Browsing Category

Seasonal

Winter Essentials

February 8, 2017

By: Danielle Kingsley

It might be February now, but winter is still in full swing! I may have grown up a So Cal girl, but after spending many a winter in Utah during my teenage years, I have grown to love this season! There is something fresh and magical about the winter months and I don’t want to miss it. Here are six of my current winter essentials to help you get in the spirit!

1. DREAM. PLAN. REPEAT.

In a world of iCal and phone planners, I love the simplicity of a written calendar/planner. This is my second year using this Horacio Printing planner and I absolutely love it! Not only can you write out your day-to-day schedule, but you can jot down praise reports and goals. There is even a space each season to write down who you can pray for and bless. You can find it here.

2. DREAMY MOVIES

I had  been waiting for months for “La La Land” to be released, and it did not disappoint! This movie is pure magic and is supported by the fantastic duo that is Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Go see this movie – your heart will thank you.

 

 

 

 

3. SOUTHERN CHARM

I have been a southerner for nine years now, and I am fully embracing it! I absolutely love the southern charm of Reese Witherspoon’s store, Draper James (located in Nashville and online.) Totes get this bag y’all. Find it here.

 

 

 

 

4. PAR-TEA

If you know me, you know I am usually holding an iced tea in my hand. I have had some pretty good tea in my lifetime, but none compare to the quality and taste of Teavana tea. Their “Perfectea” makers are super affordable and come in an aray of colors. My favorite tea to brew is the “Pineapple Berry Blue Blend.” Grab yourself a tea maker here.

 

 

5. CITY LOVE

Two things I love: Reppin’ my city + Baseball caps. If you are local, grab yours at Imago Dei located in historic Franklin! If not, grab yours here.

 

 

 

 

6. PROTEIN ON-THE-GO

If you are like me, you have tried almost every protein bar under the sun and never quite found one you love. Recently I discovered these NuGo protein bars and I am hooked! They are gluten free, vegan and delicious! You can find them at Whole Foods or on Amazon.

 

Photo Cred: Danielle Kingsley

Danielle Kingsley, a Southern California native, served as a missionary and worship leader for ten years at a growing church planted by her family in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 2007, Danielle moved to Nashville, Tennessee where she was provided the opportunity to be the original vocalist to record the now popular worship song, Your Great Name. In 2013, she released her first EP Falling, that generated two #1 singles on International Christian radio.

Since the recent loss of her father to a brief battle with cancer, Danielle has been sharing her story about finding hope through loss and the peace that is found in Jesus at a variety of conferences across the United States. She is writing her first children’s book and devotional, and is currently on tour with Secret Keeper Girls. Check out her blog at www.DanielleKingsley.com. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter @DKingsleyMusic

 

Trusting Completely

February 3, 2017

By: Danielle Kingsley

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. May it be to me as you have said.” – Luke 1:34-39 (NIV)

Mary must have been stunned by such a breath-taking appearance that delivered such an unbelievable message to someone so unsuspecting. Take a moment and think about a time that literally took your breath away, and multiply that by a thousand! I am not sure my response would have been that of Mary’s. Her trust in God was so evident in her words. I know, if I was in Mary’s place I would have stumbled over every single sentence, made some sort of awkward facial expression, followed by a million, long-winded questions, then I would have Gabriel go and explain this whole situation to my parents and fiancé. Then, alone in my room, it would all be followed by a whole Why Me God moment with all the waterworks. It wouldn’t have been one of my proudest moments.

Trusting in God completely, like she did, likely cost Mary her reputation and more. She was young, unmarried and pregnant – and not only was she pregnant, but she was telling people she was carrying the Savior of the world in her womb. How could it be? Her life, as she knew it, would never be the same. Her future was unknown. Yet, she trusted fully in God and sang His praises:

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.” – Luke 1:46-49

Mary was told she was to be the mother of the King, but she did not know what came next. She rested in knowledge that her life was safe in the hands of the Lord- because she knew that nothing was impossible with God.

