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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Beauty of Community

Two years ago, I quit my job, moved home with my parents and started a blog. I felt strongly led by the Lord to share my heart openly on these pages. To pursue my dream of freelance writing. And my passion to speak into young women's lives - to encourage them in their lives and faith by talking about real issues. A "ministry" started to grow, spontaneously, through this little blog. Connecting with other women on a heart-to-heart level. Finding kindred spirits and really-true-friends. Out of nowhere, an "email ministry" began and high school and college age young women began writing to me and sharing their stories, their struggles, their hearts. I found like-minded women through the Internet, through this blog world. And yet, I lacked community. I lacked that feeling I remembered from college - sitting around with sisters, sipping coffee and just "being." I missed the "in-person" camaraderie, the sisterhood. And that's when I found out about Influence Conference. It was a new conference, never before hosted and a new venture for the ladies who led it. Financially, I was in a season of trusting the Lord big time. A season of holding my hands open, giving him my fears and hopes and dreams. When I first read about the Influence Conference online, I immediately felt a stirring in my heart: Oh, I have to go! These women are just like me. They are kindred spirits, I know it. This is just the kind of conference I would love to go to - to connect, mingle, bond with, and build a sisterhood and community! All of which I lacked desperately at the time. And yet, I could [in no way] afford it at the time. I remember, oh so clearly, one Saturday afternoon that summer. How I checked social media + noticed many "blog friends" announcing their ticket purchases and plans for Influence. How passionately I wanted to go. Yet, how impossible it seemed. I slipped into my bed in the afternoon and shed a few tears. Lord, there is no way for me to attend, I can't afford it right now. But, oh how I wish I could go. DING. My phone email rang out. Wiping away a black-mascara-tear, I picked up my phone and read my newest email. From a blog friend I knew only from heart-to-heart Skype dates and encouraging emails. She simply wrote these words:


I'm excited to meet you in October, Erin.
This is for you.

Scrolling down, even bigger tears filled my eyes. My "blog friend" bought me a ticket to Influence. And just like that, I was going to attend. The Lord answered my prayer. In the most unexpected way. This gal knew nothing of my prayers or desire to go. 

Friends, it blew me away. She later shared with me how she stood in worship at church that morning + felt strongly [out of nowhere!] the Lord speak to her heart, to purchase a ticket for me. She wrestled + wondered. Budgeted and counted. Really, Lord? And then, she obeyed. 

I hopped on a plane from LAX to the MidWest that October. And spent the sweetest three days in Indianapolis with some of the most amazing women  I've ever met.

Community came around me in those few days and enveloped me in a new, refreshing, raw, real, tangible, overwhelmingly good way. I felt understood. Not so alone. The speakers were so relatable. The girls I shared a room with were kindred spirits. The ladies I chatted with - grandmas and new mamas and single twenty-somethings - were all gems and the kind of women who felt like sisters. I attended that first year and the next, too - serving as a community leader and speaking to the sweet single gals. 

Sisters, I highly recommend joining the community at Influence Conference. Despite fears and questions and insecurities - the ones I had the first and second years. 

What if my blog is not 'big' enough? 
What if I am not accepted by these other women? 
They're all wives and moms, I'm still unmarried and single... what if I don't fit in? 
What if I don't dress like or look like or act like 'the ideal blogger'?

Oh, friends. I faced the fears. The insecurities. The struggles of flying half-way across the country and putting myself out there. Being vulnerable and real and open to sisters I only knew online. But, you guys - it was oh so worth it. 

I will always remember the worship night that ended the conference on year one. How I ugly-cried through the entire hour. How I felt like I was standing beneath a waterfall of blessings and felt the Lord presence in a way I hadn't for years. How the brokenness and pain in my life those years melted into worship and healing began to come. In a way I hadn't felt at church, even. 

There is something sacred about women coming together - blogger or non-blogger, it doesn't matter at Influence Conference - and being sisters. Being friends. Learning. Growing. Chatting. Having coffee dates. It is powerful and life-changing and world-changing.

Sister, I hope you join me and these beautiful-hearted women in our community. And build your online family + sisterhood.

'Cause, it's really good, healing and beautiful.


SHARE YOUR STORIES OF COMMUNITY WITH US



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I'M KRISTEN PHOTOGRAPHY | glamour shoot

While in Oklahoma, I had the special privilege of being photographed by Kristen of I'm Kristen Photography. She is not only a talented artist who is a thrill to work with! But, she is also my Cowboy's sister-in-law. What a happy mix! 
photo via: imkristen.com

Back in April, Kristen spent a month in beautiful Santa Barbara, California with her husband Caleb - my guy's twin brother,  their sweet boy, Rowdy, and their little-one-on-the-way, Ryan. Daniel joined them for the month. I spent much of my April with them, seaside. And Kristen + I had some good, deep, funny, heart-to-heart, inspiring conversations. 

