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.

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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.

Heart of the Word: Ephesians 5&6

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Hello, friends,
How are you? Have you been enjoying our time in Ephesians?
The month of February has been a lot more hectic than I ever anticipated, but this study, along with a few other resources I’ve been using, have helped me stay steady in my faith and consistently connect with God. I started 2015 in a very disconnected and dry place spiritually, and I’m thankful that over the last two months, God has been slowly drawing me back to Himself and speaking to me through His word. I’m finding new rhythms and routines, each one breathing new life into my quiet time with Him.
Today, as we close out our first Heart of the Word study through Ephesians, I wanted to share a little bit about the resources that have been blessing me this month.  (And I apologize for the late post today, but like I said. This month. ::insert crazy face emoticon::) ;)

One of the biggest messages God has been speaking to me through all of the resources below is the reminder to remain steady and firm in my faith and trust Him in everything. He has been encouraging me to continue on the path He has marked out for me, leaving comparison behind and fully trusting in the plan He has. The reminder to be steady in my faith is such a good and timely one, because it’s so easy to be shaken in the midst of the unexpected, or when life doesn’t look the way we think it should.

But with His help, I am finding strength, steadiness, and a faith that allows me to live fully and freely for Him, knowing all of my unanswered questions and concerns remain in His hands.

He has also been reminding me of the importance of our thoughts and what we choose to focus our minds on. He has been showing me that I am continually being made new in the attitude of my mind, and that a mind and heart focused on Him brings LIFE and HOPE and PURPOSE.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. – Phil. 4:8

These resources below have helped me to intentionally fill my mind with His truth, His goodness, His promises. They have helped me focus on the best, not the worst, when I am tempted to worry, complain, or compare my life to others’. I hope they encourage you, too.

Heart of the Word Study

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I have loved having a book of the Bible to anchor myself in this  month. When I wasn’t sure what to read, I could open up to Ephesians and see what God wanted to reveal.
As I read through the final two chapters this week, I was again reminded of the power of our faith. Ephesians 6:16 tells us to take up the shield of faith. I am so encouraged to remember that our faith is a shield, that there is power in remaining steady and firm in Him.
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The One Year Praying the Promises of God

Oh, this has been such a blessing to read each morning. I love the combination of scripture, devotional, and prayer. I have felt both empowered and encouraged to be reminded of WHO God is and what He promises.

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Wholeheartedly: A Devotional for Singles

This devotional by Natalie Metrejean has been infusing my season of singleness with new joy and fresh purpose.  I am digging into the scriptures and prompts with a hungry heart, excited for the Lord to continue to speak to me and direct my steps.
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IAMThey

I Am They album

And finally, this album has been a bit of a soundtrack to my days. It’s another way I am reminded of who God is and all the ways in which He is good and faithful. One of my favorite tracks is Over and Over again.

I will find you over and over again, your love and your mercy begin, no matter how far, you’ll find me where I am. 

And since FIND is my word for 2015 this song is pretty perfect for where I’m at.

Make a Way is also a favorite right now.

Wherever you lead me, I know you won’t leave me. Wherever you call me, you will make a way. Wherever we’re going, I will be holding to the promise You have made. You will make a way.

I totally recommend giving this album a listen. Crank up the sound, sing out loud, dance around…however you most love to worship. Your heart will be blessed for sure, and you will be reminded of just how good and amazing He is and how very much He loves you.

And now I’d love to hear what you’ve been learning and what life has looked like for you recently. What’s God been teaching you? Where has He been leading you? Join the link-up below!

P.S. Stay tuned for future #HeartoftheWord study plans! And thank you for being a part of this first Heart of the Word journey with us!

Heart of the Word: Ephesians 1-2:13

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My apologies for this late link-up, friends! It was quite a busy week, and I’m just now able to sit down and gather my thoughts. (Whew!) :)

How are you enjoying the Heart of the Word study so far? Have you linked up over on Rachel’s blog yet?

(Psst. If you haven’t joined us yet, and you’d like to, you can find out more about the study over at Bailey’s blog.)

Ephesians is one of my favorite books, and  I’m excited to see what new goodness the Lord will reveal to my heart through this study! 

In the last week, I’ve read through this first section a few times, both the NIV and Message translations, and I’ve been soaking in the familiar passages that have been highlighted and underlined many times.

One of my favorite verses in Ephesians is verse 2:10 (For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.)

I love the reminder that He’s already planned our path and that He created us with unique gifts and purposes to be used for His glory. It’s so incredibly humbling that God wants to partner with US! He could absolutely accomplish everything on His own, but He chooses to partner with us; He chooses to invite us to help Him build His Kingdom. I think that’s pretty incredible, don’t you? :)

I pray that on days when you’re hit with discouragement, doubt, or uncertainty, that you would be reminded of this truth, my friends. You were created to do good things through Christ, and God has already planned these in advance. Draw near to Him, seek Him, and trust that He will lead the way and equip you for whatever it is that He is calling you to today.

