Posts in An Inspired Life: Living Fully & Creatively in Every Season
5 Things God's Been Doing in My Life & Heart

I recently read Jess Connolly’s birthday post Five Things God Did and Five Things I'm Asking For and was inspired to create one of my own.

 

I ushered in year number thirty-three a few weekends ago, and it was a weekend packed full of people and things I love.

It also inspired me to reflect on my thirty-second year and take a bit of an inventory of how God was moving in my life and heart.

I think in a lot of ways I lived out my word for 2016: OPEN. Thirty-two seemed in many ways to be a season that pushed me to be more open to where God had me and where He was calling me, a year that asked me to let go of my own expectations and plans, in favor of His.

So on to the list (because I really love lists...)

5 Things God Did in My Life & Heart This Year

  1. I moved— A LOT (both home and work and church will be next). And in all the shifting and the moving and the pieces slowly beginning to settle again, I realized how much my life needed that freshness, that uprooting. And while I think I'm still in the replanting part of the process, it's been hard and good and inspiring. It's shown me God's plan is often so much bigger than we can realize and comprehend. And that sometimes, we get a little too settled in our circumstances, but in His grace, He calls us to keep growing and going new places with Him.
  2. God continued to show me the importance of cultivating community. I could not be more grateful for the amazing people in my life who walk alongside me, laugh with me, cry with me, encourage me, strengthen me, and seek the Lord with me. This past year that community has only grown and deepened, and I am so humbly thankful for the gift of those relationships in my life. My sister and I have also grown so much closer in the past year, because we made it a point to understand one another better and really work on some of the areas that were stumbling blocks in our relationship. I am so thankful for the hard work we've been doing and all the sweet fruits we have seen as a result. I learn more and more that relationships don't just happen. They are faithfully built, tended, and grown with love over time.
  3. I fell more in love with my city and state. I did quite a bit of exploring and adventuring this past year and loved every moment of it. From farmers markets to local boutiques to art events to celebrating the Cavs' championship win, I found myself uncovering more and more things to love about calling Ohio home.
  4. I started dating an amazing guy (!). This was such an unexpected blessing of the past year that it still surprises me at times. If you've hung around here for any length of time, you've likely read one of my posts on singleness. It's been quite a journey of surrender and trust for me. But this new season of dating is so special and sweet, and while it's still new and uncertain, I know God is right in the midst of it, leading the way. (And P.S. I promise to post more about this story soon. It's a fun one!) :)
  5. I shared (and surrendered) more of my story. One of the highlights of my year was teaching an Influence Network class called Trusting God With Your Story. That was such a stretching experience for me, but true to form, God didn't leave it there. Many months later, I read a book that loosened my grip on my story even more, shaking up some of the dreams and expectations I had been carrying around and waking me up to the freedom of true surrender.

Thirty-two was good. It was stretching, and it was refreshing. It surprised me, too, and I'm thankful for those surprises, because they've pointed me back to the truth that God writes really really good stories that are never predictable. And that's kind of exciting, isn't it?

And Here are 5 Things I'm Praying For in The Coming Year

  1. I'm asking God to show me how to be a better steward of the good gifts He's given me — including my love and desire to create. This little blog of mine has become more and more neglected, and while I love regular Instagram posts, they just aren't the same as really sitting down and intentionally creating and crafting something. So, I'm asking for clarity and guidance and space to create more for Him, in whatever way would glorify Him most.
  2. I'm praying to date intentionally, trusting God with this new relationship I've been blessed with. Being a good steward applies here, too, and honestly, I think that phrase/prayer is going to be a larger focus overall for me when it comes to this next year. But when it comes to dating, I want to really enjoy this season without too much worry or wonder for what's ahead. I want God to lead everything and have His way, because I know that whatever His way and His will may be, it is the very best possible outcome.
  3. I'm praying to continue to cultivate community. I've seen so many blessings in this area in the previous year that I want to keep going deeper. I want to tend to relationships well and be intentional when it comes to investing in those God has placed in my life.
  4. I want to really KNOW God more by spending more time with Him in His Word and more time with Him in prayer. I recently shared on Instagram that I want to focus on pausing and pressing in, seeking margin and space just for Him. I love talking to Him throughout the day, but I also want to have those spaces of quiet set aside just for Him. Time just for reading, for praying, for listening. 
  5. I'm going to end with repeating that I'm praying to be a better steward of God's good gifts in all areas, because as I mentioned, that really sums up where my heart is as I look ahead to this next year. That prayer includes focusing on my health and wellness, surrendering more and more each day, and really continuing to live fully for Him in all areas.

