Bikini Season, Macy’s and US.

Once you pass the age where you pick out the cutest, brightest, rainbow unicorniest swimsuit you can find, no one I have ever known actually enjoys swimsuit shopping.  As tweens and teens and even grown women, this is a dreaded task that many of us put off, for years at a time.

It is the one plight as women we do not go alone. It does not matter if you are tall or short, fat or skinny, flat or curvy, black or white, or any where in between, shopping for bathing suits just plain stinks.

Study: Trying on swimsuits makes women feel anxious, depressed.

The stress starts long before the fitting room.

It’s unavoidable, especially in my little slice of paradise where the weather seldom dips below 70.

It’s unavoidable anywhere, actually. In February, the middle of winter for the rest of the country, the ever anticipated Sports Illustrated that is dedicated to women starts being reported on…. The Swimsuit Issue. (I hope you rolled your eyes too.)

“Get into shape for bikini season” The articles in women’s magazines and endless advertisements cry-out.

“Eat this, tone that, shave here, wax there, get tan – but avoid cancer…… ”

Just head on over to Pinterest for some “Fitspiration” so you can shame yourself into fitting into the bikini you feel miserable in.

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Women’s bodies are constantly in a state of flux.

Like most women, I am somewhere between fat and skinny. I am no longer “Plus Sized” but do not have a “hot Bikini Bod”.

My breasts that barely fill a B-cup are smaller than average, as is my waist. My hips and thighs and backside, however, more than make up for any “lack” elsewhere. And that is ok. I am ok.

So for the first time. I accepted a new label with pride: Curvy.

It’s that time. Join me on my journey to find my swimsuit.

Here we are. Together. Women (and the men who are still reading this), united as one.

Congratulations, we have demonstrated a level of acceptance of where our bodies are this bikini fun in the sun season and we avoided the minefield in our minds and mustered up enough gumption to shop for our swimsuits.

It’s 2015 friends. Thankfully this search starts not with piles of awkwardly cut Lycra and fitting rooms, it starts in the comfort of our own homes… with a Google search.

I Am. Curvy.

With confidence I type “Curvy Girl Swimsuits” into Google.

image

Oh those pictures are cute!

Macy’s!

I can find something here, maybe they will have it in the store. I am saving time. Maybe I can find a coupon…..

I am feeling GREAT…..

I am feeling confident and excited and….. *click*
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WHAT THE F…ornication?

Now I don’t like shaming any woman. I don’t like fat shaming, I don’t like skinny shaming…. Those women are beautiful, albeit photoshopped, and I am sure they have some issues. Just. Like. Me.

But by golly Macy’s…. I confidently and deliberately typed in “Curvy Girl Swimsuits”….. I did not type in “Flat Stomach in a Bikini” or “Thigh gap in a one piece” and I certainly did not type in “Holy Shit! Look at those collar bones in a sundress”

Being the first one down after the ads – I can only assume that Macy’s has spent some time and money on search engine optimization. Bathing Suits for Curvy Women – Macy’s I happily clicked.

I don’t know how to make Macy’s listen. But I want it fixed. This confident curvy girl demands proper representation of my label. Please?

Ladies, clearly the “attack” on our bodies, self-esteem, confidence, is endless. But it is avoidable. Confidence starts in the mind and can stay strong through any “attack”, perceived or premeditated.

I am still confident that I will find my curvy girl swimsuit for this fun in the sun season.

I will be frolicking without thoughts of thigh gap. Chafing from chub rub? Maybe, but not thigh gap.

I will play without thinking about my collarbones.

My cellulite already has its first sunburn.

As it should.

Happy Fun In The Sun Season Ladies.

You are loved and not alone. Regardless of your label, or lack of representation.

Somewhere between Wrecked and Reality

I’ve been guilty of Depraved Indifference.

If you haven’t read it – I’ll sum it up.

I don’t know how or when but I have started to care more about my “I’m a victim” pity parties or how the chickens that lay my free-range cage-free eggs are treated than I have cared about children I know are starving, sold into slavery, orphaned and other heinous things.

Now now, I know that I am helping children “here” and that I am not doing any of those terrible things to those children “over there”.

I also know that not doing anything wrong is not the same as doing something right.

Here are some of the thoughts that have been coming to mind.

What if we had a caste system in America and I was an untouchable?

What if that was my daughter searching the slums for food?

