Oct 31, 2011

Hello Monday

Hello camping with friends all weekend.

Hello sleeping under the stars with my love.

Hello Mogollon Rim. {Who said Arizona isn't beautiful?}

Hello s'mores. Way too many s'mores. Hello Nutella/Banana, Reeces, Ritz cracker, Rolo s'mores.
{Did I ever tell you I am a s'more fanatic?}

Hello pretty fire that kept me warm at night.

Hello hiking around the woods.

Hello pretty lake.

Hello boys who are just slightly obsessed with chopping wood and building fires.

Hello personal lesson is wielding an ax.

Hello playing catch and frisbee and cards all day long.

Hello tiny patches of snow left over from last winter {it's true!} and freezing toes.

Hello beautiful sunset. {And hello little moon up there in the corner.}

Hello warm coffee in the morning and hot cider in the afternoon.

Hello cute husband.

Hello new yearly tradition with Arizona friends.

{AND hello caffeine. I will need you to keep me awake today after staying up late to finish a paper....}


Oct 28, 2011

Flowers Fade Friday: I am Last

Have you ever heard of the "I am Second" movement? You might have seen people wearing t-shirts. It's a great campaign about putting Christ first in one's life.

I am not here to question the "I am Second" campaign at all. However, I have been thinking lately about how the Bible does not actually tell us to put ourselves second. No. The Bible tells us to put ourselves last.


No one wants to be last. Last hurts. Last feels defeating. Last can be uncomfortable. Last can be lonely.

However, this is the life that Jesus has called us to. He said to his disciples, "If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all" {Mark 9:35}.

Last means a life of service. And the Bible gives us a specific order for whom we should serve and how. First and foremost, we are to love, serve and obey God. He should have the first of our affections, our devotion and our attention: "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might" {Deuteronomy 6:5}.

Secondly, we are called to love the church - the other Christians in our life - both those in our neighborhoods and those serving as missionaries far away. We are called to love other believers by mourning with them when they are hurt, encouraging them when they are downcast, celebrating with them when glad times come, convicting them when they are in sin, making meals for them when they are sick, helping them when they are in need, and enjoying life with them with a thankful, joyful heart {Romans 12 //1 Peter 4}.

Next, we are called to love non-believers. We are called to help them when they are in trouble and meet their physical needs by providing food, shelter, or clothing if necessary. We are called to love them with the words of the Gospel - words of truth and hope. We are called to spend time with them and show them that a life with Christ is a life of freedom, contentment and joy {1 John 3:18 // Romans 10:15 // Matthew 25}.

Finally, we are called to love ourselves. Yes, we are to love ourselves because we are God's beloved.  Remember, he tells us that husbands should love their wives MORE than they love themselves {Ephesians 5:28-30}. God knows that we love ourselves. It is not bad. It just needs to be kept in check. We are to love ourselves last.

My sinful nature struggles to love self last. If not for the Holy Spirit and the words of Scripture to keep me in line, I would always meet my own needs, fulfill my own desires, and seek my own comfort before giving a thought to anyone else, including God. Others - God, my Christian friends, and the non-believers in my life - would always get the leftovers. They would get anything that trickled down out of my self-love. Maybe a meal here. A kind word there. A prayer every once in a while. They would not get much.

But instead, I must strive to be last. I must deny myself. I must constantly seek God's will and the good of others before I attend to my own needs and wants.

This sounds pretty brutal, right? And it sounds tiring. But then I look to life of Christ and I am sure of three things:

1} I must always put others before myself. Jesus was constantly pushing his own agenda aside to heal the sick and the blind, teach the disciples when their faith faltered, and speak truth to the Pharisees who hunted him down to test and batter him with their hardness of heart. I struggle daily to surrender my own agenda to the needs of those around me. {See Mark 10 for a few great examples of Jesus surrendering his day to other people.}

2} I can be filled up with overflowing love for God and others by returning to the Lord for strength. How many times in the Bible does Jesus rise early before a long day of traveling, preaching and healing to commune with God and seek His will {Mark 1:35}? How many times does He pray through the night for strength and guidance {Mark 6:46}? If I am not resting in and praying to the Lord, I will have no strength for the last place life he has called me to.

