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Jan 30, 2014

Girl Talk // The Habit of Giving

last week, i sat in a meeting with some of our pastors at church and we planned out some of our financial updates for the year.  the subject of tithing came up and we started talking about how different generations view giving to the church.

our lead pastor put it like this:  tithing is like paying your bill at a restaurant…you wouldn't dine and dash, so you shouldn't go to church and not tithe.  and if tithing is your bill, then extra giving (to a special project or fund) is like leaving a tip…it's above and beyond your bill.

easy to say, sometimes harder to follow through on, right?

i remember when I first started tithing, shoving a crumpled one-dollar bill into the offering envelope at 10% of my $10 weekly allowance.  it seemed silly at the time, giving an offering of $1 each sunday, but it mattered.  for me, that small offering created a sense that tithing was a priority.

now, in my twenties, with college loan debt, bills to pay, gas to buy, hopes of travel and saving for a future, and of course, getting slightly larger paychecks than that $10 allowance, tithing is a lithe more complex.  that 10% isn't just a dollar anymore, and i'm gonna be honest…sometimes its tough to see that chunk leave my paycheck as soon as it comes in.

malachi 3:10 says "bring the whole tithe into the storehouse... test me in this... and see if i will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it."

sometimes giving at this stage of life is more about faith in what god has promised and relying on his providence than it is about having the extra income lying around.  it's about living in those promises and trusting god to "throw open the floodgates of heaven".

i know people who have had experiences where they've needed a certain amount of money and that exact amount happened to show up in their mailbox just when they needed it.  some might call those sorts of things coincidences but i firmly believe they're god's provision.  and it's stories like those that bring scripture to life for me.

i find that making giving a habit makes it easier to give in times of plenty and in times of want.  god promises to take care of us.  he asks that we be faithful to him, and that includes being faithful in our giving.  and for a god who promises "so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it", who am i to argue?

Jan 26, 2014

{Pin It} Loves as of Late

i'll admit that my pinterest use has definitely lessened since i first discovered it, but i still love the site for inspiration!  if you check out my pins as of late, you'll probably find a lot of wedding photography (thanks to a wedding aj & i shot last weekend), engagement rings (don't get excited…i've got a ways to wait yet), calligraphy (all day every day), and creative workspaces (thanks to my new little office area at work!).  here are some of those pins, sans the wedding-related ones.

(clicking on any of the images will take you to their original source as best as i could find it)


(what a quote to live by!)
(love this mug, and love that my work gives me a creative outlet!)
(i've been a fan of long champ bags since i can remember…maybe someday i'll fork over the cash and buy myself one…)
(am i the only one still a little obsessed with lorde?)
(this cold spell has got me in a sweater-jeans-and-a-scarf-and-no-i-don't-suffer-for-fashion-sorrynotsorry kind of funk.  i need to break out.)

Jan 21, 2014

Girl Talk // The Dreams You Don't Talk About [Repost]

i started my girl talk feature this summer, and originally posted this particular post at the end of july, and as i was going back through my blog archives today, i found it and remembered that it's one of my favorite girl talks!  it's also interesting to see where god has brought both aj & i in the past six months. i'm constantly amazed by how he knits together our lives so perfectly!



if you've ever had a dream in your life, you know...dreaming can be a scary thing.

dreams give you a glimpse of what your life could be and ask you to follow them without more than a bold hope and the promise of what could be.

one of the dreams i've had all my life has been to have a marriage like my parents' (they've been married almost 28 years and are the best of friends) and to be able to parent children who grow up knowing that they're loved not only by their family, but even more so by christ.

but it wasn't until i was in college, and about halfway through, that i felt comfortable talking about that dream with others.

you see, there's a vulnerability to realizing our dreams aloud.  for me, it was the worry of what others might think, that by wanting first and foremost to be a wife and mother, would mean relinquishing my intellect and potential to have a promising career in whatever field i chose.  that i was somehow shedding what so many women have fought so long and hard for in exchange for an apron and minivan.

it's that vulnerability that causes us to hole up our dreams, keeping them hidden for fear of what others might think or say.  no one wants their dreams crushed into a million tiny pieces, and so it's so much easier to hide them away than to risk the voices of insecurity and reality stomp all over them.

