Summer Beautification Assignment Week 7: “I Don’t Got This.”

Did you know, every time I post anything to this blog, I have a few moments of panic and negative thoughts about what I’m writing? 

  Here is my internal monologue: “You are such a fake. Nothing you say can be taken with any credibility because of who you are and how flawed you are. You’re pretending to be an authority on matters of the soul, but what do you know? You’re so full of sh*t. People would be smarter to unfollow you and listen to someone who knows something about being a decent human being.” I’m really hard on myself. I even have nicknames for myself that I won’t share here but they’d probably make you laugh because of how awful they are.

  I’m really nervous today because I want to talk about something that talks a lot about faith. But the take-away is for anyone to hear whether you’re faith-filled, Christian or not. And I’m nervous because of the Christian followers I have reading who might not feel I’m doing this thing justice. But I am inspired to write it, so here it is. And to be honest, if it doesn’t speak to you, I’m ok with the idea that maybe it isn’t meant for you this week; I still love you!

  So, today Scott and I went to church and the sermon was about St. Paul who used to be one of the Pharisees, named Saul at that time, who persecuted, imprisoned, and was responsible for deaths of Jesus’ early followers. He was doing it because he believed in Jewish law. He didn’t understand who Jesus was yet, or what he stood for. He had a dramatic conversion one day when Jesus came to him (from heaven) on the road to Damascus and asked Saul why he was persecuting him. Saul quickly came to believe in Jesus after that encounter and changed his whole life around (and his name to Paul) to proclaim the good news of Jesus. 

  I never knew how much I loved Paul until the last few weeks. According to our pastor today, Paul cried a lot (Acts 20:17-38). Like every time he went into a city to share the story of Jesus, he was so overwhelmed with emotion and love for God that he wept. Paul cried about everything because he was so humbled by God’s grace, that God would choose someone as lowly and broken as him to proclaim the good news. God’s love filled him to the brim. Crying at that time (and even now) was considered weakness. But Paul couldn’t help it. That’s kind of what grace does…As our pastor pointed out, grace shows you the worst things about yourself. It humbles you and you realize just how broken and screwed up you are. But if we understand the meaning of grace in our lives, we see that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is what God did for us so that all of our sins would be forgiven. What other faith is there on earth where God manifested in human form and died just to show us how much he loves us? His last words were, “Forgive them, Father. They know not what they do.” 

   The only thing God asks of us in that moment, and every moment since, is for us to accept the sacrifice of his son and by extension, his forgiveness and grace of our sin. That’s all he wants us to do to make up for our faults! He wants that sacrifice to count for something. But we still find ourselves sinning over and over. We think somehow our way is going to work out better. 

  We’re kind of slow about it, aren’t we? I used to think I was a smart person. Now I understand how much I still am learning.  Sometimes, I just don’t have it. I have to throw my hands up and say, “I don’t got this. I need help. Please come into my heart and show me what to do next.” 

  Here’s the best analogy I can think of at the moment. I like to crochet. I have made a few really big afghans for the boys. I’m about to start Grace’s soon. Sometimes the spool of yarn gets a huge knot in it and I’m stuck. I try to undo the knot and I actually make it worse. Then Scott comes into the room and hears me swearing and somehow he always gets the knot out because he’s magic like that. God’s grace is like Scott’s magic yarn untangling abilities. We have to ask for help when we hit a knot. We have to allow grace into our lives to help us keep moving on.

   I do feel I can write this blog with authority because I have been there. And I don’t only mean snags while crocheting. I mean hard, horrible, life situations that I actually brought on myself many times. And I have to stop trying to control and start trusting, kind of like Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus Take the Wheel” song. 

  I have also heard God’s voice in my heart asking me to help others who are struggling with things by using my failures to lead the way. I don’t encourage you to become better because I think I am better than you. The only way I could ever be genuine in my message to anyone reading this is by humbling myself and telling you how broken I am. I am truly screwed up. The only thing that makes me worthy of sharing this message with you is grace. 

  I  feel inspired when I’m in the car or at the grocery store all the time. This voice in my heart is constantly telling me to take the things that happen to me and write them down to help others see that it’s not our flaws that define us. It’s the way we love, the way we forgive each other and ourselves. It’s the way we pick up ourselves off the floor and try over and over to be better than we were yesterday.

  No one gets out of life alive. And no one gets out of it without messing up. But we have to keep going until it’s time for us to leave this world.   There have been days I hoped I wouldn’t see the sun rise. I thought those knots in my life were so bad that I didn’t want to keep going. But time keeps going, dragging us along with it. So I think we have an obligation to make it count for something.

  I know I got a little preachy this week, especially for any non-Christian followers. And if you’re still reading, I thank you for hanging in there.    

  This week’s Summer Beautification Assignment is to take a hard look at your life. Focus on something that is really troubling you and call a close friend or family member, someone you really trust and tell them, “I am struggling/hurting/ confused/angry/ sad/__(insert emotion here)__ and I need you to listen to me. I need to talk to you, and I need you to just be here with me for a minute.”

