My Experience at The LA Womens March

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It’s not shocking to anyone that our country is hurting right now; people are angry, people are divided, and hearts have been wounded. This isn’t a political post, because I know that ultimately, God is in control. I am not passionate about politics; I am passionate about people. And when THIS many people gather together to get a message across, I definitely want to hear what they have to say! This post is to simply share some thoughts, observations and my experience at the Los Angeles Women’s March last Saturday.

Yes…. there were some crude and extreme signs, which I found unnecessary, BUT the overwhelming message I got standing in front of the main stage was equality and LOVE. As I gripped hands with my mom, feeling like a tiny fish in a very large pond, I glanced around and was amazed to witness such a large group of people be so polite, kind and welcoming towards one another. Everywhere I looked, people were beaming with respect for the strangers standing beside them. Every ethnicity, all ages, different walks of life; all gathered together because they desire to see change. It was incredible.

To get to my point, here are a couple take-aways that I went home with last Saturday:

  1. We are SO fortunate that we live in a country where this is LEGAL, and I do not take my freedom my freedom lightly. Too many women all around the world are being pushed down, persecuted, shamed, sold as property, and so much more. They would only dream of a day like what I experienced; to stand publicly and voice an opinion. What I take for granted, someone else is praying for. Freedom of speech is an incredible gift that not everyone has.
  2. With this blessing of freedom, may I use it wisely. I don’t want to waste my precious freedoms on name-calling or accusing. I’m not interested in wasting my time. We are living in a hurting world, so why am I waiting? Words are great, and inspiring, but ACTIONS speak louder than words. May I continue to actively live out love, and use whatever gifts I have to give back. I heard it said recently, “When much is given to us, then much is required of  us.” God has entrusted me with a voice to lend to the voiceless, and capable hands & feet to help pick others up. This isn’t a burden, it’s my honor and duty. May I utilize every privilege or platform I have to make a change.
  3. Now is not a time to be timid with loving; we have to channel our God-given strength as women, and rise to be fiercely loving. There is SO MUCH STRENGTH in loving. Many days, it would be a lot easier for me to hate, but I have to choose to fiercely love. Yelling, pointing fingers, name calling, bashing will never change anyone’s opinion about anything. But do you know what DOES change hearts? Overwhelming, FIERCE, I-will-not-take-no-for-an-answer love. The “I-will-love-you-and-care-about-you-whether-you-like-it-or-not” type of love. The annoying love that just WILL NOT QUIT. We need to be dangerous and FULLY AWAKE. This isn’t a gender issue, or a skin tone issue, this is a PEOPLE ISSUE. If you want to make a change, then you have to start caring about other people. If I thought about what only hurt or affected me, I wouldn’t move the needle very far on the spectrum of change. It’s occurred to me that I NEED to think “selfless” to make a change. Think about it; who were the real game-changers? Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, even Princess Diana of Whales…. these humans who saw a need and simply acted in love. They were humans with emotions just like you and I, but they made loving others a PRIORITY. It wasn’t an option, it was a priority. They didn’t yell, point fingers or call out derogatory names. They LOVED FIERCELY.

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I encourage YOU to find your calling, find your passion to give back in ANY capacity (environment, foster youth, equal rights, animals, homeless community, etc), and RISE TO YOUR CALLING. Do not stoop so low to just call others out, but adhere to your calling on your life. I believe this with all my heart; TOGETHER, WE CAN BE THE CHANGE.

Sneak Peek @ Chapter Zero

Happy FriYay! As a special nearly-weekend-treat, I wanted to share an original, raw version of Chapter 0, taken from “From #Selfie to Selfless; Living The Life You Were Created For.” Books go through a TON of edits, so this was not the exact version that went to print, but something very, very similar. I HOPE THAT YOU ENJOY! (And if you would like to purchase your own copy, then please go to the “Buy the Book” tab on the home page to purchase your copy and finish reading! There are 10 more chapters….  XO – K)

(Yes, it IS called Chapter Zero. Let’s start from zero, the origin, the very beginning, the starting line of how all of this came about)

Ch. 0: A Good Christian Author 

#Confession: I honestly debated making up (and when I say ‘making up’, that really just means lie) a more profound way of telling you how this book came about, but the cold hard truth is that I never prayed to write a book about God’s love. I know, we are literally one sentence into the book, and I already sound like the worst Christian ever. #StopJudging But I do mean this whole-heartedly when I say that I’m the number one fan of God’s love, but writing a book was never something I had prayed for. Writing a book was never even on my radar, not even in my wildest dreams. If I am 1,000% honest, asking God to send me my husband took the prime-time spot in my prayer life. Pleading with God, I requested that He would send me my handsome partner-in-crime for life, someone to be my forever plus one, the sharer of my rent, the skip in my step, the beat to my heart, the annoying pain in the neck, and the chef to my breakfasts in bed. Call me whatever judgment you’d like, but I never prayed for a book. Are you CRAZY!? Why would I ever pray to write a book? There had been many other challenges in my life that I accepted and conquered, talents and gifts that I possess, but writing a book was never a challenge I saw coming, nor a talent that I would ever publicly claim. It was a more responsible decision to leave writing professionally for the more qualified authors who had intriguing thoughts, and degrees to back up those thoughts (and could actually eat without spilling on their clothes). My thoughts consisted of recent sales at my favorite online stores, how to get through an entire day without rolling my eyes at someone, how to handle my Fashion PR career, how to fight Los Angeles traffic without cursing at anyone, questioning how my insurance policies worked, and how to love my family well. I would often pray to comfort people in my ordinary life, to be used where I was called, and to flourish one of my online dating prospects into life-long partner material (#RelationshipGoals). I was an avid observer of Christian authors; I cheered them on, and I loved my cozy seat on the bench, but then God suddenly called me into the middle of the game, and I responded with, “WAIT! You want who to do what?” (One of my greatest talents Is being extremely illiterate when I’m confused, hence that charming response).

