27 years ago, I walked into a singles group at a local church and met a slew of new people, some of whom became lifelong friends. And then there was this guy, who became my lifelong love. And today we celebrate 52 years of him!
I’m not really sure if it was his blue eyes, the ever-present smile, the infectious laugh or a combination of all three that I noticed first. Either way, I noticed. And I’ve been noticing ever since, along with a few other things too …
He loves his family well. Every Sunday of these past almost 25 years, save a mere handful here or there, he has called Mom and Dad Moore . Sometimes the rest of us join in and other times they spend the better part of an hour talking about everything and sometimes, nothing. As I see it, it’s one way he chooses to honor them.
He also loves learning and I see no stopping of that as he heads into year 53. One thing he’s definitely learned is the value of seeing what needs to be done and jumping in. He’ll gladly step way on out of his comfort zone to serve others in the most menial of ways when that’s what’s needed.
Did I mention that he’s the youngest of four? Four boys. It’s true. And that when God gave us our four, He chose three of them to be girls. Yep. That’s a lot for any guy to adjust to, especially when he’s been raised around older brothers. He’s taken to it well, this being a dad to girls, and the girls have taken to him too!
I’m not sure if it’s because he was the tag along on so many of his big brothers adventures or not, but he has a healthy sense of adventure. Granted, sledding isn’t the riskiest of behaviors, but moving from his forever home on the coast of south Florida to the icy Januaries of the Bluegrass was more than just a temperature shift.
Honestly, I’m not sure if it is considered adventurous or resourceful when you give two grown men the task of carving the Thanksgiving turkeys and they clean up the reciprocating saw and declare it the perfect tool for the job. Just walk away Mama, walk away, because sometimes boys just gotta be boys, even when they’re all grown up. And then all ten kids gathered around the table declare it one of the best moments of the day. Because dads just know how to make things memorable!
His adventurous spirit is only matched by this leading the rest of us right along with him. I’ve lost track of the number of missions trips he’s led overseas. Though I do know that he’s enjoyed such delicacies as Curried Goat in Haiti, Fried Guinea Pig in Peru, Whale Sushi in Japan and Balut in the Philippines. They all make the crawfish in that first picture up there look like nothing, even though I don’t think I could deal with eating a plate full of that sort of nothing for dinner.
The best part of these adventures, is when the rest of us have been able to come along with him. We’ve been blessed to be able to take 3 of our 4 kids to a third or fourth world country at the beginning of their teen years, and hope to bring the last one this next summer.
The kids have worked hard to save money for each of these trips and he has worked to help them glean every ounce of learning out of these experiences. We have thoroughly enjoyed these trips with each of the kids one at a time, and we wouldn’t trade it for anything. But as much as I’m always ready to go on these trips, if the planning and details were left to me. we probably would never have set foot in the airport for the first flight.
More than any of these things, he is a mighty prayer warrior. When I’ve called him at the office on the verge of a Mama meltdown, he doesn’t just say he’ll pray for me, we stop right then and pray. It felt a little weird at first, this praying on the phone, but I’ve found these moments to be some of our most encouraging over the years .
And our kids, along with their future spouses have been the focus of many of these prayers. I can’t ask for much more than a man who loves God with all his heart and prays fervently for those God has brought across his path.
Though his calm to my energy has been one of those glorious differences that we’ve had to work through, it has been such a steadying gift for me. Almost half of our years have been spent together, and I look forward to so many more birthdays to celebrate him.
Happy birthday babe! I love you more than you’ll ever know.
To those of you who are new around here, Welcome!! I’m honored that you’ve taken time out of your day to hang out with us and I pray you find some encouragement in this space. You’ll typically find posts three days each week. This week is not typical. It’s been more of a “Just keepin’ it real up in here” week. And since authenticity is highly treasured, let’s get real here …
Here’s a taste of the last week in our world …
… lofty blogging goals and the most well-received post ever here at SoMuchMoore
… followed by 4 migraines in a matter of 7 days
… cooked dinner and sat down to eat dinner together as a family – maybe three times in those days only 1 of which I really prepared
… made the bed – a grand total of twice in those days
… forgot to feed the dog – one or two days, good thing the kids remembered
It’s pretty amazing that I accomplished all of this in just one short week, right? #momgoals #welcometomyworld
One of this life’s underlying themes that I embrace more with each passing year is redemption. Whether it’s a beat up old piece of furniture or unwanted fabric in the form of an unfortunate garment or a rough day that begs for a do-over – we all have more of these than we care to deal with.
