Your Signature Style

Geometry is a branch of mathematics concerned with questions of shape, size, and position of figures. That is the extent of my knowledge on the subject because I spent that math period tirelessly working on my fashion sketches. My entire notebook was covered in shapes, sizes, and figures … but of prettier sorts. Although I’ve spent much of my life enthralled with all things runway, I’ve come to agree with Lauren Hutton who famously said, “Fashion is what you’re offered four times a year by designers. Style is what you choose.”

Style is such an elusive and intimidating subject for a lot of women. Much of the fashion industry is devoted to pushing the next thing, and consequently pushing discontentment. If this is where you’ve found yourself, I would like to combat that fog with the truth. You are beautiful. You are doing enough, what you have is enough, and you are enough. If you are a mother reading this and you’ve already brushed your teeth, I applaud you my fellow sister. So since we’ve established that you are a total winner, why not embrace the fact that you are worth adorning? You are worth styling. I believe that you are, because I believe the Father makes beautiful things.

Each one of us is uniquely lovely. And so your signature style should reflect your personality. Getting dressed should highlight your strengths, instead of hiding your perceived flaws. Fortunately, there’s a simple way to pin point your personal style, and build from there.

There are five general styles: feminine, bohemian, edgy, minimalist, and classic. Most women are a blend of two styles. Most clothing falls into one of these categories, and the remainders are basics (jeans and tees), trends, or vintage inspired pieces that are to be paired with your wardrobe staples.

You can determine which is your style by finding your “repeat offenders.” If you have multiples of a certain style blouse or dress, there’s a reason. After all, Audrey Hepburn had more than one pair of cropped pants. It’s okay, as long as the item is something you feel great wearing.

If you have repeats of the same items in your closet solely out of convenience, then I recommend creating a place to collect inspiration photos. Create a Pinterest board or a photo album on your phone.  Take note of any themes in shape, color, or pattern. Ask yourself what it is you love about the look. Ideally the answer won’t be, “if my child smears peanut butter on me, it wouldn’t be too noticeable.”  This way you ensure your future purchases are filling the holes in your closet and are pieces that contribute to feeling your best.

As you find the common thread amongst your closet and inspiration photos, you might find your signature style largely falls under the feminine category. Feminine wardrobes will consist of delicate fabrics, pleats, lace, and A-line silhouettes. Soft floral prints, bows, ruffle details, and airy colors will also be a common theme. Pair these very feminine pieces with anchoring items like a belt, structured jacket, or an updated pair of dark jeans. Keep accessories simple with pendants, studs, and strappy shoes.d3c00d6c-ad6c-4930-88c9-40a530f9595a

ec476f71-f1c8-4092-8683-51ddebebf920On the opposite side of the spectrum you’ll find the edgy category. Moto jackets, leather, dark colors, boots, and distressed details are the foundations for this personal style. It is best to incorporate your secondary style mixed in with these staples. A dress in your favorite color with a leather jacket can make for an unexpected, but polished combination.

Inspiration albums inundated with photos of Audrey 9e5a104b-81c7-40c1-8eba-707e4ec14610Hepburn and Victoria Beckham (post Spice Girls, of course) are clear indicators that your signature style is minimalist. This particular category leans heavily on solids. Sleek trousers and pencil skirts in neutrals will make getting dressed for special events a breeze. Add a soft crew neck sweater in a color that makes you glow to your new staple bottoms. With this style, as with all the others, the key is to have pieces that fit perfectly and are flattering to your body type. To go along with the minimalist look have a blazer tailored to fit you. And instead of piling on accessories, stick to a great pair of pointed heels/nude flats, and a luxurious feeling watch.

The remaining two styles will be easy to spot.
b22360d5-e8e6-4453-8380-20f4956c6526Classic style is built on the Jackie O. staples.
If this is your personal style, or you want it to be, choose a few of the following items to invest in: a belted camel coat, a great fitting white button up, a sheath dress that can be worn for day or evening, and/or a jean jacket. Choose two bottoms, one to wear with flats, and another to wear with heals. To these staples add a colorful blouse and one of the above-mentioned jackets. You can also layer these classic American pieces with a leopard print shoe or a trendy hat to add a bit flare.

