The Power of Being Seen | The Power of Being Enough

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Everyone wants to be seen and everyone wants to be known. Growing up in a world with countless social media outlets and apps that filter pictures has created a whole other level to feeling worthy and accepted. I’m not saying all social media is bad, or that at 38 I don’t appreciate a good filter! But I am saying that many of the images we see can skew reality and create goals in the lives of young women that are not only unattainable, but unnecessary.

Top Buttons recently hosted our “Building Up Girls” Event. These events are some of my favorite because all of the girls we serve are invited to come together to receive training from phenomenal women who are excellent in their fields of expertise. While the girls receive important life skill information such as budgeting/financial planning and physical wellness, they also hear important life truths that pertain to who they are as individuals.

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Throughout the morning of our most recent event, it was reiterated over and over to every young lady that she was created with and for purpose. Created intentionally by a Creator who sees her, knows her, and loves her.

Many of the girls we serve come from hard places and many would be labeled “at-risk”….meaning there is likely a lack of support and stability that make them easy prey for those who do not have God’s best in mind for them. Over and over again, we have seen how these life dynamics diminish self worth in the lives of young ladies who were wonderfully and fearfully made. It is not hard for young women to fall victim to lies that their life must have been a mistake, doesn’t matter, or has no value. Believing these lies can lead to dangerous behaviors - but as the girls who attended this event heard truths that combated these types of lies, a spirit of liberty could be felt across the room.

The final speaker of the event was Lisa Kirk and she made things personal for the young ladies in attendance. One at a time, she called several up….looked them directly in the eye and spoke into them that they are seen and that they matter - just as they are. She then made each of them own that truth by speaking it for herself.….not whisper it, or mumble it…but speak it confidently to a roomful of other both impressionable and valuable young women. The first young lady who stood up had tears running down her face as our speaker locked eyes with her, SAW HER, and said she was enough. Tears started streaming down many faces in the room as the silence was only broken by the sound of spoken truth as these young ladies acknowledged and verbalized that they mattered, they’re loved, and they’re enough. WOW. It was powerful!

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Following Lisa, Sarah Powers closed by sharing her own testimony of overcoming hardship, feelings of failure from not living up to God’s standards, but yet how He saw and rescued her in the midst of it. The girls were given the opportunity to allow God to do the same for them. Heads were bowed and hands were lifted as the girls were asked if they wanted to surrender their lives and strongholds to a God who loves them, wants good for them, and will never leave them. It was a powerful ending to a beautiful event.

We know the young ladies we serve need life-skill training and we love providing it, but we also know these young ladies need the hope and acceptance of a Savior who DOES want God’s best for them. …and they don’t even need a perfectly filtered Instagram page to receive it.

They are seen as they are. And they are enough.

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Living a Confidence-Filled Life


Confidence; something us girls hope to wake up with, but just do not know where to find it.

We want to put on any outfit and feel good about ourselves. If we were honest, we would say that a good majority of the time we do not feel confident in who we are. I know in my case, when I was in middle school and high school, I felt no confidence whatsoever. I felt like I always looked bad in what I wore, that I did not fit in, and a lot of times, I felt like I was not good enough for anything or anyone. I am sure many of you feel or have felt the same way! Although I do believe that what you put on the outside will affect the way other people see you, I do not believe that is the most important thing.

The way you see yourself will be the way other people see you, and that comes from how you feel on the inside.


What is really interesting to me, and took a long time to figure out, is that weight does not matter.

What? I know when I found this out I was amazed too! I always wondered why I never felt good in my body, people would be like, “get over yourself, you're skinny”, but that never helped at all. There was still something wrong, and I continued to feel uncomfortable in my own body. I started to think and ask some people who seemed to be confident and healthy looking, and I was shocked with what I was told, it’s not about my weight, but it’s all about how I treat my body, and guess what, they were right. I started to regularly exercise, drink more water, eat whole foods, and cut out excessive sugar, and I started to see a change in my life. I started to feel more confident in my abilities and in my body.

Going back to the statement I made before, “The way you see yourself will be the way other people see you," is extremely important to still think about and apply on top of taking care of your body. Have you ever heard of the statement “you are what you eat?” Well this is kind of like that,  but more “you are what you speak.” Once I started telling myself I was pretty, smart, and successful, I started to become those things and people started to see the change in me!

So let’s ditch the statements that put us down and hold on to the truths we know to be true about ourselves!


TIP: Some days you are still going to wake up and feel not your best, but what I do every morning is declare to myself, “I will have a great day, and today is a day full of confidence!”

Want to know more about how to live a confident filled life? Stay tuned for more of our healthy living articles!  Next one, importance of drinking water and tips for drinking all the water you need in a day!

Why It Matters: School Dress Code and Tween Professional Attire


Catherine (right) is wearing her Mom's solid black Tahari blazer.

From a Mom to a Mom... 

Self-expression at the Expense of the Group
Fighting with kids about what they wear is not a battle many parents want to fight.  I admit, it is a difficult battle, especially with the driving force of our culture being profit.  But teaching our kids how to dress, along with every other type of education, is very important.  A school dress code can be frustrating, most often not because of the rule itself, but because of the inconsistencies with the way it is enforced. However, parents should aim at buying their kids' clothing according to their school's dress code.  It is a battle worth fighting.   The deeper issue here is not the school dress code, it's allowing our kids to focus on the needs of self rather than the needs of the group.  I get it.  Reaching a common goal with a group is not easy, and it doesn't take much to distract people from the goal and take huge steps backwards, whether at school, work, or whatever.  Our culture places an emphasis on building one's own brand.  Serving the needs of self seems to be far more important than serving the needs of the group. Self-expression and developing as an individual is vital, but not when it consistently becomes more important than the love and service of others.

There will be a time and place where kids can have more freedom of self-expression than others.  Helping them understand this concept is very important in life.  While teaching young people the importance of dressing professionally for a job interview, we often address the frustration young people have with denying self-expression with their clothing.  Depending on the culture of the company you are interviewing with, often the employer is most interested in your willingness to work on a team, skills and experience.  Before a word is even spoken, an employer can get a good idea about who you are simply by how you dress.  If we won't teach our children to respect the dress code at school and care about the impact their clothing choices have on the people around them when they are young, they will likely not care about their presentation for a future job interview.  There are ways to stay true to self, all the while respecting the boundaries set in place for a common goal to be reached.  I tell my children all the time, when you are in charge, you can make the decisions.  Until then, respect the boundaries put in place for you and understand it is for the good of our family as a whole.  The needs of the group matter too.


Professional attire has evolved and especially for women, it doesn't have to be boring to be acceptable.

Thongs are Easier to Find
Ironically it's not like dressing our children in adult-like styles is uncommon.  Bikinis are available for toddlers.  Thongs with "Call Me" are available for our middle schoolers.  From our tweens' favorite role models, the music they listen to, and the clothing we buy them, we are training up our children earlier than ever to focus on their bodies rather than who they are and what they have to offer as a whole person. Why is it we seem to quickly buy the most adult styles for our daughters, but putting them into professional attire when it's appropriate is so arduous?

I went to Nordstrom, my favorite store most of the time, to look for a blazer for my daughter.  (She often comes with me to volunteer at the Top Buttons Boutique and you better believe I have her dress in appropriate yet stylish attire.) Nordstrom had no blazers or structured clothing in her size. One of the reasons I love Nordstrom, is that you can always count on them to have the best customer service and the most current seasonal items available for every family member.  I know going into summer, there are not many moms looking for blazers for their pre-teens.  But I still had hope that they would have something along those lines, since I normally do not leave the store disappointed.  I even talked to the the kids' department manager about my concerns, who confirmed what I was thinking.  They had nothing of the sort for pre-teens.  Thankfully, H&M and Gap Kids had some options, and I snagged up a couple of pieces to pull off just the right edgy yet structured professional look for my daughter.

