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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Lovely friends.
I so hope you had a beautiful Christmas! Mine was good, and in the days since I've been on the couch by the fireplace, resting and watching Gilmore Girls - my go-to routine when getting over a cold. I've also been hanging out a bit on Pinterest (another go-to sick routine!) 
I'm sorry for being a bit MIA over here, but I have some really exciting things coming in the new year. I promise I'll be here every day again in 2014. I'm working on a new blog design, my book, a new really big and super exciting project, and maybe even a devotional (may or may not be coming out on Valentine's Day!) God is good and I am inspired. But until I share more, I'm taking a few days to rest, get well, hang out with Luke & Lorelai, and more time on Pinterest. So, I thought I'd do something I never have - share with you a few pins that I've been inspired by! 

Are we connected on Pinterest? Come find me here

things i'm inspired by this week..... 







All photos found on Pinterest. Original sources listed on Pinterest. 
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Saturday, December 21, 2013



Darling. You are lovely. You are sweet and bright and good. You will be a wonderful wife and helper. Make sure he treats you right and cherishes you and adores you. You deserve someone to make you laugh. You deserve surprises and kisses in public and secret notes hidden in the open to remind you that you are loved. You deserve to be spoiled and to be served and to be led. Don’t forget that. 

(picture from Pinterest) 

Darling. You are lovely. 
You are sweet and bright and good. 
You will be a wonderful wife and helper. 
Make sure he treats you right and cherishes you and adores you.
 You deserve someone to make you laugh. You deserve surprises and kisses in public and secret notes hidden in the open to remind you that you are loved. 
You deserve to be spoiled and to be served and to be led. 
Don’t forget that. 

____________

By Bree Macallister 

A sweet old friend of mine wrote these words for a friend who was getting married, and wanted to share them with all women... and you, my precious readers. She and I met as very little girls, we both lived at The Ranch where I've mentioned growing up. We share so much rich history of faith and I think we both consider The Ranch our heart and home. This girl is really special and dear. She has such a beautiful heart for the Lord. 

visit her blog here 

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hi dear friends! Today I get to introduce you to another amazing gal in our blogging community: Annie of What She Saw. You may have seen her before here at my little blog (last month I reviewed her AMAZING new eBook she just self-published, The Unfurling - my review here) She has such a beautiful heart, amazing way with words, and her blog is inspiring. Get to know her below, check out her blog and introduce yourself. You need to connect with this one! 
I'm a twenty two-year-old who works finance by day, retail by weekend, and writing by whenever I can. I have a B.A. in English Language and Literaturewith a minor in History from Grand Valley State University and I have spent my entire life living in the world's own mitten.

I recently wrote an ebook called The Unfurling about learning to surrender my expectations and reality to the sovereign work of the Almighty. I write frequently on my blog What She Saw, mostly about faith, but also about books, travel, and the hot mess I call my life. My heartbeat is for who I am to be an expression and reflection of His grace and goodness in a world that needs desperately to see His face.
1. I wrote two novels in high school and always thought I'd be a novelist before I started to strongly consider writing nonfiction.

2. I played over ten years of soccer, from elementary to high school and even in college at the intramural level.

3. I've eaten alligator, crocodile, and ostrich. The first I had at a restaurant in Detroit and the second two when I was in Kenya this past summer. (Andthey were all absolutely delicious.)

4. I'm an introvert but I'm extremely talkative and incurably loud. Go figure.

5. I love college football. Go blue and roll tide!


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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sweet friends, 

I'm sorry I went MIA in the past few days, life has been a bit crazy (which I know you all understand) and I didn't have Internet for a few days, but I'm back & in the thick of life and preparing for Christmas. You know when you want to say something or write something and you don't really have anything to give? That's me tonight. And that's OK. So I will share with you one of my current favorite Christmas songs and some snapshots of life lately. I'll be back with more words soon :) I'm oh so thankful for you and hope you're happy and well. Love you all BIG! 


XO

Erin




both quotes ^via pinterest - designer not credited 
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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hi friends :)
Today I have a special lady to introduce you to. I met this gal at Influence and she is literally one of the sweetest, most encouraging people I've ever met! 


She blogs over at She Lives Free, and her heart is beautiful and inspirational. She truly shines and I just love her. I know you will too! I asked her a few questions and she's sharing also about a FABULOUS giveaway that's going on at her blog! 


