31 July 2007

Daisy Placecards & Curry Yellow Fans.

Finally done! :)

I made daisy placecards for everyone attending the wedding and some fun little fans, which I'm so relieved turned out just as I pictured in my mind!

They all go with these invitations, posted previously...

Happy Wedding, friends!!

26 July 2007

Finding myself again.

Last night, my friend Erin Fletcher, a talented budding photographer, took photos of me for her portfolio. I frolicked in a grassy haven outside of Dallas, and it was wonderful. She kept thanking me for my help, but my heart was filled with gratitude for a chance to be awakened and put back in touch with my true desires.

It was the perfect time of day, and my skin felt like it was glowing. I laid in the tall grass and felt the blades brush my forehead. I skipped with a bouquet of flowers just like I'd always wanted to do. I felt like I was a child but also a woman. I felt renewed and feminine. But the big insight from yesterday was that I felt like ME. I've been talking so much about who I desire to become...and I realized that is what I already am. I was completely comfortable being in that field, with flowers and a flowy white skirt, and sunshine. Embracing my freedom. Embracing life.

So that is huge. That lifts a weight off of me where I previously felt I had so far to go to become that woman. When in reality, I just have to remember who I am during the moments when I'm not living out of my true self.

One other great thing happened yesterday. For the first time in about a month, I slept peacefully.

I do want to see the proofs from the photo shoot, but does it really matter? The only thing I really needed to take away from that photo session was me...

“Their soul melts because of trouble
They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man,
And are at their wits’ end.

Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He brings them out of their distresses.
He calms the storm
So that its waves are still.

Then they are glad because they are quiet;
So He guides them to the desired haven.”
~ Psalm 107:26-30

25 July 2007

All Shall Be Well... (Captivating Chapters 2 & 3)

Beauty. Just one simple word that affects every day of my life and the lives of all women I know (and if they say otherwise, they’re either lying or in denial).

Why are we so affected by it? There is a reason, and it began a long time ago. The desire for it surfaces on a daily basis…for me, in the way I dress, vocalists I like, how I want to decorate my house, why I’ve taken so many dang photos of flowers like those scattered throughout this blog post, and even why I just had to have a $2.99 Jade plant named Audrey to brighten up my desk.

In these two chapters, the insights kept coming and it’s taken me quite awhile to process it all. So forgive me, please, for taking so long. Since I read them, there isn’t a day that’s gone by that I haven’t thought about who I am as a woman and how I want to become a more joyous, purposeful one.

First of all, I was reminded that woman was not an afterthought, and quite contrary to popular church teaching, she was not simply created to “help” man. Woman was the finishing touch, the crowning touch of Creation. There is something woman’s presence accomplishes that could not be accomplished by man alone.

There’s a reason God made us this way. As women, we are basically God’s message to the world in feminine form, communicating characteristics of God like His vulnerability, tenderness, mercy, and devotion. Fierce devotion. We communicate an entirely different aspect of the Creator than man does.

I say that, and I feel a little stirring inside. A little bit of extra confidence.

These last few weeks, I’ve evaluated where I am and what I desire. Because whether it’s a new paint color on the walls, a flowy white skirt, or the Blue Ridge Mountains, beauty is something I know I desire to be surrounded by on a daily basis. And if I can't express myself this way, I start to feel really "off."

Beauty was meant to show us something about God and therefore ourselves. In Chapter 2, Stasi asserts that God is relational to His core, and He has a heart for romance (p. 26). I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to think of God this way sometimes. I see Him more as my Father than someone who wants to go on adventures with me, someone who romances me. Yet I know He put things in this world like flowers and mountains and oceans because He could, just for me to enjoy. So isn’t beauty quite important to Him?

“Nature is not primarily functional. It is primarily beautiful. Stop for a moment and let that sink in. We’re so used to evaluating everything (and everyone) by their usefulness that this thought will take a minute or two to begin to dawn on us. Nature is not primarily functional. It is primarily beautiful. Which is to say, beauty is in and of itself a great and glorious good, something we need in large and daily doses.” (p. 34).

Dangling my legs on the edge of the Grand Canyon or riding along the cliffs of the Italian Riviera, I got this. Some of my favorite places of natural beauty are those of both adventure and rest. What I didn’t realize is that I don’t have to be in the middle of the mountains or at the beach to have a part of God’s beauty, or to feel beautiful.

In Genesis 2:18, when God creates Eve, the phrase used is "ezer kenegdo" (p 31). After I found this out, I pondered it for days! The phrase "ezer" is used 20 other times in the Old Testament, all referring to God in a lifesaving capacity. So the only other time it's used to describe someone besides God, it's describing woman in relation to man.


So “ezer” means “lifesaving,” and "kenegdo" means "alongside” or “counterpart." That means we are literally man's lifesaving counterpart. It is a noble calling. And knowing that changes a lot of things. It gives me confidence. It also encourages me to really be who I am meant to be, because it doesn't only affect ME when I'm not doing so. It affects others and their own beauty. And it affects man and his masculinity.

