Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Cherry on Top

Earlier this morning, I was in Starbucks when I heard "Find You" by Nick Jonas playing over the speaker. I eerily felt a stirring in my spirit that was much more than the usual butterfly feeling I get when hearing a Nick Jonas song (no shame in my game!). But, I let my mind drift and didn't think much more about it. Later on, I was looking through my "on this day last year" photos on Snapchat and realized that this day last year was when I met Nick Jonas. Suddenly, I realized that prompting I felt when hearing his song earlier in the day was a reminder from the Holy Spirit of all the goodness God brought to my life since that day one whole year ago.

Two days after meeting Nick, I went to my first Meta Church meeting and met the people who would soon become my NYC fam. Then two days after that, I started the internship at InTouch and Life & Style that got me into the publishing  company where I now work full time for FIRST for Women and Woman's World. Ain’t God good!!!

But, the part of this story that isn’t as blog-worthy is that a week before all this, I was sitting at a coffee shop relentlessly job searching and feeling defeated, worthless, and weak. With tears in my eyes, I asked God, for what felt like the millionth time, to just bring me friends and a job. I was met with silence and all I could hear was the enemy as he whispered over and over, “You’re just not cut out for this city. You don’t belong here. There’s nothing here for you.”

If only I could have known in that moment that in only one more week, everything would fall into place. Luckily, I kept fighting. Because God already had it all figured out for me—He just wanted it to be a surprise.

Moral of the story: Even on your worst days, God is always up to something. Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom (and mistakenly believing the devil’s lies) before we start looking up. Maybe it won’t all come together for you exactly how this part of my life did for me, but I can promise that if you just keep fighting and start asking Him what’s next, He’ll start answering. Look up more often and the blessings will start coming down. And maybe He’ll throw in a meet-and-greet with Nick Jonas just as the cherry on top. 🍒✨

Second moral of the story: Even God likes surprises and cherries on top... just keep holding out for yours. It might just be only a week away :-)

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Life After the Wilderness

When I moved to New York City over five months ago, I came with no real plans after the first two months. I knew what I wanted to happen, but I truly didn’t even know if I would get to stay past those two months. But, God has done tremendous things for me during my time here, and I know I’m exactly where He wants me to be. Living inside His will for your life is the most refreshing and rewarding place to be, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here.

This past month, in a Bible study for a church plant that I’ve been going to, we’ve been talking through a series called “Braving the Wilderness” – meaning: a season of life when you don’t know what is on the other side or how you’ll get through – super fitting for me, considering for the past several months, I’ve had no clue what I was even going to be doing the very next day. For someone like me who is such a planner, I struggled with not having a plan and feeling like I didn’t have anything to live for. Every day consisted of me waking up, job searching, eating, job searching, sleeping, job searching. I was walking around completely lost in my wilderness, all while living in the city of my dreams. You can imagine it was a very weird place to be. Finally, I came to the conclusion that my worrying wasn’t helping – if anything, it was making things worse by proving that I hadn’t learned yet what I needed to about trusting God. If the whole point of my waiting/wilderness period was to learn how to trust Him, how would I ever be able to by continuously fretting over something that was truly completely out of my control? By trying to control it, I was keeping it to myself instead of letting Him take over. So, I stopped. I continued to job search, but I started to do it with confidence, instead of fear. And, I decided that I didn’t want anything that He didn’t want me to have. So, when I wouldn’t hear back from a place I applied or if I got an interview, but then got a rejection email back, I didn’t feel rejected or not good enough. Instead, I felt a peace and thankfulness knowing that God was keeping me from something that wasn’t for me.

Finally, at the beginning of October, I landed an Editorial internship for InTouch, Life & Style, and Closer Weekly magazines with Bauer Publishing. This was a great experience. The magazine industry is a wild place, but a weekly magazine is even wilder. Watching stories and interviews go from Word documents to emails to printed pages in a magazine with insanely strict/short deadlines is such a crazy, cool thing. They have things printed 
before it’s even published on some Internet news outlets. 
It was awesome to see that happen in real time.