  It’s an assignment of humility. It’s humbling ourselves to someone we love and allowing grace into your heart to begin healing. I promise you, if you are opening yourself up, healing will start to come to you. We don’t always have it on our own. And it’s okay to admit that. You are not weak. You are not wrong for asking for help. You’re human. You’re not perfect. But you don’t have to be stuck in a knot either.

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Summer Beautification Program Week 6: Stay in Your Lane

 Yasmine Bleeth was my standard of physical beauty in the 90’s. I thought she had the most gorgeous eyes, heart shaped face, other “voluptuous assets” which I would never have, but the feature I coveted most was her hair. Everyone back then wanted Jennifer Aniston’s sleek honey blonde locks. I wanted Yasmine Bleeth’s dark, layered, beachy waves. 

  When I was in high school, I found a picture of Yasmine in a magazine with her bangs cut long to her chin and I thought, “I can do that!” So I grabbed a pair of scissors and chopped wide chunks of my hair off right at my chin. Now, please bear in mind, I was fifteen, not five, in this impulsive decision. I was at the peak of social awkwardness and a bad haircut could actually ruin your life at that age. But I’d gone and done it.

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The lovely Yasmine Bleeth. That hair though…sigh.

  I immediately felt light-headed and nauseous. When I went to my mom to show her what I’d done, she gasped, “What did you do to your hair?” I burst into tears and tried to explain how I’d basically ended my life in two snips. 

  Again, this is one of those stories that has been told in my family many times over and now has the stamp of “ridiculously hilarious” attached to it. But I share it here to explain to you a deeper lesson besides, “never cut your own hair unless you are a professional.” The other wisdom I hope to impart on you is, don’t ever try to achieve someone else’s standard of  outward or inner beauty. 

  Going back to the theme of building yourself up by surrounding yourself with positivity, this means realizing that your life is only yours to live. The idealistic images you are constantly being exposed to are not the template for your life. When we look through People magazine or browse Facebook or Instagram or any other form of social media, we are flooded with images of people living lives of glamour and perfection. And while each tries to somehow have you believe their lives are so happy and carefree, please know they are probably carrying as much junk around in their hearts as you are, maybe more. 

  Conversely, it’s not really about comparing yourself in such a way that makes you feel like you’re winning by having your proverbial poop-in-a-group more than Hot-Mess-Hilda next-door. It’s about staying in your lane, focusing on yourself and not worrying about what everyone else has going on. It’s about hoping the best for others, while not allowing their situations to affect your own. It’s about not passing judgement on others or trying to make yourself feel better by telling yourself, “At least I’m not as screwed up as _______.” Because the truth is, we’re all succeeding and failing at the same time. No one has life figured out completely. We’re all just waking up hoping to understand it a little better each day.

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  This week, for our Summer Beautification Program, I would like you to take ten minutes to reflect, meditate or pray. Make a list of three to five people who you find you’re often comparing yourself to. Think about each one in turn for a few minutes and examine the relationship they have to you. Offer a quiet intention of acceptance and gratitude for them, wish them well and allow yourself to let go of the expectations that they cause you to feel about yourself, good or bad.

  Now take another five minutes (set a timer if you need to) and zero in on your own life. Remove any measurements of comparison… 

  Thank God (or the universe or whatever it is you believe in) that you have the life you have. Give thanks for your challenges, because they make you stronger in who you are becoming. Give thanks for the failures you’ve experienced because failure is the best teacher. Give thanks for your triumphs and successes, because those things are not only born from your hard work and talent, they are also divine gifts that are being presented to you so you understand that there is goodness to be achieved if you act with love. 

  We often underestimate the importance of prayer and/or meditation. This is how we connect our body, mind, and soul. This is how we honor everything we are. We get so busy in our everyday “doing,” that we forget to allow ourselves time to be still to just exist contentedly. We are enough being exactly who we are in this moment, without trying to be more in the next. 

448d7a2ccd79597de853079833748471  I have learned, I will never be Yasmine Bleeth or my new modern heroine, Joanna Gaines. And that’s ok. I can still admire successful people without being envious of them. I can be happy for them and realize that their success doesn’t detract from my own. I am exactly who I need to be. God is giving me my own lessons. God is giving me my own path to walk that doesn’t look like anyone else’s. And he’s doing the same for you. 

 

Summer Beautification Program: Week 5

Happy Monday, beautiful friends!

  For the beginning of the Summer Beautification Program, I tried to make the focus on the energy we generate from within. 

SBP Week 1: We wrote letters to dear friends to bring positivity to others from our own hearts. 

SBP Week 2: We scheduled a date with ourselves to honor the need for self-care. 

SBP Week 3: We began journaling about precious moments in our days so we can appreciate living in the present, not jumping ahead to the next big thing in the week. 

SBP Week 4: Last week, we wrote positive affirmations on the mirrors that we look into and have been practicing self acceptance and love, recognizing our brilliant spirit and believing that we are loved, worthy, and more than enough.

  For the next few weeks, our journey is going to take us looking outward. We are going to begin noticing the energy surrounding us and how it is affecting the way we treat ourselves and those around us.  

