The power of positive thought: The Dress


So if you read, skimmed or just looked at the photos on my Memorial Day weekend post, then you’ve already seen the above photo (or on IG @jlynnjustad) but I’m not a fashion blogger so that’s the best photo I have of the dress that was a huge source of encouragement to be a couple of weeks ago! If you know me personally, you’re probably tired of hearing me talk about the power of positive thought haha! It’s such a real thing though and could work for anyone if they put the intense effort it takes to use it, so I love sharing about it and all the examples in my life of how it really works!

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November 3rd- The Dress

The story of my dress is one of my favorites from this whole experience.

First I want to give a shout out to Ms. Sandy at Beautiful Brides in Wilmington, NC. She is SO wonderful and helpful and is a wedding gown, seamstress guru. Anyone ever heard of a little movie called A Walk to Remember? The wedding scene at the end, Ms. Sandy was the brains behind Mandy’s wedding look even making the veil herself! She’s awesome. I’ve had so many friends (and even a cousin!) find their gown there, I can’t count them on one hand.

Now on to the story…

I went to 3 different bridal shops and Ms. Sandy’s was my last stop. I was with my dear friend Alicia when, after trying on a handful of dresses, I was going to call it a day. I wasn’t really anticipating finding “the one” that day for some reason. I tried on a bunch of gowns I loved on the hanger but didn’t feel right when I put them on. In a tale as old as time, before leaving, Alicia convinced me to try on a dress that wasn’t what I was looking for. At all. The color was a little more on the true white side than I had wanted, and it was strapless. I was looking for something champagne I thought, but definitely NOT strapless. No way. No.

So here I am trying on this gown (with a straight across neckline…hello small chested…not working…) and I walk out and I just felt it. I felt it, but something was holding me back. Ms. Sandy clipped it in the back and in the front creating a sweetheart neckline (because that was totally possible with the designer) and I just knew. This was it.

It was so random and not what I was looking for at all, but it was it. I remember not even really knowing why. I knew I felt like a bride, like a woman even, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was sealing the deal, especially since some family members didn’t think it was the right choice. Talk about heart wrenching.

Fast forward to a few weeks later…I hadn’t even mentioned to Andrew that I put my order in for my dress and while flipping through wedding magazines together (he’s amazing) and showing each other things we liked/didn’t like, he stopped to point out to me a dress he liked. “This is my favorite dress I’ve seen so far” he said.

It was almost identical to what I had chosen.

Although it was a different color (more of a silvery and a different type of fabric) the neckline was the same as what I had changed mine to (sweetheart), there were folds in the fabric at the top just like mine, there was an embellishment in the center right below the bust, there was gathering in the fabric to the side with an embellishment there as well… the similarities were insane.

My heart skipped a beat. It was in that moment that I knew why I had chosen what I did. It all made sense and I knew I had made the right decision. I was totally at peace about it all.

Soon though, my thoughts turned definitely to “he knows! He’s seen it! He had to!” but I didn’t bring it up until after the wedding and to this day he swears up and down he had never seen my gown until the moment I walked down the aisle, and I believe him.

Looking back at these photos, it really does all make sense. The gown was simple, yet full of character and that’s exactly the kind of style I think I embody in wardrobe, as well as personality. I absolutely love this dress.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any of my bridal portrait photos to show you because there were some intense things happening in the days leading up to the celebration day so I never received a hard copy of those photos. The only ones I have are the ones I was able to print literally the day before the wedding and they are all in storage at the moment while we sort out our moving situation. I do however have some solo shots of me in my gown from the day of the celebration and they are beautiful and I love them.

Photos of the dress were taken at the our venue, photos of me were taken at the Graystone Inn  which is a few blocks away. I chose to do photos of the girls there because it has a beautiful old world vibe and I wanted that in keeping with the theme of the wedding celebration. We walked there after getting ready :) All photos are by Amy Leigh Photography.

Historic mansion bridal portraits-

1940's themed classic black and white wedding-

classic black and white wedding-

classic black and white wedding-

Historic mansion bridal portraits-

Historic mansion bridal portraits-

Historic mansion bridal portraits-

Historic mansion bridal portraits-

Historic mansion bridal portraits-


I mentioned in my “choosing a venue” post that one of those photos contained a sneak peek of my official bridal photos. You couldn’t really see it though so I thought I would include this, which is a pretty clear photo of one of my official bridal portraits. They were so beautiful. Hopefully I’ll be able to share them with you one day!

