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Thanks to social media, it’s never been easier to compare ourselves to others—and feel ashamed our lives don’t look like the sparkly ones we see on our phone screens. In this episode, Kristin sits down with bestselling authors and entrepreneurs, Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan, to talk about their new devotional Always Enough, Never Too Much and how we can stop struggling with comparison and hiding our flaws, and how to live more authentically. Jess and Hayley also divulge how their friendship blossomed online, who women are really comparing themselves to (spoiler alert: it’s not Rihanna), and how they create connection and community through their businesses.
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Narrator: Desperate for a way to slow down and connect, Kristin Schell put an ordinary picnic table in her front yard and painted it turquoise. That first turquoise table became a meeting place for friends and neighbors, a place to connect, and a symbol of hospitality. Now Kristin invites you and her special guests to join her here at The Turquoise Table Podcast. Welcome.
Kristin Schell: Hello and welcome to The Turquoise Table Podcast. I’m your host, Kristin Schell.
As you know, one of the major themes at the Turquoise Table is connection and community. Today’s guests are beautiful examples of that theme, both in their relationships with one another, and in the way that they are leading and serving other women.
Today we welcome Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan. I am so excited to introduce them to you, if you don’t already know them. These two are great friends with a big passion. They are leading women in their churches and in their respective communities, as well as online as authors, speakers, and business owners.
We’re going to talk today about their new book, Always Enough, Never Too Much. It is an incredible resource for all of us, but specifically for women who are struggling with the constant comparison or they want to hide because they’re afraid, but they want to live a fulfilled life, as well. In their previous book they co-authored together, called Wild and Free, you’ll see some of the same themes resurface. Wild and Free, if y’all don’t know or haven’t read that already, please get it as well. It quickly became a USA TODAY bestseller.
Today we’re going to focus on Always Enough, Never Too Much. You’re in for a treat. Hayley and her husband started Wildly Company, which is an ethical children’s clothing line. She also currently runs a new women’s boutique called Nellie Taft, which she named after the American first lady. It features all Made in the USA products. It’s darling. We’ll have all these links in the show notes. Hayley lives in Indianapolis with her husband and their four sons.
Jess you may know from Naptime Diaries, which is now called All Good Things Collective. She started that back in 2011, selling scripture prints out of her home. She is also one of the original co-founders of She Reads Truth. She wrote a book called Dance, Stand, Run, which released in October of 2017. Jess leads her church alongside her husband in Charleston, South Carolina, and they are busy with children, as well.
Today, sit back, relax. I know you’re going to get just some practical tips and wisdom as we walk through struggling with comparison, not being enough or being too much, as we talk about Always Enough, Never Too Much. I’m excited for this. Let’s go.
Jess and Hayley, welcome to The Table today. I am so excited to have y’all here and cannot wait to hear your stories and for everyone to get to know y’all a little bit better, so thanks for being here.
Hayley Morgan: Thank you for having us.
Jess Connolly: Yeah, thank you.
Meeting Jess & Hayley
Kristin: Let’s do this. Since there’s two of y’all on here, I’m not going to pick favorites. I’m just going to start chiming out names, but here’s what I’d love: Jess, why don’t you, will you start? Will you introduce yourself? Just tell us a little bit about your family, your background. Then, Hayley, we’ll get to meet you.
Jess: Absolutely. I’m Jess Connolly and I live in Charleston, South Carolina, with my husband and four kiddos. My husband and I started a church about four years ago called Bright City Church. Our normal days are spent leading our church and growing our church and figuring out how to do that together. I also write and speak and run a small business called All Good Things Collective.
Kristin: Awesome. Hayley?
Hayley: Yeah. Our stories kind of overlap in the fact that I also have four kids. I have four boys. We live outside of Indianapolis in the suburbs, the very furthest north you can go without being in the country. I also run a small business. We see it as the place that we get to do ministry.
Our church has been going through a long shift into the idea of making disciples, and making disciples outside of the church walls. I spend my days with kind of the same group of young women. We’re coworkers, yeah, but mostly we just talk about life and what’s going on in their lives, what’s going on in mine, and we learn from each other that way. That’s how my days are spent.
It’s a very heavy mom season right now, for sure, too.
Kristin: Right. Okay. Both of you have four children. I have four children. I think mine are a little bit older than y’all’s. Quickly, Hayley, just give us the ages, real quick, so we’ll know.
Hayley: Yeah, my boys are eleven, nine, seven and five.
Kristin: Okay. Jess, yours are about that age too. What are yours . . .?
Jess: Yeah, mine are eleven, ten, nine and five.
Kristin: Wow. Okay. Mine are just a click ahead of all y’all’s. I’ve got three in high school and then one in middle school, so, yeah, very much in mom season. And yet, this is what’s so encouraging to me. And yet, you’re doing life. You are entrepreneurs. You are working together on collaborating, but yet you’re also then working with your church and your local communities.
Those are the things I’d love to hear more about as we dive into this, and we’re going to get to the big news, which is your new fabulous, wonderful book. Before we get to that, I would love, take us back just a little bit.
