Saturday, February 25, 2017

Finding a Home Church

Today I want to share with you what finding a home church has meant to me and the story behind it.

When I first moved to Central Illinois, I only knew my sister, Bethany. Although my family moved every 3-4 years, I had never done it without the start of a new school. This time was different, as I had graduated from university. I decided that finding a church would be how I integrated myself into the community. Although I became a Christian at 16, I had never found a church to call my own. There was one in California that I would go to occasionally, but never felt like I truly belonged there.

In November, Bethany and I began "church shopping." We tried three before finding ourselves at First Christian Church. On the Sunday that we were to visit FCC, Bethany had a conflict, so I went by myself. As soon as I got there, I felt a shift. It was exactly what I had been picturing - I large campus with lots of smiling faces. After the service, I went to the "Welcome" kiosk and met the pastor's wife. She offered to show me around, and when we got to the final room, she introduced me to a couple people my age. One of them was a girl named Cassie. We got talking and she mentioned that her and a group of girls had just started a bible study. I remember saying, "I like girls," to her, which looking back, was so creepy. Thankfully, we now laugh about it. We exchanged numbers and the following Thursday I went to my first Bible Study.

That initial Bible Study was how I knew I'd found my church. The women were so welcoming and excited to learn and talk abut Jesus. From then on, I was apart of that group and Bible Study. This semester we're studying Entrusted by Beth Moore, and we're loving it.

From there, I wanted to get myself as involved as I could to really make the church feel like home. In the new year, Bethany and I joined a women's group. My leader, Rhonda, was amazing. She's one of the most Godly, gentle-hearted, and supportive women I know. She has such a heart from Christ and ministry, and I was so thankful to have her as a mentor. That group was amazing. I met some wonderful women who made me feel included and loved.

Part way through the year, I started hearing more and more about high school ministry, as a lot of the girls in my Bible Study were a part of it. In June, I went with 200 high school students to Florida for CIY: MOVE. I had a group of 12 girls, from freshmen to seniors, who I love dearly. While I was there, I had the opportunity to baptize one of my girls. It will forever be a moment that changed my walk with Christ. Guiding someone through their first act of salvation was incredible.

From then on, I was a part of high school ministry, officially becoming a weekly leader in September. Wednesday nights are now one of my favorites of the week. Seeing these young people dedicate a night of their week to learn more about God, strengthening their relationships and knowledge is the coolest thing.

Getting involved with FCC was the best decision I've made since moving here. I love that when I go to church, there are a multitude of faces that I know. I have people to sit with, grow with, and love with, and that makes the world of difference. I finally understand what Scripture teaches us about Church being the foundation. I've never felt closer to God or more connected to my faith then right now, through First Christian Church.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Weekend Recap: Marie Visits

This past weekend, one of my best friends from college, Marie, visited Chicago. She had a business trip earlier in the week, so decided to extend her trip so we could spend the weekend together. This is now the second time we've been able to do this - the first was when she was in St. Louis. This weekend, the weather was absolutely perfect - it was in the high 60s the entire weekend with tons of sunshine! We definitely took advantage of the beautiful day in Chicago, riding bikes and exploring with Marie's childhood best friend and her boyfriend (who now live in Chicago). We split our time between Chicago and Naperville (where my parents live), so on Sunday, relaxed, did some Southern Magnolias shopping, and spent some time with my parents. Below is a complete recap of what we did this weekend!

1) We rented Divvy bikes for the day. What a fun idea! They have docks around the city, so you can constantly hop on and hop off. In Davis, biking is almost a requirement, so it was fun to get back to our college days and bike around the city.
2) We had drinks at The J. Parker, a bar on the roof of the Lincoln Hotel. The views up there were incredible!
3) We biked through Lincoln Park. Such a great way to enjoy the sunshine!
4) We at dinner at Wood in Lakeview East. I had a chicken club that was amazing.
5) We picked up lattes at the cutest coffee shop to take on the way home.
5) We went back to my parents' house, watched She's the Man, and cuddled my pups. We also ate chocolate cupcakes that my mom surprised us with. Yum! 

