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!
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!
As I open up my Instagram Explore page, I am bombarded with images that look similar: the most gorgeous women from all over the world: long, thick hair, full, pouty lips, curves in all the right places, and dressed to entice. As I am looking at these images of these women, thoughts pop into my head, “I definitely need to go to the gym today-shouldn’t have eaten that cookie!” “I wonder how she got her hair to curl like that, mine never stays-ugh I hate my hair” or “I wish I had longer legs”.
Self-centeredness becomes my mindset.
Comparison creeps into my mind on how I can look more beautiful.
This morning, after a solid one hour scrolling session, I brought these feelings to God. I asked Him what He thinks true beauty is.
I wanted to know what true, real, lasting beauty is that remains once the makeup is off, the hair isn’t cooperating, the filter is gone, and some weight is put on.
What does God say is beautiful?
The foundation of our beauty begins with what God says about us. He looks at you calls you daughter, worthy, precious, and loved. The God who put the stars in their place, who parted the Red Sea, who set the earth in motion, who upholds everything by the power of His word calls you daughter, beloved. Throughout this blog, I want to explore what makes us beautiful and what God says in His Word is actually a beauty that ought to be pursued.
“THE GOD WHO PUT THE STARS IN THEIR PLACE, WHO PARTED THE RED SEA, WHO SET THE EARTH IN MOTION, WHO UPHOLDS EVERYTHING BY THE POWER OF HIS WORD CALLS YOU DAUGHTER, BELOVED.”
But how do we know He loves us?
We know the depth of His love because He sent His Son Jesus, who was fully man and fully God, to die for us. Jesus didn’t have to do this, but He willingly submitted to The Father, and took on weak, human flesh. Jesus was tempted in every way, yet He lived the perfect life. The He was brutally tortured, crucified, and was killed.
He endured all this for you.
But it didn’t end there, He was raised to life after three days so that we could be restored back into a right relationship with God.
That is the length God will go to call you His own.
He loves you.
That is why you are beautiful and beloved.
Now that we have the foundation of where our worth comes from (what God says about us and what Jesus did for us), let’s look at scripture where God outlines characteristics we ought to pursue.
QUIET AND GENTLE SPIRIT
As I was praying this morning, 1 Peter 3:3-4 popped into my head, “Do not let your adorning be external-the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear-but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a quiet and gentle spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
As someone who has always considered myself a strong, I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T woman, this verse took me a while to grapple with. I always wanted to be passionate, fierce, and opinionated. But maybe there is more strength in the ability to hear others, empathize with them, meet them where they are, and gently point them back to the truth of Jesus than to be someone who values independence and autonomy over everything. Because anyway, we are all thoroughly dependent on Christ. Once we understand that, it frees us up to love people in a way that is marked by patience, kindness, and gentleness which is produced by the Holy Spirit working in us.
“BUT MAYBE THERE IS MORE STRENGTH IN THE ABILITY TO HEAR OTHERS, EMPATHIZE WITH THEM, MEET THEM WHERE THEY ARE, AND GENTLY POINT THEM BACK TO THE TRUTH OF JESUS THAN TO BE SOMEONE WHO VALUES INDEPENDENCE AND AUTONOMY OVER EVERYTHING.”
Proverbs 31 came to my mind as I was considering the type of beauty we ought to be pursuing. The entire chapter is full of godly characteristics we ought to cultivate.
She is trustworthy. “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of grain.” Proverbs 31:11
She does good. “She does him good and not harm all the days of herlife.” Proverbs 31:12
She is a hard worker. “She seeks wool and flax and works with willing hands” Proverbs 31:13
She has responsibility. “She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” Proverbs 31:16
She is compassionate and gives willingly. “She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy” Proverbs 31:20
She is clothed in strength and dignity. She doesn’t fear the future because her trust is in the Lord. “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” Proverbs 31:26
She is wise and kind. “She opens her mouth with wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” Proverbs 31:26
Lastly, She fears the Lord. “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.” Proverbs 31: 30
These are the characteristics that contribute to real, unfading beauty.
Beauty that grows with each passing year.
Beauty that delights in the promises of God and treasures His Word.
Ultimately, the Bible points us away from external appearance and to the “hidden person of the heart” (1 Peter 3:4) to determine where real beauty is found. I’ll be completely transparent with you, there are times my words are harsh, my heart leads me to judgement instead of compassion, my flesh tells me to pursue idleness rather than discipline. I fail on so many of these characteristics. But luckily for me, for all of us, Jesus is strong where we are weak. When we fail, He is there to pick us up. In our insufficiency, He is fully sufficient. When we fail, let’s turn away from that sin, ask God to give us a right understanding of the gospel, and praise His name for his goodness.
Join with me in pursuing this kind of lasting, enduring beauty. Let’s fight for that. Let’s fight for that when the entire world is screaming to us that physical beauty entices and sex appeal is the way to get attention. When I find myself nose deep in my phone, I take those feelings to God. I let Him know I feel insufficient, I confess that to Him and I ask Him to remind me of my true identity-the one that is in Christ alone. And I meditate on scripture that speaks into that truth (Ephesians 2).
So Let’s be women who trust in our identity that is rooted in Christ. A true identity tells us we are precious because God says so. Let’s pursue a beautiful heart that remains and becomes more lovely as we mature more into the image of Jesus.