Since launching the Created Order Conference this year, I have had a lot of people ask me: “Why are you having the first conference in Charlotte, NC?” So I want to share my background with all of you so that you can see why Charlotte has a piece of my heart.
Upon graduation from college at Florida Atlantic University I moved to Charlotte, NC. At the time I was living with my then “fiance” now husband, Josh. We received an invitation to Lincolnton, NC for a family reunion at Josh’s aunt and uncle’s house. A week before we were to head up there I said to Josh “let’s just move to North Carolina.” Of course, he thought I was nuts because it was only a week away. But I explained that I was ready for a change after living in South Florida and Charlotte’s job market was booming.
He agreed, and we called our friends to tell them the news. They came over to help us pack. Packing ended up being pretty simple because I drove a Chevy Camaro and Josh drove a small Ford Ranger pickup. Not exactly the best vehicles for moving! We took what we could fit and shipped or gave away the rest.
Coming from New York and then South Florida, Lincolnton, NC was quite a change of pace for me.
Josh’s Aunt and Uncle kindly offered for us to stay with them until we found a place of our own. His grandparents from NY were also staying in their in-law suite. Oh, what a sight in the evenings when we would all gather on the front porch, I felt like the Clampetts! Three generations under one roof with our three dogs! I laugh every time I think about it.
One month later we found a cute little ranch down the street to rent. After we got settled, I started to feel lonely. Josh was working the night shift at the Gaston County Sheriff’s Department, and I missed my friends in Florida. I prayed that God would bring me a friend, at least one! In the meantime, I had a lot of time alone, so I read like crazy — everything from self-help books to the bible. I journaled, I prayed, and I spent time alone with God. Little did I know I was embarking on a spiritual journey that would change my life.
About two months after I moved to North Carolina I met a new friend Jennifer, that lead me to a “spiritual mom/mentor” Marie, which lead to my first bible study group. I loved our bible study group. I learned so much from those wise ladies. It was during those group meetings that it became evident to me that I loved encouraging women.
We moved to Belmont, NC when we bought our first home.
I fell in love with Belmont the first day I drove through. It was quaint, friendly and dry. Yes, dry meaning you could not order a glass of wine when you went out to dinner. This girl from NY had never heard of such a thing!
I found out about a traditional house for women, called Catherine’s House, in Belmont so I asked if I could volunteer there. I taught a class called “Empowerment For Women.” It was a challenge speaking to women that were broken down, defeated and sometimes older then I was. But I had a heart for these women. I knew they could turn their lives around. I knew God had a purpose in mind for them. If only I could get them to believe in themselves.
Those first three years out of college I was working my plan: go to college, work for Corporate America and make lots of money. I had the privilege of working for some great companies like Cingular Wireless which has since been bought by AT&T and Clear Channel Radio, which is now I Heart Media.
But God had a whole other plan waiting for me.
9/11 happened, and EVERYTHING changed not only for the world but in my life.
I was pregnant with our first baby the day those planes turned rocked our country. I remember standing in the newsroom at Clear Channel with my coworkers watching the screens in shock! What would happen to our baby’s future?
That year I was laid off from the job that I loved at Clear Channel due to cutbacks. After 9/11 advertising had slowed down for many companies, and I was one of the newer employees at CC, so I was let go.
At first, I was super excited that I was getting paid unemployment to stay home with my brand-new baby girl. But after several months as a stay at home mom, I realized that I missed doing business. I missed coming up with new ideas for marketing, meeting with clients, working with adults! But I also knew I never wanted to go back to work a 9-5 job because of the lack of flexibility as a mom. I was still on that spiritual journey I started when I first moved to North Carolina, so I decided to permit myself to dive deeper and figure out what I truly wanted to do with the rest my life.
I had picked up a book called Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow: Discovering Your Right Livelihood by Marsha Sinetar. I’ll be honest; at first, I was thinking: “yeah right. I went to school so that I could work in corporate America and make a lot of money”.
How was I going to do what I loved and still make money??
I am shocked that I thought that, but at the time I was still stuck on “the plan.” Throughout the book, Marsha kept asking “what are you passionate about”? I had to answer all these questions about myself. The word “organizing” kept coming to the forefront of my mind when I thought about feeling passionate. That was something that got me excited!
When I thought about it, I knew I had loved to organize since I was five years old.
I remember going to my grandma’s house and asking her if I could organizer her jewelry, her medicine cabinet, her linen closet…anything (she always said yes). My parents never had to tell me to clean my room; I thought it was fun! Organizing was my jam! I loved improving space, sorting, implementing categories and most of all the peace and joy I felt doing it.
I believe God placed this passion for organizing inside of me before I was even born. The only thing that was stopping me from pursuing a career in organizing was the fact that I didn’t think I could make enough money to support our family doing it. At the time I only knew about two other professional organizers: Julie Morgenstern and Peter Walsh. I looked up to both of these people because they made a career out of something I loved to do! They were also pioneers for our industry. They were helping people organize long before HGTV, Hoarders, and Pinterest was cool.
After a lot of soul searching, I finally decided to take a “leap of faith” and start organizing for other people. I asked friends if they wanted their closet organized or their kitchen cabinets laid out, for free! Then came my very first client. I will never forget the excitement of color coding that closet for a paycheck! I guess Marsha Sinetar was right after all!
God was there all along leading me, guiding me and encouraging me to keep going even though I had NO idea what I was doing.
Not only did I love the organizing I loved encouraging the women I was working with. I was organizing a few days a week, and I was teaching myself how to build a website (Lord knows I couldn’t afford to pay for someone else to do it). Frontpages was my best friend, and SEO optimization was not!
During that time I came up with a simple newsletter called “Free Weekly Organizing Tips.” It was a straight forward email in which I gave one organizing tip each week. Readers loved it! I soon realized that they liked it because it was not overwhelming. I was making organization simple and easy to implement. If they just followed that one tip they could improve their space and their life.
Little did I know that God had a plan for that silly newsletter…it would eventually become the basis for my first book: Organize Now!: A Week-by-Week Guide to Simplify Your Space and Your Life.
About a year into my organizing career we moved back to New York to raise our daughter near our family. My job has taken many twists and turns since then, but I fondly remember those first days of deciding to chase my dream back in North Carolina.
When God gave me the vision for the Created Order Conference, I wasn’t sure where it should launch. After praying I felt it was only right to go back to where it all began. I have to be honest. I am nervous about the first conference. But in my heart, I know God is by my side like he has always been. He is kindly nudging me out of my comfort zone and more toward my purpose every day. The plan that He had in mind for me all along.
See He knows how it all turns out before we can even fathom an idea because he plants those seeds in our souls!
I never imagined how one decision would lead to so many opportunities including five books, a ministry, a podcast and now a conference!
I am grateful for this journey that started so many years ago near Charlotte. It’s hard to imagine a better life than waking up every day knowing and living on purpose and I want that for you too! That is my prayer for the Created Order Conference. That each person will leave knowing what their purpose is and be bold enough to go after it.