If this Child were born today–
The population of Jerusalem, at the time of Christ, was 40,000. Because of the tax decree and Passover, the population had swollen to a quarter of a million.The population of South Jordan is 60,000. (The town I live in)
Then, like us, they were caught up in the pressures of the day. They had no Kitchen Aid to help them prepare the Passover bread. Wives had the in-laws over, and felt the pressure of a mother-in-law’s gaze assessing her domestic skills. The husbands were pulling overtime as the town was over run with tourists. If they had had access to it–the out-of-towners would have been on Yelp figuring out where they could eat, complaining on social media and the lack of accommodations and over crowding. Undoubtedly, they would have left bad reviews on Travelocity.
They were focused on their comforts, jobs and other’s opinion of them, just as we are today. Tucked into our lives, we are comfortable and only worry about what others think of us Perhaps that is why the angels came to shepherds and not politicians..
Sheep herding used to be a noble profession, but after captivity in Egypt, the Jewish people adopted the view of those around them. The Egyptian’s idea was that shepherds were lowly, dirty and without influence. It was a lowly position like how we may view a Hell’s Angel biker. These shepherds were uneducated, mere hired hands watching sheep which were not even theirs. They were so lowly that they were not permitted to attend temple services—they literally were not able to go to church. Their profession was viewed as low as a dung sweeper or a tax collector!
So, when a baby was born in a meager manger, just a feeding trough for animals, the rulers of the land didn’t come. Sheperds, the low of the low, fell on bended knee, worshipping.
Wise men did come. After years of searching, they watched for the signs– they looked. They asked, “Have you heard of the Christ Child? Have you … have you? We have seen the signs!” They shared with all who would listen–even Herod. On bended knee, their silken robes pressed into the dirt, they offered gifts that a carpenter’s family would never be able to possess.
When the time came to flee into Egypt, how did they fund their travel? Perhaps through the wise men’s gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, the very temporal needs of daily life and relocation were answered.
They couldn’t offer the little family protection from those that would kill for political power or governmental control over men and wealth. Those forces overlooked the humble birth because of social class snobbery. You see they weren’t like ‘us’. The religious leaders overlooked the Christ; because He didn’t preach of war craft to over throw oppressors. He preached of peace, of the human heart, of forgiveness and of forsaking worldly wealth and power. All to be given when needed to serve God. He told them to leave behind their daily concerns for heavenly ones. The answers given were not popular–the media channels in Jerusalem didn’t put Christ on the front cover as Man of the Year. He wasn’t flashy, his followers didn’t even hold down jobs. The Jewish people missed the Messiah because they wanted a leader who would take away ALL their problems which suppressed them. They did not want a leader who said that by faith you will walk through your challenges and promised the way would not be easy. But it would be worth it.
They wanted a quick fix, soooo much like us today. Do we over look Christ’s message because it isn’t the answer we want? We see life tidy, in plot lines and look to gurus and Google for answers. Our society twists facts to fit the answer it wants, while ignoring God’s law and mocking faith as ignorance.
Why not use some kind of mass communication to brand the message and take control of the story line; get ahead of the opposition party! Wouldn’t that have worked better? ‘Like’ today’s post on Facebook or Instagram! Oh wait, that could turn ugly fast as people slandered Mary and let King Herod know the exact location of the Christ child.
God doesn’t work in mass announcements. He works quietly to the heart of each of us. He works with the lowest of the low. He works with us in our lowest times. When we are hurt, afraid, rejected; is that not when we hear the Angels sing the loudest? We want gifts that sweep aside our worldly concerns. Yet he builds us stronger through refining us and lifts our load with us. Is that not when we look up and see the signs of Christ’s light illuminating our path through the darkness of doubt? Do we await the dawn of redeeming Grace?
When we stand outside the false warmth of other’s good opinions, we can behold God’s Son touching our hearts.
Would we behold God’s Son? Would we hear the Angels sing of Peace,Comfort, Joy, Compassion, Redemption?
God calls to any, and all, who will believe. He asks us to testify one on one–will you? Will you? When we are busy with life’s pressures will we hear the Angel’s call? We are no better than a shepherd in Christ’s time. We parents have been asked to guard that which isn’t even ours. We are merely hirelings asked to spread the good news.
The lowest of the low and the wisest of the wise sought out the Holy infant. Will we be among them? Would we praise with Grateful hearts? It is my testimony that the Gift of the Savior is enough for our darkest day, our heaviest burden, He is the light. He welcomes all–even you and I.
My grandmother just died.
I am sitting here, typing, because death brings emotions we are supposed to process to express. So I’m checking, looking into finding words to say what I feel right now.
