I recently posted a series of pictures of how my hair has changed since starting to follow the Curly Girl Method on Instagram, and was honestly shocked by how many questions I got in response. This seemed to be the easiest place to compile information, so if you have no interest in curly hair products, feel free to disregard this post and stay tuned for regularly-scheduled programming.

For me, this process started because I decided I really, really wanted to be able to wear my hair naturally curly all the time. I’ve liked my curls for a long time, but didn’t always feel like my natural curls were right for work, formal events, or any time I wanted to look put together. I was blow-drying and curling my hair with a curling iron at least once a week, which was actually making my curls worse –it’s a cycle. When I told Zinnia at Luxe what I wanted to do, she suggested a haircut every 10-12 weeks, which has made a huge difference and removed a lot of my damaged hair. She also said, “The process will take a year, and you’ll have to be in it” which is certainly a metaphor for a lot of things.

T H E   G E N E R A L   R U L E S
No products with silicone, sulfates, or alcohol.
No brushing, straightening, or curling irons.
Only wash hair once a week (work up to it!).
Sleep in a silk bonnet, scarf, or on a satin pillowcase.

Most of what I know about the Curly Girl Method, I’ve learned from Instagram and Pinterest. I’ve learned so much from following accounts like @powerdomi and @curlycailin. Because there’s so much information about this method online, it can get pretty overwhelming pretty quickly. And because everyone’s hair is different, what works for me might not work for you. It’s a process, but I’ve honestly found it to be fun. It’s become easier to follow over time, and I’m quite happy with the results. Don’t feel like you have to get it all right today. All you really need to do in the beginning is commit to learning and not freak out about not washing your hair so much.

W A S H   D A Y   R O U T I N E
1. Wash or co-wash.
2. Condition using the “Squish to Condish” method.
3. Detangle with fingers or a wide-tooth comb.
4. Rinse with a rice water rinse (optional).
5. Deep condition using “Squish to Condish” .
6. Leave it in for five minutes, then rinse upside-down.

S T Y L I N G   R O U T I N E
1. Scrunch in a leave-in conditioner & curl cream/mousse while hair is soaking wet.
2. Plop hair in a t-shirt for 20-ish minutes.
3. Scrunch in gel.
3. Air dry or diffuse upside-down.
4. When hair is dry, scrunch in an oil.
(Refresh with water and products as needed throughout the week.)

It’s taken me awhile to figure out which products work best for me –it’s a lot of trial and error. For that reason, I’ve tried to stay away from super expensive products. While it was a little painful, the best thing I did was finally throw away anything that had silicone, sulfates, or alcohol in the ingredients. (You can find tons of lists of Curly Girl Method-friendly products as well as lists ingredients to avoid online.) Most importantly, don’t feel like you have to immediately buy everything on this list! Choose a few, see how you feel about them, and repeat until you have a routine that works for you.

S H A M P O O S   +   C O – W A S H 
Not Your Mother’s Naturals Curl Defining Shampoo
DevaCurl Buildup Buster Micellar Water Serum
As I Am Coconut Cleansing Conditioner (Co-Wash)

C O N D I T I O N E R S   +   L E A V E – I N S
Shea Moisture Restorative Conditioner
Not Your Mother’s Butter Masque
Not Your Mother’s Naturals Leave-In Conditioner

C R E A M S ,   M O U S S E S ,   G E L S  +   O I L S 
Shea Moisture Curl Smoothie
DevaCurl Coconut Curl Styler
Not Your Mother’s Curl Talk Mousse
Aussie Instant Freeze Gel
Curls Blueberry Bliss Hair Growth Oil
Lavender, Cedarwood, and Rosemary Oils 
(I just made a refresher spray that’s a couple spoonfuls of Curl Smoothie and 10 drops each of lavender, cedarwood, and rosemary oils in an 8 ounce spray bottle topped off with water.)

That was a lot of words about hair. Don’t be overwhelmed, and don’t feel like you have to spend all of your time and all of your dollars on being able to wear your hair curly –because that’s the exact opposite of the point. The process can be fun, but it is just hair. Incorporate new products and techniques over time, and when your hair looks weird, wear it up and take a break. If you have questions or comments or products you love, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Lately, I closed a chapter of my life that’s felt open for a long, long time –not by choice, I guess you should know. So many times it felt like the story of Abraham, who was asked to surrender Isaac on the altar and trust God to provide. Seeing that Abraham feared God and was willing to surrender what he held dear when he didn’t understand, God provided a substitute and spared him. An exercise in patience, an opportunity to surrender, a test of faith.

This story turned out not to be one of walking in faith, laying it on the altar, and finding that God planned all along to let me have it in the end. Instead, it’s been the story of how I sought to be faithful and learned a bit about surrender and didn’t get what I wanted at all, but got more of Jesus instead.

And it’s there that we learn to truly say,
Hallelujah, all I have is Christ.

How many times have I treated God like a cosmic vending machine, believing that if I put in the time and trust and faithfulness, I’ll get what I asked for? How often have I acted like praying the right prayers and believing the right truths would somehow obligate God to bend His will to my own? I’ve believed that if I’ll only surrender what I want most, God will let me keep it. Unsurprisingly, this isn’t surrender at all. To truly surrender is to submit, as even Christ submitted, to the will of the Father, to lay down the prideful notion that my ways are ever higher than His, to suffer the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him (Philippians 3:8).

Vending machines don’t care about you –give me your money, take your chemical-injected pop tarts, and go. (You know, hypothetically.) But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, is too kind to give us only what we want. He is too infinitely faithful to withhold that which is making us into the image of Christ, too infinitely wise to concede to our flawed, finite idea of how it should be, too infinitely glorious to allow us to settle for another. By God’s grace, our stories of disappointment can be one also of glad surrender, of delighted submission, of believing anew that the surpassing worth of knowing Christ is worth whatever it takes to find him all-sufficient.

Hallelujah means God be Praised. When we face losses that seem too hard, disappointments that seem too big, and plot-twists we can’t make sense of, we get to respond with hallelujahs. God be praised, these tangible losses serves only to remind us that all we have is Jesus, and in him, all we need.

Hallelujah, all I have is Christ.

Feeling guilty for choosing a podcast over my usual church service, I came to Sunday morning exhausted and ready to explain myself to God –the reasons why I was so tired were good, valid, excusable. I was ready to make my case. But, instead of the judgement I was expecting, I was met with a beautiful invitation: Listen, eat, delight, incline your ear, come, live. 

The podcast sermon raised a sobering question from Isaiah 55, “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” It’s followed by an invitation, “Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear and come to me; hear, that your soul may live” (Isaiah 55:2-3). 

I felt this gentle, kind conviction: “You don’t think I know what you need, you don’t think I care.” I had prepared for condemnation, but was met with this tangible compassion, this quiet reminder that God sees our circumstances and cares about us, and not just about what we can do for Him.

I realized that I often turn to the people who love me expecting compassion, while turning to God expecting to have to explain myself. In my trusted earthly relationships, I know I can bring my hurts, disappointments, and shortcomings into the light. Too often, I go to God with only plans and justifications and promises to do better. I’m quick to remember that God sees my circumstances and asks for faithfulness, but I sometimes forget that He also sees my circumstances and looks on me with compassion. That He isn’t standing over me asking me to jump higher, push harder, and get it together on my own. That when I’m feeling burnt out or broken or inadequate, He’s the one who already fully knows and invites me, come and live.

This is, of course, an issue of belief. I’ve forgotten who God is, that He is “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7). As they often do, this issue of wrong belief leads to issues of misplaced expectations. If we don’t believe that God understands our human limitations or cares about our hurts and disappointments,  we will turn to people and projects and Netflix and self-care to give us the rest that only Jesus can provide. We will ask too much of the people around us, forgetting that we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness (Hebrews 4:15). We will miss His invitation to listen diligently and eat what is good, to delight in rich food and come, to hear and live.

When I remember that God looks on me with compassion, I don’t have to be so hard on me either –not for being tired or sad or finite. I can delight in His word and trust His heart and pursue obedience from a place of faithfulness instead of fear. As the Gospel has altered my standing before God permanently and completely, so it should alter my understanding of His character –all-knowing, all-sufficient, and overwhelmingly compassionate. I can stop pouring my efforts and energy and investments into that which does not satisfy, and come, again and again, and live.