Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Bell Sleeve Pattern + God's Bigger Picture

I've been finding in my life that God delights in working through the non-ordinary. I've also been realizing that He has little lessons prepared for me in literally EVERY area of my life, if I just am in tune with Him and watching for them. 

Last December, He taught me a very powerful lesson through a bell sleeve pattern, of all things. I started this post in February and here it is now, just a little while later. =) I feel like for some reason, this timing of posting this now is perfect, and that there is someone out there reading this that needs this truth in their lives today. TAKE HEART that God has got your life in His hands. This truth impacted my perspective in such a huge way, that it is my HOPE that it can do the same for yours. It doesn't matter how big or small your trial is, or how unique to you-I want you to know that GOD CARES and that He has a bigger picture in mind.

At the time of this particular sewing project, I was going through the greatest struggle of my twenty-four years of life. I was dealing with major trust issues (both with God + with several people in my life) and I literally felt like things were spiraling out of control. It was one of the first times in my life that I felt I was deeply invested with a situation, deeply affected by the results, and yet completely and totally out of control with the entire thing.

I needed this lesson. Jesus in His grace knew that and sent me this truth at the perfect time, to strengthen my faith and remind me that He cared more than anyone else could.

It was a cold December afternoon. I was knee deep in fabric, frantically trying to meet a looming deadline and sew two new costumes for our church's annual Live Animal Christmas Play. (why is it every time I sew something I am behind and frantic? Agh!) 

Here I was again, with little time to spare and no extra time for something to go wrong. I was combining and tweaking patterns which required extra time and major extra mental capacities which I felt were seriously lacking. 

But when it came to this sleeve I determined to follow instructions. I knew better (from past failures) than to attempt to throw a sleeve together without a concise plan in mind. 
I've sewn sleeves before. Many times. The first time I tried making up my own pattern and cutting out the fabric how I thought a sleeve should look. 

I can hear all you fellow sewers of sleeves laughing. I know, how ludicrous. Can we just say EPIC FAIL for that first sleeve project those years ago?! =) 

Needless to say I learned my lesson. And since, even though I love veering from the patterns and combining ideas and coming up with my own, I always (and I mean ALWAYS) make sure to *mostly* stick to whatever sleeve pattern I am using. No more cutting out my own ideas. The pattern makers know best in the sleeve arena!

I've always been infatuated with bell sleeves. They're just so awesome-I love the flow of the extra fabric and the regal feeling I always get when I'm wearing a top or dress with sleeves like this.

I was very excited about this pattern and sewing these dresses for several reasons, one of which was that I was combining multiple patterns (and that always excites me because then its kinda original with me!) but also because I had only sewn short sleeve and sleeveless styles before, and hadn't previously done long sleeves. 

I laid the sleeve pattern out and began to cut. It looked crazy for sure but being a seamstress who has sewn a lot, I have learned by now that sleeves, more than any other part of a sewing project, look totally not like a sleeve when they are first cut out! It doesn't matter if its a cap sleeve, or half sleeve, or long sleeve...the pattern piece (before sewing) just doesn't resemble a sleeve at all.

I was pinning along (see above picture) and had just finished cutting out the first bell sleeve, when my youngest sister Rebecca walked through the room. She came over to observe my progress and asked, naturally, "So what part is that supposed to be?" 
Me: "Its the sleeve, Rebs!"
Her: "Wait. The SLEEVE? Are you sure, Chels? There's no way that's a sleeve! It doesn't look even close to a sleeve!! I think you are wrong!" =)

I smiled at the thought of her giving me sewing advice. =) As I opened my mouth to answer her, it was like Jesus gave me this lesson on the spot. I began to explain: "Yes, it's a sleeve, honey! I know it doesn't look like it now, but its gonna be the most beautiful sleeve you can imagine, and when it's all finished, it won't look anything like what you are looking at now. See, a sleeve doesn't start out looking like a sleeve. In order to get that beautiful bell shape, I have to cut out something that looks very different. I have to follow the pattern. If I follow that pattern, this sleeve will turn out looking just like what its supposed to look like, and it will fit me perfectly. But I have to stick to the pattern for that to happen. So even though it looks really strange right now, I know for SURE that it will look like a perfect sleeve if I just keep going with the pattern. And you know something, Rebecca? Life is the very same way. Often what Jesus tells us to do doesn't make sense. We think 'this isn't what I had in mind! This isn't what my life is supposed to look like!' There are going to be times when this will happen to you. But don't worry about how things look at the time. You can know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that JESUS made the pattern (His Word) and listening to it and His still small voice will get you successfully through whatever you might go through! The circumstances and results will very well look completely opposite to what you were wanting. But trust the Designer-He put the time and thought into this pattern (your life) and He has a beautiful sleeve (story) just waiting at the end, if you will just trust and obey, no matter what!"

I'm not sure how much of the lesson she retained, but I continued to mull on this after she left, and in the weeks to come...
Does the pattern always make sense? Ha, NO. Not in the slightest.

So why do I still choose to follow it?