Grandmommie and I had little to no relationship. For years I wished it were different. The problem was Grandmommie loved me but she didn’t like me. You can love someone deeply but not like them. I realized that a thousand times in little moments but couldn’t put it into words in my own mind until I was in my early 20’s. I chased after her wanting her to approve of me, to find something she could like… but it always came back to the words she said and the disapproval. It hurt then. It hurt a lot. Especially in contrast with her words that were kind and approving for others. Those words, however much I craved them, were not for me. I learned to accept it. As I got older, in learning to like me I had to remove her voice from my head.
When I was a newlywed she and my Grandfather would be traveling just 35 miles north of my home on a cross-country trip to go see my sister. This was great, they would be so close to me they could come see my life, see my cute little home and see me…really see me. Like a dream scene, I saw it clicking in their eyes that I wasn’t a loser. My husband wasn’t crazy for marrying me. They had asked him at our wedding why would he marry me? He was so impressive and I was so unaccomplished. It was the one smear on a perfect day.
BUT if they came to my house they would really see me, raw, and of course they would like me. They would be proud…when I made the invitation explaining it would be a small detour and I would make them a meal, I wanted them to see my home…the reply, “it’s not worth it, you understand Leta.”
And I did. I understood.
They didn’t say it in a mean tone. The facts were simply that detouring from the goal, the pre-plan wasn’t worth it—for me. I just wasn’t a priority. I got it. I hung up that phone and for the first time at 24 years old I forgave them for not liking me. I forgave them for not caring and promised myself to not expect it from them. That the hurt I felt wasn’t their fault it was mine for wanting something that couldn’t be given. They had been consistent in their approach to me—it was I who kept hoping for something different. I was causing me this pain.
I didn’t cry. It was what it was.
They are good people; they are loving and solicitous to many in the family. Just not to me, and that day I got it, I understood and I let be what was.
Going forward my responsibility was, as the Bible says, to “Honor thy father and thy mother.” I did that. I honored them with living a good life.
At times our paths would touch and I noticed I could let the disapproval slide. It was just their perception. They didn’t see me, the real me. And that was—well, I don’t say this in a tone; I say this matter-of-factly, with no bitterness—their loss. I didn’t have to make it my loss. I moved on.
One day 17 years after the day I let be what was.
I got a call in November 2012 and I was 39 years old—it was Grandmommie. She started by telling me about her mother, her voice was tenderly emotional. I had never heard this side of her. I didn’t know how to respond. I listened as she shared feelings with me. Then she said it, words that I’d never heard her say, “I am sorry.” She apologized for how she had treated me saying she “had wronged me”—we had a moment. A moment that I never anticipated having until at the feet of Christ. I felt it, she meant her words—the most amazing part was I felt forgiveness, the realization that I had forgiven her long before. I wanted to make this easy for her. I said, “thank you, this means a lot.” She told me she respected me, how I had dealt with the death of my daughter, she respected my connection with God.
Then it was over.
I would call on special days; we would talk for a moment. She would ask me about my parents, especially about my mom, her daughter. They talked often with her and she would want to know from me how Mom was really; my mother has health issues, skipping along the surface, never deeper. My mother told me that is all she needed to feel close. I don’t know really how to have a surface relationship, and I am not capable of duplicity, but I could have these brief conversations with Grandmommie. I could give her that.
I had received more from her than I ever thought I would in this life. I didn’t give into the hope that there would be more tender conversations, there weren’t. I helped buy her an iPad. She was grateful. That was the closest we ever came in the last 3 years.
Now. Right now. I know my grandmother and I are closer than we have ever been.
She isn’t truly gone, she is with my daughter, and she is in a good place where all the cloudiness of earthly perception will melt away. It’s more likely now than it ever was that she might stop by and see my life, see my house, see what I have created and say the words, feel the words I only heard once. She will be proud of me. She will even like me. She will get me. My exuberant personality that always bothered her as so inappropriate and unlady-like—I think she will find herself able to laugh with me now.
I am funny. I am really likeable.
Grandmommie helped me see that, because her perception made me really look at my own self-perception. She taught me that I can’t see myself through other’s eyes and I cannot expect or need from others what they cannot give.
So here I sit a couple of hours after her death thankful she was my grandmother. Because she taught me to forgive, to love others for who they are and to let be what is.
Will be seeing you around.
Nathaniel and Ailsa yelled out “Happy Birthday Katelynn” excitedly seeing the balloons marking birthday: they are thrilled to see how their April Fools pranks are going. I got a bowl of salty cereal. They got me good. Grilling me on what surprises are to come, it’s a happy morning with more happy things on the way. I got some good kisses, perhaps because of that mouthful I swallowed with good humor. There were hugs, a prayer and they are out the door to school happy. That is what we want. You will hear laughter in the Greene house today.
