Style-On-A-Budget: Ready for fall fashion!

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Fall is by far my favorite season of the year. Los Angeles doesn’t exactly get true fall weather, but it doesn’t mean we can’t get in the autumn spirit with our wardrobe! Today, I am going to help you prep your fall fashion with some must-haves for this coming season. Everyone needs:

-Oversized sweaters
-Red jackets
-Faux leather skirts
-True blue skinny jeans
-Big purses
-Ankle boots
-Moccasins
-Gold jewelry

Steal my style in the photos above:
-Sweater: Forever 21
-Skinny Jeans: Levi’s
-Moccasins: (My awesome husband got them for me for my birthday this year!)
-Gold Necklace: My Mimi’s tomahawk
-Bracelets:
Brown beaded ones are acai berry seeds, the pink one is from Hope with Friends (50% goes to anti sex trafficking organizations), and the turquoise “hope” bracelet is from Cotton On (all proceeds go to charity).

What are some of your favorite fall looks? I hope you are ready for this new season, because the fashion world (and myself) definitely are. It’s time for pumpkin spice lattes and lovely, comfy sweaters. :)

XO,
Rachael Lee Clarkson

The Constant in a World of Variables.

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I’ll never forget what it felt like to experience true, painful, confusing, gut-wrenching heartbreak for the first time in my life.

My parents got divorced when I was a baby, re-married, and then divorced again when I was just a couple years
old. Speaking from my own experience, I don’t believe that a child can truly wrap their head around the
concept of divorce. All you know is that one day, your entire family was together, and the next, your world
has been forever changed.

After my parents got divorced for the second time, we worked out an agreement to do visitation with my
biological father every other weekend. This arrangement didn’t seem strange to me as a kid, because we had already been living in dysfunction. The “abnormal” became normal for us.

Their divorce didn’t change the way I viewed my father, and I know that my lack of information helped. As a small, wide-eyed child, I raced into my father’s apartment with excitement to see what would be my temporary-sometimes-every other weekend-home. Brown cardboard boxes filled the floors, and it didn’t phase me one bit. I loved this man, and felt safe with him, and perhaps my love for him was just naïve…but as I look back on those memories, I do believe that I developed an unconditional love for him at a very young age.

As he and my brother would unpack boxes, I would hop inside them (as my contribution—I was always trying to entertain my family). To this day, I can remember the song that was playing as we spent that first evening in the apartment. I rocked back in forth in a cardboard box while singing “We Will Rock You!” by Queen.

Finally, the unpacking was finished, and my biological father made his signature dish that I always craved: pasta and corn. It may sound simple, but I swear, there was nothing tastier to me in the world than pasta and corn with plenty of butter and salt on top. As my father tucked me into our new bunk-bed that night, I looked up at him and said:

You are so handsome-like a prince. I want to marry you someday.”

A grin came across his face, and he explained to me that while I could not marry him, he was honored that I wanted to marry someone like him someday. They say that a girl’s first love is her father. What I didn’t always know was that a girl’s first heartbreak could also be her father.

We were all designed to love and be loved. And we were made to believe that our fathers were safe. In a science experiment, much like life, you have your variables. These variables are factors that can be changed. (My parents would be so proud that this creative minded girl paid attention just a little bit in school). But you also have your constant. It is ingrained in us to think that our fathers will be the constant, not the changing variable.

My reason for opening up and sharing this story with you today is for you to understand that there is a constant. God’s love transformed my life. He took a broken girl with daddy issues who felt abandoned and made me feel at home. God became my constant in the messy, broken, variable-filled science experiment of my life.

When I first began my true relationship with God, it was uncomfortable for me to view Him as a father figure. But the closer I grew to His love and character, it wasn’t something I had to force…He chose me. I don’t know what your relationship with your father looks like, but I want you to know that your heavenly Father sees you as loved, valued, beautiful, amazing, marvelous. You are His favorite…His best. I don’t know what obstacles or variables you have going on right now in your life, but I encourage you to rest in the one thing that is constant…God’s unfailing love.

3 Key Steps to Unshakable Confidence!

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Happy Monday, friends! Today I am SO excited to share the first episode of “Girls Interrupted” with you! Insecurities start as these tiny, little seeds that take root in our hearts and minds…but they grow into these identity issues and huge lies that change the way we view our own self worth.

My co-host, Ashlee, and I are being vulnerable and transparent with you in our first episode, as we share some of our biggest insecurities with you. We are also offering some advice as to how we can overcome these self-esteem obstacles and step into true confidence. Take a look at the video below, and leave a comment letting us know what topics you would like for us to cover next! :)

The Sexy Picture Scandal: Where is the love?

