Imperfect People

Imperfect People in love with a perfect God

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Imperfect People - Imperfect People in love with a perfect God

10 things I wish I could tell all single ladies (well all women really)

I lead a college girls bible study. They are beautiful and precious young girls. As we met last week I couldn’t help but remember these ladies are all someone’s daughter.  Now that we have our own two girls I know what that kind of love is like.

Then I thought of our heavenly father And how much he loves every girl, all of his daughters!  Daughters of the one true King!

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But we, as women, forget this. We think we are not good enough.

We live in a sick and twisted culture. Sex and relationships are cheap, easy, and we pretend like there are no strings attached. Casual sex is laughed off on sitcoms and movies. Photo-shoped images of “perfect” women are all over websites and magazines. Women are left confused. We end up jumping through hoops trying to be the prettiest, dress the best, or say and do the right things to catch a man’s eye.

If I could tell all young women (well all women actually) a few things, it would be this:

1) You are the daughter of a KING. I believe that makes you a princess.   With great care and intention the creator of the stars, flowers, rain, and the moon also made you.  Nothing was a mistake.  Everything about you is a work of art.

2) Yes even you
To everyone who read #1 and thought, well that doesn’t apply to me. Yes it does.

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3) Imagine yourself as a rare and precious jewel..because well you are. When it comes to dating, ask yourself, “Does this guy deserve a date with a rare and precious jewel?” Does he treat you like you are a daughter of God? Do not underestimate your worth!

4)Are you the person you are looking for…is looking for?
Do you act like you believe you are royalty?  Most of my single friends say they want a man who is a spiritual leader. One who is seeking after Christ even more than he is seeking her. The only problem is they are looking for him in a bar while they are sloppy drunk.  A spiritual leader is looking for a girl who is also seeking God.
A woman’s heart should be so close to God that man has to seek God to find her.

5)Help a guy out
We know from research (and from asking any guy) that men are visual. Marketing knows this well by putting half naked women to sell their product. Dressing modestly not only makes you appear more respectful, it also helps the guys who are trying to guard their eyes. I know as women we think nothing of a low cut shirt or barley there shorts but men think about it…a LOT. Help them to keep their mind’s pure and help yourself by leaving something to the imagination.

6) Be careful about making marriage/relationships your idol
If you find yourself doing things you wouldn’t normally do or questioning what you always thought was wrong, then you have an idol. Ladies, PLEASE realize your worth in Christ before you try to let a guy define your worth for you.

7) He can’t be all things. From an early age we are taught a man will bring us our, “happily ever after.” Not only is that untrue, it is unfair. No man can carry that kind of burden. You should get your fulfillment in Christ. He is the ONLY thing that will TRULY complete you (i.e. my favorite story EVER in the bible) Finding the right guy can compliment you but not complete you (sorry Jerry McGuire).

8) It’s more than “just sex” Culture tells us that sex is just physical. Yet everyone who has had sex outside of marriage is left with emotional scars and we wonder why it turned out to be way more than just physical. Everyone pretends like it doesn’t hurt but we are designed to become one with just one. Deep down we all know it is more than just physical. This is why it would be better to be beat up than raped.

God tells us that sex outside of marriage is different than any other sin. Not because he judges harder or loves you any less but because He knows how deeply it scars.

1Corinthians 6:18 There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as
much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we
must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids  commitment and intimacy,
leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become
 one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies
that were made for God-given and  God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you
is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God
owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body. 

9)“Try it before you buy it” is ridiculous.
I would like to buy a billboard in every major city that says this:
Sex does not require practice. 

100 out of 100 people would rather hear from their future spouse , “Here is all of me, for all of you” instead of “I am a sex expert”

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Sex is fragile and powerful. Just like a fire, it is beautiful in my fireplace, where it belongs. but in the middle of my living room it is destructive and leaves permanent damage.

10)If you have made bad choices in the past, today is a new day. Start today KNOWING the FACT that in Christ you have a clean slate. You can have a fresh start. Psalm 103:12 says just as far as the east is from the west he has separated us from our sin. You DON’T have to be who you used to be. Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17. Leave that old person behind and be who God created you to be.

