Thursday, January 31, 2013

What You Asked//What I Answered

What's your favorite childhood memory?
I spend 3 years of my childhood in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. A tiny little town
called Ironwood. I remember going across the street to where my school was and there was a huge 
hill and it would turn to ice in the winter and we would all slide down it , for recess or just
on the weekends. No sled. And we would slide fast too, on our butts.
Thats gotta be a top fave of mine.

Would you rather be 21 or 37 & why?
Honestly, if I had only those 2 choices I'd rather be 37 . I mean ideally I'd rather be probably 27 ,
but that wasn't an option in the question. I just feel like I've lived more, I understand more, 
I know more at my age now. When I was 21, it wasn't as if I was out living it up in the single life.
I had already been married for over a year. But I like where I am now. I like the experience I've gained, the life I lead, my children, my husband... I realize the older I get, the shorter my life span
is, but I try not to focus on that. TRY.

You do NOT look 37 or like you should be close to 40. How do you do it?
Um...photoshop...Haha. Seriously, that helps. But I have always looked a lot younger than my 
age. Our local mall has a weekend curfew and you have to be eighteen & over after a certain time.A few years ago I was carded. At that time I was thankful to be carded. When I was 26 , and 
got carded at a tanning salon where you had to be sixteen to tan, I was not so thrilled.

Is there a special year that you have had?
I'm gonna go with the typical answer, but true answer, when my son was born. I was 27 .
I had been through 2 miscarriages the previous year.. One of which was midterm and we got to hold and bury our baby girl, Naomi who was just 6 inches long. That was a traumatic season in life.
Then during my pregnancy with my son I had to take progesterone supplements to hold the
pregnancy and also ended up with pre-eclampsia and a c-section after 36 hours of labor.
He came in December. I was just very thankful that he was finally in my arms.
I finally had my baby boy.

Would you rather be this age or 10 years younger? Why?
Ok, I kind of answered this already, but have more of an option in age choice than the other question.
But now that I think about it, I crack a lot of jokes about being "almost 40" and some people
actually thought I was 40 when I wrote that. I really don't mind being the age I am. I love it, really.
I think what kind of scares me more is realizing that the older I get, so are my parents...
Again, a thought that I try to both embrace and put out at the same time...
I'd love to know you and your husbands story. How you met? How long you dated? 
How long you have been married?
Jeff and I have been married 16 years. Wow, I know. There are some bloggers that are that age.
Yikes. We dated for about 2 1/2 months before we got engaged. Then we were engaged for 11 months before we got married. Our original plan was to get married in May of 1997, but my dad secretly
changed it all behind my back and moved the wedding date up. I say that lightly, because of course
he asked me, after he had "checked with" the catering, the hall, the honeymoon, the flowers, the cake...and he came to me with an "How about you get married on November 23rd instead."
This was in 1996.I freaked because of money, but I guess he just didn't like the idea that Jeff and I were together nonstop anyways til 3 or 4 in the morning, he thought we might as well be married.
Our families had actually known each other since I was about 6 years old, he was 9. I wasn't super
tight with Jeff or anything, but when we'd run into each other over the years, he'd give me a nod
with a "Hi Julie" and that was the extent of it. How we started dating is another story.
Maybe someday I will tell it.

If you could visit anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
Easy. Rome, Italy. When I was 19 I went on a missions trip to Albania. We made about a six hour
stop in Bari, Italy with about 90 students on the way there. Then we made an overnight stop
in Rome, Italy with about 90 students. Needless to say, I didn't really get to "experience" it 
like I would like to and would love to go back.
Have you always been a writer?
Nope. I have always been artistic. Loved art. Loved to draw when I was younger.
Won county contests even. So I knew I had a creative flow in me, I guess. MY very first attempt
at writing came out in emails or on facebook in  the past few years believe it or not. 
I realized that when I wrote I was more eloquent than when I spoke and I sorta started 
loving it after I started blogging.

What is your favorite color?
I tend to stick to neutrals or fall colors in general. Black, grey, nave, beige, maroon.
Which is weird if you have seen photos of my bright walls in my house.

