Dare to Dream and Do

When was the last time you lounged around on a deck or the beach or even on your couch, looking up at the sky, reading, napping, or catching up on your favorite TV shows? (We have two seasons of one show recorded that we still haven’t watched.) What about going on a hike or exploring a nearby town that you haven’t visited before? Heart Leaf

When was the last time you did nothing and enjoyed it? Doing nothing is not always nothing; sometimes it means you are caring for your soul. But doing something that brings you joy … now that is living. Think about it. What awakens your soul? What speaks to your heart?

Many of us get so bogged down in everyday life, we don’t make or take the time to pause or pursue our dreams—you know, the things that make us happy that we so often put on the back burner. As caretakers of others, we often move ourselves and our dreams to the bottom of the priority list in order to take care of all the other things that seem to be so important. Of course, some of them are … but, then again, so are we. I matter. You matter. Our happiness matters.

These words from Darling Magazine provide a good reminder: “No matter the season we’re at in life, we should also remind ourselves of the hobbies, dreams and aspirations that give us life. When you feel as though you’ve lost hope, intentionally choose to partake in the activities that bring you joy. Whether it be going on a nature walk, painting, playing tennis, sewing, [creating a fairy garden,] baking your favorite recipe or scrapbooking old photos, remind your heart that it can still experience joy and passion.”

Fairy Garden from Gallrein Farms

Fairy Garden created by Gallrein Farms, Shelbyville, KY

Thankfully, I am experiencing a rare slow period with my work and I have been able to spend a little more time this past month reading, writing, taking pictures, and working on crafts. It has been a time of rest and a time of fun! How sad that so many people seem to have forgotten what it feels like to have fun or what they would even do if they had time for fun.

In one of the books that I am reading: Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest, Bonnie Gray explains: “Just as beautiful art needs whitespace, we need … spiritual whitespace. Our souls need rest. … Spiritual whitespace makes room—room  in our hearts for a deeper, more intimate relationship with God, room in our lives for rest, room in our souls for rejuvenation.”

Blank Canvas

In thinking about my own spiritual whitespace, I am reminded of my “one word” for this year: happy. In my attempt to focus on and live this word, I am re-learning how to have fun—to embrace the gifts and the dreams that God gave me, to feed my soul, and offer up my words, photos, etc. in a way that honors those gifts and brings me joy. I am no longer simply dreaming of the things that make me happy; I am doing. In fact, I recently started a crafting Meetup group (Happy Scrappers) and this next month, we will be creating art journals. I plan to make mine a “one-word” journal using words, watercolors, chalk, magazine cutouts, photos, and who knows what else. It will be an ongoing process and a compilation of the things and moments that make me happy.

Art Journal

What dreams and joyful activities have you been forsaking?

Bonnie says, “Each time we reach for joy, we take the step of faith to say, ‘This is mine. My Father in heaven knows what I like and I’m learning to discover it too.’”

Join me in June as I take part in Bonnie Gray’s blog tour 21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

I’ll be posting some of my favorite quotes from her book with my personal photos to share with you. On some days, this will be the only thing I post. On others, I will share additional thoughts and photos with you. I hope the words and images that I share from my heart will touch and bless your heart.

Enjoy the Moment

Bonnie’s book Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest releases Tuesday, June 3rd. If you order before then, you will receive some exclusive pre-launch bonus gifts.

On top of that, GoodReads is giving away five copies of her book. Click to enter by Tuesday, 6/3.

Bonnie Gray is the writer behind Faith Barista.com who wrote a book about her inspiring, heart-breaking journey to find rest, which garnered her a Publisher’s Weekly starred review. I’m taking the journey to find rest through this guidebook and invite you to read it too.  You can get a copy HERE.

Whitespace Community Linkup @ faithbarista.com

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It’s a New Day

Today is a joyful day in the life of Christians because we celebrate an event that forever changed our lives. Though the Cross seemed to signify “the end,” Christ’s Resurrection proclaims “a new beginning” for us all. It’s a new day!

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Unlike some people who make New Year’s resolutions, I find spring, in general, and Easter, specifically, to be a great time to think about making changes and starting something new. While nature shouts “new life,” we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the new life we have in him. New life in Christ should strengthen us and give us courage to step out in faith and do something different. Something meaningful, not to others necessarily, but to ourselves. It doesn’t even have to be anything huge or immediately life-changing. Do you feel the winds of change whispering to you? What are you being called to do?

Winds of Change

If you’ve been meaning to spend more time writing, then today—write something. If you’ve wanted to paint, or sculpt, or dance, or anything creative, get a canvas or some clay, or sign up for a class. Whatever it is, just start.

As Holley Gerth reminds us, “Creativity literally changes us. Scientists used to think after a certain age our brains were set. But being creative actually makes new neurological pathways in our minds. It’s never too late to grow.”

