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Friendship: The Importance of Befriending Older Generations

For my most of my life I have struggled with friendship. I’ve had a difficult time building long-lasting friendships with girls my age and girls in a similar stage of life. In fact, most of my closest friends are significantly older than I am — as in they belong to entirely different generations. I’ve always viewed this part of my life as just something I couldn’t quite crack the code to. Earlier this year, as I transitioned into working full-time from home, I knew I needed to be extra prayerful about friendship. I knew this new stage of life might come with some loneliness and I knew not having those close co-worker relationships would leave somewhat of a void in my life.

So, I prayed that in the new year the Lord would provide me with friends. And boy was I excited when I was given an opportunity to join a women’s bible study. Yes, I thought. This will finally be a way for me to connect with some girls my age. And, as luck would have it…every single woman in that study is at least a decade older than me; some are a few decades older. And I was honestly a little disappointed. Because it fit right into the story of my life — always having a circle of friends that is far older than me.

And as we sat in study one morning and each woman was sharing her story and the things she has learned….I realized what an amazing privilege I had in being the youngest one in their presence. The wisdom that surrounded me was so refreshing when I finally saw what a blessing it was. And I finally learned something I think God has been trying to teach me for most of my life: the friendships I have with older women are the friendships I need the most.

So, today I want to walk you through why I think this is something God has been trying to reveal to me and why I think it is so important that we seek friendship with older generations.

Why Do We Need Older Women In Our Life?

The answer is probably pretty obvious: they are wise. And they can offer perspectives on our current situations that none of our similar-in-age gal-pals can. Having experience in different stages and transitions in life gives these women the ability to speak encouragement and direction into our lives.

At only 25 I feel like I still have so much growing to do. I still have moments of over-reacting, selfishness, and jumping into decisions a little too quickly. I still have so many questions about normal parts of life and adulthood. Like…at what point do I stop wearing cat-inspired clothing? What kind of vitamins should I really be taking? How often should I wash my windows? And exactly which garments should I be dry-cleaning? And, obviously more profound things like marriage, biblical principles, and the fears I have about starting a family. That is precisely why I need older women in my life to turn to with these questions.

The wisdom of women in older generations, whether 10 years older or old enough to be our grandmother, is unlike any other wisdom you can find. I would encourage you to seek these women out and befriend them with intention. Let them know you want their guidance and mentor-ship. They are likely spilling over with advice and more than willing to share with you.

Where Can We Find These Women?

Friend, the wisdom is all around you! In your family, your church, your workplace, and probably even your university.

The women in my family that I spend the most time with are, of course, my mom and grandmother and aunt. But, I also spend time with cousins that are significantly older than me. In fact, my summer after college was spent mostly with a cousin that is older than my mom.

Now that I live a little farther away from my family, I spend time with my husband’s family. My mother-in-law is a wonderful source of wisdom and because she has lived a totally different life than my own mom she can offer a whole new level of such wisdom. I’m close with one of my husband’s older sisters even though she is more than a decade older than I am. She offers so much wisdom about raising children and navigating marriage because she is still journeying through that season of her life.

Outside of family, I spend a lot of quality time with older women from my church, former co-workers and even former supervisors that I have gained so much wisdom from. I’ve even built friendships with wives of older men that my husband has befriended. As a couple, my husband and I have discovered that there is just nothing like getting marriage advice from couples who have been married far longer than we have.

If none of these routes seem like a good source of friendships for you then try reaching out to older women in your community like those that own small businesses, women you see in your gym or yoga class, and that lady that lives across the street. You might be surprised by the places you can find really wonderful friendships.

If you have known me for any length of time then you know that I used to work in the Interior Design field. And one of the most wonderful blessings I found in that was getting to befriend all of the clients I had, especially the older women. I’m still quite close with a few of them even though I have stepped out of the industry. I fell in love with going into these women’s homes and hearing their stories.

So, friend, just keep your eyes open. There is a woman out there that is so ready to offer you wisdom and guidance and true friendship.

How Do You Invest In These Friendships?

So, maybe you already have some women in your life that you look to for advice. But you’re just confused about how you can invest in those friendships. Well, just like everything else we have talked about today, it’s really quite simple.

First of all, it’s important that you recognize that the friendship you can have with an older woman is not a one-way street. I have found that most of the friendships I have with older generations are just as much a source of joy for them as they are for me. So, never believe that by seeking out these friendships you are taking more than you can give. You just have to be conscience about how you invest in them.

I have found that older women love to share their life experience with me and talk for hours about what they have journeyed through and what they have learned. And I have found that they wouldn’t have these long conversations if it didn’t give them some sort of purpose. My mother-in-law is part of a the same local bible study that I attend and she has regularly mentioned that she loves being the oldest at our table because she loves getting to share her experiences with the rest of us in hopes that it helps us journey through our own seasons and stories.

So, you see, there is room for you to make a difference in this friendship as well. Be receptive of what your friend shares — really consider her advice and apply it to your own life. Give your time and be fully present in whatever it is you choose to do together. Share your worries and fears and questions about life regularly — this reminds her that her own story is incredibly purposeful. And, of course, be sure to let her know how grateful you are for her friendship. If this particular woman is not a family member, go out of your way to make her FEEL like family. Invite her to important life events — like your bridal shower or college graduation. Let her know that you don’t take her presence in your life for granted.

How can we pay it forward?

Maybe you have a solid friendship with women of older generations. And maybe you are really being present in that friendship and investing as best you can. But, there is one more way that you can be intentional about friendship: be the older woman. Even if you are barely out of high school or only in your early 20s. You can still find a young girl that needs your presence in her life. Maybe she is an only-child in your extended family — be the big sister she always wanted! Perhaps she is a teenager you know without a mom or a strong female role in her life. Maybe she is YOUR little sister or your best friend’s little girl. Whoever she is, try to remember where and who you were at that stage of life and what you needed in a role-model. And be whatever that is FOR HER.

Friendships are so much more than just our girlfriends whose life is just as messy as our own. Friendship is a long conversation with your neighbor. Friendship is crying with a co-worker when she’s walking through a time of grief. Friendship is being the role-model to someone that you wish you had growing up. Friendship is valuing the presence of someone in your life, no matter her age.

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Office Essentials for Bloggers & Gals Who Work From Home

Before I took the leap to work from home and take my little blog to full-time business, I knew that I needed a few things to keep me productive in my day-to-day. If I’m not organized and equipped with what I need, I usually fail to complete tasks (or at least complete them well). So, as I prepared to start 2019 with a new job title and boss (myself) I knew that I needed to get a few things in order.

Today, I’m sharing all of the office essentials I use to stay productive and organized while working from home. Even if you haven’t quite reached the point of full-time blogging, you can still apply all of these to your current schedule. Even those of us that are up late blogging while the rest of the family sleeps need a certain amount of organization.

1. Space

I live in a small house, friend. As in, two bedrooms and one bath. We are in what you might call a starter home…because there would be no room for kiddos in this house that’s for sure. Even though our home is small, I could not see myself being productive from my dining room table. It didn’t work in high school, it didn’t work in my dorm, and I knew it wouldn’t work as I pursued full-time blogging.

So, I created a space that would be designated for my blog and nothing else. In our small spare room, which is basically just storage for all of the things we don’t have a place for, I cleared off one wall. This space is probably all of 6 feet wide, if that. But, I cleared it off and moved in a tiny desk facing the wall. I covered the wall in inspirational prints and photos. Even if I’m not looking out of a window or into a pretty room, I at least have something motivating in front of me while I’m working.

And this is my office. Six feet of wall and a tiny desk. But, it’s MY space to work and that is really all I needed. It isn’t where we eat dinner. Or fold laundry. Or sleep. It’s my place to be alone with my work and it helps me get into a business mind set as soon as I sit down.

So, I would suggest creating space where ever you can. Can you turn your vanity into a desk area? How about that dining room you only use on Thanksgiving? I even have a friend that turned her sun-room into her office because it was a space she never used otherwise. Where ever you can create space you can create a work space. Behind me still sits unpacked boxes, bags of seasonal clothing, and that pile of stuff for Goodwill that I still haven’t bothered to take. It’s not pretty except for the wall behind my desk. But, it WORKS.