What is your all time favorite song?
Oh geez thats hard. I can tell you a few. I'm an 80s New Wave girl.
I love Melt With You by Modern English. Or If You Were Here by the Thompson Twins.
If You Leave by OMD... Bizarre Love Triange by New Order...
stuff like that.

How do you stay so darn skinny?
This is funny. I don't feel so darn skinny. I feel average. I dont know. I watch my weight
pretty closely. If I know I've been pigging out alot, I jump on the scale and if I see it hit
a number I don't like, I get back to the gym or start cutting portions.
Generally though I am just an everything in moderation girl.
Currently I am on a fruits and veggies fast, so that has helped me drop some 
serious weight quickly.

What kind of makeup and/or skin care products do you use? Your skin looks flawless.
This is another funny question to me, because a) I am very self conscious about my complexion.
I had a lot of acne when I was growing up and have alot of scarring. Depending on what lighting
my photos or videos are taken in, it can look really great, or pretty horrible.
b) I use photoshop a lot to make it look better than it actually does =(
And as far as what I use, it's pretty much what is cheapest. I don't have a lot of extra money
laying around at these times for make up or skin care. Unfortunately. I used to use MAC
back in the day when I used credit cards.

My middle name is Marie too. Are you happy with the name your parents gave you?
I am ok with it now. When I was younger I hated it and thought it sounded so old school.
I wished they had named me Julia, or Julianne or something. Now vintage is cool,
so I am too ;)

How did your hubby decide & get inspiration for naming each of your children?
It was really sort of by random choice. Wesley was originally going to be Wyatt, because we love
the move Tombstone and love Wyatt Earp, but I wasn't sure I was totally comfortable with it
since at that time it was a little unfamiliar. So I switched it. Jada, was pretty much taken from
Jada Pinkett Smith. And Leila was because I love the song Layla by Eric Claption and I just
thought the name sounded good as a little girl AND as a young lady!

Thanks everyone for all the early birthday wishes. I look forward to celebrating
this weekend with my hubs and next week with my family. I'm sure there will be plenty-o-pics!
Come back tomorrow to find what out my BIRTHDAY WISH for this year is!
Something I have never done.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Inside Out

A thousand times I've failed
Still Your mercy remains
Should I stumble again
Still I'm caught in your grace
Your light will shine when all else fades
Your glory goes beyond all fame

Your will above all else
 My purpose remains
The art of losing myself
in bringing You praise
Your light will shine when all else fades
Your glory goes beyond all fame

In my heart and my soul
I give you control
Consume me from the inside out, Lord
Let justice and praise
become my embrace
To love you from the inside out

Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades
Neverending, Your glory goes beyond all fame
And the cry of my heart is to bring You praise
From the inside out
Lord my soul cries

These lyrics have been rolling around inside of me for days now.
Probably about a week. I'm not really sure why.
My only conclusion is that these words really are the cry of my heart.

I want to lose myself in my love for God and his love for me.
I want his love to consume my thoughts, my words, my actions...
how I respond to life, circumstances and humanity
I want everything I do to be an inward and outward act of praise.
I am so completely in love with Jesus.

My heart is so moved by his goodness in my life,
the garbage He has pulled me out of
and it inspires me to love others with His kind of love.

lyrics by// Hillsong United

A huge huge thanks to Brooke for introducing me to this cover of this song.
I'm obsessed.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Lies I Believed

