Wonder Woman and the Strength in Femininity

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My husband and I went to see Wonder Woman on Friday, and it was amazing. I had a Studio Movie Grill gift card, and we'd been wanting to spend some time together, so it worked out perfectly. 

There were so many things to appreciate about the film. Of course, it was fantastic that for the first 20 minutes (at least) of the movie, there were nothing but women on screen. The movie was directed by a woman, the amazing Patty Jenkins, and the entire film is dripping with female empowerment.

I loved that they didn't over-sexualize Diana. Her outfit was armor and not just glorified spandex. Of course, she was beautiful, but she wasn't overly made up. You could tell that she had on blush and eyeliner, but the rest of the movie makeup magic was very understated. Plus, it doesn't hurt that Gal Gadot is gorgeous anyway. And speaking of Gal, I very much appreciated that she's Israeli. A couple of years ago, when whispers of a Wonder Woman film were first circulating, I for sure thought that they would cast a well-known white actress as the lead. I'm glad that they cast a lesser-known Middle Eastern woman instead. And Gal was incredible, by the way!

I also appreciated that there were Amazons of multiple races. Some were black, some were white, some could have been hispanic. They were of varying ages, too, and every single one of them were beautiful. None of them were wearing much makeup, which is realistic because they're warriors. And it's even more cool that they cast professional female athletes as some of the Amazons!

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There are spoilers from this point forward, so if you haven't seen the film yet and you still want to, stop reading now.

As for the story, I like that it wasn't necessarily centered around a man. Steve (played by Chris Pine) appears in Diana's life and is sort of the gateway to her destiny, but the story isn't really about their love. It's about Diana learning who she is and becoming that person. Everything she believes and knows to be true is challenged, and she has to decide what she's going to stand for, and what she'll actively stand against.

At the beginning of the movie, which has modern-day Diana talking about how she "used" to want to save the world, you think that she's given up hope for humanity. But at the end of the movie, you find out that it's because of her hope in humanity that she fights for justice and truth.

The only thing that I didn't like was that Steve sacrificed himself and died. I guess I understand why they did that, though. I mean, Diana is a demigoddess and apparently doesn't age, and Steve is mortal, so what kind of life could they realistically have together? But it did almost seem like they had to give the leading man his hero moment too, which may have been to appease male movie-goers. For comparison, you don't really see the female love interest in most male-centric superhero movies doing anything that heroic. They're mostly just damsels in distress. 

Overall, the movie was fantastic! It left me feeling like I'm capable of anything, and that my femininity isn't something to suppress or overcome in order to be successful or to do great things. The world needs femininity just as much as it needs masculinity. It needs brave, strong women, just as much as it needs brave, strong men. And bravery and strength aren't exclusive to men. Anyone and everyone can have courage and do the right thing when given the chance. 

Have you seen Wonder Woman? If so, what did you think? Let me know your thoughts!

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

Not Your Average Birth Story

You guys, my son's birthday is this weekend. 

I cannot even believe it! I can't believe that he will be one year old! How can a year have passed since I brought him into this world? What even is life?

Well, excuse me while I freak out. But in the meantime, I wanted to share a blog post that I wrote about a year ago, after he was born. I wrote this on my other blog, but I wanted to share it here in honor of his first year of life.


Natural birth has no comparison. In my opinion, not even other types of birth compare to it. I have nothing against other types of birth, and I respect every woman’s right to choose the way she births. I, myself, was born by c-section, and I don’t bear my mom any ill will because of that.

But natural birth…

There is nothing like it. I can’t compare it to climbing a mountain, or running a marathon…

It is, if I’m being honest, the most physically painful thing that has ever happened to my body. But it was so, SO much more than pain.

