5 Ways to Live More Creatively

1. Discover

Discovering new things — artists, writers, musicians, restaurants, farmers markets, shops, boutiques, etc. — is something that makes my life feel full and vibrant. To bring a sense of discovery to your everyday life, consider trying one of the following: Make a list of restaurants you’d like to try in your city, shops you’d like to visit, etc. Switch up your normal grocery shopping routine and try a specialty market, local shop, or farmers market instead. (I love to shop local, because it gives me a chance to make healthier choices and also meet the people who have grown and tended my food. It’s a pretty cool, inspiring experience.)

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2. Learn

I love to challenge myself to learn new things. (Right now, I’m learning all about hand lettering, and I’m excited to immerse myself in this new art form.) Is there something that’s piqued your curiosity? Check out your local library to see what books you can find on the subject. You can also find a lot of affordable classes online. Skillshare is a great resource on a vast array of creative topics, for example.

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3. Create

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Spending time dreaming and creating is super important to me. Think about what inspires you… Is it drawing? Painting? Gardening? Knitting? Writing? Cooking? Finding time for the things that make your heart happy is an important component of living creatively. And remember, you don’t need an entire day to devote to creating. Look for small ways to create every day. If cooking is your thing, can you try a new recipe? If you love writing, can you spend a few moments each morning or evening penning a few thoughts in your journal?

4. Add color

I am a big fan of living with LOTS of color. I find that when I surround myself with color and art and pattern, I feel happy, inspired, and creative. Even just wearing a colorful outfit can change and brighten my mood.

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5. Connect & Share

Life is so much sweeter when we share it, yes?  I love to plan adventuring dates with friends and loved ones — and sometimes just with the Lord — so we can share the experience of discovering fresh new joys together. Being in community and sharing our stories, our art, and our lives with people we appreciate and connect with on a deeper level is such a HUGE part of living fully and creatively.

:: I hope this post gets you thinking about some new ways you can bring joy, creativity, color, and inspiration to your everyday life. If you enjoyed reading about this topic, you can find more in my book An Inspired Life: Living Fully & Creatively in Every Season. ::

Happy Weekend!

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How do you creatively recharge?

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One of the things on my January Tending List was to read something inspiring — offline. It was a monthly goal I set to help myself find the balance between creativity and inspiration, doing and learning. It’s been a great addition to a month of firsts in 2014.

As I’ve been working through my goals and PowerSheets for January (and planning February’s), I’ve really been able to see God in everything, and I feel encouraged to keep pressing on. I also believe I’ve settled on a few verses that really give voice to my heart behind the year ahead and every goal I’ve set.

The first one is in Hebrews (10:24): And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. I feel God calling me to create community this year, and I read this verse a few days ago and knew it would be on my heart for the rest of the year. The other verses I’m keeping close at heart throughout the year are verses that speak the truth of my One Little Word: POSSIBLE. Verses like… Mark 9:23: Everything is possible for one who believes. And but with God all things are possible. I love the “but” in that verse, because it basically says, hold up. You know who you’re dealing with here, right? :)

I’m looking forward to the weekend ahead. I have some adventures planned with new friends, books to read, and words to write. The mix of quiet and community is just what I need after a rather hectic week.

How do you creatively recharge? How do you make space for it in your life?

P.S. The candle pictured above is my new favorite. An incredibly bookish, cozy scent. My next purchase from Frostbeard Studio is going to be their Old Books candle. A bookworm’s delight, eh!? ;)

And P.S.S. The An Inspired Life Book Club kicks off MONDAY! I seriously can’t wait!! Are you signed up??

After The Goals Have Been Set…

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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.

My 2014 Goals

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If you’ve been following along this week, you know I’ve been working through my Powersheets and Lara Casey’s 2014 Goal-Setting Series.

Today, I’m excited to finally share the five goals I’ve set for the year ahead!