I learned that she is an adoring wife [ read their romantic, hilarious, sweet love story here ]  devoted mama, and a busy, very successful photographer, gifted storyteller, writer, and she runs a charming Instagram clothing shop for littles [visit it here!] Kristen handles it all with an easy grace. She loves her little family with a passion and is the kind of woman who [I can tell] would do a n y t h i n g for "her people" [ read more about her family and life here ] -- much like her "Mama Bear" - who went to be with Jesus just a few months ago [ read more about her Mama's journey at imkristenlearning.com 

Kristen has walked through more loss + grief this year alone than most of us can imagine and yet she is consistently hopeful, outward, and loving toward others + upward-looking-toward-Him. She + her husband lost their sweet little baby, Ryan Day, recently, and shared the heartache and story here on their family blog [I so admire her openness to write about something so many of women walk through in their lives and very few people openly discuss] 

She is fun to be around, funny, and also serious + seasoned. You can tell, just by being in her presence for an hour - this young woman has seen some life: she has stood atop the very highest heights of happiness, and... she has bravely waded through the very deepest depths of heartache. She is a thinker. A smart, sharp business mind. She absolutely loves Disneyland [ we spent a day there together + this California girl has never explored the Magic Kingdom with someone who smiled bigger when walking down Main Street, whipping out the park map + planning where-to-go-next, and riding the "Dumbo" ride! ]  Her joy and her heart is her husband + their babies. She is wildly creative. She is an actual, real-life "foodie" [ not a poser-foodie like so many of us ;) ] + can find the best taco stands, food trucks, and restaurants in an given city, at any given moment [I swear, it's one of her gifts!] She is disarmingly perceptive. Good at "reading" people and really taking the time to get to know them, to ask thoughtful + pointed questions, to listen carefully and then to open up and [ very-honestly ] share her heart, advice, and thoughts. She's one of those people I feel that I could could comfortably tell just about anything ... and she would never be shocked or ignore or judge. She would take the time to listen and try to understand and love. 

What a joy it is to become friends with your boyfriend's family! Kristen, thank you for sharing your fabulouness with me as you styled and shot these dream-come-true-for-me-photos. I so hope to spend more time with you, share more Wal-Mart-stories ;) and "beach" with you in the days&years to come :) 


[ connect with kristen ] 







Note from Kristen about booking [ and really, you should do it. ] 


 - to book your own i'm kristen portrait or headshot session, 

especially in the maryland/virginia/dc, new york/boston, or oklahoma to dallas areas
E-MAIL ME HERE
(i'll also be traveling around san francisco + the lake tahoe/nevada areas in coming months.)



enjoy these photos! she made my Carrie Bradshaw-wanna be dreams come true!
You will be seeing many more of these shots at my upcoing magazine and online website for women:

See more photos here at Kristen's blog



*** 


+++ Thank you again, Kristen! +++

And friends,
Book this girl. Fly her to + hire her for your wedding, 
engagement,  family events, blog headshots.
 She is uuhh-mazing. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

LAZEL FARM | feature

Happy Sunday, beauties!

I'm sorry I've been a bit MIA lately, as I've been traveling - spending time in Oklahoma with my guy and his family  + then heading off on vacation with my family in California! I've loved sharing a few of my blog sisters in our community, and I will be back this week with some updated posts! 'Til then, I have one more lovely friend to introduce you to - Sarah of Laze L Farm. This gal's blog is uniquely fun + interesting to follow and read because she and her new hubby live on a farm! She describes where she lives as a place "where the tea is sweet and the weather is beautiful year round." Sarah has a precious heart and warmly shares her beautiful farm life. I l o v e farms and the country, and so I especially enjoy peeking into her life! Get to know her + go visit her, follow her, and say hi! 

[ meet sarah of lazel l farm ] 


Hi I'm Sarah and I blog over at Laze L Farm.  I started the blog in hopes of letting everyone see a glimpse into our lives on the farm as a married couple.  I have a love for photography, especially rodeo and the outdoors and getting to share it with everyone.  My husband and I have been married for just over a year being married has been one of the best things that I have ever done.  Life on the farm is always crazy and there is never a dull moment!

