Be strong. Protect the Weak. Love Everyone. ™

BE STRONG....

kristi hayesComment
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Be strong... it’s a great phrase. People tell us this all the time, when we feel weak or need a little extra umph in our step. 

But what does it really mean? Does it mean we can’t ever show weakness or even feel it? Does it mean we have to put on our tough face when circumstances are awful and out of our control and all we want to do is break down?

Be strong... it’s a phrase we used with our son a few years ago when he wasn’t being treated great by a friend. It was to tell him, you are gonna have days you feel really weak, scrawny. Unfair things are coming at ya, but be strong. Be strong in who you are, don’t let anyone tell you, you are different then the beautiful soul God made you. 

Circumstances will make you feel weak, and buddy it’s ok to show weakness, but deep down, you are strong, capable, because that’s who God made you, and he’s there every step of the way with you. 

Hey friend, today you may feel weak, and that’s so ok, you don’t need to fake strength. Tell those around you what’s going on, so they can remind you how very strong you are and be your strength until you remember. 

Get BE STRONG BRACELET HERE

I feel strong....

kristi hayesComment
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Today is International Women's Day. A day to celebrate each other well. This week I asked women what made them feel strong. Many of the answers brought me to tears. When I asked girls ages 6- 14 year old their answers, they could give them to me quickly and succinctly. Some said, "When I am a leader." Others said, "When I help others or when I work hard for something." Today we will be shining a light on women and their answers through our instagram stories as well as on Facebook.

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But one thing that intrigued me was how much longer it took for grown women to answer the question. Many had to really process.  It took them a longer time to get back to me, some even said it was easier to list what made them feel weak instead.

I am not sure what happens from our young age to when we grow older. If we lose our sense of what makes us feel strong or  gives us strength, if we are afraid to announce it to the world, for fear of critique. Or maybe the world has made us feel weak and not ENOUGH, because it is always saying we have to be MORE.

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Last week I had a group of women in my living room. We are planning an event for young teenage moms for Mother's Day with a local non-profit, called Hope House. As we were discussing what we would like to do that day, it became very clear to me that each woman present could run their own thing, and many do. They all were go-getters, type A-ish personalities.  Everyone had an opinion and wasn't afraid to voice it.

But as I sat back and watched I noticed something different about these ladies. Instead of anyone feeling jealous, or comparing, or even struggling to be heard, all of these ladies celebrated each others' gifts. They let each person share their gifts and incredible talents. No one was afraid to say what was their strength or what they could contribute. It was pretty spectacular to be part of this. Many times leaving a meeting like that, with so many of the same leader personalities would feel discouraging. People would feel stepped on, or that they couldn't get their opinion across. But that was  not the case here.

It was magical to see everyone know their strengths, voice them, AND then come together for the common good to serve others.

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It's amazing what can happen when we find people who are brave, compassionate, organized, leaders, go-getters, challengers, inspirers and saddle up beside those people; never comparing our gifts to theirs, but learning and leading together;always appreciating each one's strengths and letting each other shine.

What makes you feel strong?

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EYES WIDE, LIGHTS SHINE

kristi hayesComment
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The Florida Shooting rocked me last week, as it should all of us. I am so sad for the families who have lost their babies and loved ones. It’s something so awful and incomprehensible. 

But my heart also is so broken for this kid who thought it was ok to take the lives of his fellow classmates. Why? What on earth would cause someone to snap like this?

I don’t know why anyone would do something so horrible. It’s unfathomable. It angers me, but it also breaks me for the kid who ruined all these lives, their dreams, their legacy. 
Somewhere, whether it be mental illness, rage, anger, loneliness, something broke him. 

The word advocate keeps coming to my mind. And how just one person, one advocate, one extra, who spots someone hurting and step-ups beside them could maybe make a difference. I don’t know if it would have here. I don’t know what his life was like. 

But I’ve seen just one, change another’s world just by entering in when their life seems unbearable, not worth living. The one steps in, sees this hurt, enters in, and changes everything. 

This is why I tell my kids EYES WIDE, LIGHTS SHINE. Every single day!

Eyes wide to the kids pain who may not show it but whose hearts are literally breaking inside. 

I believe we have to train ourselves to see this kind of pain, we have to look for it, like really look for it, we have to ask God to give us his eyes. The ones that see ALL the turmoil and sadness, and then I believe we have to act. We have to saddle up beside those who are hurting, be their advocate even when it is super uncomfortable and when it takes sacrifice. . 

It just takes one. One person who advocates for the life of another. 

Let’s be people (speaking to myself) who are not so busy with life that we miss the ones hurting. That we might actually pursue those who are broken, damaged, who seem to far gone. 

