Beauty PSA

Goddess PSA Pt. 1

Have you ever wondered why women often tell each other they look like princesses? I realized recently that women have this innate desire to recognize beauty in other women and have their own beauty recognized. This is why we call each other princesses and mermaids and goddesses every time we get the chance. It’s why we play with each other’s hair and stare at each other’s eyelashes and lose ourselves in the deep brown or bright blue of each other’s eyes. We see the goddesses in each other when the rest of the world is incessantly shouting about how much we fall short–or ARE short. Too short. Too tall. Too thin. Too heavy. Too dark. Too white. Too weak. Not brave enough. Not funny enough. Not smart enough. Not talented enough. Always falling falling falling short.

Mermaid PSA Pt. 2

But deep down all we want is to be beautiful–for who we are. Not for the skin we reveal or the makeup we apply or the weight we lose. Not for the one thing we like about ourselves, but for the whole of ourselves. Not for the women we post about, but for the women we don’t post about–who cry everyday in the bathroom on their lunch breaks. Not for the women who smell like a tropical fruit basket at all times, but for the women who haven’t showered in two days…or four. Not for the contour, but for the acne. Not for what we can do, but also for what we can’t. We want to be beautiful because we are. So we women give each other these beautiful identities–princess, mermaid, goddess, but what we really mean is, “You’re beautiful. Wholly beautiful. And I really hope I am too.”

Princess PSA Pt. 3

Good news! You are beautiful. Wholly beautiful. And I’m so sorry because I’m absolutely certain you don’t hear these words enough–but they’re true. And I hope someday soon you’ll start to believe that you’re the mermaid princess goddess that God intentionally and lovingly created you to be.

There are steps to fully embracing the mermaid princess goddess that you are–the first is to tell the little voice in your head that you’ve often mistaken for your low self-esteem, but that’s actually Satan, to go back to hell where he belongs. Liars and thieves aren’t allowed to just walk into palaces and this liar and thief shouldn’t be able to just walk into the palace of your mind either. Protect your mind. Feed it beautiful, true words from beautiful, truthful people. For now, don’t trust a single thought that crosses your mind before you run it by a good friend and/or the Word of God. You’ve got to recalibrate your truthometer and assert your identity. You are Moana of Motunui, daughter of the village chief. You are stronger than you believe. You have greater powers than you know. You are Wonder Woman.

Which leads us to the second step–accepting compliments. When someone tells you that you’re a beautiful mermaid princess, you say, “Thank you, I receive that!” You will say those exact words until you stop sounding like a rusty robot in serious need of some WD40 because I promise you it works like Proactiv and Curology promise to. Right now, you spend way too much time accepting ugly lies about yourself, never accepting the true and beautiful things instead, and I’m telling you, girl, it is bringing. you. down. Fight back. Humble yourself. Accept the compliments–EVEN when you don’t think they’re true.

Step 3: Pray. Pray pray pray. Pray for a pure heart. Pray for no fear. Pray for the Spirit to give you the love, power, and self-discipline that you need to thrive in this world. Look at me–YOU. ARE. WONDER WOMAN. Because Jesus says you are. Because He gave you His Spirit or He will if you ask Him to. And His Spirit is a billion times more incredible than the incredible power emanating from a billion Diana Princes. I can’t even handle that–the power God gives us is freaking AMAZING. So pray! Pray always for wisdom and courage and peace. Pray and thank God for your incredible and innate mermaid princess goddess-ness. He adores you–let Him teach you who you really are in Him.

In the effort of full disclosure, I must confess that as I’m writing this my acne feels like it’s taken over my face and all that’s left is one massive painful itchy blob where my face used to be AND I’m still recovering from some unfortunate illness I picked up in Mexico that has led me to the bathroom way too many times the past couple days. Do I feel beautiful right now? Nope. AM I beautiful right now? Yes. And you are too.

You’re welcome.

(Both a reference to Maui and to the fact that you should have just said, “Thank you, I receive that!” OUT LOUD because I reminded you that you’re beautiful.)

Go forth and conquer, my beautiful mermaid princess goddess friend.

 

Special thanks to my girl, Diana, for calling me a goddess and for being my model on her layover to Cambodia.

Unbad

I read something recently in response to which I wanted to comment that the existence of worse things in the world does not make a bad thing unbad.

