5 Tips For Those Perfect Background Photos by Renee Jael

Hi girlfriends!! I am so excited to have a sponsored guest post with Caitlin from Cait's Cozy Corner share 5 Tips For Perfect Background Photos! If you have had your eye on my IG or other bloggers you'd know an amazing background makes a huge difference to the look and feel of your image. As a photographer I personally know the impact of this and thought these were super helpful, Check out her tips!

As a fashion blogger, you think of your outfits all day long. By no means do we have it all together sometimes and it could honestly take a few hours to pair the perfect shoes with the perfect accessories. Then taking a picture that coordinates with your outfit? Phew! We make it look effortless but there are actually several steps to help you out and get that perfect photo for everyone to like! I’ll be sharing a few tips on how to find the perfect backdrop for your photos fashionistas so sit tight, buckle up and let’s go!

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1. Walk Around Your Neighborhood- The first thing I do when scouting for the perfect backdrop, is just walk my neighborhood. Not all of the houses in mine are the same. Some have more pleasing looks like a white picket fence, a gorgeous bouquet of flowers or a huge weeping willow.  Sometimes I even take the kids with me and we drive to a different area of town that I’m unfamiliar with just to scout new places! There are always a street or location that you haven’t found yet so be sure to explore when you have the time to really think what type of outfits you could see yourself wearing when at that location. I mark them down in a book as well as take pictures of the spot so I know when I’m planning where to go and what to wear!

2. Record Your Notes - When I’m about and about on my lunch break and I come across a location I just can’t pass up ( like a great brick wall or a fun painted exterior of a house ) I have to grab my phone, snap a quick picture and then plug in the street address so I know what I’m looking for in the upcoming weeks. Let’s say I don’t really have time to drive around for hours on end ( because we all have a life ha ). Google Maps becomes my best friend and I’ll “Drive around” on their website! I’ll look at the notes that I have with a cross street or address and punch it into Google Maps. From there, I can use the street view to virtually “drive” down the street to find the exact location and make sure that it’s a great spot for my blog of Instagram photos!  

A word of caution. Make sure you look at the date on Google Maps because I had thought I found a great location and realized too late that the photo had not been updated in a few months. When I got there, the house that I had previously loved had been torn down! Oops! Here’s how you can check the date. There should be a date in the left hand corner. That simple right?

3. Use Hashtags - I recently just started using this idea from a friend of mine who always scouts the best places to take her photographs for Instagram. I plug in the city that I am in. Next, I’ll type in parks or any neighborhood hashtags that I can find close to where I’m located. If I find a photo that is geotagged ( meaning that the location is right under the person's name ), I’ll use my Google Maps method or continue to keep searching under Instagram. They are so handy!

4. Add Props - If you don’t think the background of your photo will be that interested once you’ve taken them, think of what else you could add. I love finding old vintage cars as part of a backdrop too! One place in particular, Sanford And Son Junk Cars, has so many to choose from for your photo shoot needs! Sanford and Son purchase cars that you need to sell quick and always give you a great deal too. They understand the importance of trust, comfort and safety in the process and have been helping the metro Atlanta area for decades! I bet you could even find a great vintage car for your photography needs!

5. Network- I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at a great photo on Instagram and couldn’t stop swooning over it. Luckily a few of my blogging buddies are so sweet to share where they took their photo and now I take some great fashion ones there as well! Chatting and networking with other bloggers in your area is huge, especially for extremely popular ones or if you just moved to a new city like we have! 

Now that you know some ideas on how to keep a look out for the perfect backdrops for your photos, I would love to hear your thoughts too! What are some ways you scout for those great backgrounds for your photos?

 

Hope you enjoyed these tips gals!

Until next time,

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Take Courage by Renee Jael

Take courage to embrace the pain of your past so that you can experience well, the joy in your future. This sentence was inspired by one of my "mentors" Christine Caine from one of her sermons where she powerfully outlines her testimony.

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Sometimes our joy can be stuffed out because we are caught up in the errors of our past and the consequences or results of the present. However, courage is trusting the process will lead to a favorable end. But what exactly do you need courage for? That depends on the differing circumstances we face head on that looks us dead in the eye--asking us, what on earth are you gonna do?! Are you going to stand on the foundation of faith you and Jesus fought hard to lay, or is He going to have to chase you down like Jonah. But before I go on...let me say this:

One-He loves you in both scenarios and He understands you.

Two-Your faith will be built in each situation because I guarantee you, He will love you through your process of courage.

 For me, taking courage to do something God specifically asked me to do and not knowing exactly what I'm getting myself into or how i'm going to do it gives me comfort because though I don't know the details, I know He is with me. It's trusting that what's on the other side of the net is worth crossing over to. It's believing fully that I would be better because of my courage. I recently read that sometimes courage can be risky and in that we have to choose what we'll be courageous towards. We can either choose to be courageous towards God and suffer the consequences of not staying safe or we can stay safe and suffer the consequences of disobedience to God. I don't know about you, but when I hear that statement-I am jolted towards obedience to God. 

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.””

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Saying yes in courage also means that you will have to remain in courage to maintain your yes. Because chances are, you'll have reasons to fear. The call is to remain courageous even on the journey of your yes to God. It's staying the course no matter what insecurity surfaces, it's following through in full belief that you believe your yes just as much as you did when you first said it to the Father. It's saying that even when you have not perfectly lived the past and things have followed you into your present that you won't let the enemy cheapen your freedom by telling you "you're still not good enough, you messed up too much back then, you won't make the right decision, you're wrong, your background didn't set you up for success" yet no matter what fear tells you, faith tells you "And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him." Hebrews 11:6----and right here you are challenged--propelled--moved--to have courage because in your heart of hearts, you want to please God. 