And if I may quote Jess one more time...

"Thanks God for all you did and all you're doing...have your way in year 33."

An Inspired Season | A Visual Story

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"Joy is to behold God in all things."

Creating today's post came at the perfect time, on a day that started with struggle and discontent, but ended in thankfulness and rejoicing. God is in ALL things. Every bit of my story — and your story — is threaded through with His goodness, His love, His faithfulness, and His creativity.

We miss it sometimes, though, don't we? I know I do.

My #AnInspiredSeason moodboard came together in a few different fun and inspiring heart-filling ways. I browsed my Instagram feed, Pinterest boards, and also brainstormed a list of key words and phrases that would help me tell the story of this current season and all God is doing.

Here's a peek at some of the words and phrases on that list:

Bright colors and playful patterns; iced coffees and sunshine; nails the color of summer; playing with paint; time to learn, create, adventure, and explore; fresh foods and ideas; gaining strength; telling His story within my own; opportunity; possibility; community...

Are you participating in our An Inspired Season? Leave me a link to your visual representation, or use the hashtag #aninspiredseason on Instagram. :)

P.S. Catch the whole list of prompts here.

::Credits: Proverbs art from Naptime Diaries; Live/Create art from The Fresh Exchange::

AN INSPIRED SEASON | AN INTRODUCTION
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So, here we go! Post #1 in my new An Inspired Season collaboration with Miss Bailey Jean of Brave Love Blog. This was a tough prompt for me, but as I sat in the sunshine at the pool this afternoon, outlining my life in bullet point form, I felt at least a little more ready to tackle this first step toward really praising God for who I am, all He's already done in my life that's brought me to this very season, and all that's still ahead.
Today's prompt:
Thursday, July 2nd. Introduce yourself by writing your biography as if being interviewed for The New York Times, sharing your history, accomplishments, and where you are right now. Complete it with what you would want it to say in the future (biggest dreams and goals included) in italics.
And now... on to the "interview"!
* * *

She's all bright colors and polka dots, when we meet at her favorite local coffee shop to talk.

We find a corner table in a spot of sunshine and begin with stories from her childhood. As she sips her creamy iced latte, she shares that she's been curious for as long as she can remember.

"Growing up, I wanted to try everything — from rock collecting to playing basketball to cheerleading," she says with a smile. "Learning and trying new things has always interested me."

And then there were books, of course! So many books!

"I used to get 'grounded' from reading as a kid, because I'd get so lost in a book, I wouldn't finish my chores." She laughs and shakes her head. "I'm sure my parents were both thrilled and frustrated that I loved books and reading as much as I did."

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That inquisitive little girl grew up to study magazine journalism in college, where she learned all of the ins and outs of interviewing, fact-checking, and feature writing. What she grew to love most about journalism, though, she says, were the stories, and the way her words could bring them to life.

The summer before her senior year, she packed her bags and headed for New York City, where she spent three months working at a magazine, exploring the city, and wandering around The Strand bookstore.

"That summer was such an awesome adventure for me," she says. "It challenged me in so many ways and gave me courage and confidence to take risks and pursue dreams, even when they feel completely big and out of reach. I think that summer was definitely foundational for me and helped me find my way in the world of words."

Following her college graduation, she did exactly what she expected she would: she got a job at a magazine. As an editor at a scrapbooking magazine, she says she felt inspired daily by the stories the scrapbookers were capturing and her part in helping them share those stories with others.

"Being on staff at the magazine only further developed my love of storytelling," she says, "and, I think, it also got me thinking about the small stories that make up each of our days. I started to develop an interest in telling those stories — and celebrating them in a beautiful and artful way."

So, she took what she says felt like the next natural step in her creative journey and started a blog.

Her blog, A Place to Dwell, became a colorful Internet home for her own little stories as they unfolded, a place to capture and share about her experiences, her newfound faith, and the creative life she was learning to live.

It was around that time that she also took a collage class and fell in love with visual storytelling.

"Looking back, I can see that so much of who I am today was being formed and discovered in that season," she says. "I was learning so much about who God had created me to be, and I was able to start really dreaming about where all of those things might take me."

That season of learning and discovery eventually transitioned into another season of challenge and growth when a troubling economy led her to lose her job at the age of 24.

