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Jesus liked to hang with people. He wanted to spend time with them, to eat dinner with them and hear what they had to say.

Jesus said “if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father” (John 14:9) and if Jesus’ life is our example, then relationships are a very important thing to God.

God not only wants us to spend time with Him, He also wants us to spend time with each other.

“Community” can seem like an overused word these days (along with its cousin, the phrase “doing life together”), but it is so, so crucially important to our emotional, mental, and spiritual health.

Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other… Hebrews 10:25

This scripture is often used as an argument for church membership, but I think it goes beyond that. It’s super easy to join a church, show up for services, sit on the back row, and sneak out without having spoken a word to anyone. This often feels like the safer choice–especially when you’re hurting–but it is so dangerous, friends.

If either should fall, one can pick up the other. But how miserable are those who fall and don’t have a companion to help them up. Ecclesiastes 4:10

Making friends can be super overwhelming and scary–especially the older we get. I’ve learned during the past year that it takes work, and it takes putting yourself out there and getting a little awkward (which I’m alarmingly good at).

Sometimes (maybe most of the time) we have to be brave and make the first move–invite people over for dinnner, ask that nice girl you met briefly at church or work if she wants to meet for lunch or go to yoga together. Do the inviting, reach out.

Finding and maintaining the community of friends who will be your people takes work. But we were created to live in community, in fellowship with one another, and there is such joy and freedom to be found there.



Cafe (1 of 1) So, if the first step toward freedom is getting a deep, healing understanding of God’s love for us, the second step is knowing that God not only loves us, He likes us, too.

There is a big–yet subtle–difference between loving and liking someone. We love our family members. But we don’t always necessarily like them and want to hang with them, amen?

God not only loves you with a fiercely loyal, all-encompassing, never-going-away love, He also likes you. And He wants to hang with you.

Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Revelation 3:20

When He created you, God took absolute giddy delight in choosing everything about you. He gave you your interests, your talents, your bizarre quirks and hobbies. He loves to read what you’ve written, to look at the pictures you’re taking, to hear what you have to say.

While it is important to keep a right and true sense of awe and humility before The Lord, I think it’s equally important to understand and revel in the fact that He likes us, and He wants to hang with us.

I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you… John 15:14-16

Try talking to God like a friend–just spend time with Him. Tell Him about what you’re working on, about how your spouse or coworker hurt your feelings today, about your fears and the things you’re excited about.

He likes you. He really, really likes you.



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To begin on our 31 journey to freedom, we have to begin at the beginning; build the foundation first, and all that. The simple truth is that we absolutely can not, will not, find true, lasting freedom until we grab hold of the fact that God loves us.

I know it’s super basic, and many of us have grown up hearing that “God is love” and singing “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know,” but having a basic head knowledge of God’s love is very much different than having the truth of it buried deep in your heart.

Many of us can believe, understand, and accept God’s unconditional–His unchanging, based on nothing we can ever do or not do–love for other people, but not for ourselves.

One of the enemy’s favorite and most effective weapons to use against God’s children is lying about God’s character, to make us doubt whether we are truly loved, because a Christian who is insecure and unsure of God’s love is very ineffectual indeed.

Also, I feel this needs to be said: there is absolutely nothing selfish or self-serving about accepting and rejoicing in the Father’s love for you. He created us to receive His love and pour it out to others–but we have to let Him pour it into us, first.

So, here’s my little assignment for you. Read the scriptures below. Say them out loud, speak them over yourself. Write them out and put them on your bathroom mirror, in your cubicle, on your fridge. And pray. Ask The Lord to reveal His heart, His love, and His character to you.

He is anxiously waiting to meet with you, to pour His love over you; all you have to do is receive it freely and with open arms.