2. A Planner for Actual Planning

I am totally the girl that just buys planners each year and lets them collect dust. Until I started blogging that is. If you think you can create good content and stay consistent without planning it all out then you are going to feel burnt out all the time, I promise.

So, before you even start writing your posts, I would suggest getting your hands on a good planner and start mapping out the first quarter of your posts for the year. This will help you stay consistent in your writing and help train your brain to live by a schedule so if you decide to blog full-time you will already have systems in place.

Your planner does not need to be expensive or overly complicated. You just need a planner that gives you monthly and weekly schedules with room to write in blog post ideas and social media post dates. I’ve listed some of the ones that I love below.

disclosure: I may receive a commission on products purchased through these links. This does not affect your price or experience but helps me keep this little corner of the internet up and running.

3. Basic Office Tools

You might be surprised how often you might need a file folder or a stapler. When you get deep into blogging there is so much to keep track of: monthly agendas, marketing strategy worksheets, financial records, blog post ideas, contacts. And it can all get messy and unorganized really quickly. Plus, nothing is more frustrating than being in the middle of a great idea and getting side-tracked by searching for a paper clip or pen.

So, I recommend stocking up on a few essentials that will make your desk/office space much more functional.

Pretty File Folders

I know you can get basic file folders for pennies but I am a sucker for anything that makes my work-space more beautiful.

Catch-All Tray

My desk would be a disaster without a simple tray to catch all of my roaming paper clips and hair ties.

Paper Clips & Binder Clips

You will need them at some point, I promise.

Pens & Mechanical Pencils

And they need to be of good quality. Nothing pushes my buttons more than a dried-up pen or a mechanical pencil that keeps breaking. Invest in good pens, keep them in one place, and I guarantee you’ll never buy them more than once a year.

You might also need:

  • a pencil cup
  • small filing cabinet
  • Post-it notes
  • Tape & dispenser
  • Stapler
  • Binders
  • Cork Board & Push Pins
  • Small Notebooks & Notepads

Just getting your hands on these basic things will make all the difference in your blogging pursuit. With the small and simple things taken care of you can focus more of your energy on the bigger projects you’ll need to tackle as you journey through this process. It’s an exciting ride, friend. And I hope my tips here help you feel a little more prepared to take the leap.

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10 Tips That Made All The Difference In My First Year Of Blogging

2018 was a big year for me. In February I launched my blog and by the end of November I was giving my notice at my full-time job. The amount of knowledge I have gained in the past year has been unbelievable — far outweighing what I learned over the course of 4 years in college.

And I’ve been totally shocked by how much I love the nitty-gritty parts of the blogging world. I started this journey with just two passions: writing & encouraging women. But, now? I’m passionate about so much more: marketing, social media strategy, website & graphic design, speaking, content creation, and supporting other entrepreneurs and bloggers through my platform.

So, I am super excited to recap the year with you and share the most valuable little knowledge nuggets I have gained that made all the difference in my blogging journey thus far.

1. Start With What You Have

The perfect time, day, or circumstance will never come. And you cannot wait until you have all of your ducks in a row before you start chasing what you want. In every small step of my journey, with every branch I have added to my brand/blog, I’ve just had to start with what I have.

My blogging journey began with a run-down laptop that could no longer hold a full charge thanks to all of my late nights of writing papers in college. I didn’t have any sort of money to invest, no camera or photography skills. I didn’t even know how to make a website — let alone manage media outlets, strategize email marketing, and pursue brand sponsorships. I had to start with the only skill I had: writing. And gain the rest along the way.

Don’t be afraid to jump in and get started just because you don’t have all of the tools and knowledge needed to succeed. We all must start somewhere. And if you have just one person reading your content every week then you have just as much opportunity to grow as the influencer who gets 10 million views a day.

2. Know Your Reader

We’ve heard this SO MUCH in the blogging world. But, why exactly does it matter? Well, to put it as simply as possible: you have a better shot of building a loyal and engaged audience if you target a small niche rather than try to attract every type of person roaming around the web.

If you want to really make a difference, really share your perspective (or skill or story or passion) then you have to know the audience you are aiming to attract. And you have to get specific. For many, this will be someone exactly like you. For others, it might be a younger version of yourself (this is the case for me — I want to speak to women who are walking through that which I have already journeyed). And for some it will be someone who is nothing like you at all.

For me, I wanted to speak to the girls who were walking through transitional seasons of life yet felt ill-equipped to do so. This opened my age and lifestyle niche up a little because I could speak to a newlywed and career woman as easily I could speak to a college freshman in her first serious relationship. What made my niche audience specific was that I wanted to draw in the girls who felt alone in their journey, the girls who needed to hear from someone that has walked down the road they are on and come out on the other side. I also wanted to speak to girls who were struggling in their faith walk — so, this could be new Christians, young women who were doubting their faith, or even just women who wanted to know more about what the life of a modern Christian woman looked like. So, if I were to explain my target audience in one statement it would go something like this:

Women in transitional stages of life who desire growth in their faith walk amidst struggle, difficult seasons, and the unexpected trials of life.

If you’re trying to narrow down your niche audience, notice I say niche AUDIENCE (this is because you can have a broad niche — like Fashion Blogger or Recipe Developer — with a very specific audience), try to just think about one single person who might be drawn to the brand you want to build.

Let’s say you are passionate about home decor as well as the struggles of motherhood. So, your target audience wouldn’t be ALL moms or ALL women who care about home decor. Your audience would be moms who need help understanding how they can have a beautiful home and still have a safe and playful place to raise their children. You could get even more specific and target moms of multiples who want to have beautiful homes and simple lifestyles while staying on a tight budget. And their you go — a broad niche with a super specific audience.

3. Trial & Error Is The Only Way To Learn

Unfortunately, no amount of education, research, or even prayer is going to give you the same type of preparation as good ole trial and error. In many cases, you are just going to have to test something out, get your feet wet, and see what happens. This is by far the best way to learn!

Trial and error is how you figure out what type of topics your audience enjoys reading. It’s how you determine what sort of social media posts gain the most engagement. It’s how you discover what you do or don’t enjoy writing about. Trial and error is just a necessary part of the journey but it is such a GOOD part! It gives you the freedom to pursue new branches of your brand or new website designs without feeling like you’re stuck with what you started with but also giving you the freedom to walk away from those topics or branding elements that you just didn’t love.

Learning through trial and error is how you develop something unique. No one will ever have the exact same experiences that you will. So, be willing to try new things and EXPERIENCE them. That is how you will build a brand that is set apart from the rest.

4. Authentic Engagement is Key

So, let’s say you have narrowed in on your audience and have found some methods that really work for you. Here is something you might be surprised to know: it isn’t enough.

It is not enough to know who your audience is. Because your audience doesn’t know who they are! Gone are the days of hitting publish and waiting for the internet surfers to flock. The blogging world is huge and saturated and it is so easy to get lost in the mix. That is why we have to put forth extra effort to make sure our audience knows who they are. We have to create a beacon that calls them to our tiny corner of the internet.

How do we do this?

By real, authentic engagement. Part of that is going out into the social media crowd and straight up talking to the audience you want. Serve them with likes and comments and by following (and not unfollowing!) the ones that you really resonate with. Let them know you’re here and you want to serve them — give them the invitation that others aren’t willing to give. And the second part is letting your audience take the stage. Ask them to play a part in your brand. Give them a voice. Invite them to share. Challenge them to tell their story or ask you questions. Get them talking — likes mean nothing if they don’t help your audience stay engaged for more than the time it takes to double-tap.

Authentic engagement has proven to be what creates true fans and followers and for those of us who run our brands as our business, it is also what creates customers or attracts brands for collaboration. Your engagement percentage is far more valuable to your bottom line and the eyes of brand publicists than your follower count ever will be. Focus on authentic engagement with followers that are showing up (or ones you really want to invite) more than just increasing the number next to your name. An auditorium full of people with headphones in will never be as powerful as a small classroom full of students taking notes and really listening.

5. Story Telling Is The Future

Most of us have started to back away from the profiles that are full of nothing but pretty pictures and witty captions. We are no longer interested in aesthetics and emojis. We want to know the TRUTH. We want to know what that fashion blogger looks like on her day off. We want to know that our fave fitness gal still eats cake on her birthday. We want to see our most admired Christian blogger be open and honest about her struggle with lust.

