March 31, 2014

You Left Me at the Alter


As, Christians I would be willing to bet most of us remember the day we said that prayer where we asked God into our heart. You may have said that prayer on your knees at an alter with many eyes on you or you may have said the prayer quietly in your seat without anyone else knowing. You may have been 5 or you may have been 75. Regardless, of the how, when, or where it happened, salvation happened. That day you became a Christian. That day you made a vow to God to seek Him first and with everything in you, and something tells me that you meant it. 

Then, months, years down the road we find ourselves way off course. Our life isn't what it was suppose to be and we are certain that the life we are living isn't what God had in mind when we vowed our lives to Him and he vowed to never forsake us. We know we aren't where we are suppose to be, but we have no idea how we got here.

Think about using a compass. If you are wanting to go true north, and somehow you end up only walking one degree east of north, 5 miles on the course you will be very far away from where you meant to be.

Becoming lost starts with a single step in the wrong direction.

I think about this and then I think about God. We have left and abandon him. He is still on the course yet we are miles and miles away from him. 

What about the vow we made to him at that alter promising to seek Him first? What about the life we told him that would be devoted to him? What about the trust we promised to put in him? 

The good news is, He's still at the alter and is always willing to begin again.

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March 29, 2014

Obedience isn't Cheap


A friend of mine sent me this verse a couple of weeks ago and I have been clinging to the promise in it ever since. {:If you are new to the blog, I am quitting my job and moving to Australia in July. You can read all about that here and here:} At the moment, I am surrounded by friends who: just had babies, are pregnant, are buying land and building their dream home, celebrating their 5+ year of marriage, and seeing years of hard work pay off as the climb the ladder of success in their careers. Then there's me: selling my house, quitting my career, still asking for a table of one, and voluntarily going broke to move to a foreign country where I know a total of no one. 

Obedience isn't cheap. When God desires to bless you in a big way, it is almost always preceded by an invitation to display radical obedience and  extreme faith. 

God gave me that invitation. {:I use the word invitation strategically, because God isn't a God that forces himself or His plan on anyone. He lays it out there, knowing it is always the better way and the better plan, but like a gentleman, he allows us to accept or decline his invitation. :} He asked me to give up my career, the 30 minute drive to my parents, Sunday afternoon lunches with the family, Saturday night date nights I have with my best friends, the luxury of having a car, and my sweet Gracie girl all to follow His call. A call that places me back in school on the other side of the planet. He asked all this of me, but His promises in this verse are true. I know that nothing I am about to give up will even compare to the promise he has for me on the other side of obedience.

I don't tell this story for applause or a sweet comment. I say all of this to encourage you. If God is asking something of you that is stretching you and growing you and causing you to flex your faith muscles it's because God has something on the other side of it that s going to bless your socks off! God longs to bless his children but he wants to know that you are faithful to him so that when he does indeed make good on his promise you will point all the credit back to HIM.

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March 26, 2014

So You Wanna Start a Blog


I have had several people tell me, over the course of my blogging, that they are interested in starting a blog they just had no idea where to start. Now I am no blog guru for sure, but maybe that makes me an even better person to break it down as simply as possible and then direct you to the guru's. 

First off, if you are reading this because you are thinking about starting your own blog let me say I highly doubt you will regret this decision. It is a blast writing about anything and everything and connecting with people who actually connect with what you are writing. It is very rewarding.

Okay, so now on to the meat. Where the heck do I even start?

1) Why do you want to blog?

This is an important question you need to answer for yourself before you even start this process. Are you promoting your business? Love writing? Blogging to make a side income?

What kind of blogger do you want to be? Lifestyle {:code for I write about anything that pops into my random mind:}, DIY, fashion, art, travel, media. You get the idea.

2) Come up with a blog name.

In the excitement and anticipation of starting your blog it is easy to pick a blog title hastily and then hate it 2 weeks into your blog. Choose a title that reflects you and your content. Many people will choose to visit your blog based on whether or not your blog title peeks their interest.

