These Beautiful Pillows Bring The Love Home

One of my goals this year is to do more to make my home feel more loved, lived in, and organized. So, I’ve been on a quest to find items that can help give a more personal touch. I’ve been finding that Instagram has been a great resource during this search. In fact, that how I was introduced to the beautiful calligraphic designs at Parris Chic Boutique.

What I loved about the items is that many of the pieces combined scriptures and positive messages with key household decor items, like these hand-crafted pillows. In fact, I’ve rounded up six of my favorite love-focused designs to share with you.

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Keeping the Faith When Life Says “Nah”

Whether it is bad news at work, school, home, or in the world, it can be so hard to keep the faith and believe in anything good. Even when it seems that everything is going your way, it is inevitable that you will have to deal with a storm. How well you weather that storm is no doubt linked to your faith. Do you believe that things will get better? Do you believe that you will overcome?

For me, sometimes I have answered with a “Yes.” Other times, I have answered with a “No.” I am no stranger to telling God that I am not going to be able to make it out of a particular situation. But, somehow I did. It wasn’t easy but I did it. Through many difficult seasons, I have learned that there are some key ways to tap into and strengthen your faith.

Six ways to keep the faith in a difficult period

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Introducing the 13:13 Series

13_13 I’ve been thinking a lot about love lately. Not just what it means on the surface, but what the bible has to say about the word. It’s no surprise that this search led me to one of my favorite scripture passages, 1 Corinthians 13, which is all about love. This passage is so rich with words that help us understand what it means to love deeply and it concludes with this seemingly simple statement…

 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Faith, hope, and love are three pillars that are absolutely necessary to have in order to live a fulfilled life. In honor of this verse and in the lead up to Valentine’s Day, I have taken on the challenge of writing 13 blog posts in 13 days that touch on faith, hope, and love. I’ve wanted to do something special on the blog for February for the past few years, so I’m excited. I guess love has that effect on me.

Links to the posts are below:

Keeping the Faith When Life Says “Nah”

These Beautiful Pillows Bring the Love Home

The Courage to Hope

{Giveaway} Faith, Hope and Love Prints

15 Valentine’s Day Gifts under $50

Monday Motivation: Focus on Real Love

10 Ways to Do Good with Your Boo

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Elevating My Style & Beauty Game

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While browsing one of my favorite blogs, The Style and Beauty Doctor, I came across Danielle’s post listing out her 2016 style and beauty resolutions. Reading her list made me think in detail about what I wanted to accomplish this year in those two areas. Looking back at pictures from years ago, I noticed that my interest in my outward appearance took a dip as I took a step back from the social scene. During my pregnancy, I practically fantasized about reinventing myself after giving birth. Post-North West Kim Kardashian West was/is my muse. She was everything when she re-emerged with the blonde hair. Don’t remember? See here.

Yet, with all of that fantasizing, I never thought about writing clear goals for my style and beauty game. After thinking carefully, here are my top five focus areas for the year.

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Monday Motivation: Encourage Someone

A couple of years ago, I wrote one of my favorite “Monday Motivation” posts about the power of encouraging yourself when you are going through one of life’s many tests. In that post, I shared:

A winning mindset is the key to prospering today, tomorrow, and years from now. So, how will you speak life into your dreams and goals today? Take some time to really think about the answer. It could be one of the most important thoughts that you have today.

When it comes to speaking life, it is just as important that we also do that for the people in our circle. You never know how far a few positive words can go with someone who feels like giving up or who needs a little extra oomph to power through their day. I love these Encouragement Postcards from Lara Casey because they make it easy (and beautiful) to give a quick pick-me-up to my friends.

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I received two of these cards with my Powersheets and put them in the mail this morning for a couple of my girlfriends. I wanted more so I just ordered a set! They are perfect for sending small doses of inspiration on a regular basis and that’s why I love them. The great thing is that a set of 20 postcards is only $8 and 10% of the profits will benefit Love One Another Project.

How will you encourage someone this week?

