Monday, December 17, 2012

Wildly Fierce

Hello Beautiful

As life takes stride it is often easy to take things for granted.  An unappreciative life typically loses sight of what is truly spectacular.  The magic of snowfall is casually lost on a Canadian similar to a Puerto Rican losing sight of the crystal blue clarity of a Caribbean beach.  As the spectacular turns to normal, norm changes to expected.  Expectations are like hot sauce on our tongue.  There is a constant need to raise the level or else our dulled sense lead us to boredom.

It is this dull outlook on life that is a cause for many of our troubles.  Our ever present need for sensationalism feeds our flesh’s shortcomings and stifles the growth of our soul.  Just a few weeks ago I was visiting a church.  Not a bad church; I just happen to regularly attend a particularly great one.  As the pastor continued with the alter call I found myself checking the time impatiently.  During the most important time in a potential Christian’s life, I lost sight of what was important in lue of my personal entertainment.

How often do we just punch the clock at church, work, or with family?  Why do we not relish every moment of our lives simply because of the blessing we are given to draw one more breath and walk through this wondrous earth?  As I drove home, ashamed of my thoughts I wrote:

“Dear God,

Soften a hardened heart who's sanguine color has been dulled by calcification.  Make passionate beating break brittle bone overgrown on a once wildly fierce muscle.”

Do not simply skate through the repetitive, average, or dull moments.  Allow your passion to be ignited and reinvest into your world.  Be the garlic that is an agent of transformation to the potato.  The Bible says we are salt.  It is not the world that is full of life, but the life that is in you that brings savor to the Earth.  Do not mail it in.  You are full of spirit and wonder.   You are Beautiful.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Between the Forest and the Field

Hello Beautiful

There are seasons in life so full of work all one can do is deliberately trod forward and wait to catch their breath.  Then there are times you are so mind-numbingly bored, you cannot wait to search for the next task.  In between the forest of busy and field of ordinary lies a moment in time where you see can the splendorous trees filling the background as the long strands of grass relieve the ground before you.  The twilight blue sky with the moon and its stars encompass this snow globe you are briefly a part of.

In the last few months I have labored over two website launches, several photo shoots, developing sets for a major production, designing a sports arena, and many more projects.  Add that to life’s usual tasks such as chores, car maintenance, holidays, and a social life.  It has been quite the Autumn.  Last night as I drove home under a saturated moon, satisfied from a successful opening night of our play, I took an enormous sigh of relief.

It was not merely that this season of busy was finally slowing down.  It was a romanticized sigh.  One with great satisfaction as one reflects on their creation.  We embark on adventures not knowing whether we will come out triumphant on the other end.  Yet in our hearts something calls to us with a passionate longing to take the risk.  A new business, love interest, or project.  Moving to a new town or learning a new language.  These are not simple tasks to fill our time.  They are life changing desires placed in our hearts by a Creator that wants to see us flourish. 

Then there is that moment, right after we leave Egypt but before we start wandering in the desert, that we can look with pride, celebration, and strength at everything that God called us to accomplish. 

Every time I see one of my creations come together—whether a blog post or a building—I am amazed that God would choose me as an agent of change in this world.  The next time you are nearing the edge of a season, take a significant moment to look back and smile at the creation as you thank your Creator.  You were intentionally chosen to create something amazing because you are beautiful.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Creator creating again

This post was written by Julian Thomas; model and personal friend.  And be sure to check out his latest shoot on our Facebook Fan Page.

Hello, Beautiful...

As I bit into a tangy blend of sesame chicken and rice, I began wondering about all of the ingenuity that went into bringing this welcome combination of richly diverse flavors.  Whose idea was it that chicken, when combined with sauce, these particular seasonings, and this strange starchy grain would result in not merely something edible; but something very much enjoyable!

What else have we left unconsidered?  How much went into bringing your Ford Focus into precision engineered synchronous harmony so that when you hit the brakes, they work.  Whose idea were brakes?  Yes, thus far your Lean Cuisine and your hybrid-vehicle both trace their origins to Man. 

But the totality of any art reflects the artist that creates it.  And the artist is always even more glorious then the creation.  For deep down, the unquestionable hope that subconsciously resides within us leaps at the thought of the creator creating again.  

Consider your favorite band.  How long has it been since their last album?  How much longer until their next?  An album by itself will not go on tour, sell out shows, give interviews, sign autographs, and invest energy and resources into its communities.  The creator of that album has to do that. It is the same intangible that sets apart Creation from Creator.

The Creator creating again. 

Revelation 21:5 reads"Behold, I am making all things new." 

"As we examine what creation is, in all its diversity and wonder, and we ponder how this creation came to be, we must remember that all the complexity and beauty in the universe is not meant to terminate on itself but to trace its origin to the Creator." ("The Explicit Gospel")

Trace your origins.  The truth of the matter is that even on our best day we are still broken.  You and I still fall short of what we were designed to be. We will never be perfect this side of heaven.  But your brokenness—in God's hands—is not enough to equate utter ineffectiveness.  He is continually creating something new: YOU.  Enjoy your lunch, and remind yourself that YOU—plus Him—ARE—transcendentally, unceasingly, eternally,—BEAUTIFUL.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Truth

Hello Beautiful

There is a fundamental truth necessary to our survival as humans that we all seem to forget.  Each day we plunge through life fighting for our common needs—food, shelter, clothing.  Yet we ignore our basic struggle that motivates our lives.

You are Loved.

It is a simple fact.  Yet we often show moments of weakness in this area.  We seem to understand that God loves us, even if on a rudimentary level instilled from childhood songs.  But what about others.  Are we loved by our family, friends, and neighbors.  Do we matter to the other humans with whom we share this planet?  Should we bother to walk alongside them or shall we ignore them, hate them, or even leave this life?

You are Loved.

It amazes me how many people wrestle with this statement.  We seek validation by earning the love of others.  And when we receive it, we are often so blinded by the struggle we cannot accept this gift. 

There is someone on this planet that loves you.  No matter what you have done in your life, where you have been, and what trajectory your life is headed, someone loves you.  Not a blinded, blank check love of some random person you do not know.  There is someone tangible in your world that cares about you.  A person that misses you when your gone for a few weeks.  That desires your company and presence.  Someone that wants good for your life and is willing to go to great lengths to see that through.  People that God has placed in your way to tangibly exemplify how He feels about you.

You do not need to withdraw or be alone.  If you are surrounded by people that hurt you, bully you, or bring you down, remove them from your life.  It is your life and you determine who plays a role in it.  This may be as simple as unfriending someone on Facebook or as difficult as moving to another town and starting over.  Either way the work is worth the payoff.  Surround yourself with people that know and appreciate your worth.  Envelope yourself in their love.  Fill your life with people that know you are beautiful.

 

If you or someone you know is contemplating life-threating thoughts because of this or any other reason, we encourage you to seek professional assistance and counseling.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Character to Connect

Hello Beautiful

It is fall.  As I leave work the cool air stands the hairs on my neck.  I listen to cars splash through the road as the street lamps glisten over the asphalt.  The sun sets earlier, the sleeves get longer, and homes become cozier.  Each morning I have a long debate with myself if it would be easier to hop into a warm shower or just stay in bed and forget that I have work that day.

Each morning I continually choose work.  I enjoy what I do for a living, but lets face it, most of us rather sleep and relax.  There is nothing overly exciting about what I do daily or the people with whom I work.  Just a regular office with good and interesting people.  My choice to go into work each day is not predetermined by people, tasks, or even money.

I go to work each day because its my character.  A part of us longs to be united with something greater; a marriage, a cause, a movement.  However we seldom feel we are given this opportunity.  How many of us get to join the peace corps?  Become rock stars? Or accompany the elite upper class?  Yet each day we miss the opportunity to create something special in our own lives. 

