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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A NEW SEASON | where i am


Sweet friends,

Happy 2015! 

Whew. 2014 was an amazing, full year. A year (for me) of such contrast to the one before: full of hopes fulfilled and dreams come true. I've really never lived a year quite like it. After a streak of about five honestly discouraging, long, weary, and quite lonely years, the Lord graciously and very kindly gifted me with a magical 2014. Very specific prayers were answered right before my very eyes and the man of my prayers and dreams came waltzing into my life. I cried alot of tears before I met him. How often my mama would console me and say, "In a moment, everything can change. You will wake up one day, and he will be here. Overnight. Just you wait and see!" I kept the faith (weakly at times) and then, as surely as Mom said, he was here. [sidenote -- many readers have told me in rather thoughtless comments, "How desperate are you?! It's not all about getting married or finding a guy. GOSH." And no -- it is not. But, it is a real and important dream. A gift when had. Something very worth waiting for. Not the end-all be-all of life. I was purposefully single for a long time. When men came knocking, I was extremely "picky" and careful. I wanted His best for me. Someone who would treat me right, who would be right for me. I wanted "sparks" and the "can't eat, can't sleep, reach for the stars, over the fence, world series" kind of love. (Do you Mary Kate + Ashley lovers feel me?) No one would tell a longing mother struggling with infertility and without a child how silly, stupid, or desperate her longings, prayers and desire to have a baby are. So, waiting sisters -- know: you are full and complete, totally loved and wanted, treasured and fulfilled without a man. But if you desire a husband, it is not wrong or silly, desperate or stupid. It is perfectly beautiful and do not give up on your dreams or hopes. Hold on and do not settle for anything less than "magic" and a man who treats you like the GOLD that you are! Sidenote ended haha!] I am so grateful for my Daniel. He is a gift and, though we are not perfect, this love story is truly written by God and I cannot believe how sweetly He has blessed us. For no other reason than He is GOOD. 

And so you know, dear friend -- we are planning our wedding -- set for the spring! And I am literally neck-deep in planning and preparing. This last year has been so full of travel, family, and learning. And honestly, my little blog here has seen far less post and far less tender loving care than it was used-to. And that is OK. There are seasons. And though I have seen and know how infinitely special and wonderful the Internet can be (because of you people on it) sometimes certain things take priority. "Real life" wins out. And boundaries need to be set. I have so missed my community here. The sisterhood that this space really has been. But getting to know this Oklahoma Cowboy was important, and good. Life is an ebb and flow, a winding ride. And I want to do it right, for Him.

I want to be all there. I want to sink my teeth deep into this season, and feel it with my heart. all of it. I want to not just feel it with my heart, but think it with my mind.
And I cannot do it when I am neck-deep in trying to "catch up."  

You, my dear readers, have sent the kindest, sweetest emails. Full of thoughtfulness and happiness for us. THANK YOU. For all the wonderful comments. The encouraging private messages. The sweet excitement when we started dating, got engaged, and are planning our lives and wedding. It means the world to have you here, to share it with us. Yet, I am honestly oh so behind. On email replies, comment responses, private messages. And I am sorry for not getting back to everyone like I wish I could. But I cannot, because I'm just one gal ;) And don't have unlimited time. But, please know that I read every single comment and every single email! And smile ear to ear (and sometimes even shed a tear or two) over your precious stories, hearts and words. Thank you! 

And a (very) quick + brief word to those who have left and sent some not-so-encouraging or sweet comments and emails: this is a space of GRACE. Of encouragement and inspiration. Of kindness. I barely have time to reply to my kind-hearted, well-meaning, wonderful friends and sisters. I certainly don't want to use that time arguing, defending, or wrangling it out with hate-mailers. Basically, I feel the same way as Kelle Hampton, one of my fav blog sisters in her post on trolls and hater comments, here : "I appreciate meaningful conversations and differing opionins about everything from religion and politics to parenting, but personal attacks, demands and general 'you're doing it wrong, you suck!' comments simply aren't tolerated here. No shirt, no shoes, no service. Kissy emoticon. Handclap emoticon...... After years of allowing people to anonymously leave snarky comments-- because 'you put yourself out there, you should be able to take it.' -- I now adhere to the same rules I have in my home: if the dog s**** on the carpet, I clean it up."  So that's that. I am so thankful for the 90% of comments and emails and words I receive that are life-giving and kind. To those who think I suck, that's okay and that's your opinion. Please spend your time on something more constructive than spreading hate around the internet, though, ok? It's such a sad waste of a precious life.

Friends, it is a season for me -- this next month -- to take some time to get caught up. To not just run a hundred miles an hour with my hair on fire trying to desperately catch up, but to carefully pick up the random scattered pieces that I am behind on, and to reorder this precious little blog space where I met all of you. To focus on cleaning out my overflowing inbox. To take a deep breath. I jumped head-first, fearless, into alot of exciting projects this year. With the BEST of intentions. My Graceful Magazine project (whose links mysteriously broke.... oops. That needs fixing!) and Erin James Shop, that I had the best of intentions to start but got swamped along the way. I need to step back and combine things. To re-strategize. And to make things simpler, more streamlined, easier, and more His. Who knew that we cannot do it all?! ;) And so, I am moving into a new season of stepping back.

