Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Recommended Read: The Unfurling

I read a lot.

That's a huge understatement, but I don't know how else to put it in a way that you will actually understand how much I love to read and how often I fit it into every bit of time that I can. It can be a problem for me. I have to limit myself -- even when it comes to the Bible. Seriously. I can get caught up in too much reading and learning and not enough doing

With that said, it's about time that I started recommending some books on here. They will mostly be nonfiction, because I tend to read the same fiction ones over and over. :)

Today's recommendation is by an author whom I actually know in real life. How cool is that? We met for the first time in person at the Influence Conference and she was everything I thought she'd be (in the best way). I'm talking about the beautiful Annie Wiltse, author of the blog what she saw and her new e-book, The Unfurling.



This book is a refreshing, beautifully written collection of essays that pointed me to Jesus in a variety of ways. From talking about fear in the midst of mission trips to discussing dating relationships and purity, Annie approaches a spread of relatable topics with a lovely mix of wisdom and grace.

I'll share with you a few quotes, but to get the full effect you obviously have to read the whole thing, which is a steal for the price she's asking. :)

First of all I loved what she lays out for her readers in her intro:

"I say 'maybe' a lot in this book, because I’m learning, because these are 
lessons on the life lived open, not absolute determinations I arbitrarily pulled 
from space and time. And my hope, my desperate, raw prayer, is that my 
heart lain open here will give you the grace to breathe and the courage to 
chase Him anew."

This next quote really hit home for me as I've been thinking about authenticity a lot lately. 

"I’m finding that out about myself, too, that I can be as quirky as I like, 
as long as I don’t compromise myself or what I believe in."

She expounds more on this idea which was one of my favorite parts of the book for sure. And then this declaration of what she believes, well just wow:

"I believe in a God whose every quality goes beyond our understanding, 
whose love, grace, and mercy I do not deserve, whose anger and judgment I 
fear, who gave His life for my sake and who wants nothing less than the 
willing surrender of my own if I choose to follow Him."

If I could insert the raise-the-roof emoji right here I absolutely would. AAAAMEN!

Annie addresses some fears of hers, but instead of making her look afraid it absolutely shows how very BRAVE she is. 

"I praise God through tears as I lay down the fear of being single forever. 
It’s a fight to sing the words but I mean them with broken authenticity."

I loved her thoughts on marriage, relationships, singleness, and purity. We had excellent discussion about all of this at the conference so I was QUITE pleased that she talked about it in this book. 

I think that one of the quotes that best sums up the idea of The Unfurling is this next one:

"What if possibility is camouflaged in the mundane, secreted in the pockets of 
time we think are wasted? Or maybe the ones we never notice at all?"

Yes. Yes. And yes. This is so hard to learn, but Annie lets us in on her journey to surrender to Christ and how she is boldly serving Him in the most seemingly mundane activities. Don't we all feel like this at times? I mean she talks about living the gospel on a sales floor, in the midst of angry customers. Yeah.

I could go on and on, but I don't want to quote the whole thing! Annie is an inspiration and I am so glad to have read her book. The Unfurling truly was a breath of fresh air. Like I said, it is a steal and can be bought and read right this very second here on her website. :)

Look for more book recommendations to come! There may be affiliate links in here someday, but that day is not today. Annie gave me the book but I am in no way receiving compensation for talking about it. All opinions (as always) are my own! 

Ashley

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Respecting my Husband: His Confidence

I'm doing a 31 day series about Respecting my Husband! To read about why I should respect him and go to a list of all 31 days, please visit my 31 Days of Respecting my Husband post.


Day 16: Respecting His Confidence

I know that I have emphasized encouragement and support throughout this series, but today is going to be all about that. I should be my husband's biggest fan!

This is easy when you're dating because you're both putting your best feet forward, showing each other your best sides. Then when you become more and more comfortable with each other, especially in marriage when you are committed, live together, and share a room, it gets different. We are exposed to all of each other's faults and bad habits. One of my biggest issues in life is being too comfortable with people I'm close to -- taking things out on them, not thinking before I speak, using an angry tone, etc. And I have definitely let that creep into my relationship with Jordan.

