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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Gazelle Hooves & Hide (per my husband)

Last summer my husband and I went through Financial Peace University. We were so inspired, we wrote down some goals for ourselves! We set four years as our timeline to reach our listed goals. It hasn’t been a year yet, and we’re ahead! I know things will happen we don’t expect, that may set us back. But that’s what the emergency fund is for, right?

Anyway, I thought I’d share some pictures with you of a couple of my “Dave” clothes.

The toes all scuffed up...

The toes all scuffed up…

Four holes in the soles

Four holes in the soles

I don’t even really remember when I got these boots. I know it was before getting married, and we have been married for almost seven years. I wore these almost every single day at work. Fortunately we had enough money left over from Christmas bonuses this past year, I was able to buy a replacement pair!

Holes in the knees

Holes in the knees…

Not bought this way...

Not bought this way

These pants remind me how God has such perfect timing! I have had these pants for thirteen years. They did not get those holes until January 2013! after I received another pair for Christmas, and we had enough money for me to buy a couple more pairs of jeans. Crazy!

It can be a struggle to be “gazelle intense“, but when you have absolutely amazing goals for your future, and you and your spouse are on the same page, it can be pretty exciting too!

What crazy things have you come across in being “gazelle intense”? What made you go for it? Got any advice for us?

Wipeout!

Today was a first for me: Wiping out while running.

I started running March 15, 2010. I’ve ran in blizzards, pouring rain, 30 mph gusts of wind, lightening (wouldn’t recommend it),100* weather, and on ice covered roads. I trained for and completed my first marathon last fall. And never fell. Until now.

I have a running buddy for short runs, ranging from one to four miles. My dog. She’s a very good running partner. If I need her to pay more attention to me, all I need to do is give one click with my tongue. We have passed many animals on our runs, most frequently other dogs. And things have always been fine. But today was different.

You would think I would fall on a day with any of the weather conditions above, or on a long run. But today was a perfect running day–sunny and 60*–and we were only doing a mile. We hit the halfway point, and were headed home. We were making decent time up a hill when I saw a guy with his dog at the top. He stepped off the trail and had his dog sit, waiting for us to pass. I smiled and nodded thanks. Right as we started to pass, his dog lunged at my dog. My dog freaked out and slammed into my legs. Unfortunately the first leg she slammed into was my down-stride. And she proceeded to pass in front of me, keeping my up-stride from ever reaching the ground. My feet flew up behind me, I landed on my hands, and rolled over onto my back. I lay there for a second, the air knocked out of me. My dog bewildered. The guy asking if I was okay, if there was anything he could do, apologizing, saying he didn’t know why his dog did that. I sat up, inspecting myself for injuries. I said I was going to be fine, finally convincing him to slowly move on.

Scratched up a bit...

Scratched up a bit…

I was soaking it all in, getting my bearings. Never falling for over three years, on such a glorious day for a run, why did I have to wipe out? Sometimes that’s just the way things go. Outside forces we can’t control…. on days we least expect it….. Just like other trip-ups in life. We may be going along in life thinking everything’s sunny; nothing will get us down. Then something happens we don’t expect; our feet are knocked out from under us, and we find ourselves staring up from the ground. What are we going to choose to do next?

After discovering one of my knees will be developing a nice bruise, and my hands were nicely torn up, I gave thanks that was all that was damaged. I checked in with my dog to make sure she was okay. She was. I stood, walked to the curb, crossed the street, and started running.

After being knocked down in life, we may not be able to start “running” again right away. But, I have found that when I look to my God, he enables me to get up and move forward. I continued on today. Don’t forget that you can too.

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.

Is Your’s a Wonderful Life?

This Christmas we started a new tradition–watching the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. A classic.

I cried throughout. Despite the positive title, it revolves around situations, people, and events that keep George Bailey from the life he’s always dreamed of. And to top it off, a seemingly impossible crisis finds George a very desperate man.

Many people have been there, or will be some day. What makes life worth living? And how can we follow our dreams?

Here are two key factors:  God and being intentional.