Whether you think this is old fashioned. whether you think this is good for me but not for you, that’s ok, but the outcome and consequences are always the same. It’s not a matter of preference, it’s a matter of design.

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You were designed for something so much greater than what our culture has told you.  You are a work of art, formed to show the love of Christ, a relentless, unconditional selfless love to your perfect mate.  One person.  Protect your heart and your body.  You deserve to experience love the way God intended.

Please check out my inspiration for much of this and arguablly one of the best sermons series ever below.
New Rules for Love Sex and Dating by Andy Stanley 

The power of our perspective. Inspired by “unbroken”

I am fascinated at the power of our perspective.  How people who see the glass as half full or half empty, for example have truly completely different ways of seeing the same thing.

In the movie, and book “Unbroken” the real life story of Loui Zamperini is told. After surviving 47 days on a life boat (wow) in the middle of the ocean they were picked up by the Japanese where he faced years of abuse as a prisoner of war during WWII.  As a former olympic athlete the prison guard there made it his job to “break” Loui by giving him more abuse than any other.  Yet Loui survived.

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In an interview years later he said something remarkable.  He said at the prison camp he began to study his fellow prisoners and it became more and more obvious the ones that would make it out alive and the ones that would not.

He said it made no difference how strong they were, it made no difference how smart they were, but had everything to do with their perspective and attitude about the situation.

Those suffering as prisoners were starved, exhausted, lonely and frustrated.  Some developed the “woe is me attitude” got depressed and rarely survived.
But there were some who chose to find joy in their sufferings.  There were some who chose to smile when they wanted to cry.  They developed friendships with their fellow prisoners and grasped every positive perspective they could while suffering through the negative.

This my friends…rocks my world.

To think I would ever find ANY reason to complain about my life in my comfortable clothes, shelter, pantry full of food, and healthy body life.  It’s just bonkers.  Even when I do have bad things happen I can CHOOSE to focus on the good or dwell on the bad.  It’s totally up to me!

Rejoice in the Lord Always, again I say rejoice.  Philippians 4:4

Notice how it doesn’t say rejoice, unless you are having a bad day. Rejoice not just if you feel like it.   REJOICE ALWAYS!!

Years later researchers studied the characteristics of those that survived situations like prisoner of war and the hollacaust.  The findings were the same.  Hands down above all other characteristics a positive attitude is what kept them going.  

Perspective makes my bed feel so much better when  I have to sleep in a bad one.  Perspective makes me able to push through a hard exercise when I tell myself “i got this.” And perspective makes my kids tell me I’m the “best mom ever” when I say we are having cereal for dinner.

It’s all in how WE CHOSE to look at the situation.

I think the question now becomes: “How can I CHOOSE a positive attitude today?”

The power of saying NO. A people pleasers guide

Last year I got in way over my head overcommitted in pretty much every area of life.  My philosophy was if it is something I want to do then do it! I truly enjoyed everything I was committed to, volunteering for great organizations, church ministry leadership, working from home, volunteering at the girls school, and just the regular trying to have a life in there too.  But I left myself no margins.

If my life was a piece of paper there was writting in every corner  even circling around the holes to the left hand side.  My former self would say there was nothing wrong with this.  You can sleep when your dead I would say.  But the reality is when you leave no extra room you are a time bomb waiting to explode.  You get cranky and leave no time to enjoy anything.

I was faced with a overwhelmed schedule and an overwhelmed soul -Lysa Terkheurst 

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Fast forward to this summer.  I had a meltdown, quit pretty much everything and I found this life changing little book, “The best yes”

This book has taught me so much!  I am still in “people pleasures recovery” But I am learning a lot along this journey of discovering my best yes.
We all have different skills, connections and talents but we all have only 24 hours in a day.  There are a host of things competing for our time and we are the ones in control of those precious minutes that equal our life.

Saying-NoSaying NO to something, even a good thing, gives room, gives MARGIN for us to say yes to something GREAT.

This is not to be a pass to say no to everything that just inconveniences us.  I am a strong believer in pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones but there is a difference in the command to love verses overtaxing yourself with the disease to please.