 Let us be the one.

Eyes Wide, Light Shine. 

CELEBRATE AND SADDLE UP

kristi hayesComment
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CELEBRATE AND SADDLE UP.

Last week we talked about parenting. How to love our kiddos well. And as I talk to other moms about “momming,” there is a certain theme that shows up. We talk about the ever present mom-guilt, but the glaring topic that seeps inside of us, whether we voice it or not, is that nasty thing called comparison. The thing that steals ALL the joy from what we are really doing well. The time we show up to our kids Valentine’s party and we are so proud of ourselves for actually getting them their cheap, sponge bob square pants cardboard cards on time. Like the actual day before they are due, when you realize every other mom in your kids preschool class has done a full fledge goodie bag with homemade treats specialized to each student’s dietary needs. (not really, but kind of).

If we are honest that would throw us right off our game. The joy that we felt when we got our kids cards on time, sat with them and laughed while watching them try to write their friends names in their best pre-writing penmanship, flies out the door. Because all we can think about is how our kid are the only one who didn’t bring a full  gluten-free gift basket to his classmates.

Why? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why does someone else’s awesome make us feel not awesome? Inadequate?
 

I love the quote, "YOU DO YOU!"


Seriously, you do what you are capable of, what you love to do, what brings you joy. Not what stresses you out, not what you feel like you HAVE to do to compete or feel worth as a woman, a  mom.

When I had my kids, I had only heard about the drama of mom-relationships. I wanted no part. I hadn’t had drama in a relationship since  junior high and I wasn’t about to start now. So I avoided others mom like the plague. I would drop off my kid and run to the car, no coffee dates, no play dates, nada.

When Holden went to first grade, I changed my tune. I thought if I meet mom’s who are killing it in the “Mom game,” instead of that making me feel inadequate, I am going to celebrate them and saddle up beside them.

Meaning, I am going to tell them they are doing an awesome job, and then do life with them, ask them to help me with what I am not gifted at, or my personality suits, and do it together. Those who are super organized moms could totally intimidate me, because I am not that. I am going to forget my kids’ field trips and permission slips. But if I celebrate and saddle up to that mom that has all the things planned, they help keep me organized too.

We trade talents. I help decorate for a class party or carpool their kids somewhere, and they promise to text me when a permission slip is due. We help each other, we do life together, and let me tell you, it is so much more fun that way.

All of us have different things we bring to the table. Most likely the mom that you envy or think has it all together, had the same fight that you did with their kid that morning. They may have even cried like you did, when you dropped them off, they just may have bigger sunglasses and an ability to smile through the pain.

Let’s be a company of women who celebrates and saddles up.

Can you imagine the difference we could make in each other’s lives, if we were all telling each other how very worthy we are?

SERIES: LOVE EVERYONE (LOVE YOUR SPOUSE)

kristi hayesComment
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Love everyone, thats our theme right now. The last line of our tag line. Love can be so many things. People talk about the romantic kind, the kind that makes a great movie, the one that gives us butterflies and every looks at and says ahhhh.

But who talks about the every day struggle bus love?

The love that endures sickness and stress?

The love that shows up for the other when they can't show up for themselves?

 The love that doesn't look romantic, but is more secure and a picture of true love then any lovey dovey movie will ever have. 

This week I experienced this type of love. We threw a party for my in-laws 50th anniversary. That in itself is a pretty awesome love story. But looking into their story the last 7 years has shown a picture of love that most people don't experience. You see my father-in-law has Lewy body Dementia. Which means he suffers from Dementia and Parkinsons disease. This disease is horrible to watch. To see a man who was full of wit, brilliance of mind, sense of humor, be stripped of himself, is horrible. 

 The love that my mother in law has provided for him, is probably not what she imagined when she said her vows. Through sickness and in health. I will love you forever, no matter what. She demonstrates the NO MATTER WHAT everyday. 

Their love story isn't the one that makes the beautiful cover of a book or movie. It's not the butterflies and romance. It is the hard, gritty, showing up day in and day out to care for someone who can't care for themselves. It is putting aside all of your dreams and desires to care physically and emotionally for someone else. 

You know when someone who is really in love says, "I couldn't live without you." He literally could not live without her. She is his air, his world. She cleans him, cooks, keeps him safe, comforts him. She is apart of him and he apart of her. He can't express himself anymore, but I saw glimpses this weekend. Him holding her hand, smiling, that knowing look. I saw glimpses of his old self. The self that loved her so well. 

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I want the romantic, butterfly, can't live without you love. But I want THIS LOVE most. I want the hard, gritty, show-up each day, even when it can feel unbearable love the most.

