Doing it all
When I imagine the modern day version of a Proverbs 31 women, I’ve always imagined women who does it ALL.  A women who cooks a delicious meals, runs marathons, has her own business, leads a bible study, captures magazine worthy photographs, volunteers weekly….all while maintaining a 40 hour a week job and looking fabulous.  Whew! I’m exhausted just typing all of that. The myth of perfection is exhausting.  Striving to to it ALL, is exhausting.
When I look Proverbs 31 (especially verses 13, & 16-19) with fresh eyes words like CHOOSE/SELECTS/PERCEIVES  jump off the page.  Could it be that we are not called to do it all?
I love this quote by Jill Briscoe “the secret  of doing it all is not necessarily doing it all, but rather discovering which part of the ‘all’ He has given us to do and doing all of THAT”
We were each created with a unique set of skills and talents.  When God formed you, he had something wonderful in mind, something that only YOU with your gifts could do.
Being a lady of wisdom begins with intention.  Choosing to pause, take a breath and consider what part of the “all” he created you for.  A lady of wisdom chooses to say no, even to things that might appear good.  She knows her limits and says yes to only God’s best for her.
I’ve been learning this lesson the hard way.  A few years ago, when I moved back to Wisconsin I was rediscovering who God made me to be.  I said yes, I volunteered, I taught at a special needs playgroup, I helped with youth group and the list went on.  I had full blown “Do It All Syndrome.”
In this FULL season of live I’m learning that to live well and to live wisely, I have to be intentional.  These days I’m filling my plate with less but feeling fuller then ever.  I often look around and try to figure out what else to cut, and there seems to be nothing left to let go of.  But then I hear His voice reminding me that in my weakness HE is made strong.  In these moments I know that the ALL I’m called to do-is more then I can handle on my own.  I need grace-grace abundant.
Whether you are learning what part of the “All” you have been called to or learning to let go of “Do it All Syndrome”—lean on His grace, say yes to only what He has given you and live your days with intention.

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A week ago I was in Chapel Hill, NC and just a bundle of nerves.  It was my first time attending Making Things Happen conference and I honestly had NO idea what I was getting into.   But God did. He revealed himself in new ways through the amazing people who took this leap of faith and came to MTH. There is no way to put to words the transformation in my heart, but I want to share a few of the lessons I learned at MTH.

 

In the weeks leading up to the conference, I prayed that God would prepare my heart.  I read the MTH recaps from past attendees and stalked the #mthconference hashtag on Instagram.

I realized that God prepared my heart for  MTH through failure.  The past few months have been a hard lesson in humility. The books and articles I read on pursuing your dreams or making things happen were good, but God began the work through revealing my weakness.

 

One of the first exercises we do together as a group is to share (out loud!!) our biggest fear. Put a name to those fears that cause our stomachs to knot up and big, hot tears to pool.

 

Image by: Lara Casey

Image by: Lara Casey

Speaking the thing I fear most, emptied me of not only of fear but pride.  Naming my fears, in front of 100 strangers, humbled me.

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

1 Peter 5:5

Being humble is where change TRULY starts.  When we are emptied, it gives Him room to come in and fill our hearts with truth.

Truth that He will be with you.

Truth that LOVE is greater.

Truth that He gives much grace.

Truth that you are FEARLESS.

 

 

 

 

faith bigger than fear

Many of us are familiar with the story of Jonah the big fish.  Here is a little recap: God specifically chooses Jonah to bring truth to Ninevah.  Instead of pursuing God’s clear calling, Jonah turns and runs as far away as possible. Jonah’s fear got in the way of God’s calling in his life. But our God’s abundant mercy shows up in the form of a fish. Jonah’s 3 days and nights in that big old fish was a wake up call, a call to put aside his fear and replace it with faith.

The past few months I’ve been stretched and pulled in my faith journey. I’ve wrestled with fear and anxiety. When my car died for the 3rd time that week or during the moments I felt like this calling was just TOO MUCH, I’ve wanted to be like Jonah, to call it quits and run as far away as possible (preferably to a sunny locale).

In reading Jonah’s prayer in the belly of the fish-I saw myself. Jonah’s prayer at the bottom of the sea begins with desperation and anxiety. You hear the desperation and fear in his words as he calls out to God. Then in verse 7 it says that Jonah remembered God.  Jonah remembered that he was not alone.  In that moment, Jonah remembers that God was on his side and his prayer of desperation is transformed to a prayer of faith and praise.

Philippians 4:6 reminds us “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philipians 4:6. God hears your prayers, sweet friend. We are not alone, even in the belly of the whale.

I love the verse from the Psalm that says “You have turned my mourning into dancing” When we try to do it on our own, we will always fail. But when we remember Him and lean on His grace, he transforms our desperation into praise, our mourning into dancing and our fear into faith.

 

 

I’m linking up with the SheReadsTruth community for SheSharesTruth. Each Friday we share our hearts, lives and truth! If you are looking for a devotional plan or a wonderful community of women to encourage you, check them out.

