What I Learned at Influence

what i learned at Influence

I begged him not to go. It was a week out from the Influence Conference, basically a four day stint of blogging, stranger-ladies, and stellar speakers, and I just couldn’t. I brought up all the usual defenses: finances, time away from home, my husband’s time away from work, missing homeschool co/op,missing my son’s soccer game and church on Sunday, my pig would miss me–I was pulling out all the stops to skip out on this event.

But he just smiled and said, “You do this every year. You will be fine! You need time for yourself. We are a team. GO.”

So I went. And came home filled. And here is what I learned at Influence.

influence name tag

I cannot fathom how each year I have attended a conference that my roommates have become these instant life long friends. This year was no exception. My three roommates and I clicked instantly and have been in constant contact ever since we have been home. When you have such a strong common ground as belief in Christ, it is beautiful what good things can grow from that center. You know that belly laugh and the mascara runs you only get from a few days with incredibly sharp and witty women? Yeah. That. It is just good for the soul. And these women are doing big things for the Lord. Huge. Humbled they let a little Southerner like me in. Oh, and they tried, really hard, to emulate my accent. (Oh, and we may or may not have jumped onstage and lip synced “All About that Bass” in front of about 300 women. Video to come. )

roommates

mocha club

 

hotel roomies

Oh, and I got to meet Lisa Leonard! For those of you who are uncertain who Lisa is (and shame on you if you don’t!) she is a jewelry designer with a huge God heart and an incredible life story. Blessed to have chatted with her:

lisa leonard

This is my third year attending a blog conference (first year at Influence) and I think I go into it every year thinking God is going to give me a greater message about my blog. Like, “This is the year, Christie!” kind of thing. But, each year I come home with the same message in my heart:

Be small.

Bloom where you are planted.

Be influential right where you are.

 

sashes market

When Jess took the mic and began pouring out her heart, I was writing as fast as I could to keep up with the truth she was sharing:

What is the FIRST thing you think about in the morning?

What do you cry about? Pray about?

What do you spend your money on?

What do you save your money for?

What do you WORK for? What drives you?

What do you worry about?

What frustrates you?

influence girls

When I left my job seven years ago to stay home, God did not call me to be a stay at home blogger. He called me to be a stay at home MOTHER. There are admittedly times where I have allowed my writing (if you can call it that) to supersede my priorities at home. I do not think I understood how VALUED we are as women until you are gone for four days and it takes five or six people to fill the jobs one woman handles on her own.

Ladies? You are valuable. You are IMPORTANT in your community. Forget online reach. You can reach out to the same people that stand behind you at the grocery store. Something Hayley said in her keynote that stood out to me was people that cast an online vision of you “will know OF you, but not YOU”. I want to be known, not because a handful of strangers share a blog post on facebook, but because I have helped with educational reform in our small town. That I love the Lord and desire to make Him famous. Or helped another mama clean up a mess at Chick Fil A when no one was looking.

 

There are SO many things God is speaking to my heart about right now and zero of them are blogging related. Because of this, I have decided not to participate in the 31 Days series this year. If I allow blogging and chasing after the wind take time away from the good work that needs to be done in my home and town, then count me out. It is time to shut our computers and turn off of phones, and roll up our sleeves and begin DOING THE WORK of an evangelist.

 

As we said all weekend: IT IS TIME TO BUILD. And I really, really want to get it right and give Him every ounce of the glory. rocking chairs on porch

 

(Also? Follow my roommates’ blogs. Please. They are my gift to you today:)
Jenna– A Mama Collective
Kristen– When at Home
Cassie– Kent Heartstrings

Small Town Gal September: Brittany’s Story

smalltowngalseptember

For our final post in our Small Town Gal September series, I am excited to introduce you to Brittany North. I admire her greatly; raising her littles as a student mom and recently graduating nursing school. She is sweet and spunky and you are just going to adore her and her sweet story of motherhood:

 

For those of you who do not know me, I’m Brittany North and I’m the lucky momma to two, fun-loving redheads. I am happily married to the man of my dreams and I am a recent graduate nurse. Cody and I knew, we wanted to have kids at some point, but never really knew what that meant.

193

We would pick up our niece and keep her for days; begging not to have to return her. Months flew by and whether we were ready or not, we got pregnant. I say, ‘ready or not,’ because honestly are you ever really ready? Nature tries its best to give you those 40 weeks to get prepared, but it isn’t until you actually hold that newborn in your arms, and embrace the gift of life, do you actually begin to realize what “being a parent” is all about. Cody and I quickly figured out when we became parents that all bets are off. You do what you can. You never say never. You make things work. You compromise. You survive!

Give THANKS to The Lord, for HE is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1

Through it all, you learn SO MUCH not only about yourself, but about life. Kids will change you. But when you take a step back and look at life through the eyes of a child, you see things very differently. Some of the lessons I’ve learned so far, are as follows:

KarleyShay (first born) She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Proverbs 3:15 The day she was born she taught me that I had places in my heart that I didn’t even know were there. She taught me that I could love unconditionally and what it felt like to know you would give your own life for another human being. She taught me that it was okay to make mistakes. And it’s definitely okay to laugh at them. Now at 6.5 years old, she’s already opened my eyes to so many new things. She’s taught me more about myself and what truly matters in life than I ever thought possible. Each day as her mother is an education. Suddenly the materialism of the world, and the need I once had to be entertained by the latest iPhone or movie, has been replaced by the joy of watching my daughter discover the world around her. I can never drive home at night without looking for the moon, just to watch it ‘follow us home ’. She is so intelligent, witty and what the family likes to refer to as ‘an old soul’. She tends to find the beauty in the simple parts of life. Most things that I tend to take for granted. She taught me that the “easy” child can sometimes be overlooked and needs some special attention.

