there is a season :: eternally minded

 

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jordan’s pond :: acadia national park, maine

        // so we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal || [ 2 cor. 4.18 ]

Hello to Whomever Happens to Stumble Across This Post!
Currently I’m sitting on my bed, waiting for my toenail polish to dry, while surrounded by all the earthly goods I plan to stuff back into my tiny dorm room this coming Sunday. If you think just the late nights studying and the exams that make up sixty percent of your grade are the only things that constitute dire stress in college, you can add moving in and moving out to that list as well.

On the other hand, moving back to college this weekend represents the start of my junior year. This is the third time I’ve gone through this process—you’d think I’d have it nailed…to a tee…down pat…whatever by now.

Just like any other person about to begin something new in their life, I’ve spent some time in reflection. Reflection on the last academic year; Reflection on this summer; Reflection on this upcoming semester…you get the idea. In all this thought meandering, the idea of life’s seasons occurred to me. There is in place in the world a general pattern of cycles—times of abundant blessing and then spells of frustrating trials. You can’t pinpoint when these seasons begin and you certainly can’t predict their duration, but you can respond and cultivate growth during whatever instances you find yourself in the midst of.

My sophomore year and this past summer was a season of blessing, I’d say. I really began to truly love studying nursing and I grew closer to several people throughout the year. I made Dean’s Honors List by the end of second semester and landed a job at a major regional hospital on one of their busiest floors. For the first part of summer, I had the privilege of a self-scheduled private healthcare job where I made some very dear friends. The middle and end of my summer was a whirlwind of starting at the hospital and gaining invaluable nursing experience to take with me back to school and clinicals.

I don’t write about these happenings to boast or brag, but to make a point. These were blessings from my Heavenly Father who deeply loves me and asks me to use these opportunities to pour out His love to a broken and misguided world. I’m ashamed to look back and admit that I spent a lot of time complaining and acting selfishly instead.

Under the pretense of building up my GPA, I let my priority to be in the Word fade; in the process of obtaining a position at the hospital, I let worry and stress overwhelm me as things seemed to go slower than I’d hoped; then, after I began my new job, I started voicing complaints about the long hours and letting my grumpy demeanor, after a shift, affect the way I interacted with those I love.

This is the way a selfish and weak sinner responds to blessing. But the Lord knows that. And He brings it to attention to those He loves because He wants to refine them and show them the beauty of humility and gratefulness.

And then come the waves of trial when nothing seems to be going well and no one seems to understand. Yet, many times, I find that while my physical life and its events are stagnant, my spiritual life renews.

How ironic…shouldn’t I be in a natural constant state of praise during a season of blessing? I tend to think it would be easy to love and spend time with someone who gives to you generously and brings unthinkable lovely surprises into your life. But, oddly enough, that’s not the case. Instead, it’s the hurt and pain of worldly disappointments—those things that are seen—that drive you back to the One Who remains the same.

The Lord delights in blessing His children richly, but He also covets their hearts to be full of praise and worship. At the same time, it doesn’t please God to watch His followers struggle and hurt; but He will use those times to point their eyes back to what is eternal.

So here begins a new season in my life—a semester rumored to be more grueling than the others. But I am reminded to focus on the pursuit of kindness and goodness; to recognize my blessings and use them to serve others with joy; to maintain a mind of thankfulness and uplifting praise; and to reset my eyes on the eternal, unseen things that make up the heart of God.

[ au revoir, hannah ]

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wandering soul :: daily prayers

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columbus | georgia

// incline my heart;

open my eyes;

unite my thoughts;

satisfy my soul;

sanctify my spirit.

It’s Sunday afternoon—a lazy, sunny Sunday—the kind of Sunday where my laundry can wait in the washer a few more hours…

This morning, in church, the orchestra played “I’d Rather Have Jesus,” and it was beautiful. But, it got me thinking. Would I rather have Jesus than anything? Maybe you’re like me sometimes. Maybe you find yourself holding onto something tightly and, consequently, unconsciously idolize it.

So, what’s the cure? How do I learn to let worries and possessions go and only crave Jesus? Personally, I think it begins with prayer.

