June Recap

Guys, I'm not even going to lie. I did not keep track of June. There was so much that happened that I don't even know where to begin. I wasn't keeping track of my favorite websites, or favorites, and the only reason I have so many purchases is because most of my purchases was on Amazon, so. There's not much else to say, I think just about everyone feels mentally drained from all that happened in June, but maybe drained in a good way. The way where you pushed yourself to learn, to grow, to be a better person and now maybe you just need a self-care day. You're not alone, I'm right there with you.


Fab Fit Fun Summer Box Reveal + Discount Codes

You know it's a good mail day when you get your Fab Fit Fun box. Perfect timing too with the self-quarantine we're all doing. I got some really great beauty products in my summer box and I've already used most of them! These boxes are so much fun to get because even though you can customize part of the box, you still get some great surprises.

I'm so proud to be a #FabFitFunAffiliate and happy to share my discount link with all of you today. I'm sharing all of the products that came in my box and you can find all of these products on Amazon, but here's the thing- 99% of these products cost MORE than the actual box subscription. Sign up today by clicking this link here for $10 off your first order!

Fab Fit Fun Summer Box Reveal + Discount Codes
Fab Fit Fun Summer Box Reveal + Discount Codes


 CLICK THE LINK HERE for $10 off your first order!


Fab Fit Fun Summer Box Reveal + Discount Codes
Fab Fit Fun Summer Box Reveal + Discount Codes
Fab Fit Fun Summer Box Reveal + Discount Codes
Fab Fit Fun Summer Box Reveal + Discount Codes
Fab Fit Fun Summer Box Reveal + Discount Codes
Fab Fit Fun Summer Box Reveal + Discount Codes
Fab Fit Fun Summer Box Reveal + Discount Codes
Fab Fit Fun Summer Box Reveal + Discount Codes





My Quarantine In Snapshots Part Three

Even though I've been working from home, I have had a lot more time to post on social media. I have, quite frankly, been killing it in the Instagram story game and since that's the best way to get a glimpse of my day I figured I would compile all of those snapshots in one place. Click here to view part one and click here to view part three and be sure to follow me on Instagram @michelekatsaris for more content!

I Interviewed Foster Parent, Amanda Carpenter

I shared this on my Instagram about a week ago, but this interview, though it was done late last year, was originally scheduled for May. Due to the pandemic we had to halt the production and postpone some articles, this being one of them. However, I am so happy and proud that this article ended up coming out in June. When I first interviewed Amanda, she shared some of the racial injustices that are happening in the foster care system. Her interview is just as important today as it was when I first interviewed her. I highly recommend checking out Amanda's blog as she shares her experiences being a foster parent. Click her to listen to my podcast with Amanda.

*Disclaimer: To start off, I work at Salvation Army National Headquarters in the publications department. The magazine I work on is called War Cry. I will be doing a post later on about my job and what it's like working for a non-profit, but that post will be later on. I do feel I need to add a disclaimer here, I am not a religious person so when I took this job I did my research and made sure that my personal values and opinions weren't being compromised. I can proudly say they are not (don't let one idiot skew your opinion of the millions of people who work for a company) and I'm pretty proud of the work and accomplishments I've made while working here. I am the Assistant to the Editorial Director, but I do so much more than an assistant's work. My managers have really entrusted me with a lot of responsibility and anything I can do to enhance my skill set and build my portfolio I take the opportunity to do so. Though I am not a religious person, the people I do interview are and the questions recall faith-inspired answers.