"I knew God was closing a door, and I felt peace about that, but I also felt a lot of uncertainty and apprehension about what door He would open next and how long it would take Him to open it."

Even though it was an incredibly difficult time in her life, she says it was a season that truly deepened and refined her faith. And it was also a season of unexpected blessing.

"I got a lot of precious time with my family during that season," she says, "especially with my grandmother, who passed away in April. I can see what a gift that was now."

After months of dreaming and praying about  what she might do next and where God might be leading her, she discovered her current world of telling stories through greeting cards.

"I feel pretty lucky that I get to be a part of both the little and big moments in people's lives, and that I get to help them celebrate those moments," she says.

She's also continued to blog, and she says her creative journey as a whole has led her to learn how much living a full and inspired life for God means to her.

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"When I put all of the pieces of my story together so far, I can see how much I value being inspired and inspiring others. I can see that I want  to live an inspiration-filled life, and that I want to help others do the same," she says.

While she says she is still figuring out what that looks like, she did write an eBook last year all about living an inspired life (appropriately titled An Inspired Life: Living Fully & Creatively in Every Season).

"It had long been a dream of mine to write and publish a book, and so to have the opportunity to do that is an incredible blessing," she says.

So, what's next in her inspired life?

She smiles and pauses.

"I really have no idea," she says, "and I think there's a lot of beauty and hope and possibility in that. I have a lot of dreams and ideas, of course, but I've also learned that God does some of his best work in the unexpected seasons we find ourselves in. I'm going to keep writing, and I'm going to keep creating. And as long as I'm seeking to use the creative gifts God has given me to the very fullest, I think He'll take care of each and every adventure ahead."

* * *

Want to jump in and join the An Inspired Season party? Here's a look at our upcoming prompts! (And you can read more about the collaboration on Bailey's blog.)

Tuesday, July 7th. Describe your current season in pictures (make a mood board/art collage/whatever)!

Thursday, July 9th. Write a bucket list that's FOR your current season (focusing on things you can do and want to do in the very near future, rather than dreams for what you hope is ahead).

Tuesday, July 14th. Pick a verse for your season and create something based on it (a blog post, a painting, a poem, anything you're inspired to make)!

Thursday, July 16th. Take a look back at the past year. What are some highs and lows from this season? What were some surprises? What advice would you give yourself if starting this year/season anew? (Feel free to choose one, any, or all of these questions!)

Tuesday, July 21st. Write about one of the best adventures you've had so far in this season.

Thursday, July 23rd. Who are others you admire that are living/celebrating a similar season well? What resources/books/posts have encouraged you?

Tuesday, July 28th. What's one thing you can do this week to celebrate your season? Set the intention (on Instagram or Facebook) and then do it! Write about the experience.

Thursday, July 30th. Write about something this season of life has taught you.

Goal-Setting with Lara Casey: My 2015 Goals

Header_My2015Goals1 I'm excited to finally share my 2015 goals (they've been about a month in the making), and I feel really settled and good about them. I think they are doable, but also stretching. I'm also looking forward to searching for scripture that speaks to each goal. I got the idea from Valerie of Val Marie Paper. (Here's a great post on doing that, if you'd like to seek scripture for your goals, as well.)

Moving on to the actual goals... :)

