Tuesday, December 30, 2014

From Miss to Mrs.

For those of you that don't know, I just married my college sweetheart!
After dating for three years, two of which were spent long-distance, we were elated to have finally reached the finish line. There were times that finish line seemed so unattainable, so out of reach, so far away... but Jesus stood by us and He strengthened us and oh, friends.... it has been so worth the wait. The gift of marriage is beyond anything I could have ever anticipated or expected.

Our wedding day was like a fairy tale. It was better than anything I could have ever dreamed of or hoped for or imagined. Every detail was so special and we were surrounded by everyone that we love. There were white lanterns, twinkling lights, good music, good food, old hymns, lots of laughter, the weather was perfect, and best of all... I got to walk down the aisle to meet the most handsome, Godly, loving, wonderful man.
We spent our honeymoon at Sandals Whitehouse in Whitehouse, Jamaica. It was the dreamiest week... they spoiled us, pampered us, and everything was far better than anything I ever expected. All-inclusive is the way to go, by the way. One day we went sailing, one day we went snorkeling, one day we got up early and watched the sunrise from a hot tub on the beach, one day we had the most incredible couple's massage, and the last night Grayson surprised me with a romantic, private, candlelit dinner on the beach! It was absolutely perfect and neither of us would have changed a single thing except that we wish we could have stayed longer.

When we came home from our honeymoon, our house was festive and cheery and our tree was surrounded by wedding gifts that we could hardly wait to open. My Momma, who always thinks of everything, had stopped by to turn all of our Christmas lights on and had a sweet tray of breakfast in bed ready for the next morning, the first morning we would wake up together in our new home! He carried me over the threshold, and just like that... married life began in the little town of Belmont.
Learning to live with someone is such an adventure. Sometimes we dance around the living room for no reason, sometimes we go get taco bell in our pajamas at midnight, and sometimes we don't do anything at all (and even that is so much fun). We have so many hopes, dreams, and ideas about our future together, but no matter what- we want Jesus to be glorified through our marriage and we want to stay right in the center of His perfect will.

Stay tuned, this adventure from Miss to Mrs. is only just beginning!

Wedding pictures coming soon // Bridal pictures by Erica Serrano Photography.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Detox Juice Cleanse

Ok, so this is supposed to be "coffee date" with Kate... not "disgusting juice" date with Kate. However, today, I am sharing my latest endeavor- Joe Cross' famous Weekend Juice Cleanse.

I have heard a lot about juicing in recent months, but never tried it myself.... until now. Two other girls I work with decided to participate, which I've found to be most helpful, because it provides a support system when I start wanting French fries craving something unhealthy.

For three days, or as long as you would like, you have five juices a day in the order shown below:
To say I was a "little" nervous about doing this is a huge understatement. I am a meat and potatoes girl all the way. I don't really struggle with craving sweets, but when it comes to cheeseburgers, mashed potatoes, pancakes or Chick-fil-a... well, lets just say that's another story. I've never really struggled with my weight until now, and at the age of 22, I realize that only I can take control of it before it gets so out of hand that I can't do it in a healthy way.
I hope to continue juicing a few days a week, then eventually a few days a month after my metabolism gets back to where it needs to be.
Breakfast Juice: 3 Carrots, 2 Apples, 1" Ginger
My Review: I never realized how much zing ginger has... woah. It's definitely an interesting combination! At first, I thought I wouldn't be able to make myself drink the whole thing, but then after adding a little ice, it became more tolerable and by the end, it didn't taste quite so much like I was drinking perfume. YAY juice!

Final (sad) review: I quit. Yeah, I know, it's pathetic. I didn't even make it through a whole day. When we got to the juices with the beets and sweet potatoes I threw up and decided Chick-fil-a is way better. Oh, well... I guess the skinny life is just not for me.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Renmen Abonde is doing BIG THINGS!

First, I'd like to thank each and every person who has supported my latest endeavor: raising money for missions in Haiti by making bracelets- a little company I named Renmen Abonde (which is Creole for "love abounds").

As word of mouth has traveled and Jesus has worked, there has been more and more demand and a need for a website devoted solely to my bracelets (in addition to the already existing instagram page).

