Refine me.

Ever heard that old saying “If it isn’t one thing, it’s another“?

It is proving so true right now in my spiritual life.

All of a sudden, God is making me so aware of my filthiness.

It used to be that I struggled with a few (haha- bear with me!) “big” areas of sin. Little by little, I removed/let go of these sins taking over my life. I assumed that without these sins overwhelming my heart, mind, and life, I would be “okay”. I would be so much “better”. I wouldn’t be down trodden by sin. I was so wrong!- Now that I have moved on from these things, I am so much more aware of the abundance of my life that is other sin.

Pure, filthy, ugly sin. 

Praise the Lord though that He does not leave us in this helpless state to fend for ourselves!

As I am reminded minute by minute of my constant disobedience to God, the very Lover of my soul, He is refining me. He does not give up. With His bare hands, He continues working on His masterpiece, sculpting with intense purpose.   Ephesians 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 

He sees potential in my mess. He has laid out a plan for my life, far better than any of my plans or wildest dreams. He doesn’t give up on me when I choose Facebook, Instagram, and gossip {#worthlessthings} over time in communion with Him {creator of the Heavens and the Earth}.

Instead, He is maturing me in the midst of the muck.

But far better than that, He has already cleansed me. He forgave/forgives me completely.

I’ll leave you with this- Just listen.

As I have listened to it the past few weeks, I thought Landon sang, “For I am your God, I will still give you away.” haha- go figure! My girly mind goes straight to thinking of a wedding…  I finally googled it today to find the lyrics are actually, “I will still give you aid.”

However, I am choosing to stick with my version. My God is so merciful, He will still “give me away”; He will present me blameless. (Isaiah 41:10 and Phillipians 2:15) I am forever thankful for that grace that washes me clean each and every day.

Blown away by the Lord’s faithfulness to those with little faith,

Updates!

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The Second One

I typed an entire post with you this afternoon and it deleted just before I clicked “publish”! Ughh. At least practice makes perfect!!

Thursday marked the end of exams and the end of my sophomore year! I treated myself to a end of semester treat= a heavenly massage! It was the perfect way to relax after a week of tests and studying (and mexican with friends, packing, and way to many HGTV shows.) After my massage I left Starkville for the last time as a student at Mississippi State- whoa! But I am so excited for this summer and fall and everything those two will bring. Praying for a time of growth and preparation this summer. I know it will be a big change but I can’t wait.

As soon as I got back to Collierville, I had to do some rearranging, cleaning, and decorating. I think I’m addicted. My room for the summer is finally settled in and just homey enough. Still trying to convince my dad into adding some hardwood. The homemade goo from elementary school apparently wasn’t supposed to be left on carpet (whoops!) For now, I’m loving this set up. It won’t belong before I’m gathering everything again to move in August!

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The wall with the table and lamps really needs a pick me up so I’m planning to recreate this pretty soon!

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Today has been pretty laid back other than a bootcamp workout my mom & I did this morning. It kicked. our. booties. in the best kind of way! I know I’m going to be extremely sore tomorrow!! But it was nice to have an intense workout in so we could relax for the rest of the day, help Josh find a hat for the torrential down pour known as Beale Street music fest, finish getting everything unpacked and organized, and enjoy Las Delicias for dinner with some Sonic to follow! I’m becoming addicted to their mini Caramel Banana shakes… so good. but so bad. Did I already undo that early morning workout?!

I’m so excited for this tomorrow/weekend! I’ll be heading to Whitney’s first shower tomorrow night! I can’t believe she’ll be getting married in 4 months!

What are your weekend plans?

P.S. A new show is starting on HGTV and I think I’m meant to be the star of it. Renovation Raiders. While the homeowners are out to dinner, a room in their home is renovated!! — I once painted my bathroom while my parents were out to dinner… let me tell you, it looks just lovely. 😉

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Lies

Cleaning my room is no fun and a lot of fun at the same time. I love some of the stuff I find; and even end up thinking “who is this girl?” about things long forgotten. It actually cracks me up.

But Thursday night, I found a notebook with notes from a bible study Lauren and I led last semester. I want to share a few things with you just to spur your thinking, if nothing more.

3 big lies women believe:

{1} Who I am and What I Struggle With are the same thing.     Isn’t that an easy trap to fall into? It makes me think of the AA thing.. “I am Billy, and I am an alcoholic.”

{2} Who I Am and What I Do are the same thing.    This is similar yet different. It is more about letting your job, sorority, or hobby define you. Yes, they are apart of you, but not who you are.

