Hope for #metoo

Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.” As I listened to Oprah’s speech at the Golden Globes, I thought about all the #metoo stories that have poured out since Alyssa Milano tweeted “if all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

These past few months have been a powerful reminder that our words and our stories matter, especially when it comes to the places we’ve been silenced, marginalized and trapped in shame.

 

Over the years I’ve heard countless stories from college women I worked with about the sexual assault, harassment or abuse they’ve suffered through on campus.  I’ve talked with married women about how the shame of abuse has clouded their marriages because their experience of sex has been damaged. I’ve talked with older women who soberly tell me about the comments they’ve endured from Christian men in their churches and Christian workplaces about their bodies and clothes rather than their job skills or competency.

And I have my own #metoo stories.  From my first kiss as a sixth grader that was unwanted, unexpected and confusing to when I met with a VP of a seminary eager to hear about the academic programs and being caught off guard by his comments that he was interested in having more “beautiful, blond women” in the student body.  And a slew of far worse things in between.

As we wrestle with the #metoo stories out there and in the lives of our friends I want you to remember that your words matter.

They matter because every time we stand in our truth and share our personal stories, it rips away the shame of keeping things in the dark.

They matter because it can be healing to hear a friend say “it’s not your fault.”

They matter because we realize that we aren’t alone.

They matter because it restores trust every time a man is willing to say “I’m listening” and “I believe you.”

They matter because there is hope and healing on the other side of silence for every woman who speaks her #metoo story.

My friend Maddison and I recently recorded a podcast where we share our #metoo stories and talk about how we’ve found hope in the midst of pain. It wasn’t fun for us to talk about the sexual harassment or assault in our lives but in speaking our truth I can see how God has helped me to heal and has used my story to help others heal. I remember that Jesus doesn’t just take broken people and fix them, he makes us new.

You may not be ready to share your #metoo story and that is o.k. You don’t owe it to anyone to put something on facebook or twitter. It might be too painful to deal with your pain in a public way.  But you owe it to yourself to share your story with a person or people that love you and whom you trust. You owe it to yourself to be free from shame and to see that there is hope in the places you feel most broken.

Show Some Love

Do you ever get jealous of fictional characters?  I find myself envying Zoey Deschenel’s wardrobe in New Girl, and that Wonder Woman can roam around with a lasso of truth in some killer red boots. I also get jealous of real people- random friends on social media I see who seem to be having amazing time connecting with friends, and bloggers who seem to effortlessly crank out content that throngs of people love, and marriages where breakfast in bed is a normal occurance.

You know what happens when I start to focus on all of the ways I’m not being loved? I get crusty, bitter, resentful and wish I could just fly away in an invisible jet like Wonder Woman.  The reality is if we focus on all the ways we aren’t receiving the kind of love we want we prevent ourselves from loving others.

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In his book The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis wrote about the nature of love from a Christian perspective. These 4 kinds of love he explores are affection, friendship, erotic love and the love of God. I think we need to demonstrate more varieties of love than what we see in commercials, movies or instagram.

Text a friend, bake some cookies, demonstrate to the people in your life that you love them. You value them. Don’t wait around for the kind of love you wish you were being shown to you. Scripture tells us “We are able to love because God first loved us.” God is the one who gives us love to show it to others no matter where they’re at spiritually.

In the Four Loves, Lewis wrote: “We need others physically, emotionally, intellectually; we need them if we are to know anything, even ourselves.”

In loving others we discover more about who we are and who God is.  Instead of fearing that you are unloved, unlovable and alone, reach out to someone who may not even know that God loves them. To someone who might need the reassurance that there are people in their life who see them and care about them. It doesn’t need to be fancy. It just needs to happen.

 

Fearless happens with friends,

 

Jessica

The butterfly that messed everything up

A couple years ago I was feeling really sluggish and chalked it up to being a mom of a two year old- when I went in to get a sinus infection treated my doctor drew some blood. Turns out I wasn’t just a tired mom- I had hypothyroidism- an autoimmune condition that affects just about every other function in the body- energy level, digestion, libido, metabolism, everything. I went away to a cabin after I was treated with a radioactive iodine pill to let that sucker kill off the node on my thyroid that was causing all the problems. I slept for 14-hours straight.

And now, a couple years it’s returned. Instead of just popping a radioactive pill I get to take synthetic thyroid medication daily and have been learning how to take care of myself- to reduce and manage stress, eat nourishing food, exercise on a consistent basis. You know, like, the things healthy people should be doing anyways. It’s been both interesting and overwhelming learning about thyroid disorders- shocking to realize how many women it affects.  One woman in eight will develop a thyroid disorder in her lifetime and are 5 to 8 times more likely than men to have a thyroid disorder. (See honey, I’m not just lazy & addicted to napping!)

picture from quantumwellnessinc.wordpress.com

picture from quantumwellnessinc.wordpress.com

In part I’ve been pretty quiet on the blogging front because it’s been a struggle just to do normal things- like the dishes, caring for my kids and returning emails. I know that sounds so pathetic but there were days that I would get 8-hours of sleep, wake up exhausted and then still need a 2-hour nap to get through the day. Then add in the guilt of not getting home or work stuff done, a healthy dollop of depression was added into the mix. Oh, plus unexpected weight gain. Just what every woman wants!

