Barbie costumes, Armor, and Strength

I remember few Halloween costumes growing up as a kid. There’s only one photo of me in one (hi second kid over here), and it was taken by the school during lunch. One of the ones I remember vividly though is of Barbie. If you are a child of the 80s and early 90s you’ll remember our costumes didn’t exactly resemble the ones of today. By that I mean it was a plastic mask and essentially a painted trash bag you slipped over your school clothes. The trash bag often was painted to give you the idea of a costume. But it was a trash bag and a flimsy plastic mask held on by a string that inevitably broke 5 minutes into the night.

What brought this to mind was not the fact that today is Halloween, but what I was reading in Ephesians 6. As Paul starts to conclude his letter we see nestled in the very last paragraphs his instructions on arming ourselves for daily battle as believers. He lists out exactly what we should be arming ourselves with, and that it should be the full armor of God. We cannot go into battle with just a helmet and shoes, or a shield and a belt. He is pointing to the very real need to have a complete armor to face the things which wage against us daily.

Many of us, if we grew up in the church, have heard of the full armor of God. We might even remember flannel-graphs being pulled out and we dress up a figured with the items. But as I read the garments for battle I kept thinking of that stinkin’ Barbie costume. The image kept coming to mind as I tried again and again to focus in on what Paul was saying.

Then I went back a verse to see these words anew:

Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength.

(v. 10, CSB)

You see I too often try to strap on all my battle gear and armor without taking into account that it’s of my own making. That I am essentially putting on that trash bag and plastic mask for battle daily rather than leaning into the strength of the Lord. I am taking plastic facades of my own weakness to fight against principalities and powers that know exactly what will take me down, and yet I seem to be fine with that. I choose my own lack of strength instead of allowing myself to be strengthened by the Lord and given His strength. I put on trash bags instead of righteousness, flimsy strings instead of salvation.

So when Paul’s words struck anew about fashioning each day with the full armor of God it’s not in my strength (or true lack thereof) but in the Lord’s that I put it on. Not in my former self, that was all too dependent upon me to take care of things, but in my new clothes those of a new self…one that recognizes the need for the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit and all the rest for each day. Not more than today but just the armor of today specifically for battle. My armor looks to be more prepared and strengthened in what it should be rather than that Barbie costume I tried to hide behind.

A Can’t Do Attitude


This week y’all, it’s been a doozy. While it may not compare to others’ weeks and what some are currently working through, it’s been a week of coming to bear out some things I have been wrestling with for a good long stint.

One of those being the mindset I have clung to that I can do it all myself. For a while I was claiming Philippians 4:13 in the midst of my doing, and fretting, and frustrations. Oh yes, I CAN do all things was what I would tell myself. My word did I misuse that verse to do things in vain and in my own way.

This week I went in to a couple of coworkers and said “I have to admit defeat and ask for help on some of these responsibilities.” To which one of them lovingly looked at me and said “It’s not defeat to ask for help, and we’ve been waiting for you to ask.” So y’all, I was wearing my weariness, anxiety, stress and CAN DO-ness out there for all to see. And it was not pretty…believe me I see it.

But from then on, I felt lightness as if a burden had been lifted from my back that I didn’t have to trudge along with. Over the last 24 hours I have thought about that and my attitude of “I can do this, and this and this and this.” I realized that I had made it a “had to” attitude instead of a “can but will ask for help” attitude. I made it the mandate to do it all, no one else did.

You see when I go back into Philippians 4 and point to verse 13 that I can do all of this through Him who strengthens me, I found that I hadn’t really looked for strength in Him first of all. Secondly, when I read the verses surrounding it in context I see that others were sharing in Paul’s distress, they were seeking to care for him in the state he was currently in and they had not had the opportunity to do so.

In my striving of can do-ness on my own, I wasn’t allowing others the opportunity to live out their God-given care for me. I was pursuing my own definition of success through a “have to” attitude that I had put upon myself instead of stepping into His strength, putting on humility and leaning into the beautiful community of care from those around me. Pursuing the right things with the wrong attitude will get us to the same spot as pursuing the wrong things.

I had to realize that I cannot do it all and I have to relinquish that sinful mindset. I can ask for help, I can be weak and seek strength that can only come from Him, and I can understand that it’s an opportunity for others to come along in my journey as well. It’s in fact not about me at all, and the more I realize that the more I’ll see it’s all about Him.

He can do and He does.

Courage, Dear Heart

“Courage isn’t natural;  it’s a choice.”

Angie Smith, Bring the Rain

It is a strong belief I have that we think courage is reserved for those who have it lying dormant within themselves. A select few who are gifted it at birth and use it best when under immense strain.

But my mindset on that is shifting.

When I stumbled upon this quote from fellow Nashvillian Angie Smith I couldn’t help but pause and think on it. Think about how I have viewed courage, and that I frankly lacked it because I wasn’t gifted it.

I have to choose courage in the face of life, in the face of competing priorities and heart-longings. I have to choose to be courageous instead of quiet when it matters, when I know my voice is needed. If I waited for courage to come, it would lie dormant.

It is choosing to be strong in the face of it all. Courage to get up off the couch and do the thing. Courage to start something that frightens you. Courage to pursue better, for us all. Courage to face the diagnosis and the daily pain of chemo. It’s a choice to pick it up each day and wear it with joy and strength.

For so long I saw it in so many others, instead choosing for myself to believe that it wasn’t available to me. But that’s just not true. I hope that in this new year you too find the truth that courage isn’t natural but a strength we hold as a choice, one that we choose to use and live into. One that we know we can have for ourselves and that it’s just not for others.

A Current Stand

When the rushing water pushes us, piling us up against the rock do we find our solace in the sturdiness of the rock? Do we see the respite from the river that has been pushing us to this point? Do we brace and face or do we turn and cling?