Grant and I met on an airplane. We have been married 15 years, but it's funny, we say, sometimes that we are just getting to know each other. We are very different, so we are always learning ways to love each other well. Saying you are  sorry,offering  forgiveness,having  patience, are all things that make a marriage work, and ones I need to work on more.

Here are some things that have kept us loving one another:

1. KNOW EACH OTHERS LOVE LANGUAGE:

Find your spouses here:  Mine is time spent and affirmation and touch. I am basically all of them! (poor Grant), Grant’s is acts of service. So if I have his clothes laundered, or lunch prepared for him in advance, he is feeling loved. But if he did laundry for me, I could care less. WE tend to love our spouses the way we like to be loved. So when we first got married I would give him all the affirmation and he would clean the house. But because those weren't OUR love languages, it didn't work! Now he knows I would rather cuddle on the couch then him do laundry. And I know he would rather have his dry cleaning picked up, then a note that tells him how much he means to me:)

 

2. DATE NIGHT

Each week we plan a date night. It's usually on Tuesdays so we can get a babysitter or switch with a friend. Do we need  date night every week, probably not, but there are some weeks, we really need to touch base with each other and share our hearts, and some weeks it's just good to be together. With both of our busy schedules it is one of those things that is preventative. Because my love language is TIME SPENT, just having the date night makes me feel special.

 

3. ASK SIMPLE QUESTIONS

 

  •     How did I love you well this week?
  •     How can I pursue you well this coming week, or pray for you?
  •    What does your schedule look like?

These questions can take 5 minutes or 5 hours! Usually it's just a check-in. But knowing what the other has planned for the week gives us the opportunity to give each other so much more grace.  If Grant communicates to me that he is stressed at work, then I am much more of a grace giver when he is home late. I knew in advance. And he knows when I have a  huge launch week coming up, the house will look like a bomb went off. It’s not because I didn't want to pick up, but because I had other things going on.

 

4. GET AWAY TOGETHER:
 

I know this might seem hard for some, but whatever you have to do, bribe your parents to watch your kids, get away for a few nights WITHOUT kids. Sleep in, enjoy each other, have no responsibilities. Each year we get away with our best friends, we check in with our marriages, we ask super hard questions, and we always come back more motivated to work on us.

 

 

5. PRAY TOGETHER: 

Each night we pray together. I am not talking about getting on our knees and praying for hours. I am talking about before bed, Grant prays for us. It's simple and sweet, but has been our thing for 15 years and one of my most special times of the day.

 

6. SAY I LOVE YOU BEFORE YOU GET OFF THE PHONE EVERY TIME.

 

Loving your spouse is a journey, none of us have it down, we do it better some seasons than others. But don't let the mundane and the crazy hassle of life overcome your relationship. Because if you aren't careful you will look and say, what happened? Be proactive instead of reactive.

 

***We would love to hear how you love your spouse well.***

 

LOVING OTHERS, INCLUDES LOVING OURSELVES

kristi hayes2 Comments
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We are focusing on our tag line "LOVE EVERYONE." If you missed our Facebook live you can watch on replay. I tag team with my friend and Chef Gwen Klebba, about how we can love ourselves well, which in turn help us fill our tanks, so we can pour all that goodness on others.  You can watch here. 
 

Sometimes we are so depleted at the end of the day taking care of everyone else, that we don't make time to take care of us. And in the long run it causes burn out, and causes us not to love others well around us. I know you have heard it a million times, but loving ourselves well, helps us love others well. If we have a negative look at ourselves it is easier to carry that same attitude onto others. 

Here are a few ways we love ourselves so we can prep to LOVE EVERYONE.

1. SPEND TIME IN THE MORNING BY YOURSELF. I pray, read, meditate, drink a big cup of coffee and hot water with lemon. I sit with my cat on my lap, light a candle and spend the morning quietly.

2. EXERCISE. I can't say this enough. As a former trainer I know what exercise does to our bodies but also our hearts and minds. Besides all the amazing health benefits, living longer, less risk of disease, mentally and emotionally it can truly save us. When we know that we are doing all we can to take care of ourselves, it gives us confidence. It doesn't mean our bodies change over night, but it helps us EMBRACE the beautiful bodies we have. 

3. FEED YOUR BODY WITH GOOD THINGS- So I know it's important to eat healthy, but planning and prepping DOES NOT come naturally to me. I asked a friend to help, and this is what we go over in our FB LIVE. We went to Costco, and then washed, and cut veggies, browned and grilled meats, and made bags for lunches and dinners all week. I am loving myself by putting good things in my and my family's body. 

