You Are Beautiful

I heard about Dove’s most recent Beauty Campaign video, and had to check it out. A forensic artist sketches women as they describe themselves and each other. The results are different than they expect. See it here:  Real Beauty Sketches – Dove 

I can identify with the women in Dove’s video. I used to think I was worthless. Almost every woman I know struggles with how they view themselves. Society attacks women daily, with what they should or should not look like. Most messages are unrealistic. It can really crush a woman’s perception of herself. So please, please tell the women in your life–mother, daughter, sister, cousin, girlfriend, wife, friend–that they are beautiful! Because they are.

Men may not typically be called beautiful, but the concept is still the same:  They can view themselves differently than they really are. So be sure to let the men in your life know how much they are valued!

Most importantly, remember how much the one who created you values you! How beautiful you are to him! How could you be any more beautiful?

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Don’t Do It.

What are you thinking on?

What are you thinking on?

Have you ever gone through trials, and thought if only you had someone else’s life?

Don’t do it.

It’s easy enough see the good things in another person’s life…. But remember, you can’t see all the bad. You can’t see the heartache. You can’t see the trials. You can’t see the broken relationships. You can’t see the disease. You can’t see the addictions. You can’t see what’s lacking. You can’t see the stress. You can’t see the tears. You can’t see the pain inflicted. You can’t see the pain received. You may see some. But not all.

The other night a friend compared it to “the Facebook picture”. On Facebook many people have happy pictures, and comment about the amazing things going on in their lives. But most people don’t share everything. Our friend said someone she knows has a profile that makes it look like they have the perfect life:  A loving spouse, children, fun and exciting trips and activities. But if you could see behind the scenes, you would see the anxiety, depression, tears, and strained and broken relationships.

Everyone has trials. The trials we bear may cause us, or those we love, to suffer so much. But so far, we have survived. Is it possible that if we did experience someone else’s life…. experienced someone else’s trials…. we would not be able to stand up under what they’re going through? Would we not survive? People may try to weigh the severity of trials in different ways, but we are all different people. What one person may be able to handle, another would crumble under.

Trials would be truly devastating if nothing good could come from them. But I believe in a God who loves us, and takes the worst of times and uses it toward good. Even if you don’t believe in God, good can come out of trials. We can learn appreciation for things or others. Relationships can be healed or made stronger. Connections may develop or opportunities presented. We can become better people:  more patient, kind, loving, understanding, forgiving, smarter, empathetic, etc.

I’m not saying trials are easy, or that we should be thrilled to have them. Seeing people suffer, I just don’t want them to lose out on what can come from trials. Wishing for another person’s life can easily distract us from the good that comes in our own. There is always something to hold on to.

Learning Lessons Through Pet Peeves

A couple Sundays ago our pastor had everyone fill out a form. One question was, “What is your pet peeve?” At the time, I couldn’t come up with anything, so I left it blank.

The rest of the week I was reminded, daily, what my pet peeve is:  people not using their turn signal. Maybe you think it’s silly. But it drives me nuts. Too many times I’ve had to slam on my brakes or jump out of the way (while running) because I didn’t know the vehicle would be turning. What seems even more ridiculous to me is when a driver gets mad that I’m in their way, but they have given no indication they plan to change direction. Anyway, enough venting. Time to hit the real reason I’m writing this post.

One of the days I got cut off without warning, the thought popped into my head:  Laura, you don’t know why they did that. Um, okay. Then all the possibilities flooded my mind. Yeah, some people are just rude or don’t care. But what about the person who just received devastating news? What about the person who’s life is in shambles? What about the person who’s hurrying to the emergency room? What about the person who’s trying to make it to an injured or dying friend or family member? What about the person contemplating taking their own life? What about the person who’s just plain miserable? Those people…those people are less aware of their surroundings.

Then I thought about the Sunday after, when pastor shared a list of people’s pet peeves. Two of them stuck in my mind:  when people don’t say hi or when people don’t make eye contact. Most of my life I didn’t do either of those. It wasn’t because I didn’t care about others or thought it was okay to be rude. It was because I believed I was worthless. I was not worthy of others noticing me. I was not good enough for someone to want me as a friend. Those beliefs kept me from interacting.

When I was able to piece together the negative cycle my actions and others’ perceptions created, I realized how devastating our pet peeves can be. How devastating my pet peeves can be.

Since then, I have worked to alter my attitude on the road. I have hung farther behind the car in front of me, to let others in as we pass construction. And I noticed something strange. Even though I opened up an easy opportunity, cars still passed. And because of the construction, I would catch up to them while they’re trying to cut in. It reminded me that sometimes we are so focused on where we think we should be or want to be, we miss the simple opportunities God holds out for us. Don’t miss those opportunities.

How do you view the world?

People…And the impact they have on our lives

“Hi, Laura! This is ________ from _________. Not sure why but you have been on my heart all morning. Just want you to know that your sweet spirit is valued and appreciated! Praying that you have an abundantly blessed day!”

I received that text the other day and boy did it lift my spirits!

People are definitely important when it comes to pursing “impossible” dreams. No matter how determined we are in our pursuit, there will be key points in our journey when we need encouragement.

There will be people who temporarily appear in our lives, people who impact only a part of our lives, and those who have a huge impact on our lives.

"man's best friend"

My husband definitely has a huge impact on my life. I know it’s cliché to say my husband is my best friend, but it’s true! He is the first person to believe in me. He has helped me develop into who I am today. I know he loves me despite (or maybe because of!) my imperfections. I used to cry over spilt milk, literally. He would stop me, make me look into his eyes, tell me that he loved me; it was okay, an accident, and taught me the best four-letter word out there:  oops. I know if I have a hard day, I am coming home to someone who loves me.

The other person who has influenced my life as much (or maybe more) is my dad. He laid the foundation for who I am becoming. I remember growing up, my dad would come into my room before I went to sleep and we would kneel next to the bed. We would solve the world’s problems and pray together. There are three reasons why those moments had such an impact on me:  My dad listened to me, responding with care and respect—that showed me I had value. My dad would share his thoughts, explaining the “whys” behind them—that taught me to consider everything before making decisions. My dad made sure we prayed about specific things, instead of just going through the motions—that taught me the importance of prayer. I am constantly reminded of how much I owe my dad for who I have already become.

A friend of mine recently called, crying. She said she just needed to talk to someone who loved her, understood what it was like to be an emotional female, and would not take her conflict the wrong way. Her description is the type of friend I view her as. It was not long before she began to feel better, and I was glad she called me. That type of friend can be rare and should always be treasured.

Another person, whose friendship is a more recent development, is my writing partner. Getting away from the norm to talk about writing, goals, life, hardships….while drinking chai lattes and eating cookies just out of the oven….is the best! Those times bring relaxation, clarity of mind, and a sense of life coming together (even if it really isn’t!) In other words, her friendship provides a much-needed break from the daily grind!

“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”  -Eleanor Roosevelt

Who has impacted your life?