Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Over Tea //

In school I certainly learned more about the Civil War than about the Civil Rights Movement. I dont know much but I do know that for such a ethnically diverse and multi-cultural land as America to still dance awkwardly around the subject of race is a clue pointing to a much deeper issue. Its something to be addressed. When there is conflict in your marriage does it get resolved by ignoring the issue, harboring your opposite thoughts and feelings, and pretending that there isnt an issue all the while being on pins and needles afraid youll step on the toes of the other at any moment and things will explode? Thats a rhetorical question. Of course not! You restore unity by facing the conflict and holding tight to each other as you seek to understand the other's heart, to grow through the issues together and keep the bonds of trust and open communication strong so that you foster the safe place for vulnerability and intimacy in your relationship. This works to unify the vast differences of two genders through love and respect, I suspect it works just as well to intentionally tend to unifying our diversity.

"I really care about you. Help me understand." Ive heard my Dad say this to me as my head was buried in my pillow saturated with hot tears and he sat on the foot of my bed bewildered at what had caused the melt down. Sometimes he was frustrated at my emotion, certain it was an over-reaction or, preoccupied with what seemed must be more important issues, was inconvenienced by the deeper time and focus I was requiring. Too far removed from the cares of the childhood season of life to relate, speaking too quickly from a position of ignorance regarding what it is like to be in the body of a woman as he is a man, or simply ill-equipped for an issue never before encountered and never anticipated, his words were not always fitly spoken. Such a picture of our response, as white Americans, to the tender issue of race. It always made such a difference when my Dad simply entered into my hurt because he cared deeply about me and, not presuming to have all the answers but sincerely wanting to do all he could to help and comfort, invited me to help him understand.

Dr. King -- Martin Luther King, Jr. -- is a figure recognized all over the world. We know a phrase of his most famous speech -- much like we know about one sentence of the documents that founded our country's government, and his birthday is a national holiday which to us mostly has meant a day off of school. For me, he was the starting point for my education on racial tensions and the strive to close the gap, to bridge it, through history. I wanted to hear from the heart of a spokesperson, someone who much, if not all, of the black community trusted to represent their own hearts well. I wanted to hear from someone not ready to pick a fight because theyd been kept down so long and it had wound them so tight they finally snapped, but from someone who stood their ground in the face of ugly opposition and revealed the suffered injustices through raw but non-violent displays. I had never known he was a pastor. Im not sure that Id even known he was a brother, of mine, in the Lord. I had just finished reading his brief but revealing account in "Why we cannot wait", which opened my eyes, when the movie "Selma" was released in theaters. The film recounts the foundational account of the march to secure equal opportunity to vote through Selma, Alabama in 1965. Almost as difficult to watch as "12 Years a Slave", "Selma" was the most powerful and inspiring films I have seen in years.

The original song, "Glory" from "Selma" took home an Oscar this year. John Legend and Common performed it live at the awards show and it gave me chills.

We cant afford to walk in ignorance on this and reconciling the issue cannot wait. Before you ask why I care so much, be careful, for why could anyone NOT care? No one is more equipped to get down into the trenches of all of this tender, powerful stuff than the Church. Unity is a heart-desire of our God -- He walked among us in human flesh just to reconcile us back to Him, and that when we were at war against Him and had nothing about us that would be found desirable. Again, being peace makers does not mean avoiding an issue or pretending it doesnt exist. Peace making is a fruit of love, ultimately, and if we are being truly loving we know that putting another's needs before our own and considering their life worth more than our own is what that looks like in its most basic form.

I observe the life of Dr. King or Solomon Northup and I count myself blessed to identify myself as a fellow member of the human race with them, as well as the true Body of Christ. I want to be like them. I want my kids to look to them as an example. They look like their heavenly Father, with their patience and long-suffering and love of mercy, and their understanding of His heart through the experience of it in the midst of tribulation is breathtakingly powerful. Character transcends racial borders. Love pulls down the barriers.

