The Influence Conference is 2.5 weeks!

At the beginning of this year, I committed myself to being more diligent with this little blog space that I call mine. Over the past 9 months, I’ve seen small steps in learning more about writing, WordPress, and the blogging world in general. One of the biggest highlights that has come from my new adventure of joining up with the Influence Network. If you’ve followed my blog for anytime now, you may have seen me mention the Network.

influence network

What is the Influence Network?

THE INFLUENCE NETWORK is for creatively minded women, who are looking for an uplifting community where they can be encouraged and also resourced to make their online lives mean something. 

I have loved taking the monthly classes on all things from blogging to spiritual growth to personality types. I’ve been so thankful for the relationships that have started to bud from this little Network of women. I’m encouraged every time I hop on to the Influence forum to see other women encouraging each other in their business, family life, and faith.

In almost TWO weeks the Influence Network will be hosting their second conference ever and I am SO EXCITED to attend it! This will be my first blogging conference and my first conference where I won’t know any one else by face…I know many of them by their blogs 🙂 It will also be my first women’s only conference…a lot of firsts for me in the coming weeks!

This is the beautiful hotel that we will be having our conference at!

This is the beautiful hotel that we will be having our conference!

I will be boarding a plane two weeks from tomorrow to spend 4.5 days in Indianapolis with like-minded sisters and very talented bloggers/writers! There are so many things that I am looking forward to, but to keep it short, here are 3 (I just can’t keep it to 2!):

1. My roommates! Lindsy Wallace, Lauren Mills, & Amanda are all super talented bloggers and I’m blessed to be able to room with them over the weekend.

2. Like-Minded Community. I still feel uncomfortable talking about my blog and my passion for writing with my in-real life community because I struggle with feeling inadequate and “not there yet”. I’m looking forward to talking “shop” with people about how to make my online life mean more and be more of an encouragement.

3. Spending time in the Midwest during the Fall season! I LOVE Fall. It’s one of the hardest things about living in the Southwest. I’m so excited to go to a place where some of the leaves will be changing colors and the temps will be cooler.

With our link-up for today, I’m also supposed to share what I’ll be packing in my bag for the conference 🙂 If any of you know me well, you know that I’m a low-fuss girl, so here is what I’ll make sure I have in my bag:

1) My running shoes. I’m looking forward to taking a run in the Autumn weather (see point 3 above) and supposedly my husband and I are going to be training for a sprint triathlon (I have such a hard time spelling that word) so I need to keep up the training! Any of you ladies want to take a run with me?!

2) My photos of my two girls. I’m hoping to show off their beautiful faces every chance I can take! There are a lot of moms who have adopted, are adopting, or love adoption at this conference and I know many of them will love to hear our story.

As you can see, I’m thrilled to be headed to the Influence Conference! I won’t lie, this introvert is nervous about it too. But I won’t let that get the best of me 🙂

why I cried after my brother’s team made it to state

Last night my brother and the Albia Blue Demons won their substate game which means that they are going to the Iowa State Baseball Tournament!! Woot Woot!!

My brother's the catcher and I love the intensity in his face!

My brother’s the catcher and I love the intensity in his face!

Now to clear some things up because I get this question all the time from people down here…

  1. Wait, Sarah, your brother is playing high school baseball in the SUMMER?” Yes, Iowa plays high school ball in the summer and no I do not know why (for my peeps in Iowa, just know that playing a high school sport in the summer is very uncommon).
  2. “Didn’t Gabe graduate earlier this Spring? I didn’t know graduates could play.” Yes, my brother graduated in May and is still playing high school baseball. According to Iowa rules, you can play baseball/softball the summer after your senior year because the season started during the school year. So, yes he did play five years of high school baseball and my sister played 5 years of softball.
  3. “Are you ALL athletic?” Yes, but not all of us are athletic in baseball/softball…or should I just say I am terrible at softball. I have an appreciation for the game, but I can’t hit a softball to save my life!

Ok, now that that’s cleared up, let me continue…

I listened to the last inning and a half on my phone while at my friends’ house last night. As the announcers were exclaiming that the Albia Blue Demons were headed to state, my heart was filled with joy but also a lot of  sadness as tears ran down my face.

I was so happy for him, but I was sad that I couldn’t be there to give my sweet brother a big hug and to celebrate a victory with my family. There are days like yesterday where I find it hard to live so far away from home..

I sent my brother a text after they won congratulating him and telling him how proud I am of him. He sent back a text that said “Thanks. Wish you were here! Love ya” Melt my heart. Those are sweet words from an 18 year old man-boy!

The tears fell because I felt like I was missing out on another milestone event for my family. And I was. There have been a lot of things that I have “missed” in the 2.5 years of living 1500 miles.

But then I remember all of the amazing things that have happened while living in this dry, hot desert and I’m grateful. I still mourn the loss of the familiar, but the adventure Jason and I have been on makes it worth it all.

