Posts tagged faith
I don't know where I'm going from here, but I promise it won't be boring.

This post is dedicated to all those who find themselves in a season of quiet, question marks, and, at times, restless expectation. This post is especially dedicated to my single friends who are figuring out how to embrace where they are and live each and every moment to its fullest, trusting God to pave the path they are traveling. IMG_3107

A few days ago, I read an awesome page in Jesus Calling. The very first sentence was (in all caps); YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT PATH.

Wow, did my heart need those words — more than I even realized!

And then this powerful reminder from Him followed: Listen more to me and less to your doubts. I'm leading you along the path I've designed just for YOU.

It can be so hard to keep our eyes on our own path. But when we compare, when we doubt, when we question, we are MISSING OUT on all God has for us right where we are.

Comparison cheats us of the opportunity to see and appreciate the adventure to be found in the dips and turns and twists of our own journey.

And when we doubt and fear and question, we are taking on burdens we are not meant to carry.

If we are following Him, we can trust that we are where we are meant to be. We can trust that He knows what today AND tomorrow holds, and that He is working to bring the best out of our current and future circumstances.

I'll be honest, I have reached the point in my own season of singleness where really the only thing left to do is truly let go and let God.  I have listened to others' success stories and tried what they've tried, I've read the articles, and I've prayed the prayers — all to no avail.

But I'm beginning to think that maybe I'm not meant to plan or pray or work my way out of this season. Maybe I'm meant to really look at it with new, grateful eyes that are free to see the possibilities it holds. Maybe I'm meant to embrace it with excitement and faithfulness and HOPE.

I used to fear that if I was too content or "successful" in my singleness that maybe God would decide to just leave me in it forever. It seems silly now to believe such a thing, but I have, time and time again. And tonight, I've realized that when I'm believing lies like that what I'm really doing is listening to my doubt more than I'm listening to God.

So, tonight, I'm ready to say goodbye to all of that doubt, and I'm ready to listen to what HE has to say about my season instead . I'm ready to fully surrender my hope for marriage to Him (trusting that in His perfect time and way He will lead me into whatever new season awaits).

I'm ready to turn my attention back to today — to the stack of books waiting to be read, the new paints that will soon brighten up a blank canvas, and the words that might find their way into a poem.

Today is right in front of me, exactly as He designed it, planned it, and purposed it. Today is right in front of me, and I choose to call it good. I'm ready to embrace it and make each of its moments count.

I am ready to be and go and do exactly what He has planned for me in this beautiful and sometimes unexpected season, ready to live both with contentment and expectation (if I may borrow that phrase from the fabulous Lindsay Sherbondy).

And it's true that I may not know where I'm going from here, or when or how I'll get there...

But He does.

And I promise it won't be boring.

Neither will today.

P.S. I snagged this post's title from a piece of art in the new Messy Box from A Beautiful Mess.
30 Things for My 30s

30Things For the past few years, I've been creating yearly lists for my birthday. As 31 approaches, however, I've decided to create a list that encompasses more than just one year. I usually transfer items from year to year anyway, so this just seems to make good sense. ;)

That said, I've written 30 things for my 30s...a list of *30 things I hope to do and accomplish during my 30s (how many times can I use 30 in one sentence? Hah!).

*NOTE: You'll notice that I don't have exactly 30 things on this list yet. I wanted to leave a few spots open for new possibilities that might come my way. It's a list in-progress, and God's been teaching me to embrace the unknown parts of my story with hope, trust, and excitement. Can't wait to see what He leads me to add in the seasons ahead. :)

