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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I turn the shiny page. Red carpets, beautiful gowns, chiseled bodies, shiny hair. An advertisement for perfume. An article about how to get those eyelashes fuller. Flawless, tanned skin. Perfect, skinny, curvy bodies. 
This past week, friends, I have been reading through all of the popular women's magazines available. Excited to contribute as a part of the new Quite Magazine's writing team, I have been reading and "getting a feel for" what's out there, what's made available for millions of American women to read on a monthly basis. Doing a little research, you could say. Honestly, I will not purchase more than half the women's magazines available. I won't spend money to support the lies they scream at women, the explicit sexual content, graphic pornographic photos and "sex tips" that no young women should be viewing or exposed to (especially underage girls.) Yet, as I viewed many of these magazines in their online versions, I see a common theme, a thread throughout them all: how to look prettier, be skinnier, sexier, hotter, more flawless. Basically? How to be beautiful. 

"Plastic surgery: should you or shouldn't you?"  

 "How to stay skinny"

 "Tricks for shinier hair and clearer skin" 

"45 Ways to...", nevermind. Let's not go there. Trying to keep this place PG, people! 

Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with striving to be the best we can be, to make the most of our natural beauty, to love fashion and makeup, doing our hair, and looking pretty! But, I'm sure you've seen what I mean, here- all you have to be is a regular grocery store shopper and you are bombarded with images on magazines every time you stand in the check-out line to simply purchase your week's meals. This topic has been stewing in my heart the last few days because of the research I've been doing for magazine writing. And it has me saddened and also, concerned. And I know I'm not alone in this. I know so many of you agree with me and share the same heart. I am outraged that our culture has taken beauty to a level that is completely fake, false and unattainable. And we need to be real, honest and upfront about what the media is doing to condition all of us to think we are not good enough, not pretty enough, not "hot" enough. I know people are smart. You ladies know what is true and what is false. But at the same time, when we are exposed to images day in and day out - on our computers, smart phones, iPads, TV's, billboards, catalogs we receive in the mail, magazines we read and see on the newsstand  and signs at the store and mall - we need to remember the truth

We need to be reminded of this: 

Ladies, maybe it's not Maybelline. Maybe it's Photoshop.

Example A: 
photos found here, you can view more airbrushing examples

Ladies, I'm sure you've seen before/after photo examples like this before. But seriously, I think we need to often and regularly remind ourselves and the precious women in our lives that the standards of beauty the media presents to us on a daily basis are big, fat LIES. 

You ladies are smart. And our guys are smart too (Sidenote: I believe the same thing is happening to men in our media, but that is another post for another time.) Yet I also believe that our minds are impressionable. Our hearts are soft. And when we are constantly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly exposed to airbrushed photos and unrealistic, impossible standards of physical beauty, it takes a toll. It truly does. Or at least, in my personal experience it does. 

And from what I am learning, I am not alone. Lies scream at us from the perfect, airbrushed images - You're fat. You're not pretty enough. You're not good enough. You're ugly. In fact, no one will ever love you. Your skin is pasty and your thighs are huge. Your breasts are too small. Your waist is TOO BIG. 
And on and on and on until we want to scream and run away. Or starve ourselves. Or cut our wrists. Or diet obsessively and take laxative pills. Or throw up in the toilet after dinner. Or spend hours upon hours in tanning beds under harmful rays (I am guilty as charged for doing that many times in the past...) It happens slowly, over time. Thoughts of self-loathing. That feeling that hangs over you like a dark rain cloud that makes you feel blah. That makes you feel like you will never measure up, never be quite good enough, never be loved, or wanted or desired. And sometimes, these thoughts are not even conscience. But if you're anything like me, they are there. Maybe to just a slight level - maybe you look in the mirror sometimes and kick yourself for not working out more. Maybe you roll your eyes at family pictures because you think your nose is way too big and your eyes are way too small. Perhaps you constantly tear yourself down with words of self hatred like I sometimes do: "My hair looks like a rat's nest! Do you see the bags under my eyes? Another pimple popped up last night, great. I look SO FAT!" 

Lies, my friend. Lies from the pit of hell.

And so today, I want to remind you of some simple truth. I want you to know, to remember - that you are beautiful and you are loved.  
You are OH so loved, my sweet friend. And you do not need to be skinner, healthier, prettier, sexier, more bronzed, highlighted, toned or plucked to be loved. You are loved - just the way you are. You are loved by God. The One who calls the stars into the sky at twilight. The One who created your heart. The One who made the world. He calls you beautiful, He calls you "Beloved." And He would know, after all... He made you!