Because I have seen the picture on the cover of the pattern, and I know that that picture's costume was sewn directly by following the instructions of the pattern. I know that no matter how "unlike" it my current piece of fabric may look, the maker of the pattern knew what they were doing and had a very definite plan in mind. And I KNOW that if I follow that plan, I will get a sleeve exactly like the one on the cover of the pattern.

Why do I still choose to follow God's Word and listen to His voice even when it looks like everything is falling apart and there is no possible good ending? 

Because I have seen His Word. I have seen it change lives. I have seen it change my life. I know that it is real and alive and LIVING. I know that Jesus is real. I have heard His voice. He gave me pattern instructions and even though it went against everything that I felt like doing...obeying that "pattern" of His voice is always the greatest decision I could make. No, I might not understand. I very well might feel like making up my own and not following His. And I might not even get the chance to see the fully "finished product" of that circumstance, for years to come. But following it will always yield the sweetest results, in the end.

From my heart to yours, I am praying that Jesus would use this to touch whatever heart or hearts are needing this reminder today-that although your trial looks like a sleeve pattern to you, and you think "how in the WORLD could anything positive and beautiful come from this distorted shape?"yet Jesus looks at your "sleeve pattern" story from a heavenly perspective. He sees the beautiful picture of what can be, what will be, if you continue to follow the pattern. He knows that the final product will look beautiful, and intricate, and amazing, if you are faithful to follow HIS design. Don't take that scissors and cut out what YOU think looks like a bell sleeve. Just keep following that pattern. Don't stray from it. The person who created that original sleeve pattern? They knew what they were doing. They measured + analyzed + planned out that bell sleeve pattern, right down to the smallest measurements. Everything was prepared for a beautifully finished product, IF the pattern will be followed. 

"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, 
though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory 
at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 
Whom having not seen, ye love; in Whom, though now ye see Him not, 
yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."
1 Peter 1:7+8

This is the story of life. Stay strong. Keep going even when you don't understand.
Don't veer from God's pattern. His instructions are the best every time.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Happy National Coffee Day!

I've always thought that the whole national whatever day idea was kinda weird. 

I mean, really...there's apparently a day to celebrate pretty much anything. And why?

But in spite of all my prejudices against the whole idea, I felt that National Coffee Day deserved its own little corner of recognition in my world. =)

So here's a little humor in your coffee-filled day for all you fellow coffee lovers out there! Coffee cheers!
More than once...
 Did you know this, mom?!

 Love it. 
 How I feel some days. My days like this are rare. But they do occur. =)
 Can I get a witness?
 Been there!
Gotta end with the best one. =)
Hope y'all are having a lovely, "guilt-free-although-five-cups-consumed", kind of a day! 
And don't forget whipped cream! =)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Denver Elliot || Senior Photography

Definitely these are my favorite senior shots to date of all the seniors I have done. (sorry to everyone else!) Brothers are just the best. 

I never really thrived off of guy seniors because to be honest they tend to be stiff and awkward and very much like "I don't want to be here but my mom made me". Just saying! 

It so happens that Denver is extremely photogenic and loves fashion + style + ideas + pretty much everything involved in a photo shoot, so we were totally on the same page with this thing. 
He was the one coming to me saying, "Could we do pictures here?", which I loved. =)

We took them these summer while we were out on tour. I told him that he should consider himself blessed to be probably the only senior in the history of forever whose photographer took him all over the east coast + PEI for their senior pictures. What an opportunity! =)

Denver is an outdoor-enthusiast, sports-lover, people-person, fashion-forward, and conversation-starting kind of a guy. He is the life of the party whenever he goes. He loves everyone equally and I love to see him in constant conversation, making friends literally as he goes, with people in every stage of life, from little ones to the elderly and everyone in-between. Denver loves Jesus passionately and has a heart for doing everything 100%. 
This picture looks EXACTLY like one we have of Dad when he was near the same age. It's wild because Denver definitely favors mom's family in his looks. 
Apparently he's a perfect mix! =)
Oh goodness, I love this guy. Can't wait to see all the adventures Jesus is gonna take him on these next few years. I'm 100% sure it will be a wild ride but he will ride it well! =)
Hope y'all have a fabulous Tuesday, friends!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Girl Defined Book Giveaway Winner Announced!

Good morning friends!

Using the fantabulous services of www.random.org, a winner has been selected!!

Let's have a drumroll for our winner.......Emily Peters!!

Congratulations, Emily! I love it when my friends win!! =)
Please send an email to Girl Defined (bethany@girldefined.com) with your address and they will ship your free book out to you!

For all the rest of you who didn't win...go over to Girl Defined and purchase this book for yourselves!

Also thanks for y'alls patience in waiting for the winner announcement til Tuesday instead of Monday. Yesterday flew by and I must confess I completely forgot about posting the winner yesterday morning! #keepingitreal

Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Girl Defined Guest Post + Giveaway!

Friends, I am so very excited to announce the release of this book. I am also honored to be teaming up with Girl Defined to host this giveaway of their book here on my blog today!

Honestly I hardly know how to sum up this book into a review. I finished reading it recently + it is completely life changing and extremely LIFE GIVING
I would put this book on my list of TOP FIVE BOOKS that women should read. It will change your view of femininity, family, faith, beauty...the whole nine yards of who you should desire to be as a woman of God!

