Thursday, December 31, 2009

Some End-of-Decade Thoughts

My in-laws flew out earlier today. Nate left for work a few minutes ago. (Night shift on New Year's Eve. Good trade for having Christmas and Thanksgiving off!) The kids are doing Wii Fit downstairs. And I'm sitting here reflecting on the last decade. Actually, I've been doing that most of the day. Actually, it started on Sunday when Nate and I got away overnight to Denver and things were quiet and I could for a few rare moments hear my thoughts.

(I kept getting up and going to the pantry just now to get "a few more" chocolate covered pomegranates my amazing hubby brought me just before Christmas. I finally brought the whole bag over to the computer and it's sitting open beside me, right next to a full cup of my super yummy coffee.)

Ten years ago right now I was sitting with Nate in our beyond miniscule basement duplex.
The one with the windows right up next to the ceiling that if you looked out you saw people's feet walking by on the sidewalk and the roots of trees.
The one with the orange shag carpet and brown paneling.
The one with no dishwasher and the fridge that smelled like rotten meat.
The one we were so blessed to have because it accepted our dog, Tucker (may he rest in peace), and had a fenced backyard for the kids to roam around.
The one below Bev & Kern, who became dear friends and wonderful mentors for this young, pretty-newly-married couple.

Taylor was three.
Jordan was one.
We weren't quite trying for Brit yet.
And we had just moved to Great Falls, Montana from Vandenberg AFB, California.
We were waiting and watching with the rest of the world to see any Y2K fall-out.

I was skinny as all get out, my hair was long and brown and straight, and we were absolutely broke.

Reflecting back on the time from then until now, I realize that God has done some amazing things in me. It was a short time after the New Year a decade ago I cried out, feeling desperate and like I had no options. I asked Him to change me... and it's a thrilling feeling to realize that He did. Not overnight. Not right away. But, He molded and shaped me through not-always-easy circumstances to be the woman I was asking Him to make me... to have the marriage I wanted to have... to be the mother I was hoping to be.

I'm still a work in progress. We all are. But, He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it. (Philippians 1:6)

This morning on the way to the airport, with all four kids and my in-laws in the Suburban, I asked everyone what the highlight of their decade was. Seeing as how only two of our children have lived outside of this decade ("We're gonna party like it's 1999..."), that question would encompass their entire life.  =^)

But, I've really been thinking about this for me. And, I keep marveling at the answer I come back to.

Do you know what my highlights are of the last decade? Do you know which things keep coming back to me as the best experiences?

(You can't count childbirth or Disneyland trips. Those are givens.)

The highlights are the things that were hardest to walk through. The highlights of the last decade are the experiences that weren't flashes in the pan, but were segments in my path full of tears and frustration and joy and excitement and faith and conquering and learning and persevering and grace.

The highlights weren't the easy things.

The best and most rewarding experiences in the last decade were the hard things.
The good-but-hard things.

Hmmm...

doesn't that kind of defy the general assumption of life pursuits?

It would seem that life isn't meant to be easy...
 that it's meant to be full and rewarding and good...
and a truly good life doesn't come from an "easy life"...
and that maybe those who are pursuing the "easy life" may not truly have a good one.

I think the biggest highlight of this past decade for me encompasses the entire range of emotions.
Dealing with ups and downs and surprises and disappointments.
Crying tears numerous nights.
Laughing silly with delight.
Seeing amazing works that God did in other people... and even more so in me.
Learning what being a leader meant, and that it's much more about behind-the-scenes than in-the-spotlight, and that I can do what I never thought I could.
Learning to bend when necessary and stand firm when necessary and apologize when necessary. Learning that it's okay to fail, as long as I get up and keep going.
Learning to submit to authority even when you don't see eye-to-eye... and seeing God take care of it all in His timing.
Learning to listen to the Holy Spirit's leading above all else. 
And learning that God has purpose for the dream He has placed in my heart, and that it is better in His hands than in my own... and that way more than I thought possible comes from my passions in his hands than would come from anything I would ever try to do on my own.

And it was good... and it was hard work... and it required much... but it was good.
And I'm so thankful.

What are YOUR highlights of the last decade? Really think about it. Your experiences. What was the most rewarding? What did you gain the most from?

I bet it wasn't what was easiest.

My perspective has changed so much. Because it's not an easy life I'm after... not a safe life, either. But a full life... a good life... a rewarding life.
It's not about choosing what's easiest... it's about choosing what's best.
It's not about avoiding hard things... hard work... it's about choosing wisely what you put your hands to, and then doing that to the best of your ability and learning as much as you can.

It's about walking the path God has laid out for you and embracing life head on.

(Rob and Cindy, thank you. I love you.)
Share this:

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

May your Christmas be very blessed this year, and we hope you have found the wonderful fullness of life and deep, true joy that living for Jesus Christ brings. We are SO glad we have a Savior!!!


(And, if you haven't found that joy, we need to have coffee. Email me. Or maybe we should just have coffee anyway. And you can tell me about your joy, and I'll tell you about mine, and we'll laugh. Then maybe we'll go shopping. Either way.)


Merry Christmas... from the White House


*click on photos to make them larger*





Share this:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas-y

It is late. And I am typing this as I head off to finish wrapping presents. Nate is making one of our traditional Christmas Day desserts a few feet away from me. (Pistachio Lush) The kids are asleep. So are my in-laws, who arrived via delayed-by-snow plane earlier today.