Friendship & Encouragement
You mentioned too, Jess, that it’s All Good Things Collective now, but it didn’t start. You had a different name. Weren’t you the Naptime Diaries at first?
Kristin: Same with you, Hayley. Take us back a little bit, because I think it’s so cool for people to hear a little bit of the evolution of how you got to where you are.
Jess: Absolutely. That’s really our story of how we met too. I’ll start in.
Hayley, you can pick up or chime in or tell me when I got details wrong.
Hayley and I met when we were both really just mommy bloggers. We lived in different parts of the country. She lived in Indiana. I lived in South Carolina at the time. I had just started Naptime Diaries as really a blog, but also a place where I should scripture prints, which basically just meant I designed scripture in fun, artsy ways on PowerPoint on my computer and printed them out at my house and shipped them to people. It was a very low-scale small business, not dreamy, not exciting, nothing crazy.
And Hayley, I got an email from her one time that said, “Hey, we’re doing similar stuff online. We should talk sometime.” We Skype’d one night, I think, and just chatted and talked and got to know each other. About a year later, my husband ended up moving our family to Indiana for him to help pastor a church there.
Literally, as we were driving there to move, I thought, “I don’t know anyone in Indiana except for that fun blogger that I follow.” I sent her a message, and it was like, “Hey, I’m moving to Indiana. I don’t even think I’ll be in the same city, but maybe we can get together.” The next week we were having coffee. That’s how a lot of this business season came to be for us, this small business industry, online season, because we started sharing dreams with one another, and spurring one another on, and encouraging each other–and encouraging each other to equip other women with what we had.
“We started sharing dreams with one another, and spurring one another on, and encouraging each other–and encouraging each other to equip other women with what we had.” – Jess Connolly
For me, in particular, that’s really when the whole earth just shifted, because if you had asked me before that, I’d just planned to be a stay-at-home mom. I didn’t have an art degree. I didn’t have any business knowledge. I had no background there and loved ministry and loved writing and loved God, but didn’t really know what that would look like.
In so many ways my friendship with Hayley just spurred me on to want to know more and to want to do more. The Lord has really snowballed it from there. I think both Hayley and I have, in the best way, felt like dragged by the Lord into the season we’re in now that maybe we would have never even really written for ourselves.
“I have, in the best way, felt like dragged by the Lord into the season we’re in now that maybe we would have never even really written for ourselves.” – Jess Connolly
Hayley: Yeah, I think you could go back on Instagram and find the picture of the first time we met if you really, really wanted to, a long time ago. We had—between the two of us at this coffee—we also had, it would have been six of our kids, because we didn’t have our fourth kids yet. Yeah, we’re in this little sophisticated café, and we come in with all six of our kids. She could have been an internet killer. I could have been an internet killer, but we weren’t. We weren’t, so that was fantastic.
Kristin: I don’t even know what an internet killer . . . Oh, oh, oh, like a creepy person?
Hayley: Yeah, like a creepy person.
Kristin: I was like, “Wait, I don’t even know what that is.”
Building a Partnership of Ideas
Hayley: No, like a creepy person, but we weren’t.
I agree with what Jess said. It really did feel like a season of just explosive growth for me personally.
I’ve always lived, having little kids was not super hard for me, because the chaos and the physicality of it doesn’t bother me, because I can have what’s going on up in my mind by myself. I can be wiping diapers and doing all that, but mentally I’m thinking of all these ideas and thoughts and How does the world work? and What does this mean? and all this stuff. That season was fine for me, and I felt like I had this rich inner life going on, but I had all these ideas that were just begging to tumble out.
When Jess and I met, I don’t know what it was, but there was this, like, a spurring on or a catalyzing effect. I really feel like it was a season where we paced each other so well, and we were both going in the same direction after the Lord. He was just really kind and gracious to give us each other. Yeah.
Since then we’ve had two more kids. We were pregnant at exactly the same time, due two weeks a part, with our fourth kid. Both of them were unexpected, which is kind of also a sweet gift. Yeah, it’s just been a really sweet friendship in my life.
Kristin: It’s so encouraging. We know this to be true from scripture and in our heads and in our hearts that God has put us together to be in community. He wants us . . . Where two or more to be gathered. We’re better together. We know all of these things, but you’re right, it’s so sweet that now and y’all’s been doing this long enough, that you can look back and think, “Wow, this was on purpose, and this is part of the bigger picture for both of our ministries.”
I love, from where I’m sitting, that it seems super clear. I know when y’all are in the weeds and when you’re doing things together, you’re like, “Oh, maybe it doesn’t seem as clear,” but it really is. It’s a beautiful picture. It really is.
This is y’all’s second book together, right? Is this?
Always Enough, Never Too Much
Kristin: I’m so excited. The book we’re talking about is Always Enough, Never Too Much. It’s stunning. It’s beautiful, but the format is so cool and different. I’m going to try to describe it, but for those of y’all who haven’t got it in your hot little hands yet, get it.
