Friday Links

Friday Links are a round-up of my favorite posts/videos/projects/photos from around the web.

It’s the weekend! Thanks to a pretty big snowstorm Wednesday night, my weekend technically started yesterday. We got about six inches of snow around here, so naturally North Carolina shut down. We spent our snow day sitting around a fire with friends, building snowmen, and watching movies. We’re headed to celebrate my mom’s birthday tonight, so there will be LOTS of family time this weekend. I hope you all have a lovely (and WARM) weekend! XO

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For your weekend reading pleasure…

  • This post from one of my favorite bloggers on the line between wanting and needing love and how one person can change it all. I love this.
  • This really fun DIY project from I Spy DIY.  This jewelry tray is super cute and actually looks pretty easy to make. Would make a really fun gift!
  • A lovely post from Shauna Niequist on why you are enough.  What makes you enough is your createdness.  God made you. He made you, he dreamed you up, spun you out of thin air.  That makes you so much more than enough. That makes you a work of art—because you were created by a master. 

Why I Still Believe In Church

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I still believe in church. Obviously, since I work at a church, church is a major part of my life. And believe me, I’ve seen it all—the good, the bad, and the very, very ugly. Most of the people I know who are my age have given up on church. They might still be believers and profess faith in Christ, but they don’t go to church. They don’t go because church left a bad taste in their mouth for some reason or another—the church hurt them and left them scarred. The church they left behind is full of hypocrites and liars. They simply have better things to do. For whatever reason, they just don’t go to church. But I still believe in church.

For many people the church is a place of pain. I get that. I understand that. I’ve seen that and felt that. Churches have the power to crush and destroy people more than almost anywhere else. If the church has hurt you, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry that we let you down, that we weren’t there for you when you needed us, that we judged you and condemned you when it wasn’t our place at all. I’m sorry. I wish I could hug you and hear your story. I know, and I’m sorry.

But I also believe that the church can be a place of healing and redemption. She can hurt, but she can also heal in incredible ways. The church, at its best, is a community. It’s people who love each other. It’s people, which means they can also hurt and discourage one another. But people can love one another. They can encourage one another. They can mourn and doubt and be angry together. People all over the world who are broken and sick and depressed and lonely go to church all the time because they need other people. They need to be a part of something, to know family and acceptance and love. I believe the church can do that. She fails often, of course. But she can do that and she does.

I also believe in the church because I know that God dwells there. He is everywhere, of course—in our homes and schools and workplaces. But he is at church, too. He is waiting there to meet his children, to offer strength and healing and redemption. The church can’t do what God can do (that expectation is part of our problem), but it can be a place for you to meet God. It can be a place where God teaches you something new. It can be a place where God uses the faith of others to hold you up when your own shaky faith has lost its footing. It can be a place where worship and truth telling and brave prayers encourage you to move forward. The church can do that.

My fear is that too many people have taken the easy way out when it comes to church. It is easier to point fingers and call out the imperfections and stay away and safe. It is much more brave to go back—to acknowledge with your presence that the community of the church is an essential part of our faith and that the church, with all its flaws, is still worth our love and our investment.

I still believe in church because as much as I’ve seen her hurt, I’ve also seen her heal. I’ve seen her serve as a beacon and a safe place. I’ve met God there and had the privilege of seeing others do the same. It’s easy to quit on church, I know. But let’s be brave. Let’s have faith and believe. Let’s do the harder, riskier thing and take a chance on her. There’s a place for you there, this I know. No matter what you’re bringing with you—whatever brokenness or hurt or bitterness you carry. There’s a place for you. Let’s be brave.

*Photo Credit (Krist Kaze)

Oscars (Favorite Looks)

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I love Oscars night. Last night a bunch of my girlfriends came over for the red carpet, and we talked fashion, played games, and ate some delicious snacks. Obviously, the best part of the Oscars is the red carpet. The actual awards show is a little rough. It’s just SO long. And they make you wait until the end for anything good to happen. I fell asleep around 10:45, so I missed all the exciting stuff. However, I did check out Common and John Legend’s performance this morning, which was just as powerful as everyone said it was.  It looks like Birdman was the big winner last night, which I still haven’t seen. I was a little surprised that Boyhood didn’t win more, but I was thrilled to see that Eddie Redmayne won the Oscar for best actor in The Theory of Everything. He was excellent. But on to the good stuff—the fashion.

