I remember hearing the above piece of advice in high school. It was spoken by a woman whose daughter had a very slim chance of living. The words have imprinted on my mind, and they randomly make their way into my daily thought flow from time to time.
I grew up in an Air Force family. I remember running to greet my dad each evening, eager to try on his BDU jacket and hat. My dad retired when I was still in elementary school, so I only experienced two major US moves. But the 22 years he served are not lost to me as I now better appreciate, even if dimly, his dedication and sacrifices.
Like so many in this country, I am continually moved and in awe of those who choose to commit their lives to the military pillars of integrity, service before self, and excellence (I may or may not be borrowing these listed qualities from the Air Force core values…)
The men and women who have served, are serving, or will serve realize each day we have to live and breathe in freedom is a great and good gift–one worthy of cherishing and protecting. Ironically, because they know this, they often lose their own lives–sometimes, for those who don’t seem to think about or care about the luxury of an average American day.
Anyone who struggles, like the woman whose baby girl fights for her life, can learn to come to the point where they genuinely treasure every minute and stretch out each moment in order to glean all the blessings they can from it.
I can easily think of times when I’ve allowed myself to waste days by lying in bed doing nothing until 1 pm, vegging out on Netflix for six hours straight, or any other mindless activity that swallows up the minutes of my day.
Many live in jeopardy of their life or in fear for their loved ones’ lives every hour. These people know moments are fleeting; they know relationships are the only things that last; they know no one knows when their last day will be; they know not to waste a single, precious day of their life.
-It’s ok to give up a few extra hours of sleep to make a little extra time in the day to laugh with your family.
-You can find great blessing in overcoming your comfort zones and volunteering to visit the elderly or to set up an event for veterans.
-Let stories of brave soldiers and leaders inspire you and challenge you to do the best you can with whatever comes your way.
-Do anything but let your days slip by, unnoticed and unappreciated.
// well done, good and faithful servant || [ matt. 25:23 ]
For the end of my high school graduation speech I wrote the following:
“If you know truth, cling to it and proclaim it; yet do so in all graciousness and humility.
If you aspire to be great, realize greatness does not come on your own accord but from giving all glory to God.
If you desire to see change in the world, think critically, communicate truth, and act with tenacity and passion.
If you want to find your calling or purpose in life, know that Christ commands you to “Love one another.”
Live in such away and set your goals to such a standard that the Creator will say to you: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’”
At that particular time in my life, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do after college. With full assurance, I told everyone I met, “I’m going into Biology, Pre-Med because I want to study to become an M.D. or a Physician’s Assistant (P.A.).” To me, this was what I interpreted as God’s special calling for my life.
Back up a few years to early high school…and long story, short, I found myself in my optometrist’s office, post-hours, due to a complication with my contact lenses. While waiting, I picked up an issue of TIME magazine and read the story of Bibi Aisha—a young Afghan woman who faced mutilation from her own family and family-in-law, due to running away from an abusive home. From this moving piece, I deduced that God had placed a calling on my head to become a doctor in order to treat women such as Bibi, whose cultural standards limited the prevalence of female physicians.
I had it all planned out. I would finish my Biology, B.S. degree, attend medical school, practice for a few years in the U.S., and then move overseas where I’d become a sort of “missionary-in-disguise M.D.” The plan sounded great in my head and sounded even better when I shared it aloud to practically everyone who stumbled across my path.
Funny thing though when plans never go as planned. I started my first year in college as a Bio Major with enthusiasm, but not much dedication. All too quickly, I found myself completely disillusioned and entirely unhappy. Why is God not blessing me with good grades? I’m following His Will, I thought in a rather deflated way.
So…I switched my major to Nursing. And, I hated it. That first semester of Nursing School made me even more frustrated that I’d “failed” at my original dream. Everyone is thinking, “Oh, look at her. She had to choose an easier major because she’s not smart enough to become a doctor.”
Then, God started convicting me: Your heart is full of pride. Who gave you that desire to help others in the first place? What makes you think you can be the hero?
Friend, your calling is not to become a playwright, a surgeon, a computer engineer, a travel agent, a soldier, a doctor, a nurse, or any other “job.” Your calling is to become a servant. You don’t have to exhaustively search or experience a life crisis to find your calling. You already have it and you already know it—pursue it!
