Monday, October 31, 2016

#sistersofinfluence: Laura Godfrey

Today I am so excited to introduce you to my sweet friend Laura Godfrey. She and I met in college way back when because we were both involved in the Baptist Collegiate Ministries on campus. Her husband, Matt led what was then called the "New Dawg" ministry for incoming freshmen like me. She has the most beautiful singing voice, a sweet spirit, and some pretty adorable little daughters. She's one of eight kids, was homeschooled, and has an amazingly great fashion blog titled after her daughters, Reese and Rowen. I know you'll love her!

Tell us about yourself. Who are you?

My name is Laura Godfrey. I married my highschool sweetheart a little over eight years ago. We have two little blonde hair blue eyed girls that we adore. 

How did you come to know the Lord?

I was raised a pastor's kid so I literally grew up in the church. I got saved at VBS when I was in second grade. But I really came to know the Lord at a revival in middle school.

What do you think it means to be a woman of influence right where you are?

I love this question. I think one of the greatest ways I can be an influence where I am is to actually BE where I am. I'm the kind of girl that's always ready for the "what's next" so finding contentment right where I am has always been a struggle. I think it's easy to confuse contentment and complacency. Once the Lord spoke clearly into my heart about being content to be where He has me for each season, I began to enjoy the right now. I have the incredible honor of influencing these two sweet girls who I spend 90% of my time with. If I'm constantly in a rush toward "next", I rush right past their little seasons too. I think a lot of other moms struggle here too so I love getting to share this message whenever I can. Love your season. Live your season. 

How does the Lord allow you to shine His light through motherhood?

Being a mommy is HARD some days. It's soooooo good but gracious it can get on my last nerve! I am constantly dependent on the Lord to speak gently and lovingly in all circumstances THRU me. He is so good to me and I love feeling His presence during these long days of shepherding little hearts.

What is the best piece of marriage advice you've been given?

This is an easy one. My dad told me and my husband before we got married to always try to out serve one another. It's so easy to get into the rut of "what can you do for me?" so if your goal is to serve and out serve each other, you end up creating this sweet environment within your home. It sets a great example for your kiddos, too!

What is your favorite verse or passage of Scripture?

This varies depending on the stage of life but I think Psalm 23:6 is a definite fav through all different seasons. "Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life." I love being reminded that God is pursuing me every single day. 

What is one truth you want others to remember and cling to?

The truth I cling to each and every day is that God loves me and He is worthy to be trusted. I am fine feeling loved so long as I feel I've earned it. But when I'm in a bad place, it's very hard to believe that I can still be loved. At the same time, when things are going well for me and my family, it's easy for me to believe that Jesus can be trusted. It's when things get reeeeeeeeally hard that it's tougher to say those words. But I've found that repeating that truth out loud silences the lies of the enemy every. single. time.

And last but not least: coffee or tea?

Oh, man! Can I pick both? I like my tea sweet as can be with tons of ice and my coffee warm and bordering on a dessert.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

New Style November

So y'all, I never really thought that I could be a fashion blogger. I mean, I love clothes, and I have always enjoyed following trends even if I never pulled them off in my own wardrobe. In the contentment challenge, I stated that I would not shop for three months. That means I wouldn't buy any new clothes for three months. As someone who LOVES fall and the beauty of layering clothes, I was kind of saddened by this fact, but I knew that I needed to challenge myself and use self-control.

Now that it is late October, I am almost two-thirds done with my challenge! It's actually gone by pretty quickly, and I have been so challenged to think differently about my purchases and where I put my money. It's not really my money anyways. So back to fashion. Y'all. I love a cozy sweater and boots with a cup of tea in hand. #basic, I know. Whatever. I've enjoyed following other fashion bloggers, but sometimes am discouraged because their budgets seem to be a little ahem, bigger than mine. Most of my clothes from Gap. Not even the real one though, the factory outlet. I also love a good Target tee and am quite excited by a good TJMaxx find. All that to say that I don't have many designer threads, folks.