Lastly, is the bohemian style. “All things 1970’s” is the easiest way to describe this style. Bohemian clothes have an element of flow that gets translated in different ways. From flowing fringe, to flared denim, maxi dresses, and tunics, bohemian clothes have ease to them. It is best to bring in a second style to balance this wardrobe. If this is the style that brings out your most confident self, invest in a few key pieces like a beautiful tunic and long layered necklaces.f4968368-2b3f-4a6c-9472-c50e0be7d461

My heart for you as you read through the short synopsis of the styles and take inventory of your day-to-day wear, is that you would be kind to yourself. I know I have to do the same, especially on the days I am dressed like a bank robber. One of my favorite verses in Galatians touches on the theme of bearing with one another…without comparing ourselves to someone else. I pray you would have fun implementing your signature style without the spirit of comparison, rather with the spirit of confidence because you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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My name is Marlen Leutwyler. I am a first generation American and Christian. I have been married to my wonderful husband for almost 10 years. We have two daughters, ages 5 and 3, and our son will be 1 in May. I am a homeschooling homemaker, working freelance as a wedding/special events coordinator. I am passionate about encouraging women to thrive in the blessing that is motherhood through our ministry, Rise Up. It was through the gift of my children, that God took me from living under the spirit of fear to the freedom of daughtership (Romans 8:15).

Trade Secrets- Keeping Your Husband Your Boyfriend

Greetings everyone!

Have you ever wondered how other married couples seem to have it all together with what appears to be “the perfect marriage,” all the while, causing you to look inwardly at your own?

After the “I do’s” are exchanged and the honeymoon is over, we begin to settle into married life and get accustomed to each other’s habits, likes and dislikes. During the honeymoon stage, couples tend to overlook the little things that our spouses do which might annoy us. We work diligently on making our spouse happy…and then, it gets real. The demands of everyday life, our busy work schedules, entering into parenthood and just simply living day-by-day while working to make it to another. But what happens next?

When the weight and burdens of the world and our personal lives become too heavy, where does this leave us as man and wife? During the early years of my marriage to Reigh, we got into a disagreement over the purchase of dinnerware. It’s silly in a sweet way, but our disagreement was a pivotal moment in our marriage. And so here it goes…our dinnerware story.

We came across a black dinnerware set which Reigh liked and I came across a white set that I liked. We couldn’t agree on the same color but we agreed on the same pattern. However, each of us wanted what we wanted for “ourselves” and not what we wanted together, so we bought both sets. Can I just say, “STUPID”? This was a horrible mistake! When we used them as a combined set, we hated the way they looked at the dinner table and even more so when we put them away.

These plates were a reminder of how our own individual desires got in the way. So Reigh and I vowed back then to always make decisions together, big or small. If we don’t agree on decisions together, we don’t move forward until the right choice comes along for us. What a sweet reminder that married life is not all about us individually but that our lives are indeed much more happier and complete when we can decide on things together, as one.  We’ve shared this story with many people over the years.

Our marriage is not perfect, but I can assure you that it’s strong because we put God first. Our goal and desire in our marriage is to leave a legacy of love and to model that love in a way that Jesus would have us live, which is by way of grace and forgiveness. Reigh and I pray together daily, engage in spiritual unity and give all the glory to God on High for His countless blessings. We know that without Him, we are lost. In every season, He is there guiding us along our journey in life. His love will never fail us. In our weakness, He is strong.

My personal trade secret for keeping my husband my boyfriend: I study Reigh and know the things that fill his heart. I speak his love language by giving him words of affirmation. I express my appreciation for him by making him aware how truly blessed and thankful I am to have a husband who leads our home so well. I’m thankful for his cover and provision for me, our children and grandchildren. I remind him daily without fail how much I love him. I enjoy spoiling him and making him laugh. I love pursuing him, especially more so, every year that I’m blessed to be his bride.

Today, we are inseparable and we are approaching our 29th wedding anniversary. I love this godly man of strength who is filled with so much wisdom more than the day I married him. He’s my breath, my heart, my life!

On a final note, an encouraging scripture and reminder for us all…
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

teresaTeresa Harrison is happily married to her loving husband, Reigh of 28 years. They have two adult sons and two grandsons. She is an Account Specialist for AIG Direct. She supports the Immersion San Diego program and is a host home parent of two interns. Teresa assists with KidBuilder’s ministry events and KidCheck Welcome Table. She’s an elder, mentor and supports her husband with their weekly small group. She is an active fundraising supporter for The Alternatives Women’s Center and she enjoys helping people, including the homeless. Her passions are various church ministries, spending quality time with family and friends, photography and camping.