Our Christmas tree is perfectly imperfect. The lights are all plugged in. We listened to Bing Crosby all afternoon. I wore cheesy Santa Earrings. And a cheesy Santa Necklace.

We have all the presents bought, as of about an hour ago. By all accounts, I would say we're ahead of the game.

And it's snowing. Yes, yes, yes. We're going to have a White Christmas.

Some shoes I got today that I was super excited about and had highly anticipated and wanted to wear tomorrow to the Christmas Eve services came... and were made imperfectly. (When I spend above a certain dollar amount on footwear, my expectations are very high.) So, I'm trying to get over the fact that I have to send them back and won't be able to wear them tomorrow.

Hopefully they'll send me a perfect set in round two.

And, by the way, if you live in Colorado Springs and weren't already planning on attending a service tomorrow, COME TO OURS!!! It is absolutely inCREDible. I can honestly say I have never seen anything like this. Ice skating. Real snow. Real animals. Incredible music. Lights. Drums. Water show. All to honor our Savior.

1:30, 3:30, and 5:30. I'll be singing at the first two and attending the third with my family and dear friends.

Now, off to finish the wrapping. That's right. Waaaayyyy ahead of the game. (Since I'm usually doing it all last minute on Christmas Eve.)
Share this:

Monday, December 21, 2009

What NOT to wear to that Christmas party...

Okay, okay, OKAY! I realize I should have done a post on what TO wear. I was remiss. Please forgive me.

For some odd reason I clicked through an almost-total-stranger's Christmas party pics this evening on facebook. (Because, you can do that. You can look at the pics of a friend of a friend. If someone you know is tagged anywhere in the album, you can see the whole album.) And I happened on this pic...

Wait. I can't do it. I just can't do it.

I desperately want to show you the photo of the girl (actually, there are three) in what would have been a cute red dress. But, her bazoongas are hanging out everywhere! At an office Christmas party. Everywhere.

Ev.ery.where.

But, I just can't do it. I even pulled them onto the desktop and was going to blur out her face and THEN post them on here.

For some reason, it's just not in me to cause her further shame such as this.

(Except that she obviously wasn't worried about it in the first place, because she's all smiley-smiley and showing 'em off and such.)

All I'm saying is that, there are certain ways you should NOT dress when attending your office Christmas party. (Or any part, for that matter.) And she is a prime example of one of them.

And now I can't even bring myself to show you the picture(s)... even with her face blurred.

I'm sorry.

So, please know that you SHOULD dress to your figure. You should NOT hide those curves in a sack. You SHOULD wear a flattering neckline. But you should never, ever make your co-workers worry that certain parts of your anatomy are going to pop out any minute to say, "Boo!"
Share this:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Father and Son

I've been increasingly grieved over the last decade at the rising number of people who talk about God, but really seem to have nothing to do with Him. Their lives show no fruit that would reflect the Spirit of God, but their words seem full of things that appear to be connected with Him.
Then I see people who are searching for God pulled in by their smooth speech, because it contains the word God. It references the One they are looking for, so they listen.
And the word "God" becomes twisted into a universal term for anything anyone wants it to mean.

And, I know that it really isn't a "rising number." It's always been this way. But, as I mature (Yes, I think I'm maturing. Believe it or not.) I'm simply becoming more aware of it.

This whole "Holiday" thing our nation is turning to... this whole doing away with Christmas... this whole "liberation" from traditional ideas (That Gap ad drives me nuts. Great choreography and colors. Distraction that slips a horrible message right through into our homes and hearts.)... this whole thing of talking about God, but never mentioning Jesus Christ. It just saddens me. Because I see good people, people who should know the difference, should know the Truth, getting swept away in the "political correctness" of the moment.

Many high profile leaders of our country are willing to profess God, ask for His leading, acknowledge His hand in things when they go the way they want them to go... but they will not confess Christ. For some reason, talking about God goes over much smoother than talking about Jesus.
And it makes me grieve.

But, here's what I found...

This morning I was reading in I John. (The Message! Woo-hoo!) Chapter 4 has some interesting things to say, and I'm so glad my eyes are continually opened to new truths as I read God's word.

"Not everyone who talks about God comes from God... Here's how you test for the genuine Spirit of God. Everyone who confesses openly his faith in Jesus Christ -- the Son of God, who came as an actual flesh-and-blood person -- comes from God and belongs to God. And everyone who refuses to confess faith in Jesus has nothing in common with God... These people belong to the Christ-denying world. They talk the world's language and the world eats it up."

WOW!


I know some of you are squirming a bit, saying, "But, we're not supposed to judge! This sounds like we're judging."

Here's how Chapter 4 starts:
"My dear friends, don't believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you."

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to seek wisdom. We are called to discern. And here we're being given tools to do exactly that.

In these days, our world is going to increasingly promote the universalist idea of "God." A god that can be anything you want it to be. Because your god can be different from my god, and we will all do what we think is right for us and no one will be wrong in their beliefs or actions. Because you do whatever feels right, you do whatever you wannika. (Stupid Gap ad.) We need to be wise to what we are hearing. We, as Christ followers, need to discern the Truth from what people are saying is truth.