Who, ME?!?!

One random Monday night in spring of 2016 after leaving my small group in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA, I felt God tell me, “You know Kristen, I’ve taught you a lot of lessons during our adventurous walk together. I think you need to start writing them down. I need your voice.” I thought to myself, ‘God needs MY voice? No way, Jose. Does God know who He is talking to? He could NOT be talking to me.’ ‘Bless’, I continued in my head, ‘God is just so busy, and there are so many people in the world; simple mistake. He must be thinking of another ‘Kristen’ (there are a ton of us). God definitely wanted someone who was more pulled- together than me, someone with less attitude, someone that didn’t have a ‘glittered’ past like mine, or someone who was more loving’. What on this good Earth would I have to offer besides what shoes to wear with an outfit, or how to respond appropriately to a bad-date-text? Your guess is as good as mine.  I work in Fashion PR; I did not go to Seminary School, I am not a public speaker, and I would likely offend someone with my absurdity (if I haven’t already).

There is something about God, though, when He wants to get your attention. You can run, but you can’t hide (not even in my tiny apartment, and I did give it my best shot). God allowed my soul to be roused, so even as annoyed as I was, I followed this teeny, tiny breadcrumb trail that He planted in my heart and decided to see where it led. When I got home that night, I humored God for the soul purpose of proving my point to Him that I had nothing to offer (have I mentioned how stubborn I can be?), sat down on my bed with a pen and fresh page in my note book and started to write (yes, no computer involved. I am “Old-School”). As I sat in silence waiting for a lightning bolt from Heaven to strike down, I quietly reflected on all the noble, intelligent authors whose books I had admired over all the years. I thought about the way they wrote, their genius conclusions that made my hear stir and I longed to have that same impact on someone else, like they had on me.  

After not much time (because patience is not my finest quality), I came up with the title, ‘Surrendered Warrior’. True to my usual behavior, I did not consult God on this title decision, and I personally deemed it as an ‘honorable and very Christian title’. (Please don’t even ask me what ‘very Christian’ means, because I couldn’t tell you). I felt like I was a warrior for God (which I genuinely try to be), but I also felt surrendered (which I also attempt to be every day). But after scribbling my way about halfway down the page, I got complete ‘writers block’. ‘See, God? I told you that I have nothing to offer!’ But God wasn’t standing in my way, I was blocking my own way with selfishness. I was writing entirely for my own fulfillment and ego; MY insight on how to live life to the fullest, MY truth to fight off negativity, MY experience with being attacked and how to be a soldier through those difficult times. As this writer’s block built a heavy wall in my head and heart, I felt God say to me, ‘Kristen, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WHAT IS a surrendered warrior?!? I never told you to write that! This is all YOU! I want to LEAD YOU to write about something you know…’

This left me dumb-founded, and actually feeling really embarrassed; God caught me, right then and there. I was trying to be something other than myself to see how it looked on me; if I could “pull it off”. I was trying to be a Christian writer. I was trying to be a surrendered warrior. I had this notion of what a Christian writer looked like (I was already planning out my Book Tour outfit purchases), how these respected authors wrote, and what they titled their work. I was trying to fit into shoes that weren’t my size, or wear some makeup that did not match my skin tone, and ended up looking ridiculous. God wasn’t calling me to be a Christian writer; He was calling me to be me; to share His love through my story, flaws and all, with my voice, with my heart, and to candidly share the joy, the pain and the lessons that He has so graciously taught me in hopes that you might relate, and feel God’s love touch your heart through experiences in this book.

When I finally submitted, I thought about it; ‘Ok God, WHAT could I possibly write about?’ Dating? Girl, please; unless God wanted me to write a ‘what not-to-do’ guide. Ok, how about marriage? That was as probable as giraffes going to space; nowhere in the near future. Finances? I refer to my closet as my greatest investment; where I keep my money right where I can see it. Listening to me about finances is like consulting a 4-year-old for driving directions; useless. I genuinely felt like I had nothing to offer. But God does not care about our past or personal disasters; he cares about our possibilities. God’s not looking at your resume, He is looking at your willingness. God doesn’t care if you are qualified, because he knows that you are capable. Even though I couldn’t quite recognize my potential, God already saw the finish line, and He was about to rock my world with the heart of this book, while giving me a heart for something I never saw coming.

