Our First House!

I remember when I was younger, I used to wonder, “How will I know what God’s will is for me?” I have since discovered that God shows His will for me through His peace.  I always try to pray that He will steer my heart towards what He wants for me. And He has done just that, time and time again. With His peace.

I had peace when I met Billy. Peace when we got married. Peace when we found our first apartment. And our second. Peace when we went to our new church. And now peace as we found our first home!

We didn’t put an age or a year on it.  We knew we wanted a home one day, but we weren’t in a rush. We weren’t trying to keep up with anyone.  Rather, we knew God would give us His peace when it was time. And He did.

A few months ago, we started the whole mortgage process.  Not the fun part. haha. We looked at so many home listings. Went to an open house here and there, but nothing gave us that peace, ya know?

When I saw the listing for our now home, I was intrigued.  What’s funny is, the pictures were awful. You couldn’t really tell what the house even looked like. The lighting was bad. Paint colors were gross. Usually, I would keep on looking when I saw such a listing.  But for some reason, I could see potential.  I could see that the yard was large, the ceilings were high, a pool, a beautiful neighborhood, and great location–close to Billy’s job and close to my sister and brother in law.

I kept the listing at the top of my mental list. Then, when the list price dropped, I was like, “Woah! We gotta see it.” Billy was on board, and we viewed the house that weekend.

So. Beautiful. We could see past the popcorn ceilings and stained carpet. The house was in good condition, with so much potential.  It was so bright and airy.  WE FELT THE PEACE. haha. We both knew without saying a word to each other.

That weekend, we put in an offer, and it was accepted. And now, we are officially homeowners.

The day before our closing, we were at church and our pastor was talking about how the only thing we have is what God has given us.  It’s all His.  All for His glory.  Billy and I looked at each other and he squeezed my hand. What a beautiful reminder right before our house closing.

So yes, we legally are homeowners. But more literally, we’re just using what God has blessed us with.  We are really praying that God will show us practical ways to use our home for Him.

We can’t take an ounce of credit for this new chapter. God truly is in all the details.


Before we move in, we are doing some DIY renovations.

  1. Remove popcorn ceiling.
  2. Retexture ceilings
  3. Remove tile and carpet.
  4. Paint all the walls.
  5. Put down waterproof luxury vinyl plank flooring.

It’s been such an exciting process.  In just two weeks, the popcorn ceilings are gone and have been retextured.  The tile is gone and Billy has ripped up all the carpet. We are so thankful to family and friends for helping us tackle this project!

We’ve taken lots of before pictures, process pictures, and soon–after pictures. Can’t wait to take ya’ll along for this ride. Lots of blog content is in the works!

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Reading Lately

My! It’s been a minute since I’ve written to you all. Life has been very busy, but very blessed! After a hectic couple of months, Billy and I are homeowners! And that is ALL GOD! Can’t take an ounce of credit for that. He is in all the details. There will more to come on all that soon…

Amidst the crazy, I’ve been reading a lot lately. It’s become a favorite source of entertainment! So, I thought I’d share the past few books I’ve read. I’m thinking of making this a regular series on the blog, once I’ve read some more books. It’s fun to share one’s literary love, isn’t it?

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

With its witty banter, beautiful development of the characters, and sweet romance, you must read this classic. Not going to lie–pictured Kiera Knightly the whole time. I recommend you read it while listening to the movie soundtrack! It makes it a complete experience.

2. The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe

This book read like a movie, which is always so fun. I first saw the Hallmark movie and loved it, so Billy bought me the book for my birthday! It’s set in the Charleston area of South Carolina, which was fun, since I’ve been there. This novel focuses on complicated family relationships, with some romance thrown in! Highly recommend.

3. The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

I read this book the week I waited for my next novel to arrive. It’s an easy read that could change your life! Dave Ramsey teaches you why you don’t need credit cards, how to budget, pay off debt, and live with financial peace! Spend, save, and GIVE! You NEED to read this book! And then message me so we can talk about how awesome it is.

4. Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines

My Mom got me this cook book for my birthday, and let me tell you: it doesn’t disappoint! Anything Joanna Gaines touches is a delight, just saying. We’ve dabbled in a few recipes already. Her chocolate chip cookie recipe is insanely good. What I like about this cookbook, is all the recipes are good olé classics. Recipes you can make over and over again. Like “Fluffiest Pancakes.” Um, YES.


Currently Reading: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer

I’m just about halfway through this book, and love it so far! Very witty and humorous. Oh and the Netflix movie is a must watch. I’ll let you know more in the next “Reading Lately” blog post!

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Meekness is not Weakness

“You’re too sensitive.”

Words I’ve heard my whole life and believed. Words I’ve let steer my view of sensitivity as a flaw. A disadvantage.

Yet, God has been teaching me—not only is it not a flaw to be sensitive, it is a gift. It is not a weakness, it is an opportunity.

For the sensitive person, words are very impactful.  Either refreshingly encouraging or devestatingly hurtful.  I used to think the power of words over me was a negative trait.  Recently, however, God has revealed just the opposite to me.  I read the book of James a couple times in the past month.  One of the overarching themes is…words. Yup. Taming the tongue (See James 3).  The Bible has a lot to say about it. Words are a big deal to God. And so, it’s okay if words are a big deal to me.  Because what we say is so important.

Proverbs 15:4“Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”

Woah! Words are LIFE-GIVING.

Proverbs 16:24 “Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”

Words are a big deal. When I look on sensitivity and meekness as a flaw, I am demeaning the power of words.  But the Bible repeatedly tells us words can satisfy and refresh, or words can wound and destroy.

Being sensitive allows one to feel and to feel deeply. Showing emotions is a sign of strength and courage. Sensitivity allows the simple things to be enjoyed and appreciated.

Really, sensitivity goes hand in hand with empathy, gentleness, and meekness.

For years, I’ve apologized for being sensitive.

Not anymore!

God has shown me how I can use my sensitivity to give people the encouragement that I thrive on. To care deeply for others’ trials and feelings. To channel that into the need to pray. To understand how people feel. To rejoice with them. To mourn with them. To appreciate all the details around me.

God has also revealed to me that since words are so impactful to me, that I should be all the more careful with what I say to others.  Sensitivity is something we can use to be sensitive to others.

Billy Graham once said in a devotional of mine, “Meekness is not weakness.”

A biblical definition of meekness is “strength under control.”

In other words, God’s strength imparted to us to feel, be kind and humble, loyal and honorable.

If you are meek and sensitive, stop apologizing for this beautiful gift God has given to you!

Sensitivity and meekness do not mean you let people run you down. It is exhibiting strength under control. Kindly and honorably standing up for yourself and what is right.

Here is an impactful quote by A. W. Tozer:

The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority.  Rather he may be in his moral life as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson; but he has stopped being fooled about himself.  He has accepted God’s estimate of his own life.  He knows he is as weak and helpless as God declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that he is in the sight of God of more importance than angels.  In himself, nothing; in God, everything.  That is his motto.

So friends, meekness is not weakness. Sensitivity is not a flaw. God is our strength and these are our gifts. Thankful the Lord has given me new perspective and invigorating encouragement!

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Have Faith in Yourself?

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I was scrolling mindlessly through Instagram (is there any other way?), when I saw a quote that caught my eye:

“Have faith in yourself.”

This way of thinking has been thrown in my face since my Disney Channel-watching days. “Believe in yourself.” Such a humanistic, prideful approach to life.

It’s really quite simple: Anything I have accomplished, is because God did it through me. The air in our lungs, our legs to walk, our hands to touch, our voice to speak, our brains to think: it’s all because of Him. Everything is by His Grace.

