Jan 17, 2017

May 3, 2016

New Season

I love the power of words. I love reading them in books (as my shelves upon shelves can attest), and I love speaking them in groups both big and small. But I am not very fond of writing them (probably because my mind works faster than I type and in general I don’t care for rules, most especially those of the grammar sort). Hence the absence from this media space. Well, that, and . . .

We have been in the midst of great change — big decisions, a bittersweet move, new frontiers, and casting a new vision.

During the summer of 2014, my husband and I felt a stirring that God may be calling us to something new, but we couldn’t pinpoint any specifics. At the end of that summer we were on a family hike in Highlands, North Carolina. We rounded a bend and came to a huge clearing with a spectacular view of the North Carolina mountains. While enjoying the view, my husband looked over at me and simply said, “It’s time.” Two simple words that communicated so much. My eyes welled up with tears because I knew in my heart, It’s time meant God was calling us out again. It’s time meant us leaving the holy place and precious people that we had called home for the last 10 years — the home in which we’d welcomed and gathered hundreds of people, added two babies to our brood, and brought two more precious children home from Haiti — the home that had pieces of our hearts scattered all around the huge land on which we lived. It’s time meant handing over a mission program and leaving an organization that felt more like a family. It’s time meant a new level of trust.

No, the fact was not lost on me that God was calling us to come down the mountain as we were literally standing on top of one.

So we began the process to go. We knew it would not be a simple one and that it would have many moving parts. We announced in the fall of 2014 that we would be leaving in July of 2015. So we had nearly a year of bittersweet goodbyes and thoughtful preparation to leave behind something so good.

I was so very thankful that in the words of the children’s writer, A.A, Milne:
How lucky I am to have something that 
makes saying goodbye so hard.

One would think that if you were called to go (and you had six kids) then you would have a place to land before you decided to leave. But nope, not us. We knew we were supposed to commit, and then God would open the doors for us to go through.

I think one of God’s favorite games to play with His children is the wait and see game. We wait until He is good and ready to show us what His plans are for us. During this game, we get to seek, trust, and try not to throw a hissy fit when His timing is SO different than ours. It was not until Easter of last year that God confirmed to us where we were to go. . .

A place I had called home before, the place we were married and our family’s story began, a place with vast ocean and white sand — He called us back to Pensacola, Florida. My husband was offered a job that was created with him in mind, and I was given wide open spaces to dream creative, Spirit-sized dreams.

This year has been one of transition and putting down roots. It is no small task to adjust a tribe of children to a new environment, new schools, and all the details that go with a big family move. As we approach the end of our first school year, I finally feel like the dust is beginning to settle and God is revealing a new vision for our family.

I believe He has new plans for this media space as well — along with my voice, there will be a chorus of women (organic sisterhood) that inspire me. They will give words and expression to their beautiful, messy stories. Our prayer is that this be a space to dream together, to create, to inspire, to rest, to find beauty and hear truth, to laugh, and to be a launching pad for us to set the world on fire.   

So one chapter (a very beautiful and meaningful one with recurring characters) has ended and a new one is beginning. And I know God writes the best stories. I pray you will join us on this journey and continue to read along.

photo credits: first four images - laurajmcdonaldphotography.com, last four images - moriahelisabethphotography.com

Apr 25, 2015

The Greatest Love Story Ever

by guest contributor Heather Khym

Last weekend I had the privilege of attending the Life Teen women’s retreat in Georgia at Camp Covecrest. Nestled away in the Georgia mountains, the beauty of the land itself speaks deeply of God’s presence. There’s something about that place, the mix of the rhythm of the community’s prayer and God’s creation, that exudes peace and makes you breathe deeper. The blessings from that weekend were pressed down, shaken together, running over with the abundance of God as almost 200 women came together to pray, rest, laugh, confess, restore, eat, sing, listen, and have a few spontaneous dance parties together :)  Women from ages 18-80 and from every stage and walk of life had a weekend to reflect on the greatest love story ever, God’s story . . . and it was amazing. It was a feast, and everyone was welcomed at the table.

