How Are You Coming to Christmas?

Throw the party He said.

It’ll be fun, He said.

Keep it simple, He said — because my son is simple.

{The “He” above of course, meaning God…}

But you know me. Visions of sugarplums- stars and decked out dress forms- danced in my head.

And since creativity honors our creator, we ran with it. We laughed, ate, shared and cried. Four elements of an excellent party.

We brought inexpensive gifts and as each recipient opened her gift, the giver shared what that trinket told about her walk with Jesus this past year.

Infinity scarves encircled as Jesus’s infinite love, clocks and calendars proved the importance that time spent in the word was never wasted and a plant brought forth revelations of the joy of growth, being rooted in Jesus and blooming where He’s planted us just to name a few.

I can’t take credit since I swiped the whole idea for the party from here

But as promised it was the most meaningful way to start the Christmas Season- admiring what God can do.

Making Him the star of the show.

And since then, I’ve also been smitten with stars.

The large one crafted for the party ended up going home with a friend whose husband risked life and limb after some gentle coercing to hang it in their upper foyer window.

And I wondered after seeing it, how big the real star of Bethlehem loomed on that night all those years ago when angels descended on the unsuspecting shepherds imploring them to come and see?

How exceedingly great to capture the hearts of the wise men who came from afar.

Large enough to inspire adoration and worship no doubt.

But how do we come to Christmas?

Pushed and pulled through a frantic season, mindful only of our to-do list and how it’s daily being wrecked?

{I’m not ashamed to say that’s been me in years past… you too?}

Or are we cautiously expectant like Mary? Resigned like Joseph?

But what would look like to come as shepherds and wise men- filled with joy and gently led by the star?

When we come as shepherds, we guard our hearts like they guard their sheep. Tending needs, protecting from evil and providing for rest.

We realize we are suddenly surrounded by something glorious and that realization brings great joy and a commitment to follow the good news and proclaim it.

The ordinary becomes extraordinary. A tiny babe hailed as a true king.

When we come as wise men, after asking, seeking and knocking, we find. We’re drawn to something and someone greater, inspired to bring gifts.

We come not expecting to “get” anything in return but rather to give what we have. The wise men didn’t come begging for blessing – but simply shared their treasures just as we are called to share gifts from the treasury of our heart.

And as we light the advent wreaths and search the skies we start to see dimly by candle and star light that through our enjoyment of Him- worshiping and adoring, bringing our offerings and time – others are blessed.

If your joy has been swiped more than your credit card this season, slow down.

Take a beat, take a breath, take a nap if you have to. (I know I certainly had to after last week…!)

Invite some friends over and seek after what God is doing in your lives. Find an Advent devotional- Lifeingrace has one going daily on Instagram right now and there’s always Ann Voskamp’s, “The Greatest Gift”.

Let it spark wonder and light your way like the shepherds and wise men.

You don’t have to work for the coming of the Lord, you don’t have to work for Christmas. The miracle is always that God is gracious. ~ Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

Lord, let your grace be reborn in us today and every day.

P.S. If you’ve made it to the end, hooray! I hope you’ll stick around and follow along because I’m sharing some other exciting news on Instagram and Facebook later today…!

Happy Christmas y’all!

And here’s a little gift for YOU!

Put your email here and not only will you get a set of scripture cards, you’ll also receive this positive print!

Use the quotes as journaling prompts or print them out to remind you of God’s grace and goodness.

See you in your inbox soon!

Falling into a Season of Simple

For a good part of a year or two now, I’ve been plotting and planning how I would get back to the mountains for a hike. Since it’s not good to hike alone, I pestered proposed a trip to several friends but nothing panned out. In my discouragement I finally prayed and let it go. And then, last weekend I got invited to channel my inner 6th grader and lead worship at a youth retreat in – you guessed it, the mountains – complete with my favorite, a water fall.