I went to a grade school concert tonight for the little boy I nanny. The performers and the audience alike represented many ethnicities and they werent sitting in segregated clumps by color but rather as families all mixed together. Friends, neighbors, co-workers, spouses, all mixed. How its supposed to be. Just like adults and children mix, like men and women mix. We have separate and unique needs and perspectives and issues but we gladly enter into that diversity, seeking after unity, because we love each other.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Stitch Fix >>

"Fix" #4 appeared on my doorstep right before the weekend. It put a skip back into my step. Made it feel like delightful things were around any corner even as winter continued to persist and bills started arriving in the mail.

Market & Spruce // Sam Hi-Lo short sleeve tee
size M
Never have I ever tried on a top of this style, though I have seen them on several of you in recent months and have liked them. The jersey-knit fabric of this piece turned me off in the end but had it been a silk or linen piece I would probably have swooned.

Honey Punch // Layla striped elbow-patch detail cardigan
size M
I was just saying the other day that I wished I had another sweater-like layer that was super cozy but more spiffy than a sweatshirt. How did they know? As simple as the layer is, the pattern is arresting, the soft-knit is luxurious, and the elbow-patches won my heart instantly. I couldnt help myself.

Octavia // Delta lightweight geo-print infinity scarf
So silky-soft and the print was super boho which is fun. I felt like the colors fought with my skin tone just enough that I wouldnt want to wear them that near my face so had to pass on this piece.

Honey Punch // Stinson tab-sleeve top
size M
Ive had a few pieces be slightly too small on me in past fixes but this one was a surprise, it was too big. I know the style is intended to be a bit baggy but not as bag-like as it felt on. The colors were very muted but combined with these heels the red popped a bit better. The style of the piece is very like me. A size smaller it would have been more tempting.

Just Black // Connely skinny jean
size 8
These stunning skinnies had status all on their own! There was a lot of stretch in them which was the only way I was able to button them at the waist -- I have wider hips than these were made for. The length was ideal. I could tell they were just too snug to be practical. This was confirmed when I took them off and I realized the blood circulation had been hindered to my legs in them. Haha!

Shout out to my chic Target wedges that, I feel, really made each of these outfits. I love that part of Stitch Fix, getting to try on the pieces with the rest of your wardrobe in the comfort of your own home. So convenient, so fun. It hasn't gotten old to get a package of delightful surprises picked out just for me in the mail -- even though Ive had to switch the frequency to every-other month with my current budget. If you still havent taken the plunge and scheduled your first "Fix", you may as well go poke around the website a bit, right? https://www.stitchfix.com/referral

not sponsored by Stitch Fix

Friday, February 13, 2015

Meet Your Neighbors //

Driving around town, running errands. I stopped for gas and as I was pulling back out to go home I paused for some pedestrians to cross first. At first glance I saw a white couple with a stroller coming from the right and a middle aged black man coming from the left. I took a minute to really look at them both. The man on the left looked really put together. The couple on the right, I realized, werent a couple and were certainly homeless, their stroller was filled with bundles of clothes. A little dog was tagging along behind them and I smiled. The man saw me see the pooch and he nodded and smiled at me. You dont have to travel far from my neighborhood to see homeless people but this man and woman were literally four blocks from my house -- they were in my neighborhood practically. I went home with their faces in my mind.

A couple hours later I ran out to get some more paint, as this was in the middle of my remodel work a few weeks ago. Driving down the main street I saw them again. The same homeless people from earlier! I have been practicing stopping the first time someone stands out to me but especially when they cross my path a second time. Im too aware to ignore the orchestration of that. So I looped around a couple of blocks, parked my car and walked around the corner to meet up with them. As I came walking up they didnt think anything at first but then I greeted them, not the people walking behind them, and they lit up. I explained how Id seen them earlier and then just had to come say hello when I saw them again. We introduced ourselves and talked about work and where we are from. I met their dog. They thanked me for stopping and we went our separate directions.