God’s love story, which is my love story, is something I’ve been pondering for a while now and letting it change me has been the daily work of my heart. I remember years ago reading The Simple Path by Blessed Mother Teresa and she said, 
“When you know how much God is in love with you then you can only live your life radiating that love.” 
My first reaction was my jaw hitting the floor and my second reaction was joy welling up into uncontainable laughter. I knew that God “loved” me, I mean we all know the song the bible tells us so, but God is “in love” with me???? It rocked my world and in fact began to change my whole understanding of Him and who I am in light of that love. In my mind, I can sometimes reduce loving someone to sacrificing and doing the right thing, a sort of obligatory response when you’re a good person, but being in love is completely different. God is in love with us, with me.

Every woman craves a good love story — whether it be the undying devotion of Noah Calhoun in The Notebook or the catch in Mr. Darcy’s voice in Pride and Prejudice when he finally tells the adored Elizabeth he loves her — these stories speak to the deepest desires of our heart, to be loved and adored completely. But, to understand deep in our bones that WE are in the middle of the greatest love story ever told and WE are the beloved ones who are being pursued is often hard to believe. The thing is, so many of us are wandering through our days in such a fog of busyness, worry, and “get ‘er done,” that we often don’t take time to remember the love story that God has been writing over our lives. Instead, we live with an amnesia of the soul, seemingly asleep and struggling to rediscover our identity and purpose. We get stuck in small stories, looking at adventure through a window while we ache for something real and wild.

This weekend was an opportunity to bring us back to what is real because we had time to rest and allow God to whisper and woo our hearts again. The warmth of His love dispelled the fog and things got clear. Throughout the weekend, I witnessed so much beauty as women began waking up to the knowledge that they are the beloved ones. I left with a full heart, but a couple of big questions lingered: What will they do when they go home? Will they stay awake and have their lamps ready for the Bridegroom’s return? 

If everything that was experienced that weekend turns out to be another memory box that stays in the closet, then we really have gained very little. If, on the other hand, we take what we received and we allow it to be integrated into our hearts, our daily lives, our families and offer it to the world, then the gifts multiply and everyone continues to receive. The daily investment in friendship, personal and communal prayer, sacraments, self care, rest, joy, and sharing the love of Christ MUST become the essentials of regular life, not just the retreat experience. The world definitely does not need more mediocre Christians. What the world needs is people who are willing to become fully alive as beloved ones bringing Jesus to an aching world. When women come together and are unified in the mission of Christ, we are a force to be reckoned with. My prayer is that all of us, and so many more, who have awakened to the love story, will be one of the most powerful forces of beauty, love, and healing that the world has ever known. Be brave, live fully, love deeply.

Heather Khym is an established worship leader with over 18 years of experience. She has led worship at many youth and adult retreats as well as national conferences. Before joining Life Restoration (www.liferestoration.ca) she travelled throughout North America working with young people and leading worship. Her ministry has included working with Franciscan University of Steubenville, REACH Youth Ministries, Life Teen, and the Archdiocese of Vancouver. Currently, Heather speaks on a variety of topics, leads conferences, worship events, retreats, as well as offers music ministry training and women’s ministry.

Feb 19, 2015

Preparing for Lent (Part 2)

In the previous post we talked about the three tools that God has given to approach the season of Lent. God wants to bring life into the areas that are dead . . . He wants to bring light into the darkness . . . He wants us to be ready for the fullness he has for us. . . . When the Israelites spent 40 years in the desert, what happened at the end? They crossed over to the promised land. When Jesus went into the desert he faced his temptations and then he emerged after 40 days and started his public ministry.

The question I asked myself this morning is this — What needs to die and what needs to be resurrected in my life by the end of this Lent?