I was invited to share a little bit of my story in a link up called Overcome The Lies.
To share my story about the lies I have believed about myself,
and that God has taken me out of.
We as women, are subject to so many kinds of lies about ourselves...
Lies about ourselves are fed to us through circumstances, media, family, peers...
or maybe lies that we come up with on our own. Lies that satan feeds our thoughts.
Oh man, do I have a lot of them. If I look over my life throughout my 37 years,
(yes I turn 37 this week) I can pinpoint the lies in so many places.
Some of them disgust me, because some of them I talked myself into believing,
even when I knew the truth. The ones that told me I would feel satisfied or loved or free
by doing my own thing. I know it sounds SOOOO cliche to say it won't, but I know just as much as 
anyone that freedom doesn't & hasn't come in serving myself. Nor does happiness.
In fact, this so-called "freedom & happiness" only made me feel worse.
There were lies that told me the grass is greener on the other side. It's not, trust me.
Lies that told me I am getting too old, it's too late for me to do anything great now,
I should have started earlier.
Lies that have told me I can't get through my day, through my life
without some sort of substance that will help me float through it, or sleep through it.
Lies that told me God had nothing for me & I wasn't talented in a family 
full of preachers and musicians. And I had nothing to give.
I really could go on and on with those little annoying nagging thoughts, those hideous lies,
that have turned my life into a mundane chore, rather than an epic adventure.
This past year of blogging has changed my life more than I could ever imagine.
Writing out my thoughts here, my inspirations, has helped me grow,
 and has put me to action in a way I never even knew was possible.
Who said I was too old? Who said it was too late for me to do something great?
Oh, that's right I did. Or maybe satan did. Either way, it was a lie.
God has proven his purpose in me time and time again through the avenue
of writing and encouragement and compassion.
I knew that I prayed for compassion as a young 19 year old girl.
I just wasn't sure in which way it would come out of me.

I think this blog is just the beginning of proof that He has something wonderful for me.
It's not the end of my life. It's just the beginning. And I'm celebrating it!
He is doing something great. Something artistic. Something that is me in ME.
It's ME, because He made it to be me. He designed me.
His passion inside of me isn't the same as my family, no. But it is still the same God working
through me. I'd venture to say that each one of us out here in blogging community have some
sort of gift in a similar area as one another since the majority of us write to an extent. 
Our gifts from Him lie in our interests & passion. What are you passionate about?
Why would God place passion inside of us for anything?  It is all to be used for his glory.
Even if your passion is for simply being the best mother or wife you can be.
That can absolutely be done for his glory.
Every time you set the table or change a diaper or take a photo or write a song,
or a blog post, or paint a picture...
Do it with this is mind. That you wouldn't have that passion if it wasn't for God.
So that passion is a God given gift He placed inside of you. It's his purpose for you life.
We don't always get that. We just think, 'Hey, I like playing basketball, because I do.'
But think about all the different kinds of people there are in world,
with all the different talents and passions, who may be only able to reach that one person
that is similar to you, that gets where you are coming from.
Just like me, you have something that drives you. Don't believe the lie that
life is just day in and day out and your blog is just as an outlet.
I'd say it's a gift. It's a passion. Be intentional with it.
I'm not saying you have to write about God every day, 
But let this life he gave you be a celebration.
And celebrate your precious life by writing about it, sharing it with others...
because God gave it to you.
It's your life on purpose.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Coffee Date//Girl Behind The Blog

I'm running late on my girl behind the blog this month.
Usually I am prepared days in advance, because I love it so.
And I love to watch all of you.
Just want to say thank you to Ashley (5ohWifey) & Alissa (Rags to Stitches)
for the fun opportunity to link up with you both.

Oh, and by the way. I mentioned yesterday that next week is my birthday!
And I want to do a fun question/answer session...
so stop by the post below and comment, email me, tweet, instagram, facebook,
whatever...and ask me what you want to know!

Ok, here we go!!
(Sorry, I went a little long. Again. But I didn't edit a single thing out,so that's a good thing.)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

You Ask, I'll Answer! Because I'm Turning 40. Pretty Much.

Hey Guys! 
Soooooo.... I can't really ignore the big elephant in the room you didn't know existed. 
Maybe some of you did. But a week from Saturday, it will be my birthday.
Yes, February 2nd! It's groundhogs day.  Celebrate!
I will be 25 years old ahem...37 years old.
Let's just all pause for a moment and reflect on the fact that in 3 years I will be 40.
Deep Breaths...That was for me. Because I need them. You know. At my age.
It's moments like these I look into the world of beautiful blogging women,
and I am reminded that almost everyone out there is just turning 23, or 28 or even 32.
Not me, I am turning 40... I mean 37.
I could throw a big party. Come up with some sort of giveaway.
But lets face it, at my age, I just don't have the energy to work rafflecopter magic
as often as some of you, youngsters.
So instead, I thought it might be fun to let you dig into the deets of my life a little more.
I saw a few random posts about "What you wouldn't know from my blog?" type of thing
and I thought that would be fun, but then I saw others where YOU THE READERS 
get to ask the questions of the things YOU want to know.
I gotta say, I'm a pretty open book on this lil blog of mine. But maybe there is something
you missed. Or something I didn't reveal already.
Ask Away.
Gosh, this will certainly be embarrassing if nobody asks me anything.
Crossing my fingers someone needs to know something about me?

