it’s okay

hi there friends! like wowwww it’s been a while since I’ve wrote a post. sorry about that, i blame grad school ;).

this has been something the Lord has placed on my heart lately, and it’s also filtered throughout majority of conversations I’ve had in the last few weeks:

it’s okay, to not be okay.

so often we feel like we have to project to those around us that we have it all together. like we have to pretty up our struggles with fake smiles and muttered, “i’m fine’s.”

for me (and i think maybe for you too), i don’t like showcasing my weaknesses. my current weaknesses especially. sure i don’t mind sharing what Jesus has already brought me through, but talking about what I’m struggling with right now in this moment?…no thank you, i’ll pass. 

what i’ve failed to realize for so long is that allowing myself to be vulnerable with others can create an opportunity for “grace to fill the gap” ( as Steven Furtick says). it opens up a space for my brothers and sisters in Christ to share in the burdens of this world with me. we are not alone in this, friends. take heart in that.

i’m reminded of Nehemiah, chapter 1. in commentary by Charles Spurgeon, he talks about Nehemiah’s heart being with the Jewish people through the hardship and struggles they were facing, even if he himself was not at that moment intimately acquainted with them.

At the time I was in the palace complex at Susa. Hanani, one of my brothers, had just arrived from Judah with some fellow Jews. I asked them about the conditions among the Jews there who had survived the exile, and about Jerusalem….When I heard this, I sat down and wept. I mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God-of-Heaven.” (Nehemiah 1:1-4 MSG) 

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God designed us to share our burdens with each other. We are meant to have open, vulnerable, and honest community.

let’s stop being afraid to share. let’s stop being afraid to be real. i’m tired of the stained glass charade.

xoxo

twenty-two

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hi, friends!

on Saturday I turned twenty-two (YAY!? haha). Here are 22 things life has taught me so far:

1.  be confident in who you are. if you’re a little weird, be a little weird. 

2. there’s nothing coffee and Jesus can’t fix. truth y’all.

3. your hurt isn’t an excuse to give up. 

4. momma knows best, so just call her first.

5. be kind. 

6. no one is perfect. not you, not anyone. so, stop expecting them to be.

7. go out and explore. travel. lots. see the world God created for you. 

8. love like Jesus. we don’t always get to choose who is around us, but we do have the choice to love them. 

9. if you’re wrong, just admit it and move on.

10. watch the sunset, it’s beautiful.

11. find what you’re passionate about, and then pursue it.

12. always say, “yes, ma’am,” “please,” and “thank you.”

13. when in doubt, girl, pray it out.

14. be grateful for what you have. you have no idea how many people in this world do not have clean water or food or clothing or shelter. you are blessed, don’t take it for granted. 

15. sad? nothing Chick-fil-a nugs and a little blast of Shania won’t cure. 

16. serve others. volunteer. donate. i don’t care, but find a way to do something that doesn’t revolve around you. 

17. don’t rush so much. savor the little things.

18. long walks are the best way to clear your mind. 

19. can’t decide what to watch on Netflix? Gilmore Girls is always my answer.

20. it’s okay to ask for help. you aren’t a freaking superhero.

21. quality friends are better than a quantity of them.  

22. embrace Esther 4:14. no matter what you’re going through or what stage of life you’re in, God created you to be there for a purpose. 

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praying for another blessed year. i’m beyond grateful for this beautiful life.

xoxo

apartment tour//living in transition

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HELLO there lovely friends! welcome to my new cozy little home for the next two years! i thought it would be fun to share a mini apartment tour with y’all, and chat about living in a transitional time!

first, i want to note that my apartment is not “finished.” (as if anything in my life ever is, haha!) second, i want you to know that this apartment is simultaneously a blessing and a representation of change in my life. third, you may not like my “style,” and dude that’s cool with me.

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welcome to my living room. it’s colorful & bright, just like my personality (insert smirking emoji here). i wanted this space to be comfortable, but also make me smile when i look around the room. the pictures, plants, & lots of light make me happy.

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you’re entering my kitchen now. how sweet is the note my momma wrote?! ALSO let’s play a short game of I spy: something magnetic, something mexican, something that reminds me of the greatest place ever ever ever (dramatic, much?!). if you guessed: THE MERIDA, YUCATAN MAGNET. ding ding ding, we have a winner. also real quick i have to share the story behind the magnet, because i think it’s cute and cool. if you look closely you can see a man and woman sitting in these chairs that are facing each other. these chairs are called Las Sillas Confidentes or i’ve also heard them called Tú y Yo (you and me). legend has it that a local man found out his daughter was being courted by a young village man. he was not happy about this, so he decided that the couple could only see each other at the park benches. the father then realized that these benches provided an easier opportunity for the couple to be physically close. so in turn, he created the silla tú y yo. this refers to the position of the chairs, so that the couple could look each other in the eyes and talk to each other, but also maintain a greater physical distance.