One demeaning phrase can break down his confidence in a second. Yes, he can forgive me, but it can still stick in his mind. James 3:2-10 points out how much of an impact the tongue can have -- such a little part of the body, but it can do much damage. This is definitely true with my marriage. 

This doesn't mean that I have to be positive in a fake and phony way all of the time. I can be honest, genuine, and authentic with my husband, telling him how I feel when necessary, discussing hard things. But I can be respectful and supportive at the same time. Actually think about how words may come across to him before I say them. Be tactful. Watch my tone. And yes, some of those things may have to be forced and will seem fake to me if I'm not used to it. But with the help of the Holy Spirit these can be formed into good habits. My mind can become accustomed to thinking through what I say and saying it in a respectful way. And when I focus on the love I have for my husband in spite of whatever difficult moment we are having, it won't be fake. 

Respecting his confidence also means showering him with compliments. Letting him know when I notice wonderful things about him or his actions. Being free with laughter and smiles, especially when he is the cause. Feeling his muscles. Never ceasing to be impressed by his skills and telling him about it. Cheering him on. Compliment, compliment, compliment. Complimenting him in private. In public. With family. With friends. Like I said -- I'm his wife, his biggest fan! I don't want him to forget it. 

Does this mean I never address him with concerns that the Lord has laid on my heart? Of course not. We are married to give God glory. For our sanctification. To point each other to Christ. But in my opinion, the building up should far exceed the reproofs. 

How can we build our husbands' confidence today?




Ashley

Friday, November 8, 2013

My First Stitch Fix - I Need Your Help!

So here's the thing. I'm on a mission. A mission to have a simple, functional, quality wardrobe. One that doesn't include a bunch of clothes I don't wear, or that have stretched out/lost color.

I didn't buy any clothes in 2012. That truly helped me figure out what I actually wear -- my go-to pieces. I've never been a huge shopper anyway, but it made me realize that I do not in fact need to try out every trend or get clothes just because they are on clearance and a great deal. I needed to learn how to shop smart.

Enter Stitch Fix. I was introduced to them at the Influence Conference this year and knew I had to try it out.

Here's their description from Facebook:
"Stitch Fix has re-invented shopping, the way women really want to shop. Keep your wardrobe up-to-date with no hassle. You give us your size and style preferences, and your stylist sends you a selection of 5 items picked just for you. Try everything on at home, and only pay for w hat you want to keep! Free shipping both ways and a 25% discount if you buy all 5 items."

So I went to their website and made a style profile. This part was so fun! It was much more in depth than I thought it would be. It asked me all about my likes and dislikes, my body type, what I'm looking to incorporate into my wardrobe, my price range, and even what parts of my body I like to have covered up! (insert raise-the-roof emoji) It showed me examples of style boards and asked me what I liked out of the examples. They even take my Pinterest board into consideration! It was an excellent way for me to work out for myself what my style truly is. (Mine is a mix of casual chic/classic/edgy with a little boho and preppy thrown in! Haha.)

The way that they can do all of this is that they set me up with a Stitch Fix stylist who gets to know me through my style profile. The stylist takes all of my ideas and comments and comes up with 5 items to send me in my "fix". I told her when I filled out my profile that for this fix I was looking mainly for tops. Say you have an upcoming event and need a dress -- you can let your stylist know to focus on that for the fix. It's whatever you want!

Alright, enough with the talk. Let's get to pictures! I set my fix date for November 7th, and sure enough it arrived on that day much to my happiness. 








Here's my Stitch Fix stylist note. I love how the whole experience was extremely personalized. I didn't get some random box of clothes that hopefully I would like -- thought and effort were obviously put into this box just for me! Thanks, Jill. :)





And then I opened up the pretty packaging and was instantly oohing and ahhing over the pretty patterns laying before me!




These are the lovely Stitch Fix pieces that my stylist Jill picked out for me to try on. 

A Dantine striped skirt.


This Cheyanne printed dolman sleeve cardigan.


A Marci zig-zag print tab-sleeve blouse.