  1. Continue to grow my faith and deepen my relationship with God. Pray continually; listen; make space for God to move.
  2. Read through the entire Bible.
  3. Travel: Nashville, Austin, Seattle, Portland — Europe!! 
  4. Print an Instagram photo album each year that captures and celebrates both the large and small moments of life. (I just printed one that covers the last few years, and I'll share a post about it soon.)
  5. Print a hard copy of my eBook.
  6. Dream up a new idea for a book or women's devotional.
  7. Find a book agent, and publish a book thanks to help of said agent.
  8. Redesign my website and start an e-newsletter.
  9. Buy a house.
  10. Marry my best friend.
  11. Start a family.
  12. Set up my own art/writing studio space.
  13. Redefine what art making means to me and the role it plays in my life. (I haven't made a collage in years, and I miss painting and art journaling. I'd love to explore new textures, colors, and patterns — like neons, metallics, hand lettering, and doodles.)
  14. Explore new freelance writing possibilities, and pitch to a few dream publications.
  15. Get a vintage-inspired bright pink or blue bicycle with a basket, and live in a bike-friendly neighborhood.
  16. Learn how to create videos for my blog/website.
  17. Find a fitness routine that truly works for me and stick to it.
  18. Continue to cut processed foods and sugar from my diet; eat foods that make me feel good and energized. Join a CSA.
  19. Host a holiday dinner for my family.
  20. Take art and/or writing classes. Never stop learning and growing.
  21. Host a coffee with creatives event in Cleveland. Be a supporter of the local arts!
  22. Dip my toes into the waters of DIY-ing and spray paint my living room side tables.
  23. Continue to explore the Akron/Cleveland art and food scene.
  24. Practice my hand lettering. (Try brush script! Play with color!)
  25. Add to my Fiestaware collection.
  26. Find new ways to mentor/encourage others to live and tell inspired stories (I'd love to mentor college students!).
  27. TBD
  28. TBD
  29. TBD
  30. TBD

And that concludes my list so far. I'll continue to add to and update it as needed. It will be exciting to see how God shapes this list in the seasons ahead, and the adventures that arise as a result.

Do you have a list of your own? I'd love to know what's on it!

3 Ways to Be a Dreamer Who DOES
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God made me a dreamer.

And not just a daydreamer, but an encourager of others’ dreams. I love to talk about God-sized dreams with the people I’m blessed to share life with.

Dreams and the inspiration behind them are some of my favorite stories to hear and tell.

But being a dreamer sometimes gets a bad wrap.

Those who dream aren’t always viewed as do-ers, makers, and chance-takers. Instead, they’re often thought of as impractical and unrealistic.

Being a dreamer doesn’t have to mean constantly living inside a world of make-believe and impossibility, though.

It’s possible to be a dreamer who DOES.

Practically speaking, what exactly does that look like? Well, in my own dream-DOING journey, here are three things I’ve found to be true when it comes to being a dreamer who DOES:

  1. Start your dream with God.

Asking God to place His dreams on our hearts is truly the first step in becoming a dreamer who does. The dreams we could come up with for ourselves pale in comparison to the dreams He has for us.

I often dream with God on the pages of my journal, and as a writer and creator, I’m constantly seeking to keep Him at the center of my creative process — from the dreaming to the doing all the way to seeing the dream become reality in His perfect time and way.

Ask God what He dreams for you and your life and how He wants to use your gifts and passions and loves. Then quiet your heart to listen and get ready for an exciting new adventure.

  1. Take small steps with big courage.

Dreams aren’t chased and caught in a day. The biggest dreams become reality with small, but steady acts of faith and courage.

It took me almost a year to write my eBook An Inspired Life (a huge dream of mine!). When I started, I envisioned the whole process going much faster, but as I journeyed through the adventure, one of the biggest lessons God taught me was: don’t rush the process. There was purpose and value in each little leap of faith — from the initial idea, to the writing, refining, designing, publishing, and promoting. God showed me the importance of being present and focused during each of those phases. And rather than rushing to the end of the process with one giant and unsteady leap — or being too afraid and overwhelmed to even begin at all — He asked me to take small steps with big courage and let Him lead the way.

What’s the next small step you can take that will bring you one step closer to the dream God’s placed on your heart?

  1. Find your dream team.

We aren’t meant to journey through life alone, and I believe we aren’t meant to pursue our dreams alone, either. God’s blessed me with a precious community — both online and off — of friends and family members who are a regular part of my life and the dreams God has placed on my heart. They encourage, they pray, they advise. And I do the same for them. I also hope to have this in my marriage someday. I hope and pray that my future husband and I will be dreamers and doers together.

Think about who your dream team is — or who you would like it to be. Do you make it a point to share your dreams with them — and listen to theirs? What’s one way you can be more intentional about time with your dream team?

