I have a thing for dates and seasons that harmoniously play into each other every year. There are those that remind you about wonderful days, those that remind you of the days that aren't so great, but more than anything else, there are the dates that you feel will always be a turning point in your life. This is going to be a long post, but I think that every single thing is necessary to share. So, here we go. Pull up a chair and sit a spell to read this one … you just may need to.
Today is October 10, 2018. And 8 years ago today, on October 10, 2010, a dear friend of mine got married. I was "the friend who offered to coordinate the wedding day who had never done it before but figured she would give it a try", and at the conclusion of her wedding, I officially decided to start my journey as an entrepreneur, starting first as a wedding planner. However today, exactly eight years later, this date will now hold an entirely different memory.
For the first two years when I started my business, I planned weddings while teaching at an elementary school, until we found out that we were expecting a beautiful little girl who was due to arrive in July of 2012. That fall, we had to make a choice whether I was going to continue to teach and stop wedding planning, but my heart knew that it wanted to be home with my little girl every day, and I craved the creativity that came with planning weddings, getting to experiment with different designs and styles each and every time, so we decided to give wedding planning full time a try for a year, and the rest, purely, is history.
From 2011 - 2016, I planned and coordinated over 100 weddings, during which time I learned about so many different aspects of design - from designing layouts for a room, to organizing timelines, even the linen sizes needed for tables, let alone establishing relationships with vendors I still keep in touch with and work with for the Society for Creative Founders Conference today. During that time as well, I fell in love with another aspect of design - specifically, stationery design. I spent hours upon hours learning to design, and since Facebook groups and Pinterest weren't really well known or available yet, that meant hours upon hours of googling and simply trying, trying, trying, and trying again to learn new things. I taught myself inDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, along with so many useful things needed to navigate this world of design well.
From July 25-28 in 2015, I spent my days at Stationery Academy (now the Society for Creative Founders Conference) in Phoenix, and felt like I was home.
On July 29, 2015, just a few days after attending Stationery Academy for the first time, I announced that I would no longer be planning weddings so that I could become a full time wedding stationer, in a post right here on this blog titled The Best is Yet to Come.
On August 8, 2016, two days after the last wedding I planned took place, I shared a post with a summary of what all of those years meant to me as a wedding planner in this post here ... one that still makes me emotional every time I read it.
I returned to the Society for Creative Founders Conference as the Event Coordinator and a Speaker in 2016 and 2017, each time falling more and more in love with everything that SCF encompasses. And in May of 2017, when I was asked by Jennifer Faught to continue the legacy that Creative Founders is, I humbly accepted, also knowing what this may mean for Grace and Serendipity in the future as well.
On August 8, 2017, I signed the contract to become the owner of the Society for Creative Founders, in the evening after my husband got home from work, after we held hands and said a prayer together, where I asked for God's guidance in the times ahead. He was holding my hand as I hit “accept”, and that is one of my favorite memories of the entire experience, knowing we were making this huge of a decision together. A few days later it was announced publicly on the SCF Blog, in this post here and with a more in-depth personal post on this Grace and Serendipity blog here.
Over the last year, balancing both Grace and Serendipity and Society for Creative Founders has been an incredibly challenging one. It has been one that has been filled with joy, but also filled with hours upon hours of time spent on the evenings and weekends working to keep both businesses going. While designing for clients and assembling invitations this past year for Grace and Serendipity, I’ve also been working hard transitioning the Society for Creative Founders into a new direction. There is traditionally an annual conference (with the exception of two this year), an active membership community, monthly classes and webinars, and multiple Facebook groups that I check in and post for daily … it is a very full time job. Since becoming the owner a little over a year ago, many people have asked if I will continue to do both, and I have always answered in the same way.
"I am not in the drivers seat, but rather in the passenger seat. God is leading the way."
The very first invitation that I ever designed was for a wedding that took place on Pensacola Beach, in April of 2012. We had our Fall Creative Founders Conference this past weekend, and on Saturday, someone glanced out the window and noticed that there was a wedding taking place at the house next door. I glanced over and saw the house, realizing that I, too, had had a wedding there. However, it wasn't until I got home that I realized that the house next door was also the house that I had that wedding at in April of 2012.
The first wedding that I ever designed an invitation for and decided I wanted to learn how to design for was literally right next door to us all weekend, which I didn’t realize until I sat down to write this post.
Since that wedding in April of 2012, I have designed, assembled, sealed, and mailed over 12,000 invitations to people all over the US, including all 50 states, and even to 17 different countries.
I had an ongoing list for different design aesthetics I wanted to learn - and have done every single one, with the final item on my "maybe someday, if it's right for their wedding" list being crossed off on October 2, 2018, when a gorgeous letterpress invitation design that has a velvet backing was completed and delivered to the most incredible final client I could have had. I have learned how to work in letterpress and foil, what it means to duplex, how to work with a calligrapher for spot calligraphy, how to design with typography in a way that the letters look like they're dancing together, and more than anything else, how to create a style all my own and give my couples a loved client experience that I am proud of, with a business built almost entirely from word of mouth referrals.