We have filled our feeds with perfection for so long that many of us are just begging for one person to show up while we are scrolling and tell a real story with raw honesty. We want more real and less highlight-reel.

That is how you will draw them in and keep them engaged: by telling your real story. I don’t mean the story that you spin to push a product. I mean the real stuff, the stuff that matters. The stuff that sometimes has nothing to do with the photo but everything to do with the heart of the person in the photo.

Every time I have told a part of my story, whether here in a blog post or over on my Instagram, I have been overwhelmed with how many people send me messages saying how much it spoke to them, how much they needed to hear it, or how they thought they were totally alone but now see that they aren’t. Story-telling is POWERFUL.

Just show up and tell your story — with less focus on the pretty and appropriate. And you will start to see the real, authentic engagement from your followers increase. Even better than that, they will start to invest a little piece of themselves into who you are. And THAT is how you make this brand journey so worth while.

6. The Power Of One

Let’s say you know your audience. You know how best to show up for them. You’re engaging authentically and telling your real story. Yet it seems like only a small percentage of your following is noticing and participating. Maybe your last blog post only received a couple of views.

Discouraging, right?

Well, think of it this way. That handful of people, or maybe even that ONE person, will prove to be the most valuable reader or follower you will ever have. Because they will be the true fans. The ones that check your feed when they realize they haven’t seen your face in a few days. They are the ones that will email you just to thank you for sharing your story. They are the ones that will purchase your first product or subscribe to your email list or just help you keep going on the days that are long and difficult.

7. Quality Over Quantity

In my first year of blogging I published less than 30 blog posts. LESS THAN 30. If you break that down that is even less than once a week. Yet, I found that my engagement, following, and readership continued to grow — even in the month of December when I didn’t publish a single post! In fact, the month of September was a month of record engagement for me — yet I only posted 3 blogs for that entire month.

Why? Because I learned early on that quality content is far more powerful than an overabundance of content.

People can only read one post at a time. And too often we sacrifice good writing so that we can stay consistent, post every day, or try to reinvent the wheel every single time we sit down to type. But, what I learned in my first year is that a handful of really powerful and well-thought out posts can generate just as much, if not more, traffic than publishing a post every week or even every day.

The key is to make sure you are getting your good quality posts out for the world to see….

8. Choose Marketing That Works

Marketing is one of the most intimidating elements of the blogger/brand life. There is so much to consider and so many routes to take. And we hear so many different theories. So, what the heck are we supposed to do?

My advice, and what I learned over the past year, is that you have to pick the handful of marketing techniques that work for you. THIS is how you will get all of those quality posts out there for the world to see. For me, I chose only 3 major marketing angles: Authentic Social Media Engagement (Instagram), Consistent Relevance Through SEO (Pinterest), and Specifically Targeted Campaigns (email list building & serving).

These three angles, I discovered through A LOT of trial and error, are what drive my page views every month — even on the months that I don’t produce brand new content.

Authentic Social Media Engagement: this is where I spend some serious TIME. I plan out and schedule Instagram posts, show up in my stories regularly, always keep it real and honest, and I consistently engage with my audience — every single day! This builds trust, friendships, relatability, and genuine fans. Which means when it’s time for me to share a post with my followers they are more than ready to click over.

Consistent Relevance Through SEO: Once I started to see Pinterest as a search engine rather than a social media outlet the game changed entirely for me. I schedule pins about a week ahead of time and I manually pin content from other websites every single day. This keeps me relevant and in front of eyes. Pinterest now drives more than 95% of my website traffic. This is where I pay close attention to key words, graphics, quality photos, and getting my website link shared as much as I possibly can.

Specifically Targeted Campaigns: Thankfully, I learned early on that my email list needed to be a priority. So, I invested a lot of time and energy into growing it. 20% of my followership also falls under the subscribed category — meaning they have opted in to hear from me regularly right in their inbox. Now that I have a hefty list, I make sure that I show up in that inbox at least once a week with encouragement, free content, and a lot of story-telling.

9. Serve More Than You Sell

Because no one wants to hear a sales pitch, or even someone begging you to read their latest post, every two seconds. I make it a point to only ask my audience to click over to my profile link no more than twice a week. I don’t even share new posts on Instagram until they become relevant to a conversation naturally. I prefer to show up and encourage on that platform. I spend my time there engaging with my followers, asking them questions, and trying to serve them as much as possible.

Why?? Because those two times a week I ask the to click over…or that one time a month I encourage them to try a product…goes over a lot smoother when I have spent 98% of my time serving them.

Want to know a harsh truth? I usually do not follow other bloggers who only post Instagram feed photos when they have a new blog post. Because in every single post on their feed they are asking me to click away from my favorite social media channel and jump on their website. Now, they may have every intention of serving me authentically. But, why on earth would I go out of my way to read what they wrote if they can’t even share some quality content with me right where I am….on Instagram!

10. Community Will Keep You Going

One of the most unexpected and wonderful things I have discovered in this journey is friendship.

Linking arms with other bloggers and brand gals has been such a blessing. On the discouraging days I have real people I can text or call who totally get the struggle of social media or writers block. When I can’t figure out the details about a service or tool I’m trying to utilize, I have women I can reach out to who have stood right where I’m standing. Community has changed the way I view being a blogger.

The other women that fill up my feed bring me so much joy. I love celebrating their victories and watching them thrive. I’ve grown to know and love their families. I’ve spent hours texting about life with these girls. They have been game-changers in this industry for me.

Friend, if you are serious about doing this you have to know the importance of community. Because there will be days that those friends will be the only ones keeping you from throwing in the towel. They will be the ones that gush to their own followers about the exciting things you’re doing.

Building community can seem really nerve-racking at first and downright awkward. But do you know what I did a year ago that truly made the difference? I started emailing other bloggers and telling them what I loved about their brand and that created a handful of special friendships. As it turns out, the girls I emailed were also in need of some community in this often isolating industry.

So, if you see someone who is doing something you admire and you feel like you could be besties….why not try?

I sincerely hope that my year of this crazy blogger life can speak into your own. There is so much to learn and so much potential growth. There is so much out there that we can accomplish. So, friend, it’s time to start right where you are, with what you have. Take the leap and learn as you go. Focus on what really matters and never forget the power of things like story-telling, quality content, and true community.

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Bold Women Of Faith: Why We Matter In The Church

Lonely. That’s how I started to feel when I realized that my bold personality didn’t seem to fit into many of the church groups I knew. I’m known for being outspoken, loud, opinionated, and I would rather lead than follow in most situations. I question practices and events that only exist in the name of tradition. And I would argue with anyone who thinks my only ability to serve in the church is food preparation or child care. It seems that those qualities in women of faith, most specifically young women of faith, are really hard to swallow sometimes. Especially in the church.

Journeying through loneliness in the church was one of the hardest seasons I’ve walked through. And knowing that it was because of my personality made it that much more difficult — I couldn’t change my personality to suit the preferences of the majority. In fact, I downright refused to. I would not allow myself to shrink just to please PEOPLE when I knew that my boldness could be used to please GOD.

This is probably the most sensitive topic I’ve addressed here. I’ve thought about it many times but held back for multiple reasons. One reason being that I never want to push people away from the church — especially women with similar personalities to my own. So, please know that this honesty is meant to show you how you can thrive in a church setting if you are a bold woman of faith. My goal here is to lift up the women who have been shrinking and encourage the women who fear being the odd one out at bible study.

Rather than argue why we are ALLOWED to be bold in the church I would rather spend this time explaining why we SHOULD be bold in the church. But, let me just say that you were not created with a bold personality or with leadership qualities just to hide them. God wants to use that part of you! Never believe the lie that to be meek is to be small, quiet, and unquestioning. You have a voice and you are allowed to use it — even in the church. This isn’t meant to be a debate over what leadership roles women should have, when they should or shouldn’t speak up. This is meant to demonstrate that your boldness is NEEDED in the church — it MATTERS. And whatever your interpretation of women’s role in the church, you can still show up in a big way and make a difference. Never let anyone, even a church member, convince you that you can only show up in one capacity: you do not need to be the silent childcare worker if that is not what God has called you to. And if you see something wrong in the church, you are allowed (in fact, REQUIRED) to speak up.