This month, I am challenging myself to wear a "new" outfit every day of the month. That's thirty days of no outfit repeating, folks. I looked in my closet, and y'all...I have PLENTY OF CLOTHES. This was the line-up:

28 pairs shoes
30 dresses
61 shirts
7 pairs of pants
4 pairs of jeans
10 skirts
15 sweaters

That doesn't even include jackets, vests, scarves, purses, pajamas, workout clothing, etc. Good grief. And sometimes I think to myself, "I have nothing to wear." Geeze Louise.

If you've got Instagram, be sure to follow me @jessicanmathisen, where I will post my outfits daily. Then, here on the blog, I'll do a "Fashion Friday" with a recap of all the outfits for the previous week! If you want to take the challenge and see what you can do with your wardrobe, I would love to have you join me with the hashtag #newstyleNovember. Can't wait to have fun with what we've got, friends! :)

Monday, October 24, 2016

#sistersofinfluence: Retha Nichole

Today I get to introduce to my friend Retha. She's an incredible woman with an amazing story. Her smile lights up a room, she has a gentle spirit, and she is full of faith and love. She and I met at the Influence Conference and have enjoyed getting to know each other online ever since! I know you'll be encouraged by her and her story.

Tell us about yourself. Who are you?

My name is Retha Nichole, mom of 3 boys ages 12, 10 & 3. I have a podcast (My Light Still Shines), I coach women on how to tap into their gifts & I love speaking at women's conference and churches. 

How did you come to know the Lord?

I grew up in church but strayed away during college. I give that context to say that once you have a foundation of God then when He comes for His sheep you know his voice. I began my new relationship with God in my 30’s and have found out what He desires of us as His children. 

What do you think it means to be a woman of influence right where you are?

A woman of influence is a woman who loves community and lifting others up right where she is. She is not afraid to expand her territory and show others how to influence others in their lives. She believes that the gifts God has blessed her with are not just for her, they are for others as well. 

How does the Lord allow you to shine His light through your writing and speaking?

God allows me to shine His light via social media and my podcast. I don’t believe that ALL social media is bad, yes there are some bad aspects but instead of looking at that side, be the light and use what God has given you. My podcast allows me to speak about what God is showing me in His word that may help others. I also interview women and let them share how God worked in their lives. I believe that by shining a light on ALL of our good and bad this can break the walls of comparison and lift each other up knowing that we are not alone in our world. 

What is one thing you want the women of our generation to remember?

I want women to remember that God loves them NO MATTER WHAT. I want women to remember that God’s love is TRULY unconditional, therefore you can’t think of His love in the same context as the love we get from people. 

What is your favorite verse or passage of Scripture?

James 1:5-6 “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind."

What is one truth you want others to remember and cling to?

If you woke up this morning, then God is not done with you. NO matter where you are and what you have done, God is not done. His plan will come to fruition.

And last but not least: coffee or tea?

Coffee and Sweet Tea

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Thirty Before 30

This past May, my sweet husband turned thirty. He tells me that it's a pretty great place to be, and while I am in no rush to get there, I'm excited about the fun a new decade will bring for me in about a year and a half. If you haven't noticed, I'm a pretty big fan of lists around here. Today I'm sharing with you my bucket list of fun things to complete before I turn the big 3-0 in May of 2018. :)

1. Have a baby. I mean, duh. I'm not exactly a spring chicken, folks.

2. Write more devotionals.

3. Visit the Biltmore Estate for Christmas at Biltmore.

4. (Actually) train for and run another half marathon.

5. Throw a themed dinner party for friends.

6. Go camping (only done it once, folks. It was in Mexico so that makes me feel pretty cool though.)

7. Go on a big road trip.

8. Stay in a tiny house.

9. Learn to quilt.

10. Cut down a Christmas tree at a tree farm.

11. Read five classics.
My choices are: Pride and Prejudice, Les Miserables, A Christmas Carol, The Hobbit, One Hundred Years of Solitude.