The struggle is real.  Us people pleaser folks really DO want to hang out with you, we really DO want to be part of that committee, volunteer for this ministry AND have a clean home complete with a homemade healthy dinner.  But we simply can’t do all of those things.

Take the parable of the two sons found in Matthew 21:28

There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered.

 

But I love the powerful message it also gives about saying no.  The son who said no, but later realized he had time and was able to fulfill his fathers request was so much wiser.  The second son said yes and then didn’t show up!  How often am i that second son?  I am asked to fill a commitment, faced with the pressure to please I say yes, then i find myself too busy, grumpy about it trying to fill my commitment or worse having to cancel!

It’s not always wise to say no right away, but can you see the wisdom the second son had over the first?  Are you picking up what I’m throwing down here?

So how is a people pleaser to say no with grace? Lysa Terkeurest suggest
10 ways to graciously say no when you feel pressured to say yes.  My favorite are:

1. While my heart wants to say yes, yes, yes, the reality of my time makes this a no.

2. I so appreciate you asking me, but I must be brave and decline this opportunity. Saying no is hard for me but necessary in this season. Thank you for understanding.

3. I’ve promised my family not to add any new commitments to my schedule right now. Thank you for our friendship that allows me to be honest with my realities.

The bottom line is this: Speaking no with grace to protect you and your family gives you room for your BEST YES.  Giving you margin to be your BEST YOU.  And the world would be at a loss if you were too taxed to be your best.

Go forth and be awesome.

Banded giveaway! Win a headband and make a difference

Amazima, founded by Katie Davis, and their mission to feed, educate, and encourage the orphaned, poor, and vulnerable in the country of Uganda is pretty much the coolest thing since igloos.

If you have visited this blog before chances are you have heard me talk about Katie Davis before.

After high school she went to Uganda for an opportunity to teach kindergarten at an orphanage in a small village.

It was supposed to be a 10 month commitment.

She experienced  poverty, hurt, and oppression on a whole new level.  She knew she had to do something, anything, to help.

One night, in January 2008, a mud hut down the road from the orphanage collapsed on three small orphans during a rainstorm. Davis couldn’t find any living relatives willing to take any of the girls, and she refused to send them to an overcrowded orphanage.

Three days later, the youngest called her mom. 

Davis then rented a house to accommodate the three girls. Over the next 18 months, 10 more girls moved in, all from different circumstances.

Today, 25 year old Katie is the mom to 13 girls and living in Uganda.  Believe it or not, that is just the beginning of Katie’s ministry!

She initiated a self-sustaining vocational program to empower women to make unique Ugandan magazine bead necklaces.  And now..new to the Amazima ministry is Banded no slip headbands!

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From the banded website : We support Amazima, founded by Katie Davis, and their mission to feed, educate, and encourage the orphaned, poor, and vulnerable in the country of Uganda. For each headband you purchase we provide Amazima the funds to provide 3 meals.

Stylish functional and the money spent goes to something awesome?  What could be better….I know WINNING ONE!

To win the below black sparkle headband (my personal favorite) just help us spread the word about banded!  

Share this post on your Facebook or twitter and comment or tag me (@imperfectpple) so I know you did.

For bonus entries like banded on Facebook! 

They make a great Christmas gift too!

 

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Grace for the GREEN girl

Becoming “green”really and truly is such a journey.  I never considered myself “green” I just liked to do things that were frugal and made sense for our family and for our planet.

When making a purchase or planning a meal it seemed I would always ask myself, “What is the healthiest AND least expensive option?” I was almost a game like I had to be the house maker of the year all the while setting unreachable goals and expectations.

Even when I was out with the kids until 5 pm, grabbing dinner on the way home wasn’t an option because, it cost money, and it’s not healthy.  In turn I would get home with tired, cranky, and hungry children.  It was dinner time so I am left to scramble around the kitchen to see if there is anything I could call dinner for the evening….homemade and healthy of course.

Sometimes it became almost a competition with myself and it has also just become down right exhausting.

Turn page…

Today I find myself in a very REALISTIC season of life.  My girls are no longer babies and I am starting to drastically declutter my life with commitments and STUFF.  All that to say I am more clearly seeing what truly matters and asking myself a new question….“What is the less stressful option?”

