London Guide

Hip hip cheerio! Travel with us to London where the tea is strong and the people are proper. As a lifelong member of AAA, we got our hotel recommendation from from them and it was just beautiful. St. Ermin’s hotel is an oasis in the middle of one of the greatest cities in the world. Situated within walking distance to Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and many quaint shops and pubs, walking into the hotel felt like you were not in a city at all.

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They provided tea in the rooms for breakfast, afternoon and dinner to my delight.

If you are planning a trip, talk to AAA Northeast who can give you awesome recommendations for around the globe! Booking with AAA is booking with ease. You can have peace of mind with this trusted brand that you will love where you are booking. No need to scrutinize reviews from sketchy online companies, the trusted name of AAA will get you where you need to go. With AAA we had a stress-free, amazing trip!

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SHOPPING:

Harrods (Of course) - Harrods reminds me of Saks 5th Ave in NYC. It’s many levels of designer clothing can make you stand in awe and be overwhelmed all in the same moment. If shopping the high-priced brands, isnt something you’re into, I still highly recommend that you go! Here’s why… Harrods is iconic. It is in movies, TV shows, and is known globally.

ALSO, It is also an awesome spot for seuvineres. The Harrods signature store on the bottom level of the store is one of my favorite spots in London. There are so many unique Harrod’s branded gifts, as well as tea, chocolate, and so more.

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Cath Kidston - Walking into Cath Kidston is walking into British pattern heaven. I would HIGHLY recommend going to this store for gifts! You name it, they have it in one of their adorable prints: cups, aprons, pj’s dresses, coin purses, skirts, shirts, etc. I scored a white dress that will be perfect for bridal events, and an adorably printed rain coat all for amount £60! Bot of my items were on sale which helped a lot with the price of course, but I fond the whole store to reasonably priced. There are multiple locations in London, and our favorite was the one near Piccadilly Circus and Fortnum and Mason.

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Fortnum and Mason - This place is so cool! It is similar to Harrods as it is a multi-level department store, but is very different. Their food and treats were beautiful, as seen the the photos! There were floors and floors of products from brands I had never heard of, which was fun to see. I ended up getting a greeting card with a watercolor painting on it from a man who happened to be sitting in the store painting them! This is the kind of different experience Fortnum and Mason had which I recommend you stop by and see for yourself.

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NEIGHBORHOODS: When I travel, I love to break down the places I want to go into neighborhoods. That way, we are equipped with enough to do and experience for 20min to 3 hours depending on how much time we have in that particular location. Here are some of my favorite neighborhoods we visited:

Elizabeth Street

Elizabeth Street was one of my favorite streets in all of London featuring so many different storefronts covered in flowers. Walking down this street was a dream I didn’t even know I had. It was unbelievable. The street was filled with restaurants, shops, and the up-and-coming London landmark, Peggy Porchen cakes. This is the perfect place for a pretty afternoon stroll.

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Picadilly Circus

This areas is most equivalent to NYC’s Time Square, and is just as famous. There is a lot to do and see in the vibrancy and and pace of this area of town.

Westminster

Westminster is home to Westminster Abbey, Big Ben(which is currently under construction), and walking distance to Buckingham Palace. Around noon every single day, there is a changing of the guards ceremony that is really cool to see! These landmarks are so famous you will not want to miss them when visiting London. Taking a tour of the Abbey was a gorgeous ans history-rich experience, just as the changing of the gaurds was. I felt totally safe in this area, dispite it being such a world-renowned neighborhood. There were also a few good pubs we went to in that area.

Convent Garden

Covent Garden is an experience. There is food and sites to see, perfect for a sunny afternoon. Take a stroll down cobblestone streets with pubs and local crowds giving you a site into the city’s There are so many stores in Covent Garden. From brands you can easily find in the US to brands I had never seen before. If you go, head to Jubilee Market which has every inexpensive Great Britain souvenir you could think of, to bring back to friends and family.