{3} Who I Am is not good enough.     Can I get an amen? As women, it can be a constant battle to fight against Satan whispering this in our ears.

Let’s no longer believe these lies. What if we let Jesus Christ’s identity truly affect ours. Would that impact our behavior and daily lives? Would we let it impact more than our words, actions, and the bumper stickers on our car, but our thoughts too?!

Our behavior and thoughts represent our beliefs. But I would go further to say our behavior and thoughts reveal our beliefs.

This shocked me.. it was so spot on. It was so convicting. I hope to throw off these lies and run without abandon into the arms of the Man who speaks only truth- life giving truth- as I enter my twenties.

Truths to replace these lies: 

{1} What you struggle with does not define you.

{2} What you do does not dictate who you are.

{3} We, YOU, are good enough. You were made in the hands of the Almighty carpenter.

Carry these truths with you and have a sweet, relaxing weekend. xoxo

Where is your mind set?

This morning, I woke up feeling just kind of BLAH… Not for any particular reason, just out of it sort of. My back aches a lot when I wake up (mild scoliosis + addiction to stomach sleeping)… so that didn’t help.

I reached for my Bible and journal **after checking twitter, facebook, instagram, and email– {nobody’s perfect}. After prayer journaling a bit, I wasn’t feeling into that either. I was praying specifically, “I feel sad for some reason, would You lift my head?”

I decided to open the Word and look up a couple verses Rachel sent this morning.

-Ephesians 6:19

&

-Colossians 3:1-4

which says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

via Pinterest

via Pinterest

Ok God, I hear You. My funk is due to where my mind is. Class, back aches, my birthday, and the number on the scale are of this earth. They are worthless compared to the things of your Kingdom.

I think Colossians 3:5 needs to be repeated in my mind throughout everyday:

 Put to death what is earthly in you.

Easier said than done, right? But let’s all do it today, with the help of the one who is above all things. He is even above the tragedy in Boston yesterday. We were surprised/saddened/hurt by it. But to our God, it was no surprise at all. Let’s find peace in that.

Completely unrelated but while you’re here, check this out.

Sweet Disadvantages

If this reads like a college paper… It’s because it was my actual speech for Intro to Communication… But I think its information you’ll find helpful!

Enjoy… If that’s even possible on a Monday!

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Would you purposely ingest a chemical you knew was used to preserve dead animals? 

Due to my love for Diet Dr. Pepper, I was reluctant to believe the crazy facts I am going to share with you. The more I studied artificial sweetener and their effects, the more I realized just how prevalent they are. We are ingesting them everyday from diet soda, yogurt, baked goods and most types of chewing gum. AND it turns out, that Stevia I thought was WAY better than Splenda and Sweet’N’Low… isn’t. Cue crying as I stare at black coffee wondering how to make it drinkable!!

I want to inform you about the history and creation of artificial sweeteners, and how they affect your body in relation to both weight gain and various illnesses.

I constantly debate their pros and cons for my life; the most current health and fitness information had always interested me. I have ironically used these sweeteners for years, done extensive research, and gained knowledge from reliable sources to share with you today.

 I want to start with a slightly frightening story about how “fake sugar” came to be. According to the web article “Artificial Sweeteners – More Dangerous than you ever imagined,” the most popular artificial sweetener on the market, aspartame, was discovered in 1965 completely by mistake!!

    1. Chemist, James Schlatter was attempting to develop a drug to treat ulcer disease when he spilled some of his mixture onto his finger. He licked his finger to clean it off and was amazed to find that the mixture was over 200x sweeter than sugar.

Unfortunately, many chemicals are involved in the making of this white powder; Methylene chloride is one of them; It has many uses, so we come into contact with it often. However, artificial sweeteners are the only form of it ingested. Here’s the crazy part: Prolonged skin contact with methylene chloride can cause chemical burns and dissolving of tissues in the skin. If that isn’t shocking enough, it is often used to strip paint and weld plastic together.

This is what we are coating our insides in.

Soon after the accidental invention, it became apparent that artificial sweetener could be the best thing, financially, that ever happened to the diet industry. All those involved in getting Artificial Sweeteners into our foods were more interested in money signs that human health.

One of the most appealing facts about artificial sweeteners is the fact that they are zero calorie and therefore seem like a perfect ally in the fight against extra pounds. Another plus for many people is the fact that artificial sweeteners can be used in both cooking and baking, making it seem like the most convenient change in diet to save lots of extra calories.