The Great Whisper

So here I sat, on my bed, late at night, God called me out, I was trying to understand what He was doing, so where was I supposed to go from here? Back to my drawing board of topics I went. Scribbling in my notebook once again, I there was never a doubt that God loved me; I knew He had carried me through the darkest valleys and delivered great miracles time and time again. As I tried to calm my heart once more to hear what God wanted me to do, I interrupted my own thoughts again by doubting, ‘but who wants to hear some sob stories or a personal vent sesh? I mean, isn’t that what your best friends are for? (Hallelujah for amazing girlfriends. Can I get an Amen!!!) I would never subject a stranger to listen to me rant about life from my perspective. That even sounds awful to me! (It’s like when you hear your own voice on an answering machine)’. But suddenly, as I was staring at my freshly turned blank page in my journal, I just felt God simply whisper, “Repeat after me, Kristen… It’s NOT ABOUT ME!” I instantly underlined those three simple words like I had never seen them before. That simple phrase popped off the page and smacked me across the face, giving my soul the wakeup call it was craving. Then in a flash, hours flew by as the words, pages of writing, and ideas from God came flooding. My hand could hardly keep up. I felt God say, “See! You do have something to write about. You have been very good at being selfish in all areas of your life. You’ve come a long way, and I am going to use your stories to share with others, but you still have a far way to go, and I have a lot to teach you through this.”

I literally laughed out loud. God has the BEST sense of humor. He is very, very clever. God, my loving father, knows how to get me right when I need Him. He totally calls me out when I am not being real, and He encourages me in a very honest way. God never wants us to be self-deprecating, but He longs for us to see truth and humility in our lives. Imagine your very best friend; they know you to your core; they can tell when you are lying, or they have enough love for you to call you out when you are acting #TotesCray (English translation = totally crazy). God doesn’t condemn me, and He doesn’t condemn you. He lovingly corrects me when I need it most, and He would graciously do the same if you allowed Him to. When I start going off path like little wind-up toy, he simply picks me up, and sets me back on track with His loving ways.

As this fresh ‘Selfish’ epiphany settled into my soul, two thoughts instantly came to mind on opposite ends of the spectrum:  1) He STILL has lessons to teach me?!? I felt like a child in the car moaning, ‘But aren’t we there yet?!’ I was exhausted and husbandless (even boyfriend-less!); I was tired of learning, and ready for a vacation from it (#WheresMyPassport). And 2) While I was sitting in my bed deciding how to be politically correct, plotting out my Christian memoire of being a ‘Surrendered Warrior’ (again, whatever that means), and  privately planning my outfits for my book tour, God shook my heart and said ‘RIGHT THERE! THAT’S WHERE IT IS! IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU, KRISTEN, AND YOUR PLANS. I have something so much greater for you if you would just let me use you! If you write this book your own way, you will continue to have writers block and will get nowhere. If you would simply just calm down and let me lead, then I have some pretty awesome things to unveil to you, which you can share with many other sisters and brothers that you have yet to meet.’ Proverbs 19:21 GNB says, “People may plan all kinds of things, but the Lord’s will is going to be done.”

So, here we are; I have a God-given PhD in being Selfish, and God has entrusted me as an expert to help rid society of this terrible epidemic that is taking over the world. I have learned to be selfish with my money (spend it how I want to), selfish with my time (what do I want to do this month?), selfish with my relationships (how are they benefiting me?), selfish with my work (is that the title that I deserve?), and the list rattles on.  I am quick to hold up both hands and claim what I have been and what I am, a selfish human being. Again, this is not to be self-deprecating, but my selfishness is as simple and true as the sky is blue. I have a million other loving qualities and caring traits; many incredible talents and skills, and some ugly habits (beyond perfecting selfishness), but the key to shifting my life and my purpose came to one conclusion: living selfishly is not a satisfying life to live. I am not encouraging you to sell all your belongings, and live on the streets with a megaphone condemning all to hell to prove your point. (PLEASE definitely don’t do that). I know God wants you and loves you just where you are at, just like He has loved me exactly where I was at. No radical adjustments necessary. My only hope is that you would experience this incredible peace and encouragement that you are not alone, but quite possibly you may have just been found.

Self-Help   Kristen-Help  Earthly-Help   God-Help

This is not a self-help book. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably already tried helping yourself in every way, shape or form possible, and it didn’t work. Or maybe ‘self-help’ books slapped a Band-Aid on your heart long enough to fix the boo-boo, until the rain came and loosened up the Band-Aid just enough for it to lose its grip, exposing your wound once more, still unhealed. I love Oprah more than champagne, but her Super Soul Sundays couldn’t fix the void inside of me. I love yoga, and the healing it brought to my body, but I was still left searching (and sweaty and sore). If you’re looking for a real transformation of the heart and head, something that will give you peace beyond any understanding, you need God’s help. You didn’t create you, so how could you know what needs to be fixed. God created you, and He’s literally the only mechanic that can help sort out the issues. That’s why I prefer to reference this book as a ‘God-help’ book. I believe we all need God’s help. And asking for help isn’t a bad thing. It’s a great thing! If you are lost while driving, you turn to your GPS maps to lead you along the right path. You rely on GPS to simply guide you to get to your final destination, so if you trust GPS, then I’m hoping you can give God a chance to trust him. I’m just here to do the writing and have been praying that God would do the healing.