I don’t know about you, but for some reason, I always pictured Eve at that fated moment with the serpent, standing by the fruit tree, with Adam over in some other area of the Garden doing his thing. But I learned that the original text says that Adam was literally standing there beside Eve "elbow to elbow" (p. 48), yet saying nothing! Completely silent, he stood there while Eve was tempted, and they both succumbed to it. At that moment, Eve controls, man is passive, and they both think they know better than God. And so it goes every day for the rest of our time on this earth. We fall. We sin. And our specific roles are not often clearly defined or celebrated.

Sometimes this definition is extremely clear...like when the TV is on :) My husband's current favorite show is "Dirty Jobs" on the Discovery Channel. It's the story of this guy, Mike Rowe, who goes across the country interviewing and participating with people whose daily jobs are really filthy dirty - like a cement truck chipper, compost maker, or termite killer. Ladies, watch out. I’ve seen enough slime, sludge, and poo on this show to last me for the rest of my life! But there’s something really attractive about the fact that it’s his favorite show, ya know?

"Beauty is the essence of a woman. We want to be perfectly clear that we mean both a physical beauty and a soulful/spiritual beauty. The one depends upon and flowers out of the other. Yes, the world cheapens and prostitutes beauty, making it all about a perfect figure few women can attain. But Christians minimize it too, or overspiritualize it, making it all about 'character.'" (p. 36)

Could that be more true? Why is beauty either stifled, or abused? Honestly, I’ve spent much of my life conflicted by the idea of beauty. Either abusing it or just blowing it off altogether, I’ve gone both extremes. And this just isn’t going to cut it anymore. I’m about to be 30, and I’m ready to change. I want to be free to embrace it, knowing that it’s OK to want it without being vain! It’s OK to admire it and express it… God’s way.

It’s so rare to find it being expressed, well,…beautifully. I can’t even stand in line at CVS to buy a pack of gum without being bombarded by images of emaciated celebrities…who’s lost their baby belly and who has cellulite, who’s on the newest miracle diet. Beauty tainted.

But then I see the stark contrast when I encounter a woman who is comfortable in her own skin. A woman who knows her calling and lives by it. A mother spoke at one of my recent Bible studies about parenting, and she was absolutely radiant, with love and purpose pouring out of every word. She had smile lines all around her eyes and was barely wearing any makeup. And I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.

I also think about the beautiful ladies I met in India. Their faces were weathered, worn. They couldn’t speak a lick of English but I could see their fierce strong femininity in their eyes and their intense grasp of my hand.

Finally, the part of chapter 3 that absolutely disarmed me was the quote: “Beauty says ‘All shall be well.’” (p. 38) “This is what it’s like to be with a woman at rest, a woman comfortable in her feminine beauty. She is enjoyable to be with. She is lovely. In her presence your heart stops holding its breath. You relax and believe once again that all will be well. And this is also why a woman who is striving is so disturbing, for a woman who is not at rest in her heart says to the world, ‘All is not well. Things are not going to turn out all right.’”

How desperately I want to be a woman who creates an environment of peace. After all, what does it say about the God I follow when I am anxious and doubting and harried all the time?

My husband reminded me last night that it’s impossible to worry and have peace at the same time. One of the ways I listen to lies is by believing that I have no beauty to offer, either physically or relationally. I start to spiral in a sea of negative thoughts rather than reminding myself that I do possess beauty and have much to offer. I have purpose and things are going to be OK. As it says in chapter two, there are "unique essential, strong, and breathtaking ways that women bear the image of God."

Today, I'm going to concentrate on how I bear His image in a unique way. I'm going to look forward to taking modern dance and the fun photo shoot I'm doing tonight with my photographer friend. I'm going to take breaks from work and go outside to look at my flowers. I'm going to be excited about today and hopeful about the future, knowing, really knowing...

"All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well."
~ St. Julian of Norwich

View Chapter 1 thoughts here.

All excerpts from Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul by John & Stasi Eldredge.

24 July 2007

The future is a blank without a view...

"The future is a blank without a view.
That which I wanted most, You have denied;
I cannot understand (and I have tried);
There's nothing I can do but wait on You.

Earth offered much, and I had, lingering long
Outside her lighted windows, wistful grown -
Till at my side I heard a voice – Your own.
Lord, how could I resist a love so strong?

Take all away. I am content to know
Such love is mine-for life is all too brief
To grieve for pleasures bringing only grief;
Give me but You; it is enough just so.

Enough – and more! Such love in You keeps growing-
In You I find my deepest joy complete,
All longing satisfied, and pain made sweet;
In You my cup is filled to overflowing."

~ from Sitting By My Laughing Fire by Ruth Bell Graham, which I read over and over last night until I fell asleep. Order your own free copy here...

22 July 2007

Latest Creations!

18 July 2007

What I did on my summer vacation.