I Interviewed Foster Parent, Amanda Carpenter


Photo Credits: Raina Jo Photography

“This is a non-negotiable for me. If you’re going to date me, you have to accept that this is a big part of my life.” At a young age, Amanda Carpenter knew that she was going to be a foster parent one day. It was a deep connection for the foster care system that fueled her passion for wanting to be the best mentor and foster parent for children in the system. Amanda shares her experiences, learned lessons and advice with War Cry.
How did your “Space Workshops” begin and what do they consist of?
I wrote a 30-day devotional for women called “Space,” about a year ago. It was born out of a season in my life where I was so stressed out, overwhelmed and exhausted. Maybe on the outside, it looked as though I was perfectly fine, but internally, I was really struggling. As Christian women, we do a lot of things. I serve at my church, I’m a foster mom and I’m a wife. I was being applauded for all of these things I was doing, and of course, they’re good things. But yet, I felt like God was saying, “I want you to quit all of it. I want you to let go of all of it.” Even with God saying this to me, I felt like I had to push through it. I almost started to believe the lie that perhaps we have to experience pain and misery to really be following Jesus, but that’s not the case at all. This was actually the enemy’s way of distracting and beating me down. And so, through a series of self-reflection that I did, came this 30-day devotional where I had totally transformed my life, not on my own, but with the Holy Spirit. I learned how to say “No,” without feeling regret. I learned that we cannot do the work of God to the point where we’re killing the work of God in us. I learned that if I show up to serve at church with a terrible attitude, I’m not serving to my fullest ability. I had to learn these things myself before I could share these lessons with others.
When I created the devotional, it really took off. It began to spread like wildfire. Out of nowhere copies were selling out in a day. Before I knew it, I had people reaching out to me asking if I would speak at churches or women’s events. Then speaking engagements turned into three to five-hour-long workshops. In these workshops, we break down the 30-day devotional and practice the steps to create space in their lives. We work on reflection prompts, have a time of worship and experience slowing down and stillness with God. One of the things I do with the women, that a lot of them find pretty awkward and uncomfortable, is we sit for three minutes with complete silence. They can have their eyes closed or sit however they want to sit, but it has to be absolute silence. We take those three minutes to be still with the Lord. This practice is the most important because people struggle with being still and through these workshops, I’ve learned I’m not the only one who struggles with this. 
Once you started to carve out time to be with the Lord, did you have a better understanding of who God wanted you to be?
I think so, but I had to work through a lot of what I’ve been told to believe about God and who I knew God to be. I constantly tried to change myself so that I would be the woman that I thought God needed me to be, which was a soft-spoken, tender, and mild, but that’s not me. I’m just not that woman. And so, for a long time, I had to work through that. I had to spend time in God’s word and prayer. It was a struggle and something I had to work on, but it’s a lot clearer to me now than when I was younger.
Do you share that same outlook with your foster children when introducing them to the Lord?
Yes. I am a big fan of teaching that God loves them for who they are, not who they think they should be. The earlier you can understand that, the better. My husband and I currently have three boys with us, and we go to church as a family, talk about Jesus and pray together all the time. I never try to force something on them, because I know kids rebel when we try to force things, so I try to have them become curious about the topic and open to asking questions. We start engaging conversations with questions such as, “What do you think about God? Do you think God is with you at all times? What do you think?” We also teach them how Jesus lived and how we should try to follow his example to have forgiveness and grace. Our faith is very much a part of our lives and we don’t want to keep it from our kids, but I think we’re cautious about our language and how we approach the topic. We encourage them to ask questions and we love listening to what they have to say. 
How did you become a foster parent? Was it something you felt that God was pulling you towards or was it something you always wanted to do?
I was very young when I experienced domestic violence in my home and God made it so clear to me that not every child has a safe and stable environment to grow up in. As I grew older, the connection I had to the foster system grew in my heart. By the time I was in college, I knew that I was going to be a foster parent someday. I fully believe it was a calling from God. When I met my husband, it was non-negotiable, I was honest and told him, “Just so you know, this is going to be a part of my life. So, I’d rather not continue dating if you don’t see yourself as a foster parent.” It was, absolutely going to be the way that I lived my life.
Do you think if you hadn’t met your husband that it was something you were doing to do by yourself?
Absolutely, yes.
What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learned from being a foster parent?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned about is racial injustices. My family is multi-racial as are most of the foster children we take in. Too often we enter foster care thinking we’re going to take care of this sweet little baby, but we then start to place judgement on birth parents or creating stories our own that we’ve written about them, instead of loving them the way Jesus would. We should have grace and mercy towards them, and realize that we are sinners just like them, we are no better. We have to foster the whole family, not just the children. 
Another part of living in the city of Chicago is that there is a disproportionate number of children of color in the system. This is something that I’m really passionate about and  want to see change. One day, I want to see no kids in the system. I also want women of color to receive treatment rather than a sentence. Right now, white women who have a drug problem, for example, receive treatment while their kids are cared for. People of color don’t always receive the same treatment, but instead, receive a sentence and so there is undeniable racism in our system. So, now that I know it, I can’t un-see it. I can’t ignore it. I have to do something. Changing this injustice has now become a part of my work.
What would you like to see improve in the foster care system?
The biggest thing I want to see change is for the whole system to become more holistic. I would like to see children being cared for while their parents get the help they need. There is time for it, but in general I think it would be great to see how we could partner with parents more. How we could do more preventative work and how we can take a more holistic approach to all of this instead of creating a huge trauma by removing a kid. I’ve seen parents get really depressed, and then it looks like they don’t want their child because they’re not actually taking any steps towards progress. But in reality, they’re just so depressed that they’ve just lost their child. They’re just, they’re done for. 
I’ve actually read on studies that women who have to go through drug rehab, actually complete the program and tend to succeed and come out and stay sober and clean, by being able to do that program while keeping their child. Versus a woman who’s addicted to drugs, her child being taken away, and then she’s supposed to complete rehab. I mean, the success rate of a woman whose child is removed is insanely different. It’s drastically decreased from a mother who’s able to keep her child with her. It’s made me see the system in a different way and I know it’s easier said than done and it’s something that would require a complete overhaul of the system, but I would love to see it happen someday. 
I Interviewed Foster Parent, Amanda Carpenter