Your worth is not found in how long and thick your eyelashes are. It's not found in how curvy your waist is or in the size of your chest. You are not worthwhile because guys turn their heads when you walk down the street. Or because you wear designer jeans. It's not because you have beautiful hair or sparkly eyes. Or because you have long legs or shapely arms. Your worth is not found in being pretty or skinny.

Tans fade. Hair turns gray. Fashion changes. Trends come and go. But nothing you can do can change what you are worth. Nothing can happen to take away God's love. Not acne, not wrinkles. Frizzy hair cannot take it away. And chapped lips do not matter to Him. He loves you no matter what. And you are beautiful because you are real. Because your soul is deep. Because you have dreams. Because of the way you love people, the way your mind works, the passion that bursts inside your heart when you think of all you want to do someday. That is real beauty. 

Ladies, remember that you are precious, valued, and loved. Let's stop comparing ourselves to pictures of women that are NOT REAL. These lies we are force-fed. Don't get down on yourself because of something that does not even truly exist - airbrushed perfection. 

And be on your guard, I urge you - do not let the Enemy rip you off! Stand firm and combat his lies with truth. That you are loved. Treasured. Valued. And that the images on magazines and billboards are fake

"For You created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother's womb.
And I will praise You because 
I am fearfully and wonderfully made." 
Your works are wonderful 
and I know that full well."
-Psalm 139:13-14 
"You are altogether beautiful,
my love;
there is no flaw in you." 
-Song of Songs 4:7 

You are loved, beautiful girl.
Keep your chin up, darlin'.
He calls you beautiful.
Now let that sink in for a minute.



Note: these photos have been edited with fun overlays to add artistic interest, but they have not been airbrushed or touched up
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Monday, January 28, 2013

I wish I could meet up with you, dear sister, at a tiny coffee shop. I wish we could order our favorite drinks - mine would be a chai tea latte, with soy. You would order yours. We'd sit at a little round table and sip from our big, steamy mugs as we share about our life and hearts.
It would be so encouraging, so fun.

But since miles separate so many of us, I decided to do the next best thing: record a little video for you. 

I like to think of it kinda like a coffee date.

In this vlog, I share a little encouragement from my heart to yours - I pray it inspires you and reminds you to keep on keeping on and to know you are LOVED! 

Stay strong, friend and keep on keeping on! 



(linking up here
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Sunday, January 27, 2013

I love simple phrases, few words, and quiet truth. 

I love knowing Him.

Knowing that, despite my faults and failings, dreams or hopes, fears or heartache - I know, with all my heart, that He gives me life. 

To love Him - the most beautiful thing. And oh, to be loved by Him.

If you need encouragement, if your heart is heavy this Sunday morning - take a few moments to sit back, close your eyes, and listen to this song. And worship. Because in Him there is hope, in Him there is life.

Happy Sunday, loves.

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Happy Friday, sisters! 

As I shared a few days ago, I am so excited to be a contributing writer for the amazing new women's magazine, Quite Magazine! And my first article has been published! And I'm sharing it with you here today - 4 Tips for Surviving Singleness and Valentine's Day. May you be inspired to embrace the season of life you are in! 

It’s nearly that time of the year…you know the one. The time of year when you go into Target to buy body wash and toothpaste, and suddenly you find yourself walking through a sea of pink and heart-shaped chocolates. Before you know it, you're walking out the door with not just the necessities you came for, but a bag full of candy, gold glittery nail polish, and a collection of random dollar section items (am I the only one who has a love/hate relationship with Target? Nevermind, it's mostly love.)
It’s that wonderful, “love is in the air” time of the year we call Valentine’s Day. Some of us look forward to it and embrace it fondly because it means bouquets of fragrant roses, little candy conversation hearts, and romantic hand-written cards. But others loathe it’s coming and anticipate it’s passing… because, you see, it can be a harsh reminder of singleness, loneliness, and longing. Being single can be lonely at any time of the year, but I have found that Valentine’s Day tends to “amp up” those feelings and can make a season of singleness more challenging to walk through. As an unmarried twenty-something woman, I understand the challenge  Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying being single is a bad thing. In fact, I have honestly found singleness to be a special blessing, a sacred time of life that is full of unique opportunities, personal growth, and a sweet season of being "just me & God." But it can also be a lonely road to walk, especially for those of us who have chosen to give our love lives over to God. For those of us who have said “no” to our culture’s idea of cheap romance and are choosing to wait for God’s best plan, who are holding out for a soulmate kind of love that will last a lifetime.

