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May 2014

The Twenty-Something Checklist

Paper & Glam - The Twenty Something Checklist

Have you read Jennifer Schaffer's A Checklist for Age 19? Jennifer's list is genius, here are a couple of my favorite hauntingly true lines:

Know that you are on track for successes that will always be secondary to that thing you really wanted but were too cowardly to chase. Imagine yourself surrounded by Excel sheets on 40-inch iMac screens and feel terror.

Get excited about things like jogging and dinner parties and rooftop gardens and adopted mutts and raw foods. Start training for a 5K. Throw together an evening with sliced tomatoes and Charles Shaw and medium-rare, Forman-grilled steaks. Climb onto the roof of a two-story academic building at night. Visit the websites of animal shelters, point and click and say ‘that’s the one.’ Develop neurotic habits when choosing produce at Trader Joe’s. Craft convincing imitations of a world you’ve yet to enter. Exist in a perpetual state of preparation for a life you’ve yet to earn.

Forgive. Forget. Fake it. Chin up. Wear lipstick, make lists, make sure your voicemail isn’t full. Mix protein shakes, send timely thank you notes, sip drinks more slowly...develop perfect posture. Be gracious, be kind, eliminate self-pity. Capitalize your emails, read the news, walk briskly, stay focused, and never, ever let on that you are somewhat lost and sometimes lonely and so completely confused (and would someone please just let me know what it is I’m supposed to do next, where exactly I’m supposed to go–). Just keep going. Go, and do not stop.

Jennifer's list inspired me to create my own Twenty Something Checklist of 20 pieces of advice I wish I'd heard before embarking on the decade after college. I did not write all the lines, I curated many of them from a variety of blogs, books, movies, magazines, and great conversations. It's a cheat sheet for life in your twenties, and I hope you find it as useful.

  1. Drink too much coffee, wear bright pink nail polish, and never settle for a life you don't want. {Paper & Glam}

  2. Washing your hair is going to be a chore. But you should do it anyway. You will feel better about yourself.

  3. Life is a constant battle between I want to look good in a bikini and Treat yo'self. Find a balance. {Paper & Glam}

  4. He is going to break your heart but he’s just another male human who finds it hard to deal with Mondays, too.

  5. In order to move on, you must understand why you felt what you did, and why you no longer need to feel it. {Mitch Albom, Five People You Meet In Heaven}

  6. If you want to feel like a put together individual instead of a frazzled mess, get up earlier. Watch the sun come up as you drink your first cup of coffee. Make your bed. Keep your room clean. Buy some candles and fresh flowers. {Paper & Glam}

  7. Don’t fight your demons. Your demons are here to teach you lessons. Sit down with your demons and have a drink and a chat and learn their names, understand why they're here and don't need to be in the future. Some of them are very nice.

  8. Whenever you feel like critizing someone, just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had. {Scott F. Fitzgerald, The Great Gatspy}

  9. Music is good for you. Pop music will get you ready in the morning quickly and with a little sparkle. Country will remind you to keep it simple. Love songs will make you cry and think about that boy again. It’s healthy to let it out, but do move on. {Paper & Glam}

  10. Victim complexes are not attractive. Boys (or girls) will not date you because you are sad. They are not going to date you and kiss your aching bones and cure you of your dragging depression. Wake up. Take a bath. Do your hair. Be attractive.

  11. Sadness is not poetic. Depression is not beautiful. Laying in bed all day and eating too much is lazy,  it is not tragic or pretty. Get up. Go outside. Let the sun warm your bones. Live.

  12. If it makes you happy, do it. Dedicate your life to it. Wake up early and stay up late for it. Skip parties and late nights out if it means spending more time on that thing you were put on earth to do. Print it on shirts and collect things that inspire you to do more of it. Do not care what people think. {Paper & Glam}

  13. When you get to your mid-twenties, every other weekend is a wedding related activity. Chin up, we're all right there with you. {Paper & Glam}

  14. You're a lucky girl if you've got your own apartment, coffee in the cabinet and books on the shelf. {Paper & Glam}

  15. Don't lose too much weight. Girls are always trying to disappear as revenge. {Marty McConnell}

  16. If you miss someone, miss them. Send them life and love everytime you think of them, and then drop it. {Eat. Pray. Love.}

  17. Life is not meant to be lived in one place. We all need to leave and come back for all the same reasons. {Donald Miller}

  18. A Sunday well spent brings a weeks content.

  19. The sound of high heels on the pavement as you walk is the ultimate power trip, like you could be buying milk or on your way to assassinate someone.

  20. Live an exemplary life. Think about the woman you wanted to grow up to become, is that the person you see looking back at you in the mirror? If not, it's not too late to live a life of example. {Paper & Glam}

What's on your Twenty-Something Checklist? 

*The lines without the {source} are unknown. If you know the source, please share.

Happy Memorial Day!

Paper & Glam - Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day!

I hope you're enjoying a great long weekend and taking a moment to remember those who died defending our freedom and protecting our way of life.

There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.
{John 15:13}

Let's say hello to summer!

Back to business as usual on Wednesday. 

Rooted in Love

Paper & Glam - Rooted in Love
Spring is a time to focus on self-care and new growth, which makes it an ideal time to getaway and focus our attention on what God is doing in our lives. Jesus said, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest" (Mark 6:31). To honor that command, every spring I retreat to the mountains or the beach, to rest and reflect.