So, I'm happy to announce that I have finally jumped the gun and created just that!

Check it out!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Stiches of Love: The Happiest Friday Surprise

Today, I was sitting at the front desk of the office where I work, busy, stressed and I had a thousand other things on my mind. Then out of the blue, a sweet little lady named Mary, who I helped a few days ago, came in and handed me a little bag and it turned my whole day around.

I had only met Mary once before. I talked to her about tour books, new roads, maps, and when she mentioned going to a wedding in December, I told her that I, too, am getting married in December.

Well, this sweet little lady, who I'd guess is about 85 years old, had gone home that night after we talked and knitted me a washcloth. It is made from beautifully colored yarn and I promise you I could feel the love she made it with in every stitch.
For those of you that don't know, my grandmother went Home to be with Jesus just two weeks ago, and although no one could ever come close to loving me the way she did, how sweet is it that Jesus sent me this little lady, to love me like a grandma would right when I needed it most?

Mary is exactly the kind of woman I want to be: thoughtful, kind, and intentional. She showed me Christ's love in a tangible way and I will forever hold onto this little washcloth as a reminder of that. My heart is full today. Be encouraged, there's so many good people in this world!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Heart Like His: A Compassionate Spirit

Throughout Scripture, Jesus is a consistent example of the definition of compassion.

Webster describes it as "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it." When studying this topic in preparation for today's blog entry, I noted that while synonyms of compassion are "sympathy" and "feeling," antonyms are "hard-heartedness" and "callousness."

Forming harsh opinions and saying hurtful things about a person's situation when you have never personally gone through their struggles is just one example of a hardened heart. It's easy to do. You get wrapped up in your own life, you get "tired of hearing about it," and it's hard to see things from other perspectives. But, in love, I want to say that this is not of Jesus. His heart, His life... it compels us towards a compassionate spirit.

What does compassion look like? Compassion looks like Jesus. It looks like the King bowing before His disciples to wash their feet, symbolic of the importance of service and servanthood. It looks like Jesus healing the sick, setting an example for us to do everything in our power to care for those that we are able to help ("Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion towards them, and He healed the sick." Matthew 14:14).  It looks like Jesus, loving the adulterous woman through her sin, rather than judging her (John 8:3-11). It looks like a Father, sending His only Son to die so that we can have life.

If Jesus Christ, the wonderful, all powerful, merciful Father and Creator has set this example for us, and could endure all the hurt that He did on our behalf, why is it so hard for us to show compassion on others?

Accept this challenge with me, dear friends, to continue working towards a Heart Like His.

"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."
Galatians 6:2

"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."
Ephesians 4:32

"Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind."
1 Peter 3:8

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Heart Like His: Being Intentional

Hi, friends! Grab a cup of coffee with your favorite creamer and let's talk about being intentional. It's been on my mind for a while now and I just want to touch on a few things.

There have been a few people in my life who have taught me about being intentional at different times, always seeming to show up right when I need to be reminded of the importance of it.

Sarah, my Bible Study leader my last year of college, was one person who taught me a lot about being intentional. Watching the way she invested her time, energy and talents into each of the girls in our little group challenged me to be more like that.

Zhanna, another incredibly influential woman in my life, has also taught me a lot about what it really means to be intentional. Working alongside her at AAA has opened my eyes to the art of building relationships, and intentionally making a difference in people's lives.

"Hey, how are you today?"
"I'm fine, thanks. How are you?"

How many times a day do you have this meaningless conversation? Are you really doing fine? Do you genuinely care about how the person you're speaking with is doing?

Lets accept the challenge together to foster relationships and to intentionally make lifelong investments in people's lives.

I think you'll be surprised what blessings come from making this conscious choice every day.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Heart Like His: Contentment

I am so humbled by all the support and encouragement I have received after beginning this new series! Wow! In continuation of this study of a Heart Like His, my topic today is contentment.

