Sunday, June 22, 2014

why aren't you happy?

Have you ever heard of "100 days of happy?" Well, if not, go to 100happydays.com and read more. Basically, it's a challenge for people to be "happy" for 100 straight days. It encourages you to post your pictures and use a hashtag about whatever made you happy that day. In theory, excellent idea. In reality, it makes (made) me wonder so I decided to write about it. As a disclaimer for anyone stumbling across my blog, I'm a Christian. I love God and it's my deepest desire that you do too. Or that you will.
 
While I LOVE the idea of a website/campaign encouraging people to be happy for 100 days, I have to ask myself this question-- why just 100 days? Yes, I know that the backing behind this idea is that after 100 days, you'll realize how fun and blessed living life is and you'll be happy forever and forever.
 
I suppose that's my challenge for myself. I want to exude happiness 365 days a year, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. I want people to want to be around me. I want people to see Jesus in me. And I don't want to get in the way of what God has planned for my life.
 
There is SO much in life to be thankful for. I mean, if I sat around and complained about how I thought I wasn't good enough, wasn't pretty enough or not "anything" enough, I would waste a lot of life. I don't do that, though. I know that I'm a work in progress and that I can always improve. I know that perfection is not attainable. I know that people are going to let me down and not want to seek happiness and joy from God. I know this.
 
But, I don't have to accept it. I can choose to start every morning with a prayer to God asking him to SHOW and REVEAL ways that will make him happy, make me joyful and allow me to be a blessing to someone else. Anyone can come up with a sob story of why they shouldn't be happy. But, please let me remind you that if you still have the ability to think and wake up in the morning, you, my friend, are blessed. There is nothing more fun to me than getting to treat the car behind me by paying for their coffee or lunch. It's SO much fun to bake cookies and take them to your local fire stations/police stations. It COSTS NOTHING to donate all your old fashion magazines to hair salons and libraries for other people to enjoy. If you have extra time one weekend, offer to babysit for new parents that you know for free so they can enjoy some time together. Write your grandparents a card and mail it to them. Or go spend time with them.
 
I'm just saying that there is a ton of things that you can do for others that will end up blessing YOU more in the end, I promise. I've just seen so much negativity and hate on social media and in real life lately that I just wanted to encourage everyone to be happy. To have joy and to realize how blessed we are. Seriously, if you have a car and a bed to sleep in, you're richer than 50% of the world.
 
I'm extremely blessed to have the parents and grandparents that I have. My mother and father are the most Christ like people I know. It's somewhat cliché to say, but I honestly was in church 9 months before I was born. I crave fellowship with other believers at church because of my parent's faithfulness. My father is a deacon at our church and my mother directs VBS. Their dedication to the Lord is part of why I love God the way I do today. They literally lead by example and their happy. No, they haven't always had it easy. There has been very rough days. But, they're happy. They seek out ways to bless others and I pray that others notice that in me one day too. My grandparents are also the most dedicated people I know. I am so blessed by the leaders God has put in my life.
 
I  know that everyone isn't as blessed as me. Some of you reading this haven't been a Christian since you were 5 or have Christian parents. And you don't think that you have a reason to be happy. But, put your right hand over your heart. Do you feel that heartbeat?
 
That's God's way of reminding you, with every beat, to be happy. It's a reminder to be joyful. It's a reminder to be a blessing because regardless of what the world tells you, He tells you to be happy. You're worthy enough. You're pretty enough. You're smart enough. Every single heartbeat tells you that. Remember that. And choose to be happy for those 100 days, yes. But, more than that--choose to be happy every day of your life.
 
:)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

CMA Fest 2014

Two weeks later I'm finally able to sit down and try to share as many memories CMA fest memories as possible. To say that it was a wonderful week of events is an understatement. There are few things in life that I'm passionate about BUT the things that I am passionate about consume every minute of my day. Every time I go to Nashville, it gets harder to get back on 65 South.

And, not because I don't LOVE my family and friends in Alabama with every ounce of my being but my heart beats faster in Nashville. It's always an adventure, always a person to see, and always a place to be. I'm grateful for all the people I've met along the way and I can't wait to make Nashville MY city one day, too.

One of my very best friends, Michelle, moved to Nashville at the end of last year/early this year. We met on New Year's Day, ironically enough, but she's literally one of the closest friends I have. I adore her and am so happy that she's in Nashville to stay. We've roadtripped over a thousand miles in 4 days together and had too many stories to ever tell. And she lets me stay with her in Nashville. So, thank you Michelle. Your air mattress is still the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in. Whoop whoop!!

So, let's get to it. My sister Lauren and I left Wednesday after work to make it to the official Warner after party on time. We left Birmingham after work and church and arrived at the after party right when this guy some of you may know named Frankie Ballard started playing. He's a good performer and is getting a lot of radio plays so I'm happy for him. Of course the main event was Cole Swindell. And, as always, he didn't disappoint. 

