Thursday, May 18, 2017

#sistersofinfluence: Taylor Oakland

Friends, today I get to introduce you to my sweet friend Taylor! She's an amazing calligrapher and I found her via Instagram! Her work is incredible! Be sure to follow her at @floralsandflourishes. You'll be encouraged by her words and her story! 

{True Grace Photography}

Tell us about yourself. Who are you?

I’m Taylor Oakland! I am above all else a woman who is loved by God. Followed closely by my bent toward being a feminist woman. Sarah Bessey is currently rocking my world with the idea of what it means to be a “Jesus Feminist” and live in the tension between these worlds. In my day to day life, I am a wife to the most wonderful, patient (and dare I say hot) man named Chris. I do some work as a calligrapher through my business Florals & Flourishes and when I am not doing that I am getting my masters in Counseling to become a school counselor. Something important to know about me is that I am passionate about the power of relationships and I am a person who is loyal (to a fault at times). I’m a 6 on the enneagram and that really could tell you all you need to know about me "The Loyalist”. 

How did you come to know the Lord?

I came to know the Lord through a long and messy process tethered by my involvement with Young Life and most importantly through a relationship with my Young Life leader who is my best friend to this day. And I mean seriously my best friend, we go on vacations together with our husbands who are also best friends! Young Life is a thread that has always run through my story and what God has used most powerfully to bring me to relationship with himself through what I can only describe as a two steps forward, one step back process from 7th grade until I truly surrendered my life to Him before my senior year of high school. I went on to become a leader and then on full time staff with Young Life. I whole heartedly love that organization and have seen the powerful way God uses it to draw people to himself. 

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

I believe so strongly in the power of showing up for your people. See above to be reminded of my fierce loyalty. To me, God uses our relationships with people who have earned the place in our life to speak his truth into us or to just show up and say “I’m with you”. I love to be this person for the people in my life. This could mean showing up to a coffee date with a friend or flying across the country to celebrate or grieve with a friend. The "ministry of presence" as Henri Nouwen puts it, is the most powerful thing I have to offer this world and is what makes me feel most alive. 

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

Through my work with Young Life and my masters program, I have grown a deep understanding that people have never been and will never be a finished product type work. Walking along side people is a long, messy and beautiful process but in terms of work for a type A person like myself, there is never anything to check off the to do list when it comes to people. That’s where my love for calligraphy comes in perfectly. Calligraphy offers me the opportunity to take an idea and bring it to completion. I love to collaborate with my clients and take their vision for a project and come alongside them to create the final product. Few things brings me as much joy as a client who is perfectly pleased with the work I have created for them. 

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

The best piece of marriage advice I have received is to remember that outside of God, your spouse comes above anyone else in your life, yes even your children. I don’t have kids yet and so I know this is easier said by the newlywed gal. I know this doesn’t come effortlessly but I want to put my relationship with Chris above all other earthly relationships to be a strong foundation for our future family. Since we started dating we have prioritized a weekly date night and three and half years later, it is the best thing we could have done for our relationship. We cherish those times which have helped us remain connected to each other. Date night for us sometimes means watching Parenthood or This Is Us and cooking at home and sometimes it means going on an outing to ice skate and grab a drink at a fancy restaurant downtown Chicago. Both are just as valuable in connecting us with one another. 

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

You are enough. Exactly as you are in the way God made you. 

What is your favorite verse or passage of Scripture?

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

I have a strong tendency toward fear and anxiety so this scripture is so grounding for me. This boils it down with simplicity. To reset my heart with this scripture, all I need is to know I only need to be still and that my God is powerful to handle whatever I feel stuck in the middle of worrying. 

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

A friend who is going through an unimaginable tragedy had these wise words to say: The faith that we have is not enough, it is the object of our faith, the beautiful person in Jesus Christ, that anchors us in life’s troubles. Faith alone is not enough, it is important to anchor your faith to the giver of life and know that He is trustworthy and eternal. 

And last but not least: coffee or tea?

Coffee, always coffee and specifically always an almond milk latte!

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