The Case for Community

For many years I have prayed for a best friend. I have had many close friends over the years, but because I have issues of trust and struggle with relationships, I have always felt that I didn’t fully connect with many of my friends over the years.

In the last 6-10 months, God answered my prayers. But not in the way I would have imagined or planned for myself. I had the honor of becoming best friends with the wife of my husband’s best friend – but not in person, through text messaging about our husbands (LOL).

In addition, I met a few of my other besties online – through The Influence Network. Like me, they are women who seek to deepen a relationship with God and to make Him known in every area of their lives.

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{My crazy friends. Love them!}

Most of my close/best friends do not live near me. Several I have never met in person. Awkward? Maybe. But am I blessed? You have no idea.

These friends are women I trust with my life. My deepest secrets. They are people I can vent to, who build me up and correct me when I am wrong. Like I stated earlier, one of my best friends is married to my husband’s best friend. We share life together and are bound together by a calling so big it scares us and excited us both tremendously!

Why are intimate friendships & community necessary? I believe Hebrews 10 states it perfectly – that we are blessed when others come to us with a need. It blesses us. And it propels us towards good work, towards helping others for His glory.

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{Another gem from the She Reads Truth study in Nehemiah}

Getting into relationships like this is not apart of a magic formula. You cannot sit around and wait for people to come to you. You must be vulnerable, reach out and connect with others, whether online or in your local community.

Reach out online. Set up coffee dates with people from your church or from your workplace. It is awkward at first, but is so worth it in the end. It took me many years to get here – and it has taken work on my part. (And I am still a work in progress!)

And don’t be surprised if friendships change over the years. People grow and seasons change, and people may come into and out of your life. Be blessed in the now and thankful for friends past, present and those to come.

Do you struggle with building friendships? What are some ways you can reach out to build new/deeper relationships??

Be blessed,

Influence Network Giveaway!!

I’m so thrilled to be co-hosting this amazing giveaway (worth $400!), for not just ONE, but TWO Influence Network LIFETIME Memberships! 

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Finding and joining The Influence Network has changed my life.

In the Fall of 2012, I was teaching in the public school system and I was seriously down. I felt like my life wasn’t going anywhere. I felt lonely, like I had no friend who “got” me. And after the election, I felt as if Christians were using social media to deter the cause of Christ rather than further it.

When I found The Influence Network through using She Reads Truth devotionals, I felt like this was a God-thing. As a new(er) blogger, the network has offered me support, fellowship with other bloggers, and prayer. I have forged some amazing friendships with ladies who I would’ve never met had this network not been formed. As a lifetime member myself, the investment into a community of women who are working to use social media and the internet to further the kingdom of Christ is FAR and AWAY worth the money spent.

Giveaway Info:

What does a Lifetime Membership include? Well I’m glad you asked.

Please check HERE for all the details!

This giveaway is open to ANYONE, but ONE Membership will be specifically reserved for someone who is not an Influence Network Member. Our hope is that this giveaway will enable someone who wouldn’t otherwise have money in their budget, to be apart of The Influence Network.

To enter the giveaway, please visit the website here!

Blog Photos

I was so blessed to have some headshots/portraits taken of my by my good friend Adam at Indien Media on Monday. He is a young media guru, and just recently opened his own business. He did a great job. I asked him to take these shots so I could use them for my blog, business cards and other blogging “stuff.”

He even did a lovely writeup about me and my blog, which he featured when he shared the photos on his site. How kind! I have had the great pleasure of seeing him grow up over the years. He has cared for my baby. He is a wonderful friend and I am so blessed to know him. If you live in the New Orleans area, give him a shout-out sometime!

I would love to share some of my favorite shots with you. Which one(s) do you like the best? Which one(s) should I use on my business cards?

Shot #1

Headshot Edited 1

Shot #2

Headshot Edited 2

Shot #3

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Shot #4

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Let me know what y’all think – you can list your thoughts/opinions in the comments section. 🙂

Blessings,

What I Know For Sure…#1

One of my greatest desires as I grow and age is to be a Titus 2 woman in my community. I sincerely love mentoring younger women in Christ, as much as I love being mentored by women who are further along on the journey. I can only hope that both in my online life (as a blogger and a social media user) and in my real life, that I can use my experiences as a way to encourage and support younger women in Christ.