At the beginning of my sophomore year of college, one of my professors told the class he wrote the following in the front of every Bible he receives: “Incline my heart; open my eyes; unite my thoughts; satisfy my soul.” Later I added, “Sanctify my spirit.”

Each part of this prayer is based on a verse or passage of Scripture. I didn’t write down the verses the professor had paired with the stanzas, but I researched ones of my own.

Here they are for you:

~Incline my Heart:

“let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, o lord, my strength and my redeemer” || psalm 19.14

~Open my Eyes:

“open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” || psalm 119.18

~Unite my Thoughts:

“do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of god, what is good and acceptable and perfect” || romans 12.2

~Satisfy my Soul:

“delight yourself in the lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” || psalm 37.4

~Sanctify my Spirit:

“now may the god of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole         spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our lord jesus christ” || i thessalonians 5.23

It’s hard to set aside a designated time to truly commune with God. I know from experience, and it doesn’t get easier once you get to college or once the summertime comes around. It just gets more difficult and more tedious the longer you put off training and cultivating your body, spirit, and mind to focus and to want to pray.

Usually, I manage to shoot little prayers at God throughout the day like, “Thanks for the meal” or “Pray for so and so and please keep them safe.” Rarely do I actually quiet my surroundings, create a prayer list or journal, and earnestly seek the Father with praises and supplications like He commands.

I think the Devil delights when my only “prayers” for a given day are the ones I bounce up to God out of habit —because is “Dear Jesus, thank you for this food, Amen” really going grow my relationship with my Lord and cause me to humble my heart and open my eyes to other’s needs? I highly doubt it.

The prayer at the beginning of this post has helped me with a way to start each day by setting my priorities in order and challenging me to listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompting. In a way, it serves as my pre-game pep talk—a way to intentionally condition myself to dedicate the day to the Lord’s work. (Or else I become a flustered, stressed-out mess, trying to get all of my assignments completed and all of my engagements met.)

My soul wanders and is restless each new morning, but meditating on this prayer for a few moments helps tie me to the only One Who can set my soul free.

I hope you find these thoughts encouraging or, at least, of some benefit as you start up a new week.

[ au revoir, hannah ]

bread and circuses :: more than just celebration

 

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parachuter | dayton dragon’s baseball game

   // no one may speak for the dead, no one may interpret their mutilated dreams and visions…neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented…our lives no longer belong to us alone; they belong to all those who need us desperately || [ elie wiesel, nobel peace prize 1986 acceptance speech ]

Hello, Readers :: Happy (almost) 4th of July! Tomorrow’s celebrations mark the 240th birthday of our United States of America. (Right, 240th, NOT 2016th.)

I remember my parents holding a party for my sister and I when we became U.S. citizens after our adoption. We each received a shadow box with a cast iron copy of the Key to the Bastille (like the one that hangs in George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon). Beside my replica of the Key is a short explanation of its meaning; perhaps best summed up by the Marquis de Lafayette’s words: “Give me leave, my dear General [Washington], to present you…with the main key to the fortress of despotism. It is a tribute which I owe as a son to my adoptive father, as an aide de camp to my General; as a missionary of liberty to its patriarch.” Included in the rest of the text is the admonition to “cherish the blessings of liberty and remember the sacrifices that have made it possible.”

My current job has allowed me to, almost daily, keep up with the world news. If anything, the current stories and reports have convinced me to remember that freedom comes at an enormous cost. It requires deep, thoughtful contemplation and planning; foresight for the future; an understanding of both the small and big picture; and an ultimate respect for the value of life. Like the late Wiesel suggested, we cannot turn a blind eye to injustice or bias—we cannot just contently eat bread and merrily go to circuses, as a Roman satire once wittily said. It’s not too hard to continue to pursue the liberation of those in captivity; it’s not good enough just to skim the headlines and post a Facebook profile picture of yourself decked out in a country’s colors, it’s a crime to remain silent about injustice.

