An Awe and a Wonder

Reading an old journal entry is both helpful and terrifying. Helpful because your former self often has very good advice and insights, and terrifying because it's a bit hard to look back at times of inexperience. With that being said, I dug up an old blog post (which to me is like an open journal) from a couple years ago that I never ended up posting and thankfully for yours and my sake, it is more helpful than anything else. 

The year was 2014, a fresh faced Abby had just returned from various trips with YWAM. She was 18 and had only just been diagnosed with a touch of wanderlust. So ignore the fact that I am referring to myself in the 3rd person and hopefully see how perfectly wondrous the world is from the eyes of an 18 year old.


The lessons of Exploration

I never thought I’d reach the point in life where I’d actually be “coming home” from someplace – I thought I would be home forever. Then one day out of the blue high school decided to come to an end and I found myself returning home from places like Thailand and Hawaii. It has indeed been an incredible year.

It’s gone by so quickly that I sometimes wonder if it honestly happened. If I really did spend all those hours in a plane flying across the US and the ocean to new and unfamiliar places. Sometimes it feels like it was a blip in time that I formed in my own imagination. Just think about it: imagine coming home to find out that everything is exactly the way you left it – you’d feel like you’d never left at all. The only assurance that I did leave, I find in myself: I have changed. Home stayed the same but I’ve changed– drastically.

I left home a scared somewhat naive individual who hated the thought of giving up personal comfort and loathed the idea of having to leave their safe little corner of the earth. The words “risk” and “adventure” weren’t even in my vocabulary. I was fine with being fine. Going to new places– especially Thailand– changed that for me. 

Thailand is so different from my world back home, that the lack in similarities is remarkable. It’s not a dangerous place, it’s just not the normal I'm use to. Living there for 3 months gave me a chance to fall in love with a land and people other than my own. I got the chance to make friends with local Thai girls who’s smiles warm ever single inch of your soul. I also ate more sticky rice and fired basil than humanely possible– It was incredible..

I was in such awe of just how creative God was, and how he made each person and land so different and unique from each other. There were nights spent on a Chiang Rai balcony that I could not fathom just how remarkable Thailand was and how there are so many other beautiful people and places that I have not yet discovered.

Hawaii was equally as eye opening. It was a 6 week blur of sunscreen and laughter. Each day I spent there made me feel more alive than ever before. I fell so in love with the people around me that the stunning scenery was secondary to the physical signs of happiness that surrounded me and my friends. I found deep friendship that summer all while surrounded by the ocean– nothing short of magical.

I learned so much in those months traveling that I will never get over the fact that before I left in September, I was fine, absolutely 100% fine, with just getting to know one part of this breathtaking earth God created. A truly tragic mindset, because If God spent so much thought and care into creating this earth and it's people then it is by far one of the greatest privileges to get to explore them.

So promise me you will explore. Promise me even if you can't get on a plane that you will take time to explore your city, because there is such an awe and wonder to God's creation and we have it right at our finger tips– you just have to grab it.

- Abby

Hawaii. Summer 2014. Stolen bouquets and a sunny day. Though not candid that smile was as genuine as can be.

Hawaii. Summer 2014. Stolen bouquets and a sunny day. Though not candid that smile was as genuine as can be.

 

 

 

Tips On How to Make a Gloomy Day a Sunny One

It rained today which is always a treat in Southern California. Especially for me. I LOVE the cold and the rain. I have this theory that if I move to a really drizzly sort of place my sometimes excessively happy manner would make the perfect contrast. I would walk the streets flashing 500 watt smiles to all the people passing by who were stricken with the weather blues, shedding some light on what could be for them a desolate and wearying sort of day.

Anyway, if you are having that sort of day now—  even if it's sunny where you are— I have developed some fool proof tips on how to make it a bit brighter. So if you're feeling sad, miserable, bored, glum, negative etc. grab a notebook and READ ON.

