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Tylor

What makes you lovely?

"I would bend over backwards for the people I love. I would do anything to my potential to help those in need. I'm very family oriented and have a heart for those less fortunate."

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Jacqueline

What makes you lovely?


"What makes me lovely is my deep compassion for others. It brings me to having a head for the voiceless, a heart for social justice. I am willing to go deep with those around me, knowing that transparency brings freedom not only to yourself, but to those around you.

What makes me lovely is my love for people and culture, so much that I'll always say yes to a new adventure where new perspective awaits me.

I am lovely because I yearn for greatness, and will not settle for less---but what makes me even more lovely is my love to draw greatness out of other people.

I am lovely because I am an encourager, a light that is inviting to all who encounter me.

It's funny, because telling young women why they are lovely is one of my most favorite things---I'm a teacher! But when I was asked the same question back, I felt speechless! Humility? Maybe. But deep down I think I battle with if I tell you what I think/hope is great about me, will you agree?

I am lovely because I am willing to believe these things about myself even if the world doesn't agree. "

Photo credit: Brittany B.
 

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Katina

What makes you lovely?

"What makes me lovely is my resilient spirit and desire for growth. I am learning to cultivate a sense of wonder for the world around me, specifically for those around me. I have a passion for justice and restoring fractured relationships to their full potential. I am lovely because I have the courage to give grace to myself and others."

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Megan

What makes you lovely?

"The first time I was asked what's lovely about myself I had no idea as to what I should tell people. I'm seventeen and still trying to find who I am and who I'll become. But as of right now I am fishing with my family, looking at nature and mentally crying because they don't care about the little fish they are killing. I'm a sensitive person when it comes to earthly things. I love our earth and the little animals on it. Some people are heartless about not only killing little animals but also our environment. I could sit here and tell you my opinion on this whole thing but I'd end up writing a book. Moral of the story: at the end of the day I'll end up thinking about how I can make a difference in this world and I think that's lovely."

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Elie

What makes you lovely?

"What makes me lovely is my open heart and my willingness to be emotionally vulnerable. These qualities allow me to connect deeply with the people in my life. My openness gives the other person permission to open up and risk being vulnerable as well. One of my natural gifts is to put people at ease and make them feel comfortable. This gift combines well with giving people permission to open up because I am good at making people feel safe with me.

What I love about my physical body is my blonde curly hair and my feet. I got some pretty lovely feet over here! And oh! What would I do without them?"

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Sarah

What makes you lovely?

"I am lovely because I am not afraid to be myself, follow my dreams, and pursue rest in a rushed, rule-laden world.  Jesus said He came to give us life, and not just life, but life to the full (John10:10).  Knowing that, I see part of my task in life as embracing that fullness.  This is often a daily struggle, as I battle with the harder parts of being single in my thirties, some stress-related health issues, and juggling the life of a working grad student pursuing a very long Master’s program in art therapy.  After a “mountaintop” experience from 2007-10 doing ministry work in Pretoria, South Africa, returning to my hometown Portland, OR, at first, felt like traveling backwards.  I would rather have traveled the world than deal with any family issues back home, it felt like the vision God brought to my heart in South Africa was disintegrating, and the reverse culture shock was intense and persistent.  But sometimes God brings us through deep valleys to be shaped and formed, and that, without a doubt, was happening.  In the process I learned and am still learning that God is my sole provider, requires only daily dependence and trust in Him, is always with me, has GOOD (even great!) plans for me, and loves me beyond my wildest imagination.  As I continue to struggle to rest in Him through the harder seasons, I am reminded of why He came and what He went through to save us.  I continue to follow Him as best I can, living my life as uniquely me.  That authenticity and quiet fearlessness, I think, is what makes me most lovely and is the very best way for me to spur others towards the dreams God has put on their hearts.  As women, I believe we are each lovely in our uniqueness, and in our refusal to give into the despair and doubts of this world, instead delighting in God delighting in us.  Such true joy is beautiful to witness.  For certain: It’s a battle to pursue this True Joy (The first part of John 10:10 assures us of this “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy . . .”) but I can say from experience, it is the most worthwhile of pursuits, and we are never alone in doing so."

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Whitney

What makes you lovely?