12. Learn how to make my own bread at home and perfect the recipe.

13. See a Broadway show. (I've done this before but obvi I want to squeeze in some more before 30 hits.)

14. Travel to Waco and visit the Magnolia Empire Silos.

15. See someone in concert I haven't seen before but have always wanted to see. Ex.: Adele, Carrie Underwood, Justin Timberlake

16. Join or start a book club.

17. Redesign my blog.

18. Take a girls' only vacation/weekend away with my BFFs.

19. Finish decorating our house.

20. No social media days on Sunday. Always.

21. Get a massage.

22. Pay for someone's meal in the line behind me at a drive through.

23. Save money like a boss.

24. Try new haircuts and hairstyles.

25. Go on a mission trip.

26. Take a trip on Megabus.

27. Memorize a book of the Bible.

28. Learn to garden.

29. Learn how to make a jam-up cheesecake.

30. Eat at each Athens-area Waffle House.

Stay tuned, friends! I'll be writing about each one of these fun adventures as they happen. Have you ever made a bucket list? What's on yours?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Why I Won't Be Voting This Year

Y'all, it feels altogether brave and stupid to write this post. But I'm writing it anyways. I have a hard time with social media and such during election season. It seems as though people think that it is ok to say whatever they want to say without regards to others' feelings or thoughts. There seems to be a lack of respect for people in general. This greatly grieves me. I don't think that the election is a joke, and I also don't think that it is up to us to tell the entire world everything we think in 140 characters or less. But I do believe that it is important to speak up and not be ashamed of your convictions. 

From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
-James 3:10

Here's what I've noticed that makes my skin crawl: it seems as though the American Church (big C because I'm talking about all people who call themselves followers of Christ) believes that every four years is their time to make a difference. Well, I'm calling bull on that. Every single day is our time to make a difference. 

The presidency is a man made idea over which God is completely and totally sovereign. There are many things that happen in our everyday lives and in the over-arching theme of history that surprise us and make us question our faith and all that we know. But God? He's omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. He is Lord of all. He is not shaken by the events of our world. He's actually in the future, completely and totally unruffled by all of the things that threaten to tear our world apart. 

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. - Romans 13:1

There are many different beliefs about the efficacy of voting and whether our votes really "count." In my twenty eight years, I've been on the left and the right. Right now I would confidently say that I'm somewhere in the middle. It's not my job or my goal to sit here and bash each of the two main candidates. There's really no fruit in that. I do, however, want to explain the rationale behind my choice to abstain. 

One thing that keeps coming to mind is that it seems as though we want to pray when things have already gotten bad. When things are rough, we feel the urgency to pray and seek God like never before. But what about when things just seem ok? What do we do then? If we as the Church were committed to praying, fasting, and truly seeking God's face in the midst of changing times, we might begin to see some big things happen. I'm guilty of this, friends. I very nonchalantly lift up a prayer or two for the leaders of our country, but I don't make it a priority as I should.

Many say that we need to vote because if we don't, the candidate that can do "the most damage" will make things awful for us and bring changes from which we will not be able to recover. I can understand this perspective, but I cannot agree with it. In fact, I believe it is rooted in fear. If we are voting for the lesser of two evils and choosing to vote for an agenda instead of a person, we are neglecting to realize that no matter who makes it to the White House, this person will still represent the United States of America to the world. And most likely, the world will see that person, not their agenda or platform, when they look at us. 

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. - 2 Chronicles 7:14

When we begin to think that we can place our hopes in the government to change things for us, we are choosing to believe that culture is upstream from the government, when in fact the opposite is true. Politics are downstream from culture. Let me explain (although my husband could do a much better job). Our culture influences politics because it is the people who cry out for change and desire to shake things up. The culture we live in is usually either crying out for something different than what they've seen in the last political administration or hoping that the same policies continue. Politics don't determine how people interact with one another culturally. If I decided to make a lifestyle change which in turn influence someone else to do the same and it had a ripple effect, we would have the opportunity to influence politics, not the other way around. 

As a believer, I believe that it is my calling to make a difference right where I am. I don't place my hopes in the government or a leader to make decisions that will magically change my life. The power of the Holy Spirit WHO RAISED CHRIST FROM THE DEAD lives inside of me. If I am unhappy with the way things are in my life, I can ask the Holy Spirit to give me courage to change them. If I see injustice, I can speak up. If I see poverty, I can lend a hand and be a friend. And if I see people hurting, I can give my time instead of rushing right past them. 

I am neither controlled nor hindered by any governmental system. In everything I do, I am compelled by the love of Christ.

