Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I like you a latte.

Well.... its really more of a "cafe con leche"...
or at Starbucks they call it a "cafe misto"...
basically its just a delicious coffee with frothed milk.

But either way... 
its a favorite part of my morning routine.   

And by the way...
I really do like you A LOT. 
& I sincerely hope you understood the cute-ness in this blog post title. 

So this one is for my coffee drinking pals. 
Though tea-lovers will benefit too.
And if you're a cocoa girl... then you are in the right place.

I've decided to let you in on how I make a perfect cup-of-Joe.
But I'm going to name her the 
I think it fits better.

The key to this delightful drink is the frothed milk. Since I don't have a fancy milk-frother, I have resorted to a home remedy. It is working exceptionally well. 

1) Brew a pot of coffee. The coffee of choice varies... but I'm NOT a fan of "swamp water"... so if your coffee is disgusting... I don't think even my hot, bubbly milk will save you. 
2) For home-made frothed milk, I use a little blender. Mine is called "The Magic Bullet" and it works like a dream. Another option for this step is to just put a bit of milk in a closed container (like a mason jar) and shake it up for 10-15 seconds. 
3) After shaking or blending, put your milk in the microwave for 30 seconds. Watch it so that it doesn't bubble over. It shouldn't- but it may if it is filled too full.
4) Usually I blend it once more after heating it... I'm a HUGE fan of foam. 

5) By this point my milk is warm & foamy... But if its not quite hot enough, I'll pop it back in the micowave for a few seconds longer. 
6) Now its time to pour a cup of coffee. Make sure you use a mug that is both cozy & cute. I"m pretty certain that good mugs make EVERY hot drink taste better. 
(Remember that if you aren't a coffee fan- 
tea && cocoa would be yummy too!)
7) Next I add the milk. The liquid will pour quickly, but usually the bubbles stay in the bottom of the cup. That's when I use a spoon to scoop out the foam out & set it on top of the coffee. 

8) My sweetener of choice varies between Sugar in the Raw and honey. This week I've been a honey girl because I love the way it swirls on top of the foam. But sprinkling the the Raw Sugar on top is both yummy && pretty... so you can't go wrong.

9) And finally we have the PERFECT-cup-of-Joy to accompany some morning Bible reading & journaling. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Peace be still.

this is the perfect picture of peace. from a morning walk last week. i love it. 

i've been needing some extra peace lately.
i came home from New York and felt like my head spun a bit out of control.
not that dramatic.
but sometimes it feels like that.
especially last night.
i'll fill you in on a secret... but its a secret... so don't tell.
i woke up in the night crying from anxiety.
and i cried several times over the weekend from stress.
its a bother.
i talked with Shaun about it today.
and asked several close friends to pray for me.
and now i'm telling you.

this afternoon i asked my friend Amaris to have tea with me so i could talk it through.

oh yeah.... that's also because yesterday was pretty emotional too.
i was in the hospital room with an elderly couple, as the husband spent his last few hours on earth because of heart failure.
he was 90. his wife is a couple days away from being 87.
i think tomorrow would have been their 65th wedding anniversary.
i have helped them in their home for almost 4 years. they have become family to me. the wife didn't want me to leave the room. she just kept weeping and praying with her husband.
it was beautiful and devastating.
anyway i left at 1:00pm.
he passed away at 2:30pm.
i'm grateful i wasn't in the room when it happened, but my heart is broken for her.
they were one.
now she feels like half of her is missing.
she called me today. i'm going to clean her house for her tomorrow afternoon.
i wish there was more i could do.
she said God is comforting her.
but she is broken. and deserate for Jesus.
she knows Jesus. intimately.
she helped to found Youth With a Mission.
and has written books... like 8... published books... about God & His ways.
she has travelled the world teaching and preaching about Him too.
but this is the time in her life when she needs Him more than ever.
no teaching will satisfy her.
only a touch from the living God. the Comforter.

anyway back to my tea-time with Amaris.
i opened up with her about my recent anxiety.
and she listened intently.
she offered lots of wisdom, but I'll pick one piece to share with you.

its an acronym that she made up during a stressful time of her own.

Do it.

she said that fear, worry, and perfectionism are thieves. They steal our time and our energy. They cause us to put things off & procrastinate.... but then... when we FINALLY get something done... we mull over it & pick it apart, again and again... thinking of all the ways we could have done it better.

her recent strategy has been to P.D.D.

when she encounters a situation...
FIRST she prays about it.
then she does what she can.
then she leaves it alone.

she doesn't give worry any space to speak into the situation.

she also suggested making things as simple as possible.
perfectionism likes to complicate.
but simple is good.

anyway I liked that advice.
i feel better already.

