Blog Break

I would really love to give you heartfelt, thought provoking and funny content on a daily, or at least weekly basis. But I’m giving all that goodness to something else right now- my book Beautiful Feet: Unleashing Women into Everyday Witness.

I’ve been feeling the pressure to be “a real” writer by blogging, submitting articles for publication and working on my book but I’ve begun to realize that just isn’t feasible right now. My manuscript revisions are due at the end of December so I’m hoping in January to start the new year with some kind of blogging consistency. I have a ton of ideas and things I want to write about every single day. But I’m trying to be disciplined in channeling that creativity into the book.  And not drive my family crazy while trying to hustle to achieve some sort of ideal of what “a real writer” is.

If I do happen to post consider it a little treat that I’ve given myself and shared with you- like Jake and Heath said in Brokeback Mountain- “why can’t I quit you?!”

In the mean time I’ll be doing this:

revising in my cozy little office nook.

revising in my cozy little office nook.

 

Pouring over these:

revisions on how to make the book be less sucky.

revisions on how to make the book be less sucky.

 

Looking like this:

no makeup, unshowered, hunkering down in the early morning with my computer.

no makeup, unshowered, hunkering down in the early morning with my computer.

And hopefully I’ll get to this point sooner than later:

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10154498826510648&l=4809834059412150108

 

That was me the day I submitted the first draft of my manuscript dancing around my kitchen feeling like a bad mamma mamma!  In the mean time if you happen to miss me, you can check out:

my instagram feed: jessica_leep_fick

my tweets:@ JessicaLeepFick

or my:  Facebook page

You’ll mostly find cute pictures of my kids, small victories in my life such as a clean fridge and really important things I’m pondering- like why jolly ranchers hard candy tastes so good but jolly ranchers chews taste like wax.

See you soon!

Jessica

Getting “Beyond Awkward” + Giveaway!

It can feel really awkward talking about Jesus. We don’t want to sound forced, come off as one of “those Christians” or break trust with people we care about. So how do we get beyond awkward and get to the point where sharing Jesus feels comfortable, even normal?

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My buddy Beau has a few ideas of how to do this. Beau and I both serve on staff with InterVarsity Christian fellowship and did an M.A. in Evangelism and Leadership a couple years ago at Wheaton College. Beau is one of those guys you love to hate- because he’s got so much going for him; he’s talented, self-assured (some might say cocky) and incredibly approachable and fun. It was also easy for me to resent him because he got his book contract before I did. I only stewed about that for a little while month but then I remembered that he has a huge heart for people and really cares about helping people meet Jesus and is a great dad. So there you go. Also, he is a confident bowler.

 

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I want to help you get beyond awkward in two ways- one, by offering one FREE copy of the book if you enter this giveaway. The giveaway runs from today, 10/9 until Sunday 10/12. Leave a comment on this post about an awkward experience you had when you tried to share your faith or someone was awkward with you, like my Facebook page or subscribe to my blog to get more entries! I’m trying to do more giveaways here because it’s fun to get free stuff! And to be smart because you read more books. Free + smart = awesome.

Click HERE to enter the giveaway!

Secondly, check out Beau’s blog, Release The APE for more practical tips on how to share your faith. Plus, if you purchase his book this week it comes with a bunch of FREE resources to share your faith.

Yes, I am totally plugging my buddy’s book here and though I could have negotiated he pay me in burritos, I am doing so because I believe in him, am psyched for his stuff to get out there and want to see YOU empowered to share your faith. There is more to sharing Jesus than just fear, excuses and awkwardness. There is joy, purpose and freedom!

Hold- five minute friday

That moment in a workout where you’ve been doing squats or plank for what seems like forever and then the instructor tells you- “great! now hold it for a minute!” is excruciating. Waiting is difficult- no matter if you’re holding a squat and your quads are burning, your mind spins with worry waiting to hear back about a job, or your stomach knots up when you take a risk and send the text to the person you’re interested in.

Being on hold is difficult because you have moved past the beginning but haven’t yet reached closure. There are a lot of things in my life that feel on hold right now- friendships that I wonder if they will ever heal from the brokenness they have suffered, waiting to hear from my editor about the changes he’s making to my book, trying to consistently workout to shed 10 more pounds (the goal being 20) from when I chubbed out this spring from stress eating. I have friends that are on hold as they wait for their adoption of their two precious kids to be finalized and are excruciatingly waiting for the day when they can bring them home. Others who are in the middle of a divorce and are on hold between their words of ending a marriage and the legal papers to make it complete. Others who are waiting to hear back from biopsy results to see if their breast cancer has returned. Whether it is something wonderful and exciting that makes life feel on hold while you anticipate it happening or something painful an crushing we often find ourselves in the middle, on hold.

Even in the midst of being on hold I am reminded that I am held. Isaiah 41:13 says:
“For I, the Lord your God,
hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Do not fear,
I will help you.”

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He says he will do this- it’s a promise, not contingent on whether we feel worthy or not, whether we are broken or not, whether we are running away from God or not. He is holding me, he is holding you even when you feel like life is on hold.

To add your own thoughts on Five minute Friday, link up at their Facebook site:

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Afraid of Pink

For a long time I didn’t wear pink, red or any other color that seemed distinctly feminine. Pink seemed too girly. I didn’t want to be lumped in with Barbie or women that liked devotional books with flowers and hearts on them or sappy love songs that made women cry.
Red seemed too tempting. What color is the devil always portrayed as? Red. What color do temptresses wear? According to Nathaniel Hawthorne in sophomore year english class, she wears a scarlet ‘A’. Red is supposed to signify desire, love, passion. If I wore red myself was I making a target out of my body which people already noticed? How was I going to be taken seriously, especially as a preacher if I wore a color associated with sin, lust and the devil?
Purple- this was a more safe color. Associated with royalty, a little more demure than red and more serious than pink. Plus, the Bible speaks favorably of Lydia, the woman who wove purple cloth. No scarlet ‘A’ there. Plum, or violet could work as well. Still feminine, but not too feminine.

There are certain colors that are flattering to my skin tone and hair color- some pinks or reds or purples with cool undertones make me look like a vampire- and not the sexy Twilight type vampire- a “whoa, she hasn’t seen the sun in a while type vampire.” Others like magenta, orange or plum don’t wash me out. But as you can see, beyond that, it isn’t just a choice of what goes well with my skin tone or hair color- what we wear on our bodies signifies what we are like internally, our creativity or how we perceive ourselves or want to be perceived. If you think that I’m over thinking all of this, just recall the scene from Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts where she walks into an upscale shop wearing this outfit:
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and is treated horribly by the staff. Julia returns to the same shop in an entirely different (and more classy) outfit and gives these snobby salesclerks their comeuppance.
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I remember getting in a fight with a male colleague years ago when I offered to take a member of our staff team shopping for an influential speaking engagement she had coming up. “It shouldn’t matter what you wear,” he heatedly said “people should listen to you because of the merit of what you say, not how you look” as he scoffed at my offer to take her thrift store shopping to find something professional to wear. At the time I retorted with how people judge whether they want to listen to you within the first few minutes of observing you in addition to hearing what you have to say.