It really is easier to find a thong for our pre-teen than it is a blazer.  This is a problem. Our daughters are smart, strong, bold, and talented.  They are more than just a body.  Buying clothing from a young age which places an emphasis on their developing sexuality rather than who they are on the inside reinforces that standing out is connected with their body alone. "If your clothing is overly revealing, you may have difficulty getting attention for your ideas," states Leah Bourne, a contributor for Forbes Magazine.  While they are harder to find, a blazer speaks a much more powerful message about who our daughters are from within and what they have to give.

Brooklyn's Blazer (Left) is from H&M Kids

Clothing has Power
Yes, beauty comes from the inside out.  Let's keep working on that.  But we need to make sure we understand that what we wear affects the way we feel about ourselves internally.  The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology conducted a study called "embodied cognition" which revealed that we not only think with our minds, but also with our bodies. Further studies show that clothing directly affects the brain of the wearer depending on two factors: symbolic meaning and the physical experience of wearing the clothing. This is referred to as enclothed cognition.

So yes, What clothing is bought and worn by your daughter will affect the way she views herself.  This video explains the concept well.

Dressing in pajamas at school, will likely result in a more relaxed and less attentive student.  That actually makes sense.  Putting on all the newest, stylish running gear plus a pair of new Nike shoes, may inspire one to run faster and longer.  That makes sense too.  What about boho and relaxed clothing in the work place? ... What about seductive and revealing clothing on our daughters? Will it encourage our daughters to behave more provocatively? This is a question we need to ask ourselves. Most parents do want to give their children the resources needed to make healthy choices. Since clothing does impact decision making, we should place a high priority on filling our kid's closets with proper fitting attire.


Pull it off with what you have in your closet already, plus one key structured item like a light weight sweater or structured jacket.

Contextually appropriate attire, or (contextual modesty) is simply "Clothing which fits the setting its being worn in"

Tips on how to get our kids wearing contextually modest clothing:

  • Ask them questions to get them thinking:  What message do you want to send with this outfit?  Where are you wearing it to?
  • For a potential job interview, study the culture of the company to find out the appropriate attire to wear
  • Give them options
  • Encourage them to do it from a young age and it will come more naturally when they are older
  • There will be places they can have more style freedom.  Give them opportunities to have more freedom in other settings.
  • Help them to recognize the importance of group goals over their own
  • Buy them clothes that fit them properly
  • Support role models who dress creatively but tastefully.  Steer clear of those who reinforce self-absorption, provocative behavior, and disrespect.
  • Shop together and find what you both like

Other ideas for accomplishing the professional pre-teen look:

  • Put on your favorite romper accompanied by one of mom's blazers and roll up the sleeves
  • Throw on a nice spring dress with appropriate coverage and a low heel. It looks tasteful and will work great for most business casual settings
  • Loose fitting trousers or harem pants can even fit the part if paired with a structured top
  • Depending on the event, even black denim pants with a simple neutral top and bold color blazer will send the right "I'm here to work" message

Final Thought
I remember a conversation I had once with a dad about the clothing his daughter was wearing.  The story went something like this: Mom and Dad were divorced.  Mom always bought the daughter whatever clothing the daughter wanted.  She was a tall and beautiful young woman, with the shortest shorts and often very provocative attire.  Dad took out his frustration on his daughter, often griping and complaining about what she wore.  I offered a potential solution for Dad to take his daughter shopping with the only condition being that Dad will only buy it if he likes it.  Knowing that Dad sees the problem and is offering a solution rather than just complaining is a step in the right direction.  You may be fighting a battle you feel like you are losing.  But as a parent of a beautiful, tall pre-teen daughter myself, I can say that teaching them the importance of sending the right messages with their clothing is important enough to sometimes fight about.

If we don't educate and equip our daughters on how to present their best self on the job, at school and in life, the fashion and media industry will.  And we may not like the outcome.  I would recommend we start by finding them a blazer.


Cheney's Yellow Blazer is from Khols


Makeup was done by the one and only, Yolanda Delacerda.  We love you!

A huge thank you to Beth Carter for jumping in as photographer.  She photographed our very first Top Buttons photoshoot back in 2012 and has been such an encouragement ever since.  Her work is exceptional and she captured the essence of what I was looking for with this article, perfectly.


Redefining Valentine's Day for All the Single Ladies


Valentine's Day can be one of the most dreaded holidays amongst those who are single. Some jokingly admit it's S.A.D. (Single Awareness Day). Personally, throughout the years, I've struggled with the frustration of seeing all the couples around me and wondering when it would be MY turn. However, the concept of Valentine's Day is suppose to be about SELFLESS LOVE, so let's commit to redefining Valentine's 2015. Here's THREE innovative ways to redefine the holiday:

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  1. Learn To Appreciate Some "YOU" Time: Without a significant other in your life, it's way too easy to dwell on the fact that you're solo, but there is NO BETTER TIME in your life to invest in yourself than in this season. In other words, take some time to rest and pamper yourself! Curl up on the couch, eat your favorite flavor of ice cream, do your nails, read a good book or watch your favorite movie.ladies dinner
  2. Rally Up Your Other Single Lady Friends: Okay, so maybe a night in and alone isn't your scene! That is perfectly okay. Rally up a group of other single ladies and adventure out. Go see a new movie, dine at a fun restaurant, or even have a single ladies gift-exchange! The possibilities are endless.nursing home
  3. Spread The Love: Yes, Valentines Day is centered on LOVE, but you don't necessarily have to dwell on the romantic aspect. Why not spread some positivity and love in the world? Visit a nursing home and love on the residents; write encouraging notes to a handful of important people in your life; or even offer to babysit your neighbor's kids so that they can enjoy some couple time.


So whether this is your first single Valentine's Day or you've been single for a while now, do something DIFFERENT to return Valentine's Day to its origin of love. Love yourself, love your friends, and even love strangers.


1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.


A Top Buttons Intern And Rising TV Star

Taylor Murray is a bright young woman of 21 years of age. She has been with Top Buttons as a volunteer from the start and now is an intern with us. Because of her dedication to the mission of our organization and her completely contagious personality, we couldn't help but choose her to spotlight as she gets ready to finish her 4 year degree in broadcasting.  She has the dream to be in the entertainment industry and is already well on her way. As I sat down with her in a local coffee shop, she began to tell me what she sees in her future. It's hard not to be slightly envious of her stunning and unique look... Yet she is so stinking down to earth and hysterically funny, you can't help but just appreciate who she is and the love for life which she exudes so brightly.  There is no question that this girl has the grit and determination that will take her exactly where she wants to be and maybe further.

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So Taylor, lets get started with this question.  How would YOU define your personality?

Well, I’m extremely extroverted. I get energy being around other people and making them laugh. I like being the hero that saves the day and I work well under pressure. That’s when I shine.

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What is your personal style?

My personal style is constantly changing. In high school I was more boho/chic but as I have grown older my style has switched to shabby chic. Girly but also laid back and it can change from sophisticated to boyfriend jeans in a day.

We love how confident you are with your body.  Do you mind sharing with our followers how you got to that point?

I love that I am not a size 2. I really feel confident in my body even though it is on the curvy side. Beauty is not just characterized by one size ideal, but bodies of all shapes and sizes are beautiful. I think that women need to start loving their bodies regardless of what size they are. I'll be honest, I used to be really insecure about my weight. In high school, I struggled to feel pretty, because I didn't look like the stick thin models in magazines. Living in that kind of insecurity is exhausting. You waste so much energy thinking about what your not, when you could be loving who you are and making an impact on the world. I have made the choice to stop obsessing over looking skinnier, and have started to discover the styles that look great on my current body . On the days where I start to feel insecure again, I choose to tell myself that I am pretty. I am a curvy, bustier, fuller woman and my confidence in that is what makes me beautiful.

Where do you shop the most to find clothes that fit your body type and your style?

