Worth Celebrating

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Today my surroundings aren't quite the usual living room atmosphere or the hustle and bustle of the neighborhood coffee shop that so often sets the tone as I post.  I decided to switch things up a bit today.

I'm currently cozied up in the corner of a window seat in the swanky, 3rd floor secret sweet spot that I love to frequent, otherwise known as Cuvee, a lovely champagne bar.  Blame it on the artsy culture of the Third Ward, or my view of colorful buildings and the lot across the street where we took some of our wedding photos... or perhaps it's the fact that I'm sipping on a champagne cocktail called Tickle Pink, but I am finding myself in a particularly good mood.

Soaking up this moment and allowing myself to get lost in the delightfully pink bubbles as they float to the top of my flute that is so delicately rimmed with pink sugar, I feel like it's a moment worthy of celebration. Finding myself in this joyful mood, I'd like to share something with you that has caused me to celebrate in the past week.

Ever since I can remember, I have had a hard time titling things.  Be it a paper in high school, an article for the Ripon College Days (the Ripon newspaper), or my final project for my senior seminar, coming up with a title that was both catchy and fitting was always like pulling teeth for me.  When I first started this adventure, and found myself trying to name my blog, I wasn't sure what to call it.  Let's be honest, I wasn't really sure what blogging was all about or what I wanted it to be.  So instead of putting a lot of thought into it and coming up with something super creative, I named the blog exactly what it was- New to Me.  [Of course I tried to make it a little fancier and wrote it in French; I was a French minor after all ;).]

But now I find myself in a different place.  Things aren't quite so new.  I've gotten acclimated both in my marriage and in this crazy place we refer to as the blog world.  So for the past couple of months I've been feeling like it's time for a change- for a growing up of sorts.  This blog has changed from being just a fun outlet to meaning a lot more to me.  I am still figuring out what exactly that means, but what I do know is that I want this space to be true to me.  I want it to portray who I am, who I want to be, and what I hope for my blog to become someday.

Putting a lot of time, thought, bouncing ideas off sweet friends, and a few nights where I lay awake brainstorming and vetoing most of the crazy ideas that flowed through my mind- I am so excited to tell you that I finally landed on a name!!

Welcome to the unveiling of "loveMin"- a blog about the journey to develop a lifestyle that exudes love, joy, inspiration, and Jesus.  

There are a lot of details I have yet to work out.  I don't know how I want my new name to look, how I want the design to change or any of that. What I do know is that I have a lot of ideas, goals and hopes for my new space.  There's a lot behind why I chose this name and what it really means to me, and how I want it to affect my page from here on out- I plan to share this with you, but I'd like to save it for another day.  I know this is just the beginning- but I can't wait to keep moving forward.  For now, I am so excited to share this "news" with you.

I'm super excited about this, and hope that it can be a new name, a new space that both you and I come to love.

Thanks so much for joining me on this journey- I can't wait to see what's to come.


In Love with Life: A [huge] Birthday Balloon

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Growing up, birthdays have always been a bit of a celebration in my family.  A 'Happy Birthday' banner placed on the mantel, often accompanied by a balloon or two, were always a pleasant surprise when we came downstairs on the morning of our special day.  And you could never get through the day, let alone the morning, before mom and dad would come into our rooms, with a smile and a hug, singing Happy birthday to you!!  Another exciting element of the day was being given the power of choosing our favorite meal to eat on our birthday night.  Interestingly enough, even when we were little we, didn't choose chicken nuggets or ice cream or something.  My sister often chose Cheeseburger Pie, and my favorite was Chicken in a Basket.  (Much to my dismay, they do not create the potato shoestring baskets that made this meal- otherwise this would still be birthday meal of choice.)  Coming home from school, the birthday fun would begin with dinner followed by a tasty dessert (also of our choice) and then the fun part, presents!! Sometimes grandpa and grandma would be there to partake in the fun as well.  It was really great.  And in addition to the birthday fun on the actual birthday, we were given the opportunity to celebrate with our friends in one way or another.  I remember several tea parties, probably a few at chuckie cheese, dress up parties, surprise parties in high school, and lots of other memorable moments.  My grandpa used to say, "You girls are lucky!  Your birthdays go on for weeks!!" 