Then, I finally got an email back from another magazine published by Bauer with an Editorial Assistant position open that I had been stalking since April. I landed an interview, which I thought went incredibly well. I talked with a few of the editors for over two hours about all the amazing things God has done in my life just this year – What kind of interview is that even?! – It was probably one of the most beautiful conversations I’ve had in a while. After doing an edit/writing test, I finally heard back that I got the job. I’m over the moon excited to say that I’m the newest Editorial Assistant for Simple Grace magazine – the world’s first inspirational monthly magazine and Christian devotional all in one. It would truly be an understatement to say that this is an answer to prayers because it’s not just an answer, but also an abundant blessing. My prayer was just for a job, but this is a job where I get to use my words for more than just entertainment purposes. I get to write about God’s goodness and motivate, inspire, and encourage readers to hang onto His everlasting promises knowing that His ways are higher and His plans are greater 
– in the same way that I’ve learned to do. 

In our “Braving the Wilderness” series, our Pastor said last week, 
Could it be that the very thing that God is keeping you away from is the very thing that He knows would actually keep you from Him if you had it? Could this be the thing that He knows if He gave it to you, you wouldn’t want anything from Him? Out of His grace, love, and protection, He withholds it from you because He recognizes that the best thing you could have is not success in your career, not money in your bank account, not a relationship. The best thing you could have is Him. He chooses not to give it to you because it’s not the time and you aren’t capable of stewarding it well.” 
After hearing that, I realized how precious the time was that I got to spend wandering around in that wilderness for those few months. I had no plans, nobody, no purpose, no money (sorry, Mom!), no distractions, no schedule, nothing. It was just me and God. Every day was a new day I got to spend solely with Him leading me step by step to what would become my future. He had a plan when I didn’t. He knew who I needed and sent them to me. He knew the purpose, but was waiting until I learned to fully trust Him before He revealed it to me because He knew I wasn’t ready then.

The wilderness is a scary, unsettling place to be, but it’s also an incredibly necessary place for us to spend time occasionally. The wilderness comes in many shapes and sizes, and it’s different for everyone. It comes in the form of damaged relationships, dead ends, instability, bankruptcy, the unknown, confusion of identity, broken-heartedness, disappointment, failure, etc., etc. It’s whatever the enemy tries to use to bring us down and make us lose sight of what God has in store for us. It’s the devil’s attempt at making us feel unworthy of God’s blessings. It’s during this time that we have two options: choose to do it our own way and stay lost in the wilderness or let go of what we think is best and walk blindly holding onto the hand of Jesus leading us to the light at the end of that tunnel.

Most times, the shouts of the enemy are louder than the voice of God. And, being in the wilderness gives us time to learn how to discern God’s quiet whispers from the devil’s raspy words. We are given a time of isolation to sit in silence and learn how to hear what it is that He wants us to hear. 
The wilderness is about finding your identity and allowing God to 
show you who He has made you to be.

All we have to do is follow His lead, and trust that He will not only get us to the other side, but He will give us what He promised from the beginning. No matter what twist and turn we may face when in our wilderness, we can have no doubt about the fact that our God isn’t afraid of that wilderness. He knows what is at every bend, and we can rest assured knowing who we have on our side. When we finally make it to the other side, we’ll be able to look back and remember that when we had nothing, He gave us everything.

Can't wait to keep telling my story that He's writing 
in this city that I finally get to really call mine. :-)

(Click HERE to listen to the "Braving the Wilderness" series 
by Ricky Ortiz for Meta Church NYC)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Hi, New York!

I’ve been here for three and a half weeks now, and it still doesn’t seem real. I love this place more now than I did before, and I didn't even think that'd be possible. There’s so much I have to say right now, but I really don’t think I’ll even have all the words. 

