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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

...but not in the way you'd think. Today, I'm excited to link up with my friend Nicole from This Little Momma for the Speed Date link-up!

 The purpose of this "speed date" is to share with you sweet readers a little bit more about me - things that haven't come up in my posts, parts of my story you haven't heard. And also to share some lil random things you may now know about me!

Soooo... let the speed date begin -

I was born in the same Southern California town where I later attended college. Didn't go far at all!

At 7 years old, I gave my life to Jesus Christ and have known ever since that my eternity is secure in Heaven with Him.

I grew up as a Pastor's Kid. Although I wasn't your stereotypical "rebellious" one. I kinda loved it.

Singing and music has been the theme of my life. I began leading worship in big church at the age of 13 and didn't stop til my early twenties.

When my parents saw I was ready to be baptized as a pre-teen, I firmly said, "No. I want to be baptized for the first time in the Jordan River in Israel...where Jesus was baptized." Of course, that seemed like a total impossibility, but my parents encouraged me to dream big and pray about it. 3 years later, the Lord miraculously provided a way for my family to visit Israel and sure enough, I was baptized in the Jordan River. It was a very special dream come true!

I purposefully didn't date at all in Jr. High or High School....I didn't start dating until college. Yep, I was part of the "Kissed Dating Goodbye" generation. And I don't regret that for a moment - I was able to focus on God, school, music and worship ministry, and growing up.

I've never broken a bone or had a cavity.

As a little girl, we lived in a tiny house with a tiny yard in a dangerous part of town. I dreamed of living on land, being able to play outside, and being a country girl. So even though it seemed totally impossible, my mom encouraged me to make a list of all the things I wanted in a home and pray about it. I did and went crazy with dreams - it included: a place with a pool, horses, a place to run and play, a treehouse...and other things that sounded fun and exciting to a 10 year old. A year later, my dad was asked to lead a ministry school on a 350-acre horse ranch. The Lord answered ALL the requests on my list...times 5. We were able to run and play on the beautiful Ranch complete with horses, goats, chickens, peacocks, a huge barn, an old-fashioned swimming hole, and a tree-house to boot. The Lord answered every prayer and then some. The experience was a huge faith-builder for me as a little girl who loved Jesus.

I applied to only one college that had the major I dreamed of and planned for - Home Economics. Yep, you read that right. (A very difficult, scientific form of the "Home Ec" from the grade school apron-sewing that you're thinkin' of though haha!) I learned everything from childhood nutrition to how to sew garments to how to run a home business to how to practice hospitality to the science behind food and food chemistry. Mostly, I loved that almost half our class time was spent studying the Bible in how it relates to women. And though I must admit, this major was not the most "marketable" in the job world at times, I don't regret it for a minute - because I believe the Lord prepared me much for my dreams of ministering to women and being a wife and momma (someday!) through this major. Even though it was different and really hard at times, I'm so glad I did it.

I have never dyed my hair.

One of my absolute favorite things in life is going sailing. My dad has his sailing license and our family just loves the sea breeze and sailing off the coast of California. It's very expensive, so being a ministry-fam we didn't do it much, but it's one of my ultimate favorite things I hope to do more in the future.

I met Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps when I was 15. Long story there!

I love going shopping alone. One of my favorite things is getting a Starbucks latte and just walking around the mall or Target by myself, even if I don't buy anything. It's like my therapy!

I have about 40 full journals. I began journaling daily from age 11 or 12 until now. I love reading my life story in these journals, reading prayers that have been answered in ways I didn't expect, and seeing God's hand guiding me through it all.

I'm a homebody. I love just being at home, playing games with the family, reading, baking, drinking hot chocolate or tea.

One of my favorite family traditions is my grandma's birthday in July. We go out and then we always stop by the house used in the movie "Father of the Bride" just to take a picture and say hi. Love that house. And love that movie.

Well, my dears - that's just a handful of things about me that you may not have known!

Outfit Stats:
Earrings: Forever 21
Dress: Angl (Boutique in LA)
Shoes: Target

Praying you all have a lovely rest of your week! I'll be back soon with some thoughts on my heart about my 50 Shades post.



