Tis’ the season for holiday parties! Holiday parties are my fave-especially being a plus one! If you’re anything like me-you have a myriad of holiday parties approaching. Some ranging from black tie to tacky Christmas sweater to more conservative work parties. If you’e also like me-you love dressing super classy but-ya girl has a budget. I have gathered all my favorite finds this December to compile this list of all my favorite holiday party looks for every single get together you have this season! And-the greatest news of all-they’re all affordable-the most affordable being $19.90 (wait-what?!) to the most pricey being $118. Hope you enjoy this guide and have a wonderful time at your plethora of holiday parties this season!
Jumpsuit: Forever 21 $19.90 Bag: Tory Burch Shoes: Top Shop
I hope that each of you have a wonderful time at all your holiday parties-whether it’s a black tie event or a group of girls in tacky sweaters drinking champagne and playing How Do you Meme or a cozy family get together with your precious nieces and nephews watching Elf and drinking hot cocoa! It’s my prayer that each of you take time this crazy holiday season to rest in Jesus. To take time away from all the parties-to sit and think about how wonderful it is that our Savior humbled himself to live in this world so that we can have a sympathetic God who understands what it is to be human! I also pray that your Christmas season is filled with special memories that you will always cherish. Take time to play silly games with your little cousins and family. Laugh hard, don’t take yourself too seriously-alright?! Instead of getting wrapped up in staging Insta-worthy photos, put your phone down and make real memories! I love you all and hope you have a wonderful holiday season!
A little while ago, one of my friends went on a date with a guy. He was attractive, fun, loved the Lord, passionate, and she loved spending time with him. But as her best friend, something about this guy rubbed me the wrong way. He had this long list of qualifications necessary to be his girlfriend. The many qualifications on this list ranged from “sexy,” to “passionate woman of God”, to “hipster.” Needless to say, I wasn’t a fan. How dare he try to fit my beautiful, Gospel-loving, hilarious, adventurous, bold, compassionate, and thoughtful friend into this list where he was trying to play God to find a woman who fit into his ridiculous mold or standard.
I was furious.
After thinking about this, I realized that growing up, I was always told by very well-meaning people to make a list for my future husband.
I had tons of lists.
I have lately been convicted of how this took my eyes off Jesus. Before we begin, I want to be sure to communicate several things to you. The first is that you need to know what a biblical man is. If you don’t know, check it out here. When you date, don’t leave your brain at the door. If the guy is a punk or doesn’t love Jesus or isn’t kind to you or others-peace out as quickly as you can. I do think there is one certain requirement for who you marry (and therefore informs your dating) that the Bible outlines-that he is a genuine follower of Christ. I am explaining here the dangers of making a very specific list of shallow requirements and discrediting people who don’t fall into your stringent outline. Another thing I am not saying is to stay in an abusive relationship. If you are struggling, send me an email and I can encourage you personally. The last thing I want to communicate is that I am not letting men bow out of their standard set forth by God. I’m not giving them an excuse to treat you unkindly or in a disrespectful way. That is between them and God. Through this article, I want your heart and love for Jesus to be the focus. Ok, now we can start.
1. STOP FOCUSING ON A GUY AND START FOCUSING ON JESUS
There are many reasons why making a list might not be the best idea, but this is the most important. Putting anything before Christ is idolatry. Jesus Christ and the Gospel need to be at your core. When you have a deep love for the Gospel, you will be able to trust that within Him, all your needs are met and satisfied. Then you won’t look to fulfillment through a potential or imaginary “soul mate” as your “other half.” You have been liberated and completed in Christ. Until God is where He needs to be in your heart, you are constantly going to be complaining that your partner is not loving you adequately, treating you well enough, or respecting you like he should.
2. IT CAN PUT UNNATURAL PRESSURE ON YOUR PARTNER
Tim Keller said it best in the Meaning of Marriage, “It is the illusion that if we find our one true soul mate, everything wrong with us will be healed; but that makes the lover into God, and no human being can live unto that.” He goes on to say, “If your only source of love and meaning is your spouse, than anytime he or she fails you, it will not just cause grief, but a psychological cataclysm.” God needs to be your first and foremost love-not your boyfriend or husband. Trying to force him to fit into your little list puts too much emphasis on him and too little on Jesus and the Gospel. The Gospel and Jesus is where your identity lies, not in a relationship or man.