And then I talked to a friend today who just got back from a service trip in the Philippines and I realized that maybe I was wrong.

Maybe in some situations, the existence of extreme poverty makes the idea of taking a minimum wage job at a restaurant after getting your bachelor’s degree sort of unbad.

 

Or maybe it was just never bad to begin with.

 

I often hear stories of third world countries and barefoot orphans running through the streets with nothing to eat, but today I was reminded that the life I have really isn’t my own.

It’s God’s breath in my lungs so I will pour out my praise to the one who has ordained that I be here at the exact time and in the exact place I am this very uncertain post-grad moment.

Because I’m realizing that so much of what I thought was bad, is actually unbad, and that if I really think about it, all the unbad things in my life are actually gifts from God.

Enough Faith for Today

So here’s the thing.

My fourteen-year-old friend, Josh, is gone. And sometimes it feels like nothing else really matters except that there’s a giant hole in the world where he just isn’t anymore.

For a while, I didn’t feel like I could post anything about me or anybody else living life, because I felt like Josh had been robbed of sixty or so more years that you and I get to have, but that he doesn’t.

It feels as though with each social media post we publish, we flaunt the breaths we are taking for granted, the beats of our hearts that we don’t even stop to think about, the countless miracles occurring in our bodies that we don’t deserve, that are happening anyway.

I felt, and sometimes still feel numb.

Because I spent three days at the Children’s Hospital on Sunset with a family going through a senseless tragedy and I was surrounded by other families going through immeasurable pain as well and what do you do, but sit? What do you do, but push your tears away, because there are enough crying people in that hospital with broken babies and wounded children? What do you do, but find your inner autopilot? Try to remember to eat, try to remember to breathe, try to anticipate needs, knowing there’s nothing you can do to fix this kind of broken.

I felt like a zombie.

Because I didn’t know what to tell Josh’s older sister as she hugged crying person after crying person and smiled at baby cousins and her brother’s little fourteen-year-old friends. Because my brother is alive and if he wasn’t, I’d fall to pieces, and even the thought of losing him is too painful to bear.

So, numb it is.

I’ve been wrestling with my own grief because Josh’s family has this incredible faith in our Lord. And they want to celebrate his life, rather than mourn. They want to rejoice, rather than weep. And I’ve just been angry. And afraid.

Angry at the robbery of life. Angry at the injustice of it all. Angry that so many people throw their lives away and still physically live, while Josh had all of this potential, but no choice in the matter. Afraid of the God that created Josh’s life and took it away. Knowing I should trust, knowing I should be like Job and I should hang on to Jesus and praise the Lord. But I am weak. And I asked the question no person should ask in times like this–

“Why?”

And I started to question whether Josh’s God would let me down when it comes to my future too. I’m over here worrying about my life’s calling and being passionate about my career path and making enough money to support myself when there’s a kid lying in a hospital bed who will never have to think about any of that now. So if in a day, Josh can just not have a future, does God really care about mine? Can I even trust God with my dreams or am I expendable?

You’re probably thinking, “You faithless, heathen!”

You’re sort of right–sometimes it feels like my faith is all out and I’m running on empty.

But I’m taking it one day at a time–one moment at a time.

It helps that I’ve realized that Josh didn’t get gypped out of life–we got gypped out of his life, but he gets to hang out with God in heaven–which is infinitely better than dealing with a heart condition in a sinful world. So, I’m happy for you, bro. But devastated for us. All I can say right now is that I hope you read my balloon, man–I chose blue just for you.

It helps that I went to Teen Camp this week and was forced to sing, “Good Good Father” even when the words didn’t make any sense to me and I cried–not because I felt them to be true, but because it hurt so badly that for once they didn’t seem true at all. It helps to say the words when you mean them least. It helps that God blesses our mustard seeds of faith.

It helps that I was reminded that four years ago, I made a decision to follow Jesus in sickness and in health, through trials and tribulations, through greatest pain and loss, and through deepest joy and gladness. So here I am. I am living. I am breathing with lungs undeserved and heart undeserved and brain undeserved, typing with fingers undeserved.

And I know this is pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but I’ve decided to write everyday.