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Thursday, May 24, 2012

{okay friends..this is a doozie. so before you sit down, go pour yourself a hot cuppa coffee & take a few minutes to read something very close to my heart here...please hear me out and read all of my thoughts on it so you fully understand what i am trying to communicate. also, go check out my sweet friend jessi's post on the same topic at her blog this camera tells my story}

    Driving along a stretch of California interstate the other day, I steered my car down the highway casually as I fiddled with the radio dial until I landed on my favorite country station. As Rascal Flatts crooned somethin' about a banjo, I looked down for just a second to pick up my Starbucks drink out of the console and started to take a sip when I noticed - something was wrong with the road. Suddenly I realized - the line in the middle of the two-way highway was gone. For a stretch of the road ahead of me, the painted middle lines were all worn away, leaving nothing but a wide road with no boundaries to keep the cars going North on one side and the cars going South on the keep vehicles from crashing into each other. Thankfully, I carefully stayed on my side of the road, no oncoming cars passed me and soon the disappeared line showed up again in it's rightful place as I continued. But that little experience started me thinking about boundaries. Lines on a two lane highway are set in place not to annoy, frustrate, or suppress us - they are set to protect us. To communicate something, to guide and to guard. Having that experience caused me to realize how little I've thought of boundaries. Of things like medians, stop signs and those white, black and yellow lines painted on streets we drive every day. Imagine the chaos, craziness and sheer danger we'd all be in if they were not there.

   Thoughts about boundaries and their almost unseen importance laid heavy on my heart as the week progressed. And a couple days after my "lines on the road" experience, I heard about a certain trilogy of books that caused me to think about this subject....even more.

    The first time I heard about the book "50 Shades of Grey", I was absentmindedly watching Good Morning America on TV while working on other projects around the house. As an aspiring writer myself, my interest peaked when I heard the words, "...and the book has sold one copy every second, hitting the New York Times Bestseller List and selling 10 million copies so far with no signs of slowing down..." I stepped away from my work and stood in front of the TV screen, watching a middle-aged British woman answer questions about a book she wrote. On a whim, a lady named E.L. James penned and self-published her first novel...only to watch it explode in popularity in America. I watched in awe (not the good kind of awe, mind you) as she described the book as including "graphic sex scenes", "bondage" ...and something about "I have two teenage sons" (That's the head-scratcher that topped it all off. The first question racing through my mind was - why would you write a book like this if you have two young sons? What kind of model does that set for them as a woman, as their mother? But that's beside the point.) Based upon the skyrocketing popularity of this novel and the millions of women giving it rave reviews (including some Christian women I know), I want to share with you, my dear readers, my thoughts and heart on this topic and the reasons why I believe it is harmful, damaging and inappropriate reading material for anyone.

   I soon found out all about this "erotic novel" as it's being talked about on mainstream news channels and written about in widely read news articles. Reporter Savannah Guthrie of NBC described "50 Shades of Grey" as "...Explicit and extremely graphic" and said that " of it are disturbing." The story's plot centers on a college-age virgin who is seduced by a handsome millionaire (who by the way, is described in the novel as an abuse victim and sex addict) who persuades her to sign a contract that allows him complete control over every aspect of her life - dictating when she can eat, sleep, groom herself, and work out - to taking complete dominance over her sexually as he systematically abuses her throughout the story. Much of the "50 Shades" trilogy includes very graphic sex scenes involving BDSM- "bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism." And yet, it is being portrayed in many circles in a rather cutesy, funny, "steamy", "romantic", "kinky", and light manner. The New York Times described it as "mommy porn". Yet I (who was trained up by my parents never to just take what the media throws at me, but to use my own mind - to discern things carefully and wisely) believe that the content of this novel needs to be viewed more carefully and honestly.
   Highly respected Dr. Drew Pinsky shared his perspective on the novel: "I can't emphasize enough the disturbing quality of this. This is a woman who is naive to these issues, and then is manipulated and exploited by a man who has a severe personality disorder and a sex addiction who is violent with her..." he also stated, "Why women would pick this up as any sort of substitute for intimacy or any sort of model for a relationship, I just find...disturbing."

 Clearly, this story does not depict a normal or healthy relationship. As I researched the book and heard respected individual's perspectives on it, I could not help but shake my head and wonder how so many intelligent people could fall into truly thinking these novels are harmless, or even "helpful" for a woman's love life. I fear American women are falling into not just "50 Shades of Grey"....but 50 shades of confusion.