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  1. Seek and find God in everything. I want to find and follow Him wholeheartedly, filling my  mind with His truth and thinking about the best, not the worst. I want to memorize scripture and recite His promises DAILY.
  2. Wait on the Lord — especially in my singleness.  I want to lean not on my understanding, but instead, I want to trust Him and look to Him in all things — including dating and singleness (especially dating and singleness?!). I want to remember that those who wait on the Lord will not be put to shame and that waiting on God is always worth it. I want to believe that He is good and that He has a good plan for me. I want to live fully today, with hope for tomorrow.
  3. Make time for creative adventures. Paint, draw, read, write! Create "just because." I want to take myself on inspiration and creativity dates often, filling my life and heart with what fires me up and points me to Jesus. I want to take classes, explore new art forms, and learn new things. I want to live fully and creatively, thankful that God gave me a creative, inspiration-loving heart.
  4. Spend, save, and give with intention. I want to be wise financially, so I can use  my resources for good and for God.
  5. Find a fitness routine I love and make it a regular part of my week. I want to take care of myself — health, heart, and spirit. I want to practice self-care regularly, so I have energy to go, do, and create everything that God has in mind for me this year. I want to be healthy and whole, so I can love well and bless those in my life.
  6. Continue to simplify my life. Give away what I don't need and keep only what is useful, meaningful, or inspiring to me.
  7. Be an encourager and a celebrator. I want to mentor and encourage others — online and off. I want to lead a Bible study for college/early career at my church, and I want to write blogs that speak to women who are in that season of life. I want to support my church, my friends, my family, and my city. I want to be a resource and an inspiration for those God connects me with this year.
  8. Use social media and my blog with intention, and continue to evolve and find the focus/niche God has for me. I've been blogging for almost eight years, and my blog and experience online have changed pretty dramatically during that time. I want to continue to evaluate the heart  behind what I'm doing and ask the Lord for guidance. I want to focus on community over followers, and God's heart for what I do over what's deemed "popular."
  9. Find the balance between living the stories and telling them.  I want to journal every day, capturing thoughts, dreams, ideas, prayers. I want to get back into the practice of art journaling, too — telling stories with paint and paper. I want to have cell-phone-free time every day, and I want to be intentional about making meaningful memories with friends and family. I want to live in the moment — being fully present — but also make time to capture the good stuff and tell the story God is writing in my life. And that leads me to my final goal...
  10. Be brave in writing and creating. I want to take risks for Him. I want to write and create honestly and vulnerably, and I want to go after big dreams. I want to collaborate with people who inspire me and pitch my ideas to publications I dream to work with. And I want to start taking steps toward my dream of writing books. I've got an idea that's been slowly taking shape, and I want to dig into that this year and see where God might take it — and me.

So, there you have it! My goals for 2015. I'm sure they will evolve as the year goes  on, but I'm looking forward to seeing how God works and moves and orchestrates in each of these areas. I also hope you'll help hold me accountable to the things I've listed here. I'd love to hear about your goals, as well!

Let's cheer one another on and get excited about all God is going to do!

P.S. I wanted to announce a little something exciting before signing off!

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I'm hosting an online study through the book of Ephesians with a group of amazing ladies this month, and I'd love for you to be a part of it! Go check out Bailey's blog post today for more details and to get in on the action. (To be honest, my heart has felt a bit disconnected from God the last few months, and I'm so looking forward to diving back into His word and seeking Him wholeheartedly!)

 

Reflecting on 2014 & Looking Ahead: Goal-Setting in 2015

laranote Hello, friends! It's been quite a while, hasn't it? I've been a bit unplugged from the blogging world, (although I've been hanging out a bit on Instagram), and I'm finding it slightly challenging to dive back into blog writing. So many posts in my head, but where to even start?! ;) My head is a jumble of thoughts and ideas.

But I'm taking the leap today, no matter how rusty I feel! Haha (So please forgive all the rambling that is bound to happen!)

Today, I'm going to jump into posting about the start of my 2015 goal-setting process (I've been following Lara Casey's blog series and using her Powersheets again this year). I'm also currently reading Lara's book Make It Happen (so good!).

First, let me say that setting goals has been a MUCH slower (and harder) process for me this year than it has been in years past. Last year, I finished all of my Powersheet steps and set my goals by January 1. I was raring to go and couldn't wait to get things down on paper and make things happen! This year, my mind felt blank when it came to what goals I wanted to set and what the year ahead might look like. I didn't feel my normal energy or passion or inspiration. I felt quieter, more reflective, and to be honest, more than a little unsure.

But, like Lara wrote in that adorable image above, there's really nothing magical about January 1. I'm taking my time this year, knowing that my goals will mean more if they aren't rushed.

One of the first things I did to start my goal-setting process this year was create a Pinterest board for the year. I began pinning inspiring images that captured the way I was feeling about the year ahead, as well as all the stuff that fires me up (one of Lara's goal-setting steps). I created the vision board below as a reminder to print and paste in my Powersheet binder. I'll probably hang it above my desk, too. It's a great little sampling of all the loveliness I've been adding to my board, and seeing everything all grouped together like that just makes me smile and feel inspired.

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* all image sources here *

Then yesterday, I took a vacation day and had what I call an inspiration day. I took myself out to brunch at one of my favorite local coffee shops, and surrounded by the chatter of other people and the whir of espresso machines, I sipped on my brown sugar cinnamon latte and began working through my Powersheets. The main focus of yesterday was reflecting on 2014 — both the good and the challenging.