Since then, a birthday has not gone by without a celebration in our family.  As I prepared for my sister's upcoming birthday last week, my husband commented- 'man, you guys and your birthdays... they're so extravagant!"  I never really thought about it that way until he said that.  We really have been blessed to build a discipline of celebration around our special days.  I know it may sound a bit ridiculous, but I think it fits in perfectly with the mentality of choosing joy.  You can either let each day go by without choosing joy or fun, or you can make a point to be happy, and have a blast!  

So here we are, me 26 and my sister just turning 29, and we still put a solid effort into coming up with new ways to celebrate.  This year, I was pretty excited about what I came up with to bring a little joy to my sister's special day.  And thus we meet, the Big Balloon. :) 

I have seen many pictures of huge balloons on wedding pictures, or on various images from my Instagram feed, but never have I seen one in person.  I was STOKED when I found out that I was able to get one of these beautiful things at a local party store.   I felt like a kid in a candy shop when the clerk presented me with the 36" of pink joyful goodness.  :)  Clutching the balloon with fear that it might escape my grasp, pushing it through my car door, as well as trying to drive without the balloon bopping around in my sight in my rearview mirror- made getting the balloon home a trip.

But the best part of all was surprising my sister.  Bright and early on her birthday I decided to grab a few donuts, the balloon, and be at my sister's house before she went to school.  And the funnest (yes I said funnest) part was, I didn't just ring her doorbell, instead, I called her and said "Hey, can you do me a favor?  Can you look outside for a second?"  A little confused, she peeked out her bedroom window and saw me standing there in her driveway with the huge balloon.  She was ecstatic, she kept giggling over the phone and said oh my gosh, oh my gosh, that balloon is huge!

Before heading off to school I took a picture of her (image above) and her "balloon buddy" as we referred to it for the rest of the day.  It was so so fun to bring joy to my sister and celebrate her in a way as random as giving her a big balloon.  [And it was also a ton of fun to make her lug that balloon around everywhere with her for the rest of the evening... I called the photos "Steph and her balloon parts 1, 2, 3, and 4" see images below]  She means the world to me- she's my best friend.  Such a loving, caring, beautiful, encouraging woman, who I could not live without.  I am so blessed to have her in my life, and so thankful to have the opportunity to bring her joy.

So, cheers to the little things in life that make people happy, like huge balloons.
My hope is that this week, you might take the time to celebrate those you love, and find joy in the small things.


Happy St. Patrick's Day Mani

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I hope you all enjoyed your weekend and had a fun holiday! My sister's birthday is a few days before the crazy day, so celebrating her birthday tends to include a bit of Irish goodness and a few green beers. In honor of the day, I decided to create this simple shamrock manicure.

Have a great Sunday night! 


In Love with Life: Dance lessons Pt. 1

Friday, March 15, 2013

For as long as I can remember I have been a dance-aholic.  From sock hops in middle school, to homecomings, formals in college, to wedding dances, or an occasional club visit, you can pretty much guarantee that you will find me on the dance floor.  It is just one of those activities that brings joy almost instantaneously.  I understand that this isn't the case for everybody.  Some people need a little liquid courage, or just would really rather sit on the sidelines, but not me.

Thankfully, my husband, too, is quite the dancing man.  If we're at a wedding and the dance floor is struggling for people to start off the night, you can count on us to be the first ones on the floor.  We are most certainly not pro-dancers, but we just love to dance!  And no, I don't mean the bump and grind, gross kind of dancing.  I mean the jumping around to the music, shaking your stuff, a little cupid shuffle here and there- the FUN kind!! I'm not even sure where the thrill of it comes from, but I don't really care- it's great!!