I want to begin by saying that there is nothing wrong with striving for success, in fact, I think most of us don't dream quite big enough. Being a "dreamer," as some would call it, is a good thing, and, when in the center of God's will, can bring wonderful successes and blessings. However, God's timing doesn't always make sense to us. It's easy to get ahead of God, and even when we have good intentions, not listening to His voice can lead to heartache.

After my first mission trip to Haiti, I wanted to drop out of college. I hated going to classes that I thought I'd never need, I couldn't even think about what I wanted to "be when I grew up," and I felt trapped. To say I was discontent would be an understatement... and I had two whole years left (which seemed like a lifetime). How could I possibly stay in that little town going through the motions of what every 20 year old is "supposed" to do when I knew what needed to be done in other parts of the world? I knew my potential to change lives by sharing Jesus with them. I knew of specific needs that I could help meet. I knew of sweet little girls who just needed to feel loved, who needed someone like me to wrap my arms around them and encourage them. I wanted to be back there more than anything. But I wasn't in Haiti and I couldn't be.

That's when Jesus first began speaking to my heart about contentment. I learned that you can only find true peace and contentment through Him. I started asking Him daily to use me where I was, to make me fall in love again with the little town that I had wanted to live in my entire life, and to provide me with contentment where I was until I got to where I wanted to be, and He transformed my heart and attitude, breathing into me a new zest for life. He added to my passion for missions by giving me a passion for the present. He didn't crush my dreams of serving Him, He didn't say "no;" He said "wait."

So, for two years, that's exactly what I've done. Now, only 21 days stand between my heart's desire to take the love of Jesus to the Haitian people and boarding the plane. Jesus' timing is perfect. Accept this challenge with me, friends, to rest in the contentment that only He can give, to trust Him fully. For me, this is a daily struggle, something that I have to ask Him for each and every day. Together, through Him, we can find joy and contentment where we are right now, having learned from the past and looking forward to the future.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Heart Like His: Learning to Forgive

Hi friends! Today, I am introducing a series of topics that have been impressing on my heart for weeks. This will be the beginning of a multi-part series that I will post in many different blog entries, covering one topic at a time. Bear with me as I strive to allow Jesus to speak through me and share my heart with you in love.

Each topic centers around the idea of having a Heart Like His. Join with me, friends, as we pursue the ultimate goal of becoming more like Jesus each and every day together.

Today, I will talk about unforgiveness.

Throughout the years, I have dealt with more unforgiveness than I could ever convey. Forgiving someone who continues to hurt you is hard. Each and every  time I got to the point that I felt like I was finally ready to forgive, they hurt me again. My father, for example, used me as a tool to hurt my mother for years, holding tuition payments and doctor bills over my head and forcing me to go to his house (he had partial custody of me) only to make me sit in a casino daycare for hours at a time. My struggle to forgive him has been a long road, and led to the bitterness that unforgiveness always brings.

Although this is not the only instance of unforgiveness I've struggled with, it has certainly been the most prominent in my 22 years of life so far. Being unable to forgive him also created a cycle or pattern of unforgiveness in other areas of life. Whether being unable to forgive myself or others, there was a time that I experienced an unhealthy amount of unforgiveness that led me to really look inward and examine my own heart.

As a Christian, I know that unforgiveness is not of Jesus. So often, I feel that "religion" teaches us about rules and legalistic regulations, rather than a relationship with Him, which hinders us from truly studying the heart of our Savior. When we study His heart, we are able to develop a stronger desire to be like Him. When I think of Jesus giving His life for me, when I think of Him forgiving me of every sin and washing me clean, making me whole, and giving me new life, I am so ashamed of my unforgiveness.

Although it's sometimes hard to recognize the arrogance associated with unforgiveness, refusing to forgive someone is essentially saying that we are better than God. We are called to be like Him.

"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."  Ephesians 4:32

Will you accept this challenge with me? Lets work towards restoration, towards forgiveness. Lets work towards a Heart Like His.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

I am Yours

Happy Thursday, friends! Do you ever hear a song on the radio that's an oldie but a goodie, and it just speaks to you in a profound way? This song is my heart, my prayer, my praise. I just wanted to share these words with you today:
Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt?
Who am I, that the bright and morning star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart?