I come from a long line of women with bold personalities. My grandmother is everything you would expect from her generation: she is the stereotypical church grandmother. In fact, a lot of the kids in her church call her by such name. She is the head nursery worker, the best at bringing food to functions, and she always has a purse full of candy. She is a strong advocate for respect and dignity in a church setting and she was always the first to firmly grip my leg when I chewed my gum too loudly during a sermon. But one thing she is not: quiet. I have never known her to not speak up if she sees something wrong, something inefficient, or something just plain useless in the church. In fact, she will call out a complete stranger in public if she thinks they are in need of counsel. And she does not back down. She is barely five feet tall but I would guess there are men out there twice her size that would rather go up against a giant than my grandmother.

My aunt is exactly the same way. Only she’s even louder. And she would be the first one to invite criminals, addicts, and provocatively-dressed women to sit right next to her in church. She is always pushing back when the church suggests that people should look and dress a certain way to worship Jesus. She loves everyone — no exceptions. And for some insane reason I can never understand….people of the church don’t like her for that. They don’t like the unfamiliar, the tainted reputations, and the awkward gazes.

My mom questions everything about traditional church practices. She taught me to follow Jesus, not tradition. My great-aunt is the loudest person you will ever meet — a woman whose bold personality was shaped by her 6 brothers. And she has never missed a Sunday service. My closest cousin is the sweetest, most generous person I know but she couldn’t be quiet if you paid her — and I love her for it because everyone knows exactly where she stands. And me? Well, I’m a mix of all of them. Loud. Bossy. Compassionate. Joyful. Questioning. Stubborn. And more concerned with what Jesus thinks than what an entire auditorium of people think.

I know I am not the only one like this. In fact, I have seen many women just like myself — ones with a lot to say — become the most quiet people in the church community. They are the ones sitting alone or standing off to the side while everyone else “fellowships.” They are the women that never offer their opinion when asked because they have been taught that to have a quiet spirit is the same thing as never speaking up.

Well, friend, I want you to know that if you are one of these women it is 100% okay to fully embrace your personality and all of the qualities God has blessed you with in a church setting. You can offer up ideas, thoughts, and opinions. You are allowed to speak up. You are allowed to follow God’s leading even if it means you reject tradition. If you identify as a “bold woman” or a “big personality,” I want to encourage you to step into that part of yourself. Because God can use it.

Bold women of faith are the ones that inspire change. They build businesses that impact the community. They befriend the unwanted. They give to the rejected. They question tradition for tradition’s sake. They speak for those who do not have a voice. They change the world.

Embrace your boldness, woman of faith. Step into your leadership qualities & your go-getter attitude. You are allowed to be a bold woman and a strong woman of faith at the same time. We could talk forever about the biblical roles of men and women in the church — and I would guess that there are multiple reasons we could agree and a few we could disagree. But those things don’t matter. What matters is that you are letting God’s voice speak louder than all of the voices telling you what you are allowed to say, do, and create in His name.

So, we know that we SHOULD be bold women of faith….but what if we take it too far? What if we step outside of the parameters God has placed on our role as women? Well, I thought I might share a few simple ways you can be a bold woman of faith and still be respectful, meek, pleasing to God, and have a quiet or humble spirit….

  1. Know what God says — stay submerged in His Word and let Him show you what you need to know.
  2. Respect authority — we know that all authority comes from God and that He calls us to pay respect to those He places in authority over us. This includes husbands, pastors, fathers, elders, deacons, professors, and other leaders.
  3. Pray — ask God to USE your personality qualities and help you to step into them for His purposes and not for your own.
  4. Know the things that matter — hold firm to the beliefs that God has placed heavily on your heart to take a stand for. Make sure you know why God stands for them too.
  5. Speak with gentleness — always remember who you represent every time you open your mouth to voice an opinion or idea. And always, always speak with love.
  6. Speak up, then sit down — never push your point. Make it known, give your reasoning and scriptural explanation, and then trust God with the rest. Don’t push your own way.
  7. Know when to walk away — it is never an easy choice but sometimes we are able to thrive more in a different setting (as in a different church). Know when God is calling you to speak up but also know when He is calling you to walk away and move on.

I hope you know how important you are — how much your ideas and thoughts are meant to impact this world. Everything about you has a purpose. Never let anyone force you to hide your light. Let it shine. Not to illuminate you — but rather to cast the light on Him.

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How I Accomplished One Of My Biggest Health Goals

Well hey there, friend!

I know we are all still in goal-crushing mode for 2019 and we are hardly even through the month of January. But, I want to talk to you today about one goal that I set for myself last year and how I managed to accomplish it.

Last year, when I sat down to plan out my goals for 2018 I had 2 big ones. One was this blog. And since launching in February of last year I have just continued to set goals for this platform and attempt to accomplish them. But, that isn’t the goal I’m here to talk to you about today. I want to talk to you about my other major goal for 2018.

Going into 2018 I wanted to majorly clean up my health. I’m not talking about losing weight here or even being more active. My goal was to eliminate a lot of toxins from my life. And one of the biggest and most specific ways I wanted to do that was through my skin care routine. I wanted to get rid of anything that was causing my skin or body more harm than good. I wanted to toss and replace everything toxic with something organic, natural, and GOOD for my skin. But, I didn’t want to break the bank either. So, I’m sharing with you exactly how I cleaned up my ENTIRE skin care routine in a year’s time and how I’m kicking it up a notch in 2019 by expanding my routine altogether and adding in new things I didn’t even know my skin needed.


When I sat down and mapped out my 2018 goals, I wanted to be super intentional, even with something as simple as skin care. So, I made an actual plan.

I made a simple little chart that included every part of my skin care and beauty routine that needed to be cleaned up. I listed it all: lotions, foundation, mascara, shampoo, blush, soap, moisturizers, masks, toners. And everything else. And I created a simple little graph that allowed me to track each individual product that I was replacing.

This was nothing fancy, friend! It was just a list of everything I wanted to upgrade and clean up that accompanied a small, pencil-drawn chart that I would slowly fill in with color as I progressed through my list. I’m just a type-A kind of gal and I love anything color-coded. So, don’t feel like you even need to go to those lengths. A simple list of what items you want to clean up with a little box to check next to it will suffice. As long as it helps track your progress and keeps you motivated that’s all that really counts!


When I started looking at that graph and that looooong list of things I needed to replace I got a little overwhelmed. This was going to take so much time! Searching for and narrowing down brands that I liked and trying out products until I found a good fit for everything….that would take six months just to get started. And the thought of tossing everything out and starting over really made me anxious. Plus…this was going to be expensive if I replaced everything all at once. I just didn’t have the sort of budget to start my entire arsenal of products from scratch and rebuild just like that. One trip to Target obviously was not going to work (which is sort of the idea I had in my head when I first got started).

So, I decided to approach it a bit differently. Instead of replacing everything all at once, I simply replaced as needed. Once I started to get low on a particular product I would start researching organic or natural alternatives and by the time I needed more product I already had one or two new things I could try.

Doing it this way really made it feel like less of an investment. Instead of throwing out products that I had just paid for recently or was still getting use out of, I just replaced everything slowly — only purchasing new when I was about to run out of the old.

Before I knew it an entire year had almost passed and I was able to replace everything I used regularly without spending tons of money in one place or at one time. This kept me from taking the easy way out on products as well — I was able to really test out and try different brands and find a mix that works for me.


Because this goal involved buying new products, I was able to turn this into a really enjoyable process. Instead of being overwhelmed by it or worrying that I would spend money on something I didn’t like or something that didn’t work, I just tried to have fun.

I would get so excited to use new products — even the research process started to be fun for me! I loved discovering new brands and learning about what types of ingredients I needed to look out for.

So, every time I purchased a new product I made it super fun to try out. I would throw out the product I was replacing and then apply the new one to whatever part of my routine it fit best — morning makeup, weekend self-care, or my nightly shower & makeup removal. Usually, I was able to make it a luxurious experience or make it feel like something extra special. Something I didn’t expect was that I started to feel so much better about myself — knowing I was using products that did something good for my skin rather than just covered it up or removed unwanted lines or blemishes. I felt more comfortable with less makeup once I took care of my skin and gave it a little more attention (and much better products) in the first place.

So, what products did I replace and what did I replace my products with?

Looking back on last year and all of the products I replaced I found a few that really made the biggest difference. So, I want to tell you about the specific type of products I found made an impact on my routine and my health — and then I want to share a few recommendations I have for you!

