Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Beach Must Haves: Tunes

Its almost here. I can pretty much smell the beach already. Saturday morning will be a blessing. One thing though is for sure, I love music: Folk, Top 40, Oldies, Country, Christian, 90s, Rock - okay, you get the point.

So when thinking about approximately a 10 hour drive to the beach, the music you listen to is important. I find my biggest struggle is finding appropriate music. Now, the Bible does not spell out a playlist for you, but it does set out guidelines for life that teach us how to evaluate the content of the music we listen to:

1 Corinthians 10:23 explains it this way:
"All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up.
And Romans 14:13:
"Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother." 
When I look for music, I try to find songs that are helpful, build up, and is not going to cause another to stumble in their faith.

Now for the part you really want, suggestions to add to your playlist. Admittedly, I am going to be in a car of all girls, so boy bands and Spice Girls are always fair game. So here are my suggestions:

More Recent Stuff/Top 40:

Keep Your Head Up - Andy Grammar
Fine By Me - Andy Grammar
The Outsiders - NEEDTOBREATHE
Drive All Night - NEEDTOBREATHE
Slumber - NEEDTOBREATHE
Don't You Worry Child - Swedish House Mafia
Wannabe - Royal Tailor
Me Without You - TobyMac
On Top of the World - Imagine Dragons

Country:

Knee Deep - Zac Brown Band
Blue Clear Sky - George Strait
It Must Be Love - Alan Jackson
There's Your Trouble - Dixie Chicks
Days Go By - Keith Urban
Passenger Seat - SHeDaisy
Something Like That - Tim McGraw
Why Don't We Just Dance - Josh Turner
Springsteen - Eric Church
Southern Comfort Zone - Brad Paisley


Older But Still Good:
Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond
Good Vibrations - The Beach Boys
I'm A Believer - The Monkees
Superstition - Stevie Wonder
You're My Best Friend - Queen
Uptown Girl - Billy Joel
(What A) Wonderful World - Sam Cooke
The Longest Time - Billy Joel
I Want You Back - Jackson 5
Bring It All Back - S Club 7
I Want You Back - NSYNC
Larger Than Life - Backstreet Boys
MMMBop - Hanson

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Beach Must Haves: The Essentials

Okay, so the other day I started a mini-series on my spring break plans.

Today, I'm continuing it, talking about the things that any beach trip requires.

And the top list is as follows:
Beach Essentials

So starting from the top left and working clockwise:

Beach Towels

I tend to be rather particular about my beach towels. I mean I don't feel like I'm asking for the moon when looking for a. longer than my 5'2" b. cute c. reasonably priced. So when these came up on Target online (similar ones are sold in store) I couldn't pass up the chance, plus the last time I bought beach towels, I was in middle school.

L'Oreal Kids Swim Shampoo

It sounds a bit silly, but this stuff works. No chlorine smelling hair and it gets all the salt and sand out of my hair.

Sunglasses

I once again don't spend too much money on sunglasses because I have a talent of breaking or losing them.

Neutrogena Wet Skin Sunscreen

I have zero desire to prematurely age my skin, so I lather this stuff on. I'll still get a gradual tan, but no burn.

Hot Pink Nail Polish

If you saw my swimsuits, then you know they are mostly neutrals, so I spice it up with some bright, neon even, nail polish. Its a way to be bold. Very Bold.

Hair Elastics

I have a great ability to lose far too many hair elastics, so I buy an inexpensive pack of these because they keep my hair up and when the ocean, swimming pool, or hot tub inevitably steal one I didn't spend a whole bunch of money on them.

What are your must-haves for a day at the beach?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Look What Came In The Mail


OhmygoodnessitshereandIcan'twaittoreadit.

I totally know that there are no spaces in the last sentence, but really my mind thought that as practially one burst of thought.

Either way, the book I've anticipated being here for quite some time has arrived!

On Christmas break I went to the CRU Midsouth conference, Encounter. At one point they split up guys and girls, and Emily Freeman was our phenomenal speaker.

I sat and listened to her in awe (no, really). Not only has her talk transformed how I look at my life, there also happens to be a funny story to go with it:

I was sitting with the other girls from my campus, when something in my brained clicked. She has many of the same mannerisms as me. There, in the very back of the auditorium, I felt like I was looking into my mirror on stage, down to the way she made nervous comments to herself. I leaned over and said to my dear friend, "I feel like I'm watching myself," to which she replied, "Oh my goodness, I was just about to tell you that!" Then and there I decided I needed to read Grace for the Good Girl.

While I haven't met her in real life, her topic of letting go of the try-hard life makes me feel as if we're in some ways kindred souls.

So, yes, I'm ready to finish the long list of half-finished books, so I can finally open this one!

What books are you far too excited about reading?

Grace and Peace,
Lesley

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Beach Must-Haves: Swimsuits

Sometimes talk about modest falls on deaf ears because as girls we don't really understand the importance of it.

Now moving on to take a moment out to talk about modesty and the beach: I know its hard. I hated for YEARS the quest to find appropriate swimsuits. I needed no convincing that they were a mythical creature that people talked about, but really didn't exist. Really, I felt doomed to swimsuits that were designed for little old ladies.