I think it's great how John talks about loving people and not listening to those who are deceived in the same book. In our watered down, "politically correct" society, we've somehow grown to equate loving people with agreeing with them and accepting their behavior and beliefs as okay. But, I can love you dearly while not condoning what you are doing. In fact, there are some of you that I do! I love you so much, but I do not go along with your destructive behavior or faulty thinking and say it's fine and healthy. And you know that, because we've talked about it.

We are called to walk with wisdom and discernment and not compromise the Truth that is within us, but speak it boldly in love.

"But we come from God and belong to God. Anyone who knows God understands us and listens. The person who has nothing to do with God will, of course, not listen to us."

I would encourage you not only to profess God this Christmas season, and the rest of the year. Profess Jesus Christ, His son, in whom our salvation was made complete. And there will be those who will not listen... but there will be those that will. And that is the whole point of our life, to shine His light so others can see... can truly see.

I John 3:21: "No one who denies the Son has any part with the Father, but affirming the Son is an embrace of the Father as well."

Merry Christmas,
Angela
Share this:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fashion Tip Friday: Christmas Cheer

For today's Fashion Tip Friday I am giving you a run down of a recent outfit PLUS doing a partial re-post of LAST year's Christmas-y advice. I should have posted this a couple of weeks ago, but such is my brain life. 
So, without further ado, I give you...


(Drum roll.)

(Drum roll, please.)

Fashion Tip Friday: Christmas Cheer
"The best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear..."







and also by donning festive clothing and accessories! I know Christmas is nearly upon us, but I wanted to share some holiday dressing tips. (Really, these can work for ANY holiday, not just Jesus' birthday.) As I've said in previous posts, Santa hats are not merely decorations, they're accessories! It's a shame if they're not used to their full potential. Cheesy sweaters can be worn. Get out those jingle bell earrings!




However, Christmas clothing can go greatly awry if you don't follow some simple guidelines. You can be cheerful AND chic at the same time.
*Only wear one large cheesy item of clothing at a time. For example, wear the sweater, NOT the sweater and the red pants with the candy canes. Wear the skirt with the garland around the bottom, but NOT with the red and white striped tights. Make sense? Pair that one large cheesy item with something stylish and the whole thing will work brilliantly.
*You must actually do your hair and makeup. If you're going to wear something cheesy, you've got to look cute doing it. But don't go over the top with your makeup or the whole thing will come across garish and absurd. (Remember, extravagant eyes with an underdone lip, or bright lips with subtle eye makeup. Save the bold eye/bold lip combo for a cocktail party with dim lighting or a stage.)
*An up-to-date hairstyle is mandatory. If you're going to break out any apparel that includes the words "crotched" or "poinsettia" in the description, you MUST have a stylish hairdo. If your bangs are feathered or you still curl them under with a small barrel curling iron very carefully in a row across your forehead, you cannot wear seasonal articles of clothing. (Except that you probably wear them anyway, in which case, please email me for a one-on-one consultation.)
 *Christmas-y socks are fine, but your pants need to be the right length. No, it's not okay to "show them off" by wearing pants that are a bit too short. (Especially with mules.) And YOU KNOW that's not okay, too!!! I love fun socks just as much as everyone. But they're not a "see all the time" kind of thing, they're a "catch a glimpse every so often" kind of thing. You just try and get away with it because it's Christmas. Like when you wear cute shoes... they're not an excuse to wear the pants that shrunk up in length too much so "everyone can see your cute footwear." There's not EVER a good excuse for those pants! Stop trying to rationalize their length and give them to the thrift store now. NOW! Seriously. Get up from your computer, go to your closet, put them in a bag, and go set that bag on the hood of your car to take to the thrift store. You know the ones I'm talking about. Go.
I'll wait.
*Red and green and red and green and red and green!!! It's the one time of year you can wear these two colors together unabashedly. Go for it! Layer them into an outfit. Invest in at least one bright scarf. (If you've noticed, I wear my red one EVERYwhere this time of year. Except yesterday. Yesterday I wore my green one.)
*Santa hats are to be worn! To the grocery store, the sports practice, the post office. Wear them! If you have long hair, let it flow. Some of you with short hair have commented that you feel a bit insecure. If that's the case, wear some chunky earrings. But look at the photo of Amber at the bottom of this post. She totally rocks it!
*Smile!!! If you are going to wear festive holiday clothing, you must do so with a light heart and joyful spirit. There's nothing worse than someone in a bright Christmas-y outfit scowling and trudging around. Especially if they have feathered bangs, and are wearing candy cane pants.
I'm sure there are some things I forgot. I just wanted to throw this post together last minute. It was necessary. What other tips for holiday dressing do YOU have? Leave me a comment and let me know!
I'll close with some photo examples (updated for 2009)... because pictures make a blog more fun:

I wore this to a Christmas party this past Tuesday, albeit with my silver wedge Steve Maddens. I switched into flats for the rest of the day, which included choir practice. Notice the white, silver, red and green? Yay for Christmas colors!!!