Since I am a fuller girl, it is very hard for me to shop at stores that are geared towards the smaller teen body type. So, I have discovered that department stores that carry a women's section tend to sell clothes that better fit my body type. I love to shop at department stores for all of my wardrobe basics, such as jeans, cardigans, simple blouses. Some of my favorites include Nordstrom Rack, JCPenny, Belk, and Khols, because they tend to provide a wide variety of sizes and fits for clothing. My style changes upon my mood and is very undefined, so when looking for statement pieces I shop at stores like Urban Outfitters, ASOS online, H&M, Francesca's, and Mod Cloth. However, to be honest, because I am Senior in college with classes and work to juggle, I rarely find time to shop. Thus, lately, Target has truly been my go to store to update my wardrobe. I can go to Target with the purpose of getting notebook paper or granola bars, and also leave with a pair of booties or a new dress. Target has also started featuring different designers and selling their clothing at a cheaper price, so I love checking out the clothing section to see whats new.

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What has been your greatest challenge in your journey to reach your goals?

My biggest challenge has been doubting myself. I think a lot of young women have BIG dreams, but lack the faith to believe that they can actually have what they've dreamed of. I dream of being a television personality one day, but I tend to doubt if I am good enough. This is something that I am trying to change about myself. I want to be fearless and confident enough to reach high for my goals. Sometimes the end goal seems so far away, but that doesn't mean it doesn’t exist. I want to stop doubting my dreams, so I may enjoy the journey and the process of reaching them.

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Who has been the biggest influence on your life in the past couple years? Why?

My family and friends have been the biggest influence on my life in the past couple of years. They have seen me through major insecurities and guided me towards confidence. Whenever I stop believing in myself, they are always there to cheer me on and remind me of who I am. I think it is so important to surround yourself with people who are in your corner and believe in your dreams. I can definitely say that I have the right people around me. I have best friends from childhood, high school, and college that have shared in my failure and successes. My family has put me through college and been a constant encouragement through my life. The ones I have around me are the real deal. They correct me when I'm wrong and promote me in my successes. The experience of truly being loved and cherished by my friends and family has taught me how to live my life and love others.

Are you dating?

No. I am not currently dating. My love life, or lack there of, could be a whole separate interview. I have never been in love, but look forward to the day of meeting the man that God has for me and loving him with my whole heart. God's timing is everything, so I trust Him and wait for the moment when He choses to reveal my spouse. Yes. I said spouse. At this point, I have been single for so long, I am confident that who ever I date next, I will marry. In the mean time, I take this time of singleness to discover more about who I am and what the Lord says about me. These moments of being single are precious and won't be forever, so I cherish them.

We all want to know what you are looking for in a fella! What’s your response?

Woah. Such a big question. Where do I begin?!?! I am looking for a man who loves the Lord with his whole heart. I mean really loves God. He needs to have such a strong relationship with our Father that I envy it. I want a man that is compassionate and quick to lift up the dreams of those who tend to be pushed aside. I am fiercely independent, so I want a man who can make me feel taken care of for a change. I want a man who is so confident in his calling and dreams that I feel safe to depend on him. I want a man who loves to laugh, finds joy in the simple things, and yet appreciates the extravagant things. I want a man who buys me sunflowers. Thats what I am looking for.

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Here's a random questions for ya.  What’s your favorite film of all time?

How do I choose just one? I love Christmas and a good cry, so The Family Stone ranks rather high on my list of favorites.

And ...What’s your favorite food and how do you take your coffee?

I am the worst at choosing a favorite food, because I am a foodie who loves all of it. However, currently I love avocados. It may change tomorrow though. ;) Coffee.... medium roast, half & half, and sugar in the raw. Sometimes I opt for flavored creamer if I am feeling adventurous.

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What job or position do you feel has prepared you the most for your future? why?

My job as a student worker for my broadcasting professor at SEU, Roxane Griner, has really prepared me for my future. It was in that job that I learned how to edit videos and use photoshop. These skills have proven to be valuable in preparing my reel for future jobs. I know that I will continue to use the skills that I learned in whatever job I find in Television. Being the former female host of Raw TV has also prepared me for my future, by allowing me to discover my love for being on television. Hosting Raw TV taught me what it looks like to be on a real life show, with deadlines, networks, and an audience to reach. No matter where TV takes me, I will always remember Raw TV as the show that sparked my dreams and started it all.  (Raw TV is a internationally broadcasted Christian talk show produced out of Southeastern University's Campus.)

Why have you dedicated so many volunteer hours and decided to intern for Top Buttons?

Dedicating time and deciding to intern for Top Buttons is a no brainer. I want to live in a world of confident young women who use their outward appearance to project the beauty that lies within. Going into the Television industry, I know for a fact that people judge you, firstly, by your outward appearance. Thus, I agree with the Top Buttons mission to encourage young women to feel good about themselves for all the right reasons.  I watch girls get attention by flaunting their bodies with zero boundaries.  I feel that every young woman should have healthy boundaries of self-expression, so that the world can see who they really are and be appreciated for more than their body.  Top Buttons also gives a platform for girls like myself to learn, grow, and share our stories with the world, because WE create the content! One of my favorite experiences working with TB was getting to help young girls who are at risk and in need of a major confidence boost by giving them quality used clothing and makeovers. So many girls feel unworthy of love and respect, but I desire to see the return of the “confident girl”, who dresses for the respect that they deserve and are valued and cherished once again by society. I believe in the message of modesty, I LOVE fashion, and know the power that us ladies have to change the world, so volunteering for Top Buttons has been a great fit for me.


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What dreams and goals do you have in the next 5 years?

I want to be a television personality or anchor on a national TV show. Preferably, News/entertainment or on a morning show like a national level morning show such as Good Morning America or the Today show. My 15-20 year goal is to have my own show. I want my light to shine on television, that is where I get the most energy. It is my platform to have a voice.

What advice would you give to younger girls that have the same dreams to be on Television?

Don’t be ashamed of being interested in it and know that isn’t all about selfish goals and gain. There is a different way to do it, you can do it in a way to shine your light and make God’s name known. Don’t be afraid to be in the spotlight because you can make a difference in peoples lives.

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Interview by TB Intern Destiny Young

Photography by Elisabeth Huijskens

Makeup by Yolanda Delacerda and Christi Northington

Summer Playlist Must-Haves


It's Summer! This means VACATION, beach trips, pool parties, and gatherings with your friends and family. Here are some tunes you can listen to that will surely get you in the summer mood. Enjoy!

1. "Move" - Kaleidoscope

This duo of best friends met in college and joined forces to spread the message of the Lord. "Move" is definitely a song that will make you dance. It motivates us to embrace who we are in Christ and to let Him lead our lives.

2. "Every Good Thing" - The Afters

From their 5th album Life is Beautiful, "Every Good Thing" proclaims that life is PRECIOUS! Let's not take it for granted.

3. "Do Life Big" - Jamie Grace

This spunky song is Jamie Grace's new single. It encourages us to do life BIG like Jesus did. We can make a change!

4. "Gold" - Britt Nicole

Britt Nicole never ceases to inspire us with her truthful lyrics & music. You are GOLD! Special, unique and worth so much.

5. "Alive" - Hillsong Young & Free

From the latest Hillsong group, this song is a celebration. We are alive because of Jesus' sacrifice for us, He died out of love for us. How awesome is that!

6. "Try" - Colbie Caillat

At Top Buttons, we love the message Colbie sends out through this song. You, YES YOU, are beautiful. One might feel insecure about how we look but this song is a great reminder of what real beauty is.

About the Author:

Jelsianly Freytes is 20 years old & from Puerto Rico. Currently, she's a senior in the University of the Sacred Heart with a major in television & cinematography. Music is a huge part of her life, dancing for the Lord is her passion and traveling brings her joy.

"I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13.

The "Why" Behind Her Style and Purpose: Meet Amanda Rose


If there is one thing I believe we can all agree on, it is that it feels GREAT to pick out an outfit and know, "This is ME, I will so rock this today!" But if you are like me, that usually doesn't just happen. It is a process. One day, I thought "WHOA, I spend so much time getting ready but hardly any time taking care of who I am on the inside or even spending time with my Creator (the one who made me, who loves my big hair and wild spirit.)"