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THINGS TO DO:

High Tea at The Ivy in Chelsea

Walking into The Ivy is walking into your wildest garden party dreams come to life. First, there is a room with ornate tables, chairs, and decor that you would hope to see in Great Britain. Then, as you walk back toward the garden, it gets even better. Picture flowers everywhere, and tables between them. There are a variety of pricepoints on the menu if you want to blow it out or stay conservative with it. The food and tea was awesome, and the experience was unforgettable.

Walk The London Tower Bridge

Many people confuse the London Bridge fro the London Tower Bridge. London Bridge is like the bridge you go over and forget you are on a bridge at all. There is not much to see. London Tower Bridge is magnificent. I highly suggest you walk over it! Both sides of the River Thames in that area are beautiful. One side with a large park that reminded me of a Hoboken pier, and the other side with more history than you can imagine including the real London Tower. The views, history, and character of this area of town are something you do not want to miss.

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The London Eye

If you want a chance to see all of London at once, this is the greatest opportunity. It is constantly moving at a very slow pace which gives you time to see and enjoy all of the sites.

The Parent Trap House

Growing up with Annie and Halle, seeing the house that the movie was filmed in was a dream of mine. My sister and I replicated the dance as we talked about Elizabeth James, Martin, Chessy, and grandfather who smelled like peppermint and pipe tobacco. It was awesome. The address of the house is: 23 Edgarton Terrace

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In London on a Sunday? Head to HTB Church

This was one of the greatest parts of the trip. This old Anglican Church was filled with the Joy of the Lord and the Peace of the Holy Spirit. It was such a joy. It is actually near the Parent Trap house which makes for a nice walk after church.

Double-Decker Bus

I usually like to stay away from things that are “overdone” by tourists, but if I were you I would not miss out on the bus tour of London. You pay for a pass that allows you to hop on and hop off all of the different red busses throughout the day. This is your chance to learn a lot about the city. Sitting on top of the bus listening to the anecdotes and deep history from the tour guides in thick British accents was one of our favorite parts of the trip. It is also a great mode of transportation, saving you money on multiple Uber rides, or walking 10+ miles to different areas of the city.

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I hope you have the BEST time in this amazing city <3

xo,

Jenna

Where To Find Your Wedding Gown NJ/NYC

After finding my dress, the top question I was getting from all of my engaged friends was where I went. I thought I’d share some thoughts on places I went to help anyone in the process.

These are not listed in order, and thankfully I didn’t have any bad experiences! I would recommend any of these stores. However, each place has a certain “feel”, and goes about the process of shopping for gowns differently.  Finding the right place to go may have everything to do with finding your dream dress. 

DISCLAIMER: the dresses I have pictures of are not my dress!!!  

1.  Vera’s Bridal (Ridgewood, NJ but moving to Englewood, NJ July 2019)

Vera’s in my opinion was the best (but I may be biased because that’s where I got my dress!!).  She had such a beautiful selection of Rosa Clara, Aire Barcelona, and many others.  She and her team were profession and very helpful.  She works right with the women who do the alterations, and they often stop by and show you what the dress will look like altered.  This was something I valued even more after going to other shops.  I have complete trust that they will do a beautiful job.  

2.  Something Special (Wyckoff, NJ)

Something Special was a nice spot, and the woman who helped us was lovely.  There were a few dresses I liked, but none that I loved.  She had a wide selection, but it was not what I was looking for.  I do not have anything negative to say, just that it was not the place for me based on selection!  If you live near Wyckoff, it is definitely worth  a visit.  

3.  RK Bridal (Manhattan) 

RK Bridal has a HUGE selection which is so great if you do not know what you are looking for. They also take walk-ins so you do not need an appointment.  I found this super helpful if you’re in the city and decide you’re up for dress shopping.  First, you go through the racks and racks and racks of dresses and take photos of the ones you love.  Then when they call your name, you show the ones you picked and you start from there.    If you go, I worked with Lauren, and she was so helpful! I was amazed that when I showed her a photo of a dress, she knew exactly what I was talking about, and went to get it in minutes! This may not seem like a big deal, but when you see how many dresses there are, it is VERY impressive.  