Not because of who I am
But because of what you've done
Not because of what I've done
But because of who you are
I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind
Still you hear me when I'm calling
Lord, you catch me when I'm falling
And you told me who I am
I am Yours, I am Yours
Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love
And watch me rise again?

 Who am I, that the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me?
Not because of who I am
But because of what you've done
Not because of what I've done
But because of who you are
I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind
Still you hear me when I'm calling
Lord, you catch me when I'm falling
And you told me who I am
I am Yours
Not because of who I am
But because of what you've done
Not because of what I've done
But because of who you are
I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind
Still you hear me when I'm calling
Lord, you catch me when I'm falling
And you told me who I am
I am Yours
I am Yours, I am Yours
Whom shall I fear?
Whom shall I fear?
'Cause I am Yours
I am Yours

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The 22nd year: A Year of Choices

You know, it's funny, when you're growing up and you think you can plan out how your life is going to go.

When I'm 25 I'll get married and when I'm 28 I'll have kids and when I'm this age I'll do this and blah, blah, blah...

Today is my 22nd birthday and I could have never imagined in my wildest dreams what this year would hold for me. During this, my 22nd year of life, I will marry the man of my dreams, we will buy a house (Lord willing), and I will begin my career. Along with those things, like any other big milestones in life, come (and have already come) heartache and frustration. I know that.

But that's where the big decision comes in. No, 22 is not a "big" birthday, like your 16th, 21st or 40th. Twenty-two. It's just somewhere in the middle. But for me, it's a year of choices.

Yes, I have to make choices about what kind of cake to serve at my wedding and what kind of bridesmaids dresses I like, choices about houses and jobs and all the things that come with planning a wedding and starting this new chapter in life. But, this is also a year of another kind of choices.

This year I resolve to choose joy.

No matter the circumstance, no matter how I'm treated, no matter what disappointments stand in the way, I choose joy. I choose joy in the morning, in the evening, and everywhere in between. I choose joy when my character is being attacked, and I know the Lord is the only One who knows and understands the depths of my heart. I choose joy when I fail to love others the way I am called to. I choose joy when I begin to doubt my effectiveness or ability. I choose joy when serving the Lord, in Haiti, or wherever I may be. I choose joy going into my marriage, I choose joy when I don't understand the Lord's plan, when I don't see the light at the end of the tunnel, and as I wait for the restoration and healing that only our Father can bring.

Accept this challenge with me, friends. Lets choose the joy of the Lord together.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Oh, just Jesus teaching me a thing or two

To most people, this just looks like a journal. But to me, it's not. Its a handmade journal with handmade paper pages and I have written in it meticulously thoughts and prayers leading up to my mission trip to Haiti this summer. Last week, I tossed it in my bag with plans to write in it later along with a water bottle, which I later discovered did not have a lid that was screwed on quite tight enough. To my surprise, when I pulled this prized possession of mine out of my bag, it was not a little wet. Not damp. It was dripping. It had absorbed the entire leaked bottle of water and my thoughts and prayers and questions and dreams were the sad, smeared result of it all. I handled it like a mature adult cried like a baby (I'm ashamed to say) and watched as it sat, propped open, drying in front of a fan for almost a week. 

Then, Jesus put His hands on my shoulders and shook me and said, "Seriously? When did you become so materialistic? Isn't this for Haiti? You think they cry over spilled water there?" I heard Him loud and clear. What a wake up call. This is proof that Jesus allows things to happen to speak to us, to get a hold of our hearts, and to grow in us an even deeper desire for Him. I am so glad my journal got drenched. I am so glad that the Lord is working in my heart months before I return to the place I love. Americans think that life is so wonderful and luxurious here, but I've found myself praying more and more often for a heart like the Haitian people. They know what real joy means... and it doesn't come from things.

So, when I pull out this journal in the years to come, it will serve as a tangible reminder of the way Jesus speaks to me and when someone asks, "hey, what happened to your journal?" I'll get to reply, "oh, that's just Jesus teaching me a thing or two."

