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      Meet The Newest Member Of Our Family: Nash Johnson

      One could say I have a lot going on right now.. planning a wedding, getting married, selling my house, buying a new house, running a blog, a jewelry line, on top of my everyday responsibilities of being a mom and everything I'm involved in through my community. Yikes. Don't get me wrong, every single one of those things are such a blessing and I'm so thankful that they're all "good stresses". However, adding another animal to our zoo was pretty much at the bottom of the to do list. I guess the saying, "when it rains, it pours" really is true!

      When I came home from church on Sunday Tyler surprised me with this sweet puppy that he found out in the middle of nowhere in South Carolina. My reaction was a mix of, "Have I been drugged? There's no way he's serious and there's actually a dog in my driveway," to "He's cute, but when are his owners going to be here to pick up him because he's not staying with us." His fur was matted with goodness knows what, you could see every bone in his body, and you could tell his poor paws were in bad shape as well. We would be a perfect foster family for him until we could find someone to take him!  Well, somewhere between giving him his first bowl of food, his first vet visit, and an (expensive) trip to Petsmart, we bonded. His monogrammed "Nash" bed will be here next week and we're officially WAY out numbered by animals, but (as I'm trying to remind myself daily!) what fun is life without a little bit of chaos? :)

      PS-- Does anyone have any guesses as to what kind of dog he could be? Anyone done the blood test that tells you? Let me know in the comments!

      Nash4-8-14

      Nash1

    • Lifestyle

      Living In The Moment..More Than Just A Quote On Pinterest

      I know I've said it a million times on this blog, but the past year has been one of the absolute best of my life. I remember about a year ago I wrote about my "pinch me" moment when InStyle Magazine wrote about my jewelry line on their website and still to this day it's crazy for me to even type that sentence! As humans we often get so focused on where we want to be in our life, what we need to do better, things we need in order to feel "complete", and worrying about our future, that we forget to stop and live in the moment. I know every girl out there with Pinterest has some variety of "Live in the Moment" quoted on one of her boards, but what does that really mean?

      As someone who tends to worry about the future and be her own worst critic, to me it means taking the time to really be "present" in each moment and not being fearful about what the future may bring. A few weeks ago Tyler and I were asked to speak at our church, Forest Hill, here in Charlotte and to say I was nervous would be an extreme understatement. I kept thinking, "Why in the world would anyone want to hear what I have to say about my faith? These people have been walking with The Lord for far longer than I have. Everyone is going to leave church asking themselves why that chick from that reality show was on the stage."  I kept thinking that David Chadwick, the pastor, was going to read some of the things people say about me on the internet and call back, saying they decided to go a different direction with the service (aka Christian talk for, "You're not who I thought you were and we don't really care about what you have to say.").

      For so many years I have questioned why He would bring me through something like The Bachelor and eventually The Bachelorette, knowing all along I would meet my husband through church just a few miles from my house. Couldn't He have spared me so much heartbreak and humiliation? Well, as I was praying for Him to give me any excuse NOT to speak at church, I kept getting the same message: THIS was the very reason. I have gone through many storms in my life, only to have God bring me through to the other side and now was my chance to give Him all the glory. I have been so caught up in worrying about my past and trying to move forward, that I didn't even realize that He had already brought me through. So I guess what I'm trying to say is don't be so worried about the future and the person you want to be, that you forget to recognize that maybe you're already there and you've already become that person!

      If you want to check out the video from last Sunday, here's the link! You can also download the Forest Hill app and watch any of the services from your phone. If you're in the Charlotte area and are looking for a church, I can't say enough wonderful things about Forest Hill and how much it has impacted my life!

       

    • Lifestyle

      You Heard It Here Last.. I'm Engaged!

      Assuming you haven't been living under a rock, you've probably heard the news but if not, I'm here to let the cat out of the bag. I'm ENGAGED! And no, it's not to someone I met on a reality show or even a dating site, but to an amazing man I met through my church, Forest Hill, in Charlotte. I should've known all along that God was going to do things His way!

      And trust me, I can already hear all of the Debbie Downers out there saying, "Again?!", but let me be the first to say, this time it's the real deal. I promise! We've been dating for over a year and have known each other for much longer. I used to teach a jewelry making class at a middle school that my church adopted and Tyler was one of the coordinators of the  program. Well, every Thursday I could count on him to come help me carry all of my beads out to my car at the end of class. The only problem was he was so good looking that I could barely make eye contact with him, much less have a normal conversation. I kind of pride myself on being able to have an interesting conversation with a wall if need be, but for some reason I was so intimidated by him and the fact that he showed me no interest at all just made it that much worse! Fast forward a few years (and a few attempts to find love on tv) to our first date and we've been inseparable ever since! I'm so grateful to God for bringing him into our life because he's been the biggest blessing to Ricki and I both. I can truly look back now and see how God has guided me through everything, even the hard times when I thought I'd be alone forever, and used it all to make me the person I am so that I'd be ready. Goodness knows I have a long way to go to be the person He created me to be, but I couldn't have picked a more amazing man to get to spend the rest of my life with and I can't wait to see what all God has planned of us as a family!