It has come to my attention that I grab this shirt every time I run off to commune with nature… See exhibit A here. Is it an unwritten rule that outdoor excursions call for plaid?

Back home, I sat at my desk reviewing the weekend and watched the leaves drop, lazily swooping in the wind as they made their way to the ground. Colors peaking and waving on every branch ushering in my favorite season and I contemplated the ‘leaves’ I’ve dropped lately — most notably keeping up with you here online…

Turns out, there is a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to speak and a time to be silent.

Seasons are not just for the earth but for our lives.

This year of “flourishing” so far has looked nothing like I thought it would. For most of it, I’ve felt stuck in the ground through sickness – of both the physical and mental persuasion – this blog lying dormant while God has been uprooting, planting and working out a lot of lessons in me.

And only the Savior can help us make sense of these seasons.

He promises that what is hidden will be made known. The seed will eventually sprout because nothing is concealed that won’t be revealed – for better or worse.

I’m no gardener but I have read that the best time to feed and fertilize is in the fall. And because you can’t pour more into pot that’s already full I initiated my own feeding this fall by quieting the frantic emails and social media that came everyday pulling me in all directions and dove into books and videos only from select folks.

And ever so slowly, I’ve started to find those fruits springing up – patience, love, joy, kindness – sweet tastes of what a life lived simply can be like.

{I even bought a plant for my desk at work to help me keep things in perspective.}

In case you need some fertilizing too, here are a few sources that have meant the world to me:

  • Life in Grace Facebook live videos and the Overflow course -sooo much good stuff, practical applications and encouragement in her sites. It’s where I learned to bullet journal and it’s become a life changer. All the notes, ideas, quotes, to-dos, goals and lists simplified in one neat place complete with a table of contents!
  • All the Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth – I won’t lie, this one made me cry something fierce… so don’t read it at work during your lunch break… you’ve been warned.
  • When God Builds a Church by Bob Russell – if you’re involved at your church in any leadership capacity, I highly recommend giving this a read.
  • Experiencing God Study – I’m smack in the middle of this and it continues to blow my mind and challenge my perception of God and what it really means to truly experience Him.
  • Jordan Feliz, The River CD – a parting gift from the retreat with my favorites so far being tracks 3, 7 & 10. Two of which may induce dancing in your seat… go ahead, I dare you to listen…
  • The Chronological Bible – I have tried and tried other bible reading plans but I always end up back here… because it’s simple and in order according to the timeline.

Time and again I’ve been nothing short of amazed as themes wove themselves together in the yarns of the books and bible passages I was reading, through Sunday School lessons for the week and tied neatly up in the online course I was taking.

Gathered threads bound into one chord of truth.

All of life [could] be distilled to two things – trusting that we are loved by God and finding tangible ways to give that love away to others. Too often we had complicated His simple plan when our hearts had fallen for anything else but Him. ~ Edie Wadsworth, All the Pretty Things

Is it really that simple?

Yes and no.

In the Experiencing God study we learned that we do not have to dream up what we can do for God, just watch where He is working and be willing to join in.

Most of the time that looks like serving – and often times serving difficult people or in difficult situations.

But clarity comes through taking action by serving and God is always faithful to bring the harvest home.

What are you sowing this season? Do you have any tips for keeping things simple?

I can’t wait to hear from you!

Need some encouragement to keep it simple in serving?

Put your email here and not only will you get a set of scripture cards, you’ll also receive this positive print!

Use the quotes as journaling prompts or print them out to remind you of God’s grace and goodness.

See you in your inbox soon!

 

17 Things I Learned the Summer of ’17

This time next week I’ll be wrapping up another trip to Nashville. Have you ever been? It’s pretty cool and it’s become an annual pilgrimage for us {you can read about some favorite spots and trip dos and don’ts here and here} I’m equally parts excited and queasy as per usual. It seems surreal since we first started planning to attend this music conference in January and now I feel like I barely turned around good and it’s September!

