Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Repost: Curly Hair Rules

* I wrote this post about curly hair care over 3 years ago, and I thought it was time to take another look at it and revise my tips a little. I've changed some of my process in the last three years.

Over the last fifteen years, I have tried to help my curly hair, instead of working against it. Sometimes people ask me how I get my hair to be not-so-poufy and tangle free and split-end free, so I thought it may be beneficial to capture the strategies I developed for my dry/thick/curly hair.

1. I shampoo my hair only once or twice a week, any more than that will dry out my hair. And I only wash the scalp because that's where the oils are concentrated while shampoo will dry out the rest of your hair; the ends will wash sufficiently with water and shampoo running through them when you rinse. I've found that any shampoo will do, but you may try to find one created especially for curly hair, as it may have more moisturizers.

2. Condition a few times a week. I used to use Cholesterol, a deep conditioner for dry, thick hair made for African-Americans. Even when my hair was longer and not "thinned," I never had tangles. However, if your hair is not super long or dry, this conditioner may make your hair oily. No matter what type of conditioner you choose, only condition the bottom half of your hair with a small amount and let set for a few minutes before rinsing.   Currently, I use a Suave conditioner for curly hair--I find that the product isn't as important as the fact that you are conditioning often.

3. I never comb my hair with a brush; instead, I use a wide tooth pick or comb. Better yet: use your fingers. And only comb your hair when it's wet; otherwise you'll simply succeed in breaking your hair and making it frizzy.

4. I always use a leave-in cream or leave-in conditioner after showering, when my hair is still very wet. I currently use Garnier Fructis Leave-in Conditioning Cream. Only put on the bottom half of your hair. (See the pattern? Wash the top. Condition the bottom.)

Suave Professionals Captivating Curls Whipped Cream Mousse (7 oz)5. Use mousse after the leave-in cream. I have found that the price tag on the mousse makes no difference. Currently I use Suave Captivating Curls Whipped Cream Mousse--and I love it! Plus, I go through products so fast that I definitely do not want to spend a lot of money on them. Use amounts proportionate to the thickness & length of your hair. (My hair is shoulder length currently, and I use about 1.5 handfuls.)

And I more recently discovered that depending on the season, the weather, your hair's current mood, etc., different products will work better than others. I currently have a small arsenal of products: mousse, spray gel, serum, smoothing hair milk, curl perfecting spray, curl enhancer, etc. Depending on the day, I mix and match to create a concoction, always starting with leave-in conditioner.

6. I always let my hair air dry. Especially for my type of hair, blow drying will only frizz & dry out my hair. Diffusers can help some people but I have never been successful with them.

7. For those with super thick hair, please consider getting your hair thinned!!! I wish someone would have told me about this when I was 15. The benefits are endless for me: my hair is not as poufy; I can wear it down more often; it allows me to cut my hair chin-length and not have to wear it long for the rest of my life; my ponytail isn't 2 inches thick, etc. My hair dresser's advice is only to use thinning-shears, and make sure you find a hair dresser who is comfortable doing this for curly hair. She usually only thins the bottom layer of my hair and at various angles, so there are no short pieces sticking out.

8. I get my hair trimmed about every 3 months. The ends of curly hair will tend to get dry and frizzy first. Plus, hair will grow in differently and curl differently depending on your season in life, so regular trims will help the difference not to be so severe.

9. A comment about straightening. It is fun to do . . . to switch it up every once in a while. But remember that it is damaging for your hair (the blow drying and the heat from the straightener), especially if you do it often. I only straighten mine a few times a year, mostly because it's such a pain to do and takes forever. Plus, I have this theory that the more you straighten, the more your hair "forgets" what it is like to be curly and will therefore take longer to get back to its natural "bouncy" state.

10. You may be wondering what to do with your hair on the days that you do not shampoo or condition. One option: throw it in a ponytail. Another option: don't be afraid to just wet down your hair--either in the shower or with a squirt bottle. I find that wetting my hair down gives me a "brand-new slate." Either just "reuse" the product from the day before or add some more product and you're ready to go.

