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Jeans: Citizens of Humanity/ Jacket: Theory/ Tank: Helmut Lang/ Shoes: Enzo Angiolini/ Jewelry: Forever21/ Lipgloss: NARS {Babe}
Photography: Sarah Halferty

Notes: When I visioned this shoot, I saw myself back at the very apartment where I walked away for the final time. I wanted my wardrobe to speak to being lost in him, trapped so to speak. I saw boyfriend jeans, boyfriend jacket, the shoes I wore to our vow renewal. He called me baby, so NARS lipgloss in Babe, a wet, sheer, orange, was a must. I wanted to wear anything that created the feeling of “wearing him”,a prison, all finished with the symbolism found in a shredded, heart necklace. I saw the set with open door and lots of light. I wanted exposure. Although the journey was just beginning, someone else finally knew. The abuse had been exposed.
Not only had it been exposed, I had left on my own for the first time. This image captures perfectly the feeling of hearing the deadbolt click, and bid me farewell.

Part 1
Part 2

Tough Man was of masculine stature. I would need more than two hands to count the number of times he was stopped and asked for his autograph. By “his” I mean that of Vin Diesel. Same bald head, same features, same full lips, and yes, Tough Man was stacked. The two looked very much alike. His nickname by many was “The Hulk.”
Yes, “The Hulk” arranged his view, with puffed veins and clinched jaw, and we locked eyes. I froze in the doorway just staring in trembling fear of his unknown move. He cleared his throat with a dry cough, sniffed, puffed his lips out as if kissing the air, and refocused on Pre Game stats. All the normal signs and evidence letting me know I was in for days of ignorance therapy. I was in the clear. I closed the door behind me, and before I could even make it to the stairs, I was bid farewell by the locking of the double deadbolt.
Looking back now, the evidence to the truth of Tough Man’s final words to me, were apparent all along. It would just take me awhile, and unfortunately, a lot more pain before I built enough courage to truly leave.
I tossed the luxury weekender in the backseat of my 2000 VW Passat, and I drove, and I drove, and I drove. Noon turned to two, two turned to four, and four turned to six. Six hours and an empty gas tank later, I pulled into the 7Eleven not five minutes from the house. It wasn’t uncommon for me to be gone this many hours, but this was the first time I left without being told to get the hell out. He hadn’t called, he hadn’t checked in, and I knew it probably wouldn’t be good to go home. The unknown consequences scared me more. I had to make a decision, and checking into a motel wasn’t an option. Those were the days shortly after my first year of grad school. Tough Man was inspired by my drive to advance my education, and decided to do the same. Money was tighter than tight, and I was already going to hear about the unnecessary gas expense. I had isolated myself from most of my friendships to keep the abuse hidden, so there wasn’t exactly a laundry list of people to call. I wasn’t really prepared to sleep in my car that night, as I normally would. My favorite spot, the place I felt the most safe and hidden, was discovered by Grapevine Police Department the last time I was kicked out. The officer was kind, but firm, and promised me a ticket the next time I was found at 3:00AM in a secure zone.
Daylight was fading fast, I had a PA (Public Appearance) the next day from one of the top makeup brands. Driving four hours to my parents wasn’t really an option, and I wasn’t even close to ready to share with them, or anyone, of the fear, pain, and shame found in what had become my routine lifestyle. I needed a shower, a real one. The kind of shower where I get to use a fluffy, home washed, Downey smelling towel, and take as long as I need. Not the type of shower where I paid by the quarter hour, locker room style. I had become pretty close to Jennie and Randy that had a crappy little stop off HWY 10. I had discovered them two years earlier, when I was welcomed home one night after work to my belongings in the front yard of the apartment. To this day, I still don’t know what I did. Anyhow, whatever I did, awarded me four days of motel Passat, bathroom not included. By day two of long work days, I needed a shower. I felt prompted in my spirit to take a different drive to my “safe place.” That’s where I saw the sign for “hot showers and daily stay rates.” I pulled into the parking lot, and mustered up every ounce of dignity I had to walk through the office door and ask the mousey brown-haired woman about purchasing a shower. My eyes were full of tears, and my lip was quivering, not out of fear, but out of total embarrassment. I was humiliated.
My professional makeup, elegant side sweep, and tailored business suit created mystery to my question, but my red face, glassy eyes, and quivering lip caused the middle-aged woman to refrain from questioning. I had a $5 bill, and asked if that would work? The rates were for rooms including a hot shower, so I needed a bit more. With excitement she explained they took debit/credit cards.
A little side note to those unfamiliar with abuse. purchases are one of the easiest ways to track a location, so the last thing I wanted to do was give Tough Man a traceable transaction to my whereabouts. I looked her dead in the face, and I lied, explaining the $5 cash was all I had. To this day I appreciate her reading between the lines. She looked at me with compassion and a smile, knowing there was more to the story. She walked around the counter, and handed me a key to room 113. She handed me a travel size of Perell shampoo and a bar of Irish Spring. She said her name was Jennie, and that her and her son, Randy ran the place. My imagination never allowed me to sleep a night on one of their beds. I did, however, appreciate the numerous showers and cheap toiletries, gifted at no charge. There was never a time, I didn’t, randomly and inconveniently, walk through their door with glassy eyes, and quivering lip, to a warm smile and humble acts of service. They didn’t know why I randomly appeared in a tailored business suit, and the need for a shower away from home, nor did they ever ask. All they knew was that something wasn’t alright, and they wanted to be a part of creating a little stability for the mystery girl. The new routine for the unpredictable had become their shower for hygiene, and the Passat for sleep. My location wasn’t traceable, and the PD hadn’t discovered me in a secure zone.
The gas pump jolted, signaling the tank was full. I hung up the pump, pulled the Passat out of the way, and for the first time all day, broke into hysterical tears in the 7 Eleven parking lot on Glade and 121. I had escaped into mental numbness, and in giving the day’s earlier events an ounce of thought, brought forth full emotion to feeling less loved than a stray dog. Tomorrow’s event couldn’t handle such feelings. I needed to be on and confident, with freshly-applied, trend-setting makeup, and a pocket full of feel-good tricks. As reliable as the back seat leathers were, they were no match for the rest I needed for an “A-game ready” arrival. It was now 6:11PM and the sun was quickly fading. Evening was turning into night and I was running out of options.
I wrestled between calling Tough Man, and playing off the events, by asking if he wanted his favorite dipped cone. In the moment it seemed easier to suck it up, find a way back in, so that I could take my best shot at gaining my beauty sleep. The fact that I had walked out without being kicked out kept running through my mind. Was He going to be more mad? Was he going to rage when I got home? Would I be hurt or bruised in a way that would keep me from being able to show up to the most important work event of the year? Tough Man never beat me as many experience. One push, grip, or hit from “The Hulk” was effective enough. I never had bruises in noticeable places. On one occasion a “simple punch” to my side enabled me from the ability to squat to pee for a week. The unknown of how he would respond to my leaving was my biggest fear, yet I desperately needed to rest up for the day of beauty exhortation.
I pulled out my Blackberry, stared at the number, and hit call…
To be continued…
I’m Chelsie Birks, and this is My Glossy Life.