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4.  Designer Showroom (Manhattan) 

Designer Showroom is a LOT smaller than RK, but has a nice selection.  The women who helped me were lovely and I had a good experience.  This shop was very “New York”, including the fact that it is in an office building that you need to take an elevator to get to.  If you are a NYC Bride, it is worth going to, because she had beautiful dresses.  However, it was lowest on my list of places I recommend because their selection is a lot like Vera’s, but Vera’s had a nicer environment.  

5.  Jayhee Bridal (Englewood, NJ) 

Jayhee is located in the heart of Englewood and has a medium-large selection of dresses.  Ultimately they did not have the kind of dress I was looking for, although with a few alterations, several dresses would have been beatiful.  The staff was helpful and pleasant.  However, they wanted me to put a credit card on file over the phone, to charge me $30 if I did not show up to my appointment.  Considering the fact that I already had gone to several stores that did not have any rules like that, I almost did not go.  If the store was already being difficult and I did not even choose a dress yet, I was concerned that there may be random (and costly) rules in the future.  I explained that I did not feel comfortable putting a card down over the phone to a store I had never been to, and after some discussion, they allowed me not to do it as long as I promised to call if I had to cancel.  

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6.  I do, I do (Morristown, NJ) 

I do, I do had the best atmosphere out of all of the stores (or maybe I am being swayed by the amazing coffee they offered us right away).  We sat down on a beautiful couch and discussed my style with the consultant. I loved how open the showroom was, and all of the natural light.  The staff was very attentive, and helpful.  One thing that stood out after going to other stores is that all of the dresses are all in the stockroom (the opposite of RK).  Almost all of the other stores let you walk through the dresses. Whereas at I do, I do, just a few are brought out.  I would say this is difficult if you have a low budget or very specific style, because you are relying on a person’s interpretation fully, rather than you helping the consultant out a bit, going through the racks.  

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7.  BHLDN (Manhattan)  

Make sure you make an appointment! We walked into the showroom and without an appointment and were turned away (which is understandable, most places require an appointment).  However, we were able to walk through the showroom.  IT WAS BEAUTIFUL.  Everything you would expect form Anthropologie’s Bridal line.  After looking through the dresses, we did not see any that we thought were what we were looking for, so we did not make a follow up appointment. If you are interested in going, make sure you check out bhldn.com first! It will give you and idea of the styles and what they offer.  

 

I hope this helps!

Sending all of my love to my engaged friends!! Good luck!!  

- Jenna  

Carly’s Story Print

I loved creating a fully custom story print for Carly. We were so excited to tell her unique College story through the print, and what made us even more excited to see how much she loved it!!

Read her story and see the print:

“Elon was a crazy, beautiful, four year adventure. College was an incredible time for me, filled with opportunities vastly different than what I would have expected before I began. I studied abroad in Germany twice, lived & worked in a different city every summer, and planted a ministry that has blossomed in such a beautiful way. The Lord was so faithful in growing and developing me during my time at Elon, and for that I am so grateful. This graduation dress encompasses everything important to me from school: my campus ministry, business fraternity, favorite spot on campus, honors program, and other special Elon touches. I could not think of a more perfect dress!” 

- Carly

 

 

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Tell us your story!! Story prints now available on JShotmeyer.com  

- Jenna

5 Tips for the Saks Bridal Sample Sale

Did you know Saks has a Bridal Sample Sale? To all my friends who are brides, it is still going on through today and tomorrow!  (June 4-6)  

Where do I even start.... It was an awesome day yesterday! We got to the line at Saks at 5:30am and the doors opened for Early Access at 8:30.  The 3 hours flew by because Carly, my mom and I always have the most fun. 

When we finally got into the store, Carly knew the girl working at Saks checking for our names on the list... CRAZY! It’s such a small world. They hugged and laughed as we rushed to the elevator.  

I did NOT end up getting a dress at the sale, but I have a better idea of what I’m looking for which is a helpful takeaway.  

Here are my 5 biggest tips for the sale:

1.  Don’t go alone.

The hype of Saks having a sale of 70% off gowns, and the craziness of the people on line with you, makes bringing pals a must.  The three of us split up to find dresses, as soon as we got into the sale.  It was awesome having a friend help you in and out of the gowns, and giving you good feedback.  The employees are helpful and nice, but it is a completely different scene than if you were to come into Saks on a regular day. Going alone means you have to zip your own dress up, and you have no idea what the back of the gown looks like.  We tried to help other brides zip and make decisions, but it’s hard because we do not know their personal style.  Having friends with you is such a plus.  

