greater purpose than looking the part, women of faith are far deeper than outward appearance.

To be vessels unto God, we have committed and submitted to holiness. And while I may sometimes long for thicker hair, less gray, or a thinner form, I don’t focus on my physical appearance or begrudge holiness. I do not wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and bemoan my uncovered face, my unbleached hair, or the row of skirts in my closet. These thoughts are secondary, small and unimportant, compared to others.

When I struggle, it is with heavier matters. I am concerned about whether I will make a difference in the world, my community and my church. I long to know I will someday fulfil the call of God in my life or at least that I am on the right path. Am I witnessing enough, doing enough, becoming enough? Am I raising my children right? Am I living up to Proverbs 31 and does my husband have that kind of trust in me?

Jesus told the Pharisees if they made sure the inside of the cup was clean, the outside would be as well (Matthew 23:27). As a little girl, I should have focused on the hours in my mother’s presence, the conversation, the time she spent building my character and nurturing my personality. I should have seen the woman behind the glass. In the same way, we should tend to the inside of our cups and focus more on the same for the women around us who desire to be loved, accepted and cherished.

The teaching and upholding of holiness are necessary, just as the teacup was needed to hold tea. But without tea, I would not have needed a cup at all. It is no secret women carry the standard of holiness. We carry that torch carefully and with respect, like I held the teacup in my small hands. But I did my mother a disservice by focusing on the cup.

Let us also remember to uphold each other, be there for one another, recognize the deeper struggles and triumphs. That we may be comforted and our hearts knit together in love (Colossians 2:2), let us see more than the pretty cup. Let us see the woman behind the glass.

BY CRYSTAL MCDONALD

 “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24 KJV).

My past does not dictate my future. My past is under the blood of Jesus! See me today as I grow and mature in the Lord.   I declare I am committed! I am changed! I ask you, my dear sisters, to hold hands together with me as we nurture the gifts God has given to each of us.  When we help each other and love each other as sisters in the Lord, the beauty of Jesus will be seen in our every day!

God in my every day will perfect that which concerns me as I yield myself to Him.  God in my every day helps me to do the right thing, the right way, to get the right response. God in my every day will help me to recognize the voice of God in my day as I make choices and decisions that bring glory to His character and make room for His intended purpose of the day for me.

God in my everyday allows me to see the importance of Godly friendships. I ask myself the question, who are my friends?   Do they encourage and influence me for more of the things of God? I do not want to be deceived as  Eve was. (1 Timothy 2:14, Amos 3:3)

God in my every day is an achievable daily goal because I am committed to please Him. And, if I do slip and fall throughout the day, I get up and keep moving towards Him.

BY MARILYN MCGREER

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2 KJV)

Early one morning in 1993 my family was yanked from a deep sleep to a roaring noise and the feeling that the house was rattling apart. We met in the dark hallway in our pajamas. I think I yelled, “What’s happening?” A 5.6 earthquake was unthinkable, yet there we were in the middle of one. Years later, I felt another earthquake that was only a few tiny clinking noises across the room. For years I was jumpy at the smallest sounds, hoping it wasn’t the start of another big one.

I think doubts can be like earthquakes. Some are shattering and we fall on our face before God begging for mercy. Others are more subtle, like the nagging questions we can’t answer, the worries that won’t subside, or the threads of our future we want to control so badly. Although the quieter doubts seem less damaging, they can become a disaster if we don’t stay alert to them. As we grapple with our circumstances, we might even confess, “God I didn’t want to have to trust you with this.” I imagine Him saying, “Yes, Child, the ground below you is slipping. Yes, the walls around you are shifting and leaning. Yes, everything that’s loose is moving and the noise of it all is terrifying. This is why you need me.”

The world around us seems to be all earthquakes, quicksand, and unstable shorelines. The foolish build their houses there, and like the song says, CRASH! It’s all going to break down.

In the shadows of our hearts, we hide our uncertainties and our fears. But God! God is a rock unchanging, our only sure footing, and our only safe, solid, stable place — intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.

Even when we wrestle with doubt and we feel shaken, God is not shaken. He calls us to trust anyway, to praise anyway, and to keep walking by faith. When we feel shaken, He is ready and waiting to hold us, and to help our unbelief.

By Kristi Moore