Would You #ChooseBeautiful?

A friend of mine shared a Dove video on Facebook last week. I really like this friend, so I watched it. Here's the link, you can watch it for yourself before you read the rest of my post. (It will make more sense that way.)

Dove Choose Beautiful Video

I've been thinking about this video for a full week and that wasn't something I expected when I first pushed play. Why did this commercial hit me so hard?

First, it surprised me. I expect I'm not the only one who guesses she knows what is coming when I see the thumbnail of a video. For this one, I could see that women could choose a door to go through and that one was labeled 'Beautiful'. Now my assumption was that the other was labeled 'Ugly,' or something to that effect, and in a matter of milliseconds I had already put myself through the Beautiful door and went on my merry way feeling so superior that Dove didn't trick me. (Ha! I'm so much smarter than advertisers. Another commercial to get us to see that we're pretty when we use your products, Dove. I've seen (and cried) at your YouTube stunts before.) But in the video, the other door didn't say Ugly. It said Average. That startled me because all of a sudden I couldn't as easily (mentally) walk through the Beautiful door. Because I see myself as much more Average. I'm not, nor have I ever been, the kind of girl that gets noticed when I leave my house. I'm a fly-under-the-radar kind of person. I definitely don't think I'm ugly (most days, at least), but beautiful people get noticed and get free stuff and get guys tirelessly hitting on them, right? I mean, that's what the beautiful girl in movies always deals with.

And as I watched the women in the video, I could honestly say that every single woman in it was beautiful. I didn't have to force it, I just really thought they were all so beautiful. And some of the ones that walked through the Average door were really, really gorgeous. But they see themselves the same way I see myself. And then I think about all my gorgeous friends and wonder how many of them would put themselves in the Average category. Because I think I have really beautiful friends. But for some reason I have a feeling that a lot of them would think they were Average.

Now, I happened to be blessed enough to have a husband who I know thinks I'm beautiful. I know this because he says it way too often to be lying. Almost everyday for close to 19 years he has told me how much he likes the way I look. He's pretty good at telling me the other things he likes about me too, but without a doubt I know that he thinks I am the prettiest female on this planet. How would he feel if he saw me walk through the Average door? Or what about my daughter? What message does she get if she watches me choose Average? Does that start to shape her opinion of herself? (These are rhetorical questions, I know my choice absolutely affects her.)

So why would I have such a hard time choosing Beautiful for myself? I think on my best days I can take what I know to be true about what Jesus thinks about me and what my husband sees in me and what I want my daughter to think about herself and say that I would go through the Beautiful door. But I also know that I think way too much about what I perceive others think about me. And walking through the left door with others watching would be hard because what if they don't think I should go through that door? What if they think I'm too fat or short or pale to be considered Beautiful? If P!nk can be considered too fat, then who am I to dare to think myself worthy of that door?

But here's the truth. God the Creator made each and every one of us. He did not mess up because he makes no mistakes. He knows each one of his creations to be absolutely stunning. And I think it would hurt his heart to watch his creations announce to the world that they are just Average when he knows they are not. And that is not just for other people, that is for each of us. Psalm 139:14 says, "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." And as a believer in Jesus, I am called to be free from the chains of what the world thinks. I am allowed to declare truth no matter if strangers disagree. I can confidently walk through the Beautiful door with no shame because He has called me Beautiful. And that is all I should need, plain and simple. And thank God, because according to our culture's standards of beauty, no real, non-photoshopped woman could really measure up.

Lastly, I know some of you are thinking what I was thinking before the video played, "Dove just wants to sell us stuff. It's manipulation to get us to spend our money." Now, obviously that is true. That's what advertisements are for and they wouldn't spend time and money making videos like this if it wasn't going to pay them back. But here's why I don't mind: because they are trying to sell me something by telling women that they're already beautiful, already worth it. So many other brands say something to the effect of, "This part of your body isn't good enough the way it is, so buy our product to make you feel/look/be better." They have to lower our self esteem in order to get us to buy into the promise that they will make us happier. But what Dove is doing is building us up first and then asking for our money. And if I have to watch advertisements at all, I'd prefer to watch ones that keep my dignity in tact. And that's what I'd rather the people I love be watching too. So Dove, you just keep on keeping on. I love it.


