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My Empty Plate

God has some difficult lessons for me lately. I wish I was a faster learner, because these lessons are tough and tiring. For years, I’ve had a few personal wishes, dreams if you will. They are pretty situational and very specific to me and what I dream of for my future.

I’m not sure why, but one by one, those deeply held desires are not only being withheld from me, but they are being handed to others in a way that I see them intimately. It feels like I’m wishing for a cupcake with buttercream icing and pink sparkling sprinkles, or a warm, fresh from the oven piece of cheesecake with ice cold cherry topping and a little toothpick flag on top, or even a hot fudge sundae with chopped nuts, a brownie, a few slices of banana (not too much) and no cherry on top, just extra fudge and two oreos for garnish.

My desires, like those desserts, are very specific desires. They are also very private. I haven’t told anyone besides my husband what these are.

I feel like I’m sitting at a table with a bunch of other children who have cookies and pie and cake on their plates already. And not only do I not get dessert, the exact same secret wishes of dessert that I have in my head are given to others. The buttercream cupcake goes to the boy across the table from me. My dream sundae goes to the girl on my right. The rich and creamy cheesecake with the little toothpick flag is served to the boy on my left. They’re seated next to me, enjoying what my heart craved and dreamt up. But I didn’t tell them what I wanted. So how did they get it?

The chef knew.

The chef knew what everyone wanted and needed. And for reasons unknown to me, took the -exact- things I have been craving and gives them to those around me. At first it was just the cupcake. That was sad, but wow, it made that little boy happy. He must have needed it more than I did.

Then the chef came out with that delicious looking piece of cheesecake. I could smell the warmth. It had clearly just come out of the oven! It was smothered in cherry topping, and on top, pitched on the apex of the cherries like the crest of some climber’s victory, was the little toothpick flag.
It was so close to me now! Closer, closer . . . and then it was given to the girl next to me.

It seemed like a run of bad luck, until the third dessert I had dreamt of was given to the boy on my left. I sat there, gripping my hands under the table and staring at the plate in front of me, all while the sounds of joy and the scents of delightful desserts surrounded me.

It felt like little pieces of my heart had been torn up and distributed about to others. I decided to play it much safer, be more guarded, before the next stolen dream caught me unaware. “Maybe just a chocolate chip cookie?” I would wonder. Chocolate chip cookies were common and not at all difficult to whip up, not for the Master Chef. But the longer I sat and waited, the more I saw other children at the table get desserts. But not me. My little dessert plate sat alone and empty.

I should be grateful. In front of me is a balanced meal that is not only good for me, but it is delicious, too. I have plenty to keep my belly full and I even have a can of Coke for a sweet treat. I try to be thankful for the good meal in front of me, and focus on how good it is, and try to imagine how much work and thought the chef put into it just for my needs. The Chef even considered getting my favorite fork (I don’t like the short tong forks) and picked out my favorite plate, the delicate white one with the pretty blue flowers that remind me of Chinaware. If I look very, very far away, I can even see children who haven’t been served dinner yet. I certainly should be grateful.

I am thankful. I have joy. But many times, I am not happy. Why does God keep giving all of my secret desires to those near and dear to me, but deny me the simplest request? What is it that I am meant to gain by watching my dreams unfold and develop in the life of someone else?

I don’t know. I don’t know the answer. I hope I learn the lesson soon, because my heart is weary. This world is heavy and has lost its luster. I don’t want to be here. I wish that God would come back and usher us into that bright and beautiful Paradise of the perfected future earth. I long for a place free of suffering or heartache. I long to be perfected into a creature that no longer has these unmet desires. I’m so, so tired of wanting. I don’t want to want anymore.

I don’t want to want anymore.

So what do I do? How do I move on with this hole inside of me that aches as I see my hopes and dreams play out in front of me but are never mine?

I take what is on my plate and start naming each thing, no matter how small.

So that is what I will do.

I thank God for my husband. If ever I need assurance that God loves me, I can always look to the gift that is Nathan.