Kristen + Bethany (the authors) are the real deal. I have yet to formally meet them (hoping for this fall!) but their testimony + example goes before them and all over the internet to thousands of women as they write and speak about their journey with Jesus. You won't want to miss owning your own copy of this fabulous book! 

Enter your first and last name in the comment section for a chance to win your own copy. For additional entries, share this post via the tabs right below the comment tab, and then leave additional comments with the link to your share!

I don't want to take away anymore time from Kristen's guest post, so on to that!
The Power of Embracing God-Defined Womanhood  (Free Book Giveaway) 

"She starred in thirty major films and was awarded the Golden Globe for “Female World Film Favorite.” She started her own production company and was voted "2nd Greatest Movie Star” of all time by Premiere Magazine. She was chosen by Empire Magazine as one of the “100 Sexiest Stars in Film History.”

This blonde bombshell was beautiful, talented, successful, and seemed to have everything a woman could dream of, except for one thing – happiness.

Sadly, this famous superstar committed suicide on August 5, 1962. She was only 36 years old. Her makeup covered face, dyed blonde hair, and sparkling clothes only hid what she was feeling on the inside. 

Depressed. Unloved. Alone. 

This is the true story of America’s most iconic woman, Marilyn Monroe.

As I’ve studied the life of this beautiful and famous woman, I can’t help but ask the questions, “Why would a woman who had everything still commit suicide?” “Why wasn’t the fame, beauty, money, and guys enough to satisfy her?”

Sadly, not many people stop to ask these tough questions about Marilyn’s tragic life. Instead of questioning her fruitless quest for happiness, many of us follow right in her footsteps. 

My sister, Bethany, and I wrote a more detailed version of Marilyn’s story in the opening chapters of our new book, Girl Defined: God’s Radical Design for Beauty, Femininity, and Identity. 

Like Marilyn, millions of modern women are chasing after happiness and satisfaction down the same dead end road. Without even realizing it, many of us have bought into Hollywood’s popular lies about beauty, femininity, and identity. 

In chapter three of our new book, Girl Defined, we refer to these crafty lies as “counterfeit femininity.” As Christian women, many of us buy into the lies that to be worth anything we need to be pretty, sexy, smart, athletic, skinny, wealthy, popular, etc. 

We believe the lie that our worth as a female is based on our beauty and on our personal accomplishments.

Believing that lie is right where Marilyn went wrong, and it’s right where many of us go wrong as well. 

“The moment we allow culture to define our womanhood is the moment we take our first wrong turn.” -Girl Defined 

Whether you’re the “hottest blonde bombshell” on the planet or not, if we define our womanhood on anything other than God’s timeless Word, we will always feel empty inside. We will forever struggle with feelings of worthlessness and depression until we turn to the only One who has the power to fill our void. 

True worth, identity and satisfaction cannot be found outside of God’s beautiful design for us as females. And that’s where the BEST news comes into play: Our status of worthiness has nothing to do with us and everything to do with God.

No matter how famous and pretty a woman is, or how poor and unattractive she is, her worth and value are found in the same place. 

Our worth doesn’t come from anything we can do, but from everything Christ already did for us. If you’re a Christian, God calls you a child of God. And because you’re a child of God, He looks at you and sees royalty. You are a daughter of the most high King.

Psalm 139:13-14 says, “For Thou has possessed my reins: Thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well."

Not only are you a daughter of the King, God was knitting you together in your mother’s womb to look just the way you are. Just like an artist creating a masterpiece, God handcrafted your hair color, eye color, skin tone, height, nose shape, ears, and body to look just the way He wanted it to.

Our culture may not consider you to be very special, but God does. And He’s the only One who owns the rights to say how worthy you are. 

If Marilyn Monroe had understood these truths, her life probably would have ended very differently. The secret to true happiness in this world is to keep your eyes and heart on THE Truth. The minute you look to someone or something other than Christ to define your worth and identity, you will go downhill. It’s a guarantee. 

As Psalm 16:11 says, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand their are pleasures forevermore."

The more I have come to understand and embrace God’s design for my life, the happier and more fulfilled I have become. I challenge you to take the time to learn more about God’s beautiful design for womanhood! I hope you’ll grab a copy of Girl Defined and continuing discovering God’s amazing and beautiful design for your life as a female. 

If you’ve ever struggled with feelings of worthlessness, discontentment with your body, lack of fulfillment, relationship problems, or confusion about your identity - this book is for you. 

In closing, I would love to give you a FREE copy of my new book! Just comment below to be automatically entered into the book giveaway contest."

Written by: Kristen Clark


So there it is: a little taste of the book for you, and now a chance for you to enter and win your own! Simply comment below with your first and last name. Can't wait for one of you to win this fabulous book!

Winner will be announced Monday morning!

I'll close this post with a quote from the book:

"When I actively embrace biblical womanhood, my soul finds complete rest. When I take God at His word and value the things He values, I find real purpose. When I live out my womanhood for God's glory and not my own, even the mundane tasks become meaningful!"
-Girl Defined

So good, and so true!