The thing about redemption is that all the ick, unwanted and unexpected has to come first. You can’t redeem something that’s already perfect. That doesn’t even make sense, does it?
Just keepin’ it real up in here!
We all seem to be striving for perfect of some sort. And sometimes we have to wonder why. Why do we strive for perfect when the lack of struggle makes it void of depth and lustre? It’s the imperfect, the unplanned, the just plain rough weeks that help us appreciate the mediocre and even amazing ones.
When I was at the Haven Conference a few weeks ago, the phrase “In His time” popped into my head several times. This space here has been prayed over and has come with a good bit of diligence and time. But in the end, it has very little to do with my perfect planning or execution of said plan. It has so much more to do with God’s timing and plan than my own lofty “perfect” ideas.
Every once in awhile, He gives me one of these “just keeping it real up in here” weeks, maybe as a way to help me remember what this is all about in the first place. It affords some space to step back, because there really isn’t another choice, and it affords some time to stop and listen for His plan.
So this week, it seems that’s exactly what the plan is. Waiting and listening. And maybe editing a few pictures from our week in Birmingham this summer, because that doesn’t really require advanced, or even mediocre, thinking skills. And maybe there’ll be another nap or two.
Then tomorrow? Well, tomorrow’s a new day and we get to start over and see what the day holds. Hopefully a family meal and a full dog bowl for the doodle. And maybe a freshly made bed too! Maybe…
So tell me, how do you talk yourself through these “just keepin’ it real up in here” weeks? I for one could use all the advice I can get, and I’m guessing I’m not the only one, right?!
Our Glamour Farms Fashion Friday has sparked a little project…
It seems that quite a few of you joined us for our Fashion Friday with Glamour Farms intro last week. What a fun boutique! This new relationship with them had me thinking about all sorts of things over the weekend. Namely, my entire philosophy on building my wardrobe and how that has shifted in the past 12 months, and the purging of my closet several months back that has me itching to actually do a little makeover. And then there’s the organizing that has been started, but not quite finished and how this organizing DIY can be completed with a minimal amount of time, energy and expense. So today we’re talking clothes, closets, organizing and DIYs.
On Clothes …
For most of my life, I’ve been a thrift shopper, seamstress and avid hand-me-down receiver. I still am, especially when I can get a thrifted or handed down item that I can tweak a bit, I guess I just get a kick out of it. What I didn’t seem to realize until more recently is that somewhere in the midst of this wardrobe building approach, I’ve kind of lost my own sense of style. Not only that, I’ve slipped into an unconscious sort of “5 shirts for $20? Yeah, that’ll work!” mentality.
Fast forward to this past spring when I started a serious purge after reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. At that point, my closet underwent a serious purge, like complete-evacuation-no-holds-barred-clear-the-room purge. I didn’t pare down all the way to a 35 item capsule wardrobe, but I only put back about 1/4 – 1/3 of my original items. What I found was that I really started liking what I was wearing from day to day, instead of just thinking, “this should work for today.” I also hadn’t realized how much energy I was putting into deciding what to wear every day when I could be investing that energy in something else. On top of that, as a busy mom with 4 mostly grown children still under our roof, I really enjoy the calm of a closet that isn’t over-stuffed. Though it still gets a bit jumbled, like in these pics when we had just returned home and unloaded from our weekend in the mountains.
And back to Clothes …
The other surprising result of the closet purge was how it really began to refine my own style. I suddenly saw the value of spending more money on fewer items and the wisdom of collecting only things that I really loved. So, instead of buying 5 “that’ll do” shirts for $20, I would rather spend a little more to get a couple shirts that I really love. I end up with less closet clutter, aka. stress in my world, and I’ve given myself permission to take a little better care of myself in terms of my wardrobe. The result has been decidedly freeing and fun, another reason why I’m so thoroughly enjoying the new Fashion Friday series with Glamour Farms.
