March 18, 2020

SWEET FREEDOM


**This post was supposed to be published the week of the Fourth of July...of 2019, but being in the middle of the ocean without internet at the time thwarted my plans since it never actually published when I hit the "publish" button. And yes, it is March of 2020, but this is a post worthy to be read & shared any time of the year, so here it is! I've also added some more to this post regarding current events in light of the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic in italics. Also, crazy to think that I was on a cruise ship when I originally wrote this post.**

Freedom sure is sweet!

All of my life, I have lived a life of freedom. But often I forgot to acknowledge and appreciate my freedom. I thought I lacked freedom when I had to follow my parents' rules. I thought I lacked freedom when I had to sit in a classroom and listen to my teachers. I thought I lacked freedom when I was enduring 30 hour calls during residency. I have fleeting thoughts that I lack freedom when I'm confined to my home during social distancing.

But in reality, I have had all of the freedoms. The freedom to play outside, the freedom to learn, the freedom to speak my heart, the freedom to love, the freedom to choose my career, the freedom to travel, etc.

Many years ago, my eyes were opened to the injustices that 40+ million people around the world face as they live as modern-day slaves. And it is not only happening in developing countries. It is happening in your own cities and backyards!

Human trafficking is an injustice that we need to stop turning our faces away from and fight for the freedoms of these people. When it comes to issues this large, it often seems daunting to face. What can I, a young woman living in the land of the free, do to bring an end to human trafficking? Where does one even start?

Well, good news! There are many organizations doing so much good around the world. I know that there can be a lot of negative connotations when we think of organizations moving into developing areas, because many times, these organizations are doing more harm than good unintentionally.

However, there are SO many incredible organizations helping instead of hurting. They are rescuing men, women and children from slavery. They are providing safe homes for those rescued. They are providing resources to help them recover from the horrors they faced and bring them hope with therapy, training and jobs. They are spurring on governments and law enforcement to crack down on perpetrators of human trafficking.

Some of my favorite organizations that I support are:


While some may feel confined or feel like it's "unfair" to be told to stay home, remember that we are SO blessed to have the freedoms we do have. We can still vote for our leaders, we can still learn, we can still choose our careers, we can still go outside for a walk, we can still speak freely without fear of being incarcerated or beaten or killed, etc. And we will again have the freedom to travel the world, to eat out at restaurants and to meet with friends. But for now, we have the freedom to love others well by making wise decisions about where we go, who we are around and choosing to stay put. I've found it helpful to start each day with thankfulness and focusing on what I DO have instead of the restrictions I may be facing. Today I'm thankful for my freedoms, my health, for Facetime, for my community, for my friends and family who have been texting/calling to encourage me and pray over me as I go to work and care for patients in this time, and that my grandparents are still healthy and can still smile through this season of life.

Some friends have also reached out to me asking about how they can help those in need during this time or have given me information about which organizations need our help from afar. So I compiled a list and will be adding more as I find more:









Photography: Ashlee O'Neil

December 10, 2019

GRAPE AND GRAIN TOURS


I can't remember when I've last (or ever) taken a day trip that was absolutely stress free and so much fun! This past weekend I had the chance to go on a day trip from Chicago to visit three amazing Michigan wineries with Grape and Grain Tours

Why was it stress free? Because Grape and Grain Tours does all the leg work for you before and during your trip! They help personalize the trip to your wishes and provide your group with a driver/tour guide and a comfy private shuttle to take you safely from Chicago to the wineries and back to Chicago. Your driver will even carry all of your wine/product purchases for you from the winery to the shuttle so you don't have to lift a finger. Sounds too good to be true, but it is true!

Our day started with a smooth ride from Chicago to our first stop, Tabor Hill Winery. Our driver, Tami, even shared some history of the wineries on the way. Did you know Michigan is the fifth largest wine producer in the US? I had no idea! But I also had no idea there were so many incredible wineries so close to Chicago!


We had our first tasting at Tabor Hill Winery. They have a large selection of wines and their wines were even served at the White House for years! How incredible is that? But I'm not surprised. Their Classic Demi-Sec is one of my new favorite wines. It is a semi-dry white wine and perfect for any occasion. The Cabernet Sauvignon is also one of the best reds I have ever had. Our entire group agreed on that.