Classic black and white wedding-

Where did you take your bridal portraits or what have you always imagined for them?! I’d love for you to share :)


Catch up on the wedding series here:

November 3rd- A wedding series

November 3rd- Choosing a date

November 3rd- “Engagement” photos

November 3rd- Choosing a venue

November 3rd- Choosing a venue

A little background story to begin….

Shortly before Andrew and I started dating, I was involved in a production of a show called Once on this Island with a theater group I was a part of (TechMoja) when I lived in Wilmington. The show was being performed at the local Community Arts Center (CAC). The CAC is also referred to in our town as the Hannah Block Historic USO Building. It’s known as the CAC to locals and the USO Building to tourists because it was actually a traditional USO building in the 1940’s. Service members would come there for fun events, it was like a town dance hall, but they also did other things there. Today, it’s used for summer camps for kids, art shows and theatrical productions among many other things.

So, I invited him (along with some mutual friends as to not seem too eager) to come see the show. I didn’t think he would come but when he text me a few hours before saying that he was coming, I about lost my shit backstage.

I don’t typically get nervous before shows, I just get super hype and excited. Not this day. I was SO nervous my cast mates were asking me what my deal was because my behavior was so out of character. No pun intended, I swear. That’s when I started telling my friends about a guy named Andrew.

I may not have given his name away right then, it was still a little early (Spolier alert: We got married at the courthouse 3 months later..),  but all my friends could tell there was something special about him and so I had to admit it to myself as well.

I saw my friends outside after the show and I was so happy to see him there. Little did I know, he hadn’t even come with the others. He came on his own. He wasn’t sure there would be anyone else there that he knew, but he wanted to come see me anyway.

Fast forward to after our courthouse wedding, discussing where to hold our public ceremony. I was having a hard time because we didn’t belong to a church and all the beautiful churches we had in our town, we couldn’t marry in because we didn’t belong to that church. Ugh. ANYWAY– I was really discouraged because I had always envisioned a beautiful old style church wedding.

One night in stressing over this dilemma, Andrew had the idea to have it at the CAC. When I ask him why, he told me that was where he was the first time he realized he loved me. Talk about the Walk to Remember moment I always dreamed of! I cried of course and that was where our the decision on a venue for our public wedding ceremony was made official.

And amazingly enough, we could hold both the ceremony and reception there! We decided on a classic wedding theme as we knew we wanted our colors to be black and white and pulling inspiration from the 1940’s memorabilia that decorates the CAC. Our “theme” became just “black and white 1940’s dance hall affair”. Although we didn’t do much decorating because I loved the memorabilia that already decorates the space, we had all black and white decorations, black bridesmaid dresses, and black and white suits for the guys, complete with a full jazz band at our reception (but we’ll get into that later!)

It could have been a more perfect location and I love that it was him who decided on such a key element in the planning process!

Classic black and white wedding-

Classic black and white wedding- thestarlingsjourney.comThe E.O.A was a club Andrew and his friends had in high school where they collected change from various other students after everyone had bought their lunch. Hence, this inside joke. And yes, I made that sign myself ;)

Classic black and white wedding-

Classic black and white wedding- thestarlingsjourney.comWe made the programs ourselves

Classic black and white wedding-

Classic black and white wedding- thestarlingsjourney.comHey, engagement photos!

Classic black and white wedding- thestarlingsjourney.comOur guestbook was a calendar for guest to leave their birthday…even though I’ve been terrible about sending out cards. Sorry yall! Also, there’s as sneak peek of my bridal portraits ;)

The rest of the space will be shown through the ceremony photos! How did you choose your wedding venue? Or have you always envisioned something specific for your big day?!

*All photos: Amy Leigh Photography

Catch up on the wedding series here:

November 3rd- A wedding series

November 3rd- Choosing a date

November 3rd- Engagement photos



November 3rd – A Wedding Series

So last week marked the 3 year anniversary of my wedding ceremony! (Not to be confused with the day Andrew and I actually got married.) So to mark this momentous occasion, I decided to turn the details of our wedding celebration into a little series on here I’m just going to call “November 3rd”.

That’s the day Andrew and I decided to put on this little shindig and it was a wedding that went down in history books some would say. I’m assuming that’s because of the liquor bar.

There were ups&downs and things I wish I would have known or at least thought about before moving forward so hopefully you’ll find some things in this series about my wedding that might help you out, or at least make you laugh and say Oh God what was she thinking.

In the next couple of weeks I’ll share some stories, some do’s&don’ts, and (of course) a heck of a lot of photos.