He replied that he thought we shouldn’t placate people’s superficial vanity. But as I’ve grown older and have thought more about what it means to be embodied, I think it’s more than that. Isn’t it simply acknowledging that we have eyes? have bodies? enjoy color, aesthetics and design as created beings? In Christian circles we seem to forget that those things matter and try to dismiss the impact of our physical world on our interactions with others and the influence they have. Those first few moments of seeing someone is a visual statement that declares: “this is who I am and what I’m about.” Even if you claim not to care about what you wear, you make choices about what you put on your body. There are styles and colors that you like or dislike, brands you prefer and cuts of clothing that you feel comfortable in.

aliexpress.com

aliexpress.com

We shouldn’t be afraid to be who God made us to be- in the colors we enjoy, the styles that are flattering to the bodies we’ve been given or the ways we feel comfortable expressing who we are in what we wear. To dismiss the importance of the visual and aesthetic nature of who we are is foolish- yet to place too much emphasis on it is also foolish. We were made for more than what we wear, yet what we wear is important in expressing who we are.

This is the crazy thing about Christianity- the paradoxes that are difficult to work out in what it means to follow Jesus. To care about the external world, but not be enslaved by it. To care about your internal spiritual world but not to neglect the body that God has given you- as a man or woman, someone who looks great in yellow or avoids it at all costs.

For me, I avoided the fact that I was a woman for a very long time. Subconsciously choosing colors that were gender neutral or clothes wouldn’t emphasize the fact that I have boobs, a Kardashian-esque booty or curves. I realize this may seem like a can of worms to someone who wakes up in the morning and grabs the first thing that’s clean. Our choices have meaning- to live into who you were made to be or to try and avoid it like I did for a long time.

Over the years I’ve learned to embrace pink, (actually coral or magenta because those are shades of pink that are flattering) as a way to embrace that I am a woman. I am created in the image of God and he loves and celebrates every inch of how he made me. I don’t need to be afraid to live into that, and choosing colors that I enjoy without worrying what others will think of me is a small yet powerful way to do so.

Conflicted- or Money Makes People Funny

I have a weird relationship with stuff. For the past 4 years I’ve been adamantly denying myself of things I want rather than things I need. In part it was out of necessity- when we moved to Cleveland we weren’t able to sell our house in Michigan and were some of the millions of Americans who ended up having to foreclose on our home.

I was pregnant with Oswald in 2010/2011, the same year we had to declare bankruptcy which is essentially what you do when you foreclose on a home. The only picture I had ever had of bankruptcy was of the Nationwide ad with M.C. Hammer sitting on his front porch of his mansion while his grand piano was being carted away.

I did not have shiny gold hammer pants, though maternity pants could be classified in the same genre of pants. I didn’t have any fancy paintings to be carried away or a mansion to sell. It was all the little things that had to go- a bottle of body wash, a McDonalds run to indulge a pregnancy craving, taking a visit to the children’s museum with Reuben. The painful little things of everyday that reminded me we were so close to the edge financially that a few dollars over our grocery budget would send Dave and I into huge fights about whether or not we needed mushrooms.

When you learn to deny yourself it becomes difficult once you have the freedom to say yes to things- to feel that you do have the freedom to enjoy material things. I spent so long convincing myself that I didn’t really need anything that I find myself in a place now that I am both content with what I have- a wonderful thing, yet feeling conflicted about what is a need and want.

image from flickr.com

image from flickr.com

I live in the awareness of what it was like to stand in line to apply for food stamps knowing that millions around the world don’t even have this luxury. That finding a spot for the head of cauliflower in the fridge is a gift rather than annoyance- because I actually have enough food in my fridge. I’m slowly finding my way, and our way in marriage to deal with the trauma of all this and come out with a right view of stuff and money.

As a Christian I believe that anything in your life that is more important than God is an idol- something that consumes your time, energy, thoughts that was only ever meant for God. Excessively worrying about money and stuff is equally as bad as obsessively thinking about or buying stuff. I remember even as a small child, not winning a stuffed lamb at a carnival and feeling sick when I went to bed that night that I would never have that lamb. Now I do the same thing when I look at Pinterest and go to bed feeling sick that I won’t be able to afford a duvet from anthropologie. So stupid. So easy to get sucked into.

Weirdness with stuff and money starts young- and then we get all the weirdness from our parents whether they’re savers, spenders, misers or gluttons. As adults we somehow have to figure out- “what will my relationship to money be?” Will I let it drive or control me? Will I care so little about it that it causes hardship? That becomes even more complicated when you have kids who want stuff and begin asking questions about money.

I have been wanting to write about this for a long time, but I couldn’t bring myself to be vulnerable about this painful area in life. I didn’t want to seem like a failure, to seem stupid, careless or faithless. But I realize that so many other people feel this way too- and if I’ve learned anything from writing it’s that my stories are like an echo for someone else to hear and call out- “you too?”

God is doing some weird transformation inside me right now that I don’t entirely understand. Transformation that is challenging how I view myself, how I relate to stuff, how I care for myself and how I can care for others. There’s stuff inside that I need to get out that’s new, latent or just vulnerable for me. Yay for you that you get to read all this messy weirdness as it spills out into my blog!

I do though, hope that these things that are challenging me will begin to challenge you as well- to feel more content, to feel more generous, to feel more grateful, to live more free in the trust that God is able to give us good gifts- whether tangible or intangible.

What is an area in your life you feel challenged to grow in lately? Heath? Finances? Friendships? If I had to sum up my challenge it would be: “I am challenged in how I view money and stuff and how I relate to those things.” Your turn!

Five Minute Friday: Whisper

In a hushed voice he says “moooom, I got a secret to tell you!” With his little face pressed against my ear he whispers the piece of information that he wants to share with me- sometimes about marbles, his favorite toy, sometimes it’s a nonsensical knock-knock joke which has become increasingly a favorite in our house. Other times he forgets what he wants to tell me and says….”ummm, I forgot.”

It doesn’t really matter what he has to tell me because I love hearing that raspy little whisper. The feel of Ozzy’s soft cheeks, the urgency of the thing he wants to share with me, just me, simply because I’m his mom.

