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Thursday, August 30, 2012

    I have been writing all day, and so I have few words tonight. Working on a new and exciting project I can't wait to share with you all soon. But for now, may I leave you tonight with simply one thing: encouragement to embrace a thankful heart. Yesterday, I wrote my thankful list by the sea and I smiled just a little more, grateful for the last days of summer sunshine.
    Choose thankfulness today, my friend. And be encouraged by these beautiful lists from my beautiful sisters. I'd love for you to join us - write lists of 4+ blessings you're thankful for & hasthtag #thankfulsweetness on Twitter/Instagram. 

    IG: @forthisseason                                              IG: @kara_mineforthemaking
    IG: @sydmajor1                                                   IG: @mariag928
  IG: @katehomelove                                              IG: @forthisseason
    IG: @emilyholland937                                        IG: @kerripac
   IG: @emilyholland937                        IG: @_alwaysashley_ :"surprise flowers from my hubby!"
   IG: @myloveforlyla                                              IG: @snugly_duckling
   IG: @_alwaysashley_                                          IG: @bunkerboo 
    IG: @emilyholland937                                        @forthisseason
    IG:@shopgirl82                                                   IG:@bonita4
    IG: @amandalaura                                              IG: @forthisseason
    IG: @mrs_v820                                                  IG: @forthisseason

 Love to you all. And Happy Friday!



//linking up today with Casey Wiegand//
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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Well, it's time again for my favorite link-up ... The Girl Behind the Blog! If you haven't joined in the fun yet, you really should - it's such a wonderful way to meet other bloggers and dip your toes in the sometimes-intimidating water called "vlogging." This month's prompt is: "How Blogging Has Changed You" and I loved answering the questions (although I went a liiiiiittle long and read one of the questions twice...yeah.) Enjoy! And be sure to link up :)




PS - I'll be back tomorrow for "Thankful Sweetness" so be sure to write those lists and hashtag them #ThankfulSweetness on Twitter & Instagram.
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Monday, August 27, 2012

  Hi dear readers!
 I have another sweet sponsor to share with you - Tiffany from GingerPeachT! 
 This is one blog you don't want to miss. I'm not even kidding, Tiffany's blog is beautiful - and her heart just shines through. She's a true gem, and as I've followed her blog for a while now, her posts have ministered to me, made me laugh and smile, and encouraged me. She writes and shares with honesty and is totally down-to-earth. I just love her! She graciously answered some of my questions so y'all could get to know her better, and I'll share those in a minute, but before we do anything else, I encourage you to click on this little button below and follow her blog!
   Did ya do it? You won't regret it. As I said, she's wonderful. On the side, she also shares amazing pampering products, see here
1 // Tell us all about your lovely blog and why you chose the name? I originally started my blog when I became a newlywed like most seem to do. It has changed names several times and will stay on the current one "GingerpeachT". I am obsessed with Ginger Peach tea and also I'm a redhead (most of the time) and my name is Tiffany. There ya have it, all together!

2 // What is the Lord teaching you right now? Sounds so cliche but it's true - trusting God completely to take care of me. My hubby was in the military and because he didn't get the promotion last year, he had to be laid off. Going from living in a cocoon of the military benefits to having zero income at all for the past couple months were rather hard. Cried many tears just of the unknown. However God had us in His hands the whole time and just this week provided us a new job and a new home! So have faith, don't give up on God, He isn't done with you yet! 

3 // If your life was made into a movie, which actress would you choose to portray you and why? I would have to say Emma Stone. I just love how she has her serious moments but also a quirky girly side to her! She is tall and skinny like I am, I also will listen to a song and hate it, but then will sing it non stop and dance around my room like this.

4 // If you were stranded on a deserted island and you could only have 3 items, what would you bring? A big floppy hat, my hubby (because he would be smart enough to make us a boat, he's a naval architect!), and a camera to document it all because that would be epic!

5 // What is your favorite thing about blogging? What is one tip you've learned about blogging that you can share to help other bloggers? Don't get caught up into doing certain posts just to get more views/comments. Sure, if you wanna do a fashion post daily because you like it, go ahead! But do it for yourself and not others. Pleasing others is just so overrated :-)

Instagram: GingerpeachT

Isn't she wonderful?
So thankful for the amazing bloggers I've come to know through this blog world :)

Blessings this week - to you and you and you.

I'll be back Wednesday with the Girl Behind the Blog link-up! 

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

     the breeze is finally cool here and i am loving it. and though it's not autumn yet, i am loving early fall happy things, like pumpkin spice scented candles, pre-season football, throwing my cable knit blanket on the bed, and curling up with thick books in the evening. what are your favorite autumn things? 

 as the summer comes to an end, i'll share some of my favorite things from the past few weeks. and since a picture's worth a thousand words, let these snapshots speak for themselves....

embrace your life this week,
be thankful for the little things,
enjoy the last summer breezes.
you are loved.