2.  Decide how much the brand name of your wedding dress means to you.  

The dresses are all samples, so some of the dresses have never been worn, and some look like they have been tried on a hundred times.  There was a dress I really liked and contemplated getting, but in the end decided against it. I saw it looked worn, and realized I could get a brand new, gorgeous dress from somewhere else at half of the sale price.  If having that certain brand name dress was a dream of mine, I could have made that dress work (bringing it to a tailor, the dry cleaner, etc.) but I decided it didn’t mean that much to me.  If having a Vera Wang or Carolina Herrera dress means a LOT to you, but you don’t have $15,000+ to spend on a gown, this is the place for you to go.

3.  Early Access tickets.

This is the best advice I could give.  Guilt.com actually sells early access tickets to this event for $10 each.  I was told about Guilt last week, and had never heard of them before.  I got three tickets and we were able to get into the sale 2hrs before the main crowds.  This is NOT advertised.  Guilt.com is the only way I knew about the sale other than word-of-mouth.  

4.   Stick to your budget!!

One of the dresses I tried on was $26,000... INSANE. Others were much lower, which made the 70% off look very good. However, at one point I needed to take a deep breath and remember that just bc it’s 70% off doesn’t mean it’s a good price... Don’t let the craziness of the sale get to you.

Sales make me excited, and it is easy to think you should pick something because it’s such a mad-dash. Keep in mind that there are other dresses out there.  Sticking to your budget will give you piece of mind about your dress, and not leave you with that awful post-shopping guilt... There are beautiful dresses within every budget.  I was able to keep an open mind because of some of the beautiful dresses I have tried on before which leads me to my next tip....

5. Don’t go to the sample sale if it’s your first time trying on wedding dresses!  

I’ve talked to so many girls (myself included) who have an idea of the kind of dress they want, and wind up liking something TOTALLY different.  Trying on wedding dresses for the first time in a high-intensity environment will most likely not help you get a good view of what you’re looking for in a dress.  This is not the place to objectively look at dresses.  This is a place to have in mind what you want, and try to find it quickly before the next person grabs it.  The dresses are all final sale, so you have to make the decision right then.  If it’s your first time trying on dresses, you don’t know what else is out there, which makes choosing a dress right then and there stressful.  

 Here are some pictures from the sale, including some of the dresses! 

First ones on line! (Around 5:30am)&nbsp;

First ones on line! (Around 5:30am) 

Line got longer as time went on...&nbsp;

Line got longer as time went on... 

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Carly is the best.  

Dress: Ellie Saab 

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Dress: Vera Wang

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Dress: Oscar de Laurenta  

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Dress: Carolina Herrera 

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After the sale we were overwhelmed, but left with huge smiles.   

Thanks to Saks, Carly, and my mom for such a fun morning.  

- Jenna  

Moment by Moment

This week I met an old woman named Ellie.  She was almost 90 years old and she was very, very sad.  She expressed how she no longer had a place in the world and she just wanted to scream.  She could not be happy with less than what she used to be able to do.  She can no longer work because of several health issues, and even if her health gets better, no one will hire an 80-something yr old woman. She felt helpless, hopeless, agitated and so sad.  To comfort her, someone chimed in and said, “Ellie! We all feel that same way... You think you’re the only one?”  She mentioned how her phychiatrists say that she is upset because of anxiety, and they try to label what she is feeling.  This makes her upset, but not nearly as upset as when everyone tells her to get over it.  

The people around us started to feel bad for me because this woman was venting for a long time... Instead of feeling awkward, I saw it as a divine appointment.  

I looked at her and sighed.  

