8.29.2013

A Little Thing Called Purpose

When my health struggles first began at age 14, I remember asking my youth leaders, friends, and family to pray complete healing over my body. A miracle, essentially. I remember praying for my pain to disappear. I remember praying that God wouldn't take me on this journey.

After my official diagnosis of juvenile arthritis, I slowly but surely came to terms with this disease, how it affects me, and how I can still live a beautiful, wonderful life while coping with the struggles and setbacks it can often cause. I accepted that I would be changed, but made the decision not to be reduced.

Over time, I started asking for prayers of strength, grace, and endurance instead of a miraculous healing. I did that because I knew that God was going to use this disease in my life to benefit others and ultimately grow His Kingdom. I knew that He had a bigger plan in mind and eventually, I accepted it fully and completely. I devoted myself to living it out.


Along the way, I've been questioned as to why I'm not "praying harder" for complete restoration. Why I'm not "allowing" God to take this disease away. Why I'm not focusing on "natural" healing. Truthfully, I must admit I've taken a bit of offense to that...

For starters, to my knowledge, none of the people who have said those kinds of things to me actually LIVE with a chronic illness on a daily basis. If I'm being realistic, I can truly say that they have no clue what it's like. I'm not playing victim here, it's just a fact that rings true in this circumstance and with anything else in life... You cannot be empathetic if you haven't experienced something.

Secondly, I am not the reason I have this disease. There are genetics. There are environmental factors. There is God's plan. I didn't sign up to fight these battles, I just took what God gave me and used it to the best of my ability in order that He would be given glory.


On that note, I can honestly say that NO, I'm not really praying for my healing. Not because I can handle the pain or I enjoy it... Not because it's easy for me to deal with... But simply because I know that God will restore me in His own timing. 

{Jeremiah 30:17 - "For I will restore you to health; of your wounds I will heal you," says the Lord.} 

While I'm not capable of completely restoring myself to good health, I am capable of waking up in the morning, taking care of myself, thinking positively, and fighting the battles I face with a smile on my face - and that is something that I thoroughly enjoy doing! To me, that's purpose, not punishment.


{John 9:1-3 - As He was walking along, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, "Rabbi, who sinned? This man or his parents, that he was born blind?" "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the glory of God might be displayed through him."}

Being happy, purposeful, and successful in this life has nothing to do with being completely healthy. While I don't believe health should be taken for granted, I do believe that God uses the things we don't expect Him to in the biggest ways. I'm walking this journey, I'm not alone, and I'm trusting that God will heal me in HIS timing... In the meantime, I adore nothing more than allowing Him to use me to bring glory to His name in the midst of the battles I face.

Purpose. That's called purpose.



8.28.2013

Summer's End: Messy Buns + Pretty Maxis

Back in July, I purchase my very first big girl camera and I was oh, so proud. My outfit posts have improved since, but sometimes I run out of time to snap fancy pictures of the outfit I want to share... And so? The iPhone gets put to good crappy use. HA!

Nonetheless, I love that I'm even posting this today. Yeah, the pictures are crap... But this dress is stunning, my hair is in a FAB messy bun, and it's another perfect reminder that I'm a real girl.

My hair doesn't always stay in place.
My outfits aren't always put together.
My picture quality isn't always the greatest.

And that's okay.

Things have been insanely crazy since I'm getting ready for class to start next Tuesday. I'm soaking in the last of my lazy days and staying sane has become way more important to me than getting the perfect pictures for this bliggity blog. AMEN?!

Headband // Polka Dot Posies // Necklace // Groopdealz // Dress // Kiki La'rue // Ring // c/o Wild Butterfly Boutique

If I could pile my hair in a messy bun everyday til the end of forever, I would be a ridiculous, slap-happy version of a Kenzie. ;)

Linking up with The Pleated PoppyStyle ElixirBecause Shanna Said SoGet Your Pretty On, & Tucker Up.

8.26.2013

I'm A Real Girl

Some mornings, I wake up and I just can't. Do you know what I mean, lady friends? I just can't be anything but real. Natural.

I can't put on make-up.
I can't get my hair just right.
I can't decide what to wear.
I just can't.


Some of those mornings, more often that not, I throw on my favorite pair of leggings, a long tank, and leave my hair natural. I don't put a drop of makeup on my face. And? Occasionally, doing those things makes me feel like less of a lady. There are times I feel like a total failure just because I poked myself in the eye with my mascara wand or my hair refuses straighten.


