Balancing Business and Family: My View

So, ok, I know Evy’s Tree has been completely absent lately as far as blogging is concerned. Today is supposed to be What We Wore Wednesday, but obviously, that didn’t happen…oops! The good news is: the main reason we have gotten behind is because we switched from blogger to WordPress {what do you think?!?}, the bad news is: we could have resumed the blogging a while back, but unfortunately, life has been pretty hectic over here.

First of all, we are washing, folding, cutting all our fall material. It’s been a mad house over here. Our little factory has been explosive and most of the time Sarah, Jen and I can’t even find the computer. :( So sad. Today Sarah and our new helper Lisa came finally finished most of the cutting so we can now see the floor, THANK GOD.

And then there’s my family….If you follow my personal blog, you may have already heard about the change in my family life, but if you haven’t, well, there’s been a switch in my husband’s job. Basically, life has changed quite a bit for us. It’s a good change and one we feel God has directed us to take, but its a big change none-the-less. He has always been around to help out, but now, he’ll be gone A LOT.

I don’t normally talk a whole lot about my family on the Evy’s Tree blog- hence my family blog – but I’ve been feeling an honest streak coming on. If you read my family blog, you know I’m pretty honest {unfortunately, ha} and you will know I’m not afraid to expose some of my insecurities and frustrations with life. So are you ready to hear my heart a little?

I am asked often, “How do you do it all?”. I’ve been especially getting that a lot lately due to Brandon’s job change. The question actually makes me laugh a little, because I’m not really sure what they mean? I assume they are most likely wondering how I run a home business and balance a family. It’s hard for me to digest the questioning because I honestly feel that what I do is really no different than what any other working mother does. I get the kids ready, take them to the sitter, go to work, cook dinner, etc. See, the same as everyone else, right?

But it’s not, and deep down inside I know that.

I know I have bit off a much bigger bite than most jobs when I started Evy’s Tree. And I don’t mean working for yourself is better than working for someone else{ in fact, I question it OFTEN, ha}. What I mean is that working for yourself is often a bit more demanding {and sometimes less rewarding} then working for someone else. You see, I worked for someone else once…I was a 4th grade public school teacher for six years before I had Jake and decided to stay home. But even though teaching is very emotionally demanding and you often bring lots of work home to do on the side, there is always someone higher than you to pass the crud on whenever it was needed. Despite budget cuts, layoffs, etc, you got paid regularly and had benefits. Boy I miss that. But when you work for yourself..the buck stops with you. That’s hard. Really hard.

With most jobs you get vacations {often paid for}, perhaps benefits, set hours, a boss, a schedule. When you run your own business, you get maybe one {or two} of those perks…if you are lucky. Vacations? Right, there’s no such thing as paid vacations. Benefits? Set hours? HA! Nope. Very rarely.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I am very glad I do what I do. And working for yourself definitely has it’s perks. But it definitely is not easy. I don’t sit around all day eating bonbons, as my dad would say {or chocolate chip cookies in my case, ha!}. But how does all this self employment fit in with a family? Especially when you are a mother and raising two very active young children? How does it all balance?

I have no idea. Seriously.

I can tell you what I do. I can tell you how I attempt to keep my head above water. But I can’t say I am very good at it. And I most definitely don’t have all the answers. I am struggling. Probably just like you are, if you are working mom, regardless as to whether you own your own business or not.

Can I be honest? {I know, I already have been, ha!} I struggle so much with dissatisfaction and insecurity sometimes. The best advice I can give anyone I know who is running a home business {or working at all for that matter} is: keep your head in the sand and when you come up for air, don’t compare!! But its so hard not to do…. I know of some very successful young women without families who have online shops. When I look at myself and compare my business to theirs {GASP, yes I do that every now and then, God forgive me}, I get so, so discouraged. They have GOBS of blog, twitter, facebook followers. Their goods FLY off their virtual shelves. They can work as late or early as they want. Push themselves as much as they like. They are very successful. And they should be. They are young and…brace yourselves for it: KIDLESS.

