Friday, September 26, 2014

alive is beautiful.

It was almost 9ish in the PM and he was ready to go out. I had to remind myself to enjoy the spontaneity of it because the planner in me already had the night on lock and there was no ‘adventure with husband’ anywhere on the agenda. There were other things like: tidy up bedroom, go for a jog, and watch some of new friend Carly’s youtube video’sbut I thought husband would be with the skaters last night so I strategically planned a night to get things done. Anyway I put my plans on hold so I could go out with Shaunny which was much better anyway, and it really didn't matter except for the fact that I had been sitting most of the day so I had really wanted to jog. 
I started quietly thinking about my body while we were driving to the store. I had eaten a lot throughout the day. I recounted it, which is what usually happens in my brain on big eating days, it's like all the food I ate stares me right in the face, shaking its head and pointing its finger at me for eating so much. Big bowl of cereal for breakfast. Bigger than normal. Extra snack. Big lunch. Extra bread at lunch. Chips. Big dinner. Chips again after dinner. I didn’t mean to eat so much but I felt unusually hungry so I just kept going. Being on my period is probably most of the reason for my monstrous appetite this week, which answers the question that some of you were thinking... no, I'm not pregnant.... but regardless, the big eating day had my mind whirling.... "big eating" means "big body".... the fear was starting to settle in. 

We stopped at Rite Aid and Lay's BBQ Stax were on sale for a dollar, the kind that come in the Pringles type can, Shaun bought them excitedly because of course it was a great deal, and he gave me a few chips. I ate them and silently regretted it. I was thinking to myself, “...I was supposed to be jogging now, instead I am eating Lay’s...” 

Then after a few more errands Shaun decided he was in the mood for pizza. I know he sounds like a teenage boy, and he kind of is, or at least he would definitely eat like one if he didn't have a wife. He was extra sweet though and despite my obvious hesitation, he insisted that it would be fun to have a late night date. He was right.  So at almost 10pm we found an awesome pizza place in Montrose and each of us ordered a slice. I felt anxious about more food, but tried to relax and enjoy being with him.

The slices were New York style so “one slice” was actually more like 2 or 3 normal slices anywhere else. Mine had spinach and ricotta on it, my favorite. I had to keep to reminding myself how much I loved it because the fear of getting fat was growing louder and louder in my head. 

We found a bench outside by the street because the pizza place was closing. I ate most of my pizza, leaving only a little piece to take home. Shaun and I had a great conversation. We laughed a lot and talked about important things and silly things and I chose to be present. I chose to enjoy him and to enjoy the creamy ricotta and the fluffy crust and the perfect California weather. It was a choice and I knew it. A choice to quiet my fear of getting fat and to be alive to Shaun in that moment. Thankfully I did it.  

When we got home I went for a walk around the parking lot of the church. I listened to music and prayed and I surrendered my body to God, again. 

If you have spent much time on this blog you know that I am someone who values health. We only have one body and it is important to take care of it, physically, emotionally, spiritually. You know that. But my post today is not about that. I don’t need to remind you to eat well and exercise. I don’t need to tell you that drinking water is important and vegetables are important, and the occasional ice cream or late night pizza date is important too because health is holistic, and emotions and relationships with people are just as important as our diets. No, you already know all these things. 

Today I simply felt to remind us that being beautiful is about so much more than our appearance. If I could make you a coffee and tell you this stuff in person I would, but since we are here and I'm staring at a screen instead of into your gorgeous eyes, I'll trust that you will hear this like I feel it.

New mama. I could see you rocking your new baby last night on your front porch as I was walking around the parking lot of the church. It was beautiful. I wanted to tell you that it’s okay if your body doesn’t look like it did 10 months ago. Give yourself grace. You will get the hang of this mom thing and your body will adjust to her new role sooner than you think. You are working miracles right now in nourishing that little one with your very being. You may not look like you wish you did, but I see you, and I think you are exquisite. Beauty is not about having a tiny waist. Beauty is more alive than that. It nourishes and blesses. It comforts and soothes. It loves tenderly even when no one else sees. 

New bride. I hear you. You worked so hard to feel beautiful in that dress and then on the honeymoon you relaxed. The only trouble is that relaxing felt like “getting fat” and now you are home and he wants your body but you want to hide it because you are mad at it for getting bigger. I know sweet one. You’re okay. You are beautiful. Beauty is not perfection. Beauty is more alive than that. It welcomes and invites. It radiates with joy and allures with the authentic self, not the perfect self, but the broken self that is dearly loved anyway. 

Girlfriend. I know. All the songs make it seem so good to be you. "Feeling 22". But mostly you feel lonely and confused, smiling on the outside, aching on the inside. No dinner again tonight, because you’re “not hungry.” So hungry. Painfully hungry. Hungry for encouragement. Hungry for someone to see you and know you and remind you that you have what it takes. So you skip meals hoping that even with all those other things missing, at least if you have control, you will feel better. Pretty girl. Beauty is not controlling. Beauty is more alive than that. Beauty confesses. Beauty acknowledges the need to be loved and it is a lover too. Beauty dreams and believes and tries and fails. 