Because God created me to write. And until he calls me home and I get to hang with Josh again, I will write. It’s taking the mustard seed of faith I have to share this with you, and I apologize if you needed more encouragement than this post brought you today. I’ll probably share something more faithful tomorrow so check back, but that’s all for now, folks.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

–Lamentations 3:22-26

Shout out to Olivia Gaines for inspiring me to just write. You can check out her stuff at https://medium.com/@livitupproject 🙂

3 Post-Grad Truths

Post-grad life has its ups and downs. Yesterday was sort of a down-up, and I wasn’t sure what today would be until I woke up this morning and decided to spend time with my God, open my Bible, and pray.

Why’d I do this? Because that’s what a good Christian does. Just kidding. Honestly, I’ve been having trust issues and I won’t trust God if I don’t spend time with Him. So I need to spend time with him. Always.

Anyways. Why the trust issues? Because YOU KNOW that everybody and their mother has been asking me, “What’s next? Are you here to stay?” And I’ve been looking at my future and completely panicking because everyone expects me to know what’s next, but I can’t friggin see. Entrepreneurship is scary. I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know where the money’s going to come from. I don’t know who’s gonna stick around. I don’t know who I’ll become. Cue Free Fallin’.

And I’ve been rehearsing this script in my head–“You’re never going to make enough money to support yourself. You’re never gonna find work you love. You’re never gonna be a real adult. And on top of all of that, you’re going to be alone forever.” Most of the time, these thoughts slip in under the radar–they seem so true, so I don’t think to fact check them.

But last night I heard a great message about transitions. In times of transition, I’m prone to thinking the worst of what’s ahead and to giving way to fear. But Mike reminded me that our lives will follow the direction of what we rehearse–whether that be lies from Satan or the truth of God from his Word. And I realized that instead of repeating, ‘I’m a mess. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m going to fail at everything,” I should be rehearsing a different script–one that’s true. So here it goes:

Truth #1: I have a purpose. My purpose is to love and glorify God with my life. And my God will never give me a purpose that He will not prepare me for. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life. (2 Peter 1:3) God has given me a purpose and He wants me to succeed.

Truth #2: I’m not stuck. I have choices! I get to choose–I get to choose life. I get to love my God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him, because He is my life, my breath, my everything. (Exodus 30: 20)

Truth #3: God is always with me. God’s presence in our lives is guaranteed, but God’s promises are conditional. God says, “I will be with you wherever you go, but how far you go is entirely up to you.” God has given us the land. It is done. But we’ve got to walk there. We’ve got to cross the river. We’ve got to take the land. And God will be with us; He will go before us–this is the promise when we love and trust in Him. (the book of Joshua)

These truths may not be profound, but they are the script I choose to rehearse. Post-grad and pre-glorious life is not always glamorous, but it can be beautiful. There is beauty in messy transitions when we choose to trust God through it all.

What script have you been rehearsing? Let me know! I’d love to help you rewrite yours and hear your thoughts on improving mine (:

 

Andrea Elizabeth Photography

Have you ever met someone in the most random way and ended up connecting with them much more deeply than you ever would have guessed? I’m not talking romance here (although I could have sworn I was gonna marry that one British guy I met and ate lunch with at the airport last year), I’m talking friendship.

Photo of Andrea by Bethanne Arthur Photography

About two years ago I met Andrea. Andrea was dating one of my residents, Matt, and she would come for visits to Malibu every so often from Missouri. She was sweet just like Matt, and I really admired her for deciding not to go to college in order to start her own photography business–but our friendship never really went deeper than that.

Until today.

Today, Andrea was gracious enough to talk on the phone with me for over an hour to answer all of my photography questions. What I learned from her was invaluable and is definitely going to help me be a MUCH better photographer–for which I’m very grateful, but I’m also just excited to be her friend. Andrea is so fun and easy to talk to and has such a genuine and loving spirit!

I look forward to meeting up with her when she visits Matt in L.A. in a couple weeks and am excited to see what God has in store for her amazing future as a wedding photographer in the St. Louis area! If you’re getting married anytime soon I can promise you that Andrea is a joy to work with and that her beautiful heart has talent to match.

The lovely bride featured above was photographed by Andrea, and if you’d like to see more of Andrea’s incredible work, you can find it at http://www.andreaelizabethphotography.com

You can also follow her on Instagram: @andreaelizabethphotography