hand

Where To Next?

I think I’ll always remember the age I was when I first needed to own a watch. I’d never noticed how much I needed one until I was a full-time student, working 30 hours a week, helping out at her church, and trying somehow to get in time each day with her husband. Having my phone in hand to constantly check the time was just a pain in the butt. Then, my husband bought me a beautiful watch! I became one of those people who checked it every 30 minutes, making sure my day was going according to plan. We get pretty spoiled that way, huh? We get used to being able to plan and predict and prepare and control. I, unfortunately, am an addict. After graduating last year, I became a bit disoriented. I didn’t have a dream job lined up, I didn’t know exactly what my next step was, and, most importantly, I didn’t know what to PLAN for. Jesus once told His disciples,“It is not for you to know times and seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.” Acts 1:7

I think at different stages in our lives we ask God, “Are we finished now? Can I have my dream job yet? Should I have kids now? Can we start the next thing now?” I think Jesus often still replies with “It is not for you to know times and seasons.” He wants us to trust and enjoy the ride. He wants us to rely on Him to be in control. While working hard isn’t a bad thing, I’m constantly being reminded that I need to loosen my grip on planning and controlling.  We need to be okay with not knowing what the next part of the ‘plan’ is. We have to learn to trust in what lies ahead.

To the wonder women of the world, the control connoisseurs, and the professional planners; take a breather. Take an unplanned drive and discover a new place. Leave a weekend completely open, wake up, and then do whatever your little heart desires. Learn to live a life free of anxious planning and controlling! He's got it all in His hands.

When I Was Young

  When I was a little girl my Dad would pick me up from ballet and take me to Baskin Robbins every week.  He sat in a big swivel chair and I sat right next to him in a kid size chair eating my daiquiri ice sorbet with a tasting spoon.  It was sour, not alcoholic and boy was it tasty.  I remember him brushing my hair, putting it up into pigtails and braiding them.  My hair, always adorned with the hand painted hair ribbons he made for me.  My favorite memory is singing show tunes with him in the kitchen, me singing the part of Annie and my Dad singing the lines of Daddy Warbucks.  “I don’t need anything but you,” we would sing together.

I can’t say that my Father is a man of many words.  Perhaps it comes from growing up with 3 sisters, or perhaps it’s 35 years of living with my Mom and 2 daughters.  That being said, when he does share nuggets or stories I listen.

A stubborn fool despises his father's discipline, but whoever appreciates a warning shows good sense.  Proverbs 15:5  (GOD'S WORD® Translation)

Despite the relationship you have with your father it’s important to understand that his life experiences are things you can learn from.  Sometimes you learn what you should be doing and sometimes you learn to walk in the opposite direction.

Each June we have the opportunity to celebrate and honor our fathers.  Take the time to truly honor both your earthly and heavenly fathers.  This is one seed you want to plant.  I believe I’m reaping my harvest now, I see it every week when my husband takes our daughter out on a daddy /daughter date to Starbucks and Toys R Us.

One of the greatest things my father said to me, while broken hearted in my early twenties, was, “Honey, if he doesn’t like you then he must be gay.”  You see, not all nuggets of wisdom have to be so serious!  I’m tucking that one away for my own daughter… when she’s 25!

Stoplight Prayer:  Father in heaven thank you for my Father & Husband.  Help me to find ways to continue to honor them even when they are difficult and make me want to scream.  Please continue to guide & protect them and they continue to do the same for us.

There's a Better View Ahead

Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God,” Luke 9:62.  

Change is never easy, but if we keep our eyes on what the Lord did BEFORE, we may not enjoy what He’s doing NOW, or WILL DO in the future.

You can’t keep looking back and still expect to move forward…safely.

This became clear to me when I took a drive to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. The road I was traveling had just two lanes, so going around curves were potentially dangerous.

There were several opportunities for stops along the way with scenic overlooks into the Shenandoah Valley…beautiful. I couldn’t take enough pictures.

