Friday, May 30, 2014

What I'm Wearing - Rehearsal Dinner

Stitch Fix is starting to take over my wardrobe, which I am 100% okay with. I've gotten all sorts of cute things from them, but one thing I hadn't kept yet was a dress. 

That changed on my last fix, when I opened it and saw this:


I love everything about this dress. The colors, the pattern, the fit, the style, and yes, even the price. Stitch Fix can be a bit more expensive than I typically pay, I'll admit that. But with the quality {which I don't usually go for while shopping}, it's totally worth it! And besides the jewelry, this dress was one of the least expensive items in my fix. Score!




This dress is perfect for tonight's rehearsal dinner. It's my first one, and I can't wait! I am beyond blessed to be a part of this beautiful girl's wedding:


We've known each other since second grade, and I'm still slightly in disbelief that she is getting married. Could not be more thrilled for her, and praising the Lord for the love story He's writing in her life!

It's gonna be a great weekend, that's for sure. Happy Friday, friends!


***

Outfit details:

Dress: Stitch Fix
Necklace: Francesca's
Shoes: Old Navy
Glasses: Firmoo

***

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Isla Vista

I was at a graduation party when I heard the news. "There's been a shooting in IV," my friend said, staring at his phone. My heart sunk. 

You never imagine it'll happen at your school, in your city, where people you know are affected. You see it on the news, but you don't expect that it will ever be a face that you recognize with the word "victim" written below it. You see the pictures of crime scenes, but you don't expect to drive by them. You never think you'll actually see bullet holes in windows in real life. 

This weekend, a real life nightmare happened in my city, in the college town that I called home for 4 years. I have so many words, and so little words, somehow at the very same time. And while I feel so unequipped to talk about this, I know that I have to. I can't continue on with regular blogging without addressing what happened. I don't want to continue on with regular life without letting this really rock me the way it deserves to. 

I spent the majority of the weekend google searching all of the details on the shooting. I read the articles, watched the youtube video, even started reading the 140 page autobiographical manifesto that was published. My heart felt so near to this tragedy, that I couldn't help but dig into the details. I had the same question as everyone else: "why?"

Somewhere during the skimming of years 10-17 of the manifesto, I heard what I truly believe to be God gently whisper a reminder to me: "fill your mind with things that are pure." {Phil 4:8}

I immediately exited out of the browser window, and closed my laptop. I vowed to stop the digging, the researching, the curiousity, the reading of things that are just plain evil. I am not saying this boy was evil, no part of me believes that. I believe that he fell victim to what is very much evil in our world, and his words and actions clearly display that. 

How do we combat this? How do we stop these tragedies that seem to be happening more frequently instead of less? As I sat in Isla Vista church on Sunday evening, one answer was given: 

"Jesus."

I wholeheartedly agree. He's the only solution; the only way to combat darkness is with light. And He is the Ultimate light. 

6 lives were taken on Friday evening. 


And now, I'm back at the place of having no words. I look at those pictures, and there just are no words. 

All I can do is pray, and covet prayers. I pray for revival in my city. I pray that for every life lost, hundreds are saved. I pray for supernatural healing, comfort and peace. 

Those two beautiful girls? They were in my sorority. I covet your prayers for the Gamma Theta chapter of Tri Delta right now, I can't imagine the pain those girls are feeling. Please pray for God to work in this, for Him to be with each of those mourning the loss of their sisters and friends. 

Our city is on the map right now. I choose to believe there is purpose in that. I choose to believe that God will take what the enemy intended for evil, and turn it for good. For His glory, always for His glory. 

I love you, Isla Vista. And Jesus does, too. 


Thursday, May 22, 2014

2014 Bucket List - Progress Check

Last year, I did this almost monthly. This year, it's almost half way through (say whaaat?) and I'm doing my first progress check. About time, huh?

Let's take a look at this year's Bucket List, shall we?

2014 Bucket List

One // Go through the Our Daily Bread Daily Devotional Bible.  