So when I do find an appropriate swimsuit, I do a happy dance in the middle of the store. Then, I share them with you as an encouragement to keep looking!

Below are swimsuits (or pretty close copies) of the swimsuits I'm taking with me to the beach:

Spring Break Swimsuits

Chic:

Straight clean lines, a very normal silhouette for a swimsuit. I like this one because its a basic, but its not old-lady. Plus, sheer is in, and I happened to snag this swimsuit a couple years ago (ahead of a trend for once!).

Preppy:

I know what you're thinking, now HOLD UP, you said we were talking about modest swimsuits. I know, this one on its own isn't appropriate. However, I'll be spending a good portion of my time on the beach actually in a tank top or tee shirt and shorts, and a full swimsuit is just too warm to be wearing under all that on the beach. Plus, the bottoms are a great mix with the next,

Classic:

Ah, the tankini, every girl's favorite in-between for not having on a bikini, but not stuck with the limited options of one-piece swimsuits. For me, its love, and a perk of this particular swimsuit is the strap is detachable, so when I'm tanning no tan lines.

Feminine:

I got the swimsuit pictured in navy last year, and it might be my absolute favorite swimsuit purchase ever. For once modest and attractive fit into one swimsuit, and I call it a win!

So my advice is that you just keep searching - the vintage trend right now is a very, very good friend to us. Good luck, and happy swimming!

Grace and peace,
Lesley

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Spring Break Is Almost Here!

Spring Break is two weeks away.

Let me repeat that, Spring Break is two. weeks. away.

I shall have my toes in the water in a blink of an eye.

I love spring break because I get to roll a few of my favorite things in the world into one:

Beach

Okay, its pretty typical, but there's no way getting around how awesome the beach is: sun, sand, and salt water are all beckoning my name.

Ministry

Say what, what now? Yeah. I'm part of CRU and they have a spring break conference called Big Break where we go out and talk to the people on the beach in attempt to get into spiritual conversation. Last year was a struggle for me, but with a new attitude and a new motivation I'm hoping this year I can be more confident.

Friendship

Some of my best friends in the world are going, and its my last Spring Break as a college kid. I'm looking forward to creating more memories that even top last year's.

Oh, and did I mention the beach?

Over the next two weeks I'm planning on sharing my secrets to having a fun beach stay! Fashion, music, and food to come!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lent: The Process of Giving Up

Today, plenty of people around the world will begin the sentence, "For Lent, I am giving up..."

Sometimes its because its the cool thing to do, or it somehow gives others the impression that you've got this "Jesus-thing" down.

Honestly, I think many people use Lent as a time to re-invent the New Years resolutions that they've already given up on. We translate things like "I'm going to be healthier this year" into "I'm giving up [sugar, coke, processed foods] for Lent."

Instead, I urge you to spend time today really considering how you fill up your time and what stops you from getting closer to God.

In Matthew 6:21, Jesus reminds those listening to the Sermon on the Mount,
"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also," (ESV).
 The key I've learned is understanding that treasure is not always a possession, its what we consume our lives with. The main point is: if it is not God, its wrong.

Now are the things standing between us and God a lot harder to give up? Absolutely.

This year it was hard to pinpoint the biggest thing affecting my relationship with God. I realized that it was procrastination, that I used fillers such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest instead of spending time with the Lord. Therefore,as of today, I'm giving it up, trusting the Lord to fill my time with Him.

So, what are you giving up to spend more time with God?

Grace and Peace,
Lesley

Monday, February 11, 2013

Washed by the Water

Music transports us. Sometimes its to a different place, others a different emotional state. Lyrics, Christian or not, frequently point us back to Christ.

That's what NEEDTOBREATHE's song Washed by the Water does for me.

I call it my God song. Its my song that He uses to remind me He is always present.

I loved this song before it became my song with God. I think that's why He chose it to remind me of Him.

In the past year I've had a couple times when the world I had created, figured out, decided was the right completely dissolved right where I stood. I was terrified of a future I was unable to control.

Sound like a familiar situation?

Each time, right after when I got into my car, I kid you not, this song came on the radio.Coincidence? I don't think so. I firmly believe it was divine providence on the part of a Savior who created every aspect of me and knows me better than any human will ever know me - and wants good for me.


To make it all better? I love water: oceans, lakes, swimming, creeks, puddles...you get the picture.


On multiple occasions, sitting in the middle of random parking lots in Nashville I burst out in tears, overwhelmed at the beauty of the truth behind the lyrics and how they applied to my life so much:
Even when the Earth crumbles under my feet
Even when the ones I love turn around and crucify me
I won't never ever let you down
Even when the rain falls
Even when the flood starts rising
Even when the storm comes
I am washed by the water
 This song is more than a song to me, its my anthem of the way God does not leave me no matter what the particular circumstances of my life look like.
No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. - Joshua 1:5
In whatever present situation you find yourself in, take a moment out to look and listen around for how the Lord reminds you of His presence and ultimately His control of you life.