I have been abundantly blessed! I am married to my handsome high school sweetheart....my best friend. Together we have two darling daughters, and a golden retriever names Daisy. Some of my favorite ways I am grateful to spend time in this grand adventure called life: I love to craft, create, observe nature, and watch plants grow and change throughout the seasons. I adore Spring and Summer and would follow them all over the world if I could. My favorite colors are pink, yellow & orange ~ like sunrises & sunsets. I am a lover of Jesus, life & laughter, soul-stirring music & movies, long walks, long talks, photography, gardening, tennis, zumba, rollerblading, latin & swing dancing, and the peaceful bliss found in a big steaming cup of coffee in the mornings!  

I write at She Lives Free because I want to make this life count and I want to encourage others to do the same!  In the words of Einstein,
"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle" and that is the way I try to live my life.  My hope is for many Spirit led conversations to happen in the community at She Lives Free on what it looks like to walk in freedom. My prayer is that my blog will be a place of rest, a loving place of building community, through the inspiration and encouragement of many!  Join us at www.shelivesfree.com as we explore the miraculous freedom there is to be found in everyday life. 

God has used trials I've experienced in my life to really grow a heart for helping others and giving to those who are suffering.  I believe at some point or another, those suffering will actually include just about all of us.  So really it's just a matter of paying it forward, and treating others as we would want to be treated ourselves! I have found such joy and purpose in connecting with others where they're at in life and I hope to provide an example of one ordinary person using their resources to God's glory!


Ok, Five fun facts about me!

1.) I have degrees in Psychology and Counseling, but currently not working in those fields.

2.) I have always wanted to write children's books and am thinking I am finally ready to do so!

3.) I always thought I wanted four kids growing up... two girls and two boys.  But I turned out to be incredibly content with the two girls that I have. I am a major girly-girl and I love all the classic things I get to do as a mom of girls!

4.) I met my husband in the 6th grade, we were friends through the end of sophomore year in high school when we began to consider ourselves a couple (though we didn't go anywhere or do anything haha).

5.)  After my husband's army service was completed three years after high school, we married and started having babies almost immediately and despite the challenges we've experienced, I wouldn't change a thing because I know tomorrow isn't promised to us in this life and so I'm grateful we've just been blessed with that much more time together.









There is a holiday giveaway for a $50 Bloom Fashion gift card on my blog from December 12th - 15th.  Check out why this small boutique has a nationwide following in the tens of thousands at http://www.bloomfashion.net.  It's easy to enter, so head on over to www.shelivesfree.com

Thank y'all for reading and thank you sweet Erin for inviting me to share on your blog!  Sweetness Itself is one of my very favorite blogs because Erin's mission is near and dear to my heart.  She's also one of the sweetest people you'd ever want to meet!  

Have a happy day beautiful ladies!

With love,
Sybil
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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tonight, I'm not watching the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. And here's why: it's not for a moral reason. It's not because I don't like the brand's products (because, let's face it, they are the best out there. Confession: I once spent one hundred freaking dollars on a fabulous bra from Victoria's Secret and don't regret a penny of it spent. It was that comfortable and looked great.) It is because the beautiful women who model and strut down that runway are lying to us. And I'm not buying the lies.

This morning, I searched "Victoria's Secret Fashion Show" on Twitter, and my jaw dropped. Some of the real-time tweets were young women excitedly planning pajama parties with their friends this evening to watch the show. Half the tweets were immature high school boys all excited to see the hot women on TV tonight. And the rest of the tweets? Teenage girls expressing thoughts like this:

"The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is on tonight. The most depressing night of the year." 

"Can't wait for my self-esteem to hit rock bottom tonight while I watch the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show."

"Better eat now because after I watch the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show I won't eat for like a week."

Listen up, friends: the women who will strut down the runway tonight in their bra and underwear are not real. They are real women with real souls and hearts whose bodies have been transformed in a dramatic way. They have breast implants and butt implants. They have liposuction and plastic surgery on their bodies and faces. Their voluminous head of hair isn't real - it's full of extensions and expensive product. They are airbrushed with tanning spray and it neatly covers up their real skin, making them look like tan Barbie dolls (believe me, I've had it done and it really does cover up every freckle or imperfection.) Every inch of their bodies has been waxed, coiffed, airbrushed and covered with cosmetics. 

I read that "angel" Adriana Lima does not eat any solid food for nine days before tonight's show. She also works out twice per day. And she drinks a gallon of water a day. These women are abusing their health and bodies. There is NOTHING healthy about this kind of diet or lifestyle. 

Oh how it makes me want to scream on the rooftop, this is wrong. This isn't real. This is killing our girls. And warping the minds of our men. STOP lying to women. Stop making a woman's worth all about her looks.