It was perseverance. It was patience. It was frustration. It was anxiety. It was trust. It was love…

For the majority of my ten-hour labor, I had three people supporting me:

My incredible husband…who fetched me water when I needed it. Who held my hand when my own strength wasn’t enough. Who reminded me, when I screamed that I couldn’t do it, that I was doing it, and that I was strong. He was the extra force behind me, rooting for me, supporting me, loving me…

My amazing mother…who silently watched over me, letting me know with her presence that everything would be okay. Who told me she was proud of me. Who held my hands when my husband needed a break. Who rubbed my back. Who smiled with pride when she saw me with her grandson in my arms…

The awesome midwife…who gave me a measure of peace because she was skilled, knowledgeable, and confident. Who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. Who told me not to run from the pain or fight against it, but to embrace it. Who caught my baby as I pushed him from my body and into the world…

Then there was God.

I cried out for Him during labor more times than I can count. And as my stomach contracted, and my body contorted, and I wished that I had all the drugs in the world, I begged Jesus to help me through it.

Birth was, honestly, probably one of the most spiritual times in my life. I needed God to reassure my soul that I would make it through this, and that another soul would come to the world through me.

And there were moments of labor that were not so fun…

I vomited twice. 
I was at my most vulnerable for 10 straight hours. 
I was exposed…
And of course, I was in pain.

There is nothing, no word, no metaphor or simile, that can describe what a contraction feels like when you are moments from delivery.

I can’t explain it. And the only way you’d know what I’m talking about is if you’ve delivered a child without drugs. The pain is indescribable.

But. But…

Laboring and delivering my son, with no interventions, no one shouting at me, no one telling me what I needed to do, trusting my body and my support team trusting me…

It it the single most empowering and incredible thing I have ever done in my life.

When I chose this path, I was confident that I could do it. In the midst of it, there were times where I wasn’t so sure. But I have come out on the other side with so much pride in myself, in my marriage, and so much faith in God, that I couldn’t be more sure that this was the right decision.

I would do it all over again.

I know that a lot of people look at me and all they see is someone small. Someone slight. Someone quiet.

Well, I didn’t do this to prove anything to anyone, and now more than ever, I am confident that I don’t have anything to prove.

But I just have to say for myself, that I am a force to be reckoned with. I am strong and powerful, and there is nothing weak about me.

There is nothing ‘weak’ about women. We are not the weaker sex, or the lesser sex.

We are capable, with God, of building and bringing forth new life, and then sustaining that life even after birth.

I had an amazing team of people who helped me as I brought my son into this world. But I brought him into this world.

The senior midwife said to me as I pushed, “It’s time to bring your baby. Only you can bring your baby.”

Well, she was wise. And she was right.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!


Natural childbirth and motherhood are the hardest things I've ever done, but my son is so worth it. He is awesome and it is such an incredible blessing getting to be a part of his life all day every day. I get to watch him and smile with pride, because I made him. He was born from love, and he is such an incredibly loving little guy. He has such a sweet disposition. 

Cayson, if you read this one day, then you should know that you are amazing, and I'm so stoked that I get to be your mom, even when you're teething and won't sleep through the night.

Happy Birthday, little man!

You’re like a party somebody threw me
You taste like birthday
You look like New Years
You’re like a big parade through town...
You leave such a mess, but you’re so fun!
— The Party by Regina Spektor

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

Leave What's Heavy Behind...

I wanted to dig a little deeper today and share some pretty personal struggles that my little family and I have been going through for the last two years.

This September, my husband and I will celebrate two years of marriage, and three and a half years of being in a relationship altogether. We're still madly in love and choosing love everyday, but it has been far from easy in our two short years of marriage.

I'll give you a brief little backstory. We both lived in Dallas before we got married, then about two months before our wedding, my husband moved to OKC for a job. After that, we got married in September of 2015, and I joined him in OKC. About three weeks after that, we found out that we were, very unexpectedly, pregnant.

Now, I am not someone who likes a lot of life change, and especially not in large doses. I absolutely adore my son, but finding out that I was pregnant with him was absolutely terrifying. I like to plan things, plan my life, and when things happen that I don't plan for, I meltdown for a little bit. My son was unplanned for, and I didn't know how to cope with it at first.

But that's not this story. This story is about how to deal when you live your life between a rock and a hard place. 

