Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Biblical Perspective on Why I Quit Fashion Blogging

December 28, 2016 0

Back in 2007-ish, when I religiously followed StyleBytes, Weardrobe, Flickr's Wardrobe Remix, and Style Bubble, I started my first blog.  At first, it was silly ruminations and random writing, but soon enough, I began sharing my daily outfits.
I sold this entire outfit on eBay years ago for ten bucks
The term we now know as "fashion blogging" was called "style sharing" back then.  For the most part, it was a small community of teens and early 20-somethings without money who shared their creativity in making the most of their wardrobes.  We did this by thrifting, fast fashion (Forever 21 and the likes), DIY-ing, and trading closets with one another.  We taught each other to wear dresses backwards, cut up tights to create makeshift sleeves, and how to borrow from men's (and sometimes children's) departments in order to have more (inexpensive) options.
Collectively, I don't think this outfit cost more than $40
The style sharing community encouraged individuality, money saving, and how to have fun with what one already has in their wardrobe.  I learned that my personal style was colorful, miss matched, and eclectic, with a plethora of vertiginous heels.  Like most style sharers, my photos were taken in the privacy of my own apartment with a timer and a cheap digital camera.   No retouching, no proper lighting, no sponsors. Just one or two photos taken at an awkward angle with poor lighting because sharing the idea of the look was more important than a professional photo.  Looking back, I feel like it was automatic for most style sharers pre-2008 to look down as soon as the camera snapped out of sheepishness.  Posting daily photos of oneself online was still a new thing.  Even though we were sharing the creative ways we pieced our looks in order to help inspire others within the community, posting our photos felt silly (at least, for me).
When I grew tired of this corduroy jacket, I cut the sleeves off
Soon enough, fashion and retail websites began highlighting some of these style sharers.  Chictopia and Polyvore were created to encourage people to shop each other's looks.  I was emailed a personal invite to try out this newly created site called Pinterest and give feedback before it launched publicly.  It was fun and interesting when my weekly blog hits increased from 100 to 1,000.  It was curious, yet really awesome when brands asked for my address so they could mail me gifts and gift cards.  Also, it was exciting to receive a $100 deposit from Google once in a while (for ads).
It's not easily visible here, but my "headband" is actually a necklace. Also, I paid 50 cents for that sweater
When word spread that you could become famous, be invited to sit front row at NYFW, or make a living off of posting your outfits online, "style sharing" ceased and "fashion blogging" began.  Around 2008, I remember a dozen or so fashion bloggers wore and posted the same exact dress on the same exact day.  They all got paid a large amount to convince others that they should wear the same dress. That same year, many of my thoughtful comments and questions from readers became overshadowed by CTRL/paste comments asking me to follow a new fashion blog.  Somewhere in between watching a reader obsessively perform late night searches on my blog for fetish terms and being asked to feature flashlights by a potential sponsor, I decided to hop off the style sharing train.  Style sharing/fashion blogging had become a three ring circus and I wasn't interested (and lacked the thick skin) in becoming a profitable "influencer."
So pensive.  The only items I still have are the Dr. Martens
Why would I quit something that brings money?  That could I could possibly do for a living?  Aside from the discomfort of knowing that my audience was no longer limited to people within the style sharing community, I missed the essence of style sharing, which was to help people figure out what clothes look best on them, and makes them feel like fantastic versions of themselves with as little spending as possible.

Fashion blogging in itself isn't sinful.  I started sharing my outfits in order to help others stretch their wardrobes.  I decided to quit when I realized that vanity, greed, and a love of money became a huge presence in traditional fashion blogging.  Below are more reasons I quit fashion blogging from a Biblical perspective.

1. Fashion Blogging discourages individuality.
Style sharing was individual.  Fashion blogging is formulaic.  Brands, sponsors, and the median readers desire specific looks from fashion bloggers.  Most influential fashion bloggers are similar in age, dress size, and income.  The Lord put incredible care and purpose in designing each and every one of us.  The Bible says, "for You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.  I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well." (Psalm 139:13-14 (NASB)) It's insulting to our Creator to try to be like any other person instead of who God desires us to be.  If you aspire to be a top fashion blogger, make sure you're only listening to the Holy Spirit's opinion and convictions on your looks, clothes, poses, etc.  Do not allow your readers and sponsors to tell you you're not special and that you need to be different from who the Lord wants you to be.
2. I didn't want to lie. In the past few years, I've become a minimalist.  At one time, I had two clothes closets and one shoe closet.  All three wardrobes were over flowing.  For the past few years, I've become minimalist and all my clothes and shoes can fit in my dresser with room to spare.  Everything I wear, I love, and is on heavy rotation.  I'm picky with body care and cosmetics.  The ingredients must be very clean and preferably edible.  My streamlined closet and bathroom cabinet means that there are more items I'll pass up rather than allow into my home.  This means that I have to choose between turning down business opportunities or lying to my readers by promoting items I actually do not care for.  The Bible is very clear about lying in saying that, "the Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth." (Proverbs 12:22 New Living Translation (NLT))