I'm going to share a few highlights here:

  • Community was a huge focus of my year (and one of my 2014 goals), and God definitely worked in that area. He blessed me with quality time with my church friends and family, new creative friendships, and a desire to start ministering to college students. I’ll likely be leading a women’s discipleship group for college women this spring at my church. I also hosted an online book club for my eBook An Inspired Life and connected with so many wonderful women! Thinking about hosting another one in the new year (with some new expanded content)!
  • We celebrated my grandmother’s 90th birthday and had many meaningful family gatherings this year. I often struggle with my singleness, but it has actually been a gift at times this year, because it has afforded me the opportunity to really pour into my family relationships and soak up extra special time with loved ones.
  • I’ve continued to date with a hopeful, open heart. I do believe God has marriage in mind for me, and while I don’t know why I’m 31 and still waiting, He reminds me often that His plan is always better than mine. God has me in this season for a reason, and I want to embrace it for all that it is, while still having hope for the seasons and adventures still come for me!
  • What I fill my mind with is CRUCIAL. I can choose to fill it with fear, negativity, bitterness, etc., or I can fill it with all that's lovely, good, and true — the BEST, not the WORST.
  • Investing in my health and wellness is essential (when I said yes to fresh, good food, being active, living in community, and doing what fires me up, I was blessed).
  • Summer was a sweet time of recharging and just enjoying life…I wasn’t worried about creative deadlines or my next big project. I just focused on LIVING. I need more breaks like that and a good balance between living the stories and telling them.
  • Fall brought the chance to attend the Influence Conference again, and I loved being in the midst of that amazing community for the second time! This year's conference was a much different experience for me than last year's, but my heart was just in a different, quieter place this year. I think that's sort of been the theme of my 2014! Quiet and reflective in many ways. And that leads me to my next bullet...
  • I have been less active online these last few months, but I think the break has helped me look ahead to the new year and really ask myself how I will be a part of the Internet in the coming year. I don’t know all the answers yet (although I do have some exciting plans with some fellow blogging friends), but I know that as I press into God, He will reveal each next step.

Just in doing those reflections, I started to feel some goals and hopes begin to take shape in my mind. I'm looking forward to continuing the Powersheets process this afternoon, getting more down on paper and seeing how God uses this process to point me to the path I'll take in this new year.

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One of the other parts of the goal-setting process, and something I do each year, is choose a focus word for the year. The word I chose for the year was FIND, because I want to find God in everything. I also picked a scripture verse for my year: Jeremiah 29:13. "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." 

And that's exactly how I want to approach 2015.

I want to seek and find God in everything. And I want to do so wholeheartedly.

In the last few days, I also can't stop thinking about the word FOLLOW. And I think for whatever reason, God has placed more than just one word on my heart this year. I want to seek and FIND God WHOLEHEARTEDLY, and I want to FOLLOW where He leads, going and doing and creating in line with His heart. So, that is my word (or words?) for 2015, and I look forward to keeping them in mind as I adventure through this brand new year of unknowns.

This was kind of a long post, so thanks for sticking with me! In my next post, I'll be sharing more about what fires me up (and maybe another vision board), as well as what I'll be saying YES and NO to in 2015. Just typing all of this out has given me an extra dose of joy, hope, and excitement for what 2015 could hold! :)

Are you setting goals for 2015? I'd love to hear about them! Share them here, or if you've blogged about your goals, or started a Pinterest board, leave me a link, so I can check them out.

And if you're looking for some guidance in your goal-setting, I definitely recommend checking out Lara's series. Powersheets are sold out until the spring, I believe, but remember, there's nothing magical about January 1! If they sound like something that would fire up your heart and help you make things happen, definitely check them out! :)

Living and Telling Inspired Stories

IMG_0012 God has big plans for us — adventures to embark on, passions to pursue, and things to discover that will make our hearts happy and bring us indescribable joy and excitement. He has plans for us to participate in His Kingdom and make a difference in His name. Ephesians 2:10 is one of my favorite sections of scripture, because it’s a reminder that we are God’s handiwork, created to do good things that He prepared in advance for us to do. In my own journey of faith, I’ve found that the more I understand who He is, the more freedom and courage I find to become the truest version of myself.

When we understand who He is and who we are in Him, we are free to live braver, fuller lives.

In seeking Him, He’s placed so many beautiful desires on my heart. Even more than that, He’s helped me — and continues to help me — become more of the woman He created me to be.