The Church in her wisdom gives us these tools not for us to do more things but for us to become HIS FULLY. Because if we set time to pray he has our time and our mind; if we fast he has our bodies; and when we give alms, he has our heart. During Lent God is showing us he wants us completely surrendered to Him. It is more than giving up Chick-fil-a on Fridays. It is about feasting on His presence.

Fasting — a tool to heal ourselves to God

I don’t know about you but I am not a good faster. In fact I can’t stand it. I want to do the exact opposite of what scripture says. I want to blow my own trumpet and say, “Hey listen everybody, I am fasting here, so watch out!” And I swear there is a correlation for my craving Chik-fil-a every Friday during Lent.

About two years ago I had a turning point in the power of fasting. We had just brought our two adopted children home from Haiti six months prior and I was spent. If you have ever been through an adoption process it is spiritually and emotionally exhausting. I was caring for six children, half of them with special needs, and my tank was literally running on fumes. A dear friend came to me and said if you don't start taking care of yourself you are going to crash.

She gave me the scripture “love the Lord” — Matthew 22:38

Love your neighbor as yourself — how was I loving myself? Loving myself seemed selfish and not life giving. I went on a 21-day detox/fast and I was planning on praying for my children but I felt very convicted to pray for myself to break whatever was in me that was blocking good self-care. I won’t go into details on this post but it was life changing. Yes, I lost a lot of adoption “baby weight” but I felt like something in me was intrinsically different. In that 3-week time period I did a lot of repenting of different ways that I had not loved myself well. It began my journey of learning good self-care, which I am still on.

Fasting is not a diet. It is not about changing the way you look, it is about changing the way you see. It is about aligning your heart and vision with God’s heart and vision. Fasting moves us to where God can change us and use us. The prophet Isaiah tells us of a true fast:

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear.”
— Isaiah 58:6-8a

Almsgiving - giving our hearts to God

If God has your money he has your heart. I have always seen giving alms as an invitation to join God in restoring and building His kingdom. It blows my mind that the God of heaven and the universe wants to partner with little ol’ me to bring about His work.
For me and my family we approach it as what is God putting on our hearts? We are passionate about Missions, so we give to local Mission organizations; we are passionate about families, so we invest in adoption funds; and I am passionate about women’s dignity. When we prepare to tithe and give alms my first reaction is but what if something happens and we need that money? It is my battle with trusting God to meet my needs. It is my battle with excess and it is my battle with self sufficiency.

Last week we sat down to do bills, budgets, and tithes — Oh my . . . one of my least favorite ways to spend time with the hubby. After going through the bills and budgets part we came down to tithing. We felt we should give big (so we did) and then later that day I became anxious and went to my first reaction what if we need that money? Then I felt a sense of peace that God would take care of this. Later that evening I received a call that someone wanted to give us a donation for twice as much as we had given away that morning. Once again God wanted to teach me about His faithfulness, which always overrides my doubt.
The Lord has continued to show me in the last few years that He can't be outdone in generosity. In Live of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World, Henri Nouwen says, “Our humanity comes to its fullest bloom in giving. We become beautiful people when we give whatever we can give: a smile, a handshake, a kiss, an embrace, a word of love, a present, a part of our life . . . all of our life.” I want to be in full bloom and I want to continue to ask myself how can we give radically.

As our Lenten journey truly begins I invite you to ask yourself some of the hard questions as well. What might need to die in you? What might need to be resurrected in your life by the time we reach our destination?


Feb 10, 2015

Preparing for a beautiful Lenten journey …

Lent is just around the corner. In the past, I have not been one who gets all giddy about Lent, but in recent years my feelings have shifted and I have started to see Lent as a beautiful journey . . . a journey back to the heart of God. Herein lies the catch with me: when you go on a journey you usually pack a bag for the trip. I am a self-admitted bag lady. When I go on a trip I bring at least three bags — one for clothes, one for makeup and such, and one for books. (I not only have a coffee addiction but a book one as well.) And I approach Lent with my bag lady mentality. I don’t keep it simple, I always bring extra. I have these grandiose ideas of sacrifice, prayer time, and charity. In my mind I feel like I can become the poster girl of where charity and love prevail. Then a week into it, that fades. . . . So this lent, I want to pack simply and intentionally for the journey. I want to choose things that will help me repent (turn around) so I can see Jesus eye-to-eye, and grasp His hand to walk me through the journey. I want to come out of this season of Lent bursting forth with some new life. I want to see lasting change in my heart, my spirit, my marriage, and my family.

