Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Justin Bieber and Honouring my Marriage

Justin.
Bieber.

I’ll admit I wasn’t a huge fan of the Biebs from the beginning. I can clearly recall the battle in my head while hearing one of his very first hits; ‘is this a girl singing? Or is this a guy? For sure a girl… but…maybe…it could be a guy?’
I’m sure I’m not the only one who had those thoughts.
It’s OK. You can admit it to me.

While not caring too much about his music or career, then hearing of his continually negative progression into adulthood that was shared throughout the world courtesy of our good friend, the media, I kinda had this ‘I’m not a fan of Justin Bieber’ mentality.

My wonderful husband, on the other hand…

JP loves the Biebs. Not even kidding.
Since he is a legit Belieber, we obviously had to go see the first Justin Bieber movie. While I tried to hold onto my indifferent ways, I couldn’t help but look at Justin in a whole new light. Was I becoming a belieber!? Naw, but I definitely had more respect for the dude knowing he works hard and is actually talented.

Fast forward through a few years of hearing crazy Bieber tabloid stories, husband-wife full-album Bieber dance parties in our living room, and the fact it’s 2016 and our dear Justin has done a lot of growing up, we land here—the point where I found myself anxiously anticipating his new album, Purpose, which came out this past November, and now even more anxiously awaiting his upcoming Winnipeg tour stop in June.

If you haven’t been following Justin lately, he seems to have turned a few things in life around. Not only are his latest songs the catchiest things I’ve heard in a while, a few recent interviews had led me to really appreciate the growth he’s been having. I’ve been especially intrigued by his statements of faith-- finding grace through God for his life and expressing how his purpose is to show that to others. If his catchy songs weren’t enough, look at this dude go!

While this seems like an advertisement for Justin’s new album, I can assure you it’s not (I’m not that popular that my speaking of something has any marketable value). It’s time to get real about why this post is here.

Recently amongst a group of ladies and I, the conversation came up of, in the crass yet culturally acceptable language, Justin Bieber's dick pic. While we are all quite different (different backgrounds, separate groups of friends, etc) we are all in happy and committed relationships with significant others we admire and are pleased to call ours. A girl had the image on her phone and was showing everyone. Comments were made on size and shape and whether it was ‘nice’ or not. There was laughter, and giggling, and comments about how funny it was the one girl had it saved on her phone.  One of the ladies wasn't around for the beginning of the conversation and was asked if she wanted to see. She replied with ‘No’ and walked away. Feeling a sense of comradelier after hearing her response, I, too, replied with no.

Obviously, these ‘no’ responses went against the flow of the conversation and how the reactions were going. One girl even exclaimed how it was ‘cute’ we didn’t want to see the photo.

Cute?
JP's instagram- day off for Bieber
Here's the honest commentary of what I was thinking in the moment-- I respect my husband and our marriage, and looking at an image of another dudes thaaang doesn’t set an example of how much I love and honour him. I wouldn’t want him to be looking at images of girls like that—famous person or not. What message does that send to others in marriages, or those considering the vow of marriage? A marriage is when two people commit themselves to each other in every possible way—emotionally and physically. Viewing ALL of Bieber makes me dishonor my vow. That’s how I see it, anyways. I know some may disagree, I know the idea of porn being helpful to marriages is something the main stream media tells the world. I disagree. The facts are against these ideas. I wrote a whole blog post about it, which you can check out.

Not only that, women speak so often about how they don’t want to be objectified, they want to be viewed for more then just their bodies, and how self-esteem needs to stem from more than what other women and men say about how their body looks. Why do women find no shame in objectifying men? You can’t change the cycle by being part of the problem. A cycle ends when one person takes a stand outside of it and says ‘hey, this isn’t ok’.

Today a co-worker and I took that stand. While it can sometimes be hard to be the ‘odd ones out’ in a room of people who think the same way, it is so comforting to know I am honouring my marriage, my faith, and myself with the choices I make in what to view and what not to view.