Yikes. Did I just say that?!? Yes, I did. Don’t get me wrong, this is NOT a slam on kidless entrepreneurs, AT ALL! This is just to point out that us moms, well, we have to remember we are in a different category. Our life is not our own like it once was pre-kids. We don’t have time to focus completely on ourselves {bummer, huh? ha}. Kids add a whole new mix into your world. And, I think, for the better. I honestly am so thankful for my kids. They make my life HAPPY. I would DIE without those two. They are so very wonderful, precious, loveable…DEMANDING. And I am so very blessed to be their mommy. I wouldn’t trade ANYTHING for them. NOTHING. Not even Evy’s Tree.

So the bottom line is: I’m ok with life being a little crazy and unbalanced. I’m ok with maybe not being as successful as I would like. Somedays Evy’s Tree dominates my life, and other days my family does. It’s definitely a see saw type of world for me. And that’s ok. Very ok. Because someday I will look back and realize my kids are only young once….money will come and go, start up businesses will always be there, but my family will only be here for a while. They need me, NOW. And I don’t want to miss it, you know?

So my key in finding balance between family and business, for Moms or non moms alike? Put your family first. Business will naturally follow…and be successful because of your sacrifice. Time with your family is never wasted. I am trying so hard to remember this right now while wading through the throngs of a business start up.

Unfortunately I have by no means achieved this balance. I do fight for it though. Eventually, I will get there…I hope. And I really have not achieved success as a business owner either. Evy’s Tree is still on shaky legs as we grow. But regardless of what happens to Evy’s Tree in the future, I MUST find balance. Because if this doesn’t work, I will have do something else and I will still fight for balance then….So you want to know how I do what I do? How I ATTEMPT {key word here} to keep my life balanced? Here are 10 things I TRY {key word here AGAIN..I am still a long ways away from achieving most of these} to do to keep myself on track:

1. Get to bed a decent time, which is usually around 10:30 or 11 for me. I really need at least 7 hours of sleep. I don’t always make it, but I learned very early on in this, that I was WAY to old {There is a reason why we go to college young, ha} and had entirely too much on my shoulders to live on 3 or 4 hours of sleep.

2. Wake up early, before the kids are up, and have a little “me” time. This is a new one for me, but I learned its OH SO WONDERFUL. For me, this means get up at 6 or 6:30 AM. I make myself a chai latte, eat breakfast, pray, read my Bible, run on the treadmill, shower, dress. I find if I do this before the kids get up I am a happier person and much more prepared to take on the day.

3. Have a reliable sitter. I am sure many people will disagree with me about having a sitter watch my kids during the day. In my defense, the kids are only with them {I use two sisters from a very good family in my church} from 9-2 Mon-Thurs {they take their naps at home} when not in school, Mon and Wed when they are in school and if they need me I am right there as they live just a few minutes away. They are WONDERFUL and the kids love them and their house. Can’t afford a sitter? Find someone to barter with, maybe trade taking care of someone elses kids, so you can work. One of the most helpful things I ever did was find someone who could help me with the kids so I could focus on work and then focus on THEM when they are home. I would NEVER be able to run a business if my kids were running circles around me all day, things just don’t get done, unfortunately.

4. Get good help. This includes a book keeper, an assistant, whatever you need to run your business. This has SAVED me!! It costs me some money and often they get paid before I do, but I have learned that if I am spread thin, I will never be able to run this business at all, so I might as well spend the money to get myself where I need to be to make some money. :)

5. Eat healthy and exercise. I am learning this a big one for me. I try to keep sugar, fast food, anything processed really, to a minimum. I have found that if I am sluggish because of my food intake, then I might as well forget business success.

6. Get organized. ”A clean ship is a happy ship”… When I was little, my dad had that saying hot pressed on a wood plaque and it hung over our pier at our Tahoe house. I used to think it was just a silly saying and would roll my eyes every time my dad would use it on me {usually in reference to my out of control room, ha}, but I have recently learned that there is most definitely something to it. I cannot think if my factory is a mess. I’ve found that just putting things away and running the vaccum at night can make my brain stay focused. Also, cleaning the kitchen and family room EVERY NIGHT makes such a huge difference for me. It just feels so good to get up to clean plate.