Let’s just chat about Lent to make sure we all have the same road map for the journey. Lent is a time in the “desert” or “wilderness.” In the Bible, these two words are often interchanged. To us English readers, this might be confusing because we think of wilderness as green and living and think of desert as dry, sandy and dead. For our journey this Lent, “desert” and “wilderness” both refer to places of few or no permanent inhabitants and places of solitude; NOT places lacking water or vegetation. The season of Lent, the 40 days preceding Easter, is based on two Biblical accounts: the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the desert and our Lord’s 40 days in the desert leading up to his temptation by Satan. These two stories do not conjure up feelings of beauty or invitation. Instead, they leave me thinking about long car rides with children asking, “Are we there yet?”

What if we changed our lens to see the desert as an invitation to come closer to the one who knows us inside and out, who formed us, who delights in us, who is in constant pursuit of our hearts? What if Lent becomes a time of resting in Him? I am thinking Lent is a time for God to fine tune His voice (and us to fine tune our ears) so we can hear him more clearly.

The Church, in her beautiful wisdom, knows we need a season to return, to repent (which means to turn around) and to be healed. A dear friend of mine, Sr. Miriam, gave one of the most powerful teachings on Lent a few years ago. She said that Lent is a time for healing, a season to bring about real change in our hearts, and the church has given us the tools of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to help us heal the wounded areas of our lives. Prayer heals our relationship with God, fasting heals our relationship with ourselves, and almsgiving heals our relationship with our neighbor and our community. So, the question I am asking is how do I need to pray, fast, and give to restore my relationship with my loving Father? We can give up Diet Coke for 40 days or even (GASP!) coffee but is that going to change my heart? God is leading me into the desert to speak tenderly to me. In what areas of my life do I long for him to speak?

I know for me our family is in a time of transition and I need clarity, so speak tenderly to me in that, Lord. I know I am in constant battle with surrendering my kids to the Lord. I still think I need to help Him be savior in their lives, so speak tenderly to me in that, too. I know I have trust issues (maybe just one or two) — speak tenderly to me there as well.

To keep our journey simple, let’s just focus on a few things. First, the three ways the church recommends to heal us in our Lenten Journey — prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. I would also like to focus in this journey on the locations that we will travel from and to. Starting with the wilderness and the dessert. So let’s begin with prayer (next week I’ll cover fasting and almsgiving).

I am a big fan of devotionals because they keep it simple and focused. Here are two of my favorite Lenten resources for women:
Blessed is She
This is a beautiful online community — Facebook and Instagram — that has devotionals based on the Catholic Mass Readings of the day. They take the readings of the day and offer reflections that are authentically real and relevant to a woman’s heart and life.

She Reads Truth
An amazing online community of women that are diving into the word of God together in online forums — Instagram and Facebook. They are women from different denominations with the common belief that the word of God is so very true, living, active, and has the power to transform our lives.

I really would love some companions on this beautiful journey of Lent. Would you “bag lady” it up with me and come along?


Jan 7, 2015

What's Your Word for 2015?

This year I actually made goals, wrote them down, and put them in a monthly, weekly, and daily checklist . . . aren’t you proud of me? But what I am really excited about is choosing a “word” for the year. This “word” is a word, phrase or concept that resonates in your heart — maybe something you want to cultivate in your life, something that your soul needs or even something that God wants to teach or show you in the upcoming year.