1) We embraced the "Lazy Sunday" vibe. We slept in, watched HGTV, and did some work.
2) We went shopping all around Naperville to get the final pieces for Southern Magnolias' styled shoot (happening today!).
3) We went out to dinner with my parents at Rosebuds, an Italian restaurant. I had shell pasta with Alfredo sauce and chicken - it was so tasty!
4) We came back home and relaxed with Big Little Lies (very intriguing show - I'm excited for the rest of the season).

It was the perfect weekend spent with my best friend! I'm so thankful for our friendship of six years!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bible Verses About Becoming New

new (noo) adjective coming or occurring afresh

Have you ever thought about how wonderful it is that God grants us a new life through Christ? Our past may be full of things we're not proud of, but God doesn't care. He sacrificed His Son for us to begin anew. It's really such an incredible thing to think about. How lucky are we that God loves us so much that we're granted new life through Him? Below are some verses that speak directly to this new life we've given.

Isaiah 40:31 "But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint."

Ezekiel 36:26 "And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart."

Romans 6:4 "For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives."

2 Corinthians 5:17 "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!"

Ephesians 4:22-24 "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."

Colossians 3:10 "Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him."

Titus 3:5-6 "He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior."

Revelation 21:5 "He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'"

To read letters A-M in my alphabet word study, click here.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Introduction to Southern Magnolias

Today I wanted to introduce you to my passion: Southern Magnolias. In September, my sister, Bethany, and I started a wedding and event planning business and we love it!

What is it?
Southern Magnolias is primarily a wedding and event planning company, however, we've recently decided to venture into the world of styling, as well. Most of our recent work has been styling photoshoots for photographers and we've discovered a true love for styling through them.

Who are we?

We are a sister dream team! Not only are we sisters, but best friends, roommates, and business partners. Working together is such a blast! We're very similar in a lot of ways, but different in others, so we feed off of each other really well. Although we're both creative, I'm a little more logical and she's a little more artistic. When we get together, you get the best of both worlds.

What's coming in our future?

On Tuesday, we're styling an elegant, burgundy and gold shoot for Mager Image Photography.
In March, we're designing and styling the Reset Conference in Indianapolis.
In April, we're styling a romantic bohemian shoot for Kristen Winkler Photography.

These next couple months are going to be busy, but so much fun!

I thought I'd show you three of my favorite looks below! The first is from our first styled shoot with Wright Photographs and two are from our jewel toned shoot with Kaula Marie Photography. Be sure to head to to see more! You can also find us on Artfully Wed in the middle of March!

I can't wait to show you more of our work in the upcoming months!


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

My February To Do List

Today is the first installment of my monthly to do list posts. At the beginning of each month, I'll be sharing ten things that I want to accomplish through the month, as well as how the prior month's list went. I hope you enjoy this month's list and be sure to check back in March to see how I did!

Launch Lavender Elizabeth.

Celebrate turning 25.

Create and style an amazing shoot for Mager Image Photography.

Plan a kickass display for the Reset Conference in Indianapolis.

Enjoy a girls' weekend in Chicago with Marie.

Celebrate National Act of Kindness Day by doing something sweet for someone.

Plan a fun Mardi Gras party for my colleagues.

Organize my bedroom.

Follow my blogging schedule.

Create and organize binders to hold Southern Magnolias' event information.

What's on your February to-do list?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Bible Verses for the Morning

morning (mawr-ning) noun the beginning of day

Good morning everyone! As I continue along in my alphabet word study, it amazes me that I'm already half way through. Today's word, morning, is one of my favorites. The morning signifies a new day - new adventures, new possibilities, and new chances. These are the blessings the Lord grants us each day. Just as Lamentations 3:23 says, "His mercies begin afresh each morning." What a wonderful gift that is.