This one is from my walk on Saturday morning. this verse is SO encouraging to my heart. 

a story about a model.

(original photo by my friend April Cossey of www.classylittlethings.blogspot.com. text added by me.)

So I came in to dress for a show... and my model was late. No problem. They usually are. But it gave me a unique opportunity to see God at work in the life of the model being dressed next to me.

Her name is Sarah and she came backstage in a bit of a frenzy.
I didn't want to be the weird girl getting into her business... but two things stood out about her...

She was American. (I RARELY meet American models at Fashion Week.)
She was frantically texting someone... looking obviously distressed... and having an extra difficult time focusing on getting ready for the show.

So, despite my fear of being weird, I leaned over and gently asked if everything was okay.

Surprisingly she was not slow to open up. She told me that she had just left her Ipad at her agency, and was feeling pretty confident it had been stolen, because no one had found it yet.

"My Ipad is my life."
I understood.

I took the opportunity to tell her about two separate times when Shaun had left his Iphone in places where they DEFINITELY should have been stolen... once in China and once in Chile... but we prayed to God and He restored them to us. I told Sarah that I would be praying for God to recover her lost Ipad to her... and I prayed it would happen before the show so that she would be able to focus.

She appeared grateful for what I said- though it was obvious that she was doubtful.

Sarah left for hair and make-up but about ten minutes later came back & told me that her Ipad had been found and would be given back to her after the show!

I was SO excited!

However just as we were speaking, Sarah's dressers started putting her feet into the high-heels she would be wearing on the runway & I immediately noticed her eyes filling with tears.

Again I asked if everything was okay.

She quietly told me that just the day before she had been forced to wear shoes that were several sizes too small, and while she was out on the runway she felt her toe crack. The pressure of her weight in the shoe caused her toe to break. Now she was facing a similar situation. The only shoes they had for her were either 3 sizes too small, or equally too big. If she wore the small ones she would be in severe pain. If she wore the big ones she risked rolling her ankle and falling on the runway.

I grabbed her hand and asked if I could pray to Jesus with her... right there.. on the spot.

She was desperate and agreed. I prayed for Jesus to strengthen her ankles and walk with her down the runway. I asked Him to reveal His presence in such a way that she would actually FEEL Him taking care of her. I prayed protection over her feet and ankles, and for grace not to fall.

Just as the show was about to start, God came throught AGAIN. They found a pair of shoes that was her perfect size. She had an amazing walk.

After the show she came back smiling, acknowledging that my prayers had been answered. Her trust had been earned. Her interest in Jesus had been peaked. I was able to invite her to be a part of Models For Christ- a ministry set up specifically to support fashion professionals.

What an awesome thing.

As I read the book of Acts in the Bible I see God moving powerfully to reveal Himself to people. Its encouraging to read, but its even sweeter to see lived out.
Especially backstage.

Its amazing to think that He cares about the details of our lives.
Even little things.
Like iPads, runways and high heeled shoes.

Fashion Week Outreach- according to Lauren.

 My friend and right-hand-lady 
Lauren Thacker 
posted a sweet blog about our time in 
New York City. 
Rather than reinventing the 
I thought I would just share her blog with you. 
It's a real treat. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A day in the life. Fashion Week NYC.

Hi sweet friends! 
Many of you have asked me what it is like to dress a show as an outreach at Fashion Week, 
so I've decided to break it down for you!
Here is how a typical show goes! 
I hope you enjoy!

A day in the Life.
[[Fashion Week NYC]]

And don't worry! More specific stories && photos will be posted soon!!!

We arrive on time. 
Third show of the day. 
Milk Studios. 
Lauren and I walk inside, greeted by the adorable blonde girl with her hair in a bun. It's Day 4, so we are confident now, & head straight for the elevator. 
Second floor. Elevator doors open and we follow the others toward security. "Jessica Hover and Lauren Thacker. We are dressers." They flip through masses of names until they find ours... We are usually at the end. The security man gives us our wristband and we are pointed toward the backstage waiting area. 
I love it there. Soft couches. Free coffee, water and snacks. 
Not all venues are like this- but Milk always takes care of us. We sit for a while and talk with the other volunteers. Lauren and I pray over the show and ask for God to be glorified in everything we do. Darryl walks over, along with the other dressing supervisors, with their clipboards and pens. They ask, again, if we have checked in. We have. So we continue waiting. The energy begins to get exciting. Models with their hair and makeup mostly done wait in line for the bathroom. The designer paces around- appearing busy & excited. People talk more quietly when the designer comes... Whispering insights they have about the designer's life... Usually something found off google or Wikipedia. I'm thankful for google... Because I rarely recognize a designer without googling their photo first.