Oh How He Loves Me

I knew this girl who saw herself as alone in the world. She thought there must be a God out there somewhere, but He wasn’t going to be bothered with someone like her. He had bigger things and other, more important people to look after. She was flawed, imperfect and broken in so many ways. Carrying scars that would permanently mark her as lost. What she didn’t know was that those same scars that marked her, would one day open pathways to helping others. I also witnessed this lost girl being found by her Heavenly Father and her life being changed forever.

To fully understand her story, you would need to know a little bit more about her. She had always had a caring heart – one that led her to tend to others before herself. She was an overachiever, always trying to gain acceptance and self-worth from those around her. She was successful in anything worldly she set out to do. She was an accomplished athlete and an honor roll student graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree before she was 20. She was on a career fast track. But then her life was hit sideways. She found herself pregnant at 24, unmarried and unattached. To her credit, she decided she would find a way to raise her daughter and support them both. Accepting her fate, she courageously branched out – raising her new baby while at the same time starting a new business venture on her own. Lots of late nights and sleepless days later, she found herself successful in her venture and a good mother, but the deep rooted marks of guilt and no self-worth were still with her. She wasn’t worth it. The “it” being happy, free, loved, cherished, cared for… she was still lost.

A few years later she found herself deeply tangled in a manipulative and abusive relationship. She truly believed that her inadequacy was the cause of the relationship’s dysfunction. She tried to break free many times, but was never strong enough. He would use heavy guilt combined with various fear tactics to always control her. You see, when you feel you are worth nothing, or at best worthy of punishment and repercussions, that’s exactly what you receive and accept. Her life had turned into a series of painful conversations and insane experiences always ending in tears and often in hiding. She was trapped with an addict who was carrying mental disorders and a history of violence with him.  He would tell her that she was the reason he was using and if only she were better he wouldn’t have to.

Deep in a miserable and destructive cycle, she tried everything she could to be “better.” But nothing was ever right – she was never enough. She suffered terrible depression and anxiety. Panic attacks would overcome her when his name appeared on her phone. She knew she had to break free from him, but how? Begging him to leave her and pleading him to let her go – he refused. He would never leave. Desperate, she turned to the only thing she hoped could help her…God. If only she could find a way to become worthy. She started praying, reading, singing. She covered herself in the Word. She posted sticky notes of Scripture verses all around her house. She would walk at all hours of the night listening and singing. Pleading for forgiveness. Begging for help, for she was drowning in a situation that was life threatening.

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At one of the lowest points in this girl’s journey, she was threatened to be killed or to do it herself. She stood in the kitchen weeping, singing “Here Now” with her back turned to him as he approached her with a kitchen knife in his hand. His hatred towering over her like the dark shadow of Satan. The fight was real, just as the Pastor had preached, for she had seen evil face-to-face that night. But in that same moment when she saw the blackness of Satan in his eyes, she experienced the power of her Father’s protection and grace. Just when she thought she couldn’t matter less – that she wasn’t worth it – her Heavenly Father came and claimed her. He covered her and brought to her heart a message that would change her life forever. He loved her! She was always worth saving. He had always been with her. Jesus was holding her hand. She was His. She only had to ask.

So you may be asking yourself who this girl is and how I could have such insight into her story. Truth be told – she was me before I was found. I was the lost girl of this story. I thought I was alone and broken beyond repair. What I never expected was to find that my Father was with me, even at my very worst. He lifted me up as a testimony that He is always with each of us. There is no such thing as too broken. Too ugly. Too torn.

The beautiful thing about our Father is the minute you accept Him, everything changes. My life, although still in turmoil, had hope. God sent into my life the right people who could help me in all the ways I needed. I went through intensive Christian therapy. He started healing my heart and the dirty, foggy lenses I saw the world through cleared. A new family was given to me through The Father’s House. Support came in from all around. Now my situation and self-esteem didn’t all get fixed overnight. But by “leaning in” when my life was in pieces, God not only helped to put me back together, but made me a new creation. One better than I could have ever imagined for myself.