Time passes. Ive thought of them. I hoped that was the first of several interactions, the beginning of building relationship with them, with Zach and with Merrill. Then the blizzard hit. Superbowl Sunday and I was snowed into my house, watching the snow pile up on the sills of my windows outside, closing me in and as I went to sleep I wondered if they had found shelter from the storm. I was genuinely concerned. I dont remember if it was that night or another night but I had a dream that I ran into them again, that they were fine, theyd survived the storm. I was so relieved.

The following week I walked out of church late and as I was headed toward my car I saw a man running across the street to meet someone, carrying a little dog above his head. The site made me smile but then I recognized the man! It was Zach, running to meet Merrill near the Goodwill. So excited I called out to them and they recognized me right away. They were impressed that Id remembered their names and I was touched that they recalled mine. "We survived the storm!" Merrill said. Praise God! They asked how I was settling in and if Id made many friends yet. I told them about Cornerstone Church and turned out that Zach is friends with the man who owns the theatre that we hold church in on Sundays. I know the benefit of having a dog when youre homeless, having that companion, and I also know that it limits you from being able to enter certain places. I hope it wont be cause for them not to wander into Cornerstone some Sunday though. I cant wait to see them again.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Stitch Fix >>

Although the colors and pattern were a little out of my comfort zone I was in love with the fit and style of this top. I wore it for a few mins and felt quite at-home in it but I just didnt feel like myself when I looked in the mirror so I didnt keep it.
under $50

I love sweatshirts that are a little dressier than a regular old hoodie. I have three that I wear frequently. You would think that this one would have fit right in with my style but the transparency of the lace parts was too much for me. Haha!
over $50

This henley top was exactly my style. Again the psychedelic pattern was adventurous for me. I really wanted to keep this one but just couldnt bring myself to pay for it that month because of my limited budget.
under $50

The gold bangle is the first piece of jewelry Ive received in a "Fix. I love bangles and it felt extra fancy to get to spruce-up the styling process with a sparkly piece, however the price was laughable to me for a simple bangle.
under $50

This was my keeper piece: the skinny corduroy pants. They fit like a dream and for a girl with limited pant-wear it seemed a worth-while investment into my wardrobe. The price stopped me in my tracks, but thanks to you guys for scheduling your first "Fix" with my referral code, I had a little unexpected extra credit in my account which helped a lot. Thanks, guys!
over $50

"Fix" #3 was a great success, if you ask me! What was in your latest "Fix"?

not sponsored by Stitch Fix

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Meet your neighbors //

Ive called Milwaukee “home” for four Saturdays now. The first was carrying box after box up the stairs to my apartment with the help of some new friends and my parents. The second was spent completely with my Momma who generously came back to visit and to help me settle in. My third Saturday was my first weekend off of work at my new job and I used up those days by driving to Michigan to visit a friend. Number four, today, it seals the deal. One month in and this has been home from the first moment. Still unpacking, painting, settling — into my space and my community — but enough time has passed for me to feel comfortable here. Time to press deeper.

Last night Holy Spirit called me out of my comfort zone and into action. I groaned with the soul “stiffness” thats like limbs that have done nothing but sit for hours, but it was Friday night and I didn’t have plans. Ive decided He gets to make our Friday night plans from here out.

I had plenty of meals I could make but just really wanted to get something warm delivered. Pizza is always a good idea. A little research, a few questions, a phone line busy… “Ill just walk.” That stuck. I could’ve driven but He wanted to walk. So we did. And we saw many more souls through glancing eyes we rubbed shoulders with than you can from the street anyway. “Maybe I should just get a frozen pizza and take it home?” Nope. Hot, fresh, cooked for me. Okay. Down the street and around a corner, passing the building where French lessons are given — a little nudge of encouragement to keep at my own lessons in the language from Him on our way — and in the door of a whole-in-the-wall pizzeria with only two chairs to wait in and clear site to the very back of the tight kitchen. I still distinctly felt like I was supposed to get the pizza delivered so I said, “Maybe this is odd but could I order here, now, and have the pizza delivered to me? I don’t want to carry it all the way back.” “Of course! Whats the address?” I told her and she paused, “I live on the same block as you.” We chatted and wrapped up my order. Leaving the building and walking home though I burst into laughter because my heart is to meet my neighbors, to love my neighbors — from the crossing guard to the baristas, the grocery clerks to the people living in the apartments next door — I just haven’t met any of them, its been so cold out. But here was one! At the pizza place I was supposed to walk to but have delivered. 