Have faith in myself? You mean, me? This sinner? This weak, emotional wreck? I’m so glad I don’t have to have faith in my fickle little self. I have a God who already has my future all written out. I have a God that loves me more than any human could, and who wants the absolute best for me. I have a God who created the entire universe!

So when you’re facing a challenge of any kind–think of it this way:

I can be strong, because God is strengthening me.

I can be brave, because God is with me and will help me.

I can do this, because God is for me.

I will get through this, because God is in control.

Refocus. Less me, more God. It’s such a freeing feeling knowing, I don’t have to have it all planned out. Because, God already does.

I AM NOT IN CONTROL. God is. And “it is well with my soul.”

Things going awesome? That’s because of God, not you. He empowered you to accomplish what you’ve done. All blessings flow from Him.

Things rough right now? That’s because God is refining you, drawing Him closer to you, and strengthening your faith in Him. These trials prevent us from “believing in ourselves” when things go awesome again.

So no more of this, “have faith in yo-self” crapola. Shift your thinking to God. All because of Him. All Glory to Him. Make Him the center of each step you take. Don’t let Him be an after thought, just when you need help getting out of your mess.

“Have faith in God.”

Friendship, Forgiveness, + Faith

I’m sitting out on my balcony this very moment, admiring God’s creation. The tranquil water. Trees laced with morning dew. White flowers blooming atop the lily pads. Birds delighting in the sunshine. (I’m just going to ignore the wasp that is uncomfortably close. Haha.) I see all this goodness God has created. A divine reminder that He is powerful, in control, and sovereign. Nature is my favorite form of worship.

Life has been full of lessons lately. The process of learning has been painful, but the wealth of perspective I have taken with me is valuable. It makes the hard roads traversed so very worth it.

I always enjoy hearing what people are learning in their journey, so I figured I’d share my latest life lessons, in hopes of inspiring you all.

Here’s what I’ve been learning about friendship.

  • A true friend uplifts and encourages.
  • A true friend is honest and convicting.
  • A true friend shows kindness and love.
  • A true friend respects and admires your differences.
  • A true friend is a joy.
  • A true friendship is edifying.
  • A true friendship is built on mutual love and respect.

Here’s the thing–no one is perfect. We will all fail at the above list at times. (And that’s where grace comes in.) But our heart should strive to be these things for our friends. When we do fail, it is the perfect opportunity to humble ourselves and make it right. In fact, it is these situations of failing and humbling ourselves that makes friendships grow stronger. Deeper.

Love and respect is a vital ingredient in a fruitful friendship. We often hear of respecting our elders or our parents, but little is talked about in regards to respecting our equals. A friendship built on love and respect will be able to weather difficult times.

Conflict will happen. Perhaps you will be confronted by a friend when they are hurt. Our first instinct is to be defensive. That is natural. But it is all about, how do we let it play out after that? Take James 1:19 for example:

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

How can we respond in a peace-loving way? How can we empathize with our friends? How can we love them through their love language?

Sometimes, people lack concern for how they’ve hurt you. Sometimes, despite your efforts to bring understanding, they simply don’t want to. That is out of your control. You can’t make people respond kindly. And in such cases, you can’t allow yourself to be mistreated.

Here’s what you can do: forgive.

A couple weeks ago, our pastor was preaching from Matthew 18. One of his statements really stood out to me. He said,

Reconciliation and forgiveness are two different things.

Woah. Never thought of it that way. But so true. Here are reconciliation and forgiveness defined:

Reconciliation: the restoration of friendly relations

Forgiveness: canceling a debt; to let go of anger or resentment

Forgiveness is freeing. It untangles you from the bondage of hurt. It is a deliberate choice. Sometimes we have to simply let go. We should always try to reconcile, but if it is not wanted mutually, all you can do is forgive and move forward. Take the situation as a bounty of lessons and perspective.

