When Protecting a Dream Seems Nearly Impossible

Untitled design (4)“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Nelson Mandela

//Every writer who is a mom knows it’s a flat out miracle if she can write at home uninterrupted for 20 minutes. Or 10. Or 2.

When you’re making anything with your whole self, you need to be fully present to it. Maybe a blog post. An e-mail. Or a book chapter, like I am doing this week.

Mom creative time is a matter of national security. At least, it should be.Tweet This

This week two kids, one dog plus an extra one visiting, and the commotion of my sister moving out has made me appreciate my writing and thinking time. What a luxury and a gift. Something to fight for. Something to protect.//

But I had a crisis moment on Wednesday when I realized my book proposal would remain an unfinished dream if I didn’t ask for help from family and friends. (It might even mean booking an AirB&B for a couple of nights this weekend.) The kids waking earlier every morning. My inability to say no to all the good things.

Tears flowed while I flipped a sausage in the frying pan. “I’ll never get this done.”

Bobby said, “You know we’ll help you, right?” There was a family meeting and hugs from the kids.

I swear, fireworks were going off when he said that.

Time to work on your dreams is worth protecting. Tweet This

This post is part of Five Minute Friday, a flash mob of creative writers dedicated to writing on one word for five minutes each week. Today our word was PROTECT. Do check it out. (// indicates the timer’s start and stop.)

Your Turn

What do you find challenging about protecting your dreams?

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
Nelson Mandela

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When Her Burden Is Yours: Fighting for Friends on Our Knees

Christina-Hubbard

“I pray for them. I am not praying for the world. I am praying for those you have given me, because they are yours.” John 17:9 (NIRV)

I felt their pain in the pit of my stomach. It just about turned me inside out. I didn’t know what to do. Honestly, prayer was the furthest thing from my mind. But God promises to draw near when we ask for help. Through prayer, we have the power to fight for our friends—like Jesus did. Tweet This

One hot summer afternoon, God transformed me from a worry-riddled friend to a freedom fighter. I had just come from a visit to my friend Elizabeth’s house. Cancer was ravaging her body and my heart was breaking. I wanted to do something for her, but my hands and words felt empty.

I dangled my feet over the side of the pool, but the cool, clear water did nothing to alleviate my anguish. Doctors had given her 36 months, give or take. I wondered where she stood with God, but it was not the day to ask. My skin baked and my soul ached.

Today I’m honored to be over at (in)courage sharing how God uses our burdened hearts to do powerful work in our hearts and the friends that mean so much to us.

Continue reading here.

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When we give our hopes back to the Creator, our hearts will lighten. Tweet This

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Why I Don’t Take Beauty Cues from American Culture

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My UnAmerican Confessional

  • I hate treadmills and anything called Insanity.
  • Diets make me think of jello and shredded carrots. I refuse to be a rabbit.
  • Running? I checked off that half marathon years ago and called it good, honey.
  • I’m content to never ever wear a bikini again. It’s a modesty thing and a stretch mark thing.
  • Walking slowly brings me deep joy, like praying in a beautiful church.
  • I avoid the gym like the plague except for yoga class + free childcare (bliss!)
  • What ABOUT the scale? After two babies, I stopped that nonsense.
  • Skinny jeans? Muffin tops? Have you not heard? The age of the linen pant is upon us.
  • Big Gulps and egg McMuffins are so yesterday. A small piece of dark chocolate and a small latte can be better than sex.

Taking time, enjoying food, and savoring life. Does this sound revolutionary? What about lowering expectations about what we should look like? Or realistic about style, body type, and the beauty we offer to this world. Easier said than done.

I go through phases where I go all out: I purge the cupboard of processed foods, rededicate myself to the gym gods, purchase a slew of new products, and start running like mad toward the perfect body. For a few weeks, I feel better about myself, but it never lasts.

A few years back I found this radical little book, “French Women Don’t Get Fat” by Mireille Guiliano. It’s about relishing food, being sensible about your body and beauty in general, and enjoying your life.

Sounds subversive, doesn’t it?

Full Lives Running on Empty

We Americans are known for our overwork ethic and tendency toward consumerism and heart disease. Most of us are trying to do so much, cramming our lives full of successes and things, always bigger and better.

