We launched the blog a little over two months ago now and one of my favorite questions still is “why?” People ask us all the time why we decided to write a blog. They ask what our purpose is, what our mission is, and even what our name means. I love the conversations that these questions prompt and speaking about our mission, so today I want to share with you in a roundabout way another reason of why we decided to create Simply Sisters Collective.
I wanted to share a little bit about the creative process when we started thinking about what our blog would look like and the message that it would convey. Now, I’m going to be honest I have absolutely no background in graphic design or web design, I just know what I like and what I think looks pretty. Needless to say I had no idea what we were doing, what I had just gotten myself into, or how to do it and neither did Ashley. Immediately both of us knew we needed help. Praise Jesus for our friend Lee Ann Woolbright from Greenhouse Creative. Lee Ann is a branding expert and she worked her tail off to make our blog dreams come true. If you’ve never done any professional branding for your business I highly recommend you call our girl Lee Ann she is a genius!
The whole process of creating a brand was so much fun. First off, we did some homework, some of it on our own and some of it guided by Lee Ann. Next, we had a creative meeting where we talked through our favorite fonts, colors and overall themes, and then… the magic happened. We met back up a couple weeks later where Lee Ann revealed to us the final product. We were all kind of nervous and we all cried… but don’t worry, they were happy tears. She showed us all of her hard work and we were just so in awe of how well she captured everything that we wanted our blog to look and feel like just by hearing us talk about it. It was so beautiful. One of our favorite things that she created was an illustration of a gate. I think Lee Ann was a little unsure if we would like it or not because it wasn’t something we had discussed but Ashley and I both agreed that hands down it was our favorite part! You can see the cute little gate she sketched out for us in the upper left corner of the blog!
If you didn’t already know this, it’s important that you do…. We are backyard neighbors. We built our homes back-to-back and when we were in the building process, we asked for a gate to be put in between the two backyards. The gate has been a hilarious way that we’ve been recognized in our neighborhood. When we were meeting our neighbors we always loved sharing that we were best friends and family who lived back-to-back. Our neighbors would look at each other and say “Oh, you are the house with the gate that the builder told us about!” It was so funny to us that word had spread so quickly and we kind of loved it! If we could have a gate leading to some of our neighbors homes we would probably do that too, or at least just take down the fences.
The gate is the most convenient way to get from house to house and if weren’t for the dogs (mainly Gus, Kyle and I's goldendoodle) it would literally remain open all the time (he has learned to open doors and cannot be trusted). Theoretically speaking though, the gate is open at all times. The four of us are constantly coming & going from each others’ houses. The fact that Lee Ann incorporated our gate into our branding & our blog makes me so happy because we want it to be a major part of our mission. We created Simply Sisters Collective out of a desire to live our lives openly and to share with others our hearts, the things that we are learning and loving and maybe even a really great pair of workout leggings. The gate that Lee Ann sketched out for us was the exact representation of that mission, we want this blog to be a gateway for us to connect & share with all of you. She knew that it should be a part of our blog website before we even did--I told you she’s a genius!
We pray for all of you reading this and for every single post that we write. We pray that our blog would serve as an outlet for you to feel encouraged by the way that God is writing our stories. God ministers to me daily through the lives and stories of others and we pray that just maybe our lives and stories might draw you nearer to Him.
We want to live with “gate open” hearts. We want to allow God to have His hands on our blog and all that we do and therefore have open hands and hearts to whatever His plans are for it and for us. It’s easy to want each post to be tied up with a pretty bow. We want each post to be pretty and have meaningful yet also “likeable” content and with professional-ish looking photos. Although none of those things are bad at all, we are praying that we would remember to keep our hands open to whatever God would do, and to be obedient to whatever He wants us to write about. Sometimes that means sharing the things that we are way too scared to let go of, or that have our fingers nearly trembling to write. Writing has never been my strong suit and maybe you can already tell that just in reading this (although Ashley is a pretty awesome proofreader!), but it’s something I’ve found myself really enjoying over the last couple of months, so thank you for bearing with me. :)
When I first began writing this post I thought I would mostly just share why we had a gate at the top of our website and what it meant to me, but it also caused me to question some things about my heart. The main question was what things and in what ways have I lived with the gate to my heart closed? I think it’s such a difficult practice to really live open handed and to open yourself up, your story, your marriage or relationships, and your struggles. I don’t want this blog to be a place where we just share the bright white, pretty and clean things, but I pray that it is an authentic, and genuine picture of the things that I am struggling with and how I am constantly making mistakes, and (hopefully) learning and growing from them in a graceful way.
So here goes opening up that gate…
The word that I have chosen for 2018 is enough. Yes, I know it’s February, but better late than never! I know that I have a confidence and comparison issue. And while I know the scriptures and I have always had great people pouring into and encouraging me in the way that I have been created and in my gifts, I still struggle. I have a job where I am constantly the center of attention as a trainer for a boot camp, and although I am able to “turn it on” when it’s time to work I am still struggling each day with believing that I am enough. Meanwhile I am encouraging others around me to give their all and to be confident in their abilities I struggle daily with believing this for myself. The word “enough” really began to speak to me in my time at Camp Well this past fall. To give you the extremely brief synopsis here, we were told in a breakout session to select a word that sums up how we want to feel and then were instructed to write it out on our arm. The word I selected was “enough”. I want to proclaim the promises of God-- that He says that I am His, that I am made in His image and because of Him I am enough, and that HE is enough for me. The entire week that I was at Camp Well, I felt like the Lord was really speaking to me through the stories of other women at Camp Well and I kept feeling His love for me through His redemptive work in their lives. I had the thought that if I don’t fully claim the fact that I am “enough”, how can I ever encourage other women to believe that they are, as well. It is not only a word for me to claim, but a word that I want to speak over others this year to remind them of their worth and their value and their enough-ness! Here this now from me that you are enough and it’s not because of anything you’ve done or are doing, and it’s not because you are trying to clean yourself to be shiny and perfect. You are enough because God sent Jesus his son to bear the wrath of our sin. You and me, we are enough because He is ENOUGH.
I could write another blog post entirely on this and I probably will, but for now, what are some of the things that you need to open your hands to? What things do you feel like you are holding on to too tight that God wants you to release and wants to give you freedom from? This does not have to be something you share with me, but maybe first to God, maybe in your journal, or to your best friend or your spouse. Ask the Lord to reveal these things to you, and He will, oh he definitely will.
I’m going to wrap this all up here and just say that if you have the chance to build or buy a house next to or back to back with your best friends, just do it. And then make sure you put a gate in there, or maybe don’t put up the fence at all. It has been a huge blessing to have Ashley and Trey behind us and to know that there is always someone to hang out with, laugh with, cry with, pray with or borrow some wine from. People ask us all the time “are all of y’all actually okay with this?” Or “is there one person that just kind of secretly isn’t a 100% fan of y’alls situation?” I think I can honestly say that the four of us couldn’t really imagine it any other way and hope we don’t have to for a very, very long time. I don’t think a day goes by that I’m tired of living back to back with Ashley and Trey. I like to think this is kind of what heaven will feel like we have comfort and support and fun times from some of our closest people. It feels very normal to be doing life together, and I’m so very thankful for this gate that connects us.