Maybe you understand what I mean…maybe you’re the only single one in your group of friends and you feel alone. Maybe you’ve recently been through a break-up and the thought of a solo Valentine’s Day scares you. Perhaps you’re married but someone in your life is struggling with singleness. Wherever you are in life and love, I would like to offer 4 tips for those who are facing Valentine’s Day alone this year – I hope you are encouraged or can encourage someone in your life with these simple but meaningful pieces of advice:  

1. Remember who is writing your love story. Your love life is a special thing, a sacred thing. I believe that all too often our culture and media portray relationships and marriage as meaningless, something that is simply there for our momentary pleasure. But that is so not true. Marriage was created by God to be lasting, to be a picture of Christ and the Church, and to be a special partnership of mutual love and care between two lives who have committed to one another “til death to us part.” If you have given God your love story, remember that He is the one who created love and romance in the first place; remind yourself that He is the God who placed the stars in the Heavens and calls the sun to rise each morning. Remember that He knows you are single. And that if you are single today, it is part of His grand plan for your life. (Jeremiah 29:11) He is writing your love story. And though things may not happen in the timing that you want or the way you would like, choose to trust God’s plan. And remember that He is writing your love story – a story much sweeter than you can imagine! If you have not given your love life to God, I encourage you to ask Him to take “the pen” and write your love story. He will not let you down! 

2. Don’t Just Sit Alone and Mope. Believe me, friend. I know the desire to want to eat an entire box of chocolate, turn on a tragic Chick Flick and cry your eyes out. But I encourage you – don’t wallow in self-pity. Do something fun, choose to redeem the time! You never know, this may be your last single Valentine’s Day ever! So dress up and go out with your girlfriends to a special dinner, invite friends over for a hot cocoa and game night, or offer to babysit a married couple’s little ones so they can enjoy a rare date night out. Choose to look outward instead of focusing on disappointment and loneliness. You might be surprised at how much fun you have!

3. Pray for your future husband. Every year on February 14th since I was a teenager, I write a love letter to my future husband. Whether I am dating someone or not, I always buy or make a card and spend some time on Valentine’s night before I go to sleep praying for my future husband, wherever he may be in this world, writing a few words telling him so. I always make sure I include the year. I hope that someday, when I finally marry “my man”, He is blessed & feels loved, knowing that I prayed for him before I met him. This can be a wonderful way to be purposeful in the “waiting” season. This Valentine’s Day, write a little note to your future husband. Tell him you are waiting for him, praying for him, saving yourself for him. Share with him how much you love him, even before you meet him. Take this time and make something beautiful out of it. And when your Prince Charming comes along, how amazing will it be for him to know that you thought of him before you've met him! Embrace this season of singleness and choose to grow and sow seeds that will someday be a blessing in your future marriage!

4. Know you are loved. It is so important to remember that you are loved immeasurably by God. Being single does not mean you are unloved or unwanted. It means that God does not want to share you yet! Seize this time and choose to open your heart to the love of God. He can fill your heart and complete you in a way no human ever can. See this time as sweet and sacred, spending time alone with Jesus. Don’t spend this time in the “waiting room” pacing around and worrying; spend it waiting on God, listening to Him, following Him. And believe that HE is the everlasting and most satisfying love there is!

“Often a Christian man or woman falls prey to that cruel and vexatious spirit, wondering how to find marriage, who, when, where?
 It is on God that we should wait, as a waiter waits--not for but on the customer--alert, watchful, attentive, with no agenda of his own, ready to do whatever is wanted. 
'My soul, wait only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.' (Ps. 62:5) In Him alone lie our security, our confidence, our trust. 
A spirit of restlessness and resistance can never wait, but one who believes he is loved with an everlasting love, and knows that underneath are the everlasting arms, will find strength and peace.” 
 Elisabeth Elliot, Quest for Love: True Stories of Passion and Purity

And remember, it is better to be single than to be with the wrong person. Being single is not the end of the world! You are precious, beautiful, and special whether you have a man in your life or not. Your identity and value does not lie in your relationships status. I encourage you to run to God, and to find your fulfillment in Him because He loves you. He loves you oh so much.

