influence right where i am

i never go to conferences. like ever.

 

so this past weekend was different. different in a really good way.

for a few years now, i’ve followed along on the influence network journey. i find it very interesting & inspiring that women want to help other women be influential. it’s like speaker and co-founder hayley morgan reminded us at the end of the conference – we are all on the same team anyway!

so here i sit, after a long seven hour road trip back to maryland – recapping the weekend. recapping the conference. wondering how i can sit in a room full of complete strangers and feel so inspired. a room full of women who don’t know my story – and i don’t know theirs. we were blessed to hear the vulnerable stories of each speaker – helping us to connect to them in new ways which i love. bc we seriously connect at our wounds. i believe it’s the way god intended it.

i sit here, remembering jess connolly opening up about how there are areas in our lives that have influence, if we only stop feeling shame and start sharing. that hit hard. it’s the balance of “hey look at me and all that i’ve been through” and “hey look what god has done in my messy messy life.” i love the second perspective. it’s the true perspective. it’s the “to give him more glory” perspective.

things don’t happen to us. they happen through us. god works through us. through our terrible messy situations. i pray for the bravery to slowly unpack what that looks like in my life. what areas in my life could i share so that god gets the victory. i know, right off the bat, that i feel fear because i’m not 100% sure there is victory in these areas. i want there to be – i’m just not sure there is.

so here i sit, remembering that it’s good to slow down and listen to wise people. wise people who truly want to encourage a new perspective in our lives.

i’m pretty big on the idea of “grow where you’re planted.” i’m born and raised in the same town (took a four year break for college) and my husband and i dream of growing deep deep family roots right where we are in our biblical community. so i love the idea that we have influence, right where we are.

two other points about #influenceconf and then i’ll let you go.

sweet ashlee proffitt reminded us that “worship prepares our heart for battle.” a simple truth. a solid truth. i’m going through some battles right now and i expect i will for the rest of my earthly life. worship prepares us for the battle. the current battle. the future battle. the past battle. worship. (2 chronicles 20:18)

and finally, brilliant renee swope – well god used her to convict me through her battle. the challenge is this: Alicia, be the person you say I am. -Jesus. I think that pretty much sums up a life with Christ. Be the person you say I am.

overall, my heart is encouraged and my mind is open. i went to charlotte for this one-day conference with literally no expectations. just a desire to learn. and that i did. thankful there are women being influential so ultimately i will be influential. it’s gonna spread like fire. i think that’s the point!

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our wedding video!

holy smokes & happy new year!

let’s just cut to the chase – OUR WEDDING VIDEO IS DONE!!!

this is the perfect day. god is so so good to us. please enjoy just a glimpse of all the ways He showed up on our wedding day.

thank you to our amazing videographer Rebekah Larson for your vision & your talent. you have forever captured our perfect day. ‪#‎cardweds‬ ‪#‎yearonecardwells‬

PRESS PLAY

rachy gets married!

i’ve had the privilege of being friends with rachael since we were in elementary school. she has been apart of the biggest milestones in my life & i’m forever grateful for her friendship.

& she got married last weekend! to the love of her life, pat. it was a classically BEAUTIFUL wedding. i hope you enjoy the pictures, although they do not do it justice.

this was smack dab in the middle of classic southern maryland, surrounded by the patuxent river with an elegant barn setting. rach is actually the first person to have her wedding on this property – & she absolutely nailed it.

being that my wedding is 8 days away, i was in hyper soon-to-be bride mode, taking notes & watching how she did things. my favorite part was seeing how supportive her family & pat’s family were. they were so willing to help & never wanted rachael to stress about a thing. it was beautiful to watch.

#bakerorbust2015

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so happy for rach & pat!! ❤ can we all agree that rach was the most beautiful bride ever?

ps: if there is one picture i regret not getting, it’s the picture of her jimmy choo’s. what kinda blogger am i?! ugh. they were magical.

 

all photos are mine & were taken on my iPhone 6s.

location: cage farms; st. leonard, maryland

rachael’s dress: alfred angelo

bridemaids dresses: alfred angelo

we’re engaged!

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i couldn’t write this story from scratch even if i wanted to.

it’s been quite the journey with mr. grant cardwell. i’ve never had a better year in my life than the one i’ve spent with grant.

he proposed on saturday, august 29, on the beach where we met just one year ago.

our day started out like any other day. grant went to the gym, i went for a long run in the park.

he came over my house and helped do ALL THE THINGS in my yard. like spent the entire day outside while i pretended to clean inside which is really code for nap/netlfix. he’s so good to me.

we went to church service & then headed over to the miller’s where we planned to have dinner. when we parked at their house, grant suggested we go for a walk on the beach.

“should we take the food in the house first?” i asked.

“no, we can do it after our walk.” grant says.

it was a very windy night – just beautiful weather.

we walked down the beach & back – just enjoying the significance of the day & what this beach meant to us.

& then as grant leaned down to put his flip flops back on – he stayed down on one knee, pulled the ring box out of his pocket & asked me to MARRY HIM.

MARRIAGE. IT’S HAPPENING. WATCH THE VLOG BELOWWWW.

i’m still in the clouds. i know one day the excitement will fade – – but thank the lord for all the feels. we are so thankful.