What if my basic needs could be met by someone who wasted a little bit less and gave a little bit more?

Right now I am somewhere between wrecked and reality. Somewhere between selling all I have to move across the world to love on the “least of these” and the fallacy of the “American Dream”.

Ok, that was a tad bit over dramatic and not at all accurate, but it sounded good in my head.

I don’t think that I am supposed to move across the world – at least not any time soon! I know very clearly what my assignment is right now. It’s right here, boldly advocating for my residents living with Alzheimer’s, and loving the friends I have been entrusted with.

So, dramatic statements aside…What does mean for me, right here right now?

Let’s rewind about 2 years: I was more generous when I was a “broke” barista relying on tips for gas money.  Now making more than double in salary,  I have become the most important thing to spend waste my money on. If I wasn’t so ashamed I would actually tell you how much I have spent on coffee alone.. or at Chick-fil-A… or, or, or….

Does this mean that I can never enjoy another Grande, 2 pump, Soy,  Extra Foam, No Whip, No Pumpkin Powder, Add Cinnamon Dolce Powder, Pumpkin Spice Latte?*

Nope. I can. And I will. It is fall(-ish) for goodness sake!

It simply means being more mindful of how I spend my time, money, mental and emotional energy.

Not depriving myself of everything I enjoy but sacrificing somethings, more things, to bring joy and life to others both “here” and “over there”.

Less going out, more cooking at home. Less Pinterest, more prayer. Less pity-party more perspective inspiring  passion. Being more thankful and hopefully alot less whining during my current “assignment” – no matter how unhappy I think I am.  Less mindlessness, more meditation. Less consuming, more giving.

One decision at a time – balancing. Or at least trying to.

*(Yes, that is “my” drink – don’t judge me. I am a princess and will have my latte exactly how I like it if I am paying $4 for it.)

Guilty: Depraved Indifference

Trust me, it’s a good thing  I haven’t blogged in over a year. I unknowingly spared you from the self-focused, woe is me, screwed over, victim of corporate, too much month-not enough money, navel gazing “I want, I need, I earned, I deserve” train of thought that thankfully came to a screeching halt yesterday.

A representative from Gospel for Asia came to speak at my church. He passionately pleaded the cause of the orphan and widow, he showed a video, quoted Matthew 9 citing how Jesus had compassion and took action, and how the workers are few.

And…. My heart was broken and I am selling everything I have and moving to India or Africa and giving my life to missions!!  I totally zoned out.

Please understand, none of this was new. I worked for Gospelink. I’ve seen the videos of pastors going through flood waters on their bikes, orphans being served their  daily “meals”,  mud huts people make into homes. Having friends that are missionaries, I’ve heard stories. I’ve cried tears. I used to care. I made it a prayerful and financial priority in my life to right the wrongs. I was focused on telling anyone who asked how they could help too.

I zoned out only because I just couldn’t (and can’t) shake a phrase said by my pastor.

He said it flippantly, only once, having to ask a friend sitting in the front row for the correct phrasing: “Depraved Indifference”.

Was.

“Depraved Indifference”

Worked.

“Depraved Indifference”

Seen.

“Depraved Indifference”

Heard.

“Depraved Indifference”

Cried.

“Depraved Indifference”

Used to.

“Depraved Indifference”

Made.

“Depraved Indifference”

Focused.

“Depraved Indifference”

All past tense.

Over and over and over again it shouts : “Depraved Indifference”.

Depraved Indifference: conduct that is so wanton, so deficient in a moral sense of concern, so lacking in regard for the life or lives of others, and so blameworthy as to warrant the same criminal liability as that which the law imposes upon a person who intentionally causes a crime.

Here I sit: Me. “Mother Teresa Incarnate”. (As a prosecuting attorney cross-examining me once said.) Julie Stein.

Here sit: Comfortable. Complacent.

Here I sit: Julie Stein, GUILTY of Depraved Indifference.

Knowing of the wrong doing that is happening, having excess funds to help stop it and doing nothing.

Found as guilty, as liable, as those intentionally committing heinous crimes.

Here I sit: humbled, wrecked, and hopefully changed.

Row. Row. Row your boat….

I row. And row. And row.

I work three jobs. I have to make money.Sure, I paid off all my credit card debt, but I still owe someone, something. I must have insurance. I must have money to give if someone needs something. I want to travel to Denver. I need to buy a new bed. I need to buy a bicycle. I have to go to the doctors. I need. I want. I have to. I must.