Any mom knows that feeling when you first look in your baby’s eyes; it can’t be explained, its beyond description the love you feel and the recognition that a piece of your heart is always theirs. Katelynn would be six today. I can tell you that six years seemed impossible, yet here we are not only moving forward but happy. We are not happy she is gone, but happy that she ever came. Happy that I am her mom. Happy, and as funny as this sounds, that I am sane. Really, when I was first approached to write a book about Katelynn, my main concern was that I may be crazy later on, broken in despair. I am not, we are not, because we choose to be happy.
People tell me, “isn’t it a comfort to know where she is?” Yes, it is, but not really.
She is my baby. She is supposed to be here with me; I’m supposed to be crying over her first day of Kindergarten, not crying that my heart still wants to hold her… I could go down that path of bitter loss, but I won’t. That is not hotness. What does bring me comfort is that death has not changed that I am her mother. I am still Katelynn’s mom. I am Nathaniel’s mom. I am Ailsa’s mom. I am their mom.
That brings me comfort.
That gives me strength.
That brings joy.
She is learning as I am learning, teaching as I am teaching—we have an interaction. She sees me at my worst and my best; she sees me as none of my living children can. I joke that out of my three children she is the most demanding of my time and talents.
Here is the problem we moms have. It’s not easy giving our kids what they need, day after day, year after year. We wonder if we can do it. I wondered when Katelynn was placed in my arms if I could see her endure the life she had before her. We knew it wouldn’t be “normal” and it wasn’t. We never imagined it would be so short. Your mind just doesn’t go there, it can’t comprehend. Here is something odd: I still can’t comprehend it. I am in awe that six years later we still doing so well. I wish I could say its because I am just that awesome. Yep… I am that strong. But, I am not.
I pleaded, bargained, begged and agonized, searching for a different way than a life without her.
I want to be a good mom. I prayed for strength. That prayer uttered a thousand times has been enough; it’s become a habit I don’t even have to swallow hard to say. I thank God in every prayer for the comfort and guidance he gives us. I wonder if my husband even hears that line anymore that I have said it so many times. God does hears it, however.
My husband and I have talked many times in awe of what God has done. It’s not us. We were like two riders holding on to bucking horse hoping it would be over soon.
What you see the public me, I wouldn’t be the same without Katelynn. I had no ambition to be a speaker, to up my game in my makeup business. I was perfectly content to raise my kids, but I wanted more. I didn’t get what I wanted, so as a second option I followed the promptings given to build up my speaking. You know that question: what would you do, how would you live if you had no fear? I know the answer. I’m living it now. Nothing can hurt me like saying Goodbye to Katelynn did. One by one, I’ve let go of the things that hurt me and that held me back from being what God wants me to be. Because I am a mom, I can do hard things, I can do all things through God.
Before I became a mom, people advised me to take the time I drive with my kids in the car as an opportunity to talk to them. I’ve taken that idea on the road. I love the moments of bonding with my kids, hearing about their day, singing songs and having heart-to-hearts. The other day my son asked one of those really important questions during one of our drives. He said, “How do you know if you are doing what God wants?”
I was feeling very pleased with myself in a moment of motherhood eloquence as I answered his question. I could tell my answer had an effecton him, as he was looking thoughtfully ahead into the passenger side mirror. I knew he was deep in thought, perhaps looking into his soul. When he spoke I knew it would be profound… “Mom,” (pause) “how do I not have a mustache right now?!”
And then the moment was gone.
It just whizzed by.
I wish I could tell you that later the conversation picked up where it left off. But in reality, I don’t know if he heard a word I said, as he was so engrossed in the mystery of his facial hair.
That’s just kind of how motherhood goes doesn’t it?
My daughter recently said, “When I grow up, the first one I want to be like is Jesus” (How perfect is that? As I hear this, I am mentally high fiving myself!), “and the second one I want to be like is you, because you are so awesome.” (can I say proud momma?), “I don’t want to be like Daddy,” (what?!), “because he is a man. And I don’t want to be a man.” (the things kids say sometimes!)
I guess my kids are really thinking things through well…well at least they are thinking…even if they are saying things like, “It’s not my fault I am a good farter!” (my son didn’t say this—my daughter did). Or “My pits stink! They are wet and furry!” (that one WAS my son). Or my personal favorite quote, a commentary on my motherhood… “I’m hotness’s son.” Yeah, I guess at least they are learning something.
I am a Hot momma.