Then, move forward in faith. Pray. Be in the Word. Something I’ve been astounded by lately is how personally God shows His love to us. He keeps showing up in my life in big ways lately. God-hug after God-hug. Gentle reminders He is there. That He cares for my weary heart. Comfort in every hour.

In summary, let’s strive to be women who encourage other women. Let’s be peacemakers. Let’s forgive and bask in the freedom and joy that comes from the Lord. Let’s look to Jesus as the ultimate friend. Let’s build all our relationships on love and respect. Let’s ooze warmth and kindness. Let’s radiate light to everyone we encounter. Let’s be contagiously joyful! Let’s be obvious for Jesus! Let’s keep trying, even when we fail. Praise the Lord we serve a God who never will!

Love, light, and joy to you all,

How to Take + Edit iPhone Photos

I’d say there are two questions I get asked most frequently in this blogosphere: “What kind of dog do you have?” and “Are you a photographer? What camera do you use?”

First of all, she’s a red standard poodle. haha.

Secondly, I am not a professional photographer. I certainly do appreciate many of you thinking so! Lol. I do, however, enjoy photography immensely as an art form and hobby! I’m constantly growing and learning in this arena, and I’m thankful to have a very camera savvy husband.

Let me break this down: All the pictures of me are taken by my husband.  Most of these pictures are taken with a DSLR camera, although some are an iPhone. All the pictures you see of food, decor, flat-lays, etc. were taken by me with my iPhone. Crazy right? The iPhone is an incredible piece of technology.

My iPhone isn’t new.  In fact, it’s an iPhone 6 and still takes fantastic pictures.  (Although, some of the other features aren’t working so great…Sometimes it won’t let me take/make calls! lol.) Eventually I’ll update my phone, but for now I’m working with what I’ve got!

I thought I’d share my (amateur) tips for taking and editing, beautiful, print-worthy photographs.  I’m going to break it down into three categories: Lighting, Framing, and Editing.  Okay, let’s get this photography party started!

Lighting

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This is everything.  If you take a picture in a dimly lit room, expect your picture to look fuzzy and washed out.  Natural light is the key to crisp, perfectly lit, divinely beautiful photos.  However, try to avoid harsh sunlight.  When taking a photo indoors, open all your blinds/curtains and choose a time of day in which sunlight is pouring in.  When taking a flat-lay, take it next to a window or glass door to insure the very best capturing of details.  With natural light, you don’t need flash. Flash will blow out images and cast harsh shadows. Because of this, taking pictures during the day is when your iPhone will best capture the image.

So basically, take your photos during the day, next to a window or outside. Boom.

Framing

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When I frame pictures, I often like to off-center the focal point of my photograph.  This gives negative space.  Negative space is a lovely way to let your picture breathe.  It allows for an airy image that draws the eye to the focal point, without distractions.  Try to keep a simple background.  This will help the subject pop.

Lines are very important.  If there is a vertical or horizontal line in your picture ( like a building or a sidewalk), try to keep these lines from slanting in the image.  This can also be corrected in editing, but I try to take the picture as straight as possible.

Editing

Without editing, your iPhone pictures will look mediocre. The key to editing, is to try to make the picture look how it did in real life.  When you take a picture, it’ll look less vivid, less rich, than it did in real life.  That’s where editing comes in.  Editing also gives your photos an art-like quality.  This is the fun part.

I use an app called VSCO to edit all my iPhone pictures.  For our DSLR photos, we use Light Room.  But today, I’m talking about VSCO.

You need this app.  There is just something about VSCO filters that gives photos such an editorial look.  It creates beautiful depth and richness.

I typically brighten my pictures a tad, add some contrast, and a little grain.  (Grain is used to give your photos a film-like appearance and has a vintage vibe.  If that’s not your thing, skip this.) Editing all boils down to what you want your style to be! Do you like bright and crisp? Muted and moody? Cold or warm? That is for you to decide.