I hope and pray that by sharing my experiences with you here, you’ll find even more passion in your heart to DREAM and DO. I hope you give thanks for your God-sized dreams.

And I hope starting right now, today, you’ll start prayerfully taking small steps toward them.

The Endings That Lead to New Beginnings

map This was it. I was really leaving.

As I shut the door to my now empty apartment, looking around one final time, I couldn’t help but feel I was shutting the door to one season of my life, without knowing what the next one would be.

When I graduated college, full of dreams and passions and plans, I never thought I’d be 25 and unemployed.

But after spending three years writing and editing at a small arts and crafts magazine, I was packing up to head back to my hometown. The magazine that had sparked in me a love of art was shutting down, due to the economy.

And I no longer had a job.

So, on that hot July afternoon, with a car packed so full I could barely see out the rearview window, I set out for the four-hour drive back home.

While I knew the drive by heart, I felt a little lost — directionless — and as I drove, I let the tears freely fall.

What was next?

Where would I go from here?

When would God show up to bring new opportunities and dreams for me to follow?

Would He even show up at all?

For the time being, I was moving in my grandmother who had recently gotten out of the hospital. My family and I agreed that my moving in would help her adjust to being at home again.

I put most of my belongings in storage and moved into the family room of the old, quirky house that my grandfather built. It was cramped, but cozy, and perhaps the best part of my little space was the sliding glass door that opened to a tiny patio and swing. I spent many mornings and evenings sitting on that swing, holding my Bible and my journal, praying, dreaming, hoping — and sometimes pleading — for God to do something new.

There were certainly plenty of moments of despair and discouragement during those uncertain months of waiting. But each of those moments placed within me a deeper need for Jesus and a deeper reliance on God and His plan for my life.

I could apply for job after job — and I did — but what it really came down to was trust — trust that He would provide, despite the economy. Trust that He would lead me exactly where I was meant to go. And even trust that I was exactly where I was meant to be in those very moments of waiting and wondering.

That season built in me a bigger capacity to appreciate the work God was doing — even when I couldn’t see it right away. I was learning to hold things with open hands and to recognize that God is always renewing and redeeming — even in our losses and disappointments.

It’s hard to endure endings — but without them, there aren’t new beginnings.

That season of my life had to come to a close, so God could bring me to a new one.

Had I not moved home, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to love and serve my grandmother at a time she needed it most. Had I not moved home, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to explore new career paths. Had I not moved home, I wouldn’t be where I am today, writing and editing for a new company, living in a city that God’s given me such so much heart and passion for.

I’m learning that endings are a part of life, that change is inevitable.

And while that kind of knowledge is bittersweet, it is also impossibly hopeful.

One of favorite quotes from Margaret Drabble says: “When nothing is sure, anything is possible.” And like so much in life, it comes down to our perspective. We can choose to live from a place of hope, or from a place of fear. And while it might take a little bit of grit and grace, every time we choose possibility and hope, over fear and defeat, we open ourselves up to the work of God in a powerful way.

Because when nothing is sure, we can be sure that God is up to something. And when God brings about an ending, we can be sure that in His perfect time, He’ll bring about a new beginning.

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Editor's note: This was written for one of my freelance gigs, but didn't end up getting picked up. It's something I really needed to read this week, so I thought I would share it with you, too. Just in case you also needed a reminder. }

 
How To Be Brave In A New City

Image Siempre verde. Always green.

I scribbled those Spanish words and their translation into my art journal, pasting a magazine clipping of bright green leaves next to them.

A reminder of hope, right there on the page.

Always green. Always growing.

At the time, I felt anything but.

I was 24, living in a city that didn’t quite feel like home, and learning to accept the end of a relationship that was never going to be right.

After dating on and off all through college, my boyfriend and I had reached that place of determining whether or not there was a real future for the relationship. As painful as it was to realize, we were two very different people, heading in two very different directions.

Standing on my own, in a new place, watching my story unfold much differently than I thought it might, I had an opportunity to choose growth, an opportunity to discover my roots and what they might be preparing me for...

Hop on over to Venture Magazine to read the rest. :) I'm super honored and excited to be a part of their writing team.