I told her I cannot imagine what it is like to be in her shoes.  I can however, speak to what helped me when I was in a situation that made me feel the way she was describing.  I explained that believe it or not, I had had a terrible accident.  I was dauntingly told by professionals I would never be able to have a job due to accident reprocussions.  I was unable to read after 5 minutes due to double-vision and dizziness/nausea, and had many physical limitations.  I went on an described the limitations that I had, and the lack of hope that’s doctors had in my future. I had worked so hard, and it was all gone.  The worst part was that according to some doctors, no amount of work I put in moving forward would change the situation.  I was stuck and felt like I was suffocating.  I shared some more details about that time in my life when I looked at the past (what I used to be able to do) and the future (what I will never be able to do (unless there is a SHOCKING MIRACLE which there WAS - see blog post “Healing”)).  I remember wanting to scream.  I remember wanting nothing to do with my life if it would not look like how it used to, or how I envisioned it to look in the future.  For me, and evidently for Ellie, our purpose in this world was gone.  Our worth to others was taken away.  

Realizing that was a lie saved my life.  The truth is that as long as God has me on earth, I have purpose and infinite worth, no matter my condition.  I do not need what I do not have in order to fulfill God’s plan for my life.  I do not need what I used to have in order to fulfill God’s plan for my life.  

Looking at the past or looking at the future that that time was daunting, frustrating, saddening, depressing, shocking, heartbreaking, and many other negative emotions.  I prayed and prayed for God to take the injury away.  Instead of taking away the injury, He traded anxiety for peace making the situation much less difficult. How? By calling me to live moment by moment.  

Matt left this devotional on my voicemail at 3am on January 9, 2014.  Little did we know, this would lay a foundation for the following years and potentially the rest of my life...

From the Jesus Calling devotional on January 9:

“I am with you and for you. When you decide on a course of action that is in line with My will, nothing in heaven or on earth can stop you. You may encounter many obstacles as you move toward your goal, but don't be discouraged--never give up! With My help, you can overcome any obstacle. Do not expect an easy path as you journey hand in hand with Me, but remember that I, your very-present Helper, am omnipotent.

     Much, much stress results from your wanting to make things happen before their times have come. One of the main ways I assert My sovereignty is in the timing of events. If you want to stay close to Me and do things My way, ask Me to show you the path forward moment by moment. Instead of dashing headlong toward your goal, let Me set the pace. Slow down, and enjoy the journey in My presence.”

Romans 8:31

(English Standard Version)

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?


Psalm 46:1-3

(New King James Version)

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed,

And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah (It is well)


Luke 1:37

(English Standard Version)

For nothing will be impossible with God.


I learned the way to have purpose in trials is to not worry about the future or the past. Instead, ask God what He is asking me to do RIGHT now, making the most of every opportunity.  This forms a trust bond of faith that God will walk me through the future in peace, as He is in this moment.  Some days the only thing He asked me to do was pray for someone that He put on my mind. Some days He asked me to do things that were wayyyyy out of my comfort zone.  As I acted in obedience, God spoke into my life affirming my purpose and worth.

I believe that when we get to heaven we will see that our purpose was a mix of 1,000s of little strokes that create a big picture, rather than one big glob of paint. 

Moment by moment dependence on God is so valuable, and I do not want to get out of that mindset.  It gives me a  solid foundation because life can change in an instant.  Even though it is easy get excited and start planning my way through life again now that I am miraculously healed and doing well, I am trying to keep a healthy balance.  This poses an interesting idea when planning my future career-wise, where I will live, planning a wedding, etc.  I LOVE being able to make plans with Matt about our future together, but am trying not to let that take precedence over the purposes of today. 

Planning is necessary, but too much dreaming of the future (or looking back) pulls me away from daily impact and growth.  

I was already writing this post before I met Ellie.  Through our conversation, I saw how a very intense lesson I learned from God, was able to touch the lives of others.  Ellie’s comments of how my story healed her “greatly”, reaffirms the call I have continue to follow Christ moment by moment.

I am prayerfully planning for the future without derailing the purposes of today.

 

- Jenna 

Top 10 Vineyard Vines For Target Picks

First off, it was really fun and exceeded my expectations. 

I only think of Vineyard Vines as a clothing store and that’s why I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of other fun things! 

