Posts in Explore
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."

8 Autumn Adventures to Have in Akron/Cleveland

I've been wanting to do some kind of autumn adventures post, and then I recently saw this post over at A Beautiful Mess and was inspired to create an Akron/Cleveland version.

While fall in Ohio always seems to fly by, ushering in winter much too quickly for my liking, there's still always so much to do and appreciate about my favorite season. (Plus, the weather THIS fall has been particularly gorgeous.)

I know I'm quite a bit late in posting this, but before too much snow arrives (!!), you just might be able to get out there and have a few more autumn adventures! :)

1. Amish County

A few weeks ago, I took a random vacation day from work to head out to Amish Country and admire the beautiful autumn sunshine/color palette and do a little shopping and lunching.

My mom and I ate at Rebecca's Bistro (the cutest place ever!). I ate their turkey berry sandwich (yum!), but I was torn between that and a cup of soup and blueberry bread. I highly recommend a stop here!

After lunch, we did some shopping in downtown Berlin.

I fell in love with the unique home decor and clothing items at The Village Gift Barn. And Moxie was a super fun and eclectic boutique to visit, as well.

There were so many shops I didn't have a chance to explore everything (hello, Coblentz Chocolates, I am coming for you next time!), but that just means I'll have to make another trip soon. :)

2. An afternoon of antiquing

Along the way to Amish Country, my mom and I stumbled upon this adorable antique shop (stumbling on antique shops is the very best way to find them, I think!).

I was excited to find some antique printing press blocks in a back corner to add to my collection. I chose to spell out the word "fly," as a reminder to keep trusting God, dreaming and praying big, and dwelling in possibility. It's actually the title of a favorite poem I wrote a few years back, too.

Definitely make a plan to stop here as part of your Amish Country adventure.

3. Discover a new-to-you cozy coffee shop

I drink just as much Starbucks as the next girl, but I LOVE local shops. Nothing beats them! Especially quaint and cozy shops nestled in historic neighborhoods like this one.

Speakeasy is nestled in the heart of downtown Canal Fulton. I quickly fell in love with its brick exterior and warm and inviting space.

I'm drinking a brown sugar cinnamon almond milk latte, by the way, and it's perfection in a to-go cup. ;)

4. Visit the Hartville Marketplace & Flea Market

There's so much to do at the Hartville Marketplace and flea market. Visit the indoor vendors, grab a bite to eat, and then make your way outside for the fruits, veggies, and flea market treasures waiting to be discovered. It's especially fun to stop by the flea market in the fall, because you'll find pumpkins, mums, and bright apples.

One of my favorite flea market treasures from Hartville is this darling book of poems called Songs for Courage. It has an inscription inside dated 1936 and a whole collection of uplifting poems by poet Grace Noll Crowell. I googled her to discover that she is the author of 36 books of inspirational verse and 5,000 poems. Her work has appeared in hundreds of magazines and newspapers. Pretty fun find, huh?

5. Go to a pumpkin patch or apple orchard

One of my favorite fall activities is to grab a few friends, bundle up, and sample my first apple cider of the season. Considering that it's Thanksgiving weekend already, you've most surely already enjoyed some hot cider this season. But keep it in the back of your head for next year, if it's not already a fall tradition in your family.

A few local orchards to check out:

Burnham Orchard

Mapleside Farm

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6. Attend the annual November Crafty Mart event in downtown Akron

Even though this post is going up much later than I originally intended, Crafty Mart happens to be this Saturday (hurrah!!), so you still have time to enjoy this autumn adventure! (And it's a great one!) It's definitely one of my favorite fall events.

Crafty Mart is Akron's handmade marketplace, featuring hundreds of indie craft vendors and lots of great shopping and inspiration.

About seven years ago, I went to my first Crafty Mart event. I had recently moved back to the Akron/Cleveland area, and it was the start of a brand-new season in my life. At the time, I loved connecting with and supporting other local artists at Crafty Mart. It was a chance to rediscover the area, as well as explore a new dream of mine — selling my art locally.

Crafty Mart offered me that opportunity, and since attending that first show, I’ve sold my collage art at three of their events.