Let me tell you girlfriend, This question is a game changer.  If the “BEST” i.e. healthiest and greenest option leaves you stressed out and wanting to go hide in a closet with a box of cookies…then the true BEST option, for this time, is the easiest.

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Here is how that question has changed my life lately:

There are days we have homemade pizza made with homemade dough complete with fresh milled flour and pizza sauce canned from my backyard tomatoes.
And there are days that we have little cesears because it is hot, and ready, and five dollars.

Sometimes dinner guest have dishes and linens because “green girls don’t use disposable dishes”
Sometimes green girls use disposable dishes.  

I reduce and reuse like a champ
But I don’t recycle (I know green girls cardinal sin, but we don’t have curbside and having trash build up in my garage is a stressor I am not willing to try again).

There are seasons when I get bushels of apples to make my own homemade apple-everything
There are seasons when I appreciate the wonderful people that are Mott’s applesauce. 

I made my own deodorant once.
I decided store bought deodorant will help me to keep my friends.

Ocasionally I walk the kids home from school because we live close and it’s more “green”
However most the time I don’t because walking about a mile with 4 kids (my neighbors as well)  7 and younger isn’t always fun and usualy takes forever.

Sometimes I use the food dehydrator to make my own fruit roll-ups
And sometimes I buy the expensive “good for you ones” because they are easier. 

When my kids were babies we would use cloth diapers at home
And not when we were out. (side note to those that cloth diaper 100% of the time,  I vote you deserve a trophy) 

Semi-unrelated: Most of my green friends did natural child birth
I didn’t because there was no trophy.  

Most of the time I make my own cleaners
But nothing gets your whites whiter than good-ole-bleach.

The last time my kids had a cough, I tried all kinds of herbs and teas…
And then I bought robitussin.  

I have been known to repurpose boxes and newspaper as a weed barrier in the garden.  Which makes for less trash.
I also get secretly almost gleeful every time I have another bag full of trash because that is less CRAP in my house. 

I used to make my own yogurt.
I find the grocery store does an excellent good job at this, and for now I don’t want to take that away from them. 

So there you have some GRACE for the green girl.  While I do make green choices where possible.  I also am ok with doing what is EASY when needed too.

How do you give yourself grace with your green choices? 

Realigning my focus

I’m a big hot mess y’all.  Seriously I have got in way over my head.  I have overcommitted, under delivered and exhausted myself doing “good things.”

I was talking with my husband this summer about how I feel my gifts are to work with young women and write.  He was astounded, “Reallly? I don’t disagree with you but what in you life reflects this?”

I felt like I had been punched.  Mind you, a well needed perfectly timed punch back into the reality I had created.

Here’s the scoop.  Back in January of 2013 Yes WOW it has been almost 2 years ago, I felt like God almost audibly whispered my FOCUS needs to be with college/high school girls and writing.  I was excited about my focus and dove in with two feet as I do pretty much everything.  But somewhere along the ay I got totally lost.  stece-jobs-focus-1024x675

I have gotten involved with lots of “good things” I have said YES to pretty much anything anyone as asked of me.  I am leader of this committee, contact person for that, volunteer for this, and coordinator of everything else.

Last semester I quit leading a college group because I was “too busy” I haven’t written anything in months and guess what…I have been a an un-focused un-joyful disobedient basket case all coming to a head when I realized my FOCUS was totally off.

One of my dear friends pointed this out to me last night.  She simply said you are all stressed out because You are not doing what you are called to do!!!

How funny/annoying/ironic is it that I was told by the creator of the heavens and the earth, the one who knit me together, the one who knows every minute of my past and future what my focus should be and it took me TWO years to come back to it?

Apparently I was like, “Oh good idea God, but look this is pretty and shiny let me go over there, this looks fun let’s do that too!” Sometimes I feel like my faith is about as mature as a 3 year old.  I’m reading Lysa Terkherst new book, The best Yes.  This has been another perfectly timed eye opener for me.  The main thing I am learning is there are a lot of GOOD ways I can spend my time but there are only a few BEST ways. I realize this may not sound revolutionary but sometimes you just need to be reminded.

