Posts in Making Things Happen 2016
Cultivate What Matters 2017 - Goal Setting with Lara Casey

Hello, friends!

I've been slowly working my way through Lara Casey's 2017 Goal-Setting series, taking my time and doing quite a bit of reflecting on 2016 as I look ahead to 2017. 2016 was really one of those years that grew my faith in some pretty big ways. It's amazing to me to read my goal-setting posts from last year and then look back on the year and see all God has done. When I began setting goals for 2016, I wrote this: "This new year is much more of a blank slate than usual for me. I am starting 2016 from a posture of standing before God, open to where He might lead me and what dreams He might write into my heart."

And in that openness and trust and surrender, God definitely worked in some pretty incredible ways...

HERE'S WHAT I AM CELEBRATING ABOUT 2016:

  • Moving to a new home (and filling it with art and truth and inspiration — and painting one wall blush pink!)
  • Reading great books that challenged and grew my faith (like I Don’t Wait Anymore by Grace Thornton)
  • My church family/community moving into a permanent building (after years of praying for a space)
  • Building a stronger, closer relationship with my sister and sharing lots of fun memories together this year… like our adventure of driving to West Virginia for the Fiestaware tent sale and celebrating the Gilmore Girls revival with two fabulous parties
  •  All things Gilmore Girls (Luke’s Coffee Day with friends, Gilmore Girls revival parties…)
  • My B&B weekend away with my mom (such an inspiring and renewing time!)
  • Taking a summer staycation and the renewal and rest that brought
  • Moving into my company’s brand-new headquarters (such a colorful and inspiring place to work!)

AND HERE ARE A FEW LESSONS I'VE LEARNED IN 2016:

  • His ways are ALWAYS greater than my own
  • When we truly surrender and invite Him to have His way, He does more than we could ask or imagine; His plan is truly perfect
  • Try less; trust more
  • I need and want to prioritize time with Jesus each day
  • Worry is fruitless (this one shows up year after year)
  • God’s word and truth CHANGES things; I want to know and seek Him more fully
  • The really good stuff is most often accomplished little by little, with slow, steady steps
  • Investing in relationships is such meaningful and worthwhile work
  • I want to become a good steward of all God’s gifts, blessings, and resources that He so graciously gives…I want to use my margin to the fullest for Him

I'll be back tomorrow with the next step of the goal-setting series. :)

 

 

Making Things Happen: 2016 Goals Recap

Hello friends!

I'm sitting here drinking a peppermint hot cocoa, marveling at the fact that 2016 is so quickly coming to a close. In many ways, it seems like it just began, but in other ways, so very much has happened.

But before I jump too far into my goal-setting and praying and planning for 2017, I want to take the time to reflect on where I've been this year and all God has done.

2016 was my year of being open...

At the beginning of the year, I crafted this vision statement, as part of Lara Casey's (Cultivate What Matters) Powersheets process:

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.

That statement helped lead me to the following overarching goals for my year:

MY 2016 GOALS

  1. Be open to God's plan for my life and live fully right where I am.
  2. Prioritize prayer and choose God above all other things. Seek first the Kingdom.
  3. Experience abundance through simplicity.
  4. Cultivate contentment, creativity, and community.
  5. Use my creative gifts fully for God.

Looking back on my year, I can absolutely see openness threaded throughout. 2016 was definitely a year that found me letting go of some of my own expectations in favor for whatever God had for me. And while it wasn't always easy at times, it was so good, and so very worth it.

Without being too repetitious of my last few posts, I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on each of my five goals for 2016.

  1. Be open to God's plan for my life and live fully right where I am. This goal was truly the overarching goal for my year. It's a goal I am still living out, and one that I know will continue into 2017 and beyond. I never want to stop living life in a way that says "have your way, Jesus." It's a daily (and often hourly) heart posture for me, because surrender and complete reliance on Jesus continues to be an area of growth and focus for me and my life.
  2. Prioritize prayer and choose God above all other things. Seek first the Kingdom. This is another goal that I anticipate carrying over into 2017, because choosing God above all other things is another daily choice that I want to make. I continue to love using my Val Marie prayer journals to help me prioritize prayer, and also to look back to see and praise God for His work and faithfulness. In addition, now that I am blessed to be in a Godly relationship with an amazing guy, we have been intentional to pray with one another daily, and that has been so life-giving and encouraging to me as we continue to grow in our relationship, keeping Jesus at the center of it all. I look forward to more of that in 2017, as well.
  3. Experience abundance through simplicity. This is still a work in progress for me. Moving definitely helped me to simplify a lot and donate much of what I don't use or need, but I still have a lot of room to grow in this area. My pastor was speaking about margin a few weeks ago, and the amount of hours we each have in our week that aren't devoted to working and sleeping really shocked me. I think we fill so much of our time with distractions and rest that isn't actually real rest, and so I would love to continue to be a better steward of the margin in my life.
  4. Cultivate contentment, creativity, and community. This is a tough goal to recap in just a few sentences, because it covers so much ground, but I do think I focused a lot on contentment and community this year. My approach to living this year with heart and hands open to God really affected my views on contentment and the truth that God is truly the only thing that can bring us the contentment, joy, and fulfillment we all long for and seek. I would say creativity was a bit neglected, and that's something else I would like to carry over into my 2017 goals.
  5. Use my creative gifts fully for God. As I mentioned in the previous bullet, my creativity was a bit neglected this year, so this goal didn't quite get the focus I originally thought it might. That's 100% okay, because this year just wasn't really a year of creating for me, as some years past have been. The exciting thing is, though, God has been putting some new creative ideas on my heart, and I'll be excited to see where He leads me with those ideas and how He might use and develop them for His glory.