7. Family first, then business, then friends and life. I think this one is the hardest to adjust to when owning your own business. Often when you work for someone, you can put friends and life before work. Growing up, I wondered why my dad never had many friends…well, its because he worked for himself {and the fact that he is an introvert played into that as well I’m sure, ha}. He didn’t have much time. :( I find that my friends are often those who either work for me or in a similar field as me. Some of my closest friends have become women, especially moms, who are working for themselves. We have something in common and seem to understand each other when we can’t commit to things or not be available to hang out as often as other moms can. I’m sure working moms of any field can relate to this one as well.

  8. Don’t forget your husband. I have a tendency to work every second I get. This is not good when you have a husband who needs you. I have to remind myself that even though he is self-sufficent and doesn’t need my help to clean, dress and feed himself, he still needs me as a helpmate. {Here is where I insert that I have one of the most supportive and loving husbands on the planet! So thankful for him!!}

9. Get out of the house at least once during the day. Amazing how a trip to Starbucks or a stroll around the Target aisle can force me remember that I live in the real world. There have been several times where I have been stuck in the house for 48 hours straight. Not cool. You start to feel like you are in solitary confinement.

10. When the day is done, it’s done. Be ok if not everything gets finished. This one kills me. Really. I am a task oriented person and I can’t focus if I have projects hanging over my head. My email inbox HAUNTS me. It so does. Pending orders I LOATHE. I think you get the point. But I have learned to say, “it can wait”. When I see my little precious babies crying out for my attention, I realize NOTHING is as important as them. So I have learned to say, “I’m sorry, I will have to help you tomorrow” and ignore the fear that someone will give me bad feedback, or send me a nasty email or tell me that I’m a horrible business owner. The fact that I stopped to help my kids makes me feel like the best mom on the planet and thats all I care about.

Because after a while, if I’m ignoring them…this is what I get:

This is what I get when I ignore my babies. Oh boy.

11. {Right I realize I said 10, but I just can’t leave this out} PRAY, LOVE, LAUGH. These three things get me through life. This business is in God’s hands, and if He desires me to do something else, I will. In the meantime, I will just live life to the fullest, laugh as often as I can and love until it hurts. It makes life worthwhile, you know?

So there it is, my very LONG unhelpful insightful advice. Ha. And with that… I’m curious, how do you balance business and family? I would LOVE for you to share your thoughts, if you have some. It would really help me as a business owner and working mom to hear how you stay balanced…and maybe it would help someone else too! And thank you for listening. We will resume regular programing with DIY Friday. ha.

Big hugs friends! xoxo

Going Away…

Good morning everyone! I’m sitting here sipping my homemade chai latte, boiling some oatmeal, and keeping an eye on the washer and dryer. I am not entirely sure we will make it to church this morning…Brandon is headed off to Senior Camp in a couple hours, but thanks to all the Evy’s Tree fall material needing to be washed this week, my poor family’s clothes have been piling up. I was up super late last night trying to tackle the pile, and up early this morning as well….but Brandon can’t leave without clean clothes, so I’m sitting wishing a load would wash a little faster. ha. :)
In the meantime, I thought I would share with you some pictures from the little going away reception that the church staff prepared for Brandon and I. Apparently, when a staff member leaves, the rest of the staff puts together a little time where everyone can say goodbye and send well wishes. I have never personally been to one of these, so I had no idea what to expect when we were told the date. I most definitely was not expecting what we got…one of the church classrooms was completely cleared out and replaced with tables covered in table cloths, a beautiful lunch spread and a video montage of Brandon and I playing on the wall. It was LOVELY. We ate together and then almost everyone there spent some time and said some very kind and thoughtful things about Brandon {and me a little too :)}. It was so touching. Brandon and I joked that it felt like we were at our own funeral..everyone went above and beyond what we even imagined they would regarding our departure. 
Just before it was over, Pastor Lopez handed us two boxes to open…to my surprise they were two GORGEOUS Waterford Crystal vases. I’m not sure Pastor Lopez knew this or not, but I LOVE Waterford; my mom and Nannie always had Waterford goblets, vases, clocks, etc. and although I registered for Waterford when I registered for our wedding, we only received one beautiful large Vase. The two vases the staff bought us are matching vases in the line of crystal we picked out for our wedding. BIG TEARS…you all have no idea how special this was to us!!
Although I know many people had a hand in preparing the reception, I believe a huge thank you needs to go out Pastor Lopez and our good friends Josh and Alisha Rivas. From what I’ve been told, Pastor Lopez worked hard to schedule a day everyone could be there, Alisha went above and beyond to make everyone look beautiful, and Josh put together the video montage {which I hope to get from him and show on the blog, it was so cool!}. Thank you to you all! We love and appreciate you so much, what a special way to say goodbye to everyone!!
Here are a few pictures, courtesy of Josh Rivas :) 
The legendary Pastor Harry Meeks. ha :) 