It seems almost every day, I somehow get the opportunity to tell someone how God helped me get to this city, and each time, after telling them exactly how all of this happened, they’re so shocked. And, each of these times is a continuous reminder that I didn’t just get here my chance or by accident. I didn’t just figure all of this out on my own. My wish to be in this city didn’t just so happen to be granted. But rather, my relentless prayers, my deepest desires, my hopeful dreams were heard by my God who already knew where my heart was and had already had this in His plans for my life. He so mercifully orchestrated this entire situation to occur at just the right time, so I could be as ready as ever to get here, put my heart out on the streets, and show each person that I come in contact with the love that Jesus has for them.
On the first night that I went into the city by myself, I got completely turned around. Considering it was the FIRST time I was out alone, I naturally began freaking out thinking that I’d never find my way out of this maze and I was lost in the subway tunnels forever… I got on the wrong train and I didn’t realize it until it had gone halfway in the wrong direction. I got off, walked up the stairs and then down to the platform on the other side to go back in the right direction. My heart was racing - still not knowing if I was at the right place or if this next train would get me where I was supposed to go - and I shot up a prayer asking God to show me if this was where I was supposed to be. Immediately, I heard music. A lady right down the platform was singing in a beautiful voice. I realized right away what the song was, and it took everything in me not to burst into tears. She was singing “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. My absolute favorite song - the song that inspired the name of my blog and the song that helped me find my true passion in life during my freshman year of college. An indescribable peace washed over me, and Jesus told me that I was right where I needed to be - He didn’t just mean at the right subway. He meant the right place, the right city, the right church, the right people, the right host-momma - it was all right. It was going to be alright. I made it home safely that night and I didn’t stop smiling the entire way there.
The Journey Church does a thing that they call “SE”, which stands for Servant Evangelism where they get a group together and stand on a street corner near the theatre where the church meets and pass out a chewy granola bar with a card of info about the church and whatever the message is going to be about for the upcoming Sunday. We just make eye contact, smile, and say “would you like a free granola bar?” over and over and over until we run out of chewy granola bars. We did this one day when Jamie was in town, and it ended up being such a rewarding experience. After the first few times of people actually accepting what we’re offering and then coming back to ask questions - and then actually seeing them again on SUNDAY AT CHURCH is such a beautiful thing! Serving them, giving them something to nourish their body, and offering a smile - which is something they honestly may not get anywhere else that day - is the most humbling feeling and fills me with real happiness.
We have a mission team here this week from Tennessee, and it’s been such a joy meeting them and getting to know them. I got a chance to share a devo with them on Wednesday about the Great Commission, and then we went out to a playground to clean it up. I got to lead them there and show them how to use the bus for their first time, which made me feel like I really knew what I was doing. Haha. Once we got there, we went straight over to the park area and started picking weeds. We picked SO many weeds. It’s actually comical how many weeds we picked. And if you know me, you know that wearing gardening gloves and picking weeds in 90 degree heat is the last thing I want to be doing at any given moment... 