Once you decide on a filter and editing style, don’t change it! Use the same filter EVERY TIME you post a picture.  This allows your feed and photography to look consistent, fluid, and cohesive.  This is the key to an eye-catching gallery.

Here are some before and after editing examples! They greatly showcase the importance of editing!


I hope you all enjoyed this post! It was fun to share my growing knowledge.  What a delightful way to freeze time and encapsulate every day art.

P.s. Don’t forget to get those gorgeous pictures off of your phone, and onto paper! I always use Artifact Uprising to print my pictures.

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Apt. Reveal :: The Living Room

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Curled up with a blanket atop my lap and a cup of tea in hand (well, actually its resting on a coaster, but tea in hand sounds much more poetic),  I am thrilled to be composing the second installment of our apartment reveal: the living room. If you haven’t already, check out the bedroom reveal here.

It wasn’t until I had my first apartment with my hubby that I realized a talent and passion of mine: interior decorating. Prior to being married, I was actually a little messy. My room always had a chair with a pile of clothes on it. (Sorry Mom and Dad.)  I didn’t always make my bed. After having my own space, to my own surprise, I’ve become somewhat of a neat-nick.  I think it has to do with all the heart and attention to detail I’ve put in, that I strive to maintain a home that best displays my handiwork.

img_7595 One of my favorite parts of my new-found hobby is the hunt. I try to be very intentional and particular in my purchases.  If I don’t love it, I will pass and continue the quest for that just-right piece. I think that’s why I enjoy vintage markets so much–you invest time and exploration into a well-loved treasure.  (Also, it’s cliche but true: They just don’t make things like they used to. Shop vintage when looking for quality, made well pieces.)

When creating a living space, it is of great importance.  This is a co-space.  A space where not only you will dwell, but your friends and loved ones too.  It must be inviting, cozy, and story-telling.  Don’t just slap some stuff on a wall.  Find pieces that mean something to you. What speaks to you? What represents you as a person? Your family. Culture. Upbringing. Hobbies. Colors. Your home is a giant painting of who you are and I think that is absolutely beautiful.

Let me give you a couple of examples:

  • I am Italian and so very proud of it. Therefore, the framed map of Italy is not only beautiful and special but represents something very unique and specific about me and my family.
  • I like nature. Being outdoors refreshes the soul.  So, I like to bring the outside–in, with lots of (faux) plants, wood, and natural textures.

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Without further ado, kick off your shoes, and have a seat on our sofa. Welcome to our living room.


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Let’s start with this space pictured above. When choosing pillows for your sofa, think: cozy, soft, and texture. Target never fails me when it comes to pillows. All my living room pillows are from Target. Shocker. The blanket on the back of the sofa adds visual interest with a homey-feel.  It was hand-knit by my Grandma Nancy as a wedding gift. This Lane cedar chest is one of my favorite pieces in our entire home.  My Grandma gave it to me. It was given to her when she was 13 years old.  Not only is is it stunning, but it also serves as a great storage solution.  It houses all my fall/winter clothes!

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Let’s talk about this rug, shall we? Now, its quite clear I am a neutral-loving girl. But when choosing a rug, I wanted something that wouldn’t show dirt, would add a pop of color and a sense of warmth, and would play up the vintage vibe I got going on.  This Magnolia rug checked all the boxes.  It is seriously the star of the room.  When decorating, choose one item to be the focal point.  This prevents a room from looking cluttered or too loud.

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We purchased this loveseat to serve as additional seating for when guests come over.  It is quite comfortable, and is where I teach all my online classes.  I appreciate its slim design.  It doesn’t overwhelm the space.  As for the pillow: I searched for a blush pillow for months. I kid you not. Just ask Billy.  When Target released this velvet blushing beauty, I knew it was the one.  I’m telling you–wait for the pieces that you love…not like. What I love about this pillow, is its still a neutral.  But it subtly introduces a hint of color and pulls from the colors in my area rug. Win.