We got there at 10min to 8am, coffee in hand, waiting for Target to open.  There was a line that wrapped around the corner of the store but we were happy we didn't wait longer than 10min to enter the store.  We all figured the people were going to be nuts and harsh, as we experienced with the Lilly Pulitzer for Target line.  Thankfully, we found the whole experience to be great.  It was a bit crazy, but people all helped each other try and find sizes, and items.  I found the quality to be good, too.  I am sharing our top 10 picks from the sale:

1.  Citronella candle: My mom grabbed this not knowing what it was, and then got so excited when it was a three wick citronella candle! This is perfect for an outdoor summer bbq to keep the bugs away. $30

2. Pillow: Perfect for outdoor decorating.  $20

 

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3.  Cosmetic cases: So beautiful and fun for your next trip, or great gift for a friend!  $30

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4.  Wooden serving bowl in lobster print.  This is my favorite buy! It looks like great quality and I love the print.  Later that day I went to a store and saw a very similar one for $85.  This one was $35

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5.  Print shorts:  These run true to size and are fun for a summer picnic or day at the beach! $25

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5.  Striped off the shoulder top $25 - I paired it with our very own J. Shotmeyer lobster shorts for a fun look. 

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6.  7.   Place mats: America themed for all of the fun summer American holidays. $5 each

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8.  Print off-the-shoulder dress:  This runs true to size.  $30 

9.  Men’s “Everyday Should Feel This Good” t-shirt.  $16

10.  Striped dress $30  

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Hope you have as much fun as we did! 

- Jenna  

Criticism

How do I kill the critical beast

Who breaths heavy in my ear.

His thoughts are not inside my own,

But he remains close just to jeer.


He’ll go through my ear and take over my brain,

If my mind keeps letting him in.

He is not a friend, rather the farthest of foes,

And I want an end to this sin.


I remember in middle school someone came up to me and said something really mean. Instead of sticking up for myself, I just started crying and ran away... In a nutshell, that’s basically my relationship with criticism. I was always so shocked someone would say something mean... until I grew to expect it.  I started expecting that people were being awful to me in their minds even if they were not being awful outwardly.  

 This totally spiraled out of control, as I became ultra critical of myself and everything I did, hoping I could and correct myself before others could think the terrible things. 

This went on until the accident. After the accident there was so much to criticize about myself that I wanted to give up altogether. I allowed God to speak truth into my life, and that’s when the game changed.  

I think struggling with criticism is super common...

I have come a long way as I journey towards killing self-criticism. I felt like I was finally freed from living under my own critical eye, but I let a lot of criticism back into my life. A lie that I’ve believed is that people are not as critical of you, as you are of yourself. That used to help me as a defense mechanism before I hung out around some very critical people.  I’ve seen that others can point out my flaws a lot faster than I can nowadays. People DO see my flaws and criticize, it’s not just my imagination. Comments said by people I know have a way of staying in my mind, even when they’re not about me...  

The other night I took a deep breath as the heavy rain battered on my roof. I have to find a way to kill the critical beast holding me back from enjoyment, peace, and FUN. I JUST WANT EVERYONE TO BE HAPPY... and I felt that as the bride this is my job... and then I realized that’s unhealthy.... 

The heart of it is that people ARE going to judge Matt and I, and our wedding. What we do, what we wear, where we go, who we are with, etc. will all be judged. Not necessarily judged in a negative way, but judged nonetheless. If the flowers are pretty or not, if the band is any good, if they like our wedding favors, if the food tastes good, etc. I would like to please EVERYONE. From Matt, to our family, to our friends, to the random plus 1 date who I do not even know...

Pleasing everyone is never going to happen (which makes me SO SAD), and the weight of if all but stiffled me this week. (And I’m SO early in the whole process!!!!!!!) When I’m trying to please everyone, I wind up pleasing no one (and especially not myself)...

So how do you stop criticism altogether?  Decide which voices are the most life-giving, and listen to those voices.

One thing I have learned is that in order to stop being critical about yourself, you need to stop being critical of other people. In the same way, in order to stop being critical of others, you need to stop being critical of yourself. It is a two-way street no matter how badly you try and keep them separate.