And Justin, I still love your new album and am ridiculously pumped for the concert in June… maybe just be less provocative when there are paparazzi around, deal?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Brave

If you’ve ever taken a personality profile test, you’ve probably stumbled across the part of the configuration process where you are provided a page of seemingly endless characteristics and qualities. Most of the time, you are instructed to either pick the words that most accurately describe you, or to select the words others would use to best describe you.

We pick the words we are familiar with—words we have heard before when people have talked about us, characteristics our friends and family mention they admire in us, or even those words we remember our astrological sign being strong in from when we read our horoscope as a kid in some teen magazine. These words probably don’t change much as time goes on—perhaps we add in a word or two down the line from recent accomplishments, or remove a word if we are limited in the number we are allowed to select. While we change as individuals, with variances in interests and goals and ideals, the very makings of who we are tend to stay somewhat steady. It is our character, after all, it defines us in the choices we make, our moral compass and how we choose to live our lives.

My standard go to descriptors would be the package of sentiments involving ‘honest’, ‘trustworthy’, ‘kind’, etc. Brave is definitely not a word I would ever circle, click, or otherwise select to describe the person I am. I’ve only recently accepted I’m an individual who craves adventure in their life—brave seems like a way too big of a jump in the progression of my character.

instagram: @loveinspireschange
While at a yoga inversions class the instructor was encouraging us, and our progress. Being an inversions newbie, I was just pleased I had the strength to even hold myself upside down, or do an arm balance, or really just be able to have my heels touch the ground in downward dog. When she got to me I had no thoughts or expectations of what she would say—if I think about it now I would expect something along the lines of how I’ve really committed to attending the class, which is fun and exciting! Instead, she surprised me with saying I was Brave. How I had no fear. How I was willing to try anything.

I smiled awkwardly at such remarks—I’m the honest, trustworthy, compassionate kind of girl. I’m not the brave, try anything kind of girl. Is this a real change? Is this part of how my character has been developing over the years? Would others describe me in this way? Or is it some elaborate facade I’ve unknowingly put up that others would see but wouldn’t be true in my heart?

I think we can get stuck in who we believe we are. We believe the characteristics of who we have been in the past to be the only unchanging truths we can centre ourselves on as life spins and changes and dives deeper in the unknowns. We don’t consciously sit there and think ‘This is who I have been forever, this is who I will continue to be’ per say, but if personality test after strength finder test after buzzfeed quiz can speak in what they see, I’m sure the answers we have been putting in since our youth would resonate with only slight modifications into the now.

The beginning of a new year brings the excitement of advancement and change. Challenge yourself to reflect on who you think you are and who you always have been, and look at where life has taken you and how it has shaped you to advance your character in unimaginable ways.

While steeping in the word Brave I am reminded of how bravery; being fearless, and enduring with courage, are things we can gain from a Christ-centred life. With God on your side there is no reason to be afraid. We can move forward confidently, with hopeful expectation of magnificent outcomes. The outcomes may be undefined, the first few steps may be shaky—but taking the steps is what makes you brave. Even if they are small, they are steps and the steps show courage.

I will willingly add Brave to my list of descriptors, and will look at words to remove which no longer serve the individual I am continually growing in Christ to be.  It’s fun to see how far we’ve come as humans constantly under development, it’s exciting to leave behind the old and embrace the new.

As we reflect and challenge our views of ourselves, I will leave you with this reminder for your 2016: As the live-action Cinderella movie tells us;

Have Courage & Be Kind.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

#2015BestNine

I’m sure you’ve seen the flawlessly put together images as you scroll through your Instagram feed-- mommy bloggers, inspiring publications, home and lifestyle styling gurus, all posting these perfect images weaved together in a 3 by 3 grid to showcase their pictures with the ‘most likes’ received throughout 2015.

While I will take part in this trend as a fun way to look back on the advancement of my baking skills (since it’s all maracons and cakes people like on my feed anyways), I am reminded that even though the ‘likes’ on social media of the picture-perfect moments we share may be awarded the title of ‘Best Nine’, we should take time to reflect on the real best moments of 2015. These are the moments not put on social media for the world to see, but those that have left us a little more humble, a little more grateful, and a little more in awe of how God works wonders in our lives when we surrender to Him the room to lead while we follow.