If you read my bio, you know I’m still in nursing school. The only thing that’s changed is that I absolutely love it (and it’s most certainly not an “easier” major)! Do I still want to become a doctor? Yes! (A Doctor of Nursing Practice sounds good, hmm…) Do I still want to work overseas and advocate for young women in underrepresented areas? Yes! The bones of the dream did not change; the motivation and the passion changed. Fall humbly before the Lord and offer up your goals to Him in complete submission. Watch Him work, because He will.
“Brown paper packages tied up with string. These are a few of my favorite things…”
Today’s post is my first piece about fashion and beauty! (Maybe you’re not as excited as I am about these subjects, but I think you’ll find something to enjoy from what I’m about to say! Hopefully!)
You know how you can start by watching a specific video on YouTube and, before you know it, you end up somewhere completely obscure? Like all of a sudden you’re spending half an hour of your God-given life watching “How to Make an iPhone from Ramen and an Electrical Cord?” (I made that up as an example…but, you get the idea.)
Well, I happen to love watching hair and makeup tutorials in my rare spare time. As a result, I ended up viewing a bunch of videos on subscription boxes about a year ago. (Not as obscure as learning to produce your own homemade iPhone, but also not a beauty tutorial.) Prior to these unboxing videos, I had never heard about a subscription service where you could receive surprise full-sized and sample products each month! Upon investigating a little more, I found out these boxes range anywhere from just beauty products to lifestyle items, to monthly plans, to once-a-quarter plans, and plans to fit a wide variety of budgets.
I want to start off by sharing with you two great subscription programs I have been privileged to try!
The first (and the one that happens to be my favorite thus far): The PopSugar Must Have Box. My very sweet and thoughtful boyfriend bought me a three-month subscription as part of last year’s Christmas gift. I had watched several reviews about this service, and felt like it would prove as an enjoyable investment! I was most definitely not disappointed! The box runs about $40 a month, but the price is very well worth it! Each month, PopSugar packs their boxes with a variety of full-sized and sample beauty, home, fitness, food, and lifestyle products. The total retail value of a box always culminates to at least above $100.
For example, in my December 2015 box, I received a gorgeous ombre metal chain bracelet, valuing $65, from the brand LUV AJ. The worth of the bracelet more than pays for the price of one box, and it was just one item out of the whole thing! I use my Blue Sky Day Designer Weekly Planner from the January 2016 box daily, and some of the February 2016 surprises included a $20 Victoria’s Secret gift card and a delicate modal scarf from Tilo that retails for $125.
Recently, PopSugar released a new version of their Must Have box, the Mini, which is $18.95 a month. I’ve not tried this one yet, but it seems to contain similar, but fewer items. Other than the Must Have and Mini, the company also offers curated limited edition boxes. These are more expensive, but bigger and often include higher end brands.
I thoroughly enjoyed the boxes I received from PopSugar, and definitely plan to subscribe with them again in the future! For more information, their website is: https://musthave.popsugar.com.
The second service I want to share with you is called Influenster. I actually came across this brand during one of my many Pinterest visits. The most wonderful thing about this subscription is…it’s FREE! (I was extremely wary when I first read about Influenster, but decided to sign up after a few months of research and have been pleasantly surprised ever since!) I’ll do my best to explain succinctly below:
As hinted at in the brand name, Influenster uses their subscribers to influence other people into buying and trying certain products. When signing up, you do not enter any credit card information or payment. Instead, you connect your Influenster page to your social media sites and answer “Snaps,” which are questions about your beauty and lifestyle preferences. Based on how many followers/friends you have combined and your activity on Infleunster’s site, you have the chance of receiving a box of complimentary products. Once you get that “VoxBox”, you check it in online and then are supposed to try out the products (many which have not been released on the market yet). After that, you write reviews for them and answer other users’ questions on Influenster’s website.
In the past, I have received three VoxBoxes. (The picture I have included at the beginning of my post is of my latest one—the “Sprout VoxBox.”) Each box has a theme and usually contains at least one beauty product, something for the house, a fashion-related piece, and a food item.
I love Influenster because it’s free, it’s fun, and it’s a unique brand that allows you to become a voice for what you’d like to see on the market.
A few other subscription boxes I’ve heard are good but haven’t personally tried include:
~Play! by Sephora ($10/mo.)
~Birchbox ($10/mo.; I got my roommate a three-month gift subscription a little while back, and she loved it!)
~BarkBox (starts at $20/mo.; a curated box for your special puppies)
There are others as well, but these are a few more that I have watched several reviews on and look to be offer quality, fun items!
Maybe subscription boxes aren’t your thing, but I certainly love receiving a surprise in the mail every now and then. If you have any questions about these boxes or any of the products, please let me know and I’d be more than happy to try to answer them!