To be honest, I wasn’t blown away by the fashion overall last night. I think the problem was that a lot of the dresses were just kind of blah—not very exciting or original. Here were some of the okay-est dresses of the night:

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None of these ladies looked bad. In fact, they looked absolutely gorgeous. But I just expect so much more from the Oscars. I need more sparkle, more wow-factor. These dresses were fine, but that’s all they were.  I wanted more.

And then, of course, we have the worst dressed ladies of the night:

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To be honest, there were a lot of bad dresses. (Can we even put Lady Gaga on the worst dressed list anymore? I feel like she’s in a league of her own. I’m kind of beginning to feel that way about Keira Knightly, too).  Still, these were some of my least favorite. I know a lot of people liked Sienna Miller’s dress, but I hated the bows. It just didn’t feel like it belonged on the red carpet. And Lorelei Linklater…just no. But perhaps worst of all:

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I mean, WHAT is happening here? The hair, the dress, the neck thing—it’s just all so bad.

Of course, the best part of the night is the good dresses—the swoon-worthy dresses that make it worth the 5+ hours of your life that you lost watching this thing. Here were my favorite looks of the night:

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These ladies looked amazing. In my mind, Jennifer Aniston can do no wrong. This dress fit her so well, and I just love sparkles on the red carpet. Margot Robbie turned out to be one of my favorite looks of the night—she was just SO chic. The cut of her dress, the red lipstick, the necklace—all amazing. And then Naomi Watts. I honestly don’t know what it is about this dress. It’s honestly a little weird and sporty for the red carpet, but I think that’s why I like it. There wasn’t a whole lot of different on the red carpet last night. A lot of people played it safe, and this was unexpected. She looked gorgeous.

And then this girl:

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Granted, the dress doesn’t photograph that well, but I truly adore Emma Stone. I wish we were best friends. And I think she looked fabulous last night—her dress was unique and looked incredible with her hair and skin. So pretty.

All in all, a good (and long) night. Until next year! XO

Friday Links

Friday Links are a round-up of my favorite posts/videos/projects/photos from around the web.

It’s Friday! This has been a little bit of as wacky week with snow and ice and cancellations, but my soul appreciates the rest it brought. This weekend is all about staying inside (it’s SO cold), spending time with friends, and relaxing. Plus, Sunday is one of my favorite nights of the year—the Oscars! I’ll be live tweeting the red carpet, and hosting an Oscars party (because, why not?!?). I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! XO

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 For your weekend reading pleasure…

  • This past Wednesday we entered into the season of Lent. This post from Relevant magazine captures what this season is all about and invites to creates space for God to work in the messiness of our lives. Over time, our hearts and souls, when left unattended, get messy. Lent invites us to deal with the mess. Lent invites us to roll up our sleeves and sort through the debris of our lives. 
  • This video on the UNC-Duke rivalry. Even though we lost, the UNC-Duke is always one of my favorite days of the year. I can’t wait for March 7!
  • This super fun faux stained glass project from A Beautiful Mess. It wouldn’t work in every home, but I think it is so cute (and it looks pretty easy). I love a good craft project!

*Photo Credit

Why I Hate Duke

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“Now I realize that school spirit is a pretty goofy thing to some people, but I’ll tell you something: I hate Duke with an infernal passion undying. I hate every leaf of every tree on that sickening campus. I hate every fake cherub Gothic piece of crap that litters the buildings like hemorrhoidal testaments to imagined superiority. When I see those Dookie boneheads shoe-polishing their faces navy blue on television, squandering their parents’ money with their fratty elitist bad sportsmanship antics and Saab stories, I want to puke all over Durham.