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ya girl has alllllll the essentials:

-mermaid salt & pepper shakers √check

-floral tea kettle √check

-cute kitchen towels √check 

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how precious is this bar cart? i had seen them on pinterest, and thought it would be a cool visual piece for my apartment since i have this kind of awkwardly long hallway. I love the letter board displayed on it, and I plan to frequently change the different phrases and verses to keep my inspiration fresh!

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getting ya with that close up shot (wink)! also i found these tiny candles on Etsy. the scents are: sexy librarian, old books, and bookstore. i’m obsessed. literally. 

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now that you’ve made it through the awkwardly long hallway, welcome to my bedroom. yes, blush pink is my favorite color. yes, that’s a unicorn on my bed. judge me all you want, see if i care. 

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my room is my “least completed” area of the apartment. i don’t have an actual bed yet or all my decorations hung. but it’s cool. ya girl got a comfy mattress so i’m good! i also want to mention that i found this Gracelaced painting at Kirklands. i might have screamed in the store when i saw it. if you haven’t checked out Ruth Chou Simmons, the amazing creator behind Gracelaced, you are seriously missing out!

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this chest of drawers i found at an antique shop here in town, and i love it. it’s pink and yellow, with some painted florals on the bottom half. majority of my stuff came from little shops like this. the hunt is fun to me!!

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this corner of my room is probably my favorite. it’s ultra feminine, but with a touch of rustic feels.

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i found this self at another little antique shop, and y’all, it’s so cute! I CAN’T EVEN!! however, it’s not as cute as the picture of me and Carelly!

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thanks for letting me show you around my new place! i’m praying this verse over my new space:

“Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.” -2 Chronicles 7:15-16

i want God welcomed into my new place. even if you aren’t moving, you can still pray this over your own home. let the eyes of your heart be open to Him, friends.

i have to say, it feels weird being back into my own space after having lived with my parents for the last eight months. and it definitely feels odd to come out of the transitional phase my life has been in.

i’m starting a new adventure, but i also feel the need to acknowledge how much the Lord has grown me during my time of transition. All the glory to Him. during that time I’ve been able to:

  1. start this blog
  2. lead a women’s small group
  3. serve in Mérida (2x!!)
  4. experience deep community with other believers
  5. discover new passions like photography
  6. facilitate the start of mentorship at church with youth girls
  7. learn more about the parts of my life that I need to continually surrender to the Lord
  8. build friendships
  9. savor time with my family
  10. work at an amazing job with amazing people
  11. have my faith go through the process of the “olive press”
  12. love God more
  13. learn how to be a better encourager
  14. have peace
  15. experience discipleship

i could really list at least ten more things, but for the sake of how long this post will be i won’t. to be honest, i was not excited about graduating last December. i thought i was going to be bored and stuck at “home.” currently laughing to myself, because God knew what He was doing when He told me to wait to apply to grad schools. 

He gave me this incredible opportunity to really hit pause on a bunch of life distractions, and focus completely on Him and serving Him. it brings tears to my eyes, when i think about this. hold tight to the verse from Ecclesiastes that says everything is beautiful in His timing, friends. it is so, so true. 

i feel the need to also share that when I graduated in December, i felt like my faith was slowly slipping from my grasps. i was confused on things i thought i had a firm stance on. i was confused as to why i had certain christian friends who felt like they “heard from God” all the time, but i didn’t feel this way. i felt like going to church was an obligation that was a part of my spiritual journey. i wasn’t in any type of deep community. i was partaking in sinful situations. i was frustrated with myself and God. Thankfully, the Lord pulled me out of all of this. 

i write all of this to say, that right now my faith and relationship with God is the deepest it has ever been. but, i also say this as a reminder that if you feel like i did, try removing distractions (social media, friends, boys, etc.) and spend some time seeking the Lord. just you and Him. that relationship should be the most important one in your life, don’t neglect it like I did.