It’s a flip book, meaning that you read it one way, the “Always Enough” section. Then you can flip it over and then read through the devotions for “Never Too Much.” Brilliant, how did y’all come up with that? Give us the 411 on this project of y’all’s.
Hayley: Yeah. It was probably three to four years ago that we really started pursuing this idea of Wild and Free. Actually, a lot of it came out of conversations with Susie Davis. The very first little seeds of this idea was Susie and I were talking a lot in that season, and I was going through this thing of, “Man, friendships don’t seem like they’re what they could be,” just a lot of different questions I had, whereas coming into that season of young adulthood, where you’re not bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. You’re kind of starting to try to find your place within the adults. You’re not the cute young adult that’s just new on the scene, you’re trying to find your place within this large group of worldwide adults.
She was like, “Hayley, just be wild and free.”
I was like, “Okay.”
Then Jess and I probably spent a good six months to a year just texting that phrase back and forth and trying to figure out what that would mean. Does the Lord reflect that, or does that reflect the Lord? Is that something we can do in friendships? Is that something that we can do our whole life?
I don’t think Susie and I ever talked about it again, but Jess and I took it on this long journey of trying to figure out what that meant in our lives, and so we wrote a book about it. It was this super sweet . . . It was just like we got to do this thing that we didn’t really know how to do. We didn’t expect to do it. It wasn’t on our radar to say, “Oh, we’re going to write a bestselling book.” But we did, and it was amazing.
Kristin: Yeah, you did. You sure did.
Hayley: It was the Lord, because it’s not something we could have mustered up or figured out or made happen on our own. We did this book. We did Wild and Free, and we didn’t have—it wasn’t in our contract to do another book together. We both had separate projects within the same contract, but we weren’t planning on doing another project together. We were sad about that.
We also kept hearing from other people, “Are you going to do something else with Wild and Free? Are you going to do something for young women or something for moms or a Bible study?” that had all these different things that they were desiring. With publishing, you don’t really get to do a lot of that stuff as first-time authors, because you’re kind of an unproven entity.
We just waited. We kept tucking those things away to our publisher, saying that that was something that people had expressed to us. Then one day they came to us with this project, this idea for this devotional.
I’ll let you take it from there, Jess.
A Topical Devotional
Jess: Yeah. That’s the dream, right, when the publisher comes to the author and says, “Hey, we’ve got an idea for you.” They came to Hayley and I together and said, “What if we put together this devotional that was really based on all of these topical things that you’re hearing women still ask about? What about when you don’t feel beautiful enough? What about when you feel weak? What about when you feel like you talk too much? What about when you feel like you don’t enough of the Bible?” These were these topical things that women kept saying. “We hear you about Wild and Free. We hear you about identity, and we’re still really struggling to apply it, to understand in this situation what that looks like.”
As they pitched us the idea of the devotional, they were the ones that said, “It will be so beautiful, and it will be a flip book.” We were like, “Oh, we’re in. Done, for sure.”
It was so fun to write. It was super-easy to write. In a lot of ways, Hayley and I joked that it felt like a secret book. We didn’t really tell people we were writing it. We didn’t really talk about it until about a month ago. It was just super life-giving to write, because it was conversations we were already having with women, women that we knew in our personal lives, and women that we met who had read Wild and Free as they processed these things with us. It was the stuff we wanted to say to them anyhow. It was just a little bit to the application, to the message. It was so fun to have a second chance to get to say those things.
Kristin: It’s perfect. It’s a perfect next format, and so kudos to the publishing team and to y’all, because it really does—now it feels like, okay, me, sitting here in Austin, Texas, holding your beautiful book—it’s like y’all are coming alongside as good friends and now still giving me that extra touch, that extra encouragement, that extra bit of scripture every day, just to come alongside me and encourage me to keep living the truth of Wild and Free. I think it’s fantastic.
Getting Out of the Comparison Trap
Kristin: It makes me wonder, because I hear this a lot in my ministry too, at the Turquoise Table, that women still struggle with this concept of, “Well, but I can’t do this,” or, “I don’t have this gift,” or, “Hospitality’s not my thing,” or, “I’m nervous about this.” It either falls into a fear camp, from what I’ve experienced, or the comparison trap that we all, at one point, fall into.
Why do you think that is? What is about women? Why do we struggle with comparison about either being enough or too much or . . . Tell me what y’all are hearing from people and how you address that in the book?
Hayley: My sense of things is that a lot of times when we’re comparing, we’re not necessarily trying to say that we are more or less than somebody else. I think that it’s our natural inclination to try to look for a measuring stick to try to see if we’re enough for the Lord, at least in my life, just trying to figure out, am I enough for the Lord. Am I doing enough? Am I doing the right things?
“It’s our natural inclination to try to look for a measuring stick to try to see if we’re enough.” – Hayley Morgan
The problem is, is that we don’t have, currently in our life, a flesh embodiment of the Lord. And so if we’re not in scripture all the time and if we’re not deeply studying Jesus’s life, we can miss on the idea that that’s the measuring stick. Also, even in Jesus’s flesh life, we won’t measure up exactly, but we have all of the tools that He had.
