A lil Photo Shoot

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I'm excited to be sharing this post today because it is something I have been sitting on for awhile.  A couple months ago I decided to take the jump and explore developing my blog more.  Since then, I've been taking a blog course called Blog Love (which I talked more about here), I finally landed on re-naming my blog loveMin, I've thought a lot about what I want my blog to be, what I don't want it to be, and in the near future I'll be working on giving it a face-lift. 

With this in mind, I decided that it might be fun to have a few photos of myself to use for my blog.  One thing that you should know about me is that once I get an idea in my head, it's hard to put it on the back burner.  If at all possible, I love to put a plan into action ASAP.  It was seriously my lucky day when I texted my friend (who happens to take lovely photos) asking her if she'd like to help me with a random little project, and she said "Sure! I can be free in an hour!"  It was fantastic! 

In less than an hour and a half I went from brainstorming this idea to cleaning myself up, throwing on a bright red lip, a photo-ready outfit, and running out the door in my favorite shoes to begin a little photo shoot fun.  I'd spotted a lovely cream city break wall with some bright red hearts right on the corner of a street in my town that seemed like a perfect location.  I mustered up all the inner confidence that I could and posed on the street corner as cars whizzed by- in hopes of capturing just a few lovely, artsy pics.  

After snapping a few pics on the wall of hearts, and staying as warm as possible (don't be tricked by the sleeveless dress, it was freezing outside), we decided to trek to one of my favorite local spots- The Ruby Tap.  On a normal visit, we grab a glass and make several trips to the self-service wine machines and maybe even some cheese to go along with it.  But this time, we grabbed a glass of wine and snapped a few more photos.  It has such a cozy, yet swanky/chic environment that it was a perfect spot to capture a few more shots.  [One of my favorites at Ruby Tap, is the image below on the left.]  

A few hours later we decided to wrap it up and head on home.  It was a blast and a great first experience of capturing some cool photos for the blog.  This is one area that I am hoping to improve on in the future- I'm even working my way towards getting my very own DSLR camera!!  But for now, I am so so thankful for my sweet friend Melissa who was willing to take these photos for me.  She was great! (Be sure to swing on by her blog The Hungry Milwaukeeian where she takes lovely pics of her culinary adventures in Milwaukee.)

I'm really happy with how these turned out, and excited to finally share some of them with you.  I look forward to incorporating these images and capturing more as I continue working on developing my blog space.  I have a lot of ideas in mind and a lot, a lot to learn.  Thanks for sticking with me as I continue to share both my joys and my struggles; I can't wait to see what God has in store for this adventure.  


[Images by Melissa Yates]

More than a Conqueror

Friday, April 19, 2013

Image/design by Liz Carver via Hipster Scripture

Do you ever feel like your life is a battlefield?  No I don't mean like in the 80's song Love is a battlefield (and yet what a great jam)!  What I mean is, do you ever feel like you are trying to fight off some sort of heaviness, some sort of icky feeling, some sort of insecurity, or some form of "darkness"?  Like, no matter how hard you try to stay in a positive, good, joyful mood there seems to be this other force that is trying to bring you down?  Ick. I feel that that has been the story of my week this week.  

The best way I can think of to describe this weird phenomenon that has been taking over my days is like a little dark cloud that very unexpectedly, very unexplainably swoops in over my thoughts, covers over my positive thinking, and leads me to a place of panic.  (Check out my last post Looking for Growth Opportunities  if you want to hear more about what it looks like for me.)  

Unfortunately, this little dark cloud has got me panicked about my upcoming weekend.  There is nothing bad about it, in fact it is supposed to be a fun weekend with friends.  And yet for some odd reason I feel like I have to gear up, put on my armor and figure out how to duke it out against the anxiety that seems to work so hard to defeat me.  

For me, gearing up or preparing for battle looks a lot like grounding myself in the Bible- spending some time with the Lord who brings me peace, loading my mind up with scripture, with encouraging words like, "If God is for us, who can be against us?"  Since I know I am not alone in this icky struggle to battle anxiety, I wanted to share with you what has got me all charged up and ready to fight the fight.

