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IF: God Moved

Gather Equip Unleash Graphics-02

It’s hard to believe I haven’t written about IF here before. I mean, really rather shocking. I chalk it up to the fact that I haven’t written much of anything here over the past year. Because if you’ve spent more than a little time with me over the last year, I’ve more than likely word-vomited on you about just how amazing IF has been for me.

Just in case I haven’t waxed poetic to you yet, and you don’t know a thing about what IF is, here’s the cliff notes version of it. IF began three years ago when God set the wheels in motion through Jennie Allen in Austin with their first conference in February of 2014. To say there was a groundswell following that conference is an understatement. IF exists to gather, equip and unleash women to live out their calling by creating tools and resources for the local church and the women they serve; a generation of women who desire to change their local context for the glory of God and the good of others. To underline the focus on the local church, IF keeps their February in-person attendance small, and then encourages women to host IF:Local gatherings in their local context to participate in the conference via Live Stream. (ahhh the power of technology)

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IF:North Oak Cliff 2015

IF:Local is how I first experienced IF, when I decided to host a gathering in my home last February. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I knew they had wonderful speakers and I love gathering women together in my home, so I figured what could there be to lose? And let me tell you , it was more than I ever could have dreamed of, and has continued to be. God moved in such a powerful, tangible way and that weekend was just the beginning of what He would do through the last year.

After a weekend of getting to know each other and being vulnerable, the women gathered in my living room were asked to write on a stone what they felt God was calling them to beyond the weekend together. And those 20 minutes were the minutes that would rock my world, and solidify my faith. Those 20 minutes were the moments where any doubt I ever had about God was washed away. As we shared our calling, we also shared our fears and our prayer needs. We prayed for patience for a dear girl who had been dealing with infertility for 2 years, we prayed for movement in a relationship that seemed to need a nudge forward, we prayed for knowledge and confidence for a student readying for board exams, and we prayed for relationships to be built for a shy, introverted girl who longed for deep relationships with women in her community. We prayed for so many things, and God listened. My friend found out she was pregnant within two months of our gathering, and gave birth to a healthy baby girl in December. And that relationship that needed a nudge? Not only were they engaged shortly thereafter, they were married in December. That student? She passed her board exams with flying colors on her first try. And that girl who longed for friendships? That girl was me. And oh the fruit that prayer has yielded.

IF:Table at Christine's Home

IF:Table at Christine’s Home

Even that very weekend a brave soul showed up to my house not knowing anyone, and she has blessed me and discipled me through her steadfast faith and friendship this year. Christine lived in the area and we instantly clicked. And this year I watched her work through some tough decisions and, because of her faith and true abiding belief in the Father, she and her precious family are in Nashville now. And I was so sad, thinking I was back to longing for relationships. But then I stepped out on a limb and went to the IF:Local Leaders Gathering in Orlando in September, and from just that weekend, I have two new amazing friends, Jennifer and Laura…Laura who lives just minutes from me but we had to travel to Orlando to meet. And what amazing women they are. I grew closer to women who I had met through a church small group and together we got deeper with God and prayed Anything prayers. And the circle continues to grow. We’ve found an amazing church in our neighborhood and I’ve already met some amazing ladies there who I know will continue to bless my life and grow my faith.

I could go on and on about God’s provision and movement over the past year. But I say all of this to bring me here, IF:Gathering is once again upon us. And if I can push you to do anything at all through this tiny little space on the web, it’s to find a group of women who you can walk with spiritually and be vulnerable with and do live in the trenches with. A place where you can wrestle with your faith and work through it together. And I really believe IF can be that jumping off place for you. If you live in the Dallas area (or want to travel in!), I am hosting again this year, no…co-hosting with my IF friend Laura (God is GOOD!), and I would love for you to join us! We will be gathering February 5th & 6th. All of the details can be found here on our website page, as well as our Facebook event page. And if you don’t live in Dallas, rest easy! There are over 1500 Locals happening all over the world. Visit ifgathering.com/local to find one near you. And if by some chance there isn’t one near you, you can host one too! Or stream it live throughout the weekend right wherever you are.

I am so expectant and excited and filled with the joy of the Lord at the thought of this year’s IF:Gathering. I pray God will place on your heart the place you are meant to be and that you will come with an open heart and mind and eyes ready to see God move. My life was truly changed last February and I know there is more in store this year. So tell me, will we see you in February?

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Best Day Ever: Wedding Photos

Well, they are here! And I CANNOT wait to share them with you. Everyone says it, and it sounds so very cliché, but it’s true…our wedding day was the best day ever. To stand there, with the love of my life, committing my life to him in front of God and all of our friends and family has to have been the most incredible, out-of-body but totally present experience I’ve ever had. It was such a beautiful day.