Spring Growth

Personally, while I definitely want to spend more time in creative pursuits, one of the things I have made a decision to pursue more whole-heartedly is being an encourager. I believe it is one of my gifts that I have only barely begun to use in my life through my blog and my friendships. My goal is to mail or give out a card or hand-written note each day to at least one person. For how long? I don’t really know. Is that too grand of a goal? Am I setting myself up for failure? Should I start smaller, like with one personal note of encouragement a week? Perhaps. But I have a box full of cards and a room full of card-making supplies. Plus, as much happiness as I hope to be spreading through my acts, I believe it will make me just as happy to connect with others in this way.

So, this morning I started with a pretty new address book and I wrote in all the information I had from my old book.

New Address Book

Next up, I plan to go through my Yahoo and Facebook contacts and my phone and include any other information from there. I know I can merge contacts electronically and keep the information in that format, but there’s just something more personal about a hand-written address book. (And then, of course, there’s white-out for all those changes that are bound to happen.)

Of course, the perfectionist in me would like to get all of the above completed first and set up a specific plan before moving on to the next step—actually beginning to share personal notes of encouragement—but I know that I will not make progress by following that path, and I just might miss out on meeting a moment of need for some of those whom I would like to reach out to. If you find yourself in a similar situation, don’t tarry in the “safe zone.” Open the gate and move forward. The time to begin is now.

IMG_3165

As the FlyLady is known for advising on her website, “Jump in where you are.” [The FlyLady offers a housecleaning and organizing “system” that is based on establishing habits and routines to clear out clutter, get a handle on your home, make time for fun, and, in many ways, simplify your life.] What I like about her is that she understands how the perfectionism in people like me holds us back. I don’t always like to get started with some things until I feel like I am totally prepared or able to complete the new project perfectly. This sometimes means that nothing gets done. Two of FlyLady’s regular reminders to her readers encourage me:

  • Housework done incorrectly still blesses your family. (It doesn’t have to be done perfectly.)
  • You are not behind—you are just getting started! (Quite worrying about what you should already have done or trying to catch up. Each day is a new opportunity to start fresh.)

Spread Your Wings

And here are more great words from Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista: “Don’t wait until you’re completely new, in order to spread your wings. Don’t wait until there is no more sorrow, in order to celebrate the moments you do feel happy. All the moments you and I live in secret and out in the open is known. Because you and I are loved. Completely. Unconditionally. Irrevocably. Always. Again and again. Easter is alive in you. And in me.”

So, take time this day to not only rejoice in the Risen Lord and the new life we have in Christ, but also to spring forth with a new fervor to make your life a living testimony of God’s love for us and your love for others. Some might think my plan or my post is trivial, especially in light of the magnitude of this day. But if each of us reached out with our own gifts and talents in an attempt to touch a few lives, think of the difference we could make in those lives. Don’t think that what you have to offer isn’t enough. Even your smallest efforts can be multiplied by the Lord.

“Let our lives together be like the course of the sun:
rising in strength, going forth in power,
and shining more and more unto the perfect day.”
Dr. James Dobson 

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150
Whitespace Community Linkup @ faithbarista.com

Change Your Heart

Do you ever think you might be happier, more fulfilled, less stressed “if only…” you had a better job, you had married someone else, your house was bigger, you made more money, your kids were more respectful? If only things were different? Are you tired of dealing with so many issues? Do you sometimes wish you could take off, fly away, start over? What if the “problem” isn’t everyone or everything else, but you? The way you perceive yourself, your surroundings, and your life in general. Well, there are two things I want to share with you today. 1) Often, when you feel like you are in over your head, you are exactly where God wants you to be. 2) Only you have the power to change your view and find your joy.

Change Your View

Change Your View

I recently started a Priscilla Shirer Bible study on Gideon (Judges 6-8). That woman is an amazing speaker! Today she shared with us that no matter what crisis you are in or where you find yourself in your life, you are not beyond the reach of God. Wherever you are – God can find you. And if you find yourself in a challenging situation or you feel like you are in over your head, hold on and don’t give up hope, you are exactly where God wants you. He will find a way to use your circumstances for your good. Because God is more interested in changing your heart than your circumstances. Check out this short video clip from Priscilla: Your Weakness God’s Strength

Hold On and Don't Give Up Hope

Hold On and Don’t Give Up Hope

No matter how you feel today about your problems or issues, your negative feelings will often lead you down the wrong path. Don’t follow them. Follow the Word instead. And consider this – your crisis often positions you for your calling. But discovering God’s purpose requires that you first recognize His presence. Personally, I connect most with God as Creator. I am more aware of His presence when I am surrounded by (or looking out at) the wonders of His creation. That is why you will find a lot of nature photos in my blog and on my Facebook page if you are a family member or friend. How do you connect with God?

Here is an excerpt from the Gideon study guide that spoke to me: “If we’ll look around, we might also find Him preparing us as He works through our daily lives. Today’s tasks–even the most mundane of them–are often preparation for tomorrow’s calling. They can carry clues to what He is leading us to learn and accomplish as we faithfully serve Him. While it might seem comical to find spiritual principles in washing dishes or answering phones at your desk job, God is teaching you faithfulness, diligence, and integrity through every task.”  (p. 47) What I got from this – stay faithful to the task(s) you’ve been given even if it becomes unpleasant or inconvenient; keep trudging on even if you are in a season of your life that you are not happy about – God will find you there. Better yet, he will meet you there.