I bet you’re probably laughing right now at the thought of me picking weeds. And it’s fine that you laugh because I’m laughing as I’m writing this - as a matter of fact, I was laughing while I was picking those weeds because never in my life would I have thought I’d be picking weeds… at a park… in New York City… But, there I was… picking away… then I told God, “Hey, are you seeing this? Do you see me right now? Picking these weeds? You gotta be kidding.” I laughed out loud - and I promise you, I heard Him laugh, too. Then I said, “I didn’t think I came all the way to New York City to pick weeds…” and then He said, “But, would you? Maggie, would you pick weeds in New York City for me?” And somehow - right there, in that 90 degree heat - my body managed to get chills. Chills everywhere, as I realized that He DID see me, and picking those weeds was exactly what He wanted me to do. Then I found myself singing - actually out loud - “Oh no, You never let go, through the calm and through the storm. Oh no, You never let go, in every high and every low. Oh no, You never let go. Lord, You never let go of me” in between my laughs and weed-picks - because of course, I would. Of course, I would pick weeds in New York City for you, Lord. I would pick weeds every day for the rest of my life if it meant those children in that park would somehow see you through me and someday come to feel the love you have for them. The park manager came out and took a picture of the weed-pickin’ we had done, and said it was the best job he’d ever seen. I’ll admit - as someone who usually doesn’t even notice weeds - we did a pretty darn good job pickin’ those weeds. 
Today I got to do more SE and to be completely honest, I was dreading it - only because of how hot it was outside, and I was wearing jeans… not such a good combination. But, I set out with three guys from the mission team to pass out the chewy granola bars and info cards. This time, I ran through my box of 120 granola bars in less than 30 minutes because of how receptive the people were. I realized as I was standing there on that street corner with the biggest smile on my face - a smile that I truly didn’t have to force - that I was made to love these people. Seeing their faces light up at the mere mention of the words “free granola bar” is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. You’d think we just handed them a million dollars. But, I think it’s just because usually, they have to give up something to receive anything in this city, whether it be money, time, energy - everything costs them something - except for this granola bar that I got to place in their hands. We left when we ran out of granola bars. But, I came back a few hours later with two ladies and two teenage boys from the mission team. We passed out 600 more granola bars, each one complete with a smile and a “have a good day!” - I’m truly getting to love these people like Jesus would if He were still physically here in His human body - and this brings me so. much. joy. A man walked by and said, “You should get some water!” and the boy from the mission team pulled out his phone and told me that it was 92 degrees - but, I didn’t even feel hot. In fact, I had been feeling a wonderful breeze blowing right around me the entire two hours that I was standing there. I looked up and saw Jesus smiling down on me - sending that breeze right in my direction.
Now that I know that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, I feel completely whole inside. Occasionally I’m a little lonely, but that’s just part of it. I think God wants me to live solely dependent on Him - truly experiencing what it’s like to have nobody but Him. I think that is such a beautiful season of life to be in. I find myself talking to Him significantly more, and asking Him questions and truly waiting on an answer. I find myself searching for His comfort, and actually feeling Him wrap His arms around me or slide into the empty seat beside me on the train. I feel His presence because there’s nobody else around to fill His space. I’m developing such a true friendship with Him, as I’m really hearing Him speak words to me. And, I laugh when I catch myself singing an old favorite praise song as I realize that He put those lyrics in my mind to whisper to Him in worship while I’m waiting at the bus stop. 
It’s just so hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that God actually wants to share so many of these one-on-one moments with just me, that I’m special enough to ride a bus and a train to meet Him in this city for quality time every day, that He is confident to send me all alone because He trusts that I will be there each time He calls my name. 
I couldn’t do this without Him because without Him, there would be no purpose for me to be here. He is the reason that this city speaks such volumes to my soul, and it’s all because of His stirring in my heart that I was able to meet this place two and a half years ago, fall in love with it, and now finally get to feel it love me back. I have so much love to give, but only because of the outpouring of His love that fills my heart each day. 
I’m so incredibly excited to see what all else He has in store.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Nothing but Noonday

On the first day of my summer internship several weeks ago, I was given an entire introduction to the Noonday Collection when I was approached by a Noonday Ambassador and familiar face, Nancy Scott. At first, she just explained it as a simple jewelry line that she thought I would like to do a blog post about. She ran out to her car, grabbed a catalog, set it on my desk, and said something along the lines of "Just let me know if you'd be interested!" As soon as I started to flip through the pages, I realized this wasn't just a simple jewelry line. This jewelry had a purpose and a plan. Not only is this jewelry absolutely to die for, but it has a reason. It exists to change lives. 

Upon borrowing several of her pieces and wearing them around, I also began learning more of what the Noonday Collection is all about. She had a trunk show last week that I was excited to be able to attend. It was so great to hear the passion in her voice as we sat on the front porch and talked about the impact that Noonday has on so many lives all around the world. 

Why Noonday?
Noonday is making a difference in many countries and giving jobs to people who otherwise wouldn't have one. From India, to South America, to several places in Africa, Noonday partners with fair trade companies. Everything you can buy was made in good working conditions and never involves slave labor. Many of the businesses that Noonday partners with employ a lot of women, and when women are employed, they're usually using their money to feed their families. The Noonday community helps to give women an opportunity to do what they were created to do: love, care, support, and cherish their children.   

