Going “natural” – L’Bri Cosmetics Review

So, I’ve been searching recently for more natural cosmetics since it’s one thing I can do to treat my body better after putting it through the wringer (so to speak). I’ve used some Arbonne cosmetics, but, while I have loved them, they’re a little more pricy for my budget (although I LOVE their mascara and the creaminess of their eyeliner).

Recently, I heard about L’Bri ‘Pure and Natural‘ and after a recommendation and a tiny bit of research I decided to take the plunge and get rid of my 5+ year old makeup and go a little more natural. The plus side is that they’re having a makeup sale this month and everything was 25% off.

While there are still chemicals in them, there are less on the ‘Top 10 Toxic’ list than my current makeup.

The consultant I connected with was super sweet and sent me some powder and foundation samples since I wasn’t in the same state and helped me with recommendations for colors. I ended up with Naked Rose blush, Light Amber concealer, #28 powder, the Hazel Eyes compact, Tea Rose and Pale Pansy Frost lipstick, and some free samples.

Naked Rose Blush – A little goes a long way! It easily went on my brush and I quickly had to use it on both cheeks as the color went on strong. The color is nice though and goes for a more natural brownish-pink than my current blush (which has sparkle and I don’t mind not having sparkle). 🙂

Light Amber Concealer – The color seemed to work well, although it’s a little more thick in consistency than the Maybelline I currently use so I’ll have to get used to that.

Hazel Eye Shadow Compact – They have different consistencies with the colors as some are matte, creme, or something-or-other. I found the Smoked Khaki color went on thick as I only put a little on my brush and found I had a very dark grey on my eye. Having put only a little on the brush, I was surprised and used the rest on the other eye. However, it blended in well. Ultimately, the colors worked for a natural smokey-ish eye (if you can call my makeup prowess that – ha!) although I probably would have chosen a darker brown than the Creme Glow/Nude (whichever is their middle shade).

#28 Powder – I hate foundation and since my skin tone is very even, I just use a light powder dusting. The foundation sample I tried didn’t work so well but then, I probably have no idea how to apply it and that could have been the problem. The powder seemed to go on like my current powder and blended well.

Tea Rose Lipstick – I chose this one because I thought it would be a little more brown and fit with my skin tone. It actually ended up being more coral on me than I had anticipated and I’m not quite used to such a strong color. The lipstick went on very smooth. I later tried the Pale Pansy Frost color and it was pinker but not super light.

Brown-Black Eyeliner – It’s definitely a dark brown and while it goes on fine, it’s not as creamy smooth as I’d like it.

Overall, I had a slight tingling sensation on my cheeks (This is why I go for more sensitive skin and natural makeup) that eventually went away. The consultant mentioned that sometimes when you mix cosmetics lines this happens. I’ll have to try it all again tomorrow and see if the same thing happens.

Here’s a picture for you to compare. The first one is with Tea Rose lipstick, the second is a couple hours later when I decided to try the Pale Pansy Frost since I had no color on my lips after lunch. I also gave you two lighting (indoor/outdoor) so you can tell the difference in that as well.


Update: So, I’ve decided that I really do like the makeup and managed to make this frugal gal toss her ridiculously old stuff. However, what is selling me is their skin care. With all my travels and harsh exposure to my face, while some people think it’s still baby skin, it’s not! I was quite impressed that after a week of using the sample my face looks better and after one use of their facial mask my enlarged cheek pores reduced! I’ve been using coconut oil with essential oils for months and that hasn’t happened. If you want to order samples yourself, go to www.lisaelam.lbri.com

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Happy Anniversary, friends

It’s hard to believe that one year ago I was standing on Ethiopian soil. Well, technically, at this time I would have been in the airport and drinking the last good macchiato I’ve had since then, waiting for my flight to the US. But for the sake of this post I was still there.

The memories of that day are still clear as I watched B and her now-husband pledge their love and life together. To describe an Ethiopian-American wedding to you is difficult as I just want to sit and remember, not use words to describe the day – the expectation and moment as F made his way into the house to recover his bride (and all us bridesmaids blocking the way per tradition); the looks as we drove around the round-a-bout in our wedding cars, honking the horns on the way to church; the joy of seeing our landlady and daughter along with our masseuse included and helping us walk through the cultural traditions of the day…

What most people know about the last day is that B got married and I functioned in four languages that day. Hmmm, come to think of it, I wonder if I spoke Romanian with Dani and Johnny as that would add a fifth!