Much like those leaves, we may be piled up against a rock, having been pushed there by a raging current or rise in water and force. But are we seeing the rock for what it is? A foundation, a refuge, a firmness with which we can once again steady for the flow.

Reconsider where the river has pushed you to today. Has it piled you up on a firmament? Find solace in the Rock today. It is keeping you from being swept up into the river currently.

There is none holy like the Lord:
    for there is none besides you;
    there is no rock like our God.

1 Samuel 2:2 (ESV)

Day 24-Clothing Yourself

Some mornings I just stand in my closet, hoping that the clothes I should wear that day would just jump out and march themselves to be ironed. (yes I iron my clothes…it’s a gift really) What we wear as women is such a touchy topic as the world seems to comment on it. Even we, as women, do it to one another.


I have a strict belief that after a certain age you shouldn’t wear white tights (that age is nine years old). I also have many other no-nos that I could launch into on how a woman dresses herself, but I’ll keep those as conversations with my sister.


We have a routine though when we dress, right? I know my routine is different than my sister’s or my mom’s. I know it’s different than some of my girlfriends, as we have traveled together. It becomes an afterthought at a certain point, and we find that this is just how we prepare to leave our home, to head into the world, and our day.

One thing over the last year I have been reminded of is the need to clothe myself with things I had left bare. I find myself dwelling on Proverbs 31:25 where our woman of valor that is celebrated by another woman as she encourages her son to find a woman such as this is dressing herself. She finds that her clothing is not made of fine silk and linen, she isn’t covered in gold and silver. Know what she puts on, and remains in, is strength and honor.

She is strong in mind. Girding her mind for the day, for any situation she may face. She puts on this strength, not in a fake or presumptuous way…no, she has build this strength over time, through the transforming of her mind and body. She has strength in resolution, having courage to face each day. This strength doesn’t come from a “pulling up the bootstraps” mentality but one that is found in the strength and hope of Christ.

She puts on honor. This is of a righteous nature. She is setting herself apart in with putting on honor daily. Knowing that there will be the time which her honor will be tested, and she remains steadfast in it’s completeness. Your dignity is easily compromised when you become routine in it’s care. Much like when you get into a routine of washing your clothes, the cleansing can fade the brightness of the material, and such honor can fade if we are not careful in how we tend to it.

Her strength and honor serve as her protection, what wraps around her and encompasses her life. It should be worn, just as our physical clothing, as adornment but serving as a function of our lives as well. We wouldn’t put on a ball gown to go to work (maybe some of you do, though) and we wouldn’t wear pajama pants outside of the house (again, some of you might do that, but let’s not, okay?). Each morning as you dress, realize you too have the ability to clothe yourselves in these garments of strength and dignity. Even when you don’t feel strong. Even when your dignity is fading.

After all, it’s not you who made them but the ultimate weaver and designer, God Himself. He longs for you to strut yourself on the catwalk wearing strength and dignity in every season’s show.

Clothing Optional

It’s cold here. Like it is everywhere else in the US it seems for the present. Yesterday I forewent my more professional attire for work in order to be warm. This included three layers of clothing, gloves, hat and coat. I realize for many this is the norm in the winter, but I live in Tennessee. I haven’t had to layer like this since the blizzard of ’93 I believe.

I was thinking very intentionally about what I was putting on, as I did again today with our high being 19 by the afternoon, and it struck me. I don’t typically put this much thought into the spiritual things I am told to clothe myself in daily. While the physical clothing keeps me warm, the spiritual prepares me for battle…prepares me for my day.

Last week I wrapped up a study of Proverbs I had been doing in my morning devotions. Of course I came to Proverbs 31, which for many women is daunting, but I now revel in having read A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans.

Compliments of
Compliments of

As I thought more and read further, verse 25 talks to the woman who clothes herself in strength and dignity. She is intentional about putting those on. When you clothe yourself, you are drawing from the warmth-the power if you will-of what you have on. You are choosing something for it’s warmth, it’s comfort, it’s strength it gives you.

Do you have that outfit? That one when you wear it, you feel like you can do anything? You know the one that just popped into your head. For my nephews, it’s either a cape or a jersey. They take on the persona and are invincible. For me? This pair of green pants I wear occasionally.

What if we as women started realizing and intentionally choosing to clothe ourselves in strength and in dignity? Each morning, as you get dressed, put it on and see how it shapes you and your day. Draw from the strength that isn’t from you, but from God. Carry the dignity of a woman of Christ.

It’s optional of course. But I do believe I’d rather have that than any cape or jersey or green pants.


Sharing Sunday #4

I started reading Rachel Held Evans’ book A Year of Biblical Womanhood the other day. One because it’s been on a list to read and two she is speaking at Belmont on Monday. So I thought now was as good a time as any. I definitely don’t believe I will be copying her adventure through a year of biblical womanhood but I do see that she has some great thoughts and perspectives on the way the Bible addresses women, and more importantly how the church does. (that was a run-on sentence if I ever saw one)

She speaks to a verse in Proverbs in the first chapter that I keep coming back to for some reason, and I have a sneaking suspicion on God knows. But it’s a verse that when I read it, and re-read it kept enveloping me like a warm blanket on a cold night. So today I wanted to share it with you all on this last Sharing Sunday of the blogging challenge. I pray for those of you who need this as much as I did, that you carry it with you into today, this week, and the next month.

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

Proverbs 31:25

As women, whether married or single, divorced or widowed, be clothed in strength. Be clothed with dignity. And let’s have a good ol’ laugh at the days yet to come in our lives because we are clothed in both, by a God who has bigger plans for us than we can even comprehend right now.