No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced, but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others. so you, courageous girl don't have to worry about disgrace--your portion is to trust. Psalm 25:3

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3: 5-6

Don't cheapen your decision of courage by denying your faith and submitting to fear. Fight the good fight of faith and believe in your core that you know the whisper of your Father, the truth in His word and the leading of His Spirit. No, you don't know what is on the other side of your courage, you're not fully supposed to but what you would know is-- your Jesus sweeter, you would know His love deeper, you would know faith and you would be made even more, brave. Courage will show you not only your need for Jesus but your desire for Him, to fellowship with Him, to know His love and to understand it so you can give it to those around you. 

I know life may not have given you a pass, and sometimes you may have fallen, but I know this--you're back on your feet again, or you're getting there. Take a hold of courage and His word. There is a greater promise that no person can ever give you. It's a promise that God is good and you will taste and see His sweetness. It's unmatched, and incomprehensible at times. So, hold on to your trust, move forward in courage. 

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Psalm 34:8

Would knowing that what you are saying yes to, change your courage? Don't let it. Take the leap of faith and when you do, maintain your courage as you journey on. God's sweetness will make your journey far better than only the destination.  

You got this! 

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I believe in joy and God's sweetness in the journey.

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Now for the fun stuff.

It's summer summer summer time-

That means Light--if I could wear all white all summer long I would but I'd just be dirty alllll the time. Who can keep their white clothes clean?! 

1. Go light with your colors by pairing it with white, here I chose pink because it's my fav.

2. Match your white with another pastel if pink isn't your go to. Beige and white, grey and white, light blue and white just to give you ideas. 

3. Wear a metallic colored sandal. It's no secret that I love rose gold. I got these for $3.50 at Rue 21! 

Okay beauty, you're with me right? How are you going to take courage this week with what God has asked you to do? How are you going to remain in courage in what He has asked you to do? Share with me and all the others reading this post :)

He loves you and He is so proud of you, keep going! 

Before you go, there's a graphic waiting for you when you subscribe and this month's graphic theme is, courage. 

Until next time, 

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My letter to fear by Renee Jael

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Dear fear, 

You're not welcome here. You're not allowed to tarnish the truth God spoke to me. You're not allowed to discourage me. I'm kicking you out because truth is, you've stayed too long. You've tried to blur my vision, but i'm not having it anymore. I am done. I am a daughter of faith, not a product of fear and I refuse to let you...of all things tell me otherwise. 

Faith and fear aren't friends and they can't both exist in my garden. So I am choosing which will dominate and I choose Faith. Truth is friends, fear will try to drown out the voice of God and but what Love has done is "split the sea so we could walk through it and drown our fears in perfect LOVE."

My response to fear is that I am Loved, and because I am loved I am placed in the arms of a Father who tells me in the words of my Kindred, "I gotchu" and If my Father has me, what can shake me? If my Father has taken me through the seas to drown what tries to overwhelm me, what can unsettle me? Not fear, not even if I let it. Because If I know the heart of my Father correctly, He'll chase it away and destroy it. Truth will resound, truth will overwhelm, truth will win, truth will carry me. Love  pressed on through floggings, Love endured the cross, Love laid it's life down so that I wont have to be submitted to sin, Love conquered all through His blood, so that I could be a child of God.

So, today my soul will continue singing..."He's sure about us and He's confident in His choice." (Steffany Gretzinger additions to no longer slaves to fear..have a listen...it'll add to your life!)

Fear will see who I REALLY am, when I choose Faith.  I will see God through the eyes of my childlike obedience, in awe and wonder through His leading on these here paths of righteousness. Because honestly, faith is what has taught me throughout the years and it won't stop now. Not even through this process. 

So my friends...look to Love and hold on to your faith. He fought for you to see Him. <3 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Hebrews 12: 1-2 NLT

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Striped top: Ann Taylor Loft Outlet | Pants: H and M | Shoes: Shoe Carnival

Style Tips

1. Go black and white-I don't wear this combo often enough but when I do...

2. Find stripes with embellishments--adds a little sparkle and shine 

3. Dress up a completely casual outfit with heels

4. Don't wear fear, it'll keep us back and try to take away the glory upon you, but it can't :) 

There's power within you love, a power that can and will conquer what tries to overwhelm and intimidate. 

Happy Easter weekend, there's a love that won it all for us and I pray that you can rest in that. 

Until next time, 

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Who's got your back? by Renee Jael

As children the most influential people in our lives, are our parents and as we grow through life, that net widens and our pool of influence increases. 

Last week, I was asked the question, "Who's been the most influential person to me apart from my parents?"  And I was stomped. In fact it took me minutes to think about this question but as I thought back and heard the other answers in the room, my memory began triggering who's been that for me.

I walked up to my dorm building in 2005 with one resounding thought, "God, please don't let me go." I'd walked away before, and did my own thing. But at 17, what I experienced was incomparable to my desire to be with God and I returned to Him, and stayed. 

And so I met a girl named Sha' Day. My tiny Texan friend with a passion larger than Freshman year of college at Tuskegee University. She invited me to what would be the most root deepening experiences I never expected to have, a college campus bible study. My time in the ministry of Campus Outreach lasted for my entire college career and it was best invitation I'd gotten. When I asked God to not let me go, I thought "church and staying out of trouble" was going to be my ideal. 