Celebrate the success of our country and get excited about patriotism! (Fireworks, here I come!) But do not forget to continue to seek to educate yourself on what made this nation great and who has worn the uniform and the One who gives and takes away blessing.

[ au revoir, hannah ]

abundant blessings :: happy father’s day

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   // as a father has compassion on his children, so the lord has compasison on those who fear him || [ psalm 103:13 ]

For this Father’s Day, my sisters and I put together letters for my dad to read throughout the next few months. Each letter expressed various things we love about him as our father. The themes of the letters came from a little book called, “Letters to My Dad” from the series “A Paper Time Capsule.”

In this post, I want to share just a few of the blessings our dad has given us:

from you I learned the importance of: service before self and giving wholeheartedly without reserve

one thing i’m glad we share is: our love for baking delicious chocolate treats

i always think of you when: i hear johnny cash

the best adventure we’ve had together was: travelling with you on your business trips

thank you for: choosing to adopt my sisters & i—we truly wouldn’t be where we are without you, literally

in the future i hope you: walk us each down the aisle; hold your grandbabies; and watch your family continue to grow & serve the lord wherever he calls

I recognize not everyone has a father figure or a dad still on this earth to celebrate with. It breaks my heart that so many have missed the opportunity to learn from and experience what a kind, caring, and hardworking dad is like. At the same time, it makes me all the more thankful for my family. We struggle with a lot, we don’t always find enough time for each other, we don’t always understand each other, but we are a family who has chosen each other in the most unique way and has chosen to love each other despite our weaknesses. And that is all I can ask for.

[ au revoir, hannah ]

when oceans rise :: facing tragedy

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bridge | florida, 2016
     

// your grace abounds in deepest waters || [ oceans/where feet may fail, hillsong ]

Everyone always says the same thing: “It happened so fast.” Out of nowhere, in a perfectly unsuspecting moment, something that changes your entire life takes place in a matter of seconds or minutes.

 

A drunk girl is senselessly raped.

A singer in her prime is killed for no apparent reason.

A group of partygoers are fiercely attacked and massacred.

 

These are the facts of the recent tragedies that have made our nation recoil in horror, in shame, in grief.

Each day these same types of crimes occur. Maybe they don’t break the headlines or maybe they don’t happen to someone well known, but rape and murder and hate crimes and kidnaps and theft occur every minute of every day without fail.

Many of these perpetrators claim they acted “in the name of God” or for His approval or to gain entrance into heaven.

In turn, the victims often direct their outrage and confusion towards God.

The truth is: none of the general knowledge floating around in the world is enough to reveal who the God of Scripture really is—His nature & identity.

 

In the rape case, a woman was humiliated because…her rapist didn’t recognize her as made in the image of a Divine Creator.

In the murder case, a young singer succumbed to fatal injuries because…her killer didn’t value the sacredness and fragility of life.

In the massacre case, many lost their lives because… their gunman harbored deep-seated and misguided hate.

 

And who is God in all of this?

Did He turn His eyes away from the senseless assault? Did He shrug off the loss of another life? Murders happen so often… Did He tell the gunman to kill as many people as possible in order to please Him and receive a coveted spot in heaven?

Some people think so. Some people believe this. And I don’t blame them.

Culture’s idea of God is fluid and fickle. It comes from individual experience and from the media and from extremist groups’ slogans. There might as well not even be a God if He can do and say half as many things people attribute Him to.

But there is a God. A God who is never changing, who is ever watchful, who has died for life, and who speaks words of love.

Be angry at the deity culture has stitched together. That is not God. That is the thing we, as society, have created and now are left to fear.

 

The true God says:

 

“Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him for he is your lord” to the rape victim. She is not ruined and broken, but powerful and beautiful. She has a voice and an influence.

[ psalm 45:11 ]

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? … Fear not, therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows” to the fans who mourn the loss of a sweet songbird. Her death has not defamed life, but made it clear that life is precious and to be lived as if each day were your last.

[ matthew 10:29-31 ]

 

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” to those who have lost loved ones or are traumatized or are injured from the mass shooting. There was nothing pleasing in this act of rampant violence. There were no rewards won for the killer. Nothing. Instead, the act of hate has been smothered in love as the world has joined together to mourn and celebrate the value of each life now tragically lost.