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I’ll often whisper back- “I have a secret to tell you…. I love you.” Which is not a secret at all, but it feels more special when it’s whispered. To which he often responds- “I don’t love you” and then with a mischievous look in his eye and a big smile waiting for me to react, wipes my kisses off.

Which simply propels more whispers, tickles and kisses that will be inevitably wiped off yet somehow stay planted forever.

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I’m participating in Five Minute Friday- a no critique, just get it out, free write of people across the webosphere. Check it out and post your own five minute response to the word prompt!

Thrifty Thursday: On the outside and the Inside

Warning- this is about to get a little philosophical up in my wardrobe on this Thrifty Thursday. I was thinking recently about reasons why I love thrift store shopping which include:

1. saving money.
2. caring for the planet by reducing my demand for new items.
3. finding the needle in the haystack in the form of fabulous clothes.
4. The unexpected delight of finding something I’m looking for.
5. Enjoying the secret that most of my wardrobe comes from thrift or consignment stores yet I look fab-ooo! Though, I guess it’s not so secret since I’m blogging about it.

image from blog.timesunion.com

image from blog.timesunion.com

But it also goes deeper than that- for me thrifting is a spiritual issue. I find that when I shop at thrift or consignment stores it does something inside of me. I find qualities growing inside of me that are more precious than any deal I could score. these include:

1. Gratitude. The fact that I have a choice to even buy clothes is something I often take for granted in this part of the world. I don’t work or have to force my children to work in a sweatshop to pay for clothing. ‘merica!
2. Patience. Consumerism tells me that “I deserve it” “your way right away” and “new is always better.” Yet when I wait for something to show up in a thrift store or have to hunt for it a little it teaches me patience and that the world does not revolve around me.
3. Simplicity. By having a limited amount of things in my wardrobe I reduce the clutter and therefore stress in my life. I like stuff, but I don’t like it to take over my life.
4. Finding Beauty in the discarded. This gets to the very core of my belief in Jesus. In scripture, Romans 5:10 says that while we were worthless God chose to love us. I was worthless and Christ still chose to love me. I should have been discarded but he found me and made me something new. Every time I thrift shop, I think about how true this is.
5. Self-worth. When I thrift shop, I remember that I am not simply what I clothe my body with. I enjoy fashion, art and color but it isn’t what defines me. Thrift shopping is often a jarring reminder as I shop alongside people who are very different than me that we are all people- simply looking to feel beautiful, loved and fabulous. Some of us just spend more money to do so.

As I resume my Thrifty Thursday posts each week I’m hoping to share with you practical tips about how to look great for less. But I’m also hoping to shape the ways you think about yourself, clothing and the interaction between our internal and external worlds.

And yes, I will also show you the amazing deals I find and teach you how to score them as well. You know, like this handbag that I bought at Avalon Exchange yesterday for $20 when it normally retails for over $300. Yep. That too.

be still my beating heart it was even lined with leopard print fabric!!!

be still my beating heart it was even lined with leopard print fabric!!!

What are some of the reasons you go to your favorite stores? Are there reasons deeper than that you like their style of clothing or prices?

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I Hit Send

Two years ago I sat on a grassy hill listening to the roar of jets above me.  Dave and I had taken our boys to the Cleveland air show and along with other frugal Clevelanders, we had parked ourselves on a grassy slope across from there all the other fools were paying admission to listen to the same jets. Oswald would cry when one would suddenly zoom overhead, the noise too much for my baby.

Watching Reuben roll down the hill with other kids who were enjoying a day off from school on Labor day, I sat feeling anxious, pent up and like I needed to let go of whatever was binding me. I had been working on my book for 8 months- this idea of spiritual formation and evangelism and something about the significance of water. I knew it wasn’t quite right- but I couldn’t shake off what exactly it was that needed to be different.  I was trying- I was writing- butt in the chair, laptop fired up. Yet it just didn’t seem to be coming out like I wanted it.

We bought ice cream from the ice cream truck that had pulled up to the bottom of the hill- a rare treat to splurge on fancy spiderman pops with gum ball eyes for the Reuben. We had gone through foreclosing on our house the year before and white-knuckled it through a year of paying two mortgages and dealing with a shady and deceitful rental management company. It felt good to finally be able to say yes to our son’s pleading request when he heard the electronic tinkling of the ice cream truck.

The blue angels flew overhead in a fancy formation. “why don’t you just send it?” Dave asked. “I don’t know- I guess I’m just scared to send it, that I’ll be rejected.” I answered- unbuckling Oz from his stroller to hold him thinking about what it would mean to send out my book submission and have someone give it the thumbs down. “Seriously Jess, is it ever going to be ready? Just send it in and see where it goes” Dave looked at me, a husband hopeful to have his wife released from the grip of creative angst.  “Just send it.”

His words brought release- what was going to happen if I sent it to the editor to approve it? I would be moving forward- that’s what.  We drove home. I opened my laptop and pressed send. Releasing that weird little book idea to my editor. Released from the fear of failure.

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Two years later, almost to the day I pressed send. A completely different book from where I started- it had evolved into my first official book submission to InterVarsity press- Beautiful Feet.  A real book contract, a real deadline. Actually, my husband pressed send because I was having trouble formatting it and he fixed it for me, attached the file to my editor Al and hit send.

I spazzed out for a moment- shaking my fists at him, wishing I could have enjoyed the cathartic moment to press send- the moment I’d been waiting for since I got the contract. Yet being married- and watching my husband endure my emotional distance because I was in my head with my ideas, my crankiness from getting up early to write in a quiet house, my self-loathing that what I was writing was crap-o-la, and my narcissism that not only was my writing awesome, it was going to kick the shit out of the NY Times Bestseller list some day.

He pressed send. Because this book is his as much as it is mine. A labor of love, prayer, creativity, and lots and lots of wasabi coated almonds.

moonbotstudios.com

moonbotstudios.com

 

Thrifty Thursday: Revamp your sandals

I have a love-hate relationship with Pinterest.  I get sucked into believing I will actually create those made-from plants dyes for Easter Eggs instead of watching Paas tablets dissolve in vinegar like I have my whole life.  Ain’t nobody got time for dat. When I do love Pinterest is when I want to look great on a budget but need some creative inspiration to figure out how to emulate the look I want.

I’ve been searching for a pair of cute, everyday sandals online all spring. I wanted something different than Birkenstocks because I grew up in the 1990’s and I’ve been there and done that kids (though there are some great styles now!) Footwear is always a conundrum because cheap-o shoes from Target or Old Navy can be uncomfortable and fall apart quickly. But then you have the alternative of spending a chunk of change on a more expensive pair. Here’s where our frienemy Pinterest comes in: Inspiration to revamp your existing footwear.