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Photo: LaraCasey.com

Keeping Up with Bright Pink

There seems to be two types of people in this world: those who watch “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and those who don’t. I find myself in the former camp. I love watching KUWTK and have watched at least three episodes/day during maternity leave thanks to E!’s almost round-the-clock obsession with them. For all of the fun, glam, and drama offered up on the show, there are occasional moments when they discuss an issue of significance to someone outside of their family.

During last night’s episode, Kris convinces her girls to get tested for the BRCA1 gene, which can determine a person’s likelihood to develop breast and ovarian cancer. Given their family history of breast cancer, Kris believes that it is a wise thing for them to do from an early detection perspective. Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe follow suit, and they all learn that they are not carrying the gene.

While it turned out to be a happy ending for the “K Krew,” there are many women who find out the exact opposite. Do you remember when Angelina Jolie announced that she’d undergone a preventive double mastectomy? She made that decision after completing a similar test that revealed she had an 87% risk of developing breast cancer.

Although I don’t have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, I have known about the BRCA1 gene and testing for many years thanks to the efforts of Bright Pink. Bright Pink is the only national non-profit organization focused on prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women. It was founded by Lindsay Avner, who at the age of 23 became the youngest woman in the country to have a preventive double mastectomy after undergoing genetic testing to assess her risk for breast and ovarian cancer.

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Young KB supporting Bright Pink many, many moons ago…

Lindsay is one of my personal SHE-ros and the work that Bright Pink has done over the years has been phenomenal. Every year, the organization delivers educational presentations to women and health professionals across the country. I have had the opportunity to attend a few of these events and the information has been priceless. From breast self-exam tips to learning how to advocate for your health, I have learned so much!

Last night, I kept hoping that the Kardashian/Jenner clan might give a shout out to Bright Pink because duh… they are awesome. But, it didn’t happen. So, I’m giving that shoutout today. Check out the Bright Pink website to not only learn more about their work but to also find a breadth of resources, including a risk assessment tool.

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Caleb’s Charitable Birth Announcements

I used to hate getting my mail. It always seemed like nothing but endless bills, junk mail, and random offers. Recently though, wedding invitations, thank you cards, and birth announcements have started to break up the clutter of blah being delivered by my mail lady. I love receiving these little bits of sunshine and have tried to step up my correspondence game. So, before Caleb arrived, I already knew what kind of birth announcements that I wanted to mail out.

Many of my friends and colleagues have used Tiny Prints for their cards, so I snagged a credit for the site on Zulily and got to shopping. I had no idea that when I was ordering Caleb’s birth announcements that I would be helping children in need. However, that is exactly what happened when I selected these cute cards from Tiny Prints for our friends and family.

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Tiny Prints has a collection of birth announcements and stationery that helps to support the work being done by Baby2Baby, a non-profit organization that provides low-income children, ages zero to 12, with diapers, clothing and all the basic necessities that every child deserves. While I didn’t intentionally select this particular design for that reason, it serves as an added bonus.

I am so grateful that our family was both blessed with items that we needed and also in a financial position to buy anything that we didn’t get as gifts. I can’t imagine the stress and worry that many parents face when it comes to preparing for a new baby. Organizations like Baby2Baby serve a very important role and deserve all of the support that they can get. To learn more about the work they are doing, visit their website baby2baby.org.

Learn more about Tiny Prints partnership and check out all of the items in their charitable collection here.

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Five Tools That I’m Relying on For A Great Year

“Get your life together and keep it together.”

This is my mantra for the year. With so many moving parts in my life these days, I am being intentional about how I spend my time and my energy. As such, I knew that I couldn’t kick off 2016 without some helpful tools to keep me focused and on track. This is the first year where I have taken steps like this. It’s like they say… “If you want different results, then you have to do something different.”

Here are the five most important things that I am relying on to help me jumpstart this year and keep me focused on God, goals, and order.