Tips

1. PRAY IT OUT - My gosh. I don't think there has ever been a time that praying hasn't made me feel the least bit better. The best part is you can do it anywhere, any place, anytime. Stuck on a crammed uncomfortable bus, commuting home after a long day at work, with a mild headache and a million things to do when you get home? PRAY! Found out the guy you liked is actually interested in someone else but you spent all day yesterday mentally planning what you were going to say when you meet his parents? PRAY!

2. TEA IT OUT - Tea is warm. Sad days can make you feel cold inside and out. Drink some tea. Maybe while reading a beloved book (The Magicians Nephew has seen more than a few of my sad days)

3. LIST IT OUT - I use to to write a list everyday called "Big Little Blessings" so no matter how sucky my day was I knew there was some sort of positive element to it. It mostly consisted of food related blessings like "I had some good cheesecake today" or "my coffee tasted extra nice this morning". Also random things like "managed to actually get a lot of work done at the office" and "One Direction dropped a new single"  but who cares? I always felt better after doing it.

4. FEEL IT OUT- Be honest with yourself first and foremost with how you are feeling. I think we can often get into this mindset that we have to be ok and therefore hold back tears or do the whole "I'm fine thing". Don't let that lie get to you because feelings are SO good. When you  finally release whatever you are holding in, it is so much easier to process it! SO MUCH EASIER. So cry or rant, with God or a loved one. You'll feel better. 

5. BAKE IT OUT - I bake when I'm stressed or sad. It helps me think. Baking might not be your go-to life-giving activity but that's perfectly fine. Find whatever gives you joy and do it. Maybe it's watching a whimsical and light movie (Cinderella. The new one. It is overwhelmingly gorgeous and positive) or busting out your guitar and writing an emotionally charged ballad (I so I envy you. I wish I could play. If you are ever in LA, feel free to give me lessons)

6. SHAKE IT OUT - Grab the hairbrush mike, turn on your music and dance around your room like you just don't care . Or if you do care, grab your headphones, grab a jacket and head outside! Listen to a song that fits your mood and pretend you're in a music video because why not?

"A cheerful heart is good medicine" Proverbs 17:22

7. BIBLE IT OUT - Ever feel like you can't hear God's voice? Well you can at any given time, especially if you have the bible app. God has some really wonderful truths that he has spoken to you in his word. So pick up that bible and read! 

 "My beloved spoke and said to me, "Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone."  Song of Songs 2:10

Bonus tip: Occasionally I'll play the audio bible while I clean my room. I think my room can sometimes reflect the hecticness of my life and therefore cleaning it feels like a fresh start. Plus there is something about organizing a mess that makes me feel like I can conquer any task at hand.    

8. BREATHE IT OUT - Stop and take a big breath. Remember you have life in your soul that wills you on each day.

I hope just be reading this you now have your own 500 watt smile spread across your face and that you will take that smile and shed some light to the people and places around you.

Love,

Abby

some fun advice for your Friday.

My fiancé (oh that’s so fun to say) and I recently decided to start pre marital counseling. Not because we are already having issues but because we want a solid foundation to build our marriage on. Also when has Godly counseling ever been a bad thing? Tuesday was our first session and I went in with so much anxiety. Some many thoughts that at had never entered my head began flooding in. What if he (the counselor) says we are too young? What if this makes me not want to marry the man of my dreams? What if he says we are incompatible? And worst of all what if this makes Hayden not want to marry me? With all of these thoughts, I was dreading walking into the office.  However coming out of the meeting I was more excited than ever before about being married and becoming a wife!! We learned so much in that short hour and a half. I can’t wait to go back and discover even more. The advice he gave us not only applied to marriage but a lot of it related to everyday life. There are a few things that I really think are worth sharing for everyone to read.