Watch for the Yellow Tape

CAUTION: this book is not to beat you over the head to make you feel bad about your life (Dear Lord, I pray that’s not what you get from this), but it’s not filled with helpful advice to make you feel better. Honestly, sometimes, you might not feel better at all, and I’m sorry. It’s like going to the gym, it’s not always fun, but so necessary, and you will be so much more rejuvenated afterwards, and hopefully inspired that you are not on this journey alone. The blunt truth is: sometimes living a life of ‘it’s not all about me’ is sometimes not fun at the beginning. If I’m honest, I really wish it were all about me. That sounds way more fun! Let me just go out to this scandalous party, because it sounds so fun! I am just going to go home with this cute guy one time because it sounds like we will have fun.  I am going to call out sick at work because all my friends are going to ‘the big game’, and that sounds like so much more fun. But fun and a life worth living full of purpose can be two different things. ‘Fun’ hasn’t gotten me very far. It would give me a great high in that moment, but would leave me feeling very dissatisfied once the sensation floated away. After vacations, romantic relationships, or retail therapy couldn’t fix my itch for fun, I started the search for something greater, something deeper. Sure, I still have fun and love to enjoy life. I LOVE to have fun (just ask my girlfriends; I’m not the tamest one of the bunch). I was always the friend who opted for “dare” over “truth”, but even the dares get old after a while. Going from #Selfie to selfless has brought me something so much better than ‘fun’. This realization has given me joy; pure, soul-deep, no-one-can-take-away joy. Once I claimed this joy inside of me, it led me to be aware. Aware of our surroundings, our communities, realizing that we were created to make an incredible impact, and that ordinary people like you and me can be used for extraordinary purposes. Once I laid myself down at the cross to realize the bigger picture, the more exciting picture; it’s not all about me, it’s about God! And what an exhilarating, stimulating, sensational life that is to live. WOOHOO!

But WHY is it an exhilarating, stimulating, and sensational life to live? Because there  is a God who is so loving, so kind, so passionate about YOU that He didn’t create you to just simply roam the earth for some decades, collect social media followers, go on a couple trips, go to college, get a job, raise a family, retire, go to the spa, become a Bloomingdales gold-member and then die. Clarification; NONE of those things are bad (I LOVE going to the spa. I am a more kind and compassionate person at the spa. I tried to barter with God that I hear Him better at the spa, so if He could continue to fund that habit, that would be wonderful. He didn’t believe me. I tried.), but we were created for SO MUCH MORE than these earthly habits! You, my beautiful friend, were created to break chains and not live in the earthly confines of ‘what makes a life’. These things are fine, but don’t lose sight of your vision, your goal, and your purpose. YOU have breath in your lungs for a reason, and when you figure out just how valuable you are, the enemy (AKA- Satan) will deeply ache, ‘Crap. She figured it out.’ Take the enemy’s wool off your eyes, and realize your possibilities!

One of the reasons I love social media is to share amazing quotes, thoughts and scribbles with one-another. I saw an anonymous quote that read, The devil whispered in my ear, ‘You’re not strong enough to withstand the storm.’ Today I whispered in the devils ear, ‘I am the storm.’ Girlfriend, you are a force to be reckoned with, but that force doesn’t come from being self-centered, it comes from being self-less. This book is to encourage you to live your life as the glorious storm that you were created to be. You are meant to shake things up while drenching dry places with hope and raining love over all those so thirsty for it. God created us with a purpose so we can experience His love to the greatest extent; with massive adventures, thrilling challenges, and exciting hurtles. But it doesn’t end with us. We are then to give hope to others by sharing it. God has an incredible, unbelievable plan for us, for YOU, for me, for your dog-walker, your babysitter, your boss, your mailman, your teacher. So many people sadly miss this incredible hope and joy and peace because it is only unlocked when we come to the humbling fact that God might actually have it under control. We are to simply get out of our own way, trust Him while repeating to ourselves, “This is NOT all about me.”