3} The Christian life IS tiring. Of course, there will times of joy and relaxation, and I do believe Christians should honor the Sabbath - a day of rest. But overall, our life is not about rest. Heaven is our rest. Heaven is the great Sabbath after a life well fought. This is why the Bible constantly refers to the Christian life as a battle, fight or race. A Christian life needs endurance. You don't need endurance for a sprint. You need endurance for a marathon, and the Christian life, the life that puts self last and serves other first, is a marathon. We need strength, determination, and persistence to serve others first, and this endurance can only be found in Jesus Christ. Like Paul, at the end of my life, I hope, by God's grace, to say: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" {2 Timothy 4:7}.

Oct 25, 2011

How to dress like FALL when it is 100 degrees outside...

Anyone else out there suffering in intense heat even though it's practically November? Or are you in one of those places where it goes back and forth? Heat wave one week, cold front the next? Well, if this applies to you, here are my tips for dressing like fall even when the thermometer seems confused about what season it is...

If you know me at all, you know I love the sun. Everyone in the blogosphere seems to be raving about fall right now {and some are even starting to talk about Christmas!}, and while I love me some falling leaves, hot chocolate, and Christmas gifts, summer is by far my favorite season. Give me sunshine. Give me vacations to far away lands. Give me no school, leisurely days, camping and long lists of fun projects to accomplish. Give me BBQs and weddings and tanning by the pool. Summer is simply the best...

However, I started to get a little angst-y about a month ago because I kept seeing pictures of people enjoying fall activities and wearing their fall clothing and then I would go outside and sweat my life away because it was still 105 degrees out. Now don't get me wrong... if it's 105 and I'm sitting by my pool in my bikini then I'm the happiest girl on earth. But if it's 105 and I am lugging myself across campus with a million books on my back and my teacher clothes clinging to my hot body {and I'm not talking the sexy kind of hot here...}, I start to get a little anxious for cool weather, scarves, and long sleeved shirts.

So two weeks ago I went to Seattle {where it is always fall...or winter...or whatever season is gray and rainy and fifty degrees} and I got to wear jackets and boots galore! While I was packing, I made a commitment to myself.... no matter how hot it was when I returned to Arizona I would continue to find ways to wear my autumn clothing.

Since making this vow to myself, the temps in AZ have dropped to a mild 95 degrees. Sounds like fall to me... So here are my three steps to dressing like fall without being hospitalized for heat stroke.

I'd like shorts with a side of scarf please...

When it's 100 degrees, what do you wear? Shorts, obviously. I love these little Paige Premium cutoffs I scored at Nordstrom Rack last spring. But shorts don't really evoke the feeling of fall, so what's a girl to do? Add a scarf, of course! There is no reason I can't wear a loosely draped scarf in mid-October, regardless of what the thermometer reads. I even got a compliment from my professor on this one...

These boots were made for... 99 degrees?
Aren't ASU parking lots just lovely? I think so. Wish I had my bridal portraits taken here. Oh well, maybe maternity pics someday... So the thing I've missed most about my wardrobe for these past seven months of summer is my boots! I scored these riding boots at Banana last year for under $70. Holler! I also have some slouchy, black Steve Madden boots that I love, love. My passion for these boots was rekindled while I was in Sea-town, and I am pretty sure the feeling was mutual. These boots and me - we just don't want to part from each other no matter how much the sun tempts me to go back to sandals. So here I am, loyal to my love. Just rockin' the boots with a skirt. The boots = autumn. And the skirt = full body air conditioning system.

Mustard,  you are gross to eat, but lovely to wear...
Here's the secret. My bottoms in this pic are actually shorts. Cute little pinstriped Bermuda shorts that are dressy enough to wear to work. I am also wearing sandals. But you would never look at this outfit and think summer because of the lovely mustard and chocolate brown I am wearing on top {both from Banana, btw}. I figure if I can't comfortably wear fall styles {sweaters, I miss you friends...}, I can at least wear fall colors but in breathable forms. If you look at the other pics above you will see other traces of this. My top in the boots pic is actually a beige vest tucked into my skirt and in the first pic my belt whispers fall with its mustard and brown tones. You gotta sneak it in where you can, ladies...