The next few weeks I will be spending my Wednesdays talking about the adventures that God has taken me on and the lessons I have learned since we took this huge step to move from the cornfields of Iowa to the desert land of Arizona. And I would love to hear from you as well! How has God taken what looked like it would be hard and made it beautiful?

I want to be able to share my life here on this blog and I hope that as you read how God has changed me, you will be encouraged to know that God is at work in your story too. That’s why I’ll be linking up with She Does Justice on Wednesdays…will you join me?

Live Your Story

From the Cornfields of Iowa to the Desert of Arizona

Today the ladies involved with the Influence Network are sharing a bit about where we grew up, and where we currently live! Since the Network is “home” to women from all across the globe, this is a fun way to make the world a little smaller. So here’s a bit about where I’m from…

corn fields of iowa

The beautiful cornfields of Iowa…just seeing this makes my heart sigh a little

I grew up in the eastern rural cornfields (and hog land) of Iowa. I was actually born in Dyersville, Iowa. If there are any fans of baseball movies, that is where “Field of Dreams” was filmed. To this day you can still go to the baseball field and play a pick up game of baseball. My parents were teachers in a small town near Dyersville that didn’t have a hospital…teeny tiny town. I think Cascade was a booming 1200 at that time! I loved growing up in Cascade. We lived in a neighborhood FILLED with children my age & my sisters’ age, so summer nights were spent playing kick the can, going to the river, riding bikes, and any other outdoor game you can think of. It was the quintessential childhood in many ways.

The Field of Dreams field still stands and operates today!

The Field of Dreams field still stands and operates today!

When I was 12, my parents decided that we needed to make a change. So they packed up their four kids (12, 9, 5, & 2) and moved us to Southern Iowa…a totally different world to us. A land that actually had Iowa State Cyclone Fans!!! Booo….Hiss… But it was there that I learned that Cyclone fans are not evil, like many of my Iowa Hawkeye friends had believed! This little farming community was actually not too different from Cascade, except that it was about three times the size (so that would still make it teeny tiny to most people :)) The people were kind and took us under their wings as we adjusted to life in a new community. It was there that I met many of my best friends and where I finally came out of my super shy shell.

christmas in albia

Albia goes all out for Christmas decorations each year!

One of my very best friends Katy...she was in my wedding...and we did EVERYTHING together

One of my very best friends Katy…she was in my wedding…and we did EVERYTHING together

After graduating from high school, I ventured back to North Eastern Iowa. I attended the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) in Cedar Falls. CF is still one of my favorite places in the world. I lived there for a total of 8 years. I thought after college I would be headed out into the world, but God had different plans and kept me there a little longer than I would have planned. I lived and worked in Cedar Falls until I met my husband, 4 years after graduation. 8 months after meeting my husband, I was whisked away to a land unlike anything I’d ever experienced.

UNI's campus on the edge of town...it's changed a lot since then but it's still one of the prettiest campuses I've been to

UNI’s campus on the edge of town…it’s changed a lot since then but it’s still one of the prettiest campuses I’ve been to

The River Walk in downtown Cedar Falls. Another favorite spot of mine that I was able to share with Jason

The River Walk in downtown Cedar Falls. Another favorite spot of mine that I was able to share with Jason

The Hot, Dry Desert of Arizona.

tucson image

Tucson has been my home now for two and a half years. Those first 8-10 months living here were brutal. I thought it was so ugly because there was no grass, no water, and hardly ever any clouds or weather changes. The weather changes in Tucson are kinda warm, warm, hot and hotter…with a monsoon season thrown in there to give you a little reprieve. I felt like I had moved to a different country! I loved being able to see fields of green and watch the corn grow.

I love the fall football season in the Midwest and I was just confused by it here…it was still pushing 100 near the end of football season! What?! I was also not use to the size of the city! The biggest city I had ever lived in prior to Tucson was 30,000 and Tucson is approximately ONE MILLION! I was accustomed to going to the grocery store and running into countless people I knew or heading to Panera for some alone time and end up staying hours later because an old friend walked in. Nothing was familiar. I knew NO ONE in the entire state of Arizona.. Needless to say, I struggled to transition.

We love hiking the trails in Tucson!

We love hiking the trails in Tucson!

But then God started to do a work in my heart and opened my eyes to the stunning sunsets and sunrises. I began to see the beauty of the desert and now I can freely say that I love living in Tucson…even when the high today will be 110. We love hiking the trails and seeing the mountains every day. I’m not sure if I would be able to say that I love Tucson as much as I do if we hadn’t found our church community. The people that we have met have become an extension of our family and I am truly grateful. Tucson has taught me much more about myself and the world around me.

Driving up to the top of Mt. Lemmon takes less than an hour & it's typically cooler and has gorgeous views of the city

Driving up to the top of Mt. Lemmon takes less than an hour & it’s typically cooler and has gorgeous views of the city

A small town girl moved to a town of one million…and she was forever changed.

 

And I’m actually getting on a plane to fly back to Iowa in two hours! Better go pack!

