Photo by Ally and Bobby
I have been waiting so long to write this post! (Since May, actually, but we’ll get to that.) I’m so humbled and overjoyed to announce that I am one of the newest members of the Southern Weddings and Cultivate What Matters team! Even though I should have had plenty of time at this point to let that news sink in, I’m still pretty shocked.
(Disclaimer: This may be a bit of a longer post, because I have a LOT to say. If you don’t have time for all of it, skip to the bottom. It’s important.)
Photo by Olivia Suriano of Nancy Ray Photography
Wait. How did this happen? Give me some background.
Let me back up a bit. I first became acquainted with Southern Weddings sometime in 2014 (and let’s be honest, it was probably before I was officially engaged). I was immediately in love with SW’s heart for meaningful celebrations, the way they let readers get to know them as people, and of course, their passion for the South. I was quickly addicted and so happy to have finally found a wedding resource that really got me as a bride. SW was (and is!) a beacon for what I was hoping my wedding day could be: full of meaningful details and focused on our people, our story, and our marriage after the big day. It was refreshing, to say the least, to find a gorgeous wedding magazine that cares more about the heart behind the day than just what kind of flowers are in season (but we do that too!). Along the way I eventually felt like I knew the ladies on the team, and I always wanted to know what they were up to in their adorable office in North Carolina.
Fast forward to sometime in the spring of 2015 when I received my wedding photos and asked our photographer if I could submit them to Southern Weddings for consideration for publication. I knew it was a very long shot, as Missouri is not technically one of the states included in SW’s list of Southeastern states (reeeeally tempted to throw my plug in here, but this post is going to be too long already), but to my surprise, Emily emailed me right back to accept!
Meanwhile, sometime during the long, lonely days of studying for the bar exam, I dug a little deeper. What I found was that there’s a whole lot more goodness where all that meaningful marriage planning came from. I went to the founder, Lara Casey‘s, website and realized that her incredible passion for living intentionally and focusing on what really matters went way beyond weddings. I immediately ordered her first book, Make it Happen, and did a deep dive through her blog. Lara has a true gift for teaching women how to live their best life, and for me it didn’t hurt that she was a redheaded, believing, former musical theater person who did the whole New York thing after college and then completely changed career paths a couple of times.
In the spring of 2016 I attended the incredible Making Things Happen conference, and I don’t throw this phrase around a lot, but it changed my life. Lara finally gave me a way to harness all those competing priorities and passions, focus them, and start channeling my time toward them in a much less overwhelming way. (Come join us in March!) I started using the primary weapon for doing this in real life, Powersheets, and I felt so much more assured that I was spending my life working toward the things I will care about when I’m 80.* Around this time I also decorated our newlywed apartment feverishly in the hope of being featured on the Southern Newlywed column (yes, that dream also came true) and launched this little blog as a creative outlet.
Photo by Ally and Bobby
So you just followed them until they hired you?
Basically, yes. But I have a feeling God had a little bit to do with it too. See, this is where a lot of things started happening that I can’t explain otherwise. Finding out that we were pregnant had already started completely reorienting my priorities and put me into a bit of a transitional season in life. That’s exactly the moment when the Southern Weddings and Cultivate What Matters team posted that they were hiring for my dream job! (Another phrase I don’t use lightly!) I genuinely never believed they would actually hire me, but I threw my heart and soul into my application anyway. Because how could I not??
When Jess reached out to me about an interview, I was ecstatic. The words came easily in my interview (after a technical hiccup that nearly gave me a heart attack), because I was talking about the things I loved the most. They were interviewing me for a job to do the things I do for fun when I really should be doing other things. (Pinch me, that’s still true.)
I was reading Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker at the time, and while I am not quite sure about all the theology, it made a big impact on my prayer life. I started praying “circles” around the outcome of my interviews. I walked in circles around our apartment building, praying for God’s will to be done in this situation and in my next chapter as a mom. I went to Chapel Hill to spend a day with the ladies in the office, and it was everything I thought it was. I felt at home, and God just kept removing obstacles.
You know the next part! Lara video chatted with me and offered me the job, and it was the start of many happy, grateful, awe-struck tears.
Photo by Olivia Suriano of Nancy Ray Photography
What is your role, and what have you been working on?
Since May, I’ve been loving every minute of being on the team. My first day on the job was at Fearrington Village for our team summit, packing a ton of hard work, team bonding, and company information into three days. I am so thankful that I started out with that sweet time of jumping in head first, because it completely accelerated my acclimation process (and was totally worth canceling that Scandinavian babymoon for!). We decided not to announce me publicly until after I came back from maternity leave, which is the explanation for the delay!
I’m an editor on both brands, and have been loving doing a little bit of everything for Southern Weddings, the Making Things Happen conference, and our 2018 Powersheets launch coming soon! There’s more about what I’ve been doing on the blogs today, here and here.
I can’t really put into words what a joy and blessing it is to do this work. I get to spend my time telling others about the things I care about most and sharing my enthusiasm for what we do in the lives of women (which I really think is life-changing!). The things I want to do with my time are also the things I do for work assignments. On top of that, the women in these pictures are quickly becoming some of my closest friends. Each and every one of them is such a strong, smart, kind, and spunky Southern belle, and I’m thankful they are now the company I keep.
The Important Part
How perfect is it that my new boss wrote the very most fitting way to describe this turn of events in my life? You may have heard the adage, “She believed she could, and so she did.” Well, Lara realized that often, our problem is believing that if we could just do more and be more productive, we can make perfect lives possible. That’s just not true. We can’t work our way into blessings. So Lara rewrote it to say the above. This is exactly what happened to me in this transition.
I always wished I could have a creative job encouraging women alongside a small group of amazing other women. I even said to Will, “I just want to work with the Southern Weddings/Cultivate ladies. Is there something like that I can do?” See, I never believed I could actually work with the Southern Weddings/Cultivate ladies. But God’s plans are always bigger than we could ever ask or think. So God did, and He wrote a perfect example of what Lara is talking about in her book into her own team.
The result just brought me to my knees. I think up until now I’ve thanked God for the good things in my life, but I’ve been guilty of secretly and subconsciously pointing to something I’ve done that played a role in a good outcome. I don’t know that I even realized the way I was still hanging onto my own agency in an effort to feel in control of creating good circumstances in my life. For example, I studied for the bar exam, and I passed. I thought, “thank God, but also, you know, I really hoped I would, since I studied so hard…”
But then this. “But also” nothing. I couldn’t point to anything I did to earn this opportunity. God’s hand had never been so tangible for me as it has been in this experience. (And then I witnessed the miracle of life…but that was after!) I know there were many candidates just as or more qualified who would fit into this team just as well. It was so clear that God just plucked me out of my current life and said, “I want you here.” This just brought tears of gratitude in a way I had never experienced before. 2017 has been a year of such overwhelming blessing that I could have done nothing to earn, and it has revealed the depths of God’s generosity to me in an entirely new way. He is good, He is real, and I hope I never stop pointing to Him and thanking Him for His grace.
Don’t worry, this little blog isn’t going anywhere. While it has been busy since I’ve been back at work, I love sharing and documenting in this space enough to find some time for it. I’m so happy to be out in public about the work that I’m so passionate about, and I can’t wait to share more with you here along the way!