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It’s black, pitch black.
You long for answers, directions, or any sign showing, “this is the way.”
The place ahead seems a mystery with nothing to behold.
Purpose, passion, and dreams torment this place of unknown abyss.
You are lost, or so you feel.
Crippled in a place of nowhere.
Haunted by somewhere.
You beg for horizon ahead, any glimpse of forward.
Your eyes remain blind to what feels like ahead.
While comforting warmth begins to caress the unseen.
A heated romance of pursuit.
No hope of light ahead.
You feel its beam invade from behind.
Where you are remains a mystery, yet the fear of the unseen begins to drown.
Barely positioned in the unknown, you begin to skip on the beams of light’s found hope.
Pursuit takes hand and you dance in the middle of nowhere.
Nowhere fades to the music of our waltz.
Melodies of somewhere takes light.
A magical journey takes path.
A path only revealed through romancing His embrace in a place called here.

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Photography: Shaina Hedlund

Life is uncertain, yet I am certain of the One who holds my uncertain life. If you feel discouraged today, forgotten, lost, or unseen, might I encourage you today. In the middle of pitch black uncertainty, welcome the embrace of your loving pursuer. Begin to skip in the middle of nowhere,and dance with your Creator in the perfectly planned place of “here.”
In doing so, I promise, He will light your path, because He promise He would.

“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet
and a light for my path.
I’ve promised it once, and I’ll promise it again:
I will obey your righteous regulations.
I have suffered much, O Lord;
restore my life again as you promised.
Lord, accept my offering of praise,
and teach me your regulations.
My life constantly hangs in the balance,
but I will not stop obeying your instructions.
The wicked have set their traps for me,
but I will not turn from your commandments.
Your laws are my treasure;
they are my heart’s delight.
I am determined to keep your decrees
to the very end.” Psalm 119:105-112 (NLT)

Might we want Him as much as He wants us.
I’m Chelsie Birks, and this is My Glossy Life

XOX,

Chelsie

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Jeans: Citizens of Humanity/ Jacket: Theory/ Tank: Helmut Lang/ Shoes: Enzo Angiolini/ Jewelry: Forever21/ Lipgloss: NARS {Babe}
Photography: Sarah Halferty

Notes: The above images were captured by Sarah as a part of her senior photography thesis project. Her description can be found in part 1, linked below. When I visioned this shoot, I saw myself back at the very apartment where I walked away for the final time. I wanted my wardrobe to speak to being lost in him, trapped so to speak. I saw boyfriend jeans, boyfriend jacket, the shoes I wore to our vow renewal. He called me baby, so NARS lipgloss in Babe, a wet, sheer, orange, was a must. I wanted to wear anything that created the feeling of “wearing him”,a prison, all finished with the symbolism found in a shredded, heart necklace. I saw the set with open door and lots of light. I wanted exposure. Although the journey was just beginning, someone else finally knew. The abuse had been exposed.