But the Lord made it clear. If I stayed at the last scenic overlook, I would never get to the next highest point. If I tried to keep looking back when I drove forward, I could have crashed into oncoming traffic. With the increase in elevation, each overlook would have a better view than the last.

His plans ARE to prosper us. Just because we’re traveling down the road and don’t see a “scenic overlook” yet, we shouldn’t be discouraged or want to back-track for that matter, to the last stop. Press on, dear sisters! A spectacular view awaits you.

 

Heavenly Father,

Help me keep my eyes on you. Remind me, the best of my days lie ahead. Don’t allow me to settle for good, when you’re best is still to come. I love you. Thank you for giving me the courage to follow you.

Quirky Fashion

Media, fashion, and celebs have always gone hand in hand. In the 90's there was the "Rachel" hair cut, plain tees, Kate Moss, and the birth of "thinspiration." The frail silhouette of models reigned early in the millenium, along with the re-birth of the Olsen twins, (hello fashion moguls), and the inevitable fashion backlash from us "normal" folk.

 

These were the days before the Dove commercials that let us see that women actually look like us. But I won't ramble, let's get to the point, fashion today has taken a quirky turn! Yes, it's cyclical, I understand that. In fact, I have a picture of my mom from 1988 wearing leather print shoes, skinny jeans, and some crazy hair. While I never want to see that insane mohawk my mom had re-cycle, prints, skinnies, and all sorts of unique fashions are hitting stores as of late.  And while most people may want to thank Lady Gaga for making us feel like its okay to wear whatever we please, how many of us can really wear a dress made out of meat, or arrive to work only to "hatch" first.

 With that said, I would like to thank the media for making Zooey Deschanel their darling and allowing her to wear some adorably quirky outifts on her new hit show.

The runway gets it too. Spring collections were a clutter of print and pops of color.

 

For those of us that may not be able to spend thousands of dollars per outfit, there are great alternatives. I subscribe to the philosophy of splurging on classics and saving on trends. Below are two perfect examples of how to do just that. If you're a more conservative dresser but still like to mix it up a little, I recommend shopping at retailers like J.Crew, Banana Republic, and Anthropologie. These stores offer timeless pieces that you can mix and match with prints or brights. If you follow each trend without fail, stores like H&M and Zara are perfect for you, that is, if you're fortunate enough to live near either one. In addition, Madewell, Topshop, and even flash sale sites like RueLaLa offer good prices for pieces you may not want to wear next season.

 

All in all, this season's styles embrace your inner kookiness. Whether it be sheer tops and maxi skirts that make you want to throw the peace symbol around, or flouncy floral prints with a cardigan thrown over, find the you that you've been too shy to expose. Shop thrift stores, boutiques, and even estate sales to add some spunk to your style. Style is cyclical and there has to be another mom out there who is ready to let go of those designer grabs from the 80s, just in time for you to scoop them up!

Serious Business

We've become too busy. It's tragic, really. We rush from place to place, make coffee dates in what little spare time we have, and find new ways to fill our time just in case we're not being productive enough. I know I've been guilty of this. When people ask how we're doing, "I'm just so busy."  I feel like one thing I didn't realize well enough while I was in school and running around like a crazy person was that I needed to make time for the things that actually made me happy. Charles Eames once wrote, "Take your pleasures seriously." And Ecclesiastes 2:24-25 says, "I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him?"  We have to take our pleasures seriously, because they are actually gifts from God Himself.

My mother is a perfect example of this. When I was a young girl, she was a single parent living in a new city taking care of my sister and I. No matter how hard things were or how tight bills became, she always found a way to get her nails done. Not in an "I-don't-care-if-my-electricity-gets-cut" way, but in an "I-work-hard-and-this-is-one-thing-I-do-for-myself" way. For whatever reason, shiny red nails made her feel strong and happy. Of course, she could have written them off as a waste of money. But I think she understood that all the things she had to do depended on her feeling strong and happy. I think we could all use a little more strong and happy, couldn't we?