A run-down...
Green tee: Can't remember. Cheap. Probably Target.
Silver tank: H&M. LOVE that place.
White jeans: Ridiculously cheap at Gap.
Shoes: J.Renee via Goodwill.
Red Scarf: Thanks, Mom-in-Law! (It's my go-to staple every Christmas.)
Silver hoops: Thrifted.
Silver chunky cuff: Grams.
Two white bracelets: Target dollar spot. Whoop! Whoop!
Snowflake hair accessory: Isn't it amazing??? Here, let's get a close-up.

Are you ready for this? It was a napkin holder at a Christmas Tea I went to. I told the girls at the table I was going to make it into a headband. (I don't think they believed me.) And I did have it attached to a headband earlier that day, but it was giving me a headache, so I just stuck it in my hair with a bobby pin. For some reason, people love it. Well, I do too!!! Very festive. Very Christmas-y. Very fun. Very me.
For the past three days it's been attached to the cuff of my favorite Santa Hat.







Jingle Bell earrings. Yay! (That's an awfully handsome Santa. Woo-woo!)








Red and green and red and green! And a Christmas light necklace. Can you see the necklace? (Click on the photo to make it larger!) Thanks to Jordan's awesome teacher in Santa Maria for this adorable accessory. Also, note that while I'm wearing holiday themed attire, I'm paring it with skinny jeans to maintain an updated look. (I realize not everyone can/wants to wear skinny jeans. It's the IDEA behind wearing them with festive apparel that I'm trying to communicate.)

Last year, Amber and I played our guitars, sang, and rang that Salvation Army bell outside of Albertson's. She's incredibly awesome. We had a BLAST! I've been in mourning this Christmas season that I will not get to carol at the Salvation Army bucket. I have half a mind to just go find somewhere, get my guitar out and start singing! It makes people smile. Hmmm... hopefully in a good way and not in a dear-goodness-please-be-quiet way.)

So, there you have it. Christmas fashion. Go to your closet! See what you have! Put some red and green together and don a Santa Hat. Then go about your day and smile a lot. It's not only your life you'll be adding cheer to.
Merry Christmas,
~Angela~

P.S. Bonus Christmas points for anyone who can tell me where the "drum roll" lines came from.


P.P.S. I don't know what is up with the weird spacing in this post. I can't fix it. I'm giving up. It's just going to be a little more "special" than other posts.
Share this:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Tour of My Home

Yes, I know this post is a few days late. You can find the explanation of that here. But, what it comes down to is that I've had too many Christmases where I run around frantically freaking out and not really enjoying the season of my Savior as we're meant to enjoy it: with family and reflection and celebration.

So, welcome to my home. Just as it is. Well, just as it was night before last when I took these photos.
(And this is where I'm making my only apology. I am NOT a photographer. I do NOT take good pictures. I usually don't even take decent pictures. I also hate using my flash. So, these may be dark. They may be grainy. But, that's just how they are this year.) 


Why don't you grab a cup of coffee or hot cocoa and come inside?

I didn't get to hang any garland on the outside of the house this year. Something about it being a rental and stucco and Nate not wanting to repair things. *wink* That's okay. I still have my trees! Yay for trees!









I wrapped my lovely red berry wreath in the middle of the generic garland one. Loves!


Watch that step up as you come in the front door. You can't really see the trees on the floor that well. At one time they did light up. Well, they still do... the bottom half one and the top half on the other. =^) Next year I may just cut the pre-strung lights off and string my own (working) ones on. But, that was too much work for this year.



See my cute Santa collection on the table? Most things have a story. Around here we don't dislike Santa. In fact, we like him very much! He was a man who loved people and gave out of the goodness of his heart... not unlike the centerpiece of Christmas: Christ!

Come on in the rest of the house...


We moved the couches around to accommodate our tree. As I've said before, it's always a challenge figuring out where you're going to put things when you move into a new house.

I had to show you some ornaments. Mom got us some chalkboard ones that the kids write new stuff on every year. Last year one of them tried to write something on this ornament. It was so cute that I left it on. Can you read what it says? (Even with the backwards "J?")




Our tree is not necessarily a "themed" three, unless you count four children a theme. A lot of the decorations are ones they have made, like this angel from last Christmas. (Thank you, Lori Simmons!)



This cute moose we bought while on our honeymoon, and have kept getting ornaments from special places we visit ever since. (I can't find the Grand Canyon one from this past summer. Whoops!)



Oh, wow! We look so young! In college, we went to Lauree's house, where she took polaroids (Oh, my gosh!) and we made ornaments. We have three that go on our tree every single year. (That's baby Taylor. Awwww...)

You're still standing in front of the Christmas tree, but if you just turn a bit to your right, you can see my mantle. Because I have a mantle this year!!! Yay! I wasn't able to "hang" the garland the way I wanted to, so I "stuffed" it up there instead. Love!



Ooops. I forgot to put Abe's santa hat on him.

And can you just ignore the tv and pretend I have pretty shutters closed in front of it? Because they're supposed to be there. And they will be. As soon as I acquire them off of craigslist. And paint them white.



(The stockings go in order from Nate (L) down to Ian on the other end.)


If you look very carefully on the right hand side of the above picture, you can see some Christmas bins still not put away. Ha!

Let's see that cute little nativity a little closer. (Thanks, Lalena!)



Now if you'll turn back to your left and take a peek in the kitchen, you'll see some fantastic greenery atop the cabinets... and some handsome guy at the computer. (Hey, look! I didn't even clear off my countertops yet! A real blog that shows real people living real life. I wasn't sure they existed.)