3) Choose your hosting sight.

What website are you choosing to host your blog? The two most popular are Blogger and Wordpress. I went with blogger because frankly I didn't even know Wordpress existed when I started my blog. I'm not the knowledgable but this post lays out the pros and cons of both sites for you to decide what will best suit you.

4) Think about your address

If you are creating a blog using blogger on of the first questions it will ask you is for your address. Your address is what people type into their browser bar. For example, if you used blogger, yours might be sunshineandpearls.blogspot.com. Often times people use their blog name as their address. It makes it easier for people to find your blog. If you are not sold on your blog name yet go for something like your name. Example: susiesmith.blogspot.com

3) Choosing a design for your blog.

You will either love this part or hate it. I for on never knew HTML coding could give me such a thrill. If you aren't into that, blogger allows you to make it as simple or as complex as you would like.
You may choose to use a pre-made blog design. You can find some here and here and here. You may choose someone to create a custom design for you. You can find people who create blog designs on Etsy. {:Mine was made by Clarke Designs.:}

If you're more adventurous and the thought of creating your own design with HTML coding then I say go for it. I loved doing it. If you are interested in this route, google and YouTube have tons of resources that will walk you step by step through the process. Just type in what you are looking to create {:header, welcome image, etc.:}


4) Write your first post.

This is your coming out party. Have fun. Find your voice. I

t will all more than likely evolve over time but give yourself a pat on the back. YOU HAVE A BLOG

5) Let Google be your best friend.
As you start blogging and looking at other peoples blogs you are going to wonder how to get "that" on your own blog. Google it. They have very explicit instructions for practically anything you could possibly want on your blog. 

Once you have started writing posts my post on Things I Wish I Knew Sooner About Blogging may be of some help too.


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March 24, 2014

Forgetting to Live


Okay it is time for a little truth my friends, I have been having MAJOR writers block lately! Does that happen to any of my blogging friends? {:If it does PLEASE comment with how you overcome it because I am in desperate need of some inspiration:}But maybe thats not it maybe I have been too busy just living life; and I am okay with that.

If I am being honest when I started my blog a few years ago it absolutely consumed me. Every time I hung out with friends, or cooked a meal, or did something out of the ordinary I spent 3/4 of my time trying to figure out how I could make this event the subject of my next blog post.

I got so consumed with blogging about my life that I forgot to live it. 

While I was planning my next blog post in my head I was forgetting to breathe in and really live in the moment I was in. I would miss bits and pieces of conversations at girls night because I was sifting though my friends words to see if there was any sort of phrase that could turn into a post. Or I was too busy thinking of how to stage my next picture that I limited the fullness of the time I had with the people around me.

Now please don't get me wrong, this blog has turned into something far more than I ever thought it would be. For me blogging is more than just a hobby; it's a passion. I started this blog simply because I like to write and to my shock people actually seem to enjoy what I have to say. But I had to realize that the very thing {:blogging:} that had the potential to enlarge my life by allowing me to share the things I hold closest to me also could minimize my life it if I allowed it. I learned that sometimes its okay to have an amazing weekend and not have a single picture to show for it because you were too consumed in just being present. I've learned that it's okay to not post a specified 3 to 4 times a week because Monday you spent time with your family and Tuesday you had a girls night and Wednesday you had small groups and Thursday you just needed to breathe for a second.

A life lived is much more valuable than a life blogged. 
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March 19, 2014

That ONE day it felt like spring



Tunic: TJ Maxx//Wedges: Target//Jewelry: Premier//Purse: Steve Madden


So spring is suppose to start like tomorrow and this morning we had freezing rain. Does anyone else see a problemo with this? This kid is r-e-a-d-y for spring. We had like ONE day that felt like spring and it gave me spring fever for shiz {:oh wait, did I just say "for shiz"???? oh well, it's Wednesday:} I even decided I was putting up spring decorations. My poor outdoor spring wreath has never had snow on it before. Ahhh…I will just sit and gaze out my freezing cold window and dream of a spring drawing near….maybe.