11. My best tip of all: don't be afraid to experiment and find what works best for your particular brand of curly hair. There is no one-size-fits all plan because each head of curly hair is so different. Try different products. Try washing less often. Try thinning out your hair and cutting in layers to flatter your face. Just give it a try!

These are the strategies I discovered over the years. Mostly it was trial and error . . . trying to help my curls be as healthy and easy to care for as possible. Find what works best for your hair and perhaps my tips can help along the way.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Simple Theology on Suffering {Part 2 of 2}

A Simple Theology on Suffering, Part 2

Recap: I wanted to share what God has been teaching me lately about suffering. Over the past month, the topic has surfaced again and again in books I'm reading, sermons, and personal Bible study. And, consequently, I think my entire view of life is being vastly altered. Let me try to sum up what I've learned in 7 pivotal thoughts about suffering.

{See Part 1 here}

#4. Suffering is . . . meant to make us long for heaven.

"The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Romans 8:16-18, emphasis mine).

It's almost as if Paul is saying: "Remember! This is not all there is! Hold on. Heaven and glory are yet to come." Elizabeth Prentiss writes beautifully of this expectant hope: "Oh, if the unseen presence of Jesus can make the heart to sing for joy in the midst of its sorrow and sin here, what will it be to dwell with Him forever!" and "I see that it is sweet to be a pilgrim and a stranger, and that it matters very little what befalls me on my way to my blessed home."

Without sorrow in our lives, we may be tempted to settle down and become a little too comfortable here on earth. Instead, trouble causes us to always look up, to hope for what is yet to come, to long for a place of no more sin or sorrow, to look forward to Christ's return, and to wait in eager expectation.

"Heaven is not here, it's There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for" (Elliot).

#5. Suffering is . . . never absent from many mercies.

"For He has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one;
He has not hidden His face from him but has listened to his cry for help" (Psalm 22:24).

"For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives,
so also through Christ our comfort overflows" (2 Corinthians 1:5).

Elisabeth Elliot writes: "He knows better than any of us do what furthers our salvation. Our true happiness is to be realized precisely through His refusals, which are always mercies. His choice is flawlessly contrived to give the deepest kind of joy as soon as it is embraced."

Even in the midst of trial and trouble, there are still mercies to be found, if only in the very Presence of Jesus. Quoted above, the Psalmist speaks of seeing God's face in the midst of suffering. Similarly, Paul says that even when suffering is flowing into our lives, we can trust that the comfort of Christ will also be filling us and overflowing even! In the midst of severe sorrow in her life (for one, losing two young children), Elizabeth Prentiss always was able (purposefully, it didn't happen accidentally) to see the mercies of God in the midst of trial—a light piercing through when all seems as darkness. She writes: "I feel like a ball that now is tossed to Sorrow and tossed back by Sorrow to Joy. For mixed in with every day's experience of suffering are such great, such unmerited mercies."

#6. Suffering is . . . an avenue for rejoicing!

"The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of
suffering disgrace for the Name" (Acts 5:41).

Quite a few of the previous Scripture references mention "rejoicing" or "joy" in connection with suffering. How can this be?

Are you suffering? Rejoice! Is there a trial in your life? Be joyful! Are you filled with sorrow? Celebrate! How difficult and foreign is this concept for the human soul! Elizabeth Prentiss writes: "I look back to two points in my life as standing out from all the rest of it as seasons of peculiar joy, and they are the points where I was crushed under the weight of sorrow. How wonderful this is, how incomprehensible to those who have not learned Christ!"

