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Pursuing Beauty

On Thursday, I’ll be flying south to sunny Dallas, Texas (it’s 20 degrees and snowing here in Ohio so I’m looking forward to it!).  I’ll be speaking at Sally Clarkson’s Mom Heart Conference!  It’s going to be a great joy to listen to Sally speak all weekend long and it’s like the cherry on top of a great weekend to get to speak.  Sally said over 420 rooms are booked for the conference – so the turn out is great – even more than last year!
So I dug through my archives and found my post from last February when I attended Sally’s conference and I thought I would share with you some of what I gleaned.  Sally’s daughter Sarah opened the conference with a talk on Living Thoroughly Alive. She encouraged us to cultivate time for beauty in our lives.

The Bible starts “In the beginning God created…”

In nature we can see God’s grandeur and beauty – we cannot watch television and experience this.

God is the source of beauty.

Whatever keeps us from his beauty keeps us from his presence.

Sally and Sarah tag teamed as they gave practical ways to express beauty inside our homes.

1. You can read books together – to make books even more beautiful – do it beside a fireplace with a warm glow.

2. You can serve the family a warm dinner – but if you add a candle and some light music it becomes an event.

3. Take the time to make holidays extra special – celebrate life together – this builds a beautiful strong foundation.

4. Read good books – you can only give to your children what you already possess inside. Good books are essential not a frivolity.

5. Expose your children to the best things – the best art, best people, best books, and the best thoughts.

Sally shared that it was in some of their darkest moments that their pursuit for beauty saved their family. And all this beauty doesn’t happen by accident. We must cultivate time for beauty and time to celebrate life with our families. We must remain connected to the source of all beauty.

 (from the archives)

Looking back on this post, I’m so thankful for the sweet reminders that Sally gives my generation – to smell the flowers…literally!

The biggest pitfall that keeps my family from pursuing beauty is electronics.  We must put our iPads and iPods down to read good books or watch a sunset.  This is not easy for me because there’s this artificial joy I find in simply looking at beautiful images on my computer screen.  Have you read Ann Voskamp’s A Holy Experience?  Her blog has magnificent photos that take me into the presence of God everytime I’m on her site.  You see Ann has stopped – looked at the fresh fallen snow – worshiped the giver of the snow – captured it on her camera and shared it with her readers to be blessed also.  In the same way, we must stop – see the view out our window, call the children and invite them to worship the creator of our view also.

I know that in the midst of the mess of school papers and dirty dishes there is beauty in small hands folded for prayer time. There is beauty in the sound of my beginner piano player plunking at the piano.  There is beauty in the recitation of memorized Bible verses as they fall off the lips of my son.  There is beauty out the window as the sun sparkles on the snow making it appear as though diamonds have fallen on our lawn overnight.

 Beauty is all around me but I must walk away from my computer to see it and so this week I made a change…

My computer desk has sat conveniently in the kitchen for 2 years.  I hop on and off of it all day long…it’s nice because I’m in the heart of the house so I am never away from the action while I’m on my computer…but I need a break – not from Women Living Well…but from the temptation to websurf and hang out on social media too often…so I did this…

I moved my computer away from the kitchen – off the beaten path into the school room – in hopes that I will spend a little more time capturing the beauty of this season of life that is right before my eyes.   Because…

 “Whatever keeps us from his beauty keeps us from his presence.”

Walk with the King,

30 Comments

  1. I DID THIS LAST WEEK!!! I actually took a break from all social media to be more available to my family and to spend more time with them. My priorities were all messed up and God has used my husbands sudden illness since the beginning of January to really open my eyes to what my priorities SHOULD be and what they were not. We are making memories, having fun, and enjoying the blessings that God has given to our family. Let me just say…..I DON’T MISS FACEBOOK!!!!!! Thanks for sharing, Courtney. Your blog has been such a blessing in my life!

  2. What a good idea! And I love those ideas about pursuing beauty. We just had supper tonight with candles and the wedding china “just because” and it really did make dinner a real event.

    And if you’re interested, R.C. Sproul has a very encouraging message on pursuing beauty and serving God in the Feb. issue of Tabletalk. It was a good read so I thought I’d share.

  3. Wow! Way to go Courtney! I have been considering doing the same thing. Our computer sits right off of our kitchen which is great because I am able to still be with my kids but like you said, it is very tempting to jump on for both me and my husband. Thank you for the inspiration….

  4. I put my laptop upstairs out of reach—now I have to come to the office to be on the main computer–away from the kitchen and family room which is where we are most of the time–it has made a difference: ) As have your challenges helped me to bring beauty and gentleness into the hub of my heart and home–so thank you: )

  5. so true and great idea! <3 I will be praying for you as you speak that God's Holy Spirit will fill you and that the ladies would see Jesus in you! I know that is your heart's desire. Love, Traci

  6. Wonderful idea. We are working on changes in our house as well to cultivate better habits and create some beauty and order. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. No WAY! Hooray!!! I can’t wait to meet you!!! How wonderful!!! I will see you soon and I’m crossing my fingers it warms up there – last year it was in the high 60s and FABULOUS! lol!
      Courtney

      1. I read both of your blogs and I am encouraged by both of you. I am also going to be there, taking in everything the Lord will allow me. I sure hope I can meet each of you sweet women.

  7. Courtney, a post you did a while back convinced me to get my laptop off the kitchen table. I was ignoring my family when we ate dinner so that I could catch up on my online stuff. I now have it on my desk in the living room. Do I still get on the computer too much? Yes! But, it’s way less than when my computer was on the table and now we can actually talk to one another at meal times!

