End-of-Summer Adventures & Dreams

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It’s hard to believe that summer is almost over.  I’ve been in a bit of a dreamy place the last week or so, and in the midst of that, I put together two new moodboards that capture some of those thoughts and dreams.

The first one (above) is more end-of-summery, while the second one (below) is more in anticipation of fall and all that fall might bring.

Together they show a heart filled with plans for adventure, dreams  of making art, and taking risks for God.summersend

I could write quite a bit about each image and what it means to me right now, but I think I’ll let the images speak for themselves.

 

(Image sources found here, here, here; “Seek the Unfamiliar” from Sseeko Designs; Lucky Bean Coffee from their FB page)

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AN INSPIRED SEASON | AN INTRODUCTION

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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.
Today’s prompt:
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”!
* * *

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.”

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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.

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“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.”

* * *

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.

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?

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! :)

Hello, Spring (A Let’s Catch Up a Bit Post)

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Things have been a bit quiet around here lately (no posts in two weeks!). Whoops.

But my heart hasn’t been quiet — I’ve been working and praying through some new dreams and ideas.

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I’ve been feeling super excited about a new venture/idea/dream God has placed on my heart. I want to take the whole idea of #AnInspiredLife to the next level. I want to help you live * AND TELL * inspired stories! I’m in the brainstorming, dreaming, praying phase of what this could look like…but thinking about possibly working with people on an individual basis to help them discover the heart of their story and then how to tell and share it creatively. Thinking this could translate to working with you to write your mission statement, web site copy, etc.

Over the last few years, I’ve realized how much I love celebrating others’ stories and how inspired I am by what God is doing through each of our stories. I’m also a big geek when it comes to branding and creatively telling our stories, so I’ve realized doing more with the writing side of branding might be a perfect fit for me.

So, YAY!

Spring is such a good time to explore new hopes and dreams, yes??

More on all of this very soon.

In the meantime…

A few random, hopeful, springy things: I bought some blueberry coffee (undecided on whether or not I like it); I’ve been filling the house with fresh flowers (makes my heart SO HAPPY); I’ve been reminding myself to be brave (we could all use a reminder sometimes, eh?); and I’ve been searching for the perfect neon yellow polish.

It’s the little things sometimes, huh? Okay, many times. :)

What’s new with you?

As Seasons Change

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Spring’s approach has me daydreaming about color and creating, new growth and new adventures. 

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As the season changes, I hope to continue to explore the art of typography, take more photos that capture the beauty of everyday life, shop at the local farmers markets, and spend many afternoons collaborating with creative friends at favorite coffee shops.

What about you? What does spring’s approach have you daydreaming about?

:: photos edited using the new A Beautiful Mess Photoshop Actions ::

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!

An Inspired Life Book Club – Week #5

Hi, everyone!

Welcome to week #5 of the An Inspired Life Book Club!

We’re talking about embracing our current seasons this week — and living creatively (one of my favorite topics)!

Looking forward to chatting more and discovering new ways to add inspiration and creativity to our everyday lives!

An Inspired Life Book Club – Week #1

Hi, friends! Welcome to the first week of the An Inspired Life Book Club! :)

I hope you’ve all enjoyed reading through the first chapter. I’m looking forward to connecting right here in the comments and on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #AnInspiredLife.

For this first week, I’d love for you to take some time to introduce yourself in the comments below. Share your blog address, Twitter, etc. and what inspired you to participate in the book club. We will also be chatting about some of the questions I posed in the video, as well. So feel free to get the discussion going about any of those. I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone better and encouraging each other to live fully and creatively this year!

P.S. Don’t forget: We’ll be having the first An Inspired Life Twitter party this Thursday at 9 p.m. EST. 

Okay, so, let’s chat, shall we??! :)

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??