Oh and a note that has absolutely nothing to do with anything except that it is Wednesday and I am random. Dear girl at the gym with her hair perfectly straightened, make-up all in place, and ginormous hoop earrings in her ears, we can all tell you are at the gym for one thing-and it aint to sweat. Love amused gym member who is there to actually workout.
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March 17, 2014

A Bowl of Beans

We live in a society where instant gratification rules. Don't want to cook? No problem. Just drive up to the window of any number of fast food restaurants and they have it for you in under 5 minutes. Want to sign up for a gym membership without even going to the gym? {:Never a good sign:} You can just do that online. You missed what happened on your favorite show because you were reading a text? No big. We can just rewind live tv.

I mean it is kind of ridiculous. I take pictures of the kids in my class and their automatic reaction is to ask if they can see. When I was little you waited forever to see pictures! Christmas and Easter were all on the same roll. And there was no redo if your eyes were closed or you looked like the hot mess express.

Now I am not saying all of this is bad or that I don't appreciate the times we live in. The digital camera has saved many a embarrassing times! But, I think the mentality it instills in us can often become our enemy.

Take a look at these brothers in the Bible, Esau and Jacob. These two had it out for each other literally since birth. One day Esau came in from the fields and Jacob had made a bowl of lentil soup. Esau asked for some but Jacob said he would only give it to him if he would give up his inheritance to him. Now in these days the first born, which was Esau, got everything. Esau was so consumed with what he needed in the moment, food, that he gave up everything. He sacrificed his destiny for a bowl of beans. {:Genesis 25:}

Fulfilling your immediate desires can sometimes exclude you from fulfilling your purpose. Esau was blinded by what he wanted in the moment and therefore gave up his destiny for a bowl of beans. Don't get so consumed with the here and now {:the things you want, the plans you have:} that you allow them to sidetrack you from, or worse, forfeit, everything God has in store for you.


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March 14, 2014

Don't Blink-4 Months and Counting


It seems like just yesterday I sat in my parents living room and dropped the bomb on them that I was going to be moving to Australia in ten months. Here we are in the middle of March and I have less than 4 short months until I leave. It's crazy how fast time can pass. 

This week my busy kindergartners have had me at my wits end. Days like those make it easy to wish the time I have left with them away. But, I realized something as I was journaling last night, Monday starts my last 9 weeks marking period not just with them but as a teacher. That puts things into perspective. In just a few short weeks I will no longer walk into a classroom every morning full of energetic kindergarteners with their shoe laces untied, remains of that mornings breakfast on their face, arms that cannot wait to give me a hug, and little high pitched voices that are eager to tell me a story. 

Just four short months a season will end and a new one will begin. It is easy to get so excited about moving to Australia and everything that is to come and miss the very season I am in. It has already gone by way to fast. So I am dedicating the next four months to embracing every second of what I've come to know of as "normal." I am spending every second I can with my friends {:even if this means tagging along with them to the grocery store:} and family. I am going all in to embrace the good and bad days with my 22 little friends. I am simply not going to blink, wish, or wonder mindlessly through this short season I left here because the reality of how quickly it is coming to an end it starting to sink in.
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March 13, 2014

You Might Be Maturing If...


Some people would call this post "you might be getting older if" but that doesn't apply to me because I simply just had my 21st birthday {:for the 7th time:}. And obviously people who wear these stunna shades up ^ here and blow bubbles CANNOT be getting old! Oh and a disclaimer: I only hear that maturing people do these things. I most certainly don't actually do them. {:le duh:}

You might be maturing if…

…you think 5:30 is a totally acceptable time to be in your pajamas on a Friday night. {:Hey, you're a working woman these days.:}

…you have a stash of TY Beanie Babies in a closet somewhere waiting to earn you the thousands they were suppose to be worth.

… a trip to the grocery store counts as "going out."