I’m No Good at Resting

May is hours from being over and I’m army crawling across the finish line. I’ve been pretty silent here this month. It’s been hard to put two words together, much less 500 words (other than the 9 page cultural essay that I just mailed off to my adoption agency). My creativity juices were/are low and I was too tired and a little vulnerable to put myself out there this month.

There were many good things that happened this month. I went home for my brother’s graduation. We received the approval letter from USCIS that we had been waiting for so that we could officially announce our referral. We were able to pay for a third of our referral payment and we received new pictures of our beautiful baby girls!

All in that though, I’ve been struggling to keep my head above water emotionally. The day in and day out of the adoption process has been wearing on me (which means it’s been exhausting for my sweet husband too). I’ve found myself believing lies that I once struggled with, but thought I had overcome. I became overwhelmed with anxiety about whether or not we would be able to bring home our little girls. You see, these girls are our third referral. We lost two referrals (4 kids in total) in the months of February and April. I thought I had overcome the worry of losing* this referral as well, but when another hiccup (actually a rumor of a hiccup) surfaced, I was all kinds of crazy.

The truth is that my life isn’t about me. It’s not about what I deserve and how I think my life should play out. I’ve been so RICHLY blessed and I didn’t deserve any of it. God knows every detail of my life. Past. Present. Future.

He knows every detail of the children that He will place in our family. All He calls me to do is to walk obediently with him and to rest in His everlasting love.

I’m not good at resting. It’s become even more evident that I’m not good at it now that I stay home and supposedly have more time to rest. I’m starting to think that through this season, God is revealing something deeper about my drive to always be moving. When our baby girls come home, they will need a momma who is fully resting on the strength of the Lord and fully satisfied in Him so that they can grieve and transition and grow in our home.

refresh book

In a few hours Jason and I are headed away for a weekend of refreshment and connecting. We are both feeling frayed and a bit beat down. So when I heard that Jessi Connolly & Haley Morgan, the co-founders of the Influence Network, were releasing their book called ReFresh today, I snagged that thing like it was going out of style. I’ll be reading this book while we are sitting by the pool tomorrow…and then I will probably read it about 10 more times as I begin the process once again of finding my satisfaction in Jesus and not in all that I can do for myself, my husband, and others.

If you feel like you’ve lost yourself a little and are just plain, old tired, pick up this ebook. It’s $4.99 and I’m sure it will be worth every dollar. And they didn’t ask me to do this, I’m just telling you about it because I have come to love these ladies’ hearts and I know that they desire to encourage and equip all of us ladies to be women who walk in peace and fullness in Jesus.

 

*side-note: when I say losing, I mean that we weren’t able to pursue them for adoption anymore…not a death

Influence Network Meetup-Get to Know Me

influence network blog logo

I was blessed to come across the Influence Network about four months ago as I started thinking about taking my blog to another level. What a blessing it has been to find this community of ladies! Just last month I officially became a member and am so excited to learn and be encouraged by this group of bloggers.

What is the Influence Network?

The Influence Network exists to make your online life mean something, to ensure that when you leave your laptop or put down your phone, you’re more inspired and encouraged to do what God has called you to. We are unashamedly motived by the Gospel and it is the common thread that binds us together as a community. Because of the Good News, we are able and excited to share what He has done for us through our stories, our service, and our relationships with one another.

Today we are having a meetup to get to know other members of the network and encourage each other!

Here are some fun facts to get to know me a little bit more!

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This is probably one of my favorite pictures, not because of me but because it was taken by the love of my life on the trip of a life time! The background is Queenstown, New Zealand! Take me back…NOW!

Three things about myself:

1. My husband and I are adopting two little kiddos from Africa! We are hoping that they will be home by the end of the year! What a crazy this journey has been and it’s just begun!

2. I was a personal trainer for almost six years before I left that job to stay at home this past year. I LOVE to stay active. Living in Tucson is awesome because we can go hiking, biking, get up to the mountains, and just enjoy the outdoors about 9-10 months out of the year. But the other 2-3 months-you won’t see this pale face outside…ever.

3. I am passionate about the things of God. To do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God has become my heartbeat.

Some of the things that didn’t make the top three:

-I love coffee, a good book, with some soft music all wrapped up together.

-I am a sports fanatic. Growing up in a very athletic family re-oriented my brain to have my seasons be characterized by baseball, football, and basketball. There are days that I mourn that we don’t have cable just for ESPN, but I survive 🙂

-I’m an Iowa farm girl who got called out of the rural country and was set in a desert city of a million people. I’m still getting over my culture shock!

-My husband and I eat Paleo and love it…most of the time except for the days I want a bagel from Paradise

One of the things that I love about being apart of the Influence Network is the online forum. It’s a place to meet other women who are wanting to use their blog to encourage women and take a stand for the Lord online. I’ve learned so much just by scrolling the forum discussions about how to blog and how to use different aspects of wordpress. I’m still learning, but I know that I’m in a good place to learn and grow!