About eight years ago, I was a dream-filled college graduate, moving to a new city to start my first job. I didn’t know Him well at the time, but He patiently and faithfully pursued me. Looking back at that time of growth now, I’m amazed at how much He worked in my heart, shaping my desires, interests, and character. I can look back and see how much growth and change occurred during that time — not just in the area of my faith, but in my interests, talents, and God-given passions, as well.

My discovery of art is a great example.

Words have always been the language of my heart, the creative place most familiar and comfortable to me. I feel God created me to use my words to bring hope, encouragement, and beauty to the world in whatever humble way He will use them.

Over the years, however, He’s also done something in my heart with art. I now find myself deeply moved by color, pattern, and image. I feel even more me when I’m playing with paint, paper, and poetry on a blank canvas or on the pages of my art journal. I’ve found there’s a beautiful freedom in telling my stories through artwork, as well as words.

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My discovery of art really began to take shape after college, during a tender season of figuring out who I was and what was important to me. As my appreciation for art grew, I happened upon a class for collage art being offered locally. I quieted my fears and reasons to stay home and signed up. I had no idea what to expect, or how much I would fall in love with the process of creating collages. Even more than that, I had no idea that years later, I’d be selling my artwork at local events and working to set up my very own online shop.

But He knew.

And He used that season to shape, teach, and cultivate those things. He did the same with a local writing group, where I learned to listen for my writing voice and also how to be braver and bolder when putting my words, hopes, and dreams to paper. I discovered I had a unique storytelling voice, and I had my own creative way of expressing that voice through words and poetry. It was a discovery that blessed me in ways I couldn’t have ever imagined. Artjournal

During that season of finding myself and my faith, I also started my blog, A Place to Dwell. Writing about my faith on a blog has helped me get to know myself — and God — better. I recently came across Philemon 1:6, which talks about actively sharing faith, and for the first time, I thought about that verse through the lens of my writing, blogging, and art making. It was a bit of a light bulb moment for me, because when I’m active in sharing my faith through my words and my artwork, I’m able to see His love and presence in my life so much more clearly.

Reflecting on that passage of scripture reminds me that He has given me the passions I have for a reason. He has given me a passion for words, art, and creating, because He knows that in pursuing those things, I discover more about who He is and more about who I am in the process. And because I love doing those things, He knows they will move me to share my faith actively and fearlessly.

I encourage you to take some time to look back at where you’ve been and where the Lord has brought you. Sometimes, we don’t realize how good and faithful He has been, until we look back and see where we were and where He’s taken us.

When I was living out that post-college season, my days often felt full of questions and doubt. I felt vulnerable, unsure, and on the brink of self-discovery, but also wide-eyed and excited about the possibilities He was slowly, but surely, orchestrating in my life.

I’ve written the following Prayerful Prompts to help you begin to think of your own life in seasons and to help you identify some of the passions He may have hidden in your heart.

You were created with a unique set of talents, interests, and loves — some you may not have even discovered yet!

I pray that in discovering your God-given passions and reflecting on His work in past and present seasons of your life, you will draw nearer to Him, grow in your faith, and become inspired to more actively and fearlessly express your faith to the world. IMG_0700

Prayerful Prompts

  • What have you learned in past seasons? Do any seasons come to mind that made a bigger impression on you and your faith than others? Think and pray about those seasons and reflect on what they have meant to your faith and relationship with Him.
  • How you would describe your current season? What does life look like for you right now?
  • What are you learning in your current season? How can you praise Him for what He’s doing right now?
  • Are there certain passions He’s planted in your heart? How have they impacted your life and walk with Him?

*** This is an except from my eBook An Inspired Life. Want to read more and continue on this journey of living and telling inspired stories? I've partnered with #Fireworkpeople friend and encourager Bailey Jean to offer a fun giveaway of An Inspired Life. Check it out here! You can also purchase a copy here, and if you use the code FIREWORKPEOPLE, you'll save 25%!

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Slowing Down & Celebrating Summer

Image I'm going about summer a little differently this year.

Last summer was all about my book — writing, creating, producing. And it was good and fulfilling and challenging work that I was so thankful to be doing.

But in a few recent conversations and reflections, I've realized that I want this summer to be more about the living, rather than the creating. (And as most writers and artists know, it's the living that produces the good writing and creating anyway.)

