Cattails, Rabbit Trails, and Thistlefish: June 2016

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

When a Blessing Doesn't Feel like a Blessing

Have you ever been in a situation or a place in life that you know you'll be thankful for later, but in that place or situation you really, really don't want to be there?
I feel like that's how my life has been in Maryland.
Yes, this job is a blessing.
Yes, it's going to be a huge help for paying of student loans.
Yes, it's great that Jon and I can work in the same place.
Yes, I should be thankful.
But honestly, I'm not!

I've tried to stay thankful, and I've tried to keep things in perspective, but seriously, this is hard. I just don't want to be up here.
Jon and I have made it our goal to be faithful with the small things, especially now with a new family that is literally small. We feel like that means starting off by dealing with our student debt. That makes a job necessary. That makes this job a blessing. That means that this job is (dare I say it) from God.

But I thought things from God were supposed to be warm and fuzzy and comforting and secure and refreshing?
Psht. I've known God long enough to know that is false. He wants more for me than a life of ease and comfort!
At first this felt unfair, but then I wondered if people of God have ever felt like their blessings from God were actually curses?
And how did they respond when God's blessings lost their excitement and no longer felt like blessings?

This brought me to Mary.

Mary's Struggle

I tend to think of Mary as this angelic young lady that must have been perfectly patient and meek and beautiful and said "Yes, Lord, I am Your servant, do whatever You need to do" and then didn't complain.
I mean, who could complain after an angel showing up saying "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you"?
But look at her reaction:
"...she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be." (Luke 1:29).
This doesn't sound like the trusting, angelic Mary I had in mind. In fact, it kind of sounds like my relationship with the Lord, constantly trying to figure out what He's doing!

The next clue comes from the angel's response to her silence:
"Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God," (1:30)
It's not uncommon for people of the Bible to be afraid in the presence of angels; they are huge and warrior-like and other-worldly! But somehow I've always picture her as standing there (still meek and angellic) simply waiting for the message to be delivered. She could have, contrarily, been freaking out (like I would be in the situation).

The angel goes on to tell this young girl that she is going to have the great privilege of bearing God's Son in this world.
"How will this be, since I am a virgin?" was her response.
Was her question asked in the innocent, wide-eyed wonderment like I had always imagined? Or did she have a thousand questions in her mind, and in her panic, that was the only question she could think to ask before this heavenly being disappeared?
The only answer that she was given, in a nutshell, is "Oh, the Holy Spirit will take care of that!" and "By the way, your cousin is going through something similar."

Her response to this was,
"Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."
Angelic Mary is back.

But in reality, imagine those few moments after the angel left, and the questions that would have been spinning through your head.
What will my family think?
How would I tell them?
Can I tell them?
What will Joseph do?
What will my friends think?
Will they treat me different?
Will they believe me?
Should I even tell anybody?
How do I even tell anyone about what just happened?

The Word of the Lord was not common in those days, and the time spanning between the Old and New Testiment are generations and generations. There were not many people in her time saying, "Hey, I saw another angel yesterday!" or, "Guess what the Lord said today."

Not only that, but a pregnancy is not easy to hide. She only had a month or two to keep this knowledge to herself.

Not only that, but then she would have a baby. Son of God or not, you can't hide a baby either. Would she always be shamed? Would those who didn't believe her see him as a child of shame?

Mary's Comfort

Thankfully, the story doesn't end there. 

The greatest comfort Mary found was in reminding herself of who God was/is. Her song in Luke 1:46-55 continually focuses on who God is and what He has done (for herself and others): 
" spirit rejoices in God my Savior...
He who is mighty has done great things for me...
holy is His name...
His mercy...
He has helped His servant Israel..."

Mary exemplified Psalm 91:4
"He will cover you with His pinions,
and under His wings you will find refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and buckler"

She used reminders of His faithfulness as a shield against the lies and the feelings of doubt and isolation.

I also think it is significant that she had a song for these characteristics that were comforting to her. I imagine in times when she felt isolated and misunderstood and her blessing felt like a curse she would start humming the melody and singing in her head, or go somewhere she could be alone and sing it at the top of her lungs to build her courage.

What I Learn

I have a choice in times like this.
I can be offended that God would put me in an uncomfortable situation
or I can respond like Mary constantly remind myself of the goodness of the Lord. I can literally use His faithfulness - which I have seen an abundance of over the years - to shield my heart and my mind from the flaming lies that attack me like arrows.

While I may feel isolated or discouraged, away from home and community, I can take refuge in testimonies of His faithfulness and know that He will never leave me, and has good plans for me. In fact, He always does far more than I could ever ask or imagine! It's in His character (Eph. 3:20).