I think, at least for me, it’s never malicious. And I’ve heard from other women, they’re like, “I’m not trying to be that annoying girl that’s comparing herself to people all the time,” but it’s that human thing of saying, “How do I measure up? Am I doing enough? Am I being enough?” We look to our left and to our right, because that’s who’s around, rather than looking to what we know to be true in our actual identity.
“We look to our left and to our right, because that’s who’s around, rather than looking to what we know to be true in our actual identity.” – Hayley Morgan
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All right. Let’s go back to our show.
Social Media Standards of Living
Kristin: I think that so much of, there’s so much good on social media, because, goodness gracious, that’s how we’ve all built ministries. But when we’re bombarded all the time . . . you’re right. Maybe it’s not a, “I’m not trying to be you or y’all,” but when I see all the other things . . . you scroll for five minutes, and then all of a sudden you do wonder, “Well, gosh, am I doing enough, because I didn’t do this today” or, “I wasn’t here today” or, “All I could do was get out of bed and get my kids out the door,” that kind of thing.
Tell us a little bit, give us an example from the devotion side for the “Always Enough” side, and then let’s flip it and do it for the “Never Too Much,” just so that we can get an inside view from the authors.
Hayley: Yeah. First, a real quick anecdote. I was speaking at an event a couple years ago, and this has never left my mind, and it’s changed how I view social media and the way that I’m trying to interact with social media. Because I don’t think social media is going away, but I do think that there are negative consequences to the fact that we all can see everything that each other is doing all the time.
I was speaking at this event. We had to do kind of a round-table discussion after I spoke. This guy, he was probably baby-boomer age. My talk had been about millennial women and civic engagement, so how women are changing the communities that they’re in. This guy said, “You know, I’m just so sad that you women feel like you have to compare yourselves every day with Rihanna.”
It was like a record scratch. We’re at this Christian conference. It’s like you could just hear everybody’s heads whipped around to him. We were all like, “What?”
Hayley: Like, what are you talking about? It was just dead silent. This woman goes, “You know, I don’t think we’re actually comparing ourselves to Rihanna or whoever else is famous. I think we’re comparing ourselves against the other amazing things that Christian women do.”
That for me was like, “Oh!” I knew that instinctively, that I wasn’t comparing myself to Rihanna, so I was guessing that other girls like me weren’t either. But there was this push and pull of this idea that we’re all out there saying, “This is the good we’re doing. This is the good we’re doing.”
What is our responsibility to each other in community with that idea?
It’s something I’ve been chewing on for the last two or three years since that event and just trying to figure out what does that look like. It’s something I try to be really mindful of and really continue to still point that it’s the Lord and not me and that I’m not . . . It doesn’t seem glamorous or that I’m not just putting the highlights out there. I’m not even just talking about the highlights in my life like a big house—not that I have a big house, but you know what I mean.
Hayley: The fancy things, the expensive shoes, the whatever, that I’m trying to present a realistic view of things.
Anyway, that was an aside, but I don’t know if you have something from that time, Jess, that you wanted to talk about.
The Illusion of High Capacity Vs. Low Capacity
Jess: Yeah. One of the devotions I’ve been thinking a ton about from the “Always Enough” side that I think speaks a ton to comparison and really, I pray, just helps women rob the enemy of that tool that he’s losing in our life. One of my favorite devotionals from the “Always Enough” side is about when you feel like you have a low capacity or when you feel like you have a low plate.
I don’t know when we started talking about this or getting obsessed with this a few years ago, just the idea that some women are high-capacity and some women are low-capacity. Some women can handle a lot and some women can’t. In that devotional it just says, it points to some biblical truth. Then it says, “Hey, you have a capacity. Stop calling it ‘low’ or ‘high.’ It might look larger than someone else’s in this season. It might look smaller than someone else in the next season. Next week I could have more energy and more time or more money. The week after that, I could have less than I have today.”
Just by stopping putting labels on however much energy or time or resources we have, I feel like we take so much of our own identity back from the enemy to use as a tool to make us compare, to make us separate ourselves from other people. Instead, just say, “Hey, I’m actually, here’s what I’ve got, and here’s what I’m going to give to the Lord, give back to the Lord.” That’s been one I’ve just noticed that really trips women up. They feel like they have to hide and pretend like they have more ability to do more than they’ve got.
“I feel like we take so much of our own identity back from the enemy to use as a tool to make us compare, to make us separate ourselves from other people.” – Jess Connolly
This is like a silly, small example, but I’ve been thinking about it because I just said it last night. My sister has six kids. She’s, in general, Superwoman. She has six kids. She runs a small business that’s wildly successful. Her husband’s the pastor of a megachurch. She is very busy. Every time I see her. she always has a few extra kids with her. She already had one really rambunctious dog, and she just got a new dog. I have watched her feel very insecure as people have chastised her for getting another dog and just said, “What are you doing? What is your problem?” I just watched her feel like she has to apologize. Finally, I was like, “Hey, you’ve got a lot of love to give. You like a full house. You like a busy schedule. Stop apologizing for it. It’s okay.”
