Never Say Never

[No, this is not an ode to the Justin Bieber. (But really….what happened to the Biebs?) Anyway, honestly, when I first started writing this post….I thought I was going to be writing about all of the joys of the first year of marriage and life in North Dakota. Heck, I don’t even know if any of this makes sense or if my title is even relevant….#wordvomit. But it’s funny how sometimes God just takes over and pushes our hearts and words in a different, but better direction. Plus….it was time I shared a little bit more about why I’ve been basically MIA from this blog for so long. So here’s to hoping you find a little sliver of hope & encouragement here.]It’s pretty amazing all that can happen in a year.  A little over a year ago,  I was packing up my little apartment in Seattle, planning the last-minute details of a wedding, finalizing dress fittings and preparing for my world to be completely overturned (in the best way) by all of the things that were about to change; my last name, my zip code & my heart. Now, as I sit at home in my cozy apartment just outside Fargo, North Dakota….I can’t help but realize that really nothing about my life looks the same as it used to. And y’all, that’s a great thing. Some days, it’s a hard thing, but really most days, it’s a wonderful, incredible, amazing thing.

If you would’ve told me four years ago that I’d be living in North Dakota, married, with a husband in grad school, I would have likely had a big ‘ol laugh in your face. As a West Coast girl through and through the thought of living in the Midwest would have just seemed straight up laughable. But if you’ve followed along this crazy journey I’ve been on over the last few years, you might remember that so far, I’ve lived in every single place I ever said I wouldn’t ever live in. Yep. Back to Washington? Check. Montana? Check. North Dakota? Check and check. I’ve started to really realize that it’s a pretty dangerous thing for me to use the word “never.”

But that’s the BEST part…God has used all of my “no’s  and turned them into “yes’s” and used them in a profound way to deeply impact my life and grow me as a person. Has it always felt good? Nope, nope & nope. But has it been worth it? Yes, always yes.

But that’s the thing about being obedient to the calling on our lives, sometimes it just hurts. And friends, I’m here to tell you that is so okay. In fact it’s more than okay. In the past year, I’ve learned so much about sacrifice, commitment and walking into, and through moments that were uncomfortable just by being obedient (sometimes begrudgingly) with my actions. It can be so easy to walk away when things get hard, or pack up your bags and move along when life gets boring. I’ve been there. I’ve been that girl that craved change and movement. Luckily, God used my missteps to write a beautiful story, but not without struggle. This year, though life was like one big tidal wave of change, in the middle of it all, it wasn’t always the change that I desired. But God kept me, He guided me, He rooted me in something greater than circumstances, people, places or things.I’ll be honest with you, this year has been no walk in the park. It’s been trying, humbling, frustrating and just plain hard at times. It’s been sleepless nights, buckets of tears, loneliness & hard times. (Stick with me….the light is coming.) So why do I share this? Because friends, it is so, so, so easy to think that everyone else has it all together when we feel like we’re crumbling inside. It’s so easy to look at other people’s lives and spin up a story about how much better things are for them. (Been there, done that.) But most of the time, this is never the reality of it all.

I spent a lot of this year feeling so stupid for struggling. This was supposed to be the best year of my life! Newlywed! Finally in the same place as the one I love! Don’t get me wrong, it was an amazing year full of such sweet moments, but dangit, it was wayyyyy harder than I ever could have anticipated.

I like to think that I’m a strong person, but this year, I never felt weaker. And honestly, part of this was marriage. It humbled me to a place of realizing that I couldn’t be so independent anymore and it brought me to my knees after realizing just how imperfect and weak I truly am. Whewwww, they sure don’t mention all that stuff in premarital counseling. Or maybe they did? (I’m working on that whole”listening better” thing….just ask my very sweet & very patient husband.Friends, I share all of this and I hope it doesn’t make me sound like a Debby Downer. That is so far from what I’m after here. I love my husband deeply, I cherish this life that I am blessed with and I am so, so grateful for everything I have. But I’ve just gotta be real with y’all….life is tough! And I hope if nothing else, this encourages you that it’s okay to sometimes feel stuck in the difficult, trying and hard moments. It’s okay to struggle through life and feel just so imperfect. Because ya know what?

You are perfectly imperfect and that is just the way God intended us all to be.

Without these difficult moments, I think we’d all be walking around completely self-sufficient, totally self-reliant and without even the slightest understanding of our need for Jesus. I think it can be so easy to coast through life feeling like we don’t desperately need Jesus, but it’s reality that slaps us into shape and makes us remember “oh hey, I need a savior like big time.” It’s those low moments that go undocumented on social media that push us into the arms of a good and loving Father.