No matter how busy you get or how many people ask you out to coffee, make time to do the things that make you happy. One thing that makes me happy is traveling. My husband was raised differently and traveling wasn't really a top priority for him, but as we've been married, he's learned that it's something I need. So, we make it a priority. I've met mothers who make working out a priority because it's their "me" time. Maybe you enjoy a good book or movie but never find time for them.  Whatever those things are that let you breathe deeply and that you take pleasure in, make sure you're doing them! Because while the world does need you, it needs a strong and happy you!

GO FORWARD

Pretend you are standing on the banks of The Red Sea watching this scene unfold as it did in Exodus 14. Moses had just lead over six hundred thousand Israelites, along with their herd of cattle, out of Egypt where they had been slaves for over 430 years.  At last they were on their way to Canaan, the land God had promised was theirs to inherit.

But Pharaoah, the Egyptian king and his army, came after them in hot pursuit.  When the Israelites saw Paharaoh and his army coming, they began to cry out to Moses:  "It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die out here in The Wilderness."

God spoke to Moses and said:

Tell the children of Israel to "GO FORWARD."

"Go forward?"  "The Red Sea is in front of us!"  "Are you sure, God?"

But God knew what do about The Red Sea.  "Stretch out your hand over the sea," were His words to Moses.  As Moses stretched his hand over the sea, an amazing sight took place.

  • A strong east wind blew.
  • The waters divided, the sea became dry land, and they crossed to the other side.
  • The Egyptians pursued.
  • The sea returned, and all the Egyptians drown.
  • Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hands of the Egyptians, and they continued on their journey.

Now, one would think that after that miraculous delivery that the Israelites would never doubt that they could not make it to Canaan and receive the inheritance God had promised them.  However, only two people of the original group, Joshua and Caleb, made it to Canaan.

Why only two?  I believe one of the main reasons Joshua and Caleb made it into Canaan was that they never lost sight of the vision God had given them.  Not only that, but they acted upon that vision despite the circumstances they faced and the people around them who didn't believe it was possible.

Has God given you a vision and dream for your life?  Hold onto it and GO FORWARD!

And yes, God can part The Red Sea in your life to get you there.

Gossip Girl

I am really not that much of a gossip girl, but I definitely love my share of celebrity news. All the fame, gamour and lavishing lifestyles of these women fascinates me. I remember a point in time when I used to get to work and turn on my computer and the first place I would go to is people.com. Good source by the way. ;) I was so interested, and don't get me wrong I am still very much interested in celebrity news, but it was more of an obsession back then. I was single at that time and I remember using it as my escape to la la land. Man is it hard to face your own drama! I had so many issues going on in my life that learning and reading about other people's drama made me feel better. I know, sad but true. Seriously, did these people really deserve to me judged by someone like me, when I had my share of meltdowns to deal with as well? Not at all, but I still did it without knowing. They wanted to be in the spotlight, so this is what comes with the spotlight. Thats was how I saw it. Since it was so easy to judge them, it started to become easy to judge others around me, like family and friends. Wow what a cycle that can become into! I can say first hand that it's definitly not fun to be judged when all you want and need is compassion. With just a little compassion, it sure can go a long way.

Be Our Guest

The Fun Part Among the many tasks of wedding planning choosing invitations is one of the most personal and creative choices to be made. It is one of the many things I was ecstatic about doing myself. A few short months after the engagement however, I realized time (and perhaps my lack of self discipline) would not allow for me to put my own invitations together. My original idea was a "story book" invitation. It would be a short story about Kristian and I, the engagement, and the invitation would follow. Although I didn't put my own invitations together, they are in fact being hand assembled by a much more patient and creative soul then myself, I am still infatuated with the idea of the invitation. My invitations will still be personal to me. I have chosen the wording, the font, the paper, and the envelopes. However, in having someone volunteer to help me with my invitations, I shaved down the specific details I first had in mind. Some brides however, cannot give up so easily on their design ideas and I tip my hat to them. Months have gone into some of the invitations I have seen. They are simply marvelous and the fact is if you are a bride and have a creative streak the possibilities are endless. Below are a few of my favorite invitations. Aside from this blog, I spend hours rifiling through DIY websites and other wedding blogs. And now that I think about it... I probably could have put my own invitations together with all the time I spend obssessing over others! Anyway, I hope you enjoy my finds and are inspired to try your hand at personalizing your big day!