Trying to be so many things leaves us strung out, depressed, and totally wanting. Tweet This

When I went to Seoul, South Korea, last year, I saw how extreme a country can take the need to have it all: plastic surgery, cosmetically bleached skin, a high-stress education system, and extremely long work hours. With the second highest suicide rate in the world, the push for more isn’t working out very well there (the U.S. was #50 and France #47 according to the World Health Organization in 2012).

The problem with our beauty mentality is we think we can be everything to everyone. If we admit we can’t, then we feel insecure, and, sister, that’s a hard thing to face when you’re on the fasttrack to superwoman status.

Having it all is a bold-faced lie. Especially when it comes to body type. The ideal body image has changed drastically throughout history. How? Here’s a fabulous video.

I can no more look like you than you look like me. (Besides, what fun would that be anyway?)

Guiliano posits: the best way to embrace beauty is to be realistic, slow down, and do sensible things to maintain a beautiful life. Chew slowly, make meals a social event, have self control, take care of yourself with balance and rest, and for goodness’ sake, stop the rat race.

She admits French take their enjoyment of life to an extreme. Yes, there are fat French women too, and those Parisians do enjoy their smoky cafes (which is thankfully on the decline.) What I got from that little book (a few visits to France and other laid-back places) is moderation and realism. Balance.

Recherché: 

/rəˈʃɛəʃeɪ; French rəʃɛrʃe/

adjective

known only to connoisseurs; choice or rare

Loving yourself and who you shouldn’t be so countercultural. But it is, as the French say, recherché.

Years ago my mother-in-law went through breast cancer. She lost her hair—her beauty, and proceeded to have years of surgeries and treatments. Her pursuit of losing weight slowed to a halt because suddenly, life was so precious.

I love being an American who lives with a bit of French flair (maybe it’s the bit of French blood I supposedly have on my grandmother’s side.) When I became a mom, I too, realized this invaluable thing called life.

Beauty That Satisfies

  • Slowing down.
  • Finding contentment.
  • Celebrating differences.
  • Giving thanks for our strengths.
  • Telling ourselves “Ta-Da!” in the mirror.
  • Taking pleasure in our food, style, and natural beauty.

This is my confessional: I’m so over the pursuit for perfection. It leaves me feeling utterly deprived or tragically bloated. I’d rather wear my linen pants on leisurely walks, eat a little chocolate late at night, and do one simple thing some might call insanity: enjoy this one beautiful life.

Your Turn

When was the last time you enjoyed something beautiful? How do you feel about yourself and the world around you when this thought enters your mind?

Beauty Rewrites

Beauty Rewrites.Graphic2.Girl in boat

Beauty Rewrites is a body image series for women to help us get on good terms with our bodies. Join us every Tuesday with stories from Ludavia Harvey at NiftyBetty.com, Emily Conrad, and Christina Hubbard at Creative and Free. We hope this series inspires us all to stop pursuing perfection and learn to embrace what’s true and sacredly beautiful about ourselves.

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When You Need a Rest Stop to Refuel

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Rest eludes me this week. When I read the word for today’s Five Minute Friday prompt, I exhaled in relief because I want it so badly. To be free of worry. Constraint. Deadlines. Obligations. Opportunities.

Right after my sister’s wedding, I had planned to kick up my feet and call my work done and good for the month. But I was notified that a chance to meet with a publisher opened up at the writing conference I’m attending at the end of July. A challenge I had prayed about and had somewhat prepared for, but there’s much to be done.

I know I’m not the only one who feels the rush of summer and the flurry of wonderful things clamoring for attention.

The pace at which we race in this world is startling. Tweet This

I felt it last night as the kids devoured Ben and Jerry’s ice cream covered in jelly beans and danced around the living room. A moment I should have been enjoying and savoring instead of getting annoyed.

After they went to bed, I struggled to quiet down. (It’s summer and we stay up late and sleep in with the morning’s quiet because we can.) My mind raced with every piddly task nagging at my heels.

I remembered how a year ago I experienced true rest. Sabbath rest. Full stop. In the home of my dear friend Marla who was living in South Korea, we prepared for the day of rest with anticipation. A beautiful meal decked the table on Friday night. We stopped everything in the midst of a crazy world to experience the presence of God.