Likewise, I happened to be somewhere with her yesterday, and a woman saw me. Of course, the first thing she said is, “Okay, what about you? You got to keep up. You going to get another dog?” I knew she was just kidding, but I was still like, “No. No. I don’t have to keep up.”
I don’t need another dog just because she had another dog. I don’t have to prove to everyone else that I can keep up. Why would we even use that language? Why would you even want to enter that into a conversation between me and my sister, “Are you going to keep up?” Of course, it was silly, and of course it was lighthearted, but that’s what we do. That’s how we try to measure ourselves against each other.
“I don’t have to prove to everyone else that I can keep up.” – Jess Connolly
That’s one of my favorite devotionals from that side. I hope it really helps women stop saying, “I have a small plate,” or, “I have a big plate,” or, “I can get a lot done,” or, “Watch me prove that I can do a lot,” or, “I feel bad because she just seems to be able to do a lot more than me.”
Kristin: I think that’s so good. And they’re seasons too. Like you said, one day you may feel like you can accomplish a lot, and some days you can’t. I think that’s true for seasons. We can’t judge or compare the seasons of someone’s life.
I get looked at a lot now that my kids are in high school. I have a little bit more margin in my life, in my days than I did five years ago when I was totally in the weeds with All The Things. I think that’s so important. I can’t wait to read that one. That’s good, good, good.
The Motives of Ambition
Hayley: Yeah, and from the “Too Much” side, I have been looking at this idea of what does it mean to have ambition. I talk about, the devotion’s called “Even When You Have Ambition.” It’s this idea of we talk about goal-setting, and the things we’re trying to achieve, and things like that. I didn’t have to do anything to be ambitious. It’s just in me, and I don’t know where it came from. I know it came from the Lord, but I didn’t do anything to wish it upon myself. It’s not something I read books about to try to be better about. It’s just ingrained in how I am. I would do it about making chocolate chip cookies, or I would do it about having a small business. It’s just how I am. It’s not about conquering other people. It’s about trying out ideas and about getting better at those particular outflows of ideas.
It’s taking these goals and it’s taking this ambition, and I think it’s looking at the motives of it. I think it’s letting your reflection or letting your ambition reflect Jesus. It’s easy to dress up our ambition, I think, especially in this day and age of social media and of women doing big things on social media. It’s really easy to dress up your ambition as something Christ-like. It’s something that I felt very convicted about in the past five years, since having a somewhat public ministry, is this idea of, “Is this being conceit, or is this a holy ambition?”
I think that when it feels like you’re too much, when it feels like you’re too ambitious, when you set too many goals, when you want to see things do well or take off, I think it’s really important that we just stay in line with the Lord. We don’t have to be afraid of ourselves when we’re tethered to the Lord. We don’t have to be afraid that we’re going to go off-track or that we’re going to somehow start using this all for ourselves or things like that. I think it’s something to be mindful of, but I think the only reason to hold that in mindfulness is to take it to the Lord and to say, “Yeah, don’t let me do that, okay?”
“We don’t have to be afraid of ourselves when we’re tethered to the Lord.” – Hayley Morgan
I use the illustration in Wild and Free about the idea of a pendulum, about how when something’s tethered to something at the top, then no matter how it swings, it’s always going to come back to be square with the top. It’s going to come back to plumb. That’s how I see my relationship with the Lord, and it’s how I try to counsel other young women to see their relationship.
“The idea of a pendulum, about how when something’s tethered to something at the top, then no matter how it swings, it’s always going to come back to be square with the top. It’s going to come back to plumb.” – Hayley Morgan
I have right now a lot of early-twenties women in my life, and it’s really interesting to watch them, because I am in my early thirties, so we came of age in a different time. Our parents parented differently, just by the nature of being either in a different age group within a generation or a totally different generation. Being at the top end of the millennial age group, the younger kids, they are . . . “The younger kids.” The young twenties, they . . . “Those whippersnappers.” They were raised in this helicopter parenting time, where it was a lot more parental involvement.
There’s so many great things that come from that, but what I’ve seen is a big fear to take risks and a big fear to advance past what they know now. I try to tell them all the time that you don’t have to be afraid of yourself. You don’t have to be afraid of the decisions that you’re going to make, or the things, the ideas you’re going to have, the ways you’re going to pursue the Lord. As long as you’re abiding in the Lord, as long as you’re connected to the branch, or connected to the vine, you are not going to swing too far or too left. The spirit that’s in you is not going to convict you and bring you back to center with the Lord.
I feel like I tell other young women that all the time, that they don’t have to be afraid. They can move past what’s comfortable now and what seems wise now and what seems smart and what seems rational, and they can take that next step. I tell that to myself all the time too, that I don’t have to be afraid of the things that the Lord has put on my plate.
When you look at the climate that we’re in right now of so many—and it’s always been this way—of so many public failings from Christian leaders, it can be very easy to be afraid of having any kind of spotlight. It’s not that I’m afraid of being found out, but I would be afraid of turning into something that I didn’t know was possible for me to turn into. I think it’s just trusting the Lord, that He’s going to bring you back in right line with Him.