My prayer is that you will be washed, no engulfed, in the waters of Christ's love.

Grace and Peace,
Lesley

Saturday, February 9, 2013

An Introduction, a Confession, and Everything that Lies Between


Well, if you were wondering what in the world the sticky notes thing was doing just chilling at the top of the page, here's you're chance to find out.

Sticky notes is something I do on a semi-regular basis. When I have a profound (or sometimes not so profound) thought, I write it on a sticky note, plop it on a my sticky note wall where I continue to think about it each time I see it.

So when I was creating this blog, I knew this was one of my quirks I needed to share with the world, and so today is the day of introduction to the sticky note.

Of course, this is where the confession time comes in. I am a perfectionist. Yes, I'm sure you've heard a bajillion people say this before. What some perfectionists won't tell you is that it can be immobilizing. Seriously. We want things to be so perfect, that instead of doing it, we end up procrastinating because we can't get it right in our head or in real life.

Yet in following God is not about perfect, in fact He alone is perfect, so really my attempts at perfection are fruitless. Instead, God calls us to be faithful. Proverbs 3:3-4 even tells us,
Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. (ESV) 
What holds you back from being faithful?

My perfection got the best of me for a few days, and I ended up not writing here because I did not have the perfect thing to say to you, some uplifting story from my week or the most fantastic insight in the Word. Yet, that is not what God called me to do, I'm called to love and be faithful, which is why today I'm attempting to fulfill my purpose and write.

Another little truth from this verse, Success in the Lord is contingent on our faithfulness.

So next time you being to question your success, stop thinking in the world's terms, and ask yourself were you faithful to what God asked of you?

Whatever it is stopping you from being faithful - be it perfection, fear, lack of preparation, or a multitude of other things - my prayer is that the Lord will release you from it. Join me as we ask God freed from the lies holding us back and run wide-open in the direction He has called us.

Grace and Peace,
Lesley

Monday, February 4, 2013

Verses to Live By

In college I was first introduced to this idea of a life verse. Somehow, for normal people, its supposed to work that you pick a Bible verse that you think defines your outlook on life. On the other hand, if you're me, the verse finds you, follows you, and practically beats its way into every aspect of your life at every possible moment until you just begin to embrace it.

You may now  be asking, what is my life verse?

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2  ESV).

First, I must admit that the depth of meaning in this verse is an on-going learning process, and God reveals new things about His character and His plan for my life as I grow deeper in my faith. Now after letting you know the vast majority of this verse is still beyond my comprehension, here's what I have learned from this verse:

My Life Isn't Going To Be Like Everyone Else's.

While sometimes this idea can be blown way out of proportion, for me its about how I interact with people in the world opposed to looking like the world in the way I dress, or what I read, or even what music I listen to. If I am completely disengaged from my culture, how am I ever going to reach those who need the love of Jesus the most?

I really believe this is where my heart lies, in letting others know that not conforming to the patterns of this world does not automatically mean submitting your life to being a social outcast. Does Christ's love for you and Holy Spirit dwelling in you change your perspective? Absolutely. Am I  suggesting that you must give up every single pop song on the radio and tell you that you can only read the Bible, and not fiction? Hmmm, more than likely not.

Funny part, the verse talks about discernment. Which is necessary, because sometimes things we believe we enjoy are not good for us spiritually, emotionally, or physically, and they do need to be removed from our lives.

The good news: being different from this world is not a social death sentence. 

Big secret: not everything fun automatically goes into the harmful/bad category.

Over time, you begin to learn what is profitable to following Jesus and what becomes a stumbling block to your faith - pretty much a rough definition of discernment. My desire is that I can share with you ways to interact with, but not conform to, a culture so desperately in need of the hope and saving grace found in Jesus Christ.

Grace and Peace,
Lesley



Friday, February 1, 2013

The Beginning of Inspiration

What inspires you?

Take a moment out to list them in your head, write them down, say them aloud, whatever method works best for you. Just be honest with yourself.

John 10:10 tells us that "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly," (ESV). While I have heard this verse plenty of times in a variety of contexts before, day to day life tends to overrule the meaning of this verse.

Frequently I find myself forgetting the third part - the fullness of life I am to enjoy because of Jesus' life. Life is not meant to be just what is necessary, its mean to thrive. Even as my senior year of college is in full swing, the prime of my life, I still sometimes ask: am I doing this to just get by or am I living out life abundantly?

The question I began this post with I posed to myself, and it sparked the idea within me to write. Writing is my outlet to processing the world. I can start with a clean page or an empty word document and an endless stream of possibilities lay before me. Imagination brings forth ideas, ideas find life in words, and words allow us to interact with ourselves, others, and our Creator.

Of course, this leads me to the purpose of this project. Its to inspire, challenge, and reach out to young women as we use our lives for the glory of God. While following Jesus' teachings and instructions is frequently perceived as restrictive or plain, I urge you to look for evidence of Him in the things that inspire you.

My prayer is that you will begin to see that a life given over to Christ is not boring or typical, in fact, the journey is often downright unpredictable.

Grace and Peace,
Lesley