Recently, we took a week-long rest here at home. It was much needed, I tell ya! It's amazing all the things you have time to do, books to read, movies to watch, when there isn't an inch of work in sight...

1. We kicked off our vacation with a delectable meal Steven made, which was a re-creation of my favorite salad at Taco Diner: their cobb salad with chicken, slathered in avocado. He also made us strawberry coolers with Peregrino, fresh strawberries, and a little sweetener. I made some roasted potato fries that I cut with this cool Asian blade thingy that we've had forever but never used. It makes the perfect thin cuts for fries, cucumbers, even turkey slices!

2. Later that night/early morning at 4:30am, Greta woke us up barking, and we were both unable to fall back asleep. So we said, "Let's watch a movie!" Why? "Because we can!" So we watched the original Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn at 4:30am and ate an egg burrito inside a sprouted grain tortilla.

3. The next day, we went back to our busy movie-watching and nap-taking schedule. Somewhere amidst all the relaxing, I made this for Ange's birthday:

4. We also watched "Night At the Museum," which I loved, and which also made me miss NYC and inspired a forthcoming blog post on my favorite New York memories. "A Good Year" with Russsell Crowe was royally awful. The only saving grace for that film was the gorgeous footage of France.

5. Took a trip to Jimmy's Food Store here in Dallas, which carries absolutely authentic Italian groceries. I couldn't believe they even had "New Jersey Taylor Ham Roll"! What?! Haven't seen that since growing up in Jersey. Jimmy's Food Store is an Old East Dallas landmark known for Italian sandwiches, its selection of Italian staples, such as pasta, cookies and condiments, as well as olives, meats and cheeses in the deli case.

Heavens. And since we were on vacation, we indulged in a sampler of Italian cookies, which were exactly like the ones my Aunt Lucille serves every holiday. Like these...

We made some Italian sausage, delicious homemade sauce, and spelt pasta to go with it!

6. Harvested the first jalapeno from our garden...

7. While running some errands, I picked up this little jar with chalkboard paint on the side from World Market. It was only $4.99 and works great for Greta's treats! I moved the old cannisters into my office to store ribbons and paintbrushes and other doodads.

8. Flipped the calendar to July and circled our 2 year anniversary!

9. Played with Greta. She is one spoiled Doberman.

10. Decided one night at 10:30pm to make homemade Pecan Sandies. I've never made them before, so I literally Googled "Best Pecan Shortbread Recipe Ever" and found this recipe. I never would have thought to brush egg whites on top. I have to agree, they were amazing!!

11. Visited Rohde's Nursery in Garland, TX, a lovely organic plant nursery with a huge selection! I loved the cute wooden signs hanging above, and I must say, they had the biggest coneflowers I have ever seen!

12. Bought this Indian design coir doormat from World Market, to replace the old one after we found an entire colony of ants living under it. Eww!

13. Tended to my own garden, where things are blooming nicely.

14. Became enamored with the TV show, "So You Think You Can Dance," and teared up during all the contemporary dance routines. I decided I want to start taking contemporary dance classes in the fall, just for fun, and to find a new way to express myself!

12 July 2007

Berfday Tribute.

Today is the day my dear friend Suz was born. I'm so thankful that happened so I could get to be her friend. Suz and I met randomly in 2002 (?) through our old boss, Kirby, when she was still in college and helping Kirby with some stuff for Peace Gospel Ministries. I was working at Grassroots at the time. We were put in touch over IM, and I remember thinking she was an older woman because I didn't know anyone my age named "Susan." I was surprised to find out she was even younger than I was! Suz soon moved to Nashville, and I knew I had a lifelong friend. Some of my favorite things about her: her desire to honestly and consistently strive to become a stronger woman in Christ and to embrace her femininity, her ability to speak truth, her love of the beach and nature, her silliness that so easily meshes with mine :), her Sydney Bristow-like bad-assness, and the fact that she always gives up her "cloud" bed for me to sleep in when I visit her. There is a list of about a thousand more things, too! Here are some of my favorite photos with and of Suz.

One of the many times we've played catch in Destin...

Taking the turkey out of the oven one Thanksgiving...

Broken-down with the Cowarts in some random parking lot on the way to Virginia...

Bling'n it at the Walmart in Destin...

Suz in her element - ice cream, sunshine, and sitting under a lovely tree...

Our favorite morning location in NYC - Cafe Lalo from You've Got Mail...

One of my favorite pics of all-time...

A little tradition we have at the outdoor market in Seaside...

Wedding day :)

And another Seaside tradition!

Funny how we've never stayed at the Destin Holiday Inn, but we sure have enjoyed their pool!

Serendipity in NYC...

See, I told you she was Sydney Bristow.

Suz's birthday 2004 in Destin...

At Steak 'n Shake. I just noticed the IHOP sign in the window!

One of our magical evenings going to see our boyfriend Harry Connick, Jr. in concert...

And the crowning beauty of them all...no one else could pull off puffs like this...

Happy Birthday, Suz! Thank you for being my friend.