I can’t wait to re-visit this event and share with you all!

Beautiful black and white wedding, thestarlingsjourney.comMy favorite shot of the day, Amy Leigh Photography

November 3rd- Choosing a date

November 3rd- “Engagement” photos


Wedding crashing

Hello all!!

Did you see the super blood moon last night?! We made a couple attempts but it was pretty cloudy in our parts. We caught a glimpse of it while still eclipsed but it was no longer red. When we were going to bed around 11:45 I noticed how it look like dawn outside so I walked out only to see a gigantic fully round night light in the sky that was so piercing and crystal clear it was amazing. It was cool to see it go from what was more like a half moon to full in less than an hour. It was a beautiful sight. Andrew and I vowed to be somewhere with perfect viewing conditions for the next go round in 33 years or whatever :p

I hope things are going well for you! If you’ve been here recently you know I’ve been spending time accepting that summer has come to a close and watching fun girlie things on TV like the Miss America Pageant. I mentioned in that post that I had been invited to attend a wedding that weekend and I wanted to share a few snaps from the event because I had so much fun!


I was invited by one of my very best, Ashley, who was a friend of the bride. It was so fun getting all dolled up and hitting the town for a girls night out in downtown Raleigh! I did learn a few lessons about the importance of ALWAYS wearing comfortable shoes when attending a wedding and if you can’t, then making sure you have some easy slip ons to walk in if you have a few blocks to the venue.

Everyone is probably rolling their eyes at me right now like “DUHHHHH JLYNN” but I’m not from a city. I’m from the beach, and personally, I just don’t usually wear heels when I go out. I do sometimes but even then it’s usually like…hop out of the cab and walk up to the door to where you’re going. How all those celebrities get away with wearing those ridiculous shoes all the time totally makes sense to me now. They don’t actually walk anywhere.

streetselfiestreet selfie

Sex and the City has mislead us all! We had to go about 3 blocks from parking to the wedding  venue, 3 blocks back to the car and then 5 blocks from the car to the reception venue and that was all it took to give me blisters. All the girls had their shoes off on the outdoor dance floor by the end of the night anyway so I probably wasn’t the only one feeling the burn, but I was certainly super relieved to not be the only barefoot baby shakin’ it to Cheerleader [insert music note emoji here]. I can definitely see myself investing in some of those foldable flats I always see floating around on Pinterest. Anyone ever tired them before? Thoughts?

OK OK ALREADY enough of my painful shoe experience rant and enjoy some photos of me and my wedding date! Well, technically I was the wedding date ;)

wedding crashing

wedding date 2

bouquetShe caught the bouquet!

no shoesno shoes lyfe!

dance floor fundance floor fun!

I am so thankful to my sweet friend for inviting me! I had such a good time. Can’t wait for the next wedding we get to attend together! I wish many many years of happiness&blessings to the happy couple.

Sending you all lots of love and other good energy on this Monday morning!



The Best Birthday!

Happy Monday folks! I hope you had an awesome weekend!!

My first weekend as a 25 year old was super eventful and a blast. A few hiccups along the way but they can make things more interesting so it’s all good. We’re here, we’re safe, we’re happy. Life is amazingly beautiful.

The most beautiful thing happened to me last week though, was on my birthday. I didn’t have a party or anything and actually we didn’t even go out to dinner until the next night. It was the best day though because My husband gave me the most wonderful birthday gift.

A little background story:

I had been complaining to Andre himself about how hurt my feelings were that I was seeing lots of cards I had written him just tossed about around the house. I even saw some on the floorboard of his car! My love language is words of affirmation so to me, it was basically like seeing my heart and soul just dumped out all over the place without a care.

Flash forward to two weeks later when I open my birthday gift and saw this:


I immediately burst into tears when I saw that what he had done. He had taken a few of the cards I had written him and turned their cover artwork into a collage around words I had written him, cut out and rearranged into his own message to me.

My heart exploded. Turns out, the cards I had seen in all those random places were the ones he was collecting to use, just not in a very organized way, ha!  The only chance he had to work on it where I wouldn’t know or find it were his breaks at work so it had taken him about two weeks to complete from beginning to end.

He had taken the time to put such a creative gift together for me that centered around the thing that makes my soul thrive, heartfelt words. It was such an act of kindness that touched my spirit in a way that I have never known before. I needed that. My heart had been a bit overwhelmed, not necessarily in a bad way..but not a peaceful way either. It was weird but not. I don’t know. My birthday can be a weird time for me. I start thinking on such deep levels, I can go a little cray!