 Let's be honest here -

  As  a smart, healthy woman..... I believe this novel is not harmless. It's not light. It's not cute. It is not just a little "kinky." It's anything but romantic. It's not just "entertainment". And it is not okay. I believe (and experts, doctors, psychologists - and the Bible - agree) it is very disturbing, very unnatural, and extremely disrespectful to women. In light of the truth that real women daily undergo the horrors of domestic violence and rape, I believe this type of literature should not be treated as simply "fantasy", meaningless, or just a light "racy" read. I question the women who support the book - why on earth are women who publicly defend the rights of women and children (such as advocating for exploited women in this world who undergo sex slavery, rape, and domestic violence) running out to buy and happily promoting through the media a book that clearly glamorizes not only disrespect but raw violence towards women? In several interviews I watched, "sex experts" were questioned about this very concern, to which several replied this sentiment: "Aw, it's just a fantasy!! It's totally harmless! Women who read these books just need an escape - they would never act this out in their real life!" To which I ask - so why are they spending precious moments of their life reading it? Why are they supporting the book monetarily by purchasing it? Why are they bringing this message into their homes, for little eyes to see - for curious children to possibly pick up and read disturbing and violent words that shape their minds and view of sexuality? As I initially watched that interview with the author on Good Morning America, I was stunned to see mothers with their young daughters standing outside the studio, clapping and screaming while holding signs that praised "50 Shades". Ladies, is this truly what we want to model for young, impressionable girls?

  Dr. Drew expressed deep concern regarding young women reading this book: "I worry about 15-year-olds and 19-year-olds who are reading this and formulating a notion that this is anything close to a reasonable relationship. I worry that this is going to be a model for something pathological." This is not only destructive to women readers and their minds, hearts and relationships - but also to young people reading. And even if you disagree with the points I'm shedding light on, you surely will not disagree that this book is a dangerous thing to allow into the reach of impressionable young people. It concerns me for our children's future and the future of this culture.

    As a Christian woman, I believe the content of the "50 Shades of Grey" trilogy stands in stark contrast to the pure life God calls believers to in Scripture:

"Do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure."
-1 Timothy 5:22 

"But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality,
or any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people."
-Ephesians 5:3

"It is God's will that you should be sanctified; that you should avoid sexual immorality;
that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable,
not in passionate lust like those who do not know God...
The Lord will punish people for all such sins, as we have already told and warned you.
For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life."
-1 Thessalonians 4:3-7

  And I get it. Words like "lust", "sin", "righteousness", and "purity" are not all that popular in the time we are currently living in. They're sure as heck not popularly used in my generation's vernacular. And if you search for them on Urban Dictionary or any stylish lifestyle website, magazine, or blog - you won't find them. But I don't care. Haters can hate, but I'm not ashamed of being a 20-something young woman who is saving sex for marriage, who confidently trusts my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and strives to follow what He says in the Bible as the best way for me to live my life.  

  This is my call to all of you - are we gonna go with the flow of our culture's whims? Or will we be smart and wise, stand strong, being true to what is right and graciously yet firmly saying "no" to what is wrong. I, for one, want to be cherished in a relationship with a man. To be honored, cared for, treated with tenderness, gentleness and dignity. And....respect. I choose to be a strong woman of integrity.

   I choose to say yes to God's way, knowing His way is best - He created me, He loves me, and if I believe in Jesus, if I say I'm a Christian - then I understand the Bible is not a cafeteria plan that I can pick and choose from. If I believe I am saved, forgiven, and loved by God - if I firmly believe that when I die, I will go to Heaven because I'm a daughter of the King, then I just as surely must believe that ALL He says in the Bible is true - that lust is wrong, damaging, and harmful to me. That sexual sin is a fire not meant to be played with - a fire that would burn me beyond repair. The Bible says that lust (which is exactly what the material in "50 Shades" flares up) is serious and it's a big deal.

"For lust is a shameful sin, a crime that should be punished.
 It is a devastating fire that destroys to hell. It would wipe out everything I own."
-Job 31:11-12

"Run from the evil desires of youth
and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace
along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart."
-2 Timothy 2:22

    We can't have it both ways, friends. Yes, we all make mistakes. And the tone and heart of this post is not to condemn or judge those who read "50 Shades" or anyone who struggles with lust and sexual sin. Thankfully, mercy, grace, forgiveness and love are waiting in God's arms when we mess up. But we have to choose - will we be strong? Will we choose the harder road? Will we fight lust? Will we fight sin? Will we embrace integrity and lives of purity? Will be make wise choices to protect the purity of our marriages and our children? Embracing the boundaries placed around precious gifts like sex - knowing that if we ignore those boundaries we can be hurt.