What are some testimonies of God's faithfulness in your life recently? Testimonies build faith! (And mine could obviously use a boost!) Please share:)

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Modest Budget: Striped Blazer (and a Promo Code for You!!!)

Happy Monday!
I have some exciting news... 
Not only did I find two fab outfits to pair with this Shop Sevan striped summer blazer, but I have a PROMO CODE for anyone who wants 20% OFF their store!

Quick rant about this store... what I respect the most about them, is that they are really practical for the average body type. I get so frustrated with companies that only work with thin body types, because, well, that's not me and I end up looking like Pillsbury Dough Girl. BUT, Shop Sevan creates super cute, modest, bohemian clothing that would work with a variety of body types. I love it.
 Shop Sevan is a company run by Sarah and Evan, a married couple who used their celeb name to start a business! I think it's absolutely adorable. They were also super great to work with for this promo.
I typically stay away from the red+black combo because I'm more of a pinK kind of gal, but this blazer added just the right amount of femininity and class to this outfit.
I would wear this to work, throw on some hoops and a statement necklace for a night out, or just a day out running errands (because everyone knows you are more productive when you look good!).
Blazers are typically wayyy out of my comfort zone because I feel stuffy and over-dressed, but with the light fabric and flowy fit of this one I felt like I was able to still feel like myself.

 Because it's good to have more than one outfit in mind before you make an investment purchase (like an out-of-your-comfort-zone blazer) I wanted to try it with a dress, too!
For this, I tried to substitute the blazer for what I might wear a cardigan for.
 It worked really well! I wore this to an early-morning church service when it was still a tad chilly in the morning and in the building (why is church always cold?).
Besides church, this would work for a graduation, a day wedding/party, or maybe even a date night!
I also wanted to show ya'll how I wore the blazer with a basic pink V-neck and casual denim shorts, but alas, homework gets in the way of pictures sometimes;) Either way, this was a super versatile purchase, and I'm super excited to wear it more.

Now are ya ready for that promo code?;) You can use the code "HEYCASEY" for 20% off anything in their shop!!! (I have my eyes on the Katherine Paisley Kimono next... so cute!!!) Also, peep the Shop Sevan Instagram, because they are always posting new products!

Comment and let me know what you bought, and don't forget to share your modest, budget looks on Instagram with #TheModestBudget!

Happy Shopping!!

P.S. This shop is seriously phenomenal and I would be talking about them anyways, but this post was sponsored with a discount on my purchase!:)

P.P.S. Linking up with Fizz & FrostingClaire Justine OXOXElegantly FashionableSincerely Jenna MariePink SoleNorthwest BlondeStill Being MollyThe Fashion CanvasTwo Peas in a BlogSandy A La ModeGaray TreasuresWhy I Do DeClaire, Elegantly Dressed & StylishSydney Fashion HunterPumps & PushupsShopping My ClosetClassy Yet Trendy50 is not oldJersey Girl Texan HeartThe Mummy Chronicles, A Good Hue, The Red Closet DiaryDoused in PinkMix Match FashionHappiness at MidlifePenniless SocialiteHome of MalonesStylin' In St LouisMomfessionalsTwo Thirty Five DesignsJolynne ShaneFashion Should Be FunRachel the HatBirdie ShootsLizzie in LacePosh Classy MomSept FarmClaire Justine OXOXAdri Lately,  Elegance and Mommyhood, & The Pleated Poppy

Friday, June 24, 2016

Keeping up with the Capra's: Summer School and Hubby's Rescue

It's the weekend! While weekends are not very long for Jon and I, they still mean that we are back in Home Sweet Chesapeake for two nights (and I get to sleep in past 5am!). So weekends are still worth looking forward to after we get through our 4-6 our drive home.

I have enjoyed writing these updates every other week. And since Facebook and phone calls are not my preferred way of keeping up with people, this is my way of letting people into my life I guess.
So here are my five updates for this Friday!

1. Summer School

This is my first summer of school since probably ninth grade, but I am determined to graduate August 2017!
Unfortunately Regent academic advisors don't like to inform you that you are on track to graduate a year late until after you have been going to school for three years, and they leave you to cram as many classes as possible while you work full-time... But that's ok! I'll take it.

And while most people curl their lip at summer classes, I am still really enjoying my psychology major. Maybe I'm still in the "honeymoon phase" of a degree change, but I do not mind the reading.

2. Cuter...ish

Jon and I have returned to our northern home to finish out this job. (Hopefully we will be back home for good by the end of the month, but there have still been no promises.) But one of my biggest complaints about this job is that it is that I basically wear jeans and a t-shirt every day. Not only that, but we are out in the heat #notcute.
However, Jon helps me out with that by sneaking around behind my back and buying me earrings and taking me on dates;) (These are earrings Jon bought me from a gift shop in Alaska!)