LJ The Inspired Life-Lost and Lonely

Living in Oklahoma was incredibly difficult for us. You wouldn't think so, but there is a big difference in culture between Oklahoma and Dallas. Yes, I know I'm comparing an entire state to just one Texas city, but take any major city in Texas and the comparison will still apply. 

We had culture shock. We were in a new place, with no family or friends in the state. My husband was at a new job, and I couldn't find a job. We were newly married and newly moved and, come to find out, newly pregnant. It was all so much... NEW. It was terrifying and the most stressful thing that I've ever been through, and unless you've been in similar circumstances, you can't really relate. Believe me, I've had people try, and they just don't get the magnitude of the situation. 

Well, fast-forward to a year after living there. Our son had been born, which was wonderful, but we still had no friends and no family in the area. Then my husband's job turned sour. He had someone close to him, betray him at work, and that devastated us both because we considered this person a friend.

That then made our last few months in Oklahoma even more stressful and incredibly difficult. We felt even more isolated and alone than when we first moved there. It was almost more than we could bare, and considering all that we've dealt with, I'm surprised (and grateful) that we haven't had more problems in our marriage.

LJ The Inspired Life-Are You Tired

I, by nature, am an incredibly protective person, and that is an understatement. If someone comes after my friends or family, my first instinct is to attack, to protect and defend. I can be ruthless, in a take-no-prisoners kind of way. I can be vicious and unforgiving, and the honest truth is that it doesn't bother me. 

Except...it does. I am a Christian, and I believe that, because God has forgiven me, I should forgive others. I believe that, or at least, I know it intellectually. But it's so difficult for me to put it into practice. When I feel like someone has committed a terrible act against me (or anyone else), and there is no (earthly) justice, I find myself unwilling to forgive. I feel like, if I give that up, if I "let it go," then that person has won and it won't matter that they hurt me or someone else.

I know it's not right, but it's how I feel sometimes. I have been hurt by so many people, and it's by people who should 1) know better and 2) keep doing it. So why should I forgive them?

Well, the forgiveness isn't for them, it's for me

With forgiveness comes freedom. You free up space in your mind and your heart for something infinitely better to come along and occupy it. And you free yourself from the responsibility of having to hold everyone accountable for the terrible things they've done. 

I just can't be the judge, jury and executioner (so to speak) for everyone that commits a sin against me. I can't, and I don't want to.

LJ The Inspired Life-Love That's Healing

This person that betrayed my husband...

I was so mad at them for what feels like a long time. I'm still angry with them. But the truth is, I've never wanted to forgive someone so much in my entire life. I just don't have the time or energy anymore for all that anger and resentment. 

It takes its toll. Plus, I'm still working on forgiving people I've been mad at for way longer than I've even known this person, so even more reason to just let them go with God and forgive them.

I'm ready to move on with my life. We have physically moved away from that conflict. We are back in Dallas and close to family again, and we are on our way to building healthy, life-giving relationships. 

That truly is one of the best ways to get rid of the pain: replace it with love. Love casts out all fear. Love protects. Love heals. Love wins. Every time. We can't always see it immediately, but I really believe that love will always win. And you can always find people who will love you. You can always find a tribe. 

So I'm ready to leave what's heavy behind and start fresh. I'm ready to heal, grow, and help others. I have so much love to give, not just to my family and friends, but to people I haven't met yet, and maybe one day, I'll get to help someone through the most difficult time in their life. Maybe I'll be a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold, and a voice to say "You will make it through this, and you'll come out on the other side stronger than you were before."

I truly believe that. 

If you're reading this, thanks for letting me share today. And if you, too, are going through a difficult time, just know that it will get better.

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

Happy Mother's Day Weekend!

I feel like it was just yesterday that I was agonizing over what to get my mom for Mother's Day. It had to be the perfect gift; something to say "thank you for loving me all these years and for putting up with my crap from time to time!" Would it be flowers? A dessert of some kind? Jewelry?

Then, somehow, time fast-forwarded and now I'm the mama. I get to kiss and squeeze and hug my little boy for Mother's Day. And even though he's too young to say "thank you" or "I love you," I can feel it in every grab of my face, every nighttime snuggle, every slobbery kiss. I feel it when he's excited to see me when he wakes up for a nap. I can feel it when I hear his disgruntled "Mamamamamamama" when he's upset about something and he expects me to make it better. 