Another one of my good friends, Anne, was in town as well. Love getting to see you girl!!

 

Cole Swindell

 

Frankie Ballard

 

Warner had the after party at Avenue in downtown Nashville. It was a great party and I am glad that I got to attend. Warner is one of my favorite companies in Nashville. I've had the chance to connect with several people from Warner and I'm thankful for each of them!

After the party was over we headed home to get a grand total of 4 hours of sleep because we had to be up at 7 AM to be ready for all the events Thursday held.

First up was Brandon Chase's artist/street team event first thing Thursday morning. I had the opportunity to interview Brandon as my new artist spotlight. He is an amazing up and coming artist and his whole team is amazing. They opened in prayer and just gave a really encouraging message before we talked a little about Brandon and then he performed several of his songs for us. His single "One" is on ITunes and I encourage you all to get it!
 

We finished up at ASCAP where they had Brandon's event and headed over to Black River Publishing to see one of my very favorite FEMALE singers in country music. Her name is Keslea Ballerini and she is absolutely magical with her songs. I've been able to do this blog as "promoting" for a while now and never really found a good female that I wanted to get behind. Then, I found Kelsea through Josh Kerr one day and am SO glad I did. Kelsea is a few years younger than me but everything she sings about-I relate to. I'm SO excited to see what all this year holds for Kelsea and I'm SO honored to have been invited to her artist party. Josh Kerr and Jacob Simmons (two of my favorites) were playing with her, too. It's fun to see "friends" doing what they love!

 

You can listen to her on Sound Cloud for free!! Listen to all her songs! And she also recently announced a RADIO tour. Oh my goodness--I'm so excited!! Follow her on Twitter and "like" her Facebook page here. Thanks for singing my favorite, "Peter Pan"!!!  

We had to leave a few minutes early from Kelsea's adorable party to make it to Chase Rice's launch party for his clothing line HDEU. At first, I'll admit I wasn't that thrilled about another "celebrity" branching out to make their name a BRAND but it works with Head Down Eyes Up. Make sure you read more about it here! Happy to support Chase in this and get to say hey!!




After the launch party, we had a little down time (about 20 minutes to be exact) before it was time for the next show to start. So, we made good use of the time and took a nap in the parking deck. Let me tell you the power of a good "power nap" is sometimes better than 12 hours of sleep.

If you follow me or are my friend on any social media site you've HAD to heard of Sam Hunt by now. He was performing at the Bud Light stage outside of the Bridgestone at 3 so we got to see him play for a huge crowd!

 

 

 

 

The whole band had an amazing performance! I was so thankful that the rain held off and that we were able to see him for a minute after the show was over.

 

After Sam's performance we headed to the HGTV Lodge to see Chase Rice perform. We had already seen him that morning but he didn't perform at the launch party so it's always a fun time seeing him perform. It was an acoustic show so only Brandon was playing with Chase but it's always good to see them!

 

 

After Chase's show was over, we finally headed back home to change and get ready for dinner and Sam Hunt's midnight show at Wild Horse Saloon. 

 

 

 

I've literally ran out of things to say about Sam at this point. He's awesome. Buy his new single "Leave the Night On" on Itunes and request it like CRAZY at your local radio stations. Also, he had a free mixtape album that he took down but he said for those of us who had one to share. So, if you want one, leave a comment and make sure to leave your email address so I have a way of contacting you. I'll mail you one for FREE. 

We got in really late after Sam's show and slept until almost 11 AM Friday. It was MUCH needed though. I met another friend, Marli, at the Hard Rock Stage at noon to see yet another great guy and artist, Jordan Rager. I've seen Jordan before with Cole Swindell at a show in Atlanta at the end of last year and really enjoyed some of his music. He's definitely another one to watch. Make sure you follow him on Facebook and check out his website here


 
 After Jordan's performance, we headed back to Avenue to see Dan and Shay and Brett Eldredge. Warner sure knows how to sign some of the best artists.



 


 

 Brett is always so sweet and hilarious!! Brett even sent a picture home for me to give to my little sister. Thank you Brett!!
 
 

We went to Rock Bottom for dinner that night and then walked around downtown for a while before heading back. Nashville is my favorite for too many reasons to name but rooftop bars are one reason. 


We headed back home Saturday morning. I LOVED every second of my first CMA fest and I didn't even do the LP field concerts at night. We are looking into that next year but hopefully by then I'll be living in Nashville and working CMA fest. :) This post is SO late and I'm probably leaving out a TON but these are definitely the highlights. Hope you had fun reading along! :)

 




Sunday, June 8, 2014

modest is not hottest.

