Good Friday: A Reflection On My Spiritual Journey

With it being Good Friday and Holy Week as we gear up for Easter, I thought today was fitting for a personal post. I've talked a lot more recently about my faith and my spiritual journey here in DC. I've found a wonderful Church and family here in the District, and my relationship with God is strengthening day by day. 

I thought it'd be good to share a little more about how I got to where I am today, and why I love my Church here in DC so much. Hopefully this will inspire y'all on this Easter holiday weekend!

Where I Came From

I grew up in a pretty religious household. My grandfather was a minister, my father is very involved in our Church back in Tennessee, and attending Church every Sunday was of utmost importance. I grew up participating in many Church activities, Bible bowls, weekend retreats, etc. I was very involved. But somewhere between college and moving to DC, there was a disconnect.

I'm not proud to admit it, but I strayed away from my faith. Looking back now, this was and is apart of "my story and journey." So I'm not ashamed, because everything happens for a reason. God's reason. So maybe this is what needed to happen for me to strengthen my relationship with Him. 

Why I Strayed

It was a gradual pull. I started putting outside activities as top priority. Sorority events, getting acclimated to my newfound freedom away from home, getting involved in college, having fun on the weekends, sleeping in, all the way to moving to DC and continuing those focuses. The more I prioritized my activities, the further I got away from going to Church. It went from attending once a month, to attending once a year for Easter. At the time, it felt like a necessity to attend Church on Easter, not a priority. 

As time went on in DC, I had quite a few obstacles and letdowns to get through. Instead of leaning on my faith and trusting in the Lord's plan, I started to resent Him for the consistent string of, let's call them "nos." I thought, "how can someone who loves me so much, put me through this much hurt all at once?" But if I was my current self talking to my old self, I would have reminded myself that "God doesn't put you through anything that you can't handle." Sometimes we have to go through pain, to get the big gains. 

The Turning Point

The turning point couldn't be any more typical DC. It came on my rooftop, at the pool, on a Saturday afternoon with a ton of friends. I was just getting over another failed relationship [dated someone the entire summer and all the sudden he ghosted, found out he was dating someone else at the same time #men]. I had hit, what I'd consider, rock bottom. Mentally. 

I was trying so hard to stay positive and enjoy my time with friends, but my mental obstacles couldn't be overcome. I was honestly mentally drained, tired and doubtful.  

Then, all the sudden I saw my friend Greg. One of my best friends from college [side note, the story of how Greg and I became friends is a hoot. Basically, we became friends through the fact our significant others at the time had dated each other prior. Once we both ended things with those two, we became truly great friends and bonded over it all. Funny how life works sometimes, right?!]

When I saw Greg it hit me. Without even thinking, I walked over to him and said, "Greg, will you take me to Church tomorrow? I want to attend with you!" 

That was this past August. 

The next day I met Greg at National Community Church and I haven't looked back since. 

Where I'm At Now

I'm so proud to say that since this turning point, I've attended Church more in the past 7 months than I had in the past 7 years. I've only missed a handful of Sunday morning services due to travel or weather. I don't say this to brag, but to celebrate how far I've come. 

I've never resonated more with a Church than I have with NCC. The first day I walked in, there were so many friendly and welcoming faces. Everyone wanted to get to know me and I felt wanted there. The sermon that day was like a sign from God Himself. It was about "finding your way back to God in the time of struggle." I mean come on y'all! It just all felt perfect. I felt at home, and I knew right then and there God put me there that day because that's what I needed. With Him, it's all about timing. And if I had gone to NCC sooner than that day, it may not have stuck. 

This was a major prayer that I had been subconsciously praying the past 7-ish years, and it was finally answered in a BIG way. 

Why I Love NCC

I have never met a more friendly group of people. I've made an insanely awesome Church family here and have met some of the greatest friends I never knew I needed. Not only do we have fun together outside of Church, but I can also confide in them on my spiritual journey. 

National Community Church has 8 campuses throughout the DC area and is made up of about 4,000+ people. My campus is close by to where I live, and filled with a ton of wonderful young professionals like me. I have ran into so many coworkers, friends from around the Hill and my neighborhood there. People I never knew went there!

NCC was founded by Pastor Mark Batterson, and y'all he's amazing. What he and the entire NCC team have done in DC is truly remarkable. I started reading Pastor Mark's book, Chase the Lion. It was the final push I needed to change my entire mindset and outlook on life. I highly, highly recommend it. 

From the Sunday services, to the singing and worship time, to my small group studies and meetings, to outings with my new friends, NCC has been a huge factor in my faith growing as quickly as it has. I am so humbled and honored to be apart of this community!

Why I'm Telling You This

Well, if you've read this much... I thank you. I didn't mean for this to get so long. But when the Lord speaks through you, combined with my love of talking, it just happens, ha. 