The Thirty-Something Syndrome and it's impact on girls like me

For a few years now, I've been deeply discouraged by the obviously unhappy thirty-something year old women in my life who have missed every opportunity to love and mentor me through the years I've needed them most. My emotions have ranged from discouragement to frustration to anger to just plain old feeling sorry for them, because their actions and attitude towards me have made their own unhappiness obvious.

It wasn't until I was surrounded by Godly, nurturing women of this same age group who proved my encompassing view of them wrong that I realized that not all thirty-something year old's have this bad attitude. What "bad attitude," you might ask? Well, I like to call it the thirty-something syndrome... you know, those girls who are miserable because they're really too old to dress like they're still 22, but too young to dress like a full-fledged middle aged woman... the girls who have so much regret from the mistakes they made in their twenties that they automatically hate (or resent) any girl in their twenties who is actually living for Christ and trying to do all the right things and stay in the center of His will... those girls who are so unhappy with where they are and the choices they've made that they would secretly rather watch you fall on your face than accomplish your dreams.... those girls. The girls with the thirty-something syndrome.

I'm not sure what the most common cause of this is, but I know that jealousy, insecurity, and unhappiness are all factors. The saddest part of it all is that most women falling into this trap are far more beautiful than they realize, creative and smart, and could have a huge, lasting impact on the lives of girls like me if they would just set aside their poor attitudes and embrace the opportunity to make a difference.

Well, my experience with women like this and then, later, the women who proved to me that they aren't all like that has taught me a few things:
1. Never miss an opportunity to mentor a younger girl. You've been there, you understand, so instead of resenting them for being successful and striving to live for the Lord, embrace them, nurture them, and show them what genuine love feels like.

2. Go deeper than surface level. If you don't give someone a chance and try to get to know their heart, you can't truly understand them.

3. Being surrounded by Godly women in their 30's is one of the best things a twenty-something year old girl can do.

As I prepare for and plan a wedding, apply for jobs, and prepare to be the Godly wife Jesus has called me to be, there is nothing sweeter than learning from these women who have been there and want the best for me. Watching the way they love their husbands, watching the things they've taught their children, watching the way they invest their time and energy... it's been one of the sweetest gifts. That's the kind of woman I want to become.

Thank you to the women who have loved me, encouraged me, and taught me what it means to be a woman of God!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Within the last 3 weeks, I graduated from college, started my job, one of my best friends got married, I watched my cousin graduate from dental hygiene school, and I adopted a dog... all the while visiting my grandma in the nursing home, participating in all my church's activities, helping my fiance look for a house and preparing for a huge yard sale. Not to mention making hundreds of bracelets in an effort to raise money for our upcoming mission trip to Haiti. Happy and stressed and busy and overwhelmed and blessed beyond measure... "Too blessed to be stressed," that's for sure. Wow. When did life become such a roller coaster? I can be emotional depending on the situation, but I swear these last few months I've been on top of the world one minute and crying the next. I guess that's what happens when you cram what should be about 5 years of excitement into a few months.

Isn't it funny how we get so stressed out about these kinds of things, though? I mean, when I leave for Haiti, I have full confidence that Jesus is going to wrap His arms around me, protect me, and use me just like He did last time. There's just not a sliver of doubt in my mind. But, when I think about Grayson and I finding a house in the short amount of time we have to do it, it scares me to death. Why is that? Jesus already has our little house picked out. He knows what kind of counter tops and curtains and floors it has, He knows what the backyard is like, and He even knows what flowers we'll plant in the front yard. So, in the midst of the stress of not knowing... I'd like to declare FREEDOM. Freedom in Christ to not know. Freedom in Christ to have faith in His goodness, in His unwavering faithfulness, in His perfect timing and plan for our lives. When you force yourself to take a step back, release the white-knuckled grip of control you [almost always unsuccessfully] have of your own life, and let the Lord lead you, you will experience a freedom like you have never had before. We serve a good God, a loving Father, and His plan is perfect (even when we don't understand it). Declare freedom in Him today, friends.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Renmen Abonde

Renmen Abonde, creole for "love abounds," is the name I've finally chosen for my bracelets.