But then, I felt light as a feather because Andrew gave me the most beautiful thing a person can receive, the overwhelming joyful experience of being loved.

I am so thankful for my husband who continues to show such great love for me on new levels, constantly.

Sending you all massive amounts of good energy today. Praying for such great love for each and every one of you all, too.

Here’s to another beautiful week, filled with lots of gratitude and joy ♥


What are you passionate about?

Hello sweet friends!


I hope you all are doing well and have had the most wonderful April! I’ve been somewhat MIA this month and for many reasons but I’ll be getting into more of that over the next few weeks :)

One of those reasons though (as you can see!) is my new blog design! Vaida at Don’t Tell Anyone Designs gave me exactly what I asked for and was so easy to work with. My first blog design was a premade template I found on her etsy site. After working with her a little there and seeing all her beautiful custom work on her webpage, I knew I wanted to use her again.

Simple&gentle. A clean slate with the breath of personality. Lighthearted, yet contemplative.

This design embodies everything I am about right now as well as this blog. I want this space to be a place for the heart above all else. Not just my heart though, yours too.

I’ve recently been asked (by myself and others) what it is I am passionate about. I’ve been stumped. That sucks to be (exactly today!) one month away from your 25th birthday and feel like you have no passion in life….but the more I contemplated…the more I realized that I do have passion in life. It’s just not a typical ‘career’ type of mindset.

I’m passionate about kindness. I love being kind to others and seeing others be kind.

I’m passionate about compassion. Towards all living souls. And it makes my heart happy being around others who feel the same way.

I’m passionate about joy&happiness and spreading it. Making someone smile and feel special is the absolute best.

I’m passionate about allowing others to be themselves and discover who that even is, without judgment.

I’m passionate about Love. And that’s what I’m here to share.

So, no, with this new design does not come fewer grammatical errors or run on sentences. Sorry. ha! I can say though that much like the new life Spring breathes into us all, my heart has been renewed over this last month and I am so happy to share it with you. I’ve added a new page up at the top titled “The Journey” that tells a little more about me and the blog, my journey.

There may still be a few kinks to work out so bare with me. I’m always trying to do stuff myself and making a mess of things so forgive me! I’ve also got a few more new additions coming soon but surely over the next couple of days everything will be as it should be.

I hope you feel loved today! If you don’t, if you’re going through some things and want to chat, check out my contact page and please send me an email. I would love to love on you and whereas I might not have any answers for what you’re going through, I can send some good energy for sure and it never hurts to feel like you’ve got some support when winds are rough :)

love to you all.


Monday Musings: A birthday dedication

Today, my post is dedicated to by beautiful step sister Jasmine! She turned 23 over the weekend and I am so happy to have her in my life.


Tiny baby Jasmine, kinda. Ha!

Even though her birthday was this past weekend, we actually celebrated  the weekend before! The whole family got together for dinner and it was so much fun.


My brother looks like he has laser eyes and that there is a girls head in the opposite corner but a memory is preserved :)


Jasmine’s mom (my stepmother) has never treated me like anything less than one of her own biological children and I couldn’t be more thankful for the love and brother&sisters she has given me! It’s been awesome to be a part of Jasmine growing up (while I did the same) and my only wish is that we could have lived together but we’ve still come out tight and were only getting closer as we get older for which I am forever grateful.



I thought the plan was to do silly faces…


Oh this night…HAHAHA


I love you so much sister of mine. Thanks for lovin me no matter what ;) I can’t wait to celebrate the many more milestones to come for the both of us!



Monday Musings: 13 More things about JLynn

Happy Monday you guys! Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day and I hope everyone is excited! I have a super fun tribute to a special Patrick in my life so be on the lookout for that tomorrow but today I wanted to share with you an “anonymous” comment that was submitted by one of my closest, long time friends on my Friday the 13th post from last week! When I read it, I thought it was too hilarious to just approve as a comment, it deserved it’s own post.

Some say it’s the things your friends say about you that really show who you are so I wanted to share SKB’s 13 facts about JLynn. This may be a mistake but here goes…

The real 13 things about jLynn:

-She once peed her pants on the bus laughing so hard. She had to borrow someone else’s pants that night.
*Tis true. But I will not apologize for laughing that hard!

-She used to tell people she was half Ethiopian and half Swedish.
*I did. But this was only because when people would ask for my ethnicity, black&white never seemed to be good enough. They wanted actual heritage and I don’t know too many specifics so I made something up to get past all the questioning. Sorry yall! ha!

