Sunday, March 31, 2013

A word on happiness.


Happy week-after-Easter friends! 
Handsome husband and I have been in Europe for about a week & we are having a glorious time!

My favorite part has been time spent with my Dad. He retired from the Air Force last year and is living in Germany with my step-mom. This trip is the longest time I've spent with him in years. (I don't actually know how many years because I'm not a mathematician... But it's been a looonnngggg time.)
He's really amazing. I don't know if its just because I'm older, but I feel like I am getting to know him for the first time. I like it so much. 

Last week we had a really great talk (with Shaun too) about marriage & happiness. I decided to paraphrase our conversation for you because I thought it was jam-packed full of wisdom... And really... Who doesn't like wisdom?

"Happiness is a tall order."
When people live only for their own happiness they are setting themselves up to fail. Happiness itself is just a result of good circumstances. But circumstances in life will not always lead to feelings of happiness. It is inevitable that difficult things will happen. 

To entrust your happiness to another person... even a spouse,  child, or close friend will leave you unsatisfied. Your job, your location, your finances... none of those things will be able to meet your deepest desire for happiness. If happiness is the only thing that is motivating you to stay committed to something... then you will be much more likely to quit when you no longer feel happy.

Like in a marriage... 
If you are only married because it makes you happy... then divorce will be much easier to consider when things get bumpy and you have a time of not "feeling happy", because you will feel as if your marriage has failed you. 

Happiness is not something to be found outside of yourself. 
Others can't be responsible for your happiness. 
And you shouldn't feel responsible for the happiness of others. 
Happiness is ultimately a choice within yourself. 
A matter of perspective.

So even though happiness is a good thing, it cannot be everything.

And I will add another thought, just because I can...
Happiness is a result of outside circumstances...  but joy is a supernatural gift from God that rests in our hearts,  able to remain unshaken by the things we might face.  
Whether we are walking through a great time, or persevering through a time of struggle,
Jesus wants to fill us with internal joy that will enable us to remain faithful.
It is a sign to us, and to others, that He is alive.

"But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in You..." Psalm 40:16

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Dear 18 year old,

Me at 18. It's a beautiful photo (of course with plenty of editting done to it).
I didn't see myself then the way I see myself now.
I was newly following Christ, and freshly recovering from my eating disorder.
I'm SO thankful for everything these last 5 years have taught me. 

Dear 18 year old, 

I was thinking about you today. 
About how life was when I was 18. 
And how you might be feeling now. 
There are a few things I've learned over the last 5 years that I wish I knew when I was your age. I thought I should share some with you.

I hope this helps. 

1. "Fish are friends. Not food."
Remember that line from Finding Nemo? When the sharks say that over and over, when they are trying not to eat fish? 
Well friend... that line from the movie has inspired my first thought... Please remember it.
"Boys are friends. Not food." 
As cute as they are. They cannot fill you. Sometimes in our loneliness we end up going to guys for things they were never meant to give us... Like our identities. Don't do it. It will only leave you more insecure than before. Invest in healthy friendships with guys. You'll be pleasantly surprised by how fun it is to genuinely love them, rather than always focusing on ways of getting them to love you. 

2. "Don't give your cookie away." This is advice my friend was given from an African American woman last week... "Don't give your cookie away!" Meaning- don't give your purity away! You will want to. I know. We do it for lots of reasons. But please trust me. It is not the best way to do relationships. I've been there. I'll write more on the subject another time but my main point is that being sexual with someone makes you feel closer to them than you really are... It fogs up your ability to think clearly... It changes your priorities... And makes it much harder to know whether or not the relationship is truly healthy. It's not God's design. And even from an atheist's standpoint- it's just not smart. 

Oh and for those of you who would argue by saying- "But what if you marry him & find out he is not good bed?" My answer is this- when you have prioritized friendship & romance until you get married, then when you are finally married you will be so comfortable with him that you will have NO problem talking through your sex. He will be your best friend! You'll be able to figure out together how to make sex great & you'll have the rest of your lives to practice as often as you want!

3. Enjoy being right where you're at. 
Time goes more quickly than we realize. We like to focus our attention on going somewhere else, doing something else, or being with someone else. But just be here now. Love the people you are with. Soak up the moment. Laugh as much as you can. Spend time with your family. Look for creative ways to make things more memorable. Write sweet notes to your friends & teachers. Decorate things. Do everything possible to find fun in the mundane. Its amazing how boredom can steal our joy. One of my favorite friends in high school was Angie. She would always think of outrageous things for us to do that would make life more exciting-- Like dressing up in crazy costumes & heading to the mall. There is so much about life to be delighted in. Find it! 

4. Wear sunscreen. If you want to be tan try the lotion that makes you gradually darker. You will age much faster if you tan a lot now. Especially if you frequent the tanning beds. 