4. DO SOMETHING YOU LOVE EACH WEEK. Something that feeds your soul. Read a good book, paint, write, hiking, watching a good movie. Whatever it is, do it, make time for it. It will replenish you. I like to have one day a week, I stay in my joggers all day, read the paper, read books, cuddle with my kids while we watch football. A NOTHING DAY.

5. ACCEPT YOURSELF AND GIVE YOURSELF GRACE. Stop attacking your looks, your quirks. Embrace those babies. Many of you have literally birthed babies, and your body might look different, embrace that your body did something miraculous. Get rid of the social or magazines that tell you different or make you feel less than. Stop following those who make you feel like you have to be perfect. Set up sticky notes on your mirror to help you remember you are a masterpiece. Remind yourself daily and remind someone else they are too. 

 

We would love to hear some ways you LOVE YOURSELF WELL. Because when we remember we are God's masterpiece and we truly live that out, we will view others as God's masterpiece and extend that same grace and love to them. 

 

 

 

OUR PHRASE FOR 2018-BUILD ON BEHALF

kristi hayesComment
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No one ever said I had good editing skills. I like to do a word for the year, and wrap my goals around this word. But this year, I just couldn't make it one word. It has become a phrase. I just love words and their meanings too much. 

Our Phrase:

Build on Behalf. 

We want our business to grown on behalf of others. The more we BUILD and grow our little company the more jobs we can give the homeless we work with to screen print our apparel and make our home goods pieces. 

The more we BUILD relationships with others, the more we truly get to live out our mission:

BE STRONG

PROTECT THE WEAK

LOVE EVERYONE

The more we BUILD partnerships with others, the more we can give back to organizations who are like-minded.

We want to make be strong story a uniting company, one that speaks and represents those who may not be heard.  

We want to be on behalf of another

in the interest of others. 

Will you join us?

Comment below your phrase or word for 2018, how can we come alongside you?

Goaling out 2018 (How we do it)

kristi hayesComment
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Yes, we know its January 9th, and everyone is all up in their goals. It is something I look forward to every year. I love the clean slate, the fact you can dream with others, and see what you can accomplish after you work really hard. Here are some ways we tackled goals this year.  

 
1. Review last year, write things you were grateful for. What went great and what didn’t. 

2. Word or phrase that encompasses our goals

3. Set goals in different areas:
Spiritual
Mental
Physical
Relationships
Business/work

4. Use some good tools to help. I really like Lara Casey's Power sheets. And the Day Designer for a planner. 

5. Plan a day to do a vision board. Cut out magazine clippings, put it somewhere as a daily reminder of your goals. 


Have fun, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Hold things loosely, so if things change you don’t freak!

Grab a quiet place with a good cup of coffee, and start letting the ideas flow, remember they don't have to be perfect. Write everything down and then start to categorize. Don't be afraid to be messy.

 

What are some of your goals for this year??? 

Top 7 in 2017

kristi hayesComment
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TOP 7 THINGS in 2017

We can’t thank you enough for your incredible support and love this past year. Thank you for helping us live out our mission of

BE STRONG, PROTECT THE WEAK, LOVE EVERYONE this year.

We were able to go from lunch box note>>>Family Mission>>>>Company Mission.

TOP 7 in 2017

1. Launched our own website.(www.bestrongstory.com)

2. Gave back profits to organizations who live out our mission like:

All among us (giving dignity to the homeless)

Heart for Lebanon (Care for Syrian and Iraqi refugees) 

Sox Place (Day Shelter for Homeless youth) 

3. Use local screen printer who employs homeless.(SOX PLACE SCREEN PRINTING)

4. Empowered 2 men coming out of homelessness to make our home goods

5. New jewelry line with Branded Collective who employ those who have been sex trafficked.

6. Because of you we doubled our sales each launch, which means we get to give away more.

7. See lots of families and kiddos wearing and living out the bestrong story message.

 

Thank you for journeying with us and living out the BE STRONG, PROTECT THE WEAK, LOVE EVERYONE message. We can't wait for 2018

Gear up your family for 2018. YOU CAN GET SOME OF OUR FAVORITE ITEMS HERE

 

2018 FAMILY PLEDGE (setting those family goals!)

kristi hayesComment
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Right now is about the time that you are thinking about making those New Year’s Resolutions or goals. My favorite thing is to look back at what went well and why, and what are the things I am going to pour my heart into this year. Usually that means getting a planner, Emily Ley is my favorite, and maybe some Power Sheets by Lara Casey to help me on my way.

Many of us do this process for yourselves individually but have you ever come up with an intention or mission for your family?

(Maybe not, because just the thought of getting everyone on the same page or having them be at attention for more than 5 minutes gives you anxiety sweats.) 