How did you become a foster parent?
My husband and I received our license through the state of Illinois, and we found an agency that we felt would be good to work with. The agency is called Kaleidoscope, here in Chicago. They are a specialized agency that only takes in children who have severe medical or behavioral challenges. There is already a need for foster parents, but there’s kind of a tier within that. The most vulnerable kids tend to not be placed in homes, but rather left to sit in psych wards waiting.
Have you ever had a foster fail–a child that you wanted to officially adopt?
Yeah, it was actually our first placement–twin little girls. For a variety of reasons, it didn’t happen. The girls were wonderful, and we loved them, but we felt that we weren’t doing the best job possible. Or as good of a job that we could have been doing if we had partnered with their mother. Even though it was one of the most painful experiences to go through, they needed to return home at some point. Now, the beautiful thing is, we continue to see our girls and have a very close relationship with their biological mother. We plan their birthday parties together, make arrangements to spend time with them and even help out if they need rides to and from school. Their mom is thriving, and it’s beautiful to see all of the redemption because there are so many layers to it. It has been truly life-changing. But yes, I would say that’s been a fail turned most beautiful thing ever, because it’s a success story.
Foster parents often struggle with behavior problems that are formed early on in childhood. How do you cope with that?
Trauma is real, and we have to remember that their behavior is not a child being “bad,” but rather a child who is hurting. Trauma manifests itself in crazy ways. I go to counseling to cope. Our boys all have therapists that come to our home. That’s one of the perks of our agency; they provide therapy for all their kids. I also go to trauma trainings and read a lot of books that talk about trauma and behavior. The first thing we have to do, howeber, is work on ourselves. We can’t control anyone else. Instead of getting angry at a child for misbehaving, we practice patience and understanding. Although I sometimes feel like I’m being too easy on them, I see results that I want, which are the desired behavior and a healthy attachment.
Was there ever a point where you felt like you couldn’t do this? If so, how did God help you change your mind?
Absolutely! I have felt so incapable, so inadequate, so frustrated and wanted to quit numerous times. And we have taken breaks between placements to refocus on ourselves. That’s a good time of healing for us, to prepare for the next trial. But also, in that time is when I feel that my relationship with God is essential. It’s about finding time, even a moment, to sit and read the Bible, journal, pray and just re-center myself. I have to focus on letting go of things that happened, things that the kids said or did and have to prepare my heart for what’s coming. I have found that time with God is a proactive measure that I can take when it comes to fighting against the enemy, or just my selfish desires and my sin.
What type of support system do you have and how has the church helped you in being a foster parent?
My husband and I have a phenomenal community here in Chicago because of our church. Unlike the rest of society that doesn’t view foster parenting as equivalent to traditional parenting, our church did. And in fact, they rallied around us. We had never been parents before which is unique because a lot of foster parents foster after they’re done having biological children. Our church supported and rallied around us when we were moving into this new phase of our lives.
What have you seen God do in your foster children?
So many amazing things! I would say it’s no linear journey, but I think we have witnessed transformation happening right before our eyes. We watch healing happen and it’s so beautiful. We stay in touch with almost all of our kids who have  reunited with their biological parents or relatives, and that’s a rewarding role to play in their lives. 
What is your biggest piece of advice for other people who are considering becoming foster parents?
My biggest advice would be to make sure you’re fully informed. Make sure you know what you’re stepping into because I would hate for someone to jump inunaware and then end up hurting, rather than helping the child or family more in the process. I also think that if you have a partner going into this, make sure that you are united. There is nothing worse than having a child enter a home that’s not united. Lastly, pray about it. There are a lot of ways to be an advocate for life after birth. Foster care is one of those ways.
I Interviewed Foster Parent, Amanda Carpenter