3. Graduates!

Jon was a Young Life leader at Grassfield High School for 4 years and I was a leader at Deep Creek High School for 3 years (and at Grassfield for 8 months). Because of that, we have developed strong relationships with several high school students. These kids each have a special place in our hearts, so it was really cool that Jon was able to watch two of his closest high school friends graduate the day after we got from Alaska!
Unfortunately we had to go back to work before I could watch those precious kids from Deep Creek graduate... I was so sad! But both Jon and I are excited to continue these relationships as they enter young adulthood.

4. Hubby to the rescue!

This morning as I was sitting in my car I spilled my entire coffee on top of a Thirty-One canvas bag from a few years ago that was packed with my planner, notepads, ipad, and other things. The ruined bag would not have made me upset particularly, it was mostly just the feeling of failing at trying to take care of my things so that we can be saving. 
Thankfully, Jon was there to witness it, and (after laughing for a quick second at my clumsiness) instantly jumped up to empty the bag and pour three bottles of water on top to scrub the coffee out before it stained. 
Tears were (mostly) averted, and I was again reminded, in a small, unplanned act of love, how lucky I am to be married to this man.

5. Falling behind.... and latest links

Like I talked about on Wednesday, this week has been a hot mess... starting out with both of us trying to online school and blogging done on one laptop! It doesn't really work...
On top of that, it took us a couple of days to "recover" and catch up on sleep from our trip to Alaska.
For that reason, I'm feeling a little behind, but I know what it feels like to let blogging and homework control my schedule and stress me out, and I don't want to get to that point.
If you missed this weeks links, let me catch you up!

Last week:

Have a fabulous, restful weekend!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Modest Budget: God is Bigger Than...

Ya'll I'm going to be honest, this week has been a hot mess! Jon and I are working back in Maryland, but seem to have forgotten so many things on our way out of town! We've been driving back and forth for over 2 months now, so you'd think we'd have everything down to a science... but, nope! Jon left his laptop and schoolbooks (hence, why I haven't posted yet this week), I left my running shoes, and we accidentally booked a place to stay that had no fridge, dishes or stovetop #oops.
I also didn't have time to do laundry on Sunday (too busy celebrating my awesome dad;) so I'm wearing a random selection of clean clothes to work every day.
Let me tell you, it's not cute.

BUT, I will tell you that I felt cute when I wore this Tee from The Light Blonde this weekend!
Ali started this company because she wanted to live out Matthew 5:14, which states, "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden... In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

Instantly supported the message, especially when I saw how cute her shirts were! So how could I not share her company?

My primary message with The Modest Budget is to share my outfits and hopefully inspire ya'll to find your own affordable ways to be cute, feminine, money-savvy, and modest! So part of that comes with sharing shops and products I think will help you do that.
The message of this shirt is that God is bigger than (">") both the highs and lows. While all of her shirts are adorable, I liked that this one was not so straightforward in it's message, and it provides the opportunity to be asked what it means. In turn, it gives me a chance to tell someone how I know God is bigger than every situation in my life, and how I've seen it firsthand.
Also, the shirts are so soft, that this might turn into my favorite shirt to sleep in... so comfy!
Vest: Old Navy (Clearance!) // Shorts: Gap // Shoes: Naturalizer
 Seems this is also something I'm going to have to keep telling myself this week because, after all, it's only Wednesday! and I need to be reminding myself of God's faithfulness in my "low's" in the middle of a long work week... Can I get an "amen"?

P.S. This post was sponsored with a discount by The Light Blonde, but I'm 100% serious about how great her clothes are! 
P.P.S. Linking up with The Red Closet DiaryEast Coast ChicDoused In PinkMix Match FashionHappiness at Midlife, Fizz & FrostingClaire Justine OXOXElegantly FashionableSincerely Jenna MariePink SoleNorthwest BlondeStill Being MollyThe Fashion CanvasTwo Peas in a BlogSandy A La ModeGaray TreasuresWhy I Do DeClaireElegantly Dressed & StylishStylin' in St Louis,  Sydney Fashion HunterPumps & PushupsShopping My ClosetClassy Yet Trendy50 is not oldJersey Girl Texan HeartThe Mummy Chronicles, A Good Hue, & The Pleated Poppy

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

4 Things I Would Change About My Wedding

My wedding will always be my favorite wedding ever. In that one day, I saw so many of my dreams come true! Marrying a handsome, godly man, feeling beautiful in the perfect dress, my dad tearing up for our last dance...