aj and i do a lot of talking about our future.  if i'm being completely transparent with you, i don't know what my dreams are right now.  sure, that dream for a family is still very present, but beyond that?  i don't know.  i have a degree in education, and i'd love to teach in an elementary classroom.  but i also have a passion for global nonprofit work, a creative energy for photography and design, a love of interior decorating, and a penchant for hosting and planning events.

so if you figure out how to wrap all of that up into one career, let me know.

aj, on the other hand, has a very specific dream.  he wants to one day work in a studio as a producer or recording engineer.  and in about a month, he's heading to boston to continue his education at berklee college of music as a step toward achieving that dream.

both of those situations are scary.  mine, because i just don't know what the next step is.  his, because it requires risk and that bold hope.

at the bottom of it all, though, god desires the best for us.  he gives us dreams and puts people in our path who can encourage us and help us achieve them.  and if you're seeking jesus in everything you do, then the dreams that are of him will align with his plan for your life.

no matter how scary your dream is, i guess the question you have to ask yourself is this:  is it worth the risk?  because there's risk in every part of dreaming: from the time that you realize that you even have a dream to the day that you tell others about it to the moment you begin to work toward making it happen.

if the answer to that question is "yes", then start.  start talking to others (because there's accountability in that!), start figuring out what you need to do to make it happen, start praying hard.

too often we rob ourselves of the joy of dreaming because of the fear of failure and judgment.  don't you think it's time to start chasing your dreams?

Jan 20, 2014

My Best Friend's Big Day

i shared some iphone photos from jen's wedding a few weeks ago, but i actually did get a chance to take some photos with my camera as well!  jen's photographer was arriving a little later in the day than we could wait to start getting ready, so i brought my camera along so that she'd at least have a few photos from that part of the day.  

getting ready was so much fun.  we spent a few hours doing our hair and makeup, and getting more and more excited for the afternoon to come.  i've been in other weddings and i've photographed weddings, and have loved every part of each of them, but there's just something so special about your best friend getting married, you know?!

so here are a few photos from the morning of january 4th…didn't she look gorgeous??

Jan 18, 2014

Photos from a Chilly Day

i've been feeling that itch to get out and use my camera this week.  i feel like this urge always hits right when everything is brown and dead and kind of boring.  and to be honest, sometimes i'm a little lazy and i just don't feel like driving somewhere to take photos for a few minutes. (anybody else feel that?  i can't be the only one….)

anyway, this morning i decided to challenge myself to find something to capture in the area around our house.  i took ollie out with me, and he kind of ended up becoming the subject of the day, which was fun since we really don't have many photos of him that weren't taken with an iphone.

Jan 17, 2014

Customizing Your Blog // Changing the Case of Your Date & Post Headers

if you host your blog on blogger, you know that customizing can sometimes be a pain.  i can't tell you how many times i've fought and fought with the backend of my blog, and then found some round-about way to make the tiniest change.

but those tiny changes are what makes your blog you.  so here is a simple tutorial of how to customize your date and post headers by changing the case.

first, you want to open up your template.  you can do this by going to your blog's dashboard, choosing "template" from the left-hand sidebar, and then clicking "customize" under the screenshot of your blog.
 once you're into the template, find "advanced" on the left-hand menu, then scroll down and choose "add css".  (css is a type of code language that is used to alter the look and formatting of a web page)  there are tons of different css codes that you can add to create changes to your blog.  this one will help you change the case of your title and date headers.
if you'd like for all of your post title headers to be lowercase, copy and paste this code into the css editor:

.post-title {
text-transform:lowercase;
}

if you'd like for all of your date headers to be lowercase, copy and paste this code into the css editor:

.date-header {
text-transform:lowercase;
}

(if you'd like either of these headers to be all caps, simply change the "lowercase" to "uppercase" in the css editor)

you can also change the alignment of your headers by adding "text-align:center/right/left;" into the coding like this:  

.date-header {
text-align:center;
text-transform:lowercase;
}

.post-title {
text-align:center;
text-transform:lowercase;
}

(this exact code would center align your date and post headers, and make both of them all lowercase)

css takes a little bit of getting used to to really understand it, and there are plenty of tutorials out there that can help you write it from scratch, but sometimes it's just easier to find little snippets of code that allow you to tweak little things on your blog!  i hope his helps!

if you have any questions, feel free to let me know in the comments section!