I am writing this not to preach to anyone, but to hopefully inspire at least one person. To show that there's always, always an "up from here." And that if you walk through life with God by your side, you'll get ten times further than if you go it alone. 

Each day is still a struggle. Each day I still have mental moments where I get down or have doubt. But that's part of the journey. That's part of being a human. I've never been more excited, hopeful and eager to see what God has in store for me. As this Easter weekend approaches, I hope y'all take some time to reflect on what He went through for all of us. The sacrifice that Jesus made for you and me. It's truly amazing and remarkable. And this year Easter has taken on a whole new meaning for me. It's no longer a necessity, but my utmost priority. 

Happy Easter y'all!


Erin Condren LifePlanner™

Organization is something that has always been important to me. Whether that be within the home, at the office or keeping track of my daily meetings and to-dos. In order to make it through my (typically) jam packed weeks, I have to stay on top of everything by writing it down. I love technology, don't get me wrong, but there's just something about having a physical planner to reference and being able to cross an item off my to-do list, by hand.

My go to planner for keeping me organized has always been the Erin Condren LifePlanner.

A few weeks ago I was invited to a happy hour with the Erin Condren team, and was so excited to meet them + checkout their newest products. I've been a fan of EC for years, so I couldn't wait to see how other Washingtonians styled their planners.

I first discovered Erin Condren LifePlanners back in college. I used several throughout my collegiate years. They were always the best planners to keep track of my schoolwork + sorority activities. Post college I tried a few other planners, but always came back to Erin Condren. Why? Well here are five reasons why I love her planners the most:

  1. It's not a basic planner | I've never been a fan of the cookie cutter planners, where either it's just a ton of blank lines or a timeline of the day. Let's be honest, the timeline planners aren't the most practical. Not all meetings or activities start right at a new hour. There are also some planners that are just calendar layout only. I need more space to write than a tiny box. Thankfully Erin Condren LifePlanners offer both options in one! I use the calendar pages for planning out my travel + blog posts. And use the weekly pages for keeping track of my meetings, events and to-dos. -- They're also just so much fun to use! My Erin Condren planner offers a creative way to stay organized, and adds a little color to my day!
  2. Personalization | Going along with reason #1, Erin Condren planners can be personalized in hundreds of ways. Whether you design your own planner cover + add your monogram, to choosing the dashboard inserts, to being creative on each page with stickers or washi tape, you can really make the planner your own. Everything is customizable! 
  3. Really though, the options are endless | I can't talk on the personalization + customization enough. I am loving their new dashboards that pop in any Erin Condren planner. My favorites are the wellness and meal planner dashboards. You can write out your meals for the week, keep track of your water intake and exercise. When a week ends, reflect on all you've accomplished and then wipe clean (using an erasable pen) for a new week ahead!
  4. Not just planners | Erin Condren doesn't stop at just your planner. They are a lifestyle brand that also sells stationery, office supplies, home decor, pillows and more. Design your planner, and then purchase matching notebooks, notepads, stationery and more. EC also sells their own pens for their planners and they ensure the ink won't bleed through! 
  5. High quality | With planners, the quality is key. You don't want something that's flimsy that won't hold up the entire year. I look for high quality paper so that my pens don't bleed through. Quality is important to me, and so the size. I don't want something that's super bulky. The small, yet spacious LifePlanner, allows plenty of room to write everything down and not add too much weight to my purse each day. 

Love what you see? Get yourself organized for school or work and save 15% off your order with code GETSOCIAL15 (code expires 7/31/17). Erin Condren LifePlanners and calendars are currently 50% off!! Get to shopping y'all!

This post is sponsored by Erin Condren. Product and compensation were given. However, all photos + opinions are my own. I love Erin Condren and have used her products for years!


Life Lately, Vol. 5

Well hey there sweet friends! It has been a hot minute since my last blog post. This has been the LONGEST I've gone without sharing new content in the three years I've been blogging. So let's get caught up...

Happy New Year
Happy January
I technically celebrated three years of blogging on January 16th!!
Hope you had a great MLK Day, President's  Day, Valentine's Day, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick's Day...

And your March is going well. Anyone on spring break this week?!

Yep, SO MUCH has occurred throughout this (really) extended blogging hiatus. So I wanted to kickoff this new found blogging motivation with a post catching y'all up on whats been going on in my life lately.

Why such a long break? | Life. No seriously. Life has been busy. I honestly hate that word though. It's an excuse. And let's be honest... we're all busy! Busy with work. Busy with side hobbies or activities. Hustling to make that promotion or scrounge up enough money for next month's spring getaway. Busy is good. It means we're working for something. Toward something. So I'm not going to apologize for my time away here, but instead relish in the fact that I have a lot of exciting opportunities going on and pray that I find the time to get them all done, ha.