While it's been a few years since I've sold my collage art there, I still love to attend. My tip is to grab a hot coffee on your way in (either before or after lunch at Urban Eats — see below).

P.S. Crafty Mart has spring and summer events, too, so if you can't make this fall show, be sure to mark your calendars for one of their upcoming events!

7. Grab lunch at Urban Eats

You will LOVE this cozy cafe. It's part coffee shop/part cafe, and the unique menu is always changing. I've enjoyed many lattes and lunches tucked away at one of their tables. And P.S. this sage apple waffle panini remains one of my favorite treats I've ever enjoyed there. I think a waffle sandwich may be one of the best ideas ever! ;)

8. Hang out in Highland Square

I love the Highland Square area. There's lots to do (and plenty of good coffee, which you know in my book, is a must!). :)

You'll find old-fashioned ice cream, a Mediterranean lunch spot, and a few cute and quirky shops like Square Records and Revival.

It's a great stop on a slow Saturday afternoon, when you're looking to get out of the house and do a bit of exploring.

So there you have it! Some of my favorite autumn adventures (posted just a little bit late!). :)

Perhaps I'll throw together a winter version, too.

What about you? What are some of your favorite fall adventures?

End-of-Summer Adventures & Dreams

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It's hard to believe that summer is almost over.  I've been in a bit of a dreamy place the last week or so, and in the midst of that, I put together two new moodboards that capture some of those thoughts and dreams.

The first one (above) is more end-of-summery, while the second one (below) is more in anticipation of fall and all that fall might bring.

Together they show a heart filled with plans for adventure, dreams  of making art, and taking risks for God.summersend

I could write quite a bit about each image and what it means to me right now, but I think I'll let the images speak for themselves.

 

(Image sources found here, here, here; "Seek the Unfamiliar" from Sseeko Designs; Lucky Bean Coffee from their FB page)

AN INSPIRED SEASON | The Joy of Everyday Adventures

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

I have a whole category about adventuring on the blog. I love it. And originally, when I thought about answering today's prompt, I I thought I would talk about a recent adventure, something super current in this season of mine — or maybe one of the more exciting adventures I've lived like my trip to California, or doing my internship in New York City.

But then I was reminded of one day and one small adventure that just may have been the start of my love of everyday adventures, of exploring right where I am, and living in the present moment fully.

And that's when I decided that's the story I wanted to tell.

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This story takes us all the way back to my college days. I can't even remember what day of the week it was, but I do remember my journalism assignment was to go check out an art show opening and write about it.

So, I hopped in my car with my MapQuest directions (hello, pre-GPS days...), and I drove to a small town about 45 minutes to an hour away from my university. Some of the details of the day are fuzzy, so forgive me if I mix up their order, but I do remember finding the art show, wandering around the opening, and loving every second. I pored over the artwork and the descriptions of each,  took lots of notes, gathered inspiration, and began working out sentences in my head for the article I would later write. I remember being filled with energy (perhaps that is also when my love for  discovering art began...)

Instead of leaving after covering the art opening, I decided to explore the town. I remember wandering up and down the main street, ducking into an antique shop or two, eating at a local restaurant, while going over story notes, and then I think I may have even sampled the town's local coffee shop. (I can't imagine I'd have skipped out on that.) In fact, that may have happened on the way TO the opening. Who can be sure... ;)

It's funny, because I had this adventure pre-iPhone, so I don't have Instagram shots to capture the day. I can't remember the name of the coffee shop, or the restaurant, or the antique shop. I can't even remember clearly the art I saw that day, or who had created it.

I do remember how much that day inspired me, though, how it made me want to create more, explore more, experience more. It made me want to tell the stories of those experiences and discoveries, too. I couldn't wait to share the stories of those artists, what had moved them to create and what those creations were sharing with me and with the world.

It's funny to think now how little pieces of the woman I am today were being formed on that seemingly normal day back in college.

Looking back, I can also see how God has only furthered developed each of those pieces, and it's pretty spectacular to think about. They may seem like tiny, insignificant details, but in God's hands, they've become meaningful moments in the greater story, stepping stones in a creative journey.

I wish I knew where that story was and what I had written...maybe I can find it in my portfolio someday and revisit everything in more detail.

But for now, it's enough remembering — even if it's all a little fuzzy.