Here are some more details from our living room. Remember: greenery transforms a space. Add some life. It will take your home to a whole new level.

We’ve had a lot of luck at yard sales.  Historic neighborhoods often have community yard sales, and typically people with historic homes own vintage things. Yard sale gold!  The wood end table pictured above was only $20 at a yard sale. I love its raw beauty. The kerosene lamp was a yard sale gem as well! Only $5! And the table housing our record player was another $20 yard sale find. Using vintage items gives your home instant character and prevents a space from looking too “sterile.”

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Well, that’s all for now, folks! If you’d like links to any of the products discussed in this post, simply comment below or contact via the contact page. Remember to create a home that you enjoy. That brings you peace and admiration. That envelopes your loved ones with comfort from the moment they enter. Happy decorating, friends! Stay tuned for the bathroom and kitchen reveal.

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Working From Home

About 6 months ago, Billy and I moved about an hour away from our hometown due to his job relocating. It doesn’t sound too far, but it’s far enough to change life up a little bit. It’s crazy how different this area is–we went from hustle and bustle, to cows in our neighborhood. And I honestly love it.

One of the changes that came with moving, was finding a job. A job that I enjoyed and looked forward to. I found a listing online for an online job, and it had my name written all over it.

After a couple weeks of interviews and training, I was hired by a company called Qkids! I am an online ESL teacher to children in China. Basically, I teach English to adorable kids each morning through a computer software program. It’s pretty much the happiest way to start my day!

Interested in possibly working for Qkids? Keep reading…

Why I Love It:

  • I get to choose the amount of hours I want to take on. The flexibility is so nice.
  • I totally work in pajama bottoms. (That’s just our little secret, okay?)
  • It pays well!
  • I make money from within my home. On my sofa. How legit is that?
  • It is such a rewarding experience interacting with children across the globe! They make me laugh and smile. It’s so fun to learn about them and what they like, their hobbies, favorite foods. My heart melts just about every morning.
  • Working from home frees up my time to do what I love: blogging and being a homemaker.

Qualifications:

  • Native fluency of English
  • Live in the U.S. or Canada with strong internet connection. The upload speed should be at least 2mb/s, and the download speed should be at least 10mb/s.
  • Have a degree or are currently enrolled in college
  • Prior teaching experience preferred
  • Outgoing personality
  • Digital literacy
  • Availability to work at least 6 hours a week

What It’s Like:

  • Each class is 30 minutes long.
  • Children are 5-12 years old and you will have 1 to 6 kids per class.
  • You don’t need to speak Chinese. The program uses animation, games, and virtual flash cards to help you guide the students. It’s really quite fun!
  • I work every weekday morning. And then I’m done for the day! My schedule is open for all the cooking, cleaning, reading, and Netflix my little heart desires!

Does this sound like something that would suit your lifestyle? If you’re interested, please contact me via the contact page, comment below, or DM me on my Instagram! I’d be happy to give you more information and to referyou!

This is honestly the best job I’ve ever had. It has been such a blessing to work from home, have a flexible schedule, and have a home cooked meal on the table when Billy gets home! Very much so an answer to prayer. I’d love to help you if this job sounds like a good fit for you!

A Weekend in Charleston

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A couple of weeks ago, Billy and I hopped in our little Prius and traveled to the charming city of Charleston, South Carolina.  Each year, we dedicate a weekend away to celebrate our anniversary. It’s a sweet tradition we’ve come to look forward to so much.

I had been wanting to go to Charleston for…I don’t know…a really long time! So my little photography-lovin’ heart couldn’t wait to capture all the historic adorableness of Charleston.

We wanted to make this trip all things southern–sweet and simple.  And it was just that! We also wanted to try to keep this getaway as cost-effective as possible, so throughout this little travel diary, I’ll share my budget friendly tips.


Where We Stayed

A huge part of what made this trip so easy on our wallets, was staying at an Airbnb. This was our first time staying at one, so we were a little skeptical.  But we did our research and chose a place with amazing reviews.