This is Not a Numbers Game

It has been brought to my attention that the general public often times rolls their eyes at Christians (and very likely at this book), because they feel as though we are just trying to fill seats on Sunday services. The theory goes; the more seats filled, the more influence and money Christians will bring in, so therefore, this is not even about faith, love or hope, but it is about money and power. I personally apologize if you have ever felt this way when attending a church, because that is not how it’s supposed to work. I do not expect anyone to run to their nearest Sunday service, and feel pressured to give away all their savings after reading this book. This has nothing to do with monetary pressure, but everything to do with a personal relationship with a caring God.  In fact, I challenge you, do not give a single penny to any church, until you form an authentic relationship with your Heavenly Father and feel God yanking on your heart-strings to do so. We are called to give generously, but not out of obligation. Obligated giving creates resentment. God does not want your money, because he doesn’t need it! God wants your heart, and sadly, when we perfect the art of being selfish, our hearts get buried in our savings accounts. God only calls to relieve money to Him, because we have stored so much of our hearts and security there. When we shift our eyes from selfish to selfless, we realize that we can trust in Him, because our security is in God, and not in our bank accounts. It is not about us, what church we attend, what we think about certain pastors, but it is about God, who is ultimately in control of everything and loves YOU so insanely much.

A Real Girl, Living in a Real World

Now don’t get it twisted, I am not some fairy hippie that thinks that some magical god will make all my problems go away, or create me to be a flawless person, if I simply say a few prayers. Like I’ve mentioned, I work in Fashion PR, I have a 401K, and would hope that I treat life as responsibly as I can. Life still throws its curveballs, and many times I still strike out. I am not a pastor, I am not married to one, I didn’t go to seminary school, I am not a public speaker, but I am just a girl who has felt an insane love that is true, merciful, and constant in a very inconsistent world. God is great, Jesus is so loving, the Holy Spirit is ever-present, and together, we make a pretty good team. But again, even as I write this, this is not about me, Kristen Perino, and divulging all my personal wreckage or triumph. It is to share God’s glory, forgiveness, and love through some examples I have lived through and others that I have witnessed. I am a very ordinary girl, with an extraordinary, very real relationship with God, and I long for you to experience this peace that surpasses all understanding. I don’t expect wars to stop, poverty to end, or every child to have a home by the time you finish this book. I do expect, and desirously pray, that your world be profoundly changed, your heart would be renewed, and your outlook would be altered by the simple fact that it is not about you, but it is about God’s love for you, Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for you, and the life you were specifically created for. So many incredible blessings have YOUR name on them; if only you would get out of your own way and let the creator of the universe care for you in the way that He so desires to do so. This is not about a religion, it’s about a relationship, and it’s not about you, but about your relationship with a living, loving God.

I have never once regretted living life from selfish to surrendered, and I have an incredible amount of faith that you won’t regret it either.

Momma Says…

With motherhood comes wisdom, and seeing that my momma has been ‘mothering’ for 36 years (and even a grandma for 4 years), some of the things that fly out of her mouth are so wise (and funny!), so I figured I should start writing them down…Hope you enjoy!!!

 

 

Throw Around Some Selfless L/O/V/E

Chocolate hearts, corny cards, and  home-cooked meals are all incredible ways to show friends, family and significant others how much we love them, but what about sharing some selfless love with people we don’t know? I’m sure you’ve noticed, but this world  is in pain, and suffocating from a lack of love. We are not placed on this earth to love only those we personally know, but love outside of our friends and family roster.

This year, I wanted to take Valentine’s Day love one step further to encourage you, with simple ideas, ways to give back this Feb. 14th. Real change does not come from making  other people love us, but when we start to truly love others. And love is contagious. Once you feel the power of it, then you pass it forward; infecting the world with selfless love, one tiny step at a time….

Clothing Donation

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I LOVE the power of fashion. It can transform a person from the outside inward. (I know it sounds crazy, but I’ve witnessed it!). And everyone deserves the chance to look and feel their best, especially when they need it most. I have already cleaned out my closet, and donated clothes (some even with the price tags still on!) to certain organizations who I know will bless others with them.

Some I would recommend are:

  • Offer women quality clothing (among other resources) to get back into the job force: www.dressforsuccess.org , or www.workingwardrobes.org
  • Offer victims of Human Trafficking quality clothing to get back into life as a normal civilian: www.gratefulgarment.org , or check out local churches that have their own programs to help victims of Human Trafficking, like https://saddleback.com
  • My favorite second-hand store to donate to is: Salvation Army- they give back typically 82% for aid, which is substantially higher than other companies such as Goodwill. Visit www.salvationarmyusa.org for locations + more information

Adopt-a-Pet (or just play with some)

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Besides Jesus, I fully believe that dogs + puppies are the next best thing. If you are in search of some extra love and adventure this Valentine’s Day, I would highly suggest not purchasing a dog from a breeder, but rescuing one from your local shelter, or trusted organizations online.

If dogs are not allowed in your budget or living situation currently (like me! I’ve literally debated sneaking in a dog too many times), then filling your Valentine’s Day with quality time playing with animals at a local animal shelter sounds pretty epic to me! There is nothing more loving, genuine or sweet than an animal that is just dying for your affection. And I’m sure the shelter employees would love a break from their daily routines too! (If you want to amp up the  love, show up to the shelter with donuts, treats or snacks for the shelter workers; they will feel so loved!). I absolutely love people, but sometimes I need a break from humans, and a few hours loving on animals can be so rejuvenating.