3. YOUR RELATIONSHIP SHOULDN’T BE A TRANSACTION
Think of Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Is your list putting another’s needs before your own? If not, it might be selfish. Also, I don’t know about you but I do not want my marriage to be a consumer relationship. Tim Keller explains it best, “Throughout history there have always been consumer relationships. Such a relationship only lasts as long as the vendor meets your needs at an acceptable cost to you. If another vendor delivers better services or the same services at a better cost, you have no obligation to stay in a relationship with the original vendor.” Biblical marriage is a covenant relationship not a consumer relationship. Keller describes a covenant relationship as “a sacrificial commitment to the good of the other. […] The Bible sees God as the supreme good-not the individual or family.” You should want a relationship built on Jesus and love, not considering how much you can gain through the other person.
4. CHRIST CAME TO SERVE AND NOT TO BE SERVED
I always think of this incredible passage in John 13 when Jesus washes His disciples’ feet. Not only was Jesus presenting a beautiful picture of the Gospel to His followers, He was also showing us an example of how we ought to serve others. I remember Matthew 20:26 when considering this, “It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus is our example. We shouldn’t be looking for what we can potentially gain out of a relationship, but how we can demonstrate Christ’s love to that person God has called us to be in a relationship with and how you can further the kingdom together.
5. LOVE LIKE JESUS
Seeing my friend being held to this guy’s ridiculous standard enraged me. It made me realize just how arrogant and egocentric this particular guy was. He didn’t see the wonderful girl before him because he was so transfixed on finding this “ideal” girl developed in his mind’s eye. Instead of fitting someone into your mold, I want to challenge you to love selflessly, expecting nothing in return. One of my favorite pastors Matt Chandler says in his book The Mingling of Souls, “There is a beauty even in loving without response because that kind of love is truly selfless. When we love with no expectation or promise of reciprocity, we know what it means to sacrifice and deny ourselves in ways we wouldn’t otherwise.” Love that way. Love selflessly. Love like Jesus loved.
6. IT CAN BE A CONTROL IDOL
All sin can be traced to different root sins. Creating a list of requirements necessary in a man can be a way of not surrendering your desire to the Lord. It actually can be the opposite. It’s like saying, “God, you are not strong enough to control this, you have too much on your plate. Just let me take care of it.”
Remember that verse in Matthew 10:29-31, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” God knows your desires. He understands. Surrender that to God. Seek His face before anything else and hold on to the promise in Romans 8:28, “God works out all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”
Tis’ the season for pie. And more pie. And more pie! One of my all time favorite holidays is Thanksgiving. I love how it brings families together to celebrate all that we have to be thankful for! I also am a big huge fan of food. So when I set out to choose the perfect Thanksgiving attire, I want something with two very important components. First and foremost, it must be comfy! I want to eat alllll the turkey and dressing I want and not feel constricted in any way shape or form! Secondly, I want my outfit to be cute. I don’t know about you guys, but my family loves to take copious amounts of photos around the holidays so I wanna be lookin’ fly! Without that second component, I would probably be wearing Outdoor Voices joggers and a t-shirt tbh. Right here in this blog I’ve rounded up all my favorite Thanksgiving looks for you to chose from! Let me know what you think!
Sweater and Skirt: Forever 21 Shoes: Steve Madden Bag: Louis Vuitton
Shoes: Nordstrom BP Jeans: Loft Bag: Marc Jacobs Jacket: BCBG
That rounds up all of my thanksgiving day ideas! I think I am going to rock the pink chenille sweater from Shop Priceless! More important than any outfit you could wear this Thursday, I hope that you and your family have such a wonderful time counting all your blessings. And you all would take that quality time to put your phones down-make food together, watch and make fun of the Lifetime Christmas movies, laugh with your cousins, play games with your nieces and nephews, and make new memories that you will cherish forever! Most importantly, I hope each of you take time to reflect on just how fortunate we all are to have a Savior, Jesus Christ, who died and defeated death for us. We are blessed beyond compare! Happy Thanksgiving Turkeys!
You start feeling a little antsy and fidgety. You start dreaming of faraway places and of interesting people with stories you have never experienced. You start scrolling on the Instagram explore page and all the photos of exotic places, ancient buildings, statuesque mountains, breathtaking canyons, or little romantic cobble stone streets are the photos that catch your eye.
You start inadvertently packing.
But you don’t even have a trip planned.