However, more current research argues that this is simply not true. Artificial sweeteners in our systems lead our body to believe we indulged in copious amounts of sugar…

        1. Within minutes, our blood sugar rises.

Then, our bodies start to release leptin and insulin, instructing the body to store fat. Simultaneously, serotonin levels are decreasing; this is the chemical that lets us know we are full.

Consistently ingesting artificial sweeteners creates the perfect environment for weight gain and a greater percentage of fat, despite your greatest weight loss efforts.

The internal consequences can be even worse than extra pounds. Just 10 grams of aspartame, or other similar sweeteners, can cause medical issues. These chemicals in your body often have laxative like effects, bloating and diarrhea. On top of that, you may experience headaches, migraines, mental confusion, dizziness, and seizures.

If you can believe it, there is more.

    1. The FDA strays from informing the general public that research claims worrisome effects, including cancer, due to artificial sweetener are running rampant.

Artificial sweeteners are now being referred to as one of the most dangerous and controversial food additives in human history.

  • It seems the accidental discovery was foretelling the not so sweet weight gain and chronic illness artificial sweeteners can lead to.

Now when you sit down at restaraunts, determine whether you are interested in cancer, migraines, or a few extra pounds before ordering that Diet CokeCoke products are so cerosive, they can be used for hard core cleaning. They say if you leave Coke in your toilet overnight, it will clean better than any other product on the market. Just last week, I used Diet Dr. Pepper to get all that caked on gunk out of my oven!!

Why I still think it’s okay to drink the same thing I clean my oven with… I’ll never know! But I’m working on it!

On a less scary/more exciting note, Spencer has been begging for months to make his blog debut… I figured what better day than today to introduce him! Happy 20th Birthday to this crazy guy. Thanks for always standing up for the blog when Mitchell argues that I slash to many words being a great friend. From Columbus trips in the Dud to hilarious nights playing cards in Destin, life wouldn’t be the same without ya! Keep getting sunburnt. 🙂  I hope your twenties are full of more fun (& trips back to Memphis to hang with us) than you can imagine!

Whitney, Spencer, Me, and Mitchell

Whitney, Spencer, Me, and Mitchell

In My Makeup Bag

Here’s a sneak peek of what my weekend looked like: Makeover after Makeover after Makeover (x5). It was so. much. fun.

The way you look can quickly affect your confidence and how you feel in that moment. I love using the wide assortment of Mary Kay products to make people look, feel, and BE beautiful! Of course, it’s about more than the makeup… I love that MK pushes the lifestyle with God first, Family second, and career last!

Check out just one look Mary Kay products can create:

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Prior to using any products… only acne present here 😉 No shame.

20130410-DSC_3367The first two steps, used every morning and every night, work together.

Would you believe the Time Wise 3-in-1 cleanser and moisturizer work together to do ELEVEN things? Cleanse, exfoliate, freshen, energize, hydrate, smooth, firm, soften, protect, rebuild, and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. It rightfully won the Good Housekeeping Stamp and is one of our best sellers!!20130410-DSC_3375Concealer always come next, I love that it is lightweight yet long lasting. It also is great that there are so many shades to choose from; something for every face. It helps conceal imperfections such as blemishes, age spots, and under eye circles to create a beautiful flawless face.20130410-DSC_3373I follow it up with Mineral Powder for a natural, matte finish. I love that it gives build-able coverage.This is crazily comparable to Bare Minerals, with a much better price tag!! (Think $28 compared to $16)!!! 20130410-DSC_3335

Can’t forget the blush— gotta have the perfect luminous flush on the cheeks. It makes ya look more alive!

20130410-DSC_337620130410-DSC_3339 20130410-DSC_3340 For the eyes, I start by using “Moonstone” mineral eye shadow all over the eyelid; from the lashes all the way to the brow.

I love to even extend some of this light, all over color around your tear duct… It adds a dewy accent & really makes the eyes look wide awake and pop!

Then, the crease needs some “Chocolate Kiss” to be happy- oh wait, thats us girls once a month 😉20130410-DSC_3343

This deep brown gives depth and warmth to the lids.20130410-DSC_3347 20130410-DSC_3349Finally, when I’m feeling it, I add “Sweet Plum”. It looks like a very deep purple in the tray but adds the perfect accent. 20130410-DSC_3351 20130410-DSC_3350

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Black eyeliner and Black “Lash Love” mascara unarguably finish out every eye look! (Can I get an amen?!)

Mary Kay’s eyeliner is long wearing, fade resistant, smudge proof, and waterproof. What more can you ask for?