The Lord your God is with you…The Lord will take delight in you, and in His love He will give you new life. He will sing and be joyful over you. Zephaniah 3:17

He has brought me to His banquet hall, and His banner over me is LOVE. Song of Solomon 2:4

Cast all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you and continued my faithfulness to you. Jeremiah 31:3



It’s hard to believe that the 2014 Influence Conference is over, that I’ve already attended two years in a row (and have purchased a ticket for 2015). My experience this year felt different than last year, quieter somehow (I did a lot less running around and socializing at all hours of the night), but it was just as impactful and rich and wonderful and life-shaking.

a little behind the scenes prep

a little behind the scenes prep

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Last year, I showed up at the conference knowing no one; I’d even met my roommates on the Influence forums and had never seen any of them in person.

This year, I roomed with Jacey–who I met at the airport after last year’s conference–and Liz; the three of us have been in a writing group together since last November, communicating via texts and Google hangouts. These girls are wise, kind, loving and fun, and spending the weekend with them was an absolute joy.

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(I realize that I said in the Influence podcast not to hang with your roommates all weekend, but I was a bit guilty of that this time around. Oops.)

one my favorite moments: dinner with these girls

one my favorite moments: dinner with these girls

The theme for the conference this year was “It’s Time to Build” and I left Indy with a renewed sense of awe for God and all that He’s doing in my life, as well as with a fresh passion for pursuing the things He’s calling me to, instead of the things that I might seek to do out of striving or seeking glory for myself.

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It’s impossible to share everything I learned during two full days of teaching, so I’ll try to sum it up with a few of my favorite sound bites. Sound good?

Haley Morgan: “striving is crap…His spirit lives within me and pushes out all of that try-hard and look-at-me…Every single day, I have influence because I am in Christ and Christ is in me.”

Whitney English: “these are my people; they get God and the internet…Our beliefs–what we say to ourselves in our heads–determines and guides our actions.”

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Lara Casey: “God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things when they are surrounded to His will and His ways…Busy is the opposite of stillness; we’re afraid of being still because we don’t want to acknowledge what’s there.”

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Jess Connolly: “It’s worth us taking the time in the early stages of building to ask why we’re building…God love HIS kingdom; He hates MY kingdom…decide whose kingdom you’re building.”

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Lisa Leonard: “Write down 10 words and phrases that impact you and resonate with you to figure out what your brand is…The water is big enough for everyone to swim. Let’s work together and be kind.”

Nancy Ray: “Setting goals is the first step to turning the invisible into the visible…It’s not about being successful, it’s about being faithful with the message He’s given you.”

Heather Boersma: “Your God story is the strongest weapon in your arsenal.”

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It was a beautiful and busy weekend of connecting with friends old and new, worshipping God with my fellow Influencers, being emptied and filled back up, and learning practical strategies to further my creative pursuits.

I love my Influence girls–see you next year!!

Come, let us tell of the LORD’s greatness; let us exalt his name together. Psalm 34:3



Hi, girls–I’m Caroline, and I’m sooo excited to meet you at Influence Conference this week! I live in Dallas with my husband Jon and our pups, the bitties, and we’re in the seemingly never-ending process of adopting from Ethiopia. The Influence Network has been truly life changing for me–the girls I’ve met, the things I’ve learned and the experiences I’ve had–and I can’t wait to attend the conference again!!


I know it can be intimidating and overwhelming to walk into a hotel ballroom full of hundreds of women you don’t know; if you see me, and you’re feeling scared and lonely, please come talk to me!! If you need a place to sit at lunch, or dinner plans, or if you’re hurting and just need a soft place to land, I’m your girl.

The thing I’m most looking forward to about this year’s conference is the relationships. I met some wonderful girls last year, and I can’t wait to reconnect with them and to meet new friends.  Cocktail/frozen yogurt outings after the evening sessions, honest talks, and free-flowing tears and laughter–bring it on. All of it.

The one thing I wouldn’t leave home without… hmm. I’m not a very good rule follower, so there are lots of things. There are the obvious–iPhone, notebook and the good pens, blog cards–and then there are other, less obvious things: power strip, comfy shoes and clothes for late night hangouts, extra room in my suitcase for swag.

Ok, maybe here’s my one thing: bravery.