Broken Not Destroyed {Part 1: Pages to a Story}

Pastor Robert’s message was really powerful that particular Sunday. He had been teaching on a series about The End: What comes next? Tough Man had made his prejudgements about Gateway Church long before this message, so I was already walking on egg shells in asking him to come with. You see we had already joined and left two churches in almost three years of marriage. We stayed until people started suspecting problems, and Tough Man found every reason not to return. The fact his mother was with us that morning, gave some bit of comfort, as she was never going to deny her youngest, but she was, thankfully, very protective and fond of me. She had heard much over the years, and helped pack my car many a nights that Tough Man made it clear to get the _____ out before he got home. His mood was seldom predictable, and as unhealthy as it was, I appreciated, more times than not, his mother being just across the parking lot. I often referred to her as Mams, and she was the one person that had seen the signs of what Christian girls don’t speak of. Honestly and tragically she had become my best friend.
On the drive home I was sandwiched between Tough Man and Mams in his black Dodge pickup truck. The stride in his step to the truck, locked jaw, and single hand grip on the steering wheel was full evidence he was heated. Mams and I knew that anything could set him off so we opted to remain awkwardly silent unitl the ticking in the air conditioner came. It wasn’t the type of tick that anyone would notice, but it was one I had become obsessively aware of, as it was the sound that would send Tough Man over the edge into a raging war. In an effort to drown out the tick, I resorted to the message from Pastor Robert. As much as I hate to admit this, I knew that Tough Man was already angered by Pastor Robert and his “mega church productions.” I knew that mentioning the service would take his anger off of those “responsible” for “allowing” the noise to continue and place it on someone that couldn’t presently be effected by his escalating rage. I knew wrong. As I mentioned previously, the mood was completely unpredictable. Just as I shared the confirmation the message brought to my salvation, my sunnies were knocked to the floorboard, and blood rushed to the surface of my left check to meet the heat of a fresh slap telling me shut the ____ up. Mams gasped in shock and began pleading for him to stop. He felt encouraged and affirmed in his adrenaline rush, and began driving as if he were under the influence of a spirited bottle and tonic. He had lost complete control to the anger rush and nearly flipped the Dodge on the over pass bridge of 121 and Bedford Road. Tough Man pulled into the covered parking spot that belonged to our 800 sq. ft. apartment, shut the door calmly, and walked up the stairs as if nothing had happened. Mams stood there with me as gigantic tears burned my cheeks, my lips quivered, my body trembled, and I sobbed silently. I was embarrassed, ashamed, humiliated, and terrified all at the same time. I had learned to mask the physical abuse well, thanks to the training I gained from previous years of interview pageant prep, and successful work has a makeup artist, who’s job was to make others look and feel amazing. I understood game on! What I had failed to prepare for was the abusers need to increase the adrenaline rush which often comes from “new” levels of abuse. He had done what I hadn’t prepared for; actually physically harmed me in front of another person, least of which I would ever have assumed to be his mother. I always felt like Tough Man was way too prideful to ever hit me in public, so I was ill prepared on how I would respond.
Mams stood there with tears in her own eyes, having no idea whether to stay or go. The ever lingering question posed to keep Tough Man contained so to speak. Regardless if the abused want to admit it or not, we fall prisoner to the daily cycle of whatever, whenever, why ever, and however. Anything not to be the target of harmful hands and hurtful words. I encouraged Mams to head on home. I had Tough Man and his cycles calculated near flawlessly. I assured her the fit of rage was over, and now for the enduring of hateful words or days of silence. I would know once I saw the way he was positioned on the couch, and if the TV was on or not. Although the less accepted by society, I would have rather taken another hit, than the acceptable form of emotional, metal, and silent abuse that often comes with being the Christian girl that deeply desires to refrain from carrying one more mark of failure or un acceptance. I hugged Mams, and we parted ways in tears. I walked up the stairs, striving with everything in me to contain myself, because we already established what unwanted noises produce. I walked in to Sunday pre game and Tough Man comfortably couched on the middle cushion of the sofa, nursing a Dr. Pepper. I was about to get it, and it was going to be long and painful. I was in for an unknown number of days, maybe weeks, of silence. The type of silence that never acknowledges your existence. The type of silence that refuses to see you or hear you. The type of silence lonelier than any place of alone. It was routine for me to respond in one of two ways depending on my ability to endure Tough Man’s conditional therapy. I would walk to the bedroom and sob myself to sleep on the bed, or I would very casually and calmly grab the keys, and say I’m going for a drive. Neither one ever broke the silent therapy. It was simply my way of giving him the whatever, however space to let the punishment therapy for whatever I did, run its course.
Still in a state of shock, I think, I walked straight to the closet, packed my leather, electric turquoise weekender, gifted to me by Trish McEvoy, and prepared to do my own attempt at the unthinkable. I set the bag out of view as I opened the door wide enough to leave for my “drive.” I was awkward and the bag was obvious. He arranged his view, with puffed veins and clinched jaw, and we locked eyes…
To Be Continued…
I’m Chelsie Birks and this is My Glossy Life.

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Skirt: NLA {Found this replica for $17}/ Top: Arden b {NLA, loving this crop, and great to take into Fall}/ Shoes: Arden b: NLA {Designer option here/budget option here} Bag: Marc Jacobs/ Watch: Michael Kors/ Jewelry: Glam Revival Sunnies: Coach Lipstick: Nars {Cruising}
Photography: Greg Daniels

Contrary to what followers of style blogs might think, many of us are actually shocked that we have built any kind of following. I certainly fall in line with this group, and in complete and total honesty, I get ultra intimidated being on the captured side of the lens. My photographer, turned mentor extraordinaire, constantly is working with me to become more genuinely confident. Truth be told friends, it’s easy to hide behind the faceless of hidden sunnies and the expressionless. To take of the shades, look at you, and smile, sometimes is much harder than I care to admit. This particular day, I wasn’t feeling it. It was just one of those days the list of things, I didn’t like about myself was longer than the list of things I loved about myself. One thing, I have promised myself, my mentors, and my followers is to Carpe’ diem through it. For accountability sake, MGL holds my feet fast to the pavement to do so, as I care far to much about letting people down. Something that has proven to be effective for me is to think about the opposite of what I’m feeling and what those feelings look like.
I planned to pair this top with its matching skirt, but opted to pair it with this coral number that simple makes me smile when I wear it. There is just something about coral that just oozes happy, and when paired with bright, bold color or prints the party starts.
Unfortunately, tackling insecurity takes a bit more blood, sweat, and tears than the simple pairing of color. Nevertheless, I pulled of the sunnies, stared straight into the camera and smiled. Im Chelsie Birks, and this is My Glossy Life.

27
Aug

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Dress: Nastygal {sold out, loving this one}/ Sunnies: Burberry/ Home: Dallas/Ft. Worth

“Lord, I love you. I trust you. I thank you for pursuing me each and everyday. Thank you for working to heal my broken heart. Thank you for finally providing me with a room, with a door that I can somewhat call my own. Lord if I can one day be in a place to have a home a fraction of this one. Strengthen my faith to know its more than possible.” {January 3, 2010 Journal Entry}

I had been out from under the daily chaos that comes with domestic violence for just over six months. I hadn’t missed a single week of therapy. I was becoming emotionally stronger the more I detoxed “chaos” in every since of the word. The more healed my heart became, the more I craved peaceful environments, the pinnacle of sanctuary in coming home.

