Life in Glen Ellyn, Illionis

So, I never really did a re-cap post about my time with the Barlow Family.
From August 9 - September 12 I lived with Sarah and her wonderful parents and siblings.

I have collected pictures from beginning to end of my trip. Now, some are cell-phone pics, some are Sarah's (aka: amazing) and some have been posted already. Just bear with me on all that, because I really want to post about my time!

Let me start this post with a little intro to the song... One of the first nights I was there, we were all cleaning the kitchen and singing to music. Someone turned on "Good Riddance" by Greenday, I was like "Oh! I love this song! I haven't heard it in forever!" Later I looked at the lyrics and I was sure that this song was written for me. For this trip. It fit perfectly!

Please read the words, cause they are just awesome!

"Another turning point;
a fork stuck in the road"

Time grabs you by the wrist;
directs you where to go.

So make the best of this test
and don't ask why.

It's not a question
but a lesson learned in time.

It's something unpredictable
but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

So take the photographs
and still frames in your mind.

Hang it on a shelf
In good health and good time.

For what it's worth,
it was worth all the while.

It's something unpredictable
but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life."

Alright, here we go.... from the beginning!

I had just graduated highschool when I took my first trip to Chicago. I was thrilled beyond belief. Not at all nervous, just very excited!My mom, sister and I met the Barlows at their house for pizza. Conversation was so easy, they were so welcoming and kind - it was awesome! And it was the weirdest thing for me to meet Sarah, after reading her blog for over a year! I felt like I knew them all already!
"Hi Natalie, I'm Kristen and I loved the dress you wore to that dance... and your hair was fabulous! And JuliAnna has gotten so big.... since, uh, she was born."
Anyways, while I was there I assisted Sarah and her team at Liz and Logan's wedding.
It was incredible.The next day we did a photoshoot around Chicago, which was, again, incredible.Then, I left to go back home until August. I kept very busy, but all I could think about was going back for my internship! August 9th couldn't have come fast enough.
But, happily, it came :D
Sarah picked me up from the airport pretty early in the morning (my plane left at, like, 6:00 am or something crazy like that...) and my whirlwind life with Sarah begun!

We met with one of her friends for lunch and pictures, of course. Then, we came home and hung out with another group of friends at their house. I was losing it, so I took a nap, but when I got up, we headed out to see a movie and then back to another friends house to hang out.Day One. Done.

Haha, I could not have had a better introduction to my life with Sarah. She is go, go, go all the time. And I loved it! It was awesome! She planned a pool party for some friends a few nights later, and that was great meeting everyone (and hearing an Australian guy talk on the phone. Haha, funny story)

Also, we met up with Pete and Mike at a sushi place downtown. Mike is my best friends brother and happened to be in town, so that was random and fun!
Then, we started our work schedule. 5:30 wake-up time, devotions, work-out and then photography work. I am not going to go into detail with all that, but, it was excellent!Alright, one of the best parts of the trip was meeting the famous Olivia
Ollie, is... just basically awesome. I want kids like her :D
She is 4 going on 16, haha. She is very personable, creative, loud, hysterical and cute!
A lot of my time there was spent doing photobooth on my Mac with Ollie... too precious!I also met Brianna. And, ohmygoodness, she is the sweetest thing ever! She has such a passion for God and such a gentle, tender spirit. She was only in town for a few days, but I was encouraged and spurred on by her! (and, she has dimples!!!!!)I love you Brianna!

