Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Beauty In Discomfort

Here’s the way I see it… you can either fight against your circumstances or you can stop and see what you can learn from them. At the moment I’m choosing the latter.

I think when uncomfortable things find their way into our lives it is our natural response to squirm and try to wiggle our way out of them. It doesn’t dawn on us that maybe that discomfort just might have a greater purpose in our lives. That if it’s present in our life maybe there’s is something we need to learn from it.

This is not meant to advocate apathy mind you. Sometimes you have to fight against circumstances to make it somewhere in life. But I’m talking about the uncomfortable seasons that God will sometimes take us through to help us learn and grow that we often run from.

God uses so many different things; people, places, events, circumstances to prune and refine us. This pruning and refining process is never easy or comfortable; but it’s so necessary. Trials and challenges grow us and teach us important lessons that we may not learn any other way. They make us better people; more compassionate, more patient, more caring, loving, and giving. They make us more beautiful on the inside. If that is we stop fighting against it and let God have his way in us.

" Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." - James 1:2-4 (New International Version)

Our limited human sight can’t see the big picture at work during these times but in hindsight it becomes clear. Why would we want to forfeit the beauty that God wants to grow in our hearts just to be comfortable? The beauty that lies ahead if we let God take us through the valleys far out weighs the temporary discomfort.

The hardest times in my life, the pain that I’ve gone through have truly made me better. There’s a depth of compassion and love that I would probably lack in had I not walked through some particularly hard things with someone I love. When I’ve gone through painful and uncomfortable things I’ve learned to run straight to the Lord. And he has always been faithful to take the discomfort and pain and turn it around for my good, just like Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

So with all the beautiful pruning and refining he’s done in the garden of my heart thus far I know I can keep trusting him with the discomfort and pain. I know he’s going to keep making beautiful things out of this soil if I only let him.

So while some may call these circumstances that my family and I are facing now a “burden”, and some may wish it on us as a “punishment” … today I choose to never see it that way ever again. I will continue to pray, just as I did today, that we will have the strength that we need to lovingly and patiently make it through. And that in the process God will have his perfect way in us. That we would learn whatever lessons we need to learn through it, that we would grow and mature, and become more beautiful inside. That no matter how long this season lasts that we would honor this time in our lives by not murmuring and complaining but learning and growing. I don’t want to forfeit the blessing of this season by squirming my way out of it. Because I firmly believe in the end it will be worth it.

This is our season to learn what it means to truly love unconditionally. This is our season to grow in patience. This our season to deepen in compassion and tenderness. This is our season forget ourselves and learn the meaning of selflessness. Our season to honor, respect, and give back the love we’ve received.

This is my new perspective and even when it gets stressful and hard – which it will – I will remember. So okay God, here I am, your student … ready to learn through the discomfort.

"Not the trials, mind you, but the invitation to believe God for victory has been a blast." -Beth Moore, Believing God

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Who God Says I am

If we were honest, all of us girls would admit that we’ve been there… let’s face it every girl at one time or another has had what I like to call a “Dressing Room Meltdown”.

Here’s the scenario: You’re in the dressing room trying on a pair of jeans, you go to zip them up…but oh wait a minute…they won’t zip. “That’s funny” you think, “they are in my size after all, there must be something wrong with this zipper”. After sucking it in and trying for the tenth time, you finally give up and succumb to the ever so frustrating fact that you need a bigger size. But if that isn’t enough, you hear it … a girl in the next dressing room calling out to her boyfriend that she needs a smaller pair of jeans. There you are… sweating like a pig from trying to get those evil jeans on, your hair is all askew, practically in tears, and now contemplating hurting the girl who’s incessantly yelling out to her boyfriend that she must’ve lost weight and now needs a pair of tiny made for Barbie jeans. 

Please tell me you’ve been there!

Those frustrating shopping trips can really mess with your head if you let them. All your body image issues choose to surface when you’re faced with a rack of clothes in limited sizes… sizes you could swear have shrunk over the years.

It’s funny that we often times see body image as something that is mostly a teen issue. Because at 26 years old I can tell you I see no signs of it going away. You look in that dreadful three way mirror in the dressing room and you can’t help but wonder “Will this always be a struggle?”. I grew up with my beautiful mom and aunts always talking about what diets they were on…I never thought they needed them. I remember when I was a kid my grandma and my aunts (on my dad’s side) would go on the Scarsdale Diet. Always thought that diet sounded awful and evil…unless that is you actually like a plain grapefruit for breakfast and tuna without any mayo for lunch. A 90 year old woman who used to attend my church talked about going on diets… if this doesn’t send the message that the issue of body image is a life long struggle I don’t know what does.

I for one am sick of it. The message that magazines, tv, and movies send out to woman is that we are not good enough and we consistently buy into it. The “if I only looked like her, was as thin as her” comparison merry go round is exhausting. The up and down trying to be the perfect size roller coaster is exhausting. It only feeds the animal of insecurity. And you just can’t win because in this crazy world it’s never good enough, the illusion of perfection is always out of reach. If you are overweight or average weight the world will tell you you’re fat, and if you are thin some may say you’re too thin and need to gain weight. It’s a crazy cycle.

It’s always those times of insecurity that I’m tempted to believe and wallow in negative thoughts of myself. But instead of letting clothing, magazines, tv, and my own negative thoughts define me wouldn’t it be nice to simply rest in who God says I am?