[ psalm 147:3 ]

I cannot claim to understand the anguish of the losses experienced. But I can understand their impact. I can see the results and the scars marked across people. And I am heartbroken. But I am even more determined to declare the truth about the God I know—the one of the Scriptures who breathes life, who calms storms, who loves unconditionally, and who has promised to conquer evil.

For: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? It is swallowed up in victory!”

[ 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 ]

 

[ au revoir, hannah ]

 

 

 

 

food critic :: favorite {local} restaurants

   

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shrimp scampi tortellini | coco’s bistro

// lately, i’ve been eating out a lot. not the healthiest thing to do, but it did give me an inspiration for a post i hope you’ll find interesting (if not helpful)!

I’ve lived in the Dayton area for around fifteen years, give or take. Over time, I’ve been able to make a list of some of my favorite local restaurants. These places have sprung up throughout the years and are unique to the Miami Valley. Here are some of the most delicious ones:

~Archer’s Tavern: featuring an all-American menu, Archer’s, located in Centerville, offers dishes like burgers, sandwiches, wings, ribs, etc. Their meats come from a locally owned meat market and the dessert menu includes their specialty cheesecake with flavors that vary each time you dine. Coming from historical roots, the modern day Archer’s Tavern was established by three University of Dayton alumni and is proud to support various local charities and non-profit organizations.

{ archerstavern.com }

~Coco’s Bistro: Jake took me to this beautiful little French bistro in downtown Dayton back when we celebrated our one-year dating anniversary. The menu presents classic French options like “Fried Brie,” “Lemon Risotto,” and “Shrimp Scampi Tortellini.” The dishes look like art and taste even better with deep, savory flavors and elegant ingredients. This restaurant definitely approaches the top of my favorites list!

{ 228coco.com }

~Meadowlark Restaurant: this unique restaurant, off of Far Hills Avenue, has a laidback, artsy feel. It offers bright, (mostly) seasonal dishes made from fresh, organic ingredients. Most of the dishes are simple, yet rich in flavors. A couple of my favorite, permanent meals include the “’Lark Burger” (a mouth-watering red wine cooked all-natural beef patty with white cheddar) and “Spaghetti Carbonara” (a warm, comforting plate of pasta with peas, egg, bacon and cheese).

–Meadowlark also has a sister restaurant that serves mainly pizza in the Oregon District called “The Wheat Penny Oven and Bar.” (I haven’t tried it, but I’ve heard wonderful things about it!)

{ meadowlarkrestaurant.com }

~Pasha Grill: along with great service and a luxurious atmosphere, Pasha Grill at the Green Town Center offers a variety of traditional Turkish and Mediterranean foods. Their rice pilaf and lamb kabob, called the “Doner Kebab” is wonderful!

{ pashagrill.com }

~Salar Restaurant & Lounge: visit Salar, in the Oregon District, for a taste of Peru! This gorgeous, upscale restaurant serves everything from light salads to rich meat and seafood dishes to savory pizzas and vegetarian options. The waiters and waitresses are so friendly! Be sure to make a reservation before you go!

{ salarrestaurant.com }

A few other notable places include:

Corner Kitchen (American with local, natural ingredients; Oregon District)

El Meson (authentic Spanish and Latin American dishes; downtown Dayton)

Pies & Pints (not a Dayton-only restaurant, but features absolutely delicious & unique gourmet pizzas; The Greene)

Thai 9 (Thai & sushi; Oregon District)

I hope you’ll go and try out a few of these wonderful places and let me know what you think of them! This list will probably always be growing and changing; so expect an update sometime! (Maybe I’ll do an “Across America” restaurant list!) As they say, “there is no sincerer love than the love for food…” (or something to that effect).

 

[ au revoir, hannah ]

in its time :: treasuring moments 

// don’t lose another day of your life 

I remember hearing the above piece of advice in high school. It was spoken by a woman whose daughter had a very slim chance of living. The words have imprinted on my mind, and they randomly make their way into my daily thought flow from time to time. 

