I have imagined this day for a long time and am incredibly grateful that it’s here. I am writing aboard my flight from Manchester to Baltimore, the first part of my trip to the Making Things Happen Intensive in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I have been thinking a lot lately of when the seed was planted in my heart three years ago to attend this conference and I think it will be fun to share that and have it to look back on.
In September 2013, my faith was on fire and my heart was suddenly – and simultaneously – stirred for design, creative expression, and all things Southern. Through a few compounding circumstances, I had decided to take the semester off from school, something that lent itself to lots of extra time for reading the Bible, teaching myself Illustrator and Photoshop, and delighting myself in the charm of Southern culture. My sweet friend Emily passed along some of her issues of Garden & Gun and Southern Living magazines and I was quickly smitten with the charm, tradition, and heart of life beneath the Mason-Dixon. I had developed an entrepreneurial spirit and was eager to combine it with my new interests to do something meaningful, I just didn’t know what that was yet. (I still don’t yet, but I believe I will soon!)
Later that fall brought about a really difficult season of injury and the subsequent road to healing, a time that the Lord used to strengthen my heart and my spirit beyond anything I could have ever accomplished on my own. As He did this, I continued to turn to Him for wisdom and comfort, and He blessed me with something really good in the thick of it.
At Christmastime, Emily told me about Southern Weddings magazine, describing the beauty of the content and the mission behind it. V6 had just come out, and she picked up a copy for me at the only bookstore in NH that sold it. At that time, I was feeling a restless tension between brokenness I was experiencing and all the unused ambitions in my heart. On a tearful evening in the glow of my Christmas tree, I was craving something more and opened the magazine for the first time, instantly experiencing this heart feeling of ‘YES. These pages communicate my heart so well.’ The design was beautiful, the layouts were warm and inviting, and the message was heartfelt and sincere. I wanted to know the heart behind the magazine, so I grabbed my laptop and Googled the name of the editor in chief, Lara Casey. I was soon comforted and so encouraged to find that she is a follower of Jesus who vibrantly shares the redeeming work He has done in her life. I found so much hope in her story, something I had lost sight of in my circumstances. I explored her website, taking in every bit of goodness that I could, and found that she offers a conference twice a year in North Carolina called Making Things Happen.
I knew at the time that a trip to Chapel Hill was not possible, but a seed was planted in my heart when I felt an undeniable tug to someday attend the conference. Fast-forward through the start of my blog, healing fully from my injury, a trip with my mom to the Southern Weddings V7 Launch Party in North Carolina, falling even more in love with the South, the completion of a degree, two design internships, two back-to-back year-long creative positions (one in weddings, one in design), an incredibly difficult season of pruning and growth, and falling in love with Dillon, here I am today. I can see how God has set the foundation that I needed to get the most of this intensive.
I have gained so much life experience in the past three years, and have had lots of opportunities to work through and explore some of my creative ideas and ambitions along the way. I believe with all my heart that God had in store for me to attend this conference all along, and I am so incredibly grateful that the pieces all came together to make it possible today, right where I am. I don’t know what’s next, I don’t know where this all leads, but I trust that God does. My heart and hands are open to what He wants to do here, where He wants to direct me, the vision He has for me, every bit of it. As my favorite print from Lara’s shop says: amen, hallelujah, thank you Lord.