After all, He is the best Valentine there is.
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I love fashion. But something I don't like about it is it's restrictions - some trends & styles are constraining. I don't like the - this is "in", but that is so "out".  I don't like that we sometimes judge people based on the brand their wearing, if they are dressed "so last season" or are wearing something that is not what you'd find in the latest fashion magazine. I think designers and labels can be so fun and I love many of them, but at the same time I sometimes feel like personal creativity can be squelched by brand names, labels, and always having to have the latest trends. Sometimes we just can't afford to buy a whole new wardrobe that aligns with everything the celebrities are wearing or the exact predictions of People Stylewatch. And I think that's okay.

So here's to expressing ourselves through our clothing. Wearing what we think looks cute, makes us feel confident, and aligns with what we love and believe. Here's to fashion your way! I plan to share more outfits here at Sweetness Itself in 2013. And I plan to use my own personal style and creativity to share with you outfits that inspire me & make me feel confident. And I hope it inspires you do the same! This week..... Preppy Boho: 

// outfit stats // 
The red bracelet I'm wearing supports an amazing cause - my friend Morgan @ Quite the Blog  has an amazing heart and company called "Want Less GIVE More"
The beautiful bracelet - "12.14.12", a commemoration and reminder of the victims of the tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT and all proceeds from the bracelet will go to Newtown Youth and Family Services that is helping victim's families directly. What a wonderful way to do something small to send love to the families. Every time I look at the bracelet, I am reminded to pray for those precious ones who lost so much. Get yours here! 

Blessings and love this week, friends.


linking up here 
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Sunday, January 20, 2013

For Your steadfast love is great to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the clouds.

//psalm 57:10// 

  -  my view driving home from a meeting yesterday evening  - 

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Sigh. It's the weekend, friend. And as you enter your (hopefully) lazy Saturday morning routine, I encourage you to take a few moments to think. To pray. Maybe even journal. To brew a pot of tea and just be. And to think about your year so far and where you are going. I did this week, and I when I saw the inspiration above I was inspired afresh to embrace a spirit of fearlessness and to bravely chase dreams every day. May we all do this, because we are free - for, "...Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." 2 Corinthians 3:17. 


Announcing that I'm so thrilled and thankful to be joining Quite Magazine as a contributing writer!! Friends, this is an amazing women's magazine - I'll share more about it soon, but until then - check it out here: Quite Magazine

And some inspiration from my Instagram (find me - @erin_sweetnessitselfblog) 
And of course, some of my favorites from those who wrote their lists and shared their photos for my hashtag - #ThankfulSweetness - include it in your Instagram photos & tweets, sharing the things you are daily thankful for, and the little Thankful lists you make and I share my favorites every week. 


Happy weekend, loves.

Stay sweet and stay brave :)


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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A few nights ago, I sat on the carpeted floor in my black yoga pants, looking down at the thick pages of my sketch book-turned writing notebook.

My french vanilla tea turned cold in the cup beside me.

The meaningful writing session I planned alluded me. I stared down at blank pages, finding myself doodling hearts, chevron patterns, and practicing my signature in big, swoopy letters. It was writer's block - big time. And I needed inspiration. Because, you see, I am putting my 2013 word ("fearless) into practice and taking a leap of faith - I am writing a book. More details to come :) But having your support, my dear and beloved readers, would mean the world to me - and more than that, I covet your prayers. I began the idea for my book last year when I started my blog, mulling it over in my mind and journals, praying over it, asking God to make it clear - should I write it? Fear of failure and uncertainty kept me back until the end of 2012, when I prayerfully made the choice to dive headfirst, fearless, into the writing process. So here I am - excited and working in all my spare time on a project that I hope and desperately pray will mean something to someone - will touch even one girl's life, and will glorify God. I will share more about it soon, but it will be an expanded version of what I share here on this little space - with more of my story and heart... kind of like a coffee date where we talk about life, loving God, chasing dreams, relationships, guys, being brave, and living life as a good girl in a bad girl's world. One of the aspects of the book will focus on dating/waiting/singleness/marriage and living a lifestyle of sexual purity. And at this time, I'm writing the "dating" portion.

And so, as I sat there fidgeting and uninspired, I did what any red-blooded blogger would do - I turned to Instagram. (Although, sometimes we turn to Pinterest. Depends on the mood, right?) I posted this and asked my community of beautiful women to share their experience and wisdom, and their response blew me away! 