Brody Uriah (my rainbow baby) ‘For I know THE PLANS I have for you; declares The Lord, ‘’plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 My husband and I had two miscarriages before ‘Bubby’ was conceived. Our first miscarriage was at 16 weeks and another at 8 weeks (back-to-back). I never thought I would truly regain my strength but from the very beginning Brody has taught me understanding. He has taught me how to hold on to my faith when everything around me has crumbled. At the age of two, he has shown me that real superheroes live in the hearts of children fighting big battles. We almost lost Brody back in November of 2013 due to a medical issue that has yet to be fully explained. It was definitely the scariest moment of our lives. It all happened so quick. The ambulance drove so fast that my head was spinning. He continued to have another seizure,this time turning him gray and sky-rocketing his body temperature to 106.4 degrees. Less than 15 minutes prior his temperature was 98.9. When he came back to consciousness (many hours later); he just smiled. He continues to smile despite all the obstacles life has been throwing at him. Through it all Brody has taught me how to hold on and how to be resilient. He taught me to believe in the power of prayer. He taught me how to pray.

I’m learning that it’s okay to ask for help.

I’m learning that you can keep going long after you think you can’t.

I’m learning that friends can become strangers, and strangers can become friends.

I’ve learned that a community of prayer is the strongest of all.

I’ve learned that no matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn’t stop for your grief.

I’ve learned that your life can be changed in a matter of minutes.

I’ve learned flexibility.

I’ve learned that microwave minutes are longer than normal minutes. (Thank you KarleyShay)

I’ve learned that it’s all about picking your battles. (Brushing hair or picking their outfit out- the choice is

yours)

I’ve learned that there is almost nothing that can’t be blamed on the impending arrival of a 2 year molar.

I’ve learned that naps can happen anywhere.

I’ve learned to smile.

 

Northfamily

Children are a gift from The Lord: They are a reward from Him. Psalms 127:3

how to plant a garden.

audrey hepburn quotes

(Note: this article originally appeared in the July 11th edition of the LaFollette Press, in my Letters from the Nest lifestyles editorial. I highly doubt you will learn how to plant a garden from this piece, but you will know that there is hope for fellow house plant killers. )

Confession for your Monday: I have never, in my life, been able to successfully keep a plant alive. Why, you ask? I mean, all you have to do is water it. It is in a controlled flower pot environment, there should really be no reason why someone could not sustain life to such a simple seedling. But if thriving gardeners have what they call a “green thumb”, then my thumb is black, with a little fungus around the nailbed.

green tomatoes

It all started in college, when I had a large floor plant gifted to me after the death of a relative. It was a situation in which the family had so many plants and flower arrangements at the funeral home that they were handing them out left and right. And then the crowd parted and there I was, the girl who lived in an 8×8 room with her best friend and her twin bed was hoisted up on cinder blocks to make way for storage. She would be the perfect plant companion, they concluded.

I found the perfect spot for this peace lily, right next to the front door of the dorm room suite surrounded by movie posters heavily taped to the gray cinder block walls. It had a tiny ornamental bird that was carefully hidden amongst the lush, shiny leaves. I felt I had performed a civic duty by bringing a plant into a dorm room, thus naturally cleaning the stale air of Doritos and late night study groups and arguments over card games.
Only problem was, I couldn’t keep it alive. The soil looked dry so I would take my last swig of bottled water and dump it on as I was heading to my 8am class. The soil seemed too wet so I would put the plant under some harsh artificial lighting. Next thing I knew, there were a few branches left where the leaves used to be, and my roommates filmed a documentary about this plant and the bird it left behind. (No kidding. They filmed my dead plant. If I can run across that tape I’ll show it to you sometime.)

So, when we decided to plant a garden for the first time ever this summer, my mind went back to the time in my cubicle at work when a few co-workers felt it necessary to intervene with the four plants I had on my desk. One would take care of them if I were on vacation, and the other just took them over completely, bringing a large gallon jug of Miracle Gro and bringing life back into the greenery. I needed serious help.

But despite the fact that if it were a criminal offense for killing off plant life, I would be spending life in prison without parole, I still really wanted a garden on our farm. A place we could tend and grow and see tangible results. So I decided to do things right this time and follow the advice of those who have gone before me. A fellow farmer came to till our land. We kept our plants indoors at first, watering them every other day until after May 1st. We carefully measured between each tomato plant with precision, making sure to give them adequate space in case this whole gardening thing actually worked.

tractor tilling a garden

tilling a garden

dad planting a garden with kids

For the first time in my life, I planted something that didn’t die. We collected a bounty of cucumbers, tomatoes and onions this summer, with baskets so heavy I could barely lift them. As a small family business, we even set up to sell our spoil at the local farmers’ market, making new friends and selling things that grew in our yard, all at the same time. The peppers surprised us toward the end, growing leaps and bounds overnight. But that could be because I dusted crushed egg shells around the plant base. You can learn so much from Home Depot. Calcium, people.

cucumbers and tomatoes

Audrey Hepburn once noted that “to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” and she could not be more correct. Because tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, and the weeks to follow, pickles and fried green tomatoes are on the menu.

kids in the garden

Ten Ways Our Marriage is Old Fashioned

ten ways our marriage is old fashioned

Today is our tenth wedding anniversary!! That’s right: TEN YEARS PEOPLE. In honor of ten years, I am sharing over at the Knoxville Moms Blog about ten ways our marriage is old fashioned. Do you and your spouse still follow some of these ideals? Click (here) to read the post and let’s share!