Happy Fourth of July! I am so thankful for this amazing country that we are blessed to live in that is full of so many freedoms! I’m grateful for all of the men and women, both past and present, who have fought for that freedom and the families that have sacrificed as their loved ones were away fighting. I am thankful for the blessing of living in a country where we are free to worship God and gather together with other believers without fear of persecution. We are so blessed in more ways than we can count, so today let’s not forget to take the time amidst all of the fun and celebrations to thank God for this beautiful country called America.
One of my most favorite colors to wear during the week of the Fourth of July is red. It is such a fun pop of colour that is very patriotic. I decided to share a more dressy look for this outfit, but it could just as easily be dressed down with a pair of slides and a denim jacket for a more casual celebration. It is a fun and easy look to recreate that you’re sure to reach for beyond Independence Day.
One of my most favorite things about dresses is all of the options for styling them! This post is the first in a continuous series I’m starting here where I’ll pick a dress and share multiple ways to wear it. With each post I’ll share a casual and a dressy way to wear the dress and sometimes even an in-between! Dresses are my go-to when I am getting dressed in the morning because I know that they can carry me through the whole day no matter what it holds and by changing a few accessories I can completely change the look!
The first look is something I would wear to a nice event like a wedding or church. I love the detail that the belt adds and the ruffles on the shoes go perfectly with the feminine details of the dress. My favorite detail are the statement earrings. I love how bold they are and that they have the blush centers tying all of the other accessories into the outfit.
I wore this look to church a few weeks ago, but it would also be perfect for a baby shower or bridal shower. The cork heels and basket purse are less formal than the pumps and statement earrings and I opted for simple gold hoops to go with the more simplistic feel of this outfit.
The final look is how I wear this outfit for an everyday basis. For the earrings I did hoops, although simple diamond studs are also a great option. I kept the basket purse and traded out the heels for simple slides. In the summer this is basically my uniform and is perfect for running errands or grabbing coffee with a friend!
As we keep moving closer and closer to Easter weekend, I have been going back to a talk that Angie Smith gave at the If Gathering back in 2016 and I thought I’d give a recap of it today since it has been on my heart.
At the very beginning of scripture in the garden of Eden, we see two questions asked. The first one is by Satan and it is ‘Are you sure that God has your best in mind?’ and the second is by God and it is ‘where are you?’. Now, when God asked Adam and Eve where they were, it is important to realize that God had not lost them, he was asking them, what is the posture of your heart for me? God already knew where their hearts were, but by asking them Adam and Eve had to reevaluate their own hearts and find where they are. Several chapters later and hundreds of years after the garden of Eden, we find Abraham. He is now an old man and God had promised him a son that He would build a nation out of that would bless the whole world. In his old age God did grant Abraham that son, Isaac, but sometime later God tested Abraham which brings us to our first point: don’t let anyone ever tell you that God will not test you, He will never tempt you, but that is different than testing. The truth is, if we get honest God often gives us more than we can handle, and honestly, this whole life is more than we can handle, but that is why we have Him because He can handle it all. God called Abraham to take his son, his only son that he loved, up onto the mountain and to sacrifice him. On the way up the mountain as Isaac carried the wood and Abraham the fire, Isaac looked over and asked Abraham, “My father, we have the wood and fire, but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?” Abraham replied to Isaac, “God himself will provide the lamb.” We all know how the story goes at this point: right before Abraham sacrifices Isaac, God stops him and tells him that because he did not withhold anything from God, not even his only son, He knew he loved him more than anything. At this point God opens Abraham’s eyes and Abraham looks up to see a ram caught in the thicket and sacrifices the ram in Isaac’s place and walks down the mountain with his son. It is a story with a happy ending, of course Abraham can say that God is good when he walked down the mountain with his son, but what about when you walk down the mountain without your loved one as was the case with Angie Smith and me with my grandpa? It was during one such time in her life that Angie felt God leading her to go back and read this story again and again because He had something there for her. After reading it several times she realized something that changed her life and in a ripple effect has changed mine over the past several years, especially this one as I watched my Papa battle cancer and lose the battle. Go back and look at the beginning, as they were walking up the mountain, God promised to provide a lamb, He never said anything about a lamb. The promise was THE Lamb. Two thousand years later on this same mountain range, Jesus Christ was crucified on our behalf, HE was the promised lamb. When you think about who Christ is to you when you are being tested, have you spent more time with your eyes locked on the thicket or on the cross? We have no guarantees about the ram, but we have EVERY guarantee about The Lamb. He will not fail us, and these things that feel scary, we have to live it out and place our trust in Him, the Lamb of God. So as you face the two questions that have been asked since the beginning of time and continue to be asked over and over again, when you hear the enemy whisper, “are you sure?”, here’s your answer: “I’m not sure about the ram, but I am certain of the lamb.” And when you hear God asking, “where are you?” your answer is simple, “Right here Lord, ready and willing. You send me where you want me to go, and in your power and your strength I will do that.”