Part of my plan for this summer was inspired by this blog post from Braid Creative. I love the concept of capturing, shaping, and sharing and the way that simple sequence can inspire our art — and even our lives — in lots of ways. In a recent article I read, the author referred to writers as being sort of like professional rememberers. That's a job description I can totally get behind, and my friends and family can attest that I love capturing moments and memories with my camera or phone whenever we are together. Those little snapshots later become opportunities for stories, blog posts, and even other creative pursuits. They also serve as sweet little reminders of what God's doing in my life. Capturing, shaping, and sharing helps me more clearly see the work of God in my life.

So, my focus this summer isn't to blog x number of times per week, or to create this or that. It's to really focus on what I wrote my eBook about — living fully and creatively right where I am, right where He has me.

I'll be reading books, shopping farmers markets, and walking and swimming in the sunshine. I'll be creating memories with friends and family, and I'll be abiding and resting in Him, making space for Him to recreate and renew me in preparation for the seasons to come.

While I most likely won't be blogging every week, I'll continue to capture my adventures on Instagram (follow me @aplacetodwell). And if you'd like to join me in celebrating this summer season and where God has us, use the hashtag #AnInspiredSummer.

(Pssst. I won't be completely abandoning the blog, of course. I'll be popping in here from time to time to share snippets and stories from the summer that are inspired by my Instagram updates.)

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So, will you join me?

Cheers to a summer of slowing down, being present, and living fully and creatively for Him!

An Inspired Life Book Club - Week #5

Hi, everyone! Welcome to week #5 of the An Inspired Life Book Club!

https://vimeo.com/88023105

We're talking about embracing our current seasons this week — and living creatively (one of my favorite topics)!

Looking forward to chatting more and discovering new ways to add inspiration and creativity to our everyday lives!

An Inspired Life Book Club - Week #3

Welcome to week #3 of The An Inspired Life Book Club! I'm excited to talk about leaning into our seasons this week. https://vimeo.com/86847697

As I mentioned in the video, I'd love to talk about these two things in the comments below:

  1. How are you leaning into your current season and how is that blessing and encouraging you?
  2. Let's brainstorm some new ways we can each lean into the seasons God is calling us to.

Looking forward to hearing from each of you!

Here's to another week of living full, inspired lives! :)

P.S. Totally just realized I'm wearing some form of polka dots in every single video so far. Wonder if I can keep that up for the remaining videos? ;) Haha

An Inspired Life Book Club — Week #2

https://vimeo.com/86257315 Hi, all! Welcome to week #2 of the An Inspired Life Book club! We're talking about Chapter 2 this week — Fully & Fearlessly.

I'm really excited to dig into the idea of fearlessness with you all this week. I believe that there's something God is calling each of us to in our current seasons of life, and I also believe there are certain barriers of both fear and doubt that are hindering each of us from moving confidently toward these callings.

In what areas is God currently calling you to be brave?

For me, I feel God calling me to be brave in a few different areas. The first area is dating. God has been calling me to be brave and intentional when it comes to dating and being prepared for marriage. Dating can be scary and overwhelming at times, especially after we've been hurt before, but God is helping me to keep an open heart and to trust that He's going to be faithful and guide me through the entire process. Another area God is currently calling me to brave in is my writing. He's opened the door to a few new exciting writing opportunities (including joining the Venture Magazine team as a Featured Content Writer), and He is calling me to be brave when it comes to honestly and vulnerably sharing my words and my stories.

I encourage you to take some time to think about this question (as well as the other Prayerful Prompts at the end of this chapter).

Let's speak truth and encouragement in the face of the fears confronting us, and let's practice making courage decisions this week (as Jeff Goins would say).

Can't wait to hear from each of you!

An Inspired Life Book Club - Week #1

https://vimeo.com/85080692 Hi, friends! Welcome to the first week of the An Inspired Life Book Club! :)

I hope you've all enjoyed reading through the first chapter. I'm looking forward to connecting right here in the comments and on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #AnInspiredLife.

For this first week, I'd love for you to take some time to introduce yourself in the comments below. Share your blog address, Twitter, etc. and what inspired you to participate in the book club. We will also be chatting about some of the questions I posed in the video, as well. So feel free to get the discussion going about any of those. I'm looking forward to getting to know everyone better and encouraging each other to live fully and creatively this year!

P.S. Don't forget: We'll be having the first An Inspired Life Twitter party this Thursday at 9 p.m. EST. 

Okay, so, let's chat, shall we??! :)

After The Goals Have Been Set...

2014 A few days ago, I posted my 2014 vision statement and goals. I just love the goal and vision-setting process, but after the goals are done, where to begin, right?