Serve Dinner at a Homeless Shelter

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If you are feeling alone on Valentine’s Day, I can bet you $100 that someone at the homeless shelter is further down in the dumps than you. We all deserve love, to feel noticed, and to feel like someone cares. The quickest way I found to heal my own pain, was to help someone with theirs. Sometimes we just need perspective, or to hear someone else’s story, to shift our gaze from inward to upward. This small act reminds us how truly, truly loved we are.

Depending on what city you are located in, there are so many shelters, so I encourage you to look up your local listings, and even grab your girlfriends or family to go with you! Nothing is better than sharing an incredible experience giving back with the ones you love most.

 

 

Crazy, Stupid Love

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Whether single, dating or in a relationship, I have always loved love, and I have always loved Valentine’s Day. But suddenly, being single on Feb.14th at age 27 did not sound very appealing. Even though I was surrounded by incredible family, friends, colleagues, roommates, a job that I enjoyed in a city I adored, I could not shake the empty feeling that was looming inside me.

I needed a distraction. Living in the ‘city of distractions’ (AKA: Los Angeles), I needed an even BIGGER distraction than what the city usually offered. I knew I had to do something that scared me even more than being single <in my late 20’s> on Valentine’s Day. I longed for an adventure, but an adventure that I could do alone without feeling alone. I itched for an excitement that was challenging, completely out of my comfort zone and, and intriguing enough to take my mind off all my failed relationships. If I’m honest, I wanted a legal version of a lobotomy.

SO, I signed myself up for the LA Marathon. I am a runner, but like a 2-3 mile runner, NOT a 26.2 mile runner. I had run a half-marathon about 5 years prior, so I knew my body was capable of running 13 miles, so what’s the big deal about running an extra 13 miles? (insert laugh here). As my loving parents drove me to the starting line at Dodgers Stadium in the early morning hours of race-day, the weight of what I was about to do set in. I was in tears as my mom prayed for me and gently talked me down from my ledge. In my silence of the  back seat of my dad’s car, I begged God that I could finish the race before LA County started opening the streets back up to public traffic, and I was that ONE girl who would be shuffled to the sidewalk to finish the race….alone.

As I wiped my tears, kissed my parents good-bye and said, “I’ll see you in a few hours”, I headed to the starting line with thousands and thousands of other eager runners. I witnessed excitement, focus, friendships, laughs, and lots of hugs as I patiently awaited for the  gun to go off. It suddenly clicked in me; I was going to finish this race, and I was going to do it under 5 hours. Head phones in, shoe laces tied tight, and I was ready. I was blessed enough with two working legs, a capable body, decent health, so I better use it to run the race set before me, and I knew I had to run the race well (both figuratively and literally). 

I will not bore you with the pain or agony that my body began to feel around mile 15, but I will share with you what kept me going:

  1. God’s unfailing love (even when we lose our minds and decide to run a marathon)– I whispered the verse “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”over and over and over to my self, until I truly believed it. I COULD DO ALL THINGS: be a confident, loved, late twenties single woman on Valentine’s Day because of God’s unfailing love. I could finish the LA Marathon STRONG within 5 hours. I could be victorious in the race I was running in my everyday life. I could continue to love because I have been loved. I could do ALL things through Christ because He gave me strength. Even though I had felt pain in my heart and body, I KNEW I was able to slowly put one foot in front of the other, head down, heart up, while each steady step got me that much closer to the finish line.
  2. The city of Los Angeles became my Valentine– If you ever doubt that there is still good, solid love and joy in the world, then please run a marathon (or a half marathon). As I ran through 26 miles of one of the most diverse cities in the  world, I saw thousands and thousands of people come out to encourage complete strangers with motivating cheers, colorful signs, live music, and even snacks! Helpful volunteers fed me water throughout my 5 hour journey, and even yelled encouraging words to keep going when I felt like giving up. I saw every skin color, ethnicity, age, and status level come out to support one cause: the LA Marathon runners. It changed my heart. I felt SO MUCH LOVE.
  3. My friends and family are my biggest loves– Two of my very best friends made signs for me and patiently waited at the finish line at Santa Monica Pier. Another bestie sent a box from ALABAMA, which was full of ‘Marathon Essentials’; bursting with tips + tricks, and one of the most encouraging cards I’ve ever received. My parents dropped me off, and coordinated meeting me at certain mile points to feed me Advil, offer juices, and even run with me to the next mile marker (my mom ended up jogging 4 miles with me, and my dad jogged 10 miles to keep me company!). I had been so focused on a romantic love that only a  man could provide, that I was missing the incredible love I was so spoiled with by these precious people in my life.

Whatever race you are running this February, I KNOW that God is whispering, “Keep running dear one. If you need to walk, that’s fine. But I am here, I see your finish line, you are SO much stronger than you know, and you CAN DO IT.”

Ideas from Cupid

Being as in love with love as I am, I am a Valentine’s Day fan by default. I know that many call it a useless ‘Hallmark Holiday’. While I see the truth in that, I don’t see what the big issue is with simply spreading a little extra love around? Personally, Feb. 14th serves as a great reminder to love & cherish those around me, whether a significant other is involved or not.