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exhale.

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“it’s okay to not be okay.” – exhale by plumb

i first heard this song as it blasted through my headphones on one of my “forced” long runs. yes, forced. there was time i would run every day, whenever i had the time.

that season has come & possibly gone.

with the addition of a night job to my life schedule (circa october 2014) & the addition of the love of my life (circa december 2014), my free time alone time has dramatically decreased.

this is no ones fault. it’s a season. we hear the “season” talk every other day it seems. i like to say “it’s just a season” or “this season will pass” or “thank the good lord above that THAT season is locked in the pretend-it-never-happened-closet.”

so i’m in a season of overdrive. this is not the season where i flourish – but rather – i just barely make it. i go from thing to thing, day to day, & just do.

& just for the record – – i’m not a do-er. i’m a feel-er. i like to FEEL. i like to be “all-in” with everything i do – but during this season – i’m just getting things done. the faster i can get to the place of netflix & couch & ice cream & sleep, the better.

yuck.

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so during that long run – i heard this beautiful song whispering in my ear to “exhale.”

“don’t be afraid. don’t be ashamed.”

i needed to hear that. i feel like that’s the kinda daily reminder that is kinda obvious. it does no harm to hear that kinda thing on repeat, right?

right.

but seriously – i did feel afraid. i felt afraid that i was failing. as an employee, as a friend, as a daughter, as a sister, as a girlfriend. as a human. the fear of failure can cripple the kinda girl who loves attention & loves affirmation & loves feeling accomplished.

i’m that kinda girl. can i get an amen?

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& then there’s the “don’t be ashamed.” that easy peasy reminder that “you are a daughter of the King – what in the world do YOU have to be ashamed of?!”

well – here’s the real conversation happening in my head: how can you NOT feel ashamed? you’re doing nothing. you’re just do-ing. that’s shameful, right?

no. of course not.

but i was believing the lie.

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up until the point where i spilled my guts to the lord.

i said: i hated this season. he said – treasure it.

i said: but remember last year? remember how happy & how successful & how accomplished i felt?

he said – treasure today.

i said: but bring me back to where i was.

he said – treasure Me.

i said: lord, you just don’t get it.

he said – treasure yourself.

it was hard. it’s still hard.

i caught myself remembering & longing for what was instead of focusing on the blessing of now.

each season has its winds, its waves, its growth & its death. each season deserves pruning & planting & patience.

if you’re struggling in a season that you just wish would pass, i’m with ya. but let’s focus on the treasure. has there ever been a season God hasn’t been aware? does he not use every season to bring his name glory? does each season not bring change & new beauty?

i pray that we exhale – we remember – & we treasure.

but let’s not leave it at that. let’s continue to be honest. bc “it’s okay to not be okay.” & my season of “not okay” might be at a different time then your “not okay” season. we don’t have to pretend. we can support each other & break-free from the “everything is okay.” we can scream “it sucks” bc that’s what heals.

let’s love this conversation & this reality enough that we don’t just leave it. let’s for real treasure it, together.

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karaoke in the car! (vlog!)

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grant & i love hiking & love the beach. thankfully, maryland has a ton of parks that combine hiking + beach. it’s awesome.

this weekend we set aside our laziness (aka: watching netflix all day), packed up the car with towels & water & headed to the beach! we chilled, cooled off in the beautiful bae – i mean bay 😉 it was a great day.

once we had enough sunshine, we headed back to my place to relax before church. like i mentioned before, we really like binge watching netflix. this year alone we’ve gone from the office to friends to now, parks and rec. after watching a few episodes (SO EXCITING, I KNOW) – it was time to leave for church.

the topic this weekend at church: friendship. it was powerful & super convicting. it’s always cool how God will whisper reminders throughout the day, all alining with the same idea. earlier, at the beach, grant & i talked about our friendships – with other people & with each other. & then God really showed us that we are on the right page about where we are heading & what friendships to really pour into.

after church, i needed to get a bridal shower gift for my long time friend, kelly.

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so off to the closest mall we go! & just so you know – us “country-folk” must travel up to an hour to get to the closest mall. so you can imagine how hangry i got on the ride to the city. lol. or maybe you can’t imagine. just ask grant 😉

first things first, we had to get some food! so we chose whole foods for something quick & delicious! (SUSHI!! for me – – BURGER!! for grant)

then we went to anthropolgie, where the BRILLIANT kelly was registered! have you ever been to anthro?? you MUST go – – even if to just look around. it’s the most adorable place EVER. ugh.
on the way home, i thought it would be fun to document our car karaoke. there’s not a car ride where grant & i don’t sing – – it’s completely normal for us.

life is normal with grant. love him so much. {press play below}

https://instagram.com/etleyb/

a fancy date!

lucky i’m in love with my best friend! we had a nice cute little afternoon in chesapeake beach – which i always love exploring with bae.

this is the spot grant first told me he loved me! it will always be a special place for us.

i love grant’s spontaneity – – he leaned over in the middle of church & whispered “what if we go to rod n reel for lunch?”

i melt.

(press play below!)

thanks for watching!! xo