Ask me on twitter, facebook, email or here in my comments. Whatevs.
I will answer one week from today! Yay. Fun!
Happy Birthday to Me!

Oh and by the by. That photo of me . I live in Wisconsin. No this is not the current weather.
I opted to not go out in the 0 degree weather and instead use a photo from my "Younger Years"
and from "Warmer Days."
Ok, it was like a year and a half ago, but I was still younger and it was summer.

Monday, January 21, 2013

How We Look & How We Judge. When We Feel Insecure.

I think more often than not I need to practice what I preach.
I am really great at writing about something I am currently learning or basically that I
hope to teach myself, knowing that there is truth in there somewhere. Truth that we all need to hear.
So, I then spill all these nagging, self analyzing thoughts onto my blog posts, in which everyone
thinks I am so admirably inspiring and sure, in the past I have had issues, but I now
seemingly have it all together. That's simply not true.

Something I have really struggled in is my self image. And me saying that is scary.
Because I feel like people are glaring at me through their computer screens, or scoffing or rolling their eyes.
This is the exact reason why I struggle with it.
Because people look at all the photoshopped photos and automatically assume I should never say a word about myself. I should never feel inadequate. But it's a fact. We ALL deal with it.
 We all have issues we see in ourselves that we dislike.
As much as I  can preach "how valuable" we all are, it doesn't change the fact
that some days I look at myself in a darkly lit room where every bump or pimple or line or yes, even age spot on my face shows up and I think to myself "Really, if people had any idea what I look like in
this lighting, without photoshop, they would obviously be shocked."
I can hear the astonished whispers, the stares the "Wow, she looks so much different in person than she does on her photos."
No matter what size we are, what shape we are, how we come across looking in our photos...
there is always something that each of us can come up with that we just do not like about ourselves.
It kinda sucks, right?

There have been days where people have actually made me feel bad for being a short, petite girl.
 Sometimes, it seems like people think I don't have the right to have a bad day, because I'm petite.
 Like I don't have the right to work out or to get rid of unwanted weight, because I'm already petite.
I get laughed at. Ridiculed. Rude remarks. Because Lord knows everything in her life must be perfect, and how dare she complain about a chubby day, because, well, she is petite.
I get it. I get that people see other people and think they have it all together...
 at least when we try to measure someone else to our standards, or our own body,
THEY win...someone else always wins...
so they shouldn't complain, right?

Ya know, their legs aren't as fat as ours, They have bigger boobs. They're teeth are whiter.
Their complexion is better. So they win. AND they have NO right to have a bad day.
 It's weird how little compassion we can have as woman if we think another woman looks better than us.  Sometimes being small has me paranoid and insecure and disliked in a whole different way.
Maybe not in the I need to lose 40 lbs way. But I still have my moments.I have those "things" about my appearance that hurt me, the derail me and that keep me feeling inferior.
No, all the photoshopped photos may not reveal insecurities, but why would they?
They are meant to hide those pimples, those wrinkles, those age spots, those rolls...
and all those things I hate.

Have you ever talked or thought about women that you thought looked better than you, for whatever reason? Making assumptions that they probably think they are God's gift to the world, not really knowing how insecure they may be? What issues  may lie beneath the clothing or makeup?
I know I have.
So on top of their insecurity, they also have people talking about them.
Tell me that wouldn't hurt . I often feel sorry for celebrities who get ridiculed for every lb they gain,
every mistake they make, every eyelash out of place. They are people. And just because we think they are perfect by our own standards or we think they are screw ups by our own standards, doesn't mean it doesn't hurt to have the whole world talk about you like they know you.