I will be taking the next month to get caught up on my sweet blog and online projects, organize, and plan my wedding! This blog is going to change in some ways. I will be back! And fully here. But perhaps in a different way. This blog started as Sweetness Itself Blog, a dream from the Lord that came to fruition and brought so many wonderful young women into my path. And it was very-distinctly, a ministry. At times, I felt like a youth group leader. I wrote about very sensitive, close to the heart topics. Like sex and waiting. I spent hours upon hours every single day, emailing back hurting, broken, precious young women who needed a friend. I made very little money in general the last 3 years, I lived at home with my parents -- as I daily pursued this online ministry. In alot of ways it exploded and became so full -- a full time ministry that took all my time and attention; which I had at that time... what a gift to be single, unattached and free to minister in that way in that season. And my heart was full. Through this blog, I met my future husband. And it has all been the most wonderful journey. I am so thankful. For each and every one of you. And your blogs. And hearts. Emails and stories. Secrets and friendship. I was asked to speak at Influence Conference twice and to share my heart with single ladies. I self-published my e-book devotional, P.S. He Loves You. It's been nothing short of amazing. But my life has changed. I am walking into a new season. I am a soon-to-be wife. And my first priority will be my husband and family. It is a good, needed, right change. This blog is my heart. My story. Little pieces of my journey as a gift to you. But it cannot be the "ministry" it was. Seasons change. And a new season is here for me. I am so excited to stay here in this space, and invite you along to our journey. Thank you, dear friends, for your love and support. The emails we have shared, the friendships built -- they've been nothing short of His grace to me. Thank you. 

All of this to say, I am taking a step away from the blog and some of my social media for the month of January -- I will be posting pieces of my life on my Instagram  so come say hi there. Around Valentine's Day, I will be back and better than ever! With new things, a new look, and new posts! I am so excited to share more of my love story-so-far and more of my heart and passions with you, my friends. In a new, fresh, new-season kind of way! I'm excited for some how Graceful Magazine and my shop will combine in a perfectly magical way to (hopefully!) be something inspiring and good. A sisterhood, of sorts. A dream I have to connect you and you and you.

Sisters, I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you, to update you on "where I am" and to tell you I am still here. But need to take a little time to get caught up : on my wedding, to care for my health, which has been suffering in some ways due to the stress of being so behind and swamped on the blog, and to bring my heart to Him in this, and to be a good and faithful steward of this internet space He has so graciously given me. Thank you for being a part of my sisterhood. And stick around, sisters. Because, the best is yet to come. ( for you and me. because that is what He gives us. ) 

If you are waiting for an important sponsor and advertising -related email from me (in regards to this blog or Graceful Magazine) expect replies within the week and lots of plans and ideas on how to collaborate, okay friends?

Really love you with all my humbled heart,


Erin 

P.S. -- See you on Instagram. And, back here on Valentine's week! 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

MITSUBISHI MIRAGE | review

Hi dear sweet friends!! 

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and that you're having a happy, restful, family-filled and blessing covered holiday season. I am so excited for some new things I am working on, more frequent posts, and updates I am making to this little blog this week -- just in time for 2015. So excited to share it all with you as well as update you on some things I've been working on (like, what happened to Graceful Mag!) Just gonna say this, ya'll -- planning a wedding and doing the holidays is no joke ;) It can be overwhelming and I've had my plate MORE than full (of so many sweet blessings) but am trying to juggle it all and sometimes I can't do it all (who knew ;) haha!) Will be updating you in the next few days and am excited to reconnect.

'Til then, just wanted to drop in and share a little review on an awesome car I recently had the privilege of test driving. Thanks to Drive STI, I had the fun opportunity to drive the 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage and it was super fun.

This vehicle got GREAT gas mileage. Probably the best of any car I've reviewed -- which, to me is a huge plus! I would totally recommend this little gem -- it's compact but totally roomy! Daniel's mama visited us in California the week I reviewed it and we tooled around in the Mirage the entire time she was here -- all over So Cal, and it was roomy enough for Daniel's and my long legs (haha!) and several passengers. 

The model I drove and reviewed was the color "Kiwi Green" which actually fit perfectly for almost-Christmastime -- super festive! 

Some of my personal favorite features of 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage ES 5 Door Hatchback: 

  • Bluetooth hands-free phone system
  •  Front wheel drive (FWD)
  • USB Port (gotta have that to charge those iPhones and play music!)
  •  14 " alloy wheels
  • Space saver temporary spare tire (I was really impressed that it was totally hidden and did not take up extra space.)
  • Anti-theft engine immobilizer
  • Key passive entry system with panic alarm
  • Floor center console with cup holders (x3)
  • Tilt Steering Wheel
  • 2-volt accessory outlet 
  • 140-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system 
My Experience + Thoughts: 
What a fun car to drive! It was very easy to navigate and felt super safe (partly because of the rear camera.) Honestly, it was a smooth ride, very roomy, the seats were super comfortable, and the gas mileage was amazing. (Seriously, my fiance filled up and was so excited!) 

