Permission to Feel

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kendall-8713Dress c/o Shop the Mint // Shoes c/o The Meraki Company

Summer is right around the corner and I am SO ready for the longer days and warmer nights. When I found this dress I fell in love with not only the pattern but also the neckline. I tend to gravitate towards mock necks because I just think that style is so feminine and flattering. If you’re a fan of this dress you can find it here!

Lately, I have been dealing with things that have been surfacing in my heart. I have felt some different emotions and alot of them haven’t been happy fun emotions and God is showing me that that is okay. A few days ago I was frustrated at myself for feeling these things and I just wanted them to go away but you know what? That isn’t being true to myself. I don’t have to deny emotions that I’m feeling and I don’t have to be upset with myself for feeling them. One of my favorite quotes is, “Feel the fear and do it anyway” I’m sharing that because even though we feel something that doesn’t mean we have to become it.  When I think about this I think that to feel it means we are alive and it means we are being honest with ourselves. We don’t have to deny feelings,  we can call them what they are and move on.

I learned that instead of just wanting these things to go away or cover them up with something else, I can accept what I’m feeling and not be bummed for feeling things that might be a little foreign to me. I’ve been hard on myself because I’ll spend time in prayer giving things like hurt and unforgiveness to the Lord and then a few days later they come right back up. But now, instead of just giving them to Jesus because I know I shouldn’t hold on to these kinds of things, I’m giving myself permission to feel them and you know what? That feels good. It feels good to be real with myself and say, hey these feelings are pretty crappy but it is what I feel, they don’t define me, I will not be ashamed that I feel them, and I will embrace where I’m at and I will overcome.

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Women Making an Impact

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Hey Ya’ll. I am Leigh Ann. I am a Jesus loving, coffee before talky, fitness fanatic, Yoga pant and messy bun circus Ringmaster by day and a Gilmore Girls binge watching, eat your supper right now or the beast will be released, Fairy tale reenactor, stare you down with eyebrows raised until you get in the bath, and in the middle of a conversation snoozer by night.

You guessed it; I am a wife and a stay-at-home mommy to a very energetic three-year-old little girl. And I love every second of it… even when it gets super exhausting and I get the urge to lock myself in our pantry and eat any and all unhealthy foods I can get my hands on!

 

I would love to do a little time travel with you and share my redemption story of God’s perfect love and beautiful grace that got me in to the most beautiful and fulfilling stage in my life! [Read more…]

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Necessity of Seasons 

 

I’ve played this video over and over and I tear up a little bit each time I watch it. I’ve been a fan of the Helser’s for years and their music always speaks to my heart and makes me want to go deeper with Jesus because it’s so evident that they have such a sweet intimate relationship with Him. The video above is titled “Necessity of Seasons” it’s not long at all and so worth your time especially if you’ve ever been/feel like you are in a season of barrenness. [Read more…]

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Finding Beauty in the Process

finding beauty in the process

A few days ago I was sitting with God and He reminded me of the importance of a thankful heart. When things don’t go my way, more times than not I focus on that and I start missing all of the other things in my life that God has blessed me with. It can get so bad that I no longer even see Him. Many times while going through testing and trials I tend to focus more on how bad it sucks and I miss out on the process and where God is taking me through that.

[Read more…]

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Women Making an Impact 

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 Hi everyone! My name is Jen Biswas and I run the online boutique Paisley + Sparrow. I live in Minneapolis with my husband and I’m pregnant with our first baby, a boy due in June! I love to run, knit and organize anything that can be organized.

I started my shop after spending 11 months abroad on a mission trip. While abroad I worked with a number of really amazing organizations that inspired me with the idea of opening up a store! One was with a school in Uganda where we worked with girls who had been abducted by the LRA. They gave the girls an education all the way through vocational training so they could get a job. These girls ran a local bakery in town and also made jewelry. Another organization I worked with was in Thailand with girls who were formally sex trafficked. Once these girls were rescued they were able to get counseling, education and ultimately a job. While they were there they would make jewelry – the jewelry was sold to help keep this amazing organization going.

I was so inspired by these organizations so when I returned home decided to do something to help them out. I created a way to sell their products in order to allow them to continue helping women who desperately needed help which is now Paisley + Sparrow.

Through my shop I have met women in many walks of life who have continued to inspire me. Some are entrepreneurs who encourage me in the hard walks of running a business. Others are bloggers (like Kendall!) who inspire me to dig deeper in my faith and not be afraid to share with others. Running a business is a super intimidating and a scary thing to do and I know that God has put people in my life to encourage me through each up and down.