Brandon’s plate of food…gone of course. :)

Some of the silly pictures from the video montage…

Pastor Lopez saying a few words…

Our turn…

After saying a group prayer for us

Giving Richard Bishop a hug, our good friend and neighbor 

Unfortunately all the pictures Josh took of Alisha and me are HORRIBLE. ha. So this was the most heartfelt/horrible one. :) 

Our shocked faces in opening the Waterford Crystal

My husband doing what he does best…

After everyone left, Brandon starts breaking down the Acts29 chairs. Old habits die hard, I guess. After many, many years of breaking down these chairs, we got a picture of perhaps his last time doing. Kinda bittersweet. 

Thank you everyone!! We love you all so much. Words cannot express how thankful we are for your love and support. And thank you for the beautiful good bye lunch!
Oh, a couple things:
1. I keep forgetting to mention that the Sunday morning Brandon spoke, Pastor Haney was supposed to do a goodbye, however late Saturday night, Pastor called Brandon and told him he went to go pick up the gift he had purchased for Brandon {so sweet!!} but it wasn’t done. So the goodbye will happen at a later day. We’ll keep you all posted on that one. :)
2. I still have not gotten to visit many blogs. :( So sorry, I really miss you all! Hope everyone is still alive!
3. And yes, I know I wear my Coral Diana Wrap every day. I have no excuses other than I need to go shopping. the end. ha.
xoxo

Sachet Winner!!

And we have a winner!

Congrats The Wright Stuff! Could you contact me at amy@evystree.com with your address and we’ll get this right out to you! Thanks to everyone who entered!
Didn’t win? No worries, the sachets are now listed HERE. I only have a handful of packs at the moment, so hurry if you want yours!
xoxo

Life…and Medieval Times

Hello everyone! I have been so extremely absent the last couple weeks…life has just been so crazy and hectic {in a good way} since we made our big announcement. I’m not sure why, but adjusting to change seems to be a whole lot easier to me than accepting the change that is to come. For some reason, coming to terms with our shift in life was the hard part…so I am happy that is all behind and we are just learning to live with our new life. 
I am so proud of my husband. He did not take this decision lightly but, as we mentioned in the earlier posts, spent many, many months seeking advice, as well as praying and fasting regarding his decision. We committed to each other that even though his job is no longer 8-5, we would still carry on in an organized, disciplined fashion…at least as much as we could. So he has been up every day, just like normal, at 6 AM, starting his day with prayer, and then at 8 making his way to Panera which is currently his “office”. ha. He tried to plunker down at the other end of the dining room table, where I work, but he was quickly overtaken by Evy’s Tree personnel. :) So if you see him at Panera, you’ll know why he is there, I am feeding him I promise! ha. 
{P.S. Did you see his Sunday morning Sermon??? So proud of him! :)}
Even though we have been trying to carry on as normal, life is still just a tad hectic. Earlier this year, Brandon agreed to travel with the WAY Choir down to So Cal, which took place last week. Jake and I decided to go with him. I had some fabric shopping that needed to be done and we have been looking for a reason to take Jake to Medieval times without Evy, as we didn’t think she would enjoy it but knew Jake would LOVE it. My mom agreed to have Evy at her place for the week, so we jumped on the chance to travel with Brandon. 
I have a confession here: I was a bit worried about how Jake would do on this trip. It’s a LOT of driving and there are services every night except one, not to mention switching hotels almost every night, which he is not good at. But I am proud to say he did AMAZING. Seriously, he was awesome. I was bursting with pride for him every day. He really is a great kid!
On the one evening off, we went to Medieval times. The day we left {yes, I said the DAY we left, she’s that good, ha} my mom in law came over and threw together a knights costume for Jake, so he was all prepared. He was SO EXCITED!!! He fell asleep in the car on the way there, but woke up just as we drove into the parking lot:
This is how he sleeps, crazy, huh?
Waking up and seeing the castle….