I design buildings for a living.  It sounds really exciting, but if you came to the office for a week you would learn that what I do is often tedious and mind-numbing.  But I will happily stare at a window sill detail for five days straight because I know it is part of something greater.  When I drove up on my first completed project and saw how my little, insignificant task helped create something that will last long after I have passed away.  I felt connected not only to co-workers and the building, but to the future families that would interact in this place.

Everyday we have an opportunity to maximize our character.  Our cooperation with our fellow man and love for our neighbor is a desire God has for our lives.  Its so important He commanded it second only to loving Him.  We are asked to be a hand, foot, or neck of a larger interdependent network of people.  Connect with others to create something great.  Do not hide from the world what you have to offer.  It shows in your character when you are beautiful.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Emptiness Filled

Hello Beautiful

In the past months of reflection I have been considering what it takes to create an incredible life.  I am blessed with so many great ingredients—solid friends, a good job, a loving family, and an incredible church.  I have a roof over my head, I eat as I desire, and there is never a dull moment.  And yet there are days when all of the blessings do not seem to be enough.  There are moments in life when I am left with a longing that I cannot seem to be filled.

We all have those moments when we lose our balance.  Whether it is the surreal notion of your youth passing through your fingers or a flash frame of lives dancing all around as your loneliness consumes you.  Our anxieties, insecurities, and struggles are magnified for a moment as we are lost to the world.  We feel trapped in a snow globe; isolated from all the connections that separate our humanity from the porcelain figurines. 

We even attract those to ourselves with similar hurts we are experiencing.  Our loneliness, brokenness, and struggles of self-worth are empathically amplified by those nearest to us.  Perhaps we are drawn to people with similar struggles because we long to fill the emptiness that is existent in our hearts.  This is the vacuous hole that is meant to be plugged by only one source.  A source greater than corporal means.  A self-existent and all sufficient I AM that meets all of our desires and longings.  An overflowing source of love and healing that spills into the lives of those around us.

As we venture forth in our lives we must remember that no person, no thing, no activity is fully satisfying.  Our satisfaction, self-confidence, and completeness comes from a different source.  A beautiful life is not simply one that has every earthly wish fulfilled.  It is one whose comprehension of the divine love powers its core like a nuclear reactor and radiates out to every aspect of their lives.  A volatile force that consumes everyone around them with wonder and joy.  An incredible, beautiful life.

You are beautiful.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sitting in a Park

Hello Beautiful

A grassy hill rolled down from under my feet like a velvet carpet.  In the distance the tree line protected this devoted place from the rush of roads, cars and busy people.  The skyline interrupted with towers attesting to our creativity, success and strength.  A low ceiling of clouds gave a sense of enclosed security; transforming the vast space into a comfortable living room. 

Kids playing. Dogs running. Teens skating.  Couples holding hands.  I have stepped into a scene from a movie, complete with a fly-by from a squadron of fighter jets in an airshow nearby.  It is here that stories are made and told.  As I sat conversing with a new friend a collision of past, present and future unfolded on this scenic stage.  A fairytale version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” A laugh. A serious moment.  An awkward tale. All played out in the dance of a forming friendship.

There is a delicacy at the beginning of every relationship.  A ballet between snowflakes and warm hands.  Too quickly and the snow liquefies.  Too slowly and one fleetingly escapes the other.  A beautiful movement of control from the minds cautious walls to the hearts desire for acceptance. 

We were made for relationships.  Every time I am engaged in a new encounter with someone I am reminded of how critical relationships are to our humanity.  We crave people.  It was ingenious of God to place the desire for relationships fundamental in mankind.  Our love and desire for our fellow man is an illumination into how jealous our God is for us.  A miniscule portrayal of how much He wants us. A sampling of His unfathomable Love.

As any number of combinations of lives encircled me in the park—friends, lovers, widows, loners—I realized all were placed there by some relationship they experienced.  And each person a direct result of every individual they encountered.  Every possibility lays before you when you are sitting in a park.

You are Beautiful.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Romanticized Shield

Hello Beautiful

I sat outside a coffee shop in the center of town.  My iced chai tea ran low as open mic singers expressed their talents. Here I was reminded by a friend of an idea I had long since contemplated on relationships: responsibility.

The “church” (please note the informal lower case “c”) has long taught that dating is evil, one should court, guard your heart, guard the other person’s heart, kissing is bad, etc.  In general these are not bad ideas; but in taking them to a legalistic extreme we have caused more damage than good.  We placed the care of our connection on a set of guidelines and not on true relationship.  It is no wonder that most of our relationships—romantic, amicable, or familial—are in some state of brokenness.

My favorite is when someone tells me, “I don’t care what happens to me, I just want to guard their heart.”  What a crime to one’s soul.  Do you believe that an all-surpassing Love wants your heart trampled as you protect someone else?  God did not sent His Son to die for you so that you needlessly suffer your heart before others.   We have romanticized the idea of guarding another person’s heart.  It has been turned into a noble sacrifice we place on the altar of acceptance.  A sacrifice that was never in the plan.

I am clearly not condoning a flippant disregard for the emotions of another.  This is a reminder of your worth to your Creator.  In all your relationships, romantic or otherwise, you are only responsible for you (with some exceptions for children).  You only have control over your heart, your emotions, and your salvation.  When you pass from this earth you will answer for your life.  And yes, we will take responsibility for the things we did to others, but not their actions.  We need to cease taking responsibility for someone else’s heart when, if we are honest, we do not accept responsibility of our own. 

Each one of us holds a sword in one hand and a shield in the other.  One to fight, the other to protect. Shields are meant for the protection of one.  We cannot defend another without leaving ourselves exposed.  We can choose to team up our shields (marriage).  But to God you are worth more than just giving it away.  To Him you are beautiful.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Shift in the Heart

Hello Beautiful

I sit in the living room with a house full of dishes and half eaten food; pillows strewn all over the floor and bed sheets waiting by the laundry doors.  Artifacts of a house full of guests the evening before.  I love having my home full of people as much as I enjoy the tranquility of its emptiness.

It is in these times of quiet that I reflex on the success of my character.  Was I a good host?  Did I say anything inappropriate?   What do I want to change in my life?  What have I tried to change unsuccessful? 

These questions are not new thoughts of mine.  What has changed in the last month is a shift in tactics to tackle these issues.  Over the years I have tried and written about many methods for change: going to war, quiet reflection, making a choice, etc.  All incredibly useful agents.  However I have been reading a lot about a new and powerful agent of change: Love. 

We all know love can cause us to do crazy things like go sky diving for a girl or go to war for ones country.  God’s Love for us sent a Savior to deliver us from the sinful things in our lives.  But there is another aspect of Love that is an untapped source for strength in change: our Love for God. 

HE LOVES US. There is no substitute for it.  It can never be overstated.  We can never fully comprehend it.  It envelopes us whether we realize it or not.  The questions is how much do we Love Him.  Are we lukewarm for Him or are we passionately in Love.  Be honest with yourself right now.  Some days my answer to that question is “Not that much.”  Other days it is “Whole heartedly.”  Lately, when I want to see change in my life I make a decision change will come because of my Love for God.  I will be a better friend, not for my own needs, choice or desire, but because I Love God and He Loves my friends.  I will win the battle against my flesh because I Love God.  I will excel at work because I Love God.

Love is a strong force. Use it to make changes in your life.  To become the person you want to be.   To see you are beautiful

Monday, August 20, 2012

Do Nothing

Hello Beautiful

The batteries are running low.  I look down at my iPad and the power has been drained more than normal.  I charged it last night; just as every other night.  The same is true of my cell phone.  There is nothing wrong with them.  The batteries aren’t dying, the chargers are working, and the charge time is sufficient.  They have both been used more than usual.

I am quite tethered to my mobile devices.  So it is no surprise that a thermometer reading of my life may be gleaned from them.  I am in a season of life where my batteries are low.  But it is in these hours of recovery that our comprehension of God is expanded and we are made stronger.  The kinetic energy of our humanity is paused and we are forced to plug-in.  The weeks of driving around, late night builds, long office hours, and continuous outpour are over.  The busyness has come to an end.

