Week Three Reading Assignments– Pages 77-109 | Farmers Market • Athletes • The Sound of Music • Nail Polish
What do watermelon seeds, football players, music, and nail polish have in common?
Grace. It’s all grace.
I’m just going to lay it out here, friends, it’s a topic we don’t like to talk about. It’s considered taboo in our culture with all of the bombardment of magazine articles and TV advertisements for the latest and greatest anti-wrinkle cream, makeup, youth oriented media, clothing, and workouts. You name it, it’s out there!
Yep, I’m talking about suffering.
I don’t like to talk about the inevitable raw and unpleasant things life will surely throw upon us. I’m never quite ready for the pain and uncertainty suffering brings, even if I try really, REALLY hard to convince myself I am. But could we be doing ourselves a disservice trying to disregard or stuff down the pangs of suffering?
As the weary world spins on its tilted axis, our mighty Savior opens the door for our hurting hearts to pour out and find refuge in Him. And unlike our culture, our gracious God offers us hope in the midst of our suffering.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Annie not only looks for things that are beautiful in their purest form, she also finds beauty in pain. She remains steadfast in the promises of Christ through the perseverance of suffering.
And from the opening pages of Looking for Lovely, Annie tenderly shares of how suffering brought her to a place of transformation and that, if it is possible for her, it is possible for us as well.
“I’m believing what I cannot see because of what I can see. And that’s the kind of moment that matters to me – the kind I hang on to, the kind I call lovely, the kind that sticks to my heart and reminds me over and over again of who our God is and how He works.”
—Annie F. Downs, Looking for Lovely (pg.84)
Friends, suffering is hard. It certainly is an unwanted companion. God’s grace will meet us both in the mundane and the hard moments. We are called to trust that He will create beauty from the ashes of our story.
Annie reminds us that God will make a way in those seasons of suffering and grief; where through perseverance, we can find joy.
“When my heart is broken and I am weeping, when tragedy hits and I feel like the tears will never stop; when I feel like I’ve cried an ocean, the Bible says they are just seeds. Then the seeds are planted, covered in dirt, and persevere through the season of growth. Again there’s that perseverance. There’s that reminder to not give up. Because somehow I sow tears and reap joy. And the joy will be greater.”
-—Annie F. Downs, Looking for Lovely (pg.82)
The truth is, it is difficult for us to find lovely in times of hardship. Sometimes it may show up in something as little as a watermelon seed. So be on the lookout, because joy is to be found in the most unexpected places.
Cry out to God about the sufferings you endure. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in the difficult seasons of your life. Ask Him to show you how to reap joy from the sowing of hardship. How do you find joy in the seasons of suffering?
Share with us in the comments, won’t you? Or on your own blog if you have one, on social media—and be sure to include #intentionalfilling and #livingoutlovely so we can be a part of your own journey into looking for lovely.
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To help keep you on track, we’ve developed a suggested schedule.
Of course, this is your study, so please feel free to approach it at a pace that works with your schedule.
Let’s chat! We’d love to hear from you once you’ve had some time to read through this week’s reading assignments. Come back to this space & share your thoughts in the comments below about:
Identify – In this week’s reading we’re learning that lovely doesn’t always have to be a monumental moment, that it can lie in something as small as a watermelon seed. What little things around you remind you of God’s love?
In the Word – This week’s Scripture focus comes from 1 Peter 3:3-4. Take a few minutes to read through these verses in your favorite translation. How do these verses speak to you in the present moment?
• Download our weekly Scripture card. Print it and hang it in a place where you’ll come across it often this week, to aid in memorization and the reminder of the lovely God brings to our lives.
Application – This week’s theme is The Little Things. In the pursuit of collecting moments that matter, we’d like to invite you to join us on social media (Facebook, Twitter or Instagram) to share what lovely “little things” you find this week. In the caption of your post, include the hashtag, #livingoutlovely.
She’d love to connect with you on Facebook.