I love that Lara’s process is slow and reflective and intentional. It took TIME to get to the goals below, and they’re goals that support my vision and what matters most to me.

  1. Make space for God to move. I want to seek first the Kingdom daily, with a heart that longs to hear Him and go where He leads. I’m going to be going through a praise and wisdom reading plan in my One Year Bible that will take me through Proverbs once during the year and the Psalms twice. I want to have my eyes and heart open to the possibilities He has for me each and every day.
  2. Invest my time and heart into building an encouraging creative community that blesses others and brings God glory both online and offline. I’ve already started this goal online by launching a book club to discuss the eBook I wrote last year called An Inspired Life. I also have it on my heart to really invest in my local art community this year. I’m not sure of the particulars of this one just yet, but I can’t wait to see how God moves in this area. I also want to have many productive, inspiring creative collaborations in 2014. Working with other creatives is a huge passion of mine, and I look forward to doing this as much as I can in 2014.
  3. Live a full and inspired life in 2014 — and encourage others to do the same. This one encompasses so much — eating fresh, healthy foods, practicing holy yoga, joining a gym, spending quality time with my friends and family, etc. This goal is also about living the kind of life I imagine for myself, the kind of life that makes me feel like ME. I want to live surrounded by art, inspiration, and color. I want to make art regularly and read good books. I want to explore my city and celebrate life and my own unique story, a story that is a gift from God. And I want to find new ways to encourage others to do this, too — whether it’s through my blog and online outlets, discipleship at my church, or just a simple handwritten card or note that blesses and encourages someone God puts on my heart.
  4. Date intentionally — with courage and with hope. I will keep praying this simple prayer and trusting God to take care of the details.
  5. Explore new possibilities. One of the new possibilities I’m excited to explore in the new year is hand lettering/typography. I want to take classes, go through the Spencerian script workbooks, etc. I’m also planning on hand lettering a phrase a week and posting it to Instagram, Twitter, etc. Who knows what other possibilities I’ll explore in the year ahead, but I can’t wait to prayerfully wait before the Lord to see what He puts on my heart to pursue.

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Have you set your 2014 goals yet? I’d love to hear about them and the process you used to set them.

P.S. Have you signed up for my An Inspired Life book club yet? It’s a great companion to goal-setting and dreaming for the new year.

My 2014 Vision

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Happy 2014, my friends!

Dreaming and planning are two of my very favorite things, so I’ve been delighting in dreaming up and writing down my hopes and prayerful plans for 2014.

If you’ve been following along the past few days, you know I’ve been working through Lara Casey’s PowerSheets and Goal-Setting Series on her blog. Yesterday, while listening to worship music and drinking a hot mug of coffee, I reflected on all of the goal-setting steps I’d completed so far and came up with my vision statement for 2014. Having a vision for 2013 was extremely motivating and encouraging for me, so I was excited to write a new one for 2014.

My vision statement represents what matters most to me, and my goals for the year ahead will be written with this statement in mind.

MY VISION FOR 2014: I will live with hope, joy, and creativity, embracing — and giving thanks for — the possibilities He blesses me with every day. I will make space for Him to move, seeking first the Kingdom with a heart that longs to hear Him and go where He leads. I will fill my days with art and inspiration and creativity, being brave in new adventures with Him and the people I am blessed to share life with. I will cultivate life-giving, encouraging relationships and community that celebrates creativity and each of our unique God-given dreams and stories. With honesty and vulnerability, I will write and make art that blesses, inspires, and points to Jesus. I will believe anything is possible, and I will keep asking, seeking, and knocking about some of my most precious hopes and dreams. My vision for 2014 is to be a woman who lives an inspired life for the Lord — and a woman who encourages others to live this way, too.

If you’ve written a vision statement for the year ahead, I’d love to read it.

Have a very blessed first day of the new year!

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Goal Setting With Lara Casey (Continued)

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It’s hard to believe that today is the LAST DAY of 2013! In so many ways, it feels like this year flew by. Anyone else feel that way?!