This idea of ambition and of being too much in that way, I think it all can be brought under the umbrella of the Lord, and it can all be brought into right relationship with Him. That’s my big thing, is I’ve got a bandana for this book launch that says “I won’t back down” on it—I actually saw Susie and her daughters bought them at a flea market or something they were at—It says,”I won’t back down,” and it’s that Tom Petty song . . .
Kristin: Yeah, exactly.
Hayley: “You can stand me up at the gates of hell, and I won’t back down.”
It’s something I have to tell myself all the time is, you do not have to be afraid of this particular way that the Lord has made you, because He made you that way, and he’s going to continue His work in you even in that character trait. I just keep telling myself that, that I am tethered to the Lord, and He is not going to let me stray too far.
“You do not have to be afraid of this particular way that the Lord has made you, because He made you that way, and he’s going to continue His work in you even in that character trait.” – Hayley Morgan
Kristin: I love that. Wow. Thank you. I think that’s a message whether you’re the young-twenties whippersnappers or certainly . . . My mom, I bet, is listening. And I know she’s going to appreciate that as well too, so a shout-out to you, Mina.
Moving From Discouragement to Purpose
Kristin: Then let’s go into your real lives, because you both have used what started as just everyday interests and passions, and you’ve created these . . . through your businesses and through these third spaces, to do ministry as entrepreneurs, if you will. Share what each of you are doing through the All Good Things Collective and then through Wildly and Nellie Taft. Tell us, because this is also, God is so creative in the way He is using people’s gifts to build community.
Jess: All Good Things, right now, is the iteration that we’re in. It’s moved from Naptime Diaries into All Good Things. Really, we’re just passionate about bringing victory to women’s everyday life, to “making them the hero of their home” is a phrase we’ve started to use a lot.
We sell scripture prints. We sell fun paper products that help women spend time in the Word or help them encourage themselves. Some of our favorite products are things we make called Victory Cards, that are literally just short action items, steps, women can take every day to move from despair and discouragement into worship and purpose and praise.
Yeah, we just want to help encourage and come alongside women to help them be the heroes of their home, to help them be the ones speaking life and God’s Word and truth over their family, over their walls, over their roommates. There are prints and tee-shirts and hats and fun little products like that.
“We just want to help encourage and come alongside women to help them be the heroes of their home,” – Jess Connolly
It’s been a joy to just do that and partner with the Lord through creativity and get to know more women’s stories and hear what they’re actually struggling with.
Kristin: Wow. That’s good.
Hayley: Hayley here. My husband and I have gone through this journey the last, gosh, it’s been since we started Influence. At our first conference, Jess and I had this women’s conference called the Influence Conference. From our first conference, we were at the conference. Jess and I, I think, were ninety weeks’ pregnant, both of us. Our husbands were there, and they were dumbfounded that all these women showed up to hear about the Lord. They thought this was just a fun little thing we were doing. All of a sudden, there were hundreds of women who were looking at us to tell them what to do, not what to do in life, but just where to go next.
We had a speaker that was this guy from Nashville. His name’s Barrett Ward. He founded the company that was called Fashionable, but now it’s just called ABLE. Mike sat in that session. I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off probably figuring other things out, but he sat in that session, and he came out, and he had tears in his eyes. My husband’s not a super crier, so that was kind of stressful to me. I was like, “Wait, you’re not supposed to be falling apart. This is my weekend. I’m supposed to be the one who’s needy.” He pulls me into a conference room, one of the banquet rooms, or whatever, and he just said, “The Lord did something to me in that session.”
The whole story was that Barrett was climbing the corporate ladder, all about making X amount of dollars a year, all about his own comfort and his own safety, and that he went into this situation where he went to adopt his daughter. She was in Africa, and he got there, and he was not able to find her. She was not where she was supposed to be. She was supposed to be at this orphanage. She wasn’t there.
He went on this months-long quest to try to find her in Africa, finally found her, and promptly called his office and said, “It was so great for you to let me have this time to do this. I’m not going to be coming back, because now I have this bigger purpose that I see the Lord working.” It was this great pilgrimage.
Running Ethical and Valuable Businesses
Hayley: It’s a really powerful story. All of that to say that that really started a years-long process of God deconstructing what my husband thought success in vocation was. Because of that, if you’re married and something happens with your spouse, it also means you’re going to go along for a ride, regardless of where you’re at.
That also took me on this journey of figuring out what is work? What’s valuable? Why do we do this? why did God make work a part of our lives? How as Americans do we do work? How does our work impact other people?
We developed these businesses. The first was Wildly Co, and that is a kids clothing line. We did it because I found out through going to Ethiopia with Barrett and then through more research on my own, just the conditions, the worker conditions, of garment workers across the world. The implications of America’s trade agreements and America’s appetite for cheap things—cheap, convenient things, all the time—what that means for the working conditions of garment workers. We really set out to build from the ground up our own kids clothing line. We did that. That is amazing, continues to be a huge creative challenge and in a good way.