As I mentioned above, settings like this can be intimidating at first. I promise you, putting yourself out there (asking if you can join a group of girls for dinner, hearing about a late-night get together and tagging along, etc.) is so, so worth it.  Being brave usually = being/feeling a little awkward, but swallow your fear and just smile, say hi, and go.

And, if all else fails, come find me. :)

Check out my blogging conference tips here, and read about my experience at last year’s Influence Conference here, here, and here

(this post is part of the Influence Network meet & greet linkup)



When I was 14, I went on a mission trip to Mexico with my youth group.  It was almost Christmas, so we filled huge trash bags with toys and walked through a sprawling, pitiful-looking community–full of houses made of corrugated tin and cardboard–giving toys to each child we saw and speaking and praying with people.

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We came to one house, and a little boy who was probably around 3 or 4 was playing outside with his mom.  He was playing with an old, broken metal dump truck that was resisting his efforts to roll around on the dirty carpet beneath him.

I smiled at this sweet little boy and held out my hands.  In broken Spanish, I asked him to please hand me his truck, because I had something better for him.

At first he hugged the broken truck to his chest and shook his head; “No! Don’t take my special thing!”

It was so frustrating; I wasn’t trying to take his truck away because I didn’t want to him have a fun toy to play with, but because I had a better toy for him. A toy that was new and functional and would help him have more fun than ever before.

Eventually, reluctantly, he handed the old, broken dump truck to me–and gave me the stink eye for emphasis.

Then!! Once his hands were empty, I placed a brand new dump truck in his hands. A shiny, functioning, better-than-anything-he’d-ever-seen toy.  His eyes lit up.

It was the best feeling in the world, replacing an okay thing with a better thing for that little boy.

I only knew this child for a few minutes, but I relished in replacing the broken thing in his life with a good, new thing.  How much more does our Heavenly Father, our loving Daddy God, delight in lavishing good things, better and best things, upon us?

Oh, friend! I know how painful it is to give up the current good thing–the job, relationship, addiction, house–but He is waiting, waiting to hand you the better and best thing.

Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:9-11



Stitch Fix Box This is my fourth fix, but only my second Stitch Fix review. While my first fix was great and full of items that my stylist had pretty much plucked directly from my Pinterest style board, fixes 3 and 4 were underwhelming. And full of things I don’t really wear.

Stitch Fix has awesome customer service, and they were super receptive to my please-look-at-my-style-board-and-I-REALLY-don’t-wear-short-skirts feedback, and this fix was great.

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Although I liked these Colleen straight leg jeans at first, after wearing them for the 20 minutes or so we spent taking these pictures, I decided the fit wasn’t that great on me. Plus, I already have a ton of dark wash jeans.  (The shoes are Blowfish.)

I ended up keeping this sweet Ilean crochet detail tank; I think it will be a good transitional piece between seasons.

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I loved the color of this top–the Natasha front pocket sleeveless blouse–but it was a bit too loose and open on the sides, so it went back. (Anyone else feel like they’re having to wear a camisole underneath every.single.shirt these days?)

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I almost kept this Moni stud detailed 3/4 top, but I decided it was too similar to some things I already own. The color is beautiful, though.

The bag is by Jo Totes

With my Jo Totes camera bag. LOVE.

This Andi ikat print maxi skirt was cute, but a bit too snug for me. I like my maxis loose and flowy. Time to hit the treadmill.

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My tips for getting a great fix: set aside at least 30 minutes or so to fill out your online style profile. Include a link to your Pinterest style board, and be specific about what you like and don’t like. Also, you can request specific items if you’ve seen something in someone else’s fix that you like.

Not sure how to fill out your style profile, because you’re not sure what you like? Spend some time in Pinterest, pinning every outfit that’s appealing to you, and tear pages out of magazines. Even if it’s something you wouldn’t necessarily wear, if it appeals to you–take note! After you’ve got a pretty full style board/pile of magazine pictures, look through them and see what the common theme is. Are you drawn toward bold prints? More classic styles? Lots of lace and florals? Use the looks that appeal to you as a basic guideline for filling out your style profile (and for shopping in general).

