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You visit a new friend, admire her lovely home, and suddenly you are standing in line at Marshall’s with an armful of items you don’t need.

Maybe it’s Friday night and you are perfectly content at home curled up with a good book, a quick peek on Instagram and suddenly your evening doesn’t seem quite as glamorous or important.

Comparison. Measuring our lives up to one another, asking ourselves “Why can’t I be more like her?”.

Friends, the good good news is that we were created wonderfully unique for a purpose. You have skills, talents, gifts and experiences that bring joy to the world. When we compare, we become so narrow focused that we miss the gift and joy of this season.

God is chipping away at my heart in this area.

Some days, It seems like everyone else is living a much more glamorous life then me, and with MUCH better hair.  l But the reality is, I don’t always see their messy bits. I see the precious newborn, but miss the sleep deprivation or the glamorously promotion but not the long work hours and demanding expectations.

The world need our WHOLE story, messy bits included.

Comparison may steal our joy but authenticity revives it.

Summer is the season of celebration.  We gather with the ones we love and celebrate birth, marriage, new homes, birthdays and sometimes just because it’s Thursday.

One of my favorite things is to create a simple, beautiful and often home made gift to share.  A bit of string or bakers twine, card stock and a cute basket can turn a jar of home made jam into the perfect house warming gift.  Gifts that are truly treasured do not necessarily have the highest price tag, they are simple gifts that share a piece of your heart.

Here is a simple idea to celebrate with the ones you love.

IMG_1340Berry Basket: Local Antiques Market or a find a similar one at Garnish

Homemade Raspberry Peach Jam

Measuring Spoons: Michael’s Dollar Section

Card: Project Life 

What are some of your favorite gifts you have given or received?

The past months have been full of change, growth and learning what it means to walk in the calling I’ve received.  I’ve been so thankful for amazing community that continues to speak truth and encouragement into my days.

Today when I was sorting through my mail, in the midst of the piles of bills was this little note from Make Things Happen Conference and a few sweet words from Lara.

 

MTH Note

At the end of MTH we each wrote a letter to ourselves full of encouragement and truth. When I opened this little note, I was instantly transported to that amazing room of women (and Will) and the feeling of joy, clarity and truth that God spoke to my heart those two days.

The truth that I wrote to myself then, applies to all of us.  And so sweet friend, I’m sharing this letter to you, may your heart be encouraged and given strength to carry out your calling.

Beautiful Girl,

You are a precious daughter of the King of Kings.  You will make mistakes, mess up and feel like you are not enough. In HIM you are enough.  Strength and grace comes when you cease striving and learn to be still.

Stop, take a breath and repeat after me…

I am chosen and deeply loved.  I can do this because of HIS grace.  I am chosen for such a time as this.

This verse from 1 Peter 2:9 was my inspiration at MTH.  Print from Naptime Diaries

This verse from 1 Peter 2:9 was my inspiration at MTH. Print from Naptime Diaries

 

 

 

IMG_1634This past year one of my big goals has been to read through the bible in one year.  It’s been challenging and yet, worth every single second.  Something happens when we consistently sit down, open the word and ready ourselves to hear truth.  His word comes alive–it jumps off the page and right into our days.

 

While reading through the Old Testament I kept stumbling upon stories of men and women who built alters of remembrance to our Lord.   They prayed, they wrestled, they struggled and in their journey built a tangible reminder of their faith.

 

One of the greatest examples is in Joshua 4: 4-8.  The Lord tells Joshua to pick up 12 large stones and place them in the waters of the Jordan, so that future generations will look and be reminded of what the Lord has done.

 

In conversation with a dear friend she spoke truth straight to my heart asking how I was going to “Remember what the Lord has done” in my life.  I was very quiet and didn’t have an answer (shocking, I know!).  I treasure my prayer journal, I write daily gifts into my blessing journal but what do you do with the things you wrestle with–the little and BIG things that you give God.  How do you remember what he has done in daily life?

 

That night as I was crawling into bed, still mulling over our conversation, my eyes fell upon a stone that I had made 2 years ago as a reminder of Zachariah’s Acres and the promises God put on my heart as a volunteer.  It’s been a simple reminder to me of why I continue to persevere and do the hard work.

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So my friend, this simple stone with the word Nature and a reference to one of my favorite verses,  began my Jar of Remembrance.   I dug up a jar of “river stones” and placed them in a simple container form Ikea.   Over the past few months, I’ve been slowly adding to the jar.  Sometimes it’s a BIG way that God has provided– a prayer answered that I’ve wrestled with Him 1,000 times over.  More often it’s the little things that I’m lifting up in surrender to the God of our universe, and letting Him work his ways.  I’ve kept my jar simple, adorned with only a vintage ribbon but it’s a daily reminder of what He has done, and that is what truly matters!

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Make your own Jar of Remembrance:

 

 

IMG_1602Supplies:

1 Ball Jar (or wide mouth container)

Ribbon

Stones (You can purchase smooth river stones at a craft store or better yet get outside and collect some!)

Fine Tip Sharpie Markers

 

*Decorate the container to your liking.  Keep it simple with a pretty ribbon, paint it with chalkboard paint or wrap it in twine.  Be creative and  This post from Jen at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam is a great tutorial!

 

*Write a simple word or phrase (don’t forget the date) to remember that moment of surrender, a prayer is answered.

 

*Take time every few months to go through your jar and remember what He has done in your life!

 

Here is a fun picture of the Jar of Remembrance I did with my sweet new friend Amy during (in)RL this year!  We had so much fun being crafty and swapping stories of what he has done in our lives. I gave my jar to my sweet mamma and she keeps it on her counter to be filled with his promises and reminders of faith!

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God is good friends and so abundant in His gifts, let’s choose to remember what He has done.

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