Ponderings

Gollum, Japanese Photo Booths and the Battle with Beauty

Once upon a time I was compared to Gollum. Please feel free to chuckle along with me, because if those aren’t the words every woman longs to hear, then I know nothing of my fellow females.

In case you aren’t sure who Gollum is, here he is, in all his glory.

The cliff notes version goes like this: several years ago two friends (a guy and gal) and I were enjoying lunch when one of his friends joined us (it was at event that provided free lunch). In all fairness, he did start by saying “You have nice eyes” but ended it with “…like Gollum’s.” (Yep, he was 100% serious too) Any hope of that coming across in a positive light was destroyed when Smeags was thrown in. Who knows, maybe he watched Lord of the Rings the night before. We shall never know. Yes, it was hilarious, but definitely one for the books.

Fast forward about 10 years when my two good friends and I were exploring Japan. They have photo booths, so we obviously took part:

1. Can we talk about the size of my eyes (see top right). I mean good jolly, I look like a puppy (or Gollum right? ;)) We laughed for a solid amount of time. Do you blame us?
2. We barely figured out how to work the machine, so the captions on the images? No clue. Although we did get the date right. Woot!
3. It blows my mind there are photo booths out there that give you the “perfect” skin, make your eyes bigger and make you and your buddies “glow” like you’ve never experienced uneven skin.

It would be easy to toss this aside and say it’s a cultural thing, but it’s not just in Japan. Recently on Facebook an ad for an app to “fix” your face popped up. You know, so you can have the perfect selfie. I knew this would make for some interesting discussion, so I investigated further and apparently there are several options and one even featured a toddler in the before and after how-to.

Lord help us.

It seems like there’s always something thrown at us about how to look, what looks good and how we should portray ourselves. Will there ever be a day where there isn’t something to make us question if we’re good enough? I think it’s safe to say we all have dealt with this in some way or another. It comes in all different ways too. From the anonymous internet user, to a person you know, to the advertising monster taking over culture.

We all have our experiences. Some are similar, some so very different. But I can’t completely blame the outside world for the battle with beauty and of being enough. For over a decade I didn’t wear a cap because when I was 16, a guy told me I looked like a boy with a cap on. Yep, it took 11 years for me to move past that. Nothing like high school to haunt you right? Or the times after a breakup? Questioned myself for weeks. Or when a pretty woman walks into the room and, even if it’s for a brief second, inadequacy hits?

Am I the only one who has ever struggled with this?

I so often have to do a heart check and ask myself why these things creep on me. They shouldn’t bug me, but when they do, I know it’s because I’ve missed it (once again). Where do I find my value? Where to find my worth?

It’s so easy to get caught up in the wrong areas. What I do or don’t look like doesn’t really matter. Whether I have a six pack (that’s funny) or have to buy a size up in jeans. Whether I love or hate makeup. My value is found in something far greater and more perfectly beautiful than I can ever imagine.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14
That right there. It’s all that matters and it’s a promise.

When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14
What a promise!

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7
The Lord made me and values everything about me. That is enough.

To quote “Crooked Smile” by J. Cole: “We ain’t picture perfect, but we worth the picture still.”

And I just quoted a hip hop song after Bible verses. So there’s that.

But what a beautiful and wonderful hope: I’m God’s chosen – holy and beloved. And He will never leave nor forsake me. What more do I need?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Has there been a scripture that has gotten you through feelings of inadequacy?

Ponderings

When in a Season of Almost

Have you ever gone through a season of “almosts”? Those times when when you’re praying for guidance, you’re seeking the Lord and feel at peace with moving forward in one direction, things are lining up and then……nothing. The job promotion, the college application, the book idea, the adoption, the fundraiser, the relationship, the whatever-it-is (you can fill in the blank) goes no where. It can be something huge or it can be something small, but it doesn’t change the fact that at first, it’s deflating.

I don’t question God’s faithfulness or goodness in these times, because I know He is good (He’s done more than I’ll ever deserve already!). But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that these times can be trying and frustrating. I wonder why did everything have to line up so “perfectly” (meaning my heart gets involved) to only have things not pan out? Was it once again about “the journey”? And trust me, that is asked grudgingly. What if I just want to have the end result and be done with it? Have you ever experienced that?

This was from one of my runs and it’s amazing how rays of sunshine can be so encouraging! Also, can we take a moment to check out the beginning of that hill I have to defeat with every training run?

So I’ve been asking myself, what’s the point?

Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

The easy answer is this proves there’s plenty of room for growth when it comes to my spiritual life ;). I so quickly want to see the end result, that I want to skip right over the middle. Yet, as much as I can sometimes complain about the journey – I’ve been reminded recently of how important that journey is. Yes, there are lessons to be learned, but more importantly, for myself, it’s in times like these (deflated, frustrated, etc) where I have to seek the Lord more than I would have if it all panned out like I thought it was going to.

And that is what’s important.