Happy Sunday :)

I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend!! I know that I did. Every time I go to Nashville it gets harder to leave. And while tomorrow's post is FULL of country goodness, today I'm taking a time out from reporting on all things great in country music world to talk about something that's been on my heart lately. And that something is modesty.
 
I started Southern Samplings as a lifestyle blog to write about recipes, DIY projects and to just write about life. I have always loved writing and I figured a blog was a good outlet for that. I'm also a Christian so I would/still do write about that. My relationship with God is the most important relationship in my life. It's such a big part of my life it's only obvious that I would blog about it. Being a Christian isn't the easiest thing in the world but it is the most rewarding. I've talked numerous times about how I sat alone for weeks during my senior year because all my friends got mad at me for not drinking with them at prom. I was the vice president of my sorority in college that arranged "social events" at church. It's just part of me and I don't apologize for it. Of course, I'm not saying or even thinking that I'm perfect. I mess up every single day. But the cool part of being a Christian is that there is grace--that's how you move forward.
 
Why all these rabbit trails and why not just talk about what I started to post to talk about? I know, I know. But, if this is a new reader, they need a little back story. I was raised by parents who do not drink or partake in anything that may hinder themselves or others. I honestly cannot thank God enough for my parents. I'm glad that I never had to turn to alcohol or drugs or sex to feel worthy, I knew from the moment I could remember things that God was for me. I knew what it meant to know that someone was always there for me. I knew right from wrong. I knew how amazing and fulfilling Christ was--and still is.
 
The problem where a lot of people stumble with Christianity is people who say one thing and do another. How can people take our advice seriously if we are saying one thing but doing another? Think about it.
 
So, when I was in Nashville this past weekend there was a girl standing beside me who was talking about her wild night she had the night before. She was wearing a tank top that showed half her stomach, shorts that might as well been panties, boots and ray bans. She was going on and on about this wild night for at least 10 minutes to the girl beside her. Then, in between sets, her phone rang. From what I could gather, it was her mother. She told her she had gone to bed early the night before and would see her on Sunday for church.
 
WHAT. FOR CHURCH? I'm 1000% positive my mouth hit the ground. Ha.
 
Here's the problem. From the moment I saw the girl beside me for the first time, church was the first thing I thought she needed but the last place I thought she would be. That's judgmental of me and I apologize but I've got to be real about this.
 
There is a phrase that is associated with modesty that a lot of "Christians" or conservatives say and that phrase is "modest is hottest."
 
Let me please say that I HATE this phrase with probably the most passion that I could. Modest is NOT hottest.
 
If you are trying to be modest, there is simply no way to be hot. I'm sorry but there's not.
 
Modesty is defined as a mode of dress and deportment intended to avoid encouraging sexual attraction in others.
 
Okay, so then let's look at the word "hot." When a group of 100 men were surveyed and asked what were synonyms for the word "hot," their responses were as follows: sexy, tasty, delicious, fine, spicy, and so on. I'm sorry but I don't think that you can be modest and sexy.
And, furthermore, I definitely do not want my future husband to meet me for the first time and think that I'm tasty or hot or sexy.
 
I realize this is a foreign concept and may even make some of you mad or not like me. And that is okay. These are my convictions, my research and my beliefs. You can see how a woman cannot be modest and hot at the same time.
 
I want to encourage women to want to be modest. There is nothing wrong with covering that belly button and putting on actual shorts and getting respect from a man worthy of your time. So many girls will complain that there are no guys left. Well, to their defense, if you dress like a piece of meat, you cannot be mad when they treat you as a delicious, tasty piece of meat.
 
Women--we have SO much more to offer than our bodies. If you use your body to attract a man, you'll have to use it to keep him, too. And, I promise that is not what God intended and that is not what you want to have to do. You are intelligent and beautiful and worthy. The right man will recognize this. Honor yourself and present yourself in a modest way.
 
I know, I know. Some of you are thinking how easy it is for me to be modest. And, I will confess, I've never had a problem with being modest. Granted, I'm not a Victoria Secret model and I would never dress in a sexy way. But, I don't want to be a model. I don't want to be viewed as meat. I don't want a guy to like me because I'm "hot" or "attractive." I want a guy to be attracted  to me because he sees God in me. I want him to fall in love with me because I'm intelligent and I value myself.
 
This is my biggest prayer for girls. That you will see yourself in a positive way. That you will seek an emotional/spiritual relationship with a man before you ever pursue a physical one.
 
I pray that you realize that attention you get from a male should be positive and encouraging and not degrading. I promise you that saving yourself for marriage is NOT a decision you will regret. I promise you with my whole soul that your value is not based on how many guys think you're hot. You're worth more.

Be modest because it's attractive in the RIGHT way and it attracts the RIGHT kind of man.
:)