3. Fashion Blogging can promote vanity.  When I was in high school, I stopped reading fashion and lifestyle magazines because I realized they always made me feel terrible.  I had begun looking in the mirror and scrutinizing thanks to these magazines.  They told me my looks need improvement.  Even though we're aware of ubiquitous image manipulations in the media, when we fill ourselves up with this falseness and unattainable standards, sooner than later, we will be negatively affected.  It's my belief that the media (tv, magazines, advertisements, and fashion blogs) are the reason why there are 11, 12, 13 year old girls can pass for college age.  These young girls along with everyone else are being told that more makeup, specific clothes, and "knowing your angles" is essential.  Taking care of our appearance isn't sinful, but "a beautiful woman who lacks discretion is like a gold ring in a pig’s snout." (Proverbs 11:22 New Living Translation (NLT))  Good looks are completely wasted on a vain person.  It would be best to make sure we fill ourselves up with substance rather than stare at photoshopped images of people who actually do not exist.

4. Fashion Blogging can promote covetousness.  Just like fashion magazines, fashion blogs are one big advertorial.  In these blogs, we see beautiful images with beautiful people in beautiful locations wearing beautiful things.  If we're not watching our hearts carefully, it's easy to start desiring what we see on the blog and this in turn, will give us discontent.  Life is better when we're satisfied with our portion.  God says “'you shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.'” (Exodus 20:17 (NIV))

Fashion blogging can be a great business opportunity for bloggers and brands.  Fashion blogging can be a great source of fun and inspiration for readers.  However, like everything in life, we must be willing to give it up if it causes us to sin.  When the Holy Spirit specifies to pick something up or place something down, we must always be willing to do as He says.  For me, I'm happy to have quit fashion blogging and I pray you'll listen to whatever the Lord says about it.

Friday, December 16, 2016

2 Timothy 3:16-17

December 16, 2016 0
this image is not mine, if you originated it, or if you know the originator, please let me know
"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)

Want to know the Lord's will, thoughts, commandments, etc?  Open up your Bible!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Perfect Christmas Gift for Paul the Apostle

December 14, 2016 0
Paul the Apostle was a man of great faith.  He gave up prestige and a respected reputation because he loved Jesus.  Paul worshiped God with his life and he glorified the Lord at every opportunity.  If Paul was able to walk with us in 2016 western life, this is probably what his Christmas wish list would look like... 

1. You to take a day off work and hang out with him at the DMV.  Together, you'll both minister to the all the people waiting in line.  You'll lay hands and ask God to give sight to those who failed their eye exams.  Matthew 20:16 will be preached to those who have speeding and road rage tendencies.  But you're not there just to be salt and light, Paul is also at the DMV to fill out a name change form.

2. Great walking shoes for those cross country, gospel-sharing hikes.  There's a possibility he'll feel more at home in Vibram five-toes.  Bonus points if you get him a shoe shine kit as well.  Not as many people are barefoot these days, but Paul will probably still want to tend to other's feet in some way. 

3. A prepaid cell phone with unlimited texting and for you to pray that God would equip Paul with the gift of tongues so he can minister to millennials over IOS.

4. A snake bite kit and/or a lock picking kit (if you have wavering faith).

In all seriousness though, if you're imitating Paul as he imitates Jesus Christ, consider asking for the following when your friends and family ask for your Christmas wish list…

1. A bunch of $5 gift cards to local fast food restaurants.  They're not to satisfy your next burger craving, make sure you save them for the homeless.

2. A snow shovel or man-powered lawn mower to help out a local single mother, the elderly, and/or widowed neighbors.  I'm talking about you getting to work on their yards, not handing them mower-shaped gift wrap.

3. A day of serving others together followed by fellowship at your favorite lunch spot.  Many hands make a light load and if we all ask someone to join us in working the local soup kitchen, taking gifts to the needy, picking up trash around town, or playing music at the senior center, serving would be that much more fun and effective.