The voices we should  be listening to should be be growing us, challenging us, inspiring us, and always surrounding us with love.  Perhaps not always the “feel-good” love, but true unconditional love.

With a foundation of a secure identity in WHO God says I am (rather than what I can do), I can focus on a much healthier perspective. 

As I was praying, I asked God to show me His perspective. He did.

I saw myself as His daughter trying so hard to please Him as I walked down the aisle. I saw His love for me, and my love for Him. It relaxed me and made me so sad to think I could be critical of myself. I saw myself as someone that God took time to create, pour into, and love. In creation God took a step back and said it was good. God created me and believes I am good just the way I am; imperfections and all.

I then took a step back as I was on the phone with Matt. He is so happy to marry me. He wants to marry me just because I am me. He will not care what I look like because he always thinks I look beautiful (even when I ASSURE YOU I DO NOT). He will not care about the flowers, the centerpieces, the dresses I pick for the bridesmaids, or what the invitations look like. He will care about the food tbh.... but he will not care about what anyone tries to criticize. He is just thrilled to be marrying his best friend. I am still so in awe that that is me.

Moving forward I need to be choosing the voices I am allowing in. Some of the voices are completely made up in my head, and some are as real as a slap on the face.  Rooted in my identity of WHO God says I am, I have the confidence to do what He has called me to do. It is important to always remember that God does not criticize. He convicts of sin, and He loves. Shame, guilt, and condemnation are not from Him. Criticism wants to steal my joy in this time, but with a solid foundation I am FREE to enjoy the process.

 

One day instead of listening,

I looked at the beast in the face.

He was not big and scary,

Instead he looked out of place.


A waterfall roared through my ears,

Pushing the beast far away,

Coming from the source I let in,

And the current is here to stay.

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- Jenna  

Easter (WPW)

Easter week has me thinking about Christ and the quality of His love for us. He came down from heaven and humbled Himself as a human. He did not demand to be worshipped, but rather gave Himself up to death, in order to give us life.  

This is the kind of love that we are called to. Christ talks about how His bride is the church, meaning Christians.  In this beautiful illustration, we see Ephesians 5:25 played out... “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.  He gave up his life for her...” 

The illustration of marriage between Christ and the church is a very serious thing, just as real marriage is.   By saying yes as a bride, we also say no to all others.  There is an exclusivity that makes the relationship even stronger.  Jesus gave up His life in love for us.  He is our healer, our hope, our love, our strength, our peace... the Almighty.  Sometimes we forget about the exclusivity Christ calls us to.  When asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus replied. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”  When asked what the second greatest comments is, Jesus replied, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

It is so interesting because God does not just ask us to “love Him” as if it is something we can muster up. God asks us to be in relationship with Him, and get to know Him.  In relationship with Him we see the holiness of who He is, and the depth His love for us.  We see our sin, and the grace that is so much greater.   This compels us to love Christ more than we could’ve imagined. 

As I am preparing to be a bride, I have two takeaways I am thinking about... 

Takeaway #1: not to lose sight of Christ being #1 in my heart 

When I am in a healthy relationship with God, loving Matt is oh so easy. Why? Because I am pouring into him the love that God poured into me (see previous post on “The Fountain”).  I have grace to give, because I have received so much grace. I have peace to stand on, because God has given me a foundation that is not dependent on the things of this world.  God asks us to love Him first for our own well-being.  It is in our best interests, and makes me the healthiest “me” I can be. God is also described in the Bible as jealous, and deserves the best place in our heart. I want to always put God first in my own heart, in our marriage, and I want Matt to be putting God first in his heart.  It is so important to me that Matt loves God more than he loves me.  It is also so important to me that I put Christ before Matt.  That could sound strange that I want my husband to love God more that me, but becoming more like Christ, is becoming more humble, gentle, and kind.  This will take sacrifice, huility, respect, grace, love, and so much more, but it will be oh so worth it.  