CONNECT WITH AMANDA
Purchase her 30-devotional, “Space,” where she helps you create space in your life and grow closer to God.
May Recap

I would be lying if I said May wasn't a struggle for me. I don't want to dive too deep into it, but I do want to be transparent because life is not perfect. My blog is a reflection of my good moments and though I don't want to document the bad things I do want to note that I am human (I know, shocker). Something my boyfriend told me this month is, "You expect a lot from people you love, because you give so much to people. So when people don't come through for you, you're extremely hurt by it. It's a good and bad thing." When he said this to me it was like a lightbulb went off. I never realized that about myself and this also ties into the whole "treat others the way you want to be treated," because I can safely say I have not been treated the way I want to be treated by others. This can be so negative for your mental health if you realize you've been extremely positive and nice to others and yet you've been crapped on lately. Because of this my anxiety has been through the roof and I've been in a fog most of May. And to be honest... I'm over it. Snapping out of this isn't a 24-hour thing. It takes a lot of work, but I realized even though this quarantine is slowly coming to an end, I'm going to need a break from everyone else. Hopefully when June rolls around I'll have some more positive messages to share, but honestly not every month or day is great. And you have to work hard to be a better version of yourself. I would love any recommendations you may have (comment down below) for ways to get out of this negative mindset.


May Recap
May Recap
Facebook Giveaway!

I've been hinting and slowly advertising a giveaway but I wanted to make an official announcement here on the blog. I wanted to do a Facebook giveaway when the Michele, One L Facebook page reached 500 likes organically. You guys are awesome and we reached that in less than a month! Thank you is simply not enough so today we are giving away a bag of my favorite things! This bag, filled with over $150 worth of product, is filled with beauty products, tech favorites and everyday lifestyle items such as a bluetooth speaker, candles, silicone straws, perfume and lotions, lip mask, travel jewelry case, notebooks, an art canvas, picture frames, cell phone case, card games and more!!!! To enter-the rules are simple.

Facebook Giveaway!

Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Fake Tropical Vacation

Today we are testing out the fourth and final viral Tik Tok photo shoot, the fake tropical vacation photos. I am not a Tik Tok user, but I see things on other social media platforms that come from Tik Tok. Some of my favorite videos I've seen are at home photo shoots with everyday household items. Morgan Yates. I've seen these before, but Morgan's came out so nice, I wanted to try it. You use plants and a bathing suit to set up photos that make it looks like you're in a tropical area. It was another one where I needed help from my boyfriend because you have to find the right placement for these props against the camera lens. I found these fake palm leaves at Target at $3 each. Normally these things are like $10-20 so I was super happy to find these ones for so cheap. Honestly, you can create these photos as long as you've got a bathing suit and some greenery.


Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Fake Tropical Vacation
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Fake Tropical Vacation
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Fake Tropical Vacation
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Fake Tropical Vacation
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Fake Tropical Vacation
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Fake Tropical Vacation
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Fake Tropical Vacation
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Fake Tropical Vacation
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Fake Tropical Vacation
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Fake Tropical Vacation
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Fake Tropical Vacation
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Fake Tropical Vacation
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Fake Tropical Vacation


I Wrote An Article: Staying Connected


The May issue of War Cry was a crazy one! I had a completed layout, but with everything going we we completely redid the magazine. It was crazy. With that, my May spread had to change too. I decided to do a schmorgesborg of influencers who contributed their thoughts, inspiration and ways they're staying connected during the quarantine. Click here to listen to the podcast featuring the millennial interviews.

*Disclaimer: To start off, I work at Salvation Army National Headquarters in the publications department. The magazine I work on is called War Cry. I will be doing a post later on about my job and what it's like working for a non-profit, but that post will be later on. I do feel I need to add a disclaimer here, I am not a religious person so when I took this job I did my research and made sure that my personal values and opinions weren't being compromised. I can proudly say they are not (don't let one idiot skew your opinion of the millions of people who work for a company) and I'm pretty proud of the work and accomplishments I've made while working here. I am the Assistant to the Editorial Director, but I do so much more than an assistant's work. My managers have really entrusted me with a lot of responsibility and anything I can do to enhance my skill set and build my portfolio I take the opportunity to do so. Though I am not a religious person, the people I do interview are and the questions recall faith-inspired answers.



As fast as they can text, millennials were sharing their concern and care for the world via social media. Influencers, celebrities, bloggers and podcasters came together to share one common message: stay inside and stay safe. War Cry talked to some influencers to see how they’re handling the quarantine, hear their words of encouragement and how they’re staying connected.