Musings on Hebrews

I go to a little church called Second Mile. I won't go into all the reasons I love and adore it because I'm saving that for another post coming sometime soon. But the important thing here is not that I do love and adore it, but that right now we are making our way through the book of Hebrews together on Sunday evenings. And since I'm filling up my little corner of the internet with words, I am going to start a little series I'm calling Musings on Hebrews. This will not be teaching; I'll leave that to our pastor, Chad. (I know everyone is grateful for this condescension on my part.) This series will be my thoughts on how I might be able to apply His words to my life, maybe some prayers that come out of what I'm processing, or questions I'm mulling over. If you would like to experience Hebrews with us, you can click here for the audio/video of Chad's messages. They are so full of good words and this is just a sliver of what I'm reflecting on throughout my week.

Last week we focused on Hebrews 3:7-19. This passage talks a lot about unbelief and compares our propensity toward unbelief to the Israelites' while wandering the desert. Good, meaty stuff. During his message, Chad noted that (I'm paraphrasing) unbelief robs God of his glory and robs the unbeliever of the privilege of seeing God's blessing in providing for his household. When we don't believe God in whatever area of life, whether for our salvation, His promies, His faithfulness, we rob him and ourselves. And, naturally, this got me thinking about my own unbelief. How many times have I missed out on seeing God provide or work because of my unbelief? How many times have I robbed him of glory? Many more times than I'd like to think about, and certainly even more than I really remember. I find this so disappointing. I mean, no one is perfect, so we're all going to miss some opportunities, but what if we didn't? What if we always believed God and his promises and obeyed in accordance with such great faith? How much more glory would he receive and how much more would we get to see that glory displayed this side of heaven?

Then I started to pray for belief and repent for the opportunities I lose, but mostly to ask for his grace to fill me with belief. Because what I'm tempted to do when faced with my own unbelief, or any shortcoming, really, is to try to believe more or harder or better. I start to think that I can simply be aware of the problem and force my way into obedience from my own strength. I start to think that I can strive to believe in order to make God proud or let him see he didn't waste his blood on me, to show him I was worth it.

Isn't that just so ugly and disgusting? It's prideful and doesn't give glory to God at all. I cannot earn my salvation, I cannot prove I was worth it because the cold, hard truth is that I wasn't. He didn't die on the cross because I'm special or worth it. He did it because of his own mercy and grace and goodness. He did it for his own glory and I can't earn favor with him now or at anytime in the future. And you know what else I can't do? I can't make myself believe more. Only God's grace in my life can do that. Only his Holy Spirit in me can bring any kind of sanctifying change in my heart.

So what's a girl to do? Sit back and twiddle my thumbs and wait for him to show up and magically change me? Of course not! God wants me to participate in my sanctification. If I could do it on my own, then I wouldn't need Jesus and he wouldn't get the glory for the work being done in my life. I would. So he somehow orchestrated it so that he does the work in my soul and that I join him in that work by being obedient through faith. Chad also said last week that being in His word increases our ability to understand him. How could getting to know God's character better not increase my faith? So, some practical things I can do to grow my belief? Meditate on his word, spend time in it, learn it, memorize it. I can allow him to show me his faithfulness by expecting him to do big things, praying and talking to him throughout my day. I can be more intentional about listening to him, through his word and through his Spirit. And again, not to earn God's favor, but to increase my depth of relationship with him. He will not fail me and the more I trust him, the more my faith and belief will grow. And the more glory I will give him and the more of his blessings I will get to witness, for myself and others. It has to be about Jesus, not me. Unfortunately that's a lesson I keep having to learn in new and deeper ways. But I'm so grateful that he cares to do the hard work in us and not leave us to ourselves.


More Musings on Writing and Perseverance

I love when I feel that Jesus has me on a path and he seems to confirm it with little things all around me. My post yesterday was truly of my own design, but I woke up to find that one of my favorite current authors put much of what I was thinking into much more eloquent words. I love Shauna Niequist because her voice is calming and she chooses her words so well. She paints pictures and creates metaphors that I love and shares a quiet vulnerability that draws you in. But all of that seems so outside what I can create on my own at this point in my writing journey. Here is a excerpt from her blog post that confirmed what I was thinking last night. If you want to read the full post (you do), click here.

"For me, writing is a lot like prayer, a lot like running, a lot like meditation: you trust that in doing it you will be transformed into the kind of person who does it better with each week, with each month, with each year. You trust that the work changes you into the kind of person who can more easily and deeply and wholeheartedly do that work."