FRIENDS, I hope you enjoyed this post! If you made it to the end, comment below 3 things that made you happy this week!

mine are:

  1. coffee. lots of coffee.
  2. encouragement from friends.
  3. PLANTS.

xoxo

mèrida, yucatán//july 2018

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hello, sweet friends!! SURPRISE…I went back to Mèrida.(you can read about my last trip here.) It was such an amazing trip, because it really showed me how faithful the Lord is. He used the time I was there to teach me new things, grow my faith, stretch me out of my comfort zone, and also speak a new peace into my heart. I’m forever grateful he allowed me to have this opportunity.

if you know me in real life, then you know that my desire to back to Mèrida was (and still currently is) super strong. the Lord allowed me to make strong connections, and I’m so thankful for those relationships. He provided a way for me to go back, and also provided opportunities for others to send items to help serve the local people. if you happened to be one of the people who prayed, gave, or donated for this trip, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

below is a video of my trip (ENJOY & make sure you click HD for better quality playing):

i hope watching it, that it brings as much joy to you as it does to me!! after my mom watched it she said it reminded her of this verse: “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” – Hebrews 6:10

i also want to share some pictures that I got to take on the trip. just to update y’all, i recently got this camera. i’ve had a lot of fun videoing and taking photos with it. each photo is just such a sweet glimpse into each of their lives and personalities.

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“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” -MARK 10:45

radiant//my everyday makeup routine

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hello friends!! i just returned from a week spent with my church’s youth group on a mission trip to Mission Arlington in Arlington, TX. it was an awesome experience to see young girls and guys sharing the love of Christ.

while on the trip, i prepared a few short bible studies to do with the girls. when praying about which passages to study, God reminded me of some of my past struggles when I was their age. one of those struggles was my beauty. like so many teenage girls (& even older!!) i struggled with the image i saw in the mirror. so, i felt the Spirit urge me to talk about being radiantly beautiful. 

100% this message still applies to me, even though I’m in my twenties. unfortunately, beauty is and always will be something that most women/girls struggle with. however, when we have those days where we just don’t feel beautiful, we can claim the promise found in Psalm 34:5:

“Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”

the definition of radiant is not only to sparkle, but to also flow. put simply: when looked upon, the light is being moved in such away that it sparkles & ebbs all over the face.

stunning, isn’t it? we are THAT when our hearts and eyes are focused on Jesus. His light fills us on the inside so much, it literally radiates on the outside. a glorious internal beauty projected outwardly.

i also want to spend a moment recognizing that the verse says “never covered with shame.” as humans, shame is an emotion that haunts a lot of our hearts. i was at a christian conference a few months ago, and the speaker pointed out that God never intended humans to feel shame. in Genesis 2:25 we see that they felt no shame. but, that changed when The Fall took place (refer to Genesis 3:7). Satan tempted them here with being “like God” and “knowing good and evil.” but, have you ever thought to think about the fact that God didn’t design it for us to know these things, because perhaps He was protecting our hearts? He didn’t want our hearts to feel those emotions (i.e. like shame) that come from having the knowledge that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil offered. can you imagine what it would be like to have never felt shame?

i used this to encourage the girls, that yes we all have days where we feel like we look like a, and i quote from Kels, “a wet potato” BUT, we know that our true beauty comes from Him inside of us.

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ALLLLLL of that being said, i thought it’d be super fun to share my everyday makeup routine with y’all! to me, makeup is about enhancing the natural beauty that’s already there, not trying to look like a completely different person.

disclaimer: i’m not a beauty guru, nor do i claim to be one. in the above picture, my eyebrows are crazy messy, but that’s okay because i’m not perfect. i also by no means wear makeup everyday, but when i do i usually do this routine.

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FIRST, before i put anyyyyy makeup on my face I do four things daily: gently cleanse, moisturize, jade roll, & apply SPF. i do these even if i am not wearing makeup! this mad hippie eye cream is my new skincare obsession, and i love jade rolling my under eyes after i apply it because it de-puffs them. i cannot stress how important SPF is. skin cancer is no bueno, girlfriend!

now, on to the actual EVERYDAY MAKEUP ROUTINE: 