We also had lunch at Tabor Hill's restaurant, which I highly recommend. The Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich is incredible and their most popular menu item. I would eat it every day if I could! Plus their sweet potato chips are delicious and super addictive!


After lunch, we set off to our next winery, Free Run Cellars. This is a small batch winery. They only make about 50-60 cases of each wine. I loved the relaxed feel of the tasting room. Groups around us were enjoying their wine tastings with charcuterie. 



Our last stop was Round Barn. This place definitely has a younger and fun vibe. I highly recommend it if you are going with friends or for a bachelor or bachelorette party. They also host concerts in the summertime. I loved that they have wines, spirits and beers. So it can appeal to any palate. My favorite tastings were their creams. The Black Walnut or the Salted Caramel Creams are a must-try here! They also have cans of Red Sangria and Peach Bellini which I also enjoyed.



What a fun day! I hope there will be another day trip with Grape and Grain Tours in my near future! Do you prefer beer over wine? There are also breweries in the same area! So you can definitely plan a brewery trip instead!

November 15, 2019

ELEGANTEES JOANNA DRESS


Friends, I am back from a very long hiatus here to celebrate something very exciting!!!

Today is the LAUNCH DAY of a new Elegantees dress I designed for the Holidays! The Joanna Dress!

If you were following me a year ago, you probably remember that I had the incredible opportunity to design an entire Holiday collection for Elegantees last year. It was my design debut and a dream come true. I learned so much about the design process and I had so much fun! Thank you for all of your support during such an exciting time!

And so when Katie, founder of Elegantees, asked me to design another piece this year, it was a no-brainer. Of course! I knew instantly that I wanted to create a beautiful dress that would be versatile for everyday wear and Holiday soirées. And so the Joanna Dress came to life!

To give you a quick refresher about why I LOVE Elegantees so much...
Elegantees is near and dear to my heart because they not only create beautiful pieces of clothing, but their mission is so incredible! They partner with Our Daughters International, an organization working to rescue girls from the horrors of sex trafficking in Nepal. They not only save them, but also give these girls hope for a new life through counseling. Elegantees steps in by providing a hand up to these girls by giving them a job as seamstresses and pay them a fair wage. Also, the profits from each item you buy will help fund more rescue operations and bring hope to thousands of girls!

I hope you will consider supporting Elegantees' work by purchasing the Joanna Dress and any other items from the Elegantees shop! Plus, you can get 15% OFF your order with code GRACEINSTYLE!

The Joanna Dress went through a couple iterations before I felt it was perfect. From the start, I knew I wanted something a little more "grown up" from some of the more playful designs from my last collection. I also knew I wanted some kind of wrap design. And I'm so happy how the dress turned out! I'm obsessed with the beautiful tulip hemline, the draping of the wrap skirt and the bow-tie wrap details. Also, the slight puff of the shoulders adds more charm to the look.

The dress is available in 2 gorgeous colors: Burgundy and Teal Ocean!

For this post, I styled the dress three ways to give you an idea of how I imagine others styling it and how you can add this dress to your everyday and special occasion wardrobe.

STYLED FOR WORK: Pair the dress with a pair of leggings or opaque tights for a more conservative look for work. I am wearing black booties, but you can also wear pumps, flats, or knee boots for the work place setting. Warm up with your favorite peacoat or winter jacket, and you're good to go! Dresses are my favorite work wear because I don't have to stress about pairing a top and bottom when I'm running late or too tired.




STYLED FOR THE WEEKEND/CHURCH: Want to take the dress for a spin for a casual outing? You can also wear tights or leggings for these occasions, but you don't have to if the weather isn't freezing or if you want to wear your knee-high boots. You can even wear it with over-the-knee boots as well. I paired mine with my favorite ankle booties and a teddy coat.





STYLED FOR A HOLIDAY PARTY: I actually designed this dress with Holiday events and parties in mind. This dress can be worn for Thanksgiving because the fabric definitely has stretch to make room for a food baby and is comfortable enough to wear during your food coma nap. It would also be a perfect Holiday party dress and is simple to dress up with some statement jewelry, heels and a cute clutch!