Last February, Nancy and some others did an adoption show. For these types of shows, Noonday gives 10% of all sales straight to the adopting family. Nancy then matched the percentage, so the family received 20% of the sales of the show. The adopting mother says, "I think right after that we had a payment due close to that same amount. I remember it was almost to the penny the amount we had to pay to accept our referral for our passports." Not only does Noonday seek to empower those in vulnerable countries, but Noonday is also reaching out to those near us who are attempting to change the little lives of children by bringing them into their homes and making them part of their family.

"Together we create a flourishing world where children are cherished, women are empowered, people have jobs, and we are connected."

Nancy says, "Noonday has been so beautiful, put feet to my faith, and shown me so I can share with others that everybody has worth and value, and we should expect that they be treated as such."

 The jewelry is all made from materials found in these countries or by the people there. Bullet casings scattered across fields in Ethiopia are used to mix with metals and melted down to form glittery beads. In Guatemala, bead looms are created out of nails and a plank of wood where they string together the colorful beaded cuff bracelets. Women in Peru use the softest wool yarns to created beautiful embroidery that is crafted to make bags. Artisans in India design the hardware for many of the metal necklaces handmade from scratch. The delicate horn jewelry is generated in Vietnam, Tagua seeds from Ecuador, foot pedal sewing in Rwanda, and my personal favorite, the paper beads in Uganda. Just this past month, Noonday launched the Impact Uganda Giveback program where 10% of sales on paper beads will be given to social programs there, and they've already raised over $22,000. A new "end of season" sale will start next month. Stay tuned for the many great deals that will be going on then! 

Noonday develops relationships, offers long term employment, and transforms lives one piece of jewelry at a time.

Check out the Noonday Collection website here to read more incredibly empowering stories from those who have directly benefited from this great community. Shop the jewelry there as well to see all the perfect handmade treasures you can wear as a reminder that God has a plan and a purpose for each and every one of us.

Can't wait to see you rockin' your 
Noonday jewels soon! :-)

Contact Nancy Scott at if you would like to host a trunk show for special rewards or if you'd like you join her team as 
a Noonday Ambassador.

*All photos taken by Michael David Productions*

Monday, June 27, 2016

A Summer of the Saint

When scouring the Internet for fashion tips and trends, it’s always inevitable that my searching will lead me to a designers website, then to a video of the runway show of another designer, then to an article about a different designer’s newest collection and so on. The other day, my hunting led me to a recap video of the Saint Laurent spring 2016 ready-to-wear collection. I remember this collection being one of my favorites during fashion week. Ever since this line was released, I’ve been incredibly inspired by the beige trench coats and leather and denim jackets thrown over the dresses, and the bomber jackets and blazers over the skirts. There’s just something about the camouflage army jacket atop a sparkly gold mini dress complete with a crown on messy, wavy hair that speaks to my feminist soul. It’s as if these outfits themselves confidently proclaim to any woman wearing them, “You got this!”
Here, I started with one of my favorite graphic animal T-shirts. Mine features a gentle elephant, a few daisies and a little Aztec print design, but I would definitely suggest spicing it up with a fierce animal for a more hardcore statement piece of the outfit. I’ve always loved a good gladiator sandal. I purchased these specific ones several years ago, but because they are currently so trendy, there are so many beautiful pairs out there to choose from. If you know me, you know I also love a good cross-body bag, especially if you can rock a brightly colored one to add the perfect pop of color to any neutral based outfit.
Another must-have staple item is a simple plain black skirt and the reason for this being because it can be mixed and matched a million times over. Finding a few pieces that can effortlessly be absorbed into your wardrobe and worn many times without being recognized is a precious piece of clothing in the eyes of any Fashionista. If it’s as hot where you are as it is where I am, you probably can’t even fathom the thoughts of topping your outfit off with a jacket in this summer heat. But I always find myself a little chilly around the office during my work days, so I try to remember to grab some kind of lightweight coat on my way out the door. Saint Laurent proved with this collection that a light jacket still makes for a fabulous accessory even in the warmer weather.
Therefore, Fashionistas, go forth and be inspired by the slip dresses, silk, fur, patchwork denim, sequins, grunge and glitter even in the midst of the warm sunshine. Well done, Saint Laurent. Well done.