A new year always brings newness and freshness. For me, 2015 has already begun with change — I am feeling it all around, filled with stirrings of hope and glimpses of light. One of my favorite quotes for the new year is from my man G.K. Chesterton:

A new soul needs a word. What is my word? My anchor? My lighthouse? To find out I prayed, pondered, and searched (gotta love Pinterest). Nothing jumped out at me. One night as I was reading a book, the word serenity jumped off the page. That was it — serenity. Really God, serenity? How about vibrant, sassy, bold, intimate, passionate?  Serenity wasn’t even in my ballpark . . . or so I thought. So, what does serenity mean to me? Serenity is a noun that means the state of being calm, peaceful and untroubled.  Yes, Lord, I do desire serenity — especially since 2015 will be a year of transition for our family.

I had my word but I did not feel like I was finished. If you know me well, you know that I have never let rules restrict me. I am a more of a “color outside of the lines” kind of girl, so I was perfectly fine with not limiting myself to one word. There was another word for me and I knew it. As I was reading through a description of nature on an Instagram feed, I was filled with awe (defined as a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder; astonishment). As I reflected on the beauty of creation, the word “awe” rested in my heart. That’s it! Awe is my other word.

Shortly after that I came across the scripture from Habakkuk 3:2 — “LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known.”

Serenity and Awe — my two words for 2015. Putting both of these words together makes perfect sense for what God has been teaching me — the beauty and goodness of living in healthy tension. This year is a year of both roots and wings, serenity and awe. He wants to root me in His serenity as our family finishes one season and enters another, but also to give me wings that grow as we stand in AWE of what only He can do.

Welcome to 2015. There is so much to share, so many things I can’t wait to journey with you through, so much beauty yet to be transformed in ourselves and in the world.  Thank you so much for being patient with this venture as we get our legs up under us. Now we are ready to run (okay, maybe skip) into 2015.  

Nov 12, 2014

Why We Give Back (and to whom)

When you purchase a Transforming Beauty Shop product, you are investing in the lives of those in need. Transforming Beauty believes that when women invest in themselves purely and simply for the sake of all mankind, women cannot help but invest in others. Transforming Beauty partners with amazing organizations that invest in others in three areas:

Invest in the Individual — Rahab’s Rope (rahabsrope.com)

Rahab’s Rope is a 501(c)(3) that exists to give hope and opportunity to women and girls that are at risk or have been forced into the commercial sex trade of India. By creating a safe and loving environment, they are enabled to grow and develop physically, mentally, and spiritually. Rahabs Rope provides basic education and vocational training for each girl and woman who comes through their centers; ultimately allowing them to integrate into their communities in a positive and constructive manner. Fifteen percent of gross profits from women’s products goes directly to Rahab’s Rope.

Invest in the Family — Adoption

Our world literally shook the day of the Haiti earthquake in 2010. This was the beginning of our adoption journey with our two children from Haiti and our personal introduction to the realities of orphan care and adoption. There are roughly 147 million orphans worldwide. Transforming Beauty partners with individuals and organizations to support loving care for orphans and for families willing to adopt. Fifteen percent of gross profits from children’s products goes to Adoption & Orphan Care ministries. If you are a family looking to adopt and would like to use our shirts as a fundraiser please contact us. We would love to support you!

Invest in the Community — JOYN India (joynindia.com)

To bring real hope and lasting change to impoverished places, you have to bring opportunity, to give people the chance and the dignity to pull themselves out of poverty. At the heart of JOYN lies a desire to see lives changed; to see those crippled by poverty and hardship dance for joy. In order to do this, JOYN has partnered with a nonprofit called JoyCorps to provide employees with not only steady jobs and a good work environment, but a daily meal plan, education for their children, English and vocational training, and medical care. JOYN sells beautiful products handmade by artisans who do 100 percent of the work, from weaving to block printing to stitching. This brings JOY to those who make the products, and JOY to those who buy them. We will be selling many of their beautiful products on our website as a way to support and sustain their ministry.

For more on the “what” (is a Transforming Beauty woman?) and the “how” (this whole venture came to be), please visit www.transformingbeautyshop.com and click on the OUR STORY link.