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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sweet friends,

Happy 2015! 

Whew. 2014 was an amazing, full year. A year (for me) of such contrast to the one before: full of hopes fulfilled and dreams come true. I've really never lived a year quite like it. After a streak of about five honestly discouraging, long, weary, and quite lonely years, the Lord graciously and very kindly gifted me with a magical 2014. Very specific prayers were answered right before my very eyes and the man of my prayers and dreams came waltzing into my life. I cried alot of tears before I met him. How often my mama would console me and say, "In a moment, everything can change. You will wake up one day, and he will be here. Overnight. Just you wait and see!" I kept the faith (weakly at times) and then, as surely as Mom said, he was here. [sidenote -- many readers have told me in rather thoughtless comments, "How desperate are you?! It's not all about getting married or finding a guy. GOSH." And no -- it is not. But, it is a real and important dream. A gift when had. Something very worth waiting for. Not the end-all be-all of life. I was purposefully single for a long time. When men came knocking, I was extremely "picky" and careful. I wanted His best for me. Someone who would treat me right, who would be right for me. I wanted "sparks" and the "can't eat, can't sleep, reach for the stars, over the fence, world series" kind of love. (Do you Mary Kate + Ashley lovers feel me?) No one would tell a longing mother struggling with infertility and without a child how silly, stupid, or desperate her longings, prayers and desire to have a baby are. So, waiting sisters -- know: you are full and complete, totally loved and wanted, treasured and fulfilled without a man. But if you desire a husband, it is not wrong or silly, desperate or stupid. It is perfectly beautiful and do not give up on your dreams or hopes. Hold on and do not settle for anything less than "magic" and a man who treats you like the GOLD that you are! Sidenote ended haha!] I am so grateful for my Daniel. He is a gift and, though we are not perfect, this love story is truly written by God and I cannot believe how sweetly He has blessed us. For no other reason than He is GOOD. 

And so you know, dear friend -- we are planning our wedding -- set for the spring! And I am literally neck-deep in planning and preparing. This last year has been so full of travel, family, and learning. And honestly, my little blog here has seen far less post and far less tender loving care than it was used-to. And that is OK. There are seasons. And though I have seen and know how infinitely special and wonderful the Internet can be (because of you people on it) sometimes certain things take priority. "Real life" wins out. And boundaries need to be set. I have so missed my community here. The sisterhood that this space really has been. But getting to know this Oklahoma Cowboy was important, and good. Life is an ebb and flow, a winding ride. And I want to do it right, for Him.

I want to be all there. I want to sink my teeth deep into this season, and feel it with my heart. all of it. I want to not just feel it with my heart, but think it with my mind.
And I cannot do it when I am neck-deep in trying to "catch up."  

You, my dear readers, have sent the kindest, sweetest emails. Full of thoughtfulness and happiness for us. THANK YOU. For all the wonderful comments. The encouraging private messages. The sweet excitement when we started dating, got engaged, and are planning our lives and wedding. It means the world to have you here, to share it with us. Yet, I am honestly oh so behind. On email replies, comment responses, private messages. And I am sorry for not getting back to everyone like I wish I could. But I cannot, because I'm just one gal ;) And don't have unlimited time. But, please know that I read every single comment and every single email! And smile ear to ear (and sometimes even shed a tear or two) over your precious stories, hearts and words. Thank you! 

And a (very) quick + brief word to those who have left and sent some not-so-encouraging or sweet comments and emails: this is a space of GRACE. Of encouragement and inspiration. Of kindness. I barely have time to reply to my kind-hearted, well-meaning, wonderful friends and sisters. I certainly don't want to use that time arguing, defending, or wrangling it out with hate-mailers. Basically, I feel the same way as Kelle Hampton, one of my fav blog sisters in her post on trolls and hater comments, here : "I appreciate meaningful conversations and differing opionins about everything from religion and politics to parenting, but personal attacks, demands and general 'you're doing it wrong, you suck!' comments simply aren't tolerated here. No shirt, no shoes, no service. Kissy emoticon. Handclap emoticon...... After years of allowing people to anonymously leave snarky comments-- because 'you put yourself out there, you should be able to take it.' -- I now adhere to the same rules I have in my home: if the dog s**** on the carpet, I clean it up."  So that's that. I am so thankful for the 90% of comments and emails and words I receive that are life-giving and kind. To those who think I suck, that's okay and that's your opinion. Please spend your time on something more constructive than spreading hate around the internet, though, ok? It's such a sad waste of a precious life.

