Sunshine State of Mind

California 2014 | That's Pretty Ace
 

Chris and I were fortunate to spend last week in his home state of California, and I'm going to do my best to tell you how God unpacked my mind and my heart while we were there. It was an intense week, but so incredibly good.


Over this summer, Chris had the opportunity to complete two clerkships at two wonderful law firms. We were completely shocked and in awe when he received an offer from not one, but both firms - job offers for when he's done with school, and he would even be getting to work in the department he's most interested in. We had been praying for God to produce fruit from these clerkships, but in the deepest corners of our hearts, we were hoping for just one offer so we wouldn't have to pick. Naturally, God had other plans in mind :) We are so fortunate in that both firms are in the state of Texas, and actually both in the metroplex - but they are very different workspaces in very different cities. We've been completely unsure of which way to go.

The firms have given us several weeks to decide officially, but we wanted to go ahead and have a firm decision made coming back from this trip. I'm going to go ahead and tell you that that did not happen, and I know God's intentions are good in that. 

The first few days of our trip were very go-go-go... we had so many things we'd talked about doing and we quickly realized there was no way to do all of that. On day four (over a scoop of ice cream, because vacation), I asked Chris what he really wanted to do this week. He said he had been wanting to entertain me and give me a good time - always a sweetheart, this one - and I told him that I honestly was carrying a huge burden of stress that I hadn't fully told him about. We both decided we needed pure relaxation the rest of the week. Hallelu! We decided to spend the following day resting, fasting, and being specifically prayerful for the decision on our shoulders and for this blog. 

 
California 2014 | That's Pretty Ace
 

Side note: Fasting is a new concept for both of us, and we were really looking forward to learning and humbling ourselves in the process. I feel really good about us continuing to do this routinely, as it was wonderful for us to physically align our needs with God as the first priority. We just finished reading Celebration of Discipline, which has a chapter on fasting that was incredibly enlightening (you can even read the whole thing here, for free). If you're curious, I'd recommend you read it - or you can shoot me an email and I'll do my best to answer your questions :) 

 
California 2014 | That's Pretty Ace
 

First I'll give you the update on where I've been... and a look into my lack of posting recently. Since July, I've been walking in a lot of fear and doubt about this blog. The past year has been one of immense spiritual growth for me - learning to lean into God in the every day moments of my life like I've never done before. I've learned that we live to 1. walk closely with God and by doing that, 2. share the truth of the Gospel. Learning what that means on an every day level in my life has been completely freeing. I knew I wanted to serve God but couldn't begin to figure out what that looked like outside of a soup kitchen - He was gracious to show me that serving Him happens in everything we do, and it's easiest to start serving in the skills and places He's gifted us uniquely.

However, during a conversation with a close friend, the devil started whispering lies to me - lies that I originally thought were subtle cues from God for me to step back, be quiet, and learn about Him more before speaking again. I was worried that I didn't know enough about God to talk about Him publicly. I felt that people would see me and see "naive white girl with money" and they wouldn't see Jesus. I was afraid of being told I was wrong for things I said, so instead I said nothing. I thought I was being humble but all of this is pride, pride, pride.

I confessed to Chris during our first day on the beach how I was feeling and after saying it all out loud, I was finally able to realize that I knew those feelings were wrong. They weren't from God. Thursday we spent the day in prayer and solitude (together on the beach, but not really talking). It was incredibly restorative and healing. I read all of Anything by Jennie Allen that day, and found God speaking to me through about 99% of the book. I was an underlining fool. Some of my favorite things I learned were these: 