I grew up in an Air Force family. I remember running to greet my dad each evening, eager to try on his BDU jacket and hat. My dad retired when I was still in elementary school, so I only experienced two major US moves. But the 22 years he served are not lost to me as I now better appreciate, even if dimly, his dedication and sacrifices. 

Like so many in this country, I am continually moved and in awe of those who choose to commit their lives to the military pillars of integrity, service before self, and excellence (I may or may not be borrowing these listed qualities from the Air Force core values…) 

The men and women who have served, are serving, or will serve realize each day we have to live and breathe in freedom is a great and good gift–one worthy of cherishing and protecting. Ironically, because they know this, they often lose their own lives–sometimes, for those who don’t seem to think about or care about the luxury of an average American day. 

Anyone who struggles, like the woman whose baby girl fights for her life, can learn to come to the point where they genuinely treasure every minute and stretch out each moment in order to glean all the blessings they can from it. 

I can easily think of times when I’ve allowed myself to waste days by lying in bed doing nothing until 1 pm, vegging out on Netflix for six hours straight, or any other mindless activity that swallows up the minutes of my day. 

Many live in jeopardy of their life or in fear for their loved ones’ lives every hour. These people know moments are fleeting; they know relationships are the only things that last; they know no one knows when their last day will be; they know not to waste a single, precious day of their life.  

-It’s ok to give up a few extra hours of sleep to make a little extra time in the day to laugh with your family. 

-You can find great blessing in overcoming your comfort zones and volunteering to visit the elderly or to set up an event for veterans. 

-Let stories of brave soldiers and leaders inspire you and challenge you to do the best you can with whatever comes your way. 

-Do anything but let your days slip by, unnoticed and unappreciated.

                                           [ au revoir, hannah ] 

my calling :: finding and pursuing

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sunset at cedarville university where i study nursing

 

// well done, good and faithful servant || [ matt. 25:23 ]

For the end of my high school graduation speech I wrote the following:

“If you know truth, cling to it and proclaim it; yet do so in all graciousness and humility.

If you aspire to be great, realize greatness does not come on your own accord but from giving all glory to God.

If you desire to see change in the world, think critically, communicate truth, and act with tenacity and passion.

If you want to find your calling or purpose in life, know that Christ commands you to “Love one another.”

Live in such away and set your goals to such a standard that the Creator will say to you: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’”

At that particular time in my life, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do after college. With full assurance, I told everyone I met, “I’m going into Biology, Pre-Med because I want to study to become an M.D. or a Physician’s Assistant (P.A.).” To me, this was what I interpreted as God’s special calling for my life.

Back up a few years to early high school…and long story, short, I found myself in my optometrist’s office, post-hours, due to a complication with my contact lenses. While waiting, I picked up an issue of TIME magazine and read the story of Bibi Aisha—a young Afghan woman who faced mutilation from her own family and family-in-law, due to running away from an abusive home. From this moving piece, I deduced that God had placed a calling on my head to become a doctor in order to treat women such as Bibi, whose cultural standards limited the prevalence of female physicians.

I had it all planned out. I would finish my Biology, B.S. degree, attend medical school, practice for a few years in the U.S., and then move overseas where I’d become a sort of “missionary-in-disguise M.D.” The plan sounded great in my head and sounded even better when I shared it aloud to practically everyone who stumbled across my path.

Funny thing though when plans never go as planned. I started my first year in college as a Bio Major with enthusiasm, but not much dedication. All too quickly, I found myself completely disillusioned and entirely unhappy. Why is God not blessing me with good grades? I’m following His Will, I thought in a rather deflated way.

So…I switched my major to Nursing. And, I hated it. That first semester of Nursing School made me even more frustrated that I’d “failed” at my original dream. Everyone is thinking, “Oh, look at her. She had to choose an easier major because she’s not smart enough to become a doctor.”

Then, God started convicting me: Your heart is full of pride. Who gave you that desire to help others in the first place? What makes you think you can be the hero?

