#Iamlovedchallenge

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.

You know what that means for me? Well today, I will go to work ONLY to make deliveries of BEAUTIFUL flower arrangements to all those who ordered from my boss. They are perfect and perfectly named. Flirt, Petite, Lush, .. the list goes on and the flowers are to die for!

10968542_909236132429938_3280583790814307336_n

My job, well if you read my last post, is so much fun.  I love that I get to be a part of a company that is always putting together everyone’s dream weddings, events, or florals, but in the Valentine season, my job made me re-evaluate myself a bit.

 How many men and women out there are working today to put a smile on someone else’s face? And not for ONE moment is someone thinking about them in the process.  They are handing you the sweet tea at the drive thru, they are the nurses that are taking care of your sick family, or sitting in the waiting room waiting to hear good news.  They are your friends at church or the man at the bus stop.  It could be the woman in the grocery line with a screaming baby on her hip and toddler begging for bubble gum. These people, every day, deserve to have a little ounce of love extended to them, a moment where they can feel like someone cared about them to step out of their comfort zone JUST to remind them that they are loved.

I started brainstorming with my husband and we came up with an idea to put love into action this year.  We are newly-weds on a TIGHT budget and felt like spending our money on giving suited us more than a candle lit dinner for two at waffle house.

So we got to work and even got a little help from our SWEETEST friend, Brooke. She loved the idea and spent some time with me giving at a few different places.  We went wherever we felt led to go, which at times can feel awkward and uncertain.

We went to Baptist Hospital, drive-thru lines, talked to strangers on elevators and in waiting rooms.  I even went to a family photo shoot.

Honestly, there were moments where we felt uncomfortable, we got nervous before we spoke to complete strangers and offered them candy… I wasn’t thinking about the whole don’t take candy from strangers thing until after! 

BUT, let me tell you, it was the most amazing feeling seeing people that I knew and didn’t know smile and laugh and rejoice over a little box of candy.

Let me challenge you with this, the day before Valentine’s Day, PUT. LOVE. INTO. ACTION. Even if it is just with your words or simply helping someone get chips off of the top shelf at the grocery store. Do something today, not about you, but about someone else.

We are LOVED, because we are known by the One who created us.

Knowing that, share it. When you do, try to capture that moment! Post it on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and hashtag #Iamlovedchallenge

We want to challenge you to put love into action the ENTIRE month of February! It is SO fun and rewarding.

Cody and I really want to see all the true LOVE in the air 🙂

Happy Valentine’s MONTH, from the Bell’s!

Check out the video from our fun adventure! (keep in mind, we are NOT professional videographers 🙂 )

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tg7KK_Hqbis

Everyone Has to Start Somewhere

Nine months ago I got married.  I really did think that that was the beginning of life for myself.  I know that sounds crazy, but I am a Southern girl through and through, and unless you have lived in the south for 99.6% of your life, you wouldn’t understand.  DSC_3675

Marriage, well, it’s all we think about.  We dream about it, we go to millions of weddings every year, because, in the South, if you aren’t married by 25, all the ladies at church start meddling in your life and sending random young men your number and email address.  Laugh all you want you blessed Northerners, but it’s the truth.  My brother-in-law, who is from Kentucky mind you, marvels at the whole getting married out of high school or college thing, it literally blows him away. He’s adjusting though.  We have taught him and journeyed through it all with him.

DSC_3697

We got back from our honeymoon and my husband started his new job, and I was the wife who had an English Degree and was completely, one-hundred percent unemployed. Which is fun for literally 3 days, but my rate lasted 3 months.

Our cousin Kelsey was getting married and had hired a wedding planner looking for an assistant.  I received an email saying “just email him, I know it’s part time, but it could be something fun to do.  His name is Evan Cooper.”

So I did. 

10424337_10153366132558032_8032805150441823738_n

I went to Starbucks expecting a 40-year-old man to walk in.  I had no idea who this guy was and I so desperately wanted to seem cool in front of a wedding planner.  Because in the South, every girl dreams of working for a wedding planner.  Much to my surprise, in walks a 23 year old guy who looked like he walked out of a GAP commercial.

“Hi, are you Laura?” He said timidly.

He sat down and we chatted.

I learned that he did decor for the State Capitol Building, The Governor’s Mansion, and literally planned weddings for every person I have known. EVER.

1551567_10205750935719153_5940605172358217748_n

My little mind was blown. He was 23 and already has a full-fledged business? Very successful, very well known, and completely (inwardly offended) that I didn’t follow him on instagram.  I found out later that that was almost a deal breaker.  He also made sure that I understood his insane love for Diet Coke and that I was never allowed to tell him it was bad for him.

But, within the first 20 min of a meet and greet, he looked at me and said “SO, when can you start?” 

Two weeks later I had a job for a person who was super creative, very sarcastic, obsessed with diet coke and chicken fingers, and NOTHING LIKE ME.

I think the fact that we were the same age intimidated me more than if he had been my Dad’s age.  There was a confidence in him that I had never known before.  He was all over the place and every task he tackled was beautifully done.  The first job he put me to was to make gift baskets.  He basically showed me the stuff and said “Ok, go for it.” I put together the baskets, thinking I had done a good job, and presented them back to him.  He looked at me, with a sassy glare and said “good, you put them together, CONGRATS… now go make them cute.”

YIKES.