The Castle…

Dressed and ready to go in!

His scary face…
With his favorite shield and sword.

The Herald, the King and the Princess come out to greet you. Jake was soooo excited!

“It’s called a Lance, HELLO!” {Name that line..ha}

In the courtyard. We couldn’t get Jake to sit still for a picture, he was so excited. The crown we are wearing is the color knight we are to cheer for.

Posing with a knight.
Waiting for the doors to open.

Our seats, in the front row…

Our knight..,

He was so excited that we couldn’t get him to eat. This was about the only bite he took. Ha.

Attempting to eat with my hands. Kinda gross actually. :)

Posing with our knight after the show. He LOVED him!

The Prince and Princess.
Other knights…

He seriously had soooo much fun! And then afterwards we drove back down to Oceanside and stayed with our dear cousins Stephan and Jana. We love to visit with them. Here Jana is explaining to me how a Baby Alive can suck. Kinda weird. ha. 

Brandon and Stephan discussing the ipad, of course.

Us all outside in their backyard. Their house butts up to Camp Pendleton, you can hear the practice bombs and cannons go off during the night. Very cool.

Jake showing us his skills on the play structure.

Ireland, she is amazing, yes?!?

Well, that’s that! We had so much fun down there…Have you ever been to Medieval Times? They are having a sale right now on tickets {HERE} so you should go! You’d love it! :)
Oh, and please forgive me for not visiting ANYONE’S blog lately. I have been so brain dead. Going to do my best to head over later tonight. :) Big hugs everyone!
xoxo

Scented Sachet Giveaway!

So, I have to admit that I have a horrible addiction…. it’s called “The Candle Addiction” and I have to be honest and say I have had this addiction for a very, very long time. In fact, I’m sure its been at least 15 years ago that I was introducted to candles and how amazing they can make a room smell in a matter of seconds. Maybe a few years after I found scented candles, my sister in law introduced me to Trapp Candles. Have you ever smelled a Trapp Candle? If so, then you know what I mean when I say they are DELICIOUS. Seriously. I get comments all the time how my house smells so good and I have to say it’s because of those candles. You don’t even have to light them, they smell by just sitting there. I’m not kidding.
You see, I have a superpower, according to my husband, and it’s my nose. I LOVE THINGS THAT SMELL GOOD. And if it’s “stinky” somewhere, I will tell you. I am VERY sensitive to smells. You can imagine how sensitive I was to smell while I was pregnant! ha. Anyway, when I started Evy’s Tree, I knew I wanted to figure out a way to make all my items smell yummy. So late one night I came up with a sachet. At first it hung from the muslin bag, but eventually I turned them into hangtags that hung from the inside tag of the hoodie. I have to admit, I was super nervous about the sachet…wasn’t sure if people would like them as much as I did. But they were a hit! I think I probably get several emails, FB comments, tweets, etc asking about the sachets.
Someone along the way asked me if I would ever be interested in selling them. At first I wasn’t sure as they do take some time to make. In fact, they are probably the most expensive “unpaid” for item that will accompany your Evy’s Tree purchase. But the more I got the asked, the more I realized I probably should. They are amazing little goodies, I will admit, and smell a drawer up so quickly. :)
So on Friday, they will be available for purchase in packs of five. But in the meantime, by the suggestion of a Evy’s Tree customer on Facebook {I can’t remember who?!?} we are going to do a little giveaway….
My favortie Trapp Candle is Mediterranean Fig, so I’m giving away one large candle {a $20 value} and one package of five Evy’s Tree sachets to a lucky winner….