Glittery ornaments. A cute sign. A little nativity. Some pictures with Santa for thumbing through. And that handsome guy in the background again.


And in-between the living room and kitchen is my cute little (dollar store) village I got eons ago. (Okay, four years. Same thing.) It's so cute! It was at their half-off sale the day after Christmas. That's right! Half-off at the dollar store. Each piece was fifty cents.  =^)



Remember staring at little villages and feeling like they must be actually alive? There's just some kind of magic about them. And it becomes more magical the closer you get.



If you turn a bit more to your right you can see the dining room. Red! I love red! (As if you couldn't tell by all the red berry garland tucked everywhere.)



The lit tree was made by Nate's Grandmother ages ago. And those little stockings hanging there? They say "Dad," "Mom," and "Taylor." My wonderful friend back in college blessed us with those for our first married Christmas. Even though we've added many more children and all have our stockings on the mantle now, they find a special place in our home every year. They will forever mean so much.


The shelves on the other side. And snowmen! Yay for snowmen! Let's get a close-up...


This is what is sitting in the middle of the table at the moment. Last year on Target clearance. I love me some country Christmas!


Thanks so much for coming over and hanging out with me for a bit. Glad you're a good enough friend that I could stay in my sweats and keep my hair pulled back, like I usually am if you stop by on most any given day. Sorry I forgot to light any of the candles, and I should go get Abe his santa hat while I'm thinking of it.


If you want to see last year's tour (when we were in California), you can go take a looksy! Thanks again for coming over. Don't be a stranger, okay?

(And, if you want to see more great Christmas-y cheer, go check out The Nester's Christmas Tour of Homes! So fun!)

Merry Christmas,
Angela



Share this:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The thing is...

...that I'm TRYING very hard to get up my Christmas Tour of Homes post.
(I want to link up to the Christmas Tree Party, too.)

I tried to get it up Sunday evening so I could link up with everyone right away.
I realized that wasn't going to happen, so I aimed for Monday morning.
But, Sunday whilst my wonderful hubby was doing his homework and I was supposed to be putting up Christmas decor, I started feeling really icky.
Like, really icky.
So icky that I had to lay down on the couch in-between editing his stuff...
 instead of decking the halls in-between editing his stuff.
(It could have been all the soda and coffee I had earlier in the evening.
Could.
But we'll say it was something else, instead.)

So, I'm almost there. But, life interrupts, you know?
For some reason, kids still need to eat.
And there are still errands to run.
And commitments to keep.
And my house is messy.



And not everything is up.



And I'm about to shove all the rest of everything back into the storage bins.

Because it's hard when you move to a new house.
In the old house you knew where everything was going to go.
So you got it out and put it there.
In a new house you have to find new places for everything.
Which can be fun and challenging.
But not as much when you aren't able to get your Christmas decor out until halfway through December.

Because at that point you just want it up.
Yesterday.

Maybe tonight. Maybe I'll be able to link up tonight.

But, this is real life.
I'm trying to be realistic.

So, maybe tomorrow.

Your life house gets this way, too, right?

See the Santa container sitting on my stovetop?
It has snowball cookies in it.
I made them to take to a party in an hour or so.
But, really, I want to eat them all myself.
Right now.
Self-control can be really stinky.

Share this:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fashion Tip Friday: Wallet-Friendly Style

Okay, I wore this to church over a week ago and bribed my hubby into taking some photos so I could show you. Because I LOVE THIS OUTFIT!!!!!!! But, that's not the whole point. The POINT is that I didn't have to pay a lot to pull together something I absolutely adore and feel great in! 

I hear all the time, "I just don't have the money to..." I'm going to say it. Don't get too offended. It's for your own good. Are you ready? Here it comes... SHUT IT! That kind of talk will not be tolerated here. I know money is scarce. But, you're spending it on other articles of clothing, aren't you? Otherwise you wouldn't be wearing anything right now. (Oh, maybe you're not. Please keep that to yourself.) And, the thing is, you don't have to spend a lot to own clothes you love!!!

The thing I hear much less often, but is more of the real issue, is, "I just don't have time to figure out what looks good, and I don't know how to pick through all those racks or look for good pieces." THIS is much more of an acceptable issue. Because, bargain hunting really can be a learned art. But, it doesn't even need to take all that long, once you learn the basics and train your eye.

Here is a good post I wrote a while back on tips to shopping thrift. But, even that may overwhelm you. Really, there are only a few main things to remember:

*Buy good quality and good fit. There are some fabrics that just look cheap. If it's already pilling, leave it. If it pulls, tugs, is too tight, leave it. If you're going to constantly be "adjusting it" to keep it in the "right place," leave it. (This is a huge pet peeve of mine.) If it's itchy, leave it. When you're going through the racks, run your fingers over the fabrics on the tops of the hangers. Your finger tips know quality and feel-good-fabric. Let them pull out the ones they love.