I look forward to hearing about the verses that have been speaking to you! (Remember that you can also connect with us on Instagram using the hashtags #heartoftheword and #heartofephesians.)

Goal-Setting with Lara Casey: My 2015 Goals

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I’m excited to finally share my 2015 goals (they’ve been about a month in the making), and I feel really settled and good about them. I think they are doable, but also stretching. I’m also looking forward to searching for scripture that speaks to each goal. I got the idea from Valerie of Val Marie Paper. (Here’s a great post on doing that, if you’d like to seek scripture for your goals, as well.)

Moving on to the actual goals… :)

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  1. Seek and find God in everything. I want to find and follow Him wholeheartedly, filling my  mind with His truth and thinking about the best, not the worst. I want to memorize scripture and recite His promises DAILY.
  2. Wait on the Lord — especially in my singleness.  I want to lean not on my understanding, but instead, I want to trust Him and look to Him in all things — including dating and singleness (especially dating and singleness?!). I want to remember that those who wait on the Lord will not be put to shame and that waiting on God is always worth it. I want to believe that He is good and that He has a good plan for me. I want to live fully today, with hope for tomorrow.
  3. Make time for creative adventures. Paint, draw, read, write! Create “just because.” I want to take myself on inspiration and creativity dates often, filling my life and heart with what fires me up and points me to Jesus. I want to take classes, explore new art forms, and learn new things. I want to live fully and creatively, thankful that God gave me a creative, inspiration-loving heart.
  4. Spend, save, and give with intention. I want to be wise financially, so I can use  my resources for good and for God.
  5. Find a fitness routine I love and make it a regular part of my week. I want to take care of myself — health, heart, and spirit. I want to practice self-care regularly, so I have energy to go, do, and create everything that God has in mind for me this year. I want to be healthy and whole, so I can love well and bless those in my life.
  6. Continue to simplify my life. Give away what I don’t need and keep only what is useful, meaningful, or inspiring to me.
  7. Be an encourager and a celebrator. I want to mentor and encourage others — online and off. I want to lead a Bible study for college/early career at my church, and I want to write blogs that speak to women who are in that season of life. I want to support my church, my friends, my family, and my city. I want to be a resource and an inspiration for those God connects me with this year.
  8. Use social media and my blog with intention, and continue to evolve and find the focus/niche God has for me. I’ve been blogging for almost eight years, and my blog and experience online have changed pretty dramatically during that time. I want to continue to evaluate the heart  behind what I’m doing and ask the Lord for guidance. I want to focus on community over followers, and God’s heart for what I do over what’s deemed “popular.”
  9. Find the balance between living the stories and telling them.  I want to journal every day, capturing thoughts, dreams, ideas, prayers. I want to get back into the practice of art journaling, too — telling stories with paint and paper. I want to have cell-phone-free time every day, and I want to be intentional about making meaningful memories with friends and family. I want to live in the moment — being fully present — but also make time to capture the good stuff and tell the story God is writing in my life. And that leads me to my final goal…
  10. Be brave in writing and creating. I want to take risks for Him. I want to write and create honestly and vulnerably, and I want to go after big dreams. I want to collaborate with people who inspire me and pitch my ideas to publications I dream to work with. And I want to start taking steps toward my dream of writing books. I’ve got an idea that’s been slowly taking shape, and I want to dig into that this year and see where God might take it — and me.

So, there you have it! My goals for 2015. I’m sure they will evolve as the year goes  on, but I’m looking forward to seeing how God works and moves and orchestrates in each of these areas. I also hope you’ll help hold me accountable to the things I’ve listed here. I’d love to hear about your goals, as well!

Let’s cheer one another on and get excited about all God is going to do!

P.S. I wanted to announce a little something exciting before signing off!

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I’m hosting an online study through the book of Ephesians with a group of amazing ladies this month, and I’d love for you to be a part of it! Go check out Bailey’s blog post today for more details and to get in on the action. (To be honest, my heart has felt a bit disconnected from God the last few months, and I’m so looking forward to diving back into His word and seeking Him wholeheartedly!)

 

What I Hope 2015 Looks Like

I am *THIS CLOSE* to finishing my goals for 2015, but in the meantime, I’ve been rereading my Powersheets and making lists and brainstorming.

I’ve never taken this long to set goals in the past, and I’m almost excited about this slower pace, because I’m hoping it means that each goal will have been set with intention, prayer, and hopeful, open-hearted purpose.

I’ve also continued building my Make It Happen Board on Pinterest, and this morning, I saw this list on Pinterest from Thyme is Honey and was inspired to make one of my own. The list I created was inspired by many of my Powersheet answers, and each of the items  will be a part of my goals for this year.

2015 List

I look forward to pinning this up where I can see it, and being purposeful and intentional about each of these things this year. While there is so much more to each of the items on this list, they are a great starting point for my goals and have brought me some clarity as I finish hashing everything out.