Even though so much time has passed, I'm still grateful I didn't just do my assignment as quickly as possible. I'm grateful I lingered and explored and learned more about that little town. More than anything, though, I'm grateful I realized that day what a joy everyday adventures can be and how much there is to discover and appreciate right where we are, right where God's placed us.

Because the truth is, even the little moments are leading us somewhere good.

::art source::

An Inspired Season | The Single Girl's Bucket List

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Today, I'm bringing you the third installment of the #AnInspiredSeason collaboration with Bailey of Brave Love!

Today's topic: BUCKET LISTS! :)

Over the years, I have written bucket lists of all kinds (birthday bucket lists, dream bucket lists, holiday and seasonal bucket lists etc.), but this is the first time I am actually writing a Single Girl's Bucket list.

And I could not be more excited to share it with you!

An Inspired Season is all about embracing and celebrating life RIGHT where you are... And singleness? Well, that's a pretty big part of where I am these days, so why not have a bucket list specifically dedicated to the opportunities such a season provides? :)

I had a blast brainstorming these ideas! Dreaming up some new adventures that don't require waiting for future seasons really helped me look forward with hope and appreciate right where God has me.

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  • See an outdoor movie this summer
  • Sample the new vegan mint chocolate chip ice cream at Scoops
  • Try purchasing my weekly bread from a local bakery as recommended in 100 Days of Real Food
  • Eat brunch at Townhall (hello, sweet potato pancakes & crepe bar!!)
  • Start making connections at craft shows and begin collaborating with local creative makers to help them tell the stories of their products and businesses
  • Promote and share new collaboration idea above
  • Cook with more veggies! Follow Real Food guidelines as much as possible
  • Take a trip to Nashville this fall
  • Explore the local restaurant scene with my sister (there's a pizza place we are especially excited to try!)
  • Attend a local mum festival this fall
  • Clean out my art supplies and donate what I don't need
  • Attend the Cleveland Flea's Sunday Market (what's better than brunchy foods, crafty stuff, and antiques?!)
  • Purchase a retro swimsuit from Rey Swimwear
  • Invest in a large canvas or art print of this piece from Naptime Diaries
  • Read books that challenge, teach, and inspire me
  • Take a creative weekend of some kind — lots of creative and quiet time with Jesus
  • Sample more of the gourmet mini donuts at Peace, Love, and Little Donuts (next up on the list: chocolate chip pancake and maple bacon)
  • Paint my living room side tables with brightly colored chalk paint (coral + teal!)
  • Take an art or writing class to expand my skill set and get inspired
  • Spend a day at the beach
  • Have a picnic
  • Add to my Fiesta collection
  • Visit the adorable new shop called Vintage Love that I just discovered
  • Pick strawberries this summer and pumpkins/apples this fall

So, what's on your bucket list these days?

(Don't forget to hashtag #AnInspiredSeason when you share!!)

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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!

Weekending: Crafty Mart's Mom & Pop Shoppe

IMG_4382 Despite the unpredictable (and mostly windy/overcast weather), I spent my Saturday surrounded by color and inspiration — eating good food, drinking hot coffee, and wandering around Crafty Mart's Spring Mom & Pop Shoppe.

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As I mentioned in my previous post, I love the Crafty Mart events, because they bring together a unique group of local artists right in the heart of Akron. It's such a joy to celebrate talent and creativity and support people's passions.

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This is Ashley, the owner and creator of Truckshop. I fell in love with her creatively curated mobile fashion boutique (check out all of the bright color, sparkle, and polka dots!!). She was so much fun to meet and talk with, too. I loved hearing her business story, and talking with her further confirmed my dream to work with creators, makers, and dreamers to help them live and tell their inspired stories.

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So sad she didn't have the polka-dotted number in my size. I was smitten!

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I did snag these sparkly earrings and fun black-and-white chevron scarf, though.

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Also, did I mention there were mini donuts?!

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I'm still regretting the fact that I passed up sampling some of these sweet treats from DonutLab. They smelled incredible! (And what's a better pairing than coffee and donuts, I ask you!) ;)

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I also came home with this darling piece of art by Ivy Axe. It's the perfect addition to my little gallery wall of art. Filling my home and life with beautiful art makes my heart very, very happy.