That's sad, isn't it? It's sad that my natural beauty makes me wants to curl up in a ball and cry because I don't look like the girl on the front cover of that month's issue of Vogue. It's pathetic. It's absurd. And I'm the only one to blame.

There will always, always, always be outside influences that make me feel inferior or "not up to par," but the only person who has the ultimate, final say in whether or not I'm going to embrace the person that I am - unruly hair, mascara-less eyelashes, and all - is ME.


There's something so beautiful that God has given us all in that truth.

He's not concerned about the breakout I'm currently in the midst of.
He's not concerned about whether or not I get through my makeup routine.
He's not concerned about the fact that I chose to be lazy and wear leggings.

He's only concerned about what kind of attitude I go about doing those things is like.

Headband // Three Bird Nest

I believe if I do them with the confidence He's graciously given me, only good things are going to come of it. I'm a real girl, far from perfect. I'm fearfully, wonderfully, and perfectly made by a God who already thinks the world of me.

...And nothing is going to change that.

8.22.2013

On Sponsorship: Why Your Content Matters

After reading this post from Helene last week, it got me thinking a lot about sponsorship and how I view it. Just like Helene, I believe in blog sponsorship and support it 110%. It's not only a way for the people/blogs I'm sponsoring to share my content with the intentions of growing this blog, but it's also a fabulous opportunity to support the blogs I read daily and absolutely adore. It's something so much more than just paying to have my button up on a sidebar.



I didn't see the point in sponsorship when I first started blogging. At all. I thought the idea of "paying someone/some people to follow me" was totally lame. Eventually, though, as I became more educated about blogging and more aware of my passions, I realized what a blessing sponsorship actually was. I ended up taking the plunge by buying a sidebar ad from my friend Shannon and a few months later, a sidebar ad from my friend Mandy.

If you read either one of those ladies blogs, you'll know that they're based on mommyhood, DIY, fashion, kids, etc. I didn't blog about anything related to those topics at that time, but I still saw a large increase in my pageviews. Why? Because two blog friends were sharing me with their readers.

For instance, Mandy wrote a post here that brought me to tears. Last fall during my sponsorship, I was raising money for a missions organization called Speed The Light. Mandy shared the things about me that encouraged her. People read. People clicked. People donated. That post alone helped me raise over $100 towards my goal AND reach people that I never would have reached otherwise. Mandy used content she believed in to promote me.

Note what I said there: Mandy used content she believed in to promote me.

In order for her to promote me, I needed to write something that struck a chord with her. I'm not saying that you should write posts tailored to the interests, passions, and expectations of the blogs you're sponsoring, but I am saying that your content matters more than anything else when it comes to making your sponsorship worthwhile.

Shannon and I shared a love for honest, sarcastic posts.
Mandy and I shared a love for Jesus, faith, and prayer.

Even though our blogs were from completely different niches, I found it successful because I had things in common with these women. Our blogs did not have to be the same in order for me to see growth.The content of my posts was so much more important that that.

This past January, I decided to start offering opportunities for sponsorship on my own blog. Things started off slowly, but I now have 8 lovely ladies that have entrusted me to promote them + their blogs... And because I had such a good experience with the women I first chose to sponsor, I feel like I'm able to offer exposure and that same wonderful experience to my own sponsors.

I've worked with bloggers/shops from a variety of niches in this online world. From Etsy shops, to fashionistas, to online boutiques, to fitness junkies, to mommy bloggers. I've worked with lifestyle bloggers, college students, and nannies... The list goes on. Each and every one of those opportunities has served as a blessing to me in some way.

However, there have been times that it was hard for me to promote and keep up with sponsorship. The biggest reason for that is CONTENT. Very, very simply.

The shout-outs that I offer with my monthly sponsorship package take place on Twitter. I try to tweet at least 2 posts of yours a week. Those tweets tend to look something like this:


I was flattered when Sarah chose to purchase a spot on my sidebar and give me the chance to promote her. I've been a long time reader/sponsor of hers, so it meant A LOT when she decided she wanted to be further associated with me and my blog. I felt supported which is a huge perk of sponsorship! Lucky for me, Sarah's content is fresh and easy to promote. I could easily tweet a post of hers every day of the week because she gives me content to work with. She posts consistently and we have things in common. Like a wicked sense of humor and pretty hair.

I overread a Twitter conversation the other day between a few bloggers who didn't find that blog sponsorship was worth it from past experience. I respected that their reasoning was "bad" experiences, but I have to disagree. Sponsorship is a two way street and in order to make it worthwhile, I've found that there are three things that are especially important. Thus, I bring you the...