I had a pair of Mephisto sandals that I found NIB at Salvation Army a few years back.  The super-comfy cousin of Birkenstock I was thrilled to find the pair for $4.99 when they normally retail for Around $175.  But over the years they had gotten stained, scuffed and were looking pretty janky.

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I had also been eyeing this lovely pair from new shoe designer Charlotte Stone: Though I loved how these looked and found them on sale at Urban Outfitters and were about 1/2 off I decided to revamp the old Mephistos and save the money to continue work on refinishing the attic in our house.

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I searched Pinterest and found this great tutorial on how to paint leather.  You can do this with purses, shoes or any other leather item you have. I figured if I screwed it up I wasn’t out any money since the sandals were old, but still in decent condition. Here’s how they turned out:

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I chose silver for the sandals because I had the paint on hand.  Metallics are great because they’re neutrals that go with anything but glam up your look a little. Gold is more fun than tan. Silver is more fun than gray. Following the tutorial I did a three coats with a damp paintbrush.

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I wanted a more modern look so I used masking tape to make a simple design using a dark gray paint as a contrast against the metallic silver.  I had sketched out more complicated designs but in the end just went with some simple stripes.

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Though I could have bought a new pair of sandals I was happy that my DIY pair turned out great, I used what I had on hand and saved the money. They won’t last for years but they’ll get me through at least one more summer in style.

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Have you done any revamps on old items? I was surprised that painting leather turned out better than I thought it would!

WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT! I had written that you could win a whopping $7 gift card from Goodwill in my last Thrifty Thursday post. Congrats to Teresa R. on being the winner! Sorry I was a little late with this- I had a couple weeks of trips and it was hard to keep up with the old blog-a-roo.  Teresa- message me your address and you can find something fabulous at Goodwill!

Thrifty Thursday: Eww, that smell and other reasons NOT to thrift shop

People believe that shopping at thrift stores is some sort of super-natural gift- that God himself has bestowed special vision to certain lucky shoppers to find the diamond in the rough that makes them look fabulous and save a ton of money. This is not true. ANYONE can find great deals at thrift stores but it isn’t just about finding great clothing or household items- it’s about overcoming the mental barriers associated with thrift store shopping.

Picture yourself walking into Macy’s- you see shoppers trying on the latest styles of shoes, holding armfuls of new clothing on hangers, artfully arranged displays of jewlery.  Now imagine what you smell when you walk into Macy’s- a combination scent of perfume (strategically placed near the entrance of department stores for this very reason), leather and the chemicals used to treat clothing to make them look wonderful on the racks. In Macy’s you feel good- that you will look beautiful buying something from there because of course everything has been selected by buyers who are paid to put the latest trends on the racks in Macy’s.  Surely you can trust them.

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Now picture yourself walking into Salvation Army. You see a somewhat an old lady in sweatpants pawing through bags of used stuffed animals, rows of shopping carts that people push through overcrowded racks of tacky and outdated things.  Now imagine what you smell when you walk into Salvation Army- a combination of mothballs, dust and old stuff that is the cumulation of as many things as possible being crammed in a large room which just looks overwhelming.  In Salvation Army you feel hopeless you’re going to find anything trendy, let alone something that will make you look great.  You feel poor and slightly embarrassed that you’re not at Macy’s or at least Target where you can get a shirt and a cute new pair of earrings and not have to look through so much junk.  Surely you could never find anything at a tacky and stinky place like this.

Has this ever gone through your head? Maybe not consciously but those feelings (and smells) are real. And because our olfactory senses are powerful we begin to associate certain smells and views with certain feelings. i.e.- artfully arranged clothing that smells like lovely perfume makes me feel rich and control of my life vs. overstuffed racks of clothing with price tags stapled to them that smell like mothballs makes me feel poor and ashamed of my life.

Rather than just giving you the basics of how to find great stuff at thrift stores to save money, look great and be on point with the latest trends I want to help you overcome those mental barriers we all associate with thrift shopping. There are days for me that I feel like the way I described above and am depressed I’m not in Macy’s, Target or any other store that doesn’t have a weird lady who talks to herself while she looks at used shoes. When I am in this mind frame it typically launches me into some sort of mental pity party and I just give up on finding anything because I’ve convinced myself there is nothing to be found.

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I’ve learned that if I can mentally reframe what the experience of thrift store shopping is like, I’m able to realize one huge thing: it’s just clothes. Whether it smells like mothballs or perfume I am going to take it home, wash it and wear it. The items could be identical- but the feelings I associate with where they come from are usually what trips me up.  I’ve learned to remember that it’s just clothes and to not buy into the idea that someone is trying to sell me of who I think I should be. Companies spend thousands of dollars getting us to believe that what we wear = who we are, or at least who we want to be. That’s a pile of crap. Once I realized this I felt free to enjoy covering my body with clothing from any store- because clothes are just an external expression of the creative person God has made me to be on the inside.

Here is where I need your help: what are the reasons you don’t shop at thrift stores? What are reasons you have heard other people share?  Comment below and I’ll randomly select a winner by next Thursday to receive a $7 Goodwill gift card. Yes! A whopping $7! That’s like 5 outfits in Goodwill money.

Also- the winner from the comments to receive a wardrobe consultation from me from my style icons post is Kristen! Yay! Sorry I forgot to announce it last week!

 

 

Thrifty Thursday: look for the labels

We all have our favorite stores and brands- ones that we love the design, color and cut of items.  The awesome thing is that so do tons of other people. And when those people lose or gain weight and their clothes don’t fit them anymore or they decide the  color or cut of a shirt doesn’t flatter them guess where it ends up: that’s right friends- the thrift store.

Think of how many times you’ve bought something that looks good on you in the dressing room only to get home and realize that it isn’t that great. You were in a rush or your friend convinced you that it really looked good when you didn’t actually feel comfortable in it. You intend to return it, but then life gets busy. Finally you stuff it in a bag with other items you don’t wear any longer and drop them off at the thrift store. And this is where you can benefit from women across the country who do this everyday.

There are certain brands that always look good on me and other brands that never seem to fit properly.  Levi’s and Gap jeans fit me better than Target’s Massimo jeans because I’m not built like a 12-year old girl.  I always shop thrift stores for jeans because they have a ton of them in lots of styles and brands. You can even go hipster with the retro-highwaisted, button fly, colored pair like my husband recently tried to convince me to wear. Sorry honey, not my style.

Usually I look for Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Gap, and Target dresses or skirts because it is typically basic enough that I can layer it with other things to make it more of a personal style with color or accessories. Nothing super fancy, just core items I can build an outfit from.