But in reality, they don’t know the bitter-sweetness of that day as I treasured each moment with my friends, new and old, from around the world as many made their way to celebrate B’s wedding. Weddings are happy times, filled with the anticipation of the future and love and joy…but each moment had a little tear drop dripping from it as I realized these were also last times for me.

Sometimes you don’t realize how dear a friend is until you are forced to leave them. These are the times when I’m grateful for technology and What’s App giving me the ability to regularly communicate and share in life with B & F. Their story of perseverance, patience, grace, and love would inspire anyone as they look past differences and find commonality in Christ, their Rock and Foundation.

B and L weddingSo, to you two dear friends – May your day be blessed as you celebrate a year together and so many more to come. You are loved and missed!


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When God says “Stay.”

Two and a half years ago, before I left for Africa, I felt in my spirit that this day would come. And, it has. God’s saying “Lisa, stay.” As in, stay in the USA; stop traveling and relearn life in the USA; learn what it means to have roots; serve Him here.

The hard part about staying? Expressing to my ministry partners why my staying and serving from the USA is just as important as those who are going overseas. In an organization whose majority are linguists and technical workers, finding someone who enjoys administration and is gifted in it sometimes seems the rarity.

But by serving in administration, I can let someone else stay in their role they are gifted in. I’m able to take some of the burden off our already maxed out missionaries and use the gifts God has given me. Sure, I could do administration in a foreign country, but that’s not what God’s showing me. Plus, with my added back problems, I need access to chiropractors and to lessen my travel.

So I’ve found a way to have a global impact, learn a new role (I love a new challenge in something I haven’t fully learned), and have my adventure – by moving to Texas and serving as assistant to SIL’s Associate Executive Director. While I’m sure about working with our “VP”, I’m still wondering about the Texas part sometimes. This Floridian has a lot to learn about how to integrate into Texas culture. Good thing I like Dr Pepper and bar-b-que!

I would appreciate your prayers as I continue to build a financial partnership team so I can be at the budget Wycliffe sets for me for living in the US. I’m not sure how God is going to make ends meet, but I know He is faithful and has always provided.

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Impatience = Chifles!

I bought plantains to make a Pinterest recipe, but they’re green which means waiting until they ripen. I’m not always patient, especially when I know I can make a yummy treat from green plantains. 

Having lived in the Peruvian jungle which has a plenitude of banana varieties, this is something I miss in the U.S.  Thanks to Cuban heritage, fried sweet plantains are pretty easy to find. But fried green plantain chips, aka “chifles”? Nope. 

So here’s how you can make chifles, which are awesome because I don’t like potato chips. I’m also trying to do Whole30 and I think these fit in for snacks. 

First, peel your plantains. This might be the more difficult part as it takes a knife to cut the skin and slowly work it off with your hands. Once they’re peeled, slice them as evenly as possible. This will make it better for even frying. 

In a large pan heat your oil for frying. I used grape seed oil at medium heat. Place the pieces in a single layer as this makes for even frying. Try not to let them stick together because, well, it makes more for eating!
Let them fry for a couple minutes and then flip them. They usually don’t want to flip and its sometimes difficult to differentiate which have been flipped or not, but you notice subtle differences. The idea is to fry them evenly but they’ll cook different depending on thickness. 

Fry them another couple minutes until they start turning a very light golden brown. I used my metal spatula to tap the centers of the thick ones to see if they felt hard and done. Don’t fry past this point as they’ll turn darker once out of the oil. Too dark makes them taste burnt. 

Place them on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil and cool off. See, they look darker. 

I tossed them with a little salt to make the flavor pop. All these yummy chips from just three plantains. Enjoy! 

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It only took one year and nine months

January 2014 – I decided to undertake a challenge I’ve done many a time, but pursue it in a different manner – read through the Bible in one year using a chronological method.

Growing up with an emphasis on Scripture, I’ve read and memorized Scripture a multitude of times. It’s in my head – though paraphrased by me – whenever I need it. It’s the foundation to my faith, which is why I chose to work with a mission organization whose emphasis is on translating Scripture. How does one come to know Christ without being able to read His letter to us? It’s the starting point to giving people an option to step into the world known as the Christian Faith.

Honestly, as I write (and many times before), I wish I had some how documented how many times I’ve read through the Bible.

Sometimes I’ve felt guilty that I didn’t stick with it and complete the plan in one year; that I didn’t read every day and would take days (weeks!) off. One would think with how rough the last year has been I would have been in the Word more often than I have been.