I thank God for my health insurance and my good doctor who cares about me.

I thank Him for my precious doggy, who at this moment is snoozing next to me, half hugging my ipad with one eye just a little open.

I thank God for some of the most beautiful weather we’ve had here in weeks. I had lunch outside today.

I thank God for my family and dear friends.

I’m thankful I get to see my precious Nichole in just a week.

I’m thankful for all the time I have to pursue and perfect my various hobbies and interests.

The more and more that I spend reflecting and really focusing on all the things I DO have on my plate, the more satisfying it all becomes. And more than that, I realize I have more than I could need just for myself. I may not have a big dessert or enough on my plate to feed five hundred, but I certainly have enough to share with one other, maybe two or three.

Photo by Jasmin Schreiber on Unsplash

Writing down my individual blessings is an exercise in gratitude I take for granted. The truth is, my brain does not naturally lean into an attitude of thankfulness, especially when I am battling a depressive episode. When I’m in the throws of mental health issues, it feels like I’m clawing up to the surface of the ocean only to gasp a partial breath before the next wave crashes into me, knocking me down into the dark depths where I must fight and claw again. But gratitude is like a life ring. It doesn’t matter how hard or fast the waves come. The life ring will stay afloat. It may bob for a second, but it is in its nature, its design, to stay above.

Photo by Agnieszka Kowalczyk on Unsplash

I just have to hold on.

It’s a choice. It does not make the waves any weaker or the storm less fierce. And, sometimes, I need someone to assist me in reaching it. But holding on to it, making the decision to reach for it, is up to me.

And it is up to you.

If your plate feels barren, and your heart aches, decide now to try. It doesn’t change the fact that my dreams are unmet, or that my heart aches when I am reminded of that. But it will keep you afloat through it all.

"XOXO, Amber" in hand-styled script
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MAC & Disney collab – ALADDIN

So during my vacation, I stumbled upon THIS while at Disney Springs. At the time, it wasn’t open to the public. But on May 15th, guests will have the opportunity to be one of the first to shop the collaborative collection.

On MAC’s website, you can check out the different items available. I am in love with the lipsticks, particularly Friend Like Me, a neutral beige pink with a cool undertone.

The reveal will be next to The Boathouse. The closest parking will either be surface parking in front of Cirque de Soleil, or the Lime Garage. (If you park in the garage – which is free – try to get a spot on level 2. Level 2 has walking access right to Disney Springs!)

I am hoping I get a chance to get some early access and photos of the products for you!

If you were to shop this collection, what is your MUST HAVE item???

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No-Glue Pointed Elf Ears

There are a lot of reasons why you would pointed ears, and I don’t just mean dressing like an elf. What about hobbits, tieflings, vampires, orcs, gnomes, and so much more?! Maybe it’s just a fun way to spice up your DnD campaign. Of course, they also work for most elves, including the sort that bake cookies inside of a tree (seems like a safety violation but ok), assist Santa, or the fair folk of Rivendell.

Whenever I wear these ears, I get questions all the time about them. I thought it would be helpful to share with you how easy and cheap they are to use!

This post may contain affiliate links to help me pay to keep this blog on the web. For more on that, check here.

Me cosplaying as Lavellan from Dragon Age

The first time I wore them, people were so curious. Many even asked if they could touch them! (That might seem weird to you non-cosplayer types, but being able to feel the texture of something is really important if you plan on wearing it for several hours.) They are soft, flexible, and very lightweight. After wearing them to Ren Faire for several hours, I was not at all sore or irritated in any way. (I do have sensitive skin.)

The ears I used to start with are the CHILD’s size Legend of Zelda ears!

These ears are made of vinyl. While these ears are a pale flesh tone, you can paint or use makeup to change them to your needs. I’m making a (rather famous) blue Tiefling. Once I have them painted, I will update this post with more information on that. But keep in mind that since they are vinyl, you will need to use acrylic based paints for it to adhere.