A Stevenson polka dot crew neck sweater.


And this MacArthur leopard trim hi-lo blouse.



One thing that I really love about the process is that Stitch Fix goes one step further and includes style cards for each item of clothing with suggestions for how to style it. So handy!




So without further ado, here's me being a big dorko in my living room trying on my Stitch Fix clothes. As you can see, I am no fashion blogger. Ha. I didn't accessorize much for the pictures, but I did try to make outfits that I would actually wear in real life by pairing them with items I already own.




I like this sweater more than I thought I would and it is SO COMFY. Jordan liked it too.




I liked this shirt okay (especially the sleeves), but it wasn't my favorite of the bunch.




As you can see, this skirt has a pocket (kinda like a front hoodie pocket) that I love. I also like how it can be dressed up or more casual, and I think I could wear it year round. I'm glad the stripes were angled in a flattering way in the front so my bottom half didn't look like a big stripey box!



They had suggested pairing a chambray shirt with the skirt which I probably never would have done, but actually really liked. :)




My black, skinny, cigarette pants are not currently clean or else I would have gone for an all black look with this hi-lo top. I really liked this one! It's sheer so I put on a black tank underneath. I love the leopard accents on the cuffs and button down part. 




I liked this cardigan, especially the colors. It is super comfy, but definitely billow-y. Jordan said it kinda looked like a robe, haha. What do you think?




So there ya have it. What a great first fix!

What I loved about the Stitch Fix process:
  • I didn't have to go to the mall and hunt for these items. (This could really benefit you moms out there.)
  • It was completely personalized for me.
  • It was fun!
  • I was able to pick my price range (which is low, let's just say it), but still get high quality pieces. The "styling fee" is $20 which then goes toward what you purchase which is great.
  • I could focus on these five pieces instead of looking through piles of clothes and picking things just because they're on sale (which adds up and defeats the purpose!).
  • It is so great to be able to try clothes on with the clothes I already have! So often I hold something up in a store thinking, "I really like this, but what in the world would I wear it with?" The style cards and being in my own home made it so easy to think about the practicality of the items.
  • I have time to think about what I want to get. I am a HORRIBLE decision maker when it comes to buying stuff and usually end up standing in a store thinking about pros and cons for 15 minutes only to give up. This way I had no pressure to decide at that moment, and I have three business days to think about it!
  • My husband was able to give me his input without going shopping with me. He actually enjoyed the fashion show. :)
  • I was a little wary of if the clothes would fit or not, but they all did! I can be such a weird size (Can someone please invent a smedium?) but my stylist truly took my height and body type into account.
  • Free shipping, and being able to send the clothes I don't want right back to them with the bag they provided. 
  • They want good feedback from me to influence my next fix if I choose to get another one. (I will!)
  • It's not a subscription -- you just get "fixes" when you want them! No membership or fees. Yay.


So what do you think? Will you help me decide what to keep? 




I am not receiving compensation for this post, but will get credit for Stitch Fix if you use my referral link :) All opinions are my own and are what I really think, as always!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Respecting my Husband: His Dreams

I'm doing a 31 day series about Respecting my Husband! To read about why I should respect him and go to a list of all 31 days, please visit my 31 Days of Respecting my Husband post.


Day 15: Respecting His Dreams

I recently wrote about how God doesn't call us to follow our dreams, but to follow Him. At the same time, He made us uniquely and knows our wants and desires. He knows them better than we do ourselves! For instance, God knows I love working with teenagers and college students and can help me do that for His glory. He made us with desires, passions, and gifts to glorify him! So that doesn't mean I just throw my dreams out the window, I just need to surrender them to Him. Align my desires with what HE wants and not just what I want. 

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." (Ps. 37:4) The first and foremost part of that verse is delighting myself in the Lord.

In light of all this, I can respect my husband by supporting his dreams. We can help each other discover our passions, our gifts that God has given us. To cultivate them and explore how God wants us to use them. But sometimes we can go through the day to day not spending any thoughts on dreams, and before we know it a year has gone by. Or five years. And we're still wondering what God wants to do with us.

