Not So Casual

As I was brainstorming for this post, I originally wanted to write about casual dating and the millennial generation. I've actually written three rough drafts over the last year covering the topic of dating, but as I continued praying and seeking the Lord I felt like he had a different message for me to share. The truth is, as much as casual dating is wreaking havoc on our generation, a casual relationship with God is even more detrimental.

I've noticed that there is a tendency between two extremes when it comes to our view of God and his grace. The first is a legalistic striving toward holiness, which focuses on self but lacks the power of the Holy Spirit. This is a constant battle to do the "right" things and avoid doing the "wrong" things with the end goal being holiness rather than intimacy with God. The problem with this lifestyle is our legalism causes us to be judgmental and we impose our do's and don'ts on others before they’ve even had a chance to encounter God for themselves. For so many of us who grew up going to church, this is the experience we had, and unfortunately this has caused many millennials to leave the Church. This is because we know deep down that church is much more than showing up on Sunday morning pretending that we aren't struggling to keep up with the cookie cutter expectations. So we decided to walk away from the Church and find God on our own terms.

 This brings me to the other extreme, complete disregard for holiness due to emphasizing God's grace. Millennials are known for being a noncommittal generation. This is apparent in how often we change jobs and the person we're dating. We like to test the waters but when it comes time to make the plunge, we walk away. Unfortunately, this is how we've treated our relationship with God. We believe in God and we want salvation so we confess that Jesus died for our sins but we lose sight of the whole "Jesus is the Lord of my life" part. We like to keep God in a box that we can bring out on occasion when we really need him but we absolutely do not want him to impose any type of expectations on how we live our lives. Even though this isn't a dating post, I'm going to use a marriage analogy to clarify this point. 

Let's say you and your boyfriend have been dating for a year and he asks you to marry him. You wouldn't respond "Yes! But I need to be able to see other guys on the side." That's because we have an understanding of the covenant of marriage. We know that when we say "I do" that means we not only become a wife on our wedding day, but we remain a wife for the rest of our lives. In one moment, we accept this role but then we spend a lifetime living out the role we've taken on.  This is a great picture of what it's like to become a Christian. When we say "I do" to God, we immediately receive eternal salvation through the forgiveness of our sins (we become his bride), and we also receive a committed relationship of intimacy with God that lasts forever (we live as his bride). We would all agree that when you get married, you no longer flirt with or go on dates with other men. Why then do we flirt with and go on dates with the world while we're married to God?

We live in a time when political correctness is of the utmost importance and sadly this has caused many Christians to shrink back. Because we've tried to counter the legalistic view of Christianity, which turned so many people away from the Church, with this unbiblical version of grace that's too afraid to ruffle anyone's feathers, we've lost sight of Jesus. He didn't walk around condemning people for their sins but he also didn't pretend like their sins weren't a big deal either. He lovingly called people out of their sinful lifestyles into something so much better, an intimate relationship with God. He got on their level, he taught them and he gave them a chance to ask questions. He invited them in and once they accepted, he called them to a higher purpose. This is the beauty of our God. Because he knew our prideful tendency was to strive to achieve perfection on our own, He sacrificed Jesus to cover all of our sins. And because he knew our sinful tendency to abuse his grace, he gave us his Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

I don't know which end of the spectrum you relate to the most, but I want to remind you that it is for freedom that Christ set us free and he doesn't want us to live in bondage of slavery to law or to sin (Galatians 5:1). God's gift to us is a personal relationship with him and he offers us an abundant life if we will trust him. 

The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. 
-1 Samuel 16:7

This is what the Lord says:
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
    or the strong boast of their strength
    or the rich boast of their riches,
but let the one who boasts boast about this:
    that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
    justice and righteousness on earth,
    for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord.
-Jeremiah 9:23-24

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
-Romans 6:1-4, 15-18

Photography by Justin James
As I've mentioned before, I am not a dress girl but I have to admit, it is pretty nice to have an entire outfit with only one piece. I set out on a mission to find easy dresses to throw on during the weekends when I'm running around, but that I could also wear to work. This Theory dress is exactly what I was looking for! It's so comfortable and the tie around the waist adds a great detail that takes a basic tshirt dress up a notch. I love that I can throw on a pair of Nikes and head out the door or I can just as easily dress it up with a pair of wedges and statement jewelry. 

Oh and also, if you live in Dallas and haven't been to Royal Blue Grocery in Highland Park Village, you have got to go check it out! It is the cutest little store with a great variety of products. The floral section is beautiful and there is also a coffee shop. It's a perfect spot to sit outside with a latte or glass of wine whether you're meeting a friend or going on a date.

Have a great weekend!

Small Business: Patience As A Business Builder

Don’t follow your passion; follow your effort.
-Mark Cuban

There are few things greater than having a passion for something and putting your all into it everyday. When you finally find that one thing you want to build towards, you want to share with others. But often times the things you want most take time, which takes patience. Over the past year I've been working towards building my personal styling business. I love helping women shape their wardrobes to their personal, unique style which is a key part of building their confidence. I wish I could do it every single day. However, I'm still building my clientele which takes time, and so much patience.