My vote (or lack thereof) on the first Tuesday in November most likely will not be a part of shaping history. I'm not voting because I cannot choose one candidate over another in good conscience without hesitation. My hopes aren't in a political candidate to come and change everything that is wrong. They don't have the power to do that! But when I take the time to create change within my own community, I remember that there is a hope to hold onto, and His name in Jesus. Only Jesus can fix what we have so badly broken. There's no political candidate that I am looking to to change things, because my hope is in Christ. When I wake up on November 9 and see the results, no winner's name is going to change the fact that my God is still on the throne. 

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. - Psalm 20:7

Dear friends, I ask that you use kindness and discretion with any comments you make on this post. Rude and unkind comments will not be tolerated. Please be respectful and seek to understand before posting anything that is not rooted in kindness. Thank you.

Further Reading (from people much smarter and well-spoken than me):

Monday, October 17, 2016

#sistersofinfluence: Lindsay Gilmore

Today I have the privilege of introducing you to my friend Lindsay Gilmore. She and I worked together at a nature camp the summer after freshman year of college. Read: we were babies. She has an infectious smile and a heart of gold; she spreads joy where she goes and loves others well. I was a camp counselor, she was a lifeguard, and it was one summer to remember! Lindsay and I both attended UGA, where we had mutual friends and would sometimes randomly see each other on campus. We've kept up a little through social media, and I reached out to her to be a part of this series because she is doing incredible things, peeps. Lindsay is an amazing artist; she truly has a gift. She and her husband Beau live in Oregon, so obvi I am green with envy at every beautiful nature pic she posts. But for real, y'all, you are going to love her and be so encouraged by her story. Without further adieu, Lindsay Gilmore, folks. 

Tell us about yourself. Who are you?

Hi, I’m Lindsay! “Who are you” is a surprisingly difficult question to answer, but if I were to try to sum it up, mission-statement-style, I would say that I’m a wife, daughter, sister and friend seeking to create and celebrate beauty in the world.

I grew up in Roswell, Georgia, met my husband Beau at UGA, followed him to Charlottesville, Virginia for his medical school and most recently to Portland, Oregon for his pediatrics residency. We feel fortunate to have lived in so many incredible places and to have met and learned from so many wonderful people along the way.

Career-wise, I hit the jackpot and found the greatest first job working for a creative agency called Journey Group in Charlottesville. I wore many hats there starting in administration, account management, and then working into more of a graphic design role. Drawing and painting have always been passions of mine and around three years ago, I began drawing portraits and pet portraits for friends. Since January of this year, I feel so grateful to say that that side-gig has become my full time job. I spend most of my days in my PJs (#workfromhomelife) drawing pictures, trying my best to run and grow a business, and learning a whole heck-of-a-lot along the way.

Oh, and my dog Walter is my best friend.

How did you come to know the Lord?

It’s a really neat story. I had a lot of exposure to Christianity from a young age (going to church here and there and on holidays, had a lot of Christian friends because let’s be honest, I’ve always been a goody-goody, etc.), but there was a very clear moment when I decided that I would have an actual relationship with the Lord. I had been going through a particularly low self-esteem period towards the end of my senior year in high school, and I recalled my Christian friends talking about having “quiet times”. Essentially, they would sit and spend time in the word, praying and talking to Jesus. I was feeling particularly desperate, so I sat down with a journal and poured my heart out about all of the insecurities that I had. The very next morning, I woke up to an email from someone I had never met. It went something like this…

“This is weird, I know. I’ve never met you in person before, but I know you through a mutual friend. And I just felt the Lord put it on my heart to tell you that you are worthy.”

The email went on to speak directly against those insecurities that I had prayed about the night before. After that, I knew with certainty that God was real and that he loved me.

What do you think it means to be a woman of influence right where you are?

Growing up, a lot of my friends and I were so similar. White, upper middle class, over-achieving Christians from the metro Atlanta area. And I love them dearly and learned so much from them during my time in school. But ever since then, most of the new friends we’ve met in Charlottesville and now Portland have been largely from Beau’s medical community. They come from all different races, religions and backgrounds and have completely turned my comfortable world upside down in the very best way. So to me, being a woman of influence where I am now has meant doing a lot of listening and being challenged by all of these wonderful people in my life...old friends and new friends alike. And in return, I’m honestly just trying my best to break down the often negative stereotype of being a Christian amongst all of my non-Christian friends. To show them that we aren’t always judgmental. That we care about social justice. That we aren’t perfect and that we make mistakes and that ultimately, our goal should be to spend our lives loving people well. Because He first loved us.