Before the end-of-the-year celebrations begin, I’m taking a few quiet minutes this morning to check in on Lara’s Goal Setting series and post a progress update of my own.

I’m still working on prayerfully writing my 2014 vision, but I have written out what I’ll be saying YES and NO to in 2014 (as well as my list of what fires me up). (I know, I’ve gone a little bit out of order with my steps, but for some reason, I still haven’t arrived at the vision statement I know is right for my year. I’ll share that as soon as it’s ready.)

Here’s my list of what fires me up:

Coffee; creative collaborations; dreaming big dreams and encouraging others to dream big; art; new ideas; hearing Him speak through His Word; creating beautiful things; reading; photography; typography and hand lettering; capturing moments and memories; big laughter; dark chocolate; fresh flowers; farmers markets; creative couples who are making a difference for Jesus; sparkle; feeling inspired and inspiring others; prayer walks; grace; beautiful love stories; collage art; art journals; coffee shops; bookstores; libraries; dusty antique shops that hold treasures just waiting to be discovered; polka dots; charm; whimsy; hope; being brave; bright colors; living life fully and creatively

And here’s what I’ll be saying YES to in 2014:

Holy yoga; reading good books; eating and cooking with healthy, fresh foods; focused prayer/quiet time; seeing the possibilities in each day; exercising regularly; lots of creative collaborations; new adventures (and writing about/photographing them); learning more about hand lettering and typography; engaging in my city’s art community; dating intentionally; art journals/making more art on a regular basis; coffee dates; celebrating my life and story (and helping others do the same!)

What about you? What fires you up? And how will you make more space for those things in your life next year? What will you say YES to in 2014 in order to live the life you were made to live?

::image via Lara Casey::

2014 Goal Setting with Lara Casey

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Coffee in hand, PowerSheets binder open on the desk, and heart bursting with possibilities…

I just finished sharing my goal-setting progress on Lara’s blog and thought I’d share the progress here, too. Today, Lara has asked us to reflect on what did and didn’t work in 2013 and what lessons we learned as a result of those experiences.

A few of the lessons I’ve learned this year from what DID and DIDN’T work:

  • I can accomplish BIG dreams (I published my first eBook: aninspiredlifebook.wordpress.com)! Yay! Happy, happy dance!! It took me a little more than a year to write and create, but I feel so, so thankful to have accomplished that major goal.
  • Community is essential, and I love collaborating to create. In making my eBook, I worked with many talented friends, and I realized just how much creative collaboration fires me up. I’m looking to do so much more of that in 2014, and I’m praying and dreaming what that might look like both online and offline (creating inspiring life-giving community in my city).
  • Adventures that stretch us are good for the soul. Did some things a little out of my comfort zone this year and was truly rewarded by seeing the way God blesses our bravery. :)
  • Faith will get me everywhere (kept dreaming, kept hoping, kept believing).
  • Being late causes stress (and so does disorganization). Two things I really want to work on in 2014.
  • Disconnectedness from God hurts my focus and creativity. Seek first the Kingdom is something I want to live out even more in my day to day.
  • Sometimes, we have to make hard choices that lead to healing and growth.
  • Fear is sometimes still too present in my life.

Overall, 2013 was an incredible year of being brave, taking risks, and chasing dreams! So many beautiful memories were made with my sweet friends and family, too! I turned 30 and had an amazing celebration with the people who mean most to me. I went on a California adventure with  my sister, and I attended the Influence Conference. I continued to pray about my future marriage and even recently decided to simplify that prayer to this: that I would meet and marry my best friend.

