A Heart Made Ready

 Ready My Heart
 I like the use of ready as a verb.

It’s about being prepared and equipped.

And it holds a bit of strength, possibility, and hope in it.

I love many of the related words, too: support, sustain; cheer, comfort, embolden, encourage, hearten, inspire; rally, rouse, stir…

I want a heart made ready.

I have begun to pray that God would do that kind of work and preparation in me. That He would ready my heart, prepare me, equip me, sustain and support me. That He would comfort and cheer me, embolden and encourage me.

That is my prayer for both the big and the small moments — from the day to day routines of right now, to the unfolding and changing seasons ahead.

I pray for my heart to be made ready.

And in my asking and praying, I seek and know Him and His faithfulness more fully.

 
prayer journals
 

I recently picked up a set of prayer journals from Val Marie Paper. I love the concept, and her designs are just beautiful. I look forward to filling the pages with prayers, scripture, and thankfulness, watching the faithfulness of God unfold.

Join me in praying for ready hearts to follow Him?

Lord, ready my heart.
Ready my heart for this day, for the work you have for me to do and the people you have for me to love.
Ready my heart to write and create for you.
Ready my heart to continually seek you, finding you despite fear or doubt or busyness.
Ready my heart for all that this day holds.

Amen

::Ready my heart hand lettering by Kelsey of Pinegate Road::

God’s Plan for You is Right on Time

NotBehind

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you may have seen this photo. It’s part of a new ‘lil collaboration I have going with one of my talented friends Kelsey of Pinegate Road. It’s my words + her lovely hand lettering. And while it’s not a fancy or complicated collaboration by any means, it’s giving me lots of fresh inspiration for new stories to write and tell. (You can follow this collaboration on Instagram using the hashtag #aptdnotes.)

You’re blessed when you stay on course,
walking steadily on the road revealed by GOD.
You’re blessed when you follow His directions,
doing your best to find Him.  (‭Psalm‬ ‭119‬:‬ 1-2 MSG)

I’ve been thinking a lot about these verses lately and how it can be easy to take our eyes off the path God has for us. When I start comparing my story with others,’ I’m tempted to veer off course and write things the way I think they should go. I wrestle with God over timing, circumstances, and the way my current season stacks up against those around me.

It’s so easy to think someone else is living a better story than we are, isn’t it? Or that because our story doesn’t look as far along as theirs, something must be wrong with ours — or worse, with us.

But those thoughts are just lies that we believe.

And we don’t have to believe them.

God’s plan for us is right on time, and He will faithfully reveal each next step for us when the time is right.

The second part of those verses in Psalms does require action on our part, though. The writer of this Psalm is reminding us that we are blessed when we FOLLOW God and do our best to FIND Him. That means seeking Him in everything, asking Him for wisdom and guidance, and making Him a part of everything we do.

I find myself comparing more frequently and feeling the most dissatisfaction when I’m NOT seeking God regularly. And I think that’s because when I’m not seeking Him and listening for Him in all I do, I can’t clearly see the path He has marked out for me. Instead, I see the path that everyone else is on and what I think is missing or lacking in my life. I completely miss the opportunity to praise Him for what He’s doing in my life and what is unique and special about the story He has especially for me.

I am so thankful that we can find Him in every season, in every chapter — in both the joyful and the challenging moments of our lives.

And even though I sometimes wrestle with some of my current realities, I take comfort in knowing that when I seek Him, He will continue to reveal the road before me and lead me step by step.

So, today, I am choosing to celebrate this particular part of the road I’m on, this part of my journey. I am choosing to look around at where I am with gratitude and with eyes that can see and appreciate beauty. And I am choosing to live with hope for what’s ahead, for all of the twists and turns and bends that I cannot yet see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2014 Influence Conference Recap – Be Where You Are and Be All There

unnamed-1024x511

It’s been a few days since I returned from this year’s Influence Conference, and I’ve been processing through everything — the notes, the heart stuff, the “what’s nexts…”

To be honest, I arrived at this year’s conference feeling a little heavy…

When I went the previous year, I went with specific hopes and dreams to explore and specific prayers I wanted to pray. I had an eBook I was about to release to the world, and I was just bursting with excitement for all that was ahead.