Below I have gathered some of my favorite ways to spread a little more gratitude and selflessness leading up to the big day. Whether it’s a simple reminder to friends or family of how much you cherish them, or spoiling your boo with some extra treats, let’s shock the world with some selfless L-O-V-E this Valentine’s Day; the world certainly could use a little bit more of it right about now 🙂

Personalized Candy Hearts

For the candy-craver in your life, these are a perfect way to satisfy their sweet tooth with a personal touch. (You can even make candy hearts with your favorite emojis printed on now too!)

Depending on your budget, I found some great options on www.mycustomcandy.com and www.etsy.com

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Create a Quote Frame

If your family, friends or significant other is as obsessed with quotes and photos as I am, then this is a sure-fire budget friendly gift that shows a lot of love, without a major dent in your bank account.

The steps are simple:

  1. Pick out your favorite frame to fill (one that matches the gift receivers taste + decor)
  2. Print out quotes from online that apply to that relationship (whether is friendship quotes, love quotes, humorous quotes, motherly love quotes, etc.)
  3. Print out however many photos you would like to place in with the quote collage to fill the frame
  4. Arrange the photos and quotes however they best fit into the frame, and VOILA! You are all done!

My favorite stores to buy frames at the best prices:

  • Target
  • Ross
  • Marshalls
  • Home Goods

Girls Night In!

No significant other involved at the moment? No problem! Gather up one, three, or ten of your single girlfriends and have a ‘Galentine’s Day’ dinner in! You can make it themed as dressy or casual as you’d like (i.e. Pizza & PJ Party, Cocktail-chic Dinner Party with place settings, etc.) If your friends are the gift-giving type, you can arrange some sort of white-elephant exchange with a comedic theme, or a more structured Galentine’s Gift Exchange where each person shops for specifically another friend in mind.

Whatever you do, don’t go sparse on the love and attention your girlfriends deserve. REMEMBER: Boyfriends and spouses are a beautiful thing, but it’s your girlfriends that will speak your language when you need it most. Celebrate them for the angels that they are!


Unique Personalized Jewelry

I don’t know you about you, but I LOVE jewelry, especially something that has personal meaning. I genuinely don’t care about the label or price tag (honestly!), but if it is personalized, or has sentimental meaning, then I’ll keep it forever.

One of my favorite companies is Coordinate Collection, where you can get the map coordinates of any city in the world engraved onto a ring, necklace, bracelet, etc. The beautifully engraved pieces of silver or gold will be a classic reminder of that special memory in that special city. You can get one made for your honey (where you had your first date), your best girlfriend (of a city that you spontaneously took a road trip to), or one made for your mom (of that city where your favorite restaurant is that you dine at together all the time).

Order by Feb. 3rd to get expedited shipping in time for Valentine’s Day! www.coordinatecollection.com

People Are NOT FOR SALE

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Previous President Obama dubbed January  as ‘Anti-Human Trafficking Awareness Month’, and as much as I admire him for bringing national attention to an issue like Human Trafficking, it doesn’t deserve just a month. This devastating reality deserves to be spoken about every-day, 365 days a year. This topic deserves year-round awareness. It is EVERYWHERE. I am not sure what city you are reading this from, but I can bet that Human Trafficking is happening somewhere within a couple mile reach of you. I do not say any of this to scare you. January is not dubbed ‘Human Trafficking Scare-you-to-death Month’. It’s called Awareness for a reason. You need to be aware. Your friends need to be aware. Your family needs to be aware. You boyfriend needs to be aware. Your cousin needs to be aware. Any human with a heartbeat MUST BE AWARE of what is happening in America and all over the world.

My mother has tackled this topic head-on for the last five years, and I have been lucky enough to gather information from her mission along the way. Not only have I personally met female victims of Sex Trafficking in Los Angeles and Orange County, but I have heard their stories, looked into their eyes, and watched them try to struggle through a simple smile. These young, beautiful, intelligent women are just like you and me. They are dressed in Forever21, look forward to seeing the latest movie in the theater, have dreams for their future, and  just long to be adored. Many of these women simply trusted the wrong man at the wrong time, but unlike the broken heart that I received from jerks past, these women were exploited, abused beyond belief, and torn to shreds as a human being.

“At first, I thought he was my boyfriend. Then he convinced me to have sex with strangers to make money. He was my pimp. I was 15 years old. I was being advertised on the Internet and sold for sex to support my ‘boyfriend.’ – Jessica, sex trafficking survivor ” (*taken from the June 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report via www.state.gov/documents/organization)

In a 2014 report, the Urban Institute estimated that the underground sex economy ranged from $39.9 million in Denver, Colorado, to $290 million in Atlanta, Georgia. I’m sorry but did I read  that right? DENVER? GEORGIA?!? Yes, THIS IS THE REALITY that we are dealing with.

