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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."

Friendship, Faith, and Coffee Spoons (Plus a Giveaway {CLOSED}!)

I recently spent a morning having coffee and breakfast goodies with a friend. She brewed some delicious coffee in her french press, put on some worship music, and we shared stories of God's love and faithfulness in our lives.

It was such an inspiring morning and filled my heart with thankfulness.

It reminded me how important community is and the blessings that come from investing our hearts and time into building it. As I continue to learn to appreciate life where God has me, I am encouraged to see the community He surrounds me with — the friendships that bring so much to my life and also my faith.

I was excited to bring my new vintage hand-stamped spoons and jam and butter spreader from JessicaNDesigns, too.

When I chose the phrases for my spoons, I was reminded of my grandma, who passed away at this time last year. She lived each day with such faith and joy, and no matter what trials or sorrows one day held, she would look ahead to the next day with the assurance that God's mercies are new every morning.

My "anything is possible" spoon reminds me to keep living my inspired life of possibility for Jesus. It reminds me that nothing is impossible with God and that He is the ultimate hope and anchor that I cling to.

Surrounding myself with art and inspiration brings beauty and purpose to my days, and I know these coffee spoons will make me smile each day as I have my morning coffee.

Would you like to win a few of your own JessicaNDesigns goodies? Leave a comment on this post and let me know what phrase you'd like on a coffee spoon of your own. I'll be choosing one person as the winner of a $50 gift card to Jessica's shop!

You can also shop now and get 15% off your order by using this code: JNDplacetodwell15

I'll choose the winner of the giveaway at random Saturday, April 16. Good luck!! :)

Congratulations to Susan Lloyd! You're the winner of the JessicaNDesigns giveaway! :)

    

 

 

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Making Things Happen 2016 - Yearly Vision & Goals

Hello, friends!

I've been slowly but surely working my way through my Lara Casey Powersheets — really digging into the heart behind each step.

One of my favorite steps each year is to create a vision board for the year ahead. Surprisingly, I had a really tough time creating mine this year, though. I actually made about three different versions before this one just clicked. Even though the process was a bit more difficult for me this year, I love everything about this final board — from the white space, to the bright pops of color, to the inspiring phrases and daily reminders to seize the day and say yes to living fully and creatively with a heart open to God's goodness and plan.

I'll be printing out this little collage and adding it to my Powersheets workbook (along with some glittery washi tape and other happy little embellishments). Because if you can add a little extra sparkle, why wouldn't you, yes? ;)

Before I get into my actual goals, I'd like to share a little snippet of an article from Relevant Magazine that I rediscovered earlier this week. It's called Life Won't Begin at Your Next Milestone, and it's really a great read when goal-setting.

Here's one of my favorite sections:

"Elisabeth Elliot wrote,

'The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.'

The bigger story of our life begins the moment we understand this truth. Life does not begin when you get married, land your dream job, or board a plane to travel the world. It is found in the beautiful, powerful love of Christ, which changes us in the midst of all circumstances, especially the ones we find most difficult. We need only be willing."

I want this next year to be a year marked by a willingness to choose God, a willingness to embrace His plan for me and seek and follow Him in everything.

There are many things I hope for and dream for in this next year, and I am definitely excited for the year ahead, but no matter what unfolds or does not unfold, God is with me, and He is for me. His powerful love is bigger than any completed goal or hope fulfilled. He is hope Himself!

I don't want to forget those truths this year.

And because there's no good transition from those powerful words to sharing my goals, I'll just jump right in! But I do hope you'll take a few minutes to read that article when you have a chance.

MY VISION FOR 2016

Each year, before I go about actually setting my goals, I take the time to write a vision statement for the year ahead. It represents much of what's in my vision board (and my Making Things Happen Pinterest board), and it's something I find very inspiring and grounding, because it really sets the tone for all of my goals. It's a great place to return to again and again as the year goes on, too.

My vision for 2016 is this...