What’s so fascinating about our personal Best Nine is how they can be composed of things no one even knows happened. The quiet moments of overcoming a struggle, the sigh of relief signaling the completion of a job well done, or the reflection of time where leaps of faith transformed a chaotic canvas into God-send scenes of tranquility in the landscape of our lives. These moments, unlike those we view on Instagram, aren’t always pretty. Sometimes they are gritty and covered in years of battle scars. However, sometimes they are truly as beautiful—moments of triumph and success willingly shared with those around you to spread love and joy.

When I think of my best moments of 2015, a lot of them are the results of hard decisions and hard work—not the things you post on social media that would garner many ‘likes’ for their lack of mindful composition and precise colour palette.

The craziest thing to happen in 2015 was the move back to Manitoba. I’ve written about it before and it still amazes me that we are here (and have been back for almost an entire year!). This move spiralled into a year where my 2015 theme word really shone through in unimaginable ways. My word, by the way, was Thrive, and while reflecting on the year that has past I can see how I’ve managed to live it out.

Memorable moments of 2015 include the decision to work at Jenna Rae Cakes and the growth, challenges and goodness which has resulted; moving to Winnipeg instead of staying in Winkler; being intentional with relationships in a way I’ve never been before and the result; and finally becoming more pleased with myself than hard on myself in terms of self-esteem, confidence and body image. Especially noteworthy moments include the return of my wonderful husband from Dubai and resuming life together, fully enjoying all the benefits of cat-ownership, and learning more about myself as I evolve into the person God has designed me to be—focusing on virtues important to eternal life and not those that communicate success in the mainstream.

Reflecting on these best moments gives me immense gratitude for trials and struggles and moments where God has to come through (um, hello finding an apartment two days before we had to move). In the good moments and the more trying moments God is there to guide—if we let Him show us the way, and if we choose to follow. 

That is what I think my theme for 2016 will be.

While 2015’s word of Thrive made it easy to focus on success and accomplishments, 2016 needs to step away from the idea of wordly success and focus more on living a Christ-centered life. The general sentiment (while still working on ideal phrasing) is: Listen and Live Out.
It’s one thing to speak to God…and ask, and complain, and express gratitude, and praise, and express thankfulness and fears and joys. It’s another thing to listen to answers and receive guidance. And it’s a whole different ball game (ha, sports) when you decide to internalize the lessons and live it out.

Living out a life where God leads will be uncomfortable.
It will be contrary to societal views of success, in its various forms.
It will be challenging.
It will be unique.
It will be scary.
It will be different then anything I have ever imagined my life to be, because God has direction for our lives more grand then we can, and could, ever imagine.
More than anything, it will be this:
Full of Love

Happy Holidays from our little family
to yours! 
Everything God does is rooted in the context of a loving relationship. Moments will be scary because they will require looking ridiculous to people, and doing things that don’t seem normal, and stepping out with faith in unknown rooms where no lights have yet been turned on.  But all the lessons learned, challenges along the way, and unimaginable end results will be sewn with strands of Love to create the very fabric of it’s existence. To know Love is the base makes it all sorts of intriguing.


Here’s to your Best of 2015 and to an even more amazing 2016. I hope your best moments of 2015 guide you into a 2016 with more than a #BestNine, but a life lived with grace and love and challenge and grit all the moments of make 2016 your best yet.
























Happy Holidays from our little family to yours!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Walk The Walk

“Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk.”
“Actions speak louder than Words”

These two phrases are as common as the changing leaves in autumn—and the sure denial we all live in when we attempt to remain stagnant in the beauty of fall, wishing the winter freeze would never creep in. We’ve heard them before, and with most things we deem familiar, their impact is often lost when we hear them.

