Tag Archives: faith

Real Religion

July 9, 2017

 Photo credit: Ismael Burciaga

It wasn’t until the fourth or fifth day of feeling deathly ill that I decided to pray. Deathly ill is a bit exaggerated, but I was sick for over a week with strep throat. “They” say it hits adults harder than children, and I believe that now. Alone in my apartment trying not to get anyone infected, I prayed. And I prayed hard.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember the last time that I had prayed.

But I do remember the first time. I was an innocent eight year old girl, holding the Sunday School teacher’s hand as I “asked Jesus into my heart” – what the Baptists call being saved. Prayer became second nature to me and so did doing right.

Church and singing became my life. Every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night the doors opened, I was there along with my two sisters and faithful mother. Alone in my bedroom with my initialed Bible, I often prayed for my father who didn’t attend with us.

Over the short twenty-seven years of my life, my faith has evolved. It (faith) has always been a part of my life, not just a small part but a large part. Growing up in a Southern Baptist church, the issue of right and wrong was pounded heavily in my head. In high school, I attended a charismatic church and always was the lead star on the praise team. We were preached to about sin until our faces turned blue and slathered with oil at the altar when in time of prayer. They viewed prayer as powerful and life changing and so did I.

As a college student, I discovered a new found freedom, questioned my faith and rarely attended church. Along the way, God always pulled me into his arms whether through a friend or song heard on the radio. Often prayers were spoken in times of stress and guilt.

My eclectic background had me confused. My faith in God became more about appearance and doing right. How to overcome temptation and live in a real world was not something I had been equipped to do. But I knew the right words to say, the perfect flowery words to pray.

As the years have passed on, I have faced reality in more ways than one- through the loss of close loved ones, loss of jobs and the end of a marriage- my heart has been bumped, pushed, torn and broken and sometimes all at the same time.

Living for the Lord stopped being about what others expected of me. It stopped being about doing what others thought was right and stopped being about praying what the preacher taught me to pray.

Many times it feels like there is a label on my forehead that reads “failure.” I’m not the perfect example of Christian that I once claimed and others thought of me. I’ve made mistakes, big mistakes and often appeared as just another face in the crowd.

I’ve learned to pray differently — from a heart that knows I’m nothing without him. I’ve learned to pray without fancy words. I’m appreciative that I have a mother that made sure I was in church and a grandmother that prayed for me daily and often recited Psalm 23 as she drove me to daycare. I’m appreciative that I experienced eclectic styles of worship. But I have found what works for me.

I’m reminded of the song that I once sang as a child, “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” My faith is simple and so is my prayer life. I know who He is based on my own experiences. From that I pray. It may not be a pretty prayer- just me, raw and transparent.

Brittany Windle

Photography credit: Ismael Burciaga

Why Self-Acceptance Is So Hard

March 30, 2016

singlematters.com I just celebrated another birthday. Not much has changed in a year, and yet everything has changed in a year.

I still struggle not to be completely awkward in unfamiliar social settings. Sometimes I say too much, and other times not enough. There are some life lessons I still have to learn over and over again. My brows are still uneven. My nose is still crooked. My body is flawed, and my mind often messy. Yet I have learned there is beauty in the mess. I have allowed myself to be taught the art of flawed acceptance.

To accept myself, my whole self, the flawed, the weak, the awkward, the crooked and the messy parts, God gave me permission to accept — to actually see — the beautiful, the strong, the brave and the supernatural parts of me as well.

For years I felt unworthy of a holy self-acceptance. I don’t mean “holy” in any type of religious reference. I mean that to be “holy” is to be whole by definition. I was light years ahead of others when it came to accepting the negative things about myself. Oftentimes I would find comfort in my flaws and mistakes, cradling those ghosts like a little girl rocking her doll. I thought I was being kind and honest to myself and to the world by willingly raising my hand and taking full ownership of the messed-up parts of me.

To be partly honest isn’t to be honest at all.

I had actually been lying to myself and lying to the world. To have been honest would have also been owning up to having blue eyes for days, a contagious smile, a heart for people, tears for the bound and a relentless tenacity to change the world.

After much work and conscious effort I found space for me within my own flawed heart. I have discovered that to choose me — all of me — allows me to choose all of someone else. In the process, I realized I couldn’t fully accept others until I fully accepted myself. I could not make the world a better place until I made me a better place. I have learned, and will continue to learn, the grace of holy self-acceptance.

I will keep finding room for me within my own beautifully messy soul.

I will keep requiring that I choose myself so I can choose others.

I will keep demanding that I be honest, yet gentle, with myself.

I will keep praying that I provide myself with kind attention where it is needed.

Finding room in my heart and holy self-acceptance are beautiful things.

They are energetic and powerful. They are healing. They do a work from the inside out. They are bold. They are brave. They give permission to change the world.

They were my gifts, and I pass them on to you.

Be brave enough. Be strong enough to make room in your heart for a holy, flawed acceptance. Your bravery might just spark a relentless tenacity to change the world, uneven brows, contagious smile and all.