Eventually the supervisors call for us to gather and have a meeting. We are all wearing black. No jewelry that will catch on the fabrics. No bright lipstick that could accidentally stain something. We are informed about the line and any special details we may need to know backstage. The styling team introduce themselves and offer to help with the shoes and jewelry. I'm grateful for it. With about one minute to get a model out of one elaborate outfit and into another, it is a gift to have a professional stylist willing to help. 

After we have been given all of the needed info about the clothing line, they assign us our models. I can see that they are growing to trust Me and Lauren more, because our changes have been getting gradually quicker and more difficult. I love that. I want to be trustworthy. I also love it because it usually means that the models are more experienced... Meaning I may have seen them before in previous shows.... Perfect opportunity to continue building relationships.

After I receive my model's name I go backstage and find her rack. The racks are lined up around the room with outfits hanging on them in garment bags and poster boards with the model's name, photos, and numbers in the show lineup. My model has 2 looks and will be number 4 and number 20 in the lineup. Quick change. I read through her look card to pick up any needed details. Things like: "Shirt loosely tucked in, no lumps.
Right hand in skirt pocket with thumb facing forward.
Shoe laces wrap around ankle and tie on outside.
Brown bag over left shoulder.
Necklace for both looks."
I then unbutton and unzip everything... Ensuring that I understand the fastest, most effective way to get everything on and off without wrinkling the garments. I pray quietly for God to use my hands. I also pray for my model. I know her name and face now. I pray for the love of Jesus to be revealed to her. I love to pray for them, because I don't know if anyone has ever prayed for them... and even if I don't get to witness the prayers being answered, I'm confident that God will be faithful to answer my prayers.

I have studied my look. I've gone through it with the sweet dressing supervisor who has come over and confirmed that everything is clear. Now I wait and get to know the people working around me. Other dressers. Stylists. Event production team. The older seamstress women who are sometimes brought to tears when they see their finished work on the models. My model comes over to try on her shoes and do a run-through on the runway. Thankfully her shoes fit tonight. Often they are too big for the girls and I'm having to tape pads into them. Her shoes are slippery though. After she takes them off and goes bad to hair and makeup, I use my scissors to put slash marks into the bottom of the shoes, so they will have some traction when she walks. It feels strange to scratch up the soles on a pair of Manolo Blahnik's, but in reality we are not really doing any damage... And it's better than a model slipping on the runway.

My model comes back and they call "first looks". This means its time get her into her first outfit. I love this part because its not stressful and it's a fun opportunity to get to know my model. She and I are a team. We both want to do well, so we talk through her quick change, figuring out our plan of attack. As soon as she comes off the runway she will start taking off her skirt, while I will go straight for her shirt... Then once the first outfit is off she can just step into her second dress. Smooth. Like butter.

The conversation we have is sweet. I'm excited to know her and let her know that she looks beautiful and is going to have a great show. I also let her know I'm praying for her. She laughs awkwardly because she has never heard that before... But I can see that she is grateful for the encouragement. I love it. The momentary awkwardness doesn't phase me, I remember feeling confused when Christians reached out to me. It's unfamiliar to her. That's okay.

The music starts. 
The show begins. 
My model is in the lineup posing for photos, but every now and then she looks over at me and smiles. 
She is lovely.

The first model has already come back from the runway and is frantically being stripped to get into her next look. I take my second dress off the hanger because I know my girl will be back ready to change momentarily.

She is here! I boldly tell the hair and makeup crew to move and together my model & I execute our changing plan. The dressing supervisor jumps in to help, but everyone else stays back. I'm thankful. Though I appreciate help, sometimes too many hands can create chaos.

She is mostly dressed now, I just need to button the back of her dress. They started yelling her name. They always do that. They need her in the lineup. The dress isn't buttoned but I walk her over to her place in line and finish her dress there... Praying for God to steady my shaky fingers so I can button her in time.

Yes. She is buttoned! "You are doing great love! So beautiful!" I tell her. 
She smiles genuinely and is ready for the spotlight.

Within minutes the show is over and my model is back again, ready to get back into her own clothes and head over to her next fitting. She has been going non-stop since the morning and will not stop after New York Fashion Week. In a few days she will head to London, Milan, and Paris to do it all again. I assure her that I will continue praying for her to have strength and I share a bit about why I am here, considering I live in LA and am not getting paid to work Fashion Week. She comments on how differently I treat her, compared to others that she has worked with. She says that she is often really lonely and homesick working in the industry, that its difficult to make friends because so many people just want to take what they can get from her... She then informs me that she is not religious at all but has noticed recently that the kindest people in her life have all been "religious".