I will not watch The Victoria's Secret Fashion show tonight because it hits too close to home. I've spent years talking to young women and I have seen the ugly, horrifying result of feeding our girls fake images that they have to measure up to. 

Too many precious friends of mine are struggling with eating disorders.

Too many women I know throw up or feel panicked after they eat a meal. 

Too many high school girls email me and desperately ask me for help because they feel ugly, worthless, and like they're not good enough.

Too many women feel ugly, worthless and unloved because they struggle with their weight or acne.

Too many beautiful women I know think they're ugly because they don't measure up to the images presented in porn, in advertising, and in the Victoria's Secret catalog. 

I'm not saying that wearing make-up, working out, loving fashion and style, and just making yourself look and feel beautiful is wrong. Women have such a unique and profound beauty, and this is a GIFT. But it's not where worth is found. The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show cheapens women's beauty and diminishes self confidence by presenting unreal examples. Cheapening even the intimacy and sacredness of sex - they are being paid to bop around in lingerie for the whole world to see on order to sell a product. Instead of staying classy by wearing lingerie and showing that sexy, intimate side of yourself to your husband alone. 

Ladies, please don't believe the lies. You are real and you are beautiful. Not for how you look but for who you are. And oh precious men, please don't believe the lies either. Because, real girls aren't plastic and no real woman can measure up to the fake Barbie doll wanna-be's. Instead of watching the show tonight, my dear friends - do something good for you. Go for a run or paint your nails red. Make a fabulous meal and enjoy every bite. Do yoga or wear high heels and invite your girls out to dinner. Play the guitar and sing your heart out. Be you. Be your beautiful, loved self. 

Darling sister, you are loved. 
You are precious. You are valuable. 
For more than the color of your skin, the shape of your face,
 the size of your waist or the number on a scale. 
You are smart and talented. 
You shine like a diamond. 
You are never too much.
You are always enough.
And you are LOVED. 

XO!

Erin
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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Remember my upcoming book I've mentioned several times this year, The Darling Diaries? You may have read about it here on my little blog or on the book's website: TheDarlingDiaries.com 

With the holidays and craziness in life, I haven't mentioned or blogged about The Darling Diaries for a few weeks, but friends - it's still coming! I know I've said that it would be available at the end of this year (AKA, now ;) but honestly, it's not finished yet. I wish it was, but friends - I'm learning it takes a bit longer than I anticipated to write, edit, format, and self-publish your own book :) The Lord has put more on my heart to add to it, to change in it, and to (hopefully) make it the biggest blessing and encouragement I can to you, and you, and you. I'm SO thankful for the sweet words of support I've gotten from so many of you since I ventured out (bravely but fearfully at times) to put my heart and story on paper and to share it with the world all on my own. 

SO, my dear readers... I am releasing this book that is so close to my heart a little later than I planned. Because, in the words of Lucy from "While You Were Sleeping", life doesn't always work out the way we plan. And that's okay. And better. The new release date is later than I expected, but I know this is right after alot of prayer. 

May 7th is the big day and I am so excited and working like crazy. Pre-order option coming soon! Thank you so so much for the sweet support, friends. Please pray for me as I write, and pray that this book will be an encouragement to those who will read it.

I love you all and I love this beautiful community.

XO!

Erin


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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Happy December, loves! 

Just a few things today: 

one // I chose a winner for the fabulous giveaway my sweet sponsor Plumb Worn Out - aaaaand, the winner of the $20 shop credit to Plumb Worn Out's vintage shop full of lovely items is...... (by random.org) - Kelly Axen! Email me girl! (erinjames@hotmail.com) 

two // In an effort to streamline and make things simpler and easier (who doesn't want that, right?) I am changing my social media handle to be all the SAME (you may have noticed, it was @sweetnessitself on Twitter, @erin_sweetnessitselfblog on Instagram... too confusing!) so I am changing them to: @ItsErinJames - so that's how you'll see me around the internet from now on! Just a head's up :) 

Come follow and connect if we haven't!






Stay strong & remember you are LOVED!

XO,

Erin
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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Happy Monday, sweet friends! 
To start off our week, I have a special guest post today from a dear bloggy sister and friend of mine, Ashley. She is a GEM, you guys. We both contribute to Quite Magazine, and she writes a wonderful blog called Always Ashley. I love her heart for the Lord, her husband, and ministering to young women. A passion of mine in my life and ministry is waiting on God's timing in relationships and saving sex for marriage - and she offers some very important insight and wisdom on this topic that NEEDS to be talked about - how to approach the beautiful gift of sex within marriage! I know her heart and words will bless you! 