After discovering more about who I am on the inside and getting to know the God who created me, I am now confident in the things I love (like fashion) because I know it does not solely define me.

My challenge to you today, before you decided what you are going to wear, decide who you want to be and who you are going to let define you.

Have a beautiful day darlings, xox Amanda Rose, Top Buttons Contributor

More About this Contributor: I am passionate about many things from my big hair, to trying new foods, my city (Rockford, IL), to helping people discover what story God has uniquely written for them. I love fashion + have an eye for design. When I said "Jesus, I want to follow you", that meant what I was passionate about could NOT be just for me. Because I believe He has placed certain things inside of me, I recently had the God-birthed idea of launching a unique business called Worth Royalty. I also work at one of the greatest/realest churches I know called Rockford First + help specifically with a gap year program called Focus One which helps young adults define more about what it means to be a world changer in their own life. Every day is quite the adventure for me; I'm constantly learning to embrace it with peace & excitement!


Thrifted Treasures


Thrifting has become a small passion of mine. I don’t know if it’s the thrill of the hunt, the pure satisfaction of getting a good deal, or finding one of a kind vintage items that I love the most. On a recent trip to Vermont I scored some amazing finds that have been on my “must have” list for some time. I love entertaining so I am always on the hunt for unique glasses, plates and serving ware. Prior to my trip, I had been pricing gold flatware from different online stores. They were all pretty pricey so when I saw this set of vintage gold flatware for $4.50 I was thrilled! It took time to restore the finish, but it was well worth it.


 They have been the perfect addition to my eclectic mix of cups and plates. I love using them for when I have friends over for "girly" brunches or dessert parties.


I'm slightly obsessed with all things gold. So when I came across these adorable gold rimmed glasses for $1 a piece, I quickly snatched them up. I bought the whole set and have it displayed on my bar cart.



This gold rimmed tea pot was purchased for a whopping $2, the coffee mug was $1, and the saucer was part of a set that was $10.


Adding simple touches of elegance to your home does not have to cost a fortune. Some of my favorite items have come from thrift stores. It's always nice to have a mix of old and new, it adds depth and character to a home.

What are some of your favorite thrifted treasures?

Happy Styling,


{photos and styling by: Rebekah Miura}

With Beauty, Brains, and a Handsome Man: Christina Gard Tells All


If you aren't in the mood for some mushy, gushy, faith-based romance, READ ON ANYWAY!  We find this young lady to be refreshing and strong in a way that all women can benefit from.  We live in a world were girls get major media attention for being controversial, provocative, and down right disrespectful. (Clearing throat… cough… Huffington Post)  At Top Buttons, our philosophy is to promote those who are trying to do right and love others as they also love themselves. We feel you will enjoy hearing many of the fun details which make this girl tick.  Grab a cup of coffee and have a seat in a comfy chair.  This is a must read for some Valentine's Inspiration. - Intro by Sarah Powers Christina Gard -- currently a professor in the Psych department at SEU -- is the perfect example of what it means to have beauty AND brains. Mrs. Gard is a great role model to girls globally because she is living proof that when you pursue your dreams and live for God, He'll take care of the rest -- including getting you the right man. From gutting fish, to winning Miss Alaska, to being a pastor, professor, and so much more, Christina Gard has done it all.

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So Christina, tell us a little about yourself -- about your backstory and any formative experiences along the way. I was born and raised in Alaska. My Dad was a pastor, and summer camp was the highlight of every year. Every summer we spent a few weeks at Little Beaver Lake kids camp in Alaska. That’s where I found a lot of really consistent friends and really fell in love and found the relationship I had with Jesus.

What are some significant qualities/ facts about growing up in Alaska that affected your perception on life?

  • I spent Friday nights at home with my family. My parents would give us a topic, and we would have debates.
  • We did a lot of hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, but it was all free.  That is the life we lived in Alaska.
  • When I was 5, I flew from Alaska to NJ. It opened up the world to me. I saw a mall and got to see a movie. It was a big contrast from having no running water.
  • I was homeschooled for much of my upbringing, and my two sisters were my best friends.
  • I had the opportunity to do some private school, but I knew how to cut filet salmon before I ever learned how to put on make-up.
  • We would go to the food bank for food, but my parents always saved, saved, saved for travel experiences. My mom was concerned about me knowing what was in the outside world.
  • I was the youngest bank teller hired at the National Bank of Alaska, which really taught me a lot and forced me to grow up.

What was your college experience like? I visited Northwest and saw for the first time college students having fun and it didn’t involve drugs or alcohol and so I decided to go there. I just loved it, I started debate and had great friends. I ended up transferring a lot. When I moved to England, I fell in love with tea and my view of the world was changed. I was kind of the lone Christian. England was pretty spiritually dead in my opinion. People questioned everything. I studied theology and was taught that the Bible was a book. I realized my faith was not my parents. I had to develop & cultivate a relationship with the Lord on my own.

I transferred again and I went to AU and I fell in love with the city of DC.

I also spent a summer in Cambodia. That really showed me the power of missions and at that point I decided I would eventually make missions a part of my life.

For my last semester of undergrad, I went back to Northwest.

You moved around a lot! When did Andrew come into the picture? Five weeks before graduation, I met Andrew. At this point, I was really strong and really independent.  My father had always told me, “You will marry the one man that isn’t intimidated by you,” and on our first date Andrew said, “You don’t intimidate me.” It freaked me out. When I got home, I literally went right into my room and called my dad and told him.

Since you come from a close family, what was it like when you started dating Andrew? We dated all the way through graduation, which is when my family met him. Everyone flew in because I was speaking at the commencement. I handed Andrew an itinerary for the weekend, and he kept up. That weekend, he surprised me with Yankee tickets. I realized at that moment that he was a true leader. He knew what I needed even when I didn’t.

[blockquote]He’s the first man I ever dated. I dated a lot of boys, but he was the first man.[/blockquote]

Did Andrew pursue you? How did he treat you while you were dating? First date: He called me and asked me out. I remember how strong, confident, and sincere he was on the phone.

[blockquote]We went to Starbucks. I asked him about his relationship with God. A Starbucks date can be 5 minutes or 5 hours; ours was 5 hours.[/blockquote]

Day After First Date: Generally, the rule was not to call the next day. He called me that morning. This was when cell-phones first came out and I had a voice mail of him asking me to hang out again….And we hung out every day.

Second date: He took me to Coldstone and then opened the basketball gym for me and we played HORSE. While we were at Coldstone I quizzed him about the world. I was blown away at how smart he was.

During the relationship: He didn’t kiss me and there was no physical interaction until after we were engaged.

[blockquote]I’m the 4th generation in a line of pastors and I never met someone who loved God like Andrew did.[/blockquote]

Since you guys started dating so close to graduation, what happened after you graduated? We were together for 2 months, and then I moved back to Alaska and it was long distance from there. We were dating and engaged for 17 months total.

What did you do in the meantime? At that point my options were to apply for the Peace Corps, work with White Siberian tigers, travel with Holland America cruise lines, or compete for Miss America. I graduated in May 2004 and it was in June that I won Miss Alaska 2004.

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How did competing and winning Miss Alaska affect your self-image? I had always struggled with insecurity. The thing I appreciated about the experience was how confident the women were. Every single one of them were pursuing a degree. Miss America is a Scholarship Organization, not just a pageant.

[blockquote]I remember walking in and looking around the room and thinking “Wow. Women can do anything.”[/blockquote]

For me, it helped pay my way through college and helped me develop confidence in a new way. Differences were celebrated. Everyone was beautiful in their own way. I didn’t have to look like Barbie. I just had to look like me.

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So what happened with you and Andrew after winning Miss Alaska? Well, I love that he was with me before I made Miss Alaska. I remember, I called him and told him I didn’t win and he said “I don’t believe you.” 