Below are some of my favorite verses about the morning.

2 Samuel 23:4 "He is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings grass from the earth."

Psalm 30:5 "For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning."

Psalm 42:8 "The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; and his song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life."

Psalm 46:5 "God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day."

Psalm 92:2 "It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening."

Psalm 139:17-18 "How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand - when I awake, I am still with you."

Psalm 143:8 "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for you I entrust my life."

Lamentations 3:23 "Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning."

Zephaniah 3:5 "The Lord within her is righteous; he does no wrong. Morning by morning he dispenses his justice, and every new day he does not fail, yet the unrighteous know no shame."

2 Peter 1:19 "We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts."

Friday, February 10, 2017

Gift Guide: Galentine's Day

We are officially less than one week away from a day full of love and friendship. No, not Valentine's Day - Galentine's Day! It's a day set aside to celebrate all of the laughter and memories shared between your best girlfriends. For the past couple of years, I've made it a point to go out with my girls and celebrate, whether it be with karaoke, drinks, or a fun gift exchange. If you're like me and love any reason to give a gift to someone, this is the perfect occasion! Below are some ideas to help you spoil your best friends on this very Happy Galentine's Day.

If you love these ideas, check out more of my favorites below! Bonus: everything's under $30!

Calligraphy Prints



Stamped Bracelets


Small Home Decor

Dessert Soap


Trinket Dishes


Coloring Books

Happy Galentine's Day all of you beautiful ladies!


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Welcome to Lavender Elizabeth

Hello everyone and welcome to Lavender Elizabeth, a place to share some of my favorite things and memories!

This blog has been a long time coming. In 2012, I had the idea to create a blog where I documented life in my twenties called Love, My Twenties. In 2013, I created a wedding blog, Dear Wedding Day, where my love for event planning began. In 2016, I wanted a place to share my testimony, so started The Light that Carries Me. I constantly had ideas and wanted somewhere to share them, so started new blogs. I recently had the realization that there was no reason I couldn't combine all three - that's what a lifestyle blog is after all! And so, Lavender Elizabeth was created. Here you will find adventures I'm having in my twenties, wedding planning updates, DIY projects, recipes, spiritual growth, and so much more! (All three of my previous blogs have been imported into this one, so nothing will get lost from my blogging past. LM20s begins here; DWD here; and TLTCM here.)

Who is the girl behind the blog? I am Ainsley Elizabeth Laven - a 25-year-old living in the Midwest. I am co-owner of Southern Magnolias Events, a company my sister and I run bringing wedding and event planning to Central Illinois (and anywhere else it takes us!) My sister, Bethany, is my best friend, roommate, and business partner - you could say we're somewhat attached at the hip. I am incredibly close with my parents as well. My dad's job forced us to move around every 3-4 years, so we became our own little unit. We also added two dogs into the mix, Kinchie and Whinnie, who are the cutest things ever.

To learn a little more about me, here are 10 quick facts:

I am in the process of learning more about photography (my first big-girl purchase was a Canon 6Ti).

I found my love for typography and calligraphy this year and love to practice it.

I have friends from each place I've lived and love that I have those connections.

I have two chronic illnesses that sporadically change my world (you can read more about them here and here).

I am incredibly logical and like to think things through, but also have these bouts of creativity that are so fun.

I keep a prayer journal where I document my life to God and monitor how He moves in my life.

Lists are my life. I have them for everything.

I love to color! I find it so relaxing. (If you need a recommendation, my favorites are by Johanna Basford.)

Having my nails painted makes me feel infinitely more beautiful, so I make it a point to get my nails done every couple of weeks.

I love TV. I watch a lot of shows and am super involved in each of them. My current binge: Frasier on Netflix.

I am so excited you've found yourself here and cannot wait to dive right into the world of Lavender Elizabeth!

Photos by Meredith Washburn

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