Instead, I met guys and girls that were seeking God just as I was and then I met her-Eulice! I think as an 18 to 19 year old (oh my that was over 10 years ago) I not only needed guidance, I needed consistency and someone that would be patient with me, because as I battled sin, I needed someone that would listen to me and tell me the truth, unwavering, whenever I needed it. I needed someone to point me to the God's word not only because I needed to hear it, I wanted to hear it.

A once nervous 18 year old, scared of falling away from God because of the temptation of choices in an unfamiliar world was now grounded because of being invited into the right community that caused her to thrive. It was safe to say, I knew deeply the things of God and I flourished in my faith because of discipleship. 

Post college, I was less worried about "walking way" because I was out of my Christian utopia. I now needed influence from people who would tell me truth regardless of my strength in Christ. We need those women in our lives. Women that won't be intimidated by what we know and how we worship but that would love us enough to tell us the truth because it's what we need when the lies of life seem real. 

And so I thought of that person for me, the influencer who God frequently tells on me to, lol. My "team no exits friend", Amber. 

My heart for you today, is to encourage you to be vulnerable no matter where you are in your walk. As I frequently write about the process, a part of that is inviting people into the parts of our lives that need maturing and freedom, no matter where we are in our walk. 

Amber came along for the journey with me, and helped me to be free from patterns I didn't recognize I had. And as I think about it more, my girlfriends each have played a role in my freedom. They have been with me when I warred against brokenness, a damaged view of self, and dreaded relational struggles. It's funny I've got a name for each of them; Kindred, bosum buddy, best friend, bestie, Muhan, fraternal twin, boo, team no exits, roomie.... ALL significant and each speak a different language to my heart. EACH influential and irreplaceable. They are undoubtedly all very different but well versed in the truth, which is what matters most. 

Dear beauty, I hope you find that girl, that woman, that fellow warrior to walk alongside you in life's journey because we're so much better together.

 

Overalls! An all in one cozy look.

Style tips

1. Wear an overall. It's so fun and stylish. 

2. Wear stripes with your overall.  

3. Choose a complimentary color that matches well with the color in your overalls.

4. Wear flats or heels with it, the wide legs on this one makes for a flattering look, either way! 

5. As always, be confident. 

I hope you find some ladies, to walk life's journey with you? Tell me about your girlfriends and how they have influenced you!

Until next time, 

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I promise to stop saying "I'm over it" by Renee Jael

"& when we see that day, we're standing face to face, we'll cry and anthem singing, Holy, Holy....we go from glory to glory to glory, we'll never be the same, we'll never be the same, we're forever changed, forever changed..." 

**this is my soul screaming**

Screaming under the weight of His glory. The weight of relief. The weight of His presence giving me grace and strength. Reminding me, that I will go from glory to glory. Reminding me that it is by Him and only Him.

If you have been walking in faith for some time now, you'd know that Christianity is a process of continually submitting your flesh to God. We receive the gift of grace with love, and practice our faith with works.

"God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."  Ephesians 2: 8-10 NLT

"Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear." Philippians 2:12 NLT (b)

"So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." James 2:17 ESV

"Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?  You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone." James 2:21-24 NLT

It is impossible to be changed by love and grace and not show our faith with works--our belief and confession of faith in God drives us to be more like Him and less like our old selves. As we are saved, He gives us the Holy Spirit to check us when we are tempted to live on our own, apart of His leading. 

Making Jesus our choice puts us in the running for the process of being made new. We find that living with Him means journeying through sacrifice of what we've always known. He takes us as we are, and in our surrender, He makes us like Him, but not yet fully. It is only so until we see Him face to face. 

I have known myself for 31 years, as one of my girlfriends reminded me. Being made new and unknowing what I have always known is a process. Eww, but Can it just be over with? **insert rolling eye emoji** If you have been reading and following along with my journey..you may or may not see that I say "I am over it" at least once a week. **haha** Sometimes, because we have tasted holiness, and have grown substantially, we are eager to drop our sin and drop our habits but I was reminded this weekend that in order to bear fruit, we must walk with the Holy Spirit and the process of holiness is one to be endured with patience, no matter how long we have been walking in faith. 

"It is my job to walk with the Holy Spirit, and His job to produce fruit. And as we walk with Him, we have to be reminded that His fruit matures over time. Fruit is about soil, sunshine, water and time, it doesn't happen over night."-Pastor Johnson
If I woke up one morning, and all was well, all my issues worked out, all my problems solved, several things would happen. I would feel no need for Christ **lets be real** and I wouldn't be able to help you along your journey. 

My heart is for discipleship and teaching women how to be rooted and grounded in their faith, even if and even when life happens. Yet, If God somehow miraculously diminished my worldly woes, I would be useless in advancing the kingdom by helping others grow because I would be unrelatable. I would be futile in my relation to other women and their struggles. I wouldn't be able to say, "I am right here with you, you're not alone", I wouldn't be able to say, "I have been where you are, but this is how I overcame". I wouldn't be able to help you navigate deep waters because my answer would be "I don't know how to help you, I woke up like this". **pun intended**

So dear, fearless women, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I am right here with you, more importantly, Jesus tell us, He's with us too. 