Happy Saturday and Happy March, friends!

Hope you're off having some fabulous weekend adventures!

An Inspired Life Book Club — Week #2

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can't wait to hear from each of you!

After The Goals Have Been Set...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessed is she who believes.

unsplashsunset Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.

This little line in Luke 1:45 has become a source of big hope for me. It's been just the reminder I've needed that the dreams and hopes He's planted in my heart are in safekeeping with Him.

I've written this verse on my mirror, so every morning, my heart is reminded of that truth, and every evening, my confidence is encouraged.

For the last few months, I've been praying for Him to help my unbelief — especially when it comes to my singleness — and He has been faithful to bless me with fresh hope and belief.

Choosing to believe takes courage, but thanks to His grace, it's a choice my heart will always strive to make.

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Beyond Belief

Image He's working on my heart about belief lately...about believing in the seemingly impossible, believing in the dreams He's placed on my heart, and believing in the things I know He is writing into being behind the scenes. I want to always trust in His ability to surprise me with His perfect plan.

I'm going to keep trusting Him to grow and strengthen my belief.

And I'm going to keep some room in my heart for the unimaginable, for the things I know He can do that are way beyond belief.

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Calling All Dreamers - Claire Bone

Hello again, friends! Hope you're having a lovely, inspiring, joy-filled week. Today, I'd like to introduce you to Claire Bone (if you aren't already familiar with her blog). I connected with Claire on Twitter, and she's truly a gem. She's clever and creative and encouraging, and I'm so happy to have her here sharing her heart for my Calling All Dreamers series. Thanks for being here today, Claire! :)

daringtoDREAM

Like all little girls, when I was small I had a million different dreams and fully expected that they would all come true. If I wanted to be a ballerina/veterinarian then I could. There was no question in my little girl mind, that whatever dreams I cooked up for myself not only could come true, but would.

When I realized I liked karate more than ballet and was afraid of most animals, my little girl dreams shifted to middle school dreams of being an artist and a journalist. In high school, I began to doubt my ability to make my dreams come true. I wasn't a great artist; there were so many others better than me. Besides, paint and pen weren't how I best expressed myself. I was a writer in my heart of hearts.  I knew deep down that I wasn't courageous enough to go to journalism school; I wanted to be a wife and mother, not a foreign correspondent. At seventeen, I didn't have a great story to tell, I just knew I liked to write.

I went to college listless and unsure of what I wanted to be when I grew up, the dreams of my youth so far behind me that I had forgotten what they were. If comparison is the death of contentment, doubt is the killer of dreams, and boy did I doubt.

I doubted myself from major to major until I doubted myself right out of college. I doubted myself from relationship to relationship. I doubted my abilities to write, teach, or create. In the midst of all my doubts, God brought me to my knees and revealed Himself to me as only He can, but that’s another story for another day.

Slowly, through faith in Christ, my dreams returned. It wasn't immediate or even quick, like we might expect. While becoming a wife and mother were deep desires of my heart, good and wonderful gifts from the Lord, they weren't the secret dreams of my childhood.

Words and stories were being stored in my soul until His perfect timing, that moment when I had the courage to share my words for His Glory and not my own. That’s the tricky thing about dreams, isn’t it? It isn’t easy to recognize that my dreams are to glorify Christ and not me.

So, here I sit, in the early stages of dream making…What do I write? Devotionals? Essays? Could I possibly ever be paid to write? I write stories and memories and, yes, dreams, all the while doing my best to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus.

Because with Jesus, all my dreams, and so much more, are possible.

Connect with Claire

Blog // Facebook // Twitter

Calling All Dreamers - Guest Post by Ashley Beaudin
Hi, friends! So happy to be sharing the next in the Calling All Dreamers series. Do you all know Ashley Beaudin? She is the beautiful heart and soul behind Overcome The Lie and The Story Project. I so appreciate her heart, and I know you will, too! Thank you for being here today, Ashley! :)
daringtoDREAM

Plans, Discipline, and Dreamers

I have been thinking, as I usually do, and maybe some would say, a little too much. But I enjoy it. I enjoy the beauty of processing life, wrestling through what I am feeling and dreaming about how to move ahead.