"Honestly, when I think about the word lovely, I think of my mom. She is an incredible, loving, Godly woman, and I know that a lot of my loveliness is a result of her being my mother! She taught me what it means to be kind, to put others before yourself, to always be willing to lend a hand. Her lessons included funny phrases like “Don’t take any wooden nickels” and “If you lay down with dogs, you’ll get up with fleas.” I am lovely because my mom not only told me, but showed me how to put God first. My mom and I are both what you would call “tender-hearted.” I cry multiple times a day, both for happy reasons and for sad reasons. I am moved by a sweet story of romance, or by the grief of loss of a loved one. I think a lot of what makes me lovely is the fact that I find emotion in the stories and the people around me. I hurt for those who are hurting, and I rejoice with those who are joyful! In a time when we try to have it all together, I hope to be someone who can be real and honest during my times of struggle. Someone who can cry with you when you are hurting. Someone to party with you when good news comes along. This is someone that my mother has always been for me, and I hope that I can continue that legacy for those in my own life!"

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Emily

What makes you lovely?

"Automatically, I gave Ashley a lot of grief when she asked me to answer this question. I had no idea what I would say. How was I going to answer this question without sounding conceited? I hate having the attention on me. I hate taking up space. Et cetera, et cetera. But as I thought about this question for the past few days, I realized I had a hard time actually deciding what I was going to write about: Was it my innate value of giving back to others? Or that I’m finally pushing back on the years and years of being “the bubbly one” and thus, not taken very seriously? Was it that I moved across the country on my own and now live outside of my comfort zone every single day to discover what I truly want out of life? Or was it my optimistic responses to life’s daily (err, almost-daily) challenges? After Ashley asked me this question and me thinking “what am I even going to say?!”, I’ve found that I had too many things on the list.

So, I think my answer boils down to this: it’s a combination of it all. I like myself. I’m proud of where I’ve been and who I’ve become. I’ve learned how to give myself credit when I grow, and how to pick myself back up when I fall. After years of feeling this strange isolation that comes with always being “the bubbly one,” and then isolating myself even more by moving thousands and thousands of miles away (twice) on my own to escape that persona, and then trying to keep that optimism in the face of crappy friendships and relationships and stressful jobs and the struggle of “fitting in” to such a foreign, “hip” community when I feel like the dorky mom most of the time, I’ve become my biggest ally. I’ve learned how to do things by myself like going to the movies, going on hikes, and going to shows – and actually enjoy it. I’ve learned the importance of treating myself (commonly known as ‘treat yo’self’) and don’t hesitate to do so when I’m feeling the need. I’ve promised myself to learn how to approach loneliness less as something to be scared of, but more of something to embrace. 

And with that, I now officially feel conceited and feel like I need to take a nap because that was a whole lot of vulnerability. However, I wanted to use this opportunity to show that, as women, we shouldn’t always feel the need to be putting ourselves down, comparing ourselves to others, or not giving ourselves the credit we deserve. We face some pretty serious stuff, and we get ourselves through it like the damn champs we are. I am worth my own respect and care and friendship, and so are you. 

I’m lovely because I’ve become my own best friend.

(DISCLAIMER: I’m not a total loner. I have been lucky enough to make (or renew) many wonderful friendships during my time in Oregon, like thought-provoking do-gooders like Ashley and my roommate Sophie who puts up with those less-than-optimistic days and always lets me borrow her clothes like the dress I’m wearing today – thanks Sophie!)"

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yinka

What makes you lovely?

"Everything that is lovely about me has come from my relationship with Jesus. 

In learning more about who He is, I'm learning more about who I am. I've been pondering over this recently and the best analogy I have come up with is this. If you wanted to learn all you could about something, a book for instance, and you could talk to the author and ask questions, wouldn't you jump at this opportunity? The author could tell you more about the book than you could probably deduce. 

Thus, much like this book, the more I learn of God and grow in my relationship with Him, the lovelier I become and the more I learn about myself, for He is my author."

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brittany

What makes you lovely?

"Freshmen year of college I was the girl who made others laugh and was someone who goofed around a lot. Then came sophomore year and I remember expressing to the girls who I was living with that I felt like no one took me seriously. I laugh at this now because it sounds so dramatic! Turns out that I was the one who did not take myself seriously because being real with others is so scary! I think at that moment and time in my life, I discovered that I was meant for so much more than just making others laugh. I was longing to be in a place where vulnerability and being real with others was welcomed. From that moment on, I strive to be that person who creates space for any of my friendships to share what's on their heart, and of course laughter is always welcomed! 

What makes me lovely is that I approach life with laughter and people with an invitation to be who they are, the good and the ugly. "

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megan

What makes you lovely?

"I have a unique love for the (seemingly) unloveable. I do not desire to turn my face or my heart away from broken or ugly or different people. I desire to search through the dark corners and margins of our society in order to find them, to love, to build community with them.

As I have leaned into this desire, I have seen transformation in myself and others. I have been blessed with many opportunities to model and teach loving people different from myself. It fuels the fire in me. Each stereotype broken, each stigma transformed leaves me lovelier than before because I have the honor of planting that loveliness right into the soul of another. It does not take away from my loveliness. It leaves us both lovelier and less judgmental than before."