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you." Isaiah 43: 2 NLT

Today, I promise to keep the phrase, "I'm over it" out of my vocabulary and endure the process in grace and hope that He will see me through to the day I see Him face to face. And as I walk in victory on this side of heaven, I'll be sure to join you for the ride, saying "It's okay, we've got this, we will overcome". 

So is winter over?!

If it isn't in your part of the world, here are a few tips for layering with stripes.

Style tips

1. Go neutral- black, white, grey are perfect neutral colors for a simple mixed print palette

2. Choose pops of jewelry, mainly jewelry you don't really get to wear as often because of how colorful it is like this piece I snagged from the goodwill that just happened to match perfectly with the necklace that I got for my birthday.

3. Follow a theme, like my marble watch and ring. Both clean and complimentary. 

4. Choose blue denim instead of black to keep the look light

Choosing is just as important at not choosing. What are some things you will put in place this week to help you stay the course and not give up? What are some of your "over it" moments that you will choose to endure in?

This week, mine is keep to remembering, I am enough and to be patient with myself each time I forget that truth. I trust you will do the same!

Until next time, 

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"Nothing I do is good enough to be found..." by Renee Jael

"Nothing I do is good enough to be found." -broken me

I had been so tired of being pruned. So tired of going to places in my heart that needed work. So tired of thinking I had it "figured out" but didn't. 

It's funny how God uses things to bring attention to your brokenness. 

"Renee, you wanna go on a blind date?!" -amazing friend

One million thoughts raced through my head & thousands more through my heart.

Would they think I'm pretty? Would they think i'm funny? I'm pretty sure I'm going to make them laugh, i'm funny!!

Are they going to be impressed with me? Are they...?

Am I going to fail at this too...? I don't want to be broken again. I'm done with that...

One question led me down a path to freedom, except, then I didn't know it.

I fought so hard for healing in the past two years and I wanted to remain on this side of wholeness, not treading in territory that deception was familiar with. I fought HARD to be free from generational patterns that tried to trap me into relational demise. I knew better now and every choice I made for my future family was dependent on my commitment to freedom. 

And so here was an opportunity for me to put to test my victories. Except, I never went on the date, which was the onset to the journey I thought I already completed. 

**Cue hopeless romantic music**Truth is, I had expectations. Expectations that because I was finally free, I would possibly walk into something new and beautiful. Expectations that because Jesus taught me things that only He could, I could finally, maybe, be healthy in a relationship. But, I was disappointed, deeply. 

Wounded, no. 

Frustrated, absolutely...**because I had to face something in my heart again**

After weeks of mulling over the truth and reminding myself of God's perfect timing, I admitted to my amazing friend, that I was disappointed. 

January was an awful month for me and truthfully I couldn't fathom meeting someone then, so I was okay with waiting. 

And so I waited for February, and life didn't get any better. For me, struggle isn't new. I have learned to take heart, but my heart was weary especially when it came to this. 

Weary of trusting the days would favor me. Weary of my own expectations, dropping them and picking them back up again. Weary of waiting, tired of this familiar path, again. Simply. Over. It. 

I came face to face with lies I believed: Lies that said, I would never be with someone that was perfectly molded for me, i'd never be worth their time, conversation, or commitment. My expectations were formed from wounds I thought were healed, turns out--they would reappear at every opportunity it had to defeat my hope and growth. Yet, truth. 

And as I processed and gave these lies to God, my insides formed knots of rejection that fought with the truth of acceptance. I was tiredly fighting for freedom, I wasn't sure I could have. Because if I didn't have it yet after all this time, and all this fight...then perhaps it would never come. I was fighting a battle, I genuinely didn't believe I could win. 

And as I sorted through the wounds in my heart the truth was, I never expected to be found. I believed that nothing I ever did was good enough to be a "good thing" for him (whomever him is). I never expected that he would find me, because no matter how much I grew spiritually and physically, I was still just Renee, from the small town in Trinidad, single parent home. I was still just that girl, who was pretty, but not pretty enough to be beautifully his (whoever he is). (Good enough but not good enough, my heart's silent secret).

And so I wrote...The dress I didn't wear to Vday that said: "Though I know I am fully loved, and fully known, my desires like to tell me that is not enough. Yet, it is. The altar of my heart belongs to the Lord, and in my disappointments I choose Him, and choose to remember His sovereignty. I choose to remember I am PURE and that I purely love Him."

I hold fast to that truth, because I won't let it be taken away from me, yet I still held on to a lie that said "no matter what I do and how much I grow, I won't ever be found." But because my Father is good, He says I am enough & "what HE says matters most".

Hot tears streamed down my pink blushed cheeks as He soothed me with HIS truth. My heavy heart lifted by His word. I never went on that date and who knows maybe one day It will happen or maybe it won't. The victory is, the lie is no longer believed.  

His love pursued me to joy, again. It says; I am enough to be found, to be pursued, to be cared for, to be chosen, to be looked after, to be proud of, to be loved, to be committed to, to be fought for, to be noticed, to be paid attention to, to be worth the sacrifice, to be thought of, to be with....I am enough and there is no other eloquent way to say it. It's the simple truth that will keep my heart beating above the lies the foul enemy tried to use to keep me bound. 

So whether I am wrapped in white or pink and burgundy, dateless or stared at in awe, I am enough **insert peaceful heart at rest emoji**

To my future love, I fight for you, by fighting for me, to be whole.  