Work | I don't usually share a lot about what I do, work wise, with y'all. I work in politics and because of that I tend to keep my blogging life and work life very separate. I'm sure you can gather though from the current political climate that my work life has been less than boring recently. I'd say my full-time job has been the strongest reason for my blogging hiatus. There just aren't enough hours in the day to get it all done.

I've been with my current office for 5 years this May. Yikes!! Has it really been that long?! I absolutely love what I do and for whom I work. Because of that, it makes going to work each day pretty rewarding and fulfilling.

Whole30 | If you follow me on social media, you may have seen recently where I began Whole30 (not sure what it is? learn more here). I did a lot of preparation before I started + read the Whole30 guide. I felt like I could tackle it with no problem. However, you really don't realize what you're getting into till you've actually started the program. It's no alcohol, no added sugar, no legumes, no gluten and no dairy. Basically a paleo diet with no alcohol. It sounds miserable, doesn't it?!

While I hope to share a full post with y'all soon explaining why I started it, I want to update y'all that I ended up quitting after 5 days, ha. Not because it was hard. Not because of the food, but because of the time commitment and cost. It just wasn't suitable for my lifestyle or budget. Whole30 is very time consuming. Especially since I live alone. Lots of prep + cleanup. It also can be very, very expensive.

Ultimately though I'm glad I started it. It taught me how much "bad stuff" I was putting into my body, and I never realized how much I ate, had added sugar. It really taught me to read the labels and limit the quantity of bad stuff I eat (and drink) each day. I've taken a few things away from it and plan to continue implementing those lifestyle changes daily. One example I discovered while on Whole30 is drinking my coffee black. It wasn't as bad as I thought, and I've continued doing so ever since. No sugar or cream. Those are wasted calories!! I also am loving zucchini noodles in place of pasta noodles with my spaghetti and meatballs. Save those pasta calories for an extra meatball or two, ha!

Social Media | I honestly haven't had a ton of new content to share on Instagram, but am really starting to love Insta Stories. Yes, I was one of the ones who initially hated it and was upset they were trying to takeover Snapchat. BUT I'm singing a different tune lately. Posting different content in two different apps is getting old. Insta Stories also offers a lot more variety, ways to share content and I get wayyyy more views on what I'm posting over there. So I'm considering getting rid of Snapchat. Has anyone else taken that plunge?!

My NCC | One of the biggest updates is that I've been putting a lot of time into growing my relationship with the big Man upstairs. Since initially getting back into Church seven months ago, I've gone to more services than the past seven years combined. My spiritual journey is just "re"-beginning and I have a long way to go, but I'm already seeing God show up and show off. He's led me to a place that is so fulfilling and I owe that all to Him. But it's also the family I've acquired through National Community Church. I've gained so many new friends the past few months, and my mental health and strength is thriving. I've never been this excited or hopeful about my future. I'm really looking forward to sharing a full post on NCC + more content on my spiritual journey with y'all as Easter nears. The perfect time to do so don't ya think?!

Gala Season | Spring in DC is my absolute favorite! There are so many fun parties, receptions and galas. Last Thursday I kicked off the official start to the spring gala season at the Cherry Blossom Pink Tie Party. It was so much fun y'all!

I found my dress for the party at Nordstrom Rack. It was less than $50, has bell sleeves + comes in two other colors!! Shop the exact dress here!

Prior to the party I got my makeup done by GLAMSQUAD! It's a new app that recently launched in DC. Through the app you can hire a professional hair stylist and/or makeup artist to come directly to your home and help you get "glam" for your event or party. Think at home blowouts, airbrush makeup, false lashes application + so much more!

My makeup artist, Kelly, came fully prepared and had my airbrush makeup done in less than 45 minutes! She was wonderful!!

I'm going to be using GLAMSQUAD again before next month's Taste of the South Charity Gala! This will be my first year attending the gala as an attendee, and not a member of the planning committee. I'm so looking forward to just enjoying the event and not being in charge of anything, ha.

Would you like to try out GLAMSQUAD yourself? Download the app and take $25 off your first use with code kroyster5669 within the promotions tab of the app.

Dating | I'd say you can probably compare how well my dating life is going to how well my blogging has been the past few months... open to it, but it's just non-existent. I've gone on a few dates over the past couple of months. Between an old fling coming round the bend, to a few blind dates gone wrong, I decided enough was enough. I deleted all of my dating apps and decided to focus on genuine, in person connections. I've gained a lot of time back each day (from not scrolling through apps) and started to really focus on meeting men in person. Imagine that, haha! So far it has made dating A LOT less stressful, and I've met some really nice guys offline. None have worked out so far, but I feel like I'm heading in the right direction.

Travel | I did a little traveling last month when I headed up to NYC with my travel buddy and friend, Jenn, for our second New York Fashion Week. I'll have a recap post on that soon.