Then we have Nellie Taft, which it’s kind of—whereas Wildly Co, we build everything from soup to nuts. I go out to LA, buy the fabric. We do the patterns. It’s made in North Carolina. With Nellie Taft, we buy wholesale from other made-in-America brands, and so we’re able to move a little more quickly and a little more nimbly. That works for the women’s space. That’s Nellie Taft.
Really, we came to the point where we were like, Yes, we need to do business in an ethical way. Ethical fashion is important, and we’re not going to go back to doing it another way. But really, more than anything, the mission of our business is to disciple our employees. That has been . . . it is very, very different to run a business with a mission than a business as mission.
“it is very, very different to run a business with a mission than a business as mission.” – Hayley Morgan
Hayley: That’s the way that we see our businesses now.
I think when we started out, we thought, “We’re going to do good in the world, and we’re going to change something.” That’s a very world-changery, big Christian dream idea. And it’s important and it’s good. But in the day-to-day of a business, you interact a hundred thousand times more with your employees than you do with your customers—if it’s an online business—than you do with your customers or than you do with your suppliers.
We really spend our day-to-day really investing and pouring into the lives of our employees. It has made a huge difference in the way that we see work and the way we see ambition and the way that we see success.
My husband and I recently went to Myanmar, which is the fastest-growing global economy right now. And we were able to train emerging entrepreneurs, who are one of the small percentage of Christians within the nation, who see entrepreneurship, who see small business, as a way that they can reach other people for the Lord. We were able to go and do that. That of course just set in stone our heart and our passion for this way of doing business.
Kristin: I think that’s incredible, because when you set out, did you think that your employees of a business would really be the mission field that you were called to?
Hayley: No. First of all . . .
Kristin: That’s the most beautiful journey that the Lord has brought you on.
Different Ways to Change the World
Hayley: Yeah. First of all, I don’t think I thought that, because it feels very pedestrian. It feels like, “Of course, the people you sit next to at your desk would be the people you have the most impact on.” But it sounded sexier and more glamorous to have this global impact with all kinds of different people. That’s important and that’s good, but that’s not what the Lord brought me to.
Actually, what the Lord brought me to was a much more difficult and intimate and vulnerable place, where you have to get in somebody else’s business, and you have to know what’s going on in their lives. Doing that at work is also very countercultural, because Americans want to leave work at work and they want to leave home at home. It’s honestly been way more formative for me and way more sanctifying than this big global change-the-world idea.
“The Lord brought me to was a much more difficult and intimate and vulnerable place, where you have to get in somebody else’s business, and you have to know what’s going on in their lives.” – Hayley Morgan
Kristin: Wow. In Turquoise Table Land we call ourselves “front yard people,” but really our mission is “gather small and love deeply.” We do it with neighbors. You’re doing it with your employees. You’re right, it does feel . . . We think that if I’m doing something big for the Lord, big, and it’s really these small, vulnerable—that’s where change really happens. I love that example. I love the illustration that you just walked us through, so thank you.
Showing Up For Others
Kristin: Jess, tell us, where’s your mission field? Is that . . .?
Jess: The exact same. It’s a hundred percent the exact same. Our church is our everything right now, as far as mostly what’s getting our ministry and our time and our heart and our tears. All of the gals who work for me also go to our church. I’m really similar to Hayley. It’s a lot of discipleship. As we are going, as we’re pounding it out, as we’re going on book tour, as we’re releasing new products, as we’re doing photo shoots, and it’s been really interesting. There’s days when it’s really draining, but I think it’s where abundance and victory lives.
It’s just so interesting, because you can’t share that on the internet. You can’t really share the most beautiful parts and the hardest parts.
Kristin: Right, right.
Jess: Somebody asked me the other day why I don’t talk about discipleship more, and I said, “Because you can’t use the word discipleship when you’re actually discipling people who follow you.
Jess: It’s not super appropriate. If you asked any of the girls who are in my life, “Is Jess discipling you?” they’d say like, “No, she’s my friend. She’s my person. She’s my boss.” I think they get it and they see that I’m a conscientiously pouring into their lives.
Yeah, I think this is where abundance lives. It’s colorful and it’s wild, and it’s hard. but, man, is it rewarding. I absolutely believe it’s how we change the world.
The internet is fun, writing books is fun, traveling to speak every once in a while is fun. But, for example, even to travel, I don’t go without one of my gals from here, because really, that’s what I’m doing. She’s who I’m ministering to, and if she gets to grow in the process, it’s totally worth it.
Kristin: It’s just beautiful examples, because I think . . . and, Jess, you used a word that we use all the time in our small little neck of the world here. You said “notice” earlier.
To me, listening to y’all’s stories, at some point you noticed what the Lord was doing. It wasn’t what you set out perhaps, and it wasn’t the big marketing plan or the plan that was laid before you, but you noticed what was really happening. You showed up, and you’re doing your work, and you’re being obedient. Then it defines itself for you.