Jan 16, 2014

Sponsor Spotlight & Link-Up // Ashley

i'm super excited to introduce you to ashley of the grits blog today!  she is sweet as can be, and she's here to tell you a little bit about herself and her blog, and cohost the "little friday linkup"!  so meet ashley and linkup with us today!


Hello There,

My name is Ashley - I started and write The Grits Blog - with an occasional guest post. To be honest - I suck at writing these "about" posts. It just feels awkward. So if it's cool with you - I am just going to answer a few common questions that I get often. If there is still more that you want to know, then hit me up via social media or email!



(1) How did you meet your husband?

Chris and I have known each other since we were small kids. Growing up our parents had beach cabins next door to each other, so we would always be outside playing with all the kids from the street. When we were 15/16 we finally noticed each other as more than just the guy/girl next door...shocker at that age - I know... and it was all down hill from there! We were together on and off all through high school and college. After college I got an amazing job offer in Atlanta and since Chris had not proposed I decided to take the job opportunity. Then three months later, he drove up from Florida and proposed - and now here we are!

(2) Why did you start The Grits Blog?
I LOVE READING BLOGS - so much so that it's probably become a bit of a problem. I also like to talk about makeup, food, and hair - and I think everyone around got me sick of talking about it all the time. So I created my outlet - The Grits Blog! I get asked a lot - do I ever run out of stuff to write? The answer is no - because it's like this, have I tried every product at Ulta or eaten every recipe? NOPE - so no worries, I have ton to say and plan on keeping this blog around for a good, long while. 

(3) Where did you go to school?
F-L-O-R-I-D-A S-T-A-T-E, Florida what! Florida State! Florida State! Florida State! Wooo! I am a die hard FSU fan and going to school there was the most challenging, but the best experience of my life. 

(4) How many pets do you have?
I have three precious lambs. Romeo, Leo, and Roxy. Romeo is french bulldog and lives up to his name - he is such a a FLIRT. Leo is a chihuahua and is my little buddy. He's my little shadow and goes EVERY where with me. Roxy is a pitbull mix and is Chris's dog - but in her heart we both know who she loves the most (me). They are my sweeties and I love them so much! They are my furry children. 


    The Grits Blog (Follow here!)                         Heavens To Betsy (Follow here!)

Rules are there are no rules! 

Please link-up to whatever you like! 

All that we ask is, if you wish, please follow us via the links above and that you link back to this blog - so that other's can join in and mingle! 

Happy Little Friday Everyone!

The Grits Blog

Jan 14, 2014

Philly Lights

after christmas, aj and i met my parents and my aunt and uncle down in philly to take a look at some of the lights.  we walked around the christmas village at love park, took some photos by the tree, watched the christmas show in the comcast center (a pretty neat 3d video show that is displayed on one of the walls in their atrium), and then drove around the city and looked for lights in neighborhoods.  i just finally pulled the photos off of my camera (yes, i actually took my camera! woohoo!), so here's a little belated christmas cheer!

Jan 13, 2014

The Date List: Boston Edition

since aj moved to boston to attend berklee, i've been fortunate enough to visit him a few times.  when i go up to visit, i try to make it as long of a trip as possible, and it's always awesome when i can visit for the better part of a week.

we're pretty chill when it comes to what we do, and we honestly usually end up grabbing dinner somewhere, walking around the city (or one of our neighborhoods when he's home in reading), and watching tv or a movie at home.  but like any girl, i like to go out on dates once in a while, especially when i'm getting to see my boyfriend who i haven't spent time with in a few weeks!  so here are a few date ideas that are on our list (or that we've done and loved) for boston.