Growing up, I was always the last person to volunteer to take part in The Trust Fall Game. Whether it was in Sunday school or Girl Scouts, I had no desire to demonstrate my trust in that manner nor in front of a group of people. I would watch as my friends would start to fall backwards into the arms of others, but then eventually chicken out and not fully submerge into the fall. I sometimes still catch myself doing the very same thing to God. Do you? Trusting is hard. Trusting is a a daily journey of surrender. It is realizing we are not in control. Trust is where we simply place our lives in the hands of the One who is not only in control- but also knows what is best for us.

Having faith in God means we trust Him in the joy and in the sorrow. It means we trust Him in the little details and with our big dreams. Having faith in God means we trust in Him in everything because we know He is always working for our good. We can trust in our God because He is trustworthy. May it all be as He has said.

Is there something you need to trust God with in this season?

Maybe it’s a financial struggle.

Nothing is impossible with God.

Maybe it’s a broken relationship.

Nothing is impossible with God.

Maybe it’s your singleness.

Nothing is impossible with God.

Maybe it’s your job.

Nothing is impossible with God.

Lord, we know that You are a God of miracles. May our trust have no limits. May we have faith in You in every season for we know You are always working for our good. No matter the circumstance, and no matter the outcome – You are good. May it be as You have said. Amen.

 

Photo Cred: Jenn Richardson

 

Danielle Kingsley, a Southern California native, served as a missionary and worship leader for ten years at a growing church planted by her family in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 2007, Danielle moved to Nashville, Tennessee where she was provided the opportunity to be the original vocalist to record the now popular worship song, Your Great Name. In 2013, she released her first EP Falling, that generated two #1 singles on International Christian radio.

Since the recent loss of her father to a brief battle with cancer, Danielle has been sharing her story about finding hope through loss and the peace that is found in Jesus at a variety of conferences across the United States. She is writing her first children’s book and devotional, and is currently on tour with Secret Keeper Girls. Check out her blog at www.DanielleKingsley.com. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter @DKingsleyMusic

Winter Blues

January 14, 2017

By: Juliandra Durkin

Anyone else feeling it this year? Waking up to grey skies everyday and cold, rainy, or snowy weather that keeps you cooped up, maybe you get a little bit moody and down like me? I love to hike springtime, summer, and fall, but during the winter my motivation to get out in the woods… well it sounds dreary and cold instead of invigorating and fun. Through the winter months it is not uncommon to get a bit down or depressed, but we wanted to share a few healthy habits to combat the winter blues!

Eat a Balanced Diet

Our diets affect us more than we know. If we eat high sugar and high fat meals through the Holiday season, we can come down and crash after. Sugar can actually cause anxiety and depression. This winter, make sure you eat plenty of high nutrient foods like fruits, veggies, and berries, good proteins, and healthy fats. The combination will keep your body sustained, instead of the sugar spikes that, in my case, took my body for a ride through all those Holiday parties just a few weeks ago.

Exercise

Despite the snow and cold, it is still important to move! Whatever gets you motivated be it lifting weights at the gym, ice skating for the first time, a walk through the neighborhood, or even a cold, rainy hike. Call up a girlfriend or two and make it social if you are really not feeling motivated. However you get moving, know that exercise increases endorphins in your body, which inherently make you feel brighter!

Wear Bright Colors

Research shows that colors affect our moods as much as anything. Different colors evoke emotions ranging from calm to excited. Boost your mood by simply pairing typically dark winter tones with a bright cardigan or scarf. Try it and see how it effects you and others throughout your day!

Volunteer

Are there any causes at your church, campus, or town that peak your interest that you can give your time to? I think part of the Winter Blues in my case is feeling isolated at my house instead of social in the community. Volunteering is a great way to connect with other just a few hours a week. What a fulfilling way to get through the winter and even build new friendships that could carry on to the future!