On Organizing …
Yet another unexpected thing I discovered was an even stronger desire to organize my closet space, and I already love to organize things. I think tidiness may actually be one of my love-languages. When we moved into our house I cut down some of our moving boxes, covered them in lightweight fabric to store a variety of items. The plan was to stitch up some magazine worthy fabric liner/covers with little labels and cool features. That was almost 5 years ago. Technically, I wasn’t going for the magazine worthy status, but I often battle my perfectionist ideals on projects that can quickly immobilize any efforts to move forward on said project … like any movement at all, forward, sideways or otherwise!
And on to a DIY …
I’ve decided it’s about time to finish up this little “moving-in” project. And I have another idea to deal with the wire shelving that so many of us have and so few of us really love. They’re functional and affordable, but I’ve dropped too many things between the wires and I think I just have a love of all things wood and natural when possible. Yet, with a basement project, 2 kids still in college and another not far behind, replacing them isn’t a priority right now. So, we’ll see how this little shelf make-over idea that’s rolling around in my head works out.
If I’m going to go to this sort of effort, I might as well add a fresh coat of paint and maybe hang a thing or two on the wall. I’m thinking that treating our closet as part of our living space really just makes sense. My hubby says he may even be motivated to keep his side a little tidier. Bonus! And I know I’ll enjoy the calming touches of beauty when I step in the closet each morning to get dressed, or gather laundry or slip off my shoes.
In keeping with one of my life’s passions, the plan is to do my level best to do this little closet make-over with what I have. It’s a fun sort of game my dad and I used to play when we had a pile of wood and an afternoon to spend together in his barn. And, just to make it fun for y’all too, I’ll work on making the projects as user-friendly as possible.
And how about you?
So what do you say? Anyone else up for the challenge? It doesn’t have to be a closet. it can just be the corner of a room, or an awesome jewelry organizer like this one my sister-in-law shared with us last fall, or storage system for those fall boots we’re all itching to pull out.
Are you up to joining us for a little makeover challenge? Let the rest of us know in the comments what your little project will be and what fun ideas and tips you come across along the way. And, as always, don’ forget to include some before and after pictures.
This scene caught my eye the other night as I was driving home.
Rain had poured down much of the afternoon leaving the horse farms bathed in the glow of the setting sun.
Just past this was a section of busted up fence and the once-green tree that had crushed it in a previous squall.
And then there was this scene …
The sunbathed beauty that came in the wake of the storm had left the countryside glowing a bright green and the flowers bursting with blooms and life.
Isaiah 43:18-19 immediately came to mind.
It felt a bit like a rainbow moment. A sort of promise that even in the wake of a terribly strong storm, God can bring tremendous beauty. He can bring such healing and light that it’s almost brilliantly blinding.
I don’t know about you, but there are moments and seasons in the past few years that have felt like the worst of storms in my world.
You may be counted among those facing rising waters in the south or raging fires in the west or your own more private storms and battles.
May you find encouragement in knowing that God’s desire is for redemption. May you find Him doing a new thing right smack in the middle of where a mere moment before you only saw destruction and devastation.
May you see this new thing even today and see His healing more clearly in the light of a new day.
You know that one awesome friend you share all sorts of interests with, like favorite restaurants, movies and chocolate bars? And then you meet another friend and your first thought is, “Oh these two need to meet, they would just love one another!” You know what I mean, right? Well, I have a friend I’ve been so very excited to introduce to you. Technically, it’s a whole family of new friends who run a clothing boutique in central Illinois, called Glamour Farms. They sell fun affordable clothing for women ranging in sizes from juniors to 3XL. And today we kick off a new series called Fashion Friday with Glamour Farms, Isabella being our highlighted piece this month.
I met this family two weeks ago at the Haven Conference in Atlanta. Haven is a DIY and home design conference but, home bloggers like to design more than just great interiors. So, Glamour Farms was there with racks and racks of awesome clothes and their high-energy staff to assist each of us!