I can gladly say I'm on my way to crossing this one off at the end of the year! I've been able to keep up with this daily devotional, and I love that it's pulling me into the Word on a daily basis.
Lord knows, I need it!

Two // Go out of the country. 

{Insert biggest happy dance ever.} 


Sometimes, I can't believe that I actually went to Africa

On our last night, we circled up around a table at a delicious Italian restaurant in Rwanda. We took turns sharing stories from our time spent in the mission field, the kind of stories that will forever serve as evidence of our amazing God. And, we each mentioned a particular National that blessed us. Mine was a young boy named Alex that 100% stole my heart. 


He almost stole my sunglasses, too. :)

As we sat in that circle, our leader gave us some advice for when we returned home. He warned us that there would be times the whole trip would feel like a dream, and he was right. So often, I have to remind myself that it was real. I was there, in Africa, frolicking with those boys in those GORGEOUS green forest plains, sharing the story of Jesus to engaged crowds, celebrating His faithful love with my brothers and sisters across the world. 

I really did go out of the country. And I really can't wait to go back. 

Three // Read 20 books. 

So far, I've read:

1. Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist

2. Speak Love by Annie Downs

3. Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller

4. The Truest Thing About You by Dave Lomas

5. The Boy In The Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Currently Reading:

6. The Jesus-Hearted Woman by Jodi Detrick

7. The Daniel Plan by Rick Warren

8. The Great Procession by Jacob Reeve

All so, so good! I would say my favorites in that list are Bittersweet, The Jesus-Hearted Woman and The Great Procession. Check em' out!

Four // Invest in a good camera. 

This one gets to be half crossed off. I invested in a good camera (hooray!), but I've been having some issues with it (boo!), so I need to take it to the camera store here in town. 

No worries, I've got the next half of the year to figure it out. ;)


It certainly takes good quality pictures, though!



Five // Send one piece of snail mail each month. 

Does sending back my Stitch Fix count? 

Kidding. In all honesty, I forgot about this one for months February - April, and just now remembered. I'll just have to send two pieces of snail mail each month for the rest of the year. Boom, resolved. 

Six // Be in a wedding for the first time. 

Will be crossing this one off in just about 10 days, woo hoo!!


And then will double cross it off come August!


Seven // Run one half marathon. 

Crossing this one off on Sunday when I run this race!


Eight // Put 10% of each paycheck into savings. 

It's about time I start doing this! My savings account is very thankful. 

Nine // Host 3 dinner parties. 

We've had quite a few gatherings at our house, but no formal dinner parties yet! I need to get on this. 

Ten // Take a Reed Sister VayCay part 2.

Just started looking into planning this! Last year, I used Groupon Getaways to book the hotel, and it was a fantastic deal. I'm looking to use them again, and since we had such a fabulous time in the desert, I'm thinking Arizona? 

We shall see!


Eleven // Do something special one on one with Mom, Dad & Mike. 

This year, I've gotten more one on one time with my mom. I don't think I realized how long it had been since we had that until we finally had some time to ourselves. I've really been loving it, and hope to have more of it. 



Going to a Red Sox/Angels game with my dad and brother later this summer, and looking forward to that as well!

Twelve // Go whale watching.

This isn't technically crossed off, but I might say it counts. After a race last month, my friend spotted whales as we were walking back to the car. I might have dropped my purse, and shrieked "this is a dream come true!!"

{hashtag not exaggerating}


Okay, so you can't exactly see the whales. But that white spot in the middle of the ocean? Totally a blow spout. 

 Thirteen // Cross off one state.

Will cross this off at the end of August when I go visit this girl!


Texas, here I come!

 Fourteen // Spend one day a week social media free.

Honestly, I've kiiind of sucked at this one. But what I've been trying to do is leave my phone at home one week day. A) accomplishes the social media free part, and B) makes my work day distraction-free! win/win. 

***

And there you have it! Just like last year, some are going super well, some not so well. Good thing I've still got half the year left. Hopefully, I can turn around some of those "not so well"s. 