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I’m sure many of you know that some naked photos of celebrity women have been leaked. Living in Hollywood and feeling called love the women here, this has been very close to my heart this week. I have read countless statuses about how it’s “their fault” because they “shouldn’t have taken the photo in the first place.” For starters, where is our grace? Our compassion? Our humanity? Our love?

If someone’s bank account was hacked, would you tell them you should just never do online banking? Never buy anything online again? No.

How would you feel if someone hacked and read some of your most intimate emails? Personal business?

Even if the argument is that taking the photos in the first place is a mistake, have you ever made a mistake? How would you feel if your most private moment, or biggest mistake, or worst day, happened to go completely viral and public for the world to see? These words of hate and destruction being pointed at these women makes me wonder…what would Jesus do? Actually, I know:

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
-John 8:7

Reading these hateful statuses about how it’s their fault, they deserved it, or calling these women stupid is so insensitive and completely heartless. The breaking, obvious news is this, friends: There is NO excuse. NO girl deserves it. My Jesus died for what we all “deserve.” So I’m pretty sure that we don’t have room to condemn these women–it is not our job, and it is not going to help.

It doesn’t matter WHY these women took the photos. NO ONE, I repeat, NO ONE, deserves to have their private life exploited. NO ONE deserves this kind of violation or humiliation.

Disagreeing with someone’s lifestyle or choices is not an excuse to hate or condemn them.

I am absolutely ashamed of the statuses declaring that somehow this violation can be justified. It can’t. If we really cared about the hearts of these women and this issue, we would not extend such mean spirited attitudes and cutting words. It is through loving these women that their lives will be transformed, not through making fun of them, calling them names, or condemning them.

Ephesians 4:14-16 explains that how mature Christians will be able to speak truth, but always in love. We are essentially bullying celebrities rather than seeing them as real women with real issues. Let’s stop the bully mentality and become mature women of God, using our love to reach their hearts.

None us are perfect. And my point is simply that none of us would love for our poor decisions to be public and viral. Us being hateful toward these women won’t do anything to build God’s kingdom or positively impact our culture or their lives. It is through speaking truth with love, compassion, grace, and knowing that none of us are flawless either.

Let’s remember that these celebrities are people. WOMEN. Real women. Just like you and I. Let’s show them some compassion. Let’s have sympathy.

Let’s show these women some extravagant love…the kind of love that God has for us.

XO,
Rachael Lee Clarkson

“Girls Interrupted”: I am co-hosting a new talk show for women!

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Hey, ladies! I am SO excited to finally announce that I am co-hosting a new online talk show, “Girls Interrupted”, with my lovely friend, Ashlee Brown! We actually met years ago through a women’s bible study I led in my old studio apartment, and it’s pretty amazing to watch how God orchestrates and brings people together for some amazing things!

Ashlee is a red carpet host who will be providing our single lady input! I will be speaking from the newly married point of view.  As Hollywood women, we decided to combine forces and start our own talk show! 

What makes “Girls Interrupted” unique is that it’s not just girl talk. Many Christian women avoid the tough subjects, but living in Hollywood, we are IN IT. We aren’t afraid to interrupt culture, media, and our way of doing relationships and lifestyle as young women. We aren’t experts, but simply two ladies hoping to be role models, inspiring women to flourish and make healthy choices. This show will have interviews, discussions, talking about people in media, cooking, fashion, and we will be providing a fresh new perspective on life as a well-rounded woman! Take a look at our intro video below:

Stay tuned for new episodes coming out consistently, and leave us a comment letting us know what topics YOU want to hear about! We will be launching our first episode next week.

Who Wants a Normal Life?

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Lately, life has been the most beautiful and wonderful blessing, but also chaotic and confusing. My schedule always seems to be different (if I even have a schedule), and my car started having some issues, which left me stranded at home for a while.

In the midst of the chaos and trying to make plans with a good friend of mine, I assured her that we WILL get together when life is ever finally normal. Her response was really amazing. She asked me:

“Who wants a normal life??”

The funny thing is, she’s right. Of course, sometimes it would be nice to have a better idea of what’s happening in my own life, but this adventure God has me on is pretty incredible. While being a creative soul doesn’t always offer tons of stability and consistency, what it does offer is so much better…adventure, change, opportunities to seek beauty in every moment, as no two days look the same.

Life is weird.
Funny.
Strange.
Random.
Beautiful.
Messy.
Crazy.
Ever changing.

And so am I.

I have always liked order and organization…things I could control, understand, and plan. But I’m finding so much beauty in this season of life, because I’m able to truly watch God move in my life. I am finding that it’s actually within the messes of life that I can better see His hands at work.

Normal is overrated, I think. Wherever you find yourself today, enjoy the ride. Embrace the journey God has for you.