This is exactly what I'm trying to do. Practice and be disciplined in order to get to where I want to go. For some reason I've had this subconscious mentality my whole life that if you are good at something, you shouldn't have to work at it. It should just come easily to you. I know consciously that this isn't true, that people who are ridiculously good at their thing practice. A lot. They put in their 10,000 hours. They perfect. But that seems like so much work and I've never been a very disciplined person. So I just tell myself that I'm not as good as others and chalk it up to talent and talk myself into being happy where I'm at, doing what I'm doing. I am very prone to being happy, which I consider to be a strength most of the time. I'm adaptable, I go with the flow. When life gives me lemons, I make Arnold Palmers. But what I don't do well is plan, work, practice or persevere. What would my life look like if I stuck with something and really worked at it? (It would probably look like my marriage, which is a wonderful testament to the notion that I can stick things out, that I can persevere, that I can make things really good if I work at it. And also if I'm linked together with someone for life and they make me work at it. That helps too.)

I've been thinking a lot about a regret I have from high school. I used to be a singer and I was always in choir and in the chorus in school musicals. The musicals were some of my best memories of high school, but I still always wish I had gotten the chance to be one of the lead parts. In my high school I could sing well enough to get one of those parts, but I was so shy. I was so afraid of looking like I was trying too hard or trying to be something that everyone else could clearly see that I wasn't, that I just never worked at it. I never sought ways to get better. I never took a drama class. I just told myself that if I was good enough to get one of those parts, I would be good enough naturally and if not, it wasn't meant to be. As an adult I can see how insecure and scared I really was. If I had tried just a little bit I think I could have gotten what I wanted. I see now that the kids that did get those parts probably did work at it. They probably practiced and practiced, not just for the shows, but for the auditions as well. It's the same with writing. If I start to work on it now, maybe in a few years I'll be able to see the difference from where I am today. Maybe I'll have found my purpose and my voice. Maybe I'll have something worth publishing. And if not? Then perhaps I'll just be a better writer and that's not entirely bad either. It's not like I'll break the internet by adding a few words to it here and there. Right?

Lastly, I know there is such a difference between working at something in order for it to be used well and striving to earn love or salvation. I don't want to work at this so God will love me more or so I'll be more popular (although those are always struggles in the back of my mind). But it is a very fine line between the two and I often struggle with wanting to earn approval. So to avoid that I then default to just not working on anything at all. Back and forth like I'm on a teeter totter with a much smaller person on the other side, never able to find the balancing point. So I'll keep praying that my motives stay pure and my focus stays on Jesus and that this thing comes about to glorify him now and in the future. I can release control while still pursuing excellence, even if it's difficult. That's where growth comes from, so I've heard.


Thoughts on Becoming a Writer

I want to be a writer. I've actually always wanted to be a writer. My mom reminded me of that when she was visiting a few weeks ago. But the desire has been growing stronger lately. I'm not sure if it's because I'm reading better writers on a regular basis or if I'm just so bored with my status quo or because I think it's a good way for a lot of people to know me and hear my opinions. Maybe it's because all the writers I follow online get to travel a lot and I want a flexible schedule where I get to travel a lot. What I'm saying is that I'm not sure my motives are all the way pure, but I like to think they are somewhat pure. Maybe God could would use me to speak to people. To do something big in the world. To inspire people to look to him more, do more, love more.

I like to think I'm a pretty clear communicator. I can put ideas across clearly and (somewhat) concisely. I could work on my humor. I just wonder if I have all that much to say. There are a million good communicators out there, why do I think I'm so special? Maybe I need to be a much deeper thinker to have much to say; or maybe you have to be much more vulnerable than I am in this stage of life. These are all things to work on.

But to be a writer you have to write. So for now, this will be my little practice corner of the world. I can build discipline in to my writing, work at it, try to improve and try to find my voice, my stuff to say. I can try to write without worrying so much if people are reading it or critiquing it. Build some confidence in writing because I enjoy it and want to practice and try to ignore the other people for now. It's not that I don't think deep thoughts or have valid stories to share, it's just that I don't really think anyone is interested in hearing them. Also, it's a little embarrassing to go back and see how immature you sound a year later and a blog pretty much lets everyone do that for you.

There are so many good writers in the world. People who think deep thoughts and can pair them with such humor and wit. But they didn't wake up one day and have their craft perfected. (Well, not most of them, right?) So this is me trying to say (for about the fifth time since I started this blog) that I'm going to try to be consistent and move forward with this little adventure. And if all I have left in the end is documentation of my journey through writing, that will still be something.