1.     Don’t be negative! That was some of the first things that came out of his mouth. He talked a lot about communication and how that is key to a successful marriage. His key piece of advice about communicating was don’t be negative. Every answer to a question HAS a positive initial response. He went on to say that when someone says they loved something, you don’t need to instantly come back with a response on how you disliked the same thing even if that is the case. He also pointed out that if someone makes a mistake in what he or she is saying there is no need to point it out for the world to see. I think that this advice is vital for marriage but is also so important for everyday life. Proverbs 16:24 “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” All words that come out of our mouths should be gracious, kind and loving.

2.     “Let your yes be yes and your no be no,” leads us into his second major point. It too is about communicating. Clarity is of vital importance. If you say something be sure and mean it. Do not go back on your word or promises. I can see how this is extremely important in married life but once again this should be an everyday rule we live by. Most people do try to keep their word, but take the extra step and really keep it. If you say you will pray for a person then do it. Remember that integrity is a disappearing in this world so going above and beyond and really being honest with your words makes a difference.

3.     Finally the last thing I want to point out that he said was happiness cannot be pursued it ensues. Something that ensues occurs as a result of other actions. We need a cause greater than ourselves. For Hayden (my fiancé) and I, it is a happy marriage. That is what our “goal” is. However it’s not something that we pursue. It is something that occurs from being intentional with our behavior, not just our thoughts, everyday. We have to make a daily choice to be self-sacrificing. If we choose to behave this way a happy marriage will ensue. Along these lines he said, the best day of our marriage should be the day one of us dies. We should never settle and we should always make today better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today. I think that is a powerful statement that I want to live like in every area of my life.

I hope this inspires you like it inspired me. Also I hope you have a wonderful week and make tomorrow better than today.

Blessings,

Alissa Sander <3

Dear 18 Year Old

This was originally posted on Jess Hover's blog www.thebeautifulonesblog.com several years ago. This photo was taken when Jessica was 18 years old. It was photoshopped by the photographer. Just so you know. 

Dear 18 Year Old,

I was thinking about you today.
About how life was when I was 18.
And how you might be feeling now. 

There are a few things I've learned over the last 5 years that I wish I knew when I was your age. I thought I should share some with you.

I hope this helps. 

1. "Fish are friends. Not food."

Remember that line from Finding Nemo? When the sharks say that over and over, when they are trying not to eat fish? 

Well friend... that line from the movie has inspired my first thought... Please remember it.

"Boys are friends. Not food." 

As cute as they are. They cannot fill you. Sometimes in our loneliness we end up going to guys for things they were never meant to give us... Like our identities. Don't do it. It will only leave you more insecure than before. Invest in healthy friendships with guys. You'll be pleasantly surprised by how fun it is to genuinely love them, rather than always focusing on ways of getting them to love you. 

2. "Don't give your cookie away." 

This is advice my friend was given from an African American woman last week... "Don't give your cookie away!" Meaning- don't give your purity away! You will want to. I know. We do it for lots of reasons. But please trust me. It is not the best way to do relationships. I've been there. I'll write more on the subject another time but my main point is that being sexual with someone makes you feel closer to them than you really are... It fogs up your ability to think clearly... It changes your priorities... And makes it much harder to know whether or not the relationship is truly healthy. It's not God's design. And even from an atheist's standpoint- it's just not smart. 

Oh and for those of you who would argue by saying- "But what if you marry him & find out he is not good bed?" My answer is this- when you have prioritized friendship & romance until you get married, then when you are finally married you will be so comfortable with him that you will have NO problem talking through your sex. He will be your best friend! You'll be able to figure out together how to make sex great & you'll have the rest of your lives to practice as often as you want!

3. Enjoy being right where you're at. 

Time goes more quickly than we realize. We like to focus our attention on going somewhere else, doing something else, or being with someone else. But just be here now. Love the people you are with. Soak up the moment. Laugh as much as you can. Spend time with your family. Look for creative ways to make things more memorable. Write sweet notes to your friends & teachers. Decorate things. Do everything possible to find fun in the mundane. Its amazing how boredom can steal our joy. One of my favorite friends in high school was Angie. She would always think of outrageous things for us to do that would make life more exciting-- Like dressing up in crazy costumes & heading to the mall. There is so much about life to be delighted in. Find it! 