My friend-if you have any of the symptoms listed above-you have wanderlust. Wanderlust is a serious affliction upon those who have a deep desire to see the world, to experience it through another person’s eyes, to be apart of something greater than themselves, to feel small. To feel wonder as you gaze upon creation unable to even comprehend the beauty, the majesty before you. You want to stand before something and have the shocking realization that your eyes cannot drink the whole scene in because the beauty is so startlingly obvious. You want to sit in other person’s home on the other side of the world, share a meal together, laugh about your new experiences, listen to what has shaped their life and realize that although cultures may be worlds apart, we are all tied together by the common human experience. My friend, if you have one or all of these symptoms, continue reading, and if not, continue reading and they will come. There are so many wonderful places I could write about, so many incredible people whose faces are forever seared into the canvas of my mind; I will write about them all soon. But for now, I want to talk with you about why you should take a four-day weekend to the most beautiful place I have ever been: Banff.
1. Lake Louise
As you stand before Lake Louise, something happens in your soul. You see the glacier nestled amidst the two towering mountains. You see the rocks scattering the shore, lovers canoeing and taking insta-worthy photographs that they will remember for the rest of their lives. Finally, you gaze upon the waters, the azure waters are like nothing you’ve ever seen before. As your hand touches the water, you feel the chill. The minerals have made this water bluer than any water you’ve laid eyes upon. It’s a different kind of blue-not like a tropical destination-as you look closer you see little blueish white flecks throughout all the water. As you look around you, you encounter all types of people. A family from India is on their fall holiday, a set of lovers from Boston is taking a selfie trying to capture the scenery behind them, and an entire family reunion of 28 bedecked with “Johnson Family Reunion 2018” traipses around the park with a selfie stick. The scene is so interesting-nature bringing together people from all different walks of life to gaze in awe of creation.
2. Lake Moraine
Your next stop is Lake Moraine. You drive down a windey road, you have Mumford and Sons playing (because you’re in the mountains-obviously), and your feet are up on the dash. You are wearing two pairs of pants, a thermal, jacket, raincoat, and beanie. Yesterday at Lake Louise was 75 degrees and you were wearing your Outdoor Voices shorts and a crop top, but now its 35 degrees. You had to be prepared for anything on this four-day trek into the mountains. You pull up into the parking lot. Are greeted by a friendly Canadian guiding the cars. As you begin the walk to Lake Moraine, you begin to glimpse the same azure waters you saw at Lake Louise- but it’s different. It’s a darker hue of blue, more vibrant. You start hiking up to the best vantage point. You make it up there. Beauty surrounds you. Six sister mountains jut up behind the waters. It’s morning, so a fog still clings to the waters, obscuring the feet of the mountains. As you take in the scene, you hear voices: six British voices laughing. You look over and see three British couples around 55 years old laughing and trying to take photos with their ipads. You walk over and take their photos, exchange some friendly banter and decide these people freaking rock. They’re hilarious and so friendly. You spend an hour taking in this view, and then decide to hike. You don’t want a pansy hike-you want an intense hike.
3. Larch Valley
From Lake Moraine you’ve began your first hike of the day to Larch Valley. It’s all uphill the first half so it’s a little slow going. You began to see little mounds of snow as you begin your trek. You wave and say hello to fellow hikers who have already completed the expedition. As you travel higher and higher, you see more and more snow. After what feels like two hours, you are now surrounded by snow, you can see down and see all the trees that were once a vibrant green, dotted with white. You start to see some little animals. Little mountain squirrels pop their heads up out of their snow holes to see who has come to visit. Finally, you reach the valley. Snow is everywhere. It’s like a scene from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. You hear running water. You follow the sound to investigate: you find a gorgeous waterfall energetically gushing through the snow. You have to stop the take some pictures to take with you. As you look at Larch Valley you are in awe. 1. Because yesterday was 75 degrees and today you’re covered in snow 2. The absolute beauty of it is breathtaking.
So if you feel wanderlust creeping up on you. If you feel that urge to go, see beautiful places, meet incredible people from all over the world, and ultimately feel small-go to Banff and be amazed and completely in awe of how beautiful creation is. As I looked at Lake Louise, I thought of Revelation 4:6 where God’s throne is described as being surrounded by a sea of glass. I couldn’t help but consider how God’s throne is going to absolutely blow away the beauty that I saw at Lake Louise. I got a tiny glimpse into God’s beauty, creativity, and love as I explored Banff.