5. Short cuts take longer. 
I know. You wouldn't think so. But I keep finding out that they do. You skip something now only to find out it takes way longer to go back & do  it later. So do your homework. Even if you have to host homework parties where all your friends come over & you get your stuff done together. Anything to make homework more fun. Go to your classes. Try to actually learn Spanish... or German... or any foreign language, instead of just trying to pass the'll use it later. Whatever the shortcut is... its probably not worth it, just be diligent now. 

6. Be gentle with yourself. 
This world can be hard on us-Reminding us of our flaws & harping on our imperfections. Continue to be kind in your thoughts toward yourself- there are enough people who will tell you that you can't do it. Go ahead & be your own biggest fan.

7. Say "thank you" when people give you compliments. 

8. Speak life.
Words are so powerful. Be careful with them. Don't gossip. Really, don't talk about people when they are not around unless you are specifically seeking help for how to fix a situation. You know when you are gossiping- It usually feels good, but it is at the cost of someone else's feelings. Oh & don't "Ask someone to pray for Brittany because she slept with Ryan." That is still gossiping about Brittany. Instead of speaking badly of people, try looking for positive things to say. Be an encourager. Lift people up. Friends will feel safer when they are around you if you don't speak badly of others, because they will know that you won't speak badly of them either. Be "that girl who never has anything bad to say about anyone". It doesn't mean that you don't sometimes think bad thoughts, it just means you practice self-control and don't say them. Once you start doing it, it will get easier. 

9. You are not fat. That's all. And you don't need to weigh yourself to see if I'm right. In fact I haven't weighed myself in years & my mind is very thankful for that. 

10. Find older people to invest in you. 
It helps so much. They'll have good advice when you need it. And hugs when you need them too. Tell them what you are going through & allow them to speak into your life. Even if you don't like all the advice that they give, they probably know some things that you don't know.

11. Everyone takes bad pictures sometimes. Don't get frazzled if you see a picture of yourself that you don't love. It does NOT mean you are ugly... There is a lot that plays into a good picture. Lighting is one key element. If that's off then anyone will look bad. 

12. Church is awesome.
Find a sweet one. Get plugged in. Go on a retreat or something that forces you to have friends. We are not meant to do life alone. We need solid people around us- people who love God, and people who will genuinely love us. Obviously church people aren't perfect. They are normal people. But they are lovers of Jesus & even in their imperfections they are great. Like you. Because you'll blow it too. So if you are all having grace for each other, leaving room for mistakes, you'll experience the fantastic gift of Christ-centered friendships.  

13. Read books. 
Do it. They will teach you, increase your vocabulary, & even quiet your soul- which is much needed in this loud world. (I'm a fan of anything by Francis Chan.) 

14. Guys do not think like us. I promise he is not mulling over your last text & asking all of his friends what exactly you meant when you said "yeah lol see you there." Try not to over-complicate things. Guys usually mean what they say. 

15. Sometimes certain music, magazines & movies can influence you to feel bad about yourself.
Just saying. I'm not an advocate of being a hermit. But I highly recommend thinking about whatever it is you are feeding your mind. In the same way you think about what you feed your body. Or what gas you put in your car. If you feed something garbage, it won't run properly. So if you start to feel really insecure, or constantly focused on temporary things like finding boyfriends, getting skinny, and having more money... figure out where the messages are originating. Guard your heart. Even facebook & instagram can cause you to start comparing yourself & your life to others... which can lead you to feeling miserable. If that happens, don't be afraid to unplug for a day. Whatever it takes to keep yourself free from self-hatred.

16. Don't feel bad if you don't have all the answers about your life & your future yet. It's a lot of pressure to be an adult & suddenly be expected to have a plan. Just take the next step, keep moving & be faithful with whatever is right in front of you. The rest will come. 

17. Starbucks 101: 
A latte is espresso with steamed milk. 
A cappuccino is espresso with mostly foam from steamed milk. 
A caramel macchiato is a layered espresso drink- meaning they typically serve it without stirring it. So the bottom layer is vanilla, the next is steamed milk, then the espresso is poured over the foamy top, and finally caramel is drizzled over the foam. 
And I always drink my Starbucks through a straw because it helps prevent my teeth from getting stained. Be careful though- straws make it easier to burn your tongue. 

18. Last one- i learned at 18 that to fall in love with Jesus is to fall in love with life. Relationship with Him gives meaning to everything. Get to know Him. Pray. Open up the Bible. Go to church. Listen to a podcast (I love the ones from Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church). God tells us that if we seek Him we will find Him. 

"Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him." 
Psalm 34:8

You are so precious.

Another one of me at 18.
Have fun being 18! It's a great year! 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Off to Europe!

It's true! 
We are leaving the country again! 
We fly out for Germany early Monday morning to go visit my Dad!

The only unfortunate part is that my sister Meredith won't be joining us. (It's because she is a scholar... her school doesn't get out for a few more months. Boo.)

Anyway, we will also get to explore other parts of Europe.
 [[to do ministry & visit friends! Hooray!]]

Places like.... 
Belgium, Holland, Paris, England, Switzerland, 
&& HOPEFULLY Barcelona. 