In 2016, I will be joyfully open to God’s plan for my life, living fully and creatively right where I am. It will be a year of less trying and more trusting. I will be open to new adventures and new possibilities. I will make space in my life for what truly matters, investing in my faith, family, friends, and using my creative gifts fully for God. I will spend less time mindlessly consuming (TV, social media, shopping, etc.), and more time cultivating contentment, community, and creativity. I will seek to experience abundance through simplicity (shopping less, “scrolling” less, fearing less, fretting less!). I will prioritize prayer and seek to live out Hebrews 3:13 in all I do, encouraging others daily to live their own inspired lives of possibility. Above all, I will live each day fully for Him, with purpose, passion, and positivity.

Honestly, all of my goals and everything in my vision statement can be summed up in that first line:

I will be joyfully open to God’s plan for my life, living fully and creatively right where I am.

As I share my goals next, you'll notice there's quite a bit of overlap with each one, and I definitely discovered that as I began to write my actions ideas for each goal (I repeated action steps under multiple goals). I'm absolutely okay with that, though. This is the year of embracing messy, imperfect progress, and honestly, life can't really be divided up into perfectly neat little goals anyway. So much of life and what we do and pursue is interconnected.

There are also goals from last year that found a home in my goals for this year, but there are plenty of pursuits in making what matters happen that stretch beyond a year. I don't want to lose sight of those on-going goals. I also tried to keep my goals a bit more broad this year in an effort to simplify. We'll see how that goes the first part of the year, and if they need to be rewritten later, I will do that.

And now the goals!

MY 2016 GOALS

  1. Be open to God's plan for my life and live fully right where I am. I'm listing this one first, because as I mentioned above, it's really the heart behind all of my goals this year. This one goal obviously encompasses a lot, but some of the action items I've listed include going through Holly Holt's In The Wait study, studying and applying what God has to say about surrender, and investing in the moment and what matters — my faith, my family, my friends, and my creative gifts and art. I want to be open to new adventures and possibilities and praise God for all He is doing!
  2. Prioritize prayer and choose God above all other things. Seek first the Kingdom. Goal #2 really goes hand-in-hand with goal #1. But it was important enough to be called out and listed separately. This year, I am going to really be working on contentment (more to come on that in the goals ahead, but this goal is going to be the heart behind all of that). I'll be spending lots of time with my Val Marie Paper Prayer Journal and focusing on choosing God first in all things...starting the day with Him, staying with Him throughout the day, and ending the day with Him, too (stealing that phrase from my friend Bailey).
  3. Experience abundance through simplicity. Hello again, contentment! With this goal, I really want to focus on making more space in my life for what matters. That will mean doing things like saying yes to cell-phone free time and saying no to mindless shopping and "scrolling" through social media. I will be reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and cutting through as much clutter and distraction as I can (both mentally and physically).
  4. Cultivate contentment, creativity, and community. You're really seeing the contentment theme now, yes? :) Contentment, creativity, and community are three areas that I really want to focus on in 2016. And even though I know contentment is threaded throughout each goal, and it might not make total sense to list it again here separately, I just couldn't get the phrase "cultivate contentment, creativity, and community" out of my head. So on my Powersheets it goes, and I'm excited to see how focusing on those three areas impact the year ahead.
  5. Use my creative gifts fully for God. Honestly not sure how this one will look just yet... I'm trying to think through how I'll use this blog, as well as my Instagram creatively in the next year. (So if there's something you'd love to see more of, please let me know!) :) I'm also contemplating some new collaboration and writing endeavors, so I'll be praying about those things and seeing where He leads!

So there you have it! My five main goals so far. I didn't fill out all 10 goal spots in my Powersheets workbook, because new goals may crop up as the year goes on, and also because I really feel like these five cover the most important stuff. I will say that health/wellness/self care is an on-going goal for me, too, and I almost listed it separately, but I think it can be nested under my first goal to live fully right where I am. Part of living fully is taking care of yourself, and I tend to list at least a few health/fitness items on my Powersheets each month.

Whew! That might be the longest post I've written in a long, long while!

But before I sign off, I'd like to leave you with this great quote!

“We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises.”

O.Chambers

So, here's to abandoning ourselves to God and to all the surprises 2016 holds!