1 // C O N T E N T - As a sponsor, it is your responsibility to come up with topics that will spark discussion, tell a story, share tips, etc. etc. etc. The list could go on forever! Link-ups are a great way to meet new people, but if it's all that's ever posted, things can get redundant. Instead, try incorporating link ups into your daily posts. Ask a question, include pictures, let your readers get to know you! Out-of-the-ordinary posts are the best ones!

2 // C O N S I S T E N C Y - As a sponsor,  it is also your responsibility to blog/share consistently. If there is zero content, the blogger you're sponsoring has absolutely nothing to work with. As a blogger who accepts sponsors, this is one of the most frustrating things about sponsorship. If there is no new content, it makes us feel like we're not able to do our job. That's not good for anyone - sponsor OR blogger!

3 // C O M M U N I C A T I O N - As a sponsor, it is your responsibility to communicate with the blogger you're sponsoring and let them know how they can help you. Odds are every blogger has their own generic way of sharing things from their sponsors, but if there is something you'd really like shared/focused on, tell them! Shoot them an e-mail, tweet, direct message, Facebook... Whatever! Let them know how exactly they can help! I don't know any blog that accepts only one sponsor a month, so it's important to make your voice heard!

No, things aren't always rainbows and butterflies with sponsorship. My intent in writing this post was not to make myself look like I have this whole sponsorship thing figured out because I don't! However, these are some helpful things I've found to make sponsorship on my blog go a lot more smoothly + make it worthwhile in my opinion.

I think this post was a great way for my to "get it all out there" in terms of what I have to offer with sponsorship. If you like what I had to say, I would LOVE to work with you! Click on over to my advertising page HERE and use the code BDAYCOUNTDOWN for 50% your space!

If not? Check out some of the other ladies I've had wonderful success with!


What is your take on blog sponsorship? What tips have made your sponsorships run more smoothly?

8.21.2013

Distressed Denim

The other day, I was perusing the Target clearance rack for layering pieces to wear this fall. I stumbled across a unique little denim number that I couldn't pass up... Especially for $8! I couldn't wait to style it because it was just perfect.

A little vintage. A little classic. A lot "me." I can already tell it'll be my favorite piece to pair with boots this fall!




Scarf // Target // Dress // Target // Bracelets // H&M // Sandals // unknown

Now, if only Minnesota would drop the humidity and cool off! I got my first pumpkin drink from Caribou Coffee on Monday and I'm officially ready for crunchy leaves, scarves, and boots. I'm so thankful I live in world where autumn's exist. ;)

Linking up with The Pleated PoppyStyle ElixirBecause Shanna Said SoGet Your Pretty OnTucker Up, & Kiwi Women's Style.

8.20.2013

Healthy Living Is A Gift

Since the start of my fitness journey back in February, I've made a lot of huge lifestyle changes. Since I'm taking a break from running the next few weeks, I thought it'd be the perfect time to reflect on those changes and share what I've learned from them!



1 // Staying hydrated is a priority. My "long run" days used to be Monday's and would typically be between 4-6 miles. Every week, I tried to drink 48 ounces of water BEFORE my run and 48 ounces AFTER my run. I never noticed a problem with side aches just as long as I only sipped on water throughout the 2 hours leading up to my run and I noticed the biggest, craziest change in my overall pace and endurance! That's when I decided to take the pledge to stay hydrated with Nestle Pure Life. Making my water intake just like another day-long meal has been wonderful and I'm glad I've made it a priority!



2 // Gluten free eating is a fun challenge. It's difficult, it's interesting, it's awesome... It's a lot all wrapped into one! I have noticed such a huge difference after cutting it out of my diet. Even though it appears so limiting the results are freeing and 100% worth it. It gets easier every.single.day! I shared my favorite gluten free snack options in hopes that it will guide someone else, even if just a little bit.


3 // Healthy living is a gift. I know I'm not the only one who often resents 'having' to go to the gym. 'Having' to eat that salad for lunch. 'Having' to stop splurging on our favorite comfort foods. NONE of those things are true. Healthy living is a choice that we get the opportunity to make, and if we find it important enough, there is joy in that!


This post is sponsored by Nestle Pure Life, however all thoughts, views, and opinions expressed are entirely my own. 
Linking up with Hallie and Mal to cure #NOtivation!