However you get through the Winter Blues, know it is a seasonal hardship and we’re almost through it! Halfway there my friends!

 

Photo Cred: Alisa Anton

Juliandra Durkin is the manager for Wonderfully Made’s blog Know Your Value. She also writes at Written Jewels, a personal blog with stories and reflections on life. Besides writing, she spends her free time exercising or out in nature. Give her a beach or a mountain; sunrise or sunset, she loves it all, especially walking her dogs in the woods! A graduate of Westmont College, Juliandra was able to attend three study abroad programs exploring Spain, parts of the Middle East, and Mexico. These experiences gave her a heart for culture and travel and she hopes to get more stamps in the passport soon!

2017…WHAT IF?

January 5, 2017

Every time a new year rolls around my mind wanders with possibility. I think of the brand new slate ahead of me as I’m flooded with both possibility and fear. Possibility of what I could accomplish, of who I could become. Fear of what could happen, of who I might lose that I love.

What if I just wake up at 7am every single morning? (not a morning person!)
What if I do spinning three times a week, yoga every Tuesday and start weight training?
What if I write for three hours every day?What if I’m finally faithful in my quiet time?

This year I wonder instead of picking all of these things (which I know would just set me up for failure) I picked one thing. Something simple. Have you every heard of the rock analogy? You know, when someone takes an empty vase and fills it with small rocks and then tries to put big rocks in it that don’t fit? When they place the big rocks in first, there is room for the tiny ones – they just find their place in the vase and fall between the crevices.

As a woman who follows Jesus, I must ask myself what the big, most important rocks are. Time with my Maker is number one – the author of my life, the planner of all my days and the redeemer of my soul. When we seek after God, we’re not promised a perfect, pretty little life, but we are promised we’ll never be alone and that He will direct our path. When we live a life in step with God’s spirit, the smaller matter such as making time to nurture our bodies fall in to place. You might think as someone who leads a ministry I have this big rock figured out, but if I’m  honest with you I still struggle this basic, foundational spiritual discipline.

So this year my word for the year is RISE! Inspired by this old hymn:

In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus.

Not my iPhone, not Instagram, give me Jesus. Because I really believe, every area of my life will is better with His presence.

What one thing are you focusing on this year? What’s your word for 2016?

Photo by Chelsea Steller for Wonderfully Made.

Allie Marie Smith is the Founder and Executive Director of Wonderfully Made. She is the co-author of both Bible studies in the Wonderfully Made series: Healthy Eating and Abundant Living, and Becoming Who You Are in Christ. She is also the developer of the Body Beautiful iPhone app which promotes true beauty and positive body image. She lives in North Santa Barbara County with her husband Paul where she loves adventuring and surfing up and down California’s golden coast. You can find her blogging at The Kindred Sisterhood.

 

Short Poem, Timeless Celebration

December 12, 2016

By: Juliandra Durkin

 

What a wonder, what a sight

The Son of God was born tonight

And to a woman so young and poor

Her name, sweet Mary,

Remembered forevermore.

 

Chosen before time to carry a King

He who came so selflessly

A life that started in a barn

Animals and shepherds

Witnessed the Savior’s first sounds.

 

Who would have known,

Who could have guessed,

That the Most High,

Just a child, would come like this?

Hail the Son, the Prince of Peace

Hail the Son of Righteousness

Hark, dear angels, come and see

Look in the manger at our newborn King.

 

He came tonight from His throne above

To live like us, to show His love

Reach out your hand and embrace Him now

For the King, this Babe is forever around.

 

Photo Cred: Steve Halama

Juliandra Durkin is the manager for Wonderfully Made’s blog Know Your Value. She also writes at Written Jewels, a personal blog with stories and reflections on life. Besides writing, she spends her free time exercising or out in nature. Give her a beach or a mountain; sunrise or sunset, she loves it all, especially walking her dogs in the woods! A graduate of Westmont College, Juliandra was able to attend three study abroad programs exploring Spain, parts of the Middle East, and Mexico. These experiences gave her a heart for culture and travel and she hopes to get more stamps in the passport soon!

