>More Meaningful Bling

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A few weeks ago I wrote a post for All Things Chic about a beautiful bracelet I have that benefits parents in the process of adopting. I am fiercely pro-life, pro-adoption and supportive of organizations that work to support orphans and children living in severe poverty. So when I can spend my money on one of my little addictions, jewelry, and it benefits more than just me? Win-win!

So my friend Kristen from We Are THAT Family has started a non-profit maternity house in Kenya that will house and support pregnant girls with no place to go and no resources. Many of these girls have been forced into prostitution and would otherwise be seeking backstreet abortions. Kristen and her husband are going way way way out on a limb in faith to do this and one of the many ways she is supporting the Mercy House is by making and selling gorgeous jewelry, some of it fashioned out of paper beads like those made in Kenya.

So I got to hang out with Kristen on Monday and bought a bunch of her jewelry, AND her adorable new book, Don’t Make Me Come Up There! Check out these fabulous hand-crafted accessories. Lots more are available on her Etsy site.

I’m all about meaningful bling and I encourage you to check out her shop online. 

>Photography Thursday: Rodeo Style!

>March in Texas is when the Houston Rodeo is full effect. We have Go Texan Day, when the trailriders ride into the city from all over, Texan Independence Day, and of course three weeks of the Houston Rodeo and Livestock Show, apparently the biggest rodeo in the country. I had no idea how seriously Texans take their wild west heritage until I moved here almost three years ago. So today I thought I’d simply share some of my favorite photos that convey the sentiment of this month. These are all from the past couple of years.

Ending her trailride in the city
Crusty Old Cowboy
Texas Proud!
My Little Buckaroo
Texas Flags EVERYWHERE
Ready for the Rodeo Parade
Little Cowgirls
Hatchlings at the Livestock Show
Mutton Bustin’!
Newborn piglet at the Birthing Center in the Livestock Show
If you like this, you may also enjoy my post on the Top Ten Things I Love About Texas

>How To Find Your Inner Self-Control

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Are you self-controlled or like a wild horse?

Last night I went to a group meeting for moms at a church I don’t normally attend. I had considered joining the group a couple years ago when we moved here, but decided against it, but when I found out my blogging friend Kristen would be there promoting her Kenyan maternity home, Mercy House, I thought I’d drop by and say hello. I’ll write more about Mercy House, a cause I have been supporting for awhile, later this week. But today I want to reflect on the subject that the evening’s main speaker covered, self-control.

The woman speaking was Lori Joiner, who works for Campus Crusade and apparently also teaches aerobics. She looks like and has the energy of an aerobics instructor for sure. She talked about how important self-control is in the lives of women like us, and pulled out a ton of scripture about it. Lori said that the enemy often encourages us to believe one of two lies:

1. “This is just the way that I am. I’ve always been this way.” She used several specific examples, such as having an anger problem or an over-eating issue. She even brought up that crazy TLC show about the bizarre addictions like the woman that eats detergent or toilet paper. These people often say that’s just the way that they are, but they are consumed in a destructive way by their lack of self-control.

2.”Every other area in my life is great and glorifying to God, so it’s ok if I just let this one little lack of self-control go.” Like when we tell ourselves and God, “I pray, I read the Bible, I volunteer here and there, look how great my life is! It’s not really harming anything if I gossip, or shop too much.”

Self-control is all about the choices we make. The more we make the choice to indulge our temptation, the stronger it gets until we feel helpless to it. Addicted. She used the image of having two dogs inside our heads, the spirit and the flesh, always battling it out. Which dog wins? Well that depends on which dog we feed and which dog we starve. So there are many ways that we can starve that dog that wants us to give into the flesh and have no self-control.

  • Praying offensively, especially at the start of the day. Don’t wait till things happen and you have to react, pray first thing that the Lord would use your eyes, mind, feet to serve Him that day. Pray for victory in whatever area you are struggling with.
  • Fasting. She suggested looking online for resources on the various kinds of fasting that can help you claim victory over temptation. Lori was very encouraging that we should try fasting when we are struggling with self-control. 
  • Memorizing scripture. Particular scriptures that relate specifically to the thing you are wrestling with. 
We had a great time of discussion at my table about our weaknesses and how we might tackle them. Some that came up among the women I sat with were laziness, pride, negative body image and nagging. We agreed that some of these areas where we lack self-control can be really easy for us to hide as SAHM’s. We tell ourselves that we have worked hard and we deserve to sit in front of the TV or internet at night instead of folding the laundry. We agreed that as girlfriends we have a tendency to enable each other in some of these weaknesses, like shopping or skipping the gym. Finding the right person to hold you accountable is also a great way to starve that dog of the flesh as well. 
One verse that really hit me was Psalm 32:9-10.
Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in Him.

So do any of these sound like good ideas to you? If you’re willing maybe you could share an area you’ve either been wrestling with, or one that used to be a problem but you’ve claimed victory over? 

>More Couch to 5k Reflections

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So last week I did my first long run with no intervals, twenty minutes long. When I started on January 1st I could barely run for 90 seconds straight. So on Friday when my friend Jendi (from Simple Vlogging Tips) asked if I’d done any good vlogs recently, I was inspired to do a sort of video diary post immediately following this long run. So try to ignore how totally gross I look and how many times I say “Um” because I wanted this to be as authentic as possible.

The bottom line is this: if I can do this, YOU can do this. If you really want to and you attack it with the right plan and the right support and commit.

>Fashion Friday Dilemma? Ask Sarah!