Well, I truly believe that we have season and sometimes the tools we pull out aren’t the ones we use regularly, but the ones we need most. For me, I could read but it just went in one ear and out the other. So I did a lot of light devotionals, prayer, and listened to music instead.

But, TODAY WAS THE DAY! On the last day, of the ninth month, of the year of our Lord 2015, I read the book of Revelation and completed a one-turned-into-almost-two year reading plan.

So for those of you who struggle with regularity in reading, in following plans, etc…don’t worry. God knows you and He’s given you a toolbox full of spiritual disciplines to help you through each season. (Read this book if you want to learn more about that theory – Christianity for the rest of us who don’t like rules and regulations.)

For those who want to know what I use to help me stick to a plan, check out www.YouVersion.com. Awesome app!

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At the end of the tunnel

Next month my sabbatical ends and I start the process of finding my next assignment. Well, to be honest, I’ve already started the ball rolling so it’s just “officially” that it happens.

This time of complete rest has been excellent and what I needed to process through the various unexpected and stressful transitions, some of the things I dealt with while living in Africa, and also trying to heal from the car accident. Still working on that last one but the others have reach peace and conclusion.

I think I’m especially excited as it means not having every day be the same, productivity, and….well….let’s be honest, not living at home with parents who have been empty nesters for four plus years now. Don’t get me wrong! I love my parents and am so amazingly grateful to have a safe place to transition through, but I’m ready for life to start again and not have to remind my dad to “take it to another room”….or get called Ziva (the dog’s name) for the umpteenth million time.

The only concern I have is the back issues I’m still having and how that will turn out. And having to find a place to live – how does one do that in the US? Oh, and speaking only one language and trying to keep it to American English (sorry for all the extra ‘u’s lately!).

So, here’s to the light at the end of the tunnel and life having balance again! Perhaps I’ll start blogging a little more now and be more communicative. 🙂

Posted in Celebration | Tagged | 4 Comments

What I’ve learned from going blue

And I mean literally blue! I’ve been blue for about a month now and in this season of rest, processing what’s going on in my life, and healing, it’s been quite insightful.

Blue highlights!

Blue highlights!

I had my aunt trim my hair up some more from my drastic cut and told her to have fun and choose between blue or purple highlights to put in my hair. It was one of those moments that I didn’t really care, wanted to do something fun, and recognized that hair (and color) is temporary. Long term reactions were not in my thoughts.

Since then, it has been eye-opening to me to hear other people’s reactions and process my own when I go into my different social groups.

  • Because I am in full-time ministry, I often feel an obligation to live within certain “unspoken” rules that I feel others might put on me, when, in reality, I’m the one putting them on myself. As long as I am honoring God in what I do and say, I don’t need to worry about other’s reactions. I am not responsible for their own journey if they should choose to judge me. I am responsible for my own life. (And the people I thought would have a reaction either haven’t noticed, ignored it, or liked it!)
  • It’s taught me about my own judgmental attitude. There is no way for me to know if the reason someone’s hair is dyed, or they’re dressed a certain way or,….whatever…is the result of a promise to someone, their own culture, or their own rebellious streak. It’s not my place to judge, but to love the person even if I don’t agree with their choices.
  • It’s a great conversation starter! Both the color and the cut have received lots of compliments from complete strangers and from friends.
  • There are a lot of people who wish they had the boldness to chop their hair off or dye it a different color but are too scared to do so. It’s taught me about what is temporary and what is permanent in this life.
  • A whole lot of people like the blue – from the guy behind the Chipotle counter randomly telling me “it works for you” to the salespeople telling me they like it.
  • It brings a smile to my face and happy to my heart, and right now smiles tend to be rare and being happy is often brought down by my daily struggles with pain.

Those are just some small thoughts as I don’t really quite know how to concisely express how it’s one piece of the puzzle in learning to love and take care of myself. I’ve always given of myself when it comes to other’s needs (my counselor reminds me that I need to add a “too” in that sentence) and I don’t think much of my own needs. As I’m learning to heal emotionally and mentally from the challenges of serving, I’m also learning how I should healthily serve in the future so that I don’t end up in burnout again.

So, yes, it’s taught me to be a little selfish and a little radical; but in a good and much-needed way. It’s been amazing in helping me pull out lies I believe as well as to teach me to take care of myself so that I can effectively (and healthily) serve others.

….and remember, it’s just temporary. 🙂

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So, this happened….

What does one do when she’s lived in Africa and can’t donate blood? Or when her hair weighs probably half a pound when wet? Oh, and it’s summer and she has neck pain?

Donate it!

My nieces wheren’t happy with the idea, although they were the ones who inspired me.