4. Wear sunscreen. 

If you want to be tan try the lotion that makes you gradually darker. You will age much faster if you tan a lot now. Especially if you frequent the tanning beds. 

5. Short cuts take longer. 

I know. You wouldn't think so. But I keep finding out that they do. You skip something now only to find out it takes way longer to go back & do  it later. So do your homework. Even if you have to host homework parties where all your friends come over & you get your stuff done together. Anything to make homework more fun. Go to your classes. Try to actually learn Spanish... or German... or any foreign language, instead of just trying to pass the class...you'll use it later. Whatever the shortcut is... its probably not worth it, just be diligent now. 

6. Be gentle with yourself. 

This world can be hard on us-Reminding us of our flaws & harping on our imperfections. Continue to be kind in your thoughts toward yourself- there are enough people who will tell you that you can't do it. Go ahead & be your own biggest fan.

7. Say "thank you" when people give you compliments. 

8. Speak life.

Words are so powerful. Be careful with them. Don't gossip. Really, don't talk about people when they are not around unless you are specifically seeking help for how to fix a situation. You know when you are gossiping- It usually feels good, but it is at the cost of someone else's feelings. Oh & don't "Ask someone to pray for Brittany because she slept with Ryan." That is still gossiping about Brittany. Instead of speaking badly of people, try looking for positive things to say. Be an encourager. Lift people up. Friends will feel safer when they are around you if you don't speak badly of others, because they will know that you won't speak badly of them either. Be "that girl who never has anything bad to say about anyone". It doesn't mean that you don't sometimes think bad thoughts, it just means you practice self-control and don't say them. Once you start doing it, it will get easier. 

9. You are not fat.

That's all. And you don't need to weigh yourself to see if I'm right. In fact I haven't weighed myself in years & my mind is very thankful for that. 

10. Find older people to invest in you. 

It helps so much. They'll have good advice when you need it. And hugs when you need them too. Tell them what you are going through & allow them to speak into your life. Even if you don't like all the advice that they give, they probably know some things that you don't know.

11. Everyone takes bad pictures sometimes. 

Don't get frazzled if you see a picture of yourself that you don't love. It does NOT mean you are ugly... There is a lot that plays into a good picture. Lighting is one key element. If that's off then anyone will look bad. 

12. Church is awesome.

Find a sweet one. Get plugged in. Go on a retreat or something that forces you to have friends. We are not meant to do life alone. We need solid people around us- people who love God, and people who will genuinely love us. Obviously church people aren't perfect. They are normal people. But they are lovers of Jesus & even in their imperfections they are great. Like you. Because you'll blow it too. So if you are all having grace for each other, leaving room for mistakes, you'll experience the fantastic gift of Christ-centered friendships.  

13. Read books. 

Do it. They will teach you, increase your vocabulary, & even quiet your soul- which is much needed in this loud world. (I'm a fan of anything by Francis Chan.) 

14. Guys do not think like us. 

I promise he is not mulling over your last text & asking all of his friends what exactly you meant when you said "yeah lol see you there." Try not to over-complicate things. Guys usually mean what they say. 

15. Sometimes certain music, magazines & movies can influence you to feel bad about yourself.

Just saying. I'm not an advocate of being a hermit. But I highly recommend thinking about whatever it is you are feeding your mind. In the same way you think about what you feed your body. Or what gas you put in your car. If you feed something garbage, it won't run properly. So if you start to feel really insecure, or constantly focused on temporary things like finding boyfriends, getting skinny, and having more money... figure out where the messages are originating. Guard your heart. Even facebook & instagram can cause you to start comparing yourself & your life to others... which can lead you to feeling miserable. If that happens, don't be afraid to unplug for a day. Whatever it takes to keep yourself free from self-hatred.