Maria with the social german shepherd, as you said, Im sure Ill see you around!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Stitch Fix >>

In my second Fix I received an infinity scarf, a very modern cut blouse with cute sleeves, a blue knit hoodie, a knit sweater and this teal colored tunic top. I kept the tunic top. Its become one of my favorite go-to pieces in my wardrobe.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Pacifica >>

My "beauty" story reads like this: When I was twelve years old and began to experiment with wearing makeup it became apparent that I was allergic to it. Around the same time I discovered my skin was too sensitive to tollerate scented lotion any longer or perfume and, while we were at it, any artificially scented or chemical-full substance used for cleaning or filling a space with scent. 

Friends felt sorry for me but honestly I was content being an "all natural" girl. Less fuss, much less expensive, and my skin was only being touched by the sunshine and fragrance-free, natural lotion. I wasn't complaining! At the age of twenty-two I'm still happy to be sporting my no-makeup face everywhere I go. So why are we talking about makeup all of a sudden? Frankly, because its winter in the Midwest and that means very cold, very dry and rather dark. It also means evening parties -- the only place that my natural face feels out of place. 

I was in Target and decided to look for a lipstick or gloss that would match my natural lip color and serve two purposes: save my lips from getting chapped and keep them bright even on days where the color was drained from my face. I'm a big fan of Burt's Bees and their products are in the "natural beauty" aisle of our store. While standing there I noticed Pacifica products for the first time. Having no knowledge of their products I got on my phone and began researching reviews on other women's blogs. Sufficiently convinced by what I was reading to give them a try I went home and ordered a couple products from their website. This is what I got >>

 Enlightened Gloss >> Opal
This is a very natural color, almost opaque. It goes on evenly and the shiny feel lasts for several hours.

"Ingredients: Carthamus tintorius (safflower oil), oleic/linolenic polyglycerides, euphorbia cerifera (candlila) wax, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) esters, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, theobroma cacao (cocoa) butter, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, silica, olea europaea (olive) oil, parfum (natural), tocopherol eupatorium rebaudianum bertoni (stevia) leaf extract.  May contain: calcium sodium borosilicate, eclipta prostrate extract (natural color), media azadirachta (neem) leaf extract, manganese violet c1 77742, titanium dioxide c1 77891,  iron oxides c1 77491, c1 77492, mica, tin oxide."

I learned from becoming a conscious shopper of whole foods to read the ingredients label. Its amazing what can hide in there. I care what I put into my body and I also care about what is being put onto my skin -- especially the most delicate places: lips and eye lids. Ingredients are listed in order from greatest to least content amount so the first item listed is what the product contains the most of, the last ingredient listed is what it contains the least of. I can recognize almost every ingredient on this list as something that I could grow myself which is a sign that we are definitely in a "natural camp".

Devocean Natural Lipstick >> Tenderness
Goes on like butter and lasts half the day. It really soaks in and keeps my lips moist and bright. This color was the nearest to my natural pigment.

"Ingredients: oleic/linoleic/linolenic polyglycerides (from sunflower oil), butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, diiostearyl malate, caprylic/capric triglyceride (from coconut oil), simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) esters, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) oil, euphorbia chinensis (candelilla) wax, cetyl alcohol, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, flavor oil (all natural), tocopherol (vitamin E). May contain: melia azadirachta fruit extract, mica, titanium dioxide, iron oxides, tin oxide, vaccinium macrocarpon fruit (cranberry) extract, coccinia indica flower extract, daucus carota sativa root (carrot) extract, lycopersicum fruit (tomato) extract, and beta vulgaris (beetroot) extract.