But everyone has things they would do differently if they could go back, even if they were to go back to a nearly-perfect moment. So I'm going to share 4 things I would do differently if I could plan it all over again, for 2 reasons: 1) so that I can process my regrets in a healthy way instead of getting salty about them and 2) to hopefully give new brides a few tips!
This post is not to complain, or to express my saltiness (I don't lose sleep about these little regrets!) but only because I think it is interesting to hear about what other brides would have done differently, so hopefully this is interesting to you, too.

1) Have a wedding planner/mistress of ceremonies

My mom was a rockstar when it came to pulling everything together. My family really did help me create everything I wanted/needed. But when the day itself came, it would have been really nice to have someone else to communicate everything and make sure everyone was where they needed to be. All of the groomsmen showed up late, the musician started singing late, the photographer took pictures in all the places I didn't want pictures, and Jon didn't even show up until guests started showing up!
None of these things truly stressed me out, and everything turned out fine. But everything would have gone smoother if I had a "go-to girl" or someone who could have handled these things for me or started chasing people down when they didn't show up on time.
Having someone else who understood my needs and vision for the day would have been helpful to answer the questions my mom and I weren't available to answer before the ceremony.
My brothers were the only groomsmen that showed up when they were supposed to!

2) Spend more time with my bridesmaids

I tried to be a low-maintenance bride and not ask too much of my bridesmaids, or girlfriends who weren't in the wedding. But I realized later that I missed my chance to spend some really great time with them! Part of it was because of the lack of time from planning a wedding in 2 months, and part of it was because most of my friends were still single and couldn't help with wedding stuff too much.
BUT I am finding now that hanging out with girlfriends is much much different as a married person, and being a bride is an awesome opportunity to get those last moments of single-girl time.
All of my bridesmaids - and girlfriends who couldn't fit in the bridal party - were all SO so important to me, but I don't know if they ever truly felt like they were important because I was rushing around so much. These are the people I don't get to see very much any more, and I wish I had realized that sooner.
All my lovely bridesmaids at our rehearsal dinner.

3) Get a full-time/professional photographer 

Even better, have two photographers!
Daytona was an awesome photographer, and gave us a great deal because she was a friend of ours. However, she was not able to do everything we needed her to do because she was not a full-time photographer. We have pictures in the wrong places because she couldn't come to the rehearsal, and we have no pictures from the rehearsal dinner because she was at her other job. 
Like I said, her photography was great, but I didn't realize before I hired her that she was not going to be as available as I needed her to be because of her other job.
(Also, there are certain moments/angles that can only be captured by more than one photographer. And if you ask me, it's worth the stretch on your budget!)

A side-note to this regret is not getting the ceremony recorded or video-taped in any way... again, partly due to not having enough planning, but I terribly wish I could at least listen to our vows again!
My "first look" with Dad... such a big moment, in such a bad location!

4) Invite more people

I know it isn't budget-friendly, but I definitely regret being so tight on the guest list. I especially wish I had invited more of our parents' friends who had poured into our lives when we were younger, and invited ALL of the high school kids I was close with when I was leading at Deep Creek High. There were definitely some people that I didn't realize were important to me until I missed their presence at our wedding.
The plan for a wedding is for it to only happen once (i.e., plan for a lifelong marriage!). So it makes more sense to invite everyone to a once-in-a-lifetime event in your life.
(Besides, the more the merrier, right?;)
My friend Scottie from Deep Creek and my teammate Heather helped out by taking our guest book pics!

There are things I wouldn't change, too. Our DJ was the bomb, our cake was phenomenal, our musician (Shiloh Soto) has the voice of an angel, my youth pastor and mentor was able to marry us, the sparkle lights were perfect, and our caterer was awesome about providing gluten free options. The Lord blessed us so extravagantly by the people who were able to come, my parents and in-laws being so supportive, and my cousin being so selfless to be a bridesmaid, hairdresser, and makeup artist (what a trooper). I was even able to find an off-the-rack perfect wedding dress 7 weeks before the wedding date! If that's not the Lord's provision, I don't know what is...