 

 

 

 

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One of my favorite memories from high school was visiting the Tiffany and Co. store in Chicago.  I’ve always loved the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s and often dream of little blue box tied with a satin white bows. One thing that surprised me is that the priceless jewels were not hidden away in a dark safe.  The jewels were placed on display to reveal their true beauty. The light sparkled through the beautiful diamonds and reflected their radiance dancing throughout the room.

An excellent wife who can find?  She is far more precious than jewels.

Proverbs 31:10

Friend, you are worth more than rubies & far FAR more then all the glittering diamonds at Tiffany’s. God created you and entrusted you with gifts not to be hidden away but to reflect God’s love and light in your life.

 

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

2 Peter 2:9

 

Our value as women can often be placed in the way we look our career, or our relationship status.  But those are things are temporary and will only fade away.  If we are to become women of true worth, like the lady spoken of in Proverbs 31, our value first needs to be rooted in Christ.  You  are a masterpiece, formed in the image of your created. “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27  You my friend were created to reflect His goodness. Today in your everyday living, you were made to shine for him.

 

Grace Notes:

*A few simple suggestions to encourage gracefull living.

  • Spend time dwelling on God’s promises.  Choose one that resonates with you, write it on a notecard and tape it somewhere you will see it ever day.
  • Go and do!  Take a leap of faith and use your gifts to impact the world around you.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, maybe it’s delivering a home-made meal, teaching young children or using your camera to capture God’s beautiful creation. Use your gifts to reflect His beauty.

 

 

 

 

This past year the virtuous women of Proverbs 31 has been appearing everywhere in my life. I’ve unexpectedly encountered her in the middle of a conference, in books, sermons, devotionals and even through a card sent by a friend.  God was clearly leading me to dig into what it means to be a lady of wisdom.

I’ve always looked at Proverbs 31 as a list of things of tasks that I need to add to my daily life.  Get up earlier.  Learn to sew.  Start a business.  Work harder.  In getting to know her more, I’ve learned that it’s all about grace.

When we read Proverbs 31 through the lens of God’s grace, the striving ceases.  It suddenly is not all about what we do but what God’s grace bestows upon us. ”For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. ” Ephesians 2: 8  Let that soak in.  Working hard, starting a business, getting up early can be good things, but  God’s gift of grace is the real treasure.

In the next few weeks I’ll be sharing what God has been teaching me about Proverbs 31.  We will chat about being created for a purpose, hospitality, finances, speaking life, and what it looks like to rely on God’s grace to become a lady of wisdom.

Throughout this journey, let’s remember to hold ourselves to a standard of grace not perfection.

 

Proverbs 31

 

 

 

 

 

I stumbled upon the idea of a “Favorite Things Party” on Pinterest and knew immediately that I wanted to host one.

A favorite things party is where you get together with friends and gift each other your favorite things. I invited a small group of friends over and asked them each to bring 5 of their favorite thing (under $5).

IMG_1459A few of our favorite things:

-Fresh Flowers from Trader Joe’s

-A beautiful package of goodies from Michael’s Craft Store (Pencil case, fancy straws, paint brushes, measuring spoons…)

-Norwex face cleansing cloth and a See’s sucker

-Dark Chocolate

 

I choose a Proverbs 31 notepad from Emily Ley and the BEST pen by Sharpie.

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For some added fun, I set up a cookie decorating station.  It was my first try with “Royal Icing” and let’s just say that I was grateful for the grace my friends showed me.  We had a wonderful time laughing, being messy and decorating with glitter sprinkles.

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The best part of the evening wasn’t the scrumptious cookies we decorated or the new treasures we went home.  The most delightful part was the authentic conversations we had.

After gifts were exchanged and the frosting washed from our hands, we sat in the living room talking, sharing what God is doing in our life, challenges we are facing and how we are growing.   It was such an wonderful and encouraging evening. I truly count each one of these women among my favorite things (corny but SO true).

Favorite Things Collage

Image by Aedriel

Image by Aedriel

This winter has been hard.  The weather has been colder than cold, I’ve been missing walks around the lake, sunshine, consistent community. I’ve wrestled with God over prayer answered in unexpected way, been stretched into God-sized dreams and generally I’ve had a bad case of the “winter blues”.

A few weeks ago a dear friend asked me how I was.  Our authentic and life-long friendship allowed me to say “I’m tired of life being hard!”.  Her immediate response was “Well, what can you do to change things?”.  There are times when you need to cry out in frustration, pour your heart out to a friend and walk through the bumps (and let’s be honest MOUNTAINS) that come along.

Life will always have it’s bumps but when we put our faith in Him, JOY comes in the morning. I try to hard to make life better, prettier or more joyful on my own.  JOY is a fruit of the Spirit.  We simply can’t do it on our own, on the good and not so good days we call on God’s grace to bring the joy.

I’ve been learning that joy is a choice.  I can choose to walk in my discouragement or I can choose joy. When we decide to choose JOY, it requires action.  A change in behavior and a shift of attitude.  I have learned that there are some things that chase the winter blues and replace it with Joy.