Because they are also made for children, unless you are quite petite, you will need to do a little bit of (easy) modifications to get them to fit over your adult-sized ears. (And NO, I do NOT recommend the adult size! They are quite large and look comically huge. Unless you want comically huge.)

That’s what they look like when they are all packaged up. Right out the package, they look this:

Packaged above and opened below.

The pair below are the ones that I have slightly modified to better fit me. “But,” you say, “I see no difference!” To that I say, continue on!

Top: unmodified new out of package
Bottom: modified

The top pair are the brand new ones I just got out of the box. If you look at the back, you can see a slight difference. On the modified pair, I used a small pair of curved beauty scissors to trim the vinyl to increase the height of the opening. Oddly, the width on the right ear of the new pair is quite wide, but that doesn’t matter as much as getting the height correct. Always cut less than you think you need! You can always trim a bit more, but adding to it would be a huge pain.

That little flap is important. It’s what helps the ears stay on better. If you don’t plan on having a small piece of hair in front of the ears, this might not be an option for you. But once the hair is in place . . .

Ta-dah! Super easy, lightweight, and COMFORTABLE! I can even wear my glasses with them without any discomfort. They do cover the ear almost entirely, so while they do not obstruct your hearing, little things like your hair, glasses or hands that bump into the vinyl ears will be much louder. (Something to keep in mind if you have a headdress with hanging bits and bobs.)

So there you have it! Easy elf ears without glue, around $10, and comfortable, too. You can’t get much better than that!

Here’s the link again to buy them->https://amzn.to/2ItpUeo

Good luck!

"XOXO, Amber" in hand-styled script
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Women at War

Denouncing the Suppression of Powerful Women

There is an article zipping around my social media faster than wildfire in a dry hedge. Called, “Behold Your Queen: The Real Conflict in Captain Marvel,” the author starts the article with the following:

” The most recent Marvel thriller, Captain Marvel, cannot be accused of hiding its uniform. In the lead actress’s own words, “It’s mythology, it’s story, and it’s the human experience on this large scale. And on top of it, they said they [directors and the powers that be at Disney] wanted to make, like, the biggest feminist movie of all time.” Written by women and led by a woman, Captain Marvel hoped to be for women what Black Panther was for the black community. “

Let’s first dissect this opening paragraph. It seems to me the author has an issue with the current state of the feminist movement, and if that is the case, so do I. There are too many instances of women using their influence to belittle men in the name of the feminist movement. But with those faults aside, feminism simply seeks to achieve what only God’s truth can: the treatment of men and women to be done with a sense of equal value of self and humanity. Depending on my audience, I will both say “I am a feminist” and “I am not a feminist,” but I’m not simply playing sides: I’m setting boundaries to what that person defines as “feminism” if it does not align with my idea of “feminism.” If someone says, “The future is female. Men just need to step aside and get used to it. I’m a feminist,” I would reply, “Then I am not a feminist.” Because I do not agree with their philosophy.

Christians and Feminism

Let’s put down some basic groundwork. In any culture, you can easily see how close they align to the truth of the Bible in relation to how the women flourish or wither. The God of the Bible elevates women to a position of worth. If women are suppressed, degraded, or abused as a matter of culture, that culture does not have the love of God. This is not something that is limited to third world countries or the monster of the economic jungle. In “churches,” I have seen women degraded, their God-given gifts suppressed at best and at worst, punished, all in the name of “righteousness.” “Women were made to serve and obey men, therefore . . .” has been the start to many oppressive examples of spiritual abuse.

When we denigrate a woman, we are in fact diminishing part of the image of God. When we exclude women, we exclude part of God. When we put women down, we tarnish the image of God.

Christine Caine

What a disgrace to the truth of God and to the pinnacle act of His very good Creation!

Feminism ≠ Misandry

I have established my belief of feminism to not be abusive to men, and that the Bible supports the uplifting treatment of women. Let’s look at some definitions so we can all be on the same page.

noun: feminism

  1. the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.

noun: misandry

  1. dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against men (i.e. the male sex).