We all long to be beautiful. We were created to be beautiful. But we are daily bombarded with this idea that beauty is an outside thing relating only to our size and skin and hair and clothes. So we get anxious on days when we eat more than we wanted too, and we get deceived into seeing our wonderful seasons of life as our "fat seasons". We find ourselves anxiously trying to rush through them rather than slowing down and soaking them up. 

But beauty is available to us here and now. It is not something that will happen to us once we change this or fix that. It's not a number on the scale or a smaller pant size. Beauty is more alive than that and we have the opportunity to choose beauty today. Exactly where we are. Exactly how we are. We can eat the pizza. We can rock the baby. We can invite people into our story. We can allow the good stuff and the bad stuff and the everything else stuff to just be. We don't have to hide, because hiding isn't protecting us anyway, it is stealing the joy that could be ours by poisoning us with fear. Like the fear of getting fat. Let's reject that fear and choose to be present in this moment. 

Let's come alive friends. Because alive is beautiful. 

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in light of fall arriving, a photo from last fall taken by the ever lovely Sarah Grunder. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Letter Sparrow

Happy Tuesday Friends!

I wanted to write you because of something wonderful that I think you should know about! It's called Letter Sparrow and it is a shop on Etsy that my friend Kelly Hollstrom started! Her work is seriously beautiful and since I've already purchased some gifts for friends and seen how adorable the stuff looks in real life I think its time I spread the word. Especially since today is the first day of autumn which means its only a matter of time until we are listening to Christmas music and wrapping gifts and eating cookies and drinking hot drinks and watching Santa Clause movies and...
oh my heart is getting SO exciting just typing about it!
So since you'll be buying gifts for loved ones here soon anyway you might as well get a head start and swing by Kelly's shop to order something lovely! 

You can find her stuff on Etsy by following this link:
& you can also see her latest creations by following her on instagram: @lettersparrow

((The photo at the top of this post is from @ohmyprep who was doing some Letter Sparrow giveaways too so you should probably check her out while you're at it!))

Ps. She also designs my blog signatures!

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Here are some photos from Kelly's instafeed 
along with a few items I bought for friends! 

Friday, September 19, 2014

on slowing down.

On the flight home from New York City last week I decided that Fridays would be my writing days. I love to write and I think it is an important part of what I do so I wanted to create time in my life for it. Before I would set aside just a few hours in a day for writing because I never thought I was allowed to have a whole day. Taking a whole day was like taking an extra helping of dessert when I've already had some, greedy and selfish. But I have changed my mind on it. Partly because I think God led me to do it and partly because I learned recently that we are more effective when we group our tasks by similarity rather than jumping from one thing to the next all throughout the day. The lady at the conference said that it takes your brain something like 7 minutes to shift from one task to the next, so you end up losing time trying to multitask. She suggested planning your schedule in a way that keeps you doing the same type of job for longer chunks of time- a time for emails, a time for phone calls, a time for meetings... etc. It made sense to me because whenever I would give myself an hour to write I would feel rushed and depleted of creativity, distracted with thoughts of the never ending list of "other things" I needed to do soon. But this week was different. This week I planned my schedule like the lady said, working on MFC stuff all at once one day, and Beauty Arise stuff on a different day, and I saved the best for last, I made Friday my writing day. You can imagine how excited I was to wake up this morning, like a little kid on the first day of summer break. Thank you Lord for Friday.

I've been sitting here in a quiet space typing away with coffee at arms length and some water too so I don't die of dehydration, and classical music on my pandora station which is maybe a bit of an overkill but I thought it might make me feel even more like a real life writer. Everything is in place except of course the words, which I am trying to find now.

Sometimes I feel like I am racing, like I'm running through life at full speed attempting to fill my emptiness with busy-ness, afraid that if I slow down, then I'll feel, and that if I feel then I won't know what to do with my feelings and then I'll just dissolve into a puddle of mush on the ground. I don't even mean to do it. Its just hard to know how to focus and who to focus on and it seems like there are always so many things and people and needs fighting for my attention. So without knowing what to do I just race on full-speed ahead, hoping that if I get more done then the yucky feelings will die away. Of course they don't and they won't, not by racing at least. 

Almost 2 years ago I met with a pastor over coffee. Some would argue that she was actually the pastor’s wife but she also did pastor jobs so in my book she is a pastor too. Not only was she a pastor and the wife of a pastor but she was also a homeschooling mother to 6 children, and a working actress and model. You can imagine how bewildered I felt looking at this woman’s life. I was enamored by her, how could someone be so poised and lovely in appearance while also being so involved in all of these other places? When I asked how she managed to balance it all she gave me a glorious bit of wisdom that I have savored ever since. She said that God gives us all kinds of gifts and roles but He doesn’t intend for us to operate in all of them all at once. She said in some seasons she is more mother than actress, and in others she more actress than pastor; she is always faithful to God and to her family so that part never changes, but what varies is how she chooses to spend her time and energy in each chapter of her life. At that time she felt that the Lord had directed her to focus primarily on helping her children adjust to a recent move and so she had laid down some acting jobs in order to be fully present for her family and the church. She concluded her thoughts by expressing that regardless of how she is spending her time in a given season, she is never shy to claim the gifts God has given her, for instance, even if she hasn’t had a role in movie for several years she still confidently tells people she is an actress because she knows it is an important part of who God made her to be. I liked her answer so much, especially because she didn’t seem to be running in the way that I feel like I am running sometimes. She seemed rested and alive to the moment. I wanted that. I still want that. 