Grace Notes: A few ideas to chase away the winter blues.

1) Soak up truth. Be honest with yourself and with God.  Read scripture, an encouraging devotional and ask Him to help you choose joy.

2) Get in community.  We are created to share life with one another.  Winter can be an especially hard time to get together.  Get together with a friend for coffee, join a bible study or connect with a church.

3) Give generously.  When we serve it takes our mind off of our problems and reminds us that we are not alone.  Volunteer, make a meal for a new mom, or send some happy mail to a friend.

4) Be outside. God’s beautiful creation proclaims his goodness, in ALL seasons.  Go for a quick walk around the block, strap on the snow shoes or visit an indoor garden.

5) Laugh.  Never underestimate the power of a good belly laugh.  This classic video ALWAYS get’s me going.

Hand lettering by Kelly Cummings

Hand lettering by Kelly Cummings

Let’s choose JOY today friends!

IMG_1387I created these simple, yet lovely journals for the women’s bible study that I meet weekly with. We are currently reading through Barbara Hughes’ Disciplines of a Godly Woman, convicting yet SO encouraging.   I wanted to share my love of journals with these sweet women, and have a place were we could record prayer requests and thoughts on the study.

 

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Supplies:

Supplies:

-colorful scrap book paper
-blank paper (I used 6 8.5X11 copier pages per journal)
-ruler
-pencil
-2 lengths of baker’s twine or thread (the length should be at least 2.5x the width of the cover)
-sewing needle
-2 paper clips

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First, fold each piece of ‘pages’ paper in half.

Then open each piece of paper and stack them fold on fold.

Fold the cover strip in thirds. Since my piece is 12 inches, I made a mark to fold at 4 inches.

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Take one stack of folded pages and tap it, making sure things are lined up.

Place the spine of the stack of pages into one of the spine folds of the coverpage.  Make sure that equal amounts of the cover are visible at the top and bottom.

Hold things in place with the paper clips.

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Use the pencil to mark three sewing stations in the center of the pages. One is right in the middle, halfway down, halfway up. The top and bottom marks should be made about 3/4″ in from the cover edge.

With tack or T-pin (if you have one) pierce through the sewing station pencil marks, making sure to hold the paper firmly to keep it from shifting.

 

To begin sewing, push the needle through the center hole from the inside to the outside. Pull it and the thread through until 4″ or so remains. This piece will be used to tie with.

Next, put the needle through the hole between the clothespins, from outside to inside.

Skip over the center hole and go to the bottom hole. Put the needle through from the inside to the outside.

Reunite the ends of the thread by pushing the needle back through the center hole.

 

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To complete the sewing, pull the ends of the thread taut and then proceed to tie a double knot or square knot on top of the long loop in the center.

 

Trim the thread tails but not too close to the knot for fear of it unraveling.

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Happy Saturday friends!
Today I am sharing a few thoughts on hospitality on my sweet online friend Brenda’s blog. Last year Brenda and I co-led a (in)courage community group for single women. Brenda blogs at TripleBraidedLife where shares encouragement for women to live a purposeful life. Her authentic heart for single women and wisdom has been one of the biggest blessing to me. I am honored to share some of my thoughts on her blog about the importance of hospitality! Curl up in your favorite chair, pour yourself a mug of tea and hear from my heart that hospitality does not have to be perfect to be beautiful.

Click here for the full post!

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One of my goals for 2014 is to begin my day with a positive and healthy routine.  Some mornings I get up and it seems that before I blink the day is half over.  I want to live an intentional life and I know that begins with starting my morning off right.  For me, beginning my day with God’s word is the first step towards living with intention.   I was inspired recently when I watched my friend Katie’s vlog on her Quiet Time Spot Tour.  Here is a little glimpse at one of my favorite times of the day.

Quiet Time Corner

To be honest I’ve always struggled with consistently having a quiet time (a time when you can read, study the bible, pray or meditate on verses) in the morning.  But, I’ve learned that  when I start my day off with truth, I find that I’m better equipped to face whatever challenges or adventures lay ahead of my day. I treasure those early morning times with my Lord, steaming cup of coffee in hand.

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Over the years I’ve done a variety of bible studies or devotionals during my time alone with God.  The most important thing is to turn off the phone, be still and fill my heart with truth.  Currently, I’m reading through the bible using Life Beautiful Magazine’s plan.  If I have time I will work on bible study preparation, take time to count my blessings, read a devotional, or send some encouragement to friends.

I have gathered all my quiet time essentials in this shabby-chic wooden basket.  Having everything in one spot has truly helped me be consistent in my time with the Lord. I’m more focused and less likely to get distracted when I have everything right on hand.

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Grace Notes:  Quiet Time Essentials

-Treasured Devotional Books:  Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, Come Away My Beloved by Frances J. Roberts, The Quiet Place by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

-Prayer Journal by Val Marie Paper

-Blessings Journal (To be used with Joy Dare by Ann Voskamp)

-Scripture Memory Pack

-Encouraging Post Cards by (in)courage

 

Do you have a special spot where you begin with your day with truth?