I could write about this topic for days and days, but quite frankly, my blood pressure can’t handle it because the Italian in me gets too heated up + furious at this devastating situation, so I leave you with some incredible ways to get involved (while I go pray for God to calm my soul):

 

  • Action Force Network for Prevention –Talks to Students
    • www.actionforcenetwork.org/volunteer
  • A21  (Led by the fierce author, pastor, author Christine Caine… one of my personal favorites)
    • www.A21.org
  • International Justice Mission
    • www.ijm.org/our-solution
  • Coalition Against Slavery and Trafficking (C.A.S.T.)— based in Los Angeles, for all my So Cal friends
    • www.castla.org
  • Compassion International –Focuses on Child Slavery
    • www.compassion.com
  • Slave2Nothing –(started by the CEO of In-n-Out Burgers…I didn’t think I could love In-N-Out anymore than I already did, but it just happened…)
    • www.Slave2nothing.org

 

  • **ALSO! Please check out local churches like Saddleback Church, who are organizing local outreach opportunities, and providing education on the topic.
    • http://saddleback.com/connect/ministry/human-trafficking/lake-forest
  • **Share all your findings with your friends, and keep in mind: it’s basic economics; the higher the demand, the higher the supply will have to be. If there was not such a demand for prostitution, then the supply would have to dwindle. Let’s tear the curtain down, shine truth onto these ‘fantasies’, and viciously remind the world that real men don’t pay for sex. It’s not ‘cool’, this is not a joke, real lives are at stake, and she truly does not want to be sleeping with you.

Fight the Good Fight

“Do not grow weary in doing good…” -Galatians 6:9

 

 

Ghandi meets SelfieToSelfless

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This quote was inspired by the immeasurable Mahatma Ghandi, who quoted, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” I absolutely believe that we should lead by example, and physically action out the positive changes that we would like to see in the world, rather than complain that someone else isn’t doing it.

But this got my wheels turning; what if we applied this same concept to the modern day church? Simple changes could make massive, incredible, positive impacts. Have you ever felt as though the ‘prayer chain’ suddenly became the ‘gossip chain’? Or ever wondered why no one was friendly in a place that should be so inviting? Or have you sadly walked out of service feeling more judged than loved? Or on the flip side, have you ever left a church judging more than you had loved? Or drawing harsh conclusions from a first-time visit?

If you would like to see more caring people, then start being a caring person, and  don’t give up! If you would like to see more authentic, genuine, real Christian friendships within the church, then start being authentic, genuine, and real with your friends. If you would like to see more laughter and joy in your church, then laugh and  celebrate God’s greatness through celebrating within the church.

You will not resonate with every pastor you listen to, or feel connected to every church congregation you meet. There are a million types of personalities in the world, and there a million types of ways that people run church establishments. Pray to find one with people that speak to your heart and  resonate with you. Because you don’t click with one church, that doesn’t mean that you won’t click with any church! It just means you view things differently, and that is OK. Do not get  discouraged. God has a  church-home for you out there, with friendships with your name on them!

The next time you secretly (or publicly) criticize your church, another church, or the people running it, think to yourself, ‘am I helping solve the issue, or am I just becoming apart of the issue?’ Because people are flawed, the church will inevitably have flaws, but there is hope! If we grip onto God’s love as tightly as possible, allowing no room for selfish ambitions, judgments, or false accusations, then there will be no room for those terrible attributes to fester inside the church. If hostile feelings are not in our heart, then we won’t bring them to church with us either. Shake it off at the door, and remind yourself that change starts with you, so BE the change that you wish to see in the church! 

Riddle Me This…

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I love Dr. Seuss. He was a brilliant man who brought basic concepts to life with incredible riddles, timeless lessons, and  memorable characters.

But this riddle above got me thinking; what if we switched it up a bit? I’m tired of choosing my own direction all-the-dang-time. I am actually quite exhausted of steering myself.  I’m tired of the drivers seat. Sister needs a break. I’m waving the white flag; I need some help. I need Jesus. He doesn’t get tired. (#JesusTakeTheWheel)

I still appreciate and adore the above quote, but this #SelfieToSelfless version MIGHT just refuel your love tank to keep going…

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PS- YOU’RE REALLY PRETTY…. just thought I’d remind you. xo

DJ Selfie II Selfless

Introducing: DJ Selfie II Selfless (and no, I will not be at Coachella this year. Beyonce took my spot. I’m sorry.)

If you crave genuine authenticity as much as I do, and really connect with music, lyrics, melodies, etc., then I hope these incredible tunes lift your spirits, put a little pep in your step, and resonate with you as much as they did with me. (If I kept such amazing tunes to my self, how selfish would that be?!? First step in being #SelfieToSelfless: Share with your friends. So that’s what I’m doing.)

*Keep an eye out for any time you see DJ Selfie II Selfless drop posts on the blog. It is promised that fun, uplifting, thought-provoking tunes will be brought to you weekly. Happy Listening!

*^^^^ YOU GUYS, I HAD TO INCLUDE THIS SONG. You are lying if you say your hips don’t start swaying while listening to this tune. (It’s fine, just get up and dance. No one is watching….)  #DC3Forever