** This post contains some affiliate links. Basically, that means if you click on the links I’ve provided and decide to make a purchase, then I’ll make a little commission. It does not cost you anything extra, it just makes it easier for you to find products. THANK YOU for following along on this grand adventure at SoMuchMoore with Glamour Farms!**
The Fabric Perks
I pretty much fell in love with the print on the mint colored Isabella tunic/dress the first time I walked through the Glamour Farms booth at Haven. It’s just so cheery, fun and feminine! The great thing is the Isabella is typically available in a variety of prints and colors.
Then I just had to touch the fabric because I’m a seamstress and that’s what we do. I can’t tell you how often I have to tell myself not to grab the sleeve of someone’s blouse or dress because it’s just one of those fabric-loving instincts that apparently creeps people out. Who knew?! As it turns out, the Glamour Farms gals encourage such things!
So let me just say, this fabric is a polyester/spandex blend, which is basically code for super comfortable and forgiving for us Mamas entering our “wisdom years”. It’s as comfortable as jammies, but not as thick as other stretchy fabrics that are too warm to wear through the summer. That makes it the best of both worlds!
I brought it home from my conference weekend, pulled it out of my suitcase two days later and it didn’t have the slightest wrinkle in it anywhere. Not only does it resist wrinkles, it folds up small enough to tuck in a carry-on bag for your next trip unless of course, you decide to wear it instead.
The Construction Perks
I’m a bit of a fabric snob, just trying to own my issues here, so the next thing I tend to look at is the construction of a garment. The seams are solid with a well-aligned print. And it’s not like those cheap shirts that will twist on you after a few runs through the washer and dryer. Score!
The Basics Perks – Leggings and Shapers
The basic crop leggings in ink are a great option to transition through the seasons too. They are considered shapewear, but they’re comfortable enough to wear all day without feeling like you just really want to rush home to peel them off. The crop length looks great with summer flats or wedges and can transition to booties or riding boots for fall and winter. I’m pretty sure these should be collected in every color!
The other part of the basics collection that you can’t even see is the “Ahh-mazing” long tank shaper in sandstone. It is also shapewear that can be srcunched up without adding bulk, as I did in these pictures, or worn long to come down to almost mid-thigh. One of the cool features about the tank shapers, whether you choose the long or short version, is that one side has a scoop neck and the other has a V-neck cut, so you can choose which one you want to go with for each outfit.
The white jeans are from my own collection, but they are similar to the Ava Hyper Stretch Skinny Jeans. Fun thing about their stretch jeans, I was able to wear 2 sizes smaller than my usual range of sizes. That’s enough to make you want to buy a pair in every color right then and there.
The Customer Perks
One more thing, that really has nothing, and possibly everything to do with Glamour Farms. I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those who believes in the importance of standing behind your product and not only that but treating “customers” with the same grace you extend to friends. I’ve found wonderful products before but have walked away because the service was so terrible. If I’m going to go so far as to associate my name with someone or something it has to be someone or something that I believe in. And y’all, I do!
So, go check them out and see what you think. Just to sweeten the gift of your time browsing around their site, they’ve included a $10 off coupon on all regular-priced products for SoMuchMoore readers. That makes their already reasonable prices even better. And while you’re there, take a minute to read through their about page and you’ll really start to understand why I think you’ll soon count them as friends too!
I heard on the radio yesterday that gym memberships and exercise routines spike after the Olympics. Once you start exercising, then your clothes don’t fit right, then you have to take them in, but you already spent too much money on the gym membership to take them to a tailor or buy new clothes … Okay, maybe that’s not your story, but work with me here. Why not try taking them in yourself? What do you really have to lose? It’s not like you were going to wear them anyway. You’re in luck because today I’m sharing the basic steps to take in a garment.
If you’re too scared to learn on a favorite garment, then pick up something similar at a thrift shop and practice on them. It might actually cost you a whole $4, and that’s a pretty cheap lesson!