Happy Almost Friday!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Very Santa Barbara Weekend

While I love adventuring and traveling to new places, there's something special about getting to spend an entire weekend right here in Santa Barbara. Especially when the weather is positively gorgeous. 


Kicked off flexday Friday with a surf lesson; talk about a wonderful way to dive into weekend mode. Tabitha found a deal on Living Social for a private lesson for 2, and I jumped right on board with that one. Our instructor, Vanessa Rivers, was fabulous. {And not just because she blogs}. Highly recommend her if you're ever in the area and want to get some surfing in!

I had surfed a bit growing up, but hadn't been in probably a decade. Sidenote: it's slightly disturbing that I can honestly use the time frame of a "decade" now. It came back to me pretty well, and it was so refreshing to be out in the water on such a beautiful day. 

Right as we were paddling in after our lesson, a huuuge sea lion popped up next to us. Pretty spectacular ending to our time in the ocean. 


Enjoyed another Santa Barbara favorite on Saturday. Kali snapchatted me a picture of this fantastic contraption with the caption "Want to do this today?" The benefit to having no Saturday day plans? The answer: "yes!!"



We had such a blast biking past the gorgeous beach. Our experience was complete with a dolphin sighting, channeling our inner "woo!" girls any time we passed other bikers, and singing along to "Let It Go," with corresponding dance moves. 

Though, if we're snapchat friends, you already know most of this because I blew up your feed.
#sorrynotsorry


Celebrated that beautiful girl in the middle's birthday on Saturday night, and enjoyed prooobably the most delicious potluck I've had. At least top 10 for sure. 

And since we're on the topic of delicious food, this was my dinner on Sunday. 


After that delicious sushi feast, ended the weekend finally seeing Heaven Is For Real with some of my favorite lady friends. 


Tried popcorn and tapatio for the first time, which I'm still slightly dumbfounded as to who came up with that idea and how it got circulated to every movie theater ever. I can definitely say I'm a fan of the combo! But I can also say that I'll most certainly go a little lighter on the tapatio next time. Pretty sure your pop corn isn't supposed to be drenched, but then again, I'm a newb at this thing so what do I know?

Needless to say, it was a pretty phenomenal Santa Barbara weekend. Already looking forward to the next one. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

It's Beginning to Feel A Lot Like Summer

It's been raging hot here this week; we're talking 90+ degrees. And this born and bred southern California girl is quite happy about that! Time to break out the summer dresses. 




Summer's always been my favorite season. Growing up, that probably had something to do with my birthday, and the whole no-school thing. Even though the no-school thing has gone away {sad face}, there's still a whole lot to look forward to for Summer 2014!

-Being a Bridesmaid for the first time
-My 25th birthday
-My one year of sobriety. {One the very same day!} 
-Being a Bridesmaid again!
-A Red Sox/Angels game
-Visiting this girl

So many good things! And not gonna lie, I would not be opposed to the weather staying like this allll summer long. Summer, I'm ready for ya!


Outfit details:
Dress: This one from American Eagle
Shoes: Aldo
Glasses: Firmoo

Happy Friday, lovelies!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Operation: Coffee Budget

I have two confessions for you today. 

Confession #1: I am a coffee drinker. 

Phew, glad to get that out in the open. I know, I know, I hide it well. Those that know me in real life are probably shocked, as is anyone who follows me on Instagram, I'm sure. 


{Pictures available for reference in case you didn't pick up on that sarcasm there.}

Just a few months ago, I caught myself saying the words "I don't really drink coffee, either!" As soon as they came out of my mouth, I caught myself calculating the amount of coffee drinks I typically consume in a week. It was right about then that I realized I prooobably should stop saying that now. I've heard it's bad to lie. 

The truth is, I used to not really drink coffee. Until I started working full time, became a blogger, and became a Christian. Because apparently, coffee dates are how you keep your friends once you start working 40 hours a week. And if you want to have Instagram content, you need to consume and document at least 4 caffeinated beverages per week. And a latte in hand is nearly a requirement for fellowshipping. 