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amber

What makes you lovely?

"As human beings, we often spend our time thinking about what we are supposed to be doing and who we are supposed to be. However, there never really seems to be a right answer. This uncertainty used to scare me, and I often found myself petrified by the unknown.

These last few years have changed that, and they have been the most incredible whirlwind of learning experiences. I have laughed, cried, and eaten way too much chocolate, all while trying to figure out what it means to live. I am still not sure that I have figured it out, but I think that is the point.

Uncertainty is a beautiful thing. We can’t control the earth-shattering pain from our first heartbreak, the need for caffeine during stressful nights cramming for midterms, or the fact that traffic in Portland is unbearable. All we can do is embrace these moments and learn to love our lives no matter what comes our way.

What makes me lovely? I am learning to embrace the uncertainty of life and choosing to love every moment of it."

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lindsay

What makes you lovely?

"It's funny...as soon as I heard about The Lovely Initiative I immediately had two thoughts. The first was, "WHAT A FREAKING BEAUTIFUL IDEA" and the second was, "Shoot...I really hope Ashley doesn't ask me to do it because I have no idea what my answer would be". Ha! It's so difficult to say kind things about yourself (and to yourself!), but I guess that's the whole point, isn't it?

I think what makes me lovely is my joyful spirit. I've always loved and identified with this quote by Eugene Peterson: "For joy is life in excess, the overflow of what cannot be contained within any one person". My joy is rooted in my faith and deepened by my ability and decision to choose it every day. 

We don't have control over our circumstances, but I believe that we do have control over how we respond to them. Our attitude, actions, words...they all matter. And to bring it back to that quote...how beautiful is the notion that when we fill ourselves with joy and goodness and beauty, it spills out of us and overflows onto the people we love? That's so motivating for me.

Choosing joy in the tough moments is not always easy, and I certainly have times where I struggle with it, but overall I've been pretty amazed by how much power I have to create positive outcomes in the midst of difficult situations.


My husband, Beau, is currently in his pediatrics residency here in Portland. As those familiar with the medical field may know, residency is supposed to be the darkest, most difficult time for physicians and their loved ones. We're talking 60-100+ hour work weeks, usually 6 days a week, night shifts, and tons of stress and pressure. For me, this means a lot of time alone, all the way across the country from my family, trying to support Beau by running errands, doing most of the cooking and creating a little bit of normalcy among all the crazy. 

While Beau is at work, I could very easily (and justifiably!), spend time moping around the house and wishing things were different. Or, I could choose to spend that time developing new friendships, growing my business, finding new hobbies and enjoying this incredible new city that we're in. I've committed myself to the latter, and I think I can honestly say that the past year and a half of residency has been one of the most enriching and joyful of my life. We've taken full advantage of every minute that Beau has off to explore some beautiful new parts of the country. I started practicing yoga and much to my surprise, I've gotten pretty good at it. I've created an art and illustration business that started as a hobby and has recently turned into my full-time gig. We've developed deep friendships with some amazing people that I know will be in our lives forever. So much goodness from a time that could have otherwise been pretty trying.

So, yeah. I think that my commitment to seeking joy and beauty in my life makes me lovely. And powerful. And hopefully it creates a "life in excess" which is impacting people for the better."

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irena

What makes you lovely?

"What makes me lovely is my courage and strength to make many changes and mistakes in my life, and to live without regret as much as I can. I have moved to 6 major cities since college, taking on new roles, jobs, hardships in each place. My husband and I have travelled all over the world, quit jobs, left family and good friends behind only to make new ones, and this has given us a strength and bond that overpowers the ugly in our lives. I have a life affirming pursuit for creative and spontaneous living, and a constant hunger to discover hidden truths about myself. I choose to live as much as possible in the “now” of life, and that is what makes me lovely. I go wherever my vision and passions take me, and this has made me fearless: a force to be reckoned with. I carry a certain light and energy everywhere I go, and try to draw that sort of inherent light we all have out of the people I care about in my life. I want them to be aware of their strength and uniqueness, and to know we are all vulnerable creatures that make mistakes. I will leave you all lovely creatures with a quote by Mary Schmich: “ Good art is art that allows you to enter it from a variety of angles and to emerge with a variety of views.” So is good living!"

 

Check out her incredible art work at www.istanisic.com

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jeri

What makes you lovely?

"What makes me lovely? My ability to grieve with an open heart. 