We were enveloped by the love and support of our friends and family. And we had such an incredible team who helped us make the day even more special. A list of our very special vendors can be found at the bottom of the post, but a special shout out to Kimberly Rhodes and her team with Hitched Events for being that absolute best wedding planner EVER. Without her I wouldn’t have been able to assemble the best team ever. I will be forever grateful for her work and friendship. Thanks also to Eddie with Jenny Martell Photography for capturing our big day in such a beautiful, artistic way. Wow. We are blessed beyond measure.

Forgive me for not being able to edit the photos down further…they are all so special…I hope you enjoy them as much as we do. Thanks to everyone who was a part of our big day! For more pictures, check out my Facebook page!

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Venue: Three Three Three First Avenue
Wedding Planner: Hitched Events
Photographer: Jenny Martell Photography
Hair and Makeup: Shannon Caldwell, Something You Makeup Artistry
Florist: Blue Lotus
Cake: Dallas Affaires Cake Company
Lighting: A Very Special Day
Caterer: Culinary Art Catering
DJ: Jason Esquire
Transportation: Premier
Videographer: Lynn films
 

Party With A Purpose

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What a weekend it was! I took off Friday to help my sweet Bear as he had his wisdom teeth taken out. Poor guy, he’s still on the mend…hopefully he’ll be back in action in the next few days! And while most of my weekend was devoted to playing nurse, Saturday I took on another role, that of hostess along with three of my girlfriends and we hosted a Party with a Purpose to raise money for the American Cancer Society’s Corporate Hero Circle.

It was a great afternoon and, aside from a short 10 minute rain shower, it was a beautiful day and so much fun! We had a fun band, Lager and the Fatties, who kept the crowd entertained and dancing, lots of yard games, and a pretty amazing raffle. All told, we raised over $1600 for the American Cancer Society! Not to shabby for an afternoon backyard party! If you would like to take part in our fight against cancer, I would be so honored to have your support with a donation to my Corporate Hero Circle fundraising efforts. To donate, simply click here. You have until June 15th to donate, should you choose to. Many thanks in advance for your support!

Here are a few snaps from the party! Thanks to everyone who came out to support the American Cancer Society!

Tabitha, Meredith, Lacey and I...the hostesses!

Tabitha, Meredith, Lacey and me…the hostesses!

Two Stock the Bar Raffle Packages

Two Stock the Bar Raffle Packages

PWAP Crowd

Yard Games

Lovely Ladies

Lovely Ladies

 

Thanks again to everyone who came out! And if you, too, would like to donate to support the American Cancer Society, click here to be taken to my donation page. Happy Monday!

Ringing in the New Year

After a nice little break to celebrate Christmas and the New Year, I am so excited to be back blogging and planning what promises to be the best year yet. And perhaps that’s because 2012 went out with such a bang! Most of you probably know by now, but it wouldn’t seem official if I didn’t announce it here–Bear finally popped the question! We’re engaged!!

We're Engaged!

My sweet fiancée, offering me the “final rose” (yes we are secret Bachelor watchers…don’t tell anyone).

The proposal

Needless to say, I can’t imagine a more spectacular year than the one that lies ahead of me, brimming with promise.  And as if marrying the love of my life wasn’t enough, I turn the big 3-0 and have a trip back to Hawaii on the books for this summer. Seriously, could it get any better? (I hope I don’t come off braggy…at least not too braggy *wink*) I certainly don’t deserve all the good things coming my way so all I can do is thank the good Lord above for the blessings he has bestowed on me.

Fasten your seat belts and let’s go for a ride! Bring on 2013!

XOXO

Tuesday Tunes: Holiday Party Playlist

This weekend is our aforementioned holiday party and I am getting so excited as each little project and detail begins to fall into place.  This really is one of my favorite parties to throw each year because it gets me in the holiday frame of mind. The house is decked out, our friends come decked out, and we get to share some bubbly and laughs with our favorite people.

Every great party needs a great playlist and a holiday party is no exception. I think the real trick with holiday party music is finding a good mix of standard classics and throwing in some curve balls and refreshed takes on the songs we’ve heard a million times.  You’ve also got to know when to take the party up, and when to slow things down…this is something I’m still figuring out, but we always seem to have a good time so maybe it’s not so much an art as it is luck.

With all that said, the order of this might not be perfect, but I think this little 12-song playlist will give you some ideas as to how to breathe some new life into what can be a rather stale song selection.  Do you have any good holiday music you think I should include?

Surprise!

So I am getting this in just under the wire, but I honestly do have a very good excuse.  Let me start by saying a big, huge, giant, jumping up and down “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!” to my dear, sweet, bestest friend Leslie. Today she turns the big 3-0!!!