According to the above passage from Acts, the disciples rejoiced because the very fact they were suffering indicated God counted them worthy of receiving it. "Worthy" can denote a sense of "deserving." In our culture, naturally one would think that those who are righteous should deserve a good life, an easy life, a blessed and fruitful life. And yet perhaps this verse suggests the opposite (here is a perfect example of the upside-down Kingdom!). The very apostles of Jesus Christ were counted as worthy: and therefore, they received sufferings. And this caused them great rejoicing!

#7. Suffering is . . . a means of bringing increased communion with Jesus.

"I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in
His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the
resurrection from the dead" (Philippians 3:10-11).

Oh the sweet, sweet presence of Jesus that continually abides with those who suffer (and choose to abide with Him in the midst of the suffering). Have you ever spoken with one who has suffered greatly and walked along the way with Jesus? You will notice a closeness and communion with Jesus that cannot otherwise be explained or produced. There is a great mystery in suffering, which Paul speaks of: through suffering we enter into fellowship with Jesus and somehow share in His sufferings. Elisabeth Elliot ponders this: "To me this is one of the deepest but most comforting of all the mysteries of suffering. Not only does He [Jesus] enter into grief in the fullest understanding, suffer with us and for us, but in the very depths of sorrow He allows us, in His mercy to enter into His [sufferings] . . . He makes, in other words, something redemptive out of our broken hearts, if those hearts are offered up to Him."

This last "pivotal thought" is truly the most foundational. Suffering is crucial and necessary in the life of a believer if, for nothing else, to provide a means of gaining intimacy with our Lord. The depths of His Presence that we reach during the midst of suffering (I venture to say) would not be reached without the presence of sorrows and trials in our lives. How else will we learn His sufficiency and learn to trust in His love?

In writing to a friend who just lost a child to sickness, Elizabeth Prentiss mentions this principle: "I trust that in this hour of sorrow you have with you that Presence, before which alone sorrow and sighing flee away. God is left; Christ is left; sickness, accident, death can not touch you here. Is not this a blissful thought?" Wonderful thought indeed. Suffering brings Jesus. And He is enough. He is worth it all.

All quotes from Elisabeth Elliot (1926 - ) and Ugo Bassi (1800 - 1849) from Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot.
All quotes from Elizabeth Prentiss (1818 - 1878) from More Love to Thee: The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss by George Lewis Prentiss.
All quotes from Oswald Chambers (1874 - 1917) from My Utmost for His Highest by the same.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Simple Theology on Suffering {Part 1 of 2}

A Simple Theology on Suffering, Part 1

I wanted to share what God has been teaching me lately about suffering. Over the past month, the topic has surfaced again and again in books I'm reading, sermons, and personal Bible study. And, consequently, I think my entire view of life is being vastly altered. Let me try to sum up what I've learned in 7 pivotal thoughts about suffering.

But let's first define "suffering" in the general sense. Dictionary.com describes "to suffer" as to undergo or to feel pain or distress; to sustain injury, disadvantage or loss; and to endure pain, disability, death, etc., patiently or willingly. Suffering in the Christian life is not limited to one kind of situation or experience, and I don't even know that God sees different "levels" of suffering as we would tend to categorize them. For example, suffering in this fallen world may range from severe physical torture to bullying on the school ground to personal illness to weary days as a mother. I believe there is no limit to the range of circumstances and experiences that God may use as suffering in our lives.

#1. Suffering is . . . not meant to be avoided.

"He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows . . ." (Isaiah 53:3-4).

 "Join with me in suffering, like a good solider of Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 2:3).

As I've been pondering suffering, it occurred to me that in the Western world suffering can, many times, be avoided. I can contrive my life in such a way as to avoid (to the best of my ability) uncomfortable or unwelcome intruders to my peace and happiness. And yet, suffering is, according to Jesus and the apostles in the Epistles, not something to be avoided, but rather embraced. It is a part (dare I say, essential part) of the Christian life. Jesus Himself was a "man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering."

Oswald Chambers writes: "If we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, we have to remember that all noble things are difficult. The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but the difficulty of it does not make us faint and cave in, it rouses us up to overcome."