Please Be My Strength - Gungor

December 14, 2016 0
"But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, then be comforted in knowing that God is your strength.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

You're Dirt and That's Okay

December 13, 2016 0
Dirt doesn't do much, nor is it appealing. It doesn't taste good. It isn't much to look at. Most people can't wash it off their hands and clothes fast enough. Dirt totally lacks potential to be anything. Because. It's. Dirt. However, dirt has the opportunity to play a part in something great. Under the right conditions, when roots take hold, dirt can play a part in providing encouragement, nourishment, comfort, shelter, and beauty. You're just like me - dirt.

First of all, we should feel right at home being in dirt because quite literally, we're made out of it. In Genesis 2:7, the Bible teaches us that "...the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." Remember, dirt is dirt: don't think you're better than any person, we're all made of dust and dust is where we'll return when we die (Genesis 3:19). Another thing, just like dirt, we can't do anything on our own. The very breath in our lungs and our heart beat is managed by the Lord. If you are able to read this, drink water, move your leg, or think, then thank God for such. Without the Lord, dirt doesn't do anything and neither do we.

It's interesting that even though dirt lacks potential, it's able to glorify God. I live in the mountains and this season is yielding incredible panoramic views of flaming red, soft yellow, and cool green leaves. On a family stroll, we see majestic Maple and Sequoia, astonishingly large squirrels diving in their holes, and deer strolling in the shade of the brush. In reference to the second Adam, Psalm 96:12 says, "Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest sing for joy." The Lord uses dirt to host these crops, forests, Maples, fat squirrels, and deer. The dirt is just dirt, but it gets to be a part of some incredible things. Like dirt, we're unremarkable on our own, but when the Lord uses us, there's no limit to the glory we can bring Him. A young shepard defeated a giant warrior with a stone, a preacher ignited an international revival, a wild desert man baptized Jesus Christ. It's easy to say I'm no one and can't do anything, but when we feed the homeless, share the gospel with children, check in on the widowed, serve those who can offer us no benefit, our puny dirt selves are glorifying the King of Kings (Matthew 25:34-36).

But what about dirt incapable of yield? If you're in California, with its years-long drought, I'm sure you regularly see patches of dry, cracked, and barren earth.  When my kids and I first started playing in the side yard, the dirt was hard and parched. You could literally dribble a basketball off it. The dirt was so compacted, it gave us bruises when we fell on it. I remember looking at that dirt and thinking it would be impossible for anything to grow here. It's just too compacted. It's just too rocky. It's just too dry. It's just too hostile. Too often, we give up on people for these same reasons. We write others off when they seem too difficult, broken, uninteresting, annoying, etc. I've been all these things, and I can't imagine how differently I would have handled life if every person who came across me decided I was a plot of useless dirt and just walked on by.

I breast fed for over three and a half years with no more than one two month break. That means I haven't slept more than three hours straight for almost four years. Needless to say, I was very much out of it. My sanity, my health, my looks were unrecognizable. I didn't have the energy to do things like write, shower, work out, smile, hold a conversation, or retain information. When it comes to dirt, I was what you would consider to be "barren." In those past few years, I saw some family and friends become uninterested, disenchanted with me. My fruit, my shade, my yield, my ministry shriveled up and I had nothing to offer because I was just trying to make it without hurting my husband and kids. Some of my relationships got worse when I stopped going to church for two years. Once, I happily approached a friend I at one time served alongside with in ministry. She interrupted my hello with asking where I'm currently going to church. I told her no where right now. Without bothering to ask if I'm in fellowship (Hebrews 10:25), she told me I need to go to [a] church [building] before literally turning her back and initiating a conversation with someone else. I saw some other Christians turn their back on me as well but in a figurative way like ignoring my happy birthday texts, suddenly ceasing their once ubiquitous invites as soon as I went on church - but not God - hiatus, ignoring me in person, etc.

On the other side, some people stubbornly stuck with me. They watered, aerated, and mixed good soil right in. They prayed for me and attempted to continue the same relationship we shared before I shriveled up. They came with love, patience, and understanding. Some were Christians but most were not. I remember telling Aaron back then that I feel safer with more unbelievers than believers. Gandhi said all of India would be Christian if every one of Christ's followers actually acted like Him. I don't doubt it. I want to ask you a question; is it Christ-like when the hopeful give up on the hopeless?

