Sunday, December 16, 2012

There’s still light, even in darkness

Like millions of others across the nation, I was sickened and horrified to hear about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut this last Friday.

The loss of life was so tragic and for it to be innocent children and teachers who were seeking to protect their precious charges only makes it worse. Of all places, elementary school should be a place where you don’t have to stress that your children won’t come home when you send them each day. And now that safety has been violated … for children and their parents.

I’ve been inspired to hear stories of teachers finding ways to protect their children, some losing their own lives in the process. My heart truly goes out to all those affected by this tragedy, children, parents, families of the victims. It’s Christmas and should be a time we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, not have our hearts broken with news of a senseless tragedy and families now in mourning.

The situation is brought home for me in that I have not only many dear friends but numerous family members who are teachers. My own mother is a kindergarten teacher … so her classroom could’ve been one affected. And while my dad is now retired, he is a popular substitute teacher, so he could’ve been affected too.

While I’ve watched news and stories of this tragedy unfold, my heart has felt heavy with the darkness and evil in our world today.

Until a friend shared a beautiful thought on Facebook, one I passed along to my roommate earlier today.

She shared the third and fourth verses of the hymn “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” The words are as follows.

“And in despair I bowed my head:
’There is no peace on earth,’ I said,
’For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.’
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
’God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.’”

Yes, bad things happen every day and will continue to happen because we live in a fallen world. But God will not leave us comfortless. He’ll be with us, all of us no matter who we are. And it never ceases to amaze me as I watch tragedies unfold how the goodness of people comes through and the strength of the human spirit. We are far stronger than we think we are, and we can find light in the midst of darkness.

I wish light and comfort for all the families affected by this tragedy for the hours, days and weeks to come. I hope they can feel the prayers and love of so many and more than that the love of God.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Embrace the Curves!

Sometimes it really bothers me that we live in such an appearance-obsessed culture. Every day there are articles detailing why this person is so great because of their choice of clothing or hairstyle for that day. Or why this person needs to quit wearing *gasp* mom jeans! Or what in the world were they thinking by stepping outside the house that way?

I will admit, I am often amused by the “what were they thinking?” articles. At the same time, it bothers me too. I don’t want people to judge me only because of how I look, and I would hope that I have the grace to extend others the same courtesy.

It’s not all bad because it does encourage people to take an active interest in how they look. It’s important to take care of yourself and try your hardest to look your best. I’m a strong supporter of that idea.

What I don’t like is when looking your best becomes an obsession, when it becomes your sole focus. Because you feel the press to look and act a certain way. It puts beauty into a little box that only an exclusive club of people can ever reach. And so many spend their lives trying to make their ideal of beauty.

It’s sickening really.

What I’ve spent most of my life learning, while I tried to fit into this self-imposed notion of beauty, is that to be truly beautiful, I need to accept myself. I have to find my own definition of beauty and learn to be okay with it.

That doesn’t mean I have to be the type of beautiful that culture tells me I need to be. It means I must be my own kind of beautiful. For example, I am a curvy girl. When God made me, He gave me hips. It doesn’t matter how much weight I lose … I’m still going to have hips. But that’s what makes me who I am, right? And curvy girls are beautiful girls. Smile

This idea seems simple, but at times it’s very hard to remember. Then I find myself obsessing once again and trying to be the beautiful others say I should be.

Until I take a step back and remind myself that I am beautiful because of who I am, not because of how I look. And that means embracing the curves! You should try it sometime. It’s very liberating.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Butterfly Kisses

Once upon a time I thought it would be a wonderful experience to decorate a tree and put it in the Festival of Trees. It’s been one of my favorite holiday traditions for a long time, and since the Festival is a fundraiser for Primary Children’s Medical Center, it seemed like the perfect fit. Little did I know what I was getting myself into. . .

That’s why on Monday I delivered this beauty to the Festival. The theme is Butterfly Kisses, in case you’re wondering.


This is my second attempt at decorating a tree, and I think it turned out well. I was so very stressed on how to get my tree from looking like this


and turning it into something beautiful someone would want to buy. With a little maneuvering here, a bunch of butterflies from Hobby Lobby there and finally getting my ornaments figured out, it finally all worked out. I’m sure you can’t see inside the balls, but there are pictures of famous kisses.


Look it sold!!


Here I am with the finished product. And my roomie was kind enough to come help me finish it up and get everything set up on Monday. I very much appreciated her help because I was stressed about getting everything ready to go.


The spread that went with the tree. I guess I missed getting a close up of the other side. Dang it!


These are the trees my aunt and cousins made in honor of two loved ones who passed away earlier this year.


I was quite stressed about this tree, but in the end, it all came together. I’m grateful to once again have the experience of creating the tree, seeing it sold and knowing it will benefit someone else. It doesn’t hurt that I’m also doing it in honor of our beautiful angel. I hope she liked it too.