5 Tools for 2016

  1. NIV Bible for Women ($23) – I already had a couple of Bibles, but I was looking for one that incorporated devotionals and lessons throughout. I learned about this Bible when a friend, Halleemah, shared the news that she was tapped to pen one of the devotionals. One of my goals is to spend at least 15 minutes each day with the Word, and this Bible is certainly helping me do so.
  2. Lara Casey’s Powersheets ($35) – I have been waiting to get my hands on these sheets for monthssss. In November, I finally snagged a six-month set and committed to using these to help guide my goal-setting for this year. What I love about them so far is just how thorough they are. This process has really challenged me to reflect on where I’ve been and what I want to change (and WHY). I’d love to dig deeper into how they are helping me, but think that it is best to save that for its own post.
  3. Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner ($58) – Planners are my friend. However, I’m pretty particular about what works for me. Last year, I went through three planners, including the Passion Planner, before settling on something that worked. For this year, I decided to up my planner game and find something that was cute, functional, and really addressed all my needs. Voila! My research lead me to this planner. I love it so far and really feel like I made the right decision.
  4. Colored Sharpies – You know how Pinterest can gas you up and think that you can do anything? Yeah, well, that is what happened to me when I thought that I could color-code everything in my planner without losing my mind. I color-coded ONE DAY of appointments and to-dos and was like, “Nah.” However, having colored Sharpies around is still incredibly beneficial. It has helped me highlight very important tasks and makes writing notes and thank you cards much more fun. They didn’t work out for my planner needs but I know that I am going to rely on them a lot this year.
  5. Podcasts – I am all about podcasts these days. Now that I’ve gotten the hang of things, I’ve decided to listen to them when I’m pumping or nursing. The two that I can’t do without are from Myleik Teele (Founder of curlBOX) and Mattie James of Mattieologie. Myleik has an incredible energy about her and she is a mentor-in-my-head. While she focuses a lot on business, she also delves into personal topics for a well-rounded batch of conversations. Mattie’s podcasts are dope because she focuses a lot on building your creative brand and blogging. As I dive back into blogging, I’m looking forward to using some of her tips.

How are you planning to make this your best year yet?

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Meet Caleb

Happy New Year! I hope that your 2016 is is off to an incredible start.

In 2015, I had a lot of challenging moments, but I also had one incredible one. On December 1st, I was blessed to give birth to a healthy and handsome baby boy named Caleb. He was born with ten toes, twelve fingers (a genetic thing four generations deep), and an incredible head of hair.

My delivery experience was more eventful than my entire pregnancy and it was certainly not what I expected. After all, I spent 40+ weeks waiting for my water to break and for contractions to just begin naturally. That is not what happened. At my 41 week appointment, my doctor noticed that Caleb’s amniotic fluid levels were low and sent me to the hospital that day in order to be induced. Before I left his office, one of the nurses told me that I was probably going to deliver via c-section. I laughed nervously, but clearly she knew what she was talking about.

Eighteen hours after being induced, I hadn’t made much traction on the labor front so the doctors decided that a c-section was the way to go. While I am recounting this story in a calm fashion, my nerves were on edge at the time. My contractions were having a negative impact on Caleb’s heartbeat and I ended up needing to be put on oxygen. Somehow, I managed to keep it together and only shed tears when my doctor was talking me through the c-section procedure. Thankfully, my family was there and surrounded me in prayer before they wheeled me out.

Upon arriving in the operating room, the incredible team prepped me and delivered Caleb in a matter of minutes. Due to his heart rate, they had to get him out of there very quickly. I don’t think that I consciously held my breath, but I don’t remember letting out a sigh of relief (and a sob) until I heard his little cry.

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And, like that, motherhood became HELLA real. When I met him for the first time, I just kept thinking how much he looked like me/my mother/my sister/my mother’s side of the family. It is crazy, y’all. But, it was also comforting. Although I know that my mom is always here in spirit, it’s like I have a chance to hug and kiss a little piece of her that heaven sent my way.

So, with those feelings in my heart, it is my mission to be the best person that I can be for his sake. He brings me so much joy and I cannot wait to watch him grow up into a handsome, smart, and God-fearing man.

P.S. Wondering the inspiration behind his name? Check out the scripture under his photo.

“But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.” – Numbers 14:24

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