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It was a great day, and I think it was just what I needed. I feel refreshed and ready to tackle some new creative projects of my own!

Adventures in Art: Akron's Crafty Mart

coffee I went to my first Crafty Mart show (and the very first Crafty Mart event!) about 4 and a half years ago, shortly after moving back to the Akron/Cleveland area. It was the start of a new season in my life, and I loved connecting with and supporting other local artists. It was a chance to rediscover the area, as well as explore a new dream of mine — selling my art locally.

Crafty Mart  offered me that opportunity, and since attending that first show, I've sold my collage art at three of their events.

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While I've since taken a little break from participating in craft shows, I've continued to be a regular at the Crafty Mart events, and I'm excited to announce that the next Crafty Mart is this weekend (Saturday, May 3 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.!).

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UrbanEatsCafe

If you've never been, I recommend making an afternoon of it. Grab lunch at Urban Eats — and a coffee for dessert — (I love the caramel soy latte!), and take your time exploring the more than 50 vendors being showcased. Crafty Mart takes place at Musica, an awesome venue in the heart of Akron, and the urban atmosphere really adds to the event.

Oh, and don't forget to snap a few photos in the photo booth — silliness is encouraged! :)

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Curious about the back story? Crafty Mart was established in 2009 (that first show I attended!) to feature uncommon, quality-made, local arts and crafts. In 2013, it was voted one of the "Best in the City" by Akron Magazine. (Yay, Crafty Mart!)

And bonus: This Saturday's Mom and Pop Shoppe will also have two mobile fashion boutiques — a new addition to the event!

How cute does this boutique look?! I am in love with all of the colors and patterns. In fact, I've already spotted a polka-dot dress I can't wait to get my hands on! (No pun intended!) ;)

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If you love to support local artisans and are looking for a colorful, inspiration-packed afternoon, this is an event you won't want to miss. I hope to see you Saturday! :)

5 Ways to Live More Creatively

1. Discover Discovering new things — artists, writers, musicians, restaurants, farmers markets, shops, boutiques, etc. — is something that makes my life feel full and vibrant. To bring a sense of discovery to your everyday life, consider trying one of the following: Make a list of restaurants you'd like to try in your city, shops you'd like to visit, etc. Switch up your normal grocery shopping routine and try a specialty market, local shop, or farmers market instead. (I love to shop local, because it gives me a chance to make healthier choices and also meet the people who have grown and tended my food. It's a pretty cool, inspiring experience.)

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2. Learn

I love to challenge myself to learn new things. (Right now, I’m learning all about hand lettering, and I’m excited to immerse myself in this new art form.) Is there something that's piqued your curiosity? Check out your local library to see what books you can find on the subject. You can also find a lot of affordable classes online. Skillshare is a great resource on a vast array of creative topics, for example.

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3. Create

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Spending time dreaming and creating is super important to me. Think about what inspires you... Is it drawing? Painting? Gardening? Knitting? Writing? Cooking? Finding time for the things that make your heart happy is an important component of living creatively. And remember, you don't need an entire day to devote to creating. Look for small ways to create every day. If cooking is your thing, can you try a new recipe? If you love writing, can you spend a few moments each morning or evening penning a few thoughts in your journal?

4. Add color

I am a big fan of living with LOTS of color. I find that when I surround myself with color and art and pattern, I feel happy, inspired, and creative. Even just wearing a colorful outfit can change and brighten my mood.

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5. Connect & Share

Life is so much sweeter when we share it, yes?  I love to plan adventuring dates with friends and loved ones — and sometimes just with the Lord — so we can share the experience of discovering fresh new joys together. Being in community and sharing our stories, our art, and our lives with people we appreciate and connect with on a deeper level is such a HUGE part of living fully and creatively.

:: I hope this post gets you thinking about some new ways you can bring joy, creativity, color, and inspiration to your everyday life. If you enjoyed reading about this topic, you can find more in my book An Inspired Life: Living Fully & Creatively in Every Season. ::

Happy Weekend!

Falling in Love with Your Life
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I've discovered that one of the secrets to living an inspired life of possibility is falling in love with your life on a regular basis.