No Fruit and Dress Socks

You know what? I'm not perfect. I know, I know. I just blew some minds just then. I'll give you a moment to recover...

Okay, now that you've taken me off that shiny, tall pedestal you had me on, let me tell you why I know I'm not perfect.

1. Yesterday I forgot to take Yemi to choir practice at school. It's only the third week and it didn't even occur to either of us that we missed it until well after we were home from school doing homework. Memory fail.
2. We ran out of fruit at our house yesterday and I have yet to get any more. No bananas, no apples, not even a fruit leather. The closest thing my daughter had to fruit or vegetables in her lunch today was the peach jelly she put on her sandwich. Healthy lunch fail.
3. Yemi just left for soccer practice wearing a pair of John's dress socks over her shin guards. Because she asked me to do laundry on Sunday and I still haven't done it. And she only has two pair of soccer socks and wore them both last week. Laundry fail.
4. My sister's and my nephew's birthdays were Tuesday. My mom's birthday was today. I bought all of their birthday presents to mail two weekends ago. They are all still sitting in a bag on my desk. Birthday fail.

I'm sure the list could go on and on but I have some sort of reputation to uphold here. Lucky for me, I'm an eternal optimist. I look on the bright side of life, pretty much always. And also, I read this blog post today and it reminded me that, actually, I'm pretty awesome. I mean, I'm nothing special, but also, here's why I'm awesome:

1. My house is clean enough for people to be in it. I know this standard is different for everyone, but there are people coming over in a few hours and I'm not embarrassed for them to see it. A nice, homey, clean-but-not-too-clean feel going on. Maybe I'll light a candle and it will just push it right over the edge.
2. My child has been on time to school every day this year. (Not to choir practice, but to school). That's the important thing.
3. I made a healthy dinner tonight all by myself. And it tasted good and even though the smoke detector went off, I didn't actually burn anything.
4. I enrolled my child into soccer to help her get more exercise. So even though it's a hassle to take her and I don't know why six-year-olds need a twice a week practice, I know that it's good for her. So I did it.
5. Yesterday, I paid all my bills. On time. No late fees, no pink envelopes from TEP, no telephone reminders (not that I would know that those things come when you pay your bills late or anything. I'm just assuming).

So, if you're feeling like you haven't done enough today, just remember, most likely, you're awesome. And if you don't believe that, give me a call and I'll tell you a few reasons why I think you're awesome.

What awesome things did you do this week?


Cc is for...

So, my original goal on the whole Alphabet posts was to do one a week. I would never have said that out loud of course, but that was a vague goal for myself. Seeing as my last post was a month and a half ago, I think my first Cc is appropriate.

- The online dictionary (I don't know which one. This is a blog, not a research paper) defines Consistency as "conformity in the application of something." A quick scroll through the archives here will show you how good I am at this one. When getting ready in the morning I almost never do things in the same order and in the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, I am very strong in Perceiving, which means I don't necessarily need closure or plans. And while the practical side of me likes lists for the sake of not forgetting things, To Do lists are useless because I literally don't care if something, or everything, is left undone. If I can do it tomorrow, I probably will. Or the next day. I think my friends Tori and Jen G just had mini-panic attacks reading that. Sorry ladies. Remarkably, I still manage to be a productive member of society that has a job, a happy marriage, and am attempting to raise a future productive member of society. There are a few things I'm really consistent at though, and we should all celebrate small victories, right? Like, I'm a really consistent dessert eater, I regularly throw theme parties for various unimportant holidays (International Star Wars Day, Valentine's Day Sing-A-Longs, my birthday), and, and, actually I can't think of anything else that's not food related. However, I understand that my daughter needs a lot of consistency and I strive to give her as much of that as my soul can possibly handle. And as she becomes more healed and secure in our family, there becomes a greater amount of flexibility and freedom in schedules. But I'm not sure I'll ever be able to put her to bed without kissing all around her face. We might be doing that every single night until she's 28.

Choreography- I'm not a dancer (oh, how I wish I was a dancer!) but I really, really enjoy watching good dancing. That being said, I think most people know my obsession affinity for So You Think You Can Dance. (I'm very consistent in watching it every week.) It's wonderful. So, so wonderful. But, since this post is about Cc's, I'm going to highlight one of my favorite choreographers of late, Christopher Scott. His specialty is hip hop and not only is he not bad to look at, he is a genius. Just watch this, this or this if you want some convincing. But under no circumstances are you allowed to watch his starving children dance from a few seasons ago. I'm not even going to link to it, mostly because it's terrible and took me several years to recover from the horror, but also a little because I can't remember the song title, making it difficult to find on YouTube.

