Breaking Fear: Part 1, An Introduction

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I’ve never physically been under attack.  I’ve never had a gun pointed at my head.  I’ve never experienced terrorism up close and personal.  I’ve never been beaten and robbed.

I have, however, experienced acute anxiety.  The kind that wakes you up at night.  The kind that sends you running to catch an earlier flight out only to then worry the earlier flight you caught will crash.  The kind that makes you reach over to jostle your napping child to make sure he’s still breathing.

I believe there is anxiety which needs to be medically treated.  I fully support those who are able to find respite through a psychologist or medication.

I also believe there is a spiritual component to our fear.  As I am neither a doctor nor a psychologist, this ten week study looks at the way to wage spiritual war on the fears which can cripple us.  For some, the spiritual knowledge will couple with the medical knowledge in combatting their struggle.

This is a relatively new battlefield for me.  While I’ve always worried a little, the white-knuckled terror I’ve faced on and off recently emerged only in the past two years.

It’s not surprising so many of us are struggling with fear.  We live in a 24 hour news cycle.  The more heinous the crime, the more media attention it garners.  Our iPhones light up alerting us to beheadings and explosions.  We hear the horrific stories of sexual exploitation and bear up under the heartbreaking news there are more slaves in America today than in our nation’s history.  I can’t watch YouTube videos of anything knowing it will only add to my restless sleep.

Forty million Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder.  That’s nearly one fifth of our country’s population.  Yet, comparatively, we’re one of the safest societies to live in.  Our planes rarely crash.  Our buildings rarely blow up.  Our soil hasn’t seen the genocide or terrorism common in other countries.

Why are we all so terrified? 

I believe…

I started writing that sentence over and over and couldn’t finish it until God asked me, “What DO you believe, Gindi?”

I believe God is love.  I believe in His Love there is no fear.  I believe perfect Love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment and there is no fear of punishment in perfect Love.  (I John 4)

 

I do believe those words.  I’m just not always sure how to make sure the fear is driven out.

 

So this ten week bible study is really a journey we’ll be going on together.  A journey from fear to freedom.

 

It’s time for Breaking Fear. 

 

{To follow this study, you can enter your email to subscribe to the blog or follow our conversation on Facebook.  This study is only intended to focus on what God says about fear.  If you suffer from crippling anxiety, I encourage you to visit your doctor. }

On Your First Day of Kindergarten

My dear ones,

I’ve known this day was coming for three months.

Well, I suppose I’ve always known it would come.

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And yet, blink, in quickest flash of a moment it is here.

I am so proud of you on this special day.  I had no idea, staring at each of your little faces in the NICU almost six years ago, who you would become and how immeasurably I would come to love you.

I want so much for you.  Today and in the days to come.  I want all the basics, of course.  For you to read this year as you each so love books.  It will be a passion we share together as we grow.  For you to add and subtract as you begin to compute facts and figures in your head.  For you to begin comprehending the fascinating mysteries of science as you experiment and sense new ways for things to come together.  For you to learn about different countries and peoples and languages and cultures as you imagine the vast world you have yet to travel.

Oh, but I long for you to learn so many things beyond the basics.

I want you to begin to read other people.  To understand their emotions and reactions so you can empathize and understand how to form deep and fulfilling relationships with peers and with elders.

I want you to start understanding how to add in the things which are important and add value and improve your character and subtract out the things which don’t really matter and belittle others and attack your self-esteem.

I want you to passionately seek to find glimpses of the fascinating mysteries of Christ and His sacrifice and His grace and His unfathomable, unfailing, unflinching love for you.

I want you to thoroughly enjoy meeting all peoples of all backgrounds and cultures and incomes and families and respect the diversity they bring to your learning and know that God formed each one of them uniquely with special talents and life purposes.

I know it sounds like such a tall order, but your momma is an optimist.  I believe in the best in you and believe you will grow from a funny, high-spirited child into a purposeful and passionate young adult.

I want to do all I can do to help, but I also want to take one step back this year (just one step at a time, my love).  You see, you’re growing up and you’re not my little one who needs help getting dressed or who holds my hand on every sidewalk.  If I’m being honest with you, I’m crying just typing that up.

See I lose all three of you to a new stage at the same time.  I don’t get to hold one baby back while I release the next one.  No, no, I have the best and the worst job.  I get to send you off to spread your wings all at the same time.  While that brings me tremendous joy, it also makes me sad that you’re growing up so fast.  You are so much of my heart, a bigger heart than I even knew possible, and it breaks just a bit when you’re able to step further away on your own.

But I would never stop this.  Because I believe this is all a working out of His big plan.  I’m so honored to just play a role.  I am confident of this, He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.  (Phil 1:6)

I know God is working your life verses into the fabric of what you learn and understand, and I know this kindergarten year will stitch even more of it into the fabric of your lives.  My loving, diligent eldest, you will win favor when you trust God with all your heart.  My passionate, artistic only girl, as you know His love more, He will do beyond what you could ever fathom in your life.  My smart and emotional youngest, you will live a life worthy of Him as you grow in understanding and wisdom.