This idea I found on stylemepretty.com

To make this adorable invitation:

1. Choose image and/or text to be printed. 2. Make a carbon based print of image/text (xerox copy or laser printers work) 3. Place image on gocco machine – make master screen using the gocco and gocco bulbs. 4. Once the image is burned into the screen, you can ink it.  Smear ink on the image burned into the screen, insert back into the machine, then press image onto paper invitations as desired.  Re-ink as necessary. 5. Let it dry fully before printing any other sides (let each side dry a full 24-hours).

This idea was also found at stylemepretty. Though the idea is very personal I like it because it can be changed. The creator simply created what was sentimental to her. She drew it freehand then took a picture and uploaded it to her Adobe Illustrator. It sounds a little complicated to me because I'm absolutely horrible wth computers. If you're tech saavy though this idea is precious! They were printed by a professional and 65 invitations were finished for about $150. Not bad for such cute and personalized invites!

Ok, so I hope the pictures do this invitation justice because I absolutely love it!  The ribbon, the tree, the deep colors... ahh, I'm in love.  I don't know that this one is a DIY. Even without explicit instructions though it seems like with the right tools it can be done without professional help.

The Details

I must admit invitation etiquette is a little foreign to me. While I love attending a good party I rarely ever throw one. With wedding invitations the formality is at a whole different level. I chose not to use inner envelopes so the wording of the outter envelope was a bit tricky. I used Google to figure out "Do I use 'and guest' on the outer envelope?" and "What about people with kids?". I also took advantage of the fact that our wedding is a bit informal. I have been extremely lucky with the help I have with my invitations. I haven't had to buy any of the materials except for the envelopes. With that said, I was a little surprised by the cost of envelopes! For those of you doing it yourself I totally reccommend Envelopes.com. I was able to purchase for 150 outer envelopes and 150 response card envelopes for under $100. After a little research I found that this is quite the deal! I did choose recycled paper so it isn't glossy but for me the cost difference was totally worth it. For a cute return address stamp (and to save yourself from carpal tunnel) check out thepaperwink.com. They have adorable stamps and labels at reasonable prices. I found one for about $20, which is so worth it to not have to handwrite my address 300 times. Another little detail we had to think about was the fact that our wedding is technically a destination wedding. Even though I'm from New Orleans, Kristian's family is in Texas, and many of our friends are in Florida. To accomodate people traveling for the wedding there is an insert with the invitation. It includes a few details about hotel and car rental options. More importantly though, it mentions our wedding website. This is so important. Even if you're not having a destination wedding, a wedding website just makes your guests life so much easier. I made ours at theknot.com but there are so many options out there I reccommend you explore and see what works best for you!

Breathe

While I get all girly thinking about my invitations and planning all the details, I still get a little overwhelmed. With the invitations I wanted a certain font but it didn't work out. I wanted a particular style but I couldn't get it done. I have had a few bumps in the road but I could not be any happier with the way they've turned out. I have entrusted my limited vision to someone who has just run circles around my ideas. The invitations are beautiful and all of my stress had nothing to do with their outcome! So remember, relax, breathe, enjoy the process. Don't let the little things take away from the plesaure of the big picture-- your wedding!

Healthy Entertaining

Healthy Entertaining.  Is it possible as a busy woman? I have to confess, as a health conscious busy woman, it can sometimes be a challenge for me.  On one hand, you have guests who want and expect healthy choices and on the other hand, you have guests who are less interested about the nutritional content of their food. I have learned to keep three rules to entertaining for a dinner party.