  • I am a screw-up. Living my life in acceptance of the fact that I am going to mess up, that I am going to fail, and I'm going to need grace is such a more truthful and more beautiful picture of the Gospel than me living in the mindset of trying to be a "good person". I have a nasty habit of walking the defensive in this area of my life - living in a way that says subconsciously says, "I'm a good person, so I think I'm doing really well in my life" instead of being humble enough to say, "Actually, I fail in that area too - sometimes daily, sometimes hourly. Here's what I've been learning in that." And when I live in acceptance of my own brokenness, in my own sin - when the weight of that sin pushes me to my knees - that's where I can let go of my selfish pride enough to make room for God in my heart. That knowledge I need to have of my sin driving me to my knees? That's right where I need to be... on those knees, praying. 
  • I hate sin. I don't hate people. I've wrestled with this one for a long time... I've lived several years of my life in fear of specific people because I don't want to let them down, or I don't want to hear them tell me I'm wrong. Instead I build up walls to protect my heart. A really broken thing that I do is make people into idols - I set heavy responsibilities on their shoulders in the ways I've sought acceptance and praise from them. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Jennie has a line in her book where she says, "It helped me be more able to forgive when I realized we never are really fighting people... forgiveness becomes easier when I realize people are not my enemies". The war I'm fighting is against sin - and the devil is so good at using the people we love most (and the people we dislike) to hurl lies at us. When I think of how afraid I am of people, I can only imagine how afraid someone could be of me. I'm certain that any good that comes out of my mouth is from God and not me, because I am not that eloquent with words in tough conversations... I'm so thankful for the grace God gives me every day where I let sin overcome me, and I pray that I can become more gracious to others. 
 
California 2014 | That's Pretty Ace
 

Lastly, God used this book and the time I spent in solitude with Him to remind me of where I was before July... and to answer some questions I have had for Him for awhile now. I've had a really hard time grasping fear of God... and grasping how He and I can have such an intimate relationship, but He is also so incredibly mighty. I've had a "coffee date" relationship so far, which has been so wonderful and intimate and I feel like I'm talking with a dear friend. But I also want to know of His might and power... so that I may more fully understand the gravity of what He can do, how He can protect me, why I shouldn't be afraid of others, how I should be afraid of Him.

If you haven't spent time in California, I'll let you know that the waves can be incredibly huge. There's lush wildlife everywhere, all kinds of colorful birds, and huge, steep cliffs. The sun is so vivid and bright, and the sky the brightest blue. I grew up spending summers in the Gulf of Mexico, and while the white sand and emerald waters are gorgeous, I hadn't felt the weight of God's creation until this trip. In the mornings, I would sit on our balcony and watch green birds chase each other and sing to the day. I felt God telling me, "Just as I delight in these small birds, I delight in you, daughter." I saw the waves and felt their icy cold and was fearful to get in - I felt Him shouting, "Look at how majestic I am! I am so strong and mighty, and I can swallow up any darkness in my path." I thought of many of the epic stories I love - nerd moment for a minute - Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter. I know the Bible falls right in line with these epic tales that are so close to my heart and stir my soul. I felt Him whisper to me, "There is a great war going on. You are invited to participate. And the victory is completely mine." 

 
California 2014 | That's Pretty Ace
 

Late one night, I was telling Chris about how I felt like God has flipped a switch on inside of me. Like I had been listening to a song for awhile now, and really loved listening to it, but only now did I learn that it's actually a masterpiece, and it was the first song to be composed this way, and here, look at the notes and their artistry, the theory... it's all so complex and wonderful. I read out loud the passage in Hebrews where great Christian men are described in detail - and that still they did not receive in full what they had been promised. That they wait for return of Christ, knowing that they wait in order for more of God's children to be involved, for the promise to be completed in full. I felt how incredibly small I am, how short my life is, and yet how full of light it could be if I choose to participate in this war against darkness. I got teary telling Chris I was worried we would go home and I would forget and go back to living a life of safety and contentment. I felt wrecked in the best kind of way.

 
California 2014 | That's Pretty Ace
 

I know words like this are big and epic and don't feel real. For me, this blog feels that way... I fear being so exposed. I fear you thinking I've lost my mind. I fear you thinking I'm after my own fame. I fear writing something that's only from me and not at all from Him. I can fear a lot of things (I'm really good at that), but mostly I just want to fear God. I want to walk closely to my friend, my Savior, my King. I don't want to live a normal life. It's rarely easy, and it takes a lot of trust in Him, but it is so beautifully meaningful. I don't want to miss out on participating in things that last forever. I'm done writing in fear or in shame. I'm ready to write, praying God gives me humility, and asking you for endless grace as we walk together. I don't know what it is about me writing this down or speaking it out loud, but when I do, it feels a lot bigger than me. I feel pretty confident that what's happening is in no way my own doing, and I see evidence of that when people approach me or write to me, expressing how helpful or encouraging That's Pretty Ace has been for them. While the skills given to me are a gift, I am the dispenser of that gift, and I want to live in a way that's open-handed enough for God to use me to recklessly save, heal, and love. It's not legalism or duty... it's joy. 

And as I've said before, I'll say again - let's share joy together.