I think comparison is something that is so easy for all of us to fall into. One thing I’ve been trying to do is recognize when I am comparing myself to someone else and try to change the comparison into inspiration. I can take a fabulous outfit I wish I had into inspiration to putting my own twist on it. I can ask for hair advice from a girl who’s hair I love rather than be annoyed that my hair isn’t Pinterest-worthy. Think of all the new friends we could have and people who inspire us if we can just change the way view things!

Thanks so much to Kendall for inviting me to guest post over here! Feel free to swing over to my blog or shop and say hi!

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Things I Use to Blog

 

Blog Tools: Things I use To Blog

I get questions every now and then about what my favorite tools are for blogging so I created this resource page to share them with you guys.  Below you’ll find some of my favorite apps, cameras, web designers, learning tools, and more!  This page contains affiliate links which means I may get a small commission if you make a purchase  however, everything listed I recommend because they have personally been beneficial to me as a blogger.

Blog Platform

I am wordpress.org all the way!  I’ve also used Blogger and WordPress.com but the functionality I get from WordPress.org has been so much better than any other platform I’ve used. If you are a new blogger you can definitely start out with WordPress.com and you can transfer over to WordPress.org but if you’ve been in the blogging game a while and you’re ready for more options I would definitely go with WordPress.org. There are so many plug-ins that allow you to do almost anything with your blog. To start on WordPress.org you will first need to find a host.

Web Hosting

I use Host Gator to host my blog and so far I have had a great experience with them. If you are a new blogger and need a host for your WordPress.org blog or if you are considering switching over from blogger to WordPress.org I highly recommend Host Gator and right now they have a special going on for St. Patty’s day. You can use the code PADDY2016 for 60% off a new hosting package or if you missed the special use my code DarlingDarlings25 for 25% off your hosting package.

Web Design

I’ve worked with both of these web designers over the last year and both are very easy to work with and they make sure you get exactly what you want out of your website.

Email Newsletter

There are many options when it comes to an email newsletter but just starting out I definitely recommend using Mailchimp. It’s free, easy to customize, and has plenty of helpful features.

Learning Tools

Skillshare is my jam! Skillshare is a learning community for creators. Youtube is awesome for learning but Skillshare is on a whole different level. It was created for creative people and it has definitely enhanced my creativity! Through Skillshare I’ve learned how to operate Photoshop, get my website running, and so much more. They currently have an awesome deal for a membership, only .99 cents for your first 3 months. You can learn more about it here.

Both of these websites are full of free helpful information about blogging, branding, and growing your audience.

 Cameras and Photo Editing

I use my iPhone 6 for alot of my pictures on my Instagram and on my blog. It’s amazing how good of photos our iPhones can take but I will say that editing plays a big factor so next listed is my FAVORITE app for editing my iPhone pictures.

Snapseed is by far my favorite app to use when editing my pictures on my iPhone. The best part about Snapseed is the selective feature that allows you to edit only a portion of the photo that needs re-touching. Check out the photo in this post that I edited using Snapseed.

When my husband takes pictures of me or when we go on trips, we usually always take the Nikon D3100. I love this camera because it’s not super expensive yet it takes beautiful photos.

I’m a Photoshop beginner and the more I learn the more I like Photoshop. I definitely recommend watching a few tutorials first if you’re like me and new to the Photoshop world.

Nashville Photographer

When I shoot with a professional photographer Catherine is my go to. She is so kind and so amazing at what she does. She shoots my photos with her Canon 5d Mark II. You can see some of the shots she’s done for me here and here.

Filesharing

Other Tools I Use

When I want to add text to my photos Word Swag is my favorite because it is so easy to use and has plenty of fonts to play around with.

The 365 Happy Planner is my favorite! It’s inexpensive and has plenty of writing space for each day.

I am a firm believer that every blogger should have a desk. Now don’t get me wrong I love blogging from my bed but I also LOVE being able to have a work space that is just for me and my blog. This desk is not only cute but it’s priced well and it inspires me to sit down and crank out some work!

When I don’t want to carry my computer around I keep my iPad handy in my purse and I actually get so much done using it!  In fact last year the iPad was primarily what I used to blog.

Helpful Posts About Blogging

Thanks for checking out the tools I use to blog! Let me know if there is anything you have a question about.

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God’s Word 

God's Word / coffee jesus repeat

Coffee Jesus Repeat Tumbler c/o Marquia Makes, check them out here!

I love time spent in the word of God and lately I’ve been going deeper spending more and more time meditating on it and breaking it down.

There are times when I feel so distant from God and I realize it’s often because  I’ve gone days without reading my Bible. I have to discipline myself and set time aside to read otherwise it will never happen and next thing I know my hunger and passion for God and His word are barely there anymore. I encourage you today if you’re feeling distant from Jesus open up your Bible and study what it says.