This past weekend at the Creative Founders Conference, we held it at a beach house rather than a traditional conference venue, where I was able to take all of the skills that I have learned in these last eight years to create an experience for the 26 women who joined us that was unlike anything I'd been able to do before. Timelines went smoothly each day both with vendors behind the scenes and speakers teaching their sessions, the details were thought of through completion from my time spent working on everything possibly needed for unique weddings small and large, and it was designed in a way that makes me proud, due to the rebranding we did for SCF this past spring, which turned it into a brand with a look that I absolutely love to design things for.
And then, it happened.
You see, there's another part of the phrase above that I have been including ... "I am not in the drivers seat, but rather in the passenger seat. God is leading the way. And until He tells me it's time to close Grace and Serendipity, I will continue to run both."
I was completing designs for the pillows at the beach house, when I finished the final one I wanted us to have, with the words "What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?" which is a phrase that has been near and dear to my heart since my time with SCF began, all the way back to this Instagram post in 2015. As soon as I completed the design, my heart started racing and I got sweaty palms, and I heard it.
"It's time to close Grace and Serendipity."
My heart sank, and my first thought was to say no. I didn't want to close it. I wasn't ready. However, I also knew in my heart, that it wasn't me that had that thought enter into my head, rather it came from God speaking to me.
The next day, I felt the nudge to tell my friend Kelli what had happened, where I was thinking of perhaps just working with a smaller amount of clients per year, or just taking some time off so that I didn’t need to fully close it while I implemented some different things, to which she replied, "oh my goodness. We just yesterday talked about obedience and when God calls you to do something!”, and sent me a picture of what they had been talking about.
What she sent to me says this:
"Partial obedience, delayed obedience, and surface obedience to impress others are not acceptable to God. He is looking for men and women who will respond with instant, complete, wholehearted and joyous obedience each time he speaks".
This was four weeks ago, during which time I have wrestled with the thought of closing this business. However, as I was leading one of the sessions at the Creative Founders Conference this past weekend, I heard myself say "sometimes you have to let go of something really great in order to open yourself up to something incredible". And suddenly, I realized I wasn't talking to the attendees, but rather myself.
There's another aspect to this story that needs to be interwoven here, and it's a bit about the song Oceans.
I haven't always had a strong relationship with the Lord. It wasn't until I felt the pull to attend the Pursuit Conference (now known as Abound) in the fall of 2013 that I reconnected with Him, especially after we suffered a miscarriage soon after. The song "Oceans" has become my telltale song that I feel closer to God - every time I hear it I can gather the strength needed because I know the Lord is with me, I can feel his presence.
I went out to the beach the day after the Spring Creative Founders Conference this past spring and I sat out on the beach to gather my thoughts about it all. In one quiet moment, I heard the Lord tell me to have our Conference this Fall, and to move it out to the beach. I heard this and instantly burst into tears - I didn't want to do two conferences in one year because of all of the work that was included, let alone move it to the beach, to a house, where I knew I would have a potential challenge with logistics.
I argued with it in my head the entire time I was at the beach, until I got into the car, turned it on, and heard Oceans playing. I then knew that it had to be done, so went for it. And the whole time planning the Conference and then when we were there, I had a peace over me that was only due to His strength and presence.
At the close of one of the sessions during the Conference, we were all on the beach and one of the attendees came up to me, gave me a hug, and said "this reminds me of the song Oceans". At which point, I pretty much crumbled on the inside, knowing that it truly was the best thing to do at that time.
And this is where it gets even more convicting that this next step is right.
On Monday morning after almost everyone had headed home, I opened a set of letters from the Spring Attendees, that I had been gifted the night before as a congratulations of sorts for my first year as the owner. I read every single card which said more words than I could possibly share here, and the very final item included was a handlettered watercolor print from Shawna Clingerman with a prayer that I had shared a few weeks prior on Instagram. After reading all of these words and seeing that print included, with tears streaming down my face, I decided it was time to go out to the beach to pray, to talk to the Lord, and to seek guidance in what to do next, and ask one more time if I truly had to close Grace and Serendipity.
I went out to the beach with no one around me, and stood in a place where the the waves kissed my toes, but didn't wash over my feet. And then I pulled out my phone, started to play Oceans, put it into my back pocket, and let it play as loud as I could.
Tears again started streaming down my face as soon as the song started playing, because I knew that it was time. However, I was still scared. I have a fear of letting this go, because it's something I've grown to love so much, for so long. And then, the song came to this part in the song:
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
The moment that I said "Spirit lead me", I opened my arms wide, placed my palms up, and the waves washed over my feet, all the way up to almost my knees. Just that once. They washed over me with such a presence, but I never lost my footing. Instead, I stood there with strength in knowing I was not alone, that I am literally walking the path God has before me. I stayed there a bit longer, in almost disbelief as to what had happened, but the waves never came that high again.
