Monday, September 28, 2015

Make-It Monday: War Room Board

Happy Make-It Monday! 

Inspired by the recent movie War Room, (If you haven't seen it, you really should go... It will change your life!) I decided to get a little crafty.

For those of you unfamiliar with this movie recently released in theaters, it is about an elderly woman looking to sell her house. She leads the real estate salesman through her home as she shares her favorite rooms, ultimately leading the woman to her favorite room: her "War Room." She had cleaned out her closet and made a private place of prayer, where she could "strategically fight for her loved ones through the power of prayer."

Since I, too, believe in the power of prayer (and honestly could use a lot more of it), I decided to do the same. There's just one problem... I live in a tiny apartment with only two closets: one in my room to hold my clothes and another that holds the washer and dryer. I like to think I'm a tiny young woman, but I can't fit inside the closet next to the dryer, and though I love God with all my heart, He also created me with an overwhelming desire for cute shoes, so unfortunately, my closet was not ready to give. So off I went to Walmart.

I purchased this cork board for around $10 in the office section and bought the cheapest teal paint I could find (about $.50). Choose any color you like. There's nothing significant or spiritual about teal; I just like it and wanted the board to match my room.

Since there's no good place to paint a giant cork board in my apartment (and we have no newspapers delivered), I improvised! I lined the frame with construction paper and went to town. 

**NOTE: It takes several coats of paint to create a successful result. Since the wood has already been sealed and finished by the manufacturer, you have to paint over all that. It took me about 6-7 coats to make the color evenly cover the wood completely. 

While the board dried, I started my prayer cards. I made a list of all the people I was praying for. I made a list of all the things I prayed for. I made checklists, wrote out scriptures, and even tore full prayers from my journal. I designed my own strategic battle plan of prayer using everything I knew. 

And the result was somewhat magical.

This craft will never be complete. I have more prayers to write and more scriptures to copy down. I will take prayers down when they have been answered. I will add more when they arise. Just as wars, disagreements, fears, and struggles never truly end, this is no different. The relationship I have with my God is an eternal one. It's never-ending, ever-changing, awe-inspiring, and intimately inviting. 

I pray for hope. I pray for peace. I pray for desire, for healing, for comfort. I pray for those I love because I know my God can help them when I cannot. I pray for those I work with because I am not allowed to show my God in the workplace (another prayer I pray every night: that they will see Him through me anyway). I pray for my enemies so that they might have the opportunity to change. I pray that they will. But when they choose to spite me and take me down, I have no problem praying that Christ will take them down. We are against the same enemy; and just as He will protect those who fight for Him, He seeks to destroy those who fight against Him. 

So I pray a prayer for every area in my life. I hope you will create your own War Room, so you that you can be motivated to do the same. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Dressing Like A Hepburn in a Kardashian World

I'm a sucker for timeless fashion. As a vintage-retro baby, I own plenty of dresses with no occasions to wear them. Girls don't wear dresses to school anymore. We don't get dressed up and have tea. But if I am ever sucked into a time machine and invited to a 1950's household, you better believe I'm ready. I love my little dresses. They don't show my butt and my boobs aren't falling out. They weren't meant to hang free back in the day. I yearn for those days again.

The day I bought my high-waisted, polka-dot shorts, I knew something in my world of fashion had shifted. I bought them in two colors: navy (to wear with practically everything) and red (for those days in every girl's life when she needs to demand a man's attention). I wore them every way I knew how. I wore them over tucked in blouses. I wore them with denim button ups that were tied at my waist. I wore them with flats, t-strap heels, and the cutest laced oxfords you ever saw. I wore those magic shorts with everything. And then I discovered:
I was basically Audrey Hepburn. 

A bit of a monster was born after that. I have always known that modesty was my thing; I always wanted to be fully covered but I still wanted to look like a woman. Being modest surely didn't mean wearing baggy hoodies every day, did it? I didn't know how to be modestly fashionable; I didn't know how to be classically elegant. I didn't know how make my style modern. Turns out, making it modern was the wrong strategy. My style had previously existed. My style was not modern, but it was certainly not dead. My style is what's known as "timeless fashion." 

