Here we are, a little over a month since I’ve returned from MTH, and I’m finally writing the finale to my recap series. After giving an overview of MTH and then going through my biggest take aways from the conference, I wanted to end this series by giving a little thank you and a shout out to all of the people that made it possible. This post is in short, a tribute to 105 people that changed my life.
Lara is first and foremost a mama to Grace, the sweetest, most joyful little girl, and a wife to her husband, Ari. On top of her MTH work, she is also the editor-in-chief of Southern Weddings magazine (my most favorite wedding publication) and co-owner of Making Brands Happen. But Lara is so, so much more than just an amazing businesswoman. After spending years working (too) hard and running herself ragged, Lara realized that she needed to focus more on what mattered. On her marriage, her family, the Lord, and His plans for her. As I was composing this post Lara shared a quote on Instagram from a Mark Driscoll sermon that read:
“You are blessed to be a blessing. Whatever God teaches you is so you might teach others. Whatever God gives you is so you might give to others. Whatever God does for you is so you might learn to do that for others.”
This passage so truly embodies everything Lara is. She is a giver, first and foremost. The 2-day MTH conference had 100 participants, but overall, MTH has served over 800 people now, and Lara loves each and everyone of them. She has the biggest heart for service, I cannot even explain to you how inspiring she is. You must check out her blog, her downloads page, and every nook and cranny of her new site. There is so much joy and inspiration hidden behind every click. I could go on for days but just know that Lara is kind, she is oh, so kind.
Emily Ley, the second part of this trio, is what I like to call a fierce mama bear. She loves her Bs (her little boy, Brady, her husband, Bryan, and their adorable pup, Briggs) so very much and it shows in every word she speaks and every action she takes. Emily is an incredible business woman as well, she runs her own shop and her Simplified Planners kind of took over the world this summer. I cannot wait for the release of the new planners this summer so I can finally get my hands on one. Emily is also the other half of Making Brands Happen and is truly gifted when it comes to bringing brands to life.
Emily is the embodiment of a wonderful Southern mama, she knows what is most important and works to make sure her products reflect that as well. When she told us her story at MTH I don’t think there was one dry eye in the house. One of the things I truly cherished about MTH was that it wasn’t just for the participants, all of the speakers went through every exercise with us and we watched them make life changing steps as well. For Emily, this meant sharing her family’s fertility struggles publicly, in a post that I know has touched hundreds of lives. Emily’s deep capacity for love is what stuck with me the most after meeting her and I continue to feel that through her posts, comments, and pictures about real life, the struggles and the triumphs.
Gina Zeidler, the final member of my favorite online trio, is an AMAZING photographer. I’m not kidding, she is the. best. You must go look at her blog and website, right now. And stay tuned because I do believe she will be launching a new brand very soon, I’ve seen a sneak peek and it is incredible. At the end of our second day at MTH, we were all instructed to go into the hallway and let Gina take an individual picture of each of us. I was so. freaking. nervous. I’d already stood in front of Gina and stated my biggest fears, so I’m not sure why being photographed freaked me out so much, but I was very anxious. I’m super awkward, Leah says it is part of my charm, I think she has to say that because she is my best friend. Anywho, I stepped in front of G’s camera and, I’m not kidding, I was IMMEDIATELY comfortable. It was this crazy awesome experience in which I felt 100% like myself and I loved it. I literally called my mom afterwards and couldn’t stop rambling about how Gina had taken MY picture. So cool.
Aside from her crazy awesome photog skills, Gina is the most amazing mentor. She is so encouraging in everything that she does. From her inspiring Instagrams to her honest blog posts, you can literally feel the love and the encouragement jump through the screen. And G, like her friends, is not afraid to share her struggles, she is not afraid to be honest and remind us that we are all in this together, no one’s life is perfect. And that is what is so remarkable about her, in her imperfectness, she becomes the most perfect friend. G is a dear friend now, someone I love hearing from and who I genuinely believe loves hearing from me.
While these three women led MTH, they were joined by 5 guest speakers who also rocked my socks off. Emily, Nancy, Michelle, Stef, and Amber were astounding. These women, all MTH alumni who have incredible blogs/businesses, each shared their stories, the good and the bad. I was so proud of how brave and open they were with all of us, I can only imagine how nerve wracking it was to stand in front of such a large group and bare your soul, but I am so thankful that they did!
Em, your honest and open approach to blogging was so refreshing.
Nancy, your dedication to your ideal day and your belief that we could all live our ideal days was so beautiful.
Michelle, girl, I’m with you on the mason jars and I literally think of you every time I use an ice machine. But all joking aside, your determination is remarkable.
Stef, thank you thank you thank you for baring it all and being honest about where you are in your personal and professional life, it was enlightening.
And Amber, your hard work and joy filled life was so beautiful to see and hear about.
One last thing before I end this marathon post, a huge, massive, astronomical thank you to every single person in the photo below. You have changed me and you continue to do so every. single. day. I love this community with all of my heart.
Check out this video by Caitlin Sullivan, I make multiple appearances, as do many of my dear friends. Thanks so much, Caitlin!!
All of the beautiful pictures above are by Mackenzie Kern, the iPhone photos are mine 🙂