My friend Staci had this gorgeous 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 car garage home in such a great neighborhood right in the heart of the DFW metroplex. The house was fully bricked, with gorgeous hard wood floors, and to help the time of her fiancé’s year in Saudi Arabia pass, she decided to fully redo the kitchen. It was just before all of this that I called Staci, late, one evening with my 2000 VW Passat full with my belongings, and uncertain where to go that night. Staci being the precious nurturer she is, wondered why I waited to call, and told me to hurry over. I don’t know if it was the 2000 square feet of beautiful home, the guest bedroom with the decorated bed, or her late night hospitality, but I closed the door, crawled onto the bed and sobbed until I had nothing left. I shacked up with Staci for a year. It was the beginning of creating healthy home memories. From tile and quartz samples for the kitchen, to late nights with great wine and DVRed episodes of SYTYCD, I felt home. Staci and her man married quickly upon his return, which meant, I needed to find another place to live. This broke and broken girl had become accustom to vagabond living, and although my heart was healing, the budget was still broken.
Several months earlier, I had been connected to a woman in Christian radio. We had shared rich conversation over lunch several times, and became fast friends. There was something about Laurie’s carefree way of living that I was so drawn to. She lives life in such a carefree way, in meeting her, you would think she has never really gone through anything difficult. Her testimony is, however, quite different. Laurie very sincerely, and with full joy in her heart asked, well told me, “Come live with us.” By “us” she meant, Nana, her elderly mother, Kaylee her “born to entertain, highly theatrical, teenage daughter from her first marriage, Elijah, her eight-year old, snuggle bug of a son, whose father had suddenly passed away when Laurie was 8 months pregnant with him, and lastly, her heart of a servant, husband Joe.
My new room was that of the grand living room to their English tudor home. My bed was the cream, French country styled sofa, and my “wardrobe” was created out of my trusty Rubbermaids that I hid behind the sofa, in an effort to keep the living area to the atrium somewhat show-worthy. It quickly became routine to be part of “fixin” family dinner, for Nana to fold down my sheets each night, for her to ask me each morning what I wanted for breakfast, to all pile in Joe and Laurie’s bed with a movie, to love, and to be loved. I have tears streaming down my face in reflection to my time with these urban family members. It was God’s perfect way of showing me healing love. I had no idea how much I needed the care of an elderly grandmother, who found pleasure in meeting little needs. I had no idea how much I needed to laugh until I cried with Kaylee’s late night audition prep, or the plethora of hysterical “Joeisms”. This home is where I became strong and learned to stand on my own two feet. Crazy doors where opening for my career, and on the day we unloaded the last of my things in my very first home alone, we cried.
I had just landed a solid career position with benefits, expense account, gas card, company car, and stable salary. I revisited a neighborhood I had stayed in, for a short time, right upon leaving my marriage. I had always been drawn to the area, and was hopeful to find one for rent. The day after I accepted the position, I drove by the neighborhood to find a middle-aged gentleman hammering a rent sign in the yard. Within 15 minutes, we negotiated rent, I signed a lease and moved into my first ever house. I loved the layout of the little patio house, but there was nothing “home” about it. Just ask my bestie, Jess, who lived one street over from me for over a year before moving in after getting engaged and selling her home. By the time Jess moved in, 1716 Magnolia Lane had been given lots of love, and truly could have graced the pages of any home magazine. I put so much into this precious little patio home, it seemed only fitting that she be mine. I was in a position, at this point, to buy so I called the landlord and made an offer. Three days later, I had an inspection done, and my perfect little plan of home ownership drifted into the abyss of no return. The work needed in some areas of the home were so pressing they required immediate attention, and required me to move out. In my third home, and three years later, I yet again, sobbed in reflection of warm memories, and the familiar fear of the homeless.
After the holidays this year one of my girlfriends reached out to ask me if I would be interested in their house. She knew that I was looking and needed to pretty quickly establish a new living situation. Her husband had just been accepted to medical school in Virginia and they needed to sell by summer. The home was more than 1716 so I needed to save a bit more. They decided in an effort to save money, they would move into her parents home, and I would immediately move in and rent until I had my down payment.
On August 18, 2014 on an overcast evening, I closed on the home I had asked God to give me the faith to believe for just four years earlier. God being the loving Daddy, and provider He is, did more than give me a fraction of the home I was asking for. He blessed me with THE home I was really wanting a fraction of.
After popping the cork, and a toast of congratulations, I walked back into the same familiar guest room, closed the door, crawled on the bed, sobbed, and wrote out this journal entry.

“Lord, I love you. I trust you. I thank you for pursuing me each and everyday. Thank you for working to heal my broken heart. Thank you for finally providing me with far more than just a room, with a door that I can call my own. Thank you that you do not bless in fractions, but in fullness and in wholeness. Thank God, that your plans are good. They are always for good. Lord bless this home, fill it with your presence. Might you continue to use this home as a legacy for healing others. Use this very room as the foundation for others to experience the same peace I have in coming home {again}.”
I’m Chelsie Birks, and this is My Glossy Life

26
Aug

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Photography: Greg Daniels

Lately, I have found myself drawn to budget-friendly, label-less style. The more I interact with my viewers, the more and more I realize the need to inspire you to create your own style. I have found myself pulling away a bit more from the pool of perfectly styled, photoshopped, and branded, toward looks that create more of a feeling in the images. It is such a desire of mine that my readers find the inspiration and encouragement they are looking for.
When I put this look together, it was all about creating something that made a simple statement. A get ready in 5 minutes type of look. The best trick for this type of look are great hats, so I started there. I had just spotted this maxi dress on the clearance rack at Marshall’s for $10. The style of this maxi has such versatility and could really be styled up, or in this case down. I grabbed my trusty Cynthia Vincent for Target wedges, whose two page ad is still one of my favorites. My Rayban aviators, and minimalist jewelry seemed to complete the look perfectly.
As you look to build your own since of style don’t believe the lie that I have for years. The best styles do not have to be designer, and they often can be created from the rejected rack of the clearanced.
I’m Chelsie Birks, and this is My Glossy Life.