I have been reading in Romans, and today I was reading through Romans 8.  Please check out the rest of it, but in order to keep it brief (ish) I am only going to mention a few verses.  Romans 8:35, 37-39 says:
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  (emphasis added)
Ooh man, I felt like those words were speaking right to my insecurities, right to my efforts to be preparing for battle.  I mean shoot, it even fits in with my imaginary battle with the terminology of more than conquerors.  To be reminded that THERE IS NOTHING that will separate me from the Lord (in whom I find great peace when I'm struggling) and that through His love I am a conqueror - it gives me such great assurance that I can fight this battle.

Overall, what it gives me, is hope.  A hope that through Christ I really will someday be able to claim the victory over this little dark, anxious cloud that tries to steal my joy.  God created me, through his love, to not just be a conqueror, but to be more than a conqueror.  So that's what I'm going to try to be. I will put on my battle mindset, prepare for the ickiness of this world, and put my hope in the promise that Jesus gives us in John 16:33 where he says, "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world!"

Those words have so often, as of late, been my battle cry.  I literally imagine myself carrying some sort of flag, running up a grassy hill, with my chainmail armor on (yeah, picture that) with a very serious, determined face yelling Jesus' promise "I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD!"  

Go ahead, you can laugh or call me crazy... I'm kind of 12 in the way that I really imagine a storylike picture of things in my life sometimes.  But it helps me to visualize the fact that, yeah I am living in a dark world.  There is most definitely trouble.  I have to take action, to take charge to fight off the ickiness, the garbage that threatens to weigh me down.  It is not going to be easy, in fact it most often isn't.  BUT, as I take up this charge for battle, I don't have to worry about whether my hard work will pay off or whether the battle will be won.  It will be won.  Jesus promises me that.  And so this is where I must place my trust, my hope and my confidence as I struggle with anxiety.  In Jesus words that He has overcome, and his loving reminder that through him I can play a mighty role and be more than a conqueror.  

Looking for Growth Opportunities

Monday, April 15, 2013

Image by Meghan Klein via Instagram 

One thing that I have learned about myself over the years is that I like the feeling of being in control.  I don't mean in a "I'm the boss all the time" sort of way, more in a planning way.  I'm a planner to a T.  I thrive on being organized.  I'm not obsessively organized (just check out the piles of clothes that have been on my dresser for weeks), but I love the comfort of knowing what's going on, of knowing what to expect.

I didn't realize how important feeling in control really was to me until I've been recently struggling with a bit of anxiety.  On the surface everything is going well in my life.  I have a wonderful husband, great family, I'm in a place of unemployment which I'm actually enjoying because it's given me an opportunity to pursue new things, to explore dreams I never thought I could.  I'm being intentional about choosing joy, about finding fun moments, about planning get-togethers and exciting opportunities.  And yet right in the midst of this joy- I find myself experiencing bouts of anxiety where my heart races, my chest gets tight, my breathing gets shallow, my mind goes into a downward spiral that often involves me feeling like I'm going to be sick or perhaps even die (yeah it's a little ridiculous).  A simple trip to a friend's house has got me worked up thinking "oh dear, what if I have an anxiety attack there?  What if I have to throw up?  What if I get sick and have to excuse myself to go home? What if I have to go to the bathroom and there's nowhere to go?"

I must admit it has been a really big struggle for me. Not feeling in control in these moments (and not understanding where it is coming from or why) has thrown me for a loop.  But this isn't where I want my focus to be...