Takeaway #2: live in the humble nature of Christ  

I am not very good at saying I am sorry... Matt is incredible at it. He automatically humbles himself and asks for forgiveness. It’s AMAZING because it diffuses any argument or disagreement... In the scriptures we see that Jesus was very humble.  Instead of demanding love, respect, and honor, He washed the smelly feet of His disciples. Instead of calling heaven’s armies to destroy the earth, He humbled Himself to the mockery, pain, and death of a criminal.  I want humility in my marriage.  I want to grow in humility before God, and before Matt.  As I am preparing, I will be preparing my heart in this way.  

Some verses I’m loving:  

 - Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O man what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

- 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecuti8ons, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  

- Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition of vein conceit. Rather in humility value yourselves above yourselves, not looking to your wo interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”  

Here’s a pic following the shock when someone said for the fist time, “turn to your FIANCÉ”. That word sounded so strange and sweet.  Judging by the photo you can see we’re pretty excited about it ;) 

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Jenna  

Healing

It was 6-2, 5-0 as I walked back to the baseline. All at once my eyes filled with tears. Not because I was about to win, but because I never thought that this, this circumstance right here, would ever be able to happen. I gathered myself together to finish the last game of my second collegiate tennis match. My first match was 5 years ago before every aspect of what I have ever known would be tested and tried.  Dreams were left to die, and new ones formed.

Lots of people know, but some don’t.  5 years ago today I went to an on-campus event my freshman year of college and someone thoughtlessly threw a huge sports cooler that hit me on the head. My friends didn’t see it happen, but I was told it came from the balcony. I had a traumatic brain injury and was told I had 2 contusions on the top of my head...

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Blank Slate Tea

I love doing new things, checking new places out, and going where I’ve never been. 

Today is all about tea. 

My friend Julia found this cafe online and we made a day of it!  

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What to order? MATCHA MATCHA MATCHA!

From 3-5 each day is matcha hour! 

Their unique selections are delicious, as is their regular Matcha! 

We got the iced version because it was so warm outside.  

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Let’s talk about the DECOR. I recently came across the instagram page @accidentallywesanderson and just love their pictures. Wes Anderson is a director you may have heard of who created Darjeeling Limited, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and other movies. 

He uses creative colors to make such a unique experience. I love the artistic nature of his work. 

Walking into Blank Slate Tea was like walking into a Wes Anderson set. The creative colors, the wallpaper, the chairs, the tables, the light fixtures, everything flows together in such a unique way.  

A splash of retro while serving modern cuisine.  

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The food is great, and its such a fun place to visit - I highly recommend!

 

- Jenna 

Drive-in movies!

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In our family we have these things called “Birthday Party Weekends” and they’re the BEST. You generally get two of these if your birthday is mid-week and if it’s on a weekend, well then, you usually get two as well.  

This past weekend was Cara’s big “Birthday Party Weekend” and it was Matt and I’s job to make it nothing short of spectacular.  

I mapped out two plans for Cara to choose from. She chose Coney Island Pizza and the Drive in Theater.  

The reason we chose Coney Islans Pizza in Riverdale is (bc it’s AMAZING duh... but also) it’s right on our way to Warwick! It was a perfect and fun dinner to have right in the back of our car. 

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Dogs are welcome at the theater which is awesome! What’s not so awesome is that a bigger dog tried to attack our sweet Teddy Freddy.... But we rescued him and snuggled him the rest of the time. 

The movie was Christopher Robin based on Winnie the Pooh, a childhood favorite of mine. 

I sat there totally content  in the trunk of my car with the best people ever.  We took in all of the sights and smells of summer. It was something I wish I could bottle up and save for a cold rainy day in January.  

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Get there at least an hour  EARLY and make a night out of it! The movies generally do not start u til 8:45 bc the sun has to go down, so settle in and have some fun. Being some games! And have a blast!

Some things we were glad we brought were big coushion pillows to rest on when we put the seats down, blankets, and battery-operated stringed lights. The stringed lights just added the cutest warmth and decoration to our setup. Also bring BUG SPRAY! I personally did not use it, but Cara and Matt both really needed it. 

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Lastly, if you’re going to go, go with your favorite people - it make it even more fun :) 

 It was a great “Birthday Party Weekend” adventure, something she had always wanted to do!

- Jenna