It doesn’t have to be some long, drawn out, mission. One that causes stress because you just can’t get the wording right, or everyone doesn’t agree on everything. Nobody’s  got time for that.

But what about joining our family as we continue our pledge to BE STRONG, PROTECT THE WEAK, LOVE EVERYONE? 

It’s simple, yet powerful. And it can mean different things for different times in your life.

So here is our encouragement for your family in 2018:

1.   Sit down with your family over a cup of cocoa or when you are out to dinner. Ask each other what you who you want to be in 2018?  What are some things you want to be known for as a family?

2. What does BE STRONG look like to a 9-year-old or to a 45-year-old? What does the PROTECTING THE WEAK look like at school, work, playground, neighborhood,downtown, or college? You fill in the blank.

3. What are some real actions you can take to LOVE EVERYONE in your daily life, but also as a family effort?

4. Plan out times when you will LOVE in ACTION. Find a community group or organization you can volunteer with or serve once a month. Ask someone who knows more than you, and see if you can tag along. Always be looking with eyes wide open to others you can love.

Let’s come together not just as individuals, but as families and friends. As we pledge to:

BE STRONG.

PROTECT THE WEAK.

LOVE EVERYONE.

###(Gear up your family with reminders of family pledge here.)

###If you would like a sign to hang email us info@bestrongstory.com for a custom made sign from our homeless friends. 

### We would love to know what your family’s come up with. Tag us @bestrongstory on facebook and Instagram and give each other some great ideas. Use the #bestrongstoryfamily
 

Twinkle lights, the more the brighter...

kristi hayesComment
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I love these twinkle lights✨✨✨I love coming down in the morning and seeing them sparkle in the darkness. The more of them together the more they shine. It reminds me just how good we are together. When we have each other’s backs, cheer each other to success, celebrate 🎉 others goals and suffer with those who are lonely or beat up. 

I was reminded yesterday as I voxered two friends of a goal I had for our business. I was shy on my goal. Immediately the friend got on my website and helped surpass the goal, then she shared with us one of her goals, and immediately we got on her business site and did the same. In a matter of MINUTES. What was important to me was important to them. I have friends who share, host,  brainstorm, and take pictures and get giddy when I break a goal. And I am reminded how shiny and bright those people make me feel. How special I feel when people really care, and how it makes me feel the same when I really celebrate someone else. It’s like a complete set of these shiny twinkle lights✨✨one light shining for another and so on. Everyday I tell my kids LET their LIGHT SHINE, that may mean looking out for someone at lunch, or writing a note to a friend (sis does this weekly, that just says I love you). When is the last time you have written a note to a friend that just says, “I love you?” When is the last time you received a note that said those simple phrases, or “I am for you, or I have your back, or we will get through this together.” We all need the twinkle lights and we all need to be one for someone else. 

It’s a reminder to myself, “who can I shine bright for today?” Because when their are many twinkle lights, there is a hint of magic to all those who need to see the light.

Heart for Lebanon (GIVE BACK TODAY)

kristi hayesComment
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 2 summers ago I traveled to Beirut, Lebanon to visit an organization called Heart for Lebanon. Heart for Lebanon is a NGO, that provides care for Syrian and Iraqi refugees. They care for thousands of families who have been torn from their homes and made to flee for fear of death.

I sat in small living rooms that housed entire families as they told us their story of fleeing their home. We heard stories of mothers, who literally dragged their daughters out into the streets, running from ISIS, as their husbands disappeared while trying to get a car to get away. I sat and cried in living rooms of mothers who told me about how their daugthers had nightmares every night. How they had trouble getting jobs in a new country, and how they feared for their future as they waited for other countries to take them in.

I also saw hope in their eyes through such devesastation. They had been through some of the worst pain and suffering we could ever imagine, yet becaue of Heart for Lebanon coming alongside of them and caring for them, they were going to get through. The human spirit is amazingly resilliant.

I met teachers from Heart for Lebanon who were providing these refugee children with education and a safe place to be children. These teachers were dealing with traumatized children who drew pictures of death and destruction, blood, and war, when they should be drawing pictures of playgrounds and rainbows

 

It was amazing to see children thriving amidst the torment their little minds had seen. These Heart for Lebanon teachers were showing them love, care, the power of learning.

 

Meeting with the teachers, families, founders of Heart for Lebanon, forever changed me. It showed me what a dedicated group of people who love others well can accomplish. How they can slowly start to piece back the human heart with the love of Jesus flowing through them. It is a miraculous thing to witnesss.

 

We want to thank them today. So for every sale TODAY, 50% of our profit will go to Heart for Lebanon and the amazing work they are doing in the lives of refugees.

 

We are better together. 