I will be sure to post lots of updates & photos 
so that you can feel like you are traveling with us!

We will be there until the end of April.

Here is a picture of my Daddy & I!

Friday, March 22, 2013

So yesterday...

...Was wonderful. 

You may have noticed that its been rather quiet over here on this blog. 
Well... not tonight. I am excited to be able to share my life with you again. 
And tonight I'm verging on the side of over-kill. But it's okay. I'm allowed. I've been missing this place. 

Yesterday I had a fun opportunity to work a fashion event in Orange County, through a woman that I met in New York. It went really well! I think that by doing the show yesterday,
 we now have opportunities to work lots of different shows around LA. 
More opportunities to share the love of Christ in this industry! I am thrilled. 

Rather than tell you more about yesterday, 
I thought it would be more fun to just show you what we did. 
Waiting on the sidewalk for my studly husband to come pick me up after the show. 

The event was at a GORGEOUS resort.

I know.. makes you want to swim in it. Me too. 

I should have photographed the parking lot. Every car looked like it costed a gazillion dollars.
(PS. I'm NOT a mathematician) 

Backstage. My model is in the middle. Her name is Amanda. 

After the show I stumbled upon a free lunch. While I ate I got to share my life story with a table of older people. One woman cried as I talked about how Jesus had healed and restored me. The sweetest Christian Grandpa was sitting next to me. He hugged me and kissed my head after and made sure that I brought Doritos and an orange out to Shaun. 

My main squeeze.

Isn't Orange County pretty? 

And the ocean?

We headed over to Huntington Beach High School to see our family. I lost Shaun momentarily... but then I found him again. Way down there. Looking at a rail and imagining what skate tricks he could do on it. 

Welcome to my life. Every rail & stair-set means we will be delayed ten minutes. 


We finally got to see our little brother George. He ran the mile in 4 min. & 24 seconds! First place. 

This is my Huntington Beach mom. Her name is Gina. She adopted us like 5 years ago. We are so thankful. 

Did you know that now you can order latte's at outdoor track & field events?? 

Yes... he is about to steam my milk for a chai latte. I was still in unbelief. 

See!? He made me a real chai latte... outside... while watching track... at a high school. I wonder if this is just because its SoCal or if every high school sporting event has progressed this much... 

After leaving the high school we headed to dinner. I think this photo is hilarious. 

Wahoo's Fish Tacos for dinner! 

I should have taken the photo while our meals were still pretty. He got the fish tacos.
I got the grilled fish Bonzai Bowl. Soooo yummy!

Then we drove back to YWAM LA to hear a guy from South Africa speak. He was talking about how God's signature is uniquely shown through each of our lives. He had a great accent and led us in some incredible African dancing. 

My favorite thing he said was,
"The best gift that God has given you is YOU.
Please accept it.
I know you want to be someone else
but please just accept being yourself!
It is so good!"

LA Style Fashion Week. [according to my iphone.]

Lauren, Shannon, and Lizbeth deflating the air mattress in the morning.
"Teamwork makes the dream work!" -Lauren

I took a picture of the girls taking a picture. Yes. I did this while driving. 

Last day of fashion week somone stole our car battery! 

Tuesday Alissa was the main lady in charge because I was gone :) She is amazing. 

A lovely Brazilian model. Her name is Hettielly. Good luck pronouncing it. 

Adorable Helene. German models are so lovable. 

Volunteers!! I know what you are thinking.... how is it that all of the girls in all of these photos are so beautiful?? 

My ladies :) 

Lauren and Charity were the assistants to the backstage director. One night our models were are young as 2 years old. :) 

Little models. 


Struttin on the runway during rehearsal. 

Rehearsal. The designers were cheering them on. 

Little cuties with the designers. Frankie and Sue. 

Can't get enough of the little beauties. 


Just waiting backstage. (PS. Anna & Alissa in the front row are two of my Beauty Arise staff. LOVE them.) 

Lots happening back stage. 

Some of our volunteers. 

Friends since middle school! God brought us together and put us in charge backstage! 

I just like this. Salt and peppa. 

Right before the show. 

People everywhere. 

Models right before the show starts. 

Lauren! Came all the way from Michigan to help! (You may recognize her from all of my NYC photos! We were inseparable!) 

The Pia Gladys Perey Show. 

So good to have Whitney in the show! She is a part of Models For Christ & has done YWAM too!
And that blonde bombshell to my right? She is my neighbor at the church we live in. We adore her. 

Gettin ready! Yes. The light is SUPER bright back there. 

Anna and Lizbeth just dressed Eramome! 

Men's shoes. 

A Presentation in the courtyard of the Vibiana. 

Alissa and Charity steaming a dress. 

That same presentation from before. 

Willy Wonka practicing his strut.

The finale of the Pia show. 

These women are amazing. 

Packing up all the chairs after the week was over! 

Still packing chairs.

Still packing more chairs. 

There is so much to love about this photo. These girls are precious.
My Models For Christ volunteers.
... And yes. I took this while driving.