Weekend iPhone Photo Drop

{to follow on Instagram, search: erin_sweetnessitselfblog}

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Friday, August 24, 2012

     Happy Friday, my dear readers!
As a sweet start to your weekend, I am thrilled to introduce you to one of my amazing sponsors - Lucy. She blogs over at The Berkshire Belle - 

       If you're looking for an encouraging blog, this is one you will want to follow and add to your favorites list! Lucy is a young woman who loves the Lord and is pursuing Jesus. She is 18 years old and I am constantly amazed at the wisdom she has beyond her years. She not only shares beautiful words and thoughts, but her photography is lovely too! I am SO thankful she's one of my sponsors this month because she is a kindred spirit and such an inspiration. I could go on and on... but let's hear from the belle herself! :) She graciously answered some questions I asked her so that you can get to know her!
1 // Tell us about your beautiful blog and why you chose the name? 
         My name is Lucy and I blog over at Berkshire Belle. I started blogging when I was 13 years old on a high fashion blog called Chic Mystique. I had stopped blogging when I was 15 because high fashion was not where my heart was anymore and when I was 17 I decided to delete that blog and start a new blog chronicling my life as a Christian young woman. 

 When I created my new blog I kept the name Chic Mystique because I had no idea what to name my new blog. After about two months of pondering what to change my blog's name to, it hit me. I have always had a lot of home country pride, everyone was always "making fun" of  how proper and ladylike I always was (I was raised for my first ten years of life in the U.K.) and I have always been fascinated by the South and ladylike Southern belles. With all those elements combined the name Berkshire Belle randomly came to mind and that is how Berkshire Belle came to be :)
My friend Amanda & I getting ready for our camp banquet.

2 // What is the Lord teaching you right now? My entire life I have struggled with patience. At this point in my life I constantly feel the need to rush through everything to achieve my goals and consequently I miss out on the joyous little things in life that bring me great happiness when I take my time and slow down. He is teaching me that He has perfect timing and that if I am patient He will show me the way instead of me making my own way.

3 // If your life was made into a movie, which actress would you choose to portray you and why? If my life were made into a movie I would choose Elizabeth Banks to play me. Sure, she's only a year younger than my mom but she's from the same place as me! Elizabeth Banks has been one of my role models for several years now mainly because she got out of this little piece of nowhere and has become super successful. I think she would be awesome playing me because 1) we are both blonde and 2) she has certain nuances that are characteristic of Berkshire County. Plus, I'm just a huge fan! 
My mom, one of my brothers and myself after one of my plays.
 The theatre is a HUGE part of my life.

4 // If you were on a deserted island and could only have 3 items, what would you bring?  Hmmm, I would bring my Bible for sure and a water distiller would be a must-have! I would probably bring my herb book as well so that I would know what I could work with medicinally and nutritionally. 

5 // What is your favorite thing about blogging? What is one tip you've learned about blogging that you can share to help other bloggers? My favorite thing about blogging is all the wonderful people I've been able to meet, who share the same values as me, who in ordinary circumstances I would have never had the chance to gain their acquaintance. It has been such a blessing to know that I am not alone on this journey of loving God and maintaining a level of purity that our culture does not tend to value.

During this short time I've been blogging for Berkshire Belle, I've come to realize that the most important thing you can do is just be real and honest about yourself on your blog. It is easy to begin to get generic hoping to attract people to your blog but it'a another thing to say what is on your heart and let the world see who you are. And just have fun! It's supposed to be fun, right?!

Isn't she sweet? I so encourage you to follow her blog as well as her other links, you won't regret it - she's a wonderful friend to meet! :)

Connect with The Berkshire Belle 

Instagram: @luceey101
Hello Cotton:

Happy weekend. 
Smile, friend. You are loved.



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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