Gratitude Through the Ups and Downs

November 27, 2016

By: Rachel Brown

November is a month of thankfulness, causing us to sit back and really contemplate the blessings that have been bestowed upon us. Here at Wonderfully Made we strive to thank God daily for all He’s done for us, but we find ourselves in a particularly thoughtful mood each year when Thanksgiving rolls around. We know that it’s easy to practice gratitude when things are going well in our lives—when we’re in an exciting new relationship, when we get promoted at work, when we turn in a particularly difficult assignment, when we get to take a wonderful vacation—but we’ve started focusing on intentionally practicing gratitude all the time, even when the going gets tough. As you might expect, this is a challenging adventure to embark upon, so we’ve gathered some tips and tricks for getting us into the habit of expressing thanks no matter what season of life we find ourselves in.

Remember That Everything Is Beautiful In Its Time

 My favorite verse is Ecclesiastes 3:11—“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” This poignant reminder has helped guide me during dark days when it seemed that there was no light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. This verse officially became my mantra during my senior year at Pepperdine University. I had been in a serious relationship since my freshman year. My boyfriend and I had discussed marriage, but things had started changing between us over the last several months—we cared for each other like we always had but we both started wondering if we envisioned futures for ourselves that didn’t include one another in them. I was running on the beach one afternoon a few months prior to graduation, thinking about my future as a young professional and also in terms of my relationship. I candidly asked God, “What am I supposed to do?” A thought popped into my head immediately, one that I knew was from God: “It will present itself to you.” I ran on, frustrated, wondering what that was supposed to mean.

The intention behind the thought was revealed to me a few short weeks later when my boyfriend and I suddenly broke up. Even though things had been rocky, I was totally caught off guard and incredibly heartbroken. While reading my Bible one day, I stumbled upon Ecclesiastes 3:11, a verse I had read a thousand times but had never stopped to soak in in its entirety. But now the verse took on a new meaning for me; it represented encouragement and hope in a time that felt bleak and painful. He would, I realized, make everything beautiful in its time—not in my time. God had painted a beautiful picture for my life, and only He knew exactly how the timing was going to play out. I realized that I needed to practice patience and exercise trust, being grateful for the present moment and especially thankful for a God who so clearly had me in the palm of His hand. Looking back now, I know that God gave me that lovely relationship in college to help prepare me for my incredible husband, the man I was meant to be with from the beginning. God knew we needed time to mature into the adults we are today so that we could serve and love each other in the sweetest ways possible. There have been (and will continue to be) so many moments just like this one, moments where I’m reminded that everything will be beautiful in God’s time.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

 We bet you’ve heard this tip before, as it’s a ubiquitous piece of advice when it comes to practicing gratitude, but that’s because it’s truly such a great way to keep thankfulness at the forefront of our minds. Whether you splurge and buy a pretty notebook where you can write down your thoughts or simply keep a list running in the notes section of your email account or phone, the act of documenting the things for which you are grateful will help you realize all of the goodness in your life, even if the days feel long and hard. There is always something we can be grateful for—fresh air, clean water, a warm bed, a home-cooked meal. Look for joy in the little things, and write them down—it will be refreshing and invigorating to reflect upon them on days that are difficult.

Send Love Notes

 Take the time to be intentional with the people you love by sending them a note that expresses your adoration for them. Use this opportunity to pick up some fun stationery and stamps and actually put pen to paper to tell someone how much you care about them. Email and text messages do the trick, too—the key is to be sincere and direct. Though it’s a wonderful thing that telling people we love them is so commonplace, sometimes the depth of the phrase can unintentionally be lost due to the frequency by which we use it. So if we’re using technology to convey our feelings, let’s make sure we’re thoughtful and intentional in our comments, citing a specific reason why we love the recipient of the messages so much or reflecting on a special time we shared together. Expressing gratitude for our relationships will help us be thankful for the goodness inherent in our everyday lives.

