Monday, April 7, 2014

A Gem at the 49th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards

If you had the opportunity to watch the ACM Awards last night, it will come as no shock that this years awards show was on FIRE! From the moment The Band Perry took stage to the closing statements by Blake Shelton - signing off with anticipation for the 50th anniversary of the ACM Awards, to be held at the AT&T Stadium in Dallas, TX - I was tuned in and engaged with everything the #ACMs had to offer.

I was especially captivated by the Kohl's commercials and presentation of the New Artist of the Year award to Justin Moore. A brief summation of the message was the word 'YES.' The commercials repeatedly depicted the priceless opportunities presented in life by taking a chance and saying, 'yes' when opportunity knocks. Prior to announcing Justin Moore as the winner of New Artist of the Year, the presenters commentated the life of each nominee - showing youthful photos and mentioning the moments in their life when they said 'yes' to the opportunities that ultimately led them to the 2014 ACM Awards stage that evening. It was a beautiful tribute, and one that brought tears to Justin Moore's eyes as he expressed his gratitude for the award. It was a breathtaking moment that brought a senes of reality and authenticity to the evening. I found it aptly apropos that the context of the word 'yes' was to remember the moments in life where saying 'yes' brought fulfillment to the lives of each nominee. Since we are in the season of Lent, the concept of saying 'yes' fully resonated with me. I submitted a post on Facebook about how we are constantly encouraged to say 'yes' to God each day. I remembered Mary, and her being the most beautiful recipient of this action, as she said 'yes' to God, through the Angel Gabriel. How scared the young Mary must have been, that she would be the vessel to bring life to the Messiah. We see her faith in God great - her mighty faith, and 'yes' to God is a profound example to us, and as the Angel Gabriel said, "but nothing is impossible for God" (Luke: 1:37). Although it may sometimes seem as though we will never grab hold of our purpose or reach our dreams, I think it is imperative to continuously seek God's will for our lives through prayer, and discern the chances we should take, and greet those chances with a resounding 'yes.'

It is my encouragement to find God in everything, and to find a gem in the ACM Awards show last night was lovely. There were many other great moments at the ACM Awards: A heart-warming tribute to Merle Haggard; sung by the king himself, George Strait, and the endearing, Miranda Lambert. Jerry Jones and George Strait announced that the AT&T Center in Dallas, TX will hosts the 2015 ACM Awards. The performances were all well executed, creating a stellar energy throughout the entire awards show.

Merle Haggard tribute - ACM Crystal Milestone Award:

ACM Awards winners:
Entertainer of the Year: George Strait
Song of the Year: Lee Brice "I Drive Your Truck"
Vocal Group of the Year: The Band Perry
Male Vocalist of the Year: Jason Aldean
Single Record of the Year: Miranda Lambert
Female Vocalist of the Year: Miranda Lambert
Vocal Duo of the Year: Florida Georgia Line
New Artist of the Year: Justin Moore
Album of the Year: Kacey Musgraves "Same Trailer Different Park"
Video of the Year: Tim McGraw featuring Taylor Swift & Keith Urban "Highway Don't Care"
Vocal Event of the Year: Keith Urban & Miranda Lambert "We Were Us"

By Malarie Roxanne Rodriguez | Founder of P.S. Chic 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014



Here we go...Abortion and the Bible

A co-worker in California once told me, "Lauren, there are two topics you should never discuss in a social setting: politics and religion. "Well, I'm double-breaking that rule today as I dive into an issue that falls into both categories: abortion.

With recent actions taken by the Texas Legislature making headlines nationwide, now seems like an appropriate time to explore the controversial subject that has seemingly divided Americans down the middle, including Christians. The package of legislation recently considered by the Republican body would prohibit abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, while also limiting the procedure to surgical centers - effectively giving the Lone Star State the strictest abortion regualtions in the country. Protestors and activists on both sides of the issue have demonstrated at the Capitol in recent weeks - some citing Bible verses, others citing women's rights. Interestingly enough, Christians are among both parties, which begs the question: what role should our faith play in politics?