Products I replaced:

  • Shampoo
  • Deodorant
  • Shower Gel / Soap
  • Body Lotion
  • Facial Cleansers
  • Moisturizers
  • Foundation
  • Concealer
  • Blush
  • Eye Shadow
  • Mascara
  • Chap Stick
  • Lip Gloss / Lip Stick

New products I discovered:

  • Toner
  • Sheet Mask
  • Clay Mask
  • Bronzer

The One Brand That Made The Biggest Difference

So, throughout my beauty detox journey I found a handful of brands that I really like for a lot of reasons. For some, it’s affordability. For others, it’s quality of product. And for some I just love the selection, branding, or environmental impact.

Brands I tried and loved include: Thayers (I cannot live without their witch hazel toner), Pacifica Beauty (I love their mascara & concealer), Arbonne (great option for masks & spa-like items), Love Beauty & Planet (their shampoo & deodorant are must-haves for me), and Burt’s Bees (basically all the natural lip products, makeup, and self-care items).

Searching through different companies can be overwhelming and really confusing. I mean, this was a YEAR LONG process for me. But, I finally discovered one brand in particular that is able to provide products for just about all of my beauty needs. I immediately fell in love with the blush & eye shadow palettes from Burt’s Bees and their facial moisturizers. So, I reached out to Burt’s Bees to see if they had any additional recommendations for products I was still trying to replace. And boy did they deliver!

I was able to find the EXACT kind of foundation I was looking for. And since lip products had been my hardest product to replace…I was thrilled with all of the options they have — from chap sticks and balms to lip shimmers and gorgeous glosses. So, if you want to save yourself a little trouble — start your beauty detox process with Burt’s Bees. Their simple, natural beauty products met every standard I had in my beauty and skin care detox.

Here are some of the Burt’s Bees products I will forever have in my beauty bag

The items in the list below are all the products that I use regularly from Burt’s. In particular, my faves are the brightening cleanser and the liquid makeup — I seriously cannot go without them!

Click through the links below to see all of the details and the percentage of natural ingredients in each product.

Disclosure: I might receive a commission of qualifying purchases through these links. This does not affect your purchase experience or price but helps me fund more content for you. Win, win!

They offer so many other products as well. Their masks, acne treatments, extensive line of lip care, and all of their facial scrubs are amazing. I especially love the Pet products — our 75 lb. Husky has never smelled better and they are the only products that don’t give him some sort of allergic reaction.

Friend, I am so glad I finally made the switch to cleaner, more natural beauty and skin care products. And I am never going back to my old ways! I actually get compliments on my skin now! From a girl who has always struggled with acne, dry skin, oily skin, sensitive skin, and allergic reactions…that means everything! And I feel so much more comfortable in my skin now that I KNOW I am treating it well.

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This One Word Changed My Life

Hey there friend,

Five years ago my entire life changed when I finally understood the meaning and importance of this one word. For years I misunderstood it’s true meaning and I denied the important role it played in my life. I always thought of this word in a negative way and I honestly never thought I would now find so much comfort in what I once ran away from.

So, what’s the word?


Now, I first must tell you that one of my biggest personality flaws is that I have a serious issue with authority. I hate being told what to do. I despise being out of control of any situation and I much prefer to be the one in charge. I’ve never been an all-out rebel, but I have been known to stretch the rules as far as I possibly can without technically breaking them.

Shockingly, I was an obedient child for the most part — but once I turned 17 that all changed. I got just 365 days away from “freedom” and adulthood and thought that I knew everything. And so began my belief that my parents no longer knew what was best for me. That guy they asked me not to date? Yep, dated him for three horrible years.

Throughout my career I have struggled with wanting to do things my way rather than the way I’ve been asked to do them (even though I can PROVE that my way is more productive and efficient). Let’s just say there is a reason I now work for myself.

Church? Yep, I have been known the fight authority there as well. We’re supposed to bring 2 desserts to this event? Count on me to bring one dessert and one side dish. You’re talking to the girl that has no problem walking in 5 minutes late just to prove that no one can tell her to be there at a specific time. When I say I struggle with authority I am not exaggerating — just give my mom a call and ask her all about it. She will first roll her eyes and then laugh…because she knows exactly who I got it from (thanks, Dad!).

As much as this is still a daily struggle for me, I learned something in the winter of 2014 that forever changed how I viewed obedience. In fact, I would probably be much worse than I am now if I never had this revelation about that word I disliked so much. I want to share that part of my journey with you and the one really important thing I learned about that dreaded nine-letter word.

Almost five years ago I was walking through one of the darkest parts of my journey to here. I was in a relationship that was leaving me empty and hopeless (yep, should have listened to Mom and Dad) with no intention of walking away. I was a Christian then, just as I am now. But I was walking in darkness — in disobedience (if there is anything that made me cringe more than the O-word, it was putting those three little letters in front of it).

…no matter how much I showed up and tried to get alone with God and hear from Him, all I found was silence

You see, I was daily seeking God. I was finding time to read my bible, do my devotions, and spend time in prayer. I was searching for things like peace, comfort, and purpose. Looking back, I now know that I was looking for those things because I was depressed, anxious, and lacking true joy. But, I wasn’t finding what I was looking for.

In fact, no matter how much I showed up and tried to get alone with God and hear from Him, all I found was silence. It was as if there was a wall between us and even though He was speaking I couldn’t hear because of that wall. I continued to show up…and still found silence on this side of the wall. And then, it all changed.

I was more concerned with being right and comfortable than I was with being in God’s will.

For months, maybe even years, I had been feeling this weight on my heart regarding this dating relationship. I knew that God didn’t want me in it anymore and that He never intended me to be in it to begin with. But, as I’m famous for doing, I pushed for my way instead. That relationship left me empty, broken, and incapable of identifying who I was or whose I was. But I was more concerned with being right and comfortable than I was with being in God’s will.

Finally, after months of wrestling with God and with countless friends speaking truth over me almost daily, I finally worked up the courage to walk away. I put that relationship, like my disobedience, to death. I finally believed, no matter how much it hurt to walk away, that God would draw me back to Himself and set me on the path He always intended for me to walk.

The walls came tumbling down and peace flooded through my heart in a way I had never known.

And, He showed up. Big time! The walls came tumbling down and peace flooded through my heart in a way I had never known. And as the walls came down they set off this domino effect in my life. One fell and then another. And before I knew it I was finding joy, discovering my purpose, meeting my husband, celebrating a marriage and a relationship that thrived with Christ as the central point, and telling the world about what God had done for me.

I sit here now, still a girl who struggles with authority, but fully understanding the power that comes with obedience. Friend, my life forever changed when I realize what I could do by just being obedient to what God was calling or asking me to do.

It is in my nature to respond to direction with a big NO WAY. I guess I really am a daughter of Adam in that way. But, it is God’s nature to know the very best for me, and for you. In finally listening to Him and doing the one simple thing He asked I was able to rejoice in things like joy, purpose, peace, comfort, and even ambition.

I sit here now, still a girl who struggles with authority, but fully understanding the power that comes with obedience

We have turned obedience into this monster of legalism and wrath — we have distorted the meaning behind the word. There is not a single relationship we can enter into that doesn’t require some form or amount of obedience from at least one, if not all, parties. And what I discovered in my relationship with Christ is that I cannot have a full, close, and even intimate relationship with Him if I am disobeying His calls and commands on my life every single day.

I can honestly say, from this side of the screen, that I love my life. I love everything He has brought me through and everything He has led me to. And I honestly believe that my obedience that day is what started this new journey to joy. I learned how powerful it is to walk in God’s will and ever since then I have tried my hardest to listen to His leading and obey what He asks of me. Every part of my story has been woven with obedience — meeting my husband, building this brand, showing up here for you and doing my best to encourage you…it all happened because of the new (and true) meaning I found when I looked at that word I once despised.

Obedience is a beautiful and life-changing thing, friend. I once believed it stripped me of control and freedom. But I now understand that it is the very thing that GIVES me power, freedom, and abundance.