So there’s a bit of good news and a bit of not-your-favorite news in this process. The not-so-favorite news is that this will require trying on the garment, repeatedly and then a few more times after that, too. It’s kind of like editing a paper or project in that way, once you muster the energy to take the next step, the reward of it being the best you have to give is huge!
The basic steps to taking in a garment
The example I’ll be using in the picture is a pair of Gap linen trousers that I picked up at a thrift shop, I will be using the word pants to make this less complicated, but fill in whatever garment you are working on. I would use the word trousers, but that sounds a bit stuffy.
The easiest garment to start on if you’re not so sure about this would be a skirt or dress, but again if it’s something you’ll never wear until it’s fixed or if it’s a thrift shop score, then just muster up your courage and go for it!
pinning and trying on
If you have pants that fit you well, then use them as a guide. Make sure they are made of similar fabrics in terms of their stretch and drape. Turn the pants you want to alter inside out and lay them on a table, with the ones that fit correctly over them, to get a general idea of where and how much you need to take in on the pants you’re altering.
STEP 1 | Know that you may pin one leg tighter the other, that’s okay – it allows you decide which one you like better, or if you want to go with a measurement somewhere in between the two.
STEP 2 | Undo the stitching in the hem so you can stitch all the way down the pant leg. You may want to leave the hem at its current length, which is fine, but you still need to take it out now to allow your pants to hang smoothly in the end.
STEP 3 | Line up the original seam lines with one another and pin through both layers, then pin the same distance from the original seam all the way down the leg.
AND NOW FOR THE STITCHING
STEP 4 | At this point, try them on again. If you’re pleased with the pinned lines then baste (the longest stitch your machine makes) along the line you’ve created. If you’re not pleased, repin areas as needed.
STEP 5 | Try the pants on. Repin as needed and baste.
STEP 6 | Baste stitch the other side, creating the same seam allowance. Try them on … you saw that coming didn’t you?
STEP 7 | Trim away excess bulk, this is not a final trim so it can be more than 1/2″
STEP 8 | Stitch over the basting lines with a permanent stitch. Try them on again.
STEP 9 | Press and trim seams to between 1/4″ and 1/2″
STEP 10 | Finish raw edges of the seam. I opted for Seams Great for the linen trousers because it gives a low-profile finished edge that is completely enclosed.
STEP 11 | Replace hem or embellishing, whipstitching as needed.
In the midst of s-l-o-w-l-y finishing our basement, I’ve been thinking about all things window coverings. Curtains are great, but sometimes you want something a little more unique. Have you considered open shelving as a window treatment? The open shelf valancesin our dining area have been the perfect unique solution for a curtain-less window and a door that required a curtain. Quite unexpectedly, they’ve been the thing that every first-time visitor comments on, quickly followed by an inquiry as to where they can find their own. And y’all, they’re so easy and inexpensive and happen to be the perfect solution in multiple situations.
There are several commonplace things we noticed quickly after moving to Lexington – like the extra-sweet tea, gorgeous horse farms, friendly locals, and houses that are incredibly close to each other.
Like, way closer than any other home we’ve lived in. Maybe the people are friendly simply because they’ve learned the importance of being kind to your neighbor. Hmm, there may be something to this close house thing!
The window by our kitchen table faces our neighbor’s house, and we like to pretend we had the brick wall added for the charm of it all. Fortunately, because our dining room is in the back of our house with a walk out basement, it’s actually the second story, creating a bit of privacy and coziness. We’re all about the coziness! And there’s enough coziness and privacy that we don’t even need curtains, allowing all sorts of light to flood the room and spill into the adjoining kitchen and living room.
The French doors that share a corner with the kitchen window, do however need curtains. When we moved into this house there were blinds inside the glass of the French doors, but I’ve never been a big mini-blind person. It’s one of the first things I replace when we move into a home, preferably with curtains to flap in the breeze and add their own charm to each room.
So, what sort of window treatment will work in two spaces within feet of one another, one with a curtain and one without? Well, we had installed the open shelving in our laundry room, and that got me thinking about an open shelving sort of valance option.