Ok, I am kind of jumping around here, but oh well. Let's see... Probably the highlight of my whole trip was our girls night in the city. Beth (oh, jeez, I haven't even mentioned her yet! Wow, yes, Beth is also amazing. Probably one of the hardest workers and most patient person I have ever met!) Morgan (Sarah's "September intern" who I just love so so so much), Brianna, Sarah and I went downtown all dressed up, ready for some fun!We all brought our cameras and took pictures all over the place, while trying to pick a place to eat. And then, over debating for a while, we chose to eat on top of the John Hancock building, at sunset. I wanted to cry of happiness when we got up there.
We had a table right by the window and I could see the water, the Navy Pier and big ferris wheel, and the whole skyline. It was all lit by the fading sun and then everything sparkled in the night with millions of lights. It was breathtaking - in every sense of the word.
Haha, however, I am not (NOT) used to fancy restaurants. I know I have never been in a place like that before - I think "Carrabba's" might be the nicest place I had. And I was such an idiot in there! I was using wrong forks, I ate the mashed potatoes with the serving spoon, I drank from the wrong cups, I was confused when they took my decoration plate away (who needs a decoration plate?), I had no idea what the ingriedients were in the food. Sarah and I split our meal and I was shocked when they brought our food out on separate plates - like, we didn't need to split it ourselves. I was out of place for sure! Then, to top the night off, Sarah's car broke down in the most sketch area ever! It was so like a movie - four girls all dressed up in a bad area of town when BMW breaks down. Then it started to rain. We were out until almost 2 am. Mr. Barlow and Andrew had to come save us. We were pretty helpless :D
Regardless, we had a fantastic time!
{Oh, and this is one of my fave pics of me and Sarah, from that night}
And, the next night we went to a big-dance-graduation party.
(This was the night that Brianna and I had our looooong talk :D We aren't super into dancingOkay. Next topic.
The great thing about interning with Sarah is that it was so practical for me! She has 9 people in her family, just like me, and I got to see exactly how to handle running a business while being home with all the kiddos.

One thing we decided was that we needed to get cute aprons to wear while we made dinner. Not gonna lie - I LOVE my apron! Sarah bought it for me too :DThey had a Young Women's Meeting at their house the night I got my apron. Yeah, I totally wore it the entire meeting.
Sarah is just too fun :DOk, time for Natalie. Natalie was my surprise in Chicago.
I love her so much! I was totally not expecting to leave having her as a great friend.
I mean, I was expecting it with Sarah, and I was expecting to like Natalie, but I never thought we would get as close as we did!
I had so much fun talking with her, laughing with her and just seeing how she - at such a young age - is thinking through life decisions and really striving to be wise. I so appreciate that about her!
Love you Natalie!

Now for Morgan!
Morgan is just great. I am not even kidding. I don't think that anyone on the planet can not like Morgan. She made me laugh so hard! She loves "Big Girls Don't Cry" and is proud of it, she loves her family with all her heart, she loses all sense of direction when driving and just knows how to enjoy life =)
I love you Morgan!One of the hugest thing that being with Sarah did for me was give me an identity in the photography world. I e-mail people now and say "I am Kristen, Sarah Barlow's intern" and I get responses from big-time people!
I was on David Jay's blog while I was there and meeting everyone in New York was all because of Sarah and her network of friends. I cannot thank her enough for being so willing to help me on way!

Also, I got to hang out with her cousins, which is the band BarlowGirl.
I slept over at their house, got our hair done together and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed at Lauren (the drummer).Alright. Sarah's turn.

Sarah. Where do I start?

I am going to try to be quick, but, I want you to know that I learned so much from you. But, the two biggest things I learned from watching you up close and personal are these: 1) Be very generous and 2) Enjoy God.

1. Sarah is probably the most generous person I know. She gives and gives and gives and has such a great time giving. I love that. And I love how God is blessing her for "holding loosely the things of this world." She had eternal rewards in mind, and lives her life to bless people.
2. Sarah has this incredible relationship with God. I am not quite sure how to explain it, but she is (excuse the cliche-ness) on fire for God. She loves to talk to Him, talk about Him and to live for Him.
She never seems burdened with her faith - she is just full of joy and in love with her Lord.Thank you, Sarah, for teaching more than you can ever know!
I love you!

And , to the rest of the Barlow family:
Mr. Barlow - Thank you for opening up your home to me and for leading your family so well. You are Sarah's hero!
Mrs. Barlow - Thank you for your desire to grow closer to God and to do your job as wife and mom excellently. I respect you so much!
Andrew - Thank you for being so willing to help me - despite how busy you are! You are such a hard worker.
Mark - Thank you for being such a mature servant. You are selflessly and quietly glorifying God through your life.
John - Thank you for loving your siblings so much - especially JuliAnna! I love that you totally welcomed me into your life and were quick to help me.
Jules - "You are the preciousest!"