How does the Lord allow you to shine His light through your artwork?

I’m often tempted to think that the work that I do is frivolous and unnecessary – that I’m just creating material things and not actually spending my time directly helping people. It’s especially tempting to think those things when you have a husband who spends his days saving babies, but that’s another conversation for another day.

Anyway, I’ve learned that this way of thinking is a lie. There can ALWAYS be ways to shine His light through your work, whatever line of work that it may be. You just have to look for the opportunities.

For me, I think it has been about building relationships with my customers and going the extra mile to treat them with kindness and respect. Typically, people order my custom pieces as gifts. So to be able to email back and forth with my customers, ask about the gift, who it’s for, why it’s meaningful, etc., has been really special. I always try to make people feel cared for and appreciated throughout and sometimes even beyond their experience ordering artwork. A few friendships have even come out of it.

Another way has been through something I call the “Celebration Series” on my blog. The heart behind the series is to celebrate and give a platform to people in my life that I admire. To give them encouragement that the work that they’re doing in the world matters and to provide a place for them to be recognized. Most of the people that I ask to be interviewed respond with “Why me?!”, and to be able to answer that question and give affirmation has been so life-giving and meaningful.

I believe that God has given all of us unique abilities and giftings. No matter how frivolous those giftings may seem at times, when we offer them to others it is always a powerful gesture.

What is the best piece of marriage advice you've been given?

Communicate! Don’t be afraid to tell each other what you need and be willing to listen to constructive feedback without getting defensive.

Another thing I heard recently that I’ve been trying to incorporate is to say “thank you” instead of “sorry”. So for example, I’d say “thank you for waiting” instead of “sorry I’m late”. It rearranges the statement from being about my own failings to instead being about thankfulness for the grace that Beau gives me. It’s a small change of perspective that has made a big difference for me!

What is your favorite verse or passage of Scripture?

I’m one of those people that says that everything is my favorite. Ha. But my current favorite is Joshua 1:9, which says "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” It’s a verse that I have clung to since our move to Portland and my recent career change. It gives me a lot of comfort.

What is one truth you want others to remember and cling to?

I read East of Eden by John Steinbeck last summer and it was life-changing. My biggest takeaway was the following quote about the Hebrew word, timshel:

"The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’ Don’t you see?” ‘Thou mayest’! Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win.”

It may not make too much sense out of context, but I take it to mean that our lives matter and that we have been given choice and free will. Our words and actions have meaning and impact, so we should use them to love people well and fulfill God’s purpose for our lives.

And last but not least: coffee or tea?

Definitely coffee! I never drank it until after college, but then we moved to Portland and suddenly turned into coffee snobs. Just trying to fit in. :)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

#weread2016: She Reads Truth Review

Every day seems more fragile than the next. Every new wave slams into us, threatening to shake us loose, but because the Rock doesn't move, neither do we. The Truth of God's Word echoes in our ears and we go to sleep at night knowing whatever tomorrow holds- life or death or things present or things to come- nothing "will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!" (Rom. 8:39)

Y'all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I've been a big fan of She Reads Truth for a few years now. She Reads Truth started as a movement of women came together and decided (with the use of a clever hashtag) that they wanted to be in the word of God every single day. The movement became an online community, and is now also a free app and online store with amazing resources. Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams are the town women who are behind this movement, steering its ship and watching where the Lord leads as they discover new ways to engage women in the word of God as they see life transformation happen when they dig deep into the pages of His good and mighty word. 

I love a good memoir, and this book was just that. But what's special about this book is that it is not just one person's story. And it's not two, even though there are two wonderfully talented authors. What's special about this book is that it is my story, and it is your story. The subtitle for this book is "Holding Tight to Permanent in a World That's Passing Away." Raechel and Amanda both beautifully and vulnerably share their stories of loss, grief, trials, and sorrow in the hopes that we will see and understand that we have a God is sovereign, kind, sweet, and wonderful in the midst of each and every moment. He sees our pain, and He knows our stories, in fact, He's the author of them. And He only writes stories for His glory and our good. 