As it turns out, open shelving as a window treatment is a pretty cool option. The only difference between the dining room shelves and our laundry room shelving is that we added some L-brackets to the top of these shelves for center supports since it’s a bit impossible to attach a shelf support to a piece of glass!
Fun styling options
They usually hold a collection of vintage kitchen stuff along with some vases, until Christmas that is. At Christmas, they get dressed up with greenery, some wooden cranberry garlands, and white twinkle lights. Because white twinkle lights make everything cooler. Then as soon as it starts to get dark, even before dinner, those lights come on and everything is magical. Even a pot of hearty soup and crusty bread becomes a special meal when twinkle lights are added to the mix. And as far as I’m concerned, any day you can make the ordinary special is a good day.
So what do you think? Do you have any spaces where an open shelf could double as a window treatment and decorative storage?
Just in case you get a little bored with seeing the same commercials over and over during the Olympics for the 27th time … Let’s revisit the Messy Family Olympics held every Christmas with the Moore clan in south Florida.
… this was originally posted in December of 2015 …
We can hardly wait for this year’s final video and 600+ pictures!
And yes, ideas are already brewing for next year’s contest and dethroning the reigning champions. Even though deep down, we all know the title really isn’t the point!
Now you can take the next few commercials to plan your own Family Olympics, the messier the better! I’m guessing you may have a few other fun games to add to the line-up too. Let us know in the comments below so we can add them to our line-up!
Seven years ago today Dad, Andy, Sarah and I gathered around Mama, hugged on her and prayed before she was wheeled into surgery to repair her heart.She requested that Andy play “Give me Jesus” on his phone and that’s how we spent our last few moments with her.
Jesus did heal her heart that day, not in the way we would have desired, but in a different way. Our hearts hurt desperately, but slowly and surely he’s been healing them with each passing day.
I’m so grateful for how Mama gave me Jesus, in a way I could understand and know Him, as a child, as a young woman as a wife and mother.
I’m even more grateful that this gift He gave me is eternal.
5 reasons why you Gotta Hafta go to Haven Conference
It’s been pretty quiet here in this space for about a week, but not because nothing has been going on with the blog. More like because all sorts of exciting things have been going on!
I was blessed to spend this past weekend in Atlanta with over 400 pro-bloggers, 100+ sponsor representatives and a whole big bundle of excitement everywhere we went. In all the excitement, there was little time to sleep and even less time to blog, a little pre-planning issue I intend to change in the future. In the meantime, consider this your advanced invite to join us at Haven 2017 because once you hear these 5 reasons why you gotta hafta go to Haven Conference, you’ll want to reserve your ticket too!
What’s that you say? You don’t have a blog so you can’t go? Au contraire! I met several amazing women this year who don’t have a blog but are wanting to start one. What a brilliant way to learn blogging before accumulating a host of mistakes to correct. Wish I had thought that way a year ago so I could spend much of the next month creating instead of correcting. I heard about another non-blogger who came with no desire to start a blog, but simply an excitement to enjoy DIY classes and exhibits with some cutting edge products and project ideas.
So without further ado, 5 reasons why you gotta hafta attend Haven Conference …
1 | Because Grand Hyatt, Grilled Salmon, Starbucks & Chandys upon Chandys
It’s not that you’ve never stayed in a nice hotel, it may be more like you’re kind of an outdoor girl at heart. An awesome family vacation for you might involve the mountains or beach, a nightly fire with s’mores and an overcrowded tent. So, yeah, the Grand Hyatt is a bit swanky.
And the chandeliers are everywhere. The Hyatt staff pretty much expect all of the DIY/design bloggers to take multiple pictures of the chandys. You’ll still look ridiculous staring up at the ceilings and snapping away, but it would never stop you from appreciating such beauty! This ginormous one in the main stairwell may quickly become a favorite.
Although it’s gorgeous, it’s not the design that you’ll love. It’s the group of women who will gather, ones who had previously only shared a few sentences online if that. You’ll love how the adventure begins immediately as you run across the street through a deluge of rain so you can dine in a trendy restaurant looking as stylish as a pack of drowned rats. You’ll have absolutely no inkling of how special each woman will become by the end of your weekend. Maybe there’s some sort of magical bond formed when you walk into a classy restaurant looking all disheveled and soggy. Whatever it is, it’ll work!