So I’m reeling my chains back in.  Trying to FOCUS (lord I love that word) on where I am supposed to be.  Narrowing down my commitments and
learning to feel the joy again of being in the will of God.

We really and truly are all different parts of the body called to do different things and my obedience will look totally different than yours.

I’m writing this here for accountability and to see the journey of what it looks like when I come back to the feet of Jesus.

Have you ever gone astray from where you should be focusing?  I love your comments! Please share!

Hills worth dying on this fall

School has started back for us!  My inner rebel fights a schedule but I secretly love the predictability and routine that school gives us.  The newness of this time of year has stirred in me a desire to commit to a few priorities I want to fiercely protect.

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I always have grand ideas about what is important to our family but I rarely have the backbone or strategy to impliment anything.

Thankfully, one of my BFFS, i.e. soul sister, ie. new blogger gave me the idea during one of our summer pool-dates, i.e wear the kids out dates, i.e counseling sessions.   “Hills worth dying on” she called it.  The few things in the day to day that are worth putting her feet down, worth scheduling around, and worth fighting for.  The few things that are worth protecting for their family.

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Taking her inspiration and after much thought, I also came up with a few hills worth dying on that are important to us right now.  This is certainly will look different in different stages of life so for now I will just decide on what’s important for the fall.  And here it is:

1)Family Morning devotion time:
Mornings can be crazy for everybody but we always have at least 15 min while the girls eat breakfast at the table, when we can read them a devotion.  It’s important to start our day off in the right direction, get good conversation going and help give our day some direction.  It’s a Hill worth dying on this fall. We plan to use these two this year (click on the picture for more info):



2)Reclaiming the bod
I have never been much of a fitness buff, but here lately I have gotten into a few classes at the gym and some yoga DVD’s at home that I really REALLY love.  I feel better, I look better, and as they say, “When mama’s happy everybody’s happy.”  So this mama makes working out a hill worth dying on!

3) Turning my phone OFF for 1 hour a day:
I work from home. (If you need T shirts, polos or promo items you should msg me!) It’s great that I can set my own schedule but I also have to guard and protect the times when I’m working and when I’m home even when I’m in the same place.  Turning my phone off for one hour when the girls first get home from school has been REVOLUTIONARY for me.  I have tried just turning it on silent but something about turning it totally off is just magical.  It helps me remember that the most important place for me to be, for that hour, is with them.

4) Weekly alternating date nights: We implemented this a little bit last spring but look forward to scheduling this every week in the fall.

The schedule will be something like this:
Week 1: Mommy Daddy date night
Week 2: Mommy and Little 1 date night/Daddy and little 2 date night
Week 3: Mommy and Daddy date night
Week 4: Mommy and Little 2 date night/Daddy and little 1 date night

And there you have it. That is what we have committed to for the upcoming season.  What about you?  Have you made any new commitments for the new school  year? What are your “hills worth dying on?”

I love to hear your comments!

Marriage advice: My top 5

For our ten year anniversary we went to Winshape Marriage Retreat up in Rome Ga.  I would like to take every married couple by the shoulders, look them square in the eye and say GO TO THIS RETREAT.  It’s fun, they feed you like a king, and you spend a weekend learning more about the most important relationship we have here on earth.  A relationship that EVERYONE needs to take time to intentionally work on, no matter how good or bad your marriage is.   Go to Winshape people!   Ok enough about that.

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The speaker at this particular session was author, Gary Thomas.  Wow what a win to visit Winshape while he was there!  If you are not familiar with him, he  wrote (arguably) THE BOOK on marriage,

He gave the most unique and applicable marriage advice I have ever heard.  Without further aidu here it is:

1) Do we really think the media has our best interest at heart?

If we compare ourselves to what we see on TV and the movies (and haven’t we all) then we are comparing our selves to a dream made up by a few imagintive writers whose purpose is to take us AWAY from reality and ENTERTAIN us.  Often there is an agenda and rarely is it to strengthen our marriage.

Romantic comedies are sweet.  I admittedly thought the notebook was the best movie EVA.  But it’s not fair to expect my husband to be all those things I see on TV.  After all they are ACTING and let’s be honest, most actor’s REAL Life romances don’t usually last very long.