Happy Friday!

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I hope you've all enjoyed the unique content this week! I loved Hannah's illustration and the encouragement it gave her... Leigh's style tips work for just about anyone, but mostly it's about loving the body God gave you! Kellie shared how to use your work as worship (even if you don't love it) - something I think us millennials struggle with, big time - and I'm totally going to be using Sarah's recipes when I get home from Cali! 

Hope you've all had a wonderful week! I'll be back on the blog on Monday and can't wait to share our trip with you. This has been such a restful and restorative time for Chris and I. Love y'all!

+ here are some links for your weekend:

Image via That's Pretty Ace

Clean Living: Why Should I Bother?

 

College.

For me, it was only two years ago. College was a time for midnight McDonalds runs, posing as study breaks. Taco Tuesday at Rosa’s was a necessity, and baking cookies to enjoy re-runs of Friends happened several times a week. Although I would never trade any of the memories during this stage of my life, I can say that this period was also my “unhealthiest” period. I didn’t care what the label said, as long as the price sticker was in my budget. Even then, I would eat out frequently because I didn’t have time to prepare meals. Sadly, Red Bull and coffee shots kept me awake, and random workouts and stress were my solutions to keeping the weight off. Since my life was so busy, and I was constantly finding ways to stay awake, or get everything on my plate finished, I didn’t realize how much time I was spending focused on me. I didn’t have the time or energy for anything else but myself.

I bring up the past not to say that I never eat a cookie nowadays, but to preface why I’m such a big supporter of clean living and eating. When I started to research the products that I use on a daily basis, I was shocked that I couldn’t pronounce half of the ingredients listed on the label. I found a lot of different chemicals in everything I used – from my face wash, to foundation, to shampoo, to laundry detergent. One Christmas, my sister-in-law gave me the gift of fresh and natural body products that she made herself (wow, right?). Now, I know that armpits and body odor aren’t the most glamorous parts of our bodies, but they deserve love as well! Her homemade lavender deodorant was the most wonderful discovery for me – it smelled amazing, lasted all day, and was easy to make. She also introduced me to a natural face wash, using oats, baking soda, and raw organic honey. I’ve always had a problem with my combination oily-dry, sensitive skin, and this was the first product that really gave me glowing, clean, and radiant skin. From there I started to either make or buy products that I could actually understand what was on the label.

Today I'm going to share with you the basics of what I've learned – simple, realistic and cost-effective ways to promote clean living in your home! There's so many great resources on clean eating out there, but not so many on clean living. So I'll be sharing my favorite places to purchase clean products for your body and home... and then tell you how to whip up two great beauty products in your own kitchen.

 
 

If any of you are like me, you don’t have time to sit and hand-make everything, or you can’t say you will honestly never eat fast food again. Life is short, and I can’t give up cupcakes for the rest of my days! What you can do is live simple and smart. Here are some basic ways that I have put clean living into practice when I shop:

  • Read the ingredients. If you can’t pronounce it (or if you look it up and it sounds scary), then don’t buy it.
  • Calories and fat aren’t what’s important! Look at the sugar content, saturated fats and what the first two ingredients listed on the label are. You'll get a good idea of what your buying just from those first two ingredients alone! 
  • Body products full of chemicals are just as bad as chemicals you ingest. If you're applying it to your skin, then it's absorbing into your pores. Your skin is your body's biggest organ – watch what you're putting on it!
 
 

Honest Company is my new favorite thing. Each month, I can pick five products for only $35... so awesome! Their products do wonders... from lip balms to cleaning sprays, Honest has a great variety. Their shampoo/body wash has drastically changed my thin, baby fine hair. I’ve had the thickest, longest, shiniest hair that I have ever experienced, and I only wash it every 2-3 days. Honest is also a great place to buy products for any of you moms out there – they have tons of great baby products! If you’re skeptical, they provide a free trial for the first month with five products of your choice.

Indigo Wild and Lush are other websites and stores that provide wonderful products, but they're a little bit pricier than what I can currently afford every month :)

 
 

Here are two simple body products you can make at home with only five ingredients and some old jars or containers. Perfect!

 

Sugar Body Scrub

Coconut Oil and Sugar. That’s it. Really, I’m not joking! I mix equal parts of Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil and Raw Organic Sugar. Sometimes I use brown sugar if I want a softer scrub, but regular sugar is a GREAT exfoliator, not to mention that it smells like heaven. If you’re an essential oils person like me, you can always add a little of your favorite smell (lavender, peppermint) for an extra kick of goodness. This scrub also provides an INCREDIBLE shave. Smooth, silky, and healthy legs.