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  1. TARTE AMAZONIAN CLAY FULL COVERAGE FOUNDATION: i apply this all over my face & it provides a really nice light to medium coverage. it is really buildable if you are more of a full coverage foundation gal!
  2. ECO TOOLS ANGLED KABUKI BRUSH: this is the brush i use to apply the Tarte foundation & it’s awesome. it really helps buff all the product into the skin.
  3. ECO TOOLS MAKEUP BLENDER: this sponge is what i would use to apply concealer under my eyes with. i bought both this and the beauty blender, and my honest opinion is that this works the same, if not better.  (i ran out of my concealer recently which is why there is none pictured.)
  4. TARTE AMAZONIAN CLAY MATTE WATERPROOF BRONZER: this stuff is my absolute favorite. i am scraping the pan with my brush, because i’ve had it so long. i like that it makes me look tan without being orangey or dirty looking.
  5. BARE MINERALS INVISIBLE GLOW HIGHLIGHTER: i love, love, love this highlighter. it is so natural looking, and gives you the best glow without being glittery or too shimmery!
  6. ALMAY BROW PENCIL: to be honest my eyebrows are pretty dang thick, so usually i just use the spoolie end of this to brush them into place. occasionally, i’ll set them with a brow gel, but let’s get real, i’m too lazy to do that most days.
  7. PIXI BY PETRA EXTRA EYE BRIGHT LINER EXTRA BRIGHT: apply this to your waterline to look instantly awake! 
  8. TOO FACED BETTER THAN SEX MASCARA: first off, i hate the name; but, i have to say i do genuinely like this mascara. it volumizes without clumping up.
  9. BAREMINERALS GEN NUDE MATTE LIQUID LIPSTICK: this in the color “cookie” and GIRL i’m obsessed. my fav color no doubt.
  10. FRESH SUGAR HONEY TINTED LIP TREATMENT SUNSCREEN: this is perfect for swiping on a dash of color while still moisturizing your lips. i find myself reaching for this most days if i’m not wearing #9.

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(can you tell my favorite color is blush pink?!)

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i don’t know if it’s the southern girl in me or if i’m really my mother’s daughter but i do love me some LIPS (my mom and grandmother always called lipstick or lipgloss “lips” so i do too).

momma always said growing up that you were never completely ready unless you had your lips on. i guess as i’ve gotten older that has really stuck with me, because lipsticks/stains are my absolute favorite makeup products. i’m especially fond of liquid lipstick because it’s fool proof & lasts alllllll day!

remember: makeup is fun & so, embrace the natural beauty God blessed you with. for me, i really like the shape of my lips because they are pretty full. i love enhancing them more with lipstick! for you, it might be your eyes. just do you, girl!

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P.S. also i didn’t get hardly any pictures on my phone from the trip, but aren’t my girls just so RADIANT?!

xoxoxo

INSECURITY//

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dear struggling friend,

before diving deep, i want to tell you that i have struggled (and have days that i still do) with my own insecurities. this is just me sharing my heart with you. it’s taken a constant and consistent pursuit of Jesus to realize that with Him I’m enough. xoxo

let’s flashback to my freshman year of high school: i was sitting in art class attempting to work on a project, but my focus was constantly shifted to the table of three pretty girls who sat at a table directly in front of me. why can’t my hair be as shiny as hers? my legs are so fat….how are her’s so skinny? does she wear makeup or is her skin really that flawless? 

what exactly was i doing? i was comparing myself to them, while also telling my own self that i was not enough. that i wasn’t as valuable, because i didn’t look like them or act like them. that i needed more, so i could be more. you know what i learned since then? that these are all LIES that the enemy whispered in my ear to keep me from experiencing the true love of Christ. the true love that fills me with the Holy Spirit. the true love that makes me enough, because He died for me.

i wasn’t the only one that Satan whispered these same lies to. if you read Genesis 3:5, you see that the serpent is tempting Eve with fruit by telling her she will “be like God.”

the enemy is stating that Eve is lacking something inside. he is implying that Eve isn’t measuring up & that she isn’t enough. and Eve, who was yearning to ease the ache of her insecurity that sprouted up with his lies, took the fruit and ate it. at that moment Eve immediately entered into sin from her disobedience, and she also exited out of the will of God. all because she let her insecurities determine how she reacted to a situation of temptation. 

the use of our insecurities is a carefully thought out and chosen tactic welded by the enemy to keep us distracted from all the ways that Christ is enough. 

so what do we do in those moments? well friend, we rest in some of these sweet truths found in God’s word about our identity in Christ:

you are chosen and God views you as His special possession (1 Peter 2:9)

you are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27)

you are a child of God (John 1:12)

you are forgiven (Ephesians 1:5)

you do not have a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7)

you are loved (Romans 8:39)

you are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)

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your identity is NOT: your sin, your past, your failures, your job, your kids, your husband, your wife, your achievements, your singleness, your insecurities, your rejections, your clothes, your possessions, your personal limitations, your body type, your health, your friend group, or your struggles.

your identity is found in Christ Jesus, and His transforming power. rest in that.