I believe God makes life worth living because he gives me unconditional love, forgiveness, true freedom, purpose, and a hope for the future. And in turn, I can share those with others. Do we really have those things without God?

We can’t always plan how our lives are going to go. Look at George Bailey:  Nothing seemed to be turning out the way he wished, but he was a happy man in the end. At the same time, the dreams we have for our lives won’t happen unless we are intentional with how we live. For example, say you want to be a famous painter, but you spend every spare minute watching TV. A few years later, those hours watching TV haven’t brought you a single step closer to being that famous painter. (You might be able to tell I’ve been reading Quitter, by Jon Acuff)

So. New Year’s Day, I will be working my way through Michael Hyatt‘s Creating Your Personal Life Plan. That is my first step toward being intentional with my life.

What’s your plan for New Year’s Day….or your life?

Purposeful, Intentional, Productive

Okay, wow.

I did it! I reached over 50,000 words in the month of November. For those of you wondering what I’m talking about, it’s NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo Winner 2012-180x180

The month was a crazy one:  Moving everything we own one weekend, working on a church project every night another week, and of course, the Thanksgiving holiday with family. On top of having a full-time job. I spent the last week getting up at 5:00 a.m. to catch up on my word count. And strangely enough, it turned me into a morning person. Which I now love!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to write about this last Thursday–I was sick for an entire week. Which brings me closer to the point of this post…

After training for and running a marathon (see Here We Go Again… and Good vs. Crappy Runs and My First Marathon:  The Wonderful in the Horrible), after trudging through NaNoWriMo (see NaNoWriMo!!!!!!!!!!!!), and after a week of being sick, I decided to take an evening “off” from everything by watching TV and surfing the net. Of course, I did a few productive things like eat supper, play with the dog, and put laundry away/organize my closet (it’s still a little crazy after moving). I expected to feel relaxed.

Nope.

I felt like the evening was a complete waste. And I was frustrated because I had no idea why. Well….. Having spent every spare minute in the last six months working productively and intentionally toward huge goals, I have reprogrammed myself. Just like a person can “become” a morning person (see Michael Hyatt‘s post, How to Become a Morning Person), a person can become other things. I am becoming purposeful, intentional, and productive.

So now I’m struggling with conflicting feelings about the “new me”. I’m excited because being purposeful, intentional, and productive will propel me toward my future goals, life dreams, and crossing things off my bucket list. But I’m also a little saddened because I wonder if I will never feel relaxed again. But my husband reminded me, relaxation could just be redefined.

All in all, even if I have lost the ability to feel relaxed doing “nothing”, I am beyond excited at the future accomplishments and realization of dreams before me!

NaNoWriMo!!!!!!!!!!!!

It is officially the first day of NaNoWriMo 2012!!

Thus I wrote this post the night before, so all I had to do was hit the “Publish” button tonight. (I should have prepared all my November posts pre-nano…oh well)

A few of you might remember I attempted NaNoWriMo last year. I was not a winner–I reached somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 words before quitting. For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to churn out 50,000 words before the clock strikes midnight November 30th. Fortunately the goal is not quality. Only quantity. Which makes good practice for those of us who have a hard time moving on when our draft doesn’t sound quite right. And that’s the main reason I attempted last year–practice in imperfection. But this year my mindset is completely different!

I finally believe in myself as a writer. I believe God wants me to publish books. So my goal this year is to have at least 50,000 words of a first draft by the end of November!

Just as there was a difference between the first time I started training for a marathon (and didn’t follow through) and the second time (I reached my goal!), there is a definite difference between how I started NaNoWriMo last year, and now. I even came up with a motivational tool:  money in an envelope….enough to cover a Christian Writer’s Guild membership, a NaNoWriMo t-shirt, and a celebratory dinner. If I reach 50,000 words by the end of the month, I get my reward! If I don’t, my husband gets to blow the money. And yes, he did promise not to sabotage my goal!

Wish me luck and hold me to it! And good luck, fellow NaNoWriMo’ers!