And because I apparently love to schedule everything at once, it also falls one week before our next vintage show… nothing like a tight deadline and impending trip to make one question their sanity.

Being on the hunt all summer for merchandise and on the hook to repurpose, clean and create has left little time to write {and I’ve missed y’all!!} but I felt the pull to pop in and share a few truths and treasures I’ve discovered this summer.

Some silly and some serious… but this is how life is. A delicate dance between the insane and the inspiring.

Without further ado, here we go!

1. Our lives don’t have to be all or nothing. If you, like me, are tempted to berate yourself when you fail to be consistent or achieve your goals, realize this: just being a little better than the day before is still a win.

2. Making goals may not work for everyone. I struggle with goal setting– 90 day, SMART goals, life goals- you name it– I’ve set them all and blown most of them. BUT here’s the blinding flash of the blatantly obvious that struck last week: Having goals doesn’t make your life magically better, but forming good habits does…

3. And speaking of good habits, here’s one to start: the art of preparing ahead. {it’s kinda rocking my world…} It could be making lunches the night before, setting out materials the morning of for a project, figuring out what to wear {or pack waaaay before the morning you leave on a trip…trust me on this one…}, or updating our calendar consistently but the payoff we feel after being proactive is exponential. My friend and I even exercised this skill in prepping for the show and playing with booth layout for 9/30.{it just might actually all fit…}

4. Naps are our friends. I’m sorry it took so long to learn this.

5. How to raise kittens. Well, their mama raised them, we just fostered them. It’s not for the faint of heart and though you say you will not be attached, it’s a lie. They grow on you… like a furry fungus.

6. We always have a choice. We choose anger or we choose love. Feelings are sneaky, but actions– what we do and what we say is our choice.

7. Old photos on display = happiness. 

8. How to modge -podge chairs (or how to hodge podge it as the husband calls it…)

9. How NOT to make chalk paint with plaster of paris…refer to the modge-podging above which may or may not have been used to soften that blow…

10. It’s ok to drive a mini-van even if you’re not a soccer mom or don’t have little kids… here’s your permission, you’re welcome. {Is it sad to say a 10 year old van is the nicest thing I’ve driven in 7 years…? And just think of the treasures I can fit in it!!}

11. Scrolling Facebook is draining. Sometimes we need to keep in touch but if we’re looking for more life giving amusements– music, writing, crafting and yes, sometimes cleaning are way more beneficial…

12. What to do when you encounter a box full of vintage Christmas light bulbs at an estate sale…

13. Cats can fit in baby clothes size 0-3… which cracks me up and makes me wish I had known this 2 years ago!

14. Confidence is just the willingness to try and our lives can be changed in 5 seconds…

15. Perfection is overrated. Progress is what we should strive for. Inch by inch. Day by day as my Daddy says. 

16. Kitschy Christmas remains a favorite… and this little Santa shelf sitter dug out of another estate sale can be simultaneously cute or creepy depending on whom you ask… what’s your vote?

17. It’s never a bad idea to ask for help…

{thanks to my husband for his painting efforts leading up to the show… I’ll make sure you get your cut…!}

So long, Summer of ’17. We have learned much and forgotten more I’m sure. You have not been without your quirks and heartaches but you were beautiful just the same.

Tell me about your summer or what’s on your plate for fall!?

I’ve also been dabbling in some new software to create pretty printables like this one below for you!

Put your email here and not only will you get a set of scripture cards, you’ll also receive this positive print!

Use the quotes as journaling prompts or print them out to remind you of God’s grace and goodness.

See you in your inbox soon!

 

 

Thank you to these lovely ladies who faithfully host the parties below!

#InspirationMonday

#Graceandtruth

#Womenhelpingwomen

#WriterWednesday

#Awisewomanbuilds

#Sittingamongfriends

#graceathome

#dancewithjesus

#porchstories

#freshmarketfriday

#coffeeforyour♥

#cheerleadersoffaith

#dagmarshomelinkparty

#vintagecharmparty

The Art of Turning Sour into Sweet

I stood in the middle of the candy aisle contemplating the merits of a duo of delicate dark chocolate almond butter cups.