This morning as I sat at my kitchen table with my potatoes, pancake, bible, and my daily devotional- I was really struck by the reading for today. [The following quotes are taken from (Jesus Calling) a daily devotional by Sarah Young.]
"Many things feel out of control." -- Yup.  Sure do.
"Your routines are not running smoothly." -- I wish they were!
"You tend to feel more secure when your life is predictable." -- Nailed it.  
But besides nailing my emotions on the head, the reading has given me an encouragement in dealing with it.
"When you are shaken out of your comfortable routines, grip My hand tightly and look for growth opportunities.  Instead of bemoaning the loss of your comfort, accept the challenge of something new."
I've basically been doing one half of that equation.  I have definitely been gripping His hand tightly because quite frankly that's all I feel I can do in those moments of panic.  I take a lot of deep breaths, self-talk, think of scripture, pray, and wait for the moment to pass.  But what I haven't been too good at is looking for growth opportunities and accepting the challenge of something new.  

It's so easy to go through life in our routines, trying to stay in our comfort zones.  But what Paul teaches us in 2 Corinthians 3:18 is that our lives are all about transformation.  2 Corinthians 3:18 says, "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."  Each moment, each situation, each struggle is an important part of the process of changing, of becoming more like Christ.

Dealing with this anxiety stuff, this reminder is difficult because it challenges me to consider even this as a growth opportunity.  I am so so thankful that in the moments of anxiousness I can cling to the One who protects me and know that He has overcome the world.  But now, beyond that, I need to think about how I can look at it as a growth opportunity to becoming a better version of myself, to becoming more like Christ.

The image at the top of the page is one from Meghan Klein's Instagram page.  [She was the assistant photographer at my wedding. Be sure to check out her webpage. Her work is lovely.]   With this photo she shared a quote that has been an encouragement and a challenge to me the past few weeks.  And I'd like to leave you with this:
"Enjoy the tempo of a God-breathed life by letting Him set the pace. Hold his hand in trust & the way before you will open up step by step."

Super Hero Murder Mystery Party

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

As a kid, birthday party options are endless- you can choose from Skateland, Chuckie Cheese, a tea party, a scavenger hunt, or a themed party extravaganza to name just a few. But I am a firm believer that fun birthday parties should not just be memories from our childhood. I think we should put just as much effort into making memories as adults as we did when we were children.

With this in mind, last year I decided that I wanted to do something outside of the box for my special day. I wanted to do something that would force people to step out of their comfort zones, be a bit creative, wear costumes of some sort, and have a blast. After much thought, I decided that a Murder Mystery party was just what I was looking for. I researched a ton on which game to buy online and landed on a company called Shot in the Dark Mysteries. I found that this company had the perfect set-up for a hassle-free, user friendly format (and they provide tons of materials and printables to make your party a success!)

Looking through all the options, I chose Murder at the Superhero Peace Convention.The storyline for this mystery is set at a Peace convention where all the super heroes and villains were convening to discuss hope for the future where peace would be declared. But right in the middle of the hopeful discussions, a murder is discovered. And so the story began...

Prepping for the party was a blast.  I invited a small group of friends, assigned them each their characters and emailed them a file on their character. [The file provided information on who each character was, some costume ideas, and things each person needed to know in order to help them solve the murder.]  Then I worked on making some of the details for the party:
- comic book bunting flag (idea from Pinterest)
- character file folders for each person (allowed people to be as prepared or not prepared as they wanted to be
- a backdrop for photos & a few Pow, Pop, Kapow props
- my costume for my character "The Crowned Prosecutor"

We had a really great time with this murder mystery party. It was a blast seeing the costumes that everyone came up with and watching how each person got into character for the mystery. The game took about 2 hours as we asked each other questions to try to determine who was the guilty character at the party. Finally, after everyone made their accusations the culprit was revealed and the murder solved. I would highly recommend doing this for an adult birthday party. It was so much fun to put together and a great time for everyone the day of.

I am hoping to brainstorm another idea for my birthday this year, but I have less than a month to come up with something! Until then... cheers to fun birthdays and celebrations!