 

Photo Cred: Hoang Viet

about the authorRachel  is the Director of Development for Touch A Life, an organization committed to the rescue and rehabilitation of children who have been exploited and trafficked in West Africa and Southeast Asia. Though she loves working in the non-profit world, Rachel has always been passionate about writing, pursuing opportunities to put pen to paper outside of her day job. Aside from writing for Darling Magazine, she maintains a personal blog, Coffee & Tacos, where she connects with others through food, travel, faith & community. Rachel lives in Dallas, TX, with her husband, their adorably large English mastiff, and a new baby girl, Ruby.

5 Ways to Show Thanks This Season

November 22, 2016

By: Katie Messer

As Thanksgiving is upon us in only a matter of days, take a moment to assess your true feelings of giving thanks. Are they determined by a situation or by the unchanging status of our Lord, Jesus Christ? As I have reflected within my own life, I have come to the conclusion that the world only champions certain blessings. And for other types of godly blessings (e.g. heartache, difficulty and trials), the world looks on. What’s my point? If we aren’t focused on the Word of God and living thankful lives, as referenced in the Scriptures, it is easy to grow complacent.

The Bible speaks of many gifts the Lord has given to us through Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:3-11). Ladies, bottom line, we have everything we need to live a life that is pleasing to God and a blessing to others. I love that even in times of not knowing what to say or even what to pray, the Lord encourages us to come to Him for wisdom (James 1:5)! Thus, if you find yourself feeling a tad bit overwhelmed by the social pressures around you as the holiday season revs up—silence all devices and sit at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:39 & Luke 10:42). After a time of serious refreshment, check out these five ideas of gifts of thanks for those who have made an impact on your life.

As you consider who you would like to bless this Thanksgiving season with an encouragement, the biggest thing is to pray for the person by name. Ask the Lord to bless and direct the steps of the individual.

Idea #1. A Ray of Sunshine Bottle: This is a fun way to create a memorable gift that will be treasured for years to come! Take fifteen to twenty paper strips and write out an encouraging verse or personal encouragement for the recipient. Fold the notes, or “rays of sunshine”, in half and place into a small mason jar or other glass container. Now add a little glitter to the jar, close it up and shake. Tie a ribbon around the lid, and deliver!

Idea #2. Shadow Box of Memories: Gather some little items that represent the times you have shared together. For example, little pebbles or leaves from a path you walk together. Arrange them within the shadow box and write a short card sharing something you have learned from the recipient on such a walk together.

Idea #3. A Steaming Basket: This is a great gift for those who enjoy a hot cup of something to warm up as the weather continues to cool off. Gather an assortment of individually sealed tea, coffee, hot cider and/or hot cocoa and display them in a small wicker basket, atop a pretty seasonal napkin or decorative straw. Wrap some burlap and ribbon around the basket and add a little verse to complete the gift (e.g. Psalm 18:46, Psalm 46:10, 2 Peter 1:3 & Matthew 6:10)

Idea #4. Bouquet of Thorns: This one may sound a bit unconventional, but it really is a blessed reminder of God’s faithfulness in the midst of difficulty. Inspired by a Revive Our Hearts podcast this past Thanksgiving. Go to the florist and ask for a bouquet of roses…without the rose heads. Ask for a beautiful bow to be tied around the rose stems. The bouquet of thorns signifies that there is beauty that comes out of seasons of discomfort, longing and even great heartache. Include a card to accompany the bouquet. Encourage the recipient that you are praying for them in their season of great difficulty for the Lord to provide His strength, steadfast love and ability to praise God in the midst of it all (Psalm 34:18, Psalm 145:18, Isaiah 57:15).

