Friday, February 27, 2015

I'm Starting a Capsule Wardrobe!



Friends.  I have been doing some major overhaul in the clothing department these days.  I am LOVING the results.  Thought I'd share some of my journey with you...

I stumbled upon THIS blog about a year ago and was interested immediately.  This same kind of approach in clothing is sometimes called a "capsule wardrobe"...

So.  What is a capsule wardrobe?
Your best bet would be to Google "capsule wardrobe" and let the pros teach you a thing or two about this.  If you want to know my two cents, though, I think a capsule wardrobe encompasses a few great things.
  1. Clothes you LOVE.
  2. Clothes that are easily mixed and matched - lots of no brainer outfits!
  3. A limited amount of clothing items...  This forces you to be extremely purposeful and stewardly about your shopping, discourages waste and really cuts down on hoarding.  Score.
WHY a capsule wardrobe?
Because I am ridiculous, that's why.  My closet was overflowing with clothes I hated, and though I continued to spend money on clothes, I was continuing to end up with clothes I still hated.  Deciding on an outfit for a day was a chore, packing for a trip was a nightmare, and overall, I just hated the way I looked and felt in my clothes.  Are you sensing a pattern?

Enter Hayley Morgan and The No Brainer Wardrobe.  I downloaded the Kindle version on my phone for a few bucks and got started.  I will say I really skimmed her book, as I thought most of it was common sense after you get the overarching idea.  Regardless, it was totally worth it.  My closet so needed an overhaul, and this was the kick in the behind I needed to get started.

Presently, I'm right in the thick of it.  I'm finding this transformation is much more of a process than a quick fix.  Every little step in the right direction, though, feels so freeing and exciting.  Finally, some stinking breakthrough, folks.

And you know what?  For the first time in my life, I think I actually am starting to love my closet.  Can't wait to share more with you! 
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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Walking in the Dark - On Lament



In this post, we decided to journey through darkness together.

In this next post, we started to figure out our approach - what to do with darkness?  Though we could try to avoid it and pretend like it doesn't exist, I think we all agreed it wouldn't be very helpful...

In THIS post, we talked about how often we view our darkness as a problem that we need to solve, or something broken that we need to fix.  However, as humans, we can only offer temporary fixes and shallow solutions, at best.

So.  I will assume we don't want to wallow in our darkness.  There must be more than this.  I know I don't want to stay here - stuck at the bottom of the canyon.  


I believe there is a way to journey upward, out of the valley and into the light through the discipline of lament.

Yes, lament...  

Do you know what lament is?  I am betting a lot of us have heard the word before, but may have vague ideas of what it actually is.  And it's no wonder...  Lament seems to avoided in our culture - and even in some of our churches.  

But, you guys...  I have found so, so, so much healing and comfort and freedom in lament over the years - and especially so, in the dark days my family has been living in recently.  I would like to invite you into my season of lament, in hopes of dispelling some false presumptions, and ultimately, with hopes that you, too, would find healing and comfort in the midst of your dark days

First, a preface.  I am no theologian.  I have never been to seminary or written any books.  I am not a professional counselor or psychiatrist.  I am only sharing what I have encountered in my own, personal experience throughout several seasons of darkness in the past 10 years of my life.  Take it for what it's worth!

I want to unpack what I believe lament is not, and then, not surprisingly, what I believe it is...


Lament is not hopelessness.  It is not necessarily equal to despair or depression.  It is not the same as giving up.  It is not a spiral downward.

Lament is not selfish and not self-centered.  It is not always self-pity.  It is not always whining.  It is not attention-seeking.

To lament is not to be weak.  

It is not to have little faith or to be lacking in trusting God.  It is not something to be embarrassed about, or necessarily even private about.  

Lament is not a "cry into the void."  It is not isolated and need not be a lonely thing.

_____

On the contrary, a lament is a cry directed to God.  It's when we bring our complaints and our hurts and fears and struggles and our darkness straight to Him.

In these ways, lament is a display of robust faith, knowing He alone can heal, and solve, and fix, and mend, and make things right, and make beauty out of ashes.

To lament is to be strong, courageous and confident in our identity before the Lord.  If we are truly His sons and daughters, surely we can approach our Daddy's throne with boldness.  It is seeing the brokenness of the world and in our hearts and saying, "I need You!"  Lament is the grace to bare our souls and take up our cases with God, that we may receive mercy and grace (and answers!) in our times of need.  This is similar to what Job says, "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him, yet I will argue my ways to His face.

Rather than wallowing in our despair, lament is unto something.  Lament is blatant honesty.  It is authenticity.  It is transparency.  It is wrestling with God - telling Him, "I KNOW there is more than this!  This is NOT as things should be!  I won't let go until you bless me!"  It is fighting for more and journeying through the darkness and messiness and mire with endurance and with Him.

"At its very heart, a lament is an expression of trust in the character, power, and previous action of God—an expression of trust that looks beyond our current circumstances to what will be and what is—the reality behind the reality." (http://www.reformedworship.org/article/june-2010/my-god-my-god-why)

Lament is a hope-filled journey towards healing, wholeness, justice and freedom.