   Boundaries are important in life. Yet, I see our culture quickly taking a nosedive into boundary-less territory more and more. Anything goes. It truly breaks my heart to see that the black and white, the right and wrong of how to live is slowly fading into shades of grey. The "lines", the boundaries on our culture's "road" are fading quickly. And I fear that, just as a lack of boundaries on our freeways and highways cause deadly mayhem and terror on the road, a lack of boundaries and a forgetting of what is right and what is wrong is going to cause serious "crashes" in our lives. God sets boundaries to protect us. I fear that if we just follow along with the activities this world offers without seriously considering consequences - we will plummet off the side of the "road without lines" just as I could have driving in my car the other day.

     Don't get confused. Don't let the Enemy rip you off. Whether you are single or married, a teenager or a mama - I plead with you,  do not let this filth and garbage into your mind or home. This is your life, this is your body, this is your mind, this is your relationship, this is your purity, this is your marriage. Be a woman of honor and stand up and be strong for God.

 My prayer is that my words - these rambling thoughts from the aching heart of one sister crying out to another - may cause you to think. To re-evaluate. To be encouraged. To be strong. And to stand up and fight for what is right.

 It's not easy.
In fact, I am asking you to do something really hard.
Ask any athlete training their body to be strong and they will tell you:
nothing worth having comes easy.
But it is so worth it in the end.

This is the road less traveled. 
And it's the road that leads to a sweeter, more satisfied life.
And ya know what? That's a promise.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."
-Matthew 5:8

Don't let the boundaries guarding sacred things become blurred,
don't let your "lines" wear away.
 And don't let the black and white of what you know is right, deep down in your heart.... slowly turn to confusing shades of grey.

Stay strong, my loves!
Not only is God on our side, but thousands of others are linking arms with us as well.




Having God's words engraved on your heart is the key to a life of purity.
In His words there is power!
{I'd like to share some Scriptures to help you think through the issue of sexual purity
and to encourage you to stay strong in this war against lust}

Lie: A little sinful fantasizing won't hurt.

"To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind of the Spirit is life and peace."
-Romans 8:6,

"Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life."
-Galatians 6:7-8

"But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires."
-Romans 13:14

Lie: Taking radical action against sin isn't necessary.

"If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell."
-Matthew 5:29-30

Lie: God won't mind a little compromise.

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
Because of these, the wrath of God is coming."
-Colossians 3:5-6

Lie: A little pornography won't effect me.

"Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes, for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life.
Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?"
-Proverbs 6:25-27

Lie: I won't experience any consequences for indulging in my lust.

"So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God."
-Romans 14:12

"The Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
-Hebrews 12:6

"After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."
-James 1:15

Lie: It's my body, I can do what I want with it.

"Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body,
but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you now know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."
-1 Corinthians 6:18-20

Lie: Too much purity will keep me from seeing and enjoying beauty.


"Your eyes will behold the King in His beauty, and they will see a land that stretches afar."
-Isaiah 33:17

Lie: God is keeping something good from me.


"Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless. O Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in You."
-Psalm 84:10-12

Lie: Fulfilling my lust will satisfy me.


"The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied."
-Proverbs 19:23

*inspired by "Not Even A Hint", a book written by Joshua Harris. I highly recommend it if you struggle with lust and desire to live a life of purity.
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

We have a winner....

 Today I am excited to announce that a winner was chosen for the giveaway...and remember, winner takes all the loot!

The response was so amazing, thanks to everyone who entered and thanks to all the lovely ladies who were a part.

**drum roll**
and the winner is........

{i'll be emailing you the details}

 The first giveaway experience here at Sweetness Itself was such a fun experience, I'm thrilled to host more in the future. My prayer for this giveaway was that it would not only connect women to each other in meaningful ways through blogs and shops, but also that it would encourage whoever won.

Hugs to you all! Happy Tuesday & I'll be back with more love for ya and some thoughts in the next hours.


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Thursday, May 17, 2012

     It was one of those days. One of those days where everything seems to go wrong. From the moment my feet hit the floor that morning and I realized I'd missed my alarm clock and slept late, the day just felt off. I'd like to say I'm always put together, on time, and perfectly coiffed....but that's just not true. In all honesty, the words "frenzy" and "running a hundred miles an hour with my hair on fire" are more accurate at times. And honestly, as the day went on, I was not feeling that great about life...or myself. Earlier that morning, I found time to put on a little eyeliner, throw on a wrinkled maxi dress and let my hair air dry on it's own (never the best choice.) As the day wore on, I became more and more discouraged with life. I promised to always be honest with you gals on this blog, and so that means I'm not one of those bloggers - you know the ones - who have the perfect outfit on at all times, complete with red lipstick, a Chanel bag, and Tiffany's earrings - the perfect car, the ideal life, and (somehow) a bank account that always comfortably allows for fancy dinners, shopping sprees, and a myriad of weekly exotic outings. I'm just a girl who deals with daily life stuff - sometimes not all that glam or fab - and who looks for the good and make the most of every situation.