I’ve also found much higher end labels at thrift stores- and this is where you can really score big time saving hundreds of dollars on typically pricey items. Check out this cute Diane Von Furstenburg dress I found in a Pittsburgh thrift store for $3.50.  I know these aren’t the greatest pictures but hopefully you can still see the fun cut of the sleeves and the tiny polka-dot print.

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A dress like this normally retails for $200-300.  And I ended up getting a much nicer dress for my money because I knew it was a great find! My husband also found this insanely gorgeous canary yellow Versace dress at Goodwill for $20.

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Though I racked my brain how I could squeeze into it, any occasion to wear it to, or an appropriate situation where a minister like myself could wear a dress showing some massive cleavage, I ended up selling it on ebay for $700.  We made our tiny friends try it on to marvel at just how lovely it was. (Thanks Joyce and Amy :))

Since I know what to look for at thrift stores I often bypass random labels and brands I’ve never heard of (unless I’m looking for a certain item, like a pair of basic black pants).  You won’t always be able to find a particular shirt or dress that you’ve been eyeing in a store, but you can find one that is similar from a label you like.

What stores do you typically shop at? Is there a go-to brand for you that you love for their jeans, dresses or tops? What has been one of your best name-brand finds at a thrift store?

Thrifty Thursday: Determine your style icons

Shopping can be overwhelming. Thrift store shopping even more so. You have to wade through a lot of junk. But if you have an idea of your own personal style it can make shopping at thrift stores or anywhere else a lot easier.  Below are three questions to help you figure out who your style icons are. An icon is a symbol or thing regarded as a representative of  something.  In the Christian faith people often have icons of certain saints to remind them of qualities they want to emulate. One of my friends has an icon of the Holy Trinity sitting at a table that reminds him that he is always invited to the table with them to enjoy their friendship.

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At the risk of being irreverent, here is my trinity of fashion iconography- the women in the back of my mind that are always with me no matter where I’m shopping.  They bid me, “Come dear. Let us look fabulous together.”
alfred eisenstaedt_marilyn monroe_full

Finding your fashion icons is about how you are actually built- not what you think you should look like or what you wish you looked like. I have a curvy figure, just like Marilyn. I love that she is sensuous, has child-like joy, and  knew what looked good on her body. And she wasn’t afraid to wear the clothes that flattered her curves or color her hair is dazzling platinum.  Coloring my hair  in a similar shade and cutting it almost four years ago actually was a liberating experience for me- I felt more like myself.   When I shop, I look for retro styles that are an homage to Marilyn that channel these things in my own style- body conscious skirts, jeans and tops that flatter, not hide my curves.

Question 1: What is your body type? Again- not the type you wish you were or think you should be, but the type you actually are.  If you have no idea, check out Real Simple’s shopping guide for your body type- they consistently have helpful advice in figuring out the best styles for your size and shape. And this will give you an idea of the kinds of things for you to look for when you go thrifting!

peggy


The t.v show married with children ran from 1987-1997 during the time when I was hitting adolescence and the character Peggy Bundy was emblazoned into my psyche of what it meant to be a woman.  Though Christina Applegate should have been the style inspiration for this child of the 1980’s, I loved Peggy’s irreverence to rock leopard print cigarette pants as a housewife, get all dolled up to vacuum, and coif her hair into a bouffant retro style. She somehow embodied a feminist spirit as a domestic woman- choosing to be a homemaker, yet not fitting in the mold AT ALL. When I shop I look for animal print, especially leopard print, bold bright colors, funky jewelry and yes, high heels.

Question 2: Whose style do you consistently love that has a similar frame to you? If you have an idea of someone who has a similar body type to you and you like their style it gives you insight into what you’ll look good in.  I’m petite so I always go for 3/4 length sleeves and scoop or v-neck tops- other cuts just weigh me down and make me look frumpy.  Just because a color, cut or print of something is popular doesn’t mean it will flatter you. Ask yourself before you go thrifting- what colors look great on you? What prints do you like?  What cuts of clothing flatter you?  This helps you determine what to try on and what to avoid.

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Yes friends, Ms. Piggy is one of the women I count as a fashion icon.  She chose her outfit carefully for EVERYTHING- from maniacally chasing down Kermit in roller-skates in Central Park in The Muppets take Manhattan to wearing a feather boa and evening gown to sing a solo on The Muppet Show.   Ms. Piggy lives life with gusto, plowing through obstacles and piling on the bling while doing so.  She makes me wish evening gloves would make a comeback. When I shop I remember that I need outfits for lots of different things- to preach on a Sunday morning, to go out with my girlfriends, to lounge in after I’ve put in a hard-days work.  Context determines style and Ms. Piggy is the master of the right outfit for the right occasion.  I also am always scoping out bling. I am an accessory junkie because putting some jewelry, a scarf or shoes with an old outfit can make it look completely new and different.

Question 3: How do you use accessories? Do you wear the same jewelry with every outfit?  The saying “everything old is new again” is so true in thrifting. I typically find the same jewelry that is retro or vintage at thrift stores that is now sold at Target or Charming Charlie as “the latest style.”  If you feel nervous about accessories- jewelry, shoes or scarves, ask a friend to help you out.  Accessories are one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to change up your style without taking a big risk or spending a lot of money on something you’ll never wear again.

Your Turn: Has this given you an idea of your style icons?  Let me help you! I’ve had tons of fun doing this with girlfriends to help them figure out their signature style, what to look for in thrift stores and what colors, cuts or prints inspires them.

If you leave a comment below answering the question: “what piece of clothing makes you feel stylish?” It doesn’t matter if it’s trendy- if it fits you, you’ll feel stylish and confident in it! By next Thursday 5/22 at noon EST  I will randomly choose one reader to have a 20-minute consultation (either phone, Skype or in person if you’re local in Cleveland) to help you figure out YOUR style icon.

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Put my three icons together and you’ve got a mom in a leopard print sweater, bright red jeans hanging out at her in-laws watching her 1-year old play or going to a work meeting with colleagues and speaking to a group of 300 students. Color, a print I love and bright accessories = channeling my style icons.

 

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Thrifty Thursday- shop the trends for less

This week’s Thrifty Thursday is all about finding the current trends for a fraction of the price. A lot of people think that if they shop at thrift stores they’ll end up looking like this:

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But you can actually shop the latest trends at thrift stores for a heck of a lot less.  Think about how often you buy a shirt and then decide it just doesn’t fit you right, the color isn’t flattering to you or you should have bought a different size. What do people do with those items? That’s right. They send them to the thrift store, often times with the tags still on. And that’s where you benefit from the excess in ‘Merica! Here are a couple popular trends that I ended up finding for a fraction of the price at Salvation Army within the last month.