I looked at him and said  “Sorry, I really am not good at this kind of stuff.” 1239938_10153195070673032_7492806421829015360_n

Evan laughed and said “Listen Sweet Cheeks, anyone who has ever done anything great has to start somewhere.  Now, go get started.”

Evan ended up fixing everything I touched the first couple of weeks I worked for him.  I learned quickly not to get terribly offended when he did.  Honestly, he still fixes what I do, and now I appreciate it.

10403204_10204718208127694_555339279330787004_n

But one thing I have learned and love about my boss is that he really does believe in me. He believes in my husband too.  He loves that we are young and is always wanting to help us pursue our biggest dreams.  He doesn’t let us choose fear, instead he rejoices in all pieces of our lives. On top of all the events, weddings, and floral designs that he takes on, he manages to make time to shower us with endless gifts and kindness.

 One example could be our surprise day trip to six flags, where he included my better half and paid for EVERYTHING. The day was full of so much laughter, a few panic attacks on roller coasters, and IKEA.

544933_10153272171308032_3956803599164669791_n

I feel like instead of getting a job with a boss, I landed a job with a brother. He is sassy, sarcastic, we fight often, but we take up for each other.  He encourages me to pursue all that I am good at and lets me know when something is NOT my forte.

But more than anything…

The greatest thing Evan has taught my husband and I in the short time that I have worked for him is this: Everyone has to start somewhere. You must fearlessly be yourselves in all that you pursue. 

Thanks ‘Evan G. Coops’., you’re a dreamer and a do-er, you inspire us all.

http://vimeo.com/108088164

*Be sure to check out this video.  It may or may not have been one the cutest videos I have ever seen, and perfectly portrays Evan’s vibrant personality.*

LOVE is spelled 5 1 0 4

The day is creeping up.  You know, THE day. The day of the year where everyone “oo’s” and “ah’s” over teddy bears, everything red, boxes of chocolate, red roses, and fancy dinners. The day that some might even try to throw a parks and rec Galentine’s Day. It’s the day of the year that we go crazy and honestly, we can’t help it.  It is all about what WE are going to do.  We become OBSESSED with what I am going to do, how I am going to be celebrated, how many chocolates am I going to get?

Well, It makes me wonder about the real meaning behind Valentine’s Day.  NO, I am not about give you a history lesson about Cupid or his arrows.  I am a little curious though, how often we are thinking about each other and the people that we love most on Valentine’s day, let alone, every day.

Are we thinking about the people that mean most to us? Our closest friends, our family, even the cashier at Winn Dixie?

Last night I had a girls night with 2 out of my 3 college roommates.  We made homemade pizza, ate Bell Blend Chocolate Toffee   watched the latest episode of Scandal, and literally laughed so hard I had a sore throat and a tummy ache.  Those girls sure know how to make my life a little brighter.

10256068_10202903606283769_1117151430878861072_n

In the midst of baking our pizza, the third roommate (who currently lives in Jacksonville, FL) called me.  We put her on speaker phone and it was just like the old days.  We were making jokes and making more memories.  When the four of us are together, it’s like nothing has changed.

IMG_0318

It wasn’t even a year ago that those Ivories were my roommates in Apt 5104 at Faulkner University.  We were the loudest 4 girls on campus.  We ran together, we cried together, we drank ALOT of COFFEE together (so much that we broke our coffee pot.. twice.), we got frustrated and sometimes down right mad at one another, but all in all, we LOVED the snot out of each other.  Life was easier because of them.

10150626_666220750081115_1095016326810230923_n

It was like a hard ball of emotion on graduation day.  Packing up and moving out of Apt 5104 was devastating.  We watched it happen.  We watched as hour by hour furniture, clothes, and bedding were slowly making their way out of the apartment and into the vehicle that took us to the next season of life.

1907638_10202952507786276_2446901296684561657_n

I remember cleaning off my desk in my bedroom, putting pictures of memories from that past 4 years into a box I mustered out of the cafeteria recycling bin, and tears started rolling down my face.  You know the heavy tears? The ones that make ugly cry? That was me, huddled up in the corner of Bedroom B.  Abbey, our current Jacksonville roomie, walked by and saw me.  She walked over, crouched down behind me and wrapped me up in a huge hug.  “I know, it sucks, but it has to happen, we have to keep going.”

1456551_594587023911155_1512563244_n

We did. We had to keep going.  We had to step out into the unknown with our heads held high and our fingers crossed for greatness.  We had spent 4 years fighting to make it to this point and all of the sudden we were blinded by the reality that we had NO IDEA what we were going to do.  All of us had separate paths, and none of them made sense.

1456779_594587580577766_1159713970_n

Here we are, 9 months later.  We are all finished with school, working jobs that we never pictured ourselves taking, and taking life one terrifying day at a time.  These chicks though, well they love me. They teach me.  They teach me how to fight for happiness in life, how to pursue greatness with Jesus, and how to love… they spell it out for me 5.1.0.4.

1524768_10201936399744210_903759594_n

Don’t lose sight of today.  Don’t misunderstand the month of February and all of the pressure that comes with the 14th day of it.  Think of how love is really spelled out for you.  Who in your life has more to offer you than a teddy bear and red roses?  Treasure them, then… share the love with those who don’t have that.

*stay tuned on how the Bell’s are spending Valentines week*

Be sure to check out the Recipe for Bell Blend Chocolate Toffee under the recipe tab!