It's taken me quite a while to decide on a name, because I didn't want a name that pointed to any good I'm doing by making them, but rather point to the love of Jesus, because without Him none of this would be possible.

When I think about the way Jesus has taken some wire and a few beads and transformed them into something so beautiful, it gives me goosebumps. Isn't it funny how He can take simple things and transform them into awesome opportunities to share our faith? Making these bracelets has been such an adventure, full of every emotion wrapped into one. How do you start something like this with no money? I found out first hand that the answer to that question is faith. Trusting that the Lord would honor my efforts for Him, I jumped in head first with this attempt to raise money for my upcoming mission trip to Jacmel, Haiti. Since then, I've seen the Lord work in my life in the most profound way and I know that it's only a glimpse of the goodness He will reveal during my time in Haiti.

So many people have answered the call that Jesus has placed on their lives, buying bracelets and giving far more than asked of them in return. There aren't words to describe the gratitude I have for their support, encouragement and generosity.

My heart behind these bracelets is to connect women all across the world in Christ. Each of these bracelets are tangible reminders of the love that abounds across the deepest waters, uniting his daughters through the love that He so freely gives.

Thank you, Jesus. Your love abounds.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Take Heart

These last few months, The Lord has really been working on my heart. He used this adorable little boutique, some wire, and a few beads to totally wreck my heart, grow my love for the Haitian people, and learn to wholly place my trust in Him. After making my bracelets for just a little over a month, I've already raised more than half of what I need to go back to Haiti in August, and last week, after praying diligently that the Lord would continue to open doors and provide new opportunities for this effort to grow, I ran into my friend, Emma, in the library, who suggested I take my bracelets to the boutique where she works in Blowing Rock. Today, I walked in here with no idea what to expect and left with my heart so full I thought it might explode. Not only did Sheri, the owner of Take Heart, purchase my bracelets, but she also blessed my heart in the most precious way with encouragement, Godly advice, inspiration, and a challenge to dream bigger than I even thought possible. Why have I been limiting what I thought God could do in my life? He made it so clear to me today that He has big, big things in store for me if I'll just dream a little bigger, sparkle a little brighter, and fall a little more In love with Him || Jesus, it's all Jesus.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Three Easters

It's hard to believe that three Easters have gone by since this handsome man first asked me to do life with him. So much has changed since then, and we have overcome more obstacles than we can count. We've laughed together, cried together, challenged each other, and grown in ways that could only come from Jesus. 

Homemade Easter Egg Dye

Every year, it seems like the quality of store-bought Easter egg dye gets worse and worse. This year, we ran out at the last minute to buy a box of Easter egg dye, only to get home and realize that only 3 of the 6 tablets that the box advertised were actually included and they had melted somewhere along the way and the colors were all mixed together. Rather than getting out again in the rain to hunt down another mediocre box of egg dye, we decided to get a little creative. After mixing a few different concoctions to find the perfect homemade dye, we finally found a way to get eggs prettier than any box dye could provide.

Using a generous amount of Wilton icing coloring, a cup of water and one teaspoon of white vinegar, we dipped our eggs in these homemade colors and they came out completely streak and spot free, with beautiful colors that we had much more control over than boxed dye. 
 And voila! They turned out absolutely beautiful! In fact, they may be my favorite ones we've ever done. Any who would've thought, the secret to beautiful, streak-free eggs was right inside our kitchen cabinets the whole time!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The finish line

As I eagerly approach graduation, assignments are piling up and I am more overwhelmed than I've ever been. Senior portfolios, group projects, and final photography assignments take up every second of my time and I feel like I've been treading water just to keep from drowning in a sea called college. Where is the end of this tunnel? Will I ever be finished?

In search of some encouragement, I read 2 Timothy 4:7, which says, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." I know that the Lord will only bless my perseverance and diligence, so no matter how hard it gets, I accept the challenge of pushing through these last few weeks and finishing strong. 