Let us remember, like dirt, people can appear to be hopeless with no chance of yield, but as long as we're on earth, there is still hope.
This is not a Christian vs. Christian or believer vs. unbeliever thing, it's a people vs. hell thing. If you're a Christian and you're unsure of your calling, you've been searching for your vocation, and/or trying to figure out your ministry, I'll tell you right now what it is...OUR MINISTRY IS PEOPLE. Every. Single. Person. No matter how dry and hostile and hopeless that plot of dirt appears, we need to keep right on digging, watering, aerating, mixing good compost right in. Never give up on anyone. We must love everyone. Paul writes that "If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important." Galatians 6:3 (NLT)

When my boys were gifted with toy shovels, I grabbed a trowel and began digging in the dry and empty plot of dirt with them. A routine was birthed and we dug in the earth every time we played outside. I mixed ash from the fireplace and natural compost from the layers of dead leaves right in. Our regular digging aerated the dirt and we tossed large rocks off to the side. The dirt became easier to dig in everyday and soon, we started discovering worms along with nuts and pine cones (brought in by squirrels). The dirt now gives off a rich, earthy scent and is dusted with tiny green sprouts. A little bit of TLC was all it took for this once dry and barren plot to become ready to help support life.

Just like ministry, readying dirt is tough, filthy, exhausting, yet also fun and productive. I no longer look at this patch of dirt as hostile and hopeless. You can clearly see the life that's blossoming in this once empty plot. Soon, fruit trees will give food, shade, shelter, and clean air right here. We must never look at any person and decide they're a lost case. Remember, God alone, puts life in the seeds. Dirt doesn't give life, but like us, dirt can be a part of the Lord's process in giving life.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Genesis 2:21-22

December 09, 2016 0
Right?!  Let God tell you when He has someone for you.  Not the other way around.  All the Lord wanted from Adam was for him to sleep while God prepared his wife for him.

"So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man." Genesis 2:21-22 (NLT)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Aaron Roberts - Shout to the Lord (cover)

December 07, 2016 0
I don't think I've mentioned it here before, but Aaron is a phenomenal singer, song writer, and musician.  I wanted to leave this (old) rearrangement cover he did of "Shout to the Lord" with you today because really, God is worthy of our praises all day everyday.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Hindsight is Blurry

December 06, 2016 0
Here I am back in 2010 in my last apartment as a single person.  Because I lived alone, my place smelled like sweet vanilla, was quiet, and clean.  Nowadays, thanks to marriage and motherhood, I live with three males.  It goes without saying that my current home looks, sounds, and smells nothing my former. This morning, I found two pairs of dirty socks within the couch and later, I stepped on chewed up apple in the office.  After cleaning up carpet apple, I came across this photo of myself sitting on my former couch.  So pristine and white and sockless. Despite the blurriness, I stared at this photo with envy.  Here's the problem, when I'm full of complaint, it's easy for me to get sentimental, even wistful of my former home, former life. When we're unsatisfied, our memories get blurred just like this photo.

Matthew Henry says that, "discontent magnifies what is past, and vilifies what is present, without regard to truth or reason." When I looked at this photo of my past, I remembered good stuff like sleeping in, eating cheesecake for breakfast, and dinner parties with girlfriends any night of the week. Just as much, I also forget about past troubles like navigating the dating cesspool, not having family to sit with during special Christmas church services, and no one to help carry groceries after a long day of work. When I was thinking about how cute and comfortable my apartment was, my mind definitely wasn't remembering the more serious difficulties I underwent at the time.  I had many hurts and I was full of emotional quirks and hot buttons by the time that photo was taken.  Because I was single, no one was given the opportunity/close enough to me to point out my many issues to me; let alone pray and share wisdom with me.  It wasn't until I married, that the Lord used Aaron to sort out and heal many of my emotional scars.  It's not until I look back at my past, that I see how burdened I was.

The Lord freed the Israelites and was leading them to a home He had specifically for them - a land of milk and honey. God plagued their enemies, split the Red Sea, and provided water and manna.  Yet, at the first sign of stress in the desert, the Israelites looked back at blurry pictures of their past and wished for an inferior era.  They romanticized their past even though in it, they were enslaved and oppressed.  In the desert, the Israelites complained and said they would rather have died at the hands of their enemies in Egypt than be brought to their current location.

God performed incredible miracles for the Israelites and myself.  He showed signs of love for us and proved His greatness, yet still, as soon as we became discontent, we wanted to go backwards.