I gotta tell you–I am officially hooked on Airbnb. We LOVED our little Charleston home away from home.  It was so relaxing! Bright, airy, minimal, and clean.  And the best part–only $100 a night.

Staying at an Airbnb allowed us to save so much money on food! This was a HUGE bonus.  We had a full kitchen, which enabled us to eat out way less.  We went to the local Publix and stocked our fridge for the weekend.  And I must say—being able to make my nightly cup of green tea made me feel so at home and peaceful. Yet another, wonderful perk.

Oh and I must mention–this Airbnb had a vintage Nintendo! We played Mario Brothers every night and it was a complete blast.  Pretty sure I’ll always remember that. 🙂

Where We Ate

Our favorite restaurant was Poogan’s Porch.  We went there for brunch, and the food was delicious, and the charm! Ah! Adorable.  It’s basically a restaurant that used to be a house.  “Poogan” was a stray dog that used to hang out on the porch. *heart melt*

For breakfast one morning, we ventured to the renowned Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit. Oh my. It was just the cutest little hole in the wall. And it was packed! Not hard to tell why–their assortment of biscuits were melt-in-your-mouth amazing! Comfort food at its finest.  Reminded me of a little place in New York.

Now let’s talk coffee.  There’s little that Billy and I enjoy more than a really good coffee shop. You know, the ones that have that perfect balance of aesthetic and warmth. Black Tap Coffee has come to have such a special place in my heart.  It was so relaxing, the atmosphere was really awesome, and the COFFEE! No words. I literally had the BEST latte of my life there. Not exaggerating. The Lavender Latte. *sigh* So smooth and flavorful. We hung out their twice. Can’t wait to go back one day.

My best friend recommended Carmella’s, and oh how happy I am she did! We fell in love with this darling gem.  We selected two mini cakes to go, and enjoyed them at our Airbnb. The cakes were so moist and flavorful! A perfect pairing with our tea!

Where We Shopped

I was immensely impressed with the quality of shopping in Charleston.  There was a delightful balance of big chain stores, as well as local boutiques.  Shopping along King St. could easily take a whole day.  Not complaining… 😉

There are two shops that you absolutely must visit if you go to Charleston.  The first is Candlefish.  It really is the most divinely beautiful candle shop.  They even offer candle making work shops.  The service was exceptional, and the candle library kept you lingering and enjoying all the scents.  Quite the experience indeed.

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My second favorite shop was an adorable boutique called TheSkinnyDip. They had everything from sweet little dresses to darling local souvenirs.  I purchased the cutest coffee mug of my favorite site in Charleston: Rainbow Row! Upstairs, they have a fun coffee/lounge with a co-work space.  A rooftop patio made this place such a memorable stop.  Highly recommend!

What We Saw

The lovely thing about historic places, is that you can just wander. For hours. And wandering is free. But oh the memories you will make!

One of my favorite things about Charleston is how vast it is. The streets keep winding, and every little nook and alley was so picturesque.  Everything was blooming. Cobblestone streets lead to homes with darling shutters, window boxes overflowing with flowers, statement wood doors, and vintage gas lights. It is a lovely feeling knowing that everything your eyes happen upon, has a story.

Here are some pictures from our brick-lined explorations . . .

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It was such a joy celebrating 3 years of marriage with my hubby in Charleston.  It is honestly a new favorite city of mine.  I eagerly can’t wait to return!

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Youthful Confidence

Recently, my heart has been stirred towards the topic of confidence.  I feel it is a topic of vital importance this day and age.  So let’s get this conversation started, shall we?

Youthful Confidence


Our society tells us, there’s one way to look. One body type. One type of nose. One height. One beautiful. Then society tells us–“It’s okay if you don’t fit that one mold! There’s a surgery for that.” Basically–you’re not normal if you don’t look a certain way, but you can “fix” these things.