I’m so thankful for all the ways God was working in my life and heart in 2013, and I’m excited to see where He leads me in 2014. I’m ready to do the hard work of making space for Him to move and partnering with Him to follow the purpose and plan He has for my life. Let’s #MakeThingsHappen in 2014, friends! Are you fired up yet?! :)

And speaking of 2014, I’ve chosen my One Little Word…

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I’ve already created my One Little Word Pinterest board (it also happens to be my Making Things Happen board for 2014). Decided to simplify things a little this year and have just the one board that encompassed both. I’d love for you to come follow my board and leave me a link to yours, if you’ve created one for your 2014 goals and dreams! Let’s encourage one another in our big dreams and hopes! :)

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What about you? I’d love to hear where you’re at in your dream and goal setting process. If you’ve blogged your progress, leave me a link, or feel free to just write yours in the comment section.

I really want this blog to be a place of community and collaboration in 2014. I want A Place to Dwell to be a place where we can share honestly and encourage one another to seek Him and live fully and creatively!

I believe He has possibilities for each of us in 2014, and I’m praying we’d delight in discovering every one.

A Year of Going Further (2013 OLW Recap)

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At the end of a year, it’s really easy to look at where you’re NOT, what you DIDN’T accomplish, and what you WISH had happened, rather than all the goodness of where you ARE, how far you’ve come, and everything you DID accomplish.

As I get ready to begin the new year, and I reflect on all I experienced this past year, I’m choosing to look with joy and gratitude on all of the experiences that led me to where I am today.

I am truly thankful for all I did and learned in 2013. What a year of being brave, taking risks, and chasing dreams!

Part of reflecting on this past year for me is remembering where I was last January, when I chose to live 2013 with the word FURTHER in mind. Here’s what I had to say about choosing that word:

I want to take everything I learned in 2012 about keeping an open heart and moving FORWARD with hope, and I want to go FURTHER.

*I want to go FURTHER in my faith. I want to know Him more, trust Him more, hope in Him more.

*I want to go FURTHER in my art. I want to write more. Create more. Set up an Etsy shop. Use the gifts He’s given me to bless others and inspire joy in Him.

*And I want to grow FURTHER…keeping my heart open to His plan each and every day, going where He’s leading, and trusting Him every step of the way.

When I look back at everything that happened in 2013, both the blessings and the moments that challenged and pruned me, I can truly see that the Lord took me FURTHER in so many ways.

At the beginning of last year, I also participated in Lara Casey’s Making Things Happen Goal Setting process. I wrote this vision for my year, along with six goals that supported it. (You can read a fall update on all of those goals, here.)

MY VISION FOR 2013: Inspired, encouraging, balanced, intentional, going further with an open heart. I will embrace my story and my season, living fearlessly, fully, and creatively. I will abide in Him and dream with Him, using my God-given gifts and passions to pursue what He’s laid on my heart. I will pray boldly, trusting His guidance. I desire to see a fruitful harvest in my life that glorifies Him and blesses others. My vision for 2013 is to be more of the woman He created me to be —inspiring, encouraging, and spurring on the people He puts in my life. My vision for 2013 is to bear His fruit in my writing, in my artwork, and in my relationships with others.

I just love rereading that vision, because I know it’s something the Lord placed on my heart, and I can see so clearly that it’s a vision He helped me live out each day of this past year.

Today, I am delighting in every sweet memory made in 2013, and I’m giving thanks for all the ways He helped me embrace my story and my season — and all the ways He equipped me to live fearlessly, fully, and creatively for Him.

What 2013 moments are you most thankful for?

Let’s rejoice together, as we get ready to start a brand new year of dreaming big and living fully for Him!

A Dream Realized: The Story of my eBook Release

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If you follow me on social media, you may have read the announcements yesterday that the eBook I’ve been writing for the past year is officially on sale. (Happy dance!!)

I wanted to share with you all a little bit about the book and the adventure I had creating it. (P.S. I do plan to continue my Creating an eBook series later this month, where I will share tips and lessons I learned along the way. So, if you have specific questions about the process of creating an eBook, let me know, and I’ll do my best to incorporate that in my series. Today’s post, however, will be more about my adventure and the book itself.)