A striped cardi goes with anything in black and white or navy and white. Throw a colored tshirt underneath for a pop of color or over a sundress when it gets cool at night- I’m loving bright green and yellow for spring! Ann Taylor striped cardigan: $79 Unknown

 

Look in any shop these days and you’ll see lace. Feminine, sexy and in some awesome colors these days that look nothing like a grandma’s doily. Skirts, shoes, tops, dresses and jewelry all seem to have lace accents lately. piperlime lace top $44.50

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Keds have also made a comeback in recent years beyond the pain white ones I used to wear in middle school and draw things like “I heart Ryan” with stars and xxxxoooo on them with my pen. With guest designers like Kate Spade and Taylor Swift adding their flair these styles are really fun, especially for a comfy shoe that doesn’t look clunky like an athletic sneaker. Taylor Swift Keds $40.

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Put it all together thrift store style and you get:

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Striped cardi: free from a friend who was getting rid of it
Lace top: $2.00 at Salvation Army on their 1/2 off day
Keds: $24.00 at Gabriel Brothers which is a local midwest chain that has been described as “a step up from thrift because everything is new, a step down from TJ Maxx because you really have to dig for things.” I consistently find GREAT shoes there though. I want you to notice- these are the EXACT same Keds featured “on sale” for $40!

If I would have paid for those items online even with the shoes on sale it would have been $163! I saved $137 by keeping my eyes open for what is current and stylish with color and texture and then found it for wayyyyy less. It’s not hard to do, you just need to look around a little. Do some online browsing at some of your favorite stores, see what they have and then go thrifting to see if you can find similar things for less- colors, patterns, textures, etc. You won’t find the exact item that you saw online but it gives you an inspiration of what to look for amidst all the other stuff.

I don’t feel like I look especially great in this picture- I have dark circles under my eyes and I did nothing with my hair other than throw a funky headband I got on sale at Anthropologie. But that’s how most days are for us right? No one has a perfect glamor shot selfie day. But you can feel a lot better when you know you look on point with current style and that you got it for a fraction of the price.

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Thrifty Thursday- a new series!

For years I’ve had people comment that they would love to either invade my closet, learn to thrift store shop with me, have me be their personal shopper. So I thought I’d try and start a weekly post to help you learn all the ins and outs of being a frugal fashionista and navigate the adventuresome abyss of thrift stores.  Each week I’ll share one tip on how to look great for less and find styles that are current while poppin’ tags.  Lots of people are into thrifting currently to save money. But for me it goes deeper than that. Thrifting flows out of a desire to live simply yet beautifully. To be a good steward of this earth and the people who live in it. By shopping at thrift stores I’m using my consumer choices to decrease the demand for new clothes produced in sweatshops.  When I get around to it I’ll post a longer link to my philosophy of thrift store shopping and my spiritual convictions behind it.

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To kick things off I’ll share about my thrifting adventures in sunny L.A.  I love thrifting in cities I visit because I feel like it’s a fun combo of  deal hunting, cultural anthropology (what do people in this city give away?) and a way to take advantage of geographic location (generally L.A. is more fashion conscious as a city than say Akron, OH). I don’t think I’ve EVER been to a consignment store that had Jimmy Choo heels, Marc Jacobs bags and Cynthia Rowley dresses.

Here’s what I found:

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I had been looking for neutral colored espadrille wedges for summer (yes, specific I know!) and I found these brand new Ralph Lauren cuties for under $20. Since I had an idea of what I was looking for I didn’t waste time going through every single rack and mostly focused on shoe shopping. You can’t tell from the picture but the fabric has a little gold sparkle to it which I love. In total I spent $40 for two dresses, a skirt and these shoes. It was a good thing I limited myself to 30 minutes in the store because Crossroads Trading was amazing!  And apparently they’re online now!!!

10154624_10153985966490648_780851136_nThe lovely sales ladies at Crossroads Trading

I make a point when I’m traveling to check out the local consignment or thrift stores. Look on Yelp or just google map “thrift stores” or “consignment stores” when you’re in a new place. Sometimes on road trips we’ll stop for 20 minutes and walk around thrift stores to stretch our legs and let the kids run around or pick out a book or toy. You’d be surprised how many great places you’ll find.  When I looked these up in Pasadena I was delighted that this spot was only 10 minutes from where I was staying! Even if you have 20 minutes you might find something fantastic that you wouldn’t find at your local thrift store. What have you found lately at your local thrift store?

This is How We Fight

This is How We Fight 

We dance because we believe in the one who makes all things new
We sing because our voices cannot be silenced amidst the screams of terror around the world
We bake bread to nourish our bodies because just like Elijah- the angels around remind us;
“get up and eat. the journey is far too much for you.”
We go to sleep because the one who made the day and night holds us in his powerful hands.

We love.
And keep loving.
And then love some more.
To the porn-addicted man in his clean oxford shirt at church on a Sunday morning.
To the gay teenager wondering- “is there a God who could love me?”
To the woman who has been silenced so many times by herself and others-
because she believes what she says doesn’t matter.

Broken bodies, broken marriages, broken communities and broken hearts
amidst broken churches.
Pain, upon pain, suffering begets suffering.
St. Paul says suffering produces perseverance.
I say: shut the hell up and let me wallow with my pinot noir and
girl scout cookies.

But I do. And I don’t.
Because I wake up with the hope that there is always more love.
“We love because God first loved us.”
He gives us more. Everyday.
And we can fight- together.

We can fight. Together.
This is no losing battle baby- it’s already been won.
Put down your swords and pick up humility.
Silence your vitriolic arguments and pray with gratitude.
Hug your babies. Your friends. And the ones you hate.

There is always more love.
And that is what conquers the darkness,
heals the wounds,
and makes something new.

We love.
And keep loving.
And then love some more.
Because He loved us first.

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Bird by Bird? More like Turd by Turd

As I’ve been getting up early to work on my book Beautiful Feet, I was reflecting on Anne Lamott’s book- Bird by Bird, which, if you’re a writer or an aspiring writer, it’s a great place to get some practical and inspiring tips.  The title of the book comes from a project her brother was working on about birds while he was in middle school. He had waited until the night before to write a report about various kinds and birds and was freaking out that he wouldn’t be able to get it done in time.  Their dad, encouraged him-” just take it bird by bird, buddy.” A little bit at a time.