"Measure thy life by loss instead of gain;
Not by the wine drunk but by the wine poured forth;
For love's strength standeth in love's sacrifice,
And whoso suffers most hath most to give" (Ugo Bassi).

#2. Suffering is . . . for our character training.

 "And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character;
and character, hope" (Romans 5:2-4).

 "Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering"
(2 Thessalonians 1:4-5).

Elisabeth Elliot writes: "God has allowed in the lives of each of us some sort of loss, the withdrawal of something we valued, in order that we may learn to offer ourselves a little more willingly, to allow the touch of death on one more thing we have clutched so tightly, and thus know fullness and freedom and joy that much sooner. We're not naturally inclined to love God and seek His Kingdom. Trouble [and suffering] may help to incline us—that is, it may tip us over, put some pressure on us, lean us in the right direction."

This tipping over builds character in the life of a Christian—suffering is God's training ground. It is not meant to be endured passively, but rather one should be an active recipient, allowing God to shape, mold, and purify. The verses above note perseverance, faith, character, and hope—all outcomes of suffering. Even Jesus was impacted by what He suffered here on earth: "Jesus learned obedience by the things He suffered, not by the things which He enjoyed. In order to fit you . . . for His purposes both here and in eternity, He has lent you this sorrow. But He bears the heavier end of the Cross laid upon you!" (Elliot).

#3. Suffering is . . . our "calling" here on earth.

 ". . . But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example,
that you should follow in His steps" (1 Peter 2:20b-21).

 "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed" (1 Peter 4:12-13).

Perhaps (horrors! the thought!) suffering is our purpose while we spend these short years on earth. There is no greater example than our Lord Jesus Himself. We are to "follow in His steps" and "participate" in His sufferings. This is not strange. This is no surprise. This is our joy.

"But if impatient, thou let slip thy cross,
Thou wilt not find it in this world again,
Nor in another; here, and here alone,
Is given thee to suffer for God's sake.
In other worlds we shall more perfectly
Serve Him and love Him, praise Him, work for Him,
Grow near and nearer Him with all delight;
But then we shall not any more be called
To suffer, which is our appointment here.
Canst thou not suffer then one hour,--or two?" (Ugo Bassi, underline emphasis mine).

{Part 2 here}

All quotes from Elisabeth Elliot (1926 - ) and Ugo Bassi (1800 - 1849) from Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot.
All quotes from Elizabeth Prentiss (1818 - 1878) from More Love to Thee: The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss by George Lewis Prentiss.
All quotes from Oswald Chambers (1874 - 1917) from My Utmost for His Highest by the same.

Monday, August 5, 2013


Introducing Holly Nicole Stanton, my dear friend and college roommate. It was such an honor to be a part of her and David's wonderful wedding weekend. I'm so excited for their new life together and even more memories in the future--now both as married women!

The beautiful bride.

Friday, August 2, 2013

photo montage {summer 2013]

Fancy name: photo montage.
In other words: random photo dump from the last two months.
Reading time.

The only craft project I've completed in the last few months: 3 banners for a bachelorette party.

Justus with his great-grandparents: Gary & Eddi Snyder.

At the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo with Dwight, Jess, and their 3 kids.
Here is Jess and Nehemiah!

Wonderful Nehemiah, my friend for the day

The dads and the strollers.

Malachi and Justus, 3 months apart.

Super cute Malachi.

Pit stop for diaper changes and a bottle for Sadie.

Sadie Paige.

I know Malachi is in a shadow, but this picture makes me laugh.

And this one makes me laugh, too. What are you pointing at, JD?

First experience with a popsicle.

Bryce playing with the worship band at Ignite Camp.

Symphony on the Prairie, Broadway night, with dear friends.

Old and dear friends, Alex and Chris. Walking along the canal downtown.

A little me-time: Starbucks and a really good book.

Aw. My first flowers from Justus.