Um, no.

I’m so thankful I have the Lord in my life.  God is a Master Artist. The Creator. And He LOVES His creation. Through His strength and love, I can have confidence. Youthful confidence. A kick off your shoes, run around a field, kind of confidence. A joyful confidence that radiates from the inside, out! He made me and He loves me.

I asked 3 darling women, “How do you embrace confidence?”I know it to be so encouraging hearing Godly insight and wisdom, taken from people’s lives and stories. So here are their answers.


Priska 

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I didn’t steal this from Pinterest, but it may sound like it at first:

The way I embrace confidence is by embracing God.

Something I feel God has been downloading on me lately is that godly confidence is so much greater than self-confidence.  The struggle of “Am I pretty enough?” and “Am I worthy enough?” and “Are my body dimensions ‘right’?” are all cultural questions because culture believes self reigns supreme.

But from a godly perspective, God reigns supreme, so the place we put our confidence should be in Him.

There’s a verse that has been so present in my life lately.  Here’s the summary:

In my weakness, He is strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

So rather than “I’m confident that I’m good enough to enjoy life, be blessed, be a blessing”, instead I want to say, “I’m confident that GOD is good enough for me to enjoy life, be blessed, and be a blessing.”  I’m confident in His power at work through me that even in my weakness, He is strong.  Even on days I don’t like what I see in the mirror, He is good.  Even on days I look in the mirror and think, “I’m allllll that!”, He is good.  Just as good as days I don’t like my image.  THAT, to me, is a stable confidence.  It isn’t swayed by emotions or body dysmorphia or my own performance.  It’s a strong and steady confidence.

Personally, my waist line has grown and shrunk…several times over.  A few years ago, I was obsessed with working out – I spent 8 hours each week at the gym.  I was the skinniest, fittest, strongest I’d ever been.  But when I looked in the mirror, I was the least confident I’d ever been.  I was obsessed with my physicality because I was so ill confident that I was worthy of love.  Nowadays, I work out a healthy amount, and I’m also heavier than I was back then.  But when I look in the mirror, I see someone that God gave His Son to die for.  I see someone worthy of love.  I see someone who should be confident that my worth will never fade with time, age, wrinkles or cellulite.  I’m confident I’m worthy, because God called me worthy.


Sophie

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Well in my opinion, I don’t feel confident when I rely or depend on myself. The way I feel confident is when I rely on the Lord and know that what I am and who I am is a child of God and that’s where my beauty comes from.

When I look at my outward appearance, I don’t feel confident or beautiful most of the times. But when I am reminded about how I am fearfully and wonderfully made by the one who created the entire Universe, that’s when I feel confident.

I embrace confidence by embracing myself for who I am and how God created me. The times when I feel the least confident is when I try to be something I’m not.  When I try too hard to fit in or try too hard to look “beautiful” to cater to or impress a guy I like, I don’t end up feeling confident.  But when I embrace who I am (which is an awkward, quirky person who loves Jesus) that’s when I feel the most confident.

There are many prettier pictures of me posing for a camera in good lighting to make me look beautiful, but I chose this picture because this picture was taken when I decided to fully be myself and make a pine tree crown and pose next to a Christmas tree because I love nature and I love Christmas.  It’s a picture that shows off me as who I am and it shows my personality instead of just showing off another posed “pretty” picture.


Meaghan

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Embracing confidence to me is only possible when I truly embrace my identity in Jesus Christ.  It’s who He says that I am – forgiven, worthy, redeemed, wanted, and lovely – that gives me the confidence to face each day with a healthy balance of self-love and humility.  Why both? Because embracing your confidence is not screaming “I AM BEAUTIFUL” at the world; instead, it’s a gentle whisper in the ear of those you encounter saying, “I’m lovely, and so are you.” ❤

 

 

 

 


Thankful for the beautiful wisdom these women have shared, and I pray you are blessed and encouraged!

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