faith

Profile: Voila! Event Studio


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VoilaOpening-114-1If you haven’t noticed by the by the couples on park benches and picnic blankets, by the pollen in the air, or by the proliferating animals, it’s spring–which also means we’re headed straight for wedding season. So this seemed like a good time to highlight my friend Tyler, who recently realized her dream of becoming a full-time wedding and event planner.

What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about my faith, my family, and my business.

What made you decide to start your own business? 
From a young age I wanted to start a business because I was deeply impressed by my fathers entrepreneurism. One day the opportunity came and I went after my dream!

What do you like best about being a business owner?
I get to call the shots, I answer to my clients, not a boss, and I have a sense of freedom.

You said you’re passionate about your faith. How has being a business owner impacted your faith?
I have to trust that God made all of this possible because it is what I’m called to do. That is scary, especially when you are working hard all of the time and not necessarily seeing the fruits of your labor, immediately. You also have to remember to ask God to be a part of your business. Sometimes if you’re business is going well, you tend to forget to ask for God’s guidance because you don’t feel a need for it at the time. So I think staying humble and asking for God’s direction are important parts of being a Christian business owner, both during seasons of famine and in times of plenty.

Do you integrate faith into your business practices? 
Yes, I try to as much as possible. I mention my faith on my website and I treat my clients and industry peers with respect, honesty, and fairness. I try to keep my eyes open to any doors the Lord brings my way, whether it’s witnessing to a bride or encouraging a vendor, or another opportunity to bless someone through my business.

How do you want your clients to remember you or your business?
I want them to remember me as a fun, honest, genuine, organized, creative person, who really wanted to make their wedding day as unique and fabulous as they are. I want them to remember my business as a classy and sophisticated firm that more than exceeded their every expectation.

What have you learned about yourself through this process?
Your own business is really like your child in many ways. You have to give it constant attention, feed it, love it, help it grow, and keep it safe. So when you see it do well, you’re ecstatic. When you see it struggling, your heart aches. I have tried to rely on my faith to keep me more analytical and buoyant and less emotional and fatalistic when it comes to the ups and downs of every-day business.

What advice do you have for young professionals?
Don’t listen to the nay-sayers. You can do whatever you put your mind to. This is America where you have every opportunity in the world to achieve success and create your own American Dream.

JUST FOR FUN

Do you have any hidden talents?
I make a mean chocolate soufflé.

CONNECT WITH TYLER

Twitter: @VoilaWeddings
Instagram: voilaeventstudio
Pinterestpinterest.com/tylerfitzhugh
Facebookfacebook.com/voilaeventstudio
Website: voilaeventstudio.com

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Fear of Dogs will Prove to be a Snare

DogThe Proverbs say fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe (29:25).

That’s great, but what about fear of dogs?

It was the first warm, sunny day all week so I decided to go for an evening walk. I passed the neighbor’s house just as she was letting out her mini Dobermans. They tore across the yard, yipping all the way. I don’t mind dogs, so I kept my leisurely pace.

But as they came closer, I noticed they were baring their teeth. And growling. And they were headed straight for me. They are going to attack me! I thought. I jumped away as the one tried to nip my ankle. They came at me again and I considered running before I had a revelation: They were 6 inches tall. Practically doormats. I will not be bullied by a little dog.

So I stopped. I put my hands on my hips. And I glared. Their snarls turned to whimpers and they ran away. “That’s what I thought,” I muttered.

Then I laughed as I imagined that’s exactly how fear works. It comes fast, loud, and furious, hoping you don’t stop to examine its source, its size, or its validity. It feeds and grows on your knee-jerk reactions and continues its bullying pursuit. But once you stop and stare fear square in its beady little eyes, it slinks away like the weasley dog it is.

Fears are real, but in comparison to the size of God, they’re basically little dogs.

Now spiders on the other hand . . .

How do you deal with fears?

Life Doesn’t Have to be Perfect to be Wonderful

“Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.”

This is good, because my life is not perfect, but I do have some really wonderful moments every now and then. For instance, I ran into an old flame a few weeks ago. We’d never really officially ended, we just fizzled out a few years ago when I moved from the sweet and slow Midwest to the D.C. area. Life got crazy and it was too hard to make time for each other.

After reminiscing about the times we spent exploring and traveling, I decided it was time to rekindle things with him. His name is Canon SX10. It’s a strange name, but it suits him.

For our first outing, we went to the Cherry Blossom Festival. Thousands of people were out, but they all seemed to vanish when I peered into his lens–that’s how you know it’s a really good date.

Since then, we’ve been exploring more in our few spare moments. We’re taking it slow, and making sure to appreciate the good, the lovely, the pure, and even the quirky–wonderful, holy gifts in this imperfect life.

What things make your life wonderful?

Should Christians Online Date?

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I felt the guilt rise up like bile the first time I logged onto eHarmony. I’m just looking, I told myself. There’s no harm in looking. But the truth is I felt like I was cheating on God. Wasn’t I supposed to be waiting for him to find my match?