If you are in a place where you feel like God is silent…I assure that He is not. He is speaking and reaching out to you but there might be a wall in the way. It could be that you, just like I did, have built a wall with bricks of disobedience and mortar made from bitterness and distrust. I want to invite you to examine any place in your life where you might be walking in disobedience and therefor rejecting God’s plan for you. And if you find it, don’t waste any more time with it…give it up. And finally understand the joy that I have found in simply walking where He leads.

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Failing As A Wife: How to Overcome Feelings of Inadequacy

We had been married for about three months. I was standing there in the kitchen, face swollen and tear-stained. I was overwhelmed by guilt, failure, and an intense feeling of inadequacy. I just knew that I was a failure as a wife.

If you have been married for any length of time then you know this exact feeling — knowing that you have messed up in one of the most important jobs you’ve ever had and let down the person you love the most. It’s not only heartbreaking but it makes you feel completely inadequate. I’ll never forget that moment and how I explained through my sobs exactly why I was a failure as a wife. I began listing things off to David that made me the world’s worst wife.

  • I haven’t had time to do laundry
  • I yelled at you for leaving that towel in the floor
  • I lost my patience when were waiting in line and took it out on you
  • I forgot to pray for you this morning
  • I’ve gained 5 pounds since our wedding
  • I haven’t swept the floors in over a week
  • I speak to you too harshly
  • I’m not as attractive as the day we met
  • I fell asleep before kissing you goodnight
  • I have nothing planned for dinner and the thought of cooking is stressing me out
  • You are a much better husband than I am a wife

I gave all of those reasons to my new husband. I practically yelled them to him. And he stood in complete shock. I’d been bottling those feelings up for weeks and he had no clue that I was feeling like an absolute failure as a wife. He could not believe the crazy list I had just rattled off to him and it took a few moments for him to gather his thoughts and finally speak.

When he did finally speak it was to calm me and reassure me that at no point in our marriage had he ever thought of me as a failure or a bad wife. Though I knew he wasn’t lying to me, I also didn’t believe him. I walked around almost every day with these feelings of failure and inadequacy…how could they not be true?

Friend, if this sounds like you then I want to share with you a few things that I have learned as I’ve navigated these feelings…

1. Failure & Falling Are Not The Same

One of my biggest obstacles to overcome in the early months of our marriage was understanding the difference between failing as a wife and falling as a human.

Failing as a wife would mean that I neglected my marriage – I abandoned the relationship I promised to honor or intentionally hurt this person that I promised to love and obey.

Falling as a human would mean that I had a bad day – I lost my patience, spoke disrespectfully, dropped the ball on a responsibility, or let stress get the best of me.

“I simply had to learn that just because I fell, that didn’t mean I failed”

I simply had to learn that just because I fell that didn’t mean that I failed. It just meant that I was growing as a wife. It meant that I was figuring out how to be the partner that David needed and the person that God was calling me to be. I’m still learning this — every single day. I’m still falling. But, I’m not failing. And neither are you.

2. Marriage is Not About My Success

I think somewhere deep inside, the main reason I felt so disappointed in myself was because I wasn’t living up to my own expectations. There are only two people that I need to be concerned with when it comes to my marriage: my husband and God. But somehow I had moved my own expectations for wife-hood ahead of both of them. I wasn’t feeling like a failure because David was voicing that to me or because God was laying it on my heart — I felt like a failure because I kept convincing myself that I was.

The main reason I was convincing myself I failed? Because I hadn’t lived up to the insanely perfect idea I had in my head of the type of wife I would someday be. I would see other wives have emotional moments, get impatient with their husbands, or get lazy with things like health and housekeeping and I would always say things like “not me! I will be the most loving, patient, and perfect wife.”

Just by saying that in my head a few times, even years before I was married, I set myself up for disaster and disappointment.

“Once I let go of the need to prove myself as the perfect wife…the pressure to be perfect was lifted.”

Finally, I realized that my marriage is not about ME. It isn’t about me being the perfect wife. My marriage is not about my success. But rather the MIRACLE of marriage. It is about David and I being examples to the world of what God can do with two hearts and how He can use two people, bring them together as one, and do something amazing for His Kingdom. Our marriage is about being a picture of Christ and His love for His Church. How could I, the wife — the church, do that if I was more focused on myself than the one that is loving me, my husband — Christ.

Once I let go of the need to prove myself as the perfect wife and focused my attention back on the two other people that were in this relationship — David & Jesus — then the pressure to be perfect was lifted.

Feelings of Inadequacy are Straight from The Devil

There is just no nice way to say it.

Those feelings of perfectionism, failure, and inadequacy were lies whispered from the Enemy. I let this world’s perception, — and often-times the church’s incorrect perception — of what success in marriage looks like, seep deep into my spirit and convince me that I wasn’t good enough to be anyone’s wife. And I bet Satan just sat back and laughed, pleased with how he had convinced me to disregard everything that I know God promises me — which is the following:

  • That He will finish every good work He starts inside of me
  • That I have everything I need to be a good wife when I turn to Him
  • That marriage is meant to be a picture of His love
  • That for everything I lack, He provides grace, mercy, and hope

“THAT is marriage. The messy, tearful, long-night-talk and let’s-figure-this-out-together moments. ”

Fellow wife, you are not a failure. You are not the world’s worst wife. You are an imperfect human trying to love and respect another imperfect human through all of life’s demands. THAT is marriage. The messy, tearful, long-night-talk and let’s-figure-this-out-together moments. It’s about showing up when you feel like you can’t. It’s about looking to Jesus every time the enemy’s lies come sneaking in. It’s about rejecting the enemy’s lies and resting fully on who God says you are and what He says makes you a good wife.

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The Best Date Night Plan EVER

Hi sweet friends,

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year — and it isn’t just because of all the cozy sweaters and excuses to eat tons of soup. Fall is a very special season for me because it’s when I married my best friend. David and I are celebrating 2 years of marriage this fall and we are in such a beautiful place in our relationship.

That said, we do struggle to keep the romance alive when it comes to busy work schedules, giving so much time to this platform, and balancing all of our extra curricular responsibilities. We tried promising we would have a date night once a week and that doesn’t always go quite how we planned. Sure, we grab dinner together from time-to-time, cuddle up for movie nights, and take a couple of small road trips here and there for special events or adventures. But, I still felt like we needed something else. Something more intimate and intentional when it comes to helping us grow in our relationship.

So, we did something different from anything else we have ever tried — we had our date delivered to our door. And it was such a fun time! We are officially in love with Date Night In Boxes.


Date Night In Boxes are “a custom created, memorable date night subscription experience to be enjoyed from the comfort of home. Each Date Night In box includes interactive activities with ambiance and a tasty treat…” 

This was such a fun experience for David and I — we are so excited to receive our next box. It gives us something really fun to look forward to together and we know that it will involve a whole new experience each time. We can both get stuck in our routines and it’s so nice to break things up with a creative date night.

So, I want to break down the box for you and how this date night played out for us…

  1. The Prep

What makes this type of subscription box different is that it not only creates an experience, but Night In goes the extra mile and makes sure that you have EVERYTHING ready for you romantic night in. What you see in the box is not all that you get — they also offer an appetizer, dinner, dessert, and drink recipe that goes with the theme of the night. Plus….you get a personalized Spotify playlist to help set the mood — and, again, it totally compliments the theme of the box. This month’s theme was “Fall In Love” so all the songs were perfectly picked to make me think of how we fell for each other almost three years ago.

So, while David was at work I started with the prep work for the night. I made the homemade salted caramel dipped apples for dessert and got those chilling in the fridge (and I may have eaten a couple “accidentally”). After that, I set the table and started on dinner.


…DINNER….oh my goodness….that recipe was spectacular! I think it was half the reason we felt so in love at the end of the night. I tweaked it a bit to our preferences (plus I can just never follow a recipe no matter how hard I try). What we ended up with was comforting, warm, and perfectly creamy chicken pot pies with a biscuit-top crust.

Once dinner was well on its way, I lit the candles, poured the apple cider, (snuck another taste of the apples), and waited for David to get home.

2.  The Conversation

I’m not sure if we followed the night’s agenda exactly in order, but I thought the discussion guide was the best place to start for us. If you select the FAITH Night In Box you receive a special discussion guide that doubles as a couple’s devotional. This was really impressive to David and I! It started a beautiful conversation about our relationship and growing closer to Christ in our daily life and learning how we can encourage each other to read the Word.