16. Don't feel bad if you don't have all the answers about your life & your future yet. 

It's a lot of pressure to be an adult & suddenly be expected to have a plan. Just take the next step, keep moving & be faithful with whatever is right in front of you. The rest will come. 

17. Starbucks 101: 

A latte is espresso with steamed milk. A cappuccino is espresso with mostly foam from steamed milk. A caramel macchiato is a layered espresso drink- meaning they typically serve it without stirring it. So the bottom layer is vanilla, the next is steamed milk, then the espresso is poured over the foamy top, and finally caramel is drizzled over the foam. 
And I always drink my Starbucks through a straw because it helps prevent my teeth from getting stained. Be careful though – straws make it easier to burn your tongue. 

18. Last one – i learned at 18 that to fall in love with Jesus is to fall in love with life. 

Relationship with Him gives meaning to everything. Get to know Him. Pray. Open up the Bible. Go to church. Listen to a podcast (I love the ones from Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church). God tells us that if we seek Him we will find Him. 

"Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him." Psalm 34:8

You are so precious.

Meet The Founder

I'm Jessica, but you can call me Jess. I grew up in Colorado and have spent the last 7 years of life in Los Angeles, California. I'm grateful to call both places home. I'm also grateful that my little sister Meredith lives 5 minutes away. 

When I was 20 years old I married my handsome husband Shaun. He is a 6'4, Jesus-loving, skateboard-riding, babe of a man and I frequently find myself wondering how I scored him as MY man. Shaun is the director of Calling All Skaters, so most days we have anywhere from 10 to 30 skateboarding housemates. 

I am 26 years old and have a deep love of pink, sparkles, Disney and most of the other lovely things in life... like flowers, snowflakes, beaches, mountains, twinkly lights and coffee dates. (In fact I sincerely hope that one day I can have a coffee date with you.) I believed in Santa Clause until I was 17 years old, and still pretend to believe in him now, because it greatly enhances my overwhelming adoration of all things Christmas. (PS. I have been known to overflow with Christmas spirit.) 

Aside from leading Beauty Arise I also direct MFC (Models for Christ) LA. My work with MFC brings me backstage to places like Fashion Week a couple times a year... which you may have seen in photos, because I go a little photo crazy those weeks. I love my job. 

I also dream of working as Belle at Disneyland, and modeling for a Bridal magazine. I'll let you know if either of those ever play out. 

Oh, you should also know that Shaun and I work as unsalaried missionaries with YWAM LA. This means we travel a lot. It also means that we haven't gotten a paycheck in 7 years. It ALSO means that when I say that God is a provider, I actually believe it, and actually depend on it to be true. 

I learned once that to be passionate about something means that you are willing to suffer for it. Knowing that, I'll say that I am passionate about girls & women understanding their God-given beauty, identity, and value. 

My prayer for this website is that it would be a safe place for beauties like you to come in and be yourself. We won't pretend to be perfect here and I hope that you don't either. There's too much pressure in this world for us to have everything put together, and we'd rather not bring that in here. If you feel beautiful, then this is a great place for you. If you wish you were beautiful, but spend most days hating yourself, then please grab a hot drink and stay a while. I personally have experienced both extremes, and an array of other related emotions, and would love nothing more than to chat with you about it. 

My friends and I hope to encourage your heart and inspire your life with the content we post on this site, and we are sincerely grateful that you have chosen to stop by.  

I'll finish my introduction with this fact, I follow Jesus. I believe in His finished work on the cross that has set us free from our sins & made us children of God. I believe in a God that loves us like crazy & desires to do life with us. I also fully believe in His power to heal, restore, and redeem ANY life. It doesn't matter what we have done, our God is bigger.  I didn't always believe that, and I understand if you don't believe it. But it's where I'm at and knowing that will help you understand what motivates most everything I do and say. 

Welcome to Beauty Arise. 

May you be blessed here. 

And ultimately may you say yes to the same glorious invitation that Jesus gave me 7 years ago...

"Arise my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me." Song of Solomon 2:10

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