Perhaps someday down the road (or even tomorrow!) you’ll get hooked on these cute little boxes just like I am!
[ au revoir, hannah ]
*disclaimer: i have received no offers or compensation for these reviews; they are solely my personal opinion.
// her children rise up and call her blessed || [ proverbs 31:28 ]
Anyone who knows me for a somewhat extended period of time knows my two younger sisters and I are adopted. We are not biologically related, which means we each have two moms—our separate birth mothers and our same adopted mother.
In very different ways, the woman who gave birth to me and the woman who has chosen to call me her daughter have unequivocally inspired me.
I admire my birth mama’s bravery to do the right thing—to give up her baby in order to save her life and give her the opportunity to find a new, welcoming family. Under the given circumstances surrounding 1996, this decision was not only in disobedience to the law, but probably also a monumental endeavor as the risks and potential consequences would have been high.
From the sacrificial love my Chinese mother showed me, my adopted mother was able to take over her role flawlessly. My mom is full of joy, and she radiates her positivity to everyone around her. She, along with my dad, has created a strong, supportive, and unfailingly loving family. Unashamedly, my mom lives to bless others with her servant-like heart and her listening spirit. During the past two years away at college, I’ve come to realize how much I value not only the nurturing aspects of my mom, but her friendship as well. She has loved, laughed, and cried with me through elementary school awkwardness, middle school friendship drama, high school crushes, and now college stress. And I know she’ll continue to walk with me through every single milestone in my life. That alone is a greater blessing than I can fully fathom or appreciate.
Both my birth mama and my mom have given me standards to strive to achieve when I hopefully become a mother myself. Like my birth mama, I want to have the courage to understand, plan, and act upon what is best for my children. Like my mom, I want to exude the timeless beauty of the spirit, listen with an open heart, teach with loving enthusiasm, and guide with gentle wisdom.
Although not written on motherhood, the poet, Lord Byron’s quaint, lovely piece, “She Walks in Beauty” more aesthetically articulates the way many are privileged to view their mother figures:
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
Relish in the time you have with your mother and glean all you can learn from her. She is the prize jewel to a crown and a blessing that abounds in relentless love.
// my idea of god is not a divine idea. it has to be shattered time after time. he shatters it himself || [ c.s. lewis, a grief observed ]
In my very, very short experience of life thus far, I’ve continually found the emotion of grief to be one of the hardest feelings understood and, in some ways, to feel. The other evening during my devotion, I read Job Chapter One. I love the account of Job. I admire his dedication and his strength to restrain himself from cursing God during his misfortune. This time, as I read chapter once again, I noticed a few things that haven’t been apparent in times before.
I want to give you an outline of what I noticed and then share the application from what I gleaned:
[ the observations ]
First, as shown in verse one, Job was doing right according to the Lord and he was in a long season of abundant blessing. If anyone needs an example of how to fulfill the role of steward, they only need look at Job. This man prayed and offered up sacrifices for the sins of his children! (Parenting goals!)
Second, a huge question arises for me in verse eight: In the conversation between God and Satan, why does God bring up the subject of Job to Satan? He seems to prompt the Devil’s test by (1). bringing up Job’s faithfulness and (2). readily agreeing to let Satan harm Job. What’s the motive? It seems rather like a cruel joke.
Third, an almost unreal occurrence of events unfolds. Four messengers approach Job, one after the other, bearing devastating news. Within the context of one chapter, nearly all of Job’s tangible possessions are destroyed without warning or explanation. Job barely has time to process the information of what one person has relayed to him before another courier arrives. With such an unheard of, unbelievable tragedy, it makes sense to me that Job should immediately ask: “What is God doing?”
[ the interpretations ]
Job’s first response captivates me. He does not ask the question I imagined. He does something I believe few have the strength to do: he worshiped. In unimaginable, plummeting sorrow, Job chose to praise the Lord. For him, that was his only option.
Previously, from what the reader can gather, Job had really only known the blessings of God. From this, he experienced God’s goodness. With his trial just beginning, Job’s view of his God shattered. Yet, he still knew God is good and is worthy to be worshiped.
To have the childlike faith of Job and to have his mindset should be the goal of anyone who claims to follow Christ. Our view of God should not fall into a four-cornered box, but should be continually shaped by His actions. The actions of the Lord always align with His written truths and promises. We only think they don’t because we don’t have God’s view of Himself—thus, why He must shatter our view.