… trip to the grocery store with a girlfriend counts as a girls day and you're not even mad about it.

…you need a nap before you go out if you are planning on leaving after 7:30 pm.

…you have to google what hashtags like WCW, MCM, or OOTD mean.

…10:30 is considered staying up late.

…you get excited over new appliances {:refrigerator, vacuum, Bullet:}

conversations with your friends change from weekend shenanigans to the newest recipe you loved.

…the idea of staying out until 2am on a weeknight is the equivalent of having your toenails pulled off with tweezers.

…you open your mouth and you hear your mother slip out.

… if your "perfect day" includes sleeping in and watching Netflix wrapped in your snuggie.

Okay your turn…comment with your "You might be maturing if" moment.
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March 10, 2014

Good Morning Beautiful!


Ah, theres nothing better than a good cup of coffee to start the day is there? Well how about you grab a cup and we have some Monday morning ramblings?

How was your weekend? I hope your well rested and ready for the week. My weekend was one of those weekends that was the perfect mix of being out and about and relaxation. The kind that actually leaves you ready to take on the work week. 

Spring finally peeked it's head out on Saturday and it was GLORIOUS! I could tell I wasn't the only one enjoying it either because when I stepped outside I heard kids laughing, basketballs bouncing, and families talking as they brought out the grills from winter hibernation. Yes it was amazing! I got out some on Saturday and joined my friend for some retail therapy at Kohl's. {:That place has the best deals! I got a sweater and flip-flops for 19 dollars. Oh hey bargain!:} We then finished our girls outing with a trip to the grocery store. Yup, thats how you know you are getting old maturing, when girl's days involve the grocery store. I mainly went to help her out because her sweet baby girl wasn't the happiest and I thought I would come to be reinforcements if needed. Yes, I feel that there will be a post coming soon on how you know you're "maturing."

Can I share something exciting with you? Okay good you're still reading so that must mean yes. I have actually been getting up early in the morning to have my quiet time with God! Okay you are probably wondering what the big deal is. Okay here's the big deal-HUGE; I have been trying to do this for YEARS! Literally, it has been one of my goals to do my quiet time before work for at least three years and it's never stuck. I have always been more of a read before you go to bed kinda gal. And that's great if that's your thing I just always read before I start my day on Saturday and then I find myself meditating on it throughout the day. I always gave the excuse that I wasn't a morning person. {:I mean I hit the snooze button a minimum of 3x a day.:} But, I decided the devil wanted me to keep thinking that so I wouldn't do it because he knew how good it would be for me. So I decided to fight that guy back! And you know what, I slept the worst ever when I decided to do it, but I decided he wasn't winning. I was. And now I have been doing it for 2 weeks straight. They say after 30 days it becomes a habit so I am half way there. Just had to share that exciting news. 

There's nothing really new on the Australian front other than wowie wow wow wow is it getting close. In less than four months I'll be Australia bound. But, in a month from tomorrow I will be in Savannah with these two beauties. Oh I cannot wait for beach time and warm weather.


Hey thanks for the coffee date. I needed some girl time. xoxo

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March 7, 2014

Everything I Never Knew I Always Wanted


At age 27 to say my life hasn't gone according to plan may be more than a small understatement. When I think about the dreams of where I wanted to be and what I wanted to accomplish in my life by this point it is easy to stamp a big fat "fail" on the top of my story.

 I was suppose to be Miss WV 2010. I was suppose to be married to the man of my dreams. I was suppose to be on sabbatical from my dream job as a kindergarten teacher to be taking care of my 2.5 babies. I was suppose to be a long ways off from where I am now. Instead, I wasn't Miss West Virginia 2010. I have only planned my wedding on Pinterest. And, I am quitting what I thought would be my dream job, not to raise my 2.5 precious babies, but rather to go back to school….on a different continent. 

Well, life doesn't always go according to plan does it? But, I am teary eyed as I type this because my life is truly everything I never knew I always wanted.