I wrote An Inspired Life to encourage others to live full, creative, and inspired lives for the Lord. In it, I share glimpses into my own heart and story, as well as photographs I’ve taken and art journal pages I’ve created. I also hand lettered each chapter title to give the book an art journal-like feel. I hope that while reading, you’ll be encouraged to do some journaling of your own, too. The book includes colorful Prayerful Prompt pages that you can print out, journal on, and pray through, as you read.

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The book’s design was created by my talented friend Robby, who worked with me from start to finish to create a book design that brought my words to life. (He did an amazing job creating a book that feels like me — plus, he put polka dots on my cover, so what could be more perfect than that?!)

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We spent many hours dreaming up the design and then bringing it to life. And plenty of coffee was consumed during the process (as evidenced above). ;) We’ll be sharing more about the design process in an upcoming post.

Here’s a peek at the book’s Table of Contents:

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And if you want a little preview, you can read the book’s introduction, here.

After facing a few technical issues and bumps in the road last month, I could not be more excited to finally share this book with the world. Thank you all for being a part of my journey to create it — for all of the excitement, encouragement, and support you’ve offered this last year. My blog friends have been a huge reason I stuck with the project — even on the hard days. :)

So, without further ado, I introduce you to An Inspired Life. I hope that if you read it, you’ll be blessed and encouraged in beautiful ways.

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Making Things Happen: A Fall Update

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A few weeks ago, I spent my Saturday morning in the sunshine, picking out colorful mums and pumpkins to fall-ify my porch. After loading my car with fall goodies, I stopped by my local coffee shop for an iced caramel latte.

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Then, I settled myself at my bright blue bistro table and got to working through my Lara Casey Making Things Happen booklet from The Influence Conference. I’m still thinking through the core of my business — and the heart of A Place to Dwell. I’ve already started dreaming up some new ideas and products for 2014 — things that I hope will help, encourage, and equip others to live inspired lives of possibility for the Lord.

That quiet time on my porch also inspired me to check in on my 2013 goals.

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Remember my vision for 2013?

With Lara Casey’s guidance, I prayerfully declared my vision for 2013  to be:

Inspired, encouraging, balanced, intentional, going further with an open heart. I will embrace my story and my season, living fearlessly, fully, and creatively. I will abide in Him and dream with Him, using my God-given gifts and passions to pursue what He’s laid on my heart. I will pray boldly, trusting His guidance. I desire to see a fruitful harvest in my life that glorifies Him and blesses others. My vision for 2013 is to be more of the woman He created me to be —inspiring, encouraging, and spurring on the people He puts in my life. My vision for 2013 is to bear His fruit in my writing, in my artwork, and in my relationships with others.

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I feel hugely grateful to read back through those words and see the way God has taken my offering of them and brought life and color and adventure out of each humbly written one.

As part of Lara’s process, I wrote the following goals based on that vision. I’m sharing my progress on each one, here:

1.   Write, design, publish my eBook. This book is my heart right now, and I am so, so excited to finish it and release it into the world. I’m already praying that it will be a blessing to those who read it.

  • I just saw the final proof of this a few days ago, and I’m excited to say it will soon be listed for sale on my site. It has been an incredible adventure (with a few bumps in the road), but it’s blessed me and stretched me in so many ways. I’m especially thankful for the collaborations God orchestrated throughout the book’s creation. I learned a lot about myself as an artist and how much more alive and creative I feel when I get to create art with others.

2.   Grow as a teacher/speaker/writer. In the five-fold ministry quiz, I rank highest in the areas of Pastor and Teacher. This year, I want to really dig into those two areas and further develop them — stepping even #FURTHER into the calling the Lord has placed on my life. I also want to grow as a writer, continuing to develop my voice and stretching myself creatively as much as I can.

  • Leading a women’s discipleship group, attending the Influence conference, participating in The Nester’s 31 Days of  writing challenge…God brought many opportunities this year that pushed me to grow and learn.  