The full length, before picture


I warned her she’d need a chainsaw to cut through it


Bobbed after 10 inches cut


Oh my goodness!


Easily 1+ inches of thickness


Finished and styled!



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Snap, Crackle, Pop means Rest

Sometimes, it seems that life is just crashing around you. You try to move forward but find a door slammed shut. Frustration sets in as you’re just not sure what to do because every effort to move forward is thwarted. I suppose most people stop to listen and figure it out before this point, but I do have a stubborn streak – especially when it involves leaving people I care about.

One would think I’d have learned my lesson by now, but sometimes letting go feels like quitting to me – and I hate quitting. So my nice new-to-me car got a hard smack and ended up at the repair shop (for once my car is not totaled!) while I ended up back in chiropractic care where each visit sounds like the Rice Crispies cereal. All this made me realize there was no way I was going on 30 hour flights when an hour car ride would cause my back to spasm. So, I learned to listen and do what’s best for all – I stepped down from my role…and into a sabbatical.

After ten years with the organization (and being involved in ministry since I was little), it’s a well-earned and much-needed rest. There’s just one problem – I don’t know how to rest! When one is raised to do and to serve how does one just be? That is my quest over the next several months. Learning what shabbat means – to rest, to cease from doing.

As I come to your mind, please pray for me in this time. I sincerely desire to reconnect with God on new levels and draw deeper into him. Spending two years with (basically) no church has been wearying and this warrior needs to rest awhile. (Twila Paris’ song The Warrior is a Child is very accurate to how I feel right now).

I will also continue to process and work through cultural stresses, “boxes” I lived in, PTSD symptoms I have (re-learning to not feel like I’m a target is hard), and general burnout from an extraordinary amount of travel. What I consider “normal” is definitely not and I’m trying to learn how to have healthy habits.

So here’s to living in limbo and being “home-less” while, and at the same time very much needing stability in my life right now. Thankfully God’s in control, I have an awesome church, and have lots of friends who love me.

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When God takes the lead out of your boots

Sometimes I have lead in my boots – figuratively. It’s easier to move a person in motion than one standing still. There are the times I feel like I have lead in my boots and I can’t get myself to move – either because I don’t have the where-with-all to move or I’m just being stubborn.

The past couple of months God has been making things clear about me moving back to the USA. I’ve had my moments where I’ve made the tough decision before God revealed that He was going to make the decision for me – such as with my visa situation.

Then there are moments like this past week where I’m still trying to figure out how long I’m supposed to be in the USA and debating how much to settle in. Living life in limbo is not healthy, especially for me right now, but that’s what I feel. Afraid to make those decisions that give more permanence to my stay because (I think) I have yet to fully accept the new path that God is putting me on. When you weren’t expecting to move and had been planning on staying overseas longer, the sudden change requires a radical shift in thinking. But not being at a healthy point, and more on burnout, it’s tough to adjust and accept what is happening when your heart is still behind. I have lead in my boots.

Having transportation while in the USA is an opportunity to plug into my church and find the time with friends that I need right now. But having transportation also means accepting my stay on a longer term basis (most likely). That acceptance, along with the mental energy to car shop, has been non-existent in these past six weeks since I moved to the USA. So God decided to pour out His love on me and provide, effectively taking the lead out of my boots and giving me a kick in the rear to keep processing while giving me the opportunity to connect and be in community (which I really need right now).

He’s given me opportunities to pet/house sit in my church hometown this past week (and upcoming) that have let me reconnect with people. During one of those visits a person told me that they’d like to help me get a car, without me having to worry about the money aspect. I had a mental jaw drop to the floor before I could respond. Actually, how does one show gratitude to a person who is being the conduit of God’s love to you? Having felt more spiritually ‘dry’ lately, God helped me see in a big way how much He loves and cares for me. Sunday, in church, God took my focus off the person/event and put it on Himself…and how much He cares and loves me; that He will take care of me even when I don’t know how to function some days or where to move or what He’s up to. He’s in control when I feel like my world is spinning.

carSo this week I became a car owner again. Each car I’ve owned has had its own story of how it was a blessing and made me smile. This one is no different. It’s an answer to multiple prayers by multiple people I’m discovering; a testimony of God’s faithfulness and provision and love being abundantly poured out; and a testimony of someone’s faith in God and their obedience to His promptings.

To the person who has been an answer to prayers and a conduit of God’s work in the Body of Christ:

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)

Posted in Life Lessons, Provision, Trust | Tagged , , | 3 Comments