Are you constantly looking for the perfect mascara to wear everyday? I’ve found what you NEED! The secret is a flexible, sculpted brush that separates and coats even fine, hard to reach lashes, with no clumps!!- That is important to me.

20130410-DSC_3392My final step… True Dimensions Lipstick in Natural Beaute’.

I’ve fallen in love with this formula for lipstick. I am not a big lipstick girl… it is always SO drying and I can’t wear without gloss..  MK has finally helped me find this all day, everyday color, that’s moisturizing! It wouldn’t look out of the ordinary with workout clothes but still looks gorgeous with a dress on date night!

It’s becoming a problem… I sell this constantly! I can’t even keep it on the shelf!20130410-DSC_3355The finished face!

20130410-DSC_3357Winning outfit, huh?

As always, a HUGE thanks to JML photography for the product and step by step photos. If you’re in need of any photography (products, family, wedding, maternity) call this dude. He’s kinda awesome.

I hope your weekend was full of relaxation~ I know mine was.

Thanks for reading!

Pretty for Pennies

I love decorating & a good project!

College has created a lot of opportunity for some low level interior design! New rooms the last 2 years = so much fun!!! My freshman year, it was such a special time, money wasn’t such an issue. However, when I decided to move into a house for my Sophomore year and hardly wanted to reuse any of my same stuff, finding budget friendly finds was a must!!

Let me take you on a tour of my current room & show you where I was able to cut the cost without cutting corners!

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Our living room

This may have been my favorite find last summer! After weeks of craigslist watching and shopping around, I found this couch! It was quite a gem for the price… drum roll please… I paid $52 for this baby!

Abbington Consignment in Collierville had it in their back room. It was listed at just between $75 & $100 and I thought, “well, it will get good use, let’s do it!” When I let the sweet lady there know I wanted to make it mine, she shared the little secret with me that for every month an item stays in their store, it is 10% off! That brought us to $52 and a great addition to our college living room- It has served us well!

The patterned pillow and tan throws are Walmart finds- just $6.00 each! I rounded out the “unneccessary fluffiness” 😉 with 2 soft blue pillows from TJ Maxx- $9 for the pair!

My roommates moved in before I did, and we hadn’t thought into how cold tile would be for our toes! So I set out for a fun, but affordable rug before heading to Starkville. Tuesday Morning served me well… $59! A little more than I would think a rug is worth, but it turns out they go for way more than that!

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My room- A collaboration

My room turned out better than I could have asked! The size is perfect… I really wanted to be able to use my loveseat.

The patterned curtains are Target- Threshold Ferrah Fretwork- I waited months for them to go on sale and I think spent $19.

The lamps I found at Dirt Cheap in Starkville (Target brand). I started with two of the lamp you see on the right- bought them for $5/piece. They were white, shiny, and shadeless, but I knew they could be improved. I covered them in textured brown spray paint and adorned them with Target shades. The day of move in, one of them took a dive for the drive way and shattered! I’ve learned to love the mismatched look now. (I forgive you, Dad ;))

Under the lamps, nightstands handmade by my dad and I with scrap wood we had laying around- FREE! They were inspired by these lovelies on Pinterest. They are the exact same design; I just chose to leave the wood raw. May paint them someday!

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The white sheets on my bed are also Target-Fieldcrest, purchased at dirt cheap. I think the entire set was $10- I’m telling you, that place is like a gold mine.

Shams were West Elm SUPER SALE! They would have cost an arm AND a leg if it weren’t for the sale… That place doesn’t get my money often!

Two throw pillows here are both Pier One! (Thanks Mom!)

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Another favorite find, the love seat. Throughout my search for a couch, I thought how fun it would be to have a small sitting area in my room for friends, coffee and quiet time, or just chilling! After looking at day beds, chairs, benches, etc, I had pretty much decided there just wasn’t money to include that.

One Friday, Mitchell and I headed to an estate sale (stil looking for a couch) and found this! It was in great condition and they were only asking $25!! I thought it would go great with all the white and brown I had already incorporated- had to have it!185928_10151018912053759_1759079055_n

This antique wardrobe was given to me by the greatest family friend ever. I just love the look of it… the storage space and full length mirror make it 10x better! The free price tag is always nice too 😉

Don’t waste your money just for a pretty room!

Be patient (who am I to give that advice?!), look around everywhere you go, see the character/potential in items, and don’t be afraid to DIY!

Happy Friday, friends!

“nothing else even comes close”

“I’m going to need a full set.”

“Acrylic, please!”