I know I haven't always been as confident in the fun of dancing.. I remember in high school I was always nervous about it.  I wanted to feel free and not worry about what others thought of me, but well, it was high school so that was a bit hard.  But something changed in my college years- maybe it was the cocktail I had before we would attend a "lounge party" (as the dance parties were called in my day), but honestly I don't think that was it.  I think it all comes down to being confident in yourself, okay with looking a little funny, and just really allowing yourself to have a blast with it!

Besides the typical wedding dance fun, I have a bit of a fondness for salsa dancing.  Last year, I even went to a salsa lesson with a girlfriend of mine, you can check out more about that here.  But the thing was, I didn't necessarily want to learn salsa on my own.  Going to a club with just your girlfriends can be great, but it becomes a bit tricky when you're married.  I don't want to get hit on anymore.  I don't want to have to worry about whether or not the guy I am dancing with gets that I am simply dancing with him and there will be no advancing beyond that.  This setting can still be fun, if with you're with the right crowd- but it's still a bit tricky.  So in order to avoid this, there is a perfect solution... my husband too, must learn to dance.

Thankfully, since my husband (who I'm pretty sure may have danced MORE than I did at our wedding!!) likes to dance, it wasn't too hard to approach the topic of dance class.  And at the silent auction for the Oscar Gala, my dreams became a reality!  We bid on and won a package with Fred Astaire Dance Studios for 2 dance classes and 1 practice party.  I was stoked!! Since I have been on a mission to be more in love with life, to intentionally seek out joy, the idea to take a dance class fit right in.

Wednesday night we began the adventure.  Before our lesson, we were encouraged to dress as if we were going out on a date night.  So Chris wore nice dress pants and a collared shirt - and I followed suit wearing a purple, fun-to-spin-in, skirt with a black top.  Arriving at the dance studio, we put on our dance shoes and were ready to jump right in.  We met our instructor JR who took us into the ballroom right away.  The next 40 minutes flew by as we learned basic steps of the Rhumba, Foxtrot, Waltz, and the push-pull.  We learned how to have proper frame for each of these dances, and spent a brief amount of time on each dance, moving about throughout the studio.  Accomplishing each of these basic steps and receiving positive feedback from our instructor, he even allowed us to learn the basic step of the salsa (which is not usually part of the intro class).  Which of course brought me great joy, because that's really the dance that I have the most fun with.  As our time in the class came to a close, my husband escorted me off the dance floor with a smile on his face.  We both had a blast, and are definitely looking forward to our next lesson at the studio.

Needless to say, I am pretty excited about this new adventure, about this new way of working towards being in love with life.  I am so thankful for a husband who supports my crazy ideas and does it with a joyful heart!  [He even suggested we consider signing up for the beginner's dance program - 5 lessons, 2 practice parties, and a ballroom cd!!]  I am a lucky lucky girl.

But besides learning a few basic dance steps, I have walked away from this experience realizing how easy it is to make fun happen.  Sure, in most cases, it costs a little money... but isn't it worth it?  I'm so glad that instead of just talking about taking a dance class, we actually did it- we made it happen.  Is there something that you have been dying to try, or that you have on your bucket list?  I encourage you to take the next step to find out more, and MAKE IT HAPPEN!

I can't wait to share more with you about this dance class and the joy that I'm certain it will bring.
Until then, be intentional, go out and do something fun!! You won't regret it.


The image above is from a friend's wedding reception, captured by Lindsey Stayton Photography

Fulfilling Purpose

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

This is a question I have been asking myself a lot lately.  I think it's a totally natural question to ask when like me, you find yourself in a place of transition, of being "in-between things" as I always answer these days when people ask me, "So what do you do?"

I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with the question 'what is my purpose'.  It's a great one, because it keeps me looking forward; it helps me to dig deep and think about in the long run, what do I want to do with my life and why.  But then on the other hand it sometimes feels like a weight on my shoulders.  On days when I feel less optimistic about finding my calling, thinking about it sends my mind into a spin.   It's the double-edged sword of: This world is full of opportunities- there are many ways that I could find purpose and make a difference VS. this world is FULL of opportunities, how can I possibly determine where my next step should be?