Fight to the finish with me, sweet friends. Wherever you are, whatever you're facing, the Lord is there with you, walking right beside you, and He can't wait to see you victoriously celebrating at the end of whatever tunnel you might be going through. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bangle Making

Hi friends! With graduation just 53 days away (eeeeeek!) and my plate full with wedding and mission trip planning excitement, I haven't had much time to blog. I am in for a crazy year: graduating from college (finally), starting my job at AAA, going back to Haiti in August, getting married in December, and apartment hunting with my sweet fiance. Whew. Hopefully, I'll find at least a little time to sleep somewhere in there! 

To raise money for my mission trip, I am making and selling these bangles. They come in rose gold/champagne, yellow gold, silver and chocolate. They have been a real hit so far, and the Lord is amazing me once again with His provision. If you are interested in buying some to help support my trip, please contact me at warrenkj@appstate.edu

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Love Letter from Jesus

With each passing week, it seems like senior year gets more and more full. With 77 days left until graduation, I'm trying to savor each and every moment. This is such a sweet season of life and I have been surrounded by the sweetest people to share it with. His blessings are endless!

My friend Valerie and I joined an "eGroup" (a bible study affiliated with Elevation Church - the App State extension), and my heart has never been so overwhelmed with such a precious group of Godly girls! It has been such joy! This past Thursday night, the lesson was about love - loving ourselves, loving others and God's love for us. At the end, we were each given a piece of paper and told to write a love letter from Jesus, saying what we think He'd say to us. It was such a powerful, reaffirming experience. How many times do we know that God is good, know what He promises us... but we don't live like we know? It's easy for forget that He loves us with a deep, passionate, everlasting love. It's easy to forget that because we have Him, we have the strength to push through the hardships of life and continue to pursue the purest form of joy that only He can provide. Writing this letter felt like I was sitting in my favorite coffee shop, talking to Him face to face, hearing the promises of the Bible flow from His lips in the sweetest assurance. 

I challenge you to do this, because His deepest desire is to be close to His children. 

Mine went a little something like this....

Dear one,

My heart breaks when you doubt what I have promised to be true. Do you not know that I love you and will take care of you? Do you not know that I have big, big plans for you? Because, I do. I love you more than you could ever comprehend and I want to give you the fullest, most abundantly joyful life. Will you let me? Will you trust me?

Don't you know that you are beautiful? Your insecurities are pointless. I made you. I formed you and you are fearfully and wonderfully made in My image! The things you hate about yourself make you special. They make you different. Don't let insecurity turn you into someone you aren't. You know that real beauty comes from the heart.

I know you're overwhelmed and feel like you're getting swept away by all the exciting (but stressful) things in your life right now. But, sweet child, I am with you. I am right beside you, holding your hand, guiding you through every mountaintop and valley. The trials you are facing will make you stronger. The hurt you have experienced will make you better. 

Keep shining. I am yours and you are Mine. Rest in my arms.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Hosting my first Bridal Shower

I have always loved planning events, making pretty things and practicing hospitality. One of the joys of my senior year of college is not only being engaged myself, but having several friends who are also engaged or newly married. One of my bridesmaids, Kayla, is getting married in May and this past weekend I had the honor of throwing her very first bridal shower. It was so much fun!

Since the shower was from 10-12, we had brunch with fruit, chocolate dipped strawberries, bagels, cookies, juice and coffee with the bride's favorite creamer.
Kayla's sweet roommate, Lauren, made the delicious bridal cookies! She's so talented!
I made several pinterest-inspired banners and used streamers to decorate. Since the theme was red and cheetah print to match Kayla's apartment, there were subtle pops of cheetah everywhere!
For the front door, I made this wreath 
 For the winners of the games, I made these pretty prize bags full of chewing gum, chocolate and nail polish
 For party favors, I used these adorable cheetah print bags from Hobby Lobby
 My gift to Kayla and Jeremy was this coffee table tray with one of their engagement pictures on it!
For games, we played a "Help the Bride Write her Vows" mad libs game, a "How Well do you Know the Bride?" trivia game, and the infamous "Toilet Paper Wedding Gown" game.
Kayla and Jeremy got a lot of wonderful things for their home and it was just an overall great time! I am so thankful for the opportunity to do this for my sweet friend and can't wait to stand by her when she says "I do!"
Thank God for sweet girlfriends!