One of her key points that’s stuck with me is that you can’t immediately write amazing stuff. In fact she says that you just need to get out your “sh*tty first draft.” It’s unavoidable- you have to start somewhere. You can’t get to great without the sh*t first.  I was telling my husband Dave about this and he quipped- “sounds like she should have called her book Turd by Turd.”  Oh how I love my witty husband. So, that’s what I’m doing, getting up early and cracking out those crappy first drafts so that hopefully, eventually they will be more like a beautiful bird than a smelly turd.

shitty first drafts

Things have been quiet on the blogging and social media front for me because I’ve been trying to invest more time working on my book. Though Michael Hyatt’s book Platform tells me to get on it all, it feels too overwhelming to me to tweet, pin, post and repost constantly amongst the slew of other terrific advice he gives for building a platform. Michael, honey, I’m just trying to get one son to stop screaming at meal times and the other to stop asking to play on my iPhone. Though I’ve felt a little guilty not posting as frequently I keep reminding myself that the short term losses will result in long term gain.

The good thing is that the words have been flowing LIKE CRAZY! I’ll get up early in the morning, put on a pot of coffee and sit on my couch with my black cat Conan at my feet while I let the ideas pour out of my brain.  Some mornings I’m able to crack out 2,000 words an hour.  I’m not saying they’re brilliant, concise chapters, but regardless, they’re coming out. Turd by turd, they’re coming out.

Where there’s a Crowd…

…There’s usually a party. At least that’s my opinionation. In college my friends and I would roam the student housing streets (Beal, Gunson) at Michigan State University looking for one thing primarily: a crowd. Loud students sitting on sagging porches with red cups in their hands, the door thrown wide open.  It was only logical that a keg of crappy icehouse beer and some dude DJing would also be present so we could get our groove on.

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Though I am far from my student days of showing up at random people’s homes to consume their beer for free and possibly throw up in their bushes from said crappy beer, I feel at home in a crowd. I get excited thinking about the possibilities of connections to make. The people that I’ll meet and the energy in the room. I like that I can choose to blend in or stand out as much as I’d like in a crowd.  I never feel nervous, I feel alive and excited.

One of my favorite crowds is my group of MOPS mamas who get together every other friday to laugh, cry, share stories about winning and losing at motherhood. And occasionally to do the worm when we are doing some crazy icebreakers. (That’s right Hannah, I’m calling you out. and your worm-doing self) Maybe it’s not so different from a college keg party after all? We drink a lot. Of coffee. #momlife

This post is part of the five minute friday blogging community where we spill our unedited selves for five minutes using the prompt given by Lisa-Jo Baker. This week’s word prompt was crowd! Join in!

Surprised by Small

“Less is more” architect Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe once stated when he described his minimalist yet profoundly beautiful design style.  His Barcelona chair remains an icon in the world of design though it debuted in 1929.  And a coveted item amongst those of us who wish we had the thousands of dollars to plunk down for of those chairs. Design Within Reach my ass.

barcelona_chair_m

I am often surprised by small. Small things that end up being profoundly huge in my life- teaching me about myself, my kids, God, my body, friendship and life.   Often I’m so distracted (more self-imposed than not) that I miss the small.  In find myself wanting to do LARGE complex educational crafts for my kids, have my upcoming book book read by HUGE amounts of people, to spend a LOT of money on a pair of boots for my husband who has been telling me about his latest GQ fixation for weeks. Seriously, how did I marry a man who is just as shoe obsessed as me?

But small can be snuggling with my kids and just sitting watching Curious George with them instead of multi-tasking and folding mountains of laundry or returning emails from my phone.  Small can be just listening to a friend and grieving with her over a miscarriage instead of using lots of words to console her. Small can be choosing to do yoga and read poetry instead of having a glass of wine and eating some chocolate at the end of a rough day. Small choices. Small actions. But amazingly, less ends up becoming more.

 

This post is connected to a tribe of people who blog for five minutes each friday to silence the inner-critic and get some words out there. This week’s word prompt was “small.”  Check out Lisa Jo Baker’s site to participate or read what others have written this week. 

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This is My Life

A couple years ago someone made the comment about a fashion blogger they read regularly- “why does she post about her kids? If I wanted to know about toddlers I’d read mom blogs, which I’m totally not interested in. I just want to know how to tie a scarf 27 ways or what flats are in style for the spring. Who cares that her toddler says the f-word when he asks for his truck! ”  As a blogger who writes about lots of different things this struck fear into my heart and raised all kinds of questions like:

  • “Am I seen as dorky or out of touch if I post about my kids?”
  • “Will it seem “unprofessional” in the blogosphere even as I write about faith, leadership and Jesus?”
  • “Will I seem too sentimental, mushy or emotional if I write about my kids? I don’t want to alienate readers.”
  • “I don’t see many men writing about their families or life as a dad in the blogosphere- unless it’s about some sort of leadership lesson they’ve learned as a dad. If I’m to be taken seriously should I leave out that part of my life?”
  • “Blogging is all about finding your niche- but life doesn’t fit into neat boxes, being a mom spills out into every area of my life and relationships (sometimes literally). Should I make it seem like my life fits into well crafted little blog posts?”

I just don’t care any more. I don’t care about having a perfect little “niche” so my blog reaches my “target audience” (wow, I’m using a lot of air quotes here). I don’t care that I might come off seeming like a softie when I post about my kids because they bring me so much joy, frustration, laughter, confusion, and delight on a daily basis.  And your life doesn’t fit into neat boxes or blog posts either.

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My life is about knowing how to tie a scarf 27 different ways AND delighting at Ozzy sticking his tongue out in concentration as he builds Duplos on the rug. It’s about finding a healthy recipe to make for my family that won’t take too long and still taste good AND working really hard to write a sermon that will influence how others love God. It’s about taking naps because my body is tired AND staying up late to respond to emails from colleagues. It’s about being amazed that Reuben picked up his Highlights because he wants to “exercise his brain” instead of watching another episode of Phineas and Ferb AND sitting on the couch watching another episode of Phineas and Ferb together.

 

I don’t know if this is a gender thing but when I see so many male leaders isolating their lives into work/home/friends/hobbies it makes me feel like I need to as well. I know male leaders aren’t the only ones who do this but many of the models I see are more interested in posting about the latest leadership book they read rather than their frustration that their baby kept them up all night and then pooped all over them when they got up to change her.

My life is integrated and all that I am and am called to be flows into every area. My leadership skills help me to be a better mom when I think about how to organize my days at home with the kids.  My tender heart towards my kids helps me to have compassion as a preacher to parents who are delighting or struggling with their kids. My love of fashion helps people to see that you can live simply and beautifully because when they ask where I got that fabulous shirt they are astounded to learn that  I buy most of my clothing from thrift stores.

I’m sorry bloggy friends (who lurk and who occasionally comment) if I’ve given you the impression that my life fits into neat blog posts. It doesn’t. And I hope that if you’ve come here looking for 27 ways to tie a scarf you’ll stick around to read about the hilarious things my kids do, what I’m thinking about leadership and gender, and see just how great popping tags can be.