Enter in a season of rest, reading, and some good old fashioned couch time.  I crushed a season of a new show on Netflix while simultaneously returning to my Francis Chan book.  This afternoon I beat the the daylights out of my drum set as I complained to God in healthy worship.  Last night I laid awake dreaming; allowing God to recharge my mind with visions of new websites, photos, and set designs.

There are times we are to do nothing because we have nothing left to give.  We have all approached the theoretical state of absolute zero: the idea that matter can reach such an inert state of energy that its temperature reads nothing.  Yet physics states that energy will always flow.  We will always be charged back up.  We simply need to wait, rest, and listen.

So for now I drench myself in the silence that is between battles.  Stop and listen to the rain fall.  Allow God to speak Love and dreams and creation and hope and healing and restoration into your heart.  Clean the house and catch up with friends.  Evaluate your life.  For perhaps not tomorrow, but maybe the next day, we go to battle again.  And it will be even greater.  But you will be stronger.  You are a fierce creation.  You are beautiful.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Manifestation of Hope

Hello Beautiful

A friend was involved in a work-related accident this weekend.  As he lay in the ICU ward of the hospital, bruised and as still as lifelessness, a war was engaged for his life on both a spiritual and microcellular level. 

In the waiting room nearby a bustle of action was unfolding.  As his wife sat overcome by emotions of fear, stress, and confusion, the world around her moved to bear the weight.  The young man’s work coordinated medical, lodging, and other logistic arrangements.  Their friends brought food, prayers, and emotional comfort.  The family poured in from all parts of East Coast to be with their loved ones.

The face of beauty is a room full of co-workers, friends, and family sitting together in a room to comfort a wife whose husband is fighting for his life.  A room like this is devoid of fear. In a room such as this there is hope.  By the second day this room was filled with cookies and half eaten lasagna, a guitar and laptops, sign-in books and baby bags.  It was no longer a sterile hospital environment.  It was a family room filled with love. 

The physical manifestation of beauty is not only exemplified in one’s corporal form.  It is also evident in action.  I have always struggled to understand what difference it makes to visit the sick.  To simply sit in a waiting room appears to be of little use when the medical staff is doing their job.  However to be a presence of strength and support can change someone’s world.  To know your friends are not merely saying they will stand with you, but physically move to sit with you as you cry, or eat, or fight the exhaustion in your eyes makes the difficulty bearable.  This is love.

Beauty in action is the manifestation of hope.  Hope of recovery.  Hope for a world that is broken, lost, and confused.  A reminder that God holds our fragile lives carefully in His hands.  God sent His Son to be the hope of all the world; securing healing and life for us.  Hope was moved to Beauty by the action of Love.  Bring hope to a grim place and watch it be transform.  Use your gift.  You are beautiful.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Very Heavy Heart

Hello Beautiful

I took a nap this evening that ended in one of the saddest nightmares I have ever experienced.  It felt so real that even as I awakened I had to remind myself it was not reality to prevent myself from crying.  As I scrolled my newsfeed on Facebook, I came across the most recent post of an acquaintance.

They were an influential leader with a brilliant mind and strong heart.  Recently I began to see curious posts on their Facebook.  Post that questioned our perception of religion, politics, and capitalism.  I was a fan.  We are constantly bombarded with information from every portion of life, we hardly have a second to think and challenge these ideologies.  Yet as I read the latest post I began to feel worry and sorrow that this line of questioning had gone too far.  I dare not judge their stance on the subjects, this is not the place nor is it relevant.

What terrifies me is how they jumped from questioning man, to questioning God; seeking a higher self-enlightenment.  If we began with the premise that humanity and its systems are fallible and corrupt, how did we end up trusting in our own humanities thoughts, instead of a loving, all-powerful, mighty, and perfect God?  I was grieved inside as I saw this progression unfold.  A sadness on par with my nightmare; a vision that coincided with my acquaintance’s post.

Question the systems of the world around you—religion, politics, economy—and find their faults.  But do not completely write off the system; become a part of the solution.  I am reminded of when Christ became angry in the temple.  He was upset with the current state of religion, but did not come to destroy the church, rather to save it.  God calls us to love, joy, and peace.  To create beauty and exert our dominion over the Earth not as a destructive force, but as its care-takers.  To be a part of the solution the world needs; not to remove ourselves from it.  It is when we lose our focus that our fallibility comes forward.  But when we focus on God’s original plan, an intimate relationship with Him, our beauty and perfection are founded in His.

I write to you with a very heavy heart,
You are beautiful.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Beef and Causality

Hello Beautiful

I made steaks today.  A rare yet boss occurrence.  Seasoned with saffron salt, fresh parsley, and an assortment of secret spices, I placed each slab of succulence upon the grill on medium-low heat for twenty-five minutes.  (Vegans and Vegetarians please stay with me).  Initially superficially red, upon my return the exterior of my steaks were evenly cooked yet filled with juiciness.  When I cut into one I was saddened to find it was not quite done; requiring seven additional minutes.

When we first decide to transform something—our image, friendships, or behaviors—we begin as this bloody red steak.  It is obvious from the outside that work needs to be done.  Someone decides to put in the effort.  Whether it is ourselves, a friend, or church, spices are added and the heat turned up, slowly and carefully transforming us into the person we wish to become.

It is easy to treat the symptoms of our lives; like a doctor prescribing ice and tissues when we have a fever.  Some time later we may not appear to be sick—the snot is wiped constantly from our face and the ice lowers the temperature on the thermometer.  The truth remains that the influenza that has ridden our system is killing us.

It is a strong belief of mine that there are two types of problems with humanity.  The illnesses that are symptoms and those that are causes.  We can easily identify problems with alcoholism, self-affliction, promiscuity, violence, and dishonesty.  We can treat these problems easily.  Two-drink limit. The buddy system. Church attendance. New hobbies.  All great solutions to problems we face as a reality.  However, stopping here is like only cooking the outside of your food.  There are reasons we are drawn to these vices.  Our deep issues of self-worth, abandonment, loneliness, and emptiness are root causes common to every human.  While they may not manifest themselves in destructive behaviors, they are no less poisonous to our bodies.  Remaining undetected, these deadly cancers spread until they kill us from the inside out.

The transformation that God desires for our lives is one of completion.  He does not want you to appear good as you slowly die inside.  As I bit into my steak and enjoyed its fully cooked, juicy deliciousness I thought of how God sees the gourmet meal we will become.  I thought of you and how you are beautiful.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Audrey: Dance for Healing

Hello Beautiful

This week we will be featuring our first interview: Audrey. She is featured as this month’s background and you can see the rest of her photo shoot on Facebook.

Nickname: Audrina, Oz, Shnardbark
Occupation: Administrative Assistant
Major life dream: Public relations at a major performing arts venue.
Least favorite vegetable: Are olives a vegetable?

What do you believe it means to be beautiful?

Beauty means confidence. It's downright heartbreaking to see a girl struggling with who she is, in a constant state of TRYING. Trying to be perfect—good enough, smart enough, thin enough, talented enough. This girl is uneasy. It's not that this girl is ugly—her beauty is hidden under layers of burden. Confidence is key. And the umbrella that covers these things is God's Identity. How often we forget that He molded us especially the way He wanted to!

How do you feel that dance relates to beauty?

Yet another loaded question! I've always recognized a freedom in dance that I've never found anywhere else. Dance lets me explore, create and emote whatever is on my mind and in my heart, both good and bad. I can be completely transparent or entirely masked in the guise of someone else. Dancers are some of the most brilliant, maddeningly unreasonable people in the world. When they dance, they are in their purest, truest and freest form. It's nothing short of exhilarating, nothing short of addicting, nothing short of beautiful.

How have your challenges at home developed you?