It was a few weeks ago that, while talking with some friends on The Influence Network forums, I decided it would be a good idea to share some of the lessons I have learned in my twenties. While I don’t consider myself an “older woman,” (I do feel old, but that’s another story! haha!) I do believe that I have grown quite a bit during my twenties, and now that I am in my thirties, I feel I have some “wisdom” (or whatever you wanna call it!) to share with my younger sisters in Christ.

Titus 2

What I (think) I Know For Sure – Part I:

The older I get, the less I know.

As a planner, in my twenties I used to be so “certain” of everything (and desired certainty in my life), from my education, to my work life, my relationship with my husband and beyond. As I got older, had a child and entered my thirties, I find I am less certain about most things in life. It isn’t that I still don’t plan or prepare for things, it’s just that I don’t get as worked-up about the uncertainty as I used to. My husband will laugh at this sentence, as he knows my tendency to freak out about the small things….

Now I am beginning to see that God is using the uncertainty in my life to teach me about trust and faith. I struggle tremendously with trusting God because of certain experiences in my twenties. As I have gone through various situations where uncertainty loomed, I continuously find God in the midst of it all, teaching me to hold His hand and trust Him through the process. The words of the old hymn “Tis so sweet” are so appropriate….

Tis so Sweet

Don’t be afraid of the uncertainty in your life, my sisters. Embrace the process. Love the questions. May God also use your seasons of uncertainty in your twenties to draw you closer to Him. May you trust Him more and more. He loves you!!!

What about you? Have you experience some wonderful lessons that you’d like to share? Feel free to link-up with Lindsay & Amy to share your stories!

Blessings,

Sweet Home Santa Barbara

Getting to know you….

Today I am sharing some fun facts about me as apart of The Influence Network’s getting to know you link-up! We were asked to share one photo of ourselves, three facts and the impact the network has had on our lives. I hope you enjoy reading it!

Photo(s) Of Me: I couldn’t choose just one so I am sharing a couple. 🙂

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{My husband and I at the Third Eye Blind concert in February!}

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{My family. We are weird and we aren’t ashamed!}

Three Facts About Me:

1. I have a tendency to get really obsessed with TV shows. Typically, if I get really into a show, I will watch ALL of the old seasons on Netflix or Hulu right in a row. Sometimes in just a couple of days. I have been through entire shows like Bones, The West Wing, Big Bang Theory….and now I am watching old episodes of Duck Dynasty. 🙂

duck dynasty

2. I have an unhealthy obsession with a local Mexican restaurant’s salsa. Their secret, I believe, is adding cilantro. Whatever it is, I am obsessed. I but a cup full and bring it home about once a week. 🙂

3. I absolutely LOVE Psalm 46. It is one of my favorite passages of scripture, and I use it often to encourage others who might be going through a rough time. For me, it is one of the most encouraging passages of scripture.Psalm 46

{Photo Credit: http://www.newquistvisuals.com}

Side-Note Info:  I am a public high school teacher (for almost 8 years), worship leader/team member (play piano and sing), love girl scout cookies, sleeping in and watching ESPN. I am an avid Florida Gators fan and love carbs. 🙂

What valuable thing have I gained from The Influence Network?

There are so many things I can mention here, but the biggest benefit I have received from Influence Network (so far) has been the tremendous support of the leadership and members. As a newer blogger, I have had tons of questions about a variety of topics. I know I can always go to the leadership for help, or ask questions of the members in the influence network forums. I also have received tremendous support and prayer from the leadership and members when I was in grave need of prayer. It feels so good to know that I now have friends here who love and support me, and want to see me thrive in my walk with Christ and want to help my blog be successful for Him

I am excited to “meet” all of my fellow Influence Network ladies online, and to FINALLY meet some in person at The Influence Conference in September!!!

Have a blessed day, ya’ll!