Jess: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Kristin: Okay, ladies, we could talk all day. What a gift.
Pay Attention To What Is In Front of You
Kristin: One word, if y’all, one or two words: if you had to encourage someone today on looking for opportunities to build community right where they live, right where they’re doing, what do you say to them?
Hayley: I think just go where you’re at. Look at the people around you. Look at them in the eyes and go about your normal day. I don’t think it has to be on some program or some list of rules. I always want a program and a list of rules to tell me how to do it, so I don’t screw it up. But really, the Lord has just shown me, nope, it’s not going to be that simple. It’s just going to have to be the people in front of you, and so just pay attention to them and just ask them hard questions and be in their lives.
Jess: A hundred percent. I’d say look who’s already listening to you. There’s someone already listening to you, whether it’s your kids or the people you work with or your barista.
I would also say look for the women who are frustrating you. We are a very frustrated and opinionated generation right now, especially in the church. I would say look for the issues that are frustrating you or riling you up, and ask the Lord if He might not want you to be the answer to that situation.
Kristin: Wonderful. Wow.
Ladies, okay, I will have all of your information in the show notes so that people can find you and cheer you on and continue to soak in your wisdom. Thank you so much for being around my table today. It was just an honor to get to hear y’all’s stories.
Hayley: Thanks, Kristin.
Voiceover: Welcome to Kristin’s Kitchen, sponsored by Shipt.
Kristin: Hello, and here we are now in the kitchen. I could have talked to Jess and Hayley all day. I think there’s so much to learn as women and about building community and how that tension and struggle that sometimes we feel as being either we’re enough or whether we’re too much.
I am going to do something a little bit fun, playing on the theme of always enough and never too much in the kitchen. I’m going to share with y’all my—I don’t know what the word is, if we have a “food crush” or if it’s just like I’m smitten with this recipe—but this is, hands-down, what I am making the most these days.
It’s from, remember our podcast with Polly, “From Freezer to Table”? This is their recipe. It’s pumpkin muffins with a crumble topping. Here’s what I love about this. First of all, they will disappear in front of your eyes. I cannot keep these. It’s always enough, but there’s never too much of these.
They freeze fabulously, and I have taken them to neighbors who have been sick. I have taken them to welcome new babies in our neighborhood. I have probably at least 24 of these muffins in my freezer right now. They’re so delicious. They also, they’re relatively healthy.
Here’s what I want you to do: I’m going to put the link to “From Freezer to Table” in the show notes, but I’m going to tell you a little bit about how we’re going to make these. You’re going to need whole wheat flour, which I love, because no one—my kids and everyone I’ve taken them to—no one has suspected the whole wheat flour. Then you’re going to use some old-fashioned rolled oats. You are going to use a little bit of all-purpose flour. Then all the delicious pumpkin muffin spices that you can think of: nutmeg, cloves, ginger. Then an entire can of pumpkin purée.
I love this. If you remember back to my conversation with Polly, I thanked her, because usually recipes call for a cup of pumpkin purée or three-fourths cup. Then what are you going to do with the rest of the can? This uses the entire can of pumpkin purée. Then for the fat, instead of using butter, you’re going to use melted coconut oil, which I also love. It’s not overpowering, so if you don’t like coconut, don’t worry. These do not taste like coconut muffins. The flavors just blend with the nutmeg and the cloves and the ginger. It just brings it all to life. Then a little bit of sugar. Then some applesauce as the sweetener, that is just a healthy substitution too. Then vanilla and eggs.
Then I put the crumble on top but it’s optional. What you’re going to need for that is some brown sugar, some butter with . . . You’re going to leave it out on your counter just to be softened. Then some more of the old-fashioned rolled oats and just two tablespoons of whole wheat flour.
Again, this is my go-to recipe right now, and I will make sure that you have it all linked up there, but it freezes wonderfully. They travel easy, and I am not kidding you, your kids will pop them in their mouths, and they will disappear.
Just another little fun trick: I’ve been using this silicone cupcake or muffin—bakers use those silicone ones. I’ll put a link to those in the show notes, as well. Actually, I have them in three different sizes, and so it’s fun. It makes for a pretty little platter to if you want to serve them for a gathering. You can use the little bitty mini ones, which are the bite-sized ones. Then I have the regular standard muffin size and then a few of the jumbo ones. It’s fun just to shake that up and serve them in different sizes as well.
Have fun with this recipe. Put some in your freezer. You never know when the delicious gift of a yummy muffin will serve someone well. I promise they are always enough and never too much. Enjoy.
Hope you enjoyed today’s episode. As always, I would love it if you would leave us a review in iTunes, and feel free to reach out to me. Let me know what you’re cooking. Let me know what’s going on at your table. If you have any questions, we are here for you. We are in this together, friend.
Until next time, gather small and love deep.
Voiceover: That’s it for today’s show. Thanks for listening. You’ll find the complete transcript of this episode at TheTurquoiseTable.com/Podcast. Also, be sure to subscribe to The Turquoise Table Podcast on iTunes and leave us a review. Until next time, gather small and love deep.