I am constantly falling in love with new possibilities — a hobby, a book, a word, a recipe, a song, or even an old vintage sign spotted while out adventuring...

There is so much to discover.

I find that the more I get excited about the small things in life, the more joyful and inspired I feel.

When I live with curiosity and a desire to learn and grow, I feel as though anything is possible, and life is full of color and wonder.

Being mindful also helps keep me rooted in the goodness of right now and all God's doing moment by moment.

Lately, I can't get enough of hand lettering and typography. I want to look at lovely letters and learn about them. I want to collect and sketch them, know their shapes and their histories.

But truth be told, earlier this week, and even earlier today, I'll admit I wasn't living this way. I  wasn't seeing the possibilities, I was seeing the to-do list, the worries, the doubts. I was feeling restless and cranky.

But when I shifted my focus to the joys to be discovered in my day, my mood shifted, too. I realized there was joy to be found even in the little things like an inspiring quote on my calendar page, an afternoon latte, and a list I'm making of local restaurants to explore.

My weekend holds new possibilities, too. Possibilities to write. To explore. To find quiet. To pray...

What joys and possibilities peppered your day today, my friends? And what is one thing your weekend holds that you can get excited about?

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the entirely imperfect right now

“Let’s not waste our lives searching for perfection tied up with a fairy tale bow. Let’s choose, right now, to grab hold of our real lives, our true selves and embrace every second of this challenging, gritty, beautiful, messy reality that we have instead.”Mary Carver

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Sometimes, Saturdays are for finding a sunny corner of a local coffee shop and just being present in our right now, forgetting the stuff that's weighing us down and choosing to be, as Shauna Niequist wrote, "deeply present in the present, in the mess, in the waiting, in the entirely imperfect right now."

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So, on Saturday, that's exactly what I chose to do.

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I was present in the sunshine, in the laughter, and in the sampling of creamy soy lattes, buttery breakfast sandwiches, and maybe even a fudgy vegan chocolate crinkle cookie (because, really, how can you fully experience a new coffee shop without sampling the pastries?!). ;)

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Right now, this is life, my friends, this is the entirely imperfect right now, and I don't want to miss a moment of it.

29 Things Recap + 30 *New Things

Wow, it's been a year. While I didn't check off every single thing on my 29 Things list, I did a LOT of what I had hoped to do, and God was so good and faithful to teach and stretch me through it all.

I traveled. I explored. I wrote a book. I sought inspiration and creativity, read good books, and even added TWO pairs of polka-dotted pants to my closet... ;)

I embraced my 29th year with as much hope and heart as I could.

And while there are still so many things I'm learning and figuring out, I know I'm truly starting to settle into myself, becoming the woman I know God created me to be, the woman He refines and prunes a little more each season (and really, a little more each day).

As I wrote  here, I've had mixed feelings about turning 30.

There's some restlessness in my heart that I'm learning to sit with and surrender.

But I BELIEVE in the plan He's writing for my life, and I want to keep seeking Him and going where He calls me —  with all the confidence and courage I can find.

As I head into a new season, I'm handing over a heart full of hopes, asking Him to weave them into something beautiful and new like only He can.

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30 Things for my 30th Year

1. Invest in creating life-giving community.

2. Look for ways to help others find their creative voices and share their stories.

3. Learn how to use the manual settings on my camera — and stop relying on automatic all the time.

4. Learn how to shoot and edit video for the blog. (I'm so inspired by adorable videos like this!)

5. Visit Nashville.

6. Find the perfect fedora.

7. Master the cat-eye make-up look.

8. Memorize more scripture.

9. Attend local art walks.

10. Go to more live music shows.

11. See Once on broadway.

12. Eat brunch at a local French cafe.

13. Further develop my brand: Create a media kit for my blog, and pursue some new partnerships/opportunities/collaborations.

14. Set up some kind of meet-up for local bloggers and creatives to inspire creativity, collaboration, and goal-setting/achieving.