First of all, this whole thing with "finding God's will" is truly just an every day surrender. It's not some mystical idea that will one day pop into my head. His will is laid out for me in the Bible! All I have to do is read it. I can expound upon that on a later date, but I just wanted to clarify. :)

Along with the act of daily surrendering to follow Jesus, we can work through and explore our dreams for His glory. This is what I can help my husband do. I can ask him about them. Do I even know what his dreams are? And not just a "where do you see yourself in five years" question, but questions like, "What has God burdened you with?" or "If you could go anywhere or do anything for God taking money out of the question, where or what would it be?" Or, "What are your dreams for our family?"

And then I can support him in those dreams. Dream with him. Encourage him. Pray with him about them. It would seriously make a good date night! That's the kinda stuff you do when you're dating, why should it stop then? No matter what age you are, you can dream! We can write them down, talk about action steps, make a "mission statement" for our family. Get excited about what God can do through your family and marriage! I know I am. :)




Ashley

Monday, November 4, 2013

November Goals - Follow HIM

I finally sat down and worked through Lara Casey's "Make It Happen" booklet that she made for us at the Influence Conference. It was a lot about dreams, fears, and goals - but in a Christ centered way. SO refreshing. 

With phrases like "Follow Your Heart" and "Follow Your Dreams" floating around everywhere in this world (and on Pinterest) it's easy to become focused on what I want and what my plans are for my life. The life that was given to me by a loving Creator. By the One who redeemed me from my sinful self. The same sinful self that apparently has all the right plans? No. I do not, in fact, know what's best for me. I've tried that. It wasn't pretty.
Being a follower of Christ is a full-time thing. It's not something to throw in to the mix of my life and think happy thoughts about once in a while. It affects EVERYTHING I do. 
"Then Jesus told His disciples, 'If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" - Matthew 16:24-26
It's not about me. Actually, let me rephrase that: I don't want it to be about me. Because, yes, I am going to have selfish times. While I'm here on this earth I'm going to struggle with my flesh. But Christ is inviting me to surrender to what He wants, to walk in the Spirit. To forsake what my flesh wants and have an eternal perspective. 
I'm saved by grace through faith. I'm covered in God's grace. I now have Jesus' righteousness in place of my filthiness. But it doesn't just stop there. I won't just sit and wait and play it safe. I want that abundant life that Jesus talks about in John 10:10. Abundance that comes through surrender
When talking about goals in the booklet that she gave us, Lara Casey told us to ask these three questions about our goals:

I love these questions. They are convicting, challenging, and Christ-centered. They build an excellent lens to look through when crafting goals - short term or long term. 

So here are some of my November goals:
  • Set apart time in God's Word and for prayer journaling each day.
  • Work on BSF 3-4 days of the week. 
  • Devote 30 min. to one hour to cleaning the house each weekday. 
  • No dishes left in the sink at night.
  • Finish Respecting my Husband series.
  • Finish my one year Bible reading plan (that turned into two years).
  • Make sure to set apart time with the Lord during our three trips this month. 
  • Take Christmas card pictures and order cards.
  • Send three hand-written notes (thank you/encouragement) per week. 
  • Plan meals each week.
  • Finish planning new blog design.
  • Post on blog each weekday.
  • Work out at least four times per week.
  • Set apart at least 30 min. each weekday to answer emails.
  • Finish planning Christmas shopping and budget.
  • Plan youth group movie night and youth group girls' day. 
  • DON'T start another book until I finish the ones I'm already reading. :) 
These are small things - not grand in any way. But I'm learning to be faithful in the little things for the Lord and for our family. (Luke 16:10) I'm a big idea person and sometimes I can become too focused on dreaming and not on the small things. 

What are some of your November goals?

I'm linking up with Hayley at The Tiny Twig to share goals. I like how she talked about setting three must-do goals each day and not being overwhelmed. Such a great idea.

Happy November from the Shelleys! We had a wonderful time in the mountains of NC this past weekend. :) Hope you enjoyed your extra hour on Sunday!
Ashley

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...