I was in a quieter, much more tender place this year.

On the drive into Indy, my friend (and conference roomie!) Holly asked me if I had anything I was hoping to hear from God about (she remembered I went with questions and prayers the year before).

But I didn’t.

“I guess I just want to be a part of God doing something big,” I told her. “I just want to hear from Him.”

After the Black-and-White welcome party hosted by Mocha Club, I started  feeling lighter and more hopeful about all that was ahead. I still wasn’t sure what I hoped to learn or hear from God, but I was sure He would show up.

SoMuchCoffee

In my still-slightly tender and uncertain place, I had a hard time selecting the sessions I wanted to hear the next day (they ALL sounded so good)! ;) And as we began that first day of speakers and workshops, I found myself reading the tweets from the session I wasn’t in, feeling restless and like I was missing out.

But then, all of a sudden, I felt like I was finally hearing from God.

Be where you are and be all there.

Yes.

Be where you are and be all there.

And it wasn’t just about those sessions, it was about life in general. It was about continuing to embrace my current season and live it fully and creatively (exactly the topic I had explored in the eBook I wrote the previous year).

LiveCreatively

Later, in Lara Casey’s session, I stood up in front of a room full of more than a hundred women and gave voice to one of my deepest fears. As other women stood up to share their own, walls and tears came down, and I felt God continue to work something out in my heart.

And even though I was at a blogging conference, He wasn’t speaking to me about how to blog better, create more, or find more followers online…He was speaking to me about my life in general and how I’m living it for Him. He was asking me to trust Him more, surrender more, and make even more space for Him to move.

Lara asked us to answer this fill-in-the blank statement: My life is too short not to______. 

During her session, I made notes, but it wasn’t until a few days later that this phrase stuck with me: “My life is too short not to love the story God has for me.”

TooShort

It’s such a simple statement but it says SO MUCH.

My life is too short to wait for someday.

My life is too short not to live with purpose — right here, right now.

My life is too short not to pray boldly and with big belief.

My life is too short not to believe that God can do the impossible.

My life is too short not to pay attention to all God is doing.

And my life is too short not to share it…

Bookclubbers lipstickgospel    

This year’s conference was so much different than last year’s, but in the best of ways.

I did leave with new creative ideas and dreams to explore, but I also left with a deeper desire to truly trust God with my story and a hopefulness about all He is capable of doing in my life and in the lives of others.

He’s written all of our stories differently, and there’s goodness and purpose in that. 

And while He may not give us an outline about what comes next, He has gone before us, and He promises to lead the way in love.

* * *

Before I wrap this up, because I just can’t resist, I’ll leave you with this picture from my departing brunch at Cafe Patachou. (Honestly, that needs to be a Sunday Influence tradition from here on out…) WOW, that waffle was amazing! I’m STILL thinking about it! ;)

Patachou

If you’d like to learn more about the conference, feel free to email me. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have, if you’re wondering if you’d like to attend. (You can also check out this fun video recap from The Busy Budgeting Mama. And, yep, that IS me dancing around at minute 3:34.) ;)

 

You Make Me Want to Be Brave

bebrave

Because it’s been fear that ties me down to everything,

But it’s been love, your love, that cuts the strings…

Friends, for years I have blogged about my hopes to meet and marry my best friend. I have shared with a hopeful heart about my prayers and my journey, but if I’m honest, there have been so.many.times I’ve been scared to really believe God can make that hope a reality — and more importantly, that He will. I tiptoe around it, saying someday prayers and trying not to sound too assured, or even get my hopes up too, too much, because God is God, and we can’t really KNOW what He’ll do in our lives, right?