*Know what you need. I know that right now I am on the lookout for leggings, unique knee-high socks, black booties, and long sleeved tees. (That aren't see-through. Would someone PLEASE make some long sleeved tees that aren't see through? This is driving me NUTS, people!) And I'm always on the lookout for designer jeans and statement jewelry. If you know what you're lacking in your closet, you're more likely to look for those things when you have a minute to pop into a store. If you don't know, then you'll wander around and probably wind up buying something that you'll get home and discover is too similar to something else you already own... so you'll hardly ever wear it... and then you'll feel guilty for spending the money... and then you'll feel guilty getting rid of it because you never really wore it enough to constitute buying it in the first place... and then you'll be gun shy next time you go shopping and probably skip buying something you really do need because you'll remember how you thought you needed this but never really wore it. *deep breath* See how these things can get out of hand quickly? So, just repent now. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you've made and know you'll probably make more in the future. And then make a mental list of what you actually do need in your wardrobe. If it helps, make an actual list on paper and keep it in your purse.

*Be willing to pay a little more for something you know you will use often (and love and cherish and adore). Okay, confession time. I was at Buffalo Exchange in Denver for a few minutes this past Saturday. "Heaven... I'm in Heaven... and my heart beats so that I can hardly speak..." (Which, by the way Honey, you can strike my entire Christmas list and just get me a gift card to that store. But, not Max. I still want him more. And not Logic Studio. Okay, maybe not the entire list. You can just add that to it.) And, well, I ignored my own tip. There was the cutest pair of navy knee-high socks with cute little trim on them... for $7.50. "I'm not going to pay that for socks. That's ridiculous." So I left them there. And now they're haunting me. I would have worn them Sunday to church with my brown tights, brown boots and new plum skirt. But I didn't have them. And I have outfits floating through my brain that they would have pulled together. But I don't have them. THE POINT BEING, if you know you're going to wear it a lot, be willing to fork over a little more dough. It's worth a few more dollars to have something you love and feel good in than to save those few dollars and have something that's merely okay. Or worse, as with me right now, have the item invading your thoughts for the next however-long. (Ugh. Maybe I'll go back this Saturday when I'm up there... I'd have to leave early... it may be worth it... and see if they're still there.) But, only if you really know you will love and adore the item. Don't justify it in your thoughts. Because, really, we all immediately know deep down whether it's a "must-have" or not. All too often we try to justify things into "must-have's" that really aren't. That's when we make our mistakes. Just keepin' it real, girlies. Juts keepin' it real.

Okay, so you have these tips. Tuck them in your brain, and then run into that re-sale or thrift store if you have a few extra minutes! But, maybe the tip that will help you the most is to...

*Take a trusted fashion friend shopping with you. Someone who will push you to try things you might not otherwise. Someone who will tell you the truth if it's pulling in the wrong spot. Someone who will tell you to cut it out with the self-degrading "Oh, I could never wear something like this" kind of talk. Someone who will help you decide between the green cardigan and the bejeweled statement necklace when you just can't buy both. Because that's what good girlfriends are for. And that's why we should all have them.

Okay, so back to my Wallet-Friendly outfit:



Jeans: Just found on major sale at Gap on Black Friday. Distressed 1969 boyfriends for $12 (orig $70). And, already on my "mental list" was 1.) a new pair of white jeans, and 2.) boyfriend jeans I could roll exactly like this. Score!!!

Jacket: Thrift store. I think it was $3. Oversized blazers have been on my "mental list." This one is very light weight, so it's multi-seasonal. (That sounded very fashion-scholar-ly-ish.) (That did not.)

Tank: $5 at French Quarter in SLO. I bought one at a different store and wore it so incredibly much that when I found them at French Quarter I freaked out and bought, like, seven more in varying colors. I wear them constantly. (And the number may be more like ten.)

Shoes: Gabriella Rocha for $6.95 on 6pm.com. Lace-up booties had been on my "mental list."

Scarf: Gift from my friend, Trevor, from his travels through Italy. (That sounds so fancy.) LOVE! Makes me feel very special.

Earrings: $1 at Thrift Store in Santa Maria. Chunky silver had been on my "list."

Silver Necklace: Ditto.

Chunky Pearls: Thanks, Mom!

Silver chunky bracelet: Belonged to Grams.

Pearl cluster bracelet w/ribbon: $2 at shop in Winter Park. Also had been on my "list."

Sunglasses: The only working pair I own. $10 from Gloss.

So, as it would seem, a "mental list" is very important. Man, I didn't even realize I used mine as much as I did until I detailed this outfit!  =^)  I usually don't price-out my outfits for you guys, but this is to prove my point that you don't have to spend a lot of money to have clothes you love! If we add up the total, everything you see here was only $40.95... including ten bucks for the shades... which is kind of splurge for me. Think of all the ways I can wear each piece! And, really, the basics of the outfit (shoes, pants, tank, jacket) only total $26.95. So, there.

Girls, you can DO this. You CAN have clothes you love that make you feel good. You don't have to settle when you go out shopping. And, you CAN go out shopping without breaking the bank! Just pay attention to these few tips and give it a try. Some of you have told yourself for so long that you can't do this. Some of you have chosen to believe the "I'll just be forever-frumpy" lie. Some of you have bought into the "Fashion is expensive" myth. Well, here it comes again. Are you ready? Remember, it's for your own good. SHUT IT!!! 
Share this:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Absolutely Disgusted

Absolutely and completely disgusted. Angry.