Have a great day my big boys and girl.  Have a great year.  You will have both successes and failures and each experience will form you into a stronger, more capable human.  No matter whether your days or good or bad, I am always here.  I love you.  I will always love you.  Thank you for making me a mommy.

All my love, to the moon and back,

Mom

Fashion Fridays: How To Style An Interesting Piece

My friend and I were talking about orphan pieces the other day.  She, and others, have mentioned their struggle with figuring out what to pair with a single item they found and loved – a blouse, skirt, sweater, necklace…

So FIRST for Fashion Friday, I’m issuing a call for orphan pieces!  I will be writing a post on how you should wear the item in your closet you just don’t know how to put together  (but don’t want to give away because you LOOOOVE it).  Send me a photo of the orphan wardrobe item, or a link to the item if it’s current, and I’ll build an outfit for you. 

Next, today’s will jumpstart this conversation; let’s talk:  How to Style an Interesting Piece

We all find something in the fitting room (or in the box on our doorstep) we think is gorgeous but wonder, what should I wear this with?  Those items aren’t the black pants or the ivory cardigan, but something interesting which doesn’t logically fall into what you imagine pairing in your current wardrobe. 

The key is to find a way to use it in more than one application.  A cool cocktail dress is one note.  We can style it with shoes and hair but you have limited uses.  A valuable piece is one you can wear in multiple applications. 

Example 1: Oversized Graphic Sweater

This is a lovely example from Nordstrom. 

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For the weekend, pair this sweater with skinny bootcut jeans, narrow lines are key when you have an oversized piece and bootcut is this season’s statement, and a neutral shell.  I’d prefer something deeper than the ivory shown here for most skin types.  Look at the navy and maroon featured in the pattern; select a solid shell in a lighter shade of one of those colors.  Because of the pattern, keep jewelry neutral and polish off with a great boot. 

For work, partner this sweater with a navy shift dress and oversized belt.  Simple jewelry and gray heels will make a bold but professional statement.  

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Example 2:  Embellished Blouse

Consider a neckline on a blouse with partnering it with a jacket or sweater.  Try not to create conflicting lines or layers which take away from the best aspect of your feature item. 

Here’s another example from Nordstrom’s:

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It partners jacquard with small stitch embellishments and tiny black pearls. 

For work, this would be gorgeous under a navy suit.  The neckline here is straight so it’s easy to marry with a blazer and it needs no necklace as the shell serves as all the accessory you need.  (Plus this color pairs beautifully with navy, a classic contrast for work in any traditional environment like energy, finance, and law.)

For the weekend, this would be a perfect brunch topper.  Pair it with a high-waisted full skirt in a contrasting color, again navy would be a great choice but you have far more flexibility, and platform pumps for a feminine, retro look.  (Imagine this MINUS the midriff showing!)

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Okay girls, so this should get your creative juices flowing.  Send over all your orphan pieces and let’s see what we can create!

Sweater/Dress Photo Credit: Hello, Gorgeous!; Top/Skirt Photo Credit: Style!

The Gauzy Family Life v. Reality

I read these delicious blog posts. 

They’re all about slowing down and savoring each moment.  

Finding the joy in the soap bubbles in your sink.

Leisurely walking down the sidewalk soaking in moments of family togetherness.   

Filling your house with the delicious aroma from a big cast iron pot filled with vegetables you plucked from your backyard garden.   

They are incredibly relaxing to read. 

But I do not personally know any of these people.  Or what they do for a living.  Or how their children learned to leisurely walk next to them without careening into oncoming traffic.   

Seriously.  Who are these people?  Where do they live? 

I know.  I sound like a cynic.  But I’m not.  (Most of the time.)

I am an optimist.  A glass-is-half-full, see-the-good-in-people, embrace-your-best-self optimist. 

However, I don’t have soap bubbles in my sink because I throw half rinsed dishes in the dishwasher and hope for the best.  We avoid sidewalks with our children because of the aforementioned darting into oncoming traffic as well as 100 plus degree temperatures (at 8 PM AT NIGHT!).  I have no garden, of vegetables or anything else, and the few times I tried to plant a flower or bush were miserable failures. 

Our family is frenzied because we live in 2015 and have triplets and two-career parents.  We probably snap when we shouldn’t, and that’s all five of us, because we’re not cooking homegrown vegetables and taking naps in familial hammocks (We had a hammock. It broke. Not from use but a storm.). 

Most mornings I leave at 6:15 in the morning so I can keep my commute under an hour, and it enables me to get home in time to make dinner in the evening.  My hubby leaves later so he tries to make it home most nights in time for the big dinner hour.  We swim in the summer after dinner which is our “downtime.” 

School starts back next week so early mornings will involve lunch packing and bag checks for folders and new schedule changes with gymnastics and soccer starting up.  I’m guessing that Monday nights, with our first ever 6 pm kid activity, will mean Chick-Fil-A for dinner, and it probably won’t be the grilled chicken.  Bray and I have tag team trips in September so we’ll face time and make it up when we both get back. 

Weekends we’ll split between kid games and the farm.  We’ll have some downtime there though one kid will be atop a tractor while another brushes the horse and yet another is on the buggy with grandpa.  We don’t regularly stroll around down there holding hands. 