Who does God say I am? …

“I am fearfully and wonderfully made." - Psalm 139:14

”I am the apple of His eye." - Deuteronomy 7:6

"His treasured possession." -  Philippians 4:8

"I am God's child." - John 1:12

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." - 2 Corinthians 5:17

"God has made you also an heir." - Galatians 4:6.7

"I am the temple of the Holy Spirit." - 1 Corinthians 3:16

You are the light of the world." - Matthew 5:14

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved" - Colossians 3:12

”Be imitators of God, as beloved children." - Ephesians 5:1

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." - Genesis 1:27

There is such a big difference between who we say we are and who God says we are. We say “I’m fat”, he says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We say “I’m ugly”, he says we are made in his image. We say that we are no good and have no worth, but he says that we are the righteousness of God in Christ and his treasured possession. We say that no one could love us, he calls us beloved.

The question is now who will I choose to believe…me or God? The world or God? Will I remember who he says I am the next time I look in the mirror and maybe am not thrilled with what I see? Will I choose to believe him the next time I fall into the trap of comparison and think that I just don’t measure up? And will I believe him the next time I try on a cute top in the mall and it doesn’t fit, and I get my hair stuck in the security sensor…and end up pulling out half of my hair just to get the top off? Sadly last week when that happened … I didn’t.

I think I’ve gotten to the place in my life where I’m more aware of the fact that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), and I need to take better care of it. Eating right and exercising is a good thing. But I don’t want to do it to try and measure up to someone else's idea of perfection.

I want to feel good about myself and stop buying into the lies. It’s a funny thing though, because most of the time I don’t think I have bought into the lies of what the world says I should look like. But those moments of insecurity expose how many of the lies I’ve actually let plague my heart and mind. But a child of the King should never live that way. We were meant to feel beautiful and free.

I want to trade my insecurity for the security of who God says I am.

"There's a wonderful peace that can be had knowing who you are & who's you are." -Jenna Lucado Bishop

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tiramisu Cupcakes


Tiramisu is hands down one of my all time favorite desserts! Anytime I go to an Italian restaurant it's the dessert that calls my name. The coffee infused cake and the creamy mascarpone cheese filling, and cocoa lightly dusted on top makes for a little piece of heaven. My sister and I attempted to make our own homemade Tiramisu at Christmastime last year....but sadly it just wasn't quite up to par. So we were really excited when we found a less complicated but equally as tasty sounding Tiramisu recipe; enter Tiramisu Cupcakes! Come on, isn't that the best combo? The only thing better than Tiramisu is cupcakes!  :)

We just made these yummy cupcakes and they were a hit! The recipe may sound complicated but trust me, it's so simple. A light, airy sponge cake infused with an espresso syrup, and a fluffy mascarpone cheese frosting makes for the perfect Tiramisu taste. Just to note; when we made them we put a little extra espresso syrup into the cupcakes, and we left the Marsala wine out of the frosting. Also, we didn't have any cocoa powder or chocolate shavings for the top so we improvised and sprinkled a few chocolate chips on top instead. If you love Tiramisu but find it to be to complicated to make at home; these delectable Tiramisu Cupcakes are for you!

6 eggs, separated (separate when cold; allow to come to room temp)
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar, divided
3 tablespoon water, room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup sifted, all-purpose flour (measure after sifted)

In large mixing bowl at high speed, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Add half of the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are glossy and stand in soft peaks. Rub just a bit of meringue between thumb and forefinger to feel if sugar has dissolved. 

In small mixing bowl at high speed, beat egg yolks until thick and lemon-colored, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually beat in remaining sugar, water, vanilla and salt (if desired) until blended.  With a sifter or sprinkle flour with a sieve over whites. Add beaten yolk mixture. Gently, but thoroughly, fold yolk mixture and flour into whites. 

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 10-15 min or until done.

Espresso Syrup:
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
2/3 cup water
5 teaspoons espresso powder

In a small, heavy saucepan over high heat, combine the water, the remaining 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar and the espresso or coffee powder. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool.

Use a fork to poke a few holes into cupcakes so that they will absorb liquid. Pour approximately ½-1 teaspoon of syrup onto each cupcake.

3 c mascarpone
1 c confectioner’s sugar
¼ c Marsala wine
¾ c heavy cream, chilled

In a medium bowl using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat together the mascarpone cheese, confectioner’s sugar and Marsala until well blended. Add the cream and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute. Frost cupcakes with mascarpone/whipped cream mixture. Dust tops with cocoa powder (I used unsweetened) and then sprinkle with dark chocolate shavings.

(This recipe was adapted from the recipes “Classic Sponge Cake” and “Espresso Tiramisu”, both found on

Sunday, March 6, 2011

I am Made To Dance


I am made to dance, not surrender to my crippled legs. When I was young I knew what my feet where made for; to twirl, glide, and soar. But life came along and tripped me up, now I’m afraid to step back on the floor. It took away that magical spark, switched the lights off, and left me in the dark. Crying out with a broken heart, broken dreams, and broken limbs; father pick up and dust me off again.

I am made to dance, I am made to dance on your feet.

I am made to dance, though you are the one who needs to lead. Lead me in the complicated steps of this human existence. I have tried and tried to get this dance right but I keep falling, falling head first into the paralyzing stillness of fear. But this dance requires movement, free flowing from one place to another, stepping from this space to the other. Moving in time with you; I look down and realize there’s not just one pair of feet gliding, but two.

I am made to dance, I am made to dance on your feet.

I am made to dance. If my feet were made to twirl and glide, why are they anchored to the cold hard floor tonight? If who the Son sets free is free indeed, why are these dancing shoes crippling me?

I am made to dance, I am made to dance on your feet.

I am made to dance. Maybe my crippled legs are a blessing not a curse. Maybe losing my feet are the only way I’ll discover yours. Maybe someday I’ll be dressed in garments of white, meant to forever dance by your side.

I am made to dance, I am made to dance on your feet.

© Krystal Celeste