I believe God is continuing to refine me (and that will be a life long process for sure!). Sometimes those end results come quickly, sometimes they stretch years, but as stubborn and baby-of-the-family I can so often be, the Lord is showing me He isn’t done, He’s preparing me for things far beyond my expectations. And I can’t wait to see!

So while I sometimes get sassy frass in my patience, I know He is still there and won’t give up on a girl like me, who as you can see from the following photo, has always been the epitome of meek and one who listens the first time around. Typing that makes me chuckle. Bless my parents.

Circa late 80s

Have you been there? What were some encouraging scripture and advice that helped you? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Ponderings

Friends and Friends Forever….

Tomorrow night I get to see my favorite band of ALL TIME in concert. Seriously, NEEDTOBREATHE is an incredible band and if you haven’t listened to their music, dear friends, stop reading and LISTEN!

Anyway, one of my favorite songs from their latest album is “Brother.” Two of the band members are brothers, and I love the lyrics and I think they are relevant just as much to family as they are to friendship. Here’s a snippet:

Brother let me be your shelter
I’ll never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re low
Brother let me be your fortress
When the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home

I’ve been thinking about friendship often this year and I’ve been reminded quite often it’s value (not that I ever doubted!). From this song, to sermons, to reading books about friendships, I wanted to take a moment on this blog to simply remind myself (and maybe even you dear reader) how much we, as breathing and living humans, need friendship in our lives.

When I think of my girlfriends, first, I laugh, thinking of all the hilarity throughout the years and then I get really cheesy and maybe even tear up thinking about what they’ve meant and continue to mean in my life.

They’re the Hobbits you’d want with you to destroy the ring, the ones who will meet up for Happy Hour because you need to hash out the latest boy drama, or it was a long work week or you just want to enjoy Happy Hour and laugh. They’re the women who will go grab significant amounts of chocolate without being asked, the women who will change their plans to meet you at Chick-fil-A, the women who will get excited for the new adventures in your life and cry with you when your heart is broken (the stuff beyond boys).

They’re the women who I know I can send something funny no matter how inappropriate and I know they’ll laugh and still be my friend. They’re the women who will encourage me in my faith, who will pray for me and will always be there.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:12-14 NIV)

As C.S. Lewis said in The Four Loves, “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17 NIV)

You never know where you’ll meet them, whether playing dodge ball during 5th grade P.E. or in a new state. They may be at different life stages when you meet, they’ll do things differently and probably even view things a bit differently than you do, they may live thousands of miles away or twenty minutes away, but the thing I’ve learned is that God is faithful in bringing friends into your life that you need.

I could post a collage of pictures, but that might overwhelm y’all ;), so I’ll go with one picture of my best friend and I (since the previously mentioned dodge ball match in 5th grade :). I am so thankful for her in my life and proof that living states apart doesn’t have to change a friendship!

Don’t be a Lone Ranger friends. There is too much beauty in friendship to go at life alone. 🙂

What about you? How have friendships shaped your life?

P.S. Five internet high fives if you know the title reference 🙂

Ponderings

Let’s Promise to Finish

This post from an older blog I no longer write popped up on my Timehop a few days ago and it’s just what I needed to hear.

A few years ago I laughed at the thought of running a 10K, let alone a half. I also swore on all creation I would never run a full marathon. Then things changed a couple of years ago. First, my girlfriends somehow convinced me to join in the Austin half marathon. I almost died. I actually did get injured, but after some therapy I was determined to try again. I was half injured again for the next one, but I still went for it. You think I’d get the hint, but there’s something about running that’s too alluring.

Then came a full marathon. Maybe it was a twilight zone kind of day, but when the aforementioned girlfriends said “let’s do a full marathon!” I didn’t hesitate. But training for a full marathon is totally different. Suddenly 13 miles seemed like nothing when long runs for training were 18+ miles.

But let me be the first to say, I am by no means hard core. Let’s really emphasize that. This is coming from someone who thinks a 12 minute mile pace is fast. And I probably hold the record for the slowest finishes in all of my races. The sprint triathlon I did a few years back? Last place for my age group. Do I kid? Nope, dead last.

I share this because I didn’t start at 18 miles. I literally started with 1. I never won, nor will I ever come close. But I’ll always finish.

It’s easy to portray (especially with the world wide web and social media) that things are going awesome (in everyday life or even while pursuing a dream and goal), but I don’t think that’s fair to anyone, especially yourself. When it’s something worth it, the path isn’t going to be easy. And if you’re honest about the struggles, then not only will the end product be much more sweet, but I believe many more people will be inspired by your journey.

I’ll be honest, my training sometimes sucks. And by sometimes I mean most runs. After a long run, I’ll check my time and think of how horrible it was. Just this past weekend, I averaged near 14 minute miles. For non-runners, that means slow and lots of walking. But I kept going. Sometimes the lesson is in the journey too.

So whatever it is you are working on or if you are just trying to survive, here’s to starting with that one mile (even if it takes you 20 minutes to complete)!

“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…” Hebrews 12:1-2

What are some ways you want to try and start with one step? One block? One mile?