Now why, you ask, would I be so delinquent getting a post up, you ask? Well, with the help of our third amigo Mindy and Leslie’s sweet mom Lee, we were able to pull off the best surprise weekend for her…Saturday Mindy and Lee threw Leslie a great surprise party, which I couldn’t make it to, but was there in all of my cardboard cutout glory (I didn’t want her to think I totally bailed on her birthday! It was a good diversion for my absence. :)). But I was able to get in on the surprise when we coordinated my surprise addition to the brunch crew in Tulsa Sunday morning! It was the fastest, most furious trip I’ve ever taken–I wasn’t even in Tulsa for 24 hours–but it was one of the best.

I got to spend the day with my best friends just hanging out, like it was any other Sunday (with a birthday to celebrate)…we brunched, we shopped around Utica Square, we went home, ordered pizza and watched tv while catching up and then we hopped in bed, watched a little more tv and then crashed out. We were up early and back at the airport before the sun came up, but what precious hours those were. I hope it was a nice surprise for Leslie, but it may have been even better for me.  Getting to spend a day with my girls was truly a gift beyond words.

So happy birthday Leslie! I am so happy I got to spend a little bit of it with you!

Dirty 30

This weekend I was lucky enough to get together with my very best girlfriends to celebrate the most fabulous Mindy’s 30th birthday.  Today is officially the big day so I thought what better place to publicly dote on her amazingness than right here.  Mindy is one of those people who just has it all together. She is gorgeous, she is smart, she is incredibly stylish, and most of all, she is queen of the one-liners. I mean really, she can make us laugh like no other.

We surprised Mindy with some festive room decor while Jessica was keeping her company at the pool!

It’s hard to believe that Mindy, Leslie and I have been friends now for a DECADE! We all met in college at The University of Oklahoma and this weekend we spent much of the time laughing about all of the crazy things we did in school…and out of school.

We often talk about our soul mates in a romantic sense, but I think those terms can apply to the realm of friendships as well. I was so blessed to find my soul mates, or as Anne Shirley would call them, my kindred spirits, in college and have held onto them. We’ve been through highs and lows together, we’ve laughed a lot and cried a lot, we’ve lived down the street from each other and hundreds of miles apart, and our friendship has never wavered. We may not talk everyday like we once did, but when we are together it’s like we’ve never skipped a beat.

Thanks to DryBar for getting us ready for the night out.

So today, here is to on of the best–Mindy Stowers! I’m glad to have been a part of 1/3 of your first 30 years, and am excited to see where the rest of our lives lead us..because we’ll be there together through all of it. The best is yet to come.

 

Best Party Ever

The stage was set and ready

Now, I’m not one to toot my own horn (very often) but we threw one hell of a party this weekend. And we have some of the most badass friends and family in the whole world.

With my 29th birthday on the horizon, I’d started thinking about all the stupid, silly little things I wanted to get done before I turn 30 and one of those things was to sing karaoke. Lame? Maybe. Perfect excuse to throw a party? Most definitely. And with Bear’s birthday being the Friday before the party, there was no reason NOT to have a party. I went back and forth as to where and how to throw this karaoke party and settled on the fact that for this to really be a great party, we should just do it at Bear’s house.

Adrian & Arica rockin’ the mic.

We sang a duet.

Even my dad sang! You can’t go wrong with some Bob Dylan.

I couldn’t have been any happier with the way the party turned out! And it really was all because we had an amazing group of people come out. We had family and friends come in from San Antonio, Austin and Longview. We had work friends, who are now good friends, and new friends who we hope to see more of. I was worried people wouldn’t sing and it would end up being kind of a dud of a night, but after Bear bit the bullet and sang the first song, I don’t think the songs ever stopped. In fact, after three hours of non-stop karaoke, we scrounged up more money to keep the party, and songs, going. There were solos and duets, show tunes and hip hop, group songs and Disney songs. It couldn’t have been better.

All the boys

We are family! (even if those are the only words of the song we know)

It’s an Adrian Sing-off

A little sister Sade singin’

The ACS girls…er, Spice Girls!

Thank you to everyone who came out and graced us with your lovely voices.The Lord said make a joyful noise–he never said it had to sound good! I was definitely filled with joy Saturday and will carry that with me anytime I think of that party. The best party ever.

…and thanks, also to Adrian & Arica Espinoza, and Abby Richards, for letting me use some of their pictures here! I clearly was not on top of my photo-taking game Saturday.

…AND if you ever need a DJ, karaoke or just general, I’d definitely recommend Sick Spins in DFW. They were so nice and accommodating. We loved having them out!

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