  But by mid-afternoon that day, the rose-colored glasses I try to whip out in times like these (not to be in denial, just to make sure I see things through a positive perspective) were no where to be found and due to a combination of having a lot on my mind, being weary, and fighting discouragement, I had to do something. And when push comes to shove, what's a girl to do? Go to Starbucks, that's what! Because, just as Mr. Hugh Grant's friend tells him in Notting Hill: "Shall I go get a cappuccino? Ease the pain" - a little coffee (or tea!) always helps one's state of mind.

  Walking in to the coffee shop, I got up to the counter and ordered my favorite iced tea. And as I fumbled haphazardly through my purse, brushing back a stray strand of unruly hair from my face and sighing, the girl behind the counter who took my order smiled kindly at me. And then she said, "You always look so cute! You just have the prettiest hair and I love your style. I always think you are so pretty when you come in here." I was frozen as I handed her the $3 and .55 cents. Tears threatened to flow, and all I could do was quietly stand there and say, "Thank you...thanks girl."

   It was just short sentence. A few seconds of conversation. I quick exchange. But you know what? It changed my entire day. I'm not just saying that, either. I walked outta there feeling like a new woman (and it wasn't because of the tea, although that has been known to happen.) Uplifted and encouraged - just because someone took the time to speak a few kind words to me. That sweet girl at Starbucks could have just said "Thanks, have a great day" or taken the money and said nothing at all. But she didn't. She took the time to say something nice to a complete stranger (well, actually not a complete stranger....does it mean you're addicted when your local Starbucks people recognize you??) and she changed my day.

  And it got me thinking, the rest of the week, about the power of words. The sheer power one human being has over another just by speaking words. It's incredible, really. And as I thought about it, I began to think of moments and times in my life when words were spoken to me - words I will never, ever forget. Words are powerful. Words are life-giving, like I experienced at Starbucks. But words can also hurt and sting, words can stay with you for a lifetime. And they can even shape and define the very people we become. When spoken, words cannot be taken back. If hurtful, they can be forgiven. But usually, they are never forgotten. I began to think about words in my life - defining moments when words were spoken that I will never forget.

   I'll never forget the words my precious dad told me when took me aside on my 16th birthday and said I was beautiful and that God's plans for my life were really big.
  I'll never forget the words my great-grandma wrote to me in a letter a few years ago before she died, words of love.
 I'll never forget one night in college, when an immature, selfish boy said something that hurt me - and one of my best girl friends hugged me as I cried and spoke sweet, encouraging words.
 I'll never forget something hurtful someone said to me just last year - it seared my heart and cut deep.

"The tongue has the power of life and death."
-Proverbs 18:21

  Words have power. Growing up, my mom always reminded us - "God spoke the world into existence, just using words alone. Words have meaning."

"And God said, 'Let there be light.' And there was light."
- Genesis 1:3
   There are times in the past when people - even friends very close to me - didn't understand me, didn't take time to use their words to ask me what was going on in my heart, didn't take time to use their words to find out why I acted a certain way, why I made certain choices. Instead, words were used to tear me down - to judge, to gossip, to shame. It taught me a very acute and painful lesson - to not only use words to encourage others, but also use words to get to know their hearts. To not judge just by outward appearances, choices, or even attitudes - but to dig deeper and talk - to sit down with someone you don't understand, someone you're even hurt by - and lovingly, graciously put aside judgement and really ask them to use their words to share their heart. In times I've chosen to do that rather than lash out in judgement, slander or gossip with my words  - I've often found there's more to the story, more to a person's heart and actions than just what is seen. If people in my life in the past had taken the time to know my heart, alot of hurt could've been spared. And I want to be one who gets to know others' hearts. For, as the Bible says - "For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." - Luke 6:45.

  I know I've been the one who's hurt others at times. I know I've hurt others by careless words. And I wish I could take them back. Realizing the power of words as I get older and have moments when words uplift like that sweet girl's did at Starbucks, I am drive to be more careful - more thoughtful about my words. I want to use the power my words have to give life, hope, love, and encouragement to the people I meet.