What do you have to do? Leave a comment below for 1 point. Want some more points? Then do the following:
1. Share this blog post link on your facebook and come back and comment that you did {can be done daily, once a day} 1 point per comment
2. Share this blog post link on your twitter and come back and comment that you did {can be done daily, once a day} 1 point per comment
3. Follow Evy’s Tree on Facebook {HERE} and come back and comment that you do. 1 point
4. Follow Evy’s Tree on Twitter {HERE} and come back and comment that you do. 1 point. 
And if you don’t win? Don’t worry, you can purchase a pack of sachets on Friday HERE in the shop. And love those Trapp Candles but can’t find them anywhere? No worries, I purchase mine HERE, and they are shipped right to your doorstep! I hope you love both the candle and the sachets all as much as I do!
xoxo
PS…I was not paid or given reimbursement for my reivew of Trapp Candles. All opinions are my own. :) 

Introducing: The Sophie

Last week I drove down to Los Angeles with my husband and Jake. We were traveling with a youth choir, Brandon was helping with the choir in the evenings and during the day we had some family time and then towards the end of the week, we visited the fabric district. I had a lot of help as you can see from this picture:
Well, almost right after I took this picture, Brandon turned around and found a material he LOVED. Unfortunately it was a cotton stretch material and I don’t usually use such material for Evy’s Tree. But the more I looked at it, the more I loved it, so I grabbed several yards. When I got home, Sarah and went to work, and here’s what we came up with:
You can see the material Brandon picked out better here, we used it to line the hood…
We called this one the Sophie because we felt it looked so Scandinavian and we have a very good Swedish friend named Sophie, that we all love and adore. :)
The sleeves are cut off and an ultra soft light heather blue jersey ribbed knit is added in the place of the bottom of the sleeves. Seriously, when you put this hoodie on it feels like a cozy tee shirt on the arms.
*SOLD OUT*

WWWW {What We Wore Wednesday}

Happy Wednesday Ladies {maybe a few gents?}  :)  Hope your day is going as good as mine! It’s a beautiful day in Northern California. Sun out, not a cloud in the sky… Definitely putting me in the mood to go sailing! Now let me get back on track-WWWW {What We Wore Wednesday} is today and I’m happy to share with you what we have been thinking about over here!
As I mentioned before… Sailing is on my mind. That is why I wanted to share this nautical and free spirited Polyvore with you! {Doesn’t it just make you want to run to the water?!?} I used the Navy Lacey Zip Up as my inspiration piece…
Nautical Evy's Tree
Now as you might know by now {and if you didn’t know, now you do}, here comes my favorite part of checking my e-mail. Getting all these great photos of you wearing Evy’s Tree! I LOVE to see where and how you are wearing your Evy’s Tree. It lets us here {all the way in Northern CA} feel a part of your life and the small part we play in it  :) So keep those poses and pictures coming! Send to sarah@evystree.com and I will work my magic! Ha!

Here is “Princess Renee” {what her mother called her-and I agreed} wearing her Mini Independance Brilla on 4th of July. What a cutie pie! She looks like she enjoyed her 4th  :)
{Did I mention that this hoodie is on sale right now? Hehe}

 

Well friends, thats all for today. Don’t forget to e-mail me your pictures at sarah@evystree.com!
Enjoy the rest of your day!
Until next time,
~Sarah~