      And because so many of you have asked, here's a pictures of my ring(s)! I told him I didn't want a traditional engagement ring and that I just wanted some simple bands. He went above and beyond to say the least and they couldn't be more "me". I got a good one :)

      ringsmall

      With all of that said, I need some serious advice. HOW IN THE *#&@! DO YOU PLAN A WEDDING?? If it were up to me, we'd run off to Vegas tomorrow but I know my mom would probably never forgive me. The only problem is, I don't even know where to begin! I went to a wedding convention (who knew there was even such a thing?!) with a girlfriend and literally walked around in a daze. So, for all you wise, married women out there.. What would you have done differently? The same? What's the next step after pinning everything you can possibly pin? Can I just give my wedding board to someone have them figure it out? Do I even need a wedding planner?

      Ok.. I'm officially stressed out. Clearly, I need some help so leave me all your tips in the comments!

      And just because I think he's the biggest babe on the planet, here are some more family pictures :)

    • Lifestyle

      Gift Guide: Your Friend That Has Everything

      If you're anything like me, you're running around just days before Christmas finishing the last of your shopping. So, I feel the least I could do is give you all some ideas on what to get your friend that has everything! My sweet friend, Amy, gave me a phone case similar to this one and I love it! It's a regular case and also has another case that slips on top when your battery needs charged on the go. And what girl doesn't love getting something sparkly? These earrings and ring are perfect for the holidays!

      Has anyone else not finished their shopping yet? What else do you have on your list?

      Don't forget Nordstrom still has some really great things on sale!

    • Lifestyle

      Happy Thanksgiving!

      First of all, HAPPY THANKSGIVING everyone!  I hope you're all spending the day with the people you love the most. But let's be real.. We'll all need a break from that at some point, so lock yourself in your room for a couple minutes and check out all the sales going on today! Here are some of my favorites..

       

      Nordstrom Sale: Save up to 33% off

       

      ASOS Sale: 20% off site wide with code GIMME20

       

       

      Now go get back to your family! :)

    • Fashion

      Gift Guide: The Crazy Cat Lady

       

      We all have a "crazy cat lady" friend and for my friends, it's me. I like to consider myself an OG cat lover because I loved them before all the hipsters (do people still say that word?) thought it was cool to post cat pictures on Instagram. So, for all of your true cat lovers and even the allergic ones that just think they're cool, I have the perfect gifts for you!

      What other gift guides would you all like to see on the blog? Goodness knows I need another excuse to do some online shopping!

    • Fashion

      Fancy Chairs and Perfect Hair

      On most beautiful fall days, after school Ricki and I like to hang out in the very fancy chair in the front yard and just talk about how much we love each other. Of course, I'm wearing a dress, my hair is perfectly curled, and Ricki's long blonde hair is perfectly pinned. We just laugh and she tells me that I'm the best mom in the world..

      And then I wake up from my dream and am forced into reality. I'm running around in cat leggings and Uggs, picking up whatever mess my zoo of animals made the night before.  Ricki's hair is in knots and I'm screaming up the stairs, begging her to at least put a headband on, while we're running out the door, trying our hardest not to be late for school.

      Ricki talked about how much she dreaded the shoot for Charlotte Parent, and to be honest, I was so scared she was going to be crying in all of the pictures. Right before these beautiful pictures were taken, I was upstairs in her room begging, bribing, and praying that she'd just wear the clothes I picked out and smile for a couple pictures. Basically, I was using everything but physical force. Eventually she agreed and can you believe as soon as the camera was on, that little girl thought she was Cindy Crawford, trying to find her best angle and laughing as if I actually said something funny??

      Even though my reality isn't always sunshine and rainbows, I'll take my life any day of the week and wouldn't trade it for the world. Besides, twenty years from now, we'll look back on these pictures and have forgotten about all the fuss. We won't remember all the begging and pleading it took to get to this point and for a minute, maybe we can convince ourselves that we really were the family that sat outside on fancy chairs and talked about how much we love each other.  But for now, I'm having fun every second of being a mommy to this girl of mine and hope I never forget a minute.

    • Fashion

      Great Gifts that Give Back

      I know this is one of those awkward, small talk conversation starters like the weather, but can I just say that the Harris Teeter down the street from me needs to take down the Christmas decorations IMMEDIATELY.  And while we're on the topic, the Santa at the mall on November 1st can pack up his bags too. I'm not ready and in my house C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S is still a four letter word we don't speak of yet.