When you rest in the midst of an ever-spinning world, you see the smallness of your striving. And you’re free. Free to feast on the Father’s love you were needing to taste again.

Last night I stopped everything and went to bed early. I woke up early with the pink sunrise and meditated on the love of the Father, the one who soothes my soul.

If you need the Father’s love to permeate your life, then rest.Tweet This (I’m saying it for the both of us.)

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How To Choose Joy Daily (by Ludavia Harvey)

Be intentional in finding joy. Don't miss out on the life you were meant to enjoy. -Ludavia Harvey #BeautyRewrites

It’s the halfway mark of our Beauty Rewrites series! I hope you’re enjoying the series as much as I am. What’s so awesome about a collaborative series is the addition of fresh ideas like Emily’s #StillBeautifulMe photo challenge. This week Ludavia Harvey has five practical ways to intentionally choose joy.

Joy sustains when life drains

Joy transforms broken into beautiful.Tweet This

Our moods, environment, and the people around us threaten to sabotage the lasting beauty we seek to possess.

The other day my daughter was worried. She asked me what would help, and the first thing that came to mind was writing down three gratefuls. Being thankful is not a new idea, it’s a constant work.

We must run hard after joy

Joy is more than beautiful, it’s contagious. Joy supersedes happiness. It’s the underlying peace and resilience which allows us to pursue an attitude and lifestyle filled with grace for others and ourselves. But we must fight for it.

We must welcome ourselves wide to the beauty that wants to kiss us full on the mouth.

Columnist Parker J. Palmer says,

“Becoming keenly and consistently aware of what’s good, true, beautiful, and life-giving around us and within us demands a discipline: we must open our eyes, minds, and hearts. And we must keep them open.”

This week Ludavia examines the science behind our moods and offers easy ways to work at a life brimming with joy,

“Be intentional with finding goodness…otherwise, you are missing out on the life you were meant to enjoy.”

Chase the real beautiful with us? Read more here.

Beauty Rewrites.Graphic2.Girl in boat

Beauty Rewrites is a body image series for women to help us get on good terms with our bodies. Join us for a 3-month series every Tuesday with stories from Ludavia Harvey at NiftyBetty.com, Emily Conrad, and Christina Hubbard at Creative and Free. We hope this series inspires us all to stop pursuing perfection and learn to embrace what’s true and sacredly beautiful about ourselves.

Forget Ideal. Embrace the Real.

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What Going Without Makeup Taught Me (by Emily Conrad)

Image via DodgertonSkillhause @morguefile.com

Image via DodgertonSkillhause @morguefile.com

Makeup. It’s a whole thing. We use mascara to make our lashes long and attractive. Blush to give us color. Bronzer to make us more tan. Concealer to cover freckles, acne, and scars. (I’ve used the stuff since elementary school.) We wear it to make a statement or feel better about ourselves, to get noticed or to be like everyone else. 

I’ve always admired women who bare their natural faces. It’s been a life goal of mine to get to that point. But there’s that nagging question, “Will I be beautiful enough without it?” For many of us, going without makeup feels like this huge exposing reveal.  That’s why I love Emily Conrad’s post today in Beauty Rewrites. 

She decided to go sans makeup at work. 

“As a quiet introvert, I needed something to make me special and help me stand out from the crowd…It would be humbling to admit who I was without this kind of smoothed-on beauty.”

What she said.

Emily expected coworkers to give her a big reaction. They often asked Emily if she was sick when she didn’t wear eyeliner. (Major ugh.) That’s the equivalent of asking a non-pregnant woman her due date.

But what happened on her makeup-free trial wasn’t what she expected at all.

I’ll let her tell the story. Follow me on over to her blog.

Beauty Rewrites.Graphic2.Girl in boat

Beauty Rewrites is a body image series for women to help us get on good terms with our bodies. Join us for a 3-month series every Tuesday with stories from Ludavia Harvey at NiftyBetty.com, Emily Conrad, and Christina Hubbard at Creative and Free. We hope this series inspires us all to stop pursuing perfection and learn to embrace what’s true and sacredly beautiful about ourselves.

Miss a post in the series? Check them out here.

Forget Ideal. Embrace the Real.

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