I Wrote An Article: Staying Connected

“During this season, I have really been tapping into encouraging others. When I’m able to share a positive or word of comfort to others it lifts their spirits and that lifts mine as well. I share a lot of inspirational and encouraging words and artwork on my Instagram account!” – Jena Holliday


Jena Holiday: Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest / Studio / Website


I Wrote An Article: Staying Connected

“I’ve been giving myself a break and just taking it one day at a time. When I need a mental break, I’ll put on a great rom-com and needlepoint just to take my mind off it all. I’ve also been avoiding the news for the most part and finding happy articles and videos online. I think too much sadness can really affect you. I’m trying to find the positives and a big one is being able to spend more time with my husband. We’ve been playing a lot of board games, watching a ton of movies and going for long walks together to break up the day.” – Krista Robertson

Krista Robertson: Blog / Instagram


I Wrote An Article: Staying Connected

“I’m home with my one-year old baby and my husband, who is now works from home. My daily routine hasn’t changed much, because I run my own business from home and I’ve always carried hand sanitizer with me everywhere. Nevertheless, We are trying to keep safe by washing our hands regularly, keeping to the quarantine rules, reach out to family and friends via video and phone calls, and offering food, water and prayers to the elderly and the less privileged around us. In these trying times, our trust is in the Lord who made Heaven and Earth, my family and I are holding unto God’s word in Psalm 91:1-16, ‘To anyone reading this, stay home, stay safe and put your trust in God, for He never fails, neither will He forsake His people.’ We also meditate on verse 10 and 11 which says, ‘There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.’ To anyone reading this, stay home, stay safe and hold unto God’s word for He never fails, neither will He forsake His people.”  – Chisom Felix


Chisom Felix: Facebook / Instagram


I Wrote An Article: Staying Connected

"This quarantine caught us all off guard, but it didn’t surprise God. He already saw the end–He wins. And if we are walking through this life with Him, then we win too. During these uncertain times, what gets me through is relying on what I know and what I know is that God loves us and is protecting His people. He told us in His word that fear is a lie, so I choose to operate in faith and not walk in fear through this pandemic.”  –Paige Taylor

Paige Taylor: Facebook / Instagram / Website


I Wrote An Article: Staying Connected

Stephen and Ayesha Curry have been hosting virtual praise and worship on Instagram live. Follow Stephen Curry on Instagram @stephencurry30 and Home + Hallelujah @homeandhallelujah for more devotionals and inspiration.


I Wrote An Article: Staying Connected

Actress and singer, Katie Stevens, has been hosting Instagram live sessions, called “Hold the Phone,” as a way to stay connected during this time. “This time in quarantine should still be about connection and I want to connect with all of you!” Follow Katie on Instagram for more ways to stay connected.

For more information on how to protect yourself and stay informed visit cdc.gov



Things I Have My Eye On
SHOP THE COLLAGE: BOOK | CANDLE | HAIR TOOL

You would think that since most of the shopping centers aren't open that you wouldn't be tempted to spend money, but the truth is Amazon and other online retailers are totally tempting. I've had to restrain myself from spending my whole stimulus check, but there are a few things I have waiting in my cart for a rainy day.
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall

Today we are testing out the third viral Tik Tok photo shoot, the newspaper collage wall. I am not a Tik Tok user, but I see things on other social media platforms that come from Tik Tok. Some of my favorite videos I've seen are at home photo shoots with everyday household items. My friend Ana is the one that inspired this shoot and this is my favorite one. I had this old magazine that I found at the thrift store and I knew that I wanted to use this for something but I couldn't figure out what. When I saw Ana's post it's like a lightbulb went on in my head. I knew I had to use this magazine. Originally I tried to tape these up on the wall on my balcony to have some natural light, but it was not happening. The wind was blowing, the tape wouldn't stick to the building, it as crazy. So I moved it inside, pulled out a ring light, moved some furniture and pulled some props from around the apartment. I grabbed a bottle of rosé, some flowers that I had and I realized I also had some pink and white animal crackers that matched with the rosé. I also tested out time lapse on my camera for the first time and I loved it! This shoot turned out so much better than I thought it was going to turn out, just because my original idea wasn't working. I love how imperfect this shoot turned out, the candid photos, Oliver's head interrupting the photo and the fact that the magazine pages aren't perfectly aligned.

Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall
Testing Viral Tik Tok Photo Shoots: The Newspaper Collage Wall


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