More to come.
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Monday, February 23, 2015

Walking in the Dark - Part Three



In this post, we talked about journeying through darkness together.

In this next post, we started to figure out our approach - what to do with darkness?  Though we could try to avoid it and pretend like it doesn't exist, I think we all agreed it wouldn't be very helpful...

So we are left here, knowing we must address and engage the darkness.  But how?

Oftentimes, we take darkness into our own, human hands.  As you can imagine, there are probably an infinite number of ways to handle tough stuff, but I want to talk about two approaches I've fallen into the most over the years.

The Handy Man Approach - The darkness is something broken that I need to fix.
We are feeling lonely, so we pull out some duct tape to stick a rebound boy to our side.
We struggle with our body image, so we tighten a loose screw, work out a little longer, tighten a bit more, eat a little less.
Our faith is being tested, leaking out like a faucet, and, intending to catch the drips, well-wishers hand us empty buckets of trite advice and glib encouragement.
The Mathematician Approach - The darkness is an equation that I need to solve.
My baby experienced a traumatic illness.  What things happened that contributed to this?  What things do I need to add to my lifestyle to get a more desired result in the future?  What things do I need to subtract to get a better outcome?  Disinfect baby's toys more often + Don't expose baby to potentially sick kids at Wal-Mart = No more traumatic illnesses?
I am living in fear of the future.  How do I guarantee fearful things won't happen to me?  How do I avoid these things?  What types of insurance and safeguards can I add to my life to provide some peace of mind?  Guarantees + Safeguards = Less Fear?
These two approaches overlap often - work harder, play safer, risk less, shield, seal, solve, patch, bandage...  We will strive and control and fix until the darkness no longer exists, until we are certain it will never come upon us again.

Though I AM in favor of using wisdom and stewardship in the way we make decisions and plan for the future, the problem, all of these things quickly become very human-centered.  I, Me, You, We...

As humans, at our best, we can only offer temporary fixes and shallow solutions.  

Rebound boys won't fill the depths of our loneliness.  Working out longer and eating less won't do away with our self-loathing.   Trite advice and glib encouragement won't strengthen our shaky faith.  Our best efforts in cleanliness won't keep all illnesses away from our loved ones.  Insurance won't dispel our deepest fears.

Our problems are more complicated than we know how to fix, and our darkness is too thick to walk through on our own.
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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Walking In the Darkness - Part Two



Remember my last post?  And how you signed your name on the dotted line and committed to journeying through the darkness with me?  I thought so.  So glad we made that official.

So.  Now we figure out what we're going to do about all of this - this yuck, this pain, this anger, this suffering, this sadness...  We need to figure out what to do with this darkness.  

In the next few days, I will offer a few ideas, you are welcome to take your pick.  (wink, wink...)

Option Numero Uno - We can pretend like the darkness isn't even there.  

Let's be frank.  I'm talking about straight up denial, folks.  We can close our eyes or shield our faces or look away...  We could even try to cram the darkness up into a neat, little, packaged box and put it in our attic, out of sight, out of mind.  You are welcome to try to get really distracted with hobbies and busyness and life and family in an effort to not think about the dark.

Gosh, the perks of this approach are so alluring...  They would include continuing to live our oh-so-normal lives and continuing to go through the motions, not making any waves.

We could still be perceived as perfect and put together and strong and independent.  
(Which, by the way, seems to be extremely valued and honored in our culture, so I wouldn't blame you for being swayed in this direction...)  

Oh, and when people ask us how we are doing, we can give the expected answer, "I'm good," and continue on our merry ways!  Awkwardness averted.  Hooray.

But here's the downside.  There are plenty of days that I am just NOT good.  
Deep inside, I am not even fine, and eventually, the whole denial charade becomes exhausting.

 Even though we may be fantastic at pretending it's not there, the darkness is still really there.

Look away and shield your eyes all you want, I promise you, it's not leaving.  Though distractions seem to help, darkness has a way of looming, thicker and blacker, in spite of it all.  In my experience, it will rear it's ugly head at some point, and it usually comes back more compounded, more complicated, more damaging and at a much more inconvenient time.

And, seriously, did you really think all that darkness would fit into your little box?  Or heck, even fit into your attic?  Mine sure wouldn't.  Come to think of it, I'm not even sure I HAVE an attic.  (Note to self: Ask Mark about our attic.)

The more we deny the existence of darkness and yuck and hard in our life, the more we will feel like we're living a lie, like people don't really know us, like we are disconnected, misunderstood, numb, distant, alone.  So very alone.

I'm starting to think denial is a terrible way to deal with darkness.  Let's think of some other options, shall we?
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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Walking in the darkness - part one



If you are heavy with grief, laden with sadness and suffering...  If you are paralyzed with fear, or inflamed with anger...  If you have carried these loads for a while, maybe the weight has caused you to feel numb or disconnected, lost, even ashamed...  You are worn thin and feeling ragged and frayed.