If you look up “mature eyes” on any internet search engine, you will find a pitch for skincare products and surgery. This perpetuates the idea that only young eyes (the kind that are airbrushed beyond reason) are beautiful. I am out to change that perception! When I meet with my clients face-to-face, I teach them about what I call the Anti-Aging Line™.
When I teach them about the Anti-Aging Line™, I find women refer their friends to me like crazy; because once you understand this, you really can improve your makeup application. I have been collecting pictures of my willing clients so you can see this on other eye shapes— that way you can find the Anti-Aging Line™ on yourself.
Find line between the corner of your nose, eye and where your brows should end.
Here is my mug:
Here is a close up.
Notice how I keep my makeup within the purple line? Each part of my makeup pulls the viewer up to where I want them to look. I don’t accentuate the downward angle of my eyes, because that points out the wrinkles. If I were to draw my makeup on my lid like we typically are taught, I would be accentuating the wrinkle, or the hinge that is there. When we are young, our eyes are angled up and we can do fun and funky makeup applications—but as the eyes come down, that doesn’t work. I’ve found that if you keep your makeup within the line, you are fine!
If you would like individual help with this, I can meet with you one-on-one in person or through Skype! You can contact me by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling me toll free at (801) 455-7364. I’ll have a video up soon showing you more about the Anti-Aging Line™.
Before my daughter, Katelynn Faith was born, we knew she had a rare chromosomal anomaly. We knew that Katelynn’s differences had made her special and she would be given every opportunity to find her way in life. Katelynn is strong. During her time at the hospital, people could see how special she was. She was surrounded in a sterile, cold environment, and yet she locked eyes with those around her. People could feel her presence and attentiveness.
Every morning before going to the NICU, I remember sitting on my bed, looking at my wheelchair. I would think about what I needed to accomplish. I knew the day demanded more than I had; getting out of bed and getting ready was already so draining. So, God and I had a conversation. I told God how much I felt I could do of my day—usually less than 10%— and asked him to take care of the rest. I knew he had to carry me, because I had to be awesome, I had to be beyond my best for my three children depending on me. They looked to my attitude to see if they could get through this. I would not let them down because I was their mom.
I have been blessed in my life with having a close relationship to God. I know he has carried me and comforted me in some of the hardest times of my life. My relative, Stephen, is going through the similar need to ask God to carry him when he can do no more. Stephen has a Chiari Malformation Decompression, which is a rare brain disorder. Last year, a surgeon tried to fix the problem, and was unable to help. Stephen’s condition has been worsening, with Parkinson shakes, Grand Mal seizures, and periods where he doesn’t know who he is or where he is. He has liquid pressing against his brain, which is an additional problem that is causing a lot of complications. Stephen has been unable to work for more than a year because of his condition. In November, he was told his brain was starting to necrotize (die) and that he didn’t have much longer to live. When my niece, Sheraya found out what was going on with her cousin, she stepped in with fundraising to help pay for some of the medical costs. As Stephen’s story spread, a specialist on Stephen’s condition from New York got involved. In January, Stephen went to New York to see Dr. Bolognese and found out his condition was NOT fatal, and is operable.
My niece, Sheraya, has spoken to me about how it’s hard to see Stephen suffering. He’s in his early 30’s—and when he was younger, made decisions that led him down a scary path. It’s hard to see him change his life so drastically, and to have made his peace with God, only to have him now suffering daily from this illness.
Now we have hope, we have a goal—to raise the money for Stephen to get back to New York and get the surgery he needs to save his life. Stephen, and his wife, Lesley, are so upbeat and positive. Throughout the whole experience, Lesley has been looking forward, and has not lost faith that Stephen can get the help he needs. Stephen is taking life by the horns, and fighting a battle that is overwhelming. If you are interested in learning more about Stephen’s story or helping him get to New York, you can go to his website, BelayingStephen.com or his fundraising site, gofundme.com/belayingstephen.
I’m grateful for all I have in my life, and the fact that we were able to care for Nathan through the bus accident and heart attack, and then Katelynn through her time here. As much as we try to look on the bright side, the bitter truth is, crummy things happen in life. But, we can choose to come out of those experiences stronger, surer of ourselves, and more determined to love and cherish the people we have.
We see ourselves in a certain light and how we see ourselves affects our thinking. We need to feel good to “think” good. If we are in pain— physical or emotional, it is harder to see the tender moments for what they are. Instead, we are just gritting our teeth trying, to get through it.
