Pass You By

Photography by  Madi Flournoy Henderson  || Top:  Hinge  || Shoes:  Target  || Jeans:  Madewell  

Photography by Madi Flournoy Henderson || Top: Hinge || Shoes: Target || Jeans: Madewell 

I have told you many times about my love for all things striped! This is especially true when those stripes are blue and white. Hello. I gravitate towards them every single time. Hinge (the brand, NOT the dating app) is one of my favorites from Nordstrom. So, you can only imagine my excitement when I found this striped peplum sweater hanging ever so perfectly in Nordstrom. I knew it was something that I couldn’t pass by.
While the holiday season is a time of joy and excitement, it brings mixed emotions for a lot of us. Indeed, for everything that is so magical about Christmas, it can also be one of the more stressful times of the year. I am no stranger to this feeling.

Because I am a school teacher, I know that stressed out feeling better than most. This time of year, my students somehow create a whole new level of LOUD. But I hate that in all their excitement, I just want them to be still. A stressed out teacher and loud noises is never a good combination. It makes me want to push them out the door and on to winter break. However, once May arrives and they head to the next grade, I will be begging for just a little more time. And because of that, I don’t want this special time of celebration for my kiddos to pass me by. I want to treasure these holiday moments with them.  
Similarly, I don’t want this Christmas season to pass you by. Don’t make the time spent with your loved ones and friends something you just check off your list. Shauna said it best when she wrote, “Don’t let this season pass without taking the time and energy and creativity and risk to speak plainly with the people you love about exactly what they bring to your life.” And that’s exactly what I want you to do. I pray you embrace the season instead of letting the stress get in the way. And I pray that we see that there is too much work to be done by showing love in His name than to worry about all the rest. 

"Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you" - Colossians 3:16

I Can Hear the Bells

Photography by  Madi Flournoy Henderson  || Dress:  Fab'rik

Photography by Madi Flournoy Henderson || Dress: Fab'rik

I love that bell sleeves are in style this season. They are the perfect addition to really make your look pop. They add that certain flair to an otherwise simple dress. This one from Fab’rik is sure to transition nicely from winter to spring. Let’s hear it for the bell sleeves!
In the midst of the holiday season, we grow accustomed to hearing the sound of bells. Bells in the music played on the radio in your car.  Bells blasting through the speakers at the mall. Bells in the choir loft as children sing Christmas hymns. Bells that ring as we sing that oh, so familiar tune, “jingle all the way.” And, of course, the bell you hear when the little girl on It’s a Wonderful Life says, “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.” These bells remind us that Christmas is here. But, are we celebrating or stressing?

There were no bells during the first Christmas. There were no holiday dresses. There were no Christmas dinners or Christmas trees. There wasn’t a need for all the fluff. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the fluff that comes with Christmas. But, I don’t want to love it so much that it takes away from the true joy of the season. 
At the end of the day on December 25th, it won’t matter that your presents weren’t wrapped to perfection. It won’t matter that Christmas dinner was a little bland. It won’t matter that you forgot to leave cookies for Santa.  Rather, the only thing that truly matters is the blessing we received on that very first Christmas. The birth of our King.
So, for the remainder of this holiday season, I hope that with every ring of a bell, you are reminded of Him. Your Savior, Jesus Christ. And not that to-do list that is a mile long. Not those presents that need to be purchased. Just the blessing that is Christmas. 

"When they saw the star, they were overjoyed" - Matthew 2:10

A Gift From The Heart

Photography by  Madi Flournoy Henderson  || Dress:  Fab'rik

Photography by Madi Flournoy Henderson || Dress: Fab'rik

With the holiday season upon us, so comes the stress of finding that perfect holiday party outfit (or, several outfits depending on how many parties you plan to attend this year!). I love a good holiday party full of decorations, friends and, of course, food. I also love this dress from Fab’rik. The length, the lace, the RED. It’s the perfect holiday dress for all occasions. 
One event I look forward to with my friends every holiday season is our little game of “Dirty Santa.” And every year it starts out the same. As the first few gifts are opened, most people sit back and act content with their selections. At some point, however, a brave soul speaks up to say, “I want that one!” Just as the first gift is stolen away, the fun truly begins. The laughter and excitement of this night provide some of my favorite memories of the season. I love watching the looks on my friends faces as the gifts on the table are opened and/or stolen away.

During this year’s Dirty Santa, we are changing things up a bit. One of our friends suggested that we use this precious time together to give back to our community. Specifically, she suggested that we bring a little something for a child in need, such as a toy or coat, in addition to our Dirty Santa gift. Coming as no surprise, the group quickly fell in love with this idea; and, now, the night will take on even more significance for me.
What my friend doesn’t know is that her little suggestion will not only serve as a gift to the handful of kids that might otherwise get nothing this Christmas, but it has already served as a gift to me. You see, after a very trying day, I needed the reminder that things could always be worse. I needed the reminder that there are people who need much more than me. I am so thankful for her giving heart that completely shifted my focus today.
Of course, I am going to encourage you to give back to those less fortunate this holiday season. But, I am also going to encourage you to give back to the people you love. Not through your wallets, but through your hearts. A heart that loves like He loves you is one of the greatest gifts of all. I pray it is a gift you give and also receive all season long.

But I am like an olive tree growing in God's house, and I can count on His love forever and ever. - Psalm 52:8