It’s not a complicated story.
I gave up makeup for Lent.
And it’s terrible.
It’s about control. I knew it as soon as the idea was dropped into my heart the week leading up to Ash Wednesday, the start of the season. It’s about how I try to control everything, including what you think of me. And what you think of my face.
(You may have noticed it’s a bit of a theme me and God are working with right now – control – as explained in my SheReadsTruth piece for this Lent reading plan.)
And it’s terrible. This no makeup thing? It’s a daily struggle. It’s not like every person I see I get to explain, “by the way, I know what you’ve seen in pictures but I’m not wearing makeup right now but it’s really me hi will you still be my friend?”
It hurts. It’s bringing up all sorts of muck from the bottom of my emotional ocean that I never intended to be stirred up. Old insecurities. Fears. Worries. And it’s constant. That’s the thing that sucks the most. I never escape it. It never leaves my mind. In every place I go, in every face I make eye contact with, including my own in the mirror.
But it matters. The pain matters. I sat with a friend the other day as we discussed some things that we want God to do in our lives. She said, “the good stuff is never cheap.”
It isn’t. I’ve never found the best things in life to be free or easy or without struggle.
And that has been this. I know it in my guts, even if I don’t even know the good that will come of this yet. But good will come. That’s how this all works. That’s how it always works.
Today though? I’m mainly just ready for it to be over, if I’m being honest.
But I’m not quitting. I will finish this.
Last week, I saw that my friend Jeremy Cowart was offering portrait sessions here in town. I thought about it long and hard and decided that I wanted this experience documented. I want to remember the wrestling. I want to remember the things God has whispered to me in the secret place over these last few weeks and the layers that are slowly peeling away. I want to remember the Lent that I otherwise would work hard to forget.
So I did it. I went and had a portrait session with not one stitch of makeup on my face. Woof.
After Jeremy took my picture for about 15 minutes, he invited me around to the monitor side to see some of the shots. I hated most of them. If you’ve ever done a photoshoot (professional hair and makeup or none of the above), you know that’s pretty true no matter what. But I winced a few more times than usual as Jeremy slid through the images he had captured. As only a big brother can do, Jeremy kept reassuring me that he was on my team and loved me and the pictures were beautiful.
Then we hit this one- this one picture of me looking away and trying to speak truth to my mind and taking a deep breath. And I kind of love it. I guess I had never noticed my freckles before. Or the three bright grey strands of hair that stand out because being Annie means life is causing some greys. Or the fake dimples that age has gifted to the corners of my mouth. Or the creases and the spots and the bump on my nose and all the things that are me, right there.
So I thought I would share it.
Because maybe sometimes we think Lent is easy for everyone else but us. Or we think that insecurities are only for the weak. Or we think that we are bad people for struggling.
But you’re not. I’m not. We’re not.
I could have never dreamed how hard this would be before Lent began. And I don’t know the new that is coming on Easter. But I can feel the buds pushing their way to the surface, through all the dirt. And I’m believing that something beautiful will bloom from these painfully sown seeds.
. . . . .
(Small Lent caveat: I am wearing makeup when I teach at events. So if you’ve seen me on the road the last few weeks and I’ve been on a stage, yes. I’ve had on makeup.)
(Also. You can still book a portrait with Jeremy as well. So easy and so worth it.)
. . . . .
. . . . .
Before I was a writer here in Nashville, I was a nanny. Like, a full-time Mary Poppins kind of nanny. Like five days a week, let’s go on adventures, should I just move in here? kind of nanny.
AND I LOVED IT.
Jeremy Cowart and his family quickly became like family to me and I have loved knowing them and seeing as God has grown their family and influence and dreams in the last few years.
Most recently, Jeremy has launched an incredibly awesome (and crazy!) idea called The Purpose Hotel. And- one of the parts I love- we get to be involved. Like, you can be a co-founder of a hotel chain.
So I brought Jeremy on the podcast this week because I wanted you to meet him and hear about the hotel. Hope you’ll enjoy it and be a part!
Here are the things we discussed on the podcast:
— Jeremy Cowart
Here is The Purpose Hotel video that I love so much:
Hope you’ll support the kickstarter and tell your friends about it!
First of all, the book comes out today. Yay yay yay!
Here is the link :: http://tinyurl.com/anniesbook[By the way, that’s the link that I implore you to share with your social media world. Thanks.]