3. The Crafts

So, this may have been the most challenging part for us because neither David or myself are super crafting and literally making a miniature candle was such a challenge for us. But oh so fun! We laughed the entire time! The second craft was a little more intimate and challenged us to think about all of the milestones in our relationship thus far. For this one we marked a piece of wood with our thumbprints and listed out some of the most significant dates in our relationship (first date, engagement, wedding…,). This was a simple yet really sweet craft that ended with us having a special keepsake from the night — our ideal type of experience!


Can you guess which thumbprint belongs to me?

4. The Snack

Okay, I have to write an entire section about the snack provided for the night. The SuperSeedz Maple Sugar & Sea Salt Gourmet Pumpkin Seeds were DELICIOUS. So much so that David has bugged me about them almost every day since to see if I have ordered any for us to keep on hand. What’s really special about this subscription box is that we get to try these new-to-us snacks that are carefully selected and made well with quality ingredients, PLUS — they offer a special discount on those same snacks to subscribers.


5. The Game

While we enjoyed what was left of dessert, we played the fun game provided in the box. This was a time full of laughs — mostly from me because I totally won! This was a really sweet way to wrap up the evening with lighthearted fun that brought out the competitive side of each of us. What makes it even better is that we can now break out that game anytime we want to and enjoy some friendly competition — or try to decide who has to do the dishes.


6. The Bonus

Just like Night In goes the extra mile to get your prepped for the night, they also go the extra mile to make sure the romance doesn’t end when you’ve used everything in the box. On the back page of your agenda you will find suggestions for adventurous activities or movies that support the theme of the month. For example, this month’s suggestions were hayrides and apple orchards or snuggling up for a screening of Practical Magic or When Harry Met Sally. David is a total movie junkie so he especially loved this little touch for wrapping up the evening. Plus, it gives us the opportunity to carry the date over into a full weekend or even a couple of weeks of movies & activities.


All-in-all, we ADORE the Date Night In Box and cannot wait until the next one arrives at our door. The best part for us? The anticipation! It really rekindles that old familiar can’t-wait-for-our-next-date feeling that we both so sweetly recall from three years ago.

If you’re thinking about spicing up your date nights, then you have to check out this box! There are a few options to choose from — like Faith-based dates or kid-friendly dates for a full night of family fun.

To learn more about Date Night In Boxes, click here to see why David and I are obsessed with this innovative way to get us back to our days of sweet, fun, and intimate dates.

Check in with me next month so see how enjoy the next Date Night In Box.


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What You Can Learn When God Says No


Have you ever bargained with God? Have you ever told Him exactly why YOU think that the answer to a certain prayer should be yes? Have you spent countless amounts of time praying for something only to receive a big, fat, NO in the end?

Well, that happened to me this summer. I have been praying for this one specific thing for quite some time; I would guess close to a year. It’s been heavy on my heart and it’s deeply affected my attitude on the daily throughout this entire year. I’ve prayed. My husband has prayed. My best friend. My mom. Even my mother-in-law. It’s been a long year of prayer to say the least.

Want to know what all that prayer got me?


It got me a really hard-to-hear NO from God.


But, I learned something really important that has completely changed my attitude in recent weeks. And, if you feel like you have received a no from God, then I want to share this with you in hopes of opening your eyes to the bigger picture and the positive side of no.

  1. I Do Not Know What Is Best For Me

As much as I hate to admit it, what I think is best for my life is hardly ever what is truly best. In fact, most of the time I am down-right WRONG.

During this year of what has felt like constant prayer, I have done a lot of bargaining with God and trying to convince Him of why my way is best. I can’t tell you how many times I have literally prayed the words “I know this would be good for me because….”

Like I have ever been right about that before! And here I am trying to tell the Creator why THIS time I believe I’m right. Though time and time again He has proven that His will is always better than my own.

Friend, let me save you a little time and trouble here….


You may know what would be good for you. And you certainly know what you want and what you think would positively impact your life. But when it comes to what is absolutely and truly BEST….well, that is up to God. Because of His all-knowing nature, He can truly determine what will produce the best possibly outcome for you and the ultimate plan He has for your life.


I know that sounds really preachy. I even hate hearing it myself. But, it’s the truth that has been revealed to me through this season of praying and hoping. You see, my husband and I have this motto, if you will. No matter what we do or where we go, we just want to make sure we are in God’s will. And, throughout our entire relationship, it has brought us nothing but goodness.

Yet, still I find myself wanting to argue my own will and have my own way.

Thankfully, God in His mercy doesn’t always allow me to have my way. When I think of all the times He has said no in the past I sigh in pure relief — so many blessings I would have missed out on if He had answered yes when I wanted Him to.

I know feeling like God is saying no or just isn’t answering your prayer at all can feel like the most painful rejection ever, but I promise that He always has a good reason. And that reason is this: His will is always better. ALWAYS. Even when it seems that what you’re praying for cannot possibly have a better alternative, I promise that what He has in-store for you will far exceed what you have in-store for yourself.

2. Sometimes NO Means NOT NOW.

The thing I have been praying about all year almost received a yes this summer. At least, it seemed that way at first. Everything was lining up. It all made sense. The timing was perfect. It all seemed even better than what I had actually been praying for. But then,…silence.

It all stopped and it felt like my prayer got a big fat NO stamp on it just when I thought the yes was finally coming my way. I was heartbroken. I spent many nights crying in bed while my husband tried to comfort me. He said everything he could think to say in attempt to help me see the positive side of the situation. But, all I did was continually ask why.

WHY wouldn’t He give me this? It seemed so perfect.

WHY would He let me believe it was going to happen and then take it away?

WHY doesn’t He want me to have this?

And then, finally, David said something that finally made sense to me.

“Sometimes what you perceive as a NO from God is actually a NOT NOW.”


Suddenly, I found myself rising back up to my usual self and little-by-little I stopped questioning Him. I learned to be okay with a simple “not yet” for now.

You see, this particular thing I’ve been praying for has been on my heart for so long. And for the past year it’s been made clear time and time again that some form of this prayer is what God is leading me toward. So when I thought He was saying no I spiraled in confusion. That is, until I finally accepted that God’s timing is perfect and that He will fulfill this promise when He knows the time is right.

Maybe this is true for you as well. There are certainly times when God says to no to what we think is best. But, I also believe that if you have covered a decision in prayer and have felt God’s leading that He will be faithful to finish what He starts….when He knows the timing is absolutely perfect.

Looking at my life right now….it’s actually a really good thing that what I prayed for didn’t happen when I thought it should. I would be weighed down by guilt and chaos and stress at this point in my journey if everything had gone the way I wanted it to. The timing I thought was so perfect turned out to be pretty far from it. Turns out, as we have already discussed, I tend to be wrong more often than I like to admit. So, I invite you to believe with me, friend, that when the timing truly is perfect He will fulfill the desires of our heart.

3. It Isn’t About Me.

Have you ever been so caught up in a prayer that forget that you aren’t the center of the universe. That’s what happened to me this summer — I was so focused on this one thing that I totally forgot how it might impact people around me — my husband, family, coworkers, friends….I was so caught up in how it would change my life for the better that I never considered how it might make the life of many others more complicated. I never considered how it would change how I serve those I care about. Because in those moments of prayer I only had one thing on my mind: MYSELF.


I never set out to be selfish about this. And who ever does? We all think we are being pretty generous and selfless, but if we’re being honest with ourselves….most of our prayers are pretty selfish. We want happiness, security, prosperity, contentment….and we never stop to think that maybe lacking those things isn’t the worst thing that could happen. We forget that we aren’t here to be happy and to prosper….but rather we are here to give of ourselves, sacrifice our own security, and seek to bring true joy to others by shining the light of Christ.

When I sit down and think about all the prayers that I have circling my life…most of them are pretty selfish. Good health, secure financial standing, an enjoyable career, safety….all of these things have one thing in common: my happiness. And as hard as it may be to admit…..that is not what this life is supposed to be about!

I had to ask myself….is receiving a no to this prayer really causing anyone discontentment except for me? Does it majorly impact anyone else but me in a negative way? No, not really. When I think of the time I spent worrying and begging and bargaining over this….I feel sick because all of that prayer could have been devoted to so much more — to something that truly impacts others and makes a difference for The Kingdom.