When did you get married? On June 24, 2005 we got married in Jamaica. We had a destination wedding. I flew from Alaska to Miami and Andrew flew from Seattle to Miami and then we flew to Jamaica together. So hugging him in the airport was awkward having been apart for awhile. We met up with our families in Jamaica. We went kayaking & hiking and it was so much fun. Then, we honeymooned  there for the next couple weeks.

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After being apart for so long, how was married life? When we got to our new home, he had me close my eyes and he picked me up and he carried me across the threshold of our new town home in DC. We didn’t have a dinner table. We ate our first meal sitting on the dining room floor. I realized no matter where I was or what I was doing, if I had him, I would be okay.

He was a pastor and I was working as a Crisis Intervention Specialist. I was on call 24-7. My clients had to get better or they were going to jail. After a while, he felt like we were suppose to move to Seattle and I remember resisting it. We moved from there to Puyallup, Washington. I remember I saying, “Life will never be better than it was in DC.” I even said the same thing when I moved from Washington to Florida, and now I think the same thing.

Being that you're very accomplished and goal-oriented, what have been all your different jobs throughout the years? 1. At, 12 years old, my first job at Espresso Moes as a barista. 2. Sandwich shop 3. Bank Teller for National Bank of Alaska 4. Legal Clerk for Trudell Bowen Lingenbrink Law Firm 5. Nanny for Mr. Lingenbrink (on weekends) 6. Department of Health as a Legislative Analyst 7. Cannery on the slime line gutting fish 8. Crisis Intervention Specialist for Institute … 9. Childrens pastor at Puyallup Foursquare Church 10. Miss Alaska with the Miss America organization 11. Professor –Northwest University 12. Children/ Family Therapist at Good Samaritan Behavioral Health 13. Director of Student Mentoring in Student Development at SEU 14. Professor 15. (Currently training to be a fitness instructor at LA Fitness, just for fun.)

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What qualities does Andrew have that you think are really important to look for in a man? Love for Jesus;  Intellect; Respect for others; Passion; Integrity and character above all; Respect for me and how he handled me when no one else was around; He didn’t put me in compromising situations; Common interests; Attraction; Such a great sense of humor.

What are the top 3 things you two value in your marriage? 1. Our non-negotable is time with one another; nothing gets scheduled without us consulting the other. That requires honest communication. 2. Fun. -- We love having fun together. We love laughing. 3. Private time with the Lord and with one another. Praying together. Theres nothing more incredible than hearing what Andrew asks God for, for me. It’s just amazing.

What's the key to having an interesting relationship? In order to have an interesting marriage. You have to be interesting people. We both love time together, but we both love our time apart. Andrew loves golf. I love Pilates. We love having things we’re pursuing on our own. He loves that I don’t stop at any point in life.

What is one piece of advice you would give to young girls? (Something that you know now but you wish you knew then.) Put God above all else. Enjoy your time with your family first. You’ll never get those moments back with your parents and siblings when its just you guys. Enjoy that, treasure that. I don’t regret spending Friday nights with my family. Worry little about who likes you. More than likely you are not going to marry your 8th grade love.

Since Valentine's Day is coming up, how do you keep your marriage alive, and do you have Valentines Day plans? We always go out. Our favorite spot is the Melting Pot. We’re more into experiences than gifts. We’ve gone to Paris & rome, Mexico, Jamaica, Disney world. We love quality time, with a great meal and great conversation. We’re also really big on cards. We always give each other handwritten deep thoughtful notes. That’s really important to us.

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Deep breath. Process.  Maybe your pics won't look as adorable as these two, but you can rest assured that God will give you the desires of your heart too as they line up with His will!

There you have it: life behind the scenes with Christina Gard -- a woman who even faced some very challenging life experiences. (Which, believe it or not, were not mentioned in our long but super fun interview with Christina.)  She ultimately pursued God and her dreams, and along the way God gave her a great love relationship that enables her to continue doing that.  She supports him, he supports her, they support each other.

#CoupleCrush #GoodGirlsDeserveProps

If you haven't had enough, check out last year's #couplecrush

Photo credit: Rachel Tackett

Teen Style that Began in a Courtroom


Written By Danielle Hart I have a really classic, professional style. I prefer structured, timeless pieces, such as blazers and pencil skirts, because they help define the waistline and in my opinion are très chic. I’d rather have a few versatile pieces (like a blazer or a cardigan) that can be paired with lots of tops and bottoms and will virtually never go out of style, than anything else. (Except shoes... I have a weakness for shoes of every shape, color, and kind!).

It wasn’t until about four years ago that I actually found this style and it began in a courtroom.

I’m involved in a program called Teen Court, which takes first-time juvenile offenders and tries them in a real courtroom, but the jury and attorneys are comprised of volunteer teenagers. One of my friends told me about it the summer before my freshmen year, so I went to observe, just to see if I would like it or not. I fell in love with it immediately and I have volunteered ever since (which is going on four years now). We usually have court every other week, but it varies sometimes and I often go up on non-court days, just to help out. The staff and volunteers truly care about the defendants that come through, and want to help them get their lives back on track. Teen Court has an extremely low recidivism rate (a fancy term for how many of the defendants get in trouble with the law again.) Teens will often listen to their peers more than they listen to adults, which is one of the reasons that it’s such a great program. The volunteer teens actually interview, try, and sentence the defendants, and they must comply with everything that we give them.

Teen Court helped me develop my style through their dress code. Which is just typical courtroom attire, such as no sandals, no shorts, no tank tops, etc. However, I’m an attorney (even though it's volunteer) so I wanted to look more professional.  I should say, they don’t force volunteers to wear dress clothes. So it began; I started wearing trousers and blazers and pencil skirts to court.  When I did, I knew I had found the perfect style for me, both in and outside the courtroom.

As an attorney, I either have to prosecute or defend (though they have to plead guilty before they come, so we just argue the appropriate sentencing), but either way I represent someone. If I’m prosecuting, I represent the State of Florida. If I defend, I represent the teenager on trial, my client. But no matter who I represent in the courtroom, I always represent God.  The whole concept of representing someone in the courtroom with my best crosses over in my personal walk with God.  I believe my personal style should honor God and not distract from my representation of Him to others, no matter where I am or what I’m doing.

I want to encourage other girls my age to find their own personal style. A lot of people don’t dress like I do, which is fine with me! Dressing in one's own unique style while considering our representation of God is a great guide to stay on the right track with what clothes to wear.

Fashion and a Funeral


Summer left as fast as it came in. Nonetheless, it’s been such a blast with the most anticipated event of my summer being,  my trip to Nigeria. For those of you who don’t know much about me, I was born in Finland. However, my parents are originally from Nigeria, located in West Africa. To start with, my trip came unexpectedly. It was due to my grandmother’s sudden passing. The news was joyful yet painful when it came. Joyful for the fact that she had lived a long life, with the privilege of seeing many generations of descendants. But I will no longer be able to spend time with my last living grandparent as was my plan for the coming fall.

Growing up in Finland, I had been raised to adapt to Finnish culture and yet feeling odd -calling myself Finnish. Maybe some of you reading this post understand what I mean when I speak about this subject. I don’t feel Finnish nor do I look like the typical/average Finn. Nigeria is where I have my family and my roots, so you can only imagine how much I was looking forward to this trip to Nigeria after 11 long years.

But remember, the funeral was the reason I took this trip. This was only the second funeral I have attended in my whole life. Ironic how foreign the experience was, being at a funeral in the unknown land of heritage.  Truth be told, despite the mixed emotions I came into the event with, it turned out to be one of the most joyous ceremonies I’ve ever been to. For the first time, I experienced losing someone close to me, but I had joy knowing this beautiful women left a legacy that will not die.  We celebrated her life rather than death.