     Have you ever looked back on seasons in your life and thought, "Man, I had it good. And I didn't even realize it." Life changes as time rolls on, our hearts mature (hopefully), our perspective widens, and we grow. At this point in my life, I look back on my high school and college years especially and realize how ungrateful my heart was. I think of things that were present in my life at that time - things I no longer hold or have - blessings of the moment that are now passed. I'm not just talking about physical things like a car that I may have driven at that time or the privilege I had of traveling to Europe several times. I think of people who graced my life at the time who have now gone to Heaven, opportunities to love on certain people who are no longer in my life, positions I could have used more wisely. I don't look back regretfully, because I see how God has used each and every one of my failings and omissions to work things for good (Romans 8:28), to accomplish His plan. But I am motivated by the musings on my ungrateful heart in the past... motivated to start afresh today and live differently. Perhaps you know what I mean, my friend. It's so easy to get caught up in what you need, what you want, what you don't have... always looking ahead, always planning, always moving forward (and these are good things in their place.) Yet, this focus on the "have nots" and the "wants" plants the seed of discontentment in our hearts and blinds us from seeing life with eyes of gratefulness, it causes the weed of disdain to grow in our hearts and it chokes out that graceful, soft place called thankfulness. 
    I believe that the act of taking the time every day to look up above our circumstances and give thanks is one of the keys to a contented life. Psalm 118:1 says, "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever!" My sweet readers... this is ENOUGH to give thanks for each and every day for the rest of our lives. God is good - and further, He loves me?! And that love goes on and on and on... no matter if I fail Him, no matter what mistakes I make, no matter how bad life gets, no matter what I lose or gain - He is good and His love goes on for infinity. For you! For me. And that's not all - each and every day is also full of small things we can be thankful for, little blessings we don't deserve.

   Just a few weeks ago I chose to purposefully bow my head in the middle of this messy, crazy, confusing life and thank the Lord. And when I looked around, I was not alone. You all were with me, linking arms and thanking Him too. 

      I love this little community of thankfulness. We're all scattered about this earth, but if we were in the same small town I can just imagine us sitting together in a cozy living room, hands cupped around mugs of steamy coffee and tea, passing plates of cookies and treats as we laugh, cry, and share all the little, silly, amazing, huge, incredible, sweet things we are thankful for. We'd take hands and thank Him together, little smiles on our faces. And in a way, this is what we are doing (thank you social media!) Would you like to join us? Simply write down (in any way you desire) 4+ things you are thankful for and share them on Twitter or Instagram (Hashtag #thankfulsweetness) or e-mail your lists to me. I am sharing them once a week here.

    IG: @emilyholland937                                          IG: @serogers22
    IG: @alesha_blessed                                           IG: katehomelove
 Can we just take a moment for these precious little guys? They joined in with their sweet mama and I just smile & get a little teary eyed every time I see what they're thankful for! 
   IG: @forthisseason   // their mom's amazing, wise blog: 
    IG: @nicolevinson                                                IG: @samantha_grey
    IG: @_alwaysashley_                                         IG: @buckeyebelle
     IG: @ameera1214                                              IG: @bunkerboo 
  IG: @forthisseason   //I just can't get over the cuteness!// 
   IG: @julie_funnythingblog                                  IG: @snugly_duckling
     IG: @sweetlavendarbakeshoppe                     IG: @mariag928
   IG: @nikki_savingforarainyday                        IG: @buckeyebelle
    IG: @jessibridges                                                IG: @forthisseason   :)

Love to you all.



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Sunday, August 19, 2012

     When I first began this blog, I knew I wanted to write about sexual purity. It's something very close to my heart and I felt compelled to share my passion for purity on this platform called the Internet. Yet, I wouldn't be honest if I told you I wasn't a little scared. I remember the night I wrote my first post on purity - Wait For Me. I pressed "publish", turned out my bedside lamp, and laid my head down on the pillow...but I couldn't sleep. I kept thinking about what I wrote... you bloggers know what I mean - sharing your heart honestly for the whole world to see is not easy, but when you feel convicted, compelled and at peace about sharing your life and heart with others - then you just jump in and do it. I remember lying in my bed that night thinking. I would be lying if I told you I didn't get up at one point, turn on the light, open my computer and almost pressed "delete" on the purity post. But I didn't....I couldn't. I knew the Lord wanted me to share my story and heart... and I knew He wanted me to do it bravely as I trusted in Him. I knew He wanted me to be willing to stand alone. To be faithful to the commitment I made and to fearlessly stand up and speak what I believed...because maybe...maybe someone else would be encouraged by it, and maybe I wouldn't be alone after all.
       But I was a little scared. Sure, some close friends of mine have made the same commitment, I'd read several books on the topic, and been mentored by multiple Christian leaders who had modeled the fight for purity. Yet, I wondered - what if no one agrees with me here on the Internet? What if I'm really one of the only ones? But I did it anyway. Because, at the end of the day - I don't care what people think - I only care what God thinks. Yet, I still wondered. Wondered if I'd be standing completely alone.