Coconut Oil- Absorbs easily and keeps lips soft and supple. Helps to slow down the signs of aging.
Shea Butter- Rich in essential fatty acids that are super antioxidants. Provides moisturization and hydrates lips.
Jojoba Esters- Provides a buttery smooth application.
Vitamin E- Helps minimize fine lines and fights free radicals."

100% vegan - cruelty-free - and a portion of each product's proceeds go toward clean water

Stellar Eye Trio >> 
This gift set was the perfect package to test the eye products on my skin. Though I would only use the shadow and liner for events a good mascara can be used any day of the week -- just for fun! I was pleased with how each item went on. The shadow was quite shimmery but was easily blended and softened with a finger tip. The pencil liner went on smooth and didn't feel chalky or heavy. It was also easily blended with a q-tip but lasted all day. The mascara was perfect, not greasy or clumpy. Washes off cleanly.
Unfortunately the products weren't natural enough for me. My eyes itched and watered on top of getting very dry during the day that I wore the products. Still, for under $20, I'm glad to have given it a shot!

Eye Shadow Duo >> Unicorn/Moonbeam

"Ingredients: Mica, caprylic/capric triglyceride (plant source), magnesium stearate, tridecyl trimellitate, polyethylene, dimethicone, silica, caprylyl glycol, ethylhexylgylcerin, tocopheryl acetate. May contain: iron oxide (CI 77492, CI 77499, CIC 77491), manganese violet (CI 77742), titanium dioxide, ferroferric oxide."

 Natural Eye Pencil >> Jet
"Ingredients: iron oxide CI 77499, hydrogenated simmondsia chinenesis seed oil, caprylic / capric triglyceride, simmondsia chinenesis seed oil, hydrogenated vegetable oil, butyrospermum parkii butter, sclerocarya birrea seed oil, mica, candelilla cerifera cera, glyceryl caprylate, copernicia cerifera cera, tocopherol, helianthus annuus seed oil, ascorbyl palmitate

Jojoba Oil - Helps keep skin around the eyes moisturized
Shea Butter - Helps protects and moisturizes skin
Vitamin E - Provides anti-aging benefits in addition to helping reduce the appearance of fine lines
Vitamin C Antioxidant - natural preservative that helps fight free radicals"

Stellar Gaze Mineral Mascara >> Supernova
"Ingredients: Aqua, glycerin (vegetable), glyceryl stearate se, jojoba esters, tapioca starch, stearic acid (vegetable), copernicia cerfera (carnauba) wax, euphorbia cerifera (candelilla) wax, arabic/acacia gum, acrylates, crosspolymer, potassium cetyl phosphate, microcrystalline cellulse (plant), cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, panthenol (vitamin b), cellulose gum, gluconolactone, macrocystis pyifera (brown kelp) extract, hydrolyzed oryza sativa (rice) protein, sodium benzoate, iron oxides c1 77499.

Infused with coconut oil and Vitamin B for healthy lashes.
100% vegan. Cruelty-free. Formulated without FD & C color, parabens, talc and mineral oil."

Pacifica products are well-priced and there is usually a sale going on. There is free shipping on orders over $50. When you join the loyalty program you earn points with purchases and by referring back to  Pacifica on social media. When you earn 100 points you get a free sample. My free sample was of a solid perfume Pacifica makes as well as a bonus eye shadow duo.

"Pacifica’s Island Vanilla Solid Perfume contains organic cocos nucifera wax (coconut wax),  organic glycine soja wax (soy wax), parfum (Pacifica’s own perfume blend with natural and essential oils), prunus armeniaca wax (apricot wax), caprylic/capric triglyceride (coconut source). No parabens, animal testing, animal ingredients or artificial colors. 100% VEGAN and Gluten-free."