And This was done with such vibrant colors and patterns! Definitely something I wasn’t sure to expect considering the circumstances.  There were no black hats, dresses, and scarves typical to my concept of funerals.  We remembered and celebrated with bright colors and patterns that almost seem to permit any tears of sorrow.  It was almost as if she wouldn't allow us to be sad.  Looking back I know that she wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

The colors of my ancestry have given me a renewed sense of identity.  I love the joy of the people, the gratefulness they had for life, the pride they have in who they are and what they have to give to the world.  But most of all it spurred me to consider the question of my citizenship with a much deeper meaning than I had previously thought.

Am I Nigerian or Finnish, both, or neither?  The Bible states in Philippians 3:20, "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ."

Today I have a mindset more on the essence of what’s to come after life here on earth and my true citizenship in Heaven.

It makes me glad to know that I have an eternity to spend there getting to know people like my grandmother who I really didn’t get to know here on earth. Imagine that!  Thank you for letting me share a piece of my summer with you.  I encourage you to be proud of all the aspects of your heritage, embrace each piece in some way, but recognize that our real home will be in the life to come.  Don't get too comfortable here.  It is but a vapor.  ;)



The D Word


I have talked to a ton of people who dread going to school because of something seemingly petty. No matter what, it’s something that applies to - though it may not bother - everyone. It’s something we all have to take into consideration when we’re shopping, applying for a job, when we’re choosing what to wear in the morning, and when it gets to the middle of the day and that cami stacked under two other layers really seems like something that should be shed purely for survival. Dress code. It is something that governs everyone, but some people skate around it effortlessly, while other people are getting slapped with violations left and right. Obviously, we all know a lot of it has to do with whether or not your teacher or dean or whoever is having a good or bad day. Sometimes they’re just looking for something to bust, and if your shorts are even .00001 inches too short, you’re done.

So many people try as hard as they can to barely get around the rules. I suspect there are a lot of reasons for that, but mostly because getting called out of class for a dress code violation provides the very attention that’s being sought with the clothes themselves. Maybe we should consider how challenging it is for teachers and bosses to keep everyone on track without having to worry about what someone is wearing.

Often, there is confusion between the concepts of affection and attention. So here is something to think about. What kind of attention do we want to be known for? Will this kind of attention help us reach our goals in life (Since what is publicly posted can't ever be taken down)? Could the attention you are seeking potentially be rooted in a need for real affection from your family and people that care about you?

Dress Code Skirt

We do things, say things, and yes - dress a certain way, to attain some sort of reaction from people. Often confusing that for affection - when really, all we’re getting is a short mention at the top of someone’s mind.

This school year, I want to encourage you to respect yourself enough to just keep with the rules. The rules won't go away. One day you will work for a company that will have you in a uniform or request certain professional standards of attire. Will it be another battle then too? If so, the need for attention may cost you your job.

Seek to express yourself - your individuality, your personality, and your creativity - with your clothes. But consider looking deeper into the "why" behind what you are choosing to wear to school. You might as well stand in the courtyard during lunch and yell “LOOK AT ME.”

The rules are rules for a reason. They're in place for the benefit of everyone - including you. Even though we didn't come up with them, for the time being, and most likely in future working situations, we have to follow them. Do it poised and gracefully. After all, the most attractive quality is dignity.

Respect yourselves, girls.

Sustainable Fashion: It’s a state of mind


Lately there’s been lot of discussion around Eco fashion and sustainable consumption. The latter topic doesn't merely focus on the fashion industry, but is also referred to when considering other industries like the food industry, for example. Previously we discussed on Top Buttons about up cycling trends, a phenomenon that has become a trend in itself. It is both fun and helps to extend the life-cycle of garments. Another important aspect to consider is our patterns of behavior when it comes to consuming clothes. Do we buy for the thrill or do we buy to meet a need?

To start with, I think that in one or several stages of life, many of us have fallen victim to buying or acquiring stuff as a product of social pressure and the desire to conform and be a part of the “in crowd”.  Also perhaps we purchased for therapeutic reasons of getting something new to feel better about one’s self. It seems as though the western consumer mentality leans towards the famous adage: He who has the most toys wins. This mentality has given rise to the predominant culture of mass consumption which in turn has a great impact on endangering our environment and the lives of garment producers working to meet our unending desire for MORE. You can read about the conditions which garments are often produced under by reading this article, Sweatshops still make your clothes.


So what can we take from this? Well, how about thinking about what motivates you to buy in the first place. There’s nothing wrong with loving fashion and following new trends. But in the end, making use of what you already have and being the best steward of it, can have a big impact in shaping consumer culture in a positive way. It’s all about our state of mind. If you can be happy and content with the things that you already have and maximize the benefit of their use, you may find yourself loosing the need to acquire slightly varying replicas of what you already have.

Clearly, sustainable fashion is a wide and vast topic that can and should be covered in greater depth. With this being said, I hope to write more on this is the future. Till then I leave you with this passage:

For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we (have the basics of) food and clothing, we will (and should) be content with that. (1 Timothy 6:7- 8)

- Sandra

Donate Your Jewelry and Help Prevent Human Trafficking


With your BROKEN, unused, or unwanted jewelry, YOU can help prevent human trafficking in the Dominican Republic. Top Buttons is working with an organization called FIGHT Ministries (Freeing Individuals from the Grasp of Human Trafficking) based in Jarabacoa, which is in the center of the D.R.

Their purpose is to restore hope, healing, security and safety to the children of the Dominican Republic who live in an oppressed society where human slavery is rampant. As they move towards gaining the means to rescue and rehabilitate young women, they are currently working diligently on prevention.



In a 2009 report from the U.S. State Dept for Trafficking in Persons, the D.R. is ranked 4th in the world as a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Also noted was the fact that parents often push their children into prostitution to help support the family. You can read more about the difficulties in assessing the actual number of Haitian and Dominican children being trafficked by going to this link at the UNICEF website.


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Naomi Ostberg, one of the FIGHT Ministry's Team Members, described the people of the Dominican by saying, "They are loving, generous, and don't seem to meet a stranger. Unfortunately, they have a very strict history of religion which doesn't include a relationship with Jesus. Church is seen as a place one goes weekly to hear a set of rules, not a place for worship and personal growth. Religion can't save or fill the void within us all, only Christ can. We see young women reaching out for attention seeking to fill that void. Along with the challenges of Human Trafficking, sex is accepted here for even the very young. Sexiness with clothing and in attitude is commonly a dictator of who is considered beautiful and is encouraged in order to attract a possible rich spouse. Teaching young women to understand the importance of dressing with proper fitting clothes in order to protect themselves from traffickers, is a part of the FIGHT Ministries prevention plan along with teaching other life skills. These girls are lovely. We want them to know who they are on the inside is what makes them beautiful." She continued by saying, "We are working to show young girls the love of one man, Jesus, is more than enough. He is our Savior. He is our hope. Helping young girls understand this principle will be a stepping stone to encourage change and will help them overcome the challenges they face."


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"New Creations" was started as a part of their fight against human traffickers in this country. As they teach young girls in the community how to make and sell jewelry, they are less likely to believe the lies of the traffickers who try to lure them into slavery with promises of financial security.

FIGHT ministries has partnered with a local church in Jarabacoa. It is through this church that they have found some solid women in the community who their organization has taught the skill of making jewelry. Soon these women will be teaching this trade to their daughters and other children (mostly female) in their neighborhoods.

They want to "re-make" old and broken jewelry into "new creations". Just like Christ has done with us. Of course making money to feed one's family is a must! But the benefits of starting this project are so much bigger than simply putting change in their pockets. They want to equip these women to fight off their intruders with knowledge, a solid community, with an activity that will keep kids off the streets, and see God's provision at work in their lives as they strive to honor Him!