One day on facebook, I complained that ...mentioned that I looked 4 months pregnant in a status.
Granted, I realize I probably didn't look that way to other people, but I was extremely bloated and I know what I normally look and feel like, so if I need to lose a few, I know it, because my pants don't fit. And I am sorry, but it was a passing remark, but not sorry, if it makes somebody angry at me for voicing I'd like to lose weight.
But I'd rather do that than have to go shopping for a whole new wardrobe, and waste money on something that I can easily fix if I put my mind to it. 
 But because in everyone else's eyes,  I'm a pretty small person. So I shouldn't want to be healthy and comfortable on top of it? Apparently I've already had the world handed to me on a silver platter? 
(By the way I am typing this as I am eating  piece of Dora The Explorer birthday cake, while I am
supposed to be on a fruit and veggie fast.)
Anyways, you have no idea how that comment thread blew up that day on facebook. People were spewing out close to hateful words, not just to me, but to anyone who chimed in with me in an understanding fashion.  
I've got news for you. No matter what size  or shape you are, people can make you feel bad about yourself.  For varying reasons.  Maybe not in the same way YOU feel bad about yourself,   
but it still feels terrible nonetheless.
(One of the many reasons I can't stand facebook, but that's another issue which I will get into
on another day perhaps.)

I actually took it upon myself to show people a whole album of photos of the before an afters of many of my (photoshopped) pictures.
 To prove a point that we all have things we dislike about ourselves, so STOP YELLING AT ME!
The arm fat I took out. The tummy rolls. The acne. And I then had someone who I thought was a friend turn it against me behind my back and say "She doesnt even look that great. She even admits to photoshopping herself. I look way better and I don't photoshop anything."
Ouch, that hurt so so bad. You have no idea how the tears rolled that night when I got those forwarded emails from a 3rd party. And people wonder why I am paranoid. 

How is it that I am a petite , fairly small person and still so paranoid and insecure?
How can I  still dislike what I look like most days?  There is a big part of me that believes part of it is because people have laughed at me, teased me, made jokes at my expense those days where I did   feel imcomplete and voiced my insecurities, those days that I was hurting for some reason.
Instead of encouragement, they scoffed. Instead of love, they ridiculed.
And women tend to make those assumptions based on their own insecurities, not realizing that it hurts just as bad to be a small girl and be ridiculed as it does to be any other person and ridiculed...
the fact remains that we all are human and need love and compassion. 
Size or looks makes no difference.

We as women, as humans are always comparing ourselves to someone else. I am currently running 118lbs and am 5'3. . And just like anyone else, I look at a girl who is 5'8 and the exact same weight as me...
And to me they look great. They don't look anorexic or anything. At least I don't think so.
They have long beautiful legs. Compared to my short stumps.
Pretty skin. A flat stomach...big boobs, at least from what I can see....
and I get that brief wave of jealousy. But then I simply admire how well she must take care of herself.
Obviously there are those who would shoot her down rather than admire her.
How dare she look like that? And even more so, how dare she ever feel insecure about anything?

And then I look at my crater face, my saggy tummy skin that actually "sways" in the bathtub
(am I the only mommy with this problem?) pancake boobs after breastfeeding 3 kids...
and I feel like my only vindication is to remain petite. At least I can have that going for me.
Well that, and to airbrush every line, wrinkle and bump on my face. So maybe if you see me in a dark restaraunt I don't look so hot,
but I sure as heck am going to look somewhat decent in my pictures.
Try and make me feel bad about it. Whatevs.
I realize some people in their own way are trying to just say "You look great. I don't see a problem."
Ok, I get that. But then say that. 
 When you are trying to encourage another girl who is feeling insecure say, "You are so pretty, trust me" Or say, "What do you do to look that good? Because you look great."
Don't say "OMG, I am sooo mad at you for saying that. I hate you"  "My girlfriend would be so ticked off  right now." Or "You need to just be satisfied with your size."
Ok, so what if I am satisfied with my size today, and somebody doesn't like me for it,
 but I will never be comfortable with my complexion. And there is absolutely nothing I can ever do about it. The scarring and age spots and texture.
I will never be comfortable with the saggy transformation my body took after having kids.
There will never be a day when I love "tucking in" my extra skin into my jeans.
Seriously. I know there are women out there that feel me. That know. But some have no clue
what it's like just just to have a "pouch" that you can't lose or tone up with crunches, but an actual "pouch" that you only have 2 options for
a) get it cut off surgically b) tuck it in.
And don't give me the whole, "You have beautiful children because of it." Yes, I know.
I still don't like tucking it in. Just sayin. Is that ok? For me to say that on my blog? Or what?
I hate tucking in my skin.