2) Infatuation doesn’t last

Speaking of movies and TV, isn’t it interesting that the whole plot is based around the couple getting together?  Usually the end of the movie/series is a wedding, when in reality that is just the beginning.

According to Thomas research shows us that the infatuation stage can last AT A MAX of 18 months.  This is the stage when we just can’t get enough of each other.  Everything they do is hilarious and perfect, and we sacrifice work, sleep, and commitments just to be together.  Our brains cannot keep this up, this stage simply doesn’t last…It can’t!

Media reminds us of the butterflies and fireworks that were there at the beginning and make us curious if leaving years of memories, life together and true intimacy is worth trading in to feel the infatuation stage afresh (which will AGAIN only last 18 months).

3)Thinking of God as your Father….IN LAW

This is by far my most favorite piece of advise.  Thomas explains it this way….
Imagine if you will, I think you are the most amazing person I ever met, I quote everything you say, I read everything you write, I sing songs that praise you and I even give 10% of my income to you.  BUT I don’t really like your kids.  In fact I talk down to them, treat them disrespectfully and condemn them for doing anything that even sorta gets on my nerves.

Would you want to hang out with me?  I mean I do lots of wonderful things for you?

NO!!! I don’t care how nice you are to me, if you are condemning and mean to my children it’s game over.  We are no longer friends.

Do you see where I am going with this?  My husband is God’s son!  His baby boy, the apple of his eye.  Just as your spouse is too!  For me to be rude and disrespectful to him yet expect my relationship with God to be good is just crazy talk.  The scripture says it this way:

husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together….Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7

The same goes for us ladies so don’t think this is a way out since it is addressing men.  Peter says when you treat your spouse as your should your prayers will not be hindered.  Wow!  What insight!

I imagine that one day, I’m going to stand before God, and He’s going to gently talk to me about Bryan. He’ll say, “what did you do to care for my son? How did you love my son?”

It really puts a different spin on things doesn’t it? 

4)What if Marriage is more about holiness than happiness?

I had a friend who was getting a divorce tell me, “I’m just much happier outside of my marriage”  I couldn’t help but cringe knowing this quote from Sacred Marriage.  

What if marriage wasn’t invented just to make us happy?

Marriage is about teaching us to become LESS SELFISH.  Lord knows we need it.  To change our marriage positively, we each need to PUT OUR SPOUSES NEEDS ABOVE OUR OWN.  As we do that, the marriage becomes stronger, we become better people, and you may just find that happiness after all. True love is less about finding the “right person”, but becoming the right person.

Holiness

 

5) When you are looking for things to praise, you will find things to praise

One of my favorite things to quote is, “there is good and bad in everyone it just depends on what you are looking for”
This is so true but sometime I get in a rut and have to INTENTIONALLY shift my thinking.  You can make a list of the things you appreciate about your spouse.   Even if you can think of only one thing, harp on that one thing so much until it makes the bad fade and the good shine.  We are not a slave to our thoughts.  We can shift our thinking to a positive and thankful attitude.

1,000 gifts is a whole book devoted to the idea of journaling thanks and how it is a complete game changer on perspective.

In closing:

“What if the greatest act of worship you could do today is to love your spouse?” -Sally Clarkston
And it very well could be. God loves your husband, and He planned for your husband to have someone to help him, to encourage him, to inspire him, to love him. God wants someone to appreciate your husband, and to urge him on in faith and in love. And that someone, that He has especially prepared for the task, is you -borrowed from 7 thoughts that will change your marriage. 

Ok now it’s your turn.  What is your advice on marriage? Leave a comment below!

 

 

Look for Jesus in the lives of the poor and broken because that is his zip code

It’s all Jesus’ fault.  Yep that’s where I find myself today.  In the middle of an exhausting, stressful, beautifully glorious mess.  Sometimes I look up and realize in the middle of a mess there is such majesty.

Ok let me back up.
So i kept reading this book, you may have heard of it it’s called the Bible.   I noticed Jesus kept talking about us helping the poor, in fact he mentioned it like 9 bazillion times (or so).  And that darn Frances Chan and David Platt didn’t help me ignore it either.