From that first night of swanky accomodations, to the grilled salmon and roasated veggies for lunch, to the morning Starbucks coffee on tap and plenty of spaces to sit and chat – you’ll quickly find it to be the perfect venue for gathering and connecting deeply with others who get you.
2 | Because Geeking out on Tech Tips, New Apps, Analytics and Knowing there’s Always Something New to Learn
But, I’m not a techy person, you say. I’m not a business-minded person, you say. And this blogging thing requires a good bit of both. So when you have the experts in the field sharing the tips, tricks and techniques they’ve learned along the way, you listen. And you take notes. Lots and lots of notes. And when you miss some, one of your new-found friends will mail her notes to you. And just in case, lots of the speakers will add their notes for all the Haven attendees to enjoy. Even if you didn’t even go to their class in the first place!
And oh my, the ways to really discover and understand your readers! What matters to them? What’s the best way to connect with them?
And if you already know that stuff, or don’t need to know the techy stuff, then the hands-on classes are some of the best you’ll get anywhere. From water painting with crazy gifted artists to photo styling to building cool stuff out of concrete.
3 | Because Swag Bags, Dance Parties, Awesome Brands to Work with … and did I mention Swag Bags?
Perchance “free” is your thing … who am I kidding? Have you ever known anyone who didn’t perk up a bit when they heard the word “free”. If not, then I don’t know how to say this nicely, but our friendship from here on out just might be on shaky ground.
The first thing that happens when you check in at the Hyatt is that you’ll be offered some yummy fruit infused peach tea. Becuase, Georgia and peaches go together like oreos and milk. Next, you’ll pick up your name tag and your swag bag.
When I say swag bag, think ginormous tool bag, that one in the bottom right corner above, stuffed with all sorts of tools and treasures. Like, bring an extra suitcase big, because if you can somehow fit your swag bag contents in your usual luggage, you’ll never get all the other giveaways in there too. There’s just that much stuff these companies send home with bloggers. And we’re not talking stress balls and pens here, we’re talking coolers, hardware, specialized paints and stains and a Dremel tool, the same one that’s been on your wish list for a few years now. You also need to be prepared to explain to the men in your life that the power tools are part of your swag and not their Christmas wish list. Yeah, have fun with that!
4| Because Mentors, Tribes, Friendships and Big Girl Sleepovers
One of the new features of Haven this year was mentor groups. As a Haven attendee, aka. Haven Maven, you’ll be placed in a group of about a dozen or so others and a mentor, all of whom are quite experienced and gifted.
Your mentor just might be Mandi from Vintagerevivals.com, whose tagline on her home page reads “This DIY blog runs on paint fumes and blind enthusiasm. Consider yourself warned.” What’s not to love about that?! You may not think you’re much into the mid-century decor stuff until you see her blog and promptly change your mind. After reading her crazy-fun-embrace-life creativity you too will respect her, even more, when you hear her heart on life, marriage, facing fears and growing strong in the grit of life. What a gift to hear her heart and see her genuineness and her desire to encourage others and most of all to remain true to ourselves and our readers.
If that mentoring weren’t enough, you may also have the privilege of making the 6-hour trek to and from Atlanta with someone like Cyndi from cyndispivey.com. Cyndi is a fashion blogger who not only shares great fashions and tips, but also beauty for the heart as the foundation of our outward beauty. Cyndi did not teach classes at Haven this year, but she has in the past, so it was like another 14 hours of blog / life mentoring. Note to self, a 12-hour round trip can easily become a 14-hour round trip if I’ve you’ve had very much coffee to drink.
You may even bump into someone you met several years earlier for just a few short minutes. And even though you each knew the other was attending Haven, you would have no idea how quickly you would connect and how excited you would be to see what God does with that friendship in years to come.