When he roams around the house and wants me to chase him, or he laughs at me while I dance around like a fool, I feel so incredibly blessed that God chose me to be his mama. I'm entrusted with his care and keeping for such a little while in the grand scheme of things, and I really do try to cherish every moment. 

I never understood the depth of a mother's love until I became one myself. I love that little boy more than my own life, more than anything. I get to see him learn, and grow, and change everyday. I get to witness his blossoming, and I just can't believe that I have the privilege of doing so. 

Some days (and nights) are hard. Sometimes he won't take a bottle. Sometimes, he thrashes around like a maniac because, in that moment, he detests getting his diaper changed. Sometimes, he throws his pacifier on the floor and laughs because he knows that I have to pick it up. 

But I wouldn't even trade those hard, impossible moments. They are far outweighed by the good moments and make them even that much sweeter. 

So here's to all the mamas out there! Let us love our littles as best we can, and then some. Let us teach them to be kind, loving human beings who treat others with respect. Let us show them the beauty and good in life, because they'll get the bad from everywhere else soon enough. 

And let's remind ourselves that there are no ways to be a perfect mom, but many ways to be a really good one.

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

Beauty & the Beast and the Lessons to be Learned

This weekend, my husband and I went to see Beauty and the Beast. Major stud points given to my husband for letting me take him on a date to see it! Though it's quite funny, charming, and has it's action moments, it's not exactly a guy movie.

But it was lovely all the same. With a great cast, great costume and set design, great music and great one-liners, the live-action Beauty and the Beast gets two thumbs up from me.

Aside from the usual captivating Disney magic of the film, I wanted to talk about something deeper that stuck with me from about halfway through the movie until the end...

"Kill the Beast"

When it came to this part in the movie, where Gaston is riling up the crowd, effectively turning them into a mob, I was struck by a sudden sense of deja vu.

We don’t like
What we don’t understand
In fact it scares us
And this monster is mysterious at least...
...We’ll kill the beast!
— Kill The Beast, from Beauty and the Beast

I thought of the sad state of the world, of my country (the U.S.) in particular. I was reminded instantly of the terrible things that people have said and done to people they deem to be "different." I thought of racism and sexism that I've personally experienced. I thought of the Muslim Ban. I thought of how, for thousands of years, people with darker skin have been marked as evil, dirty, trash, less human…

It's the same burn-the-witch mentality that people have had for centuries. They don't like someone different. They don't like what they cannot relate to or understand. They don't like what makes them uncomfortable. So they create an enemy out of someone who means them no harm. They shut their eyes and ears, they erase the face and the voice, until they've completely dehumanized a person, and relegated them to a number, a statistic, a derogatory term.

Bring your guns
Bring your knives
Save your children and your wives
We’ll save our village and our lives...
— Kill The Beast, from Beauty and the Beast

People who are dissatisfied with their own lives are always looking for someone to blame for their unhappiness. They think all Muslims will come blow up their children at school. They think "illegals" are keeping them from getting jobs. They think affirmative action kept their child from getting a spot at a university. They blame environmentalist organizations and programs for the death of their particular industry. And I don't presume to know every single person's circumstances, but true instances like the ones I just mentioned are few and far between.

The truth is that the world is changing. It changes everyday. Are things the same as they were when I was child? Absolutely not, and I'm still in my twenties. I come across people all the time who live in a way that I don't personally understand or even agree with. But does that fact alone make them my enemy? No. They may live their life differently than I do, but if they are not harming themselves or anyone else, then they are not a threat to me.

There’s a beast running wild, there’s no question, but I fear the wrong monster’s released…
— Kill The Beast, from Beauty and the Beast

You see, there are beasts in this world. People who would rather stir up chaos and create controversy than have peace. People who would rather win at any cost, than see good prevail for the many. People who deal in fear and hatred, handing them out like tokens at a birthday party. There are those people…

Live-action Gaston reminded me very strongly of someone. I don't know how much of a spoiler this is, but Gaston was his own greatest fan and biggest admirer. He couldn't see anything or anyone beyond what he wanted or needed. He couldn't take 'no' for an answer (we all know that guy). And when attention was turned to him for a negative reason, he created an enemy where there wasn't one. He couldn't get what he wanted, and he needed someone to blame for that.