Again, none of this is a complaint. So many good things happened that shouldn't have happened, and I have so much to be thankful for. But hopefully these 4 things can be helpful to a few new brides:)

(Did you miss the wedding pictures?? You can find them all on our wedding page or on Instagram at #CountdowntoCapra! If you want to check out where I got my inspiration, my wedding Pinterest boards are now "public" instead of "secret"! Go check them out;)

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Modest Budget: Top 3 Favorite Thrift Skirts

Since I am just now headed back to Virginia from Alaska, and was not able to take outfit pics while I was up there, I thought I might share my Top 3 Favorite thrifty outfits from blog posts past!
My first fashion-specific blog post was back in October 2012, which seems like forever ago... Since then, though, my focus has shifted from "cute ways to wear skirts" to "cute ways to rock a budget!"
So each of these old favorites is about skirts, but they also feature at least one thrift find.
#1 Only Three Colors 8/5/14
This outfit is one of my faves because the bag and the skirt were thrifted and the button-down was a past-season Old Navy buy. Not only that, but it is a simple outfit that could be changed up by adding a color or pattern to make the look totally different. It's versatile and pretty cheap.

#2 My Full Price Shoes 5/11/13
Another one of my favorites because the skirt was a thrift find! Skirts are one of the best and easiest things to find at thrift stores... This is also a super practical outfit for all sorts of outings.

#3 So Here's To Some Happy 1/10/13
This color/pattern combo is still so fun! The scarf was from an antique store and the skirt was from (no surprise) a thrift store! One of my favorite ways to come up with these kinds of outfits is just layer on a bunch of colors and patterns to try and find what looks good... Sometimes it fails, but sometimes you find some looks that are really fun (like this one).


Hope you enjoyed this little throwback to some of my favorite thrifty finds! I'll be back with something new next week... and not orange (like last week's post and the week before;)

What are your favorite thrifty finds?? Share them on Instagram with #TheModestBudget!
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Linking up with Fizz & FrostingStill Being MollyElegantly FashionableSincerely Jenna MariePink SoleThe Northwest BlondeThe Fashion CanvasTwo Peas in a BlogSandy A La ModeMyriad MusingsGaray TreasuresA Savory FeastWhy I Do DeClaireElegantly Dressed & StylishSydney Fashion HunterPumps & Push UpsShopping My ClosetClassy Yet TrendyCappuccino & Fashion50 is not oldJersey Girl Texan HeartTucker UpThe Mummy ChroniclesThe Pleated PoppyThe Red Closet DiaryEast Coast ChicDoused in PinkMix Match FashionHappiness at MidlifeBeauty 101 by LisaStylin' In St LouisThe Closet by ChristieTwo Thirty Five DesignsJolynn ShaneForage FashionFashion Should Be FunRachel the HatBirdie ShootsLizzie in LacePosh Classy MomJeans & a TeacupShelbee On the EdgeA Good HueSept Farm, & Claire Justine

Friday, June 10, 2016

Keeping up with the Capra's: The Last Two Weeks

Since I couldn't get to sharing last Friday, I'm gonna catch ya'll up on what's been going on the last two weeks!
1. Camping!
This past weekend Jon and I went camping with my mom's side of the family for our annual family reunion. It's always my favorite trip of the year, but it's the first time I've brought a husband along!;)
We were only able to come for the last part of the trip, but we were able to try out the tent my parents got us for Christmas. Let me tell you something, I have been raised a camper gal... but our tent was awesome! Weather was great, we borrowed a fan, and we filled up an air mattress, so some will still say we weren't truly camping, but I don't care. I got to see the sun rise through my tent window, watch the stars twinkle as I fell asleep, and I slept without air conditioning, so that's enough "roughing it" for me!

2. Grilling... EVERYTHING
The previous owners of this house attempted to throw-out this newly-wed-sized grill, but we couldn't resist rescuing it from the jaws of destruction.
Jon loves grilling, and has had a great time learning how to grill with charcoal... which means that he has been grilling everything! He's getting the hang of it real quick though, making great food, and I ain't complainin'! ;)
3. In Alaska!
We are currently in Alaska visiting my brother-in-law and his wife, and loving the Alaska terrain! It sure has been an adventure following my new family-in-law up mountains and over waterfalls. (Even though I'm not sure I'll be able to move my legs tomorrow!)
4. Home update
We are almost done unpacking! We only have ONE box left to unpack!
The next biggest things to get done are hanging up our wall decorations, finally printing off some wedding pictures and then trying to part with more of my clothes and shoes that I am tired of squeezing into my overflowing drawers.

5. The latest links:
Last week:

This week:
Guest Post at Danielle's Finding Joy (my first guest appearance!)

Coming next week:
4 Things I Would Change about My Wedding


Sorry this wasn't a super interesting update, but I didn't want to take too much time away from family. Hope ya'll had a great week!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Breaking Free from the Pressures of Social Media

Today I am being featured at Danielle's blog Finding Joy in her new series called The Tearoom! I am talking about ways that social media can encourage jealousy and put added pressure on our shoulders as women. I also share 2 ways that I have found helpful for shaking off this pressure!
Head on over to Finding Joy to read more!
And happy Hump Day!
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