 

Oatmeal, Baking Soda, and Honey Face Wash

To create this healthy and easy face wash, grab a tablespoon of oats to start and a tablespoon of baking soda. Find your favorite jar or container to keep it in (check out Target or Container Store) and a grinder if you have one. However you prefer (ninja blender, grinder, etc.) grind your oats into a fine powder. Mix into your container with baking soda, and you're done for now! To use your homemade face wash, just follow these steps... 

  1. Grab a washcloth and soak it in hot water.
  2. Press the cloth to your face so it’s steaming all over it (but don’t burn yourself!)
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2.
  4. Put a quarter size amount of honey in your hand, then pinch a good amount of the baking soda/oats mix on top of the honey, and mix it all together in your hands.
  5. Spread the mixture all over your face, gently rubbing into it your skin.
  6. Wipe off excess mixture with the wet washcloth, then dry. 
  7. Enjoy your happy, healthy skin!
 
 

I believe that God has something to say about keeping it natural and taking the time to make sure you know what you’re putting in your body. If you you’re not operating at your best level energy-wise (getting enough sleep, giving stress to God, exercising, eating well) where will you find the strength to give time to others and invest in spreading His truth? That’s not an easy feat by itself! And when you mix in low confidence or energy levels, it makes it hard for us to focus on anything other than ourselves. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3, “Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.” In this chapter, Paul is talking about the leaders of the church and how we should build our foundation. We are God’s temple, and we belong to Him. I fully believe that we have been given a responsibility to take care of ourselves to the best of our ability, and commit ourselves to spreading the joy of His Kingdom, first by laying a solid foundation for our lives – in how we live and in our daily habits.

Romans 12:1 says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 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.”

Images via Sarah Brooks


Sarah Brooks | That's Pretty Ace

Sarah is an onboarding specialist (so fancy!) who just got married! She lives with her sweet hubs in Fort Worth, and Chris and I love getting to spend time with them. Sarah has been a dear friend since college – we were even roommates at one point! Sarah is such a strong leader and a powerful friend. I'm constantly humbled by her grace and encouragement. And just like the other contributors, she was recently featured as a Ruby! You can read her Ruby feature - and get to know her better - by clicking here.

On Loving What You Do When You’re Not Doing What You Love…

Kellie Wyatt on That's Pretty Ace
 

I absolutely love this quote from Spurgeon. I find it so relatable and it speaks so much truth into my day to day life. For a while now I’ve had this thought that I love what I do, thought I do not do what I love. What I mean by that is I never ended up with my “dream job” after college, and while I pray that one day that might happen for me, over the last few years I’ve seen the importance of learning to love where you’re at-despite what YOU think would have been best for you. It’s the idea of blooming where you’re planted (as cliché as that might sound!) but it’s really so true! And also, what if this season isn’t really about me? What if I’ve been placed right where I’m at to be a blessing and difference maker in the life of someone else? What if I’m the vessel the Lord is using to pursue his children? Well guess what—I am! And so are you!! I’ve always wanted to work for a non-profit because it seems like they are often times so clearly working as the hands and feet of Jesus, but that hasn’t happened for me just yet. And honestly, it may never happen for me, but how tragic would it be if I looked back on my life 40 years from now and realized that I never took advantage of the situation I was currently in because I was always looking for something else. I get to be the hands and feet of Jesus today to everyone that I encounter. I don’t want to look back on a life of missed opportunities and missed relationships, so I’m making the choice to love where I’m at. Right here. Right now. Even if it’s different from what I would have chosen for myself.  The one thing I know to be true is that the Lord always follows through on his word and his promises. In the meantime, while we wait, we have a choice. We can be a negative nancy with a bad attitude, or we can choose joy-Every. Single. Day. I’ve heard it said that sometimes we are the only Jesus that people will see-and if I want the Lord to entrust me with big things, then I need to start by being faithful in the little things, like having a good attitude and being the hands and feet of Jesus when life is turning out differently than I once would have thought. I have been given the opportunity to love my co-workers and neighbors just like Jesus would, right here and right now. 