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WONDER

kristi hayesComment

My favorite book this year was a children's book, WONDER by RJ Palacio. I read it and then had Holden read it with me. I remember just bawling in the hammock as I read of this sweet boy whose face was deformed, who was brave, and taught others the gift of kindness. When I read this book, my friend Mary Catherine called me and said, "your mission, your message, is what this books is about." We at Be strong Story, celebrate all the cast and crew for bringing such a sweet and compassionate book to life  We can't wait to see the movie that comes to theaters this weekend. Be Strong, Protect the Weak, Love Everyone. #choosekindness 

https://www.bestrongstory.com/shop/handmade-reclaimed-wood-sign-with-signature-phrase?category=Home+Goods+%26amp%3B+Accessories

How to wear a hat.....seems simple enough.

kristi hayesComment
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Seems simple enough. Just put a hat on your head. But when you have a really small head like mine, it's harder than it looks. And how do you wear hats and still look put together and not like you just got straight out of bed? Which is what usually happens when I wear a cap. (Do as I say, not as I do). 

1. Don't be afraid to style your hair and put on a ball cap after...i know that sounds counterproductive, but pulling your hair out around your ears, so your ears aren't sticking out has been a game changer for this small head of mine....before I could only wear kids hats. Some of us aren't blessed with those amazing locks like our model Laura. Now I get to fake it by putting the hat over my ears and hair covering it. 

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2. Dress it up....you don't need to wear a hat with sweats. Wear it with jewelry, cute bestrong tank with some fun earrings and scarf. Don't be afraid to go out of the box. 

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3. Pony it up....Try a side ponytail, instead of putting your ponytail through the hat loop in the back, swing the ponytail to the side. 

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And lastly, add your own spunk and personality. Fun and smiles can pull ANYTHING off!

Get your hats here

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We be STYLING....(Trendy ways to dress up your bestrong gear this fall)

kristi hayesComment
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We want to show you at Bestrong story how you can style an awesome t-shirt or sweatshirt and make it something fashionable and even dressy. Many have asked us, HOW CAN WE DRESS UP our favorite Tee? And we have all the answers, well maybe just some, but we like to think we got it figured out sometimes. 

EXTRA TIP: Lay out all your clothes with all the different shoes, jewelry, accessories that could go with it. Such a great way to pair down your closet. 

HERE ARE SOME SIMPLE TIPS TO STYLE UP YOUR FAVORITE TEE.

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1. DRESS IT UP

Don't be afraid of mixing jewelry, leopard flats, a skirt, heels, or a stylish hat with a t-shirt or sweatshirt. The mix and match is playful, well thought out, and smart. Why is it smart? Because not only are you comfy, you look put together too. Like you actually tried. And as much as I would like to sit in sweats and slippers all day, it feels good to put on some bling or fun accessories and go for it.  Big Earrings, necklace, lots of bangles, leopard flats, scarf, hat, skirt. If ever in doubt always add leopard. 

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2. ALL THE LAYERS

Flannel is my favorite. It layers under and over shirts. You cannot go wrong with a good flannel. POPS of COLOR underneath a sweatshirt is my favorite. Layer with a necklace and some good booties and you are good to go.

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3. WRAP IT UP

Use a shawl, blanket wrap, cardigan, scarf, vest, or lightweight hoodie. There are so many things you can wrap around these cute shirts to stay warm. Add some fall knee high boots or converse and you are golden.

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And lastly, always wear a smile:) It's your best accessory hands down!

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JUST A LITTLE MENDING

kristi hayesComment
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A friend emailed me this about our be strong story bracelet.

She said:

"Yesterday as we were all feeling the rawness of the tragedy in Las Vegas, my first grader found a Be Strong bracelet on the playground. She saw that it was ripped and asked her teacher to help her mend it with a staple or two. Then she brought it home (assuming it was mine) and presented it to me and said,

"I fixed it for you mama, now you can be strong again." Kind of broke my heart all over again. It's like my kiddo helping me heal, helping me feel not feel broken." 

When my friend sent me this, it just gave me chills. I thought how simple, and yet, how very powerful. Kids are in tune to our feelings, their eyes are wide open to others pain. Don't we all just need to take a cue from this little 6-year-old girl. 


Sometimes we just need a little mending, everyone one of us has heart break, and broken dreams,disappointments, and tragedies that come unexpectedly. Things that can break us from the inside out. Many of us need mending right now, and some of us have the ability to mend.

 

The mending doesn't need to be fancy or perfect. Just simple and heart felt. Let's all help be the menders like this 6-year-old was today. 

ALWAYS LIGHT, ALWAYS BRIGHT

kristi hayesComment

A friend recently told me. Darkness does not live where there is light. Darkness hides from the bright, from the light. It has no place there.