In Audrey Hepburn's time, Marilyn Monroe was the slut. The size-12 in a white one piece was the sex icon of the day. Who knows what Kim Kardashian would have been considered. I mean seriously. We all saw the dress at the MTV Video Music Awards that made her look like a hiking baked potato. 
And don't even get me started on Kanye's outfit. I rest my case. Modern fashion is not modest fashion.

But my polka-dot shorts and I set out on an adventure; a quest to make my closet timelessly modest. I can't bear to look at Kim and Kanye, so I focused on other idols. Better idols. I turned to the inspiration of Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Grace Kelly. Now those women knew what they were doing. 

Rule #1: Never Underestimate the Power of a Neckline
In today's world, there are no "necklines." There are boob-lines. Or in Kim's case, her neckline was actually a waistline. A classic neckline rests in the general vicinity between your collarbones and your cleavage. Hepburn women wore collars, V-necks, button-ups, scoop necks, halters, and even sweetheart necklines! They hinted at their femininity, but never showcased it like we let girls do today. 

Notice that even these scoop-necks and V-necks do not show any cleavage. They are exquisitely feminine, but they are not putting everything out in the open. Modesty is not about covering up, it's about leaving something to be unveiled. These women leave a little to the imagination, leaving men wanting more. What an interesting tactic that seems so lost among young women today. These women are just as (if not more) captivating than baked potato Kim, but they look like a woman instead of, well, a baked potato. 

They also utilize the amazing power of sleeves. You rarely saw any strapless tops back in the 50's, because sleeves keep fabric where it rightfully should be.

Rule #2: The Higher the Waist, the Closer to God
I know, I know, that's not how the saying goes. But these fashion icons loved their waist. Today's society is full of fat-shaming, body hating women. Here's the deal girls: men love curves and you should, too. If you were meant to look like a toothpick noodle, God would've made you a man. Women have figures. Women have hips. Women have waists. And they're beautiful! So show them off! There's nothing wrong with that at all! 

Yes, yes, I also realize high waisted shorts are hard for some women to wear. I know it's a personal challenge for me to find jeans that fit my hips, butt, and thighs all at once. Likewise, it is difficult to find shorts that fit your waist, hips, and butt, but if I managed to find them, I can assure that you can, too. Not to mention, the waist and seat of shorts isn't that hard to alter. If you can't sew (or don't trust yourself to alter your favorite shorts), it shouldn't be too difficult to find a seamstress or alteration specialist in your area who will be able to help you out for a pretty cheap price!

Rule #3: Hemlines and Hairlines...Raise 'Em Up!
Both hemlines and hair got drastically shorter during this time. No, not as short as they are today (remember, women were still modest by our standard, but felt scandalous by theirs). Women were moving away from bathing suit measurements (they used to have to be a certain number of inches from their knee...can you even imagine?) and chopping off their luscious locks. While Audrey Hepburn was one of the few to brave a full blown pixie, many girls resorted to curling their locks to their shoulders. Those who kept their long hair often wore it in curly ponytails.

Rule #4: Pattern It Up! 
Of course my signature is polka-dots (no one is shocked to find that out...), but blouses and dresses were notorious for their elaborate patterns. Dots, florals, stripes, plaids, checks, and even some animal prints were used in women's fashion. I found a dress once that had lemons on it, and it was just darlin'! In other words, never underestimate loud, weird, busy patterns.

I love every single dress in the picture to the right. Just googling "1950's patterned dresses" will get you thousands more. Personally, I love the skirt with the city around the hem. I'd rock that every time it was clean.

Rule #5: Know the 3 B's; Bows, Belts, and Buttons

This one's pretty self explanatory. These classic embellishments were staples in 1950's and 1960's women's fashion, and should not be forgotten in our modern recreations. 

Two words: Christian Dior. 

Known as the "New Look" revolution, Dior designed clothes that were unlike anything seen before in the fashion world. His innovative designs that define the retro period are now considered vintage, but they are, nonetheless, timeless, and adorably classic. The song says it best...
Livin' in a world gone plastic, baby you're so classic. 
So thanks, MKTO. You've defined my life in a song! 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Young Marriage: Good or Bad?