Wrap dress, Forever 21 | Choker, Forever 21 | Earrings, Charlotte Russe | Shoes, Charlotte Russe | Purse, Atmosphere | Daisy Ring--my forever favorite--Pandora |

Style Tips

1. Don't discount a dress because of your shape (I keep mentioning this, because for years, I had the hardest time with it). Find a wrap dress or any dress that flatters YOU, Here I've linked the one pictured, it's budget friendly so I say give it a try! They've also got a short sleeved one in blush that I am currently watching. 

2. Go light and dark, here burgundy and pink give me **heart eyes**. This suede choker is my absolute fav piece to style because it is so simple, but so unique. 

3. Wear a flower crown  (if it's your thing)...I swoon over flowers **do people still say swoon**

4. Tie your colors together with accessories like this purse. Simple yet chic enough to carry. 

Alright beauties, I hope your heart experiences as much peace and freedom that mine currently is. Share with other lovelies that need God's truth and don't forget to subscribe

With True Love...

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The dress I didn't wear to Vday <3 by Renee Jael

You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way. Song of Songs 4:7 NLT

You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way. Song of Songs 4:7 NLT

Please note this is to date the most difficult thing I have committed to writing. My stomach has been in knots for days, because I have been processing the escape of my disdain and disappointment. Truth is, I have been content and well, living and breathing God's dreams for my life in perfect peace of who I was..and these days, I have been challenged. I have been challenged to keep waiting, in grace. But I have been fumbling over my thoughts, in pursuit of true rest. 

Though I know I am fully loved, and fully known, my desires like to tell me that is not enough. Yet it is. The altar of my heart belongs to the Lord, and in my disappointments I choose Him, and choose to remember His sovereignty. I choose to remember I am PURE and that I purely love Him.

It's hard, some days being single. It's hard, some days being single with hopes in the balance. It's hard, some days not being able to wear the dress you saved for Valentine's day. 

I don't currently have resolve...and I am okay with that, because one day I will. But, what I do have is love through my process, what I do have is His presence always with me. What I do have is grace. What I do have is His presence available and in His presence there is fullness of Joy.

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11 NASB

My pursuit is joy, no matter the outcome, no matter the wait. 

And though I didn't get to wear my wrap dress...my faith remains. 

Tunic worn as dress, Modern Kiwi | Shoes, Charlotte Russe  | Earrings, Charlotte Russe | Necklace, Forever 21

 

Style Tips

1. Wear light colors with other light colors to give a soft airy look. 

2. Go simple and bold with jewelry; here my earrings were paired with a simple necklace. 

3. Wear your piece confidently, because that is the only way to.

4. Keep your head up, no matter where you are in the journey.

5. If this dress doesn't suit you find one that fits your body type. I personally have had to do research on what compliments me. I never liked wearing dresses but I found this piece from Modern Kiwi that flatters my figure.  

I hope this round up has been helpful not only for your closet, but for your heart.

What choice are you going to make today? Mine is His presence and Joy <3. 

Happy Valentine's Day, Beautiful. You are fiercely, Loved.

Until Next Time,

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How to walk through difficulty and STYLE kill it! by Renee Jael

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." John 16:33 (NIV)

There are seasons in our lives we know will come. Like seasons in the valley, by ourselves and with others. Seasons where it takes courage to love. Seasons where it takes courage to believe the best though, the best seems distant. Seasons where we mourn with others, and seasons where we mourn in private. This has been my year. 

Seasons where we stand together to walk in what we believe is right and true and just. Seasons where fear tries to compel our lives and dispel our beliefs. Seasons where we have to intentionally look up and not out into constant despair, making Him, Our God, our fervent focus, making His word, though the world may disagree, our rock, our foundation, our sure stance. This has been my path.

Seasons where many have been shaken and unsure. Where changes are threatening and scary. Yet through it all..we are told to take heart. Why? and How? When we've been disappointed, again and still asked to have hope. When your resolve is to hold fast to truth, even if it still stings. This has been my choice.

**INSERT VULNERABLE STORY HERE**

I talked to one of my loved ones today, and though it was a joy to see their name pop up on my phone and see their picture in the top screen and see the heart I put next to their name, it was a reminder that my prayer for them, has yet been answered. As I am naturally shy, I tend to believe that I am omitted from seeing success in certain areas of my life that require boldness, yet I was challenged by my community to not walk in fear, but by the power of God that lived in me. so, I believed. I believed that when I saw them next, I would see God answer my prayer for freedom over their lives. yet no matter how I prayed or approached it with boldness, I seem to have put more hope in my boldness than in the power of God and it left disappointed and honestly, the most broken I had ever been in my 30 years of life and i'd seen my share or brokenness. This go round, I believed that this visit with them would be different, I hoped and trusted that this time I would not leave them as I found them, that this time, I would rejoice, but it was not so. My faith was shaken and I likened God not answering my prayer to my relationship with Him. I couldn't connect with him, no matter how much I tried, for the wound was deep from what I saw and experienced with my loved one and my heart was in the pits of disappointment and failure. Yet in God's love He taught me that my relationship with Him was not to be based on my difficulty.  Though my disappointment stemmed from a hope deferred, a word lingered, expectations unmet I am called to stand firm while I still, believe. The difficulties, they come. They are fierce but God has the final word, dear heart. I know that with Him, I can still believe, I know that with Him, I will see freedom, love and wholeness in the things I pray for. 

In my world, this world with Christ, I haven't been guaranteed a life without disappointments, but I have been reassured that I will not be alone in them. 