      But in the name of peer pressure, I feel like I need to at least start thinking about what I'm going to get everyone on my list so that I'm not hiding under my covers with anxiety the week before Christmas. I hate that the whole reason behind Christmas is getting so lost and thats the first thing I think about when I think of December. So in that spirit, here are some great gifts that not only everyone on your list will love but also change the lives of others around the world!

      FashionABLE Scarves and Leather Clutches- Not only do I truly love these scarves, I love the cause and people behind them even more. You may remember in August I had the opportunity to go to Ethiopia and meet the women behind this brand and I wish more than anything that I could put into words the love I felt while I was there. Each scarf is handmade by women in Ethiopia who have escaped their previous life of sex trafficking and hopelessness all because of this amazing line.

      The Giving Keys- I first learned about The Giving Keys on my trip to Ghana when my friend, Kris, was wearing one and I just thought it was a cool necklace. After learning about the meaning behind each key I loved it even more. Each one is engraved with an inspirational word, such as love or hope, and when you feel someone needs that message more, you pass it on to them and hopefully they'll do the same for someone else. Whats even cooler is that the people making the pieces are transitioning out of homelessness and because of The Giving Keys, they're able to open bank accounts, get apartments, and have hope for their future again.

      Fashion & Compassion- I was given this necklace as a gift myself and I get compliments on it everywhere I go! Each piece is handmade by women around the world overcoming poverty and injustice, so by purchasing one of these pieces you're changing the life of not only that woman but also her entire family. To me, the most amazing part is the newfound dignity and hope these women feel in their heart that they most likely never would've without Fashion & Compassion.

      Drop in The Bucket- Can you believe that there are millions of people around the world that wake up everyday without clean water? While you and I can reach in our refrigerator and grab a bottle of water or turn a knob and take a warm shower, people in some parts of Africa and Asia have to walk an average of 3.75 miles just to get a bowl of water. Just by giving this as a gift, you're helping to bring water to the 783 million people who go everyday without. And besides that, my friend Cassie helped start Drop in the Bucket and her passion for the cause is contagious!

      OneHope Wine-  With the holidays brings lots of holiday parties and I think it's the southerner in me that couldn't imagine showing up empty handed, so I usually end up grabbing a bottle of wine on the way. OneHope Wine is one of my favorite tasting wines and they also give half of the profits of each bottle sold to needy causes. Each kind of wine gives to a different cause whether it's breast cancer research, education, animal rescue and many more. And let's be honest, at the end of the day, sometimes nothing sounds better than a glass of wine so I always grab a bottle for myself too!

      Do you know of any other great gifts that also give back? Let me know in the comments!

    • Lifestyle

      A Public Promise To All Of My Friends And Family

      I wasn't going to post anything today, but as I sit at my kitchen table and finish up my reading for the day I felt I needed to. Even it's for no one else but myself.

      I came across a section in a book I'm reading that really spoke to me, especially on this day. I've heard people say for so long that losing someone made them hold the people they love even closer to their hearts and even though I would pretend to agree, I never felt that way. To be honest, I felt the exact opposite and ended up pushing everyone away. Over the years I have built up walls around myself, protecting my heart from ever feeling that same hurt again, thinking that I could deal with everything on my own.

      I know that I can't be the only person that has felt or is feeling that way, so I know it was the Holy Spirit pushing me to go out of my comfort zone today. Nine years ago today was the worst day of my life and I hate to even see it written on the calendar, but for the first time I can look back and say that I've come a long way. God has blessed me with so much and I owe it to Him to let go of the fear I have in my heart. Not everyone is going to leave. Not everyone is going to hurt you. However, some will and I've finally learned that's okay. I know now that keeping everyone at arms length is hurting me even more than anything I could ever go through and I don't want to be that way anymore. So, I'm challenging myself and anyone else who feels even close to how I do, to be a better friend, daughter, mother, follower of Christ, and whatever other hats you may wear. And when fear creeps in, remind yourself that you can't control what anyone else is going to do, but as long as you have love in your heart, God will make it worth it in the end. I promise.

      And yes, this is a public promise to all my friends and family that I'm going to be better about texting, calling, emailing, morse code, smoke signals and every other form of communication you have used to try to get ahold of me. I love each and every one of you... and I love that you put up with me :)

    • Lifestyle

      Maid of Honor... So.. Now What Do I Do?

      This November one of my very best friends, Nanci, will be getting married and as if that weren't exciting enough, she asked me to be her maid of honor! Of course I said yes and immediately had thoughts of bachelorette parties and champagne in my head, but apparently there's more to it than that? Who knew?

      This might sound lame, but it's such a huge responsibility and I want to do a really good job but I have NO CLUE what I'm supposed to be doing. You'd think after three engagements I would've made it to this point, right? (I find it best to make fun of yourself before others have the chance) Obviously I'm going to need your help!  Anyone have any fun tips for being the best maid of honor a girl could ever ask for? Fun bachelorette party games/favors/whatever else?

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