If you are feeling any of these sorts of things today, know that I am with you.  And by "I", I mean "me", Liza DeYounge.  I am heavy with grief and sadness.  I have been paralyzed with fear and inflamed by anger.  Many days, I feel I am wandering into a blizzard of disconnectedness and growing numb.  

Depressing, right?

Surely there is more than this.  

Surely, there is more freedom, more joy, more hope available to us, no?  This can't be it.

Try as I might, and even though I know there is more, I can't seem to get past some of the heaviness and haze that seem to linger - still.  I'll be honest.  This "choosing joy" sort of thing is just not jiving with me these days.

I've run to comfortable and bright sorts of places, trying to cope, I've stayed inside where it is safe and light, but the darkness is still close - just outside the door.  I've tried to carry a flashlight or slap a little night light in the outlets surrounding my heart, but alas, the darkness is too thick and looming.  

I am left at this place, right here, right now, thinking that the best way to deal with all of this pent up emotion and heartache is to just learn to walk in the dark...with boldness and confidence, knowing God is just as near, just as present, just as close.  When things get heavier, and stormier, and blacker and darker, He is not absent.  

And yet...

And yet, it is still a scary journey to embark upon.  

Maybe it will be less scary if we do it together...?  I'd like to invite you to join me in learning to walk in the dark, learning to lament, learning to seek Him in the midst of it all.  

Ultimately, I'd like to invite you to join me in journeying towards healing and restoration and even resurrection. 

Want to come along?  Check back.  I'll be posting more in the coming weeks leading up to Easter.  



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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

ten things i'm thankful for - in spite of a crazy baby




My sweet Charlotte is exhausting.

For the last two weeks, when it's time for bed, she turns into a crazy child.  Crying and laughing, inhaling and refusing bottles, quiet dozing followed by cartwheels on my lap, and 4,371 trips in and out of her room.  Rocking to sleep, waking up, patting her back, waking up, feeding her bottle, waking up, losing her pacifier, waking up, losing her pacifier again, waking up...  Like I said, exhausting.  

Before I resign to checking myself into the loony bin and admit to the World Wide Web that I am mentally unstable, (oops, did I just say that out loud?) I would like to try one, last ditch, effort to restore my sanity... 

I will now list all of the things I am thankful for because of, and in spite of Charlie being nuts-o.

  1. I am thankful for the back of her perfectly round head - it has the cutest, fuzzy hair that I rub to lull her to sleep.
  2. Though she should be sleeping, I get a front row seat to her stories and tall tales about many adventures.  She is kind of a rambler sometimes.
  3. I'm grateful that in this season, there isn't much a bottle, a pacifier, some bouncing and some extra rocking can't solve.  Someday, her problems will be much more complicated and heart-wrenching...and worse, I won't be able to fix them as easily.
  4. For the muted crunch of my pats on her diapered butt.
  5. I'm thankful Charlotte and I get to spend hours of uninterrupted time together.
  6. For her sweet baby smell.
  7. Though she will be turning cartwheels in my lap, when I stand and hold her so that her cheek is right next to mine, she freezes, and I feel her chubby cheek tighten into a smile.
  8. With every exhale, she sings one or two little notes or pitches.  Charlie's songs.  Even her breath praises Him.
  9. For the way her breaths get long and deep when she finally surrenders to sleep. 
  10. Really, I am thankful for all of her shenanigans at night, because they mean she is strong, full of fire, and healthy.  She is alive, and tonight, that is plenty to be grateful for.


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My Favorite Clothing Hacks - Part 1


You guys.  This clothing hack has been
the most transformational for my wardrobe, hands down. 

This little trick is fantastic for...
  1. Eliminating plumber's crack, affectionately dubbed "butt-crackin'" in my family.
  2. Getting rid of those drafty feelings on your stomach when you are reaching for something on the top shelf.
  3. Covering your bum when you want to wear those forbidden yoga pants and leggings. 
  4. Overall, feeling way more comfortable, cozy, and covered up - especially when you are chasing after kiddos all day.
Ready for it?

Buy dresses and wear them as shirts.

Just about everyday, I can be spot wearing a tank dress as a layering tank, with a t-shirt dress on top as a regular t-shirt.  Add a cardigan and leggings, and you are set for a comfortable day of changing diapers and cleaning up Cheerios.

These are also great transitional pieces in pregnancy.  The generous length is perfect for a growing (or shrinking!) belly.

For casual wear, search for "mini," "t-shirt," or "tank dresses," "body con," etc.  I love cotton or a cotton spandex sort of mix.  I always buy one size smaller than usual to get a shorter more shirt-y look. :). The length I aim for hits a couple of inches below my crotch, covers the majority of my bum, and has a little bit of a slouchy look.  

For dressier outfits, I just look for dresses that are shorter than knee-length, also buy a size down, and wear with skinny jeans.

Here are some ideas and links for you!







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