So this is my request, boys of basketball: Tonight, I not only want you to win, I want Krzyzewski calling home to his mother with tears in his eyes. I want Alaa Abdelnaby to throw up brick after brick. I want Rick Fox to take Christian Laettner to the hoop so many times that poor Christian will be dazed on the bench with an Etch-a-Sketch and a box of Crayola crayons. I want Bobby Hurley to trip on his shoelaces and fly into a fat alumnus from Wilmington. Send Thad and Lorna home with their blue tails between their legs.

God bless them Tar Heel boys!”

-Ian Williams (Originally published in The Daily Tar Heel on January 17, 1990)

*Photo Source (Inside Carolina)

Snow Day

One of the best and worst parts of living in North Carolina is that people go crazy when it snows. Everyone completely freaks out and trying to go anywhere is a disaster, but that means that everything shuts down and we get a snow day! We had so much fun sledding, exploring, and staying home all day long. We are super lucky that our best friends live within walking distance of our house, so we had someone (besides each other) to help keep us entertained. Today is another snowy day, but I’m back at the office and getting pumped for the big game tonight. Hope you all have a beautiful (and warm) Wednesday! XO

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February Reading List

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1. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. Ignore the girly/romance cover. The Secret Keeper definitely has plenty of romance, but it also offers a really interesting and intricate story of friendship, love, and survival. Morton’s story switches back and forth between modern-day and wartime London.  She does an excellent job of weaving the lives of the characters together and keeping you rooting for them (even when they’re not all that likable).  Really good book.

2. The Selection by Kiera Cass. My friend convinced me to read this book by describing it as ‘The Bachelor’ meets The Hunger Games—and it so is! It’s young adult fiction, so it’s definitely not the most challenging or intellectually stimulating read. The main characters are all self-absorbed teenagers, and I did find myself rolling my eyes at the protagonist fairly frequently. It is, however, extremely entertaining and fun to read.  The actual writing is pretty sub par, but if you’re looking for something light and fun this book has a really interesting premise and keeps you engaged.  There are also two more books in the sequel, which I’m reading now.

3. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I LOVED this book. There has been a lot of hype surrounding this book, and that’s not always a great indicator of how good or bad the book will actually be. This one actually lived up to its hype. The actual writing is truly incredible—beautiful language and effortless flow. The story follows two children through WWII, one a blind girl from France and the other a young, orphaned German solider. Doerr alternates back and forth between perspectives and time periods, which makes for a really interesting story. It was difficult to read at times because of the content, and at times it left me feeling torn about which characters to love and which characters to hate. Overall, an excellent book and one that will stay with me for a long time.

Friday Links {Valentine’s Edition}

Friday Links are a round-up of my favorite posts/videos/projects/photos from around the web.

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Happy Valentine’s Weekend, people! This weekend is all about love, so this picture was the obvious choice for this edition of Friday Links (RIGHT?!). My husband is abandoning me to go skiing this weekend, so I will most definitely be taking myself on a date to Starbucks and doing some shoe shopping. Because sometimes you just have to show yourself some love. Here’s to a wonderful weekend with someone you love—your husband, your wife, your kid, your friend, your mom, your puppy.

I hope it’s a great one! XO

For your weekend reading pleasure….

  • This awesome parenting advice from Kristen Howerton.  I don’t have kids yet, but I like to think this is kind of mom I’ll be one day. Also, this lady is just hilarious.
  • Adam Lucas is one of my favorite sports writers, and I love this piece on Dean Smith. The Tar Heel family lost a true legend this week, and all of the tributes are well-deserved.
  • This advice in The Washington Post about how to fight with your spouse without ruining your marriage….which seems appropriate for Valentine’s Day and all.
  • This wonderful post from Elizabeth Gilbert on the pressure to do it all and why what you’re doing already is ENOUGH. This is so, so good.

A Thought on Love

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Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called “being in love” usually does not last. If the old fairy-tale ending “They lived happily ever after” is taken to mean “They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,” then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be “in love” need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from “being in love” — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be “in love” with someone else. “Being in love” first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. it is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.

-C.S. Lewis