I really hope you love this dress as much as I do! Let me know in the comments below! And don't forget to use code GRACEINSTYLE to get 15% off your orders :)

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Ayaka Sano

June 1, 2019

DAYSPRING x STUDIO 71 DEVOTIONAL PLANNER


Every morning, I start my day by checking my to-do list while I brew a cup of coffee. Then, I'll take my cup of coffee and my Bible to my living room couch and read my daily devotional. If I feel led, I'll also spend some time journaling thoughts. I never feel ready for the day until I've done this routine.

Is anyone else as obsessed with their lists and routines?

Anyway, I was really excited when DaySpring reached out to me about their new Devotional Planner! It's the perfect tool to get my life organized and get my devotional time in all-in-one place!

This 18-month planner is filled with beautiful artwork by Studio71 artists and with encouraging verses to get you through each day. There are two different cover designs for this planner. I love the simplicity of the "Be Still" cover design as it's an important and necessary reminder for me to do just that. The other design is a beautiful floral design. Which would you choose?

I especially love all the thoughtful details that they included in the planners. There is both a monthly calendar and a weekly agenda list for the big and little details of your life. I also love that it includes sections for goals, notes, to do, gratitude and hope.

If you pre-order before the official launch of the planners on June 3rd, you'll also get a free goodie bag!








April 14, 2019

I HEART SPRING


Love is in the air!

Nope, not a cheeky reference to my love life. But my heart is bursting at the thought of dining al fresco, lounging on rooftops to soak up the sun and the thought of starting my garden soon. It's always fun to see Chicago burst with activity as its residents emerge from hibernation.

In anticipation of Spring, I prepped blog photos before vacation. (I know, who am I? I was very proud of myself!) But that meant waltzing around the city in bare legs and sandals in 30 degree weather. I got many crazy looks and stares from strangers, but Ashlee and I were still able to capture Springtime vibes with these photos!

I'm definitely taking this look for a spin for a night out. Oh, and the best part, the bodysuit and heart-print wrap skirt are only $15 each!!

What are you most looking forward to this Spring?







Photography: Ashlee O'Neil

SHOP MY LOOK:
Bodysuit: c/o SheIn
Skirt: c/o SheIn
Heels: Ann Taylor (old) {Similar | Similar}
Headband: Anthropologie (old) {Similar | Similar}
Earrings: BaubleBar {Similar | Similar}

March 30, 2019

OVER THE RAINBOW


Lately, the weather has been slowly but surely warming up and rain has been falling more and more. It feels like we've been waiting for this for a long time after this brutal frozen Winter. I've been looking forward to these Spring showers to nurture the Spring flowers along with the shining sun. While it's not always fun to drive or walk in the rain (especially if your umbrellas like to go inside-out like mine), I do look forward to the rainbows that adorn the sky afterwards.

The rainbow has long been a symbol of promise since the time of Noah's ark. For me, it is a symbol of God's goodness and grace. As a Christian, I know that for the duration of my life here on earth, I will continue to face the storms of life. The storms in my life are often much like those Winter storms that seem to destroy life as the trees become bare and the flowers and grass wilt from the cold. They tend to bring on the feeling of despair and sometimes loss.

But with Spring, comes the renewal of life. As the rain falls and quenches the thirst of the dry earth, the hope of goodness and beauty springs as the trees bud and the flowers break from the ground and the grass turns green again. Similarly, I can trust that despite the deepest and darkest valleys of life, God is always with me.

As Psalm 23 says, God is always with us. He has gone before us, He stands beside us and guards us from behind. And I know that I can trust Him to provide me with whatever I need to weather the storms. There will eventually be peace, comfort and rest.

I don't need to wish upon a star to wake up where clouds are far behind me or where trouble melts like lemon drops. I know that somewhere over the rainbow exists for you and me. We just have to place our trust in Jesus and that's where we will be found.








PHOTOGRAPHY: Ashlee O'Neil

SHOP MY LOOK:
Dress: c/o SheIn (Use code Q1Graceinstyle15 to get 15% OFF before March 31st! After April 1st, use code Q2Graceinstyle15 to get 15% OFF!) 
Jacket: Forever 21 (old) {Similar | Similar}
Heels: Old Navy
Bag: 31Bits
Rings: 31Bits | 31Bits
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