Thanks again to Westbow Press. I could not have done this without them. Literally.
Let’s talk about Seattle.
It was marvelous. It started out Wednesday night with my emotional gas tank on totes empty- which is quite inconvenient when you are meeting tons of new people early Thursday and are supposed to be super helpful to your boss, Jeremy Cowart.
Which. By the way. Jeremy taught photography classes for 2 full days at creativeLIVE and he. nailed. it. I mean, I’m telling y’all, I’ve never been more proud to be his friend / employee / adopted family member / nanny / catch-all.
But I was exhausted- more than I have ever been. I prayed to God, saying “please help me. Really. I think I’m in big trouble here.”
Then I slept for 12 hours. So that was nice. A true answer to prayer. And it made Friday and Saturday way more awesome.
Help Portrait was also a super super great time. The only embarrassing moment, I now present to you. Let’s call it “When Annie Didn’t Know She Was Talking To A Famous Girl”.
Sheesh. Right? Sheesh.
And you won’t be surprised to know these things:
1. I cried. Twice. First when I was talking with our coordinator from Florida and the second time at the very end of the day, when I had just a minute to look in the camera and tell the crew in the booth, the producer, and the cameraman that I think they are some of the most wonderful humans I know. [More on that in a minute.] I mean, I had an in-ear monitor where they talked to me all day- talk in my ear for nine hours and I’m gonna be loyal to you for the rest of my days.
2. I loved every.minute.of.it. The skyping with Help Portrait peeps that I already knew via email, working with the creativeLIVE team, talking into a camera all the livelong day. I had the best seat in the Help Portrait house for sure. Anybody wanna give me a TV hosting job? Cause I might love it.
It was a great time.
The weather in Seattle was perfect- actually warmer there than in Nashville!
But the real win, the over-the-moon part, was for sure the people. Chase Jarvis, the photographer who runs this creativeLIVE thang, is a great guy and I loved spending time with him, his wife, and his team. I can’t start naming them, I would leave someone out and feel just awful. But from the top guys, to the crew, to the producer, to the chat hosts, I was blown away by the kindness and friendship that bloomed in such a short amount of time.
Seriously. Here’s what. Seattle was a total last minute thing [as in, decided Monday night, ticket purchased Tuesday morning, flight Wednesday afternoon]. I went because Jeremy needed help. I didn’t go to make new friends. I didn’t go expecting to enjoy the company or feel inspired as an artist. I just went.
And it ended up being beautiful.
I can’t adequately express what Seattle meant. For some reason, it hit every key on my emotional keyboard. And maybe I still don’t get it.
But I know that I was lucky to be there.
I think I want to reinstate Smile, Wednesday. I tend to take so many pics on Anita the iPhone and then they just sit there. I think that is lame. So welcome to the return of Smile, Wednesday.
I have a question here. Isn’t “drowned” the correct past tense of “drown”? I googled it and it seems right, but it feels wrong. Help?
When I moved to Nashville, I had no plans. No idea with what to do with my days.
Except to cry and beg God to let me go home to Atlanta.[That went well.]
But now I sit here, a writer. A nanny. An employee. A friend. And it’s crazy.
Most recent new title: Help Portrait Events Coordinator.
I know, I went all fancy on you. [Oh, and by the way, I made up that title. I mean, it really is my title, but I just created it and made everyone else deal. with. it.]
Anyways, here’s where things get surreal.
So please go with me to that moment.
I’m walking down the streets of Chicago. [I’ve never been there before 2009.]
In a serious snowstorm. [I grew up in Georgia. This is foreign to me.]
Walking with 2 of my dearest friends. [That I have met within the last 2 years.]
Doing an interview for Help Portrait. [That Jeremy just invented in his mind and I get to play along.]
With Relevant. [A magazine I HIGHLY esteem.]
And at one point, as my black jacket turned white with flakes, and I huffed and puffed down the streets of Chicago telling Chris about this amazing project, I just had to stop.
Because while I would have never planned for my life to look like this, God has again overshot my expectations.
By about 100,000 snowflakes.
And HE WILL DO THE SAME FOR YOU. Just ask. That’s all I did- I asked for God to run my life and I asked Him to show me His love. And what He did for me, He will do for you.
I’m sure of it.
Can you believe that dorky macaroni-lovin’ AnnieBlogs got published on the ONE Campaign blog?!?[I know. I died again. In a good way.]