I don't believe that your political perspective defines your Christian walk; however, I do believe that your faith should be the foundation of the political platform on which you stand. And when it comes to the issue of life, there isn't a gray area in the Bible. Though the Bible doesn't mention the term "abortion" (since the word's origin post-dates that of the Bible), Scripture makes God's view of conception and human life abundantly clear. "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you" (Jeremiah 1:5).

He doesn't say, "When you were born, I knew you," or, "In your third trimester, I knew you." The key word here is "before." He purposefully created each one of us in His own image (Genesis 1:27), and though He gave us free will, I don't think He ever intended for us to destory human life - especially not the life of the innocent. "Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him" (Psalm 127:3). Again, there are no loopholes here. The Bible doesn't say, "Only children conceived in wedlock are a gift from the Lord," or "Only children born into financially stable homes are a gift from the Lord." All of them are, regardless of how, when, why and by whom they were conceived.

The pro-choice perspective supports a woman's right to choose what she does with her own body. The problem with this logic lies in this: once a woman is pregnant, it's not just her body anymore; it is occupied by two human beings, one of which sadly does not have a voice. I know many women who ask, "What about cases involving rape?" Believe me: I am passionate about protecting women from this horrific experience that no human should ever have to go through. My heart breaks for them, truly. If a woman conceives a child from this tragedy though, I don't believe that killing the baby is the answer. The child is the innocent party here and should not bear the punishment for a crime committed by its father. I beg of women who find themselves in this tough position: please consider giving the child up for adoption so it can have a life that may have started in the worst of circumstances but can blossom into something beautiful.

Christians believe that God knit each of us together in our mothers' womb (Psalm 139:13) and that He created mankind in His own image (Genesis 1:27). Therefore, we believe that humans are God's personal and purposeful creations. To undo or interrupt His design or to give someone else permission to is a sin. Having said that, is it an unforgivable sin? Absolutely not, and it should not be treated differently from any other sin. If you're a woman who has had an abortion or is considering having one, this article is not meant to condemn you in any way. Jesus said, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone" (John 8:7). I refer to this verse in instances of all sin because I fear that Christians have done our faith a great injustice by condemning sinners when we are none the better. Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Now go, and sin no more" (John 8:11)

Christians, let our shared goal be to stand for what the Bible stands for and love the way Jesus loves. Let us offer compassion to women with unwanted pregnancies, and let us pray for those who have made the life-changing decision to have an abortion - I guarantee you they are hurting and need our love. Finally, let us unite in our faith to stand for life and advocate for the unborn. Our nation needs God, plain and simple. What are we going to do about it?

By Lauren Thurston | Guest Blogger (first posted on June 25, 2013)

Battle of Faiths

A conversation found its way into my office today. It's one that I've heard dozens of times throughout my life, and the arguments from both sides are usually the same. I typically (and happily) take on the role of pacifier in these instances because I feel there isn't a right or wrong answer, and at the end of the day, I don't think anyone is going to switch sides. The good news is (though, I don't think the opposing parties always see it this way): we're actually on the same team! Yes, I'm talking to you, Protestants and Catholics.

For centuries, this argument has persisted with momentum and it generates great animosity within our shared faith. Catholicism and Protestantism are both divisions of Christianity. Divisions -- the state of having been divided. I can't help but recall Abraham Lincoln's wise words: "A house divided against itself cannot stand." And this isn't just any house; this is God's house.

Satan must have been cheering on the sidelines as he saw the church splitting back in 1517. Don't get me wrong: I respect the history of the events leading up to the creation of the Lutheran Church, and I in no way intend to place blame on either faiths. My point is this: if both sides could cease from nit-picking the others' traditions or lack thereof, couldn't we focus on our shared goals -- winning souls for Christ?

So, some of us drink wine and the others unfermented grape juice. Some of us baptizes babies and the others children/adults. Some of us sing from hymnals and the others off digital screens. Some of us repent of our sins in confessionals and the others perhaps on the ride to work. I know that there are greater differences than these, but I'd rather not focus on what divides us. I'd like to take a look at what or rather whom we share -- the amazing Savior we both serve and worship, albeit in different ways.