A few words of advice for hosting a murder mystery:
- give invitees 2 weeks or more notice- then no one will get stressed about a costume and if someone drops out it gives you enough time to fill the slot
- give incentive to solve the murder- have anyone who wants to put 2-3 dollars in the pot and whoever guesses the murderer wins the money!
- invite people who are willing to be a little adventurous and willing to be creative
- Party favors and prizes are always a plus. I put together a Best Costume and Best Detective ballot. Whoever got the most votes won a prize.

loveMin on Bloglovin

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hey all!  Just a quick note to tell you, I'm on Bloglovin!  If you want to keep up with my blog, this is one way to do it.  Click on the link below and you're on your way.  :)

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In Love with Life: Sunny with a High of 75

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I am pretty stoked today because I just found out that one of my favorite bands, Relient K, is coming to Milwaukee in May!!!  I first listened to them in 7th grade on a youth group trip, and have been a fan ever since. It all started with the song Sadie Hawkins Dance which is just a fun, somewhat dorky song that is just great to jump around too (I was in 7th grade after all).  And that's just one of the many fun, random subject, songs that makes Relient K who they are.  And yet what I really appreciate about their music is that underneath all the jokes and funny lyrics, is a deeper message of hope through Christ.  Songs like For the Moments I feel FaintLet it all Out, and Deathbed (10 minute song, but worth listening all the way throughare slower ballads with amazing lyrics.  When I'm in a bummer, blah sort of mood, I often find myself turning on Relient K to bring me words of encouragement and also lighten my heart, put me in a better mood.  In fact, one of my faves that I tend to listen to, both when I need to get in a good mood and when I'm sick of winter, is High of 75.  Here's a snippet of the lyrics:

We were talking together
I said, "What's up with this weather?"
Don't know whether or not
How sad I just got
Was of my own volition
Or if I'm just missing the sun
And tomorrow, I know
Will be rainy at best
And the forecast, I know
Is that I'll be depressed
But I'll wait outside
Hoping that I'll catch sight of the sun
Because on and off
The clouds have fought for control over the sky
And lately, the weather has been so bi-polar
And consequently, so have I

But now I'm sunny with a high of 75
Since You took my heavy heart, and made it light
And it's funny how you find you enjoy your life
When you're happy to be alive

It totally describes how I feel when I have those blah moods; those days in winter when I am just waiting for the sun to come out and bring joy.  But then the chorus goes beyond that and reminds me of two things.  One: Christ has indeed made my heart light, and for that, I have a reason to be joyful.  Two: We really do enjoy life when we're happy to be alive.  It comes from a choice to be happy, to choose joy!  [Which fits perfectly with my resolution to be more in love with life!]

Music is one of those things that helps me change my attitude, to be more joyful.  I am thankful for the lovely band Relient K and the music that they create that brings me joy!  If you haven't heard them, check them out.  Perhaps I'll see you at the concert in May ;) 

(Images by Jered Scott via RelientK's website)

Latest Obsession: Midi-rings

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

                 Image & rings by Galisfly via Luulla.com

I have a slight obsession with the new trend of mid-knuckle rings.  I'm not even sure what they are called... midi rings, mid-finger rings, knuckle rings- who knows.  What I do know is they are LOVELY.  Unfortunately in my area, they are not so easy to find in stores.  After a bit of research and some lovely emails from my favorite magazine Nylon, I have found a few spots where they can be found. So I thought I would share them with you!  Here are a few of my faves.

I love these stacked alphabet rings from Catbird that you can get in midi-ring sizes too!  Also check out their adjustable arrow ring.  Love it.

Image via Catbird

Or what about this fun & playful lightning bolt ring featured in the #Nylonshop?!  They also have a star and heart midi-ring.  All for only 12.00 a piece!

Image via Nylonmag

What do you think?  Are you jumping on board with this trend?  I can't wait to add a couple of these beauties to my collection.

Have a lovely Tuesday!!

I finally found some midi-rings since posting!! I found them at Urban Outfitters for $6.00 a piece!
Check out my Instagram page to see a pic of the ones I ended up with.  Enjoy!!

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