Catkins- This is our nickname for our cat (whose real name is Benny). It comes from the cat version of the Atkins Diet for humans. Now, I'm generally not a believer of any diet that completely cuts out a whole food group (hey, what do I know?), but I think the person that thought of this pun is remarkable. They deserve an award. So, while I'm not necessarily a proponent for a obese cat going on said diet, the name has stuck with the Weatherfords for about a decade now, ever since John and I saw it on the cover of a magazine in Lincoln, NE. A friend once told me she thought it was funny how we picked out little things in life and hung on to them for a long time. I think she'd probably consider this one of those things.

Chiefs- I always miss Kansas more in the fall. September in Tucson is the worst. Not because it's actually worse than the rest of the summer, but because it's when I'm so ready for a chill in the air and pumpkin desserts and long sleeves again. And football seems less fun when it's still hot. And we're still at least 6-8 weeks away from weather you can actually justify wearing a scarf in, but if we turn the air conditioning down a little and turn a Chiefs game on, we can almost pretend the leaves are turning beautiful colors outside. Growing up in Kansas City meant I was born a Chiefs fan. Sometimes it's a hard lot in life, but I'm in good company. I truly do love professional football, but no matter how you feel about it, I think most can agree that there is something lovely about laying down on the couch under a blanket on Sunday morning and falling asleep the the commentary of a game you care nothing about. That wouldn't be the KC game for me, but we don't get a lot of those down here anyway.


Bb is for...

I must admit, this will be harder than I thought. "A" was pretty easy, because I could pull from anything. My blog was open to anything. But "B" took some more time to think out. Mostly because I wanted to talk about a lot of what I had already mentioned in the last blog. But, I am determined to keep going and to try not to bore you. :)

(This is Benedict Cumberbatch, star of my favorite TV show. We also named our cat after him, Benedict "Benny" Cumbercat.)

British storytellers- British authors have always been my favorite. Okay, maybe not in elementary school. I mean, I assume the author of the Sweet Valley High books and Nancy Drew were American? But since high school I have been much more attracted to British authors. I don't know if I'll every get tired of reading Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre. But this has expanded recently from just books to TV as well. I could watch Sherlock (see above picture) and Downton Abbey over and over again. The current Brits seem to be moving in a bit more cruel direction, however. Like, I never have to worry about Jane Austen killing off one of my favorite characters and breaking my heart (I'm looking at you JK Rowling and Julian Fellowes.) But they sure know how to suck you in.

Beatles- Hey! I just realized they're British too! Totally unrelated, however. Since meeting John when I was 14 years old, he has greatly improved and expanded my music consumption. I'm pretty sure if he was completely aware of the kind of music I listened to before he came along, he would not have been so keen to love me. (Let's just say that he still won't let me live down that I owned, and liked, Throwing Copper by Live.) Luckily for me (and him), The Beatles helped me hide this information from him long enough to let him fall in love with other things about me. I liked the Fab Four long before I met John and it was one of the first things we discovered we had in common. He used to wear a shirt with the cover of Beatles For Sale on it. So I'll always have a soft spot for the band that helped me trick my future husband into falling in love with me (even if it was unintentional on my part.)

Boldness- This is an attribute that I've been trying to work on in my life. Those who know me would probably not use this word to describe me very often. I almost never send food back at a restaurant, I'm fairly quiet when meeting new people, and I'm not usually the first to volunteer for things. I don't like looking stupid (as opposed to all of you out there that just love looking stupid!) and like to be cautious when in new situations. But this isn't always a good thing and I do miss out on a lot of opportunities to encourage people or get to know someone new out of a fear of judgment. So, I'm trying to find out what boldness looks like while still being me. What it looks like to get over my self consciousness and go for it! And be okay if I end up looking stupid sometimes.

Brown- This is the color of my daughter. Don't let her hear you call her, or anyone else with her skin tone, "black." It doesn't fly in this house. She will never cease to remind you (as she often has to do with us) that she is brown and we are peach. Which really is a more accurate descriptor in most cases. Just don't ask me what color other races are because we haven't quite gotten there yet.

Blasé- 1. indifferent to something because of familiarity or surfeit. 2. lacking enthusiasm; bored. I hope I don't fit this description too often in my life. But it is a fun word to say, isn't it? Try fitting it into a sentence this week.