Friend, your calling is not to become a playwright, a surgeon, a computer engineer, a travel agent, a soldier, a doctor, a nurse, or any other “job.” Your calling is to become a servant. You don’t have to exhaustively search or experience a life crisis to find your calling. You already have it and you already know it—pursue it!

If you read my bio, you know I’m still in nursing school. The only thing that’s changed is that I absolutely love it (and it’s most certainly not an “easier” major)! Do I still want to become a doctor? Yes! (A Doctor of Nursing Practice sounds good, hmm…) Do I still want to work overseas and advocate for young women in underrepresented areas? Yes! The bones of the dream did not change; the motivation and the passion changed. Fall humbly before the Lord and offer up your goals to Him in complete submission. Watch Him work, because He will.

[ au revoir, hannah ]

 

little surprises come in boxes :: subscriptions

 

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[ the “sprout voxbox” from influenster | i received this box as a complimentary offer to try  out & review the products ]
// hello on this strangely cold sunday evening!

“Brown paper packages tied up with string. These are a few of my favorite things…” 

Today’s post is my first piece about fashion and beauty! (Maybe you’re not as excited as I am about these subjects, but I think you’ll find something to enjoy from what I’m about to say! Hopefully!)

You know how you can start by watching a specific video on YouTube and, before you know it, you end up somewhere completely obscure? Like all of a sudden you’re spending half an hour of your God-given life watching “How to Make an iPhone from Ramen and an Electrical Cord?” (I made that up as an example…but, you get the idea.)

Well, I happen to love watching hair and makeup tutorials in my rare spare time. As a result, I ended up viewing a bunch of videos on subscription boxes about a year ago. (Not as obscure as learning to produce your own homemade iPhone, but also not a beauty tutorial.) Prior to these unboxing videos, I had never heard about a subscription service where you could receive surprise full-sized and sample products each month! Upon investigating a little more, I found out these boxes range anywhere from just beauty products to lifestyle items, to monthly plans, to once-a-quarter plans, and plans to fit a wide variety of budgets.

I want to start off by sharing with you two great subscription programs I have been privileged to try!

The first (and the one that happens to be my favorite thus far): The PopSugar Must Have Box. My very sweet and thoughtful boyfriend bought me a three-month subscription as part of last year’s Christmas gift. I had watched several reviews about this service, and felt like it would prove as an enjoyable investment! I was most definitely not disappointed! The box runs about $40 a month, but the price is very well worth it! Each month, PopSugar packs their boxes with a variety of full-sized and sample beauty, home, fitness, food, and lifestyle products. The total retail value of a box always culminates to at least above $100.

For example, in my December 2015 box, I received a gorgeous ombre metal chain bracelet, valuing $65, from the brand LUV AJ. The worth of the bracelet more than pays for the price of one box, and it was just one item out of the whole thing! I use my Blue Sky Day Designer Weekly Planner from the January 2016 box daily, and some of the February 2016 surprises included a $20 Victoria’s Secret gift card and a delicate modal scarf from Tilo that retails for $125.

Recently, PopSugar released a new version of their Must Have box, the Mini, which is $18.95 a month. I’ve not tried this one yet, but it seems to contain similar, but fewer items. Other than the Must Have and Mini, the company also offers curated limited edition boxes. These are more expensive, but bigger and often include higher end brands.

I thoroughly enjoyed the boxes I received from PopSugar, and definitely plan to subscribe with them again in the future! For more information, their website is: https://musthave.popsugar.com.

The second service I want to share with you is called Influenster. I actually came across this brand during one of my many Pinterest visits. The most wonderful thing about this subscription is…it’s FREE! (I was extremely wary when I first read about Influenster, but decided to sign up after a few months of research and have been pleasantly surprised ever since!) I’ll do my best to explain succinctly below:

As hinted at in the brand name, Influenster uses their subscribers to influence other people into buying and trying certain products. When signing up, you do not enter any credit card information or payment. Instead, you connect your Influenster page to your social media sites and answer “Snaps,” which are questions about your beauty and lifestyle preferences. Based on how many followers/friends you have combined and your activity on Infleunster’s site, you have the chance of receiving a box of complimentary products. Once you get that “VoxBox”, you check it in online and then are supposed to try out the products (many which have not been released on the market yet). After that, you write reviews for them and answer other users’ questions on Influenster’s website.