Take it away, Ashley! 


                                                                      **************

When Erin and I first began to discuss what I would write about this month, no other topic sounded louder in my spirit than this.

If you're familiar with this blog, then you know our sweet friend Erin has an unrelenting passion for spreading the message of sexual purity to as many women and young girls as she possibly can. I've been reading Sweetness Itself for a little over a year now, and her determination is nothing less than inspiring. However, there is one area that I feel is missing from this message that she simply cannot touch on yet: How do you approach sex after marriage?

Now, if you are reading this because you want a finite example as to how sexual intimacy will be once you and your beloved have entered into a holy covenant with God, then I suggest you stop reading now. All I can do is give you a glimpse into the expected and unexpected moments that my husband and I experienced as newlyweds.
One of our engagement pictures. Love me some him!
Before I met my husband, I'd been in a very exclusive and committed relationship with God since January of 2010. I hadn't even held a guys hand let alone go out on a date or (dare I even say) kiss someone! Needless to say, navigating through the boundaries of physical intimacy was difficult for us throughout our engagement. There were times when I felt very confident and comfortable around him, and felt our determination to maintain a physical relationship that pleased our Creator was solid.

Then...there were the other times.

Times when temptation got the worst of us and we allowed battles with purity to be lost.

I know my husband has mentioned before that he felt once we were married the pressure that engulfed our desire to honor one other and our Faith with our bodies would be lifted to sense. Not that we wouldn't be focused on Him anymore, but that we would be more comfortable with the simply things like cuddling, kissing, hugging (yes, I said hugging), etc.

I don't think I was ever certain of this, but I remained hopeful.

Unfortunately, not much changed on my end after we were married. Even though we now had the freedom to honor God through engaging in sexual intimacy, I still found myself feeling guilty. Those feelings stemmed from so many places.

Initially, I believe it was because I'd been try to stay committed to reserving my body for my future husband that once he was here I didn't quite know how to handle it. The whole idea of having sex with him seemed wrong. Whew...that's hard to admit. And it was even more difficult for him to come to terms with. He often felt it was because I wasn't attracted to him, but that certainly was not the case. I mean really, have y'all seen my "Mr. Hottie McHotness of a Belizean-Christian" husband (*wink wink*)?!? Being attracted to him certainly was NOT the problem! I honestly just did not know what to do. So much had gone wrong within both of us before we got married, even before we met. When it came to engaging in sexual activity, we'd both had several other partners in our past. We'd been in unholy relationships where we focused on our own happiness instead of bringing joy to our Father. I found myself in relationships where I was using physical intimacy in an attempt to fill voids in my heart. Voids from not feeling wanted by my biological father. Voids from feeling rejected in social areas of my life. Voids from not truly understanding my value in Christ.

When I gave my life to Christ, all of that changed. I wholly became His and being someone sexually seemed so off to me. I almost felt like I was cheating on God. For months, I couldn't even have sex with my husband without wearing my wedding ring. It was as if I needed to be reminded that it was okay, that I wasn't just satisfying my flesh, but that we'd made a covenant before God and He was pleased with us. Memories of experiences with past partners were now tainting something that was supposed to be so holy, so sacred.
All of this may sound like I've been sipping the crazy sauce, but I'm just trying to be real.

I know a lot of Erin's readers come here to hear her heart for purity and abstinence, and that many of you are waiting for that day when you can finally share yourself with your husband.

It's a beautiful thing.

Don't allow Satan to ruin that for you when the time comes.

If you've remained sexually pure leading up to your wedding day, embrace intimacy with your husband whole-heartedly and know that it is a way to honor him and the wonderful God we serve. If you, like me, gave pieces of yourself away to someone who was undeserving, remember that Christ's blood has washed you clean from every sin. The you who will be wrapped in your spouse's arms in the future, is not the same you that once found solace in fleshly gratification. If your innocence was taken from you through abuse of any kind, you must understand that God has always been with you and that you are still precious to Him. He has now blessed you with someone you can trust to keep you safe, to protect you, to be your covering, and you be an example of His love to continuously counteract the pain you endured.

My sisters, I pray these words touch your heart and ease your spirit. I pray your marriage is beautiful in every way God intends it to be, and that you embrace every aspect of it with joy, patience and love.

Love y'all.

With A Servant's Heart, 


Ashley Danielle


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