To be fair, this division isn't just present among Catholics and Protestants. The World Christian Encyclopedia estimates that there are some 33,000 denominations within Protestantism. That's 33,000 churches out there questioning each other's orthodoxy. I wish I had a dollar for every time I walked out a church door and heard someone complaining about a tradition, or a song, or a preacher, or a message...Folks, I think we're missing the big picture!

We're distracted. We're caught up in the intricacies of religion. That was never Jesus' intent when He died on the cross. At the risk of sound all kumbaya and naively optimistic, isn't it time to put our differing opinions aside and do God's work? We can debate tradition and rituals until we die, but that will get us nowhere. And think about all the time we're wasting. What must a non-believer think when s/he hears the bickering between churches?

You're free to choose your denomination/religion -- that's the beauty of being an American. But I'll end on this: celebrate what you stand for, celebrate what you believe -- not what you disagree with.

By Lauren Thurston | Guest Blogger (first posted on June 21, 2013)

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Trust & Responsibility

Trust – a simple word to speak, yet the most challenging word to regain once lost. It is my sincere belief that we all desire to trust those around us. It is most similar to believing that all people are inherently good. When we look at the philosophical and religious aspects of inherent goodness, we find a spectrum of takes on the issue. Philosophically speaking, the structure of society weighs on the idea that most men/women do not want to harm their neighbor; yet society creates and enforces laws to maintain civility (see Socrates and Plato). Religiously, the Bible tells us that we are “born sinners” (Psalm 51:5), yet we are commanded to ‘love thy neighbor’ (Mark 12:31). The multi-faceted dynamic of human nature leaves us in toil of self-possession. Since it is the responsibility of each of us to implement self-control, and decide daily, or perhaps moment by moment what our behavior is going to reflect, we must learn by which qualities we desire to be known.

Do we believe people are inherently good? Can people be trusted? Have we experienced negative circumstances with people that have caused us to lose trust or even faith in humanity?

If we can remember that forgiveness is a key component in moving forward, regardless of the circumstance, a healthy perspective can be achieved. Although every situation is different, forgiveness will be a helpful tool in healing. It is important to remember that we must be conscious of our inter-personal relationships, beahvioral patterns, and individual perspectives, that are all too often shaped by negative experiences. If someone has broken our trust, but seeks sincere forgiveness from us, it may be worthwhile to  learn to trust them again. However, if someone does not seek forgiveness after having broken our trust,  it may be helpful to take a quiet moment and offer up  forgiveness to them within ourselves, for our own inner-peace. The courage we find to forgive will ultimately keep us from becoming jaded, and weary towards humanity.

I would be remised if I did not mention the unique portrayal of sacrifice, forgiveness, and trust, found in scripture. A beacon of self-sacrifice, unconditional love, and forgiveness, is Christ, as He uttered, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). We should view this as the pinnacle of humanity; where we find the most heinous of pain inflicted on the human body (and spirit), but from those pangs restoration and life is found. In the spoken word forgive, trust in a higher purpose is revealed and life regained.

I leave you with this quote from Timothy Zahn, author of Vision of the Future (Star Wars), “Without trust, there can be no genuine peace. Neither in politics, nor in the quiet individuality of the heart and spirit.”

By Malarie Roxanne Rodriguez | Founder of P.S. Chic   

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ensure your Diet is Helpful not Harmful to your Health

About two years ago I found out from my doctor that I had pre-cancerous cells in my body. Terrified that they would turn cancerous, I changed my eating habits drastically. After about six months of my lifestyle change, I was informed that all my cells were back to normal! Since then, I've become obsessed with nutrition. It is incredible how much nutrition impacts your sense of well being and your body's ability to heal itself. I find it all incredibly interesting.

As a rule of thumb, I try to consume food that comes from the earth. I take my time when I grocery shop to really look at the labels of what I am putting in my body. I do not look at the calories of the foods, as that is not important to me. What I look for is natural ingredients. 80% of the items I purchase at the store are fruits and vegetables. I also purchase some lean meats, whole grains, and soy, cow, or almond milks. When I can, I purchase organic, and non-GMO.

