How a snowflake reminded me of my purpose

How a snowflake reminded me of my purpose

Do you remember, as a kid, making those paper snowflakes to string up around the classroom during the holiday season, or to decorate wintry windows with at home? I was never particularly good at this. I’d fold my little paper the requisite number of times, and slice eagerly into it with scissors to create haphazard geometric patterns I hoped would look purposefully abstract. But somehow they always ended up with gaping holes and shapeless attempts at intricacy

6 truths that help me love my body

6 truths that help me love my body

I’m not one for new year’s resolutions. They always seem a bit cliché to me. To me, the important thing is to be growing the whole year round - not just making the decision once a year to change one aspect, and then not even sticking to it. But something about making goals at the start of a new year of life seems different. It feels more personal in a way, and more private. Like on Oct. 20, I'm the only person making a resolution.

6 ways to savour each day

6 ways to savour each day

We humans are funny creatures. We’re blessed with an entire lifetime to enjoy, and yet we only practice really appreciating small portions of it we call 'weekends'.

What’s wrong with us? We love to say that life is a gift, but it seems we really only mean that about the time we don’t spend at work. And I get that. Work isn’t necessarily enjoyable, and celebrations should be reserved for the joyful extraordinary. We can’t go around all day, excited about everything, unless we want to look absolutely ridiculous… right?

The importance of mentors

Imagine this...

Life is throwing curveballs, and you don't quite have all of the answers. You've tried one thing and that didn't work, tried again - same result. Feeling stuck and unsure of what to do, wishing a manual would pop up in your mailbox, you re-awaken from that nightmare to feel yourself falling into the same monotonous pattern all over again.

Sound familiar?

There are so many times in my life (correction: so many times a day) where I feel stuck and not sure what my next steps should be. I keep doing the same things thinking I will get a different outcome (insanity), and still…. nothing. Enough time doing all of these things had me really start praying about any underlying issues that kept bringing me back to this spot.

Over the course of my 23 years, I think about the specific areas where I really struggle and my sin becomes so apparent, and it is in the area of being corrected. For so long, I saw any type of correction, accountability, and/or criticism as a personal attack on my character.

Jesus has done so much in my life to really take the fog away from my eyes to show me a greater picture of sitting down with someone, and truly listening to their words of truth and wisdom. (Note: I have by no means perfected this, I am a work in progress! ) Much of my acceptance towards mentorship started later in college. This is when I met a wonderful group of women going after Christ, with a lot of experiences to speak about.

I would sit around the table at our Bible study and sit in amazement, as they each would share their week, and talk about the areas where they felt stuck and not sure what to do. One day I decided to speak up and be honest about where I was, and you know what? I have never gone back.

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
— Proverbs 27:17 (ESV)

That very day, I met a handful of women who started to pour into me the truth and wisdom that I was seeking. For me, those nuggets of pure and honest wisdom came straight from the red letters found in my Bible. They kept bringing me back to the words of Jesus. From that point on, I started meeting with women who were older than me. I was becoming so hungry for wisdom and truth, and learning that the willingness of being vulnerable and transparent can completely change your life.

Mentorship became the pathway that God used to open my eyes wide as I became acquainted with the idea of accepting my brokenness. He also used this to show me the beauty in grace and truth-filled correction.

Seeking out mentorship is such a rewarding habit to get into because it allows us to see the areas that need improvement, and encourages us to run to God for both help and a reminder of where our identity truly lies. When mentorship is done right, there is a healthy balance of both truth, love, and grace.

Is there a woman in your life who you can think of who could do these three things, and do them well?

GO CALL THEM. INVITE THEM INTO YOUR LIFE. Let them pour into you. It can be totally scary at first, but eventually it becomes normal. Sharing becomes less awkward, and the bumpy walk becomes more paved as the truth begins to set you free.

 
 
 
 

MELANIE CASTANEDA
WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM
I am from Chicago, Illinois and am a lover of anything coffee. How cliché, right? I love Jesus and my life would not be the same without him. Growing up I was a fan of him and loved his story and his strength, but continued to live my life in the flesh. As I grew up I became a follower of him, and his strength, mercy, and grace was something that would eventually bring me to my knees in awe of his glory. I am a full time photographer and love capturing beautiful memories. I look forward to sunny days and warm nights, preferably with a nice cup of tea and an episode of Downtown Abbey.

 

Does your job define you?

Does your job define you?

I come from a highly successful family. My youngest sister was just inches (literally) from making the US Olympic team in swimming this year, my other younger sister also qualified for the Olympic trials in running, and my older brother is a brilliant violinist.  My dad is a well-accomplished surgeon-turned-iron-man triathlete, and my mom raised a bunch of hooligan kids who turned into rockstars. On top of that, there is a deep level of humility rooted in each and every one of my family members that doesn’t focus on the achievements, but rather the significance of hard work.

Seriously. I could go on forever about how insanely talented my family is - and then there is me.

The lie of scarcity

The lie of scarcity

I recently attended a wedding that concluded with one of those Pinterest-worthy sparkler tunnels, where guests line either side, cheering and waving firework wands as the newlyweds run through to their getaway car.   As the evening ended, the bridesmaids distributed the sparklers and worked together with a limited number of lighters to light them all up before the new Mr. and Mrs. made it to the start of the tunnel.  Amidst the hustle and bustle I heard the maid of honor say, “remember, you can use your sparklers to light other sparklers!”  Her comment caused me to pause and notice.  Each of us was so eager to get our own sparkler lit in time but forgot that once it was, we could use it to light up someone else’s

Your scars are beautiful

Your scars are beautiful

Alright ladies. Let’s talk about something we all really hate talking about. Let’s get personal. We all push this topic off to the side when we’re talking with our gals. We don’t like to talk about it. We don’t like to expose this dark place and I think it’s about time we bring it into the light. 

Our appearance.

It’s a scary topic for a lot of women. If you’re honest, I’m sure you could tell me a least two things you wish you could change about yourself. I know I can!

Your story matters

Your story matters

The air was filled with laughter and chatter, as more than 4000 women took their seats in the auditorium. Everywhere I looked I saw women hugging one another ‘hello’, squealing with delight as they located a friend, beckoning her over, ‘I saved you a seat, come sit with me’. We were all there for a women’s conference. A celebration of friendship, purpose and love and yet I felt utterly alone. No one had saved me a seat; there were no smiles of recognition as my gaze connected with other women in the crowd. I was there on my own. New to this city, it was a last minute decision to attend the event and it seemed like everyone had a friend except me.

12 reasons to break up with worry

12 reasons to break up with worry

We go back a long way, Worry and I. And honestly, we should never have gotten involved. I knew it was a bad idea from the very start of our relationship. Our rocky, irrational, dysfunctional, exhausting relationship. 

Before we met, I was acquainted with a few of Worry’s more subtle, less pushy friends... Concern, Apprehension, Unease. All slightly annoying, like the beginning of a bad cold or teenagers laughing during the sad part of a movie. But not debilitating. Not paralysing. I didn’t obsess over them. They never tried to dictate my thoughts or run my life.