Ohoo! I have curly hair. Yes, I just had a makeover.

Any woman won't probably say 'no' to a free makeover. That's why makeover shows are very popular. Who would not wish to be transformed to the best version of themselves?

Thus, when my husband suggested that I should have a makeover, even feeling slightly insulted (husbands are supposed to love their wives even for worse, read: wrinkles, fat rolls and under-eye circles. Ho! They rhyme!), I didn't decline outright.

Being in Russia and surrounded by beautiful women, I felt I needed it. Though I'm really wondering what could be done with falling hair (an after-giving-birth and nursing-a-baby phenomenon), sagging breasts and loose skin.

At any day, however, I can pass for a  sixteen year old (I'm short), that is, if you won't look too closely. Then you may catch a glimpse of a line or two on the forehead or a downy shadow of a mustache. 

One day my husband assigned his younger sister on a mission to make me beautiful. I was ferreted out to the car and into a beauty salon, where I nervously gave the hairstylist permission to do her thing. Not being able to speak Russian, I couldn't even describe what I wanted for a hair. At least, I was asked whether I wanted straight or curly hair. In a sign language, I opted for curly.

I easily get bored with how I look, so that's why it's no wonder that I change hairstyles often and... drastically. This time was no exception. 

I was subjected to gentle ministrations of hair care and hair styling. After a few hours, I looked different. Well, that's what my children told me. I looked different.

That, should make me scared. I have encountered many who are scared of changing even one bit of their appearance, afraid of being different, of being unfamiliar even to themselves. They told me that they are not certain whether the hairstylist will do justice to their hair and give them what they want. Being in their comfort zone comforts them.

After the hair, my sis-in-law whisked me to the nail salon for some manicure. The nail polish could last for more than a month or even more without any chip, and even when I wash the dishes daily, three times a day, or scrub the bathroom and all. But for it to last longer than it is meant to last, I have to cultivate habits that will not wear down the polish. Hmmm... hard for someone like me to do. I scrape at dirty pans with my nails! 

Then, I got new boots for the cold season. Nice pair too!

Now all I have to do is to commit to a daily regimen of fitness exercises. I miss my walking, but I can't take out the baby for a long time in the cold. Besides, the weather is so unpredictable this part of the world. Just today, we got snow flurries, bright, cheery sunshine and tomorrow will be another snowstorm. I'll probably crawl around on the floor with the baby. Perhaps it'll tone muscles that need toning.

However, more than the makeover that I just got, I need another kind of makeover. Not the new-hair, new-face, new-body kind of makeover but one that comes with a new set of thoughts, attitudes and purpose. 

This year has seen me struggling in the fringes of darkness, unable to live up to the free and abundant life that Jesus is offering. Thinking I'd find comfort and safety in the shadows, I was afraid to venture out and claim the life that God is giving.

The disappearance of my parents was hard to deal with. (Check Beyond the Storm: Hope) I was afraid of even the thought that they are gone and I won't be able to talk and see them again. I stayed in the shadows for fear of totally giving in to grief and the emotions that go along with it, afraid I couldn't handle them. Reality with trauma can be... well, traumatic.

Then there's navigating the new terrain of living in Russia. I found myself dancing to a different tune of life. People were strangers. Those I thought I know were as baffling as when I met them. Even the people I know grew whole new personas. I wrestled with myself in accepting the new changes in them but at the same time could not help but force to bring back what I do know and are familiar to me. I went through situations and emotions that grew insanely out of proportions. I was subjected to lots of rejection and loneliness. I was disappointed, frustrated, then, angry. When all I really wanted and craved for was to be accepted, loved and to live in peace.

I craved. In my craving, I stuffed myself. I got filled with anger, bitterness, guilt, grief, resentment and even calories. I was all bloated but not sated.

It was not God's perfect will for me to be living in the shadows, hungry and craving. But He allowed it that I may know what it is to grieve, what it is to be hungry, and I find that even such circumstances is not the worst. What's worst for me is when God's presence is no longer seen and felt.

But one thing I found out, God stays even in the shadows. One misconception that we have about God is that He runs away from darkness. We are told not to go anywhere where He cannot go. But God is God and He goes wherever He wants to. He goes where there is a big need for Him. Just as the psalmist has written in Psalm 139:7-12, in the darkness, I found Him there. And in His presence, darkness flees.

It is high time I start living on His promise and His purpose for me. But this is easier said than done. How do we go about it? Here's my plan according to God's will for me.

Think beautiful.

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard... put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you" (Philippians 4:8, 9).

Beauty starts from within. It's not a cliche'. It's a fact. It starts from who we are and radiates outside, making known to everyone the substance within. 

I may be made over to have the perfect face but if the thoughts that go through my mind are not beautiful, it will be evident through the scowls, the sneers, the miserable face.

Let's face it: A beautiful mind and heart produces a beautiful face.

Cultivate an attitude of joy, gentleness and praise.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"

"Let your gentleness be evident to all."
"Do not be anxious... but in every situation, by prayer, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (Philippians 4:4, 5, 6)

My father had always told me, "Your attitude determines your altitude." And I think he is right. I won't get anywhere with an attitude of grievance, as if everybody owes me a piece of joy. It is not God's will for me to live a pitiful, colorless, bitter existence.

Beauty needs to be cultivated. We need to go see the Source of All Beautiful regularly and cultivate habits meant for the beauty He put in us to last. We need to risk losing what comes naturally to us (our reactions, our motivations, our desires) and let Him create something more beautiful--- Spirit-controlled and divinely ordained.

Walk in the Light.

"You are light in the Lord. Live as children of light" (Ephesians 5:8).

God did not come in human form just to live a human life (more on this in this post) or to cheer me on. He came for the reason to save me. He came to give me a life that is different from what I am used to living, one that is abundant and free, and not contented with a miserly existence. 

Galatians 5:1 reads, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

Slavery. It sounds so archaic. But it still exists today. Somehow most of us are a slave to something--- if not something external, then something that we allow to have a hold on us inside.

Be brave. Tell your slave driver (whatever or whoever it is) to be gone. "Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light" (Micah 7:8). Be free!

Are you barely moving  in the fringes of darkness and don't know how to really live? It's okay. Be still. God is there. See Him hold your hand and take you to His perfect will. Hear Him speak the truth over your broken dreams and raging emotions. Let Him transform your thoughts, your despairing attitude and allow Him to give you a whole new purpose.

I can't wait to start. In fact, I'm starting right now. This can't wait until January 1st. Care to join me?

If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, 
then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight is shining on you."
(Luke 11:36)

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