I would highly recommend this vehicle -- especially for those looking for something beautiful, practical, and budget-friendly yet still NICE! 

Thank you again, Drive STI! 
____

The retail price of this vehicle is: $17,105

Disclaimer: I received the product in this post for free to review, but my opinions shared are always 100% honest and my own. 




Tuesday, December 9, 2014

ERIN'S CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE | for your bestie / sister


Christmastime is such a sweet season, and one of my favorite things about it is the gift giving. Wrapping up presents and watching your loved ones light up as they rip kraft paper and washi tape packages and untie red satiny ribbons is one of the best joys in life.

 I especially love Christmas girls nights with my sister and girl friends! Yet, sometimes for us gals -- as we are pinching pennies in college, scrimping along as we pursue careers, or are saving for weddings (me haha!) it can be hard to find affordable yet fabulous gifts that fit into our smaller budgets. 

So, I've come up with a list of twelve pretty, practical, and lovely gift ideas that I know my sis and besties would adore -- all under $25 each! 

I hope you find it helpful and inspiring. 


Adore you and you and you!! 

XO,

Erin








1.  Sugar Lip Treatment will keep her lips sweet and hydrated all winter! [$22.50] 

2.  My inspiring e-book,"P.S. He Loves You" [$8.99] (i think it would be a great idea to give to a girlfriend or sis -- just print out the cover page + put it in an envelope and then you can e-mail it to her!)

3. "Cold Hands Warm Heart" Thermal Mug -- perfect for taking her favorite coffee and tea on the go. [$18.00] 

4. Treat her to these adorable Faux Shearling Bear Slippers -- soft, lush and comfy! [$7.00] 

5. A bottle of Marc Jacobs Nail Polish is chic and classy. [$18.00]

6. Salted caramel hot chocolate Philosophy Shower Gel [$9.99] 

7. A feminine floral Travel Makeup Case for all her adventures! [$9.80] 

8. What an inspiring way to start 2015: a beautiful wall calendar. [$22.00] 

9. This gorgeous, inspiring and precious print will make her swoon. [$14.00] 

10. A cozy, striped scarf will make the ideal accessory for her new year! [$10.80] 

11. An adorable monogrammed mug with the sweetest stripes. [$6.99] 

12. A Mint + Gold + Peach Throw Pillow for her apartment, house, or dorm! [$18.50] 

Monday, December 8, 2014

FREE PRINTABLE | give me jesus

Happy Monday, beauties! 

Sharing another little printable I designed, just to encourage you + me as we start our week.
May we remember oh how much we need Him, day by day. 

He is all I need.


/ Right click on JPG photo below, save to your computer 
and print or use as a screensaver /



XO

Erin



Sunday, December 7, 2014

THANKSGIVING | in photos

I celebrated two beautiful Thanksgivings this year: one with my family in California and one with Daniel's family in Texas. We have oh so much to be grateful for, and I am overwhelmed with how good the Lord is. Just wanted to share some snapshots from our special days.

How was your Thanksgiving?? Love you all so much!

XO

Erin
^^ California Thanksgiving with my sweet family ^^
^^ flight from california to texas // and, essentials. ^^

^^ oh so much canasta playing ^^
 ^^ uncle daniel + little roo ^^
^^ sixty stories up, looking over Houston ^^
^^ we found the best coffee shop in houston ^^
^^ beautiful sunrise in galveston with all the girls ^^
^^ me + the brothers ^^
^^ black friday j.crew finds ^^

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

LOVISHLY | style

I love brands that create beautiful products -- especially fashion. And when a brand has a greater purpose than just fashion? That is the best

This is why I just adore Lovishly: love lavishly, give extravagantly. Founded by a mama to 9 children (5 adopted) who wants to change the world. It is a project that was created to educate and empower girls (oh my heart!) The Lovishly website reads: Our goal is to educate girls on hard issues and empower girls by giving them the ability to give back all while reminding them and encouraging them with truth.   

Lovishly Co. created the most beautiful handcrafted necklaces. What's even better? They choose various non-profits that share their values and mission and donate 15% of their sales. How amazing is that?

 I LOVE this shop and the heart behind it. Please check it out, sisters -- it is the perfect place to shop for Christmas presents for your mamas, sisters, and friends! As a bride-to-be, I've got my eye on a few necklaces that would be perfect to gift to my bridesmaids!! They have a women's AND a girl's collection, so you can also pick up gifts for the little gals in your life!

Lovishly sent me the loveliest necklace and I modeled it for y'all along with a fun outfit I wanted to share (details below!) I love the lyrics on the necklace I got -- from one of my favorite worship songs. And, it is so well-made. I encourage you ladies to check out this beautiful shop and follow them on their social media:




outfit details

jacket: thrifted 
dress: ally fashion
shoes: kohl's 

Monday, November 10, 2014

DANIEL'S MUSIC | proof of your love (by for king + country) cover

My sweet fiance Daniel just shared his latest music video on his YouTube channel and I thought I'd share it with y'all to encourage you! He covered a song by one of our favorite bands, For King and Country -- "Proof of Your Love." We looove this song and the message behind it. 


check out Daniel's music



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