after reading Genesis 3 it’s easy to see that insecurity is and always will be a part of girlhood/womanhood. but, listen closely, it does not have to be a part of your faith journey. it does not have to be your identity. 

remember friends you are deeply loved by the One who created you. live in the truth that you are cherished and valuable to the King of Kings. as a sister in Christ i hope to encourage you & let you know i’m praying for you. i also encourage other women who have struggled with this to share their experiences with the young girls in their  churches. let us live out the call found in Titus 2: to be mentors and to “teach what is good.”

xoxo

Riah Brooke

GET TO KNOW ME//25 random questions

hey y’all! i saw this recently, and i thought it would be so much fun to do! grab you a coffee, & sip away as I answer the next 25 questions!!

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1. Are you named after anyone?

yes, I am! My dad’s aunt (his mom’s sister) was named Riah, but i think she spelled it a different way. Brooke, is my cousin Courtney’s middle name & my mom really liked it.

2. What is your Favorite drink? Animal? Perfume?

first off, i feel like this is more than one question but….la croix water, elephant, and i don’t like perfume that much. But, if  i had to say, it would be Chanel No. 5 because it reminds me of my Maw Maw.

3. What is your eye color?

a green/grey

4. What do you want to be when you grow up?

I still stand by my answer of mermaid princess.

5. What is your favorite food?

tacos or deer meat w/ rice and gravy (lol hello i’m a country girl)

6. How many countries have you visited?

four

7.When was the last time you cried? 

last night, while watching Hope Floats for the 1 millionth time

8.How would you describe your fashion sense?

um i don’t have any…haha just kidding. i’m pretty laid back, but i love a mix of boho & super feminine pieces.

9. Scary movie or happy ending?

happy ending 10000000000%

10. What’s the first thing you notice about people?

usually their smile.

11. Favorite childhood memory?

spending almost every Wednesday night at my grandparent’s house. my Maw Maw made the exact same meal: roast, rice & gravy, peas, cornbread, & pineapple salad for dessert

12. What inspires you?

people who are passionate about whatever they are doing. none of us are dealt a perfect hand, and life is all about what you make it to be.

13. What are some of your favorite hobbies?

art (painting to be specific), photography, plant browsing (i know i’m weird, but i love plants), writing, and reading.

14.What is at the top of your bucket list?

scuba diving in Bonaire. it looks so insanely beautiful!!

15. What is your dream job? 

to travel. all the time. like Eric Conover (check out his AMAZING travel vlogs!!)

16. What is the last book you read?

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

17. What language, besides your native language, would you like to be fluent in?

spanish, french, mandarin

18. What did you do for your last birthday?

i went to dinner and did an escape room with friends, then my beautiful mother took me to the beach!

19. What piece of art did you see that you’ve never forgotten?

Van Go’s “Starry Night.” in elementary school my art teacher had us do a recreation of it with oil pastels. that was the first time i fell in love with art.

20. How does music matter to you?

i love music. i kind of suck at it (i had a 3 year failed attempt to play the piano haha). i think music can really set the tone of any situation. what you listen to in the morning can really affect your entire day. i also think music has the power to influence and inspire.

21. Pick one, Halloween or Valentine’s Day?

the hopeless romantic in me wants to say Valentine’s Day, but real me freaking loves Halloween!

22. What was the best compliment you’ve ever received?

honestly y’all, I could choose a super thought out answer to this question, but one of my good friends telling me that i reminded her of Lauren Akins was definitely without question one of the best compliments i’ve ever gotten. If you don’t know who Lauren is (first of all, who are you?) i’ll link her insta. She is so naturally beautiful, she loves Harry Potter, she does mission work, she loves the Lord, she’s married to Thomas Rhett, she adopted the cutest little girl, she is kind…..basically i could really go on and on. But I love her & I love Kell for saying that I reminded her of even an 1/8th of Lauren!

23. If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?

not to overthink things so much! just be yourself. no one really cares how you look when you dance or if you choose to wear lipstick or not. don’t simply not do (or do) something because you think someone will criticize you for it. your confidence and true identity comes from within, and with the knowledge that you are highly treasured in the King’s eyes.

24. What are your favorite smells?

the scent in the air before it rains & anything lemon!

25. If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?

i don’t think i would change any actual circumstances or people in my life, but i do sometimes wish i could change my reactions to those circumstances or people. hindsight is 20/20 though. you just have to learn from your mistakes, and move forward.

hope you enjoyed this!! xoxo