{Those comments were only half sarcastic.}

Somewhere between coffee date 143 and the 36th mid-workday Starbucks run, I started really enjoying that flavored latte. And so, I just need to accept it. I am officially a coffee drinker. 

Confession #2: I am a horrible budgeter. 

My budgeting skills basically consist of make sure you've tithed, put 10% in savings, paid all your bills, have no credit card balance, and then, whatevs. 

Not exactly the best plan, eh? It's a good thing I'm single and have no plans to fund a wedding any time soon. 
{ba dum chh}

In all seriousness though, I want to get better at budgeting. I want to start putting more in savings, and spending less on the non-essentials. 

I'm sorry Starbucks, but you fall in that later category. Don't worry though, I'm not getting rid of you completely. After all, how would I keep my friends, and Instagram followers, and relationship with the Lord if I did that? 

{Kidding. Again}

I'm just going to start paying attention to how much I spend on you delicious lattes, and going to limit myself to a finite amount. Curse you, Starbucks Rewards Card that is so easy to reload! The constant reloading ends now. 

Starting today {pay day, what whaat}, I am limiting myself to $30 from each paycheck on coffee drinks. That's $15 a week, or in Starbucks lingo, 3 skinny vanilla machiattos. 

I feel more responsible already. 


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Strength In Stillness

My Tuesday nights have consisted of the same killer work out routine for a little over 2 and a half years now. I love this class so much that I've already blogged about it a few times

Every week kills me. It doesn't matter if I haven't missed a week in the last 2 months, I'm still dying by the time we get to strength exercises. It never gets easier, and I absolutely love that.
{Or should I say, my legs do.}

There's something Christine does every single time we get to squats, lunges and plies. She'll have us do a gajillion different reps til our legs quite literally feel like they are going to fall off (you get why I love the class now, huh?), and then she says "last one!" But anyone who's been to her class more than once knows that last one is most definitely not the last one. 

Nope. As soon as we get up from that position, she'll say "now down and hold!" And though you're not quite sure if you're physically capable, you try you darn hardest because of what she says next. 

"There's strength in stillness." 

And by golly my friends, she's right. 


***

I had a realization this week. I realized that my quiet times with the Lord aren't very still

I was processing through some stuff when my very wise roommate (who just started a blog! so check her out and leave some love) asked a good question. She asked how much time I had had to really sit alone with God about this. And the truth was, not very much. I'd received lots and lots of great, godly counsel (thankyouJesus), but hadn't had much time alone with the Lord. 

No worries, I thought. I have quiet time with Him every day, we'll chat then. 

I headed to the beach on my lunch break for just that, quiet time. As I was driving over, I was thinking about which book I would read. I had two with me, both great faith-based reads. But then, something hit me. 

How often do I fill my mind with words? All. The. Time. 

I seek out godly advice by talking with friends. 
I read my Bible. 
I read faith-based books. 
I listen to sermons. 

And those are all good things. They are! But they can't be a substitute for Jesus. 

"You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life."

John 5:39

I was driving to the beach when it hit me, that my quiet times aren't very still. My mind isn't still when words are running through it. And the verse that has been repeating in my mind over and over since that realization is Psalm 46:10. 


He doesn't say be quiet and know that I am God. He says be still and know that I am God. Because there, in that sweet, but sometimes uncomfortable, tense, painful, unbearable stillness, that's where strength is found. 

There is strength in stillness. And my friends, I want to find it. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

That Time I Met Francis Chan

Finally sitting down to write the post I've been meaning to write for 2 weeks now, hooray! Before I get to the part about meeting Francis Chan, I just have to take a moment to start at the beginning. Aka, I get to gush about my friendship with this one:


God is so intentional with our friendships. They come into our lives at just the perfect times, with so much purpose. I met Heidi through an equally God-ordained friendship, with my at-the-time coworker, Kali. 


It was almost 2 years ago that we all met, and it's crazy to think of the ways we've all changed since then. Heidi and I were mere acquaintances until our friendship really deepened towards the end of last year. 