 

Coming off a bender

Let me give you a glimpse into my life recently.

I have eaten a total of: Three big Macs, two bars of chocolate, 5 scones, one bag of doritos (the big size)
Drank a total of: 1 milkshake, two bottles of wine (shared with friends…mostly) and 57 cups of coffee. This has been washed down with gallons of water because it’s so cold and dry in Cleveland right now that I need to stay hydrated so I don’t shrivel up.

image from ohsofat.blogspot.com

image from ohsofat.blogspot.com

Obsessed about:
How the stretch marks on my thighs look like tributaries of the 
Mississippi delta
That my six year old seems to be “discovering” his private parts and the girls at school
That my two year old has been clingy because I’ve had to take a trip for work and he screams MOMMMMMMMYYYYYY every time I leave the room.
That my husband and I were supposed to go on a date but both of us forgot to get childcare and are now scrambling to get some time to connect with each other.
That a friend is struggling with a difficult family situation and there is nothing I can do except pray to help her.
That I have a full dishwasher and yet forgot to get detergent when I went shopping yesterday.

Oi. It’s been a crazy bender. I’m guessing I’m not the only one out there who has been feeling like this or reacting in similar ways. Maybe you have more self discipline than me. Maybe you eat kale chips instead of Doritos? Or you get up at 5am to work out or spend time meditating on scripture instead of pretending that you don’t hear your child waking up in the next room so you can hopefully sleep for 5 more minutes?

What has helped me come off this bender- the cycle of self-pity, stress, filling my pie-hole with anything in sight that is sweet, salty, crunchy or creamy? Girlfriends. Girlfriends and Jesus. In the midst of all of this my friends Kristen and Leah both surprised me with “book writing kits” One of them is pictured below:

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Though it may have seemed like a small gesture for them to slip a box of Good n’ Plenty’s into my bag with a note of encouragement it meant the world to me. It was a tangible sign of God telling me- “see, you’re not alone. I’ve got your back and so do these girlfriends. Here is some wine and a Ryan Gosling journal to remind you that I am here caring for you. Now go write your book.”

 

 

 

Visit

Whether it is planned or unexpected I love to host people in my home, particularly if people need a place to stay for the night or a couple of days. Dave and I decided early on that we wanted to have the kind of home where we would always have a bed for someone if they needed it.  Over the years we have enjoyed friends crashing for the night, family staying for a couple days, students who lived with us for a few months and strangers we’ve never met.  Yes, I said we let strangers stay in our home.

Working for InterVarsity is like being connected to a big global family- there are more IFES (the parent movement of InterVarsity) movements around the globe than there are nations in the U.N!  Occasionally we have people contact us and ask for favors like picking international students up from the airport, seeing if there is a place to stay for students doing internships or hosting someone on their way through town.  

A few years ago we had a request for a favor like this and had a student named Uche from Uganda stay with us for two weeks. Yes, we went through the fears and conversations of “what if this stranger is a psycho and murders us in the night.” Ultimately we decided that we could offer him what we had- an air mattress in our living room since our 2 year old had turned our guest room into a nursery.  Uche had such a rigorous schedule for the program he was doing for work that I think he slept on the air mattress for a total of 10 hours during the whole two weeks.

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We took Uche to see Lake Michigan on a windy day, went out for lasagna  together and enjoyed hearing about his life. Our son Reuben called him “Mr. Uche.”  After he left we thought about what we would have missed out on if we had let our fears dictate our life rather than love for visitors.

Check out other Five Minute Friday posts or write your own using the word prompt of the week! 

 

 

God grant me the serenity to accept the ideas I cannot execute

Recently I led a seminar with my colleague Doug at InterVarsity‘s national staff conference. When we were debriefing how it went he told me frankly “your creativity stresses me out.” This is something coming from one of the most creative people in our movement who has literally helped create a program called “start something new.” Then my friend Adam posted this blog that I totally stole the title, idea and the picture from. I left such a long comment on his post I thought, “what the heck, I should just post this on my own blog!”

This is an area of growth for me. I have so many ideas that I can barely sit still at times. I think it stresses a lot of people out. As Adam wrote in his original post:

“For idea people, this is a core competency to learn–which ideas to execute (i.e. kill) and which ideas to execute (i.e start, perform, do). And my boss has helped me see that a key area for growth for me is making this call. It’s really hard, as my “idea engine” is always revving.” Yep. Can totally relate.

 My brilliant husband asked me recently- “why don’t you just do the things you’re about instead of all the other things you’re thinking about?” Simple question. Brilliant question.
 So I thought of a few questions to help my idea propellor to slow down a little bit. And to dial back the amount of things I share with others because I really am driving them crazy.

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1. Does this idea fit with the current mission God has given me? Does it distract from the main purpose which he’s called me to? (this requires having some sense of what those things are).

2. Do I have the time to put energy into actually making this idea happen? I recently wanted to rearrange my whole living room but axed the idea because we were having company for the weekend.  I realized they would probably enjoy a clean kitchen and clean dishes to eat from more than a rearranged living room.

3. Do I have the money to make this happen? My ideas always begin BIG BIG BIG. And I have to scale them back reminding myself- take small steps. I recently pitched an idea to my friend Jessica about starting a direct sales jewelry business that benefits single moms in Kenya. Though I was picturing a chain of stores and thousands of Kenyan moms being employed and able to make a living wage for their families I needed to pick one place to start.  I am pursuing this by having my sister-in-law bring some of the beads back from Kenya and having one in-home party to see how it goes. Small investment, small steps, still pursuing it but on a much reasonable scale than opening a store and needing to invest thousands of dollars.
 Thankfully my friend Jessica who I pitched this idea to loves me, laughs and rolls her eyes every time I share another crazy idea- thanks Jess 🙂

4. What is this going to cost my family if I pursue this idea? I’d love to do a triathlon some day. Is this the right time to do that with a first grader, a preschooler, a husband in a rigorous cohort for work, a book I’m supposed to be writing and living in freezing cold Cleveland? Right now is not the right time. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be the right time in the future.

5. How can I internally process all my ideas before sharing them with others so I don’t stress them out?  I realized that writing my ideas down is helpful so I can get them out but then only pitch a couple to people that are appropriately sized to what we are working on.
 Thankfully, Doug was gracious and helped me to come up with this idea. Thanks Doug!

6. Recognize there are very few people who know me well enough to let me talk and spew all the ideas and it won’t stress them out. My husband is one of them. My mentor York is another. They have both known me long enough to realize that probably only 2% of what I come up with will only happen. And then that 2% will likely look entirely different than it’s original iteration.

How do you decide what ideas to pursue? Do you have more trouble coming up with ideas or containing them?