And you may just end up rooming with a few women you’ve never met until you checked into the hotel. And you’ll smile at the blessing they were and will continue to be on this journey. And you’ll come across those crazy talented creatives with loads of energy who make it hard to wait and see what they do and how many they inspire in the years ahead. But you’ll watch nevertheless because you just know it’ll be worth it.
Then you’ll meet women from all over the US – Kentucky, Oregon, North Carolina, Washington, Arkansas, Tennessee … This will become your tribe. Some of them will be such huge influencers that it could be intimidating that is, if they weren’t also so down-to-earth and interested in journeying together.
What encouragement, laughter, wisdom, and general silliness you’ll share together. Not to mention some pretty tasty dinners too! You’ll hear everyone talking about the networking friendship thing almost as soon as you register. But you can’t grasp the depth of what they mean until you’re there, at which time it’ll become crystal clear and beyond your wildest expectations.
And then you’ll just settle in and enjoy the best big girl sleepover of your life.
5 | Because Coaxing, Pushing and Soaring out of our Comfort Zone are non-options in this life
You may find that right up until just a few days before Haven you’ll be excited but you’ll mostly be intimidated. Unlike a lot of bloggers, you may be an extrovert. You may love meeting new people, hearing their stories and connecting. You may even love setting out on new adventures and learning new things. But, you may not love all of those things happening at once, without the comfort of people you know or a base of knowledge. It’s so easy and natural to compare. Comparing ourselves to others who are further down the path we’re pursuing, yes. But even comparing ourselves to where we would like to be. Some of us are true over-achievers in this area. It can be completely defeating and hard to pull out of once we head that direction.
Scary stuff here, mixed with a bit of excitement too. But some days, mostly scary.
Even with the scary intimidating stuff, you’ll not find a better way to spend your days. And you may need to have lots of conversations in your own head as needed. You’ll recognize them after a bit because they usually start with, “Suck it up, Buttercup” and move on from there.
And the best part? You’ll quickly discover that everyone’s feeling the same way. Even those with tens of thousands of Instagram followers, and subscribers that extended beyond immediate family members. And the beauty of the assortment of those gathered is in seeing how sensitive so many are to including others instead of allowing them to be left sitting alone. Because when that’s the prevailing attitude, the “alone” never lasts very long as it’s quickly replaced with a “Hey, come join us”.
Along the lines of doing brave things that terrify us, you may find yourself and your new blogging friend being roped into participating in a fashion show. Along with the blogging mentors, remember the really big bloggers that were holding your hands and walking you through this adventure that is blogging, yeah, them. Let me just say, you may be the type who would rather spend a Saturday afternoon at the mall in mid to late-December than do anything that involves a catwalk and others looking at you. That’s when you’ll text a pic like the one above to your family, along with the “You better be praying hard because I just might puke” command.
They will. And somehow you and your friend will both survive and manage to have a little fun along the way. And then you’ll get to work with an awesome company like Glamour Farms Boutique. There will be more on them and some of their sweet clothes and accessories in the days to come. Trust me, you’ll love their hilariously fun selves and their great selection of clothing and accessories!
Then, after your first of many Haven Conferences, you’ll be so so so very glad that you did what you knew to be the brave thing and started a blog. The thought of putting your ideas and words out there for others to receive or reject can be quite intimidating, but you’ll know that you know that the idea of living all boxed up in your little comfort zone can quickly become quite stale and drab.
Because it’s all about the journey, those we journey with and what we learn along the way
The really cool part is that none of this would have been possible without another friend like Traci. A friend who would gift something huge to you, freeing up the finances to even make Haven a possibility. It’s a beautiful picture of this entire Haven journey. It starts with one kindness followed by the kindness upon kindness of others that make this a conference you’ll plan on attending for years to come.
And then as you go about working to improve your blog space, and learn more about your readers and what makes them tick, you’ll want to be more mindful of encouraging others.
This isn’t a race – not with ourselves or others.
This is a journey. And most journeys are meant to be made together.
Your being here encourages me more than you’ll ever know!
So thank you! Thank you for the comments and the sharing! Thank you for coming back! And thank you for joining in on this adventure!
And since you’re here and still reading along, how can I encourage you today?