A couple of years ago a few moms and I started an organization called KIDS WHO CARE, giving our kiddos opportunity to engage their compassion and empower their world at a young age.  

As we talked to our kids about going to serve the homeless for our next service opportunity, my son was a little nervous. He has been downtown before and has had no problem hanging out with those who didn't have a home and lived on the streets, but he’s a processor and he remembers one of the guys talking about how at night, he hears gun shots all around him. Holden brought this up last night, A MONTH later.

He said, "mom, I am afraid of the bad guys.”
I said, “what bad guys?"
He said, "The ones they said come at night, in the dark."

 
I didn’t really know what to say, my nature is to say, "suck it up bud, we do uncomfortable and scary things, that’s what we are made to do. That’s what God calls us too.  or Umm...you can't be scared, you need to be an example, mama is organizing this thing, I need you to be a leader."

 (isn't that what we do, put this un-needed pressure on our kids to make us look like good parents.)

But I also wanted to listen and respect his feelings.
 
I asked my friend Cathryn, who runs a non-profit for the homeless, for advice.

She said, "tell him that it is very hard for darkness to come out in the light. The bad people like to sneak out when no one is looking, but when the sun is shining bright, they don’t want to be out, they hide."

 The darkness cannot tolerate the light.
 

I thought how true that is. Even in the Bible it talks about this. John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  

When we bring forth light, the darkness has no place. I want to be a light giver, I want to teach my kids to shut out the darkness by literally letting their light shine it out. Everyday when Holden gets out of my car for school since pre-school, I have said, “let your light shine,” and it means more to me now than ever.
 
What would our world look like with an entire generation of little light givers? Would darkness be able to even exist because they shine so bright?

 
Sometimes we just need to see others. My perspective has changed over the last 10 years. I think in my gut I thought people were a certain way for a reason, I pre-judged, I had my own solutions to fix things. But after being in relationship and standing in other's shoes and on their turf, I see things a lot differently and my heart has burst wide open. We will only ever know our own experiences, thats why it has been so imperative for me to get in other's lives who have an entire different life and perspective. 

 When we were downtown last year, we were honored to meet this little, happy, ball of energy. Her parent were on the streets. 

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"We played "I see you."
And I do. 
I see you. 
I see your smile and the sparkle in your eye, your love of all, and your willingness to let us care for you. You saw us  too. You saw us as friends to play with, and laps to climb up on to be held. There was no hesitation. 
We may look different, where we sleep may look different, our worries and stresses might look different, but we belong to each other.
You and me.
Me and you.
No difference is too big.
We are for each other.
I am for you little one."

A skinned knee and a wet wash cloth....

kristi hayesComment
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Sometimes we forget what it means to "do the right thing." We think if a situation occurs, if someone needs help, we would help them. But would we really, or would we actually even notice them?

 

 

Last week Grant and I were recounting a story of a man who went out of his way in the most simple way to help our family. Something we didn't really think was THAT big a deal at the time, but the more we shared the story with others, and our BE STRONG, PROTECT THE WEAK, LOVE EVERYONE message, people said, "He did that, the man with the wet wash cloth, did that."

 

 

Let me backtrack a bit. One of our favorite things our family likes to do is take an evening bike ride. Nothing fancy, sometimes it is around the sidewalk and this night it happened to be in an abandoned parking lot. We let the kids have 10 minutes of "family ride time." Each person was the leader and we all followed their path. We were laughing and cheering each other’s cool moves.

 

 

It was all going great, we had about 2 minutes left until we headed back to put the kids to bed. Sis was the leader and you know,  she, of course, decided she would pop some curbs with her pink princess bike tires. (because she is her mother’s child).

 

 

She usually handles the curbs like a boss, but she turned a little too quickly, and like a yard sale, her bike flew one way, and her knees and elbows flew another. The pavement did a number to her knees and elbows, Holden was behind her and he was afraid he would hit her, so he braked which meant he wrecked as well. Both kids had helmets and both kids just got some  good scraps, but you could hear the cries and initial screams from miles away it seemed. Grant comforted  Sis, and I held Holden. Holden was more worried he would accidentally run over Sis, and Sis was just screaming because, you know blood. We just held them and let them know it would be ok, like parents do each and every time their kids skin their knees. This wasn't the first and it won't be the last.

 

After what seemed like FOREVER, I look up and there is a man standing beside us, I don't even know where he came from, but he had two washcloths in his hand, one wet, and one dry.  He said, he and his wife were across the street at the hotel, his wife had commented on the "cute family riding their bikes," and then about 10 seconds later they witnessed the crash and crying.