This month, I spoke for Jamberry Nails in Orlando, Florida. I was the keynote speaker and was able to share basic image concepts in the two hour program. I spoke about what makes you beautiful, how have your clothes flatter your curves and entertained them with how to wear a scarf. I say entertain because I literally tucked the scarfs into my clothes so that has I pulled them out— it was like magic… well kinda… because I don’t have the skills of a magician, but it was a fun surprise! After I taught them how to use their scarves in versatile ways, each of the Executive Elites (that’s Jamberry’s top rock stars) were given a scarf along with other cool swag like my BOOK!
Scarfs are a great way to bring the eye up to your face. The extra fabric, added right at your chest area gives your figure more curve. Here’s a sneaky beauty tip— the eye doesn’t care the size of the hourglass, just as long as it sees an hourglass shape. Go on Pinterest and search for scarf tying ideas and play with what feels comfortable. For me, I found stuffing them down my pants and hiding them in my blazer to NOT be the most flattering look.
I had so much fun working with Jamberry Nails. They have these nail stickers they call “wraps”. You heat them up and they stay on your fingers or toes with no chipping for weeks! They have hundreds of patterns and I have become addicted. I used the product before and in my professional opinion there is nothing better for your toes. Seriously, they take just minutes to but on , no smelly application. On my toes, they stay for at least 4 weeks and look great the whole time. Here’s the bonus: right after you put them on you can climb into bed– no time waiting to dry. I love beauty that is simple—that is what I have been doing for the last 15 plus years full time—making beauty simple through my makeup classes, image workshops and speaking.
In 1989 big eye-shadow and big hair ruled. I was 16-years-old and was bold with my makeup too—I wore brown eye-shadow hesitatingly applied. Self-criticism held me back from enjoying those over the top eye-shadow styles of my youth. In my book I talk about how I was able to find my way out of the cycle of not appreciating what I had. Now, 25 years later, gravity has become an issue as I feel my wisdom growing, and I can totally appreciate what I have—beautiful, mature eyes.
If you only look at beauty magazines and Pinterest for your makeup application tips you may have laughed out loud as I cheer for my mature eyes—we could get really frustrated with our eyes because they are not the same as they were in 1989, 1979 or 1969. Time happens and our eyes shift. That shifting isn’t bad. I believe that ageing is beautiful and I want to help you see it!
As an early makeup artist most of my work came from brides. Those girls had the young eyes you find in all the magazines. You can really do anything you want with eyes like that—just look at the crazy makeup tips you find. I want the tips I share to help you feel more comfortable and see yourself as the beauty you are. I believe we are all beautiful; we have just been trained to think that only perfection is beautiful.
I have a ton of makeup tips for mature eyes—but here is my concern: if I just start posting these awesome tips you may not see what I am talking about. You need to be retrained first. You are beautiful. You are perfectly normal. What is being sold to you in magazines as “the standard” is not normal.
Look at this:
In this example, notice what you don’t see. There are no wrinkles, no hinge on the outside of the eye. We get this hinge wrinkle from the movement of the eye.
Now look at these:
These ladies must have been moving their eyes too much. With all these wrinkles, they must have had years of too much squinting in the sun. The problem is… these are nine year old girls! But THIS is the standard we are held to.
She is fabulously airbrushed to a standard of perfection that we all fail to meet. Because it is not real.
Here is a picture of me (please notice what a good hair day I am having).
I look stinkin’ hot and I am real. You can tell this picture hasn’t been edited because look at this picture and notice what you see.
It’s like I have wrinkles—shocking!! I look great for 41 as I use SeneGence skincare. Look at this without makeup on and see the real “normal”.
The wrinkles, the downward pull of the eye. Notice how you don’t see it on the first picture? It is because I used my makeup as a tool to guide the beholder to where I want you to look. (In my next makeup artist blog I am going to start teaching you those tricks.)
As you are out there looking at Pinterest, see if they are real tips on real faces or if the unreal standard of beauty will make you think that nine-year-old eyes are old because they are not airbrushed.
One of the first questions I got from people when I wrote How to Embrace Your Inner Hotness was, “When is there going to be an audiobook?” You, my readers have said you want to hear the stories, not just see them. I’ve heard you want to have it read to you as you drive, work, run errands. I know the real truth, you want to hear my hilarious voice tell you jokes and have me entertain you! Since my book shares many personal stories from my life, I knew I was the one that had to read it. I’ve worked hard to record my audiobook, working to give life to the words through my voice. I’m so excited to have the audiobook available for all of you.
Listen below for a sample from the audiobook.
If you pre-order before December 15th, your CD copy of How to Embrace Your Inner Hotness will be only $15.
Click here to pre-order a copy. CD copies of the book will be mailed out by December 15, and will arrive in the United States before Christmas. Merry Christmas and enjoy!