In my mission to be in love with my life I have thought a lot about what inspires me, what gets me motivated.  And I have allowed those to be the things that determine my next steps in the past couple weeks.  That's what is leading me towards putting more effort into this journey with my blog.  But, even amidst choosing joy, there is always the dark voice in the back of my mind that tries to creep in, asking- "well what are you doing this for?  What's the point?  You don't even have a purpose.  Who really even cares, just give up!" When I have moments like this, it is hard not to get discouraged.  To get caught up in the self-destructing mind spin of thinking maybe that little voice is right, maybe I have no purpose, maybe I'm not doing anything that is positively affecting this world, maybe I'm not going to find my purpose.

Struggling with this dark voice lately, I was glad when I stumbled across an encouraging word in my Bible reading.  Psalm 138:8 spoke directly to my fears and questions of purpose.  It says,
"The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever-- do not abandon the works of your hands." 
This verse jumped off the pages and really spoke to my heart.  The first encouragement that spoke to me is this, "The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me."  It doesn't say, might fulfill, it says WILL fulfill.  It's not a question, not a doubt; it's a promise.  And the second is this.  "The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me."   This is a part that is so near and dear to my heart.

About four years ago, I had a big perspective change in my life.  It's a big piece of my life story, one of the parts of my testimony that I get really excited about.  Here's what I discovered...

My life is not about me.  It's not about my desires to be good, loving, caring, and Christ-like.  Instead, it is about God's story- about His love, His purpose for this earth, and how He wants ME to be a part of that.

If you've never thought about this before, I know it sounds super strange.  It almost sounds like we have an arrogant God who only cares about his big picture, but that's not what it is at all.  God is a loving, caring god who has a wonderful plan for this world, and He loves you and me so much that he wants to give us a place in that plan.  [I had no idea this post was gonna feel so 'preachy' sounding, so forgive me.  But it's just a huge piece of my heart so I feel like I have to share, in order to be true to who I am.]    

It's a lot to think about.  I know.  It took me awhile to understand the difference between these two perspectives, but once I did- it was a HUGE shift for me.  It is this perspective change, this understanding that I am a part of God's desire to love and redeem the whole world, that really gave me an understanding of my place in this world.

What I'm now realizing is that for me, it's not really a question of what my purpose is, but of how I am going to fulfill that purpose.  

After reading the verse "The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me" - I am walking away feeling encouraged.  I feel such a strong affirmation that even though right now I have no inclination of what my next steps are, or what my day-to-day, future job calling may look like, He does in fact have a purpose for me.  And HE WILL fulfill it.  But not only does he know the what of my purpose, He also knows the how.  And I am confident that in His perfect timing, I will know that part too.

I'm not alone in this... You, too, ARE GOING TO fulfill the purpose that the Lord has planned for you. Is this something you've thought about?  My hope is that if you haven't, you might.  It's a difficult question to think about, but it can be so so rewarding.


Mustache Manicure

Friday, March 8, 2013


I have been thinking about this manicure for awhile and decided that today is the day.  Nothing like a lil mustache fun to brighten up the day right?!  I paired my fancy lil mustache with a springy pink color in hopes of convincing spring it is time to arrive.  Topped off with Seche Vite and I'm good to go.  

P.S. Who decided that mustaches were cool?  They are everywhere- magnets for your wine glasses, erasers, flasks, nail art!  Nevertheless, I dig it.  :) 

Have a fab weekend!  

In Love with Life: Blog Love

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A couple weeks ago, I shared about how the statement "Be in love with your life. Every minute of it." really challenged me to think about what it means to be in love with life.  It made me think about how I can choose to be joyful - to choose to be glad and turn my back on the darkness that is so much a part of this world.  Since first thinking about this statement, and considering how it affected my life I have decided that this is going to be somewhat of a "New Year's Resolution" for me. I want to challenge myself to "choose to be glad" by being intentional about doing things that I love, doing things that bring joy to my life.  I am really excited about this challenge, because I think it will be a great adventure.  It will give me an opportunity to pursue fun, to be creative, come up with new activities to try out, to basically find more fun to be had.  