Since the author is writing for a Christian website, and the Bible supports equal, eternal worth of men and women as very good creations made in the image of God, the author can only infer that Brie Larson’s quote about the movie refers to misandry, which could be read as “the biggest man-hating movie of all time.”

Except . . . it wasn’t?

The author further writes,

I do not blame Marvel for inserting the trending feminist agenda into its universe. Where else can this lucrative ideology — which contrasts so unapologetically with reality — go to be sustained, if not to an alternative universe? Verse after verse, story after story, fact after fact, study after study, example after example dispels the myth of sameness between the sexes. The alternative universe where an accident infuses the heroine with superhuman powers, however, seems to stand as a reasonable apologetic for the feminist agenda. “

The author seems to be falling into the exact same trap that too many modern-day misled feminists do; that equality or feminism means to cut everyone down to the same level. Imagine if there were a height standard in the NBA to keep those who were at a natural advantage not be permitted to play. It would also mean that anyone not born to that exact height would be eliminated out of something outside of their control instead of being measured by what they can accomplish. That would be absurd!

Equality ≠ Sameness

No one can be exactly the same. What a boring world that would be. No one is going to grow up with the same affluence, the same opportunities, talents, advantages, or abilities. But nowhere in the movie was that the message. The author simultaneously accuses the film of perpetuating the false ideology of sameness but at the same time, calls it a failure in that attempt.

“So, did the movie live up to the hype? Did it come close to being “the biggest feminist movie ever,” the Uncle Tom’s Cabin of the movement? Squint as I might, I can’t imagine how it did.”

So was it the biggest man-hating movie that he sets it up to be, or wasn’t it???

I’m honestly not sure whether I agree with this man or not. But I can tell you one thing for certain, no where in the film were men belittled or prejudiced against because of their gender.

In fact, it is quite the opposite: throughout the film, it was misogyny that was the norm, with Carol Danvers being punished and berated for being or doing things commonly associated with masculinity. She was too competitive. Too daring. Too confident.

Too much.

The idea of a woman as anything less than a man completely devalues her. How do you measure, “less confidence than a man,” “less courageous than a man,” “less competitive than a man?” The idea is absurd. Women are not less than. And it was for those qualities that the character Carol Danvers was mistreated as a child and berated and belittled as an adult, because it were those qualities that drove her to take bold actions.

But is jumping bikes over ramps, or hiking over a mountain, or flying jets, or any of these activities actually something women should not do? Since the author is a Christian as I am, I look through the lens of the Bible and come up short: nowhere does it forbid females to do . . . any of those things.

Not once.

What is Femininity?

The author makes a claim against the movie shifting society’s values of femininity to something “new” and apparently dangerous.

“As I consider Disney’s new depiction of femininity in Captain Marvel, I cannot help but mourn. How far we’ve come since the days when we sought to protect and cherish our women . . . Along with Disney, we abandon the traditional princess vibe, and seek to empower little girls everywhere to be strong like men.”

This begs the question: what does it mean to be “strong like men?” What is that standard for that? How does my friend, inspiring athlete, and First Female Titan Emily Andzulis fit into the equation? Is she strong like a man? Or is she strong like a woman? I know plenty of men who aren’t able to do half of what this incredibly dedicated woman can do. So . . . if she exceeds the ability of some men, does that mean she should tone it down? And if the value of a man is what we seek as the standard, which man? Because I happen to be quite an accomplished woman with talent, training, and intelligence that exceeds the standard – and yes, that standard includes men.

So which man or men is it Disney is asking little girls to be like?

It would be a far better thing to say, “[Disney encourages us to] abandon the traditional princess vibe (which was set up during a European rule in a society that often forced women to look and dress a certain way that killed them slowly), and seek to empower little girls everywhere to be strong.

