GiveHope

Sharing more from my talk at Sister of Stone’s Fall Retreat on Encouragement.  Sisters, encouragement is a gift we all have been given. We are called to encourage other build each other up.  Each of us, not just those who have the gift of  God’s grace and presence is revealed through the encouragement of others.

When I was preparing for my talk and studying the topic of encouragement I began by opening up good old Webster’s dictionary and looking up the definition.

en·cour·age·ment
inˈkərijmənt,enˈkərijmənt/
noun
 
  1. the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope.

And that is when it hit me, encouragement is not just saying pretty words or telling someone how wonderful they are.  True, authentic encouragement runs deeper then that-to builds up others towards Christ. If our ultimate hope is in Christ (Ps. 31:24), an encourager will point her sister or brother to christ with their words and actions.  A true friend won’t just tell you what you want to hear but gently and graciously direct you towards truth.

I have a darling friend and mentor who I go to when I need a bit of sound advice and encouragement. She is always ready with a cup of tea (or glass of wine) and some sound advice.  She will sit, listen and then speak truth into my life. It’s not always what I want to hear, but she ALWAYS points me back to my savior through prayer and scripture.

If we desire to be women that speak life and give hope, we need to begin by being rooted in truth yourself.  Spend time in the word, soaking up scripture and God will use you to point others towards him.

This morning in my devotional on hospitality and it shared the importance of preparing our hearts before we prepare our homes.  The author used the familiar story of Mary and Martha but had a new twist.

“…Mary, who seated herself at the Lord’s feet and was listening to His teaching”  Luke 10:39

Before we open our lives to people, before we give encouragement or speak truth it’s crucial that we sit and prepare our hearts before the Lord. Learn from him how to love those who are hard to love, cry out for wisdom to share and allow His on abundant grace to give true hope to all you meet.

 

 

 

Influence Community Group--oh how I love these beautiful women!

Influence Community Group–oh how I love these beautiful women!

 

At the end on September I attended the Influence Conference in Indianapolis, IN.  The Influence Network is an amazing group of women who love the Lord and strive to seek him in every area of their life, you can find out more here.  This year was the second year I attended the conference and I was beyond grateful for time to learn, grow and laugh with like minded women.  I’m still digging into what God taught me over those three days, expect a recap soon.

I wanted to create a little something for my roomies and friends just as a way to say thank you for their friendship and how they have encouraged me over the last year. I used some darling, old bottles and gathered some craft supplies I had on hand to create a little fall-inspired gift.

 

 

 

IMG_2241Supplies:

Vintage bottles or vases from the dollar store

Twine

Fabric or Lace Ribbon (I used 1.5 Inch thick ribbon from Hobby Lobby)

Billy Balls (I am obsessed with these darling dried flowers)

Craft Punch (This flag punch from TomKat Studios has SO many uses)

Mini Clothes Pins

Stamps and Ink

 

IMG_2235

 

Step One- Be creative and decorate your bottle.

Take a few moments and think about the person you are creating it for. Do they appreciate simple beauty?  What is are favorite colors and textures?  What reminds you of them?

I wrapped a bit of lace ribbon around the middle and tide with some twine. I love how the combination of rustic and feminine turned out.

 

IMG_2238

Step Two- Create a simple tag using stamps and kraft paper.

Again, use your creativity. The sky is the limit, add a favorite phrase or quote or a simple and thoughtful word.

I’ve been loving these inspiration quotes lately:

I’m so grateful there’s you in this world

Choose Joy

You know those things you’ve always wanted to do, go do them.

Bloom where you are planted.

 

 

Step Three- Wrap a bit of twin around the neck of the bottle and attach your tag

Step Four-Arrange the Billy Balls or other dried flower.  Next year, I’m definitely growing these fun flowers!  I love how whimsical they are. 

Voila, a simple and thoughtful fall inspired gift.

IMG_2801

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EncouragementPart One of Three:

Last month I had the joy to speak at the Sister’s of Stone Fall Women’s Retreat about something I believe so so strong in-using our words to encourage one another!  My prayer in the weeks leading up to the retreat my prayer was that it would be about HIM and not me.

God answered my prayer, but not in the way I expected.  The evening before the talk my sweet sister was admitted to the ICU. (Praise Jesus she is out of the hospital and doing MUCH better now!) My big plan to spend the afternoon smoothing out the wrinkles in my talk and make sure I had funny and engaging stories that illustrated my speaking points was replaced with time with an evening at the hospital and time with my brave sister and amazing family.  God’s grace allowed me to share from my heart and I was greatly reminded that HIS power is truly made perfect in weakness. That morning my words may not have been eloquent or refined, but I have no doubt that they were from Him.  Friend, God is able to use your messy bits to speak truth and life.

SpeakLife

Proverbs 18:21 says “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”  Every day we have the opportunity to speak encouragement or bring destruction with our words.   When I was younger, my parents would always have us say three nice things for every negative thing we said about our sibling.  We would roll our eyes (sorry mom!) and my brother would almost alway reply with “I like your hair, shoes and clothes.”  Hilarious, yes, but the greatest lesson was that our relationships with each other mattered too much to be destroyed by a few careless words.