FAQ: Our Departure As Youth Pastors

Words cannot express to you all how honored and loved we feel after receiving SO MANY wonderful emails, text messages, phone calls and blog comments expressing your love and support of us and our decision to follow what we feel God has lead us to do. Honestly, we never received one negative comment and for that we are so grateful. We have done our best to keep up and respond to you all, but with the cell reception so bad up at camp, we really have gotten behind, so please bare with us as we get back to you and let you know how much you mean to us. 
Many of you have questions regarding our departure, and rightfully so. As I wrote the blog post telling everyone about our resignation {HERE}, I was writing on very little sleep and to be honest, I’m not sure I explained everything clearly. :) So here are a couple of FAQ’s:
1. What are you going to do now? For the past year or so, Brandon has been speaking out quite a bit at youth camps, youth retreats, etc. He has come to really enjoy it. We understand that we have been extremely privileged to pastor such a large youth ministry and are completely aware that we have come across experiences while youth pastoring that many other youth pastors have not. While traveling and speaking, Brandon has enjoyed connecting with other youth pastors and encouraging them; sharing his experiences and offering any advice that he might have from his 12 year tenure at CLC. He also really loves to connect with teenagers around the world. We are youth pastors at heart, and probably will be for a very long time. So with that thought in mind, Brandon has decided that he will step into the role of  Evangelist full time. For those of you who are not familiar with the term “evangelist”, the simple meaning is that he will travel and speak out at churches that hire him. :) 
2. Are you leaving your position on good terms? YES, YES, YES!!!  We are so thankful that Pastor Nathaniel Haney, Bishop Kenneth Haney and Pastor Eli Lopez are behind us 100%. I spoke in the earlier blog post about feeling a nudge over the last two years…even during those times, we counseled with our Pastors. Once we knew for certain we had to step out, Pastor Haney {as well as Bishop Haney and Pastor Lopez}, pledged his blessing and support, acknowledging that we were in the will of God.
3. Will you stay in Stockton and will you attend CLC? For now, yes. Handing my future over to God 100% in this next step was, shamefully, a difficult process for me. When we first realized that Brandon was supposed to evangelize, I told Brandon that I would not leave my home…that we HAD to base out of CLC….and that if at the last resort we did move anywhere it would have to happen before school started for Jake. After I expressed those thoughts to him, I repented. We are on God’s path. Which means that I do not plan my future. I began to tell God, “I will go where you call me to go.” So my answer {and Brandon’s answer} to this question is: We will prayerfully consider and seek godly counsel regarding any door that opens for us {just as we have done with this big decision we have made} and if we feel we are supposed to walk through that door than we will. Until then, you will see us living in Stockton and worshipping at CLC. In fact, Pastor and Sis Haney have been very kind and have told us that we must still remain involved, so you will likely still see Brandon on the platform when he is home on Sundays from time to time and I will still be involved in women’s events. :)
4. Will you do this forever? Will you ever be youth pastors again? For everything there is a season {Ecc 3} and we are not always privileged to know those times or seasons. So we don’t know for sure, only God knows the answer to that one. I think the answer to question #3 pretty much answers this one as well.
5. When is your farewell service? Our goodbye service will take place this Sunday, July 10th at 9:30 AM PST at Christian Life Center, the Hwy 99 campus. Pastor Haney will say some words and send us off as evangelists. Brandon will also be preaching that morning…his first message as a full time evangelist. We would LOVE for you to come to the service if you are in the area, but if you can’t, you can watch the entire service online by clicking HERE and then clicking on “watch live broadcast” and following the prompts. We would be so honored to share this special day with you all. 
6. Is there anything we can do to help you? We feel so amazed by the kindness that so many of you have extended to us by asking this simple question. The best way you could help us is just continue to keep us in prayer. Although right now we are on the high of stepping out into God’s will for us, we know that very soon reality will hit and there will be bumps in the road that will try to shake our faith. Furthermore, we will be adjusting to Brandon gone quite often, a new budget…basically a whole new life. Your keeping us in prayer would be the best help you could give us. 
And of course, if you could help spread the word that Brandon is available for speaking out…that would AWESOME! :) You can always contact him HERE.
I hope that helps some! Thank you again for your love and support. It really does mean the world to us. We look forward to seeing many of you in the future as Brandon travels around! :) Much love to you all.
xoxo

DIY {Do It Yourself Friday} Sarah’s Birthday Invitations

Good morning Evy’s Tree readers! This is Sarah again. Happy Friday to you all! This week on DIY {Do It Yourself} Friday I’m going to show you how I made the invites to my recent Birthday Party. Did you see last weeks post ? I showed you how I made my Birthday Bunting. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.  ;)
Here is my finished invite that I will show you how to make! I just loved how they turned out. Who doesn’t go gaga for ruffles? {Not me!}


What you will need:
1. Paper of choice 
2. Tissue paper
3. Scissors
4. Sewing machine
5. Small flower or jewel

STEP ONE: Get together your paper {I went to Joanne’s and bought 12×12 scrapbooking paper} and scissors. Cut out the size cards you want. I cut 5×7 cards. 
You should now have your cards cut out!