We talk some more but she has somewhere to be, and I need to pack up all of the garments "showroom style" so they will be ready for the designer to display tomorrow.

My new model friend and I swap information before hugging and saying goodbye. 
It was truly a joy to work with her.

I pack up my looks and get them on the correct rack with all of the other clothing. We make sure all of the jewelry has been returned and wait patiently until the dressing supervisors release us.

As we are walking out Lauren and I look for opportunities to talk with people on the way. Anyone we can encourage... 
Any faces that we recognize... 
Celebrities or models that we have been praying for.

And after all is finished- we leave the venue, roughly 4 hours after arriving, and head home for the night. It's been a long day and we have lots to share with each other about how we saw God moving backstage. We are also EXTRA hungry. So a yummy dinner sounds perfect.

Encouraged by God's faithfulness, 
and strengthened by His Spirit, 
we rest our hearts & our bodies, 
preparing to do it all again tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

So you're a Capricorn...

Haha no. Not really.
I'm not actually into horoscopes.
I used to be. And I'm a Leo, for the record. But now I just pray and trust Jesus, instead of trying to do figure out my future via some mystical stargazer.

He promises in (Romans 8) that, "All things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose."

That's a good enough fortune for me.

Anyway I thought I'd take a few minute to post on the bloggy... I am trying to be fast though, because I'm working at New York City's fashion week tomorrow and despite the phrase "fashionably late"... I want to avoid getting "fashionably fired" by running late for dressing a show.

First story of God's faithfulness on this trip to New York?

Housing and food.

So before I went to China(two weeks ago) I had arranged housing for my trip to NYC, but it hadn't been fully confirmed by my very hospitable friend. It seemed promising though, so I wasn't nervous.

I had also planned my budget and didn't budget lunches into my expenses- because when doing these outreaches with Models For Christ- MFC caters lunch.

Welllllllllllll... Upon landing in LA Sunday evening... Sick and exhausted. I received a message saying that unfortunately I did NOT have housing for the majority of my time in NYC. I then received an email saying that things had changed and there would no longer be lunches provided for the volunteers.

NBD. Sick. Over-sleepy. Two days before leaving for New York.


Thankfully God has been teaching me not to stress an to just trust Him. So I prayed then did what every hard working and responsible person would do.... I climbed in bed and fell asleep. :)

Monday came and went.... Still no housing and still uneasy about my budget.

I was praying for housing- not just a place to sleep, but a place near to where I would be working because of our loonnnggg days.

Tuesday arrives. I'm leaving for New York in 24 hours.

And the phone rings. (Dramatic pause....)

I didn't answer... because I was still in bed. (haha not quite a climactic turn of events...but wait...)

My friend Kalyn texts me immediately and says she has housing for me. I call the number she gives me and the woman who answers is basically an angel. Her daughter did YWAM so she was thrilled when she discovered that I was a YWAMer too. She lives ONE BLOCK from where I will be everyday!!!! AND she offered to provide breakfast and dinner everyday!!

Then! I get another email regarding lunches and it turns out MFC received a donation from a YWAM team and lunches WILL BE PROVIDED DAILY!!

How crazy is that?
Housing- better than I could have known to hope for.
Every meal provided for me.

AND- some very fashionable friends provided me with gorgeous black clothes to wear backstage every day. One ultra generous friend even bought me my favorite new boots so that I would have warm toes in the cold city.

God is faithful and He loves to show it.

Final word? My friend Nova reminded me recently that God's love is not like a pie... It's like an ocean. If it were like a pie then testimonies like this one about God's faithful provision could invoke envy, bitterness, or resentment in your heart. Because its like I got a slice of the pie and now there is less for you. But God's love is like an ocean. So my stories can encourage you-- if God is faithful to take care of me, He will be faithful to take care of you! If I get to experience the ocean of His love and faithfulness, you can be excited about the miles of ocean available for you to enjoy.

Same faithful God.
Different unique story of how He reveals Himself.

Be blessed friends!

"Therefore do not worry, saying 'What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we wear? For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for today is it own trouble." Matthew 6:31-34

PS. I arrived at my housing this evening and it is a dream home!! I felt like a princess when I walked in! Such an enormous blessing!! Ah! I could squeal! So much pink! And sparkles!

Sick as a Chinese dog but as happy as a Chinese clam.

Some of you heard I was a sickie lady during my last few days in China.

It's true.

It was pretty terrible.