If you’re a Christian single, you’re probably no stranger to this concept. Well-meaning moms and married friends drop the phrase into our laps along with a copy of Waiting for God to Write Your Love Story. But some of us have been waiting an awfully long time. Do we even know why? Your reason might depend on which type of Christian single you are.

THE WAITER
On the surface, you appear calm and patient. You are caring and love to serve. You can be found working in the church nursery, children’s Sunday school, or leading a Bible study, but you’ll shrug off any recognition. It isn’t that you’re shy; you’re just uncomfortable with attention. Though you’re busy hiding, you still believe God will plunk prince charming on your doorstep. Yet underneath your calm, waiting exterior, you’re growing increasingly discontented with your single status. You feel like a dateless casualty as your friends pair off and you’re, once again, left holding the discarded bouquet. You probably won’t say so, but you blame God.

Real talk: There’s nowhere in the Bible that supports this extreme kick-up-your-feet-and-wait mentality. Without examining the scriptures, we can let the Christian “I kissed dating goodbye” culture shape and misconstrue our idea of healthy, Christian relationship before we’ve even had our first kiss.

THE RAIDER
To call you “single” is a misnomer. You are a take-charge personality with an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and/or difficulty partitioning emotional boundaries. To you, “wait” is a four letter word. You believe if you don’t command your dating destiny, you will end up alone. So you plunder the dating market, armed with all the right moves, and rarely walk away without some booty. If you don’t cool your jets, you could find yourself reeling from a series of toxic relationships.

No one can blame you for trying. You’re a hot-blooded human, and your desire for companionship is God given. Your motivations are really not so different from the Waiter’s. At the core of your urge to take charge is the same thing that holds the Waiter passive: fear and distrust. When tested, our basic human instincts are “fight” or “flight.” Ironically, your headlong dash-and-swoop methods can push your date’s panic button, signaling the destination—rather than the damsel—is the real treasure. And you could find yourself standing confused, with the map to marriage yet sagging in your hands.

Both the Waiter and the Raider have strong convictions and believe they’re traveling the best road. But Proverbs 14:12 cautions, “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” If your hard-lined principles do not require the kind of lifestyle changes that facilitate personal and spiritual growth, you should probably reexamine them. Is “waiting” attractive because it denies personal responsibility? Is “raiding” attractive because it does not require restraint? God’s direction often involves a balance of painful self-examination, surrender, and intentionality, which can mature, blend and polish the Waiter and the Raider into the ideal Christian single.

THE DELIBERATOR
You are the person everyone wants to date. Maybe it’s your openness and winsome smile. Maybe it’s your quiet confidence and approachability. You aren’t perfect, but you do accept responsibility for your faults and failures and use them to nourish personal growth. You may not always be patient or fearless, but you understand waiting (and dating) is as much about surrender as it is action, and as much about prayer as it is preparation.

So which Christian single are you? Maybe taking the electronic plunge is for you. Maybe it isn’t. The question isn’t whether we should or shouldn’t online date– we are free, digitally-savvy agents. Rather, do our dating (or non-dating) behaviors underlie a fundamental distrust in God with this area of our lives?

Don’t let Valentines Day be a time to wallow about your wait. Take responsibility for yourself, make changes where necessary, trust God, and go be awesome!

My Almost Conversion to Buddhism

How do you handle stress?

Me? I cry. I dive into a Netflix blackhole. I snuggle into a coma. Avoidance is my preferred coping mechanism. Though I try to deny it, I have a deep-seated belief that life is what happens when things are sunny and easy. All the other parts–the stressful ones–are just something to grit and grind through. I hate it when friends and the Bible tell me otherwise. Outwardly, I nod and say, “You’re right,” “So true!” But inwardly, I pitch, “Why don’t you just shut up!”

Real life is what happens when you experience all the bits–the sunshine, the ease, the stress, and the struggle. I’m living real life, real hard, right now. It’s beautiful and it’s ugly. Some days, the hard parts are enough for me to consider giving into my daydreams, which lately consist of converting to Couch Buddhism. I want to be one with my couch.

Stress researcher Kelly McGonigal suggests stress isn’t the enemy; it’s our reaction to it. Stress symptoms–alertness, excelerated heart rate, rapid breathing–are our body’s way of preparing us to handle difficult situations. So while Couch Buddhism is not the answer, converting our beliefs about stress is. This means acknowledging our symptoms and embracing them as a positive response to a difficult situation. McGonigal outlines the additional benefits of our stress response in the following video, which include an increased need for social interaction and community.

Our beliefs and reactions to stress are not so different from the faith-follower’s reaction to God in hard times. We can withdraw and avoid. (Call me queen.) Or we can acknowledge our circumstances and embrace them as a call to reach for closer comfort and peace. We get to choose. Our minds and our bodies are a-mazing! Check out the video and make your choice.