I am a wife of a handsome and Godly skater man who started and now directs an international ministry to skateboarders. I am a sister to Meredith and a sister to many other girls and women who have become like family over the last 26 years of my life. I am also a sister to a whole bunch of brothers, mostly skateboarders, who have shared a roof with us, some for months and others for years. These men have become my family too and I feel it most when they are dating girls because I get overprotective and a little weird and I know it can only be attributed to feeling like a big sister who needs to protect them from getting their hearts broken. I am a director of two different organizations that together encompass most of why I feel I was put on this earth. In one I am leading girls and women around the world to be who they were created to be and to understand their God-given beauty, identity, and value. In the other I am reaching out to professionals in the fashion and entertainment industries and inviting them to know the love of God and use their influence to impact the world for Christ. I live for that stuff. I am a blogger and a listener and a writer and a party thrower and a missionary who lives in a room at a church and doesn’t get paid but rather raises financial support from Christians who believe in what we are doing. I am a talker who loves to read and walk and win at sports. I am an intercessor, the crazy type of lady who prays for big things and little things and everything only because when I’m not praying I am worrying and I'm convinced that praying is much better than worrying. I am a communicator who would rather send a card than an email and would rather have coffee than skype. I like to shovel snow but I don’t like to pump my own gas. I like to mow the lawn but I don’t like to garden. I love California and Colorado and Spain and Chile and India.. and I think maybe everywhere else we have been too. I am a lot of things but I'm learning that I can’t be all of them all at once. Its too much and if I try it will destroy me. 

I want to slow down. I think I need to slow down. I can feel God inviting me to slow down, slowing me to a still. It's funny how desperate I am for Him. I need Him to lead me, I need Him to empower me, and I need him even to slow me down when I am racing beyond His will. It’s like a child who finds out her Mama is taking her for ice cream and then in her excitement she takes off running ahead to get to the ice cream shop as quickly as possible. Her mother slows her down, not because running is a bad thing, but because her running could lead her to bad things. She could get lost or end up in dangerous traffic, or even just miss out on the experience of being with her Mama as together they walk to their favorite place. 

God has promised me great places and I have taken off running. I’m slowing now though. Not because He is mad at me but because my running could get me lost, or take me to a dangerous place, or because it could cause me to miss this journey of being with HimAs I slow to a walk, and breathe deeply, I am assured that I can be everything He has created me to be while only giving my attention to some things in this season. One friend of ours who is famed in the world of skateboarding told us that since he knows he can't be there for everyone who wants his attention his goal is to do for one person what he wishes he could for everyone. Shaun and I think that is good advice. 

It's okay to say no. Its necessary even. And it is good to say yes to important things, like writing on Fridays. We all have gifts and roles and lots of things that we are called to do here on this earth, but we can't do them all at once. We aren't meant to. It is important to slow down. 

God is taking me to my favorite places and I am learning that I don’t need to race to get there. Besides if I am racing then I'll spill my coffee, and who would want to waste a perfectly good pumpkin spiced latte? 

Exactly. No one.

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In the heart of slowing down here are some photos of our Palm Springs getaway a few weeks ago. Shaun and I hope to make a habit of "weekend getaways". Our goal is for them to be free or nearly free and a time to connect and prepare for the following week. They don't even need to be "away" necessarily, but they need to be a time of disengaging with work life and online life and any other life that takes away from our life together. We want to be intentional about our family and friends that feel like family, and about pursuing the heart of God. I'm 5 years into marriage, 7 years into trusting Jesus, and 26 years into life. 
Praise the Lord. Slowing down is a good thing. 

Thank you!

September is nearing its end and October is just around the corner. Unfortunately southern California missed that memo though and we have been melting over here with temperatures hitting over 100 degrees for most of the week! Thanks be to the God who created iced coffee and sandals, we are all coping quite well and counting down the days until we stop sweating long enough to put on a light cardigan and scarf. When that glorious moment happens you will definitely know about it because a shameless selfie will be in order and I’ll be counting on you to celebrate with us!

Thank you so much to all of you who were praying for us and cheering us on in New York City last week! We had an amazing outreach with Models For Christ and Beauty Arise and though I won’t be posting details on my blog about it I do plan to send a private email update about the week. If you would like to be on the list of happy folks receiving my message then please let me know by leaving a comment or by emailing!

I am going to be sharing a fresh blog post here soon, so I will wrap this one up now but just want you to know that I am grateful for you and hope you are doing well! If you haven’t followed @beautyarise on instagram don’t miss out. Our friend and newest Beauty Arise staff member Grace Penhale (@mydarlinglight) is now heading up our IG game and you can count on it being worth your double taps. She is a hero. 

Love you guys! 

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