Well, yes…

* …BUT… *

I don’t want to live with such a fragile faith.

I want to live with a faith that FULLY believes in God and His plan for my life. I want to live with a faith that isn’t afraid to say I believe God can do the seemingly impossible, a faith that trusts that all of the no’s and closed doors have been leading me to a part of my story I couldn’t have imagined on my own, even if I tried (and let me honestly tell you that I’ve tried plenty). ;)

I want to live with a faith that is bigger than my fear, bigger than my doubt, and bigger than every bit of my unbelief.

I want to live with a faith that continues to believe and pray about my hope for marrying my best friend — until God tells me to do otherwise.

And so, that is the faith I am choosing to embrace tonight, the faith that is fueling this blog post, the faith that will give me joy and hope and confidence, as I get ready to celebrate another birthday and continue to follow God on this unique adventure of mine.

I have chosen the way of faithfulness;

I have set my heart on your laws.

I hold fast to your statutes, Lord;

Do not let me be put to shame.


I run in the path of your commands,
    

for you have broadened my understanding.

The other morning, as I read these verses in Psalms, I was reminded of how much I want my love story to be God’s doing and not my own. I am confident that my decision to wait for God’s choice is the right choice for me. And while that doesn’t always make sense to everyone — and it’s certainly not always easy to do — I have chosen to be faithful and trust in Him.

But faithful and trusting doesn’t mean timid.

So, as of tonight, I am going to stop saying someday prayers from a place of fragile faith.

I’m going to stop tiptoeing around my hopes.

I’m going to hold them with open, trusting hands — and with confident, brave belief  — that God will take them, with love and with purpose, and weave them into something more beautiful than I could have ever dreamed.

 

*Lyrics from the song Brave by Nichole Nordeman

Influence Conference Meet & Greet x2

polkadots

I love lattes, bright colors, and cute, cozy coffee shops.

Hi, all!

This will be my second time attending The Influence Conference, and I’m so excited to participate in this year’s pre-conference link-up.

(P.S. You can read my recap of last year’s conference, here.)

Moving on to my introduction… :)

I’m Katie, a writer, creator, and polka-dot wearer (see above). ;) I’m also the author of An Inspired Life, a book about living fully and creatively in every season. I love to help others live and tell inspired stories!

What I’m most looking forward to: The prayer suite! I’m so, so excited to spend some intentional time in prayer during the conference. I’m also excited to gather during break time on Saturday (time change to 1:45-2:15, since it looks like the schedule was adjusted a bit) to pray about singleness and marriage. As a 30-something single, I know the ache of waiting, and I want to gather a group together to pray over the singles at the conference, future marriages that God is orchestrating behind the scenes, and for God to use us right where we are. Waiting time is not wasted time! (And even if you’re married and have a heart for singles, I invite you to join us!) Would love for this to be an encouraging time of prayer for all who participate!

What I won’t leave home without: A notebook and a few bright, happy pens for note-taking. This former journalist can’t help but take lots and lots of notes. :)

I look forward to meeting you at the conference. Please don’t wait until next week to say hi, though. Give me a shout on Instagram or Twitter (@aplacetodwell).

See you soon!

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!

Learning to Let Go

Patience_01

Sometimes, life feels like a lesson in letting go, an adventure in not knowing.

Lately, I’d say that’s especially true for me when it comes to dating and my hope for marriage. As I watch life change and unfold for those around me, it’s hard not to wonder what’s going on in my own story. It’s hard to be patient and hard not to feel stuck.

I love what Megan Gilger had to say about patience over at The Fresh ExchangeI begin to wonder if I am doing something wrong, or if I haven’t tried hard enough, when in truth I try to remember it simply isn’t my time yet. The time will come, and it will come just when it should. When I think about the weight of what I am waiting for, I begin to realize that I still need this time here in this weightless freedom in order to prepare for what will come.

So good, right? (Definitely read the whole post, here.)

