Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Girl Defined Book Giveaway Winner Announced!

Good morning friends!

Using the fantabulous services of www.random.org, a winner has been selected!!

Let's have a drumroll for our winner.......Emily Peters!!

Congratulations, Emily! I love it when my friends win!! =)
Please send an email to Girl Defined (bethany@girldefined.com) with your address and they will ship your free book out to you!

For all the rest of you who didn't win...go over to Girl Defined and purchase this book for yourselves!

Also thanks for y'alls patience in waiting for the winner announcement til Tuesday instead of Monday. Yesterday flew by and I must confess I completely forgot about posting the winner yesterday morning! #keepingitreal

Have a wonderful day!
-Chels

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Girl Defined Guest Post + Giveaway!

Friends, I am so very excited to announce the release of this book. I am also honored to be teaming up with Girl Defined to host this giveaway of their book here on my blog today!

Honestly I hardly know how to sum up this book into a review. I finished reading it recently + it is completely life changing and extremely LIFE GIVING
I would put this book on my list of TOP FIVE BOOKS that women should read. It will change your view of femininity, family, faith, beauty...the whole nine yards of who you should desire to be as a woman of God!

Kristen + Bethany (the authors) are the real deal. I have yet to formally meet them (hoping for this fall!) but their testimony + example goes before them and all over the internet to thousands of women as they write and speak about their journey with Jesus. You won't want to miss owning your own copy of this fabulous book! 

Enter your first and last name in the comment section for a chance to win your own copy. For additional entries, share this post via the tabs right below the comment tab, and then leave additional comments with the link to your share!

I don't want to take away anymore time from Kristen's guest post, so on to that!
The Power of Embracing God-Defined Womanhood  (Free Book Giveaway) 

"She starred in thirty major films and was awarded the Golden Globe for “Female World Film Favorite.” She started her own production company and was voted "2nd Greatest Movie Star” of all time by Premiere Magazine. She was chosen by Empire Magazine as one of the “100 Sexiest Stars in Film History.”

This blonde bombshell was beautiful, talented, successful, and seemed to have everything a woman could dream of, except for one thing – happiness.

Sadly, this famous superstar committed suicide on August 5, 1962. She was only 36 years old. Her makeup covered face, dyed blonde hair, and sparkling clothes only hid what she was feeling on the inside. 

Depressed. Unloved. Alone. 

This is the true story of America’s most iconic woman, Marilyn Monroe.

As I’ve studied the life of this beautiful and famous woman, I can’t help but ask the questions, “Why would a woman who had everything still commit suicide?” “Why wasn’t the fame, beauty, money, and guys enough to satisfy her?”

Sadly, not many people stop to ask these tough questions about Marilyn’s tragic life. Instead of questioning her fruitless quest for happiness, many of us follow right in her footsteps. 

My sister, Bethany, and I wrote a more detailed version of Marilyn’s story in the opening chapters of our new book, Girl Defined: God’s Radical Design for Beauty, Femininity, and Identity. 

Like Marilyn, millions of modern women are chasing after happiness and satisfaction down the same dead end road. Without even realizing it, many of us have bought into Hollywood’s popular lies about beauty, femininity, and identity. 

In chapter three of our new book, Girl Defined, we refer to these crafty lies as “counterfeit femininity.” As Christian women, many of us buy into the lies that to be worth anything we need to be pretty, sexy, smart, athletic, skinny, wealthy, popular, etc. 

We believe the lie that our worth as a female is based on our beauty and on our personal accomplishments.

Believing that lie is right where Marilyn went wrong, and it’s right where many of us go wrong as well. 

“The moment we allow culture to define our womanhood is the moment we take our first wrong turn.” -Girl Defined 

Whether you’re the “hottest blonde bombshell” on the planet or not, if we define our womanhood on anything other than God’s timeless Word, we will always feel empty inside. We will forever struggle with feelings of worthlessness and depression until we turn to the only One who has the power to fill our void. 

True worth, identity and satisfaction cannot be found outside of God’s beautiful design for us as females. And that’s where the BEST news comes into play: Our status of worthiness has nothing to do with us and everything to do with God.

No matter how famous and pretty a woman is, or how poor and unattractive she is, her worth and value are found in the same place. 

Our worth doesn’t come from anything we can do, but from everything Christ already did for us. If you’re a Christian, God calls you a child of God. And because you’re a child of God, He looks at you and sees royalty. You are a daughter of the most high King.