Let me tell you something. You can spend your life searching for an enemy, always looking over your shoulder and pointing the finger at someone you deem to be a monster. But keep living life that way and, pretty soon, you'll find yourself in a hall of mirrors where the only beast you'll see...is you.

And let us not forget that Gaston doesn't win in the end. 

The moral of the story is, we absolutely should kill the beast, just not the beast we immediately think of. We should kill the beast within ourselves. The beasts of hatred, jealousy, racism, bigotry, sexism and xenophobia.

You can't kill the beast by trying to change or get rid of others' differences. You have to kill the beast within by finding the courage and strength to change yourself and your perspective. The truth really will set you free, and the truth is that we are all human, despite our differences.

I really did love the movie, and I hope you'll go see it. You never know what you may learn from a movie made for kids…

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

I Don't Want to Compete.

I read a post a couple of days ago, and it really resonated with me. It was one those posts where, you're reading, and all of a sudden you find yourself nodding along in agreement, almost like you're listening to a sermon or having a conversation with someone.  

I happened to read it after I had a hell of time making organic spaghetti with organic meat sauce FROM SCRATCH. And after reading it, I realized...I don't want to compete.  

I played soccer all through college. Before that, I was the commander of the unarmed drill team for my AFJROTC unit in high school. And many years ago, as a little tike, I competed in dance.  

I've always enjoyed the thrill of competition, and even more so the thrill of winning, but it's not so thrilling now as an adult. There is a significant difference between healthy competition and unhealthy competition, but because I'm competitive by nature, I often find myself in unhealthy competition.  

I'll find myself secretly competing with other wives, other moms, other Christians. Like...who can have the sexiest, most down-to-earth husband who rubs your back with one hand and does the cleaning with the other? And who can prepare an all organic, non-gmo, completely gourmet dinner while breastfeeding at the same time? Who can write the most profound, spiritual Facebook post that leads 20 people to Christ?  

Part of it is the advent of social media. But if I'm being completely honest with myself, social media isn't totally to blame.  

It's me. I'm my own worst enemy. I'm my harshest critic. I'm the most ruthless competitor against myself. And for what?  

Why do I run myself into the ground trying be some version of myself that I don't even care about?  

Of course, I think my husband's sexy. Of course, I want to be the best mom I can possibly be. Of course, I want to cook healthy, delicious meals. Of course, I want to show Jesus' love to those around me... 

So Why. Isn't. That. Enough?  

Like the author of the post said, what if I just want a simple life?  

One of the downsides of my generation (millennials) is that we all want to be great. We want to conquer the world, and make a name for ourselves. We want to be the best and brightest at everything.  

Don't get me wrong, that's admirable, when channeled in the right direction. And contrary to what many from older generations say, I do believe we actually work hard for the things we have. 

But what's our motivation to get those things? 

I don't want to live my life constantly trying to outdo everyone else.  And I don't want to spend my time always comparing my life to what others' lives look like. 

It's impossible to be THE best at anything. But I can always be MY best at whatever I'm doing. 

And if I enjoy what I'm doing, and I'm doing it for the right reasons, then I'm successful. If I'm always trying to be the best wife, mom, daughter, writer, and Christ-follower that I can be, then that's all that matters.  

I don't have to live up to the ridiculous expectations I've set for myself. I don't have to be a seven-figure "girlboss," who still manages to cook all of her family's meals and homeschool her children, while still having a deeply intimate relationship with her husband, and who makes it to church on time every single Sunday. 

Maybe that woman exists. Maybe she doesn't. But either way, I don't have to be her.

The moral of the story is...I don't want to compete with anyone anymore. And I don't want anyone to feel like they have to compete with me. I don't need to cross the finish line first. I just hope we all make it across.

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.