Looking back now, I realize that in those same moments of realizing my plans have failed miserably are the very times that I found out the most about who I am. I have found out more of who I am in the heartbreak of broken dreams than I ever have in the in the victories of fulfilled ones. It's when we find out how strong, courageous, resilient, and fierce we truly are. It's is in those times we not only find ourselves, but also find our worth.

I'm not getting married any time soon and well that means that babies are even further off. Instead of having a dream job I am quitting mine all together and heading to Australia to go to Bible college. It's not where I thought I would be, but God saw all of this before I was even a thought in my parents mind. God saw the plans I had for myself and said He had one that was better. So instead of clinging on to broken plans and the "what could have beens" I am choosing to hang on to the plan God had for my life all along. I know that anything he plans will be so much greater than anything I can even imagine because my life already is.

 I can say with 100% sincerity that I am absolutely in love with my life. I love sitting in a home that I bought myself. I love that I didn't get married 5 years ago, but instead got to know myself and know who I am in Christ before I made that commitment {:This is definitely not a bash if you got married young. I just know I wasn't ready:}. I love that I know I can make it on my own. I love that I can up and move my life to another continent without disrupting anyone else's life {:well, for the most part:}. I love that God has shown me that I don't need someone or something else to be complete. I just simply need Him.

The next time life doesn't go according to plan just remember that God's ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts {:Isaiah 55:8:}. He just might be putting you on a path to "everything you never knew you always wanted."
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March 5, 2014

Dreaming of Spring

No pictures of me on this week's fashion post. I am sure you're not sad. I really couldn't get any pictures done this week. I have been under the weather and you know how people say you look like a million bucks? Yea, well when I am sick I really look more like 2 cents. So instead I am dreaming of Spring and giving you some ways to be on trend this fashion…whenever it actually decides to show up.

A big trend we saw at fashion week this year was black and white.
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Another trend for men and women this season is gingham.
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For men try dressing it up for a spin on this trend.
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This spring try pair a tee with a blazer for a casual put together look.
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One more trend we saw on the runway was an infiltration of floral. Now, if you're like me and aren't a huge fan of floral here is one way I could wear floral. Again, floral is another trend for men this spring. I'm not a fan of most floral on men, but this is a subtle way to incorporate the trend.
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Ahhh one day soon we will be able to strap on these duds for spring. Until then wrap that infinity scarf tight and stay warm.
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March 4, 2014

It Just Doesn’t Make Sense


I remember saying these very words over and over again when I first started reading my Bible. And honestly I spent days and months diligently reading and wondering if it ever would.

It was graduation recognition week {:2008:} at our church and I was being honored for graduating college. As a gift the church gave us a Bible. It was The Message Remix Pause Bible. This Bible is a bit different than a regular Bible. It is set up as a daily reading Bible. For six days a week you read some from the Old Testament and some from the New Testament. On the seventh day you reflect on what you’ve read.

When I got this Bible I was just starting to turn my life around and live for Jesus and for the first time I really had a desire to be in His Word.

I told our youth pastors that I was doing this and I remember one of them coming up and asking me how it was going. I told him I was following through on the reading plan but it just wasn’t making any sense. He just encouraged me to keep going and promised that one day it would. And, I did.

I stuck with it day in and day out even when more times than not I was simply reading words strung together on a page that seemed to have no meaning when put together. And certainly no application to my life.

I don’t know when it happened but as I was reading my Bible I realized I actually understood what it was saying and before long I understood it in a way that applied to my life {:without someone else telling me how it applied to my life:}.

Today I have had multiple opportunities to teach the Bible to others. This isn’t a statement to brag whatsoever, it is simply to show what God can do when you obediently read His Word even when it doesn’t make sense.

God rewards obedience. If you are curious and hungry and want to get into the Word but don’t know where to start, just dive in and God will meet you there. The pieces may not all come together today or tomorrow, but some time from now you could be looking back on it all and writing a post about it :}

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