STEP TWO: Print your invitations.

STEP THREE: Take your tissue paper and cute into about 2 inch strips. Now accordion-style fold it all the way down. 
You should now have this… Your “ruffle”.

STEP FOUR: Cut sides of “ruffle” down to the size you want. I did about 1.5 inches. You don’t want your ruffle to be too big as it would take over your invite! Lay out your ruffle on your invite to eyeball how big it should be. Now sew your ruffle onto your invitation. 


STEP FIVE: All you have to do now is place a small flower, gem or whatever creative thing you can think of on the bottom of your ruffle. 
STEP SIX: Relax, you just made a beautiful invitation! Congrats!
Until Next Week, 
Sarah

P.S. The winner of the Birthday Bunting??

YAY!! This is my good friend Jenni, who I LOVE!! Jenni, we’re sending your bunting. :) Thanks everyone for entering!
xoxo

The Beginning….Not The End

Last night here at Youth Camp Uprising 2011, as we stood in front of the young people of actstwenty9 youth ministry, Brandon and I stepped down as youth pastors of Christian Life Center. For the past two years, we have felt God quietly nudge us every now and then and let us know that He has a new path for us to follow. We have spent months upon months in prayer, fasting and counseling with elders over us seeking HIS will in our life. After consulting with Pastor Haney and Pastor Lopez and receiving their full support and backing, we knew that this youth camp would be our last one. 
Brandon telling the students…
Although our hearts are heavy leaving such an amazing youth ministry we know that we are following God’s footsteps. We have stepped of the cliff {so to speak} in faith and believe wholeheartedly that God will give us the wings to fly in the direction He has for us. For now, Brandon will continue to speak out at camps, youth conferences and retreats as his full time job {so if you ever wanted him to come to your church, now’s the time. Shameless plug there, ha.}. I will continue to work for Evy’s Tree and for now we will stay in Stockton and base out of CLC. Any door that opens for us in the future we will prayerfully consider and seek counsel over…we feel that we have made a huge leap of faith and we have learned that when you do so, you do not make the plans for your life, but you allow your future to lay in His hands and follow where He takes you. 
Pastor Lopez there to support…and help us laugh a little :) We love him so much.


I want to personally apologize to many of my good friends who love me dearly and have wondered where I have been the last year or so. With the weight of this decision making process on our shoulders, I have shut myself away. I needed to spend time praying and contemplating what God was doing. Never in a million years would I have ever thought God was moving us from a position that I loved so dearly. After 6 years of working with our beautiful young people, I honestly hoped for many more years. But when He calls you, He makes it impossible for you to walk to away. And my heart is relieved to have finally stepped out and done what He has asked.
The students and staff praying for us 
Brandon and I both feel completely right about this decision. And this is the not the end, this is the beginning. We are excited about God is getting ready to do in our lives. I know many of the students are hurting and will miss us, but we are confident that since God has called us to make this move, He will comfort those whose hearts are breaking and will continue to make actstwenty9 the amazing youth ministry that it is. He has an awesome couple to pick up where we left off…Tim and Rocio Ramonett will now carry the mantle of Youth Pastors of CLC. Brandon and I have complete confidence that they will do an outstanding job. 
Saying goodbye…

Laughing and crying….

I want to extend a huge thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all your love, support and prayers many of you have given us over the years. We ask that you will continue to hold us in your prayers. Please keep us in your thoughts as we continue to navigate the waters that we have now stepped into. We love you all so much. Many of you have made a giant impact on our lives and we will be eternally grateful.
Me with Ashley, Jake and Evy’s babysitter. We love her.
Much love to you all!

xoxo