This book will invite you in and remind you of the power of the word of God when everything around you seems to be slipping away. It revealed to me my tendency to hang on to anything but God- status, material things, fleeting feelings, etc. We are living in times where people do not want to cling to truth. In fact, they want anything but the truth. They  We seek out the words that will make us feel good, not cause us to change and move forward in grace. These words from chapter four have been ringing around in my head all week:

Paul knew truth-adjacent would be appealing. Even now we want new teachers and fresh truths- we want a gospel that depends on us, at least a little...Truth-adjacent is everywhere. Something may sound and even look a lot like Truth. But Paul warned us then and we get to remind each other now: if we are hanging our hat on something that points us away from our need for Jesus, it is not true. 

Salvation because we're walking the line is gospel-adjacent. 
Salvation because we cannot do what Christ has done is gospel. 
Peace because we've stripped back our busyness, simplified our schedules, and picked our yeses and nos carefully is truth-adjacent. 
Peace because God's Word is an anchor for our souls no matter how simple or messy our lives look is truth. 
This. THIS is why we read Truth. 

Y'all, I want that kind of peace. I've definitely experienced truth-adjacent peace as a result of my own striving to "make things better." But I want that peace that flows like a river through my soul, inviting me to rest in Jesus Christ alone. I want it so badly. And I am ever so grateful for the women who so bravely wrote this book, which invites us to pursue that peace through knowing Him more through the power of His never-failing and unchanging word, which is permanent and unfading. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

#sistersofinfluence: Hannah Ian

It's been a while since we have had a Sister of Influence around here, and I am so excited to bring it back! Today I get to introduce you to my sweet friend Hannah Ian. She and I haven't known each other for very long, but I consider her a close friend! We both are newlyweds, and we met through our small groups at church. This summer, we spent some time getting to know each other more because we traveled to Nashville together for the Looking for Lovely weekend hosted by the fabulous Annie F. Downs. We had so much fun together, and with 12 cumulative hours in the car with one another, we covered a lot of territory. When she told me that she believed leopard was a neutral, I knew we were destined for a pretty great friendship. She has a sweet heart and fun-loving spirit, and you will love her!

Tell us about yourself. Who are you?

My name is Hannah Ian! I am a daughter of Christ and love my Jesus so much! I married my high school sweetheart, David, this past March and he is a police officer. David is my best friend and always knows exactly how to make me laugh out loud… literally. We have a two(ish) year old rescue dog named Khloe who struggles with anxiety, which David says makes complete sense because I share the same issue. I’m a UGA graduate with a degree in Public Relations working as a social media manager for a marketing agency. I usually end up explaining my job to people by saying I spend an absurd amount of time on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. My focus is social media advertising, which involves a bit more than just posting fun graphics and hilarious videos (Yes, people often think that’s all I do… It’s ok, I’m not bitter). I’m incredibly thankful for the community I have found in the little (big) town of Athens as it’s where I have met friends I like to call family. Community is very important to me as it has immensely shaped my faith. Coffee is also important and lastly, I believe most bad days can be turned around by watching Gilmore Girls (Lorelai Gilmore is my spirit animal).

How did you come to know the Lord?

I grew up in a Christian home, so I came to know Christ at a young age. However, I believe that I chose to truly follow Him when I was in high school. The Lord placed several incredible mentors and friends in my life during high school who taught me to dig into Scripture and invest everything I had into a relationship with Christ.  One of my favorite memories with Jesus involved a 24 hour solo journey in the California wilderness (sounds super crazy, but I was eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I’m not a survivalist). I was attending a camp called JH Ranch and it was there that I learned so much about holding fast to my relationship with Jesus. 

What do you think it means to be a woman of influence right where you are?
I think that being a woman of influence encompasses several aspects of your life. From your personal relationship with Jesus to your relationships with others, the state of your relationships can greatly affect how you influence those around you. I don’t believe you have to travel far to be an influence, but it’s about having an eternal perspective. With an eternal perspective, I believe that you better understand the reality of sharing God’s love and grace. How you treat others and react to situations can have a heavy impact and makes both your internal thoughts and external actions incredibly valuable. The responsibility of being a woman of influence is a mighty task, but we are not perfect. This is why I believe that focusing on your relationship with Christ and allowing Him to transform your life from the inside out will best prepare your heart to share Jesus. It doesn’t take much to be a positive influence, but with a joy-filled heart and desire to glorify the Lord I believe you can be a woman of influence exactly where you are.