As many of you know, I’ve been praying to meet and marry my best friend for years, so I can definitely relate to wondering if I’m doing something wrong, or not trying hard enough when it comes to meeting and dating said best friend.

But the lesson God has been teaching me lately is that sometimes, we really do need to just let go and be open to life as it unfolds.

Because letting go allows us to more fully live right where we are. It sets us free from trying to control what we were never meant to control in the first place. Letting go is a brave yes to following God and the plan He has for our life.

Oh, but sometimes it’s a hard yes to say, isn’t it?

I am a go-getter. I dream, set goals, make a plan, and then start marching toward those goals and dreams. But I’m realizing that doesn’t really work in dating. Sure, I can do all I can to be ready to begin that next chapter, but there’s not much I can do to actually get that chapter started.

I have to let go.

I have to wait for God.

DeathtoStock_NotStock5

And I’m learning.

Little by little, I am letting go of the expectations I have around this area of my life and the way I think things should go. I’m learning to ask God what He wants for me now, in this season, and I’m learning to trust Him with what will unfold in the next one.

And while some might view letting go as giving up, I’ve found it to be the opposite.

Letting go brings me hope, and it strengthens me in the waiting.

As I keep saying a brave yes to letting go and following God, I’m learning to be thankful for my own unique adventure of not knowing. And I’m grateful, so grateful, that God holds every bit of that adventure in His creative, loving, and faithful hands.

 

::image::

20 Things Every Girl Should Do in Her 20s

Now that I am officially in my 30s (31 next month — eeeep!!), I’ve been reflecting quite a bit about all I learned and experienced in my 20s. And while I’m sure plenty of lists like this one already exist, I wanted to create my own based on the things I learned. So, if you’re a 20-something, I hope you find some inspiration in this list, and if you’re a 30, or 40+-something, and you have a list for that season of life, I’d love to hear it! :)

DeathtoStock_Spring7

20 Things Every Girl Should Do in Her 20s

1. Take a course or class on a subject that interests you (post-college). Pick something that helps you explore who you are and what you love (it doesn’t have to have anything to do with your career, so don’t feel limited by that). I took a collage art class shortly after graduating (something I had started to develop an interest in, but really knew nothing about), and as a writer and an editor, it was fun to explore the visual side of things!

2. Buy an original piece of art for your home (it doesn’t have to be expensive). There are so many options on Etsy, at local craft fairs, etc. The original paintings and illustrations I’ve added to my walls over the years are so special, because in most cases, I know a little bit about the artist who created them, and I love being able to support them in their craft.

3. Figure out if you’re an introvert or an extrovert and embrace how you best recharge. Once you discover how you most fully rest, you can make it a point to intentionally choose the kind of rest that most replenishes you.

4. Explore your faith, and get active in a church community. Ask questions, learn what your faith means to you, and embrace being a part of a faith-based community. Find people you can be vulnerable with, grow with, and learn with. I would say this is one of the most important things you will do in your twenties, because it sets a foundation you will rely on for years to come.

5. And as a second part to #4, find out what seeking the Lord looks like for you and make that a daily practice. (Is it rising early in the morning before work to read your Bible and pray? Or are evenings the best time for you to quiet your heart and listen?) Create a daily rhythm that naturally becomes a part of each and every day.

6. Learn what your spiritual gifts are and look for ways to use them to bless others. (Here’s a great quiz to help you determine what yours are, if you don’t already know!)

7.  Find a mentor, a counselor, or both…someone wise (and older than you) who can help you navigate some of the questions you’ll face in your twenties. Being mentored/counseled is one of the best and healthiest things you will do for yourself.

8. Live on your own. Rent a small studio, an apartment, a house with roommates… Learn to be comfortable on your own and discover all you’re capable of doing.