::images above from my Pinterest::

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! :)

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!

When You're Single on Valentine's Day

Image In years past, I have rolled my eyes at Valentine's Day, wanting to ignore it completely or say something snarky and sarcastic about its arrival.

Sometimes, Valentine's Days can harden both your heart and your hopes.

But, as silly as it sounds, God's been redeeming my view of the day, right along with this season of life, and honestly, is it really a surprise?

How could I not delight in a day that's filled with chocolates and sparkle, hot pink and hearts? How could I not love passing on bits of encouragement, letting all my dear ones know just how much they're appreciated and loved? And how could I not simply enjoy celebrating every joy I LOVE about my own life, every blessing the Lord so generously gives?

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Yesterday, when I flipped the calendar page to February 14, I decided to celebrate. I wore hot pink and sparkles (thank you Ban.do and Baublebar!). I treated myself to a latte, a pastel pink strawberry macaroon (and maybe even a few chocolates later in the afternoon). ;)

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Because I do not, for one moment, believe that Valentine's Day is a day just for couples.

Just like any other day, Valentine's Day can be what YOU make it.

Tonight, I'll be spending the evening with a group of girlfriends, noshing on chocolatel-y treats and celebrating everything we love about friendship. I have been so blessed in this season by inspiring friendships that add so much joy to my life, and I can't wait to celebrate and give thanks for that tonight.

Whether you're single or part of a couple, I hope you feel the LOVE that surrounds you this Valentine's Day weekend, and I hope you have fun celebrating the life that's yours with the people you're blessed to share it with.

P.S. And just as a little reminder, even if you don't have some sort of fancy date planned... Never forget:

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;)

:: top image::

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.

Jesus Time Link-Up with Lily & Light

JesusTimeLinky-1 I was so excited when Kristin suggested we host a Jesus Time link-up. I think it's so inspiring to see and read how and what the Lord is speaking to each of our hearts.

And by sharing these small glimpses into our own journeys, I believe we can encourage and spur one another on in our seeking.

As Kristin so beautifully wrote:

Some love coffee.  Some love tea.

Some sit outside.  Some cuddle in bed.

Some read with their friends.  Some read alone.

Some do it all!  

 How do YOU spend time with Jesus?

This link-up doesn't require much writing at all.  Just snap a pic of your Jesus Time and link it here.  Include all the mess; the pens, the notes, the highlighters, the journals.  Show off your bookmarks, your favorite underlined passages, and anything special you use as bookmarks.  

Tell us what you are studying, how long you study, what kinds of supplemental information you use, and anything you find to be a peculiar joy in the way the Lord speaks to you.  

Also, take this moment to pray over your sacred space, and the space of those who are sharing as well.  This is sacred time with our Savior, and girls, it sure is beautiful :)

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In my own quiet time, I'm a highlighter, a journaler, an underliner, and a star-er. I've also been known to add hearts and dates to different passages that hit my heart in different seasons. It means a lot to me to look back through the months and years and see what the Lord has spoken to me through His Word.

Currently, I've going through a YouVersion Deeper Into Scripture study on Hebrews with a friend of mine. I'm looking forward to learning all He has to say through this time with Him. Hebrews is such a great book on hope and faith!

Can't wait to link up with you all of you sweet ladies and hear/see what you're learning in this season.

(You can join the link-up below, and be sure to visit Kristin's beautiful blog, too!)

We aren't meant to believe alone.

Image I've been thinking a lot about the importance of community, of being vulnerable, transparent, and really doing life with people.

When we're in community, our belief can grow. It can be strengthened and nurtured and sharpened. Big dreams can be born out of solid community, and real change can occur.

Jon Acuff says that fear hates community. And as Lara Casey says, to name our fears is to destroy them. So, when we share our lives and our hearts with people we trust, intentionally creating community, we are destroying fears and encouraging fruitfulness.