Vomiting for pretty much a whole day... In bed feeling weak and achy for two more days. 35 hours of traveling the next day, with layovers in Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Tokyo...still not feeling well.
Overall NOT my favorite situation.

But even in the midst of it I could see God blessing me through it...
Because I don't think I've ever felt as loved by Shaun as I did during those days. (and Shaun does a good job loving me everyday.) But seriously I think if Jesus had been there in person taking care of me Himself, it wouldn't have looked much different. Shaun would lay with me for hours talking to me, laughing with me, carrying me to the bathroom...or holding the bag next to the bed when I couldn't make it to the bathroom, holding my hair back and cleaning me off, encouraging me that I was doing great and praying with me over and over and over for healing, strength and relief. It was unbelievable.

If that wasn't enough, while I laid in bed resting for those few days... With no phone service and no Facebook (because they don't allow that in China)... I really could feel the sweet and intimate presence of God. I could hear Him speaking things to me...nI'll share more on that another time but it was EXACTLY what I needed.

So even though I had a bad tummy.
And an achy body.
My heart stayed EXTRA full.

And now?
It's Wednesday morning.
I've rested.
And am headed to New York City for another outreach at Fashion Week.

As Shaun would say, I'm "as healthy as a horse". (Not a Chinese horse though... I have a feeling I'm healthier than one of those.)

Below are some photos from my sickness and my journey home. I am posting this from my iPod so the photos are out of order! Sorry :)

(ps. there's no greater joy than to follow Jesus.)

She's home from China!

(In Chinese it's pronounced "Nee-how"!)

I arrived home Sunday after a short but FANTASTIC trip to China. Shaun and I went over there to visit our team from the Calling All Skaters DTS that is living there for 3 months. Our purpose in going was to encourage them, engage in ministry with them, and support the long-term missionary workers. The skaters are also traveling alongside two of my girls from the Beauty Arise ministry, so I specifically went over to spend time with them too. It's a dream when we get to do these trips because they are basically all fun, like when Grandma and Grandpa come to town--only I got to be Grandma and Shaunny was Grandpa.

A highlight was hearing amazing stories of how God has been using the team.

One skater told me a story about how he had been telling some guys about Jesus, through an English-speaking Chinese girl that had offered to translate for him. After he finished sharing, the girl translator told him that she had never heard of Jesus and was skeptical as to whether or not the gospel was true- though she liked the idea of a Savior. Our skater boldly encouraged her to pray about it when she went home. He told her that God is powerful and works supernaturally to speak to people. He said that if she wants to know if God is real she needs to hear from Him. She agreed. He didn't see her for a week but when he did she eagerly came up to him and told him with excitement that she heard from God and was a follower of Jesus. She said that God told her He was her Father and she was His daughter, so she put her trust in Him!!!

Another story is from my girls from Beauty Arise. Prior to going to China they asked God if there was anything particular they should prepare for. They both felt like the Lord showed them they would be working with prostitutes, but they had no idea how or where. But they started praying for the Chinese prostitutes. Fast forward. They are in China and had travelled to a major city for two weeks, unsure of how they would spend their time, but confident the Lord led them to that place. Free housing opened up for them to stay at a house and dog-sit for an American Christian couple who were traveling to Thailand. Right near their house was a Christian organization reaching out to prostitutes and providing them with everything they need to get off the streets. My girls were excited and went in offering to help in any way possible. Unfortunately because the girls are short-term workers and don't speak Chinese they were unqualified to serve... BUT God is bigger. Though the organization initially said no, they still asked if our girls had any special skills... Short of ideas and not expecting anything, they expressed that they enjoyed doing makeup, hair, and nails.... Nothing special. The organization workers were thrilled! Turns out they had been praying for God to bring people with those EXACT skills! They immediately welcomed the girls on their team and invited them to come with them into the shops to paint the nails of the prostitutes! It was literally right where male customers would come to buy the women... Occassionaly my girls would be painting the nails of a prostitute that would get purchased... She would leave with the man and return 20 minutes later needing a new manicure because her nails had gotten messed up. The organization workers said that the prostitutes had never been so open to share their stories as they were the day they received make-overs from my girls. On the last day of my friends' time there, the organization invited them to come and teach former prostitutes about their TRUE value and identity while doing makeovers and beauty tutorials!! Several former prostitutes shared afterwards that they had never been so deeply impacted by the nurturing love they received from the Beauty Arise girls!!

God is so stinkin faithful it is mind-boggling...

Be blessed friends. Here are some random photos from the trip. Shaun gets home on the 19th so I will post more photos from the camera then!! Love you!