Women can be strong. Women can be smart. Women can be cruel and abusive. Women can accomplish as much as any man can because we, too, are made in the image of God with volition and, whether those choices be to use our God-ordained abilities for good and eternity or for self and the temporal, determine the effect we have on our communities. God made men and women distinct for the sole purpose of His honor and glory and a relationship with Him.

Is a woman strong and bold? Then she is inherently strong and bold as a woman. Is a man kind and full of hospitality? Then he is kind and hospitable as a man. There is no other possibility.

The only comparison we should make with regards to gender is, “Am I acting with the Spirit of Christ?”

Seeing What You Want

I think the author finally gets around to his real gripe with the movie in the latter half of his article. He states,

“The ideology that sends Brie Larson soaring fictionally around outer space has sent our real daughters, mothers, and sisters — devoid of such superpowers — to war to serve and die in place of men.”

Maybe? I mean, does he have evidence that this empowering attitude and appreciation of the potential of womankind is what has propelled women to take rank among the enlisted force of our nation’s military? How is he sure that isn’t the misogyny that has pushed them into that corner? Isn’t it more likely that the constant depreciation of women and their capabilities that tried to compress them into a quiet corner were the catalyst that instead shot them to the front lines where they can finally say, “I told you so?” Why bother to cast blame when it can be found everywhere instead of celebrating the immense amount of good such an “ideology” can bring?

I celebrate a movie whose ideology says “girls can fly planes,” “girls can be kind,” “girls can run fast,” or “girls can be strong.” I cheer on the team of women who created a film whose message rings clear with, “girls don’t have to prove their worth.” Carol Danvers’ story resonates with me in ways that Wonder Woman cannot. I know what it is like to have men (and sometimes women) tell you “you can’t do that” or “maybe you’re not right for this” only to then turn right around and learn how to do it anyway, not out of spite, but because I knew somewhere in my soul identity, that I was created to do so, so much, and I wasn’t going to let their disbelief or misogynistic ideals limit what God had intended for me.

Queens Don’t Intimidate Kings

I love my husband, and for those that know us, there is no doubt that my husband is the spiritual authority in our home. Ultimately, we both know he is responsible to God for what our family does. In some homes, that responsibility creates fear, and that fear drives a need for power which results in a domination over the spirit of women in a way that does not align with Scriptures. Women are not God’s appointed servants to men.

In as short as I can in this post so as not to derail from the original topic, let’s go over what the word behind the translation “help meet” is.

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Genesis 2:18

The Hebrew word behind the translation, “help meet,” is “ezer kenegdo.” It is also in other translations termed, “helper” or “suitable companion.” But neither of these spark any true excitement in my soul – neither do they bring to life the beauty behind the words God said when speaking of the Woman He was to shape.

John Eldredge of Ransomed Heart Ministries says, “‘It means something far more powerful than just “helper”; it means “lifesaver.” The phrase is only used elsewhere of God, when you need him to come through for you desperately. “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you” (Deut. 33:26). Eve is a life giver; she is Adam’s ally. It is to both of them that the charter for adventure is given. It will take both of them to sustain life. And they will both need to fight together.'”

That is certainly a more thrilling and lofty calling than simply being someone’s subservient. To be fair, the word is very difficult to translate. A good way to get a richer understanding of the words are to see how else they are used throughout the Scriptures. As it happens, the word “ezer” is used 21 times in the Old Testament.

Jimena of EzerKenegdo.org has summarized the context of usage into three categories: 1, used for the woman, 2, used for nations that came to military aid to Israel in a time of need, and 3, used to describe God as Israel’s helper. She further explains,

What these Bible verses have in common is that Ezer is used consistently in military context. The Ezer is a warrior. You are a warrior.

The Hebrew word Kenegdo means opposite as to him or corresponding as to him. A woman is no better or less than the man. Man and woman are equally and uniquely created, a perfect fit.

Wow. That is infinitely more exciting, rewarding, and dare I say, dangerous, than the simple thought of being a servant.