Idea #5. Three Ingredient Cupcakes: Ok, ladies, this is a total favorite in our home! Three ingredients…no eggs…super easy! Mix 1 cake mix (chocolate, vanilla, yellow or white) with one 15 oz. can of Libby’s Pumpkin…add 2 cups chocolate or butterscotch chips. Mix and put into oven. Cook for 20-25 minutes at 350F. Done. Delicious…instant win!

No matter how you choose to bless someone in this season, remember that you are a blessing in their lives—not simply the gift you bring.

 

Photo Cred: Evan Kirby

about the authorWhat is love? Is it s’mores on the beach at sunset? Is it a mountain vista overlooking acres of evergreens after a hike? Is it scuba diving through a shipwreck? Kayaking as the summer rays kiss your face? Climbing sand dunes? Skydiving? Author and blogger, Katie Messer, would answer that any interaction with God’s creation points to the infinite love of God. Yet, the place in which she sees God’s love most fully manifested is in the ultimate act of unabashed love by her Lord, Jesus Christ. She thanks God for her God fearing husband and their two children who share in these international adventures. “Mirrors to Window: Change your view to see God’s true romance” is a book of Katie’s own honest testimony of God’s radical rescue and redemption within her own life. “Blooming Beauty” is Katie’s official blog site. Check it out for encouragement in how to see and thank God through all circumstances of life. Why? Because you are worth it to an infinitely loving God.

Life Like a Pumpkin

September 26, 2016

By: Katie Messer

When September comes around each year, there is one item that steals the show- the pumpkin. From seasonal foods, drinks and cinema classics to home décor and photo props, the pumpkin takes center stage! But, have you ever seen the pumpkin as a way to explain the Christian life? As the weather begins to cool and the leaves begin to fall, let’s take a look at an amazing reminder of our spiritual journey with Jesus Christ — as illustrated by the growth of the pumpkin!

Much like the orange mascot of fall, each of our spiritual lives started with a small seed. The Lord assures us that the Word of God will accomplish the work He intends for it (Isaiah 40:8, Isaiah 55:11 and Matthew 24:35). In the same way, once an individual is willing to accept the free gift of eternal life from Jesus Christ, they will be saved from eternal punishment and judgment (John 1:1-18).

As a Christian takes the time to dive into the Bible, ask questions, pray and seek godly counsel, a process much like spiritual watering and feeding takes place to revitalize the soul (John 4:14). While Jesus was preaching, He said this:

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6 (NASB)

The pumpkin seed then turns into a sprout. And in the spiritual sense, once an individual receives Jesus Christ as their own Savior to wipe clean all the known and unknown failures, a new life in Christ has begun! Praise God that the moment any person (young, old, married, divorced, straight, homosexual, athletic, intellectual, etc.) entrusts their eternal hope and security to Jesus Christ—a sprout within our souls arises.

 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (NASB)

The sprout then grows a vine now that the plant has well-established roots and is moving across wider terrain! How does this happen in a spiritual sense? Jesus Christ shares that He is the One True Vine (John 15:1). As a believer continues to “feed” on the Word of God, the believer becomes spiritually stronger (Psalm 119:9-16). Now, the vine does not stay in one place. No, no, no! It is on the move! As believers in Jesus Christ, we are instructed to do the same:

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’” Mark 16:15 (NASB)

The vine then produces the flower. Just as the flower opens to receive a special gift from the bee, as believers, the Holy Spirit comes to each one to provide power to go forth and be witnesses for Jesus Christ into the entire world. After Jesus Christ victoriously rose from the dead on the third day, He ascended into Heaven, and instructed His disciples by saying:

but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NASB)

From the flower, the much-anticipated pumpkin will grow—and grow—and grow! Many will purchase pumpkins in October, to carve into jack-o-lanterns that will light up the darkness of the night. In the same way, may we as Christians, share the light of Jesus Christ—that is within our souls—to a dark and unknowing world. While preaching from a hillside as He delivered the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told His followers that they were the “light of the world” and that this light was never to be hidden. Rather, the light was to be displayed for all in the house to see (Matthew 5:14-15).