So, if our tongue has the power to bring life or death, how do we speak life??  Your words begin with your thoughts “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. FOR THE MOUTH SPEAKS WHAT THE HEART IS FULL OF!”

When you first meet someone, are your first thoughts ones of jealously, judgement, or comparison or are they thoughts of support, hope and courage?

”Watch your thoughts for they become words. What your words for they become actions. Watch your actions because they become your habits, watch your habits for they become your character” –Margaret Thatcher

The amazing thing is that we don’t have to rely on our own power to control our thoughts or words.  When we choose to rely on God’s sufficient grace, his power transforms our thoughts and words from ugly to beautiful. If we are going to be women of encouragement, we need to take captive every negative thought and champion each other with not only our words but our thoughts.

Phil4

 

Authentic encouragement meets people where they are at. I’ve struggled with this one so many times, when I’ve been frustrated in relationships it’s because I’m holding that person up to some ridiculous standard, not a standard of love and grace.  The simple prayer “Lord, help me to see others as you see them.” will break your heart for the people in your path. When you see the heartbreak, struggles, gifts, talents and joys of those in your life you meet them where they are and your encouragement is authentic. Cheer them on, affirm their talents, and champion their dreams!

Most importantly, encourage out of LOVE not obligation.  We are called to encourage one another, to use our words to build one another up, but more then that we are called to love. Let your words show your love.  Speak Life.

 

Ephesians429

 

If you’ve known me for any length of time, it’s no secret that Autumn is my favorite time of year.  All year I wait for the season of coziness and dream up ways to include pumpkin (or butternut squash) into every meal.

This past weekend my sweet Mamma came over and helped to decorate my little cottage for the season.  I wish I could invite you all over for a cup of cider and a pumpkin spice donut.  We would don our hats, scarves and boots and take a walk around the lake to view the gorgeous changing leaves, we would talk about what God is doing in our lives and spend time enjoying each others company in the autumn sunshine.

Instead I invite you to put on your coziest sweater, pour a mug of your favorite hot beverages (have you discovered Tazo Sweet Cinnamon Spice Tea…it’s fall in a cup ya’ll!)  and take a little fall tour of my autumn cottage.IMG_2208

Welcome to my little cottage.  The corn stalks & funky pumpkins my mamma and I scored at a local farm stands “Clear Out Sale”.  Perfect for my late fall decorating!

FullSizeRender

The wreath on the door is one I made several years ago with friends at a craft night.  I love the lace and felt flowers and rich fall colors.

IMG_2995

 

Since this picture I’ve added a cute little carved pumpkin to my step.  We had pumpkin carving this last weekend and I made a mason jar inspired pumpkin.  I think it turned out darling…

IMG_2211

 

Right inside my door is a vintage mustard mantle and I added a few fall touches.  The E was made at cousin’s weekend this past September.  It took a while to wrap the twine around but I think the finished product was worth it.

IMG_2216

My shabby chic $50 dollar hut has served me well over the last year. It’s the perfect make-shift bar, dessert table or place to display seasonal vignettes.

IMG_2217

My mom brought over this beautiful print with one of my favorite quotes from Anne of Green Gables.  You can find this and other darling prints here. 

IMG_2222

I’ll leave you with my autumn table scape. A vintage table runner, pumpkins and $5 boquet from the farmer’s market turns my childhood table into a scene reflective of autumn’s beauty.

 

I hope you enjoyed a little glimpse into my Autumn cottage!  Happy fall friends <3

Image-1 (4)

The changing leaves, cozy sweaters, pumpkins at the market and cooler evenings mean one thing, fall is in the air. The evenings are growing longer and brings a slowing down from the rushed pace of Summer.

This past summers has been FULL!  Full of sunshine, hard decisions, lingering days at the cottage, adventure, challenges, grace, leaps of faith and most importantly growth.  There were moments when I was tempted to call it a day and settle for different, perhaps easier path.  Every obstacle made me question the path God is calling me to.  When you are chasing after a God-sized dream, hard days will come and come often. God is refining and growing you through his abundant, sufficient grace.

One of my favorite verses is 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. Stop for a moment and read that verse, soak in the truth of those words.  In a world that glorifies perfection, hustle, power, and success those words breath life.  The areas you struggle with the most are where God will use you for his glory. Weakness makes room for God’s power to work in our lives.   His grace allows us to learn, grow, and trust.

This past summer my small group studied the book of James.  This small and powerful book, penned by Jesus’ half-brother quickly became a favorite of mine.  In James 1:2-5 he writes “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  When hard days hit, we don’t have to grin and bear, God’s grace allows us to take joy in the moments of refinement.  The moments where I’ve wanted to give up, stop trying and settle for an easier life, that is exactly where I’m being stretched to the God-sized dream.  Each hard day is an opportunity for God to refine my heart and stretch my faith to this God-sized dream.  To empty it of pride, fear, and striving and to gently remind me that the true point of it all is to love Him and love His people.

Sweet friend, growth and change are hard, remember you can do ALL things through Him who gives you strength.  Image-1 (3)

9eaa2c1c5af4c823a0321e368116f543

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.

IMG_1641

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!

IMG_1636

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!

IMG_1464

 

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.