You see, from the very beginning, battle lines were drawn between our Enemy and womanhood. Satan has a special interest in bringing down women because of his hatred for her as the bearer of the Savior.

I will make you and the woman hate each other; her offspring and yours will always be enemies. Her offspring will crush your head, and you will bite her offspring’s heel.” 

Genesis 3:15, GNT

To deny that there is a special target on the back of a woman is to deny Scripture. When people say women aren’t supposed to go to war, they ignore the obvious: we already are. Satan has been gunning us down, trying to take us out, and use any means to get there, even perverting the use of Man, our protectors, to be the very thing that kills us.

If men are afraid or threatened by powerful women, then they don’t appreciate the special calling we have next to their aside as allies and “warriors at their side,” or they do not have their identity and significance seated in the completed work of Christ.

Kings aren’t threatened by Queens.

A Hero(ine) of Our Own

Have you ever gone to the gym and felt intimidated the others already in there, breaking a sweat, with their bulging muscles already pumped and primed? It is really hard to see yourself being able to lift what they lift because the difference in the chasm of comparison is too great.

But if they showed you a picture of themselves before they started their routine? What if they ended up just being your average Joe? (sorry to all the Joe’s and Joseph’s and Josephine’s out there – you are all valid and worthwhile.) Suddenly, you see something of you in the person they used to be. That chasm has shrunk, and now, you start thinking of ways to cross it. It now all seems possible.

That is representation in a nutshell.

For years, half of the human spectrum has had no other option but to look at male heroes and make connections and draw lessons of character from men. And now that a female heroine has arisen, men seem to squawk and quack and clamor that it’s a vile detriment to society. But for women and girls? We see a part of ourselves in Carol Danvers. We see the little girl who was mistreated, bullied, and laughed at simply because of her birthright as woman.

To me, it seems the author missed the point of the movie entirely and looked for a way to jump on board a popular topic to harp about a personal gripe to a larger audience. I’m not here to debate the “place” of a woman on the frontlines – I’m too busy fighting the war right here. But you know what the message of the movie really was? “You can’t always choose what is given to you, but you can choose what you do with it.”

And that is a message that anyone can use.

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Star Wars Celebration: Cosplay Prep Guide

Star Wars​ Celebration Chicago is quickly approaching. It’s just one month away! To help you prep for the best week of your cosplay career, here are some helpful tips to help you along the way!

This post may contain affiliate links. For more on that, check here.

1) Monitor your hydration

With only one month between now and the hustle and bustle that is #SWCC, you need to make sure you are getting your body prepared. Most of the time, cosplays require a lot more from your body. There is nothing quite so draining as hauling bins or bags full of heavy cosplay supplies and luggage, only to walk all day for many days, covered in paint or thick heavy clothes. You will SWEAT! Use an app like FitBit or Water Drink Reminder on Google Play to help keep you on track. And don’t forget to bring an empty water bottle. You can fill it up at the water fountains for free. And when bottled water is for sale upward of $4 a bottle, trust me, you’ll be able to save all that extra cash for great souvenirs! This water bottle below is less than the cost of four overpriced bottles of water, and you need to drink almost double that a day for healthy hydration when you’re sweating!

2) Continue a nightly routine – or start one

This is especially important if your costume requires makeup, body paint, glue, or a prosthetic. These take an extra toll on your skin, so make sure you are prepped. Be sure to use a quality moisturizer that is non-comedogenic so not to block your pores, and use a simple, gentle face wash every night. If your costume requires makeup or face paint, consider doing a facial scrub this week! To keep your skin in tip-top shape, watch what you eat for this next month and avoid any foods that are high in unhealthy fat, sugar, or cause inflammation.

3) Check your supplies and do pre-con maintenance

This is critical at this stage. Make sure that your makeup brushes are washed and dried before packing them. Do an inventory of your supplies. It’s almost never too late to get 2-day shipping on Amazon Prime or Wal-Mart if you find you’re missing an essential item. And if you really need something you’re missing, check with your lodging. Some hotels let you ship packages in your name during your stay! Check your costume and ensure that everything is in tip-top shape. Are the buttons secure? Is everything freshly laundered and prepped?

