Today is September 11th, the anniversary of the horrific attack that took place in New York City, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania just 11 years ago. It’s hard to write a blog on a day like today. It hard to stay upbeat when the memories are still so real and the wounds still sting. But that is why we remember. Because nothing can ever undo the events of that day, and it’s important for us as Americans, especially YOUNG Americans, to honor those people who lost their lives that day.
Days like this one bring out my patriotic side, and I can’t help but be very proud to be an American. I’m proud to be from a country where I can openly praise my God for the work He’s done through such a tragic event. So many lives were touched when those planes crashed and those buildings crumbled, and God’s arms were there to catch the falling, His peace was there to comfort the hurting, and His love was BIG enough to cover 50 states. People embraced our country and our God, and even though many were struggling, there was a sense of peace as everyone tried to heal. For the first time in my lifetime, people were openly praying for our leaders, our military, and our neighbors. They were agreeing and believing that God had a plan, and that our country would be stay strong.Photo by REUTERS / Craig Ruttle
Here we are, 11 years later, and we are still strong. We are still free, and we are still proud. It’s a privilege to spend today honoring those who lost their lives on 9-11-01. If you haven’t done so yet, please take a few minutes to remember and honor the victims and their families. Say a prayer for our country, our president, our military, and fellow citizens, and ask God to continue to bless this country that we are so fortunate to live in.
Confession #1: I have now, for the 2nd time in my life, attended the largest Star Wars Convention in the world.
Confession#2: I REALLY liked it… except for one thing…
Two plus years ago, my amazingly nerdy husband asked me if I would go with him to Florida for a Star Wars convention. I rolled my eyes about it for weeks, but after realizing how much it meant for him to be able to go, I reluctantly agreed. When I arrived at the convention and experienced the atmosphere and the people for the first time, I was immediately shocked… I was having a great time! These people are nerds, yes, but they are nerds with passions, hobbies, and goals. And even though I would never be the person to spend the better part of two years creating a life size, screen-accurate Wampa costume, I can certainly appreciate the time, effort, and heart that it must have taken to complete it. In fact, I admire it! We spent 3 days exploring, shopping, listening, and mostly people watching, and I can honestly say it will remain one of my fondest memories of life before this baby arrives.
So fast forward to last weekend… Two plus years later, and we’re back. This time I was a lot more willing to tag along, even 8 months pregnant! The experience was just as great as I remembered. The costumes were bigger and better. The people were fun. Even the lectures were engaging and entertaining. There was only one thing in the entire convention that I really could not stand. I don’t know why they didn’t get to me last time, but for some reason every time I saw a woman dressed in the “Slave Leia” costume this year I wanted to cry. It genuinely broke my heart.
You see, when I think of Star Wars and Princess Leia, I think of a strong woman who was striving to be her best and do her duty no matter what came her way. She was beautiful, modest, and smart. To me, Princess Leia seems like a prime example of a Proverbs 31 kind of lady. So, with that said, If I was ever to dress up like her you would find me in the white jumpsuit or dress with my hair rolled up on the sides of my face, NOT in a gold bikini. In the movies, when she is seen in that costume, she is being held captive by the bad guy, Jabba. He’s forced her to wear these garments that leave her vulnerable and exposed. He’s attempted to rob her of the dignity and strength that she normally exudes, to make her feel like an object. When you watch the story unfold on screen you see that she isn’t celebrating this situation. She doesn’t feel beautiful, powerful, or sexy. She’s trapped!
I guess that’s why I get so sad when I see these beautiful, strong, confident women at the convention dressed as Princess Leia in the “Slave” costume. It breaks my heart that women feel the need to objectify themselves. That somewhere someone has made them believe that showing off their bodies and “looking sexy” is the best way to show their confidence or strength. But let me tell you something… IT’S NOT TRUE! We as women have value far beyond our bodies. Showing skin and faking confidence is not the only way, nor the right way to get attention. God created your body for greater things. He gave you a brain, a heart, a calling, and the ability to be something much more appealing than a gold bikini!
Trust me, I understand the temptation to put on what the world tells you looks good, sexy, confident, appealing, or is trendy and cool. You may actually get all of the attention that those things promise, but I can tell you its not the kind of attention that will satisfy you.
At the end of the day, my hope is that you will want to be recognized for your poise, grace, confidence, and personality, and that you would understand the impact that something as simple as how you dress has on the people who see you. I have a feeling if you asked Princess Leia how she wanted to be immortalized, she would never say “In that terrible outfit when I was enslaved and forced to be chained to a giant space slug!” Just something to think about.
One of my New Year Resolutions was to communicate my thankfulness to people more often. I feel like the people in my life do a lot for me on a regular basis, and it can be really easy to overlook their generosity when it becomes commonplace in my life. So far, I’ve done a fair job at it, but I have to remind myself that a tiny “Thank you!” typed in an email or actually spoken to someone can go a long way.
As you all know, I’ve been writing a series of blogs on my adventure in learning to appreciate what I have in my life. I started out with my closet, because well, what woman doesn’t have those days when she stands in the middle of a full closet and breaks down because she has nothing to wear? Add pregnancy hormones into that mix and it can make for a sure-fire pity party! So here I am, week #3, and this week I’ve been doing an evaluation of the relationships in my life. Especially those people I encounter frequently.