If you are looking to change your eating habits, take it one day at a time. You are likely to go back to your old eating habits if you make a drastic, overnight change. In order to be successful, I recommend slowly replacing the foods that you currently eat with more nutritious options. For example, if you regularly drink sodas or sugary drinks, start replacing every other one with water or all natural unsweetened or lightly sweetened tea instead. If you crave desserts or sweets, start replacing them with a cup of lightly sweetened granola and vanilla soy milk, frozen fruit, or a Herbalife protein shake.

Many of the foods that are sold in the store contain chemicals and additives that do more harm than good. By watching what you put into your body, you can ensure that your diet is helpful and not harmful to your health. As a result, you will look and feel better!

By Monica Shuster | Guest Blogger (first posted on July 3, 2013)

Monday, March 24, 2014

American Revolution 1754-1781

The road to America’s independence was both long and brutal. Americans fled from Britain for a reason: freedom. The colonists did not agree with Britain’s monarchy form of government. In addition to opposing much of the British Parliament’s laws and policies, they also sought religious freedom. A series of burdensome taxes imposed on the colonists coupled with a continuously encroaching government was the tipping point that ultimately led to American independence. Here I will provide a summary of the major events of the American Revolution.

The French and Indian War and Pontiac’s Rebellion:
The battle between Britain and France for colonial dominance in America was known as the French and Indian War (1754-1763). The colonists dutifully fought alongside British soldiers, while the French allied themselves with several Native American tribes.  After the British captured most of France’s major cities and forts in Canada and the Ohio Valley, the war came to an end. Worried that the British would take more tribal lands from the Native Americans, the Ottawa chief Pontiac led a series of raids on British forts and American settlements in the Ohio Valley. This Native American uprising is known as Pontiac’s Rebellion. It did not take long for the powerful British forces to squash the rebellion. However, in an effort to make peace with the Native Americans, Parliament issued the Proclamation of 1763, which forbade American colonists to settle on Native American territory unless native rights to the land had first been obtained by purchase or treaty.

The End of Salutary Neglect and Taxation Without Representation:
After the French and Indian War, Parliament moved to end the age of salutary neglect. The British government began to impose numerous burdens and taxes on the American colonists. These included the enforcement of the Navigation Acts, the Sugar Act to tax sugar, the Currency Act to remove paper currencies from circulation, the Stamp Act to tax printed materials, and the Quartering Act requiring Americans to house and feed British troops. Americans throughout the thirteen colonies did not like being taxed without having representation in Parliament, hence the famous phrase “no taxation without representation”. Colonial leaders petitioned Parliament and King George III to repeal the Stamp Act. In response to intense public pressure, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act in 1766. However, it passed the Declaratory Act, which allowed the Parliament to tax the colonies anytime it chose.

The Townshend Acts and the Boston Massacre:
Another series of taxes, this time on lead, paints, and tea, were levied on the colonists through the Townshend Acts of 1767. At the same time, Parliament also passed the Suspension Act, which suspended the New York assembly for not enforcing the Quartering Act. Fearing a violent response from the colonists, Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson requested assistance from the British army. In 1768, four thousand British soldiers landed in the city to help maintain order. Nevertheless, on March 5, 1770, an angry mob of rebels clashed with British troops. The violent and bloody event, in which five colonists were killed, became known as the Boston Massacre. News of the massacre spread like wildfire throughout the colonies.

The Boston Tea Party:
In 1773, Parliament passed the Tea Act, which granted the British East India Company a trade monopoly on the tea exported to the American colonies. Tea merchants in many American cities refused to purchase British tea. In an effort to uphold the law, Governor Hutchinson of Massachusetts allowed for ships arriving in Boston harbor to deposit their cargoes and ordered that appropriate payments be made for the tea. On the night of December 16, 1773, sixty men boarded the ships and dumped the entire shipment of tea into the harbor. This famous event, known as the Boston TeaParty, was a turning point in American history.

The Intolerable Acts:
The Intolerable Acts (the Coercive Acts), were passed by Parliament in January 1774. The laws closed Boston Harbor until the British East India Company had been fully reimbursed for the tea destroyed in the Boston Tea Party. People from all over the colonies sent food and supplies to help their fellow Americans survive the brutal northeastern weather.