It isn't easy to create this kind of community. It takes risk and bravery and intentionality. It takes time and commitment and faithfulness. True community isn't born overnight. It happens over many cups of coffee and text messages, over dinners, lunches, and brunches. It happens when we invite people into the messy parts of our lives, and they love us all the same. It happens when we pray, serve, and check in. When we learn how to speak truth in love, and when we learn how to receive hard truths with grace. It happens when we create safe places for people to grow and learn and just be.

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Even though it's hard to come by, and even harder to build, we have to fight for this kind of community. We have to make it a priority to fill our lives with people who build us up, challenge us, and walk beside us. We have to make it a priority to invest in others and allow them to invest in us.

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Because eventually, these are the people who know our stories — the good and the bad. The people who can see the potential we carry inside — and who will push us to never stop growing. These are the people who will celebrate with us, cry with us, and act silly with us. The people who believe in our hopes and our dreams — even when we don't.

These are the people who teach us how to love better and believe bigger.

 

::For the month of October, I’m participating in The Nester’s #31Days blog writing challenge. My topic? Big BELIEF. For the next 31 days, I’ll be writing about three main things: 1. BELIEVING in His good plan for my life, 2. BELIEVING in the dreams He’s placed on my heart, and 3.BELIEVING in who He is and what He promises. So, what do you say? Will you join me? Will you open your heart to Him and allow Him to grow your belief over these next 31 days? You can read all my #31Days posts,here.::

 
Hello, 30! (A 1920s-Inspired Celebration)

foilwallwithlight cake2 I was blessed to spend Saturday celebrating with friends and family at an early 30th birthday party. It was quite the event! ;) We enjoyed lots of good food and plenty of delicious desserts (including a raspberry-filled cake with polka-dot candles!), great music,  much laughter, and maybe even a little dancing!

Everyone dressed up in their best twenties attire, too. I wore this dress from Ruche, my grandmother's pearls, and a glittery headband and flower hair piece. I also carried one of my favorite vintage clutches (metallic gold with a bow on the front) — an amazing garage sale find from my college days. My shoes were even dolled up for the occasion (I added gold glitter to the heels using gel medium).

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It meant so much to me to be surrounded by the people who mean the most to me, friends and family who share life with me and know where I've been and where I hope to go. People who know my heart and my dreams and who encourage me to be the best version of me that I can be.

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The decorations were amazing, too: beautiful flowers, polka dots, touches of glitter, and lots of sparkling votives. My friends did an amazing job capturing the glitter and glam of the twenties and creating the perfect party atmosphere.

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And the photo booth I dreamed up with my sister was an absolute blast. If you ask me, a party isn't a party without a little silliness — and a great deal of picture-taking. ;)

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(Ha! Outtake!!)

It was truly a special evening, and it was the perfect way to begin a new chapter and season of my life.  Here's to new chapters, seasons, and adventures! I can't wait to see what my 30th year holds.

P.S. In the next few weeks, I'll be sharing a recap of my 29 Things and sharing my new 30 Things list.

xo

New Beginnings

thisweekend This weekend, I'm excited to celebrate exciting new beginnings.

September marks many fresh starts and new adventures for me, and I'm thankful for His hand in it all.

Here's to living a little, dancing crazy, wearing sparkles and sequins, being with friends and family, and celebrating the new things He's doing in our lives!

Happy Weekending, my friends!!

xo

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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.

eBook Update: Video Debut

Friends, I am so very excited to share this video with you today. It's been months in the making, and it's truly a reflection of the heart of my upcoming book An Inspired Life:  Living Fully & Creatively in Every Season. I'm so thankful for my friend Nate's creativity. He took my vision for this video and brought it to life. I couldn't have done it without him — or even dreamed up this finished product. I feel truly blessed.

I'm also excited that the video showcases one of my dear friends' songs from their recent EP Still. The song, Desperate, really captures my heart for the Lord and the beauty of His loving, constant presence in all of our seasons. I definitely recommend the entire EP. It's on my current worship rotation, and it blesses me every time I listen to it.

And now, without further ado, I present to you the An Inspired Life eBook video. I hope it inspires you and gives you a hint of what to expect in my upcoming book.

Thanks for being a part of this journey!

https://vimeo.com/68259603

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?