It’s funny… until recently I had never thought of my home challenges as sources of 'development’. I considered myself victimized by them, fragmented beyond repair and eternally closed off from the fullness of God because of how angry I was. But within the past half a year God has been working in my heart and teaching me about forgiveness. I've come to realize that in order to grow into the woman God's called me to be, I had to first be real with my past and choose to forgive the people and situations that wounded my little girl heart. It's so hard to let things go and "cancel the debt," but I've already seen so much growth and healing come of it. It's taught me how to love more like Christ loved.

Has developing your dance alongside your faith helped you face your struggles?

Without a doubt. Before I became a Christian, I danced to be seen and heard. It validated me. After I started dancing as a form of worship, it took the focus off of me and onto God. When performing, people aren't seeing me—they are seeing God through me. The validation I sought after as a child doesn't matter as much anymore. Dancing has a bigger purpose, a healing purpose for me. What could be more fulfilling than to be called by God to add beauty to people's lives, to inspire them, or simply put a smile on their faces?

Thank You
You are Beautiful

Monday, June 25, 2012

Frozen Memories and Progress

Hello Beautiful

The amazing part of weddings is their ability to congregate friends and family from dispersed ends into one location.  This past weekend one of my best friends from college was betrothed. As we watched our friends vow their faithfulness and love for one another our hearts were filled with overwhelming joy, which later turned into merriment.

In our small college town the juxtaposition of frozen memories and progress became the backdrop of new adventures.  As we caught up on the years that have past since we last were together we are reminded of why our friendships have withstood the trial of distance and time.  We are still able to divulge embarrassing stories with love and acceptance, celebrate the successes, and express genuine concerns for each others happiness. A few midnight walks through town allowed us to make new memories—taking silly photos, scaling trains, and simply being young and happy.

—We all change—
—We all stay the same—

It is interesting in this place of pause to see how much we all change and how much stays the same.  As I see my friends growing into their new careers, homes, churches, and lives I realize that Beauty contains an element of time.  Like the maturation of fine wine, weathering of a barn, or aging of Sean Connery.  As we step through life we become more and more the people God has desired us to be all along.  “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord” (Psalms 37:23). 

As I departed down the beautiful mountains of Virginia, returning to my new home at the ocean, a surreality surrounded me.  I am leaving some of the best friends in the world, a past life, to be rejoined with my new friends who are proving their great worth.  Faded are the memories of loneliness from my original arrival at the beach.  Instead I am filled with love by the lives that have encircled my life, both past and present. 

My steps have been ordered.  Through life we drive down a road of ever changing scenes.  As we surrender navigation to One who has mapped a course far more adventurous and beautiful than we could ever imagine, our lives will be beset by richness.  We will grow and develop beyond our dreams.  And you will be beautiful.

Monday, June 18, 2012

It’s OK to Cry

Hello Beautiful

Often times we wander through life pondering how we ended up here.  A series of unfolding events replays in our minds like a Frank Miller film noir.  A seemingly small step, tiny compromise, or a missed opportunity unravels a path into a world we never imagined would be realized.  And there we sit, at the bottom of our life’s canyon, staring at the impossible cliffs we must ascend to see the light of day.

Our depths may take different forms.  Divorce.  A failing grade.  Unemployment.  Overwhelming stress.  Illness.  Whatever manifestation our obstacle takes, it overshadows the hope of the sun.  It is at these moments in life I feel there is one appropriate response: crying.

It is ok to cry.  We are told that crying is a weak response that yields no solutions to real problems.  While crying may not solve any problems, it is an important step to forward movement in times desperation.  There is no shortage of articles to be found on the stress relief benefits of crying.  However there is more to crying than just temporarily giving up the restraints on our tear ducts.

Crying is a sign of surrender.  It allows us to realize that we are not in control.  Through our saline filled faces and mucus engrossed nasal passages we divulge our weakness and exchange it for Godly strength.  David, one of the most accomplished and mightiest men in Biblical history often wrote Psalms crying in surrender to God.  Psalms 141 is one of many accounts describing his sorrow.

A healthy cry allows us to spell out to our loving Father the weight we have been carrying on our shoulders.  We let go; releasing the fragments of life we have been trying to hold together like a glass vase fracturing in our clumsy hands.  We trade our broken vase for a new block of clay. 

It is here, at the bottom of a canyon, holding new clay, that we find the opportunity to create beauty again.  Feel the sun’s light at the height of noon reach down and meet you.  Regain the strength to push back the canyon walls that are closing in.  There is a long journey ahead of you.  A series of events that will unfold and speak of how you are beautiful.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Shattered Glass Hearts

Hello Beautiful

Last weekend I went to see the movie “Snow White and the Huntsman”. A movie that makes good references to a familiar tale while displaying the advances of modern cinematography.  While the plot may not be as complex as some of today’s blockbusters, it delivers a clear and focused message.  At the climax of the movie the heroine, Snow White declares to Ravenna, the antagonist, “You cannot have my heart.”  Admittedly a part of me stirred when I heard this line.  Annoyed that such a simple sentence could move me, I began to analyze the message of the film.

All around us there are forces after our hearts.  Jobs wanting our effort.  Romantic interest desiring our affection.  Friends seeking our love. Hobbies requiring our passion.  Constantly we are bombarded with opportunities to invest ourselves into others.  It is a wondrous ideal to affect another our own hearts.  But we must tread cautiously because just as easily as we may be recruited to give ourselves, we may also be returned broken.

The plan for your life was never meant to include having your heart shattered like glass on the floor of your life.  Leaving you to sweep up the fragments; attempting to piece together your life giving organ with minimal scaring.  Absurd are the notions we maintain that we cannot be hurt by the scenarios that surround us.  Yet continually we allow others to play with our heart like a child learning to juggle.

Perhaps instead of being so flippant with our heart we should ferociously battle to defend it; allowing it to be a prize earned only by the most deserving of warriors.  Proverbs 23:26 says:

O my son, give me your heart.
May your eyes take delight in following my ways.

How gracious is the one who has engaged in the ultimate self-sacrificing war so that He may hold and guard our hearts for us.  The Proverbs continues on to warn of obvious troubles of the writers culture.  But it is implying something much deeper.  There are many things in our world that look appealing, but in the end they will let you down.  Stand up for yourself and say, “You cannot have my heart.”  Hold yourself and those seeking a part of you to a higher standard.  Not a level of average, reckless, or careless. But the elevated stature of “You are Beautiful.”

Monday, June 4, 2012

Calendar Weights

Hello Beautiful

Like most members of our society I am tethered to my technology.  Imagining a day detached from my iPad or watching my phone’s last bar of battery vanish are nightmares I wish not to experience.  They connect me to the people that matter most in my world, remind me of the tasks I must accomplish, and balance my time.  Lately I have been feeling the weight of all my tasks.  It seems as though the to do list continually outweighs the time in my budget.

I’m reminded of the Notorious B.I.G lyric that says, “the more money we come across, The more problems we see.”  In this instance the currency is time and the problems are each task we try to squeeze into our lives.  Our world runs at an ever increasing pace.  Last week I had to budget time between family, friends, work, church, design, photography, business development, clients, beach, shopping, sleep, etc.  Wednesday I hit a wall.  The stress of the last several months all caught up when I received two letters in the mail drenched in bad news.  I stood still in my house and told God enough, I am exhausted.

I feel that God often waits for us to throw our hands up.  He pushes us, not to our breaking point, but to our surrendering point.  Constantly challenging us to step-up, and be the incredible beings of His creation.  Simultaneously reminding us of our humble dependence upon His strength.  As I sat in church one verse stood out very strongly. 

Psalms 55:16-17,22
16 But I will call on God,
and the Lord will rescue me.
17 Morning, noon, and night
I cry out in my distress,
and the Lord hears my voice.
22 Give your burdens to the Lord,
and he will take care of you.
He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.