What My Dog Teaches Me About Grace: Happy National Dog Day!

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Today is National Dog Day, so I had to post about my favorite dog of all. A little over 5 years ago, I adopted a sweet, wonderful, chihuahua mix from a shelter here in LA. Since my dog, Abby, wasn’t a puppy when I rescued her (she is almost 10 years old), there are a few things she’s learned…and a few things she hasn’t. They do say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and I suppose that is true sometimes.

For instance, up until I got married 6 months ago, Abby slept in bed with me every night. She would snuggle as close as she could get. For a single girl living alone, I loved it! But 2 months before I got married, I thought it might be time to train her to sleep on her own. Much to my surprise, Abby learned very quickly and loves sleeping on her own (in a very comfortable chair topped with a pillow and blanket…yes-she’s spoiled…but at least it keeps her out of our bed!).

One thing she hasn’t quite mastered, though, is that every time I take Abby for a walk, she drives me crazy because she pulls on the leash. She pushes it to it’s absolute limit. She somehow thinks that her 7 pound, bone-skinny body will be able to lead me in any direction other than the one I want to take. This little dog tugs and tugs…using every bit of strength and energy she has. Worst of all, she sometimes pulls and tries to go into the road or toward a moving vehicle! This makes me wonder…after all of these years of me feeding her, protecting her, taking such good care of her, and keeping her alive, does she still not trust me to guide her?

When this thought hit me…it also dawned on me that this must be how God feels. How many times have I pulled away, tugged to break loose, shut Him out, and run far from His perfect plan for me? You see…God sees the moving cars in our way, the red flags, the destruction, the damage. And in the midst of His perfect love and faithfulness, still, I run in my own direction straight into harm’s way.

There’s something really interesting about my chihuahua, though. Most of the time, she doesn’t know what she is running toward. However, my old apartment building had this really long hallway that lead straight to my front door. It’s completely closed in and safe…and while it is a long hall, it is thin…the narrow path. Abby loves my husband, Nathan. Truly, she thinks she is his dog. When Nathan would go on walks with us in my old building, he always runs to my door before us. Then, I turn the corner with Abby…she sees him standing at the door. I let her off of her leash…and she runs straight into his arms. Once she sees him, she knows where she belongs…she remembers. And she is ready to go home.

Have I given up on my dog just because she tries to break free? No. And God’s grace does’t work like that, either. His faithfulness to you and I is so fierce, so strong, and completely unconditional. Because no matter how many times you try to pull away, when you are ready to run back into His loving arms, He will be right there waiting to catch you.

Don’t forget to hug as many dogs today as possible! :)

{Photo credit: Emily Magers Photography}

Life Abundantly.

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“Are you living abundantly? I’m not asking if you have a lot of stuff. I’m not asking if your life is easy. I’m asking if you’re doing A LOT of life.”
-Beth Moore

I don’t have much to say to you this Monday, friends, but I felt like I needed to encourage you as we begin this brand new week. No matter what you’re going through, God sees you and loves you so much. It’s so easy to get caught up in the stresses and difficulties of life and forget that we were destined for so much more than going to work, paying rent, and spending money.

Last week, I was watching a video by Beth Moore where she was talking about how we are able to live abundantly even in the midst of difficult times. When life is chaotic and messy, it’s easy for us to believe that God doesn’t see us or truly care. I love this quote from Beth Moore:

“It is to your father’s glory that your life bear much fruit.”

God wants to see you happy.
He wants you to be blessed.
He wants you to be free.
He wants you to flourish.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
-Jeremiah 29:11

We often think we are “living abundantly” if we have lots of money or stuff. This is simply not true. We can live the abundant life in all circumstances if we allow grace, joy, and love to transform our lives. It’s about a full life…not an easy one, necessarily. Is your life filled with laughter, family, people who love you, creativity, wonder, adventure?

Wherever your heart is today as you start this new week, know that God’s plans for your life are so good. They are hopeful, not cynical. Loving and passionate, not complacent. Be encouraged this Monday, knowing that God wants the abundant life for you wherever you’re at, whatever your situation may look like. He will meet you where you are.

The Modern Proverbs 31 Woman

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“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”
-Proverbs 31:25

There are so many different ideas, opinions, and definitions about what a woman “should be” in today’s culture. It used to be that we would just try to define women as “the working woman” or “the house-wife.” However, I learned very quickly that I would need to learn to navigate and find the tension between these two identities. I also learned that God’s design for women was so much deeper than a job or a kitchen. 