Friends, it is a season for me -- this next month -- to take some time to get caught up. To not just run a hundred miles an hour with my hair on fire trying to desperately catch up, but to carefully pick up the random scattered pieces that I am behind on, and to reorder this precious little blog space where I met all of you. To focus on cleaning out my overflowing inbox. To take a deep breath. I jumped head-first, fearless, into alot of exciting projects this year. With the BEST of intentions. My Graceful Magazine project (whose links mysteriously broke.... oops. That needs fixing!) and Erin James Shop, that I had the best of intentions to start but got swamped along the way. I need to step back and combine things. To re-strategize. And to make things simpler, more streamlined, easier, and more His. Who knew that we cannot do it all?! ;) And so, I am moving into a new season of stepping back.

I will be taking the next month to get caught up on my sweet blog and online projects, organize, and plan my wedding! This blog is going to change in some ways. I will be back! And fully here. But perhaps in a different way. This blog started as Sweetness Itself Blog, a dream from the Lord that came to fruition and brought so many wonderful young women into my path. And it was very-distinctly, a ministry. At times, I felt like a youth group leader. I wrote about very sensitive, close to the heart topics. Like sex and waiting. I spent hours upon hours every single day, emailing back hurting, broken, precious young women who needed a friend. I made very little money in general the last 3 years, I lived at home with my parents -- as I daily pursued this online ministry. In alot of ways it exploded and became so full -- a full time ministry that took all my time and attention; which I had at that time... what a gift to be single, unattached and free to minister in that way in that season. And my heart was full. Through this blog, I met my future husband. And it has all been the most wonderful journey. I am so thankful. For each and every one of you. And your blogs. And hearts. Emails and stories. Secrets and friendship. I was asked to speak at Influence Conference twice and to share my heart with single ladies. I self-published my e-book devotional, P.S. He Loves You. It's been nothing short of amazing. But my life has changed. I am walking into a new season. I am a soon-to-be wife. And my first priority will be my husband and family. It is a good, needed, right change. This blog is my heart. My story. Little pieces of my journey as a gift to you. But it cannot be the "ministry" it was. Seasons change. And a new season is here for me. I am so excited to stay here in this space, and invite you along to our journey. Thank you, dear friends, for your love and support. The emails we have shared, the friendships built -- they've been nothing short of His grace to me. Thank you. 

All of this to say, I am taking a step away from the blog and some of my social media for the month of January -- I will be posting pieces of my life on my Instagram  so come say hi there. Around Valentine's Day, I will be back and better than ever! With new things, a new look, and new posts! I am so excited to share more of my love story-so-far and more of my heart and passions with you, my friends. In a new, fresh, new-season kind of way! I'm excited for some how Graceful Magazine and my shop will combine in a perfectly magical way to (hopefully!) be something inspiring and good. A sisterhood, of sorts. A dream I have to connect you and you and you.

Sisters, I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you, to update you on "where I am" and to tell you I am still here. But need to take a little time to get caught up : on my wedding, to care for my health, which has been suffering in some ways due to the stress of being so behind and swamped on the blog, and to bring my heart to Him in this, and to be a good and faithful steward of this internet space He has so graciously given me. Thank you for being a part of my sisterhood. And stick around, sisters. Because, the best is yet to come. ( for you and me. because that is what He gives us. ) 

If you are waiting for an important sponsor and advertising -related email from me (in regards to this blog or Graceful Magazine) expect replies within the week and lots of plans and ideas on how to collaborate, okay friends?

Really love you with all my humbled heart,


P.S. -- See you on Instagram. And, back here on Valentine's week! 

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