Almost 100 comments later, I was overwhelmed (in the very best sense) with these ladies. All ages and life stages, they each brought a unique  "gem" to the table, and I am more than inspired to write now. I was reminded, afresh, that we are NOT alone in our beliefs and convictions. And that living a lifestyle of purity and being a woman who follows and honors God in relationships is a reachable and important thing. 

The waters of dating and relationships can be murky and difficult to navigate. When you're young, the matters of the heart are serious and a sometimes-confusing business. That is why I just must share some of the quotes from these incredible women. I have included a few below, and hope they encourage you in whatever season you are in - single, dating, waiting - and if you're married, maybe there is someone in your life who you can share these things with. We single gals need older women to look up to! I am including the Instagram name of the author of each comment - go look these ladies up! And if you have the time, go read all the comments on my Instagram post.  

Dating Tips and Gems of Advice 

This one's my favorite - 

"Don't date just to date. Date with the intention to marry the man of your dreams. If you just so happen to get married, great. If not, be respectful because that man is someone else's future husband." @kalynrandolph, wife.

"#1 piece of advice: if you don't understand that the Lord is your husband first, you will mistakenly expect your boyfriend/husband to be your god. Boyfriends and husbands make really crappy gods." @leslie_padgett, wife & mama. 

"Don't rush anything!! And don't lower your standards for any guy. They are not worth it!" @livylovedesigns, wife & mama. 

"Don't settle. You deserve to be treated like a princess. The Lord tells us for the husbands to love us like He loves the church :)" @heidi-reimer 

"The Lord should be your filter in all things including relationships. Do not give away anything that belongs to your future husband. That includes much more than intimacy." @engineerswife, wife & mama. 

"...Always seek council from family and friends because they see the big picture when you get lost in emotions." @mommaparrott, wife & mama to 4 under the age of 4! 

"If the guy plays games, he's not the one." @kerrielwilliams, wife & missionary

"Don't fake who you are. It's a lot of back tracking and lies to cover previous lies in the end." @hotmessmommie, wife & mama 

"While dating and building a friendship & possible long-term relationship that could lead to marriage, keep 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 constantly in mind. And ask these questions along the way: Do I believe that he would love me for a lifetime no matter the state of my health, weight & appearance? Or if I experience success or failure? When I'm not at my best or even at my worst? Will he love me the same when times are good as when times are rough? Will he love my children in this way? Will he love me if a time comes when I can't fulfill all his hopes and dreams? And, will I be able to do the same? Is this is character now? Don't think you're going to change him, marry a man who has that character now (or wait for him to grow up before you marry him.)" @candycomingupsnapdragons, wife for almost 30 years & MY mama ;) 

"I would say to be patient. You pursue God and let Him lead someone to pursue you. Your eyes should be so fixed on God that you don't even notice someone is pursuing you until they want to tell you they are." @hejlalys, wife & mama 

"Guard your heart and don't cast your pearls before swine :)" @mplumb2012, wife & mama to two littles. 

"If a relationship does fall apart or fall away it may feel like the end of the world but it's not.  It's God's way of making you into the person you were meant to be and maybe lead you to the person you're meant to be with :)" @mrslester21, wife & mama-to-be 

"The physical aspect of the relationship can wait. Really...don't rush it. When you give yourself away, even a small piece, you can never get it back. You can only give yourself away one time. Yes you will and can be forgiven and marked clean but memories don't go away. It's more than just physical that you give away... It's an emotional piece of your heart that gets given as well." @amandasecor, newlywed. 

"...While you're 'waiting', pray for your future spouse. Pray that they keep pursuing their faith and have a heart for Christ. And work on becoming the person who you're looking for is looking for." @amberinco, mama.


Amazing, right? 

Now, it's your turn. 
If you have some pearls of advice and wisdom from your experience dating, 
share your heart in a comment below. We'd love to read it. 
I am planning to write more about dating in upcoming posts, 
and share my heart and perspective on it.
Excited to walk this journey with you, beautiful sisters!
And I hope you leave this post encouraged. 

LOVE to you and you and you.


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Monday, January 14, 2013

It seems that every time I go to a TV show taping in LA, I learn something. (Okay, all two times: this one time, and last week) I go just to have fun, and then bam - the Lord ends up showing up and speaking to me (as He does, unexpectedly). A few days ago, I heard that one of my favorite bands, For King and Country, would be performing on The Tonight Show! I got free tickets, and took my cute parents - we just had to go. 