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you;he will neither fail you nor abandon you." Deut. 31:8 (NLT)

We have been promised that in our weakness, that in the weaknesses of this world---we are yet not alone. We are to be strengthened by His presence and our communities. We are to not only look out for our own interests but for the interest of others. We are to stand for the oppressed and love the rejected. We are to embrace kindness and place it as a blanket over wounded hearts. For in our hurts we are comforted, so that we can comfort others. Our stories of grace were once stories of hurt, but we have experienced love, and we have been embraced.  

And so while we may be fighting our own battles, we are commissioned to look outside ourselves to be the hands and feet of Jesus, not only looking inwardly at our very busy lives, but to look outwardly into our communities and resolve to be what Jesus intended we be in this world.

He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. 

Duet 10:18-19 (NIV)

 

I have never turned away a stranger
    but have opened my doors to everyone.  

Job 31:32 (NLT)

For my soul could not fathom being rejected by Love, Himself. When I was far away, He chased me and loved me to His home, where I finally found rest. And so we have an opportunity to love amidst the current events in our country as it concerns refugees even while the places of our lives need healing. Despite what we face outwardly we have a choice to stand on the word, the only resounding power that moves our lives and the lives of others.

If you have no idea where to start reflecting God's heart for refugees in your local city or state, here's  Peace of Thread  located in Clarkston, GA serving refugee women by empowering  them. "The women of Peace of Thread hand make high quality, one-of-a-kind handbags" and I've seen them! They are pretty spectacular. If this sounds like one way you would like to make a difference you can volunteer or purchase in person or online by visiting their website on ways to do so: www.peaceofthread.com.

So to all my style loving gals, here's a place to start, here's a place to leave your mark for the Kingdom, resounding with action that Christ is King in not only what you say, but in what you do.We walk in style through difficulty by coming alongside others, on mission. I hope this has spurred your heart on as it has mine. We have our share of troubles, but it does not eliminate us from walking in faith and in style. 

 today's look, is stripe on stripe in pink, in honor of strong hearts that are equipped to love and serve , even if and even when. 

Scarf: Ann Taylor Loft | Striped Top: Ann Taylor Loft | Wide legged Jeans: Style and Co, found at Macy's | Watch: Ann Taylor Loft | Ring and Earring: Pandora | Boots: Tahari

Style Tips:

1. Tuck in your shirt when wearing wide legged pants, it's not only flattering, it's classic yet trendy.

2. Choose similar color stripes for a stripe on stripe look, this has pops of colors that compliment the pink, making it cohesive.  

3. Go simple with jewelry, the scarf is your statement piece. 

4. Choose a neutral colored shoe when mixing prints

5. Wear a big smile and rock your piece from Peace of Thread. 

Here are a few quick links to gather your look: Striped top, Striped Scarf, Neutral Booties,  or these also from INC,  Daisy Band in Rose Gold, Forever Pandora Rose Gold Earrings, and for a bag to go along with this piece from Peace of thread, I would choose...the Medina .

I hope this round up will be helpful to you, beauty. <3

Before you go beautiful, confident and compassionate girl, what combo are you thinking of trying and how are you planning on loving those in need this week or how have you gotten through a difficult time in your life? Comment below :)

Until next time, 

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How To Wear 3 Colors, Two Prints & STILL Look Fierce by Renee Jael

Does it seem overwhelming?! Wearing all these colors and all these prints?  Don't girlfriend, because you can wear three colors, two prints and still look fierce! My mission today is to help you see that in your daily wardrobe, you can walk in style and faith!

In our style, we tend to be safe or neutral (I love neutrals, btw), classic, edgy, chic... just to name a few. Today, there are limitless ways to express our style. For me, my style has changed over the years because I think I have embraced who I am with each breakthrough and revelation I have experienced in my journey of faith.

My identity was stifled by what the enemy told me I was and what I thought of myself....because I believed the lies. But in freedom it has been easier to express who I am because I have been freed inwardly. I have always loved style, I like to say it's the gift my mom passed on to me. But there is something about not worrying about what others really think of what you wear because it's different. That's freedom, friends. Mixing prints can cause caution for some, but when you are free and when you have a guide it's easy to pull off. 

"Be humble in your confidence, yet courageous in your character."

When I first found this floral cardigan from American Threads, I knew instantly that I wanted to pair it with a burgundy and black striped shirt.  It's one of the pieces in my wardrobe that can transcend into every season of the year and because it's winter, layering it only made sense. The deep burgundy color doesn't overwhelm either print while the black in each print and in the outer layers ties it all in.

Finding a common and deep color that doesn't clash is the key to layering and mixing prints. I've loved wearing this look throughout the season because I get the best of both worlds in one look. Fitted and flattering pieces with flow to glide throughout the day.

Bringing the rest of this together with black helped to neutralize the look while adding a little edge.

I hope you enjoy this look and as always, style tips to help you rock this look, yourself!

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Cardigan-American Threads | Leggings- Found at Marshalls | Striped top- Found at Macy's | My favorite pair of boots-Carlos Santana

Cardigan-American Threads | Leggings- Found at Marshalls | Striped top- Found at Macy's | My favorite pair of boots-Carlos Santana

Style tips for this look

1. Wear a deep colored stripe that compliments the colors in your print.

2. Wear black to neutralize the busyness of the prints.

3. Don't limit your wardrobe buys or uses in the seasons the are meant for. You can carry over some pieces by changing how you wear it. Even though I bought this cardigan at the end of the summer, I could have still worn it by layering in the fall and winter months under a faux leather jacket.