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Tanks: Chaser Brand {T option here}/ Shorts: Marshalls {online options here}/ Sunnies: Bonlook Rx/ Booties: Vince Camuto/ Purse: Marc Jacobs/ Watch: Michael Kors/ Braclets: JCrew
Lipgloss: Trish McEvoy

Since my last blog post, I have found myself craving the panoramic view of ocean; a silently loud reminder to let go, be an elegant thinker, and embrace the carefree. With a work meeting planned on the other side of the Hudson, my sister and I decided to celebrate her birthday a tad belated, and make a long weekend of it in NYC. The agenda consisted of a few meetings, dinner, night life with friends, and a possible day trip to the Hamptons.
When I was a traveling artist for Trish McEvoy, she gifted me the most amazing turquoise, leather, weekend travel bags. Trish, being the brilliant mind that she is in the beauty world, is just as brilliant when it comes to maximizing travel prep. Basically the organized genius couldn’t have gifted me better. This bag has spoiled me from having to check baggage, which I absolutely detest for more reasons than $25 a bag, which is the main reason this bag, along with my planner, haven’t missed a flight since receiving her eight years ago. With NYC being a location I travel to regularly, I have my packing for the city down to a science. NYC in the summer is, honestly, one of the easiest destinations to pack for. Before becoming experienced in the city, I used to pack every piece of designer label I owned, with hopes that Birks would par Bradshaw. Little did my naive self know, style and confidence stand out far more in the lake of labels where Valentino is as editorially “on” as Vuitton. Unlike Dallas, “how” you style in NYC is far more important than “what” you style. With a bit more experience and a tad more confidence, I packed a bag of label less style.
When I was in the seventh grade my red and purple Umbro shorts were part of my weekly wardrobe routine, and I wore them well past their trend of fashion awesomeness. Naturally then, you would understand my excitement when more modernized versions of them in floral and watercolor prints were spotted all over the NYFW S/S 14 catwalk. Uncertain I wanted to drop several hundred dollars on the fashionably resurrected, I opted to perusal Marshalls for a discounted alternative. Ranging from $7-$14 a pair, I grabbed one of every style and print. I quickly envisioned them styled with a great tank and cutout booties like that of a Nasty Gal ad. I came home and paired them with my newly discovered Chaser Brand tanks. With a mix of shoes and accessories, just like that my wardrobe for the city was complete, with room to spare in my traveler for the first time ever. This trend would have been my full on city uniform, had I thought to pack a black blazer and my BB Pumps to easily go from day to dusk.
Interestingly enough, in my carefree effort to please the stylish, I received more complements, was stopped by more people enquiring about the look, especially the longhorn tank, than I had before. From coffee at Madison and 65th to cocktails in the Meatpacking district, the salty sea air to champagne at the rooftop of Boom Boom Room, my label less casual wear proved that how I wear something, and the carefree way I carry myself is far more Bradshaw than I realized. Perhaps fashion is a lot less about the name on the label, and a lot more about the confidence to style the label less.
I’m Chelsie Birks, and this is My Glossy Life.

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For my high school graduation, a previous Sunday School teacher gifted my a 2×3 lucite keychain that housed one of those cards that has your name on it, its meaning, and a scripture verse. That gift was one of my favorite gifts, and I carried that key chain around for at least five years. Those were the days it was popular for your keys to weigh, at least, 5Lbs, and mimic that of a Hot Topic display window. There was something about the meaning of my name that resonated deep within me. It was as if “who” I was had just been revealed. I felt understood within side of myself. A harbor, a place of rescue, a place of nurturing; this was who I was. As far back as I can remember I have been nurturing people. My earliest childhood memory involves running to the protection of my younger sister. I was two and a half. Anyone that knows me, knows that I love with arms wide open. Taking you dinner at 10:00PM because you are moving and haven’t eaten all day, driving an hour to take you your favorite earl grey tea latte because it was a bad day, helping with the bills because you had more month than money, driving two hours because the move has been harder than expected and you need a familiar friend, you need the guest room, sure, and the list goes on. A harbor, a place of cherishing, nurturing, and rescue is who I am. This is an attractive way of telling you I struggle with the word, “no”, not in hearing “no”, but in saying “no” to others. The harbor has been a bit crowded, and in all honesty the vacancy sign has been off for quite some time.
Vacation couldn’t come fast enough!! I hadn’t been away in almost three years. Yes, you read that right, 3 YEARS!! I travel all the time, but work is always attached, or piggy backs the trip. This was my first attempt to actually get away. I had it all planned out. R&R was my only agenda.
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The Eastern sun burst through my panoramic suite window around 6:30am at The Cove. The rays were so vibrant there was nothing 6:30 ish about it. Feeling spirited, I threw on my running shorts, sports bra, and tennies for an early morning beach run. Something about running in a sports bra without feeling judged felt liberating. I ran dry sand going and packed sand on the return. My abs and calves are still sore, and a note to the asthmatic; the “wet” in the air demands the inhaler. By mile marker 0.25, your lungs are begging for the Flovent. I hadn’t been warned, so resorted to rescue breathing and walking it out. In an effort to create some zen, I shuffled from Timberlake to Oceans by Hillsong, and walked towards the rocky edge that housed the harbor, fully intending to stretch like you see in all of the yoga ads.
As I approached the rocky edge of the harbor the above sign cautioned me, while the words radiating through my buds challenged me.
“You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown where feet may fail, and their I find you in the mystery, in oceans deep, my faith will stand.
I stood right at the place that brought the end of the harbor and the beginning of open water with both a warning of danger, and an invitation to its unknown. I couldn’t help but reflect on a message I had listened to, countless times by Angie Smith. In that powerful message she shared about the loss of their fourth daughter, and how after that she began creating fictitious worlds where everything was safe, like life on a sea shore. Angie said she recalls the Lords saying to her, “Angie you have been building sand castles your whole life, but love, I am in the deep.” One of the most profound and impactful words come when she says, “the sea shore makes a really pretty Christmas card photo, but it teaches our children, it teaches us nothing about Calvary, and all of these safe places you are creating are for our sake, not His glory.”
I mean…
I could just end the whole post right there and just let her words preach!!
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I took a mental Polaroid of my surroundings, and began the trek back to my room in deep thought. The image in my mind was so vivid and my thoughts so deep, I needed to get them out on paper. I could feel a blog post in the works, yet I had no idea that my Chief editor was about to correct my chicken scratch into something of more editorial excellence than I had prepared for.
As I entered my suite, my thoughts were greeted by housekeeping mid room clean and a vibrating iPhone. In an effort to give her space to finish, and for me to give my thoughts relief, I hurried over to grab something to write on, casually glance at my phone, and head back out the door. By this point all the overstimulation had my ADD brain in full on orbit. I sat down on a hall bench, flipped open my Kate Spade agenda to write down my mental cliff notes before loosing all of my morning zen, and was welcomed by the above words from Kate Spade herself. “Always be an elegant thinker.” Huh?? You see I had always pictured Kate as a doer, as she was always tucking her coral lipstick away and returning to the party, or wearing pops of color, or pop, fizz, clicking her way through life, and now she is encouraging me to stop the “do” party and think? My agenda, my to-do list, was encouraging me to stop and think? At this point I was seriously perplexed. I managed to get these words written down before heading back to the room to “do” the cell phone:

ocean- open, unprotected body of water with strong waves, deep waters, no foot stool, the unknown.
harbor-protected body of water with shallow water, low tide, and familiar.

Walking back into my room to pick up my iPhone of emails, reminders, and demands was the worst vacation decision I made. iPhone and vacation do not fit in the same sentence. Hear me now do NOT activate International service if you plan on any R&R at all. I had left the States with a few pressing line items that were completely out of my control. I was about to be slapped with how little the people involved cared as well. It didn’t matter that I was out of the country and had zero ability to “fix” the situation, the time frame in which the matters were handled, or the fact that I had done everything possible to handle things before leaving. The text messages, emails, and reminders, wanted answers, updates, notarized documents, because thats easy in the Bahamas, and emotional comfort because I had failed to respond promptly with emoji support and all. I’m overwhelmed all over again just typing, and since when where you able to determine my mood based off the number of Emojis or lack there of in my text response?? What is this techy world coming to? Anyways…
Digression retrieved. To sum it up friends, I spent two full days trying to fix, please, and emotionally satisfy people and situations, wasting much needed time and emotional restoration that got me absolutely no where. I was more exhausted, more spent, than before I left. What is worse, is nothing was satisfied to a level of content, even my attempt at Emoji assuredness. I walked back to my familiar warning sign of danger ahead, and emotionally broke. Oh to be an elegant thinker.
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Later that evening we set sail on a dinner cruse, one that my Savior had perfectly planned to use to help bring editorial correction to my earlier efforts for a blog post. As we came to the, all too, familiar place where the harbor meets ocean deep, I glanced back at the comfort and assuredness of the harbor. It had a really pretty view. Angie Smith is right, the shore makes a really pretty postcard photo. At that moment I felt more liberation than a sports bra could ever bring. With ocean air and salty hair, as my hot pink Billabong cap says, I wanted the deep. I wanted the mystery of trust building and adventure. Where could I go and what could I really do?
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I spent my last evening at The Cove sipping pinot with a few new and old friends on the beach as we watched dusk turn into nightfall. It was truly one of the most peaceful moments I have had in a very long time. With the sound of calm, steady waves, quiet breeze, and a bit of isolation, I could have slept the night away. With a bit of isolation??? Hmmm…
My chicken scratch came rushing back to my forward thoughts.
ocean- open, unprotected body of water with strong waves, deep waters, no foot stool, the unknown.
harbor-protected body of water with shallow water, low tide, and familiar.

Isolation and two different bodies of water; like the night tide rumbling in, fresh thought overtook me. In that isolated place of peaceful shore, I could feel the call to the deep, and it was never more peaceful. God was drawing close friends and it was about to become epiclly messy.

Upon my arrival home I was welcomed by three delivery attempts for a “signature required” UPS package. Could it be?? YES! Yes, it was, in fact, my Jen Ramos painting I was able to snag in her last gallery of pieces for her #artforadoption efforts. I had been trying for months to inherit a piece, and I finally was able to get one. As I previously shared on instagram, orange is not my color, nor one I would ever pick, but I didn’t care. I was thrilled to own a piece as a reminder that God is faithful to the desires of our hearts. Little did I know that God had reserved Jen’s painting as a catalyst for a much greater meaning.
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Painting image: Jen Ramos

The doors to the UPS plant opened at 8:00AM the next morning and I was there promptly at 7:55. Nevermind the FRAGILE notices all over the insanely secured package, I couldn’t wait to see the masterpiece. I sat in that UPS parking lot and just stared for at least 5 minutes. The piece was so beautiful, and it was the perfect reminder of my recent trip. It was the better than any souvenir as it perfectly and artistically captured the mixing of both the ocean and the harbor.
Included with the piece was a letter of authenticity, along with the painting number. You know the typical description, acrylic canvas, painting 299. I felt prompted to open my bible app to Psalm 29:9, simply to see if there was any significance or relevance to the painting number and what the piece was representing to me.
“The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in His temple all cry, Glory! The Lord sits enthroned over the flood, the Lord is enthroned as King forever…” Psalm 29:9-10
I didn’t even continue the chapter that was all I needed. This was amazing! This was the perfect conclusion to my Bahamas’ blog recap. The layout was perfect:
Arrive in Bahamas, off to a great start, R&R and iPhone don’t fit in same sentence, lesson learned, harbor vs. ocean, learn to say no, share last night shore time, and wrap it up with a pretty painting symbolizing your experience and how God Lords over the floods of life, awesome ready set send, and send, and seND, and sEND, and SEND!
Post failure, and post failure, and post failure, and for the next 12 days it was post failure.
Honestly, WTH!! Each day, I would revamp words, pray about the post, reattempt, and blog failure. The Lord was silent until He woke me at 3:30AM mid week. I tossed and turned for 30 minutes, and over and over I heard go finish the blog post. There is more to say, and it is time for it to post. When the Lord needs to speak to me about anything important, He always awakens me, prompts me, speaks to me at 3:30AM. Over the years, I have learned it to be best to simple abide.
Arriving crusty-eyed and coffee less to the Macbook, I was praying the inspiration would just miraculously arrive. White space and an ocean of Times New Roman was anything but inspiring. I glanced over to my bible that was conveniently open to Psalm 29 and decided to read the whole chapter.
“Honor the Lord, you heavenly beings;
honor the Lord for his glory and strength.
Honor the Lord for the glory of his name.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.
The voice of the Lord echoes above the sea.
The God of glory thunders.
The Lord thunders over the mighty sea.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord splits the mighty cedars;
the Lord shatters the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon’s mountains skip like a calf;
he makes Mount Hermon[b] leap like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord strikes
with bolts of lightning.
The voice of the Lord makes the barren wilderness quake;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord twists mighty oaks
and strips the forests bare.
In his Temple everyone shouts, “Glory!”
The Lord rules over the floodwaters.
The Lord reigns as king forever.
The Lord gives his people strength.
The Lord blesses them with peace.” Psalm 29 {NLT}