[ 5 things about her ] 

+ I love photography and am always learning something new

+ I have been riding and showing horses since I was old enough to walk.  Once you get horses into you blood you can never get rid of it.

+ My husband is the third generation to live on the farm.

+ We raise dairy steers and have a beef business we run together

+ I'm a country girl at heart and have always had a love for the outdoors and finding someone that has the same passion for farming and agriculture has been a dream come true


[ connect ] 
instagram: @lazelfarm

Sunday, June 29, 2014

TITUS 2 MINUTES | feature



Hi from Oklahoma!

I'm here spending time with my sweet Cowboy and his family + so this weekend I have a few special friends to introduce you to! A passion of mine and one of my favorite things about blogging is connecting women. Meet Courtney - she loves the Lord + has so much encouragement to share on her blog. Get to know her below + be sure to go check out her blog + links, and say hi :)

[ meet courtney  of titus2minutes ]
titus2minutes was born out of my desire to encourage women and my typical blog reading style. I am a huge reader, but when it comes to blogs I lose interest quickly when the post is really long. I figured that there were other people who felt the same way. So I created titus2minutes. I write posts that are designed to encourage women in about two minutes. 

[ five things ] 

+ I never had any long term plans for blogging. It is just something that has involved over time. I found that when I opened up and wrote about the things that I was struggling through, a lot of people could relate. It has been a blessing to encourage people to keep pressing on in living a life of faith! 

+ I have been married for a year and a half to my best friend! He is studying to be a pastor and when he graduates we plan on moving to New England to be in ministry. 

+ I work full-time as the marketing director of a property management company, which is totally random. I had hardly any marketing experience before this job and I have a degree in Home Economics. Go figure! 

+ I love event planning! I coordinate weddings and events on the side. I am currently in the midst of planning a red carpet birthday party for my little sister's sweet sixteen! 

+ One of my life goals is to write a book! I haven't decided what it will be about, but it is something that I have always wanted to do. 

[ connect ] 


Saturday, June 28, 2014

WITH DIGNITY + COFFEE | feature


Hi from Oklahoma!

I'm here spending time with my sweet Cowboy and his family + so this weekend I have a few special friends to introduce you to! A passion of mine and one of my favorite things about blogging is connecting women. The gal I'm sharing with you today has a heart of gold + is a huge encouragement. Get to know her below + be sure to go check out her blog and links, and say hi :)


XO!
Erin
  ___ 

[ meet kaeleen ]

 Hello! My name is Kaeleen and I blog at With Dignity & Coffee. I'm one of those "currently in between jobs" writers, which means I get to focus lots of time on my blog! I love writing about life + style as well as faith. I aspire to be a light to girls {and guys} who don't feel good enough, those who love Jesus and are lost and broken. 


[ five things about kaeleen ]
+ I wear a size 1 kids' shoe.
+ My biggest celebrity crush is Justin Timberlake. He stole my heart when I was about seven. 
+ I've lived in the same Texas town my entire life.
+ I'm kind of obsessed with records and the feeling that comes with listening to them.
+ I absolutely, wholeheartedly, cannot function without my morning coffee.


[ connect ]


Saturday, June 21, 2014

COWBOY + ME | a love story


T H R E E | D A Y S + us = reunited. ///// this picture? Our first-ever taken together. He arrived in Los Angeles one Tuesday night in February. We spent Wednesday in Malibu. It wasn't awkward, but as just-met strangers, it was new. I was so excitedly nervous, I forgot to pack a beach blanket. So we stopped at Wal Mart + all we could find? A Duck Dynasty beach towel. We sat on Uncle Si + let the sea air blow our hair as we talked. I took him up to the cliffs to see the gorgeous view. He held onto my hand to help me up the steep, sandy parts. *Butterflies!* We got to the top and looked over the vast Pacific Ocean: so blue, so big, so dreamy. He picked a yellow flower and put it in my hair [major swoon.] I'll never forget how a Nike-wearing young woman hiker stopped us right at the edge of the cliff and said, 'Want me to take your picture? I KNOOOOW how important these moments are.' She snapped this one. I thought, 'You have no idea.'  

Friday, June 20, 2014

ON LIFE

Happy Friday, friends!

Remember when I shared all about the upcoming film, "Alison's Choice", produced by my dear friend Bruce Marchiano? [See blog post all about it HERE] This film is oh so close to my heart and I believe it will be used by the Lord to touch and save lives. I so encourage you to take a few moments this weekend and check out the film's website and pray about supporting this life-celebrating ministry. Visit: http://alisonschoice.com/

You are so loved.  

XO.

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