In the past, I have received three VoxBoxes. (The picture I have included at the beginning of my post is of my latest one—the “Sprout VoxBox.”) Each box has a theme and usually contains at least one beauty product, something for the house, a fashion-related piece, and a food item.

I love Influenster because it’s free, it’s fun, and it’s a unique brand that allows you to become a voice for what you’d like to see on the market.

To sign up, feel free to use my referral link: http://www.influenster.com/r/1417078.

A few other subscription boxes I’ve heard are good but haven’t personally tried include:

~Play! by Sephora ($10/mo.)

~Birchbox ($10/mo.; I got my roommate a three-month gift subscription a little while back, and she loved it!)

~FabFitFun ($49.99/season)

~BoxyCharm ($21/mo.)

~BarkBox (starts at $20/mo.; a curated box for your special puppies)

There are others as well, but these are a few more that I have watched several reviews on and look to be offer quality, fun items!

Maybe subscription boxes aren’t your thing, but I certainly love receiving a surprise in the mail every now and then. If you have any questions about these boxes or any of the products, please let me know and I’d be more than happy to try to answer them!

Perhaps someday down the road (or even tomorrow!) you’ll get hooked on these cute little boxes just like I am!

[ au revoir, hannah ]

*disclaimer: i have received no offers or compensation for these reviews; they are solely my personal opinion.

two of a kind :: celebrating mothers

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:: this was taken in high school, but it’s one of my favorite of my mom & i because we both have matching laughing smiles ::

// her children rise up and call her blessed || [ proverbs 31:28 ]

Anyone who knows me for a somewhat extended period of time knows my two younger sisters and I are adopted. We are not biologically related, which means we each have two moms—our separate birth mothers and our same adopted mother.

In very different ways, the woman who gave birth to me and the woman who has chosen to call me her daughter have unequivocally inspired me.

I admire my birth mama’s bravery to do the right thing—to give up her baby in order to save her life and give her the opportunity to find a new, welcoming family. Under the given circumstances surrounding 1996, this decision was not only in disobedience to the law, but probably also a monumental endeavor as the risks and potential consequences would have been high.

From the sacrificial love my Chinese mother showed me, my adopted mother was able to take over her role flawlessly. My mom is full of joy, and she radiates her positivity to everyone around her. She, along with my dad, has created a strong, supportive, and unfailingly loving family. Unashamedly, my mom lives to bless others with her servant-like heart and her listening spirit.        During the past two years away at college, I’ve come to realize how much I value not only the nurturing aspects of my mom, but her friendship as well. She has loved, laughed, and cried with me through elementary school awkwardness, middle school friendship drama, high school crushes, and now college stress. And I know she’ll continue to walk with me through every single milestone in my life. That alone is a greater blessing than I can fully fathom or appreciate.

Both my birth mama and my mom have given me standards to strive to achieve when I hopefully become a mother myself. Like my birth mama, I want to have the courage to understand, plan, and act upon what is best for my children. Like my mom, I want to exude the timeless beauty of the spirit, listen with an open heart, teach with loving enthusiasm, and guide with gentle wisdom.

Although not written on motherhood, the poet, Lord Byron’s quaint, lovely piece, “She Walks in Beauty” more aesthetically articulates the way many are privileged to view their mother figures:

She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that’s best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes;

Thus mellowed to that tender light

Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,

Had half impaired the nameless grace

Which waves in every raven tress,

Or softly lightens o’er her face;

Where thoughts serenely sweet express,

How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,

So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,

The smiles that win, the tints that glow,

But tell of days in goodness spent,

A mind at peace with all below,

A heart whose love is innocent!

         Relish in the time you have with your mother and glean all you can learn from her. She is the prize jewel to a crown and a blessing that abounds in relentless love.

[ au revoir, hannah ]