  8. Holy Smokes Girl!! I love the idea. I was just thinking how I could break some computer habits that are stealing from my time with God and from my family. Love “off the beaten path” approach…gonna give this idea a go! Thanks for sharing – hope to meet you in Dallas. Stacy

  9. What a really great post 🙂 🙂 I love the simple ideas for making home more beautiful 🙂 🙂 I’m reall encouraged 🙂 🙂 Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather 🙂

  10. I love it, we actually took a family break from all computers and TV as a family last Lent and it was a true BLESSING! We enjoyed more of that reading together Sally talks about as a family and saw our family get closer together!

    I do have one small issue with # 5 that I think many well off and upper middle class Christians get wrong:

    5. Expose your children to the best things – the best art, best people, best books, and the best people… The best people? Jesus was often with the fringe in society… the lepers–the unclean. He was not hanging out with the devout upper class of the time.

    I think if we ground children with God’s word in church, in our home with our friends, we miss the OPPORTUNITY to surround ourselves with those who need our help–those on the fringe of our communities and maybe just next door. All too often (many, but not all of course) Christians congregate in their churches and once a month go to the soup kitchen or sometimes don’t go out at all with their children to see the darker side of the world…to seek those not-so-good/”best” Christian people.

    Sally, I agree with you that we should root our life with the best people…but I do not think Jesus intended us to surround our lives with them. That’s not what the twelve apostles did, nor Jesus. He sought out the unwanted, the unclean…the social outcasts. Surrounding ourselves with this special beauty and exposing our children to the outcasts is a far deeper beauty than aesthetics. It is ESSENTIAL to raising a Christian child. For if we raise them in a bubble, they may not be taking up their cross as their parents never did by surrounding themselves in comfort and beauty.

     Lv 13:1-2, 44-46

    Gospel Mk 1:40-45

    A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said,
    “If you wish, you can make me clean.”
    Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
    touched him, and said to him,
    “I do will it. Be made clean.”
    The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
    Then, warning the him sternly, he dismissed him at once.

    He said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
    but go, show yourself to the priest
    and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
    that will be proof for them.”

    The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
    He spread the report abroad
    so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
    He remained outside in deserted places,
    and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

    1. Jessy – I completely agree with you so I think you may have misunderstood the word expose in the quote from Sally. It appears in your comment that you exchanged the word expose for surround and even took it further into meaning “raising our children in a bubble.”

      That was not Sally’s intent but I thank you for pointing out other ways we can pursue beauty – because it is true that sometimes in the most ugly places – we find the most beautiful faces! And I can surely testify to that!
      Courtney 🙂

  11. Wow, Courtney–what a great idea. I always think it’s *good* that my computer is in the kitchen, but perhaps you’re right and it’s too convenient! It does seem to always need some “beating into submission.” Great post! And can’t wait to see you this weekend!

  12. I’ve been reading One Thousand Gifts and it’s life changing. There is so much beauty that we simply let slip by and – time – we can stop time, but we can slow it down.

    You moved your office. You know what I did? I purchased a camera and a journal. I’m recording my gifts.

    Thanks, Courtney. Just another confirmation of God speaking.

  13. Love this!!! I am glad to know I am not alone with too much computer time. I’ve had many friends ask me why I am not into Pinterest. I told them I do not need something else on the computer taking up my time. I feel guilty about the time I spend already. I need to move the laptop. Thank you for you blog. You are really good!

  14. How Fun! I learned about your blog from the conference and was reviewing my notes last night. I was thinking my friends need to gather again and review our notes….b/c I have some BLANKS! I guess I got so caught up in listening that I didn’t write things down. I love that I wrote your web address down though 🙂 Thanks for all the great posts. I have learned about so many other great blogs through you as well 🙂

  15. Well Dallas TX isent so sunny it was snowing last night LOL 🙂 I am going to the conference and I look forward to learning much. 🙂

  16. Great post..thank you for sharing..at times we can get so caught up on our electronics that before you know it…it has been 3hrs..so thank you for the reminder…right on time with Valentines Tomorrow.

  17. yeah! MOm’s Conference this weekend! WOOO HOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! my bf and I cannot wait! It is going to be such a blessing to hear you speak! So glad I found out about the conference through your blog! Praying for warmer weather too!!!!

  18. Surely, moms of this electronic age can relate to your post today. I certainly do. The web is a tool for many good works but it is also a very, very clever tool of Satan’s.

    Satan will find us wherever we are and usually when we think we’re doing the most innocent of things (like surfing the web). Just that quickly, he’s got us focused on mundane, small things instead of focusing on the REAL life and love right inside our own homes given to us by our Glorious God!

    It’s crazy how easily I get sucked in. I have to make sure I manage my down time while my daughter is napping because if I don’t, 2.5 hrs will pass and I’ll have done nothing but comment on blogs, pin on Pinterest, etc. Nothing of real importance when it comes to my family or my role as wife and mother but, hey, it makes me feel good. And I’m entitled to feeling good, right? Hah! That’s just what that devil wants to hear, right? So true that ”Whatever keeps us from his beauty keeps us from his presence.” Thanks for the reminder, Courtney! God Bless 🙂

  19. I just want to leave this note to tell you I’ve been reading through your parenting section for the last 30 minutes and am feeling so encouraged after a fun, but tiring day of summer. I’ve been struggling the last few weeks, mostly with balance as well with lots of mommy self doubt & guilt. You are such a blessing to me right now!!! I recently took social media off my iPhone because it was becoming a distraction (I tend to do this every now & then). And I feel more affirmed seeing that you cleared away your desk to another part of the house, I can so relate!

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