3.   Pursue new freelance opportunities and creative collaborations.There are a few publications I am dreaming to work with, and I need to get my ideas on paper (and in e-mail form) and reach out. I also want to just collaborate more with creatives in general. I get so jazzed about working with other talented people who love to make stuff, and I want to do so much more of that this year. It’s inspiring. It builds community. And it’s just so very good for the soul.

  • I wrote for The Influence Network Magazine and the newly launched Venture Magazine this year. And I’ve already mentioned my eBook collaborations. This goal has only further confirmed how much I value working with other creatives. I know it will be a part of my 2014 goals, as well. I’m already praying over some ideas I have to establish something inspiring for local creatives, and I’m excited to see how the Lord develops it.

4. Make intentional investments: in relationships, in His Kingdom, in developing my God-given passions, dreams, and ministries of writing and art. I want to be intentional in 2013. I want to seek Him daily. I want to hear His voice and respond. I want to always be asking myself these two questions: “What is God saying to me?” and “What am I going to do about it?” And I want to be intentionally inspiring, encouraging, and spurring others on, building community and relationships, and bearing His fruit in everything I do.

  • This is a goal I think I’d like to have on my list every year, honestly. God is teaching me so much about intentionality, and I know this is an area I can continue to grow in.

5. Fight for my future marriage: We just completed a series at church about fighting for our marriages, and while I might not be IN a marriage currently, I can certainly fight for my future marriage. And I want to. I want to be a blessing to my future husband, even now, in singleness. I want to keep praying for him. I want to keep growing and being mentored and learning about who I am and what that might mean for our future relationship. I want to know — truly know — everything the Lord has to say about marriage, and I want to carry that truth in my heart. I want to be pruned and prepared. And I never want to stop hoping. I want to guard my heart against discouragement and know that His timing is perfect, and it’s always worth the wait.

  • I think this year I’ve learned even more about who I am and what I hope to cultivate in my future marriage. I’ve come to see very clearly that He’s made me a dreamer — and an encourager of dreams. And I’ve realized how much I hope to find someone who will dream for the Lord with me, someone who also values creativity and using it to build His Kingdom here on earth. Also, just reading this goal again this morning, I was blessed by these words: And I never want to stop hoping. I want to guard my heart against discouragement and know that His timing is perfect, and it’s always worth the wait. I needed that reminder, and it’s amazing that by writing this goal, I am encouraged and strengthened months later.

6.   Seek balance: I want to be intentional about how I’m spending my time this year, and I want to be intentional about establishing a healthy balance in areas like online life/offline life, work/rest, etc. I want to pray and fast (and also pray more and worry less). I want to create more with my hands and not just at a computer. I want to get back to painting, collaging, and art journaling. I love typing out my thoughts, but I am also fulfilled in such a different way when I’m creating with my hands — when it’s messy, and imperfect, and tactile. I know I need to make more space for this in my life. I also want to eat healthy, fresh foods and exercise more. I want to joyfully create and work hard to accomplish my goals/dreams, but I also want to just experience the goodness of living life.

  • This goal is another area I want to continually grow in. I did a lot of hand lettering for my book, so that was a great opportunity to create away from the computer. I also just recently signed up for a Skillshare class on hand lettering.  Truthfully, balance is something I’m still learning, and I know He will be faithful to continue to guide me through that. It looks different in every season, too. 2013 was a year of pretty intense creativity and art making. A year of taking a lot of risks and doing things that scared me. I’m excited to see what 2014 will look like.

Whew, that was a long update, but it felt great to write. It gave me the chance to really reflect on everything the Lord has done in my life this year — and it planted the seed of excitement for next year. I’m excited to start dreaming about what’s to come and set intentional goals to grow and create even more for the Lord.

How are you 2013 goals coming along? Are you starting to dream about 2014 yet?