15. Participate in a 5K like this one.

16. Take Kal Barteski's Script Class.

17. Learn how to vectorize my handwriting in Illustrator.

18. Attend The Influence Conference again.

19.  Join a local gym.

20. Learn more about loose-leaf teas. (Because how yummy does this and this sound?)

21. Try the ombre look.

22. Get involved with Holy Yoga.

23. Organize my office and art supplies.

24. Live out this amazing truth about art spoken by Shauna Niequist: "The myth is scarcity, and the truth is abundance...as an artist, you want the world to be filled with more art."

25.  Date intentionally — with wisdom, hope, and courage. (I sort of feel lame even including this, but let's face it, it's a major thing on my heart in this season of life, and I want the Lord to be guiding this and orchestrating it in my life.)

26. Continually speak His truth over myself and the people in my life.

27. Live fearlessly,  wild and free, and with big belief.

28. Keep dreaming and creating with Him.

29.  Find fresh new ways to celebrate my current season.

30. Break free from anything that's holding me back from FULLY living the life I know He has for me.

*Some of these aren't quite brand-new... ;) You'll recognize a few from my 29 Things list.

::images — left to right, top to bottom — 1. 4. (images 2. and 3. are mine)::

A California Adventure (& Learning to Live a More Vibrant Life)

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I just got back from an amazing trip to California.

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When I get back from seeing other cities and states, my heart is always full of gratitude and inspiration. We are so blessed when we step outside of our comfort zones, aren't we — when we leave the areas and places we find most familiar and comforting? I'm learning how to do this more — not just when it comes to traveling, but also just living life. He's constantly calling us to experience MORE.

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I fell in love with California's sea-salt bay breezes, corner coffee shops, vibrant colors, history, and creative culture.

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I sampled chocolates at Ghiradelli Square, stood in the sparkly sand at Whiskeytown Lake (yes, it had flecks of gold sparkles in it!!), had my first Pinkberry experience (the chocolate and almond slivers do not disappoint!), and enjoyed lots of sweet moments with my sister and one of my dearest friends.

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I was inspired by clear blue skies, found fonts, vintage architecture, quirky shops and boutiques, and lots of delicious food. I left feeling thankful for the people God's placed in my life — the family members who feel like friends and the friends who feel like family. I left knowing that His Hand is truly at work in this season, adding color, meaning, and beauty. I left knowing that He's given me a story to live and share as vibrantly and faithfully as I can.

Peter Pan Collars and Coffee Shops

KatieCoffeeShop Today didn't feel much like spring at all — with its angry raindrops, dreary skies, and cold, blustery winds.

But I ignored the uncooperative weather and donned my new Stitch Fix peter pan collar top, a cozy gray cardigan, and my favorite red ballet flats and headed out for a brunching date with some dear friends.

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I love coffee shops — especially when they're tucked away in cozy historic buildings with pine floors and tin ceilings.

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After brunch and coffee and catching up, we headed out to explore a little cluster of shops and boutiques.

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It may have been a day filled with rain and cold and gray, but it was also a day filled with sweet friends and hot coffee and unexpected adventures.

And aren't those the best kind?

Inspiration Date

Do you ever schedule inspiration dates with friends? They are one of my FAVORITE ways to spend an afternoon. If you're not familiar with them, they usually involve good food, laughter, lots of inspiration-gathering (and often an impromptu photo shoot or two).. ;)

And after a particularly tough and discouraging week, an inspiration date was exactly what my heart needed, and so, that's exactly how I spent my Saturday.

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I met up with my sweet friend GinaMarie who happens to have one of the most creative, inspiring spirits I know and whose heart is a beautiful reflection of The Creator. She is such a joy to be around.

We talked art, design, branding, and life and heart stuff. It was so, so good. She fixed us an amazing brunch, too: quinoa pancakes with a blueberry lemon lavender compote. (I will definitely be snagging that recipe from her soon!)

Later, we may have sampled some amaretto pie, too... ;)

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Despite the temperature, the sun was out, so I couldn't resist wearing my new mint jeans and pairing them with a pair of bright pink ballet flats (yes, my feet were COLD, COLD, COLD!).

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P.S. Isn't this textured brick wall the perfect photo backdrop?! We thought so. :)

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If your heart is in need of some renewal, I highly recommend scheduling an inspiration date with a sweet friend or loved one. Talk about your dreams, passions, and sweetest hopes over brunch, coffee, and your favorite treats. You'll be blessed and refreshed.