Something I love that my Pastor always says is “Stop waiting for a word from God and start searching for a verse.” It’s so true! Why wait when we can open up the Bible?! It is full of Jesus, full of truth, full of peace, and full of hope and I need that in my life every single day. It is so easy to get busy and forget how comforting and how good His word is so today, open up your Bible and look for a verse or verses that will speak life to your soul. Here is mine:

“Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:1-5

Lets break this down a little bit…

HE *forgives* ALL MY -sin-

HE *heals* ALL MY -diseases-

HE *redeems* MY LIFE -from the pit-

HE *crowns* ME -with love & compassion-

HE *satisfies* MY DESIRES -with good things-

HE *renews* MY YOUTH -like the eagle’s-

Take some time to meditate on and proclaim these truths. Then move into a time of praise: Remember what HE has done in your life, in the lives of those around you, and what HE promises to keep doing. HE is good and HE worthy to be praised.

Have a great day, friends!

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6 Life Changing Devotionals for Women

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Most people have heard of Jesus Calling ( also by Sarah Young ) which I love but Jesus Lives has been a long time favorite of mine. This devotional reminds you that even in the midst of your daily life Jesus is alive and His presence is with you! One of my favorite things about this devotional is that Sarah usually gives you about 3 verses that go along with the devotional and instead of just giving you the verses to look up they are already written out for you which is a plus in my book!  This devotional is the perfect size to keep in your purse and to share with others as a  midday pick me up! Click here to check it out.

This devotional is so powerful and it’s what I’m currently diving into myself. Whispers of Hope helps get you into the routine of P.R.A.I.S.E which is a prayer time that includes: Praise, Repentance, Acknowledge, Intercession, Supplication for self,  and Equip. If you are looking for a devotional that will transform your prayer time this is it.  Beth Moore guides you through 10 weeks of prayer where each day begins with getting into the Word, a devotional, then your own personal prayer time. This devotional is ideal for someone that can devote 20-30 minutes each day in prayer. It truly has impacted my time with Jesus. Click here to check out this devo.

I read this devotional every day for a year while I was a part of the World Race ( an AMAZING 11 month mission trip ). That was such a special time in my life of being single and understanding my worth as His Princess. I highly recommend this for every woman to read at some point but especially for any woman who has ever felt unworthy or devalued. It’s written as a love letter from Jesus packed full of truth about how unique and special you truly are. I love the tenderness of this devotional and I’m so grateful I found it when I did. Check it out here.

Some of you have already heard me go on and on about this prayer devotional and I’m not going to stop any time soon because I seriously believe every wife needs it. I often find myself getting stuck during my prayer time and just praying the same prayers for my husband but this devotional helps me to cover so many different aspects of our marriage and his walk with Jesus. If you ever struggle during your prayer time for your hubby or maybe you don’t even know where to start then this devotional is a wonderful guide to help you pray some powerful prayers for your husband. Check it out here.

  • Savor – Shauna Niequist

If you haven’t heard of Shauna Niequist do yourself a favor and read some of her quotes – You will not be disappointed. I love everything she has ever put out and this devotional will always be a go to of mine because Shauna is so easy to relate to. She starts every page with a Bible verse and then shares a story or testimony of her life then challenges you with a question at the end. She covers a wide range of topics from friendship, marriage, babies, miscarriage,  forgiveness, and much more.  This devotional is a favorite of mine because it feels like I am having coffee with a friend. Check out this devo here.

A devotional about thanksgiving is such a day changer. I loved the book One Thousand Gifts and when I found the devotional I had to snatch it up! One of my weaknesses is being negative and ungrateful so this devotional truly helps get me out of that mindset.  Ann writes so beautifully that it not only helps you to see the beauty that’s around you but it will also inspire you to write and to give thanks to Jesus for all of the gifts He has given you. This is the perfect devotional to help you fix your eyes on the goodness of Jesus. Check it out here.

**This post contains affiliate links, with that said every devotional that I’ve recommended in this post I have read and they have personally impacted my life.

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10 Ways to Make Life Less Ordinary 

10 ways to make life less ordinary

If you’re anything like me you have trouble every now and then getting stuck in the mundane. You find yourself doing the same thing over and over and you watch the weeks as they pass by and think to yourself, “I need moreeeee!”  You desire for something exciting to happen in your life or you need a break, something that will refresh you.  Maybe your yearly vacation?  But, what happens when you can’t take that vacation?  What happens when you don’t have a trip to look forward to?  Maybe, just maybe, it forces you to make everyday mundane life extraordinary.  So, here is a little list I created that I’ve found makes my everyday life a little brighter and little less ordinary.