So I row and I get up before 4am and work until almost 7 at night and am in bed by 10, sometimes 8, unless I am swept into another late night conversation. Somewhere in the in between I meet with friends for intentional accountability. I pour into the lives of young women. I try to be Christ to those “in the world”. I read. I write. I try to eat better. I try to work out more. I try to have “quiet time”.

I row. And row. And row. My oars seem to be attached to my calloused hands.

It’s not very “gently down the stream” either. There are relationships that have been neglected. I don’t answer all my calls or texts. I’m so busy. They have to understand. If they only knew what I was really going through. But I can’t tell them. They need to talk to me about them. I can’t talk to my mentor about it. I’ve avoided her for months. Plus I don’t have time for me. I emotionally shut down. I lash out and focus in. I analyze until I am paralyzed. I can’t take a day off for rest. I can’t take care of myself, that’s selfish.

I row. And row. And row.

Two or so years ago God gave me a big dream.

He must be talking to me about someone else. I’m too much. I’m not enough. I won’t handle success right. I’ll fall into lust again. I’ll mismanage my money. People will think I am crazy. I’ll be rejected. I can’t do this. I’m too broken. Too hurt.

But God, look at all I do now. Doesn’t it make you happy? I’m in ministry, I live beneath my means, even beneath my potential. Yes, I am tired. Yes, exhausted. Yes, I am only giving others my drips from an empty cup that should be filled and overflowing. Yes, I’m hiding out. But, God.

If I am going to move forward? How can I do it?

That’s it. Add MORE. Do more.Work more. Save more. Give more. Be more. More. More. More. Row more!!

So I row. And row. And row. Faster. More.

And as I start to feel a fresh old familiar wind at my back, it starts moving me forward.

But, I’m confused. Clutching my oars, I row more. Faster. More.

Gently and sweetly, He raises the sails and says, “Jules, put your oars down.”

What?

“Jules, put your oars down.”

But, God, can’t you see, I’m moving myself  forward. Gripping tighter.  I row more. Faster. More.

“Jules, put your oars down. Can’t you see? You’re on a sail boat.”

But God.

“Put them down…”

But I have to…

“Put them down…”

But I need to…

“Put them down….”

But…

“Jules… I’m moving you forward.”

He just is that into you.

She wants to know “What’s so wrong if I like him?”.

The “Christian” guy cheated on her. But this guy is nice, they’ve connected. She trusts him.

 

He wants to know “So what if “he is a really nice guy”, he treats you well, you won’t date him?”

The “Christian” guy hasn’t made the move. But this guy is nice, they’ve connected. She trusts him.

 

If you are single, and have been around the Christian bubble for more than five minutes, you’ve heard the verses, and with the best of intentions recited them yourself.

 

Guard your heart. Don’t be unequally yoked. He will give you the desires of your heart.  Paul even said it was better to be single. Run after Christ, and when you turn and see someone there next to you – That’s “him”.

 

When the cliches wear off.  What will stop the lingering looks and flirtatious touches?

It’s Christ.

And Only Christ.

Is Christ the center?

Is Christ the treasure?

Is obedience to Him and bringing Glory to Him the highest calling?

 

Rest knowing that you are Loved even in your loneliness.

 

Remember whose you are, and all He has brought you through.

 

If that’s not enough, you’re looking for fulfillment in the wrong relationship.

Giving Thanks 2009

So, I pretty much feel like a slacker. I have so much to be thankful for, and my “month of giving thanks” is starting as the month is coming to an end. 

 

The last thing that my life needs is something to be legalistic about. Feeling that I must write “because”…..

 

I refuse to have something that I love become a miserable noose.

 

So, I’ve been laying low over here at julieUnscripted. It’s been a bittersweet combination of living life and not writing about it, joy and frustration, complete chaos in the midst of the most consistent schedule I have ever had.  Having less possessions and  less money than ever, being more mindful of the kingdom of God, yet somehow finding myself more complete . And then there is being out of, into, and back out of my “fat pants”.

 

Plus my computer’s hard drive died.

 

Today, I am thankful that we were created for community. Thankful that I need you, and that you need me to be real and vulnerable, and that you embrace me, my mess, but don’t let me stay there. I am thankful that you are still here. Thankful that you are still checking in.   Thankful for friends who refuse to leave me to myself and refuse to let me shut down and become a recluse. Friends who pull me closer, even as I shove away.  Thankful for those whom I have never met encouraging me. 