The alternative: my go-to plain dark chocolate bars. In a 10-pack.

The plan was to sweeten my sour mood with chocolate.

But given my stranded status, quantity won over quality.

I wheeled the cart around the grocery store and checked my watch for the 12th time in 10 minutes calculating the arrival of my knight in a white Camry {the boy} carrying the spare set of keys. Note to self: as soon as you think you’ve graduated out of the phase of locking your keys {and phone} in the car, think again.

Just earlier my friend asked if I needed an attitude adjustment. I didn’t have to wonder much about what tipped her off. It was a close tie between the muttering under my breath and the pained look of exasperation upon my face. The hand gestures were merely a bonus.

Other ways to tell if you’re in need of your own attitude adjustment:

  • Things that used to bring you joy, now only seem to annoy
  • The mere breathing of some people in your daily travels incites aggravation
  • Your default posture at work {and sometimes home} is defense… arms crossed, slightly raised eyebrows, pursed lips…you know the stance
  • Grumbling, moodiness, and a judge-y attitude have suddenly replaced grace and mercy- with others and especially with yourself

I could go on.

The struggle is real. I’m sure you’re aware.

When you find yourself with the urge to shake fists at the world, it’s time to readjust.

{And possibly go junkin’…}

Actually, maybe past time.

A fresh perspective provides clarity and new possibilities. ~ Lindy Thackston

Before I could sufficiently drown my sorrows in dark chocolate, my ‘locksmith’ arrived breaking up my pity party of one and putting me back on the road home.

Things to remember before you find yourself locked out {or up, however the case may be}:

  • Take your time.
  • Be present.
  • Get the focus off yourself and lift someone else up- write the note, ask the questions, share the post.
  • Look for the laugh.
  • And last but not least, fill your tank. You can’t give what you don’t have and if you’re not making ample time to stow peace and gratitude in your heart you’ll feel barren later with nothing but empty hands and longing looks through the glass.

Disappointments loom large, like Goliath – when our perspective is skewed.

Sometimes people and projects are hard to deal with but grace and paint cover a multitude of sins.

And when the paint doesn’t stick and you’re left staring at just plain shabby instead of shabby chic- just apply more grace.

When you’re trying to do anything new or remotely on the path of Jesus, the devil will use every small setback to blow things out of proportion.

But it’s nothing a little sanding and better prep work can’t fix.

When we feel unqualified, remember David- he wouldn’t wear another’s armor because he knew he only needed the Lord on his side.

Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else. ~ Judy Garland

When we feel discontent, recall David- he didn’t lament his lack of provision. Some could say he was unprepared- with stones instead of swords, but he was purposeful and precise with his aim because he went with what he knew.

When we feel powerless against the giant voices looming in our head, find confidence in David’s solid stance. Even when faced with taunts from Goliath, his focus remained that God was greater.

His word is our sword, discerning and discovering the truth.

And truth is the key to keep us from being locked out in disappointment.

Do you feel disappointed because something you planned didn’t work out? If so you can get re-appointed today. In God there are never any dead-ends only detours. Don’t ever give up. ~ Joyce Meyer

The best way to adjust a negative attitude is to focus on something positive.

So if you’re in need of a little re-appointment after a disappointment, won’t you join me…

Put your email here and not only will you get a set of scripture cards, you’ll also receive one simple email message with encouraging verses, quotes and a challenge to cultivate a positive attitude.

Short, sweet and to the point.

Just the pick me up you need in a busy day.

No chocolate purchase necessary.

Use the quotes as journaling prompts or print them out to remind you of God’s grace and goodness.

See you in your inbox soon!

 

Thank you to these lovely ladies who faithfully host the parties below!