I walked back inside, and after an emotional moment with Kelli where I told her what had happened, she replied softly with "I know. I was standing on the balcony, saw you spread your arms, and saw it happen. Kristin, this is the right thing to do, and it is going to be incredible."
We packed up the rest of the house, and the final item that I had to remove from the house and put into my car was this poster. I had originally designed it for the attendees, but now I wonder if it was subliminally made for me the whole time instead. I chuckled a little bit, and then got into my car to head home.
I turned my radio to K-Love, and the song playing was "We Won't Be Shaken" by Building 429. These are a few of the lyrics from that song:
I know You go before me and I am not alone
This mountain rises higher
The way seems so unclear
But I know that You go with me so I will never fear
I will trust in You
Whatever will come our way
Through fire or pouring rain
No, we won't be shaken
No, we won't be shaken
Whatever tomorrow brings
Together we'll rise and sing
That we won't be shaken
No, we won't be shaken
Followed immediately after by "Trust in You" by Lauren Daigle. These are a few lyrics from that song:
Letting go of every single dream
I lay each one down at Your feet
Every moment of my wandering
Never changes what You see
Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings
There's not a day ahead You have not seen
So let all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less
(the timestamps of each song are shown in the top left corner of each of these screenshots I snapped while experiencing this on Monday)
I listened quietly, half in disbelief that this was happening. I pulled into a parking lot to thank the rental company and sign out from the house, thanking them for an incredible experience, and got back into my car, to hear the song "Changed" by Jordan Feliz, followed by "I Will Rise" by Chris Tomlin.
A few of the lyrics from Changed include these:
I've been changed, I've been saved
Brand new day
I've been changed, I've been changed
Tell me why would I turn back now?
There's no end to the love I've found
Future's bright and there ain't no doubt
I've been changed, I've been changed
And a few from “I Will Rise”:
There's a peace I've come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There's an anchor for my soul
I can say "It is well"
… I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And as if all of this wasn’t enough to have happen, we also moved the Conference dates up by one week just hours before booking the beach house. Originally, the Conference was supposed to take place this upcoming weekend - but instead, Hurricane Michael is making it’s way here, and is due to arrive on our Gulf Coast literally later this afternoon, which if we hadn’t changed the dates at the last moment, we possibly wouldn’t have been able to have our Conference at all due to the coming implications from this storm.
And now I know, without a doubt in my mind that the time is right, and I need to listen to what has been placed on my heart. I have loved every single season I have had with Grace and Serendipity. However, today, this chapter is one that is closing. As I am writing this, tears are streaming down my face and there is a sadness in my heart, but I know that this is right. I know that the Lord wouldn't ask me to close this if there wasn't something incredible He has planned for me, and for right now, that's being able to step into Society for Creative Founders full time.
I don't find it a coincidence that the final invitation client was an absolute joy to work with, whose items I delivered on October 2nd, was right before the Fall SCF Conference, which took place October 4-7. I don't find it a coincidence that the house literally next door to us during the Conference was the first one I ever designed an invitation for, and I don't find it a coincidence that I am hitting publish on this blog post exactly eight years after the day I decided to start a business.
I don't find it a coincidence that I went to college and received a teaching degree which taught me how to stand in front of a crowd and plan things out well, that I turned into a wedding planner which taught me how to plan and execute events, that I turned into a stationer which taught me how to design, had a successful etsy shop along with products in local stores which taught me how to communicate with customers and retailers alike, and with all of that and more, I am able to apply every single aspect of what I have learned over these last eight years to what I can do with the Society for Creative Founders.
And, I don’t find it a coincidence that I had to go through a tremendous heartbreak of going through a miscarriage in order to connect once more with the Lord, because without that tragedy, I don’t know that I would be where I am today.
So, today is when this Grace and Serendipity chapter closes. Today is the day I step into running the Society for Creative Founders full time, so that I can dedicate myself fully to leading the incredible community of entrepreneurs I have been asked to lead. To all of the forever sweethearts I have worked with, to all of the people who have been a part of this journey with me, thank you for being a part of it all. I have years upon of years of memories with so many of you, and it is definitely a bittersweet day to say that this will be my last post on this blog. Thank you for your support, for your love, and for your belief in me.
You'll see some changes on this website in the days ahead, along with a couple of changes on social media as well, but this site will stay up as a resource for the brides and grooms who happen upon it, in addition to keeping it here as a memory book for me. This little home on the internet is one that has held my heart for a very long time, so it will still remain here for a while to come.
If you are in need of a stationer for your wedding, reach out to me and I'll be able to direct you to amazing women who will be able to take care of you in the best way possible to design a collection for your wedding, but as for me, this incredibly loved chapter in the book of my life is now closed.
To everyone who read every single word of this post, thank you for following along throughout the entirety of it all. It has been a true joy writing to you on here through all of these years, and I have no doubts that my desire to write will continue in the months ahead and find a new home to hold these words. I am excited to see what happens next ... and with a pure peace that I know only comes from Him as I hit publish on this final blog post today, I can't wait to see how this new chapter is written.
Sincerely, for today and for always,