 

Let’s hug.

 

And we can all be thankful that one day I will have an editor who will correct my grammar, and unsplit my infinitives, yet still let me be me.

 

 

Philippians 1

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all,  5in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.

 6For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

 7For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me.

 8For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.

 9And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment,  10so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ;  11having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Not dead… but wounded…

I have not committed online suicide, I am still writing, but bear with me I am wounded….

Since California I am coming to realize how very wounded I am. These wounds sometimes direct my thoughts and my actions.

 

God is so good and so gracious to heal these wounds, and bring them to my attention just one at a time. Just like an accident victim looking down to see her own blood, God is gracious to not allow me to go into shock.

 

Growing up without Jesus in the home, a mom who is the child of an alcoholic, an alcoholic father, a promiscuous sister, and being overweight since my earliest memories of kindergarten – I have had some wounds.

 

With all family wounds aside (that’s another blog for another day – a blog about the ongoing process of healing and restoration), I have been picked on verbally, deliberately socially excluded in ways that I would know it was happening, intentionally called the wrong name, beat up on the bus and the playground – I could continue, but I refuse.

 

Some of my wounds are self-inflicted. I gossip, slander, overeat, oversleep, doubt myself, doubt my God, withhold love from those who have harmed me, I keep an account of wrongs, I am insecure, I am a hypocrite. I could go on – but I refuse. 

 

Each action, like a blade in the flesh of not my body, but the body of Christ. Wounded.

 

This blog is not about the wounds that have affected me in every area of my life – financially, relationally, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, sexually, and physically.

As Chris Tress would say “Stop Bellygazing” (looking down at our own faults) and look up!

 

This blog is about my Healer, my Hope, my Reconciliation, my great Physician – the Lover of my soul, my Creator, my Father, my Comfort, my ONLY Hope.

 

Yesterday we were having a time of prayer at Urban Youth Impact (how thankful I am to serve with those who seek the Lord) and Nattie’s husband, John, my coworker and friend, led us in worship – I could sing this song all day – and be somewhat accurate if I could find it on ITunes…

Balm of Gilead

You’re the rock of the ages
You’re the balm of Gilead
Make us strong and courageous
Heal the wounds that we’ve had
(Repeat)

We need Your Spirit
We need freedom
We need Your Spirit
We need freedom
We need You

You’re the counselor from heaven
You’re my bright and morning star
You bring comfort and protection
Shine Your light in my heart
(Repeat)

I need Your Spirit
I need freedom
I need Your Spirit
I need freedom
I need You

 

Last night I heard something great – this guy said, “Stop listening to yourself, and start talking to yourself”

Here is me talking to myself, and God talking to me through His perfect Word.

 

Isaiah 42:3 (read the whole chapter for some refreshing! As always, it’s even more powerful in context)

  A bruised reed he will not break,
       and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
       In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;

Joel 2

Isaiah 61:1-3 (speaking of Jesus)

 1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
       because the LORD has anointed me
       to preach good news to the poor.
       He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
       to proclaim freedom for the captives
       and release from darkness for the prisoners,

 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
       and the day of vengeance of our God,
       to comfort all who mourn,

 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion-
       to bestow on them a crown of beauty
       instead of ashes,
       the oil of gladness
       instead of mourning,
       and a garment of praise
       instead of a spirit of despair.
       They will be called oaks of righteousness,
       a planting of the LORD
       for the display of his splendor.

 

Philippians 1:6

being confident (not doubting, not wavering, not fearful – confident) of this, that he (not me) who began (the author and finisher of my faith)  a good work (Romans 8:28, Jeremiah 29:11in you will (not maybe, not thinking about it, not “ehh if I get around to it”) carry it on to completion (all done, followed through, perfected, “IT IS FINISHED”) until the day (it’s a process) of Christ Jesus.

 

He is doing the good work….  if I was in surgery, would I be talking to, or aggressively questioning the surgeon? Would I be waking up? I need to heed the advice in Psalm 46..

Psalm 46:10

10 “Be still (it’s a choice, just be, still… not squirmy just.. be… still…), and know (not  think, not doubt, know) that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Slowing down to let the Healer heal,

Julie