Rule # 1 -  Keep it simple

To manage our calories and increase the nutritional value in our meals, a healthy plate should consist of ¼ whole grains such as pasta, rice and breads, ¼ of a lean meat or protein and ½ of fruits and vegetables.  Unfortunately, in our world today, our plate is usually the exact opposite. It consists of high fat proteins and carbs with a little salad on the side. To follow those guidelines, I like to add fruits and vegetables to a salad that may not be very common such as grapes, raw carrots, zucchini or squash to give it volume so that it is more filling. Serving fresh fruit as a part of the main meal is a simple way to add variety and provide an additional course for the table. As a southern girl, I believe a dessert is a must (plus it is my favorite), but who has the time to bake from scratch.  Think about what you can do that is semi-homemade.  Make brownies with homemade icing or a regular cookie mix and add something to it like raisins, another kind of morsel such as chocolate chips, butterscotch or peanut butter. I like serving desserts that provide a small portion and make ice cream available for those who are not watching their weight.

Rule # 2 - Never try anything new and stick with what you do well.

I remember the days of stressing out going through cook book after cook book for new ideas. After a few “flops”, having kids, and friends asking for repeats, I decided it is best to make a few of my good items  great.  Have one main dish that you do well.  Having less is more and a great way for your guest to manage their intake, reduce your stress, and enjoy your guest.

Even busy ladies, like to entertain, but sometimes feel like time will not permit.  As you are putting together your ideas for your parties over the holidays, try to start by incorporating these two rules. 

To read about my third rule that can help in weight management through the holidays and get my recipes for my successful dinner party, check out my next blog.

In the Beginning...

When Kristian and I started talking marriage one of the first “rules” I gave him was that I did not want to be proposed to in Jacksonville. Actually, the first rule was that I wouldn’t wait around forever for a ring and our time was definitely ticking. We were approaching the two and a half year mark, which is way too long to spend with someone without them putting a ring on it. But that’s a different story; back to the “don’t propose in Jacksonville” point. Don’t get me wrong, Jacksonville has its up sides, but city life and romance are not two of them. Being from New Orleans I appreciate nightlife, history, and culture in a city.I never really “imagined” my proposal but I trusted that  Kristian would think of something much better for me  than I could come up with for myself. His first attempt, though he has never told me the whole story, went awry. He was planning a proposal in Austin but the ring arrived after we had already headed back to Jacksonville. After a few more months of waiting the time had finally come. We both had the day off and took a trip to St. Augustine, a city just outside of Jacksonville. It is so quaint and reminds me so much of home, I love it! We were riding around on a scooter when he popped the question. Yes, I waited two and a half years to be proposed to on the back of a scooter but I loved every minute of it! How perfect! I never imagined my proposal, but I always dreaded some guy being on his knee, literally taking my hand for marriage. How cliché! After he finally gave me my gorgeous ring I went into planning overload.

The happiest I've ever been on the back of a scooter!

The Nitty- Gritty The first thing we had to decide on was where we were going to tie the knot. Originally we said Dallas but after living away from home for so many years I really started to miss it. New Orleans just has a special place in my heart, even if it is never “home” again, it at least deserves to share this momentous day with me. I looked at several places online. The hard part was staying within our budget while choosing a place that personifies us. I finally decided on The Benachi House and Gardens, a historic venue in the heart of the city. It was only a short -lived relief to have the venue chosen though. I quickly realized we are technically having a destination wedding. Now I immediately start thinking time frame. Everything needs to be done a lot farther in advance in order to accommodate traveling guests. Kristian and I were having an engagement party in New Orleans just a couple of months after the proposal. We figured this was the perfect time to decide on our Save the Dates. I loved the idea of announcing our date by sending postcards from New Orleans to our friends and families in different states. Not only was this cute, but it proved to be an easy and economical idea as well. Since our wedding is only about 130 guests I hand wrote each card, which added a nice personal touch. I totally recommend this idea. I am personally technologically challenged, but for those of you who work well with computers, you can find great fonts and print straight onto the postcards. I also love all things old so if you have a typewriter this idea actually works too. I was a little worried about the postcard getting bent but I tried it in my own typewriter and no damage was done so I think its a safe suggestion!

So many wonderful options!