1.  museum of science // astronomy nights
one of the things aj and i have always loved doing is stargazing, so the museum of science's free astronomy nights (hosted on friday nights from march-mid-november) is an obvious choice.  on clear nights, they offer free stargazing from the observatory on the roof of the museum's parking garage.  when the weather isn't cooperating, the museum offers after-hours tours of the observatory and fun astronomy-themed activities.  // funny anecdote about this date idea:  we actually tried to go to one in november and walked about four miles to the north end to grab dinner before we headed to the museum.  the restaurant we were going to had a line about half a block long and it was cold, so we ended up picking up dessert-to-go at mike's pastry (go here if you're ever in the boston area!!) and then casually walking back to the prudential center and grabbing dinner there.  it was only after we were seated at the restaurant that i looked at aj and exclaimed "astronomy night!".  we had a good laugh when we realized that we had completely forgotten about our original plan!

2.  north shore // take the train to rockport
i spent four years attending college on boston's north shore and know the area well.  aj and i have visited my old stomping grounds when we've attended weddings in the area, and one our favorite places to go is rockport.  it's about an hour-long train or car ride up to this little town, but totally worth it.  nestled on the coast, rockport is everything you could want in a quintessential new england town:  fresh seafood, salty ocean air, rock jetties, and one of the most photographed buildings in the country.  // fun fact: the scenes set in sitka, alaska from the proposal were filmed in rockport while i was in college just a few miles away!

3.  isabella stewart gardener museum // courtyard & galleries
while neither of us are huge art museum people, the isabella stewart gardener museum might be one of my favorites ever.  i've been, but aj hasn't, which makes this museum a must-go.  it's housed in this old mansion and is home to one of the most storied art thefts in recent american history.  but the reason it makes the date list isn't the art; it's the architecture.  this is one of the most beautiful museums i've ever been in.  it has a grand garden courtyard located in the center of the building that makes you wish you could live there and spend every day in this tiny oasis.

4.  prudential center // top of the hub
the prudential center sits in the heart of the back bay area of boston and is one of the tallest buildings in the city.  one of the top floors features an observation deck and restaurant with great views of the entire city below.  we've heard from one of aj's roommates that the restaurant has a fantastic (and affordable) sunday brunch menu and we've been hoping for an opportunity to go try it out. 

5.  fenway park // catch a red sox game
whether you're a fan of baseball or not, it's hard to resist the energy and excitement of a red sox game.  we love just walking around the stadium toward the end of games (aj lives just three blocks away from the stadium), and were even lucky enough to be handed free tickets to catch the last few innings once!  we also have enjoyed grabbing a burger at the bleacher bar, a tiny little spot located in the center field wall.  if you can't afford tickets to a sox game, i recommend snagging a table at the bleacher bar…the food is decent and you get to watch the game just feet from the grass!  but if you can snag tickets, do it, because this park is one of the oldest and coolest i've ever been in.  there's an incredible amount of energy that just pumps out of the park and no matter who you're rooting for, you'll have a blast.

do you live in boston?  what are your favorite date ideas for the city?  what's on your list of things to do?  what are your favorite date ideas that can be done anywhere?

Jan 11, 2014

Help! // RIP to my Flat Iron

i was straightening my hair the other day and something just wasn't right with my straightener.  the little "heating" light was blinking and it wasn't as hot or working as well as normal.  after lightly tapping on one of the plates, i realized it wasn't hot at all (total bummer), and so i managed to get through the rest of my hair and haven't touched my iron since.  as a girl who uses her flat iron every day (at least on my bangs), this was kind of the worst.

clearly, i need to find a replacement, and soon.  but here's the deal:  i've been through no fewer than three flat irons since i graduated high school seven years ago, and while two and a half years isn't a terrible lifespan, i'd really like to find a product that's going to last!  i'm considering investing in a chi, because i've heard great things, but i'm also looking for suggestions….

so what straightener do you use?  do you love it?  why?  help!