This was a new Psalm for me, and not one I had really studied, or meditated on, but the bigness, the ah, the majesty of my God that Lords over the floods fell on me fresh. I found myself desiring to worship God simply for who He is.
At that moment God spoke the unthinkable, “Child reread the Psalm, out loud, and replace my name with yours everywhere you see it written.” I felt the need to repent. That thought could never be from the Lord MOST high. I wrestled with the thought for several minutes until I remembered that early mooring hours with the Lord are pointless to argue. I began reading the Psalm out loud.
Honor Chelsie, you heavenly beings;
honor Chelsie for her glory and strength.
Honor Chelsie for the glory of her name.
Worship Chelsie in the splendor of her holiness.
The voice of Chelsie echoes above the sea.
Chelsie of glory thunders.
Chelsie thunders over the mighty sea.
The voice of Chelsie is powerful;
the voice of Chelsie is majestic.
The voice of Chelsie splits the mighty cedars;
Chelsie shatters the cedars of Lebanon.
She makes Lebanon’s mountains skip like a calf;
she makes Mount Hermon[b] leap like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Chelsie strikes
with bolts of lightning.
The voice of Chelsie makes the barren wilderness quake;
Chelsie shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of Chelsie twists mighty oaks
and strips the forests bare.
In her Temple everyone shouts, “Glory!”
Chelsie rules over the floodwaters.
Chelsie reigns as queen forever.
Chelsie gives her people strength.
Chelsie blesses them with peace.

Typing out these declarations I am wrecked once again by the revelation of what was really on God’s heart, and that was my pride in idol worship of self in all of my attempts to fix, and do, and be for all those I thought I harboring. Friends, it has been some time since something in my life displeasing to God grieved me the way this has.

Chelsie rules over the floodwaters.
Chelsie reigns as queen forever.
Chelsie gives her people strength.
Chelsie blesses them with peace.

To read this looks absurds, and saying out loud sound ludicrous, yet me attempts to run to the rescue, and be the harbor for everyone demonstrates to be the very thing I have believed. No, no, no, no, this is not even close to possible in seeing it across my screen so clearly at 4:15AM. I loose, I will fail you every time!! This is a guarantee!!
I fell face to the floor and sobbed an hour straight. God had done the mighty work He does so well in me in the early hours of the morning.
Over the past year, I have spent a lot of time researching value, worth, identity, insecurity, and confidence. I have found it so interesting how many women find their value in wanting to feel needed by others, fixing problems, and running to the aid of others. Interestingly enough these same women struggle with deep feelings of insecurity, and poor identity. I don’t’ know if you are the fixer, or the one always needing the fixing with the life that is always overwhelming, but I have a question for you. Who’s name do you place in the above Psalm? As a fixer, is it yours? As the one who always needs someone to do the “life” thing with, is it the boyfriend, the parent, the sibling, the anybody, the anything, the red bottom shoes, or the cocktail?
Might I suggest today the reason we run so ragged, feel so overwhelmed, and never feel like we arrive is because we fallen victim to momentary satisfaction of allowing someone, something, or our selves to be the harbor of rescue.
Coming up from the floor where I had been isolated with the Lord, I reflected back to several days early where the Lord ever so gentle began pushing my heart for this post.

ocean- open, unprotected body of water with strong waves, deep waters, no foot stool, the unknown.
harbor-protected body of water with shallow water, low tide, and familiar.

You see my precious readers, a harbor, and an ocean, are not a person. They are environments both used for us to experience the mystery, the safety, the adventure, the ah, the wonder, and the rescue of our God, the one who truly is enthroned over the floodwaters of life.
Perhaps Kate Spade is right. To be an elegant thinker is to pause and ask who or what are we looking to for rescue. If you are like me, and often times addicted to the poison of being the rescuer, might you adopt the art found in masterpiece 299 of replacing your name with Lord who truly is the harbor that leads his children to the deep. The barely above water place that forces us grip hold of the one, truly, enthroned over the flood waters of life.
I’m Chelsie Birks, and this is My Glossy Life.

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Photogrpahy: Sarah Halferty

I could call Sarah a photographer, but she is much more of a story teller. Her desire was to use her skills as a photographer and videographer to tell redemptive stories of hope. Over coffee one spring afternoon, she shared her passion for the above, while I shared my desire to want to artistically share my story of recovery. This collaboration of artistic minds, paired with a passion for hope would create what Sarah used as her thesis for graduation. I like to think of this project as just the beginning for her, as she, along with her husband, is using her skills to serve in Papua, New Guinea. Although the memoir, the actual coffee table book, currently sits in my peripheral vision, there is something freshly powerful in seeing these two images side-by-side. I have sat here for 30 minutes staring at them, reflecting on past journal entries, reading old prayers, and simply sobbing in the presence of God, as worship music fills the atmosphere of my home office. I am flooded this morning by God’s grace that never gives up on us, His love that never fails, and the power of His words that truly transforms. I feel a mix of humility, joy, and fresh passion igniting all at the same time.
Although the two above images were photographed in the same day, their placement to the story are years apart. There are many pages, much life, loads of fear, shattered dreams, prayers, conversations, anger, emotional roller coaster rides, uncertainty, and pen holes of hope, that are housed between these two images.
I often think of my own story in reflection of those found in scripture. The bible is full of pages that tell stories to people’s lives. The very essence of scripture is the gospel, the good news of Jesus, the alpha and the omega. I have often asked God why Jesus had to suffer, and journey His cross to Calvary? I understand He had to die, but why did He, the very Son of God, have to suffer? Wouldn’t death have been enough? These very questions are the ones, I believe, cause most people to question a loving God. I am no scholar, but as a child of the King of Kings, the Lord continues to whisper to me, it is in suffering that our humanness, depending on self, our own agendas, our own plans of escape or coping, die. You see Jesus was fully God, and fully man. The man-ness of him had to die. The man had to die, so that the Savior, the God in him, might live {so that our hope might live}.