If you've not heard of For King and Country, go look them up. Part of the reason I'm writing this blog post is to share them with you - I love using this little blog's platform to share good, quality, positive books, music, and blogs with you amazing readers, my goal being encouragement. This band's music is incredible, encouraging and their message is rare and amazing! They are two brothers who I've been fans of and so encouraged by for about 15 years. They recently began singing together as a group, but years ago they sang back-up for their older sister, one of my role models and inspirations, Rebecca St. James! Rebecca's boldness in sharing about sexual purity and standing strong as a young person who lives counter this culture, her books, music, and message greatly impacted my life as a young teenager, and she is one of the reasons I have the convictions about purity that I have today. In fact, the first time I saw the brothers of For King & Country perform was in 2001, as they sang back-up vocals for their sister's tour! So of course, when the guys began singing and writing together a  few years ago, I began supporting them wholeheartedly. 
They have spoken out boldly - encouraging young men to stand up and be men of integrity, and encouraging young women to not treat their bodies and purity as if it was worth just "a penny" but to realize they are princesses under God and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. 
Seriously, friends. Their message is so rare and precious to hear from young people, and specifically young guys, I so encourage you to listen to their music - it will inspire you in your walk with God and toward His plan for you.
After a quick lunch at one of my family's favorite restaurants in Burbank, we spent half the afternoon at NBC studio doing what all the rich and famous do at the studios, hang out with Jay, ya know. (NOT. Really, we just waited in line in the freezing cold foreeeeverrrr.) 
Totes twins with the stripes
Until we got to the studio, I didn't realize who else was on the show. It happened to be these guys: Ryan Seacrest, Randy Jackson and of course, Mr. Keith Urban, who is one of my all time favorite singers (neck and neck with Rascal Flatts) LOVE him.
We entered the studio and were seated... and then I realized - we had the worst seats in the entire 300-seat studio. Like, literally. Somehow we ended up on the very far left of the studio, up really high, situated right next to (but almost behind) the large sound booth. Craning my neck and leaning as far forward as I could possibly lean in my seat so that I could see Leno and his guests and the Tonight Show jazz band but not so far forward that the Italian guy next to me wearing all black leather (not to mention a liberal application of Armani for men cologne, I nearly passed out it was so strong) got annoyed. Seeing as the jazz band was on the far right of the studio off in the corner, and our seats were in the far left, it was all but impossible to see the band. And as the show started, as Leno made his jokes and the American Idol judges were interviewed, we were a little disappointed. For King and Country was set to perform at the very end of the show, and we were sure we would not be able to see them. We assumed they would perform out on the stage where the opening jazz band played, the "blind spot" from our seats. I was happy and thankful to just be there to hear them, but I was, honestly, a little disappointed.

Yet, soon, as the show came to an end - the unexpected happened. Leno announced the band, and suddenly the wall right in front of our seats was lifted up - and the band appeared!!! 
You guys, we literally had the perfect seats. It was so amazing and such a sweet surprise! We were so close and could not have chosen better seats if we had picked them out ourselves. 

And, friends - it got me thinking.
 As the guys sang and the music played, I realized something: this is just like what God does in our lives. Truly, it was such a perfect and real example of the power of Jesus on our lives when we let Him in. Just as we sat disappointed and a little "let down" throughout the show, looking at only what we could see - what "made sense" to us: a wall in front of us. We didn't think or even realize that the wall right in front of our seats was anything but a wall! We didn't see the whole picture - we did not realize it was about to be unexpectedly LIFTED and disappear! We did not realize that the seats we were placed in were not what they appeared. To us, it seemed like they were the worst seats we could have been placed in. But really, they were the best!

Being seated in not-ideal seats at a show is definitely not the end of the world. But I love the little picture it was to me of God's grace in our lives - a little example that illustrates something so much bigger. How things may not be how they appear in our lives. How when disappointments come, perhaps God is doing something bigger behind the scenes - something we are totally unaware of as we wait in the dark season. 

Maybe... a set back is really a "set up" for something even more amazing than you could have planned! And maybe, the way we perceive things in our lives - our circumstances, the way things go unplanned, is not the end of the story. God has a bigger plan than we can imagine, and just as I was unaware that the band I expected to not see was setting up right behind the wall in front of me, the Lord may be orchestrating things in your life behind a "wall" and He is about to lift that wall and reveal what you cannot imagine!