-Her MySpace was poppin. Wish I could find it.
*So do I. I still feel like Myspace was better than Facebook.

 -She and I once threw a party good enough to be written down in a history book. Even the cops agreed!
*It wasn’t project X or anything but we are guilty of this. Lol. Dang noise complaints.

-She has been dumpster diving, probably more than once.
*Not more than once, but the instance she is referring to is directly related to the above fact. That’s all I’m sayin.

-She used to have “colonies” of imaginary friends that she took really good care of actually.
*So did she. She would bring her shoebox full of imaginary friends over to my house and we would let them play together.

-Her wedding has been planned since she was 9.
*True, but it was more so just printing out a million different dresses that ended up looking nothing like the one I ended up choosing.

-She had attacked me with lime flavored Popsicles more than once.
*The popsicle war was totally mutual. Don’t let her fool you.

-She let me blindfold her and feed her the world’s most horrifying sandwich.
*We called them “Friendwhichs”, she ate one too, then we had a dance party to Lou Bega.

-She taught me how to dance. And now I’m a dancer.
*Lou Bega helped.

– She was a cheerleader. So adorable.

*Sometimes true but I’ve gotten much better.

-She taught me all about…S-E-X
*Ok hold on. I don’t think I taught her about it, we just thought it was a bad word (when we were 7) so there was a dare for someone to say it, then we both ending up saying it so if anything, I taught her how to spell it. I see she still remembers.

I could keep going. Was that 13? Idk. I’m about as bad at math as joshlynn is.
*Again true, I’m not the best with numbers..

Anonymous best friend.


**So there you have it. A loving comment from a wonderful friend of 19 years. And of course, Disregarding anonymity completely, here she is. SKB.


Here we are. At the tender ages of 15&16 at play rehearsal. High School Musical holla.


She got older though.


Then I asked her to be a bridesmaids at my wedding party and give a toast..and it was every bit as RomCom drunk best friend gives a terrible toast as I had always envisioned.

Thanks for making my dreams come true Debbi K. I love you.

Anniversary recap

Hello friends! I hope you’re all having a wonderful week! Tomorrow is Friday! Woohoo! For those of you not in the service industry that is…womp womp.

Back to fun!

I mentioned last week to be on the lookout on Tuesday for our anniversary recap which would feature our Christmas decoration day. I had scheduled it for Tuesday as planned but my heart had something else to express that day. So, as they often do in my family branches…plans changed! And not only with the sudden change of the contents of Tuesday’s post..but also with our anniversary plans! Ha!

We realized that we were a little under prepared (due to moving recently) for our annual Christmas decoration day, to the point where it would have been more “work” (with about 3 unscheduled stops) rather than a relaxing day together like it usually is. So we rescheduled for next week so we can get those little errands done this week and just have a fun decorating day!

So what did we do you ask? Absolutely nothing! Andrew took Monday morning off of work so we could do whatever we wanted and stay up as late as we wanted. It was like a high school sleepover with my boyfriend. It was awesome. It was similar to our regular lazy Sundays in some ways but with some twists.

It really was just the relaxing day that we needed. No stress, just pure time together. We talked, joked, laughed. We even got into an epic rock paper scissors battle AND a staring contest. These things might sound boring but the laughter that ensued would prove otherwise. Andrew didn’t even watch a single minute of football. It was insane. We ordered pizza late night, staying up to watch Homeland and then Revenge.

We didn’t take a single picture together but I did have to photograph the beautiful winter bouquet Andrew put together for me that morning. He collected pieces from our yard and arranged the most beautiful thing I feel like I have seen since the wildflower bouquet he arranged for me this past spring. Every now and again he will bust out these beautiful arrangements on a whim like he’s been doing this all his life. His grandmother was a florist back in the day, so I guess it makes sense. She did the arrangements for our reception tables, boutonnieres, corsages and my toss bouquet for our wedding party we had the year after we got married

(Andrew says that paragraph makes it sound like I’m obsessed with everything he does…which is probably true…)



Andrew's winter bouquet
Andrew’s winter bouquet




Spring Wildflower bouquet
Spring Wildflower bouquet


I wish I had skills to better photograph their beauty because the photos I took do not do either arrangement justice.

On top of all that, we got to sleep in together the next morning. Andrew said it was his favorite anniversary yet because we had such a great time and we didn’t need/want anything but each other’s company. My heart melted.

Our anniversary this year was perfect. It was just like that day, three years ago, when all we needed was each other, and pizza.