With those words my exhaustion did not vanish.  My budget did not miraculously fix itself.  And I wish I could say that my divine healing came at that moment.  None of this happened.  My creator simply let me know He has my back.  No matter how worn out we have become from the weightier matters in our lives, we have someone that can restore the balance in our calendars and help us accomplish everything He desires for us.

You are beautiful.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Parts of a Dance

Hello Beautiful

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Bethel School of the Arts Spring recital.  This performance featured dancers from a broad range of levels and varying styles.  From tap to hip-hop, pre-schoolers to professionals; each piece brought something different.  The theme of the show was the seven continents, and each dance highlighted a unique characteristic of the various regions of our planet.

It is incredible to think about the diversity of our planet.  We are often stuck in our small portion of the world, considering only those with whom we interact .  But watching these dances that featured only a finite number of cultures from around the world, forced me to consider how vast our globe is.  I have not visited the rice fields of China and considered the lives of those who tend them.  Nor have I seen the mountains of Ireland and learned the culture of the shepherds.  All over this world—each continent, country, region, tribe—all have their own way of life different from mine.  Lives full of a myriad of experiences.

I often wonder how God chooses to place each person on this planet.  Our lives are not accidents, but a purposeful plan of a Loving Creator.  Each unique life positioned to add to the masterful interplay of causality.  Throw-in free will as a wild card and the angelic host are privileged to watch the an intricate display of interactions. 

It is not globalized chaos.  It is a woven tapestry filled with individuals.  Each strand placed purposefully and uniquely.  As we dance through life we should consider the part each of us plays as individuals and the role each culture plays as a globalized race.  Whether we are adolescents in a ballet piece or adults in lyrical dance our individualized roles contributes to the entire show.  A show where the Choreographer believes each one of you are beautiful.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Breath

Hello Beautiful

Humans impress me.  I am fascinated by their capability for compassion, creativity, and competition.  Their innate need for love and acceptance.  The lengths they take to obtain the object of their desire; whether material or emotional.  Have you ever paused and observed humanity? 

In a party you may witness a delicate exchange of needs as people buzz through the room as bees working in a hive.  They carefully pass ideas, flirtation, comedy, and food between one another.  Each bringing a supply.  Each filling a need.  The politician receives attention.  The romantic a new interest.  The comedian a stage. And the chef praise.  Sometimes for the betterment of all.  Sometimes for an ill-filled need.

In a museum, concert hall, or theater one will discover the human ability to create.  A laborious investment of one’s self into the perfection of a new thought.  Explicating the idea in the form of a painting, symphony, or ballet.  They connect with their audience through a medium of their choosing, allowing them to not only affect their own lives through its inception, but all those able to participate in the existence of the piece.

In a classroom we learn of the endeavors of humanity.  Our need for world conquest, medical cures, and scientific discovery.  Weather we wish to rule a nation, vaccinate HIV, or accelerate atoms, it is a characteristic of humans to push our limits.  We study harder and train longer as we seek to obtain our goals.

When I read the account of Creation in the Bible I am fascinated by the idea of humanity being created out of God’s image.  We have been set apart from everything else created.  Not just other animals, but every bacteria, plant, dust, or star.  We were instilled with God’s “breath of life” (Gen 2:7), chosen to bear a distinctly different mark from the rest of the Universe.  And with that the ability for greatness.

What are we doing with our apportionment of “breath”?  Satisfying our own needs will not lead us very far.  Pushing the limits, contributing to the hive, and affecting our world will take us further.  But our full realization will only come by breathing in tune with the Father’s breath for our lives.  It is in His rhythm and depth that we find our purpose and see our needs and dreams fulfilled.  It is through this breath that you are beautiful.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Trust glue

Hello Beautiful

I was conversing with a close friend about the fragility of relationships.  All of our relationships, romantic, familial, or amicable, have a sense of delicacy.  I am reminded of the flowers I saw last spring in the botanical garden.  The fragility of their short lives is matched by the strength of their beauty.

The strength in interpersonal relationships stems from trust.  When we place trust in another individual we choose not only to allow them next to us, but we invite them into our world.  I think one of the largest misconceptions about relationships is they inherently have a level of trust.  Especially if that trust has had no reason to be.  Trust is earned and developed over time.  Not necessarily time that is measured by a clock, but time measured in experience. 

Soldiers build a deep trust in battle.  Trust among friends grows when they come through in a time of need.  Business partners earn trust with each fair deal.  We are foolish when we place a distortional amount of trust in individuals.  It is how internet scams make their money and predators take advantage of the bar scene.  We are cautious of these extreme forms of misplaced trust.  Our troubles stem from the trust we place in those close to us.  Those who do not mean to hurt us.

Trust is the binding agent of intertwined lives.  If you have too much glue and not enough material, the two items will never stick.  The amount of trust should be proportional to the depth of the relationship.  I trust my brother greatly.  Though he has let me down in our lifetime, overall he comes through when I need him.  He is the only one I trust with my passwords, bank information, and other great secrets of my life.  My close friends I also trust greatly.  They have not done anything to break my trust, but they have not earned the same status as my brother.  So while I would trust them to plan a weekend getaway, they are not getting a copy of the house keys just yet.

You are an amazing person.  Make people earn your trust.  It will build stronger, lasting relationships.  You deserve to have people in your life that know and respect your worth.  Friends you can count on.  People that know you are beautiful.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Happy Anniversary

Hello Beautiful

This week is the one year anniversary of "Beautiful be Alejandro J. Medina Studios". This past year has been a great adventure in the investigation of beauty through literary expression. We have had over 2,500 hits on the blog page, several readers via email, and many more on Facebook. Our Facebook Fan Page has more than doubled in fans.  And we continue to get more and more hits on our website, www.ajmedinatudios.com.

But most importantly people are being communicated the message of beauty in and around them.  Our readers constantly comment on their restored belief in God and renewed confidence in themselves.  Our hope with this blog is to bring you a message of inspiration. We want you to be inspired by the environment around you. Inspired to change your world. And inspired to know your worth.

I want to take a moment to first celebrate the success of this past years adventure. What began as a small vision from God is being blessed into a large success.  I want to also thank all the loyal readers. And I want to let you know about some exciting things you can look forward to.

The nature of the blog is not going to change; beauty from a design and Christian perspective. We hope to bring you a blog once a month about real people beautifying their world.  These will hopefully correspond with the featured photo of the month. You should also see some new authors. And we plan to release a book of the first years blog later in 2012, not just in print, but also on iPad.

Alejandro J. Medina Studios will also be undergoing some changes. We are currently working on our non-profit 501(c)(3) paperwork. Allowing us to accept donations and continue developing our work in the non-profit realm. There is a lot I could write about those efforts—from the websites we plan to host to our long term efforts overseas.  But all our efforts can be summarized in our slogan: "Creating for the Creator".

We hope that you continue to join and support us as we explore "the Beautiful" and expand our reach. Thank You.

You are Beautiful.
Alejandro J. Medina
Creator

Monday, April 23, 2012

Health and Beauty

Hello Beautiful

Several months ago my friends and I were playing Frisbee, taking pictures, and having a great Sunday afternoon.  When I saw the photos, I was shocked to see myself.  I looked big.  A disheartening moment, I ventured onto a scale and realized that gravity had increased by 20 lbs. I became very self-aware of the adverse affects my daily habits were having on my health.  I also noticed it take a toll on my self-esteem, energy, and outlook on life.

One of my goals at the beginning of the year was to trim back down.  It has been many years since I was 20, I should stop treating my body as such.  I can no longer eat hot dogs weekly or pound down a Hardee’s Thickburger without consequences.  Since January I have cut out most overly processed foods and began to work out a little.  Nothing crazy.  I hate doing health stuff.  But its an investment in my life.  As intellectuals we focus so much on developing mentally and socially that our society has forgotten to mature physically. 