It has come to the inevitable point in my life where seemingly everyone from my graduating class is getting married...except me. Don't get me wrong: there's no man in my life, and I currently have no desire for there to be one. So why is it such a big deal that everyone my age is getting engaged, having weddings, or already on baby #2? Because, wait for it... I'm 20.

One of my best friends from jr. high just married a young man she met in school. Ten more have become engaged to their high school sweetheart. One was already married before anyone had seen an engagement announcement (we're all still waiting to see if she was pregnant; scandalous gossip if I do say so myself). But all the comments I've seen or heard about each of these blossoming relationships swing one way or the other:

I am so happy for their blessed life together. I can't wait to have him as part of our family. 
What on this God green Earth is she doing getting married?! She's too freaking young! 

I know I'm not the only to blog about this, and certainly not the only young woman to think about it. I have seen lists of "Top 10 Things You Should Do As A Single Woman Prior To Getting Married," and "20 Things I Wish I Hadn't Given Up To Marry Young." In other words BeyoncĂ©, you can like it without putting a ring on it. Young marriage seems to be an all-or-nothing topic: you're for it or against it. There is no middle.

Personally, I'm all about the young single life. I am having the absolute time of my life planning my future around the dreams I have always had for myself, embarking on an unknown adventure without worrying about financial or romantic ties to someone or somewhere else. To me, it is absolutely ridiculous to marry at this age, when both of you are in school and unemployed, with no money to buy a house, no direction as to where jobs or family or life will take you. You don't know what's going to happen or where you're going to end up. Your life is not stable within itself, making it even less stable to share with another person. What might you have to give up for your spouse that you would not have given up otherwise? What might you have had the opportunity to create for yourself had you not tied yourself down this early? Even if I was dating the man I knew I was going to marry, marriage would not yet be on my radar. The fear of the unknown is something I want to conquer myself before inviting another person to share it with, or worse, relying on him to conquer it for me.

With that being said, some (certainly not all, but some) of the people getting married are some of the most logical, grounded, Christ-centered people I have ever known. It's not like they're all getting married because they thought it would be fun. Even though they are young, they fully expect challenges, fights, and the natural obstacles of life. They have made this very clear. They are prepared to take on everything that married life has to offer, and give up everything that married life requires.

Some people have met the person they know they are going to marry and are perfectly comfortable where they are. There isn't a lot of unknown for them because they are already content with their lives. Some people even like that unknown, and fear it less when they have their loved one by their side. Some people don't want to think about life tearing them apart and refuse to let it happen. Some people would decline a job offer, refuse to move, or spend money on certain things to ensure that they would stay with their loved one. Some people would prefer to build a life from scratch with a spouse, rather than building a life on their own and later inviting someone to share it.

So the question really isn't a matter of young marriage being good or bad. Marriage is not a debate topic. It's far less about what you should or shouldn't do, and far more about what is right for you. The age of marriage is strictly a matter of personal opinion, often depending on culture and generation. Some people invite adventure into their life through travel. Some do it through their work. And yes, some do it by marriage.

So let's praise the young marriages as much as we praise the old ones. There are a lot of things that will make a marriage fail, but age is not one of them. Maturity might be, but age is not. Don't be so quick to get those two confused.

I will attend these weddings as a guest and friend who is overjoyed for the next step in their life, proceeding to exit the church and make my own plans for my future the way I want to make them. I invite you to do the same. It is true that these couples will face challenges unique to young marriage. But you will face just as many challenges unique to single life. Every lifestyle comes with joys and trials, so it is important to choose one that is right for you. For some it might be marriage, and that's not bad. For me, it is anything but marriage. That's not bad either. A lifestyle choice is just that: a choice. There are not always right or wrong choices. They are not always good or bad. They are simply choices, and they will impact your life far differently than they would if you had chosen the others.

Some will choose marriage. Some will not. But there is no reason to think the married woman will be any more or less happy than the single one. Chances are, they will both be immensely happy, if they chose the life that was important to them. God has a plan for all of us. Don't be so quick to judge someone because His plan for them was different than His plan for you.