    So, at the end of last week - I found myself on the other side of the "Starbucks situation." And I had a choice to make - a choice to hold my words of encouragement in or use them to build someone else up. At a little tiny See's Candies shop in by the sea in Los Angeles... I stood at the counter across from a weary woman who wrapped up chocolates and responded to questions of annoyed customers. As she numbly rang up our order, I took the opportunity - I knew it was there - because I knew that look on her face. The same look I wore just days before as I stood at a different counter. I seized the moment, "You have just the prettiest smile," I said - "And I love your headband." She lit up. And she smiled so wide, she laughed. Her whole demeanor changed, the next minute I spent across from her she smiled and said, "Thank you...thank you." And it reminded me of someone else I know....just days before.

  That, my dears, is what passing it forward looks like - not only did my encourager earlier in the week speak life to me, but the very act of encouraging me inspired me to lift up someone else!

  Words bring life or death. They can uplift or drag down. And they live long past the moment they are spoken - they live forever in the mind and heart of the one spoken to...and they can even inspire one to do good.

   Let's use our words in a purposeful way this week - to uplift, bring life, encourage, and inspire. You never know where a little word will take somebody. It could be the one they remember the rest of their life. And that, sweet friend - means something.

Outfit Stats:
if ya care

Top: Boutique in LA
Necklace: Forever 21 {gift from L}
Belt: Thrifed
Skirt: upcycled dress//Angl
Watch: Michael Kors


Just a reminder:
The Giveaway winner will be chosen this Friday - if you haven't, go enter- last chance!
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Saturday, May 12, 2012

    This weekend, we get to celebrate some pretty special people - our moms. Moms carry their children from day one - from pregnancy through childhood... and when their littles are grown, mamas carry their children in their heart always. I firmly believe that mothers have the hardest job on the planet. My biggest dream job someday? To be a mama. And more than that - to be a mother who cares for, loves, and shepherds the hearts of her children like my mom did (and does) for me.

Me and Mom

    Little girls dream of being mamas - even as babies themselves, little girls naturally want to play with dolls. Being a mother is a special gift God gave to women. Women long for babies. Mamas dote over their children. They stay up late sewing costumes and soothing fevered brows. They sit and cheer at countless football games and their hugs and smiles wins and losses. They defend, they protect, they cook hundreds of meals, they wash thousands of dishes, they pray millions of prayers. Mamas cry sad tears for their little ones (even when they are not-so-little anymore) when they hurt and they cry happy tears when their children soar and fly.

My favorite picture of ALL TIME: 5 generations.
 My great-great grandma and my great-grandma (who are both in Heaven now with Jesus) My grandma, my mom, and me.

   One of my favorite writes describes motherhood so beautifully -

"...Once you buy that pregnancy test...once you see a pink plus sign...
once you know it's not just you anymore...
well, you automatically carry around, for the rest of your life,
an increased likelihood of having your heart broken...
We can choose to be afraid or we can choose to live. And I choose to live.
Because an increased likelihood of having your heart broken also carries with it
an increased likelihood of finding yourself the happiest you've ever been in life."
-Kelle Hampton, "Bloom"

-Mom and me in 1987 -

  Motherhood is a precious gift. Having a mama is the sweetest joy. And being one is a great privilege. As I thought about motherhood this week, I realized how many times we women need our mothers (or the mother figure in your life). And I want to remind you and me of how precious these mamas are. If you are a mama - keep on keeping on, keep being the best mama you can be to those littles. And if you aren't - realize what a precious job it really is.

There are just times you just need your mama....

When you're 3, and you fall of your little bike and scrape your knee.. only she can make the boo-boos better.

When you're 13 and she teaches you how to put on makeup and curl your hair.

When you're 15 and that boy is just so darn cute, you gotta tell somebody.

When you're 16 and you're the only one who didn't get asked to prom.

When you're in college and your heart is broken for real - for the first time. And through tears, you swear you'll never love again. But she just holds you tight and knows...someday you surely will.

When you get a compliment so over-the-top flattering, you can only share it with her.

When you ace your first test in college. 'Cause she's the one who prepared you.

When you have the worst day at work and you just want to fall apart.

When your friends plan some big night out... and don't invite you.

When you get dumped and you can't stop crying.

When you a certain handsome somebody gets down on his knee.... and you get a ring.

When you put that white dress know she's the only one who deserves to zip it up.

When that little white stick shows a plus sign and your life is changed forever.

When you find a lump.

When you can't figure out for the life of you how on earth to de-bone a chicken...and you have company coming in an hour. She's the one you call.

When you feel like your man isn't fighting for you anymore. And it hurts.

When that little bundle you just brought home from the hospital won't. stop. crying.

When you just wanna go see a sappy, sad chick flick in sweat pants and cry it out.