I think that all of these changes in life over the last year pushed me out of a place of what had become self-sufficiency and into a place of realizing my major need for Jesus. Because without realizing that need, acknowledging it & walking into it with faith….life is kind of meaningless. (Disagree?? Check out Ecclesiastes & that might just change your mind. Solomon drops some serious truth bombs in there. Just make sure you read the whole book less you feel a bit discouraged after.)

Sweet, sweet friends. I pray that you would walk into whatever road is ahead of you, be it a road of deep suffering and struggle, or a road of great joy, a road of change and uncertainty, or a road of complete and utter surrender because God knows what He is doing.

So stay in your lane and walk into the calling you have received! I know it’s hard sometimes, but I promise, it is so, so worth it.Sending love from up North,

All photos by Cottonwood Road Photography

Dress is from American Eagle

The Perfect Balance of Raw & Refined

Husbands and dads are seriously so hard to shop for. Or maybe, it’s just my husband and my dad. Seriously though, I never know what to get them when it comes time to find a gift. When I was little, I was all about the DIY gifting….I mean, I think my dad might still have the makeshift glitter golfball “snow-globe” I made him when I was nine. (You saved that….right pops?) Anyway, as I’ve gotten older and my DIY projects have taken a backseat, it’s been a fun challenge to look for gifts that are both functional and unique while not being too trendy or techy.

When JORD offered to send me over one of their men’s watches to review, I jumped at the opportunity. My dad had just mentioned his watch was about to bite the dust and being that my husband just isn’t much of a watch guy, I figured it would make the perfect belated birthday/early Father’s Day present for my dad. And, my dad was a builder for 25+ years, so I knew the rugged yet refined look of the watch would appeal to him.

I admit, I was pretty darn skeptical when I first heard of a watch made out of wood. I mean, furniture and houses are made out of wood, but a watch? After carefully reviewing the different options, we settled on the Dover in Olive & Acacia, a beautiful blend of light and dark wood with stunning details on the watch face. A quick wrist measurement and pops’ wood watch was on its way to North Dakota.

After only a few days, I picked up the watch at the post office and was just absolutely floored by the craftsmanship of this watch….maybe I could just size the band down and my dear-old-dad would forget that I was ever supposed to send it to him?? Nah. I’ll just add it to my Christmas list for next year….

Before we wrapped things up and shipped this beauty off to southern California, my husband and I headed out to show this sweet, little watch around North Dakota and though he probably wouldn’t admit it, the stunning mix of raw material and refined style almost turned my husband into a watch guy. As for pops, he’s lovin’ it and probably already has a watch tan from his new favorite accessory.

Want to win $100 to spend on your very own JORD watch?!

Head over to https://www.woodwatches.com/g/lillycristy for a chance to win! And, as an added bonus everyone who enters gets $25 off their purchase. Say what!? Contest closes on April 23 at 11:59pm so hop to it!

Thank you JORD for sponsoring this post. I received free product in exchange for writing a review on my blog. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Dressed and Ready with PinkBlush + a Giveaway!

Growing up with two brothers, I hated wearing dresses. All I wanted to do was climb trees, build forts and dig to China. But my sweet mama wouldn’t have any of it. As much as I fought to be a tomboy, she had a rule that I wore a dress to school at least two times a week. I dreaded those days.

Fast forward a couple decades and my closet is busting at the seams with dresses, bows and lace and I absolutely love embracing a more feminine style. Sure, I love a good flannel and leggings, but dresses? Now those are my jam.

But with my attempts to pursue a more minimalistic wardrobe it can sometimes be a difficult task to find a dress that I truly love and can wear all year round. So when I came across this adorable boho inspired tunic at PinkBlush I was thrilled to have a piece to add to my closet that I felt covered all seasons. I wore it with a cozy shawl, over-the-knee boots and tights for a wintertime look, but I could easily pair it with sandals, wedges or even Converse for a sweet, summery look. A few of my other favorites at PinkBlush were this maroon sequin dress (all the heart eyes), this mauve wrap dress (my husbands favorite!) and this maroon off-the-shoulder dress (love this trend.)