Brand “You” – The Best Ways to Own Your Voice

I had the great honor and privilege to attend a wonderful class through The Influence Network this past Monday night. Called “Brand You,” Stephanie Bryant gave a wonderful talk about defining your online brand, owning your voice and finding the best and most authentic way you can serve others for Christ (whether that be in a blog, business, or both).

Brand You Pic

What are some of the wonderful take-aways I got from this course?

1. Find your own voice. “Your brand is simply the space that God has called you to fill in the world.”

Stephanie did such a great job explaining this. She mentioned spending time finding out what your “hearts cry” is. Another question she asked us during the class was, “What is the topic or topic(s) that really speak to you? What are you just naturally good or something that comes easy to you?”  God opened my eyes during this portion, and showed me that I am called to be uniquely me, and He has given me a particular voice for this time and this season of my life. It is up to me to use it appropriately.

2. Be authentic. “What is the thing YOU’RE designed to do?”

I have been struggling with this. I think I spent too much time worrying about what other well-known bloggers think of me. I have perhaps lost my way a bit, as I have been too concerned with patterning my blog design, content, networking, etc. after what the majority of other bloggers are doing. While getting advice from mentors or seasons folks in your area is certainly important, straying from who you are as a person (or in my case, as a blogger) is NOT authentic. God has called me to be a unique tool for His use and His glory, not a mediocre copy of someone else.

3. Serve others. “Who are you designed to serve?”

Stephanie talked at length about using your blog to serve others. Ultimately, this blog is a means to serve my readers. God has given this blog to me to use as a tool to serve others, to reach them for Christ and to bring the glory back to Him. What other bloggers do should not be my concern. I am called to serve my readers, not theirs.

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What does this mean for the blog?

I have some promises to make to you, my readers. It’s time for me to “embrace my name” as Stephanie put it during the class.

My commitments:

1. A key component of my blog is authenticity. I promise to post authentic, faith-related and lifestyle-related content. If I do not feel I can be “totally real” when writing a post, I will not be sharing the content. This means certain topics may be off-limits to protect others privacy.

2. I will also be sharing more of my struggles on “waiting with joy.” This means I will be sharing more of our church-planting journey as we go through this process, as well as other issues that pertain to “waiting with joy.” I hope this portion can be a support to those working in ministry, too.

3.  Finally, I plan to continue to share Biblical passages/devotionals and worship music to encourage my readers. Encouragement is something I am extremely passionate about, and I love finding songs or Biblical passages/verses/devotionals to help other women who are struggling, just like me!

I’d love to hear more about what your “brand you” is and/or who you feel called to serve in your workplace or in your personal life. Please feel free to share in the comments. 🙂

Blessings,

Is Worship a Corporate or Unique Experience?

What does the term worship mean to you?

What does it look like?

How do you, uniquely you, worship the Lord?

Is worship a corporate-only or unique experience that varies for each individual?

OR BOTH?

These are things I am pondering.

I am inclined to think that worship can be an individual and yet a corporate experience, and both can happen simultaneously. I just believe God is totally able to utilize individuals and their unique make-ups to worship corporately, yet done in a totally unique manner for each person involved.

What about you? What do you think? Please join us on instagram today for the Worship Wednesday link-up to share your thoughts or to share the worship music that is inspiring you/driving you to the throne today.

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The songs that have been my heart’s cry lately:

Everything to You (Spontaneous)  – Bethel Live: Jenn Johnson

Who You Are – Bethel Live: Jenn Johnson

Girl Behind the Blog

{Don’t mind the no-makeup look, I was still sick but wanted to participate!}

Hey friends! Today I am participating in the “Girl Behind the Blog” series, featured on Ashley’s blog – 5-0hwifey! Every month, there is a different prompt, and those who participate make a vlog (video blog) to answer the prompt.

This month’s prompt?

When did you start blogging? What have you gained from being apart of the blogging community?

I hope you enjoy my vlog above and that you get a better idea of when and why I started blogging and what the blogging community means to me. 🙂

Blessings,

Click the picture below to see more “Girl Behind the Blog” stories!

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