8.19.2013

The Countdown Is On + Birthday Wishes

I've always been the biggest fan of birthday's. I just think it's so special to celebrate the one day a year that's all about YOU and celebrate it well, at that. I believe there should be cupcakes, hugs, and lots of dancing.


I also believe that every girl needs to make a ridiculous list of birthday wishes for the fun of it even if she doesn't end up getting anything she listed! It's just so fun to pretend you're on a shopping spree without spending any of the money... And uh, not getting any of the actual items... But that's besides the point.

With exactly a month to spare until ME the day I act like a total spoiled brat the birthday girl, here's this years ridiculous list of cuteness!
  

1 // The 'Molly' Better Life Bag - The mission behind these bags makes me tear up every single time...
2 // Kiss My Fast Tee - Whenever I crave a run that I can't go out for {currently}, I go on Lady Footlocker's website and find cute running tops. This one is a necessity! It's even yellow! 
3 // Tulle Skirt - I've wanted a tulle skirt for MONTHS. I think I need to find + purchase one before my birthday so that I can wear it that day!
4 // Tory Burch Ballet Flat - They're yellow and just plain pretty! My lifelong goal is to own a pair of Tory Burch flats. Judge me.
5 // Mini Minnesota Necklace - Such a cute little pendant that would be perfect for layering this fall!
6 // Anchor Camera Strap - I have a big girl camera now AND it has an anchor on it. No other explanation necessary.
7 // Metallic Polka Dot Sweatshirt - IT'S. SO. PRETTY. And it'd be perfect with yoga pants or leggings... Need I say more?
8 // Pink Polar Watch - Definitely want to track the calories I burn working out even when I'm NOT running. I've been wanting this watch forever!
9 // Flavor Infuser Waterbottle - I saw this on Pinterest a few months ago and never ordered it. I love fruity water!
Last night, Blog Elevated was hosting a Twitter party and I just happened to be online at the time. I joined in the fun and somehow won TWO discounted tickets to the conference in Houston which just so happens to start the 19th of September... MY BIRTHDAY! Hopefully I can work everything out and SuperNannyKenz can take Texas by storm in a very special edition of IT'S MY BIRTHDAY AND I'LL DO WHAT I WANT TO.


I'm not excited at all. <SARCASM FONT SARCASM FONT SARCASM FONT>

Where are all my Texas girls at?!

In honor of my silly excitement, the countdown shall commence and so shall a deal for 50% off all ad space on my blog until the big day using the code BDAYCOUNTDOWN! Click on over to my advertising page to get yourself hooked up!

8.16.2013

#runningforsupernannykenz + August Mileage

This will most likely be my last running update for awhile being Wednesday's craziness left me sore, tired, uncomfortable, and did I mention SORE? Ain't nobody got time for that.


Moving on! My goal at the beginning of August was to run 30 miles in 30 days and reach 100 miles on my Nike+ before summer ended. I made some HUGE strides in reaching those goals in just 12 days, so even though I can't run for the next 6 weeks, I'm proud of how much I got done and I'm excited to officially reach those goals... All in good time, of course!


My last 4 runs were ALL over a 5K distance wise and that makes me crazy happy. The distance runner I was in junior high is totally making herself known again and that's really exciting + fun to watch within myself! My pace is still sucking it up outside outside, but I like to challenge myself to get out there every now and then!

Running a 5 miler AND a 6 miler within two weeks felt ah.maz.ing. I never in a million years thought I was capable of that. I guess people do crazy things when they have to give up something they're passionate about for 6 agonizing weeks! ;)


Luckily, I still get to do some low impact exercising like yoga! I've been talking about taking a class all summer long, just haven't gotten around to it yet. No better time than now, so I really hope I can squeeze that in next week!

My favorite running songs never got posted last week, so these are the latest I can't get out of my head! *cough cough* Take note of the One Direction! ;)

R U N N I N G . J A M S

Best Song Ever by One Direction
New Strings by Miranda Lambert
Goodbye Town by Lady Antebellum
Blurred Lines by T.I. ft. Pharrell
Hello, My Name Is by Matthew West

One of my IG friends and fellow runners, Jodi, posted a SWEET comment for me to wake up to yesterday morning and it made me tear up! Blown away by the support from other woman I don't even know in real life. The running community is SO awesome!


The answer to that question is yellow and pink, for those wondering. :) #runningforsupernannykenz is now a thing! Immeasurably blessed I am. Thankful, thankful, thankful for the women standing behind me as I tough this one out!