One thing I am really good at is making plans, and one thing I sometimes am not so good at is following through with those plans. If you have hung around me long enough, you've probably noticed it.

I cope through life by making a plan. 

When I see something that I do not like in my life, maybe something I am struggling with, or something that feels out of control, I get out my pen and my paper, and I write out how I will change it.

But the thing is I never actually do the plan.

But why? Why do we get stuck in making plans without any life change?

I think sometimes making plans can deceive us that if we write it out or if we think about it long enough, it equates to actually doing it.

How many of us read magazines, books, and articles on eating healthy, but can't seem to put down our can of Coke?

How many of us listen to sermon after sermon talking about faithfulness in the secret place but struggle opening up the Bible?

How many of us watch movies, read books, or like a Facebook statuses about fighting poverty, but can't seem to stop for them on the street or go visit them where they are?

I am convicted. I am so convicted.

At the core of this beating heart is a dreamer. Dreamers see life with colours and words and ideas. They would go anywhere and do whatever it takes, because they do not see what everyone else sees; they see potential, possibility, and a promise. Like a wild horse, full of passion and enthusiasm, they find beauty in the chase.

My dreamers and my wild horses, pause with me, and breathe.

Sometimes, we get so caught up in our pursuit that we forget we are worthy of pursuit, too.

And discipline is not your enemy. I know sometimes it feels like it is when all you want to do is shout from the rooftops and run free, but it actually makes you better.

Disciplining yourself is not punishment — it is recognizing how valuable you are. 

We have to stay close to His staff and His rod, not just one or the other. It is His staff that reminds us that we are His, but it is His rod that keeps us safe and from wandering. (See Psalm 23. Like right now. Actually go look.)

We need our dreams. We need the passion and the hope that you bring. You are the poets and the prophets, ushering in the wind of God to our dry bones. So dream big and dream wild.

But remember reality. Look in its windows and in its doors and see the faces and the numbers. Remind your heart that you are worth pursuit; you are worth discipline. And that plans don't happen just because you wrote them out.

Plans happen when you get up every morning and when you start being faithful. 

This is something I am hearing in every corner of my heart today and maybe I just wrote this for me. But I am soaking this in and letting it change me. Changing how I cope and approach and respond.

Maybe discipline and faithfulness are like the harnesses of dreams and passion, not because they hold back but because they lead and protect. 

And I know there are some days when I wake up and my passion needs to be protected and needs to be led by the hand. Because I don't want discouragement to have a chance.

Not a chance.

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Ashley Beaudin is a 24-year-old freelance writer, visionary, and speaker. She is the editor and writer of The Story Project and the founder of Overcome the Lie. You can hang out with her some more at www.thestoryproject.org

What Moves Your Heart? What Fires You Up?
 whereitallstarts
 {image via Lara Casey }

If you've been reading recently, you know how much Lara Casey has been inspiring my creative process. What a blessing she is to women who have big dreams!

As part of her goal-setting process, I made a list of things that move my heart and inspire me, and as I'm working on my eBook in the weeks to come, I'll be thinking about this list of things that fill my heart with joy and energy and motivation.

{ Read more about creating your own list over on Lara's beautiful blog. }

So, here's my list...

I DELIGHT IN:

Art, living with lots of color, beautiful words, being inspired and inspiring others, blogging, books, antiquing, typography, fonts, hand lettering, hunting in antique shops for vintage treasures, spending an afternoon in a cozy coffee shop, historic buildings, God's truth and the way He speaks it so beautifully into my life, living life adventurously, taking RISKS for HIM, trusting in the story He's writing in my life, art journals and art journaling, encouraging and spurring others on, BIG DREAMS, music, poetry, HOPE, creativity and the creative process, storytelling, magazines, photography, writing honest, vulnerable, true-to-my-heart words, libraries, black-and-white photographs, polka dots, charm, whimsy, art as WORSHIP, collaborating with other creatives, intentionality, historical fiction, really good really dark chocolate, the beauty to be found in the changing seasons...

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{image via Parima Creative Studio}

What would make your list?

Let's make it a point to do more of those things that move our hearts, inspire us, and fire us up. Let's live the abundantly beautiful lives He is calling us to live — for Him.