4) Stock up on supplies

Celebration is going to be a great time, and you can make it easier to enjoy yourself by keeping a few basics in your bag.

*Snacks/one-pack meals (I like The Complete Cookie and Lara Bars)
*Water bottle
*Painkiller of choice
*Makeup/cosplay emergency kit
*Camera
*Portable chargers or cords for devices
*Poster tube
*Collapsible bag for additional purchases

Keeping at least these few essentials will be sure to keep you prepared for fun on the con floor.

And speaking of the con floor,

5) Familiarize yourself with the venue

Get a map and print it out or save it to your mobile device. Take note of where you need to be and when, and give yourself plenty of time to get through lines. Take stock of where the bathrooms are (you’ll need them if you’re properly hydrated!) and know where stairs or elevators are located.

6) Manage money matters

If you’re travelling, be sure to contact your financial institution and let them know! As a former banker, I can’t tell you how many times someone’s card had been used out of state and the automatic systems and securities in place prevented further use only for it to end up that the client had simply traveled without calling ahead.

You’ll also want to have at least $100 worth of cash on hand. Why? Because if with all of the precautions, sometimes technology just sucks. And you will be at CELEBRATION. This is the con of a LIFETIME. You don’t want to see that signed edition of the poster for sale and not be able to purchase because it of some technical glitch.

It is also a smart idea to set up payment apps available for your mobile device, like your phone. Between Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay, there is probably a way to set up a payment option right on your cell! To be honest, I haven’t been able to locate my wallet for about a week (oops), but I haven’t gone without buying necessities; I have my Paypal connected to my phone, and through the Samsung Pay app, it operates like a debit card, pin security included. The benefits to this payment apps is that you can store all of the relevant payments options in one place, such a credit card, a debit card, and Paypal, without having to worry about your wallet. Besides, most of us never leave the house without our phones!

Bring a credit card. In addition to your other money solutions, having a credit will help in many ways. If someone does manage to steal your credit card, they haven’t tapped into your liquid assets (like your bank account) and you can still be sure to pay the bills. Also, many credit card companies such a MasterCard, Visa, etc offer extra protections and insurance for you during travel, like roadside assistance if your rental breaks down, etc. Be sure to confirm with your credit card company if these perks apply to you.

And last, but not least . . .

7) Patience (and FUN!)

There are going to be thousands of people from all over the world and long, overnight queues. Take time now to rest and take it easy, and give yourself the option to be human. Your character may be a super hero, but your body has needs. Take time to pay attention to what those are and take stock of your body every hour that you are in costume. By taking care of yourself, you’ll set yourself up for a fun and safe Star Wars Celebration.

So what do you think? Are they any other tips you would add? Sound off in the comments below!

Have fun at Celebration!

"XOXO, Amber" in hand-styled script

P.S. I’ve got a downloadable checklist for you right here!

P.P.S. Watch below if you want details on how I do my Hera makeup. It’s a long, real time video with no edits. If you want to learn specific parts, there is a video directory in the pinned comment!

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6 Books for Successful Christian #BossBabes

A graphic of four women from the back shows them linking arms. The text reads "6 Books for Successful Christian #BossBabes."

More and more in this social age, women are looking for the perfect balance of raising their families, saving money, and earning income, all while hoping for the miraculous schedule of time managed by yourself. Wow! It’s no wonder that there are so many books on self-improvement, time management, and character building. And while those are helpful and great experience often lies between the pages, it is doubly refreshing to find a book that teaches you practical ways to better your business ventures while nourishing your soul and deepening your relationship with God.

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  1. Girls with Swords by Lisa Bevere

In Girls with Swords, Lisa likens our prayers to swords, and goes through practical steps on how to sharpen your prayers. With shared personal experiences and analogies to sword fighting, this will empower to better your spiritual life.