But I also know that their are girls that are like are 10-15 lbs less than me and they hate it. 
That wish they were bigger. That think they have the body of a boy. They wish they had curves.
And another girls natural tendancy is to judge her, assume she has an eating disorder or something.
Meanwhile she is desperately trying to gain weight. And people are talking about her.
Why do we look down on or hurt others because we think they don't have it as bad as us?
So somehow they don't deserve compassion. It's like we judge who is ok to have compassion on,
and who is not ok based on how they compare to our own self image and how they look compared to us? 
 We hate to admit it, but it's true.
My own husband has to TRY to gain weight. He once gained 20lbs, but he had to eat like 6 big meals a day and drink muscle milk on top of it. It's just his issue.
An issue I am sure most of us "WISH" we had...
There is not really a point to this, other than to point out we all have things we need to work on.
One of them, obviously being the way we feel about ourselves. Sure I can sit here and preach value in the eyes of God. How he created us beautiful and a masterpiece  and it's all true.
But there is a time to just say "Hey, we all go through this. This (our issues with our weight, our shape, our appearance...) isn't any less real than the truth of how valuable we actually are. It isn't any less true if you are tiny or obese, if you have grey hair at 20 (like me) or you don't get it until your 60, if you have smooth skin or a rough complexion.  It is something everyone deals with in some way. And quite honestly, it a lot of time LOOKS more real than our actual value, because it's something we SEE in the mirror every day.
It takes faith to believe in our value and worth.

I'm just throwing this all out there, based on how I have felt in the past about myself, how others have made me ashamed for how I felt, for things I have done to make myself feel better, for how guys have made me feel, or girls even..or just on how I have heard others talk about how they look or feel about themselves. We joke about it, but we still feel it. I have a friend who always says "I'm large and in charge." She is laughing and pregnant,
but there are some girls that are not. There are the tiniest girls ever that wish they had curves and legs and a chest. But we may envy because they are tiny.
 The girls you think are beautiful, may see themselves as ugly.
The girls you think that have it all together, may cry every night alone in their bed, hoping that
no one knows the truth.
So no matter who it is, how jealous you may feel, how perfect their lives, their bodies "look"
on their blog, on their pinterest, on their facebook...know that everyone needs that encouragement,
that friendship and that human love we all crave.
Take a minute to tell someone how pretty you think she is today. We all love to hear it.
You know we do.  Do it right now. Stop by a blog you don't get to very often,
and let her know how precious she is...
I'm going to do it right now as well...

Shorts In The Winter

So, something I have been wanting to try for awhile is the whole shorts with tights underneath 
during the winter time. The only hang up I have about this, is that I don't even really like shorts in the summer.
I hate my thighs. Is this news? I am a woman. So I generally wear skirts or dresses in the summer if I go places.
But, dang....It looks so adorable on everyone else, I'm pretty sure I will succumb to the internal pressure soon
and take the plunge. Especially since in my inbox, I got next weeks challenge for COPYCAT CLOSET,
which by the way I have never done, but love the idea and adore looking at the pics!
Of course, the challenge is "Shorts In The Winter." 
If I were to wear shorts in the Winter, it would probably look something like this.
So, you may or may not see a fashion post come out of this girl this week. Ya, the girl who was whining 
that no one likes to read anymore. I'm basically selling out this week...maybe?

And by the by...those floral Steve Madden combat boots you see above.
 You will definitely see me wearing those is some sort of future post. My birthday is in 2 weeks. 
I was dead set on a new pair of Cowboy boots until I saw those online today.

Those NEED to be part of my wardrobe.
Just sayin...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Birthday Party

Happy 4th Birthday, My little Leila.

Winner of the Ad Space Extravaganzw is Melissa from Lulu & Sweet Pea!
Congrats Melissa! Shoot me and email at fromawkwardtoart(at)gmail(dot)com
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