Prior to getting married almost 6 months ago, I thought that being a good wife meant being perfect…this Wonder Woman meets Martha Stewart type of combo. I wanted to be able to do it all…work hard, write, run my online magazine, act, cook delicious meals, look beautiful, and somehow always maintain a clean home. In the first month of marriage, I found myself feeling exhausted, defeated, and falling short. What was strange and silly about that was when I realized: neither God nor my husband placed these expectations on me…so who did? Me.

I was putting so much pressure on myself to become “perfect”, but that isn’t what being a Proverbs 31 woman is about at all. In God’s word, this woman is wise, strong, passionate, lovely, and godly. It isn’t about striving for perfection, it’s about striving for the abundant life…to live out the beauty God designed you to subdue. 

While I love cooking for my husband, sometimes I find myself busy, overwhelmed, or exhausted. For instance, this has been an extremely busy week (I have two speaking engagements, my husband came back from Canada, he had a big audition, and he has an interview on a radio show). And while I strive to juggle it all, right now our place is a bit messy, and my husband actually cooked dinner for me tonight. Sometimes we put so much unrealistic pressure on these “roles” that define us, rather than realizing that marriage is about teamwork. We shouldn’t feel trapped in our roles, but set free in the beauty that they bring. It is also crucial to realize as women that we simply can’t do it all everyday, every minute.

Life is about balance.
Life is about team work.
Life is about grace.

God did not create you to perfect, but to flourish. Allow yourself the grace to grow as a woman because of the passion and zest you have for life. If you constantly burden yourself with “have tos”, your heart won’t be in it…and you will end up feeling burnt out and stressed. There’s a quote I saw recently that says:

“I can do anything. But I can’t do everything.”

This is a quote that I feel beautifully speaks to the heart of the modern Proverbs 31 woman. You can do all things through Christ, but there is also a season for everything (even for rest!).  My husband knows that when I am thriving (which includes getting enough rest, taking care of myself, taking a break, doing what I love, meeting with friends, etc), I am better able to love and serve him. The Proverbs 31 woman cultivates beauty wherever she goes not just out of obligation, but because of the joy found in the subduing of this great privilege.

God wants you to thrive…remember that. You are the modern Proverbs 31 woman. You are clothed in strength and dignity. Step into the beautiful identity God has for you…an identity of grace, love, and so much worth.

{Enjoy the photo below of my home, and notice that even as I had a photoshoot, there is a box in the right hand corner that hasn’t been unpacked yet. I’m not going to lie-I thought about cropping it out. It’s not about perfection, friends. The modern Proverbs 31 woman is not a robot…she is real. Photo credit: Emily Magers Photography}

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Communion with a Hotdog Bun: Life Together

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“The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer.”
-Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer

(Life Together is one of my favorite books that I’ve read at least 4 times in the past 5 years. I highly recommend it, and will be sharing some of my favorite quotes in this article, mixed in with a powerful, personal story about community.)

Last night, I decided to step outside of my introverted bubble and head over to my church’s Wednesday service, “The Gathering.” Since my husband is out of town, I thought it would be good for me to get out and go see people (rather than staying in my yoga pants and cuddling a chihuahua all night).

There’s no sermon at this service, it’s more about community, time for prayer, and partaking in communion. There is always a beautiful table set up on Wednesday nights with candles and the elements of our communion…bread, wine, and grape juice. However, when I walked in, I had to stop myself from giggling when I realized that our communion bread for the night would be a hotdog bun.

As Bob lead us in our communion together, he explained that he left the bread he had intended to use at home, so they just grabbed what they had available…a hotdog bun. 10 of us each took a piece of this bun…Jesus’ body broken for us…and dipped it into the cup…Jesus’ blood poured out for us.

“So long as we eat our bread together we shall have sufficient even with the least. Not until one person desires to keep his own bread for himself does hunger ensue. This is a strange divine law.”

There is something so powerful about being in the house of God, being in the body of Christ, and sharing in communion with one another. Wine, grape juice, a baguette, a hotdog bun, a cracker…the elements don’t matter…they are symbolic of Christ and the power of community.

These people who don’t know me well heard my prayer requests, cared about my heart, and prayed for me…just as I did with and for each of them. Afterward, we all went out to a fun place nearby for dinner (I know, really stepping out of my introvert bubble), and my soul felt so refreshed to be around such incredible people.

“Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ. No Christian community is more or less than this.”

It’s not about perfection.
It’s not about details.
It’s not about knowing everything or everyone.

“The Church does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus and the brethren.”

Community is about serving, being faithful, and deeply caring about those around us. It’s about stepping out of our comfort zone and into the body of Christ. Bonhoeffer was so right when he talked about the joy that comes with community.

Community means breaking bread.
Laughing together about hotdog buns.
Hearing one another.
Crying together.
Praying for each other.
Spending time together outside the walls of a church.

THIS is life together.

“It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren.”