It was one of those things where every sentence resulted in a "me, too!" Such a sweet blessing to meet someone with such similar struggles, yet similar convictions as well. An understanding that allows for honest confession, that is always met with a push closer to Jesus. 

God has used her friendship in my life in so many ways, it's such a fruitful and blessed thing. And among our many, many things in common, we both became huge Francis Chan fans after hearing him speak at Catalyst. When we found out he was doing a free {yes, free} conference in LA, we just had to jump on that opportunity. 

We stalked googled, and found out he was speaking on Friday night. So what else are two Francis fans to do, but spontaneously road trip it LA for the night to listen to what was sure to be an amazing, impactful message. 


We were not disappointed!



Just walking up, everyone was so incredibly friendly. We felt welcomed as though we knew everyone already, even though we knew no one. Walking up, many of the close seats were already taken. Though neither of us were intentionally seeking it out, we happened to find some open front row seats. 

Seats that a mere ten or fifteen minutes later, were just a handful over from Francis himself! {!!!}

{insert fan girl moment}

Of course we had to say hello, and ask for a picture. He was so kind and humble, even as we gushed over how much we loved his Catalyst message just the month before. 

It was truly a blessing from God, getting to meet the man who has encouraged both of us so much in our walk with the Lord. 


The rest of the evening can only be described as an overwhelming encounter with the Spirit. The opening worship: so good. The message: so good. The closing worship: off. the. hook. 

Francis poured out the truth that "when you are secure in your relationship with God, and about how He feels about you, the little things don't bother you anymore." And with that profound statement, he invited us to pray over one another. He invited those of us feeling secure in the understanding of God's love for us to pray over those who craved that security for themselves. 

The Holy Spirit said "go." And so I did. People flooded that carpet for prayer, for an encounter with the Lord. I was reminded of the numerous times that I myself have begged the Lord for more understanding of His vast love for me, and I laid hands on my brothers and sisters, and asked for just that. 

Guys, I can't put into words what happened in that room. 
All I can say is I want more of it. 



I hope that today, you are feeling secure in God's love for you. Like Francis said, it changes
everything. 

If you're not, and you'd like to, please let me know. I would love to pray for you in that. Shoot me an e-mail if you'd like {sweethomesbblog@gmail.com}, because my dear friends, there is serious power in prayer. 

"And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is."

Ephesians 3:18

Happy Tuesday, loves. <3

Friday, May 9, 2014

Hello!

Just popping in to say a quick hello! And more importantly, a Happy Friday!!! {!!!!} 

It's one of those Fridays that most definitely deserves 7 exclamation points. 

All week long I've been wanting to sit down and write about last Friday night. {Cue the Katy Perry music}. But each night, I wind up getting into bed way later than expected, and telling myself that I need to get some sleep. That seems to be a theme these past few weeks months, 

sleeping >> blogging. 

And it's okay. I wrestled with it for a while, but I finally came to terms with the fact that God is doing something different this year. I don't think it's a coincidence that my blogging took a major decrease in consistency when I got back from Africa

Cause you see, the mission didn't stop after Africa. I didn't leave it there, I found it there. Something clicked in my heart as I walked onto that mission field, and I took that field right back home to Santa Barbara with me. 

I'm different. Life is different. Priorities are different. And I struggled admitting that at first, because my heart sooo badly wanted to come to this little spot on the interwebs 4-5 times a week just like it used to. 

But it hasn't, and that's okay. 

I'm hoping that changes soon. I'm hoping to start being more protective over my writing time, because I love that Sweet Home Santa Barbara is a way to document the crazy, amazing things that He does in my life. I love that this little blog has turned into a direct representation of how He has dramatically changed my heart in the last couple years. I hope to start writing more, because He's still dramatically changing my heart. Every single day. 

But if I don't, that's okay. I trust that God has purpose in this season, even if it means taking some time away from this spot that I love so much. Thank goodness for Instagram so I can keep up on all of your lives!

For the record though, I'm determined that next week, I really will blog about that time I met Francis Chan last weekend. 


Who wants to hold me accountable?