I hope you are enjoying these last days of October no matter where you are. And if it's already super cold in your neck of the woods, feel free to come on down to Arizona and borrow one of  my jackets. Let's be honest, I probably won't be needing them. Average high in January here? 65 degrees. I love my desert life.


College {your thoughts please...}

Above you will see me on my college graduation day. Rah Rah TCU! I am all about pulling the old awkward pics off Facebook these days. For more mid 2000s goodness, see HERE.

Anyway, since I am talking about college today, I thought I would go back and find the very first picture of me ever posted on FB to provide some lovely college-esque photography for this post. Fittingly enough, the very first pic ever posted of me - or at least that's still up on FB - is at my college graduation. These are some of my friends. Most of them were also seniors that same year, but I graduated a semester earlier than everyone else {thank you high school AP credits that saved me over $10,000}, so I pretty much got to be the star of the show on that chilly December day. Do I look swollen to you? I think I look swollen...

But this post is not really about my college experience or to figure out whether I was overweight, bloated or if I had just previously been crying when this photo was taken...

Tonight I have the honor of speaking to a group of college students who are Young Life leaders in Scottsdale. Most of them are freshmen in college and our area director has asked me to come and give them some advice on how to succeed in college. I have some ideas on what to share, but I haven't really had a lot of extra time these past few weeks to craft a big, fancy talk with lots of pointers.

Here is where you come  in... if you had to give a college freshman one tip {or more} about how to thrive in college, what would you say, knowing what you know now?

I want to focus on three areas: succeeding academically, socially, and spiritually. So what would you say for each of these? Please tell me below and I might use some of your tips during my talk tonight.

Thank you and love you, sweet friends!

Okay, I couldn't resist one more... here I am at a "thrift store prom" party. 
I was a sophomore and these girls were freshmen in a Bible study I led. 80s never goes out of style....}

Oct 24, 2011

meet my REAL friends

So in one of my grad classes recently we were talking about how interpersonal relationships work online {yes, I have the BEST grad classes ever!}, and we were specifically discussing how people discount online relationships because they are not "real" friendships.

Now let me be honest with you. Last winter {almost a year ago now!} when I began studying blogs for school, I would constantly see bloggers rave about  all the amazing friends they met through blogging. I didn't quite roll my eyes, but I was tempted. I mean, did these ladies really consider their blogging friends true friends? Did they have other friends outside of the internet? Maybe just the really successful bloggers were able to have true blogging friends as they mentored and supported one another and went to blogging meet ups and the like. I was skeptical to say the least.

And for the first year that I blogged. I really didn't have any blogging friends. I don't think anyone who wasn't already a friend or family member read my blog for at least the first six months. But then I started to notice names on my Google Followers list that I didn't recognize. Then I started getting sweet comments and e-mails from people like Jennifer and Jordan.

And then one day, on my one year anniversary to be exact, I received an e-mail from the sweetest girl, Heather. And I didn't know it then, but it was the beginning of a real friendship. Through countless comments and e-mails, Heather became my REAL blogging friend.

And just a month or so ago, I met another lovely lady who quickly became another REAL blogging friend, Erin. The great thing about Erin is that she lives less than 20 minutes away from me. Take that skeptics. Erin is my internet friend and we can meet for coffee face to face any time we want!

So last Thursday night, Heather, Erin and I had the JOY of meeting up in person! We went to dinner at a fab little restaurant in Chandler, AZ and ate a smorgasbord of happy hour food for dirt cheap {sweet potato fries, mini bruschettas, and pitas with hummus equal a meal right?}, talked, laughed, took way too many pictures, and just enjoyed our real friendship that was born on this here internet.

After dinner, we headed over to the Ocotillo Country Club where we got to meet another blogging friend, Ashley, and support The Shine Project to raise college scholarships for inner city high school students. We were welcomed to the country club by a high school drum line {I am a sucker for a good drum line}, and we enjoyed delish cupcakes while we watched the high school students perform speeches and music. We laughed some more, met a handful of other bloggers that we love, and took even more pictures.