As I look back on 2016 and get ready to jump into Lara's 2017 goal-setting series, I'm truly grateful and in awe of everything that happened: From personally moving to a new home,  to my church moving into a permanent building, to meeting and dating the most amazing guy...So many things happened this year that only God could do and accomplish, and I'm reminded again of the importance of being open and surrendered to His good and best plan for us. There's also so much that happened this year just in my own heart, things He revealed to me and pruned in me that weren't always easy, but that I'm so grateful for. Those moments of growth and the reorientation of my heart toward Him are so priceless and important.

So, as 2016 comes to a close this week, I want to thank Him again and praise Him for every bit of this past year. And as I begin to intentionally and prayerfully look ahead to 2017, I'm asking Him to have His way in everything. Thank you, Jesus. It's all yours, for your glory. Amen.

 

 

::images above from my Pinterest::

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."

When Freedom Writes Our Stories

I recently did exactly what Lauren Daigle sings so beautifully about in her song Trust in You.

I let go of every dream and laid them at His feet.

And I discovered a freedom and a hope I'd truly never experienced before.


A few months ago, I discovered the book I Don't Wait Anymore by Grace Thornton. The question on the back was about the only incentive I needed to pick it up.

Have you been waiting for life to turn out the way you expected?

If I was honest, I had.

In all my years of wrestling with God over my singleness, I hadn't realized just how tightly I was still holding on to my own dreams, ideas, and expectations for my life.

I almost don't even have the words for how good this book is. I've already recommended it to so many of my friends (and not just those who are single). I Don't Wait Anymore is a hope-filled invitation to freedom, an invitation to see just how big and good and wise our God is and just how great a plan He has for us.

In I Don't Wait Anymore, Grace inspires you to seek God more earnestly and to seek Him for Him — not just for the blessings or answers He can bring.

Her words are raw and honest, but also full of poetry and possibility.

 

The section that may have impacted me most was when she asks her readers to consider what unmet desires are hidden in their hearts.

She goes on to encourage them to ask this question: "If [God] never fulfilled that desire, would I be able to be content? If I walk a road where those things never happen, would I be filled with joy knowing I would get Him at the end?"

As I got quiet and good and honest with myself, I realized that while I had been living that yes on the outside, the answer was still a no inside my heart.

But there was hope.

Her next invitation?

To ask myself why God was smaller in my heart than the life I wanted.

And to ask Him to show me who He really was.

This beautiful book is a journey through that process, and I honestly can't recommend it enough. Grace brought me back to who God really is. She shook up the dreams and expectations I've been carrying around and woke me up to the freedom of true surrender.

And it was truly different than anything I'd ever felt before.

Because when God gets in our hearts and replaces our dreams with Himself,  "our hearts become blank canvases where He can paint pictures of His love, fill us up with His Spirit, and change our desires and hurts from the inside out. It feels different. We begin to see Him write a new story. One with a whole lot of freedom."

Goals & Green Smoothies: My In-Progress Balanced Approach to Health & Wellness
 Image via  Sarah Adler

 Image via Sarah Adler

Health and wellness have been on mind quite a bit recently. I am learning more and more about intentionality when it comes to self-care, wellness, and nutrition. As I work through my Powersheets in the coming months, I hope to include more specific health and wellness goals and share them here (and possibly Instagram) for accountability and encouragement. I am also looking to incorporate a simplified approach to my health and wellness (going along with my goal this year to live abundantly through simplicity).

That said, I will always be a balance girl...I have no interest in having a black-and-white approach to food and fitness, or feeling like I can't indulge from time to time. Life is just too short. But I also recognize the joy and freedom that comes from having the confidence and courage to say YES to prioritizing health and wellness.

So how will this look for me?

I think Romans 12:1 (especially The Message Translation) really gets to the heart of this goal for me.

Place Your Life Before God

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

As far as the actual day-to-day details of living that out, I've come up with an inspirational list to guide me in my monthly/weekly/daily goal-setting:

  • Limit grains, and when I do choose grains eat whole, sprouted grains whenever possible (I'll be honest, I'm actually thinking very hard about actually cutting gluten from my diet for many health-related reasons, but I'm still doing my research on that one)
  • Continue to cut sugar and use natural sweeteners wherever possible (honey, maple syrup, bananas, dates, etc.)
  • Drink more water (this seems like it should be an easy one, but for some reason, it never is for me! Hehe) :)
  • Look into Thrive Market and see if that would be a good option for me (Thrive Market is the first socially conscious online marketplace offering the world’s best-selling natural and organic products at wholesale prices)
  • Continue oil-pulling with organic coconut oil (I will also be adding the OraWellness HealTHY mouth blend to my daily routine); I've been learning so much lately about how the health of our mouth affects the health of the rest of our body!
  • Continue taking vitamin D and probiotics (I love Garden of Life blends)
  • Take part in the next Revelation Wellness Clean Hearting Challenge (I love that the focus of this challenge is on God and allowing Him to speak to your heart and continue to transform you and grow you)
  • Get back into a regular rhythm of yoga, cardio, and strength training (use my Holy Yoga DVDs at least once a week)
  • Try to incorporate veggies into each meal
  • Green smoothies! I may not drink one every day, but the goal is to drink a few a week (either with breakfast, or as an afternoon snack)
  • Try Sarah Adler's cookbook and meal plans (I really love her site and totally recommend spending some time there if you're interested in making positive health and wellness changes in a joyful way!)
  • Try a bullet-proof coffee recipe (but let's be honest, I'm really not sure I'm ready to give up my organic soy creamer...that just might need to be one of the "balance" things I'm okay with)
Death_to_stock_Marzocco_Coffee_8SM.jpg

I'm really excited to continue to take smalls steps toward a healthier, more energized self! If you have certain routines or recipes that have been working great for you, I'd love to hear about them in the comments. Let's joyfully journey together! :)

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::