  • Think Positive

This one is huge and I didn’t even realize it until recently that there are times when I can be so negative. I notice such a big difference in my day when I start it off thinking positive about what’s going to happen for that day. One thing I try to do when I first wake up is say out loud, “anything is possible today.” Do you believe that? You can’t see your day as mundane if you truly believe that!

  •  Wear something Fun

You don’t have to buy something new to do this. Just get on Pinterest to find some ideas.  Who says that we just have to dress up for an event or holiday?  Brighten up an ordinary day by wearing something that makes a statement.  A bold color or a cute head scarf. In the winter I always love putting on a fun color pair of tights to spice up my outfit a little.  It kind of makes me feel like a little kid again.. Fun, free, and extraordinary!

  • Read the Bible

If you want out of the mundane then seriously read the Bible. It is full of miracles. My favorite verse that screams extraordinary is Mark 9:23, “Anything is possible if a person believes.” and not to mention that regarding all of the miracles Jesus did He tells us that even greater things we will do than what He did. We just need to believe it!

  • Encourage Others

Even if you feel like you have nothing to offer you can always give someone a smile or a kind word. Encouraging others not only brings joy to the person you encourage but it will bring so much joy to you and I promise your day will get a little brighter.

  • Treat your Co-Workers

This is such a fun thing for me. It really does make everyone’s day a little less ordinary. I mean think about Christmas time how everyone gets so excited about goodies that are brought in because of the holidays. I don’t think that should just happen on holidays!  Bring in a new recipe or your favorite recipe to your boss and co-workers. You may just start a new thing and your day and your co-workers day will feel kind of like a holiday!

  • Plan Something Fun

So like I said before you may not be able to plan a vacation but you can still get creative and plan something fun around where you live. Try out a new coffee shop, go hiking or camping, plan a double date. Get advice from others about what they do for fun.

  • See Everyday as a Gift

A common thing for most of us to do is wish our week away (yep, definitely guilty).  But, what if we try our best to look forward to everyday like we do the weekend or a vacation? I kinda think we would have a lot more happy people in the world. I mean don’t get me wrong the weekends are my fave and this girl loves a vacation but I want to live every day with joy and thankful that God gave me another one!  I think it really is a mindset and that mindset can be broken by remembering every day is a gift!

  • Read Quotes

Eeek!  Quotes are truly one of my favorite things.  I have computer pages and a journal dedicated to my favorite quotes. They really can transform your thinking and inspire you to live and to dream.  Do yourself a favor and spend some time this week reading some inspiring quotes, they really can make life less ordinary. I would recommend having some of your favorite quotes or verses framed so you can see them around your house.  One of my favorites is one as simple as “Be brave”.

  • Take a risk

Maybe you’re ready for a new job or you want to start your own business but you’re scared of change, maybe you want to move to another state, or become a missionary, or go back to school for something. Whatever it may be, take a risk and go for it!  We always talk about things we want to do in the future and some people never do those things.  Sometimes we just need to take a leap of faith and be fully dependent on God to lead and guide us through it.  Following your dreams and dreaming bigger = extraordinary!

  • Love Radically

There is something about outdoing one another in love / going the extra mile that changes your life and changes the lives of those around you. When you love radically without expecting anything in return it removes selfishness from your life.  A selfless person is an extraordinary person and an extraordinary person is going to live an extraordinary life.  So love others radically, serve others, and maybe even go volunteer your time somewhere that can make a difference. Serving and volunteering will make you and those around you come alive. Think about the life of Jesus and Mother Teresa, they were both such amazing, extraordinary loving people.

I think that what living a less ordinary life comes down to is really believing that everyday is an extraordinary day. That my friends is definitely a heart cry of mine: to see everyday and every “ordinary” moment as special and extraordinary.

 

“There are no ordinary moments. There is always something going on.”-Peaceful Warrior

To me, that something is Jesus and He is always up to something extraordinary!

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Faith in Action

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Do you ever have those days where you feel like God is no where near or those days you get so wrapped up in how you feel you lose sight of God?  Sister you are not the only one!  I have days where I feel as if I’m on top of a mountain ready to take on the world and then I have days where it’s like I’m in a pit! I definitely believe that that’s where faith comes in.  Despite how we feel and despite the negative thoughts and lies that come at us we must choose to believe what the Bible says is true. The truth is that no matter what’s going on inside of us God will never leave us nor forsake us and scripture also says that without faith it is impossible to please God.  That verse seriously convicts me every time I read it!  When it comes to faith have to remember friends that it comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.  There is nothing more encouraging to me than reading the words Jesus spoke.  His words are so powerful, so life giving, and so so intimate.  I challenge you this week to spend some time in the word building your faith, I truly believe you will be encouraged!

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