Article by Cheslie Birks 

Follow Chelsie on Twitter and Instagram

Originally published on singlematters.com 

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Callie Blount of Luv Cooks

October 20, 2015

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callie blount - 2b photography

I arrive at the quaint Homewood cottage right on time. Callie greets me at the door with an infectious smile. It was as if I was meeting a long time friend. She is in the perfect pair of black skinny jeans, burgundy booties, and a salmon hued blouse with a pineapple in sparkly sequins. I later discover that pineapples are Callie’s favorite, of course, a symbol of hospitality. She is even more mesmerizing in person.

Callie Blount is someone I’ve admired from afar for a couple of years, so I was eager to meet her in person. Callie runs a food blog called Luv Cooks – having the most mouth watering recipes, beautifully styled photography and entertaining videos. (She makes cooking look so easy!) By day, she is a freelance food and prop stylist. 

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With an industrial feel and splash of vintage, her kitchen area serves as the backdrop for most of her videos and shoots. She offers me grapes and tea, and we immediately sit down in the red apple dining room chairs to chat.

Sometimes you just get a certain feeling about people. Honestly, today is not about her skill in the kitchen; I want to see her outside of that. I’m intrigued by women who have an ease and comfort about them. And there is just something about her.

I don’t normally open conversation with the topic of beauty and overcoming obstacles (seems a little heavy as an opener), but something prompts me to, and I follow. I sit back, soaking in every word. I wasn’t expecting such a moving response. After all, this is the first time we had met. Her warmth and vulnerability are immediate. As I listen, I secretly hope to have those same qualities one day.

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I simply ask, “What is your definition of beauty?” Without hesitation, Callie speaks on this topic making me realize how layered and complex that word really is: “Beauty is close to my heart. I feel that beauty is the reason I‘m on the planet. I had this fascination of growing roses at a very early age. There was something about flowers that was so beautiful.” She continues telling of how her family passed on a rose bush from generation to generation with the women in her family. Sitting on the kitchen table is a porcelain white vase.  A pink rose peeks above a sea of petite red ones. It was then I notice the other fresh flowers on several surfaces of her home.

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callie blount- 2b photo

“Beauty is power,” she continues. “With beauty comes responsibility to lead people to good or astray. I want my life on this planet to be a beauty that leads people to Jesus. Style is how I do it. When you see an image, you see something that is attractive. This brings people joy and happiness. Beauty is impactful, powerful, and can change the world. As a woman, I wanted to run from beauty at times. I felt as if I was too much or not enough. There have been moments that I didn’t want to care. But I knew not to run away. It can be for the good.”

Intrigued by her sense of self and concept of beauty, I ask about the most challenging obstacle she’s had to overcome. Candidly, she speaks of the end of her marriage and the beauty God brought from divorce:

“Personally, I walked through a difficult divorce, but the Lord is a God of restoration. He took me from a place where I had been stripped. A part of it was reclaiming my beauty and who I am as a woman. God has an amazing purpose for my life. When you go through a broken relationship, the world gets small and you think, ‘This is all I have.’ But God says, ‘I have way more for you.’” Callie is now married to a creative like herself who is a musician and photographer. “God built something new in my spirit,” she warmly says.

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On a professional level, Callie recalls a recent interview experience: “Being in the video world, there are a lot of people who say you aren’t enough. Someone said one time, ‘I really like you, but you are too southern. You are not for us.’ I really wanted to work with them.”

With reflection in her voice, she says, “Through those experiences, it goes back to, ‘You are fearfully and wonderfully made. It’s how I (God) made you to be. I’ve got this.’ It’s a journey of joy.”

Callie’s faith in God is evident. Her vulnerability to share her story reminds me of the importance of every woman’s story, although possibly messy, it’s meant to be told.

“Let’s turn on some 90′s rap,” Callie playfully says before the shoot. Pulling out inflatable fries and an apple pie, she giggles, “I wonder what we can do with these?”

A few things I learned from Callie that day: vulnerability is breathtaking; the name Callie actually means beauty; and make no apologies for who you are.

Her authenticity: awe-inspiring.

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Get to know Callie:

Favorite dish to cook. I LOVE brownies. Nigella Lawson has an incredible brownie recipe. I also love chocolate and peanut butter combos, so I love to top a hot brownie with chocolate peanut butter ice cream.

When did you know you had a love for food and cooking? My love for food began at a young age; I remember sneaking sugar cookie dough into my mouth as we decorated Christmas cookies, trying to carry on 6-year-old conversation while pretending it wasn’t there! But, my desire to learn how to cook started in college. My family sat down every night for a home-cooked dinner, and I was left, for the first time, with no one to cook for me!

