So, here we go! Post #1 in my new An Inspired Season collaboration with Miss Bailey Jean of Brave Love Blog
. This was a tough prompt for me, but as I sat in the sunshine at the pool this afternoon, outlining my life in bullet point form, I felt at least a little more ready to tackle this first step toward really praising God for who I am, all He’s already done in my life that’s brought me to this very season, and all that’s still ahead.
Thursday, July 2nd. Introduce yourself by writing your biography as if being interviewed for The New York Times, sharing your history, accomplishments, and where you are right now. Complete it with what you would want it to say in the future (biggest dreams and goals included) in italics.
And now… on to the “interview”!
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She’s all bright colors and polka dots, when we meet at her favorite local coffee shop to talk.
We find a corner table in a spot of sunshine and begin with stories from her childhood. As she sips her creamy iced latte, she shares that she’s been curious for as long as she can remember.
“Growing up, I wanted to try everything — from rock collecting to playing basketball to cheerleading,” she says with a smile. “Learning and trying new things has always interested me.”
And then there were books, of course! So many books!
“I used to get ‘grounded’ from reading as a kid, because I’d get so lost in a book, I wouldn’t finish my chores.” She laughs and shakes her head. “I’m sure my parents were both thrilled and frustrated that I loved books and reading as much as I did.”
That inquisitive little girl grew up to study magazine journalism in college, where she learned all of the ins and outs of interviewing, fact-checking, and feature writing. What she grew to love most about journalism, though, she says, were the stories, and the way her words could bring them to life.
The summer before her senior year, she packed her bags and headed for New York City, where she spent three months working at a magazine, exploring the city, and wandering around The Strand bookstore.
“That summer was such an awesome adventure for me,” she says. “It challenged me in so many ways and gave me courage and confidence to take risks and pursue dreams, even when they feel completely big and out of reach. I think that summer was definitely foundational for me and helped me find my way in the world of words.”
Following her college graduation, she did exactly what she expected she would: she got a job at a magazine. As an editor at a scrapbooking magazine, she says she felt inspired daily by the stories the scrapbookers were capturing and her part in helping them share those stories with others.
“Being on staff at the magazine only further developed my love of storytelling,” she says, “and, I think, it also got me thinking about the small stories that make up each of our days. I started to develop an interest in telling those stories — and celebrating them in a beautiful and artful way.”
So, she took what she says felt like the next natural step in her creative journey and started a blog.
Her blog, A Place to Dwell, became a colorful Internet home for her own little stories as they unfolded, a place to capture and share about her experiences, her newfound faith, and the creative life she was learning to live.
It was around that time that she also took a collage class and fell in love with visual storytelling.
“Looking back, I can see that so much of who I am today was being formed and discovered in that season,” she says. “I was learning so much about who God had created me to be, and I was able to start really dreaming about where all of those things might take me.”
That season of learning and discovery eventually transitioned into another season of challenge and growth when a troubling economy led her to lose her job at the age of 24.
“I knew God was closing a door, and I felt peace about that, but I also felt a lot of uncertainty and apprehension about what door He would open next and how long it would take Him to open it.”
Even though it was an incredibly difficult time in her life, she says it was a season that truly deepened and refined her faith. And it was also a season of unexpected blessing.
“I got a lot of precious time with my family during that season,” she says, “especially with my grandmother, who passed away in April. I can see what a gift that was now.”
After months of dreaming and praying about what she might do next and where God might be leading her, she discovered her current world of telling stories through greeting cards.
“I feel pretty lucky that I get to be a part of both the little and big moments in people’s lives, and that I get to help them celebrate those moments,” she says.
She’s also continued to blog, and she says her creative journey as a whole has led her to learn how much living a full and inspired life for God means to her.
“When I put all of the pieces of my story together so far, I can see how much I value being inspired and inspiring others. I can see that I want to live an inspiration-filled life, and that I want to help others do the same,” she says.
While she says she is still figuring out what that looks like, she did write an eBook last year all about living an inspired life (appropriately titled An Inspired Life: Living Fully & Creatively in Every Season).
“It had long been a dream of mine to write and publish a book, and so to have the opportunity to do that is an incredible blessing,” she says.
So, what’s next in her inspired life?
She smiles and pauses.
“I really have no idea,” she says, “and I think there’s a lot of beauty and hope and possibility in that. I have a lot of dreams and ideas, of course, but I’ve also learned that God does some of his best work in the unexpected seasons we find ourselves in. I’m going to keep writing, and I’m going to keep creating. And as long as I’m seeking to use the creative gifts God has given me to the very fullest, I think He’ll take care of each and every adventure ahead.”
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Want to jump in and join the An Inspired Season party? Here’s a look at our upcoming prompts! (And you can read more about the collaboration on Bailey’s blog.)
Tuesday, July 7th. Describe your current season in pictures (make a mood board/art collage/whatever)!
Thursday, July 9th. Write a bucket list that’s FOR your current season (focusing on things you can do and want to do in the very near future, rather than dreams for what you hope is ahead).
Tuesday, July 14th. Pick a verse for your season and create something based on it (a blog post, a painting, a poem, anything you’re inspired to make)!
Thursday, July 16th. Take a look back at the past year. What are some highs and lows from this season? What were some surprises? What advice would you give yourself if starting this year/season anew? (Feel free to choose one, any, or all of these questions!)
Tuesday, July 21st. Write about one of the best adventures you’ve had so far in this season.
Thursday, July 23rd. Who are others you admire that are living/celebrating a similar season well? What resources/books/posts have encouraged you?
Tuesday, July 28th. What’s one thing you can do this week to celebrate your season? Set the intention (on Instagram or Facebook) and then do it! Write about the experience.
Thursday, July 30th. Write about something this season of life has taught you.