The First Continental Congress:
Prominent colonials gathered in Philadelphia in 1774 at the First Continental Congress to take action against the Intolerable Acts. They petitioned King George III and the British government to repeal the acts. They also instituted a boycott of all British goods in the colonies.

Lexington, Concord, and the Second Continental Congress:
On April 19, 1775, British forces in Boston marched to the town of Concord, Massachusetts, to seize a colonial militia arsenal. Militiamen of Lexington and Concord intercepted them and attacked. The first shot, famously quoted as the “shot heard round the world” was followed by many more shots that forced the British to retreat back to Boston. Thousands of militiamen from nearby colonies went to Boston to assist.
In the meantime, leaders held the SecondContinental Congress. They drafted the Olive Branch Petition, in which they expressed their loyalty to Britain and asked King George III for peaceful reconciliation. The king rejected the petition and formally declared that the colonies were in a state of rebellion.

The Declaration of Independence:

The Second Continental Congress chose GeorgeWashington, who would later become America’s first president, to command the militiamen defending Boston in the north. They also appropriated money for a small navy and for developing a professional Continental Army. Support began to grow for America’s succession from Britain. A vote was held on July 2, 1776, to declare independence. Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence. On July 4, 1776 the United States was born.

By Diane Durbin | Guest Blogger 


In 1961, Eleanor Roosevelt chaired the Commission on the Status of Women with the purpose of documenting and eliminating discrimination against women in the workforce, including fair hiring practices, paid maternity leave and affordable child care. The Commission only lasted two years, and today, it is hard to imagine that such a federal agency even needed to be created.  Today's woman is free to work. She works equally alongside men.  She is a CEO, a doctor, a judge, a business owner, a military veteran, while also filling the role of mother, wife, sister, daughter and best friend. Today's woman can run the PTA, coach a soccer team, and lead Bible study - and I personally believe she does it fabulously.
In this day and age of 6 am-conference calls, protein bar lunches, and multiple Starbucks runs, there's only one way to stay ahead of the pack. Let me explain a term that I have come to know, live, and love: pro-fashionalism.  Pro-fashionalism is the unique and marvelous combination of wit, grace and polished execution of tasks in the workplace. It is a trait that every working gal should master.It's knowing that the power suit that got you through your dream interview doesn't have to be Yves Saint Laurent if you have a talented tailor in your back pocket.It's winning over your boss with those extra heel Band-Aids that you always have in your Stella & Dot tote.  Pro-fashionalism doesn't mean working untilmidnight 6 nights a week or skipping church on Sunday in order to meet a deadline.  It means delegating and hiring only the smartest and most-skilled co-workers who not only love to help you, but also love to chat about The Bachelorduring coffee breaks.  When utilized correctly, pro-fashionalism enables you to climb the ladder in your favorite pair of heels.
Not only does pro-fashionalism apply in the work place; it's also a state of mind that extends into other aspects of life. Let's face it: you can have the gig that pays the money, but every smart woman knows that if it's not a job you're passionate about, then you're a girl that simply doesn’t have it all.  Pro-fashionals know that in order to succeed, you must do what you love, combine your passions with your skill-set, and the rest will eventually fall into place.  Finally, in order to be your happiest and most successful self, you must foster relationships outside the office with other amazing beings.  Whether you're a wife, a girlfriend, or a single gal doing her best to be a fabulous friend, it's important to surround yourself with other like-minded people who support your ambitious endeavors and will go through the ups and downs with you. After all, anyone can ride next to you in the limo, but what you really want is someone to walk with you when the limo breaks down.
Pro-fashionals are dynamic in their own right. They can work the 9-to-5, bring home the bacon and cook dinner for their family, but know the best restaurants in town for to-go tiramisu.  My challenge to women is this: don't let the fusion of grace, skill and compassion fizzle out of corporate America.  Set goals and reach them, but do it with the pro-fashional mantra: stepping on people to climb to the top of the ladder will only scuff your Italian leather soles.

By Logan Brittany Reichart | Guest Blogger (first posted on June 26, 2013)