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Now I’m not saying I read all these verses  differently than anyone else…but I felt a call to DO SOMETHING!  I was so tired of sitting in bible studies that talked about loving the poor while we ate home baked goods in our warm church wearing our pearls and expensive shoes.   I like pearls and expensive shoes I’m not hating…it just makes me itchy.

I am somebody

But I had no idea what that even looked like.  I did not know a single person who didn’t have a car, on food stamps, and certainly no one living on the streets.  So what’s a middle class white girl to do?

I figured rather than waiting around for God’s parting of the heavens to reveal his miraculous plan for my life,  I decided just find where God is at work and join in.

I knew of two local ministries in our small town doing some amazing things for some amazing people.  So I called to see if I could volunteer.

It started small,  Just cleaning, organizing and the like.  I lead a college girls group and dragged them in with me….turns out they loved it…and they are awesome.

But then something happened.  Something I never expected.

As I became a regular volunteer.  One of the directors called me when she met someone she thought I could connect with.  A young mom of two.  No car, no home, no job, no family, and no hope.

“It’s a beautiful thing when folks in poverty are no longer a missions project but become genuine friends.”-Shane Claiborne

And that is exactly what happened.  She was never a project but a very dear friend to me.  Her burdens became mine.  I lost sleep, I cried, and I learned a million and one things through this crash course of cultural divides.

We may have grown up only miles apart but it may as well have been in another solar system.  There are not enough words to describe how  differently our lives were growing up.  And in turn we found our selves in very different shoes yet similar life stages (more on that here).

That experience opened the doors for me to continue to meet new friends much different than the friends I had in the past.  Now that I have names and faces instead of just statistics,  I find myself in a totally foreign place.

I understand how food stamps work.  I have friends who have families that make Jerry Springer’s guest look normal.   I wrote a letter to a friend in jail today.   And I regularly hang out with the fatherless, and the addicted.

“If you can’t find Jesus among the safe sanctuaries then look for him in the lives of the poor and broken because that is his zip code.” -Jen Hatmaker

It’s amazing how much God can do when we are willing to get uncomfortable.  It’s basically a big hot mess of awesomeness.

My encouragement is not “hey look at me” because I am only a year or so into this whole new world.   I don’t have any answers and I have no idea what I’m doing.   I think most well meaning Christians DO want to help those outside of their comfort zone, but have no idea where to start.

The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.

I don’t have a formula or a 5 step process but I do pray we can all reach a little further than the comfort of our pews and get our hands dirty.  Jesus truly does make beautiful things from the dust….especially under our fingernails.

If you are ready to jump into the deep end, I will warn you it’s messy and complicated and you may want to run, but if you stick it out you will be amazed at what God can do.

I don’t think we were meant to stay comfortable.  There are great organizations in every town and hopefully one through your church doing great work.  See if you can join in, and see if God leads you to befriend someone totally out of your comfort zone.  More than just seeing a face, but truly getting to know someone, knowing a story, sharing a burden, and sharing life…You will never be the same.

3 steps to avoiding the comparison trap

So there’s this thing…this ugly, strangling, ever-present annoyance that just won’t leave me alone, it’s called comparison.

I’ve read the books, shared the quotes, heck even written the blogs about how to stop comparing myself to others.  But no matter what I do I just can’t become immune to comparing myself to other women. I don’t think I’m alone in this.

I mean have you seen her?
Have you seen super mom who is team mom of everything her child does?
Have you seen her who is on top of her industry and published in all the trade magazines?
Have you seen her who cooks all organic, made from scratch masterpieces?
Have you seen her who has 8 children and home schools, and is sane?
Have you seen her who can still pull off wearing a bikini after having kids?

I’ve seen her.  She is everywhere and in every town.  But the shocking thing…the thing I NEVER notice is every once in a while…when the starts are all aligned.  I see her in the mirror.

I know what you are thinking, What??!! Who is this crazy self righteous blog writer?  I know, I know, Stay with me for just a second.

After my years of blogging about “imperfect people” I have come to realize one very important fact.  The comparison trap problem lies in me comparing my behind the scenes to her highlight reel.

somone else

To read the rest bounce on over to where I am guest posting today.  At Imperfect Women.  