>Last week I got an email from a faithful blog reader who loves my Fashion Friday posts but needed a little personal help. She recently had purchased a pant suit with a blouse and a jacket, but she didn’t like the jacket so she bought a different colored blazer to wear with it. This is an excellent way to mix up your work wardrobe and liven up what could be a boring monochrome pant suit! Well this girl got a ton of compliments on the outfit and is now in search of another blazer to wear with it, this time in basic black. The tough part is that she can only shop in places that sell plus sizes, which really limits her choices.

An aside here; WHY are there so few good options for bigger women? The average dress size in this country is not a 6 or an 8, which is the middle of standard misses sizes, the average is more like a 12 or 14. That means that half the women in this country wear the upper end of misses sizes or even women’s sizes. Have you SEEN their choices? They mostly suck. It is no wonder why so many curvy girls just give up even trying to look cute, when all they can find are tent-like polyester tops and super baggy pants. I’m here to say that your size does not define you and it is WORTH the effort to look for clothing that flatters your figure. Case in point, my post about jeggings for curvy girls. Yes, shopping can be hard and frustrating when you don’t fit the vast majority of what’s out there…I know how depressing it is to try on dress after dress that are just too small. After all, I’m no skinny mini.

Ok back to the problem. I’m happy to say that there are at least a few options, but I really do believe that being willing to shop online is key. Lots of companies these days are offering free shipping and free returns, which makes it much easier to order several sizes and cuts of the same thing. If you are lucky enough to live near a big city you might have stores like Avenue and Torrid in your mall, but if not you need to look online.

Here’s one I found at Kohl’s that goes up to a size 18. I think it’s adorable and the price is right.

Here’s one I absolutely love that I found at Talbots. The ruffle detail really adds style to this jacket. Talbots has a ton of really fabulous options in Women’s sizes. 
Torrid’s styles are slightly younger but there are some cute options for reasonable prices, like this one with ruched sleeves
Other sources of cute clothes in bigger sizes that I love? Nordstrom.com, Avenue.com, and Jones New York online. 
Here’s to the curvy girls. 

>The Adjustment Bureau: Sci-Fi Thriller or Chick Flick?

>The commercials I’ve seen for The Adjustment Bureau all seem to show Matt Damon and Emily Blunt running at top speed away from someone. I’ve seen it billed as a sci-fi thriller in the vein of Inception. I haven’t actually seen Inception, but from what I heard it really kept you on the edge of your seat and left you somewhat confused about what was real and what was just a dream. I’m here to tell you that The Adjustment Bureau is NOTHING like that.

On Tuesday night I was provided with the opportunity to see an advanced screening of the new Matt Damon movie thanks to my being a crazy Twitter addict and having a pretty high Klout score. The invite was a Kloutperk, and I was very excited because I really love movies but I only get to see them about once every six months. Mike is not a big movie fan so going to the movies is not his first choice of date but The Adjustment Bureau looked like a guy movie from the trailer so he agreed we could get a sitter and go. It was nice getting the VIP treatment too, showing up and bypassing a huge line of people hoping to get in and being seated in a specially reserved row.

The tag line for the movie is “Do you believe in fate or free will?” which had me very curious given my bent for the theological study of Calvinism verses Armenian doctrines. So The Adjustment Bureau turned out to be almost exactly that, a discussion about whether or not all of human kind really makes their own choices or whether we are all just following some big plan written by a higher power. So yeah, the movie was in fact deeply theological. It was also extremely romantic, so much so that I’d classify it as a chick flick before I called it a thriller. An action movie it most definitely was not. There was a bit of suspense and plenty of mystery, but not enough for me to call it a real thriller. Yet I found it highly entertaining, if for no other reason than the lead characters are really nice to look at.

The most interesting part for me was the big philosophical question about fate or free will. Most people will instinctively believe that of course we have free will, we make our own choices all the time. I’m one of those on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, believing everything that happens is part of God’s plan. I wrestle with the details of that philosophy all the time but it is comforting when thing happen that beg the question, why? The Adjustment Bureau mostly just raises the question but provides a very shallow look at the possibilities and gives no satisfying answer. It’s not meant to be a movie that makes you think very hard, the theology is just a slightly provocative plot device.

The Adjustment Bureau is not going to win any Oscars and it’s not going to leave people talking about it for a long time afterward, but I think it has a little something for everyone to enjoy and I do think it’s worth two hours of your time for entertainment value. It opens in theaters everywhere tomorrow, March 4th.

So tell me in the comments, do you believe we have free will or that our lives are controlled by fate?

>Restless

>For the past several days…in fact perhaps the past several weeks…words have escaped me. Maybe it’s because of all the sickness in my house and especially in my own body. Perhaps that is what broke my rhythm, interrupted my streak of productive, inspired creativity. Something certainly did, because I think and think and feel but nothing coherent or worth saying out loud or on paper seems to come out. I’ve been consuming like crazy, reading, observing and inhaling music and words like they are oxygen and I’m desperately trying to breathe. But I prefer to be producing, not consuming. And lately I haven’t produced anything I’d consider meaningful.

The only progress I feel like I’ve made at all in the past few weeks is in my running. Noticeable change keeps happening when I set out on a run, despite all my obstacles like knee injuries and a body wrecked by the flu. Having a goal and a plan with extremely measurable steps and meeting little goals like running a block further or a few minutes longer than last time…it’s life-changing. It’s addicting, I’ll tell you. Every time I lace up my sneakers I’m nervous, afraid I won’t be able to keep going as long as the next step in my program requires. But I don’t let that fear stop me and I hit the pavement, reminding myself as I go that this training is for the goal of finishing the Run 4 The Children, and this whole project is for God’s glory and not my own. It’s amazing what that does for my mental and physical stamina.

You can’t let fear stop you from doing things that could have huge positive outcomes. Growth comes in large measure when you force yourself to do what makes you terribly uncomfortable.

That’s all I got for today.

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