Psalm 139:13-14 says, “For Thou has possessed my reins: Thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well."

Not only are you a daughter of the King, God was knitting you together in your mother’s womb to look just the way you are. Just like an artist creating a masterpiece, God handcrafted your hair color, eye color, skin tone, height, nose shape, ears, and body to look just the way He wanted it to.

Our culture may not consider you to be very special, but God does. And He’s the only One who owns the rights to say how worthy you are. 

If Marilyn Monroe had understood these truths, her life probably would have ended very differently. The secret to true happiness in this world is to keep your eyes and heart on THE Truth. The minute you look to someone or something other than Christ to define your worth and identity, you will go downhill. It’s a guarantee. 

As Psalm 16:11 says, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand their are pleasures forevermore."

The more I have come to understand and embrace God’s design for my life, the happier and more fulfilled I have become. I challenge you to take the time to learn more about God’s beautiful design for womanhood! I hope you’ll grab a copy of Girl Defined and continuing discovering God’s amazing and beautiful design for your life as a female. 

If you’ve ever struggled with feelings of worthlessness, discontentment with your body, lack of fulfillment, relationship problems, or confusion about your identity - this book is for you. 

In closing, I would love to give you a FREE copy of my new book! Just comment below to be automatically entered into the book giveaway contest."

Written by: Kristen Clark

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So there it is: a little taste of the book for you, and now a chance for you to enter and win your own! Simply comment below with your first and last name. Can't wait for one of you to win this fabulous book!

GIVEAWAY ENDS SUNDAY NIGHT, AUGUST 14th, @ 11:59PM. 
Winner will be announced Monday morning!

I'll close this post with a quote from the book:

"When I actively embrace biblical womanhood, my soul finds complete rest. When I take God at His word and value the things He values, I find real purpose. When I live out my womanhood for God's glory and not my own, even the mundane tasks become meaningful!"
-Girl Defined

So good, and so true!
-Chels

Friday, August 5, 2016

Introducing the IN TUNE BAND + Their New Single!

Well, well, well...its not every day I get to make an announcement like this one! 

But here we go. MY LITTLE BROS HAVE RELEASED THEIR FIRST SINGLE!

First of all, let me say that I am SO PROUD of my brothers. They are literally the greatest in the land and I cannot think of one thing that would make them any better. (I'm serious, too) 

They are hard workers, good conversationists, deep thinkers, inventors, scholars, and most importantly, they are men of God and men of CHARACTER. 

As if all that wasn't quite a bit already, they are also amazing musicians. Honestly, the skill of these guys just blows my mind. They practice and practice and PRACTICE for hours on end, committed to always reaching for the next level of expertise. 

Through the Bible Bee, they met their friend Joe, who also happens to be another incredible musician. Even though he lives in Florida, and they live in Iowa, these guys have been privileged to spend quite a bit of time together at the yearly National Bible Bee Competitions. (Joe's sister and Josh have competed against each other at Nationals for the past five years, and Denver and Joe have competed against each other a number of times as well)
We've also had several family get-togethers that have occurred when we've been on tour and performing in southern Florida. And more recently, Joe's sister attended two of Allison's retreats, so Joe flew along out with her to hang out with our guys during the retreat. 

You had to understand these four guys. They're just not quite normal. (and I mean that as a complement) Most teenage boys would spend their hang out time sitting around goofing off on their phones, or playing video games, or watching movies. 

Not so with these young men. They work together, and study Bible Bee, and play sports, and spend hours discussing almost every subject you could imagine. What other teenagers do you know who have a mock debate with one representing Bernie Sanders, one representing Marco Rubio, and one being the ever present FOX News moderator? And literally if it wasn't for the fact that their voices are different and they obviously look totally different from the above mentioned individuals, you honestly would think it was the real people because the boys have listened to and studied them so much that they know how to reenact their main points and defend their various hot button issues.

I told you these guys were a little different. =)

They enjoy doing all of that, but still one of their favorite things to do is to JAM OUT together. They love arranging music and giving everything they play a "highly individual" sounding twist. =) Just listen to their band bio that is on their website:

"The In Tune Band is a collection of farmers, city-slickers and would-be politicians who share a love for bluegrass. Their original, smooth and unpredictable style is the result of sporadic practice meets and bizarre brainstorming sessions. Although they are just getting started on their collective musical careers, the In Tune band members appreciate instrumental bluegrass done right, and relish every opportunity to subject classic tunes to their creative juices."