What intrigues me most is the mystery of how women - the allure - of how some women seem to pull it all together so effortlessly. You see them in business meetings - confident, assured, and in command. These women don't look frazzled, fatigued, or fed up; they look fabulous. They do not simply juggle; they fly through the air with the greatest of ease. What is their secret? Is it plenty of money, being well organized, positive thinking?  Perhaps it is something more profound: a deep spiritual connection. - Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort & Joy

A couple weeks ago, I retreated into the Rocky Mountains with a group of amazing women. We ate delicious meals, napped and sang, danced along to Pitch Perfect with popcorn and Trader Joe's cookie butter, chatted in the kitchen until midnight, and meditated on this idea of being rooted in love.

What does it look like to be so rooted, stable, and solid in God's gracious love for us that our emotions are no longer dictated by circumstance?

What if our hearts didn't sink when we see that ex-boyfriend we still love is engaged?
What if our identities weren't called into question by rejection?
What if we didn't instantly compare our lives to those of others when we browse Facebook & Instagram? What if the stresses of our performance-based careers didn't interfere with our lives outside of work?

When our identities are secure in Jesus Christ, that can be true of us. This botanical imagery of deep roots comes from the books of Ephesians and Colossians. Paper & Glam - Ephesians 3.16-19

When our security, love, care, and identity comes from our heavenly Father, we're not ruled by the ups-and-downs of our lives.

God is always at work whittling away the parts of us that don't belong in the men and women He designed us to become. Not only does He take parts of us that are holding us back, He also takes people, dreams, homes, and idols that are holding us back. Like a good parent, God loves to give joy to His children. He wants us to be happy, and as a result, He takes from us what won't bring us joy in the long-run. Some of our biggest disappointments, and deepest hurts, are actually manifestations of God's great love for us as He protects our lives and our identities, and preserves the futures He has planned for us.

In the hard moments, this is difficult to believe. We can't see the ending, and it's hard to trust that today's heartache will give rise to tomorrow's victory.

It takes faith to believe that if God says no to a good means God is up to something that will, eventually, have His glory written all over it. - Paula Rinehart

If we believe that God is protecting our hearts and lives, why are we upset when we don't get the boy, or the job, or the dream? If we truly trust God won't let us settle for anything but His best for our lives, we shouldn't be setback.

Our struggles in life can block our connection to God's love. When we're struggling it can be extremely difficult to feel loved and cared for. In those moments, we often perceive God as distant and uninvolved, when in reality He is intimately connected and always present.

When we're hurting, God doesn't feel trustworthy, and we struggle to trust His power and His goodness. But we need to learn to separate out our trials from God.

It's almost impossible to feel God in the present when we don't trust Him with the future.

When God says "no," we need to learn to thank Him, because He's always going to protect us from less than His best. As we're reminded in Matthew 7:9-11,sometimes we're praying for snakes.

Which of you fathers, if his son asks for a bread, will you give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, would you give him a snake? If you, then, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!

To live in God's peace and protection we need to stay rooted in God, and in the way He designed us to live. God created us for relationship with Him, He's constantly displaying His love and care for us, but we can't see it if we're not engaged, living in expectation of His grace and provision.

So how do we stay connected and rooted, stable and secure in God's love?

Here are the three ways we learned to root ourselves in love at the retreat:

{ONE} Pray for the power to truly know we are loved.

We can be strong when we know we are loved. God displays His love and care by His presence in our lives. As we learn to walk with Him, we learn to enjoy life as He intended.

Paper & Glam - Hiking the Apex Trail
We need to pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to help us grasp this "love that surpasses knowledge." Life can't topple us over when we understand and "grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ."

Our prayer should be, "Lord, please strength us with your power through the Spirit so that we feel your love so strongly our lives show it."

The outcome of that prayer is that Christ dwells in our hearts. Then we can see God's love all around us, which "builds us up" so that we are "overflowing with thankfulness." When we are rooted and established in God's love, it allows us to perceive His love, and when we know that love we are filled with the fullness of God. Love is both the source and the goal.

{TWO} Create space.

If our goal is to be permeated with Christ, we must engage with Him. God is always the gentlemen patiently waiting for us to invite him in. He won't force His way into our hearts.

He waits for us to create space for Him. We can't have a relationship with God or anyone else if we're not making time and space in our lives for the relationship to take root and grow.

How do we create space? The spiritual disciplines Paper & Glam - Colossians 2.7-9are a great place to start. The spiritual disciplines could each be posts in and of themselves, but for the sake a brevity, here's a list:

  • Prayer
  • Studying
  • Worship
  • Confession
  • Silence & Solitude
  • Fasting
  • Service
  • Hospitality
  • Thanksgiving
  • Celebration
  • Rest
  • Giving

Remember, it not up to us to make change happen in our lives (that's on the good Lord), it's only up to us to make ourselves available for the transformation.

{THREE} Retreat.

Get away, for the weekend or even for a few hours within our own home. Getting away from the hustle and the details of our daily lives can help us see what we don't need in our lives, what we should stop chasing (approval, love, success, material things), and what God wants us to let go of.

With a month of spring left to savor, we've still got some time to getaway to a quiet place and rest, so that we can comeback to our lives with a fresh eyes, ready for the new life that comes from the spring.

*Many of the insights in this post were shared by our wonderful speaker and teacher, Janine, from Biola University.