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (NASB)

 Growth is a process. Pumpkins take time to grow into the orange orb we all love and adore. In the same way, our faith in God, our obedience, and our trust in Him through all circumstances are all growing as well. Be encouraged that no matter where you may be on your journey with Jesus Christ, He is ready to encourage you to keep going. So press into His Word and above all, keep growing in your knowledge of Him because you are forever cherished by an infinite God.

 

Photo Cred: Aaron Burdon

about the authorWhat is love? Is it s’mores on the beach at sunset? Is it a mountain vista overlooking acres of evergreens after a hike? Is it scuba diving through a shipwreck? Kayaking as the summer rays kiss your face? Climbing sand dunes? Skydiving? Author and blogger, Katie Messer, would answer that any interaction with God’s creation points to the infinite love of God. Yet, the place in which she sees God’s love most fully manifested is in the ultimate act of unabashed love by her Lord, Jesus Christ. She thanks God for her God fearing husband and their two children who share in these international adventures. “Mirrors to Window: Change your view to see God’s true romance” is a book of Katie’s own honest testimony of God’s radical rescue and redemption within her own life. “Blooming Beauty” is Katie’s official blog site. Check it out for encouragement in how to see and thank God through all circumstances of life. Why? Because you are worth it to an infinitely loving God.

Transitioning into Fall

September 19, 2016

By: Rachel Brown

September 22nd marks the official start of the autumn season and while there are so many fun things to look forward to in the fall, sometimes it’s difficult to transition from the carefree vibes of summer to the productive, pumpkin-scented months that follow. We’ve cooked up some ways to lessen the blow in the switch in seasons, and we’d love to hear your tips for transitioning from summer to fall.

Go Back-to-School Shopping

 Whether or not you’re heading back to school this fall, everyone can reminisce over the fun of shopping for new school supplies. While many of us aren’t spending our days in a classroom any longer, we can still embrace the theme of back-to-school shopping as it applies to our careers. Use fall as a reset of sorts; even though you’ve spent each day of the summer season at work, the new season can help spur on new inspiration. Spruce up your workspace with some new supplies—pretty notebooks, a new lamp for your desk, or lovely organizational tools. Or snag a work-related clothing purchase that you’ve been eyeing for awhile—new shoes, a great sweater, or a fun bag. Just a dose of something special and new will hopefully bring about inspiration and freshness, whether you’re continuing on in the daily grind at work or heading back into the classroom.

 Learn a New Skill

 Regardless of whether we’re in school or in the workplace, honing a new skill is a life-giving activity for all of us. Students especially may wince at the idea of adding one more learning-based activity to their overloaded schedules, but think outside the box and use the time to stimulate yourself creatively, emotionally, or socially rather than academically. Have you always wanted to cook a certain type of cuisine? Sign up for a class. Want to try your hand at pottery? Find opportunities at a local community college or arts school. Interested in calligraphy? Register for a fun brunch + hand-lettering workshop. By using your mind outside of the classroom or the workplace, you’re allowing your brain to expand and stretch in new, meaningful ways. You’re also reinvigorating your spirit, providing ways for you to be newly inspired in your daily setting at school or work.

 Tidy Up Your Space

 Think of this like you would spring cleaning, but in the fall. As we transition from summer to fall, it’s so nice to rid ourselves of clutter and prepare for the seasonal changes ahead. Consider creating a capsule wardrobe for fall, putting away (or donating) summer clothes that you’ll no longer wear as cooler temperatures roll around. Spruce up your household décor by adding fall-themed touches that bring you joy—a pumpkin-scented candle, for example, or seasonal flowers. Toss old notebooks and school/office supplies, replacing them with fresh new ones (see the back-to-school shopping tip above). Do a deep clean of your dorm room or office, pulling out all the stops with your favorite household cleaning supplies and organizational tools. By physically creating a fresh start in your space, it will be easier to create an emotional and mental fresh start as you transition into fall.