I highly, highly recommend purchasing a set of Lara Casey's PowerSheets. Last night, I started working through her action-planning sheets for each of my five goals. I will soon be filling out weekly and monthly tending sheets, as well. (The perfectionist in me wants to rush through this process, because, goodness, we are already a week into January, and I need to get planning for this month!) But one thing I've learned from Lara is that great things happen little by little.

Small steps. Small changes. Faith as small as a mustard seed.

Last night, as I was working, I started to feel I was rushing, quickly writing things down, in order to make it to the tending sheets, but then I closed my binder and just decided I was going to take the rest of this week and weekend to prayerfully make my way through the rest of my action-planning and brainstorming. I don't want a meaningless to-list full of meaningless action items. I want a list that brings God glory and truly makes a difference in my life and others' lives.

So, I guess the answer to this post's question of where to begin after you've set your goals is actually pretty simple:

Prayerful planning that leads to small steps and small changes...And faith as small as a mustard seed that God will move in BIG WAYS.

P.S. I'm getting excited to prep for the book club I'm kicking off next month.

If you need a little extra inspiration to live fully and pursue the vision you've set for your year, I encourage you to sign up to be a part of it.

2014 Goal Setting with Lara Casey

moodboard Coffee in hand, PowerSheets binder open on the desk, and heart bursting with possibilities...

I just finished sharing my goal-setting progress on Lara's blog and thought I'd share the progress here, too. Today, Lara has asked us to reflect on what did and didn't work in 2013 and what lessons we learned as a result of those experiences.

A few of the lessons I’ve learned this year from what DID and DIDN’T work:

  • I can accomplish BIG dreams (I published my first eBook: aninspiredlifebook.wordpress.com)! Yay! Happy, happy dance!! It took me a little more than a year to write and create, but I feel so, so thankful to have accomplished that major goal.
  • Community is essential, and I love collaborating to create. In making my eBook, I worked with many talented friends, and I realized just how much creative collaboration fires me up. I’m looking to do so much more of that in 2014, and I’m praying and dreaming what that might look like both online and offline (creating inspiring life-giving community in my city).
  • Adventures that stretch us are good for the soul. Did some things a little out of my comfort zone this year and was truly rewarded by seeing the way God blesses our bravery. :)
  • Faith will get me everywhere (kept dreaming, kept hoping, kept believing).
  • Being late causes stress (and so does disorganization). Two things I really want to work on in 2014.
  • Disconnectedness from God hurts my focus and creativity. Seek first the Kingdom is something I want to live out even more in my day to day.
  • Sometimes, we have to make hard choices that lead to healing and growth.
  • Fear is sometimes still too present in my life.

Overall, 2013 was an incredible year of being brave, taking risks, and chasing dreams! So many beautiful memories were made with my sweet friends and family, too! I turned 30 and had an amazing celebration with the people who mean most to me. I went on a California adventure with  my sister, and I attended the Influence Conference. I continued to pray about my future marriage and even recently decided to simplify that prayer to this: that I would meet and marry my best friend.

I'm so thankful for all the ways God was working in my life and heart in 2013, and I'm excited to see where He leads me in 2014. I'm ready to do the hard work of making space for Him to move and partnering with Him to follow the purpose and plan He has for my life. Let's #MakeThingsHappen in 2014, friends! Are you fired up yet?! :)

And speaking of 2014, I've chosen my One Little Word...

POSSIBLE

I've already created my One Little Word Pinterest board (it also happens to be my Making Things Happen board for 2014). Decided to simplify things a little this year and have just the one board that encompassed both. I'd love for you to come follow my board and leave me a link to yours, if you've created one for your 2014 goals and dreams! Let's encourage one another in our big dreams and hopes! :)

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What about you? I'd love to hear where you're at in your dream and goal setting process. If you've blogged your progress, leave me a link, or feel free to just write yours in the comment section.

I really want this blog to be a place of community and collaboration in 2014. I want A Place to Dwell to be a place where we can share honestly and encourage one another to seek Him and live fully and creatively!

I believe He has possibilities for each of us in 2014, and I'm praying we'd delight in discovering every one.

What Being Brave Feels Like

ruchehat This is a season for taking new risks, a season for finding a deeper, bolder, bigger faith in Him. I'm doing things that scare me, things that push me past my fear and my doubt, as I dare and dream for Him.

freeasabird

I've got butterflies in my stomach, as I follow Him further and wait for the next season to unfold.

::lovely photos via Ruche::