Have you found yourself looking back to Egypt?  There's nothing good in doing so.  Wishing for a past the Lord has rescued you from will only increase discontent and encourage you to repeat the same sins from which you were freed.  Remember, when we're unsatisfied, our memories of Egypt, of Sodom, become blurred.  The enemy wants us to remember the perks, however weak and shallow they are, and forget about the bondage from that time.  Let's praise God today for how far He's brought us from the pits we dug for ourselves.  Give Him glory for leading us to the promised land and remember His great works.  Be thankful for the good work Jesus has begun in you and look forward to being far away from that past life.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Song of Solomon

December 05, 2016 0

"I sleep, but mine heart waketh, it is the voice of my well-beloved that knocketh, saying, Open unto me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for mine head is full of dew, and my locks with the drops of the night." Solomon's Song 5:2

Have you ever chosen to walk away from Jesus even though you love Him?  When I was a child, I asked Jesus into my heart and as a teenager, I walked away from Him. Until I opened that door for Him again, I was the most miserable person in existence.  Even though I fell asleep at night, my heart was always awake, missing Him and listening for His voice just like in this scripture. I knew His voice so when He gently knocked on the door to my heart, I immediately recognized Him. In Song of Solomon 5:2, the husband knocks on the door and speaks so sweetly to his beloved even though she kicked him out and defiled herself.  Like Jesus, the husband asks for her to open the door. He points out that he's been outside for a while - hence the night dew in his hair; yet still he patiently waits for her. Of course he can open the door himself, but he's polite and is only willing to enter if he receives invitation.

Are you currently on the other side of the door from Jesus right now?  Do you hear Him knocking?  He's like that kind husband who still chooses to love his wife no matter how badly he's been treated and rejected. Also, He won't force Himself in and make you love Him. If Jesus barged right through that door, our relationship with Him would be more like a master/unwilling slave relationship rather than a husband/wife relationship. Instead, He patiently waits for you.

Quickly, open that door. Like a good husband, Jesus wants to forgive, protect, love, and lead you to everything that's good for you.

Friday, December 2, 2016

1 Corinthians 6:14

December 02, 2016 0
lol!  That's right!

"You say, 'Food was made for the stomach, and the stomach for food.' (This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them.) But you can’t say that our bodies were made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies."
1 Corinthians 6:14 (NLT)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

What I'm Reading

December 01, 2016 0
I'm always reading several books at the same time so I thought I'd share one today.  This one will open your eyes to the U.S. education system and it's approach to "education."  If you or your child are unsatisfied with school or considering/undergoing homeschooling, or just simply relying on school to educate, I HIGHLY recommend you this book.  It's short, but packed with eye-opening information that will change the way you think of education and schooling.

Kitchen Window

December 01, 2016 0
Here's our kitchen window (complete with my boys' rock collection). While I'm cooking or doing dishes, I have a full view of the street and our front yard. Long before people knock on our door, I've already watched them approach. Through this window, I've watched parades, skunks, busses, trick 'o treaters, and horse drawn carriages. 

Here's the problem; You see that crooked window covering up there? It's wonky. So much so, I'm unable to open it myself. That tempermental covering requires a special touch that I, for some reason, don't have. 

If I get to the kitchen in the morning before Aaron, I have to settle for the florescent light and obstructed view until he raises the cover. No busses, skunks, observing the neighbor's dog chasing cars, nor natural light for me until Aaron opens that window covering. 

My window covering struggle is not unlike our spiritual walk. If we're not tuned in with God, we're unable to properly see the world for what it is. The Lord is the only One who can open the cover over our eyes and hearts so we can have wisdom, truth, hope, conviction, and discernment. 

2 Corinthians 3:16 tells us, "but whenever a person turns [in repentance] to the Lord, the veil is stripped off and taken away." Psalm 146:8 tells us that, "the Lord opens the eyes of the blind; The Lord raises up those who are bowed down..."

When we turn to God, we are able to see more clearly than those who don't love Him, who don't seek Him. Remember, wisdom, hope, joy, love, and righteous conviction is not visible when that window covering is pulled down. The Lord is the only One Who can open that cover for us to see properly and live righteously in salvation. 

I need Aaron's help in opening that window covering. I've tried and tried, yet I just make it worse. I end up accidentally pulling that covering down to the floor, manually rolling it up, and waiting until my husband fixes it. We cannot live a righteous life nor have salvation without God removing our blindness.  He is the only One with the ability to raise that cover or remove that veil. The enemy, the world, and our flesh will try to convince us to settle for the fluorescent lighting and lack of view. This is not the way to live.

P.s. after editing this post for me, Aaron says he's going to fix the window covering. :o)