A Life Lived Beautifully: Lauren Hooker

View More: http://andreapescephoto.pass.us/thesuite

Today I am thrilled to share with you our "A Life Lived Beautifully" feature on Lauren Hooker, owner, designer, and blogger at Elle & Co. I have followed Lauren's blog for months now and am amazed at the incredible resources and insight she shares. Bloggers, business owners, and anyone using social media or the internet would benefit from following her daily posts. Grab a cup of coffee and a warm blanket (if you are experiencing this crazy cold weather), and enjoy meeting getting to know Lauren and gleaning from her wisdom!

Meet Lauren.

Introduce yourself like we are having a cup of coffee together. What kind of coffee/tea would you drink?

If we were meeting at my favorite hometown coffee shop, I would order something simple like a vanilla latte or a pot of cinnamon orange tea. But if we were meeting for coffee in our Suite, I would most likely have a cup of coffee in hand with lots of cream and sugar.

Andrea Pesce Photography
Andrea Pesce Photography

What is your definition of a "life lived beautifully"?

A fully-surrendered life that glorifies God through the unique gifts and talents He gives.

When did you start following Jesus?

Although I would have claimed to be a Christian throughout high school and the first couple years of college, my heart wasn't transformed until the summer before my junior year at Virginia Tech. During that season I was greatly struggling with body image, and I kept seeking perfection in myself. God worked through a couple close friends and a faithful Christian counselor to bring me to Himself, and I realized that perfection could only be found in Jesus. Grace has changed every facet of who I am.

What are some verses you constantly cling to and bring life to your soul?

View More: http://andreapescephoto.pass.us/thesuite
View More: http://andreapescephoto.pass.us/thesuite

Jeremiah 29:11 is one that I've clung to since I first became a Christian, "

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

" New aspects of that verse appear to me with each new season. It's given me hope in the midst of transition and trial, knowing that God's plans are for His glory and my good. It's also humbled me in prosperous seasons, realizing that I've done nothing to deserve good plans and a right relationship with my Father.

Ezekiel 36:26 is a verse that I've recently been reflecting on, "

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." Jake and I have been reading through Old Testament prophecy in Ezekiel in our morning quiet time, and this verse comes after God promises to redeem Israel for the sake of His name. This verse struck me, not only because of God's mercy to restore a nation who purposefully turned from Him, but because God did it for the concern of His Name. It's a picture of salvation and His two-fold will: His glory and our good. He never sacrifices one for the other.

How do you integrate sharing the Gospel with creativity?

I see my creativity as a gift from the ultimate Creator and my artwork as an outpouring of that gift. It's impossible for me to separate my work from my faith because the two are intertwined.

Andrea Pesce Photography
Andrea Pesce Photography

Since I started Elle & Company, I've been amazed at God's goodness to bless me with creative gifts, give me a passion for them, provide for my husband and I through them, and bless others by them. My creativity has been a neat avenue to new relationships with clients; it's given me opportunities to minister to them and share Christ with them.

How did God direct you to begin Elle And Company?

View More: http://andreapescephoto.pass.us/thesuite
View More: http://andreapescephoto.pass.us/thesuite

Although I loved and pursued design from grade school to college, I graduated from Tech feeling discouraged and wanting nothing to do with design. But God had other plans. He put a graphic design position at a start-up tech company in my lap, and while I didn't see myself staying with that company forever, it was great industry experience. While I was there I began taking on freelance projects for family and friends, designing wedding invitations, art prints, and everything in between.

Through a neat series of events, God brought my husband and I to Charlotte for him to pursue seminary, and I made the leap into business full-time. I started Elle & Company in January 2014 and the past year has been a great learning experience and a whirlwind!

What encouragement would you give to other women who are seeking to start blogging consistently?

Don't rely on what's already been done before; use your unique gifts and talents to do something different. While it's often tempting to follow the things that have brought other people success, break the mold and create a blog that's one-of-a-kind. Not only is it more memorable, but it's also more rewarding when you pour time and effort into sharing content that is distinctly and uniquely yours.

What is your favorite topic to blog about?

It sounds silly and ironic, but I love blogging about blogging. I've seen the way my blog has positively impacted my business, and I enjoy sharing what I've learned with others.

If you could do anything for the glory of God, what would it be?

While I pray that God would use Elle & Company in big ways for His glory, my biggest dream is for Jake and I to raise a family that loves the Lord and serves Him by loving others well and sharing the good news of Jesus.

View More: http://andreapescephoto.pass.us/thesuite
View More: http://andreapescephoto.pass.us/thesuite

If you could tell every woman reading this blog one thing God has laid on your heart, what would it be?

Seek after God through His Word. Before this season, I often relied on others - pastors, teachers, friends - to tell me about the Lord and interpret Scripture for me. And while all of those influences definitely helped foster my faith, nothing has compared to reading God's Word and mining His Truth for myself.

In Acts 17, Paul and Silas preach the good news of Christ to Jews in Berea, and verse 11 tells us that they, "

received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

" I pray that God would give all of us a desire to approach Scripture in its entirety to learn more about Him. And with Him in view, everything else comes into focus.

// Above photos used in this feature were taken by the wonderful Andrea Pesce Photography! //

Catch up on other "A Life Lived Beautifully" features here!