Our bodies are finely tuned machines.  The Bible says to treat the body as a temple.  As such it deserves not only respect, but maintenance.  How can your God purpose be fully realized if you are not doing your part to be physically well?  We cannot help our neighbors move into a new homes if we cannot walk without wheezing.  We cannot counsel our friends about self-respect if we do not respect our own bodies.  And how can we see restored relationships in our families if we feel too sluggish to put in the work. 

Personally I have not only lost weight, but I also feel more alive and active.  I have more energy to invest in my friends, family, and church.  I can think more clearly, advise more wisely, and create more beautifully.

Our Creator wants to see us live “life more abundantly.”  That means not just barely surviving, but thriving.  We all understand there are extreme medical circumstances and there is great healing for those cases.  But we need to stop hiding behind the excuses of bad genes, medical diagnosis, and blinded outlooks on beauty.  When you rise past the excuses and dare to seek and live a full life, you are beautiful.

Monday, April 16, 2012

…to the Bride and Groom

Hello Beautiful

This weekend I had the pleasure of being best man in my brothers wedding.  A picturesque day that demarked the end of one phase in their lives and the start a great new life together.  The night before I reflected on the various relationships: their marriage, my brother, my new sister, the union of the families, etc.  The following is an excerpt from my best man speech which I feel is pertinent to all our relationships.

Now to the couple I offer you three things that I have learned about relationships and life.

1. There are moments in life that are so raw in their honesty—the warm morning sun piercing your bedroom window as you whisper I Love You in bed. A fight whose brutality can only bring you closer together. A tragic life event whose sorrow deepens your dependency on God—Cherish these moments where our humanity is realized.

2. Leave it all on the Table- Life and marriage are not games of poker. They are a battleground in which you must fight each day with all your strength. The glorious stories of heroes and heroines are those in which all their energy was expended. Show up prepared to take nothing home because this is your new home now.

3. And make your dreams come true. You live before a loving God that has great dreams yet to be realized. And while today we celebrate a significant portion of your dreams coming true, continue to battle for the amazing things God has for you. The best is yet to come.

As I stood next to my brother at the alter surrounded by family and friends, strangers and roommates, a beautiful landscape and a great music, I was able to really appreciate the beauty of the moment.  I realized that this wedding was an amazing moment because there was effort and work put into it.  This was an intentionally created moment. 

My prayer and hope is that each of you will find triumph in your relationships and life. There is so much out there for you. Go out and take hold of it because you are beautiful.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Changing the Lens

Hello Beautiful

I decided to take my photography to a new level by investing in a high end lens.  When it arrived I could hardly wait to begin shooting.  Its high-end glass and smooth focusing has already begun to influence my art.  Each time I look through this lens I feel as though I am looking at the world in a new light.  This past weekend I did a photo shoot with a new model, but it had similar shots and scenarios I have taken in the past.  With the change in lens I could see new angles and techniques for perfecting the shot.

It would be a simple conclusion to say that the new lens has given me a technological advantage to take more sophisticated photos.  However it is not just the lens that changed.  The new equipment has also changed me.  it has given me a new appreciation for things that I see everyday.  I desire to think more creatively, to see more clearly, and to process more thoroughly. 

There are so many areas in our lives where we wish we could change the lens.  We get stuck using the same 50mm lens and view life in a simple but static mode.  We go to work, hit the gym, make dinner, watch TV, a little hobby time, Facebook, a tweet, and then bed.  Day after day.  If not our daily routine, our relationships may be static.  Our fiends are all the same.  Our romantic relationships have a similar cycle.  Or our troubles with our family remain as unspoken heartaches.

We need to make a change.  The only way to break the monotonous patterns of the dissatisfying areas of our lives is to change our vision.  With new vision we will be able to see the problems and solutions in a new light.  Changing the lens in life could be as simple as seeking advice from a friend or as drastic as relocating to a different state.

I refuse to believe that we were meant to lead boring lives.  Life is an adventure that we were created to enjoy.  Even in our daily routine we can find excitement with friends and family.  It may just be a matter of changing a lens and seeing how wonderful our lives truly are.  A new perspective to show you are beautiful.

Monday, March 26, 2012

They do exist

Hello Beautiful
There is an old song by Christian hip-hop & RnB group G.R.I.T.S. called “I be.”  At the end of this track is a rhythmic spoken word that has been echoing in my heart for weeks.  Performed by a girl speaking to other ladies, it encouragingly depicts the truth of seeking (and finding) the right person in a relationship. 


My favorite line says:
“Godly, Ambitious, educated brothers do exist
You just cant see ‘cause your visions twisted”
There is so much packed into those two lines.  It is a reminder in our feeble moments of loneliness not to settle for Mr./Miss Good E. Nough.  So many times we feel as though every great person we meet is already in a relationship.  Logically we can deduce it is not possible that all the great men and all the great women are taken.  Clearly we must have a flawed vision. We cannot see the person of our dreams because of our own brokenness. 
Our self-esteem, Godly servant-hood, and life aspirations all affects our ability to find a mate with similar qualities of greatness.  In order to find a “Godly, ambitious, educated” mate, you must become Godly, ambitious, and educated.  These lines encourage me to continually refine myself for my future wife.  Become the person that someone falls in love with because of your intellect, dreams, and Love for your Creator.  The physical manifestation of your beauty is directly correlated to there being something inwardly beautiful to manifest.
And untwist your vision.  Stop looking for a mate in the wrong places.  Open your eyes to the qualities that really matter in a person.  See past the superficial and find the heart of a person.  One line in the song says, “Kings don’t rock crowns in crowds. For what? They’re more secure than that.”  You won’t see a great man flashing his prestige in public; you will have to seek after their character to find their amazing worth. 
Be patient and know your own worth.   Settling will not meet the void you feel in your heart.  It is setting yourself up for failure and heartache.  Understand your greatness and hold yourself, and your significant other, to a higher standard.  You deserve someone that knows you are beautiful.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Winter turns to Summer

Hello Beautiful

I love the end of Men in Black II when Agent K is convincing Laura she is an Alien.

Agent K: When you get sad it always seems to rain.
Laura: Lots of people get sad when it rains!
Agent K: It rains because you're sad baby.

There are many days that I feel as though God makes it rain because I am sad.  I love those moments because it reminds me that He empathizes and cares about my distressing day.

Lately the weather where I live has been absolutely beautiful.  Vividly blue skies, 70 degree temperature, and a gentle breeze have brought in a gorgeous spring.  This unseasonably beautiful weather matches how amazing my life has been this past month.  The days have been full of barbeques and band practice. Friends gathering for fun and for worship.  Work is less stressful and the house is clean.  There is an alignment in my life that lets me know the winter has passed.

I love that we refer to life as having seasons.  It lets us know when we are going through a tough time relief will come soon.  Whether it is medical problems, family troubles, or financial hardships, we can always have hope that these things will pass.  Humans heal, relationships may be restored, and finances can be recovered.  We must heavily remind ourselves that Hope never leaves our side.  We have to fight to get out of winter’s storm.

When we are in a sunny season, we should remind ourselves to make preparations for the next storm.  Preventive maintenance on our bodies is as simple as eating right and exercising.  Our relationships will survive strain if we invest in them with time and memories.  The next financial crisis will be more bearable if we put money into savings.  And most importantly, enjoying the good seasons and reducing our stress levels will go a long way to a healthier, balanced life.

Seasons are constantly changing in life.  It is natural for us to cry when it is raining and celebrate when the sun is shining.  What is important is that we continue to move forward with faith and hope that we were created for better things.  We live before a God that wants to see you constantly grow. A loving Father that wants you to see in all seasons you are beautiful.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Beauty Tuning

Hello Beautiful

I wanted to take a week to return to beauty as a defined term.  More and more I am coming to understand beauty as the physical manifestation of an inward state.  Many people say “beauty is what's on the inside.”  Lies.  Load of bologna.  Dare I even declare that is what ugly people say?  You are not ugly so do not say that.  If we all believed that beauty was what is on the inside we would all be fine with never using make-up, deodorant, hair salons, or name-brand clothing.  Physical attraction would lose its value and all that would matter is if you are a “nice person”.  Being a “nice person” does not make you beautiful.  It makes you nice.  Beauty is a characteristic that must be drawn out.