4. Shop Macy's. If ever in need of basics, or trends--they almost always have what I am looking for.

5. Wear your layers and mixed prints confidently.

Until next time, 

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Foggy Beach Day....in Stripes by Renee Jael

Hilton Head, SC

At 5:22 am, I swung my backpack around my shoulder and headed to a little adventure I could hardly wait to experience. The journey to the beach was foggy and I hoped that upon arrival the fog would just have been what I had to drive through. However the beach was foggy, and the air was wet, I cracked my phone screen after 20 minutes, I got chased by three dogs, almost hit by two cars while bike riding, got some bad news, and someone rear ended me. Welp! That was all enough to ask..."Why did I take this trip?!" But God has a way of sustaining me and through all the not so fun adventures I knew how to manage my joy. 

This was more than a little adventure to beach, it was a year ending testimony that brought revelation to my soul and freeness to my mind. Or is that revelation to my mind and freeness to my soul? 

You see, it had been a year of extensive growth and freedom for me in so many areas of my life and I was dissatisfied with what was lingering behind. 

So, i'm here to tell you a story and of course show you how I was styled that day. 

I love, well-or so I have been told ;)--however in past relationships my patterns of how I would love and manage them weren't so healthy and I hated hearing that. I disliked knowing that the woman I fought through so much to become could be unsettled by her past. I would never be perfect but I know that I could always be better. 

Like the Israelites-I was going to the water and like them I was escaping a past that kept me bound. Like them, God wanted me to leave those things in the water as I journeyed the way that He made for me. 

So I did. After a bike ride along the shore, I spread my blanket, opened my journal and listened. 

And so maybe, you have somethings you need to leave in 2016..maybe somethings you rather not endure. Well, you're not on your own. Our God is ready and willing to speak to your heart just what it needs. And like it did mine, you too will be free.

He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete until the day of Jesus Christ.

So no matter what, or why--He is not only able, He is willing to walk alongside you so that you can not only become the best you, you can look like Him <3. Whole and Holy. Beautiful, unending peace. 

For me-I needed to know that Jesus was FULLY available to me at ALL times. That no matter the position I find myself in, in a relationship or single, married or not---with my friends, or at home on the couch--HE was FULLY beautiful, My hearts first devotion and affection and belonged to Him, my first PURE love. 

He also spoke to the fog in the air. 

The woman I left behind would no longer be visible to me nor to others! How's that for my worried heart?! And as I continue to follow Him on, I could enjoy what I could see, what was beautiful and enjoyable and what was to come, I would be surprised. 

My new blog friends, 2016 made a flourishing woman out of me and I hope it good to you as well. 

I hope you continue to journey along with me to see what surprises are ahead. I know it's going to be lovely, oh so lovely. 

I loved that day. That foggy beach day in my striped dress, and leopard Keds. Indeed it was a lovely day.

A comfy look and style tips at the bottom, enjoy! <3 

 

Style tips

1. Choose a comfy striped dress, I found mine at Marshalls- They actually have an abundance of striped dresses year round! 

2. Layer-yes, it is cold but in the south it is not freezing, thank goodness! I wore a comfy pair of leggings that were also black since I was wearing a fun colored shoe.

3. Wear a fun print! Mine was a peach, beige and black leopard print that I normally wear in warmer months but the weather allowed it so I went for it. 

4. A cardigan-this is one of my favorite cardi's because of how comfy and flowy it is. It matched perfectly with the peach in my shoes that it was an easy pick to throw over my dress. 

This has to be one the easiest mixed print looks I have put together, it was indeed perfect for the beach in the winter. 

I hope you have enjoyed this blog, it was undoubtedly my favorite to put together!

Until next time, or should I say--until next year! 

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Bright, Festive: Leopard and Stripes by Renee Jael

It's 9 days away from Christmas ya'll! 9 Days! Can you believe it. Christmas. One of THE greatest times of year. And red, yes red--is the brightest most festive color of the fall, almost winter season. Today, it's the brightness of red and the warmness of leopard, mixed. 

There are so many things that I love about this look! The color, the stripes, the faux leather jacket that I snagged from Plato's closet, and the tassels, ya'll, I love tassels.

Let's get into how you can put this together. 

Believe it or not, no matter your physique-for me-slimmer thighs but a rounder top-you can style this dress to fit your body type by layering it with pieces that hit just the right places to flatter, YOU! 

This fitted red striped dress is styled here with a faux leather jacket that hits right at my hip, but perhaps, you'd want to wear it with a long cardigan! I added a leopard scarf to bring closure to the look and blend the bright tones together. Leopard, in some cases can be a neutral and it can paired with just about any stripe. 

Simple right?

I hope you enjoy this look and the pairing of these colors! There's also a little choker layering action that was styled by Sandra of the Sandra Brooks Collection. It was such a pleasure working with her to add a soft edge to this look. 

As always- Style tips are on the bottom :)

Striped Dress-Macy's | Shoes: DSW | Faux Leather Jacket-Plato's Closet

Scarf-Forever 21 | Choker and layering necklace-Sandra Brooks Collection | Earrings-Charlotte Russe

Earrings-Charlotte Russe | Choker-Sandra Brooks Collection

Layer choker pieces with colors in the same family-here its black on black with silver tones. 

These Jessica Simpson flats from DSW can be worn with just about anything, you can show off the fun tassels and all if worn like this. 