Dear friend, it is more than okay to pray for the desires of our heart, even if they are mainly about us. But, what is not okay is making those types of prayers our priority. That is what I did, and I truly believe that the no/not now that I have received is a wake up call regarding my selfishness. It’s time that I stop devoting 99% of my prayer life to myself — that isn’t the kind of prayer warrior I want to be!

I don’t know about you, but I want to be the kind of prayer warrior that lifts others up, that prays for the ones that no one prays for, that feels God’s presence in every moment because my entire life is drenched in prayers for others. I want to witness God moving in the lives of the ones I love rather than just in the life I lead. I want to open myself up to all of the possibilities of seeing miracles and lives changed.


So, you might ask: do I still pray for that thing I was so distressed over? Yes, every day. I lift it up every, single, day. But, I do so in a new way. Now, I hand it over to God each day, accepting that His will for this prayer is far better than mine. I try to truly let it go each morning and trust that He will use today to bring me close to that answer I long for. My faith in God’s ability and willingness to answer a prayer hasn’t changed — but my pursuit of that prayer has. I have found an abundance of joy in devoting more time to praying for others — my husband, my family, my dear friends, random people I meet or know of, even my readers (aka: you!). Trust me, that kind of joy is far better than the joy I would have received from having my own prayer answered. That kind of joy is irreplaceable.


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How to Journey Through Heartbreak & Remain Joyful

Sweet friend,

I’m just going to go ahead and say it, even though it is soooooo cliche, but just bear with me here…..

We ALL must journey through heartbreak at some point. I know, I know….that doesn’t change how painful it is when it happens and it certainly isn’t a statement that offers hope. But, you probably know firsthand what I mean by this.

So, because I know we all have either faced heartbreak, are facing it right now, or will face it at some point, I felt it was so important to start this conversation. I think we are so convinced that as women we can never show weakness for fear of being labeled the weaker sex or living up to some stereotype. But, today, I want to get VULNERABLE and talk about this entire topic LIKE A GIRL. Friend, heartbreak stinks. When you’re journeying through it, it feels like the most life-altering and devastating experience you could have.


Before we dive in, I want to tell you about the year my heart broke three times.

My senior year of college and the summer that followed was the most altering year of my young adult life. I was not the same person at the end of that year that I was when I first rang in the new year.

By February of that year I had been dating someone for about five months. This wasn’t just any guy. This was my best friend. This was a relationship we had both prayed over and talked about long before deciding to pursue it. And, of course, I totally thought that this relationship was destined to be the ONE because he was my best friend. All the movies told us that this would work out. All of our friends questioned why we hadn’t started dating sooner — we spent every second of the day together anyway.

Well, as it turns out, sometimes dating your best friend is not exactly what the movies lead you to believe it is. By the end of February, we had called it quits. And I don’t mean that we both decided to go back to being friends. I mean that he decided to call it quits.

So, we all know that getting dumped is no fun. But getting dumped by your best friend….that is just about one of the most awful rejections I’ve ever known. Now, I will be honest and say that I was in complete denial about our relationship. The sparks that we thought existed between us simply weren’t there — it just happened that he was willing to admit that sooner than I was.


Surprisingly, we were actually able to go right back to the way we were and to this day he is still the one I call when I just need my best friend. Of course, in those days after the breakup, I was pretty sure that I had just lost the best relationship I had ever known. How could we ever be friends after this?

For a month straight I went back to my dorm every day, crawled into bed with some sort of food (usually sushi or pizza) and watched endless episodes of Friends. I just couldn’t seem to get back to who I was before — I felt sad all the time and on the verge of tears most days. You see, I had just experienced my very first broken heart.

Fast forward to May of that year. I had just graduated and was about to start my summer internship. I was dating this dreamy guy who I’d met about a month after that breakup. He was totally infatuated with me and I with him. This was the kind of passion that you read about in books. I was head over heels.

3 days after gradation….HEARTBREAK.

I was beyond devastated.

I had to walk into my internship the next day and pretend like I was okay, but I was a mess on the inside.

Months passed and I still felt the ache. My internship was going great, the summer was full of fun things, and I had a bright future ahead. But still, I was hurting.

The end of the summer came around and I found myself being pursued again. This time, it only took about 3 dates for him to totally stop all communication and I was left with, yet again, another let down. This time was not nearly as painful on it’s own, but after feeling rejected so much in one year, it just added to all the cracks forming in my heart.

Of course, I am now married to the man who really was meant for me. And he makes all of that pain seem far less important. But, during that year of heartbreak I felt myself sinking. I’d grown insecure, untrusting, and unconvinced that any man was worth my time.

But I learned so much in those months. Some things that truly changed me for the better. Those breaks in my heart became small scars that remind of how far I’ve come, how strong I am, and how much I can depend on God to see me through anything.


After drawing out this long story about my relationship history, I want to share with you the things I learned through that journey in the simplest way I can….

  1. Dating relationships should never identify you.

Marriage may come with titles like “husband” and “wife” and those titles certainly become a part of who we are — they identify us as committed to one person so the rest of the world knows where we stand. One of the most defining things about me is that I am the wife to David Stephens. It means that I place his needs before my own, I serve him as God leads me, I am submissive to him as the leader of our relationship. It means that I get to enjoy the blessings of marriage with him, fall asleep with him each night, and possibly raise a family with him someday. Those are self-defining things that simply come with being married.

But, a dating relationship should never receive the same privileges that a marriage relationship does. A dating relationship should never define who we are. Part of the reason that I struggled to move past breakups was because I struggled to place my identity in God instead of in the guy I was with at the time. Because I wasn’t relying on what God said about me, I was devastated when rejected came my way.

That summer I grew closer to God than I ever had been before. All of those heartbreaks had left me with no other choice but to turn to Him and learn to find my identity in who He says I am. And though  I was still hurting, I was able to find true JOY because of my relationship with Christ.

So, if heartbreak feels more difficult for you than it should….maybe that’s because it is. Maybe what you’re really facing is an identity crisis. And the only way to move past that is to turn back to who God says you are. Spend time with Him, talk to Him, and really search His word to know what He says about you.

2. Your plan will never compare to God’s plan for you

I still struggle with this every day. I am always fighting and questioning God when things don’t go my way. Even though I know that when things aren’t going my way, that just means that God is working out something even BETTER for me than I had planned.

Of those three broken hearts, those three guys that I thought were so perfect for me….none of them even come close to the man I get to spend every day with. I am beyond grateful that the Lord didn’t let me have my way, no matter how much I begged. He knew that what I thought I wanted was not at all the type of guy that I needed in my life. He knew that David was waiting and praying for me. He knew that even though my heart was breaking, which I know He felt 100% with me, that He had something unbelievably good stored up for my future.

Friend, if your heart is breaking right now I invite you to take joy in this one thought: the relationship that you thought was unbeatable is actually going to fall quite short compared to the one that God has in-store for you. I know it seems impossible that anyone THAT good could ever come into your life again and you truly feel like you can never love anyone else more than you love him…..but you would be greatly surprised at what God can do with a willing heart. Including HEAL it. Trust that He has goodness planned for your life and believe that He will fulfill every promise and you will live each day with a joy that others simply can’t describe.


3. A relationship will never bring you true joy.

Not that lasting kind anyway. My husband makes me happy — every day! But my JOY is not found in him. Because if it were….well, I would be a pretty miserable person on the days he annoys me or does something in a different way than I would. If my joy were found in my marriage then I would never know as each day came whether or not I was going to be happy that day. But, because my joy comes from God, I know every morning I wake up is a day destined for joy….NO MATTER WHAT.

If you can learn to find your joy in Christ because you know that no other relationship will ever provide that kind of joy, then you will be free from all the miseries that other people complain about when it comes to relationships. You will know for certain that no matter what happens, you will be a genuinely joyful person.

I have one final thing to share with you, friend….

If you are really struggling through a season of heartbreak right now, then I would like to give you a special gift.

I have created a 7-day devotional that focuses on how you can journey through heartbreak and come out on the other side more joyful and hopeful and learn to see yourself as adored and loved by the Creator.

Just click below to download your FREE copy of this devotional and start the healing process today.


Click HERE to download your FREE copy.


I hope you are choosing to walk the path of healing, friend. I pray that you are seeking God’s will through this confusing season — He will be faithful to heal your heart and provide you with the love story you deserve.