 
Kellie Wyatt on That's Pretty Ace
 

So, this is the choice I’ve made, with the love of Christ compelling me, I will love the people who are in my life right where they are at, realizing that now is not forever (at all!), but the impression that I make and the joy that I can share with them will last much longer. Let’s love exactly where we’re at right now, even if we’re not doing what we necessarily love. So, whatever season you are in, whatever job you might have right now, let’s be joyful about it together, and realize that the joy and love you share with people now will carry an eternal impact forever.

Images via Kellie Wyatt


Kellie Wyatt | That's Pretty Ace

Kellie is a communications manager who just moved with her husband to Las Vegas for two years (tear, tear)! Kellie and I met through our husbands, and we've loved becoming good friends and bonding over our fur-babies. Kellie is such a sweet southern belle with a serious passion for serving others. And like the other contributors, she was recently featured as a Ruby! Kellie shares her powerful experience with love and loss in her Ruby feature, which you can read here.

How to Dress as a Petite

Leigh Foith on That's Pretty Ace
 

As a shorter-than-average woman, I fall into the petite (5’4” and under) category of most clothing retailers. Or, as I like to call it: women who so desperately want to try the oversized button-down trend but end up looking like a child in a lab coat. Trust me, I’ve tried. Not one of my best decisions. However, I’ve just recently discovered a ton of brands that cater to the petite demographic; smaller arm holes, shorter hem lines, narrower and shorter shoulder straps, etc. I used to think of my height as limiting, but I love finding pieces that flatter my frame — or some cases, altering pieces to fit to my frame. So many opportunities :)

 
Leigh Foith on That's Pretty Ace
 
  • Proportions are everything.  I’m preaching to the choir here—flatter your height with appropriate hemlines that emphasize your shape; don’t hide it under yards of fabric. 
  •  Find a tailor. Become friends. Become best friends. The Foith women have had to tailor our jeans since we could walk (okay, not really…but almost). Find a tailor that knows your body type, your personality and how you feel most comfortable in your clothing. Tailoring is a worthy investment, and can make a $20 dress look like a million bucks.
  • Dress to your body shape (this goes for all sizes!) Petite women usually have shorter torsos, and with shorter torsos come the golden rule: Treat your waist the way you would want to be treated…flatter it, emphasize it and love it!
  • Heels are your best friend (at least for the first hour of the evening) Reach for a pair of heels, whether they be 1 inch or 5 inch. The wedge heel is my go-to, because they balance the pressure over your entire foot—hooray for stylish comfort! Heels give your calves a lift and subconsciously make you stand up straight and walk with confidence. Yes, I welcome high fives from mothers around the world for that helpful tip ;)
 
Leigh Foith on That's Pretty Ace
 

My favorite brands with petite options: 

  • J.Crew has established itself as an on-trend international brand, with more options for petites than any other brand (they just controversially added sizes 000 and XXXS to appeal to their petite consumers in Asia). My go-to items I reach for every year: the infamous schoolboy blazer, and a classy lace dress.
  • Ann Taylor Loft is the chic younger sister of the women’s brand Ann Taylor, and offers work-appropriate styles as well as casual weekend dresses and lounge wear—and almost all of their clothing is offered in petites! I’m eyeing this moto jacket for fall, maybe to throw over this chic floral shift dress!
  •  Anthropologie has mastered the perfect blend of boutique brands, and their petite offerings are better than ever. I couldn’t help but snatch up this girly dress (which is perfect to get engaged in, I’ve heard :) ) and this neutral top to pair with shorts now and jeans later.
  • ASOS is a British clothing brand with over 850 brands, including petites (and tall options!); their smock dresses are a favorite of my little sister. I mean, how adorable is this check-print option?
 
Leigh Foith on That's Pretty Ace
 

And there you have it. Dressing as a petite is easier than you think; just love and honor the shape God gave you. I mean, “petite” is French for the word “small”, and how adorably chic is that?

-Leigh

Images via Leigh Foith


Leigh Foith | That's Pretty Ace

Leigh is a marketing representative currently living in the DFW area. Leigh and I attended the same college, and have had fun keeping up with one another since we've graduated :) Leigh lights up a room with her kind and bubbly personality. She is a stellar "connector" of people, and uses her skills to create incredible social media. She's also quite the style maven, so I'm thrilled be sharing her knowledge with you today! Like our contributor yesterday, Leigh was also recently featured as a Ruby - you can read her feature here.