Reminds me of the scripture that says, 

"When He opens doors, no one will be able to close them.
And when He shuts doors, no one will be able to open them."
-Isaiah 22:22

So, friend - if you feel like I did the other day in the worst seats at the Tonight Show, don't despair. Do not lose hope. Keep trusting, even in the dark. Keep hoping, even when it seems hopeless. Keep believing, even when you see no "reason" to continue believing. Because - you never know what is right around the bend. You never know what God is doing behind the scenes of your life. Breakthrough may be on it's way!

Don't worry about the "bad seats" you are in today,
they may end up being the best "seats" you could imagine!

Keep your chin up, beautiful.
And remember - you are loved and God has a plan for your future.

Love, from me and my super cute but I'm never gonna wear it out in public scarf I won from Jay ;)




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Friday, January 11, 2013

I love this blog community. I love the sisters and friends I've met, the way our lives intertwine despite miles of distance and unlikelihood that our paths would ever otherwise cross. My perspective has been widened by other people's views that differ from mine - and I have learned that accepting and celebrating differences is a precious thing. But most of all, I've been so very encouraged by the sweet, wise, mature, resilient, beautiful souls I've encountered through blogging. The Internet & social media have some negative aspects, but I have found there is much more good than bad. And the blogging community is truly part of the good. The very good. 

I really love the phrase Glennon Melton constantly shares - 

"The most revolutionary thing we can do is introduce people to each other." 

A to the MAN! One of my prayers for this blog is that it is a place where we can be real, share our hearts, build a sisterhood, and meet new people. Which is why I would like to introduce April to you. She is a gem of a woman with an overflowing heart for encouragement and a lot of wisdom. She's been through alot. And she has chosen to take her experiences and use them to speak truth and inspiration into people.

Her blog, Rise Above Life is full of sweet encouragement. She speaks specifically to those who are and have experienced loss, disappointment, and pain in life. Those dark moments of life called "miscarriage", "cancer", "divorce", and the like. Those things we think we cannot get through. This is where she steps in with truth - she speaks HOPE into hopelessness. 
Something I love about April's ministry is her Etsy shop - full of gorgeous, inspiring prints to hang in your home to remind you of unshakable truths during stormy seasons. 

Enjoy getting to know April a little better, I know you'll be encouraged. 

// Follow April for more encouragement // 

and find her inspiring, beautiful prints at her shop: 

// Etsy // 


Happy weekend, my loves!

I'll be back sharing my thoughts and a lesson learned 
last night at the Jay Leno show (of all places!)

Stay sweet.



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Monday, January 7, 2013

You know those days when you wake up and you just can't shake a feeling of discouragement? You go through the day, go through the motions, doubts and fears creeping into your mind, your heart slowly but ever so surely becoming unsettled. I was there this morning - until the Lord, in the way He so sweetly does, gently reminded of me who He is. Exodus 14:14 kept popping up.... all day long. You know when that happens? In my morning devotional (She Reads Truth), a Facebook status I saw, and a blog post I read. 

"The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent." 
-Exodus 14:14 

He is good and faithful, He is there when we are struggling and when we call on Jesus - all things are possible. Remember that with me today. And be encouraged by these posts by some of my friends: 

Amber reminded us of this truth, and it left me in tears. 

April talks about surviving abuse and addiction

Nadine shares on the only One who can satisfy

Krystaladele explains her word for 2013

L wrote about why we have dreams. 

Danise encourages us with the truth that God is doing a new thing in 2013

Kate shares the cutest pictures of her little one

A few moments and inspirations from my week, I hope they inspire you.

Remember Thankful Sweetness? It's back. (And it's high time it was back, too!) 
Throughout the week, make a thankful list with 4 or more simple things you are thankful for. Take a picture of the list. Add the hashtag #ThankfulSweetness and post to Twitter and/or Instagram. I will share some of them every week in a post :) 
And I want to expand it a little for 2013 - don't let the thankfulness stop at our lists. Add our hashtag #ThankfulSweetness to ANY photo that depicts something you're thankful for. I hope and pray this builds greater community among us and fosters in our hearts gratefulness. 

Enjoy and be encouraged by the lists from this past week: 

Starting with mine (Please excuse the slight confusion of the month - bahaha. I was tired that night) 

Hugs and blessings to you and you and you.

Have a beautiful, inspired week!



linking up here 
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