You guys, as I walk through life and all the scary hard trials that come with it, facing it with the realization that while I do not have the promise of the ram, but have EVERY promise of the lamb, I know I can walk through it because I won’t be alone, He will be there. Whatever you are facing in life, no matter how hard or scary, know that you are not alone, you have been promised the Lamb and He will not leave or forsake you, He has promised you this. If you’re needing encouragement right now (and honestly even if you don’t need it right now, because at some point you will need it), go watch the full talk that Angie Smith gave here. It is under seventeen minutes and SO worth every minute. As I said at the beginning, I have gone back to this so many times over the last several years and it has carried me through this past year.
I love all of you and am praying over each and every one of you this Easter season.
If you still don’t have your outfit yet for St. Patrick’s Day, don’t worry, I have you covered! I found the CUTESET jumpsuit while looking at Versona’s new spring collection and the moment I saw it I KNEW that it was perfect for St. Patty’s Day! While I would normally wear a cute green top with jeans or green earrings for this day, with the holiday falling on a Sunday I knew that I had to find something extra special to wear this year, and this jumpsuit filled all of my dreams. The best part is that I will be wearing it long after St. Patrick’s Day as it would be so cute to wear to any wedding or bridal shower as well as is a top contender for Easter. I will warn you though, I shared this look early on my Instagram Stories since I knew it would sale out fast, and it is going fast, so I would definitely not waste any time either running to your local Versona or ordering it online. (If you do expedited shipping it should still reach you in time if you order today!)
It can be hard sometimes, can’t it? This single life. Most of the time you’re decent at faking it, and there are even very real seasons that you’re actually grateful that you’re still single as it allows you the freedom to experience things that your friends who are married are not as easily able to experience. It does not change the fact though that there are very real seasons of loneliness and times when you wish you could do life with someone as it seems everyone else does. I want to let you know this Valentine’s Day that you are not alone. I’ll start by being open and sharing my own struggle. This past Christmas and birthday were hard for me. I would love to be married and be a wife and mom, but that is not the season that God has me in right now, and while I still hope for that someday, I am also very aware that it is not promised to me. To all of you other beautiful single ladies out there, I want you to know that it is ok to cry sometimes when the ache in your heart to hold your own little one as you hear that another friend is having a baby or the longing to have someone “pop the question” to you becomes overwhelming as you see on Facebook that yet another friend is engaged. Go ahead and cry. It does not mean that you are less excited or happy for that friend, it is simply an acknowledgement that your heart longs for the same. The secret I’ve learned is to not stay there, but rather after the tears have begun to slow to cry out to the one who holds my future and knows where life will lead. I promise you, God has not forgotten us. While life may not look how we always thought it would, that does not mean that God does not have something amazing planned for you, different is not always bad, it can actually be just as good and sometimes better.
Secondly, surround yourself with a community of friends who are there on your side. It can be so tempting to bottle all of the emotions up inside, but you won’t find healing that way. Open up to your community and ask them to stand alongside of you. I have one friend in particular that anytime I can feel myself beginning to feel lonely or wishing my life had followed the route I had thought it would, I send her a text message and she prays for me and sends encouragement reminding me of truth. Your community does not have to all be single either, two of my dearest friends are both married and one has a precious little one and the other is expecting her first baby. They have been an amazing source of strength to me by letting me be a part of their lives! Being around them and their families is actually healing rather than hurtful, my friends little boy always puts the biggest smile on my face and both of them have been incredible encouragements. I also have learned so much about relationships thanks to them that I would not have learned otherwise, and whether I get married or not that is invaluable!
Finally, life does not suddenly magically begin when you get married, it is happening right now! Don’t waste these years wishing for something you can have no control over. Instead, go live life as full as you can! Some of my favorite stories my mom would tell me growing up happened before she met my dad, and you know the reason she had those stories? It is because she chose to make the most of her single years and lived them fully! Make this time you are living now worth looking back on and smiling over instead of looking back and realizing that you wasted such a large portion of your life. This is your chance to go on that trip of a life time, volunteer at your church or that mission downtown. Go find a younger girl and invest in her life, you will never regret it! Spend time investing in the friendships and relationships you currently have in your life, one of the things my married friends has taught me is that when you are married you still need those girl friends just as much as you did before you were married.
I want to challenge you this Valentine’s Day to not stay at home wishing that someone special was there to celebrate the day with. Go find some single friends and invite them to a Galentines or Palentines party! Or if you’re like me and nearly all of your local friends are married, host a Galentines party a few days before or after Valentines Day. Go make memories that you want to remember!