Jan 10, 2014

Girl Talk // Five Things for the New Year

hey girls!

welcome to the first girl talk of 2014.  crazy to think that this new year is underway (we're over a week in…what on earth?!?).  i'm not really one for new years resolutions; i never end up keeping them and honestly, usually forget about them by february.

but i am a fan of setting goals for yourself, and this year, i'd like to work on who i am as a person.  after all, this is the year that i turn 25 (which seems really unbelievable to me.  didn't i just finish high school?  where did college go?  and i'm done with grad school too?  aren't i supposed to be settled into a career by now? haha…anyone else feeling this way?)

anyway, i digress…goals, yes...

here are five that i have…

1.  be teachable.
i work in a job that i'm pretty new at, and on a team that gets a lot of critical feedback.  we plan events and weekly services, and that means we hear opinions from everyone, sometimes unsolicited.  i've never been especially great at taking criticism.  i have a hard time not being offended or hurt by someone's critical comments, and so i'd like to work on changing my attitude towards criticism from defensive to teachable.  it's hard to remember when being critiqued that not everyone is out to get you, and most of the time, the critic is just trying to be helpful.  so i'm going to try to remember to be gracious in the face of feedback that i don't agree with or like and look at in instead as a teachable moment.

2.  be gentle.
a few nights ago, i was out to dinner with a few friends and one of the girls brought up a conversation that she and her mother had had recently.  her mother had made the comment that our generation can often be obnoxious and sarcastic, often to the point where it comes across as rude.  i'm ashamed to say that i can see her point, and fear that i, too, can take the road of sarcasm all too frequently.  so, one of my goals is to have a gentle spirit.  i'd like to work on becoming the type of person that brings tranquility to those she is around.  1 peter 3:4 says "rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in god's sight."  if god values a gentle and quiet spirit as being of great worth, then i see it as something to definitely strive toward!

3.  be reliable.
meetings, deadlines, a demanding schedule.  do you ever have those moments when it all swirls around you and you feel like all the balls you're juggling are starting to slip from your grasp?  i think it's really easy to let things slide in those hectic moments, and i know i've fallen into a haphazard pattern of not always being on time or not always meeting deadlines (particularly the ones i set for myself).  so i'm going to work on getting back to being reliable, holding myself accountable, giving myself plenty of time to get places, and being early for things!

4.  be alone. 
i don't know about you, but my life gets really, really busy sometimes.  to be honest, i like it that way! but a busy schedule (and being a total extrovert) often means that i don't take time to just be alone, be quiet, and rejuvenate.  i have a list of books i'd love to read and a list of projects i'd love to work on, and so i'd love to take steps towards scheduling time for me (and sticking to those "me dates"!) so i can start checking things off those lists.

5.  be intentional.
i am lucky enough to have friends all over the place.  having gone to college in massachusetts, i was able to meet people from all areas of the country, some of which are now living in all areas of the world!  what i'm not always great about is being intentional about keeping in touch and being a friend from a distance.  i can't tell you how many times i've realized a birthday passed by and i never sent that card that i intended to.  or how many times i've said "we need to do this more often!" after a coffee date with a friend and then not talked to them for two months.  facebook and social media allow us to feel connected without actually being so, and it makes me sad when i think about the friends i once lived with and how i rarely even see or talk to them now.  i'm hoping this year to be more intentional about keeping friendships alive and strong and showing my friends, both near and far, that i really do care about them and our friendship!

since i started this feature in july, i've always aimed for it to be a space to share my heart, and with any luck, create conversation.  one of my absolute favorite things is having people comment on these posts and getting to dialogue about whatever the topic may be.  So, i want to know….what are your goals for yourself this year?

Jan 9, 2014

Design

Over the past few years I've been honing and expanding my graphic design skills through my job and this blog and just for fun!  AJ is also a graphic designer, and we're working on creating a freelance business (check out our site here).  For Jen's shower, I designed a few Bridal Party table games, which have sort of blown up on Pinterest (thanks so much if you've pinned them!).  I'm totally blown away by the response they've gotten so far, so I thought I'd share a few more things that I've designed recently!

Some Invitations:
 A print quote project for my boss:
Our family's Christmas Card:
And a Sermon Illustration:

If you can't tell, I particularly love designed for print.  AJ is much better at Logo design and web design (he's currently building an awesome website for a percussionist at Berklee and built the Fick Design Studio website), so together, we cover most of the bases.  If you're ever in need of design (web, print, or otherwise) services, head over to our website and fill out a form!  We'd love to help you out!
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