I was practicing drums earlier.  Made of warm wood and fairly new drumheads, they intrinsically possess the potential for amazing sound.  I even keep them free from dust and the hardware polished to show care has been taken.  Yet today when I struck a drumhead I was met with a disappointing “thud.”  Inside everything was “nice.”  Outside things were “pretty” as well.  However the tuning was off.  There was a slight refinement required to draw out a beautiful sound.  The small tweak allowed the air inside the drum to vibrate at the appropriate frequency to produce a warm resonance that could be pleasingly received by my ears.

I designed some pillows that my grandmother sewed for me.  They came out even more beautiful than I imagined.  I look at them with pride as this is something that I conceived, gathered quality materials to create, and used a skilled seamstress to realize.  It’s potential was manifested into a physical thing that I love.  I consider how much our Creator loves us because we are His creation.  A love that is not earned.  Then I think of how pleased He becomes with us when we put in the effort to be more complete beings; working on both our inner character and our physical beauty.

By virtue of being created you are full of purpose, worth, and value.  Your potential for incredible character is equal to the greatest people throughout history.  Refine the connection between what is inside you and what the rest of the world sees.  Take the challenge and physically manifest that you are beautiful.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Set a Fire

Hello Beautiful

This weekend I had the honor of working at a women’s conference.  Behind the scenes I was able to observe and participate in an awe-striking clock-like machine.  Each person knew what needed to be done, and did so with pride and excellence.  The payoffs were instant.  There were literally thousands of thankful women with smiles and tears on their faces.  The Tweets and Facebook posts will echo out the transformed lives for weeks to come.

To willingly and selflessly serve another is one of the most beautiful actions we can execute.  So often our lives are filled with selfish ambitions.  Forward movement in careers.  Neediness in relationships.  Attitude with a waitress.  Even some of our “acts of service” are performed with selfish motives.  In these scenarios we indeed reap what we sow.  When we sow greed, we may have short term gain, but ultimately we will be repaid with greed.  When we serve with alternative motives, eventually our true self comes to light.

I challenge you serve in a manner that is a no win scenario for you.  Not to an extreme that is self-deprecating.  The men that served at the women’s conference had very little to gain from being there.  There was no monetary compensation, no phone numbers given, and no prizes won.  But they stored up their treasures.  Some which they will no receive until the next life, and some which they will receive in this one.  The single men on the sound team will find amazing Godly wives that are out of their league.  The dad’s in the nursery spent valuable time with their children.  The student volunteers gained practical experience to their classroom learning.  But everyone cashed in on one major payout: blessing another.

To affect another person’s life in a pure and positive manner is a rare experience in our world.  When we have the opportunity to pour ourselves out and see a life transformed we should seize the moment.  There is a glow that emanates from the depths of one’s heart whose embers may only be set ablaze by another reaching in and fanning the flame with God breathed winds.  Once ignited, this fire becomes an explosive force that affects the world around it, causing an wake of constructive energy.  Building up  lives.  Tearing down lies.

Bless a life, for you are beautiful.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Insecure Compliments

Hello Beautiful

I love building up people with compliments.  To orchestrate a personally tailored symphony of uplifting speech is a wonderful experience.  I love analyzing the reactions people have to compliments.  They range from a simple thank you to arrogance; disbelief to mild offense.

This past weekend I was on the receiving end of a compliment.  On three separate occasions with three distinct groups of friends I was uplifted about the same thing in my life.  Being confident in myself I accept most compliments with a big smile and a thank you.  However, on this occasion I could only give a fake smile and try to change the conversation.

As the days past and the same area of my life was brought up I realized that in my heart I did not believe them.  They were beating at the door of an insecurity in my heart.  Each of us has insecurities in our lives.  They surface at unexpected times.  And it seems that they are bombarded with attention all at once.  We have two options when faced with a new insecurity: hide or fight.

We can hide from our insecurities; telling our friends not to speak about something because it is a matter of privacy, offense, or discomfort.  We can avert our eyes from the mirrors in our home that hold our physical insecurities.  Or we can avoid making people because of our relational insecurities.  But we are not meant to live a life hiding from people, things, or words.

We can choose to fight for a complete self. I found it no coincidence that so many people were hitting on the same area of my life.  Perhaps a loving God wanted to see me free from this self-doubt.  The Bible teaches to share each others burdens. So I confided in a close friend.  While it is a terrifying thought to allow someone into our insecurities, I was met with great love.  By the time I left I began to believe what my friends were telling me.  Belief that later turned into tangible action.

We all have insecurities but we are not meant to live with them forever.  As we grow into who we were created to be we will conquer each area of self-doubt.  Fight the insecurities of your life.  Transform yourself so that you can feel confident when someone says, “You are beautiful.”

Monday, February 13, 2012

Celebrate Love

Hello Beautiful

Tomorrow we will commemorate Valentine’s day.  A day that most have strong feelings about.  Perhaps you are the romantic and cannot wait for the day’s activities to unfold.  Maybe you feel it is a capitalist holiday created by greeting card companies to make more money.  Or you could be amongst the “singles awareness day” crowd.  No matter where you are I feel as though we need to set a few things straight.

  1. Valentine’s Day is real.  It was created in the 5th century to commemorate a martyred saint.  A Martyr! Someone who laid down their life for something they believed in.  What a great expression of love.  This was well before capitalism was even conceptualized, much less the greeting card industry.
  2. Singles awareness day is everyday.  If it takes a special day to remind you that you are single… your singleness is probably not hurting you that much.
  3. If you are in a relationship and you are not planning on doing something, I would not want to be you tomorrow.  I do not care how much your significant other says they do not want anything.

Valentine’s day has always been a special day for me.  Rare have been the years that I have had someone with whom to share it.  Yet each year I still love it.  Some years my parents do something extra special to let me know they love me.  Another year it was dinner with a girlfriend.  Sometimes it was having dessert with my closest friends.  My plans for tomorrow are low key, but I’m really excited about them.

No matter what you should celebrate the day.  Denying its existence will not make it go away.  Every 52 weeks it will come back again.  Embrace this day as an expression of love.  I can think of nothing more beautiful than to show your love for another individual.  It does not always need to be romantic.  Christ gave so many examples of how we can express our love.  Take your widowed neighbor some flowers.  Make a nice dinner with five of your closest friends.  Call up your sister you have not spoken to in three years. 

No matter how you choose to celebrate the day, be sure that you let someone know that they matter to you.  Express your love because you are beautiful.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Character Design

Hello Beautiful

In the last months I have found myself considering typography more frequently.  Perhaps because of my current projects at work.  Or maybe due to my current web development efforts.  I have a renewed fascination with this micro-scaled artistry.  Designers sit for hours sculpting each character of our alphabet.  Each stroke precisely laid to convey an idea through a nonverbal communication method.

I have always wanted to create a giant letter like you see on stages.  This past weekend a friend and I crossed this off my bucket list by making a 6 feet by 4 feet “O” and “V’.  We used a basic font; nothing elaborate for first time letter makers.  Yet when you enlarge these letters you realize how complicated even the simplest ones can be.  Each curve of the “O” had to be laid with seamless transition to the previous.  And the legs of the “V” had to be cut with perfect alignment.

What inspiration humanity must have been given to create such a complex communication device.  We have desired to perfect something that is smaller than a pebble.  I often write about the mastery of God’s paint brush as He illustrates the sunset.  Or His cosmic omnipotence as He orchestrates a perfectly timed scenario.  Yet its in the details that He is proven personal.  Often we turn to nature for design inspiration.  Our eyes may easily be enthralled by the dance of vines growing on an aged tree.  We can be captivated by the movement of grains of sand as we walk on the beach.  Or even intrigued by the lines our skin forms as it wraps our skeletons.  Typographers include these natural features in our alphabet’s characters.