9. Read to discover…a favorite author, a new hobby, more about who you are… We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become.” (U.K.LeGuin)

10.  Learn what your own unique style is when it comes to fashion, decor, etc. — and boldly embrace it! When I moved into my first apartment, I had no idea how I wanted to decorate. It was such a hodgepodge. My wardrobe was similar. I wore what I wore in college. But as I slowly started picking things I really loved (both for my home and my closet), a specific style started to emerge: bright colors and patterns, charm, whimsy, a little bit of a retro twist. You can even use Pinterest to help you track and discover your own unique preferences. Have fun with it!

11. And adding to the style post above, do something that’s a little out of your comfort zone, something that makes you feel brave and adventurous. (I tried purple highlights for a while…first lavender, then a deep plum. It was definitely out of my comfort zone, but it was fun for a while.) :)

12. Take yourself on a date...out to breakfast, coffee, to a movie, the park, etc. Don’t be afraid to experience life on your own.

13. Create a budget, save, and make your first “big-girl” purchase.…a car, a couch, whatever!

14. Give back to your parents, even if it’s just something small like treating them to dinner. It’s a special thing to be able to say thank you and return some of the love and support they’ve given over the years.

15. Make a plan to visit friends who have moved away post-college — and then make it happen. (My trip to California last summer is such a happy memory for me, and I’m glad I made time for the trip — both in my schedule and in my budget.)

16. Learn how to cook basic, healthy meals that work for you and your lifestyle. In college and my early twenties, I used to rely so much on frozen dinners, but as I’ve learned more about food and cooking over the years, I’ve found simple recipes that work for me. (A little tip: most grocery stores sell freshly marinated meat and fish in small portions right at the meat and fish counter. They are great for quick weeknight meals after a busy day at work!)

17. That said, every once in a while, treat yourself to a fancy dinner and dessert — just because.

18. Find new ways to enjoy some of your hobbies with others.  Join an intramural team, a cooking or book club, an art or writing group… This is an especially great way to get to know new people, if you moved to a new city for a job. (When I graduated from college and moved to a new city to start my first job, I joined a writing group that met weekly. That experience remains one of my favorites from that season of my life.)

19. Keep a journal and document life in your own beautiful way. Write or illustrate your hopes, your dreams, your prayers, your memories, what you’re thankful for…I love looking back through my journals and seeing God’s work in my life.

20. Make a list of hopes and dreams and/or a vision board for your life, but don’t be so tied down to your plans that you can’t experience the blessing of surprises and divine redirections. Seek God daily, asking Him to shape and direct all of the plans of your heart.

And remember, as Shauna Niequist wisely wrote… There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This season is about becoming.”

 

 

I’m Back!

coverpageweb

Hello, friends!

Yay, yippeeeee, I’m back!

Cue the confetti cannons and all the silliness possible for this little blog intro!

Whew, why is the first post after a blogging break so difficult to write? ;)

Anyway, I’m excited to be making my way back into the blogging world after a few months’ break this summer.

I took the summer off, so I could focus on living the stories fully before telling them. I needed to make space for growth, space to really see all the shapes and colors of this season of my life.

I needed to appreciate where I was before I could get excited about where I’m heading next.

This summer has been SO FULL — packed to the brim with adventuring, sunscreen-smeared books, and summer celebrations of all sorts. It’s been full of abiding, and it’s been full of discovering.

I think it’s just what I needed.

God’s been doing some necessary work on my heart, too, growing me in new, important ways, stretching and redefining my trust in Him. I’m grateful for that.

It smells and feels like fall today, and maybe, because of that, it’s the perfect day for me to be writing this post, acknowledging that although summer is coming to a close, there are new days and new adventures ahead.

In the meantime, I’m excited to soak up every last bit of summer — and to start telling some stories.

P.S. The image in this post is the cover of an Instagram album I’m in the process of making. I wanted to make something tangible that celebrated my inspired life and all God’s been doing and teaching. I’m excited to share more about that sometime soon.

Slowing Down & Celebrating Summer

Image

I’m going about summer a little differently this year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image

So, will you join me?

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