Feel free to print, pin, blog, and share this — or use it as inspiration to create one of your own! :)

P.S. Have you been participating in Lara’s goal-setting process, or reading her Make It Happen book? If so, where are you at in the process?

Goal-Setting with Lara Casey: My 2015 Vision

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On Saturday, I posted about the first steps in my 2015 goal-setting process. Tonight, I’m going to share the results of the next few steps: the vision I’ve written for my year, as well as what I’m saying YES and NO to in 2015 to support that vision. I’ve loved writing vision statements the last two years, and I’m excited to take this year’s statement to heart and bring it to life.

My Vision for 2015:

Above all else, I will seek and FIND GOD WHOLEHEARTEDLY this year. I will FOLLOW where He leads, going and doing and creating in line with His heart.  I will live fully in each day without worry, fear, or fretting for what may or may not be ahead. I will have hope for all God has planned, but I will also wholeheartedly embrace right where I am TODAY, because I don’t want to miss one moment of what God is doing right here, right now.  I will keep an open heart to His way, delighting in any unexpected adventures and possibilities He might bring my way. I will make meaningful memories with friends and family, and I will live in a balance of experiencing the stories and telling them — celebrating all God is doing in my life and in the lives of others. I will make the most of this season, filling my life and heart with all that fires me up and points me to Jesus. I will continue to be a woman who lives an inspired life for God, and I will continue to invite and encourage others to do the same.

To support this vision, here is my list of YES and NO for 2015:

I’m saying NO to…

*Comparison
*Fear, worry, fretting (I want to live fully in each day without fear of what tomorrow may or may not hold)
*Doubt that God has a good plan for my life (HE DOES! He is good, and He works all things for good)
*Being late/disorganized
*Extremes (in health, work, life)
*”Shoulds”
*Anything that’s weighing me down (I saw something on Pinterest that said: “If you don’t need it, get rid of it!” I love that! Such a great reminder!)

I’m saying YES to…

*Creating for God
*Memorizing scripture
*A fitness routine I LOVE and will stick to
*Prayer
*Cell-phone-free time
*Fresh, whole foods
*Possibilities
*Hope
*Celebrating all the ways my story is UNIQUE
*Living in the moment
*Mindfulness
*Everyday adventures (like taking myself out to breakfast, coffee, the library, or to an inspiring museum)
*Making art “just because”
*Collaborating and creating with others to make meaningful things (keeping my community focus from last year!)
*Regular journaling
*Thinking about the BEST, not the WORST (Phil. 4 8-9)
*Intentional use of money
*A generous, humble heart
*Mentoring and encouraging others

I really want to live “on purpose” this year, making the most of where God has me and all He’s doing in my life, and I think this vision and these lists will help me do that. I also think they will help me notice and give thanks for the unique ways God has written my story. There have been far too many times I’ve allowed the unexpected parts of my story to cause insecurity and doubt, rather than allowing them to serve as an opportunity to meet and connect with God.

I’ll be back in another couple of days to share my goals for the year. I’m not rushing the process, so I’ll let my vision and lists sink in a bit before moving on to actually writing down the goals that are beginning to take shape.

And now I’m off to make a little cup of cocoa and join in on tonight’s #FireworkPeople chat. If you don’t know about that amazing community, definitely check it out. It’s like hot chocolate for your spirit. Seriously! So wonderful  and encouraging! :)

Are you following along on Lara’s goal-setting process? If so, how’s the process going for you? Have you hit any roadblocks or discovered anything surprising about yourself or God’s plan for you in working through her steps?

 * Image via Lara Casey *

Reflecting on 2014 & Looking Ahead: Goal-Setting in 2015

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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! :)

Choosing Community + Collaboration

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Sometimes, the natural response to everything online can be to compare…to line our story, our gifts, our contributions — even our faith — up against someone else’s and try to figure out how we measure up.

But comparison creates competition, insecurity, and division. It steals joy and squashes creativity.

And it can even cause us to doubt what God is doing in our own lives.

But what if we chose community and collaboration over comparison and competition? What if we looked for ways to celebrate and support, dream and dare — TOGETHER?

And what if we started to create and live from a place of deep connection and security in God, knowing that we were each made uniquely and that there is plenty of room for all of us to write, share, create, and be who we were made to be?

Continue reading

Living and Telling Inspired Stories

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God has big plans for us — adventures to embark on, passions to pursue, and things to discover that will make our hearts happy and bring us indescribable joy and excitement. He has plans for us to participate in His Kingdom and make a difference in His name. Ephesians 2:10 is one of my favorite sections of scripture, because it’s a reminder that we are God’s handiwork, created to do good things that He prepared in advance for us to do. In my own journey of faith, I’ve found that the more I understand who He is, the more freedom and courage I find to become the truest version of myself.

When we understand who He is and who we are in Him, we are free to live braver, fuller lives. Continue reading

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::