  I want to start at one of the most basic and also most important things that we are exposing ourselves to every day: Food. We all need it to live and many of us live to eat it. In spite of my food issues last year, I have always loved food. I like nothing more than going to a restaurant I’ve never been to before and discovering exciting new combinations of food.

  I also love pizza and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. They are two of my favorite things in life and I am convinced I could eat them for at least one meal every day for the rest of my life. The problem is, pizza and chocolate chip cookies don’t love me. While a crunchy crust and a pie covered in generous toppings and melted cheese sends my heart aflutter, and gooey buttery chocolate chip cookies are like a drug to me, I feel bloated and overly full after eating them. I have to remind myself, I am worthy of feeling better about my food choices.

  I think about how I feel after eating a beautiful salad loaded with my favorite veggies, a handful of walnuts or sunflower seeds, and a flavorful vinaigrette dressing. My mouth actually waters just thinking about it. So why is that not just as appealing as a freshly baked pizza to me? Well, let’s think about the mere convenience factor. A pizza involves me picking up the phone and dialing a number and waiting. A salad requires going to the store, picking out the produce I need, waiting in line to buy the groceries, taking it home, washing it, chopping it up and then eating it…So. Much. Work. 

  But, what if we look at it differently. We have to change our way of thinking from, “Well, I worked out today so I deserve four pieces of pizza,” to, “I love my body so much I am going to give it what it needs to be happy.

  “I am going to the store to support my local community. I am buying produce which helps the farmers who grow the food. I am exercising patience by waiting in a line to buy the food. I am going home to wash and prepare the food which I am doing with love and gratitude recognizing that I have food to eat when there so many others in this world who are less privileged. I am loving my body enough to fill it up with healthy nutrients and I am feeding myself that love and positivity that I created in the whole process.”

  I know this may seem a bit extreme, but that is honestly what we are doing when we take the time to feed our bodies with healthy, home cooked food. And while it may seem unlikely that this is the exchange of energy you are creating in your body, I can actually prove that this is completely real:

  

 From: https://infoselfdevelopment.com/food-energy-feeling-stressed/

“Our energy is generated by the food we choose to eat. We want to create the best possible energy so we should choose wisely. Fresh, organic plants, meat and grains will make you feel clean and healthy, whereas eating ready meals full of dead, processed and chemically enhanced food is going to leave you feeling toxic and lacking in essential nutrients. For your mood and body to vibrate at a higher 

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Strawberries are in season here in Michigan. the kids and I went and picked these at Spicer’s Orchard last week.

energy frequency, choose fresh food according to the season; fruits, lighter greens and fish in summer and heartier root vegetables and warming stews in winter.

  Our entire universe is made of energy and so is everything in it. You and I are all just blobs of energy—Really! We’re massive clusters of atoms moving at various speeds and vibrations. In order to be functioning on a higher level, we need to respect ourselves enough to honor a higher vibrational frequency. We do that best by loving ourselves and loving those around us. It starts with our thoughts, then is affirmed by the words we say, and then shown by what we practice in our actions. 

  So we will start at the most basic level, feeding ourselves love in the form of food. This week, give yourself the food that you are worthy of. Now, I’m not saying never eat a cookie again, but I am saying, let that only be a small treat once in a while. Your body will thank you for feeding it the food that it’s worthy of more of the time. 

  Here is a fun way to get your healthy eating started:

  1. For at least one meal this week, give yourself enough time to prepare a somethingworthy of you. Choose things that are healthy and will feed your body with goodness and nutrients for a person who loves themself enough to take care of their body. Farmer’s Markets are an amazing way to get some deliciousness into your life while supporting small businesses.
  2. Sit down and enjoy your food. Close your eyes and taste the flavors of what you’re eating. Observe the juiciness of that apple. Pair the apple with a chunk of gouda cheese, or wrap a slice of cantaloupe in prosciutto. Don’t be afraid of new food combinations! Play with your food. 

  Here is another activity to get you started with foods you maybe don’t typically

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This was amazing! Well worth the time it took to make it.

incorporate into your diet. Find your first and last initials on the list below and make a salad or charcuterie board using those two ingredients:

A: Apples or artichoke hearts

B: Blackberries or Bulgarian feta cheese

C: Cantaloupe or Cucumbers

D: Dried cherries or dates

E: Eggs 

F: Figs

G: Grapefruit or gorgonzola cheese

H: Heirloom Tomatoes

I: Italian Parsley

J: Jicama

K: Kale

L: Lemon or lime (the juice is great to use in dressings!)

M: Mango or Melon

N: Nectarines

O: Olives or oranges

P: Pine-nuts or pears

Q: Quinoa

R: Radishes or raspberries

S: Strawberries

T: Tomatillo

U: Ugli fruit

V: aVocado

W: Walnuts

X: Xigua (good luck!)

Y: Yellow Pepper

Z: Zucchini

  Above all else, have fun! Savor your creation. Maybe you can even take notes on how it tastes or how it makes you feel eating something good for you and taking time to enjoy it. Please don’t forget to snap a picture of your healthy eats and use the hashtag: #SummerBeautificationProgram.