The Last Plate in the Cabinet + Some Good News

Last night I reached into the cabinet to grab a plate to catch the hot fudgy brownie being lifted from the pan while a group of precious, adorable, chatty ladies sat in my living room.


Zach and I decided on this cozy townhouse one year ago because we were about to get married. We chose Augusta because we sensed the Lord calling us here. It's about 2 hours from both families and we thought there was a great job opportunity for Zach here, but needed to make a house decision before there was any final news on the job. 


Well. He didn't get the job. 


So here I am, 1 month married with a small business and a husband fresh out of grad school with...a less than exciting year ahead of him, career-wise. 


I griped, I cried, I scratched my head. If teaching wasn't in the cards this year, I would have to haul some serious business freight. PLEASE DON'T MAKE ME PUT ON BIG GIRL PANTIES, I said to the Lord.


The one-sentence version of this year: God provided every growth opportunity Laurel Ave needed through precious clients and fantastic community here in Augusta, and Zach faithfully sold tea, sorted towels, and scrubbed toilets to help get us through. 

The Details.


As we started to see God providing financially, I found other things to be afraid over and complain about. As usual.


"I don't know why, but I just can't seem to make friends," I told my mom our second month here. 


It was a very vulnerable year for us, no "steady" job and no connections to begin with. I found myself feeling very unsure of WHY a lot of days. God taught us to ask "what" instead of "why", and that helped us keep on putting one foot in front of the other, and like a kid that gets dropped off at childcare, I slowly started to warm up to the things available to us here, and then I started to actually LIKE it. 

Then we found Stevens Creek Church. Then we found Tuesdays Together. Then we found small groups. Then we found Tyler and Leah's weekly dinners. 


Then teacher application season came back around. 


I put on a brave face around Zach, but surely he knows those mornings in my office (the spare bedroom) I was griping and pleading and praying and scratching my head and googling teaching openings. Where are the jobs? Where do I even want to live? Where can my business grow? Where can Zach have a fulfilling job with a good salary??

Yesterday was June 7th.

Still no news on a job. 

Lease ends in 23 days. 


I have asked the Lord plenty of times what this year in Augusta was about. I've sat quietly (and not so quietly) waiting for answers about when Zach will have work. 


I'm at Target getting brownie mix and my phone rings: it's Zach.


Later that night I told my small group: HE GOT THE JOB!!! But...it's in Milledgeville. So much encouragement and a few tears for leaving friends behind.  


After the small group left, I reached into the cabinet to get one more plate for a late night snack for myself. I jumped when I saw which plate I was reaching for because it's a plate I haven't seen since we moved in. It's our one-of-a-kind fancy plate, and when I put it in the cabinet last June I thought to myself,

"I am never going to get through this giant stack of plates all the way down to this one. We would have to have a ton of people over, or at least 15 dirty plates (which would be a lot in a household of 2). Neither of those things are going to happen. Why do we even HAVE so many plates?!"

I did that thing - that only girls do - where you stand in your kitchen and cry over the sentiment of a plate. 


We have been abundantly, ridiculously blessed and cared for here in this weird town where we had no work and no friends at first. 


The Lord carried us to groups, communities, clients, part time jobs, friends, late night laughs, long walks and a whole city full of affectionate memories. 


As we make the move BACK to middle Georgia where we both spent 5+ years in school, it feels a little like we had a Boomerang year where the Lord said, "let me teach you a few things and then I'll lead you back". 


Worth it? I mean, I ate off my last plate...







What will he be teaching? 9th Grade Civics and 10th Grade History

What will happen to Laurel Ave? Nothing. Augusta/Athens/Atlanta...etc... clients will have my full heart and attention and presence. Augusta vendors have my heart and I will still travel to be friends with the amazing community there. And Central Georgia will get a little extra LA presence (Macon's Tuesday's Together, I'm comin' for ya). 

How are you going to live in a town without a Target and a Costco and a Panera? Valid. But Zach refers to Milledgeville as "the town where we fell in love" so I guess we'll get by. 

If Home Is Where The Work Is: Productivity

Tropical Storm Colin is upon us here in Tallahassee (cue the blanket, Gilmore Girls, & PJs), and yet I chose to write about productivity today. However, I'm accompanied by a mug full of french pressed coffee + a blueberry bagel. So how could things go wrong? 

If you work from home, most likely you are/have struggled in procrastination vs. productivity. Let's tip the scales in favor of the latter today. 


Wear Shoes

This sounds like a silly trick, but it really does work! When trying to beat a deadline and feeling lazy, throw on a pair of flats to make desk posture less informal. This can get rid of the urge to settle into the couch where you may get too comfortable, inviting procrastination. 

*Wearing your favorite sneakers while tidying the house can also boost energy and efficiency, encouraging your body to "get up and go".  