You know what I'm sick of? I am SICK of people saying abortion is a dead issue and we should put our energy toward fighting other things. NO! This is EXACTLY why we should fight, keep fighting, and when we think there's no chance of us ever winning back any piece of ground... we KEEP ON FIGHTING!

You say that it doesn't affect you directly, so you're going to move on to other issues that do. Well, your money... your hard earned dollars... are about be spent to fund someone's abortion.


To kill someone's infant.

I am so angry. Yes, I know this is harsh. This is a harsh post. Well, children are being killed. And that's the bottom line issue. You can come up with all the excuses you want, "Mom's on drugs, so the baby's life would be hard anyway... the child isn't going to be wanted... it isn't really a child because it isn't born yet... it's going to have special needs, and that will be lots of government dollars spent on that baby's healthcare."

Do you hear what you're saying? Does that really make you sleep better at night? Does telling yourself that really assuage the fact that you are actually stopping the heartbeat of a living human being?

We have fallen asleep. We have diverted our attention. We think that we've lost a battle... and then they take more ground on the battle we thought was over... and then more ground. But, how can they take ground? Wasn't it already over? No. It wasn't. You just decided it was. You gave up.

And now people don't just want to take the lives of pre-born children, they want to spend my money to do it.

But, we can still fight. Contact your Senators and say, "Don't you dare." Tell them you won't vote for them if they push this through... and then follow through with it. Our government is going against the will of the majority of America (67%) by including abortion funding in their "health care reform."

Because so many of us assumed the battle was already lost, and we gave up. We thought voting a pro-abortion president into office didn't really matter. "There are other issues, right? I mean, nothing is really going to change with abortion." You were told your money would start going to fund them. "No, the government is not going to do that. That will never happen." Well, it's about to...

...unless we can make our voices heard. Well, heard more. Because, they're already being heard, our government is simply going against what we're saying.



I will not back down. You're right this is a dead issue. It's an issue of death. Of the children of our nation... and around the world... being murdered... with our consent.

It's a life or it isn't. It's right or wrong. There is no middle ground. And looking back at the judgement of every civilization throughout history that killed their children, I wonder what will befall us.

Stand up with me. Don't be quiet. Go here to contact your Senators and tell them to vote NO on the health care reform bill.

And, if you're still trying to convince yourself that that a "fetus" is not a child... or that the mother has more rights than her unborn child... go to google images and put in "preborn." Look at a few of those post-procedure pictures that come up. I don't think you'd have the stomach to put in "aborted babies."
Share this:

Sassy Shoe Thursday: Choose Shoes



This Christmas season, give something that makes a difference:


Share this:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I MET SARAH PALIN!!!

I still can't quite believe it. It was really cool. It was beyond cool. A really fun experience. Not in a weird-drooling-over-someone-famous way. But, in an I-really-respect-this-person way. Meeting a celebrity who is just famous for being famous is one thing. (And, let me tell you, there are very few people/events that would have me standing in line like this. Ever. But, meeting her was on my "line" list.) However, meeting Sarah Palin was coming face to face with a person whose life and immovable stance on hard issues has inspired me to keep going, to keep doing my best to change this world for the better.

And the awesome thing was Brit got to experience it with me, and that made everything that. much. better.

I thought Sarah was doing a book signing in Denver, but didn't realize until late Monday night that, no! It was here! In Colorado Springs! At the Borders not far from my house! They would hand out wristbands in the morning, then she would sign that evening.

Then I thought about it. We didn't know if the kids would have a snow day or not. Nate had to be up at the Academy's firing range early to qualify with the 9mm. (He had a blast. He qualified as an expert. He's so cute.) The house was messy. I had some things I needed to get done. Who even knows if I'd get through the line? So, Monday night I thought, "Well, I'm sure I'll get the chance to meet her again someday. I guess I won't go."

But then I woke up Tuesday morning and it was a different story. The kids had a snow day. They were hanging out eating waffles and watching TV. And I could not... COULD NOT... shake the urge that I should go. (I had that same feeling a year ago about something that I didn't follow through on, and I missed something that could have possibly been pretty cool. So, I wasn't going to ignore it again.) It was shortly after 9am, and I thought, what the heck? I have an hour or so to spare. I'll just go down there and see what happens.



There were mass people, (you can't see that the line wraps way down and around, then snakes down another hallway). BUT, after standing in line for an hour and a half I DID get a wristband. They were handing them out by color, according to where you were in line. By the time I got up there, my color wasn't guaranteed to get through that evening. But the employees said, judging by the other signings, I would get through. They said Sarah had been doing her best to try and see everyone that came. (Because she's cool like that.) They also said to be there around 5:30... which I could not do. Brit had a soccer game, but we would risk it.

And, you know what was interesting about the people in line? They were very well dressed. They were extremely polite and well-mannered. From the conversations I could hear, they were educated. It just struck me as interesting, because from what I've seen in the media, Palin supporters are depicted as rowdy right-wing crazies. These were business professionals, college students, young girls, moms pushing strollers, some with special needs children (some of whom wanted to thank Sarah for standing up for life), whole families, couples in uniform. Definitely a different crowd than the media would have you believe.

Brit's game was at 6:00pm (they lost, but she scored their only goal), and we went straight to the mall afterward via McDonald's drive-through. I had asked Brit earlier if she wanted to go with me. (She loved Sarah during the election, and has spoken of her often since.) After her game she said quite decidedly, "Yes! I want to meet Sarah Palin."