It's easy to get burnt out when you work for hours on your marketing, writing content and perfecting your services without seeing physical manifestation of your hard work. Obviously when running a business, financial revenue is the end goal but you know you don't want the dollar signs to cloud the reason why you started the business in the first place. You had a calling, a social conscience, a motivation to jump in. 

You hear quotes like "Rome wasn't built in a day" but they don't apply because you've been working at it now for months. Your passion remains but your patience for what you want begins to dwindle. Your inner voice starts telling you maybe it's you, maybe someone else can do it but you cant. Maybe you should give up. Maybe you'll fail. 

You try to push the voices out, only to push them to the back of your mind. You do what so many others tend to do and that's becoming your own worst enemy. After all, you get the front row seat to your failures. Rarely is your inner girl boss louder than your inner mean girl. If that resonates with you, here is a great post behind the various reasons we get in our own way (here). 

In an era of instant gratification, the idea of waiting is unacceptable. Patience is a hard practice and under appreciated but usually all great things take time and as my dad likes to say, grit. Here are a few scriptures for anyone running their own small business:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
- Thessalonians 5:16-18

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace

- 1 Peter 4:10

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.
- Proverbs 12:1

Recently I had a beautiful happy hour hosted by Miss Abby Miller and Swoozies at Coohills in Denver! These are some of my favorite lady entrepreneurs that know a thing or two about building a business and fighting through the ups and downs. Each of them bring something unique to the table and you can certainly see how Swoozies brought the cutest decor to THIS table! They gifted each of us with monogrammed hats, tumblers and beach bags. So sweet! Do you have a baby shower coming up, planning a wedding or just need a sweet gift in general? You can either shop in their store in Denver or online! 

To follow the beautiful girls you see in these photos, their Instagram handles are all listed below. 

From left to right: @polishedavenue, @the_novice_native, @denver.darling, @withlovelilyrose@hannah_moon, @myboringcloset, @semisweettooth, @MallorySauer, @Emmawlker@darlingbedaring

Photography By Corey Anthony

xoxo Hannah

Working from Home: How to Stay Productive

From the dishes, to dogs, to Netflix, it is easy to get distracted when you work from home. Often times I get up from the table to get a cup of coffee only to see the dishes and decide to do those instead of my work. My house is a bit drafty and my husband got me the most amazingly, soft robe so it's easy to not even get dressed. (Right about here I had to take Bishop on a walk cause he wouldn't stop whining...see?!)

So what are some things we can do to stay focused?

Diversity in Denim

I'm from the generation of the skinny revolution. For some reason when we started wearing skinnies it was like no other denim existed. Finally over the past couple years, we started venturing back to wide leg pants, flares, trousers and now, cropped! I always thought that skinny jeans must make me look skinny but it wasn't until I tried on a wider leg that I realized it slimmed up my hips. Now I'm hardly a fan of skinnies at all. We've preached on flares before on a previous post, and here I am again, showing a phenomenal pair of wide legged jeans by AG in a nice medium wash for day time. 

Chic in Champagne

I loved wearing this dress to my cousin and fellow blogger, Rebecca's, wedding. I felt so chic, so elegant and the best part is that it has pockets! This dress, along with the other bridesmaids dresses, were ordered from Weddington Way. It's a great platform that makes it easy for brides and their maids to find, customize and order their dresses. Each dress is handmade to your measurements which is great if it's difficult for you to find something to fit your body. Rebecca, being the great fashionista she is, picked out a dress for each of us girls to look at and she nailed my style! The only issue is that none of the dresses are qued until each girl purchases hers, so make sure all the ladies are ready to buy so it doesn't hold up the dress making processes. 

Spring Up

"Why, God?" is a common question that has been perplexing humans for ages. Our finite minds have trouble comprehending the ways of an infinite God. This year I decided to choose a theme word and corresponding scripture to pray and focus on. Well, we're 3 months in and I certainly have had to "surrender" and trust "that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). We live in a broken, sinful world that is full of hardships and letdowns. It's up to us to decide how we are going to handle suffering. We must endure and to endure is not simply to exist; it's to exist in the same manner as before the suffering began. 

Make Your Ponytail Perky

I've had fine hair all my life so achieving volume has always been difficult for me. I've never learned to tease my hair and even if I did, it wouldn't hold. I'm partial to a ponytail because it's such an easy 'do but I hate that mine falls flat! Not only do I have fine hair, but I have a ton of it so it falls very easily. Needless to say, I was super happy when I found this amazing little product, the Perky Pony! It comes in all natural hair colors to blend and hide in your hair. In the photos below I've demonstrated how to use the clip to give you a nice, full, perky ponytail! Continue reading for a sweet surprise at the end.