The Good News

I once heard someone say that unbelievers will recognize Christ followers and be drawn to Him by our joy, kindness, goodness, and selflessness. In seasons of anxiety or depression or difficult situations, I’ve found myself confused and thinking there has to be more to it than that.

There have been times when embodying these trademarks of being a Christ follower felt like pulling myself up by my own bootstraps and scraping up the very last ounce of joy or kindness or goodness or selflessness I could possibly find within myself, or manufacturing it in a way that felt so wrong and inauthentic when I couldn’t find it. Many people who do not call themselves Christ followers seem to have all those traits and, oftentimes, represent them much better than me and my fellow believers.

In light of all that, what distinguishes us as Christ followers? How will people know we know Him?

The answer finally hit me.

It is not our joy or our kindness or goodness or selflessness that makes us who we are as Christ followers. Just the opposite — it is our brokenness. Our doubts, mistakes, insecurities, and shame.

How can we, who are so broken and imperfect and messy, possibly call ourselves Christ followers? THAT is the gospel. The good news. We are so broken and yet so wanted and accepted by Him.

It takes full admittance of how selfish and unkind and messed up we really are to see how much we really need God.

Knowing we can be fully broken and fully loved by Him is what distinguishes us.

When we truly believe, in our cores, how loved we are by Him in spite of every messy moment of our lives, then we let Him closer to us. The closer we let Him get to us, the more we are empowered to be joyful and kind and all the good things (because it’s Him, not us). His love changes us from the inside out.

But the good traits? They’re not the point. They’re the side effects of being close to Him.

The point is the brokenness.

There is no true love unless the one who loves has seen your brokenness in its fullness. He is love itself and can only offer true love, so the brokenness is an essential part of it all. A love like that is why we call ourselves His. A love like that is why we follow Him.

How will people know we follow Him and be drawn to Him?

In our brokenness, we heard of a love like this, offered free of conditions, and we couldn’t help but come running to the One who offered it.

Let us boast of our weakness, for it is our strength (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Let us be known by our brokenness.

How to Host a Bachelorette Party on a Budget

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Sometimes I wonder how Gatsby did it.

I do love hosting parties. I get to gather up new and old friends, fix food for them, and set the tone for a night of laughter and making memories. Whether it’s a party to celebrate something big like a graduation or simply a game night to gather all my people under one roof, I love inviting people into my home.

I have to be real, though.

Sometimes it stresses me out. Coordinating a night that works for everyone and gathering up all the food and decor on a budget while juggling work and school is a balancing act, to say the least.

By the end of the night, though, people are trickling home with new stories to tell and new connections to hang out with.

That’s when I remember the work is always worth it.

Last October, I had the opportunity to host one of my best friend’s bachelorette parties before her wedding. It was a final hurrah with the girls before she tied the knot.

I had never hosted one before, so Pinterest was my go-to as I searched the internet high and low for ideas. I was on a budget, so that was a big factor in my planning.

In case you’re hosting a bachelorette party on a budget soon, here are some ideas to get you started.

Decor

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We began the night at my place, so I wanted to make sure it was decorated to impress. I chose a simple pink, gold, and rose gold color scheme.

I found all the decor at affordable stores. Here’s a break down of where I stocked up.

Dollar Tree:

  • Artificial flowers (a steal)
  • Mini candles (they had many other color options, too)
  • Square plates
  • Plasticware
  • Table cloth
  • Vase for straws (they have a great collection of cheap glassware)

Walmart:

  • Gold-coated vases (in the wedding section, they had these and other cute decorations)
  • Metallic tassels (in the party section, and I simply taped them to the table cloth)

Hobby Lobby:

  • Napkins (they had every color imaginable)
  • Cups (ditto)
  • Striped paper straws

Amazon:

  • Metallic letter balloons
  • Pink and confetti-filled balloons (scattered these on the floor)

For the photo backdrop, I put the “Bride” balloons on a string and taped each side to the vertical blinds. I already had the garland (originally from Hobby Lobby) and taped it to the blinds as well. This was all a little tricky and took some trial and error (read: it was actually very hard and I almost gave up, but I persevered).

You can see the tape in the picture of the backdrop above if you’re looking for it (sigh), but it didn’t end up showing up in the pictures we took, like the one below.

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Drinks + Appetizers

In all the commotion, I forgot to take pictures of the appetizers. The original plan was to snack on chips and salsa, as well as my friend’s famous cheesecake-filled strawberries, while everyone took pictures and got ready to head out.

I also set out champagne glasses and, since most of us don’t drink, we opted for sparkling grape juice. We ended up leaving for dinner before we got around to this.

Activities

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Keeping the activities a secret from the bride-to-be was all part of the fun.

She received an invitation in the mail a week ahead of the big night, complete with a wax seal. Super fancy, I know. Sending a wax seal in the mail sounded complicated when I looked it up, so I decided to sneak over to her mailbox in the dark like a ninja.

The invitation included the first clue, which was a riddle that let her know she’d be stopping at my place first. I told her to dress fancy and had a friend that lived close to her pick her up to bring her to the first stop of the night. Hiring a chauffeur would have been cool, but this was the next best thing that fit the budget.

The rest of the clues were numbered and she got them with her “Bride to Be” sash, which was from Hobby Lobby. The clues about each of the stops were a fun way to tie all the activities together.

The next clue was for the restaurant we would be eating at — her favorite.

After that, we played mini golf and made an impromptu ice cream stop at Andy’s. We drove a mini van to all of this so we could ride together, and placing seven different Andy’s orders at the drive-thru was quite the escapade.

I had been asking her questions about her favorite things to do in the months leading up to the party in hopes she wouldn’t remember I had asked. Pretty sure she remembered all of those conversations, but I tried. Nevertheless, the night was a success.

I wanted the bride-to-be to have some keepsakes from the night.

I set out a mini canister jar, some slips of paper, and a few pens. We wrote memories from the night and funny memories from over the years to put in the jar.

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The “Kiss the Miss Goodbye” picture idea was taken from Pinterest, and it was a hit. I wrote the words with a gel pen on scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby. Then, we took Polaroid pictures with props in front of the photo backdrop, taped them down with double-sided tape, and used lipstick from Walmart to make the kiss prints. I popped it into a frame.

This bachelorette party was relatively simple and inexpensive, but still a night we will never forget.

To me, party hosting is simply creating an environment for people to gather and make memories. Connecting people, conversations, decor, and activities is an art I’m still learning.

I’m no Gatsby yet, but maybe someday (minus all the drama). Wax-sealed invitations and sparkling grape juice will have to do for now.