"...Subject classic tunes to their creative juices." Yes, perfect description. =) 

Besides that, I feel like just their band bio description would make you want to buy the song. Haven't you always wanted to hear what a "bizarre brainstorming session" sounds like? 
Perfect opportunity, coming right up. =)

I know, I know...when you hear "Do Re Mi" you're thinking-"what, that old song off of "The Sound of Music"?" Haha. NOT AT ALL. You really must hear their arrangement. Hop on over to iTunes and listen to the twenty-second sample, and see if you don't just click the "BUY" button because you're dying to hear the rest of the unusualness. =)

This single is available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon, at these links. Go buy it for yourself---its only $.99 and it will be a dollar well-spent to have a fun + snappy tune to add to your music collection! Also please do them a favor and give them a five-star review on Amazon, too! (assuming you like it, of course!)

Also, in case you are curious, instrument credits are as follows:
Josh-DOBRO
Denver-VIOLIN
Joe-BANJO, GUITAR + MANDOLIN
Taylor-BASS GUITAR

Anyways, that was definitely a sufficient promo so I'm going to close that portion of the post...=)

I was honored with the opportunity to take their cover photo and thought I'd share a few of my favorites from our shoot.
We were running late from work + chores, trying to get out the door for church. We literally took these pictures in five minutes flat.

The photoshoot was a little last minute and thrown together, so I just asked them to pose however they wanted, since it was their project and their picture and I was basically just the one providing the camera. =)

Looking the pictures over afterwards proved to be entertaining, because Denver + Joe definitely had this "solemn/macho" look/idea in mind, whereas Taylor just always smiles for the camera so I don't think he had a serious face on any of the pictures, and Josh was somewhere halfway in-between.

Case in point. =)

Some thought the whole "gazing off into oblivion" idea was a little too much.
 I think this pose could be perfected in the future. =)

Outfit Coordination credits go to Joe + Denver. They did quite well.

If their musical careers don't take off, they could consider fashion design, don't you think?
Worst case scenario, I think there's a very real possibility that a comedy show somewhere might give them a job. =)

"Josh, Denver, Joe, + Taylor...I'm so proud of you guys! It was great to be a little part of your project and I'm excited to see how God is going to continue using each one of you to lift up His name with your talents!"
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If you like this new single and would like to encourage these guys in their musical endeavors, please use the tabs below to share this post and these links through your social media! Thank-you!

Also don't forget to check out the links at the top to purchase this song for yourself!

Have a great weekend, friends! 
-Chels

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Promo Pictures for the Sweet Peach Company

Every once in a while people ask me if I'm still doing photography.

The answer is yes and no. =)
No, as in that I'm not promoting or advertising; I haven't done updated pricing guides for quite a while, and I haven't done a typical business shoot for a "real" client (as in scheduled + billed in a regular way) for several years. 

Yes, in that I still take pictures! For the most part, these days, I use my phone just because I almost always have it with me and it is so much easier. Phone photos have taken over for a lot of my candid lifestyle-style pictures. However I still use my "real camera" for blog header shots, special projects, etc. 

This past year I've been able to do a number of unique photo projects for friends and family. Most of them have taken 10-15 minutes to do and almost all of them were very-last minute ideas. =) But they have been a lot of fun and its been great to pull out my camera and do some professional shooting again.

All that brings me to this post. 

A friend of mine from NY runs a company called The Sweet Peach Company, in which they specialize in selling fresh Georgia peaches, and working with businesses that use their peaches in their product. We were planning to spend a few days in NY with my grandparents and relatives, and my friend asked me if I would shoot a few pictures for some of the summer promos with his company. 

Well, peaches and pictures and little girls? And then getting paid with more peaches? I think yes!

I used my two little sisters and a few of their cousins for my models. Rebs especially was just so excited. I told her, "Rebs, its pretty low-key; I'm just going to be taking a few pictures of you drinking a peach smoothie and eating peach fry-pies." 
Her response: "I know but I'm SOOO excited!! This will be my FIRST time being a MODEL!!!!" =)

Enjoy a few of my favorites!
If you've never had a peach fry pie...well, you should just go find one directly. They are DEE licious!
So much fun..I could photograph little girls and peach products for daaaaays.

Now that y'all have a proper peach craving after seeing all this yumminess, I hope you'll go find yourself some of this delicious fruit and make something peachy for yourself to eat! =)

Or better yet if you live in the Fingerlakes area you can just go check out the Sweet Peach Company in person at one of their market stands!

Have a great evening, my friends!
Chels