It’s been sucky to realize that this is going to be a life-long thing I deal with and not to minimize it (oh, I’m just tired.) A couple things have been really helpful in regaining energy, focus and endurance to get through long days with young kids. Limiting gluten, drinking a ton of water, and joining the YMCA to go to exercise classes has made a noticeable difference in my health and energy.

The bigger piece has been learning how to manage stress and anxiety by practicing self-care. I’ve loved discovering thyroid loving care (TLC) and Tracie Fountain’s website on how these women have successfully learned how to manage their thyroid disorders.  Tracie even offers a free 20-minute consultation to help you get started on your healing journey which was so helpful to me to even legitimize that there really is something wrong with me.

Women put so much pressure on ourselves to get things done everyday that self-care is one of the easiest things to cut. Do we really need to sit and read a magazine with a cup of tea? Take a 20 minute walk in the middle of the day? Light a candle because it’s simply enjoyable? Yeah. We do. Because it’s a way of affirming- I’m worth it. I’m worth taking care of. This was such a big piece for me- stopping and saying “by doing these things I’m setting myself up to be healthy and happy. Taking 20 minutes to paint my nails or bake some gluten-free bread is not going to end the world.”

What have been ways you’ve learned how to practice self-care over the years? What do you struggle with in taking time for yourself?

www.lovethispic.com

www.lovethispic.com

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.”
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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!

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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- 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 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.

 

When a man loves a woman- he will be an advocate

In the immortal words of singer Percy Sledge “when a man loves a woman….he’d change the world for the good thing he’s found.” My friend Rob from California loves women- and is changing the world because of it. He loves women so much that he has dedicated a significant part of his life and leadership to being an advocate for women and girls in his life.  Today, he graciously agreed to share his thoughts to use his power as an advocate for women. Check out his blog and leave him a nice comment. We bloggers are a comment hungry bunch. Show us some love!

ADVOCACY: WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME

Over the years, it has been my joy to advocate for women around me, both in my life and in my ministry context. Indeed, using the power, privilege and access that culture gives me because of my gender to advocate for women has been a transformational experience, both for me and the women around me.
For me, advocacy has meant empathizing when a colleague has been hurt because of negative gender stereotypes.
Advocacy has meant theological engagement with people who are asking women in my life and ministry to take back seat because of their gender. One time, I endured a 2 hour debate highlighted by me being repeatedly called a “false teacher” because of my position on the issue.
Advocacy has meant intentionally investing in women, mentoring them and developing their leadership gifts.
Advocacy has meant hiring women into leadership roles in my organization, leveraging my positional power to gain for them some measure of such power. For instance, when I started leading my current ministry team, there was one woman. Last Fall, during a meeting, I looked around and realized I was the only man in the room.
The bottom line, then, is that I see advocacy for the women around me as a key part of my ministerial calling. After all, advocacy is a Biblical idea. Proverbs 31:8 reads like this: “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, ensure justice for those being crushed.”
But here’s the thing…I’m no hero.
What I mean is that I’m not doing this because these women are charity cases. Far from it. Instead, these women deserve the opportunities they find themselves in. Sometimes, people will thank me for advocating for women, but I just see it as a way to honor Jesus and advance our Gospel mission.
And, on top of that, I continue to benefit personally from advocacy. Here’s what I mean.
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First, it is a joy to watch someone you’ve advocated for flourish. I coach girls soccer, and there is no greater satisfaction than watching the team achieve on the field after a hard week of practice. In the same way, when advocacy results in someone flourishing, it’s a great blessing to the advocate. It is a powerful experience to watch my friend Beth use her exhortation gift, and knowing that I’ve had a role in opening doors for her to use that gift? It feels awesome.
Next, I get to be shaped by gifted and godly women. My experience has been that God has used the women that I’ve empowered to shape me. As just one example, I blend grace and truth in my leadership far more effectively because I’ve seen that modeled by Layla and Tina, two gifted women that God has allowed me to advocate for over the years.
Finally, by advocating, I believe I get more of Jesus in my life. American culture gives me power by because of my gender. I call it male privilege. And by opting to submit that privilege to Jesus, in the same way I would my car, my house or my bank account, Jesus gains more control of my life, and I gain a greater sense of partnership with what he is up to in the world. In this way, advocacy actually draws me closer to Jesus.
So, in the end, I’m grateful that God has used me as an advocate. Because of what’s in it for the women in my life.
And because of what’s in it for me.