       As a 13 year old girl I made a life-changing choice to save sex for marriage and to live a set-apart life. To wait and pray for my future husband (whoever he may be) and to strive to live a life of purity. I knew at the time I was choosing a path less-traveled, a narrow path: a path I may walk almost-alone. Even though I was a young girl with little life experience, I understood that choosing purity meant saying "no" to the things people my age indulged in, I knew it meant doing hard things instead of taking the easy way out, I knew it meant a possibly long wait for God's perfect timing, and I knew it wouldn't always be fun. I knew I may feel alone in my choice at times. But I also knew - the Lord would be with me and in the end, it would be best. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." - Matthew 5:8

       When someone makes a choice - to stand alone and go against the flow, it requires bravery and fearlessness. It's been 12 years since I chose this narrow path - it's not the easiest way, the most famous way, or the most fun. But it is best and it is worth it. And though there have certainly been times through this journey when I felt alone - those times are far outweighed by knowing I am not alone. 
      I pressed "publish" on the purity post that night standing strong in Christ and linking arms with just a few close friends who shared my beliefs. But since that day I began writing openly on this blog about purity, I have been absolutely overwhelmed with the sheer volume of people who share my same convictions. I cannot even tell you the number of times I've sat by the light of my laptop screen as I wipe tears from my eyes - moved by story upon story - "Amen's" shouted, God-written love stories shared, young brides telling me: "Girl, it's SO WORTH THE WAIT", couples who have waited or did not wait and wish they did - who encourage me to keep on keeping on. Mothers who teach these truths to their children, teenage girls who are thankful to know they are not alone, guys who are faithfully waiting for their future wives in a culture that tears true manhood down. It's been about 9 months since I began this blog and wrote candidly about purity, and I've been blown away and encouraged by the many people who came alongside me, took my hand, and told me - "you are not alone."

And friend - I want you to know this too: you are not alone.
    Hundreds of e-mails, comments, messages, tweets, and conversations later - I am nothing short of encouraged. And grateful for the incredible people who have gone before me, share the same heart, and are incredible examples of those who fight in the "trenches" for a pure life. And though on a much smaller scale, I believe this is a tiny piece of what Heaven will someday feel like. When the weight of traveling singularly falls off our shoulders and we are surrounded by millions of souls who refused to deny Jesus Christ - people of every race, tongue, country, generation, and from every decade - joining hands and standing together, basking in the joy of promises fulfilled and waiting culminated in beautiful peace.

   Earlier this week, a precious woman I'd never before met who blogs at Simply Beautiful shared this comment on my "Purity and Waiting" post and it simply took my breath away. I asked her permission to share it with you today - her words and testimony encouraged me, inspired me, and made me smile. Thank you, Leanne, for shining so brightly and sharing your amazing story - you reminded me that I am not alone. May her story encourage you too - 

 Friend, my message to you today is this: 

if you are striving to pursue a pure life, you are not alone.

 // if you're a single person who is saving sex for marriage 
//if you are praying and waiting for your future spouse, wondering if it's all for nothing.
// if you are married and fighting to maintain faithfulness to your spouse.
//if you're a parent trying to teach your children the value of sexual purity.
// if you've made lots of mistakes and given away your virginity - it's not too late.
// if you struggle with keeping your heart and mind pure in a dirty world.


   This world will tell you that you are most definitely alone. But be careful who you listen to, dear one. The media will scream at you, "you are alone and crazy for choosing purity!" and it's message is shouted through songs, TV shows, magazine covers, and movie scenes. People around you may whisper words that tear you down. But do not listen to them - our Enemy desires to destroy our purity, to keep us from being close to God, to distract us from seeing Him, from being like Him, and from living the beautiful, pure life He gives. Stay strong, my love - don't believe those who tear you down, don't buy into the lies that say you must go with the flow and sell yourself short, treating sex like it's meaningless. Sex is precious - and should be treated with respect, because purity is a priceless gift.

      May you be encouraged and inspired today  - to keep running toward a lifestyle of purity, to keep waiting and saving sex for the beautiful joy it is in marriage, to protect purity in marriage and to trust Jesus with your purity. No one is perfect and we all fail often. But in His grace, we can safely rest and trust - knowing His timing is perfect and that if we do not have something we want, it is because it is not good for us - for He withholds no good thing from those who walk in integrity (Psalm 84:11.) 

You are not alone.
Not only is God on your side,
 but thousands of other young people are standing right here with you.
I know... I've met lots of 'em. 
And man, are they amazing.
May you be inspired and your hope in the beauty of purity freshly renewed today.
And may you hold fast to Jesus - 
who lifts sinners when we fall, redeems our failings, 
gives us everything we need at the perfect time.

Trust Him.
He won't let you down... or me... or any of the many, many precious souls who stand with us.

I am thankful today. 
Because I asked God for the strength to be fearless and press "publish."
Because He graciously gave it to me.
And because I am NOT alone.

 As beloved Anne of Green Gables used to say,
 "Kindred spirits are not as rare as one may think." 
I'm thankful tonight for you many, many kindred spirits. 

Love to you - 
and strength, grace, and fearlessness.


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