God Will Meet You Where You Are

God Will Meet You Where You Are

Speaking of being unhappy in your season or circumstances brings me to my #2 point above: only you can change your view – or viewpoint to be more accurate. I follow a blog called Speak Happiness. I think today’s post fits very well with this conversation: Unhappy? Change Your View. You can look at the same place or the same situation and see it in two different ways. You have to want to be happy to see happy. I also like these words from the author Valerie Alexander’s book Happiness as a Second Language: “One of the most important steps in being happy is ridding yourself of the things that make you unhappy. Whether it’s beating yourself up over an incident that didn’t turn out as you would have liked, or holding a grudge against someone who wronged you, or blaming the universe when things don’t turn out your way, the negative weight of past unhappiness can really inhibit your ability to be truly happy now.” (p. 66)  You must take an active role in releasing the negative and embracing the positive. You may not be able to change your situation, but you can change how you view it, what you hold onto, and what you feel in your heart. You can focus on the good and the joyful things in your life.

Change What You Hold Onto

Change What You Hold Onto

I also love these words from Holly Gerth, another author and blogger I follow, in a post about her new book You’re Going to Be Okay: “When life surprises us, smacks us on the behind, runs away with our dreams it’s our hearts that are left standing there hurting. Our heads know the truth. We understand what’s supposed to make it right in that moment. But somehow even the truth can ring hollow sometimes. So what do we do then? Is it even possible to live with joy, resilience, and strength in this broken world? After connecting with thousands of women about this topic, searching Scripture, and through my own journey I can say without reservation: YES. And it’s not just possible, it’s what God desires for you. Jesus said, ‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33).”

The Gideon study reminds me of this: It is through our weakness that we experience God’s strength. Do not let your circumstances define you or direct your view. Keep your eyes on Jesus, and keep your heart open to the happiness that can be yours.

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11, 13

Coffee for Your Heart

Happy Moments: A Mini-Photojournal

As usual, I don’t have much time to write today, but the Faith Barista reminded me that sometimes we can share bits of our journey simply through photos and staying connected. Of course, those of you who know me know that I love taking pictures so pulling together a few that I could add to my blog post was not a hard task. The hard part, narrowing down the images, trying to focus on what made me happy recently and why.

If you read my last post, you know that “happy” is the word that I am focusing on for 2014. It is the word that God put on my heart, and it has come up in so many ways, in so many different situations in the last couple of months that I knew … this is not a coincidence. It is a calling. A wake-up call, if you will.

I have to remind myself sometimes that each day is a gift. We cannot waste a day, thinking things like, “I’ll call my mom tomorrow.” “All I need to do is get through this week, then I’ll take some time for myself.” “I need to put something on the calendar with [my friend] next month. She has been down lately.” But who knows what tomorrow, next week, or next month will bring. Most likely, something else will take up way too much real estate in your mind and your life and you won’t necessarily get around to the things that really matter. We need to find our focus and our happy each day. 

So, with that, here are a few happy images. The first is a picture of my husband Bart at his first store in Louisville. We moved up here about a year and a half ago to open up a new market for Mattress Firm, and we now have eight stores open with more growth coming for 2014. Bart has been promoted to District Manager, and he loves his job. I enjoy listening to him recruit people when he runs across someone he thinks has potential (even at the dog park) because he has a lot of passion for the company and his role in it. It always makes me smile.

Proud of my husband.

Proud of my husband.

Next, of course, is Bella. I’m pretty sure my Facebook friends think I have nothing else going on in my life other than hanging out with my dog (and sometimes that is true). But she is a real sweetheart and definitely contributes to my happiness (especially now that most of her destructive puppy months are behind her). I’m looking forward to better weather days so we can get back outside with her more.

Bella

Bella

Baby Girl

Baby Girl

Not that Bella doesn’t get out in the snow. She still enjoys being outside, even when it’s cold. But Bart and I don’t enjoy being out there quite as much when the temperature is 10 degrees or lower. Those are the days that I let her venture out there on her own.

Bella in snow

However, I do love the beauty of the winter snows, and really enjoy the fact that we get such a gorgeous view from our dining room window. The trees, the creek, the wildlife … That makes me happy.

Snow out back

Okay, so I am already spending more time on this than I have, but I want to share one more thing that contributes to my happy days, and that is anytime I get to spend with family. I am so thankful that we got to go to Florida to celebrate this past Christmas with them. There’s no way I could show all the happy moments in this post, but here are a few:

Baking with my niece, Robin

Baking with my niece, Robin

Setting a bad example with my nieces and nephew (Jo, Gentry, Ryder)

Setting a bad example with my nieces and nephew (Jo, Gentry, Ryder)

Playing with the camera on my phone with my niece, Gentry

Playing with the camera on my phone with my niece, Gentry

Seeing Bart with my nephew, Brayden

Seeing Bart with my nephew, Brayden

Fishing with my stepson, Noah

Fishing with my stepson, Noah

 

Remember, life is good. Don’t miss out on it!