A few things to note on the suffering of Jesus:
1.) He was betrayed by his closest friends.
2.) He was stripped bare, and publicly shamed.
3.) He was beaten beyond being recognized as a human being.

There are so many more, but these three resonated with me in my own suffering, betrayal, brokenness, shame, and abuse, yet incomparable. You see friends, Jesus had to suffer so we would have His pages, His journey, His story to relate to. There is nothing you will ever go through that Jesus did not experience. His story is the worst of the worst, and yet the best of the best. I love the verse in John 16:
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. {John 16:33 NLT}”
Ahhhh, there is just nothing else to say!!! HE HAS OVERCOME THE WORLD!!
In thinking of the word “overcome” I love how Revelation 12:11 says we overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony {life, story, journey, the in between}.
Friends, He wins, therefore if any of us are in Him, we win! we win my friends! WE WIN!
Below is a little piece of my story that was featured by United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. I am honored, yet humbled by this opportunity. I have questioned, for quite some time, as to the need to share my story. Unlike many stories of victory, Domestic Abuse is a bit different. Many times you are thankful to simply get out. You are totally fine to ride well below the radar, and draw zero attention to yourself out of fear that your abuser might resurface. The statistics on the number of victims that actually get out of an abusive relationship and stay out are depressingly low, less than 2%. Furthermore, the number of victims that walk in true emotional, mental, and spiritual victory are far lower. I have often wondered if this statistic is so low because these statistics are accurate or because far few victims feel and experience enough freedom to share their stories.
Thank you United Way for seeing the value in this story wanting to share my message, and for featuring it here.
This feature has actually pushed me to start a memoir series, Broken Not Destroyed, where I will walk you through my journey, piece by piece, each week.
Life is epiclly beautiful, and life is epiclly messy, such the perfect picture of Calvary. It is in between these two extremes, it’s the journey, where life happens. Housed between two images, pages of impactful, life-changing stories are written. You have a story, the pages of it matter, and you were created to let Him write it, so that you can tell it. What’s your story???

I’m Chelsie Birks, and this is my glossy life.

If you didn’t catch it above, here is a little feature of my story
If you or someone you know is caught in an abusive relationship or situation please contact The National Domestic Hotline.

For His Glory,

Chelsie

22
Jul

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Top & Skirt :Denym and Diamonds/ Shoes: Arden B {Sold out, but Here is a great $40 find}/ Sunnies: Rayban/ Watch: Michael Kors/ Lipstick: NARS {Cruising}
Photography: Greg Daniels

When I arrived at Greg’s studio, he was wrapping up an in studio, fashion shoot. Having the pleasure of witnessing the last few frames is the best. The model is warmed up. She has a good feel of the mood, clothing, and what she is trying to sell. Final frames are simply the best. This particular shoot I had fallen in love with everything in my view. The model, of Asian decent, was rocking a super edgy, two piece, hot pink and orange, graffiti bandage number. I approached the stylist to ask her where she found the piece. It was so unique, and I was eager to find it. She kindly responded, “The piece is my design.” I responded with, “I had no idea,” which I believe to be the ultimate complement of flattery. She was so kind to ask if I would like to barrow the cool toned, not quite finished, sample for my shoot? Everything in me went into exorbitant jubilee, while everything on the outside began comparing my figure to the, very thin model. She was a twig, and I am… well, more. She insisted that I, at the very least, attempt to make it work. There is always an “A” for attempt, right? “Fits like a glove,” took on a whole new meaning after squeezing into this XS band aid. Before I could even turn to look in the mirror, I was uncertain. I felt exposed, flawed, and insecure, and I didn’t need to see myself in the, body conscious, outfit to affirm the feelings, or did I???
We paired the piece with my favorite, black, and white, cut out booties, I wave sprayed my locks, headed to set, and attempted to rock the fitted. As I type out this post, I’m sitting here laughing at just how intimidated and shy I felt in this outfit. I couldn’t relax, and I was so awkward. Greg, doing what he does best, started shooting as he talked me through the insecurity. He asked me to just be myself, so that he could capture, not what I could see, but what I couldn’t see. The shoot turned comical when a truck, full of women, stopped and parked across the street to watch my attempt to be brave. Greg shot a couple of frames, and walked over to show me what he was capturing. Friends, I had no idea!! I was so fixated on what I didn’t have, I had neglected to embrace what I did have. Maybe the fitted bandage wasn’t as much of a hindrance, as my own view of myself. The designer took a look at few of the images, smiled, walked over to me and graciously said, “You wear it well, this outfit is yours.”
It might not be a fitted, bandaged number of an outfit, that causes your insecurity, or comparison, but something does. Somehow, when the pressure of life closes in, when the bigness of our dreams set in, when doubt comes face-to-face with do, moments of comparison and insecurity show their ugly heads. What if the pressure, the tightness, the uncomfortableness, the being exposed, isn’t so much about showing you what you don’t have, but what you do have. What if being bandaged, so to speak, isn’t about showing you how XS you are, but about how XL our God is. Next time you have to face the body conscious that wants to show you what you aren’t, give your Creator the opportunity to wash you with words of affirmation as His lens shows you what you are.
I’m Chelsie Birks, and this is my glossy life.
XOX,

Chelsie