Next month I'm traveling down to Georgia for The Masters. Yep, THE Masters. I'm going with my mom and dad to the last day of practice round. Which apparently is the best day, because you get to take a camera and take photos with all the players. Jordan Spieth... I'm coming for you! Because you can take a camera, you better believe I'll be sharing a ton of photos with y'all post practice round. Now, just need to figure out what to wear!

So what have y'all been up to? Is there anything you're hoping to see on the blog soon?


Happy New Year!

Sweater: H&M | Jeans: LOFT | Booties: DSW (similar here) | Phone Case: CaseMate
Scarf: H&M | Bag: Vera Bradley (c/o) | Necklace: Julia Vos (c/o) | Watch: Daniel Wellington (c/o)
Photos by Lauren

Well hello there... happy new year!! I hope everyone had a wonderful time ringing in 2017, and is having a great start to January thus far.

It seems like ages since I've shared an outfit post, let alone a blog post. Because of that, I wanted to start off the new year with a quick recap of what I've been up to and what lies ahead for me in the new year.

Honestly, I had this huge recap post planned. Well, two posts actually. I was going to recap 2016 and then discuss my hopes for 2017. And you know what? I deleted them both. Both posts were lengthy. No one has time to read paragraphs, upon paragraphs. So today's post is a more condensed version of the two I previously planned to share.

2016... was a year of many firsts for me. I started the year by moving into an apartment that I could call all my own. Very fitting that I'm doing the same thing as I begin 2017. But we'll get to that, ha. In February I traveled to NYC to attend my first New York Fashion Week. It was truly a dream come true. Sitting front row at my very first show (pure luck and being in the right place at the right time), and capping off the experience with the stunning Monique Lhuillier show (where Jenn and I sat two rows behind several of the biggest celebs... we were dying). I also traveled a lot in 2016. Headed to Key West for the first time in June, and back to Nashville to end the summer. I spent quite a few weekends at home in Knoxville, and witnessed in person one of the biggest Tennessee Vols football wins in a decade or more. I ended the year with my biggest and most personal accomplishment... finally finding a Church to call home in DC. I'm so thankful for everyone at National Community Church, and welcoming me with open arms. I made a ton of new friends this past year, unfortunately ended a few friendships as well, learned a lot about myself, and really left the year feeling older and more mature. If that's even possible, ha. But really though. I felt like I was finally getting a hang of this whole "adult" thing, ha.

2017... will be an amazing year where things truly come together. It's probably cliche of me to say, but I have a feeling that this new year will be "my year." Not in the sense I own it or anything, but that a lot of pieces of the puzzle will start fitting together. I'm starting 2017 off in a brand new apartment. Yes... I'm moving for the third time in less than five years. It's for a culmination of reasons, but majorly due to cost of rent. My new apartment is brand new and more affordable. No one has ever lived in it. The building has some amazing amenities, like an indoor lap pool. I used to be a competitive swimmer, so I'm seriously stoked to get back into the pool and start exercising again. I hate running, I hate gyms and I can't afford monthly cycling classes (although I'd love to). You can't really beat a pool in the same building you live in, with absolutely no payment required!

I created a list of "hopes for 2017" last night, and it ended up being two pages. I won't bore you with the list, but give you an overall idea of what I wrote down. It wasn't a list of resolutions or in a bucket list format. In my opinion, those limit you. Like if you write down... "lose 10 pounds." Okay, well what are you going to do to lose those 10 pounds? And what if you only lose 8? You'll feel like you failed. Instead, I choose to write down a list of hopes. Things I hope will happen in the new year, and then small steps I can take to bring those hopes to reality. That way, no matter what happens I'll end the year focusing on all that did happen rather then staring at a list of items never crossed off. For example, one of my hopes is to grow closer in my relationship with God. How will I do that? By going to Church more, being in the Word more each week and starting a brand new Bible study. It's a more overarching theme for the new year, rather then limiting myself by saying "finish the Bible study" or "go to Church every single Sunday." I don't want to limit myself, but instead encourage.

A few other hopes for the new year are travel somewhere I've never been, take the next step in my career, put myself out there more to meet someone special, and make better use of my morning routine.

I look forward to seeing what this year has in store. And I know I haven't been present with y'all on here lately, and to be quite frank... I don't know when or if things will get back to normal on the blog. I love blogging, and have loved the opportunities and friendships it has afforded me. I will continue posting when I have beneficial content to share, but for more frequent peeks inside my life, feel free to follow along on Snapchat (Kroyster815), Instagram or Twitter.

May the new year be the BEST one yet for each and every one of you! Thank you for being so supportive and for following along the past almost three years (my 3-year blog anniversary is January 16th!!). I look forward to sharing my 2017 journey with y'all on here, and hope you'll continue to follow along. Cheers to the new year, friends!