When you hear the words..."I'm leaving you"...."You're being let go"...."cancer"....""down syndrome".... "miscarriage"....and your world is rocked.

When your crazy, big, impossible dream comes true.

And when you simply need someone to talk to. Someone who understands because, after all ...she's been there since the beginning.

This post is dedicated to my precious mom -
 you are one of my best friends,
one of my greatest role models.
You taught me how to be a woman. How to love Jesus.
How to be compassionate, sweet, and grace-filled.
You are Proverbs 31.
And I love ya.

Go  - hug a mama today.
And if you are one?
Go take a bubble bath. You deserve it.

Happy Mother's Day!



"Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also and he praises her.
Many women have done noble things but you surpass them all."
-Proverbs 31:28-29

PS -if you haven't yet, don't forget to enter my fab GIVEAWAY - time is running out!!
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Friday, May 11, 2012

  Sooo... today is the day!! (wow, this was one exciting week at SI! And by SI, I mean Sweetness Itself,  not Sports Illustrated...although, it may have been an exciting week for them too, who knows, ha!) The Spring Fling Swap Day! I am so thankful L had the idea to put together the Spring Fling Swap. It's been such a sweet blessing to see some of you ladies meet new friends and bond over mutual interests and love for Jesus.

   My swap partner was L, my co-host - who blogs over at All Glorious Within And happily,  I  received her precious package, full of love and thoughtfulness!

if ya gotta cover up the addresses, might as well have fun with it...

And L, you'll notice that I am wearing the ring that came in the a little excited & forgot to take pics as I was opening the box!
(this was taken after opening ;)

opening my encouraging card

I just loved everything she sent! So sweet.

I laid it all out on my bed and took a picture to show you all what she sent,
and then I was like, "Wait, something's missing...."

Oh DUH, it's the headband I'm wearing.
I got so excited about it, I put it on and then couldn't find it. Yeah...that happened.
But isn't it cute?

the lovely gifts:

1. Beautiful print for my Wall of Inspiration, that L took herself! Impressed.
2. Flip flops from Aeropostale - totes adorbs. (Waiit.. did I just say "totes adorbs"? I am losing it...) And the best thing about them? They're pink!
3. A lovely necklace .... it's just so elegant!
4. My much-loved headband. (handmade by L,, she's creative)
5. 2 gorgeous bracelets (again, handmade by L - out of PAPER. Yes, paper. Amazing.)
6. You can't really see it 'cause it's teeny-tiny in the picture, but it is a take-my-breath-away-it's-so-pretty rose ring.
7. Very sweet card!
8. Beautiful (and pink, of course) camera bag - and who made it, you ask? Oh L did. She's a one-woman wonder, I tell ya!)
Me just loving my sandals.

(Oh, and you may notice the gigantic white heart I strategically placed over my entire midriff that peeped out for this pic. Didn't wanna flash y'all...'cause of course, modest is hottest, right? ;) But...on another note - who wears pink and purple at the same time, when they're not 12? Gotta be honest - me. But just around the house, FYI...)

  Girlies, thank you to all who participated in the swap! Go link up below, because I am SO excited to read all your posts and see every little thing ya got.

And for those who didn't - I don't want you to feel left out! So, go enter my giveaway because then you just might be getting more than a couple AMAZING boxes of loot too!

  I pray that at the end of this swap, you have found yourself not only with a new pair of summer sandals and some fun treats, but with a new friend and sister! That was the goal of the swap - encouragement. 'Cause we all need it, right? I know I do. And for you dear gals who live outside the US, I apologize that we weren't able to include you this time :( But hopefully next time.....yeah, there may be a next time! Thanks for being a part :)

Love and hugs to you all.

Happy Friday!



PS - more love from me coming atcha this weekend.


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Monday, May 7, 2012

**very long, very loud drum roll......**
TODAY IS THE DAY, loves!!!
And I am excited.
It's my very first giveaway,
 in honor of hitting the 400 follower mark on GFC!!

Some of my best bloggy friends are giving away some amazing stuff.
{Go check out their blogs, shops and Twitters - you won't be disappointed -
I've got one awesome group of ladies here!}

Go for it!

blog // shop

blog // shop

blog // twitter

blog // twitter

blog // twitter

blog // twitter

blog // shop

blog // shop

blog // twitter

blog // shop

>> Winner takes all <<

*to enter, you must be a follower of my blog via GFC*

*Comment below for each entry*

additional entries:

- follow the links above and comment separately for each.

-for my additional links you follow, comment for each.
 {twitter // facebook // pinterest // instagram // hello cotton }

now.... go for it!