Peace n Blessings
P.s. The three places I described are the tiniest peak into what this Canadian National Park has to offer. The people are incredibly kind, welcoming, and gracious. This town is adorable and has tons of cute shops and places to visit. If you’re looking for accommodations, I stayed at The Hidden Ridge Resort. Our favorite place I ate at was Touloulus. I highly recommend both these places! If you have some trails I need to go back and try-please put them in the comments!
First of all-this is a three day guide. My first piece of advice as you board your United flight bedecked with your wide brim straw hat and Hawaiian shirt-is to stay longer than three days. Seriously, just go ahead and extend your flight and hotel right now, because once you land in Oahu you’ll never want to leave. That being said, I stayed three days and it was amazing-but I cried the last day because I really, really didn’t want to leave. Keep in mind, this blog isn’t an exhaustive list of all the epic things to do when you’re in the Aloha state, nor does it touch on Hawaiian culture-this is simply what I did and what I loved!
Where to Stay
There are a million breath taking resorts along the coast of Waikiki, but one gem stands out amongst them all-The Royal Hawaiian. Not only is this a travel blogger’s dream with its pink archways, impeccably tiled floors, and famous pink guava pancakes-it is also a remarkably historic resort. Built in 1927, the 400 room structure was built in a Spanish-moorish style and retains that aesthetic to this day. Today it is known as “The Pink Palace of the Pacific.” As you stand on Waikiki, back towards the ocean, facing the pink palace, you begin to see a distinct difference between The Royal Hawaiian and her peers. They tower above her-sky scrapers, room after room, going as high as possible. Standing in striking contrast, the Royal Hawaiian is demure, basking in her unassuming beauty and historic charm. Needless to say, I 100% recommend staying at The Pink Palace during your time in Oahu. The food is absolutely superb. We tried the Calamansi Butter Poached Lobster Tails, the Pier 38 (azure wood oven roasted fresh fish, fingerling potatoes, asparagus, and white wine butter sauce), The Royal Signature Pink Haupia Cake, and of course Truffle Fries (who doesn’t love truffle fries-amirite?!). I also recommend their breakfast and of course getting the pink pancakes. 🙂
Aye Sea Turtles
One of my favorite activities was snorkeling with sea turtles. You board a catamaran with 20other adventurers and embark to sea. You start chatting with the crew and learn that many of them are from the continental U.S. and moved here after college. You’re really jealous of happy for them! As your catamaran ventures deeper into the sea, you look out and see these floating green circles in the water! To your delight, they lift their little heads out of the water and say in a Californian accent, “Duuuuuuude, noggin!” Just kidding about the talking sea turtles lol-but they are seriously so cute. The crew anchors the boat, you’re all given your life vests, snorkel gear, and then hop in the water! There are sea turtles everywhere. You’re so close to one you could reach out and touch it. But instead you snap some pics with your Go Pro because you’ve been warned not to touch the sea turtles. The sea turtle excursion is definitely something I would recommend!
My favorite activity was definitely the Lanikai Pillbox Hike-its only about 10 minutes away from Waikiki. It is definitely worth the steep hike up the mountain. The hike isn’t that bad-after taking on Banff-honestly anything is easy lol. As you hike, there are crazy, breathtaking views of the azure waters below, and islands in the distance. You gotta do this hike. Also, spend a few hours at the beach next to this hike-its incredible.
Get a Car and Drive Along the Coast
We rented a car through Turo and it was so easy. We got a mustang convertible and went on a day long adventure! We headed to north shore where the surfing competitions are held (any Blue Crush fans out there?!) and it was incredible. As you venture down the coast, you are sandwiched between the perfectly blue ocean and the lush, looming, green mountains. As we drove through the mountains we played the Jurassic Park theme song -thats where it was filmed! Just driving around and seeing the land is amazing. We also made it our personal ambition to find a really eclectic hole in the wall place. I encourage you find your own place! Sometimes stumbling upon cool places yourself makes it that much more of an adventure!
The most important thing to remember in Hawaii is to take it all in. Don’t spend time rushing from one thing to the next because some blogger said you needed to do it 😉Make it your own trip. Linger over views that take your breath away. Get a convertible, blast the music, sing off-key, and enjoy paradise! Go with people you love and experience the magic of the island with the most special people in your life. Most importantly- eat all the pink pancakes you can!