"You don't want to come out to dinner with the rest of us?" Nate seemed a bit surprised.

"Dad, I want to meet her!" Came a determined voice.

"Alright."

So Nate and the boys dropped us two girls off at the mall, and we stood at the end (remember, we were late) of our wristband color line. The only people behind us were the ones who didn't get wristbands at all.

The conversations were intriguing. As I said, most people in line seemed very educated on issues, and not belligerent or disrespectful in anyway. They weren't all die-hard republicans, either. Rather, quite a few of them were independents who at one time supported our current administration, but have recently become very disappointed with the direction our country is taking. To them, Palin is a bright spot of hope in a gloomy political world.


(Here we are with my book that Nate lovingly ran to Costco in the blowing snow to get for me after I secured the wristband. It was on my Christmas list, but this definitely warranted an early gift. Hee-hee. I have such a wonderful hubby!)

I was asked a few times why I liked Sarah so much. I said simply what I've always said, "She stands up for what's right and doesn't compromise, even in the face of great opposition. We share the same convictions."

Brit and I only had to wait two hours, then we were told to check our coats and purses before going up the escalator. We weren't supposed to take cameras, but one of the helpers said we could take our cell phones and use the cameras on those. So, I did get some shots... but they turned out blurry. *ahem* Very blurry. The line moved pretty fast. Yet, as soon as Brit and I laid eyes on Sarah, who was sitting at a table with her husband, Todd, and a helper, we both said the same thing, "She's beautiful!"

And I am NOT exaggerating here, people. She is truly beautiful, which makes me realize why it's hard for the media to find an unflattering picture of her. They do their best, and she's usually shown with her mouth open in the middle of speaking or her lips pursed in concentration. But... she. is. gorgeous. And she has great highlights!!!  =^)

I kept trying to snap a few pictures while taking it all in, and I'm sad to say these are the best I got:






I know. I know. They're not even remotely decent at all. But, it's hard when the line is moving quickly and you're excited and you're taking pictures on a cell phone! Give a girl a break!

There was a photographer there who will have shots available on-line. I'm sure for a fortune, but it would be worth it if there is a good one of us girlies with Sarah.

Right after I took this picture, we moved up to the table and Sarah shook Brit's hand. "Well, hi! What's your name?"

"Brittney," Brit smiled.

"How old are you, Brittney?"

"I'm nine."

"I bet you're in the third grade, aren't you?"

"Yes." She was grinning from ear to ear. And she had her soccer t-shirt still on.

"You play soccer! That's is so great that you love soccer!"

I chimed in, "We actually just came straight from her game."

Sarah looked at me, "Oh, I'm so glad you came." Then she paused, "You have GREAT hair!"

I kind of laughed, "Thank you! And thank you for all you do. It's so wonderful to meet you." I wish I would have given her the same compliment back, because her hair did look really good. Us girls, you know. We connect over the important issues.  =^)

"Well, Brittney, it's so nice to meet you both. Thank you guys so much for coming out."

I shook her hand, in-between her furiously signing books. Then we both shook her husband, Todd's hand. He smiled warmly and thanked us. It was then that I took a note out of my pocket and handed it to him. "This is for Sarah. It's just a few things I wanted her to know." I slid it across the table. He looked a little surprised, and said another thank you. Sarah looked over and noticed, too.

You know, I wished I would have told her how much I pray for her and her family. But the note said that. I wish I would have told her how thankful I am that she stands up for what's right, when others compromise or just cave altogether. But the note said that, too. I wish I would have told her I want to sing the National Anthem for one of her events. But, that was also in the note.  =^)

And, I have to tell you, the Palins are everything I ever thought they would be. Warm, friendly, welcoming. There was no hint of "politician" or "schmoozing." It's like you were saying a quick hello to a longtime friend you just had a few moments with. And, I know you skeptics out there are going to say, "Well, that's because she's just a smooth politician."

You know what? Maybe. But I think it goes deeper. In our few brief seconds with Sarah, I saw a woman of faith, of passion, of caring, of warmth, a woman who can make a difference, a woman who is walking out the call on her life.

I saw a woman with God-confidence.

So, say whatever you want. I met her. I talked to her. I saw her relate to my daughter. I spoke with her and her husband. There is something different the radiates from a woman who is trusting God, who is filled with His Spirit, and who is confident in Him. Sarah is that woman.

I had so many things I had wanted to say. I wanted to snap a picture of her shoes. And I forgot all of it.

But it was worth standing in line. It was worth the wait. Brit even agreed it was worth the McDonald's drive-through instead of going to Famous Dave's with the boys. (Which is exactly what they did as soon as they dropped us off.) She loved meeting Sarah Palin.

And I'm still glowing from it. Because she's real, she's normal, she's us. Which I knew, but now I know.

She's a woman striving to make a difference... striving to remind people of what's right, what's good, what's moral, what's God-given. She's using the gifts and passions she's been given to make the biggest light she possibly can in our dark, dark world.

She's me.


(And she saw every. single. person that came to see her that night. Even the people without wristbands.)

P.S.
If you don't have her book yet, it's really, really good. Even if you're skeptical, you should read it.
Share this: