In my own healing processes, I’ve tended toward two extremes. I’ve given in to my feelings entirely, allowing them to shape my perception of truth, and I’ve claimed the truth through gritted teeth, refusing to feel anything at all. It’s an area where old habits die hard. I distract myself with Instagram and too much Netflix and too many calendar commitments. I quickly brush over my own statements of sadness, disappointment, or fear with phrases like “But, it’s okay” and “But, I know God will use it for good,” hoping that rattling off the right truths will spare me the unpleasant feelings I’d rather avoid. My approach can quickly drift from one of endurance to one of blatant avoidance. Few things have spurred me on to a better way like this section from Calvin’s A Little Book on the Christian Life:

“For if all tears are condemned, what will we make of our very own Lord, from whose body trickled tears of blood? If all fear is judged faithlessness, what place will we give to that dread which according to Scripture heavily oppressed Him? If all sadness should be dismissed, how will we accept that His soul was sorrowful even unto death?

I’ve said these things about our experience of grief in order to keep godly people from despair –to keep them, that is, from immediately abandoning the pursuit of endurance because they cannot rid themselves of a natural feeling of sorrow. Such despair and abandonment will come to those who turn endurance into indifference. They will turn a courageous and faithful man into wooden post. Rather, Scripture praises the saints for endurance when we, though knocked around by evil circumstances, remain unbroken and undefeated; when we, though pricked by bitterness, are simultaneously filled with spiritual joy; when we, though oppressed by anxiety, breathe freely –cheered by the consolation of God” (79-80).

Calvin’s words remind us that endurance doesn’t ask us to deny our feelings but to submit them to the will of the Father, making it possible to endure through tears, endure in heartbreak, endure in the face of fear. How? By looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus endured not without tears of blood, not without sorrow even unto death, but for the joy that was set before him.

As a people for his own possession, we follow him there.

It is here, in enduring, that we learn to submit to the Father, who is always kind and good and generous and doesn’t always give us what we want. Here that we experience God’s mercies which meet us in our sadness, new every morning. Here that we turn our eyes to the endurance of King Jesus, who condescended to dwell with and die for us, that we might be reconciled to God.

So we follow the suffering Savior, knowing that it is for discipline that we have to endure, that God is treating us as sons (Hebrews 12:7-8). Knowing that the Holy Spirit, the Helper he promised, equips us to endure not only obediently, but cheerfully. Knowing that the joy set before him awaits us also.

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.