Clock Out

Have a "clock in + out" goal time each day. Set an alarm for you to be at your desk, and a 15 minute warning time that you need to be finishing up for the day. Having a schedule gives you freedom of mind to leave work at your desk and not feeling as if you have a constant list of emails, budgeting, ordering, or networking to do while you're cooking up food for your littles, or enjoying your evening from work. 

*The Laurel Avenue team uses an app called boomr which helps us track our productivity for the week and is a reminder to work hard, play hard. 

Visual Switch-up

Try to rearrange at least one thing on your desk each week. Move your mini cactus to the other side of your computer, put your chair on the opposite side of the desk, paint something with pretty colors that will add some cheer to your wall, or even turn on more lights than normal while you're working. Your office (or dining room table) can become mundane causing less motivation.

*A Harvard study proved flowers actually boost moods. Cut a wild floral branch, or get your favorite grocery store bundle for a nice pop. 

Familiar Faces

Get in touch with one familiar face a day. That one vendor crush you have on instagram, the trendy girl you see in your neighborhood walking her dog, or a longtime friend. Making a connection to someone you haven't talked to before builds up creativity and helps keep the social hour of a 'home' business in check. 

*People become beyond flattered when you instill positivity by reaching out and saying you like what they're doing with their style, business model, or even their breed of dog. What's not to love about some positivity? 


What does your best look like?



         Kaley Wallace

         Kaley Wallace



If you do this one thing, people will naturally follow your lead.

     Elena Balkcom for Laurel Avenue

You got 2 hours less sleep than you wanted. The last thing you want to do is give extra. 

You have just about enough energy for work and that's it. Don't ask me to pick up anything at the store. Kroger is more than I can handle today. 

On leading with kindness and encouragement in the wedding industry. 

Loss, stress, grief, chores, rejection and the full laundry baskets make it impossible for us to imagine "going the extra mile" when our own mile for today probably won't even get run because there's too many piles to handle. 

Listen. I'm with you. Keeping up with the details of 25+ weddings at a time is taxing on my mental bandwidth. When a vendor asks me a schedule question, I'll admit to you right now that my initial reaction wants to be,

"Didn't you read that beautiful timeline I worked so hard on and sent a week ago?!"

  • What you're doing is essential.

One hot summer afternoon, during college, I had volunteered to assist at a large event for a company that I wasn't connected with. I was in town with a friend and we offered to be extra pairs of hands. I put on the t-shirt that I was handed and figured we'd haul a few flower buckets and chairs for a few hours and head home.

There was some confusion with parking traffic and a major lack of signage. One of the event leaders suggested that someone needed to stand at the end of the dirt road and instruct every car. I wasn't doing anything else, so I found myself standing at a dirt road intersection in the middle of a South Carolina summer, waving at cars and repeating parking instructions.

I didn't have high expectations for this day, but I admitted to myself that this was even less glamorous than hauling floral buckets.

Y'all know I sweat a lot. 

I saw one of the event leaders jogging towards me down the dirt drive. I thought maybe there had been a change in parking info or something. She put her arm around me and said,

"You are saving the day right now. Thank you for doing this essential job. You have such a sweet, joy bringing spirit. What's your name again?" 
On managing wedding days with kindness and encouragement. 

I could have directed dusty cars for the rest of the month at that point without so much as a glass of water. Break out the pom-poms. 

I don't know how many other important, time sensitive, urgent, and glamorous tasks that director had to put on hold to jog down the road and encourage me, but it changed my life. 

  • Tell them...

It's the way we manage events now. We look for the good in what our vendors are doing and we tell them. We remind our bridal parties that we love them for their sweet attitudes all day long. We bring water to the door holders and thank the clean up staff for their valuable time. 

I'm finding more and more that as an event manager, I have a choice. I can be a tyrant and insist that vendors and families do what I say because, after all, I've managed scores of events that have run without a hitch. Or, I can get on their eye level and say,

"I see what you're doing, I appreciate what you're doing, and I need you to keep doing it, because without you, this day would be a disaster."

  • ...even when you're worn out.

I was reminded by my favorite devotional Instagram account, @pocketfuel today that when Jesus fed the 5,000, he did it at the end of a week where he had been brutally rejected and his friend had been beheaded and he was completely exhausted. Haven't we all been there? Feeling like we've already had the week from you-know-where and then about 5,000 (or even 5) people ask us for our time and...our lunch?

  • Identify urgent vs. important. 

On managing weddings and events with encouragement and affirmation.

Listen, friend. You're probably exhausted this week. You give and you work and you try and it probably still feels like you've let people down. Give yourself some grace for missing some of the "urgent" emails and tasks, especially when you're choosing to address the important hearts of people in your proximity. 

I want to remind you: there are people in your house or in your office or in your recent text messages who would will absolutely blossom today with a word of affirmation from you. And if you choose to give a little extra, even when you're exhausted, you'll change someone's life and they'll want to follow your lead.