Finally, I just want you to know that you are a beautiful, amazing young woman. Yes YOU! Not having a significant other does not make you any less wonderful as the woman in a relationship. You already are LOVED, CHERISHED AND BEAUTIFUL. God has not forgotten you, and He has not left you alone. He is on your side and He is in your corner. I also am here for you if you need someone.
My family celebrated Mother’s Day a little early two weekends ago when my aunts were in town visiting and my parents invited everyone over to their house. I am blessed to live in the same city as all of my grandparents, so I was able to celebrate with my grandma and all of my aunts on my mom’s side of the family as well as my mom. I am the decorator in my family and decided that I wanted to go with a flower garden theme for the event, so I rounded up some help, aka my dad, and we went on a run to get all of the supplies after I got off work the night before the luncheon and made it back about one in the morning! I literally bought everything from Walmart or Target and it turned out so beautiful! I bought several flowers as well as planters and used them to decorate with as well as fun twinkling lights to add to the atmosphere. I wish I had taken more pictures, but I also bought some nice plates and a table cloth all in blush pink and light grey to nicely accent the flowers I had chosen. It made the day more special for everyone and then my mom was able to take the flowers afterwards and plant them in her garden to enjoy all summer long!
My aunt and cousin also own Magnolia Photographers and brought their equipment along to take some mother/daughter as well as cousin and sister pictures! We haven’t had some good pictures taken in awhile, so it was so great to be able to work with them and have some photos taken.
If you do not have your present for Mother’s Day yet, arranging to have family photos taken is a gift I can guarantee any mom will love. If you happen to live in the midwest area, you should definitely check out my aunt and cousins business, they do great work and were so much fun to work with. I linked to their Instagram account above.
“God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you.'”
I love this quote by Billy Graham, for truly, this the whole meaning behind Easter. We never need to look any further than the cross in questioning how great the Father’s love for us is. God loved us so much that He chose not to leave us in our sin, separated from Him for eternity in the punishment that we deserved. Rather, He sent His only Son who knew no sin to become sin and die a gruesome, horrific death on the cross so that we might be reconciled with God! But, the best news of all is that Jesus didn’t stay in the grave, for if He had, all hope would have been lost, but rather, on the third day He rose and now all who believe in Him can have eternal life and are adopted into the family of God! I will never be able to fathom the kind of love that drove God to do such a great thing for me, but I will forever be grateful for this great love of His!
I have been loving the song Reckless Loveand thought I would share the lyrics of the chorus here today for Easter as they are so perfect for today:
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine. I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still you gave yourself away. Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.
If you have been around for awhile, you may remember that last year I shared with you that I don’t enjoy doing the traditional resolutions, but rather enjoy picking a trait or two to work on for the year. Last year my words were to be gentle and kind, and while I was not perfect, I have definitely seen growth in this and am so thankful that I spent the past year focusing on this. There were several times where because I had this at the front of my mind I acted in a kinder and more gentle manner than I might have otherwise.
I have been looking forward to sharing my words for this year with all of you for sometime now. While spending some time with God last October, I felt him leading me to have my words for 2018 be faith and courage. This year I want to focus on having faith and trusting God at a new level, knowing that He will never lead me wrong. This is so much easier said than done, and that is where the courage comes into play. Sometimes it is scary to step out on faith, and this year I want to have the courage to go wherever God may lead me.
And while this isn’t part of my “words for the year”, I want to draw closer to God and own my identity in Him of a sinner saved by grace and a beloved daughter adopted into His family. What are your goals and resolutions for the new year? Does anyone else choose a word or words to try to define your year with? If so, I’d love to hear them!
I was so excited when Versona reached out to me asking if I’d be interested in sharing their Christmas collection! They have the cutest things not just for yourself, but also for the other women in your life. I literally had so much fun shopping not just for a fun Christmas party look, but also finding presents for my friends! I’d share with you what I found, but since they haven’t opened them yet I think I better not. 😉 One of my favorite parts about Versona is that when I am shopping I can always count on the wonderful sales associates to help me out if I need some help. I fell head over heels in love with this shirt, but I couldn’t decide on a necklace. When I shared my vision with the sales associate, she literally pulled not one or two, but FOUR necklaces that were spot on for what I described. I know I can always count on them to help me figure out accessories if I need help.
If you follow me on Instagram then you know that I tried on everything from the adorable work office party dress, to Christmas Eve and staying comfy at home with your family look. In the end I decided upon this beautiful blouse and necklace. I loved the idea that I could wear it to a more casual party with jeans as shown here, or I could pair it with a cute midi or tutu skirt for a dressier occasion. Versatility is a key for me when choosing items to add to my wardrobe.
If you have any last minute parties or family get-togethers (or just want a cute festive outfit “just because”) check out Versona’s holiday collection. I promise you that you will not be disappointed. I even found my perfect New Years Eve dress that I can’t wait to share with you after Christmas!
*a special thanks to Versona for sponsoring this post*