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Who taught you how to cook? When was Luv Cooks created? I grew up watching my mom in the kitchen, but both of my parents worked, so she really didn’t have much time to teach me! I started Luv Cooks first as more of a baking blog. When I began learning the basics of cooking, baking really intrigued me, so that’s where I started. And I loved the satisfaction that came from bringing someone a home-baked treat- their faces would light up! And that’s really where Luv Cooks started- that idea that food is one of the best ways to show people love. The recipes have morphed from there, incorporating gluten- free, dairy-free, vegan options as well, because everyone should feel loved and included, no matter their diet.

How do you balance it all? This is a complete matter of prayer! A friend of mine taught me one of the best life principles I know a few years ago, and I have tried to stick with that. Since I am a freelance stylist, I have Sunday evening or Monday morning “meetings with the Boss” (the Lord) and just pray over my week- photo shoots, appointments, coffee dates, etc. I have found that that makes all the difference, and the Lord will really show me where to spend my time, and also open up pockets of rest in my week.

What women have inspired you? I am truly inspired by all women! Each of us has something incredibly beautiful and precious inside that the world desperately needs. I love learning from women who are really operating from that place. Christine Caine and the Propel women movement has really caught my attention lately- I love their outlook on women and purpose.

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Favorite piece of advice. “Life is either a grand adventure or nothing else.” Helen Keller. As women, as Creatives,we are called to take risks and leaps of faith with our lives. I don’t want to look back and wish I had taken on the challenge instead of sitting that one out.

Favorite piece of fall clothing: BOOTS! I love boots- tall, ankle booties, brown leather to purple suede. They dress up any outfit. Plus, there is no better feeling than a cool fall day, feeling cozy in a big chunky sweater, jeans, and boots (drinking a pumpkin spice latte of course). Perfection.

Article by Brittany Windle

Follow Brit on Twitter.

Many thanks to Becca Bell of 2b Photography for these images. There were way too many to choose, so check out the full shoot on the 2b Facebook page

Beauty Picks: Under $20

March 25, 2015
Beauty Picks

1. Elf Cream Eyeliner - The cream formula creates smooth lines that are defined and precise. Smudge-proof, budge-proof and water-resistant coverage for all day wear to combat against sweat, tears or rain!

2. Elf Contouring Blush & Bronzer – This product is the perfect duo. The blush reminds us of Nars Blush Orgasm.

3. ipsy glam bag- Delivered to your door for $10 a month. Receive a variety of products based on your personal interest.

4, Ion Color Brilliance- Utilizes pure ionic micro pigments for deeper, more intense color

5. NYX lip treatment- Pamper your lips with a hydrating kiss of smooth Butter Lipstick in 22 luxurious shades. The delicate texture of satin fused with the high color saturation creates an even finish on lips that’s long-wearing and beautiful.

6. Pantene Heat Protection Spray- Shields strands from heat and provides a glossy finish
Never go without protection. Shield your strands against damage while sealing in shine.
Article by Faith Grizzard
Follow Faith on Instagram.

Comparison is the Thief Joy

July 1, 2014

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I must be the only one who struggles with social media. I have a love/hate relationship with it, especially Facebook. I find myself posting little but scrolling through the news feed a lot, mostly out of boredom. I seriously don’t know what I’m looking for, and I act as if ten minutes of time changes the outcome of the next time I check it.

I’m pretty transparent. So here goes… I compare. I compare my life to my “friends,” possibly to you if you’re my Facebook friend. And you know what? I have no clue what is going on in your life besides your highlight reel. Don’t lie. You only put the good on there. It’s okay. I’m the same way. Why would I tell you about the argument I had with a family member last week or the time I over drafted my bank account? And God forbid, I put a picture of myself on there unless I’m standing just right to make myself look the smallest and my skin the clearest. (Ugh, adult acne). Well, some of you write about the negative, and if you do, you’ve probably been deleted or at least removed off the feed.

But back to comparing. I’m guilty. I am the only one who knows my struggles except for some of you who are in my inner circle. The circle is small. So as I struggle with my own issues and I only see your amazing reel, I compare. And “comparison is the thief of joy,” according to Theodore Roosevelt. I agree.

I asked my younger sister if she found herself comparing, and she said she often thought, “Wow, he/she is on another vacation again. I wish I could travel more!” She actually just got back from the Bahamas.

I deleted my Facebook… again. If I were to reactivate it, you’d see only a smiling face. You’d see my recent fun and interesting activities- only the best, course!

You wouldn’t see that I dealt with anxiety and depression for several years. You wouldn’t see the ups and downs of dating after divorce. Quite honestly, I don’t think you’d want to hear it (at least not in a rant form on Facebook).

As we post only the best of the best of our lives, sometimes we get caught up in the appearance of it all. I’m not encouraging a boycott of Facebook, but as for now, I am taking a step back, a closer look at the mirror. And I’ve decided to cultivate the grass on my side of the fence, rather than wondering what it’s like on your side.

I’m imperfect. My hair is on top of my head. I need a shower, and my face… Well, I look like a 13 year old that just started puberty. At least, I can be honest with myself. And as for now, Facebook, I love you, but I hate you. I’m sure I’ll be back.

article by Brittany Windle

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