I love seeing the pictures of the relaxing strolls on the beach and the late morning cups of coffee, but that’s not our life and I’m okay with that.  My kid beach experiences involve insane amounts of sand in hard-to-get-out-of places and unexpected wetness and attempts to avoid jellyfish.  And a late morning cup of coffee for me is 7 am. 

I wonder if that’s a little of what your life looks like too?  I encourage you to not get caught up in an idealized, and highly pictorialized, notion that your life and family can’t connect and grow without organic tomatoes and spotless vacations. 

Most of our families are messy and rushed.  We carve out little moments with each other.  I still catcall my husband, and we read bedtime stories with the kids.  We have family dinners together during the week, even if it’s only messy spaghetti, and we share our daily stories.  If I took photos of those moments, you probably wouldn’t get wistful wishing your life looked like ours because (a) I’m a bad photographer, (b) they’re messy and stained and uncoordinated. 

So here’s a little encouragement from the peanut gallery today.  If you were worried your family was going to need therapy because your moments don’t look like those beautiful blog posts, they probably will end up needing therapy but it will have nothing to do with long walks and pots of vegetables.  At least mine probably will, but it won’t be for lack of effort and love. 

Love comes on in along with the messy and hurried and frazzled, but love always outshines all the rest of those.

Fashion Fridays: My Closet Clean Out

DSC_0345 DSC_0347The tables have turned.

Some of my dear friends, and previous closet victims, visited my house this week and did some spring cleaning of their own.

It was actually a lot of fun.

I may have cheated a little and cleaned my closets a bit before they came.  I actually thought because of my preemptive strike they would find little to question in my closets (yes, I do have two, but as you can see, they are small).

Boy was I wrong.

One friend, who you may remember from her own closet massacre, was BLUNT!  (My other darling friend, who has endured TWO closet reviews, was kinder and gentler.)   And out stuff went.  Here were some things I learned I hadn’t been applying to my own wardrobe:

1.    Just because it’s classic and a staple piece doesn’t mean it should remain in your wardrobe.  WHY?  Because it’s worn out.  There were several basics, a red shell or an ivory blouse, which my girlfriend yelped about when she saw because of the pilling and snags.  She reminded me executives may notice such wear, and those items are easily, and reasonably, replaced.  Out they went.  (And into the trash can because you shouldn’t donate worn out items.)

2.    Color matters.  There were a couple of items which my artistic friend with an eye for color told me to donate because the color did not work for my skin tone.  Blues, greens, and reds may all work for you in a particular shade but add too much yellow or too little yellow to the mix and the color can quickly sour your skin.  Green is one of my favorite colors but one shell got tossed because it was the wrong shade.  I DIDN’T let her toss my taupe shell because it is so lovely, but I promised only to wear it under blazers to mitigate the color not working well on my skin tone.

3.  Disguise may not do what you think it does.  I had a top (in my favorite green color, boohoo) and a lovely date dress I purchased because I thought it disguised my belly weight.  Not so my girlfriends said.  The peplum on the dress actually accentuated the weight I carried there, and the empire style of top made it appear more maternity than professional.  Sigh.  Out they went.

4. Don’t forget fit matters too!  Two of my girlfriends got a few new pieces from my wardrobe because they never quite fit me right.  I had already pulled them because the material strained around my shoulders, and it never fit like it should have.  So one friend got a gorgeous teal velvet blazer and the other a black dress coat and blue dress (and yes, it is OVER an existing dress)!

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I had some interesting insight into how my closets are structured too.  In the first closet you see pictured above, my suits, pants and blouses (along with high heels and flats) reside.  In the second closet, in the guest bedroom/my office, my blazers, dresses, skirts, and jeans (along with sandals and boots) reside.  The girls were perplexed I hopped back and forth between the rooms in any given morning to pull together my outfit.  I have weekend mixed in with work when maybe I should organize closets by lifestyle rather than item type.  I’m debating whether I have the energy to make one closet my work wear and the other my weekend/evening wear.

I received positive feedback too.  They loved the mix of blouses in assorted colors and patterns which would easily add interest to an outfit.  There were also items they thought might need to go until I tried them on and they were sold.  I find this in every closet review.  Clothes look different, good or bad, when hanging, so don’t just an outfit by its hanger!

Finally, they were amazed at what I could do with such a small space (one friend said she imagined I’d have this cavernous space where we would have to send a search party in for them).  You can see from the below picture (my dress/jacket closet), I hang all my necklaces at the back of the closet so I can tell what I might need as an accessory.  And you’ll notice from the top picture all of my scarves and earrings are hanging at the back of that closet so I don’t forget what my options are.

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We also talked clothes theory.  Like how is it possible someone who is 5’4 and one weight and another person who is 5’10 and another weight and shape could possibly fit into the exact same size 10 item of clothing.  We forget sometimes how much brands matter as well as styles and cuts ,and why it only makes logical sense for us to all have a tailor on stand by.

Little bit came in at the end and sat atop all the clothes going to new homes and made her own judgments on her favorite dress of mommy’s!  We had a blast and I learned a lot.  Hopefully, some of my tips will help you in our own closet clean out!

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