Get My Look: 1. A graphic animal T-shirt. 2. A simple black skirt. 3. Light jacket.
Style On®,
Maggie Dillard
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A Stylish Summer

What’s up, party people?! I’m back with CollegeFashionista for a summer of fun, fashionable things. 
Here is my new Style Guru Bio for the summer semester!
 If you ask anyone who knows me what I like to do, you would most likely get answers ranging from shopping, getting a manicure, laughing with friends, drinking coffee and going on road trips. But, if you asked anyone who knows me what I love to do, there is no doubt in my mind what each person would say, and that is: write. This is typically something people assume as soon as they hear that I’m an English major, and something that furthers their assumption when hearing that my minor focuses on journalism. To which their next question is usually, “What do you like to write about?” This is where the fun part starts. As I have always loved to write, I have also always loved fashion. I currently live vicariously through my favorite fashion bloggers on the daily, but especially in September and March during fashion week when I find myself going shopping the very next day searching for tops, bottoms and shoes similar to what my favorite models strutted down the runways the day before.

 Flipping the pages of Vogue magazine feels like medicine to my soul and tends to inspire me to no end. A huge part of what I do and how I live is directly effected by the fashion that surrounds me, whether I discover it in my Instagram feed, in a magazine or adorning the bodies of my classmates in my literature classes. CollegeFashionista has provided me with a means of combining my two favorite things into one, and it has been the best ever.
My own personal style changes by the day and my mood. Some days I find myself leaning towards an all black, sleek and chic Kardashian-Jenner ensemble, while other days I feel as if I can’t get enough of an eye-catching, colorful print or pattern. I’m all about a good trend, especially a comfortable one, so I was pretty pumped when jogger pants made their way into the fashion world recently. They can easily be dressed up or down and perfect for on-the-go wear.
I’m a firm believer that pain is beautiful when it comes to a steep, stiletto wedge, but I owe my everything to all of the little platform wedges out there that have finally given ‘comfortable’ and ‘wedge’ a way to be said in the same sentence, while also remaining just as fashionable as ever. Pair the joggers and platform wedges with a simple tank, just the right choker necklace and an everyday cross-body bag and you have what I call my “Go-To.”
This is my second semester as a Style Guru for CollegeFashionista and needless to say, I’m so ready to bring all of the most stylish summer trends right to the table! Stay #RAD.

Style On®,
Maggie Dillard

Content originally created for and published on

Simple to Superstar

Oftentimes when searching to find the perfect accessories combination to put over an outfit, I catch myself thinking, “Wait, is this too much?” But when I found this Fashionista, I was inspired by how naturally she had turned a simple, neutral tank top and jeans mix into a high quality, stylish outfit due solely to her brilliant way of accessorizing.

This Fashionista chose a black tank and white ripped jeans as the base of her outfit. Pairing a top with a bottom on opposite ends of the color spectrum adds a nice element to any outfit. She enhances the look with a bright red flannel for a pop of color, and it works well to also add a sense of liveliness to the outfit as a whole. 
Whoever says flannels can only be worn in the fall around a bonfire didn’t know about all the other ways you can actually wear one. Tying it around the waist is another effortlessly cool way to rock it. She layered a significant amount of necklaces at all different lengths to create a pattern over her plain top. Next, she slipped on several bracelets, rings and a watch because the more the merrier, right? Also, as seen here, any type of chic cross-body purse makes for a practical, yet still fashionable, way to to wear a bag across campus. For shoes, she stuck with a simple black ankle bootie in an effort to not take away from all of the other accessories within the look. She topped it all off with a pair of sleek reading glasses that, not only make reading books for class a little easier, but are truly another perfect accessory to make any outfit complete!
How to: Challenge yourself to use at least one of each kind of accessory to dress up your plain outfits. There’s no need to question the power of good accessories. Throw them all on and watch your look go from simple to superstar in a matter of seconds!

Style On®,
Maggie Dillard

Content originally created for and published on