The Beauty Experiment book review and challenge

The Beauty Experiment is a true story about the simple, honest, and pretty hilarious Phoebe Baker.   After having a baby and re-locating to Hong Kong she first sought refuge in the mall, buying beauty pick-me-ups for comfort. But she soon realized there was something deeper to self worth than a pretty dress and new mascara.  Enter in her year long radical experiment that revealed surprising insights into her marriage, her family and herself. (source) 

The Beauty Experiment

About The Beauty Experiment by Phoebe Baker Hyde: I looked at my reflection and despaired. As an exhausted young mother I felt ugly and saw that a new dress or face cream would never help. I was at risk of passing on a habit of feeling miserable about my looks to my baby girl—if nothing changed.
Soon afterward Phoebe Baker Hyde made a vow: to give up new clothes, makeup, haircuts, and jewelry in hopes of revealing something she had always paid lip service to but never quite believed in—her inner beauty. The Beauty Experiment chronicles Hyde’s quest for self-acceptance in nothing but her own skin. In thoughtful, exquisite prose, Hyde holds up a mirror to all women and shows how perfectionism can keep us from achieving what we really want: happiness, confidence, and serenity.

I was skeptical about this read at first.  I’m a pretty simple girl.  I don’t shop…like ever, I wear cheap makeup, I get my haircut bi-annually.  And I for sure never pay for any fancy nails or beauty treatments.

But apparently I am NOT the majority on this.  The salon industry ALONE makes on average 21 BILLION dollars a year (yes I said BILLIONS) and that doesn’t even include makeup, clothing, jewelry, or even plastic surgery!

Beauty is big business.  And it’s no wonder with the emphasis our culture puts on being…and staying young and beautiful.  Even when our REAL life is full of chasing children, wiping floors, and car pools.  A product promising to make us beautiful sells in a heartbeat!
Her blog provides a beauty wealth calculator where you can figure out how much a year you personally spend on beauty.  Mine was pretty low at $200 but I mean sheesh that is still $200!!

I am certainly not immune to caring what I look like.  I too have an “inner voice” as she calls it telling me that shirt doesn’t look right, I need more concealer and, if only my abs were tighter.

Phoebe embarks in several beauty experiments and chronicles what she learns along the way.  She also challenges her readers to have a beauty experiment of their own by trying out one of the below

Experiment Activities:

1. Identify your major cosmetic crutch and go without it for two weeks, noticing any changes. I think it takes about two weeks to really start feeling positive results, whereas negative ones start in one week!2. When in need of a new garment, go shopping without money and enjoy the “costume box approach” to the world’s malls. Then go back to the same stores a second time and purchase any items you still want/remember. Gauge how your habits and shopping experience shifted.3. Cover all but a small section of the bathroom mirror in your house for a week. Take notes on any changes, particularly interruptions of mental flow.

***

Inner Voice Activities:

1. Transcribe a recent inner conflict you’ve had as if it were two separate people arguing in dialogue. Label these voices “Me” and “Argumentative Inner Voice.” Then, write out a monologue featuring the AIV riffing on the problem, as if or she could hold forth without limit. Afterward answer a few questions about that inner voice: What is it afraid of? What are it’s survival strategies? What does it want to protect you from?

2. Draw a timeline chronicling the development of this inner voice, adding all the influences that have combined to form it over the years. Start as a tiny girl and go all the way to now. What “injuries” or setbacks has this inner voice suffered?

3. Write a love letter to your inner voice, explaining that you find him or her useful and appreciate the help, but would like to reframe your relationship. Explain how.

It’s amazing how these simple experiments can help open your eyes to what is truly important and loving the real you.
In short I think this is a great read and resonates with women everywhere.

As a mother of two girls I especially love a book emphasizing the beauty underneath our skin.
Phoebe Baker Hyde

About Phoebe Baker Hyde

Phoebe Baker Hyde has written on self, place and culture for The New York TimesThe Los Angeles TimesSalon.com, and The Wall Street Journal. She holds degrees in Anthropology and English from the University of Pennsylvania and Master of Fine Arts in writing from University of California at Irvine. She currently lectures and teaches in Boston.

Find out more about Phoebe at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Thanks TLC book tours for letting me be a part of this review!

tlc tour host

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