I love the color combination (the maroon details were perfect) and how well it paired with so many different sweaters and jackets already in my closet. The neckline was something that I wouldn’t normally pick out, but I ended up loving it and it really gave a little extra something to the dress. Loose, flowy dresses are my favorite so it came as no surprise to me when I found out that PinkBlush offers an amazing section of beautiful maternity dresses. (No mom, I’m not pregnant.) BUT I will say that part of me loves that their dresses are so versatile that they can be worn throughout the many seasons of life. It’s good to know that this cute dress won’t be left in the dust someday when we do decide to start having kids.

*Giveaway closed* Want to win $50 to spend at PinkBlush on yourself?! Share your go-to outfit below in the comments and be entered to win a little shopping spree! Giveaway runs until Tuesday, 12/20. Winner will be announced and contacted on Wednesday 12/21. Good luck! 

Thank you PinkBlush for sponsoring this post. I received free product in exchange for writing a review on my blog. All opinions expressed are my own. 

 

All photos via Bri Lee

Harvest Apple Cider Mules

Usually I’m all wrapped up in pumpkin this time of year — but as we head into November, I think I out-pumpkined myself so I decided to switch it up. Now, I’m all wrapped up in anything and everything apple. Between my new Maple Apple Bourbon candle, my overflowing apple basket and this yummy drink, I think it’s safe to say I’ve got a little crush on anything and everything apple. Don’t worry, I’m not abandoning my pumpkin obsession completely….we’re just taking a break.

fullsizeoutput_3211

There’s just something so crisp and sweet about apples in the fall. Between apple picking and apple pie, apples just evoke that cozy fall feeling that so many of us love. And while I didn’t make it out to an apple orchard this fall, I’m crossing my fingers that my five pound box of apples from Costco will carry me through this next season of apple pies, apple muffins and my new favorite….apples mules.

These harvest apple cider mules just make me want to, pull on my biggest sweater and softest leggings, light a fire, curl up in my coziest blanket and sip until my belly is warm and my heart content. Cheers to the holiday season being officially underway my friends!

Apple Cider Mules

Yields: 2

4 oz. Apple Vodka

4 oz. Ginger Beer

4 oz. Apple Cider

Cinnamon sticks

Apple Slices

A squeeze of lemon

Stir, stip & enjoy!

Lil

5 Things Dave Ramsey Taught Me About Money

A few months ago, my husband and I went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and boy did I learn a thing or twenty. You see, I always thought of myself as a “saver” but that was pretty quickly denounced only a few weeks into the class (ok, ok by a few weeks…I mean the first class.)

“I knew how to manage my money and make a budget before, but if I’m being super honest, I wasn’t ever very good at sticking to that budget.”

As newlyweds trying to pay off debt while paying for grad school and dreaming of someday owning a home and a decent car, my husband and I have had to really dig deep into this whole money management thing. At times it’s made us (me) crazy, but it’s been the biggest blessing in our marriage. I’ve gone from barely treading water with student loan debt, credit card debt, car payments, wedding expenses, travel expenses and on and on, to now feeling empowered and in control of our money. Although our road to financial freedom may be long, windy and a bit bumpy at times, we look forward to the day when debt is no longer a word in our vocabulary.

stocksnap_vfybueg6uz

So, here’s what I’ve learned so far from the man himself, Dave Ramsey.

  1. You can’t afford that. No but seriously, you can’t. Yeah, so all those little things us 20-somethings think we’ve just gotta have?? (New car, new clothes, new, new, new…) I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford them anymore.
  2. There is no such thing as “good debt.” Money owed is money owed. Whether it’s for a home, a car, a college education or whatever it may be, owing money to anyone makes you a slave to the lender.
  3. Budgeting is king. Ever get to the end of the month and wonder what happened to all of your money? Yeah me too. Budgeting helps us tell our money what to do and where to go so it doesn’t dissappear.
  4. It’s Gods money first. Even though my husband and I are trying to diligently chip away at our debt, we want to always have hearts that are giving cheerfully; to the church, to those in need or in any circumstance where we have the opportunity and heart desire to be generous.
  5. Live like no one else now, so that you can live like no one else later. People will laugh, they will mock, they won’t understand what you’re doing or why you’re doing it, but this commitment to live sacrificially, pay off debt, save, invest and give sets us up for the life that we desire down the road.

So there you have it folks. The short and sweet version of money, budgets and all that adult stuff. Want to learn more about Financial Peace University? I’d love to chat with you about our experience so far! It’s been life changing. Press on friends!Lil

Latest from Instagram

Copyright © 2017 · Theme by 17th Avenue