#InspirationMonday

#Graceandtruth

#Womenhelpingwomen

#WriterWednesday

#Awisewomanbuilds

#Sittingamongfriends

#graceathome

#dancewithjesus

#porchstories

#freshmarketfriday

#coffeeforyour♥

#cheerleadersoffaith

#dagmarshomelinkparty

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How to Become a Soul Proprietor

After more months than I care to admit, I finally re-potted the houseplants. They humored me by staying alive this long, I figured they were due.

It appears I need incentives to get things done. Having the folks up for a Father’s Day dinner made me pick that bag of dirt up out of the corner of the kitchen floor and just get on with it already.

{It also made me clean the table, fluff the couch and deal with the dishes… having company seems to be a good catalyst for me to get my house in order. Maybe I should have people over more?}

Now I’m just praying that the change of venue for both plants won’t cause them to go into shock. I hope they realize the change is for their good- fresh soil, clean matching pots and room to stretch out their roots.

Only time will tell.

Your life doesn’t get better by chance, it gets better by change.. ~ Jim Rohn

A few weeks ago my hair dresser was an instigator– this time with more than my hair. As she prepares to move her shop- talk of her vacant storefront and my vintage dreams became a topic hotter than the blow dryer.

And as exciting as that would be, stores like plants, don’t grow from seeds of ideas into full grown ventures overnight.

So I asked God for guidance.

First He sent an inquiring friend willing to team up at vintage shows and I could see how her passion for painted furniture and mine for everything else in between could grow into something beautiful.

And then because God is hilarious, and knows I need all the help I can get, He sent a life coach.

Who says the Lord doesn’t work in mysterious ways..?

Through supporting a friend of a friend’s small business by liking it on Facebook, I randomly {or maybe not so randomly?} won a free life-coaching session. Think of it as a personal trainer for your mind — or a wilderness guide for your soul, who helps you look at things in a brand new way. {You mean there’s a whole forest? All I see is this tree!?}

We chatted about work and the desires to be creative and engaged with a business or shop – over smoothies and iced teas and those seagulls came to roost again– only this time they were frogs.

I promise to explain all that in a second, but first let me pose her question to you:

If four frogs are sitting on a log and three decide to jump off, how many are left?

{I’ll wait while you do the math… but it really isn’t necessary}

If I told you four would you politely question the sanity of the school that made me valedictorian?

{Don’t feel bad, I missed it too…}

There are still four frogs left because the three only decided to jump.

And how often are we like those frogs – quick to decide but slow (or non-existent) in the actual doing?

Like the seagull who intends to fly and never actually does, good intentions are just ideas without actions or dreams without wings.

I have decided over and over that I want to do a host of things- pursue more creative outlets, write consistently, follow Jesus better (!) – just like I decided to re-home those plants months ago.

All the while, we sat in the kitchen gathering dust.

But these bodies we are given, the soul that dwells therein and the seeds of spiritual gifts, talents, and dreams He sows, don’t grow by good intentions.

They only flourish with care, work, feeding, and tending.

They need prioritizing.

They need to be put under the proper plan.

Maybe there’s a need to prune the junk out of our lives in order for the appreciation of what we really love to grow. To sit in the light of Jesus’s presence a little more often so that these seeds become established and take root in our hearts. Then water them with prayer and service.

For it’s in the doing– tending to our souls and the seeds He’s provided that He honors our efforts and makes things grow.

So if you’re serious about tending your soul and want to bridge the gap between deciding and doing:

Make a plan and pray over it.

Keep Jesus first on the list.

Invite some accountability into your life.

Get your hands dirty and start digging into the details.

You may be surprised at what grows.

If you’re looking for more ways to tend the seeds of your soul, won’t you put your email in here? {And you’ll get a cute printable set of scripture cards as a bonus!} So glad you’re here! xo

Sometimes I link up with these lovely blogs