Step 1 – Who’s Who?: The first thing I had to do was make list. Since a list of people you know could become quite daunting, I recommend a top 10. The ten people you spend most of you time with? Your ten best friends at school? The ten family members you see most often? As I listed these people, I thought about the role they play in my everyday life, and how I would be impacted if they weren’t a part of it anymore. I also tried to think about what role I play in their life, and the impact I’ve had in them.
Step 2 – Communicate: After thinking about all of these people I love, I realized I was right on track with my resolution. These are the people that truly understand me, put up with me, and most of all, love me despite my strengths and weaknesses. At this point, I had myself wondering if I have ever let these people know the extent of the love and appreciation I truly have for them? Then it hit me (as if I didn’t already know it) that the key to any relationship is COMMUNICATION! It is my responsibility to let them know what I’m thinking and how I feel.
Step 3 – Project Sweet and Salty: Here comes the hard part; that’s figuring out what to say and the best way to say it. Being in a relationship with anyone (significant other, friend, family member, etc.) is complicated. There has to be a balance of give and take. You are expected to be honest, caring, generous, and loyal, and that is a lot of responsibility. You have to be willing to say the sweet stuff and the tough things when it’s necessary. Obviously, since my resolution was to be more vocal about how thankful I am for the people in my life, I’ve gotten much better about the sweet. It’s the tough stuff I’m struggling with. I hate conflict like I hate the flu. I want to avoid it at all costs. The last thing I want to do is start something with someone I love and end up with a damaged relationship. But now I also understand that the tough stuff is actually tough love, and if I don’t say what I need to I’m doing more damage that I would if I just spoke up.
So what now? Well, now I understand my responsibility to my friends and family so much more. I’m doing my best to show them how much I value them by expressing my gratitude as well as my concerns when I have them. It’s not always easy. In fact it’s much harder than I thought it was going to be. But I know that I want that kind of accountability from them, and I can’t expect them to do what I’m not. I have a long way to grow with this one, but now it’s on to next week!
It’s two weeks later, and I would say I’ve made real progress, mostly in my closet. Now let me preface by saying that nothing worth having comes easy, this includes a new outlook on your seemingly dwindling wardrobe. BUT, I am happy to report that hard work does pay off… and to the tune of a super comfy/cute outfit that covers my now burgeoning belly! WOO HOO!
So here’s how the past two weeks in Amanda’s closet have gone down…
It began with an e-mail after a super emotional morning when, of course, I had “nothing to wear!” This email was the wake up call I needed to whip me back into shape and to get me thinking about how blessed I truly am and how vast my wardrobe really is. So, the first step was inventory. I got to work trying on as much of my pre-baby wardrobe as I could. Wiggling in and out of things wasn’t easy, but I was happy to find several pieces that still worked for me! Then I did an inventory of my maternity clothes. I don’t have much, but so far I’ve been pretty smart about buying good staples and things that will transition from summer into fall and stretch with each unavoidable pound.Then came the fun stuff… I took a look through all of my accessories: belts, shoes, hats, scarves, and jewelry. I was pretty impressed with what I actually have. There were so many things that I had forgotten about over time. There is a strange calm and sense of gratitude in understanding what you actually possess.
Final Step: Building a new outfit. I started with a pre-preggy dress that was “oversized” at one point in time. I quickly grabbed a black camisole and my new maternity leggings, and VOILA, new outfit! Since my bump isn’t extremely pronounced yet, I like to wear belts. I want people to be able to tell I’m pregnant and not just eating burritos everyday, so I stuck on a gold braided one with my gold peep-toe wedges. I have to say I’m pretty pleased! I kept the jewelry simple for daytime, but I think this would be pretty easy to dress up with some chunky jewelry.
So what does this mean? Well, several things… First off, I actually do have something to wear! I’m abundantly blessed with way more than I need. Secondly, I haven’t lost my creativity or my fashion sense by becoming a mom; and in fact, the challenge is inspiring and encouraging as I look forward to my last few months of pregnancy. Lastly, what is important is not about what I have or what I look like, but how I feel in this body that God has given me. I’m one-of-a-kind. He planned me, built me, and filled me with life. It’s my responsibility to use these tools He’s given me. If I spend my time worrying about what I don’t have and whining about what I do, I’m not fulfilling my purpose here.
“Are you trying to say that we should never buy new things…?”Now, I do want to be clear about something. One of my dear friends asked me a very valid question after I posted my last blog, she said, “Are you trying to say that we should never buy new things when we want them?” NO, that’s not at all what I want you to take away from this. For me the issue was focusing on the things I wanted, so much so, that I made myself believe I needed it, and it kept me from seeing and appreciating what I already had. I’m now convinced that even if I had bought new things, I would still feel unsatisfied. And look, clothing just happened to be the subject of my desire, but this same strategy applies to every aspect of life. Think about relationships, work, school, church, etc. When you get caught up in what you don’t have, it can be hard to see how great what you DO have really is. It’s not a bad thing to get something you want every once in a while, but make sure when you do that you can appreciate it for what it is and be thankful for it.
This isn’t the end of my journey to appreciate what I have. Like I said before, it all started with my closet. And as much as I have learned through this process, I know I have a long way to go in other areas. Keep reading, and I’ll keep you posted on how things are going.