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Did you ever imagine that your UNWANTED jewelry whether old or new could be upcycled to prevent Human Trafficking?! We all debate what to do with our tarnished, broken, or unworn jewelry pieces. Please don't throw them away! They have requested:

*buttons, gems, or beads

*broken, new, unwanted, or unworn jewelry

*jewelry making supplies (like clasps)

*any other small items that could be used for jewelry making


We will be collecting jewelry pieces during July and August! Please send items to our office

256 North Kentucky Ave, Lakeland, Florida, 33801, Suite #105

Soon Top Buttons will take a few team members to the Dominican and deliver all the jewelry pieces we have collected. If you have any questions or would like to read more about FIGHT ministries. Please check out their website at

The images are of Naomi Ostberg and some children of Jarabacoa. Naomi is one of the 5 team members who founded FIGHT Ministries. She was an ESE teacher in central Florida before she and her husband (who had his own construction business) felt called to leave it all one year ago and move to the Dominican Republic to help fight against human trafficking.

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cupcake In today’s culture, couples are expected to be physically intimate in dating relationships. Young women feel pressure to have a boyfriend for acceptance and value. She may even feel she must do “whatever it takes to keep the boy interested,” especially when she is comparing herself and it appears the competition is tough… Then we have the fashion magazine articles, among many things, that encourage more and more of this. How to have your “Best first time,” “How to Make Him Want More,” and “What to Wear to Get Him in Bed,” are all titles of reading material you can find when you open up the standard Fashion Magazine. (Actually, those are the non-explicit versions.) We say… Thanks. But No Thanks! This Valentine’s Day, with the increase in sexually explicit material, we’d like to offer an alternative.

Chase and Paige Wagner met in 2009, were married in 2012, and have been together for 3 and ½ years. They met while at Biola University in La Mirada, CA, (outside of LA). Currently, Chase is the Worship Leader at Southeastern University, and just this week they released their new album on iTunes called, No Other Name. His wife, Paige, is a student at SEU.


First, we were able to catch them sharing a cupcake and cappuccino together. We felt a bit like intruders, but it wasn't long before they invited the whole crew to share their cupcake with them.  Which we gladly accepted!



Then we walked through the downtown Lakeland area for the photoshoot.  Seriously, this couple looks like they walked right off the set of a movie.  The difference though, is that their love is real. It’s authentic. It’s not a photoshop creation or a fake love affair. We asked them to share their story with us because we knew many young men and women would be encouraged by their relationship and how their focus on God has led to a beautiful, healthy marriage. They are still in the honeymoon phase, but no doubt they will be together “until death do they part” if the principles they have built their relationship on thus far are kept.



Paige, What did your life look like before you met Chase? I met Chase the first month of my freshmen year of college. Before I knew him I was a high school senior ready to graduate and start my college experience in Southern California.

Did you notice him before he noticed you? I don’t know who technically noticed whom first, BUT I definitely noticed him before he introduced himself to me. It was 2009.  At that time the “Zac Efron” hair was in style, and Chase rocked it so hard that he actually looked like Zac. Later when we were dating, random people would approach me and ask if I was the girl dating Zac Efron.



So Chase, what was it about Paige that caught your attention first? Paige was breathtakingly beautiful and still is.

How did you ask her out? I gathered up the nerve to introduce myself after randomly running into her and her friends in a parking lot in town.

Did she respond the way you hoped she would? Yes even in that first conversation she was fun, flirty, and energetic. But at the same I could tell she had self-respect. Being naturally “fun” is a great quality for a girl to have.

Where did you take her on your first date? I asked her to go to church with me the next Sunday.

Paige, we want to know! What do you remember most about your first date? Our first date, Chase asked me to go to a night service with him at Rock Harbor Church in Costa Mesa, CA. I remember talking about missions the whole time. I had felt called by God to go to India, and Chase had been to India a few years past. Come to find out, Chase had worked with the author of the book, Revolution of World Missions, while he was in India ...which was the very book that had inspired me to go there.  I also remember at the end of the night Chase leaning in to grab my hand.  I guess I misread the signal, because I took it as a “handshake” not a loving hand graze. We laughed at the awkward misunderstanding and from then on we “hand shaked” almost every time we left a date.

What did your dating relationship look like? We were pretty inseparable from the minute we met.  We spent a good amount of time in group settings when we first started dating but made sure we also had alone time to get to know each other deeper. We went out to eat, went out for yogurt, sipped Boba tea and drank a lot of coffee (we’re quite the foodies). With no previous understanding of each other’s lives, we had a lot of getting to know each other. Conversations were spent telling stories from our lives, about our families, our understanding of God and our dreams of the future. We set clear boundaries physically, knowing that waiting for physical intimacy would honor our values, each other, and our future together.

What quality do you like most about Chase? I love that Chase’s heart is postured like Christ’s. Chase is always aware and thinking of other people before himself. He is so selfless in his giftings. Chase is always depositing the blessings God’s given to him into other people, seldom holding them for himself. He has such a kind spirit about him always making people feel welcomed and heard.

What role did your relationship with Christ play in your dating experience? Christ didn’t play a role in our relationship; He was the POINT of our relationship.  Devotions and attending church together were a regular part of our time, but in the beginning we guarded our own personal relationships with God. Of course we would share what God was speaking to us, but personal time with God is so intimate.  We wanted to make sure we didn’t share too much while dating just in case the relationship didn’t end in marriage.

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Chase, when did you know she was the "one?" After our first conversation. I knew we’d get married.

That’s pretty bold. How did you know she was the "one" that you wanted to spend the rest of your life with? After discussing faith with her and watching that faith play out in the way she lived her life, I knew. She had a real authentic faith, not something that was forced through upbringing or the church or whatever. I loved watching her figure out how God's plan would play out into her personal reality. Her faith was honest and real. She had real questions and real struggles with God. But in the midst of all that I would describe her as “fun” and “light”- never taking herself too seriously.

All the girls want to know, how did you propose? I proposed to Paige at a summer camp she was working at in Northern California. She went to that summer camp every summer as a kid and accepted Christ there when she was 12 years old. The summer I proposed she was working at the same camp as a counselor. I drove down from Seattle her last night at camp and coordinated a candle light bonfire under the stars. It was there I asked Paige if she would accept me as her husband in the same place she accepted Jesus to be her Savior. She said yes.

Chase, we have lots of young female readers who hope to one day marry a man that will love and respect them unconditionally, What one piece of advice would you give our young female readers as to the importance of holding out for God's best?

Every person has baggage. Every person has made mistakes. Have GRACE for yourself and GRACE for others. Simply follow Jesus.



Interview by: Aarika Phillips

Photo Credit: Beth Carter


Be encouraged!  Whether you are single or dating, it's worth it to hold out and keep the bar high.  Your Happily Ever After will come as you make God the Center.

Happy Valentine's Day from the Top Buttons Team!





At a young age, high school students Elizabeth and Delaney have decided to put their talent and passion for capturing moments on film to use for a greater purpose. ed3

We've introduced you to Delaney before, but were excited to share a little more about her the characteristics that make this young woman so interesting. She is a high-energy junior in high school that has been captivated by film-making since the first grade. "I am a storyteller, Delaney confessed." She enjoys making stories come alive on screen, to entertain and educated others.

As far back as she can remember, she has been involved in video production. Delaney is a student at a performing arts school where she studies cinematography and video production. With this training she has gained skills in screenwriting, production, and editing, which she says has made her a well-rounded student.

“When thinking about my future, I’m not sure what I want to do. I know I love film, but I’m not sure if it’s going to be my career.” Delaney is a determined young lady, and with that focus and determination comes interests in many other things, which she says makes her future career decisions difficult. “No matter what I end up doing, the skills I’ve acquired thus far will translate into any career,” shared Delaney.


The lack of boundaries in the way women dress is often an issue that arises while working in the filmmaking, confessed Delaney. “But it's all about leadership. You have to work with so many different people in order to accomplish the vision for the film. I see this as an opportunity allow my actions to speak louder than my words. Modesty has a lot to do with respect for myself, but more so for my God.” Delaney shares that she believes that modesty is more than what you wear. It is an attitude of modesty and humility that is imperative in working with people, especially in the area of film and media.