If this sounds like your trips to the nail salon, I know you natural nails are in need of some rescuing. I used acrylic nails for years even though I knew they tore my natural nails to pieces. When I would finally remove them, I knew I would have to baby them for months before they were actually strong nails again. The acrylic was gone, but I was left with soft brittle nails that would practically split in half when I attempted to open a ziploc.

I have, after years of searching, found the remedy! Thanks to my roommate on this one… She is the nail queen.

Formula 2 by nailitiques. Their company tagline is “nothing else even comes close” and that could not be more true. It does cost a pretty penny, but I’m telling you, it is a miracle in a bottle. Totally worth the splurge!

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They claim their formulas were created to treat different nail conditions. The salon-tested formulations offer special combinations of ingredients, including hydrolyzed keratin and protein in combination with gelatin and calcium to build a healthy nail foundation. The protein formulas bond the nail layers together building a strong nail foundation resistant to peeling, chipping and splitting.

Nails will see marked improvement when treated with Formula 2. This formula consists of a unique blend of protein and conditioners. The protein immediately acts to help bond nails that are splitting or peeling. Formula 2 helps strengthen the nail resulting in long, strong and healthy nails.

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One of my favorite products ever- and if that isn’t enough… It is one of InStyle’s Best Beauty Buys!

Pick some up at your local Walgreens or CVS! I’ve already talked my Mom out of the artificial habit- YOU should be next!

I know that full well

Lately, I feel easily overwhelmed with certain things. Sometimes, the blog feels that way.. so I just push it off for a rainy day. I was attempting to type my latest post when this whole blog thing started to feel incredibly incomplete.

You see, there’s more to the story than you know. With blogging, it is easy to only share the fun stuff. Unfortunately, this can make the author seem “perfect,” simply because I am more likely to post on good days than to share the not so pretty areas of my life on the world wide web. Today, I want to share something with you that will be hard to write down, to catch you all up. But I think it must be done in order for this to be genuine, to build a trust between us. I am a filthy sinner, with a past. I also think it might be less overwhelming for me if it’s on paper and not just swirling in my head. My memory is spotty, but I think it all started around 13.

I wouldn’t call it bullying, but a few comments in the lunchroom to the tune of “ever heard of the Subway diet?” have affected me more than I realized at the time. It was 6th grade, I was 5’2″ and remember wearing a size 6.. Now I know that is not big. AT ALL. But being bigger than most of the other girls was the worst part of all. The most important thing at that age was fitting in. I didn’t make the dance team my sixth grade year, which didn’t help.

By seventh grade, I had naturally grown up and slimmed out some. I got interested in working out, going to spin classes with one of my best friends and the “baby fat” that stayed way to long dropped off without to much effort.

I don’t know where it began, but I think around 9th grade, I became obsessed with my weight and exercise. Self comparison. Numbers. I honestly don’t even remember this time at all… I’ve just found notebooks covered in weights and calorie counts I didn’t even realize I had been keeping track of for so long. I knew, and still know, calorie amounts of almost everything. It’s like a terrible talent.

I remember eating until I was so overly full I couldn’t think of anything else, throwing up just to relieve some of the guilt. No one knew I struggled. I was never out of a normal weight range, so it was an internal battle… between what I knew deep down was right and I let other people, the media, and modern ideals tell me would make me happy. If I wasn’t 120, I wasn’t perfect.

Baby food diet, Drop10, Weight Watchers, Weigh down workshop, calorie counting, bite counting, all fruit, no carbs, all protein, all liquid, you name it, I’ve tried it. For a few hours at least. I am one of the lucky ones. I was able to avoid the worst. I was never determined enough to take any of these extreme ideas for more than a test drive I quickly got out of. I always drifted back to eating normally until the next great idea came along. My weight really never shifted more than a couple pounds.

This post is more for me than for you. It feels like a weight lifted off my chest to get this craziness out of my head. Maybe, sometime, I can help someone escape the harsh reality of how hard eating and body image can be for girls. It was never a topic that was spoken about in my middle and high school years… yet tons of girls around me were all suffering from the same thing.

I don’t have any explanation for you as to why I’m writing this, other than to give you my full history and to get it out of my head. I should be writing my speech on artificial sweeteners, but here I sit, words flowing from my fingers.
I know there is a reason I’m okay with pushing the publish button.

My God is healer. He has removed me so much from this time of my life that the memories, are just that. 

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 

your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 

Psalm 139:14

“Normal”

A sweet friend of mine shared this with me over a year ago, and I want to also share it with you.

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Have a fabulous day- see you soon!