I am so, so thankful for Heather and Erin. I feel blessed to know them and I am excited to see our friendship develop over the years. They are amazing women of God with beautiful hearts and I am proud to call them my "internet" friends.

P.S. Funny story. So Erin and I were a bit late meeting Heather for dinner due to crazy directions, so Heather had to wait at the restaurant by herself for over a half hour before we finally arrived. She was dressed up all cute and sitting alone, which caught the attention of some old men sitting at a table nearby. Finally one of them turned to her and said, "Honey, who are you waiting for?" probably assuming she had been stood up on a date or something. She looked at him and said, "Oh, just two friends I met on the internet."

And here are some of our pics from the evening. You will notice the same exact pictures on Heather and Erin's blogs. Did we share our photos with each other? No, we asked everyone to take the same picture with three different cameras. We are those girls. Not annoying at all...

{delish dinner}

{golf cart ride from the country club parking lot}

{getting to meet Ashley!}

 {the shine event}

{and afterward we went to fro-yo because we just didn't want to stop hanging out with each other!}

{bye friends! hope to see you both again soon!}

Oct 21, 2011

Flowers Fade Friday: A New Song

Last week, I had the honor of attending a David Crowder Band concert. If you haven't heard the news yet, DCB is on its last ever tour. The band is breaking up and headed on to new things. While I could be sad about this as they are probably hands-down my favorite Christian group {probably because they don't really fit the traditional Christian music mold...}, I am simply thankful that I got to attend the concert courtesy of my little bro who bought tickets for my mom and me for our birthdays this year. {Happy Birthday, Mopsy!!! It's today...}

The concert was awesome. The music was great, but what I loved most about it was that it functioned as a little trip down memory lane for me. You see, the David Crowder Band has been together for eleven years and I have been a fan for ten of those years. I was first introduced to DCB waaaay back during my freshman year of college. One of my TCU friends took me down to Baylor for the weekend where we visited UBC, the church where David Crowder first started his career. I loved it. And I've been a fan ever since.

But not so much a fan in the sense that I look at the DCB webpage and go to every concert. I've only been to two concerts in my life. More a fan in the sense that I own almost every DCB CD {except the first two I think - and this is huge because I never buy music!} and the music on those CDs has comforted me, encouraged me and brought me joy during so many seasons over the past decade...

Make a Joyful Noise - This is probably the first DCB song that I love, loved. This song reminds me of the fresh beginnings of college and learning to love and worship God in new ways.

O Praise Him/No One Like You - O Praise Him reminds me of quiet, calm mornings on the river at the camp I worked at in college. I would wake up early to spend time with God before the kids woke up and the craziness of the day began and the work crew in the kitchen would blast this song as they prepared breakfast joyfully for hundreds of campers and staff. No One Like You reminds me of crazy worship sessions at night, jumping up and down with tons of middle and high school kids for the glory of God.

Come and Listen/Never Let Go - Quieter songs. Quieter time in my life. This song and many others on the Collision and Remedy albums comforted me in my unknown years. I left all my friends in Texas, moved home to Washington, was dating Micah, living my parent's basement and life was strange for a while. However, I clung to God during this time and He was faithful. DCB songs remind me of the humble simplicity of this season.

How He Loves Us - God is good. This is the song I walked down the aisle to at my wedding. Sweet memories of joy and gladness.

So instead of being sad about DCB calling it quits, I choose to be thankful. Thankful for the music they made and the way it spoke to my soul. Thankful that a group of men were so faithful to the ministry God called them to for so many years. Thankful that they were willing to write "new songs" when so often those in the Christian music industry just make music that fits a certain churchy mold.

When I went to Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Pastor Mark one time discussed why we sang "weird songs" at our services. Mars Hill is very dedicated to new music and having different musicians write their own songs and lead worship services in creative ways. Pastor Mark explained that the Bible calls us to "Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts" {Psalm 33:3}. People gifted musically should be writing new songs of praise to the Lord. That doesn't mean we can't sing old songs too. We sang plenty of hymns at Mars Hill and DCB has covered many hymns as well. It just means that those called to lead worship should be faithful in using their musical creativity to write new songs to honor God.