As I continue in my life journey I know Jesus is holding my hand. I wear the armor of God. I’m a living testimony that your Father waits for you to turn to Him and ask. Surrender. Lean in. You will be forever different.

God, help me to know Your love. To meet You as my Father. To know You are always with me. You know all my scars and love me just as I am.   Broken. Thank You for bringing hope and strength to seek the life that You want for me. A life filled with love. AMEN.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bio ShotDomestic abuse is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.

If you are in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, please consider reaching out for help. There are many resources available including The Father’s House at 760-798-9418. There are always women there who can help and pray with you. Christian counseling, Mitzi Steele with New Growth Counseling comes highly recommended at 760-494-4394, or contact TFH for the names of other qualified counselors in our area. If you are in immediate or eminent danger call 911 or the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

 

Wonderfully and Fearfully Made

If I told you my story
You would hear hope that wouldn’t let go.
And if I told you my story
You would hear love that never gave up.
—“My Story” by Big Daddy Weave

 

Words like “redeemed,” “mercy” and “grace” before God got ahold of my life were very difficult for me to feel. I understood their definition, but I’d seen people weep over those words—I knew I was missing what those words meant when they are attached to the way God uses them in our lives. They would come to life for me when He was saving mine.

My story of going through an unplanned pregnancy is the most beautifully orchestrated crisis I have ever witnessed. On Aug. 15, 2011, my boyfriend, Devin, and I had just broken up. Hours later, I found out I was pregnant. I grew up knowing that life began in the womb, and I knew what abortion did, yet I still contemplated having one. It seemed like all I could see was the struggle. I was overwhelmed by the thoughts of repeating broken families, my child having an absent father in her life and myself failing as a parent. I found myself driving to an abortion facility to weigh my options.

I was half-heartedly greeted by the receptionist at the window and nonchalantly told that I could come back the following Tuesday for an abortion. I don’t think she even looked up from her busy desk calendar as she told me the day my baby’s life would end. Something massive switched in my heart right then. I began to remember all the things my mom had told me over the years about Alternatives Women’s Center, where she works as a nurse, and the support they provide ladies in my exact situation. She had been working there for years, and little did I know that I would find myself being one of their patients! I left AWC LogoPlanned Parenthood and went straight to Alternatives, where I was welcomed in with a strong message of hope, given physical, emotional and spiritual care, and tangible help.

That day Jesus gave me a word from Hebrews 11:1, “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” This is dear to my heart for many reasons, but to put it simply, it would be the first of what I now know would be a lifetime of ways Jesus continually captivates my heart. I was so used to the chaos and never standing for anything that, boy, did it feel good off-loading what seemed like the weight of the world on my shoulders and surrendering to Him!

During those next few months there was so much emphasis put on saving the life of the baby and preparing for her arrival, but what I look back and see now is that He had a plan to redeem it all in a way that far exceeded our wildest dreams. The heartbeat I saw that day at Alternatives sent me running back to my Heavenly Father’s arms, and soon after Hartleigh was born, Devin, too, would be saved. Over the next two years, Devin and I would go on to get engaged. I would move out of our apartment so that we could each work on our personal relationships with Christ and also plan a wedding. Romans 8:37 says, “… we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” I pray I will never forget how far away I once felt from Him but how close He was as soon as I uttered His name.Erin and Devin Wedding Photo

A prayer for each of you fearfully and wonderfully made women: May God give you a sense of what He is up to in you life. May you see glimpses of the breakthrough that is just up ahead. May you—with all your heart—believe that trusting Him over what your eyes see is totally worth it. May you shift your weight off of your logical reasoning and onto the weightiness of His powerful promises to you.

Smile with joy and walk by faith. He has you.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ErinTanner_FamilyPhotoErin Tanner, 28, lives in Carlsbad, Calif., with her husband and two daughters. “I love being a stay-at-home mom and having my own home-based business with a nutrition and cellular cleansing company,” she says. “I still have a great relationship with Alternatives Womens Center and participate in their events and vision for our community and beyond. My family enjoys being active, so whether that’s gym dates with my husband, running HIIT workouts with TFH ladies on Friday mornings or watching Hartleigh in her CrossFit classes, you can bet I’m excited to be there! The Father’s House has been a complete blessing to our family and as the weeks go by and turn into years, we are all the more joyful that God led us here.”