 

We used the wet washcloth to soothe and wipe up bloody knees and elbows. We thanked him, he went on his way and we went on ours. It was a simple gesture. But when we look back, it was a big gesture, one that no one else did. He saw, he heard, and he acted out of kindness. We may never see that man again, but he did what our shirt's message says. He protected the weak in that small moment. His wet washcloth was a loving act. He had to go inside and wet that washcloth. He had to have thought, I bet those knees need a warm cloth to soothe. It was a simple gesture, probably one that inconvenienced him, but he still did it.

 

Thank you to the random wet washcloth man. Thanks for living out a message that we hope others will emulate. Us included.

 

BE. AS ONE

kristi hayesComment

We couldn't get our thoughts around what happened this weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia . I sat on the floor and said to my husband, "how is this happening in 2017?" This is not the world my children will grow up in, where hate for the pigment of skin is still not only an issue, but a violent one.

 

Nope, not on our watch. I wanted to squeeze every young child and their parents, who may have a different color of skin and say, "this is not us, this is not who we are!"

 

I met this young boy last year, he was a stranger but we played basketball in his neighborhood and we rode his scooter, and we intertwined arms, and my kids watched me do it.

 

And I had joy on my face, no fear, only pure contentment.

 

Because he was my equal, my brother, my friend.

 

Let us as parents seek those out that may feel threatened today. Give an extra smile, hug, intertwine arms together.

 

Let your kids see you do it often and with joy.

 

BE. the people you weren't meant to be.

 

BE. strong when it's unpopular and inconvenient

PROTECT the weak, when they are treated unjustly.

LOVE Everyone, because that's what life is about.

SHOP HERE FOR YOUR BE STRONG GEAR. Wear something that helps you live this message outloud. 

Hello Beautiful

kristi hayesComment
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(As I was writing this article I sat by two young teens, I asked them about the pressures they face at their age, their answers were heartbreaking, they wrote their advice at the bottom of this post to those who want to encourage them. I also just read the news article of the 12 year-old who committed suicide for cyber bullying. This has to stop!)

Every time I look at this picture we took for our Be strong story photo shoot, I see so many things. I see these precious girls, all from different walks of life, and different sets of circumstances. All of them beautiful, and all of them have the whole world in front of them. 

I see potential, and dreams. 

I see light and love. 

I see kindness and curiosity in their eyes. 

What if they believed they were the most beautiful souls as they grew up. 

What if beyond a shadow of a doubt they knew they were made for a purpose for this short time on earth. 

What if their confidence came from the inside, from knowing who they are, and being content in all of their strengths and weaknesses. 

What if they were free to be themselves. With no worries of changing who they are, their appearance, their personality, their ANYTHING to fit into a mold they weren't made for. 

My dream for these girls, is they would be FREE to be themselves. FREE to live with confidence to pursue their dreams. Confidence to be strong when they need to be, to protect those who need protecting, and to not be afraid to let their love shine like a beacon along the way. 

I have a dream for our next generation. A dream that includes standing up for things that aren't popular without a true care of others opinions. I see them making a difference when it means sacrificing popularity and notoriety because they care about others more than themselves. I see them cheering on their fellow girlfriends instead of talking behind their backs and making them feel small and worthless. 

I see a generation in these little faces that can change their world. 

But it takes our generation to teach them how. It takes our generation to model and show them what it means to let their light shine, to love themselves well and others well. It's our job as mother, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, mentors, to treat these girls for who they really are.

 

Girls who can set this world on fire. 

As I was writing this article I set by two girls on the plane. I asked them what their main pressures were at their age. Their answers floored me. They were beautiful girls, to anyone else they looked like they had everything going for them, but their answers surprised me. They had been rejected, bullied, thought of hurting themselves, switching schools. The negativity from other girls made them sick to their stomach and made them hide their shoulders and arms with their hair as a shield. It broke me. We must stop this behavior. I cannot stand to see one more girl feel pain at the hands of another. I asked them to write an excerpt of how we can help love them well. Here is their excerpt.

 

Written by- Maizey,13 and Hannah,12- unedited so you can hear their voice.

" The girl everyone wants to be is not themselves, they always have something they hate about themselves. The way you can help kids love themselves for who they are is simply complementing them on what they hate the most about themselves. Always be there for them when they need you the most, and never let them hurt anyone else. If they hurt other people don't scold them for it, tell them to take a few steps in their shoes. Ask them how they would feel if someone went up to them and commented on the thing they hate most about themselves. If they get knocked down help them up, then have them help out the person that knocked them down. Have them build a barrier strong enough to withhold the force of others, but also strong enough to carry the weight of broken enemies."