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Friday, May 4, 2012

Hey girls!!

SO excited to be linking up again for The Girl Behind The Blog.
I've met such awesome women through these link-ups!
The topic is really fun - favorite beauty products! I just shared one with you guys -
it's a beauty secret that I just LOVE and you have to try!!


BTW, isn't 5ohwifey's baby the cutest in the pic above?! Go link up and join the fun :)

Oh, and sorry about the kind of long crash & burn ending ha! (and for how it seems like I'm being paid to do a commercial for this product haha!)  Here's to vlogs in al their glory - including the FACT that YouTube must purposefully select the worst capture image for the screen shot...anyone else think so too?!)

Hugs to you and love!


*be sure to turn off the music player down at the bottom of the page*

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

today is my little sister's birthday.
and as such, today's post is dedicated to her 
and to that beautiful thing called sisterhood.

happy birthday, beautiful mandy!

photo credit: karen kingsbury
by the way, do i not have the MOST gorgeous sister ever?!

{okay, this is not good - i'm already crying...}

dear sis,

today is your birthday.

i remember the day you were born. i was only like 17 months old myself, i know. but even though i was a baby too, i just knew you were a little breath of heaven. the day mom and dad brought you home from the hospital, i kissed you on the head and i've loved you since that moment.

i remember thinking you had the littlest hands i'd ever seen. although come to think of it, mine were probably not much bigger... but that's how it was. i was your big sister, and you were my little baby. but soon, you became my first friend...and my best friend.

and man, did we have fun.

by the way - dad sure was handsome!

remember the ice cream cones, that little orange table where we sat and played with playdough? the bubbles, the rolly pollys, the cotton wood tree in our front yard where we'd play barbies for hours? we were besties and we knew it.

remember how we loved kittens, taco dinners, and playing dolls?

i remember how you always happily let me set up shop and do your hair, even when i was a little too bossy about it.

remember when we shared a bunk bed, and when we were scared at night you would sing to me softly... until i fell asleep. even then, your voice was the prettiest i have ever heard.

i loved playing barbies with you. i loved our dance classes and recitals.... especially the ones we made up at home.

remember when we lived on the ranch and we used to ride in the back of dad's old red truck down dirt country roads, singing in harmony with our best friend rachel? i would give my right arm to go back in time and do that for just ten minutes.

remember how we used to laugh? we laughed so hard in those days, our tummies hurt. i can still laugh with you like nobody else. and i love that.

do you remember when got to float in the dead sea in israel? that was crazy amazing. and then that night, we got a room all our own next door to mom and dads at the dead sea spa hotel? that was the first fancy hotel we ever stayed in.

and all through our teen years, when we sang to thousands and thousands of people every weekend, which made everybody treat us like we were special and not real, somehow ... you were the only one i could just be normal and real with. we were the only ones who really understood. and it was okay, because we had our secret language - that glance and look. we could read each other's thoughts without putting them into words.

i loved going to greece with you. remember sailing on that cruise ship in the grecian islands?

i remember, back in high school, the day i lost the first guy i ever cared about. he walked out the door, never to be seen again. i went up to your bedroom, first thing - and before i even shed a tear, i found you sitting there on the floor, crying your eyes out for me. and then i laid down, put my head in your lap and had my first real, long, heart-wrenching cry over a boy. you just stroked my hair and told me everything would be okay.

remember when got to go to puerto vallarta, mexico? and we couldn't say no to that girl on the beach who wanted to braid our hair?

and then we kept the braids in for a couple weeks after and everyone laughed at us 'cause we were like monica on "friends" when she had a head full of braids? but we didn't care. 'cause we did it together.

i'm sorry i wasn't always the greatest friend to you, especially when i was in college. i wish sometimes i could go back and savor every moment we played together in the tall summer grass at the ranch, the simple songs we sang together in harmony - for no reason but because it made us smile. and i wish i could go back to the nights when you were just a room away ... because i miss being able to call out into the darkness, "love ya sis" and hearing your sweet voice answer back, "love you too sissy."

"remember, sisters make the best friends in the world."
-marylin monroe 

you are precious to me, sister.

there is something magical about sisterhood.
it's unlike any other friendship or relationship.
it's a kindred-spirit, best-friend bond that can never be broken,
and it grows more beautiful with time.

all my love and a kiss
(just like the one when we first met)


your sister.


ps -

for those beautiful ones reading along...
go today and hug your sisters -
whether real sisters of friend sisters.
and embrace this beautiful thing called sisterhood.
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