I've experienced a significant amount of loss in my life, most recently the loss of my ability to conceive naturally and my four angel babies who I lost in the womb along the way. Instead of allowing this struggle to harden or paralyze me, I fully submitted to the process and allowed it to sharpen me. Grieving has exposed the loveliest parts of myself. I welcomed people into our journey by speaking and writing openly about infertility when I could have chosen to isolate myself. I asked for help when I needed it when I could have tried (and failed) to do it alone. I was kind to myself and spoke words of encouragement when I could have accepted blame. I continued to dream about our future as parents when I could have given up hope. I continued to pursue Christ and ask the tough questions when I could have let resentment lead me astray. I allowed myself the space and time to mourn when I could have pretended I was unaffected.  I was understanding and gentle with the people in my life who were absent and insensitive during this process when I could have ended relationships that were important to me. 

I refuse to let my circumstances define who I am and what kind of life I get to live. I don't know what my future family will look like, but I know I have a beautiful life unfolding before me because I serve a beautiful God. Nothing aches quite like the loss of our children and the life that could have been with them, but nothing restores quite like believing in the good to come."

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alisha

What makes you lovely?

"What makes me lovely? Since the start of this initiative, I've pondered that question. The whole point is to challenge yourself to think beyond any faults you have and truly think about what makes you lovely...not an easy task for me. 5 months ago I was blessed with a tiny miracle that has completely rocked my world. She has made me look at life so differently and has opened my eyes to a whole new outlook of what being lovely really means. My daughter looks at me with the same smile and love when I've just woken up with my hair a mess and no makeup as she does when I'm all dressed up, makeup on and hair done (which doesn't happen very often these days). She looks through me...she sees my heart. And almost on a daily basis, I look at her and get teary-eyed because God has blessed me with such a wonderful gift that I sometimes feel I don't deserve. And because of His Grace (which happens to be my daughter's name) He has given me the privilege to be her mother. When I look at her I'm reminded of God's love for us. An agape kind of love. No matter the scars, no matter the wounds, no matter the past, He still thinks we're lovely. He sees my heart. So what makes me lovely? My heart. I have a heart of gold and genuinely ache for those in need. I may have a thick outer shell and seem a little closed off, but I truly wish I could take all the pain and suffering away from others. I fall short every day, but I continually strive to be a better person and show love to those in need. At the end of the day, all I really want is for others to feel lovely."

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erika

What makes you lovely?

"What makes me lovely is my keen ability to spot beauty in the “commonalities” around me. The golden sun reflecting off the green of the pines, the shadows dancing up and down the cracks in the sidewalk, the stunningly rare colors that peak through in a bouquet of withering flowers (I keep all the flowers I have ever been given because of just that). I am so compelled by what is beautiful in the things that we often miss among the day-to-day rush of our lives. 

 My soul yearns to take the time to notice, appreciate, and dwell among the flawless masterpieces of my creator. I have no choice than to bask in the glory of Jesus before me, I simply cannot resist it. I also cannot resist the calling to embrace what is broken and to have the opportunity to be God’s instrument, ringing a loud reminder to others that all is never lost. God always chooses to breathe new life where there is brokenness and when I can help facilitate that, that is when I am most lovely." 

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hannah

What makes you lovely?

"I am lovely because I love people deeply and I love them well. My greatest desire is that people know that their lives are significant to this world and that they find confidence in who they are created to be. This past year I walked through an unexpected season of loneliness and doubt and I navigated the waters of where my identity was found. I learned that my identity and worth could not be found in a career title or by who is in my life, or the lack thereof. My identity is held in Jesus and in who he created me to be in all my unique strengths and passions. I am learning to love people expectation but instead, to meet them where they're at and to love them for who they are....this is exactly how I am loved by Jesus."

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mia

What makes you lovely?

"Why I am lovely? I am lovely because of my kindness, the way I treat random strangers in the school halls saying hi!

I am lovely because of my bravery. I am a Type One Diabetic and getting needles 24/7 isn't always a magical unicorn island with marshmallows on top, but I try to act like it is. 

And last but not least, I am lovely because of my humor. Making my family and friends laugh makes my heart so happy!"

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molly

"I'm lovely because... Why is it so hard to answer that...? I'm lovely because I am strong. I have had some unfavorable things thrown at me in the game of life, and I have tried to handle them with grace and humor and not let it get me down. 

Over the last few years I have been trying to make myself as physically strong as I am mentally. I completed my first half marathon in 2015 and am working on two more in 2016! 

I am constantly thinking about blood sugars, carbs, insulin, and bolusing. My daughter was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes at the age of 12 months. So no matter what I am talking to you about, that is all going through the back of my head. 

If I had to classify myself into one sentence, I would say that I am an over-analyzing, sarcastic, funny, control freak and I am so thankful to be all of those things! Now go check your blood sugar!"

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