Style tips: 

1. Wear a fitted striped dress with a short jacket or long cardigan.

2. When wearing red stripes, pair with leopard--or cheetah to add warmth to the look and tone the red-even if you are adding another print ;)

3. Don't be afraid to try something new-like a new colored stripe that can follow these same "guidelines" if you will.

4. Try adding tights for cooler weather and wearing booties with socks--looks with this tip, coming soon! 

5. Layer your choker piece and long necklace for a fuller and attractive neckpiece. I loved Sandra's, it was what I called a soft edge that was perfect for the faux leather jacket. 

5. Be confident, I know sometimes wearing something that is stylishly bold can turn heads-but heads are turing because you look amazing! 

6. Trying this look? Snap a pic and tag @_reneejaelstyle, I'd looooove to see!

I hope this helps you to venture out and try something you never have before or has inspired you to mix it up even further. 

Until Next Time, 

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Stripes and Floral by Renee Jael

Stripes? Floral? Together? Yes, it's like the perfect pair in a patterned style world. It's absolutely one of my favorite combinations and I want to share with you how to achieve this look. 

The trick to pairing these two prints together is the lightness in of the fabrics. Yup! The white and light colors in each top make it easy to blend the two together making it appealing on the eyes. Mixing prints is a "style science" of sorts. Not as complicated as science, but a technique none the less. 

The bottom layering piece is one of my favorite go to pieces for layering because of how white it is. The width of the stripes also gives you enough room between lines to see more of the white and gives you more options to pair it with other prints. 

These aren't hard and fast "rules" because,  I always say...if you like it, rock it. In times past I have also worn this same shirt with thinner stripes and it was just as cute, it was the colors in both shirts that mattered most. 

I also decided to layer this look with a green military jacket. If you're in the south like me, it tends to get hot during the day even in the fall and if it does, I love tying my jacket around my waist to create another dimension to my look without ditching it all together. 

Not so intimidating right?! Watch through these looks, to see details, jewelry and lip color ideas.  At the bottom, i'll have more style tips for you :)

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream: Milan | Statement Earrings: Goodwill | Trust Fund Beauty from Ipsy Bag: K, bye | Ring: Charlotte Russe  

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream: Milan | Statement Earrings: Goodwill | Trust Fund Beauty from Ipsy Bag: K, bye | Ring: Charlotte Russe  

Top: H and M | Layering Top: The Gap | Jeans: Style and Co | Booties: Macy's  | Jacket: Old Navy

Top: H and M | Layering Top: The Gap | Jeans: Style and Co | Booties: Macy's  | Jacket: Old Navy

Necklace: Charming Charlie | Ring: Charlotte Russe | Statement Earrings: Goodwill | Stationary: Target

Necklace: Charming Charlie | Ring: Charlotte Russe | Statement Earrings: Goodwill | Stationary: Target

Style tips for this look:

1. Choose two light colored prints-The top piece: Light base color with floral pattern, The layering piece-white with wide stripes. 

2. Try them on, does it appeal to your eye? Or does it freak you out. Like "Woah! I'm wearing two prints at the same time?" That's normal-when in doubt-text a friend or DM me on IG-i'll help ya' out. 

3. Choose Light to medium colored jeans to pair with your tops.

4. Wear a colored jacket that is found in the top that will make the colors stand out even more.

5. Choose neutral colored jewelry or choose a pop of color, like I did. Statement earrings are a good "go to" because they typically have colors that marry each other.

6. Flared jeans are my new favorite bottoms this year because it flatters my little curves, and elongates my legs. Depending on your shape, rock them with booties that have some heel to give you an even longer appearance. If you have longer legs, cute pointed toe flats would bring it together as well! ;) 

7. Lip color- wear brown liner to neutralize lightness of pink or lighter lip colors to match your skin tone

Have fun with this! Hashtag #reneejaelstyle and tag me on IG so I can see what you've tried. 

Until next time, 

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White by Renee Jael

When I first moved to the US from Trinidad, and I experienced my first Fall, I heard this buzz about not wearing white after labor day. I truly didn't understand. But I, was 14, so I conformed to the rules. 

However, adulthood has taught me one thing. In fact, being a 30 something has made this even more true. That is, to be yourself. Profound, isn't it?!

The very reason, I am starting this Style blog, is to be my stylish, rockin' self and share what I love to inspire others to do the same. 

I love white, any time of the year, actually especially in the cooler months, there's something about the crisp air that makes one feel lighter. 

What's stopping you? Not only from wearing white, but, from doing what you love? 

Go on dear girl, go against the odds, make yourself proud..do what you love. 

And as you do so...enjoy these looks I am so happy to share with you.

Sweater: Zara | Jeans: Ann-Taylor Loft | Sneakers: New Balance | Jewelry: Charming Charlie

Sweater: Zara | Jeans: Ann-Taylor Loft | Sneakers: New Balance | Jewelry: Charming Charlie

I hope you have enjoyed the first look. Here are a few style tips to help you get on your way! 

Style tips:

  1. Tuck in sweaters or tops to create shape and length along your body.
  2. Accent light colors with pops of shine. Rose gold is my choice. 
  3. Add edge to classic looks with ripped jeans. 
  4. Dress it up with sneakers, that's right. Sneakers, when done right give a different classic look.
  5. Add a sweater around your waist to bring your look together if you want to break up the monochromatic look, in this blog; pink is my fav. 

Until next time,

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