Edinburgh, Scotland

Standing at the window, I watched a young person vomit on to the street. The drinking binge officially ended and while I never met the person nor did they look up to my 4th floor room, I simply noted that vantage points matter.

A few days later, I sat at a table in a coffee shop and a plaque stated that this is where J.K. Rowling had written part of Harry Potter. She’d been a regular before Harry became huge. And I figured on that day, sometimes where you sit matters.

A friend gave us a tour that recounted the martyred covenanters and the day ended at Blackfriar’s cemetery. Once again, vantage points matter.

Yet, the waitress in a local pub is someone I remember as much as anyone else.

Brilliant Music - Patrick Watson and The Cinematic Orchestra

As a music geek, I can't help but be excited about last month and the month to come.  Allow me to share a couple profiles of who I consider to be the names of those responsible for creating music that can only be described as gorgeous.

As a lover of the genre affectionately known as "prog-rock", I have always loved thoughtful instrumental music.  First it was groups like Tristeza, Tortoise, and Unwed Sailor.  Then it was The Mercury Program.  But if you want the height of beautiful, introspective, emotional music, then look no further than The Cinematic Orchestra.  Each album is a brilliant progression over the last, but (with only the exception of their first album) their entire library of music is without peer.

Live drums, some sampling, string and horn sections, guest vocalists, pianos, synthesizers, light guitar work and other elements get shaken up in a bottle with jazz and fusion touches that combine into a mix all its own.  The songs can literally leave you breathless, while others will just grab you where you stand and freeze you in your tracks.  What makes it work is the orchestration is varied, simple, yet complex and delicate in the way it combines so much yet remains so intentional and sparing.  Never does it feel like too many instruments are playing too much.  The song literally is king with this group, and they know how to push just the right notes to create a maximum sense of aural euphoria.

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What Do You See in the Mirror?

A friend sent me an article the other day about what the author called "dirty moms". I posted it on my Facebook page, asking for opinions and received a variety of responses in all forms of my inboxes.

Based on what I read - we love beauty and beautiful things but resent feeling obligated to obtain it. Many acknowledged that inner beauty is what is important but still feel sucked in to comparing their outer beauty to what we see in magazines and on the screen. A few shared how this is amplified by physical disabilities, illness and lack of money. Another reminded me that when we criticize our appearance, we’re criticizing the work of God.

I believe God is aware of struggles. Perhaps Jesus experienced this to some point when He lived on earth in human form. Who knows?

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Female Friendships and the Art of Swimsuit Shopping

Well, today I had breakfast with a friend from long ago.  It was delightful to catch up.  I don't think we'd been together since 1993.  Yikes!  Really?  Allow me to recommend having breakfast with an old friend.  It was a pleasure.  

After breakfast I had a list of errands to face.  But guess what the first errand of the day was.  According to my own instructions, it was "Buy a new bathing suit."  Noooooooooo! 

Buying a new bathing suit is not a task that faint hearted women should face.  Men are TOTALLY different.  I know this because I have 4 of them in my life and they couldn't care less what they swim in.  They swim in the shorts they have on, their boxers, torn and faded board shorts from a hundred years ago, or, most favorite of all, nothing.  Left to their own devices, they would definitely swim in nothing.  Dorks.  

Call Vignettes- A Series of Surrenders 7- Compelled

My high school graduation gift was a plane ticket to Florida to visit my cousins.  I loved being with my older cousins who took me out and treated me like a princess.  Everything they did was big: big hugs, big parties, big mistakes, and big faith.  My Uncle Dale is kind of the patriarch of the group and one day when I stopped by his church he sat me down in his office.  He showed me a painting of the prophet Simeon and shared with me how that painting reminds him of his call and inspires his faith.  “What is your call?” he asked, leaning in intently.  “I don’t know. Something about the poor, something about helping people…” I hemmed and hawed.  “What inspires you to do that,” he asked.  “It doesn’t have to be something from the Bible.  Is there a piece of art or a song that compels you?”  It came to me immediately. “The Statue of Liberty,” I blurted out.  The poem on the statue brings me to tears every time I hear it. 

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31 Days to a Younger You

An energetic speaker and writer, Arlene Pellicane has been featured on The Hour of Power, The 700 Club, and Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah. Her new book, 31 Days to a Younger You: No Surgery, No Diets, No Kidding, has just been published by Harvest House. In it Arlene offers practical solutions to look and feel younger, especially if you want to have more energy, be happier and healthier, and prevent illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.

"All this and more is possible when you take an honest look in the mirror, both at your body and your soul, and allow God to touch your life," writes Arlene. Many women have already found value in Arlene's beauty and health tips, along with her biblical encouragement to "grow more beautiful from the inside out." 

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Whitewashing and Fashion Magazines

It's common knowledge that fashion magazines touch up photographs of models. If this is news to you, I'm sorry to have to break this to you; the faces you see on covers of magazines in the check-out counter at the grocery store are no more real than cartoon characters. Jennifer Anniston really isn't that thin. The Kardashian cheekbones don't look like that in real life. Images in fashion magazines are conjured by artists, manipulated and carefully sculpted to deliver a message - mainly that you will never look like this but, you should try as hard you can to.

The process a model goes through to be deemed photographable and the subsequent manipulation of the photograph are well documented in this video that Dove did as part of it's Campaign for Real Beauty several years ago.

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Disposable Self-Worth

The other day a friend gave me one of those cool insulated water bottles. On the bottle was a sticker that gave the number of disposable plastic bottles that would be saved by using this reusable water bottle. (I never realized that plastic bottles were in need of being saved but perhaps that is another post.)

The sticker got me thinking – we really are a disposable society. We like to use something a few times and then throw it away. It’s much easier and faster. There is no need to clean it, store it or to take care of it. When we’re done with it or tired of it, we can toss it and replace it.

In many ways it feels as if this disposable mentality has infiltrated other areas of our lives. It has moved beyond the items we use in our external lives and has attacked us in the way we many of us see our self-worth.

Broken Shells Through the Eyes of a Child

Broken Shells 

 

Yesterday I was hunting for shells on the beach with my six year old daughter Maeve.  It is one of her favorite beach hobbies and in San Diego we often get really low tides that make the search all the more fun. 

While we were walking the beach together she would run ahead of me, dig out a shell, and run back to ask “Is this a good one?”  Most of the time I would put it in my pocket, but on one occasion, I said, “Nah, it’s broken, we only want the whole ones” and threw it back onto the sand.   

Maeve’s response caught me off guard.  She ran over, picked up the broken piece of clam shell, and said “But it’s still beautiful to me.” 

When we got back to our chairs she showed me a bucket of all of the shells she had found while I was out surfing – more than half of them were broken fragments of shells that at one time had been whole.  Most of us would walk by them on our search for shells that were perfectly complete, but to her, the broken pieces of those once unbroken shells were worth something. 

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Redefining Beauty

I work from home most days. It’s really nice, especially since the lack of a commute saves me time and money. One morning I knew I wasn’t going to see anyone else until late afternoon. The kids were at school, Mark was at the office so I decided to save even more time and go with the “natural” look. I skipped my daily routine of putting on make-up. In a hurry to take advantage of my extra time, I jumped right into work.

About an hour after I started, the doorbell rang. I peeked out the window and saw it was our delivery guy in search of a signature. When I opened the door he looked at me and seemed thrown off a bit, “Oh, you’re home. I sure hope I didn’t wake you.” 

Hmmm…why did he say that? I didn’t delay in answering the door. It was almost 10:00 a.m. on a weekday. Why would he think I’d still be in bed?

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