How does the Lord allow you to shine His light through PR?

It can be hard to find purpose in the PR and marketing world. I work at an agency, so I serve a variety of clients and it has been a challenge. I’ve had to quickly learn that you will fall on your face often and you need thick skin. Instead of making excuses, the best thing to do is admit your mistake and find a resolution. Working with clients quickly reveals pride because it’s so easy to always want to be right. As soon as I receive an email that is the slightest bit negative, my thoughts jump all over the place. I’m a people pleaser at heart, so that just makes my job even more difficult than it should be! By setting aside my pride and serving my clients with a genuinely positive attitude (no matter how they might respond to emails), I hope to shine a light and reflect Jesus. I love Tim Keller’s book “Every Good Endeavor.” My roommate lent it to me when I started working at an agency and it has truly transformed the way I view my work life. If you haven’t read it, I suggest jumping over to Amazon ASAP. It walks through how to connect the work you do with God’s work. Savor it. Take notes. It’s so good.

What is the best piece of marriage advice you've been given?

I’ve received the best marriage advice from my sweet mama. My parents love each other unconditionally and deeply, but arguments arise just like they do for every marriage. My mama has always emphasized conflict resolution and keeping your heart away from bitterness. She’s shared her experiences with me and her words mean the world. To this day, I’ll call her all frustrated about something David did and she is quick to point me in the right direction. Her response is not to immediately side with me or put down my husband, but she encourages me to process my feelings and resolve the conflict before resentment sets in deep. Bitterness is poison to marriage and it will always take work to continually talk through conflict.

What is your favorite verse or passage of Scripture?

Hmmmm… It can honestly depend on the season of life I am in. Right now, Ephesians 4:32 - "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."

What is one truth you want others to remember and cling to?

I’ve recently been studying the book of Ruth with a sweet group of ladies and one of the takeaways I have had from it over the last few weeks has been quite simple, but impactful… Waiting is not wasted time. So many times I’ve heard others and myself complain about “waiting on God” or being “patient in His timing.” I don’t think these are wrong things to say or think, but I think that we forget that the time we spend waiting has a purpose. It isn’t just wasting away and we shouldn’t make that excuse. While you are waiting for that new job to come along, how is God growing your faith? Your prayer life? While you wait for someone to change their attitude, what are you doing to improve yours? This is something I continually struggle with and I want others to know you are not alone and your time isn’t wasted when you are following the Lord. God is doing a good work in you. Hang in there. If you can’t seem to hang on much longer, grab a friend and let her know that you need some real talk and a good cup of coffee (or tea).

And last but not least: coffee or tea?

Duh, coffee. I’m the resident barista at work and it’s my greatest accomplishment.

*Images via Ardent Story Photography

Monday, October 10, 2016

Proverbs 31 Book Release Day!

Party, party, friends! The day has finally arrived. It is October 10, 2016. My sweet Nanny, my mom's mom, would have been 82 today. I hope that she is proud of me and that this release day can be a way to honor her memory. :)

Well friends, this is it! Today, you can buy my first book on Amazon. I poured a lot into it and hope that it encourages you. For today, I wanted to go through a few questions quickly to help you understand what to expect next:

1. Can I buy the book if I don't have a Kindle? 

YES! You can read it on a Kindle app on several different devices! Read here for more info.

2. What is the book about?

The book is a women's devotional (although men are welcome to read it, too!) that unpacks the mystery of the Proverbs 31 woman for ladies of the 21st century. Each day has one focus verse, a short reading, and 2-3 life application questions.

3. How will we work through the book together?

Beginning this Wednesday, October 12, we will be discussing each day online. I will be posting a picture on Instagram and Facebook with a couple discussion questions, and you can comment and discuss with others the question of the day! If you would like to be added to the discussion group on Facebook, be sure to join in here! Be sure to go ahead and read the introduction before Wednesday and then we will dive into day 1 together!


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