 Plan A Trip

 Nothing helps more during a transitional time than having something to look forward to in the coming months. Summer is typically full of vacations and parties and events, and while the holidays hold the same allure, the fall season presents more of a blank canvas, providing lots of opportunities to pencil in activities and plans that invigorate us and bring us joy. Research shows that simply planning a trip brings us lots of joy, so ease into the new season by recruiting girlfriends to go on a road trip together, planning a weekend excursion to visit your parents, or exploring a new city for the first time.

 What tips do you have for transitioning from summer to fall?

Photo Cred: Cecil Vedemil

about the authorRachel  is the Director of Development for Touch A Life, an organization committed to the rescue and rehabilitation of children who have been exploited and trafficked in West Africa and Southeast Asia. Though she loves working in the non-profit world, Rachel has always been passionate about writing, pursuing opportunities to put pen to paper outside of her day job. Aside from writing for Darling Magazine, she maintains a personal blog, Coffee & Tacos, where she connects with others through food, travel, faith & community. Rachel lives in Dallas, TX, with her husband, their adorably large English mastiff, and a new baby girl, Ruby.

Summer of Service

August 4, 2016

By: Rachel Brown

We can’t believe it’s August! Summer is flying by, but there’s still plenty of time before Labor Day Weekend is upon us. This season is one for rest, relaxation, and exploration, certainly, but it’s also a good time to look outside ourselves and find ways to serve others. We’ve rounded up several ways that you can get busy serving, and we’d love to hear if you have any ideas to add to the mix!

Participate in a Service Trip

 If you’ve got a few vacation days to spare, consider researching opportunities to participate in some kind of service trip, whether it’s an international trip that lasts for a week or a weekend project that is closer to home. Connect with a cause that’s meaningful to you, ensuring that you avoid the negative aspects of voluntourism by committing to help with a service project that the non-profit or mission organization really needs (i.e. the construction of a new building that will benefit the population served or organizing a clothing drive for displaced refugees).

 Help Out a Neighbor

Whether your next-door neighbor is an elderly adult in need of some help with yard work or a young family who could use a free babysitter, scope out ways to get involved just outside your doorstep. The first step to take is to cultivate relationships with those who live close in proximity to you, whether you’re in an apartment complex or a house. Introduce yourself by bringing over baked goods, or simply reach out with a handshake and an exchange of names. Once you get to know your neighbors better, assess what needs they may have and offer to help in whatever capacity seems appropriate.

 Host a Summery Fundraiser

 Summer is the perfect time to host get-togethers, so why not put a spin on a fun evening with friends by hosting a party to benefit a cause you love? Send out invitations online and let people know in advance that the event is meant to raise funds for a worthy cause, either by encouraging guests to bring donated items or a few dollars (suggest a specific amount so they know whether you’re looking for $5 per person or $20 per person, and ensure that you communicate clearly what the money is for). Provide snacks, sips, great music, and a fun ambiance, and, if you’re so inclined, take a few minutes to share a bit about the cause you’re supporting and why it means so much to you.

 

Photo Cred: Arthur Poulin

about the authorRachel  is the Director of Development for Touch A Life, an organization committed to the rescue and rehabilitation of children who have been exploited and trafficked in West Africa and Southeast Asia. Though she loves working in the non-profit world, Rachel has always been passionate about writing, pursuing opportunities to put pen to paper outside of her day job. Aside from writing for Darling Magazine, she maintains a personal blog, Coffee & Tacos, where she connects with others through food, travel, faith & community. Rachel lives in Dallas, TX, with her husband, their adorably large English mastiff, and a new baby girl, Ruby.