She is prepared for her future as either a creator or connoisseur of film and will carry on her ideals to encourage modesty in young women in whatever field she ends up in.


Elizabeth is new to our Top Buttons team and she has a similar passion as Delaney. But hers is for photography. At the age of twelve she became fascinated with picture taking after her father received a camera for his birthday, but neglected to use it. Elizabeth took her Dad's camera and capitalized on this opportunity to photograph everything she could find. "I had no formal training," shared Elizabeth, "I looked online and taught myself about composition, depth, varying angles and camera settings." Elizabeth started out taking photos of friends and family, and developed her skills for capturing the moment.

Her desire is to capture moments and faces that people might not notice with a natural eye. "I just feel like it's natural when I'm taking pictures."

When asked why she wanted to be involved with Top Buttons, Elizabeth shared about her family values that have been instilled in her from a young age. In her family, she and her sisters have always been encouraged to have reasonable, but distinctly different boundaries of dress than the typical cultural standards of the day. She describes her view on modesty in media by saying, "There is no filter; It's challenging and near impossible to find modesty in photography."

Elizabeth is still deciding her future goals and desires, but would like to see herself owning a photography business on the side while being a mom and a physical therapist. “I will always be taking pictures, shared Elizabeth.”


Delaney and Elizabeth have combined their passions into one common cause. In a culture that expresses themselves in a way that demands attention for a false sense of self-confidence, these young women see the bigger picture. “We are excited to be a part of Top Buttons, and to have this platform to influence young women in a positive way,” they shared. They agreed that they feel empowered to be an example to teen girls who read the blog, and allow them to see that modesty can be fashionable and attainable with a little extra effort.

Photography: Jennifer Duarte



Fabric that is big, ugly, unflattering, and sweltering hot… Does this come to mind when you think of modesty? In 2013, we'd love to take this old term and give it a new definition. But where do we look to define Modesty? Who should define it? Should cultural standards impact our decision? Should we encourage young women to be set apart from society in how they dress when the options for such are so limited? Should we even have a blog promoting modesty, when “modesty" itself is based on the lack of self-promotion? There are many noble causes, should the way young men and women dress even matter in the grand scheme of things? The answers to these questions vary from person to person. But within the fabric of our society is a thread of faith. Faith should inspire growth, change, and healthy standards of behavior in many different areas. Modesty in conduct, which includes the way we dress, is a Christ honoring principle AND a healthy behavior choice.

How then do we determine what is and what isn’t modest?

There is more than one dictionary to define words and phrases. The Webster’s Dictionary was once the place to look; now ANY online site claiming to be a reliable source is used. The Urban Dictionary is quite crass at times, but I found their definition of the word “modesty” to be humorous and thought-provoking. It states, “Modesty is the art of enhancing your charm by pretending not to be aware of it.” This is a secular view which implies people who aim for humility are really actors striving to draw more personal attention. Why does secular society see a humble or modest expression, reflecting one’s desire to honor God and others rather than oneself, as pretentious? This social media, “like my post,” driven society is desperate for attention. We are so desperate that we buy what we can’t afford, pretend our life is what it isn’t on Facebook, and work to gain a following to feel like we “are somebody.”

Here's a valid thought…Wouldn’t young men and women wear styles that are more modest if their music and television role models dressed in more modest clothing? I believe they absolutely would. The need for ATTENTION we all have, gets a strong fix from shock value. SHOCK VALUE occurs as a response to loud and obnoxious opinions, “in-your-face” behavior, and “I’ll wear what I want” styles. This cycle of attention fulfilled through shock value promotes selfishness and more risky societal behavior.

What to do? We can’t redefine modesty in totality because it represents an ever changing principle influenced by the culture, faith and upbringing of its time. It isn’t a term anyone can give absolute guidelines on.

And the look of a modest woman has changed so much over the years. At Top Buttons, we debated whether or not to even use the term “modest” at all, because of the disgust most teens have when they turn the term over in their mouth. It appears that modesty makes most young people think of layering big ugly clothes and gives the feeling of "being controlled." We discussed whether we should use the word “classy,” but that infers “rich” by many people. We do like the phrase “fashion with extra fabric,” but this is a bit long to replace “modesty” with. We also know some other religious communities might be offended by our standard of the term which does not reflect their own. While we respect modest style expressions, at Top Buttons, we recognize that extreme modest styles could be impractical and not easily attainable for young women who do not sew their own clothes and want to dress in a way that doesn't alienate them from their peers.

In 2013, we resolve to talk about, encourage, and redefine this principle with all who are interested. We would love to have you weigh in on the matter. Is it possible to redefine modesty? Or should we throw it out and use a new term? Can we help young women to see this term in a different light? We’d like to know…what do you see when you think of modesty by today's standards? Do you feel it's reasonable to encourage young men and women to have some boundaries in their clothing styles? Why or why not?

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Garrard

Written By: Sarah Powers

Promoting Fashion With Extra Fabric


Because Modesty is not just for winter time, church, and tradition... An idea exists among girlfriends that dressing modestly is “boring” or that it forces you to have to deny your identity.  At Top Buttons we believe a young woman can express a  personal unique style in a way that doesn't have to compromise values or deny personality.  The balance of expressing your style and setting boundaries is possible when you have the right resources to help you do so and the passion to make the extra effort.

We should keep in mind the TV shows we watch, music we listen to, celebrities we look to as role models, and fashion magazines we place in front of our eyes influence our concept of what is “normal” and acceptable.  We are reaching a point where the limitations on "acceptable" behavior are being challenged, and in many cases completely removed.  More specifically we see the boundaries being pushed shamelessly in the everyday clothing styles that stack shelves in our favorite shops.

This whole modesty project came out of a desire to simply encourage a more modest take on current fashion trends.  Researching the presence of modest fashion blogs, we found that there are actually some phenomenal blogs on modesty.  Many of which could be inspirational to teens, but few that specifically focus on teens with their styles and content.

So we are determined to fill this need and provide you with a modest fashion resource put together mostly by young ladies your own age.   We will work to filter out the unnecessary sexual material that is commonly connected with fashion magazines and showcase a Top Buttons version of current fashion trends.  But yet our content will include much of the fun ideas that other magazines hold.

On the website we will have posts that include:

  • Current fashion trends with a more modest take.  We call this “Fashion with Extra Fabric.”
  • Video tutorials on beauty and fashion
  • Modesty Solutions
  • Updates on our local Shopping Sprees for underprivileged teens
  • Modesty on the Streets (MOTS) representatives sharing their perspective on fashion and modesty from their city or country

While we could criticize some of the popular young celebrities with their immodest styles and glamorized scandalous behavior, instead through Top Buttons, we would like to connect you with some incredible young women who have a different take on life and fashion.

Over the next few weeks you will get a glimpse into the lives of our team members.  Our team is made up of young women who are magazine interns, video editors, journalism majors, fashion bloggers, inspirational writers, etc…  Additionally, we are working with teens who will research, model, and be a part of our Modesty on the Streets (MOTS) Campaign.  We have been meeting and working on the content of the blog extensively for the past 2 months.  We aren’t looking to define modesty through establishing a rule.  We know there are so many factors which influence one’s definition of modesty, from one’s cultural background, to religious preferences and upbringing. We hope to start a conversation of what a more modest take on fashion could look like.

We know that our character is not defined by our outward appearance, but it does create a perception.  How we look does send a message.   Asking ourselves if the outfits we wear send a message which reflects the truth about who we really are, should be a daily practice.  We hope to encourage all young women to place a higher value on inner qualities than on outward appearance.  We look forward to connecting with you through Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Youtube, and our blog posts.  Talk to us!  We want to hear your ideas and see your modest outfits!  Join this “collective voice” ...a movement for modesty. Check out our Give Back and Get Involved pages to see how you too can be a part of the Top Buttons team!

You are not alone.  Together, we'll keep it classy!

Sarah and the Top Buttons Team


Photo Credit:  Beth Carter Photography