Today, right in this very moment, I want you to stop and think about the two phrases; how they complement and challenge each other, and how they bring to life the ideals of people living out beautiful sentiments like a fairytale ending of ‘happily ever after.’

When I think of these phrases, I am reminded of how Christ followers are called to live a life like Jesus. It’s the impossible task, made accessible through grace. It’s something we cannot do, but are commissioned to strive to do in our actions of love and mercy, forgiveness and joy, passion and justice, and extending our undeserved grace to others. When you walk the walk, and allow your actions to speak louder than words, you are showcasing what is really in your heart— the hope being all those beautiful, Christ-like characteristics.

This year, I have decided to ‘walk the walk’, literally.

I have decided to take a cause I am passionate about, and not just write about it on my blog, or talk about it to people whose caring meter reads at every point from genuine interest to genuine indifference, but to stand up with a group of like-minded individuals and do something publicly to show where my heart truly lies—yearning to seek justice for the oppressed and see the captives be set free!

An organization I’ve come to know and love over the past year or so is the A21 campaign. Along with organizations I’ve been involved with like Not For Sale, the A21 campaign is working to end modern-day slavery. Their 4-P model address the core issues needed to end slavery today:
Prevention – Preventing human trafficking through awareness and education.
Protection – Protecting victims of human trafficking through restoration programs.
Prosecution – Pursuing justice by prosecuting human traffickers.
Partnership – Partnering with people just like you and me to fight for freedom together.

The goal of the A21 campaign is to abolish injustice in the 21st century.
I believe in this goal.
I will not be a slactivist and merely browse their website and follow them on Instagram.
I will take part in the Walk ForFreedom.

On October 17th, individuals passionate about ending modern-day slavery will join together to shed light on the 27 million men, women and children who are still in bondage. When we join forces in one single day, we not only catch the attention of our cities, but we combine our efforts to have a global impact.

Something as simple as walking together with a unified message can help change the world. The Walk For Freedom will have people literally ‘walking the walk’ and allowing their actions to speak louder than words. It’s such a simple task—join together and walk to raise awareness, educate those around us, and hopefully create more activists in the process. I’m so looking forward to participating in something with a simple message that can impact our entire global community—and participating right here in the world where I currently call ‘home’, Winnipeg.

To really get you thinking about this, I want to share with you a quote a friend shared with me. A very dear friend of mine recently attended a Propel Women conference in Phoenix, Arizona. The quote from founder Christine Caine was simple... she shared a fact.

“There are 27 million slaves in the world today.
There are over 2 billion Christians.”

Perhaps ‘walking the walk’ and ‘letting our actions speak louder than words’ is something we really need in internalize and recognize what it looks like to know we can directly impact the life of one of those people held captive today. Not even half of us need to do something—but we should all do more than is expected of us to truly try to live a life like Jesus.

I challenge you, take part in the Walk for Freedom, or even donate to my fundraising page. My goal is to raise $500 dollars. Donate what you can-- $2, $5, $50, $100. Regardless of your choice to donate or not, pray. Pray for those held in bondage to be set free, pray for those doing the capturing to change their ways and realize what they are doing is wrong, pray for the johns in your local city, pray for those who don’t see any other option, just pray for God to work in incredible ways.

While following a Joyce Meyer reading plan on the bible app on my phone, I remember reading one devotion, which I still think about this day. I read it on June 4th, 2012. Here is what it read:

One morning I was having my quiet time along with God, and I said to the Lord, “God, how can You stand seeing all the pain, starving children, human trafficking, genocide, injustice, degradation, poverty, in the world and not do something?”I didn’t say it as a complaint or because I was questioning His integrity, and I don’t even know that I was really expecting to get an answer, but I just asked Him.Immediately His answer came back: “I work through people. I’m waiting for My people to arise and do something”

It’s time.

It’s time for us a group of passionate individuals to arise and do something. To walk the walk and take action instead of being the slactivists we are more commonly known to be. It takes effort, commitment, and truly believing in something to take action for the world to see. Be someone who stands for what is right. Be someone who is answering the call of God to be one of His people working towards something positive in the world.