I know consumerism is off-trend, but I love shopping.

Almost as much as I enjoy words, I enjoy accessories. And clothes. And shoes.

I got this from my maternal grandmother now in Heaven, my Mommom.

Mommom is in the upper row, the 3rd from the left

My grandparents didn’t have a lot of money, my grandfather retired from the Air Force and though he continued to work in the U.S. Postal Service for many years, their richness came from family time shared, not from material wealth.

No matter where we were headed though, I remember Mommom putting on her make-up, which included her Cover Girl pressed powder puff and dark fuschia lipstick, feminine shoes on her painted toes, Aquanet hair spray, earrings, rings, a necklace and a pin on whatever jacket she was wearing. Even if she had a sweatshirt on, there would be a sparkly pin on it as she headed out the door.

I can remember a special pin in particular. I knew exactly where it was stored – in a box on the right side of the 2nd drawer down on the left side of her dresser. Countless times Mommom would be looking for me, only to find me sitting on her bed, holding that box open, and staring at that pin.

It was a Christmas tree covered with little green gems, accented with little colored gems for ornaments.

I’m not sure what I was thinking when I gazed at that pin, or what compelled me to go find it. Knowing what was happening in my life during those years, I believe it was beauty itself that was calling me close. Comforting me with her sparkle and reminding me that somewhere beauty was safe, untouched by ugly, still wooing us to dream of Home where streets are gold and everything is well.

Maybe it was the joy of Christmas, the peace and closeness I felt with my family on that one day.

I think it was all of it, and something deeper I have yet to understand.

Sadly, we’ve lost that pin. I like to think that Mommom is wearing it, playing Rummy with Jesus eating Mike & Ike’s waiting for me. Maybe she’ll keep it in a dresser drawer so I can come and gaze at it again. Or maybe I won’t need to go looking for beauty anymore, because it will be inescapable!

Though I’m less a pin-lover than Mommom, I’m still a beauty gazer, and jewelry easily catches my eye! And not just for myself, I delight in finding that special meaningful gesture for someone I love who needs a special meaningful gesture.

And when I can shop in such a way as to multiply goodness in our world, like with Noonday Collection – well I can hardly help myself. Knowing that the beautiful accessory I’m wearing is a part of a redemptive story for another living person on our planet trying to feed their kids and provide a safe space for their family…well it doesn’t get much better than this!

As for my personal style, I would not say I was stylish as a kid growing up, hardly. In fact, I didn’t embrace style as something I could celebrate until my mid-20’s. For me the evolution of my personal style has been directly linked to my understanding of God’s love for me, His loving intention for my design as uniquely female, and His pleasure in my frame.

Acceptance of my frame is an on-going process, which is the case probably for all of us. It certainly was for Mommom. But I can say that I delight more today in the way God has designed me than I did in my 20’s…and to even say this is evidence of wild grace at work somewhere within.

Much of my childhood and early adolescence was spent rejecting my femininity as something that I failed at, or at least was inadequate at expressing. I believed other girls “did it better” (being a girl) than me, or were naturally beautiful (which I equated with feminine) so I didn’t embrace either at all. If I couldn’t be beautiful, I wasn’t feminine either, and so I dressed and acted tough and protective, as if looking like a “girl” was not something that interested me.

I will never forget the moment that I embraced my femininity as my design – regardless of how I expressed it in form or fashion. The moment I owned my right and ability to express my femininity. I was at a women’s conference in Orlando, and I’ll be honest…I was only their in the flesh for the first half of sessions. As I listened to the women share, I couldn’t imagine they could relate to what I had been through, or how I felt. None of them seemed to be as backwards as I felt when it came to being a woman.

I especially started to tune out when one woman in particular stepped up to share during the last session of the night. As she walked up the steps with her flowing blonde hair, exquisite make-up and shapely nails, her sculpted arms, thin waist and model-like legs draped in the stylish feminine dress told me she and I lived worlds apart. But then she opened her mouth, and the words that came out made my jaw hit the floor. As she shared her story of insecurity, of rejection and abandonment, of fear and shame, and of her own infidelity against her pastor husband that led her to bear another man’s child, she looked entirely different to me. As she wept telling of her husband’s forgiveness and grace and acceptance, of her own journey to understand for the first time God’s love for her and her place in His heart, her humanity transcended her appearance and she and I were connected.

She shared how God had released her from bondage to lies about her worth, her sexuality, and her identity. As she spoke, as the Word went out, it seeded deep in my heart and something released in me.

After that session, I was so stirred I stayed up all night long writing with Jesus, sharing my own journey and listening to His words back to me.

By the time the sun rose the next morning, I was reconciled to my femininity. I not only knew I was made female on purpose for a purpose…I was thrilled over it and could not wait to go shopping to simply express what was going on inside of my heart. I had believed lies for so long, I knew it would take time to unearth them all, but enough was laid new to start a new story.

God’s timing for my release was perfect too, we were right across from an outlet mall! Never before had that strip of stores seen so much pink purchased on one afternoon. And though my feminine expression has evolved since that weekend to include all colors beyond pink, soft colors will always hold a special place in my heart.

Based on my observation that I become more myself, and tend to own a style as my own more confidently when I embrace God’s love for me, I’ve developed a sort of “style ethos” for my shopping life that is rather simple:

Whatever is lovely!

When I start from a loved place, where I’m already loved, deeply, then what I look like or decorate like is simply a reflection of what I enjoy when I’m loved. I’m not striving for pretty, or trendy, or sexy (except for Grizz), and certainly not perfect…but a look that feels like me, loved.

Sometimes when I feel really loved, and realize I have nothing to prove, I like wearing big shiny earrings. Sometimes, it looks like subtle colors where I just blend in. I give myself permission to wear what feels like me, loved, and though the look doesn’t love me back sometimes, I remind myself to be gentle and simply try again!

If I’m looking for skincare, it’s the skincare that helps me feel, look and smell lovely.

If I’m looking for a dress for an event, it’s whatever style makes my frame look lovely, whatever jewelry feels lovely to me.

If I’m decorating my living room for a new season, it’s whatever makes my space feel lovely. Whatever words, textures, colors can make others feel loved there.

And when someone is feeling loved, looking loved, beauty is there.

I think this is what I was looking for when I would gaze at that little pin all those years ago. And really, this is why I Noonday.

Love.

Little did I know then on that bed gazing at that pin though, that Love had always been gazing at me.