It's Friday. I survived this week. It's happy here. :)


8.15.2013

Everything Hurts & I'm Dying

Yesterday was all sorts of fun wrapped into some big present that I probably should have burned instead of opened, ya know what I'm saying? Let me elaborate...

I slept until 11 because I wanted to live the first half of my day completely obliviously. My thought process: "No, Kenz. You're not getting steroid injections today. You're not going to feel like hell and you're not going to cry all your makeup off. Thankyouverymuch."

So I get to the clinic where a new nurse was being trained in. Not nervous, oh no. Girlfriend is qualified and I should let her do her job. Where's the sarcasm font on this thing? I did, though and it was all good at first. Then she was all like, "let me get the doctor." And me? I was like...


Doc comes in the room, brings in another doctor who's training (this is great for my anxiety), explains the procedure, and makes me put on a hospital gown... Toga style. No seriously, he said that. So I did. And that was awkward because my bra straps were sticking out. Meanwhile, my mom is sitting in a chair laughing because she knows how weird I am about stuff like that. Reaaaaaal funny, woman. Let's strip you down!

I lay face down on the table, he pulls over his little cart with all 10 sixteen billion injections on it, and explains how they'll feel like mosquito bites. That sounded promising since Minnesota is infested with them this time of year. Nothing I can't handle.

Surprise, surprise... The doc is a big ole LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FYYYYYYYYA. I have no idea what kind of mosquitoes are biting him, but I would rather slam my head into a brick wall and smash my pinky finger with a hammer before I EVER experience that again.

Oh, and the 10 injections we initially talked about? Turned into 11... Then 12... I stopped counting after 15. Cue the ugly cry.


Then he stops for a hot minute and asks, "how are you holding up?" "DUDE, I'm fine! These mosquito bites are exhilarating!" Just kidding.



The entire procedure took around a half hour and then he wanted to run some blood tests to check my inflammation levels. I figured it couldn't get much worse and agreed to go ahead with it.

The nurse I mentioned in the beginning of this rambling mess comes back in, looks for a vein for 10 minutes, and right as she's about to poke me says... "Ya know, I'm not sure I can get a vein. Let me get the doctor."



The doctor comes waltzing back in and starts tapping around on my measly little arm. He pokes once, but nothing comes spurting out. He grabs an ultrasound machine. WHAT? I didn't even know that was a thing. He pokes me twice more and gets the vein, but no blood. At this point?


After 20 minutes more of playing "how fast can we make Kenzie drop like a fly," we figure I'm probably dehydrated and we find out my blood pressure has dropped significantly since the beginning of the appointment. Wicked sweet.

Right before we left, he put his arms in the air and told me to punch him in the gut. I laughed so hard I snorted and the snot nose I'd developed from crying totally splattered at him. I'm not even sorry.


We gave up on the blood draw and now I have to report back on Friday. YEAAAAH buddy.

I made it home fine and my mom let me get Chipotle, so I was a happy camper. Collapsing on the couch and changing into a stretched out sports bra never, ever, EVER felt so good in my life. I took a peek at the damage, too, so that was fun. Itty bitty bruises mosquito bites, anyone?!


Then I whimpered all night, made my little brother play servant, chugged water, and watched Camp Rock while writing this blog post and trying to find the bright side of the day. Yeah, I don't even know.

Here's to a new day that's going to be a bazillion times better than yesterday... Even if it sucks!

8.14.2013

When Oceans Rise + Stitch Fix: Styled

If you saw my Stitch Fix post last week, you might recall the adorable chevron top I decided to keep! I made sure to style it this week and I'm loving it a whole lot!

Today's the day I start steroid injections in hopes to lessen some pain and keeps down swelling. EEK. I've never been more nervous and confident that Jesus will see me through... At the same time.


Top // Stitch Fix
Necklace // Molly Suzanne
Bracelet // Molly Suzanne
Jeans // Local boutique
Shoes // New York & Company

I'd appreciate any and all prayers today and throughout these next 6 weeks. I'm hoping the procedure goes smoothly and I can get home to rest. One day at a time. Also hoping I can update tomorrow!

Meanwhile, I'm going to put Oceans by Hillsong Live on repeat and breathe deep. ;)

I will call upon Your name //
I'll keep my eyes above the waves //
When oceans rise //
My soul will rest in Your embrace //
For I am Yours //
And You are mine //

Linking up with The Pleated PoppyStyle ElixirBecause Shanna Said SoGet Your Pretty OnTucker Up, & Kiwi Women's Style.