I am thankful that David Crowder and his band has been writing new songs to worship God for the past eleven years, and while I'm sad to see my favorite band move onto new things, I am thankful for their faithfulness and I am eager to see the musicians who follow in DCB's footsteps in writing and singing new songs to the Lord.

Gungor, anyone?!

Oct 19, 2011

Fall. It Happened.

Hi friends,

I am back from Seattle and my mission to savor fall for a week was highly successful. I didn't complain once. I just pulled on my boots, tossed my scarf around my neck and savored the crisp, cook weather for seven days straight, even when it rained. {Although, I must admit, it didn't even rain that much, which was nice...}

Plus, who can worry about being cold when you are surrounded by friends and family?

So here it is, my fall 2011. It happened. It was seven days long. And it was glorious.

 Sweater :: Urban Outfitters // Shirt :: Banana Reupblic // Jeans :: BR // Shoes :: BR

 Sweater :: TJ Maxx // Shirt :: Fransesca's // Leggings :: Lauren Conrad {Kohl's} // Boots :: Steve Madden

 Shirt :: F21 // Cardigan :: BR Outlet // Pants :: BR // Scarf :: Gift from Ethiopia

 Dress :: UO // Cardigan :: BR // Belt :: UO // Boots :: BR

Shirt :: BR // Cardigan :: Nordstrom Rack // Leggings :: Kohl's // Boots :: Steve Madden // Scarf :: Target

 Shirt :: BR // Pants :: JCrew // Shoes :: Nordstrom Rack // Scarf:: Target

My attempt at messy hair. I have issues...

Even though I loved wearing all my cold weather garb, I also have to admit that I was pretty excited to slip into a little black dress as soon as I got back to Phoenix and dance the night away with friends at a backyard wedding with 80 degree air all around me. Best of both worlds.

Next week, I will share with you how I have been sticking to my plan to continue to dress like fall upon returning to Seattle, even though the temperature gauge inside my car yesterday read 103 after school. You have to be pretty inventive, but I've come up with a few dress-like-fall-but-avoid-a-heat-stroke tips.

Linking up with Lindsey!

Oct 18, 2011

Sponsor Lovin'

Happy Tuesday Friends...

Just wanted to take a moment to introduce my lovely October sponsors to y'all...

Erin at Captivated by the Beauty of Grace is my newest sponsor and friend. The bonus is that we live in the same city, so we can meet for coffee and shopping any time we want! She is precious, so go say HI!

Her heart is as sweet as her outfit. I promise.

Heather. Love her. Visit her at Finding Beauty in the Ordinary. We get to meet face to face this week. I could not be more excited to spend my Thursday evening with this friend!!!

The next time you see Heather's face on my blog, I will be standing next to her in the picture! Woot!

Also,  check out Jac over at BabEblessings, Izzy over at IZ Orignials {and check out her shop!} and Aunt Dede's adorable etsy shop!

For more info on sponsorship, click HERE! I have new large and small ad options :)

Oct 17, 2011

Hello Monday!

Happy Monday everyone! This week is a big slap in the face to me after spending last week in Seattle with friends and family. Now it's the part of the semester where things get ugly and you realize how busy the next eight weeks are going to be until it's all over! Christmas break, here I come! However, I am so, SO thankful for last week's trip and I am looking forward to getting to meet new friends this week at The Shine Event!

{Hello pretty sister. I'm so glad I got to spend all of last week with you!}

 {Hello boots. I've missed you!}

 {Hello cooking dinner! I took a few weeks off, but I'm back. 
I couldn't stand not having leftovers for lunch every day!}

{Hello hot chocolate. It's you and me for the next four months.}

 {Hello long-sleeved section of my closet. It's nice to see you again... 
I will dress like fall even if it's still 100 degrees here.}

{Hello to re-stocking the fridge after being out of town for a week!}

{Goodbye conference and pretending to be on vacation for a week. 
Hello reality... loads of homework and lots of student papers to grade}

Linking up with Lisa and Lindsey!
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