Happy Stitch Fixing, ladies!



This is a book about stripping down to your true self, you wonderful thing, you.

Being authentic and vulnerable–getting emotionally naked, if you will–is hard.  And it requires bravery and making the daily (and sometimes moment by moment) decision to be yourself.

Get Naked book cover

It’s good to know that we’re not alone in this journey and to hear about others’ experiences.  On that note, my sweet friend, Liz Morrow, has written a fab ebook–Get Naked: Why the World Needs You to be a Little More You. 

Throughout the book Liz bravely confronts shame and our need to “cover up our real selves” out of fear.  I think a lot of us can relate to the personal stories she shares; it’s time to pursue freedom and get (emotionally) naked!

Liz Morrow

The very best part, though? Liz is giving her ebook away for free! Just head over to her site to sign up for a copy.



I’ve been kind of obsessed with filling my house with flowers lately; spending way too much money on them, driving out of my way to the store that has the very best ones.

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We’ve recently transitioned to a new church, and several weeks ago I attended their monthly women’s event, Sisterhood, for the first time. The theme was flourish, and there were flowers everywhere (we even made and wore flower crowns like this one. YES).

When our pastor’s wife, Oneka, got up to speak, one of the first things she said is that flowers symbolize new life, a promise that you will flourish.

There have been a lot of changes, a lot of new life, around here lately, so maybe that’s why I’ve been so drawn to flowers.

(Also, they’re pretty.)

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Psalm 92:12 says: “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree.”  Turns out, palm trees are referenced a TON in scripture (side note: when a thing or phrase or word is mentioned over and over again in the Bible, it’s worth looking into).

The thing about palm trees is that they bend but don’t break; they flourish in the desert and in hurricanes, in harsh conditions that would quickly kill other plants.

Palm trees grow strong and tall in adversity and seemingly impossible circumstances. And they provide shade and nourishment, a place of refuge in the desert for those in need.


Romans 5:1 promises: “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” So, the promise that “the righteous will flourish like a palm tree” is for you, and it’s for me.

We are the righteous, rooted into God’s peace and security by our faith, with the promise that we will flourish.

This is good news, friends.




Last weekend I sneaked away from The Declare Conference for several hours to attend the first night of The Hundred Event, an intimate–limited to 100 attendees–blogging conference.


The Hundred was hosted by LaurenMegan Graham, Bridget Hunt, and Grace Patton.

When Bridget announced The Hundred on her blog in June, I was super excited and wanted to go, but I’d already committed to Declare. Because God is good and wants us to be happy, Bridget and her girls offered a Friday night only option, and I immediately purchased a ticket.

I’m so glad I did.


(In every photo I’m holding a different drink. In my defense, only 2 of them were alcoholic.)


Caroline Garza

Sweet Julia is originally from Argentina and now lives in San Francisco. Her blog is funny and has lots of good mommy info.

Caroline Garza

In the few hours I was there, I met so many talented, kind girls, including a fellow Dallas blogger, Kendi Skeen. Kendi and I chatted for a bit during the happy hour–turns out our husbands went to high school together, and my mother-in-law works for the company Kendi used to work for.

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Kendi was the keynote speaker that night; it’s so encouraging and helpful to hear wisdom and advice from more experienced bloggers.


The dinner was sponsored by British clothing brand Joulesswoon. They provided us with super generous swag bags, which was a fun surprise.



I was lucky enough to be seated at the same table as the owners of Lily Jade; their bags are beautiful and extremely practical. I have my eye on a few.

Caroline Garza

chatting with my table mates. Not sure what’s going on with my hands.

So, it was a fun night with lovely people, delicious food, good information, and a plethora of drinks. I’m definitely sad that I missed out on the rest of the weekend with The Hundred girls. Next year, it’s a date–yes? Yes.



***all images (except the black & white one) by Paige Budde for The Hundred.