Each of these small creative details remind us that we are loved personally by our Creator.  There are things that have been created for us as individuals.  Flowers that live extremely short lives.  Seashells who’s beauty are matched only by their fragility.  Each of these tiny details in our world were formed to remind us that we matter.  Often times our individual worth is lost in such a vast planet.  But you are so much more than a small detail on the face of this Earth.  You are the reason all of this was made.  You are the one He longs to connect with.  You are the character He carefully designed.  You are beautiful.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Curtain of Light

Hello Beautiful

One morning I was conversing with a friend.  There was no glamour in this morning.  No make-up or dresses.  No flash or light meter.  Just a mess of hair and a good chat.  Suddenly a soft curtain of light illuminated the air behind her.  From where I was positioned the radiance diffracted across chiseled lines of her face.  A glow of white light hovered like a crescent; holding her cheek and jaw bones as if to display their sculpted form. 

I have never regretted so greatly not having my camera.  As I was stunned by this beautiful eclipse my eyes analyzed the form before me.  This moment was not brought to me by blush and eye shadow.  It was not a Photoshopped smile and airbrushed features.  Furthermore this moment was not generated by any work by the girl.  She did not form the curvature of her cheek and jaw bone.  Nor did she cause the sun to illuminate the room. 

The formation of the mandible and zygomatic bone occurs in the first five months of a fetus in a process called ossification.  They are sculpted inside the womb by God-inspired developmental action.  As these two bones are shaped by a Loving Father, so are our lives molded.  Our speech, beauty, and facial recognition are all affected by this process. 

At the same time that such care is being take with the smallest details our development, an incredibly explosive reaction of hydrogen, helium, and other gases expel an unfathomable amount of energy.  An all-powerful God sends this solar energy in the form of light across the Solar System, through the various layers of atmosphere, and past the clouds.  It misses trees and houses, airplanes and roof overhangs.  The light strikes a fabric and is instantly diffused into the air.  It is here that the grand power and delicate detail of a master Creator are married into pulchritudinous moment.  A face perfectly lite. 

It is moments like these that remind me where beauty comes from.  It is something we strive to achieve.  And we should always put our best effort forward.  But we must always remember beauty is not made, it was already created.  And created by One that loves to impart this gift. As you prepare each day to look and be your best, remember it was long ago decided that you are beautiful.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Self-(generated)-Esteem

Hello Beautiful

Mornings that are thickened by the weightiness of aerosolized water molecules provide a unique ability to experience confidence amid loneliness.  As I drove through the dense fog this morning I knew that I was in a crowd of vehicles, all with drivers sharing a similar experience to mine.  And yet in this moment I felt alone.  Not a loneliness that leaves one feeling empty, but one that yields an awareness of the individualized “self “ that is always present in a crowd.

How one sees themselves in a crowd is a direct measure of their self-esteem.  Do you feel lost in a crowd? Or are you comfortable with your nature when you are surrounded by people?  This is not to say that those with a more introverted nature have low self-esteem.  Perhaps those that are most comfortable in crowds are those that enjoy the company of others with this limited interaction that their nature is programmed to experience.  They understand the value of their nature is rooted in their own comfort level with the groups social dynamic; not in the validity that the collective yields unto them.

No one can validate you but you.  You need to have the self-esteem to understand your own worth to the world.  The difficulty with our societal deficit of self-esteem is that by its very nature it must come from ones self.  Too often we seek to boost our self confidence through beauty products, accomplishments, and popularity.  However, this is not self-esteem as it is generated by an approval from others. 

Self-esteem can only be generated by one knowing and becoming comfortable with their identity.  This awareness of identity is given through Divine revelation of understanding who the Creator has designed us to be.  Furthermore, the confidence comes from knowing that a Loving God did not create us by accident.  My college pastor, Ron Bernard, would say, “You were created with a purpose on purpose.”

Learn to be in a place that you understand who you were created to be.  In this place you can find the joy of truly self generated esteem.  A strength that no external source can come against.  A fierce power that says you are beautiful.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Character Jewel

Hello Beautiful

A few weeks ago I was driving home in the solitude of the night.  The radio was playing “Doo Wop(That Thing)” by Lauryn Hill, an RnB song from the late 90’s.  Naturally I began to sing as though I were in the shower as I hurried down the highway.  This song blends the bold flavor of Lauryn Hill’s voice with an uncharacteristically honest message seldom found in mainstream music.

The lyrics call out girls for being loose with their sexuality and then feeling overcome with self-pity.  It asks why they lie to themselves in exchange for a false sense of worth.  But it doesn’t stop one sided as “The second verse is dedicated to the men…”.  Lauryn lays it on the guys for their mistreatment of women.  Their carelessness of emotions and concern for “that thing” is exposed as their insecurity amongst their peers is also uncovered.

The song, while initially concerned with issues of sexual promiscuity, is truly about character.  What are the moral and ethical traits upon which we stand? Do we have such a flippant disregard for ourselves and others that we are willing to compromise all sense of value and self-worth to get what we want?  This concept extends past the sexual.  What are we willing to sacrifice to get a cheap thrill?  To win an argument with a spouse?  To get ahead at work?

Our character is not only defined by how we treat others, but also how we allow others to treat us.  How often have we been cautioned to be wary of people that want to use us? Disrespect us? Or even be abusive towards us?  Are we so secure in our self-worth that we allow this to happen?  I love the line that says, “Don’t be a hard rock, when you really are a gem.” 

We forget we are royalty; the daughters and sons of a King.  We take the precious stones of our lives and throw them repeatedly back into the mud.  Allowing others to trample on them.  Overlooking the worth within.  Pull your rock out of the rough.  Polish your stone.  Refine your character. And treat others with a mutual exchange of respect and worth.  Carry yourself like a jewel that proclaims you are beautiful.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New You

Hello Beautiful

So much has happened since my last writing.  First day of winter.  Christmas.  New Years.  Just to name a few.  You have new scarves and a goal to lose ten pounds.  Perhaps you were given a new computer and made plans to get out of debt.  Whatever your rewards and goals, it is clear to us that the holiday season has swept through.

This year was one of the best and craziest ones for me.  It was filled with family, friends, parties, presents, surgery and solitude.  Among the highlights was receiving news that I passed my last exam and became a license architect.  One morning I awakened, read my Bible, and spent time in reflection and conversation with my Creator.  While in introspection I came to a scary but freeing realization.  I have achieved all my childhood dreams except one.  And that goal, getting married, is a little out of my hands.

I woke up and realized I was done!

Diploma. Bachelors. Masters. Website. Car. House. Architect. Close Family. AMAZING Friends.  Incredible Church. DONE!  I was baffled.  My life is so beautiful.  I literally have everything I ever wanted (except the wifey).

It would be so easy for me to retire from life right now.  But this is just phase one.  My childhood dreams have come true.  But I have been given dreams since then.  Grown-up dreams.  Some of them are simple, like becoming more fit.  Others are huge, like my vision for Alejandro J. Medina Studios.  A few are completely in God’s control, like my healing.  And several are just good fun, like being a better friend.

It is a New Year. I decided instead of a simple resolution, I am demarking a new me.  Ladies and Gentlemen its time for Alejandro J. Medina: Phase II.  Perhaps you need to look at a new phase of yourself.  Do you feel stuck, slow, or routine? Life is not a summation of tasks, but a glorious dance between dreams and accomplishments performed before a loving audience of One.  Set out this year with renewed vision for your life.  There is too much to do to sit idly by, watching others conquer the world.  You have so much to offer the world.  Dare to let us see everything you have to offer.

Happy New You Are Beautiful.