My goal is to share with you once each week about how I am pursuing joy, or more fun in my life.  I'd like for it to become a regular feature on my blog.  I think it will be a great way to dwell on the joy in my life, and to share with you in hopes that you, too, might find more joy!  

With that said, I'd like to share with you my first feature of In Love with Life.  This past week I decided to finally take the jump and explore more in developing my blog.  For the past year, this blog has been a fun adventure- just something that I have done here and there whenever I felt like it.  Over the past few months, its been on my heart to put more effort into my blog.  I'm not sure where it's coming from, or where it's going to end up- but it's been something that motivates me, gets me inspired and so I'm going for it!  

My first step in developing my blog, (besides the random google searches on how to make it prettier, mess with the html coding and css, etc) is taking an e-course created by the lovely Elsie at A Beautiful Mess.  What it is, is an online course with 12 sessions where Elsie helps you think through a lot of blog basics.  I'm only two weeks in, but so far we've covered topics such as "What's the point?" and "Finding your Online Voice."  Honestly, I'm LOVING it so far.  It has helped me really think through what I am doing this for and what I want it to be, what I don't want it to be, etc.  [If you want to know more about the course, click on the button on my sidebar- Blog Love Student.]

This is just the beginning of this journey, but I am so excited about it- and so excited to be able to share with you what I'm learning and loving.  My hope is that I might not just develop my blog to be something beautiful, but also that I might learn more about myself, and through the process be an encouragement to you too.  

Have a fabulous week- and go seek some fun!! :)

Defeating Death

Monday, March 4, 2013

Today my heart is a bit heavy as I mourn alongside a couple friends whose father just passed away unexpectedly.  I have to be honest and say that it has shaken my world a little bit this past week.  Death is such a strange and heavy thing, that no matter how much trust you have in the Lord's goodness, it is still hard to understand and hard to process.

When I say that it shook my world a bit this week, what I mean is that it was a bit difficult not to internalize what was all happening.  It was too easy to become fearful, to be worried about the shortness of life, to think about the loved ones in my life and how impossible it is to even think about losing one of them.  This is a fear I have struggled with ever since I was little.  A month or so ago, I shared about my struggle to work on fear - this ongoing battle to choose joy and trust that there is a God who already won the victory against the evil one.  

Arriving at the funeral yesterday, I would not have guessed the overwhelming feeling that would be on my heart when I left the service.  Although the room was full of sadness, mourning the loss of a loved one who would no longer be with us- there was a much stronger feeling.  Amidst the sadness was a great sense of JOY!  Joy in the knowledge that God is greater than death; Joy in the knowledge that the man who will be missed from this earth is in fact in a much better place than we can ever imagine, he is with the Lord!  In times such as these, where death brings thoughts of darkness and heaviness- it is SO good to be reminded of the truth that Christ defeated death and the power of evil.  THAT was the overwhelming feeling that filled the church yesterday. 

Leaving the service I was a bit surprised that I was walking away feeling encouraged and challenged.  Encouraged that God truly shows up in heavy moments such as these, just as He promises He will.  That He really is a God of love and peace even in the most difficult times. That He is good and will protect me.  That there is no moment I will have to endure alone.  That He will provide and give me the strength to make it through even the most difficult of times.
And challenged to leave a legacy as strong as the one left by my friend's father.  

From the tributes and stories shared by family members and good friends it was evident that he was a man who truly exuded Christ and was all about loving and encouraging those around him.  He took every opportunity to share his story of how God transformed his life from one of brokenness into one of love and joy.  He was proud to introduce anyone he could to the Lord, the one who redeemed him.  He was a man who really deserves the words "well done, good and faithful servant." 

I want to leave a legacy like that- where it is more about Him and less about me.  My goal on this earth is to love and to encourage others, to share the joy that I have found in the Lord and introduce others to Him so that they too may come to know the One who defeated death.  My hope is that today you might be both encouraged and challenged.  That you would be encouraged to know that you are loved, and that there is One who will provide for you even in the worst of times.  And challenged to get to know Him, and put your trust in a God who deserves it.

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