2. Fervent by Priscilla Shirer

I’ve mentioned this book before, but that hasn’t stopped me. And I will definitely post about it again, because it is my favorite devotional book I’ve read in years. The full title, Fervent: A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer says it far better than I can. I love how Shirer does not pull any punches. She lays it out just like the Bible says: this is war. But our war is spiritual, and no physical weapons of ours will have any effect. She gives practical applications and tools, all while citing Scripture, to enable you to create prayers to defend you, your family, and claim your territory for God through prayer.

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Perhaps if you’re like me, prayer is something you know you should do, and do often, but it never feels like you’re really doing much. Not anymore! Shirer pulls back the curtain on spiritual warfare, exposes the tactics of our Enemy, and illuminates the struggles of our day to day for the spiritual battle they really are. This book is part manual, part journal, and part exposé of Satan’s playbook. In similar fashion to C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters, she skillfully gets into the enemy’s mindset to fumble our greatness in Christ.

I mean, just zoom in on these clips. Top right: She starts each chapter with, “If I were your enemy.” Top left: The book includes cards for you to personalize with your personal struggles and the prayers she helps you build with the framework of Scripture. And look! Bottom left: she opens the book with a quote from The Lord of the Rings! Trust me, you will love this book.

It will challenge you. It will inspire you. You cannot read this book as a child of God and not leave changed and empowered.

I know I have said a lot more about this work than I will about the rest, but that is how much this book has changed my life. I am absolutely not inflating its potency. While all of these books have added to my life and knowledge and opened my eyes to truth, this one in particular is my favorite. If you buy just one, this is the one to get!

3. Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley

Oh, dear sweet Emily. She is a fantastic author who endears readers to her immediately through her warmth and authenticity she conveys expertly through the pages. It’s almost like sitting down with her over a cuppa in your favorite coffee shop as she chats honestly about her life, its challenges, and the lessons God has taught her along the way.

Especially if you’re like me, always pushing yourself to get more done, seeking efficiency, grinding for results, hustling – Emily offers a quiet admonition to pause and appreciate rest and how to give yourself grace through the growing process. This is definitely the book for those who have a hard time saying no!

4. Make it Happen by Lara Casey

Don’t let life happen to you – make it happen! I could say a lot about this book, but Lara says it best:

You were created for a purpose, and it’s time to make it happen.Make It Happen is the story of how I surrendered my fear, took the leap, and got a life. In my case, a perfectly imperfect, fulfilling life as a mama, a working woman, and a grateful wife. This is the story of how I chose to make “it”―a greater purpose than mine―happen, and how you can too.
Make It Happen is for

  • women who find themselves worried, anxious, and completely overwhelmed by the constant chase for perfection
  • those seeking the courage to jump into a new venture
  • working women who are struggling to “do it all”
  • weary wives and moms looking for relief from burning the candle at both ends
  • anyone who dreams of a life lived not by accident, but on purpose

Your time has come to take a leap of faith. Join me as we surrender our fears, end the chase for perfection, and say yes to cultivating the meaningful lives God desires for us.

You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should go do them.

5. 100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs

If you have not been moving due to fear or insecurity, 100 Days to Brave will take on a journey – over the course of 100 days – to tackling your fear and embracing faith so that you can accomplish the dreams God has planted in your heart. This is a great companion to any of the books listed. The devotions are short and sweet, and are encouraging word alongside your daily Scripture reading.

6. Cultivate by Lara Casey

If the garden of your life feels overrun and overgrown, or dry and neglected and withering, Lara is here to help you navigate through the seasons of life to a place of nurture through cultivation.

We can’t do it all, and do it well. But, we can choose to cultivate what matters.

Lara Casey, Cultivate

Lara grace-filled advice helps you get to the nitty gritty and not be afraid of getting a little messy for what matters.

I have so many more books to recommend to you! (I love reading self development and devotional books.) Be sure to stay tuned for more of my fave reads!

Adieu!

"XOXO, Amber" in hand-styled script