Create, Faith, Singleness

Thriving in Seasons of Change

Fall has unofficially arrived in Wisconsin.  The leaves are changing from various shades of green to brilliant orange and deep reds.  Summer’s warm days spent in the garden and evening cruises on my kayak are hard to let go of.  Yet, Fall holds a different kind of beauty and joy – everything pumpkin spice, football, sweater weather, a slower rhythm, and countless excuses to curl up with a good book and mug of tea.

This season shift has me reflecting on what it looks like to discover joy & find beauty in the current season that I’m in. Can I be really honest for a second friends?   80% of the time I’m joyfully content right where I am.  I love the freedom and flexibility of being single, grateful for darling & quirky old home, and am stretched in a job that is less 9-5 lifestyle and more courageous calling.

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: a time to plant and a time to uproot….and HE has made everything beautiful in it’s time

Ecclesiastes 3:22

But then there are the other days.  You know, those days when Social Media shouts the highlight reel leaving me feeling not enough or another online dating experience leaves me frustrated more than hopeful.  It’s on those days that I look around and struggle to find the beauty in my current season.  

And then I read this verse from Ecclesiastes and it’s a gut check.  God’s way and timing is perfect.  And more than that he wants you to not just survive but thrive where you are.

In my journey to discovering joy there have been a few tough lessons that I’ve learned. I share them with you, not as a formula to make life perfect, but as a reminder that discovering joy in your season IS possible.

QUIT THE COMPARISON TRAP

Comparing your current season to someone else’s will only lead to frustration and discontentment.  YOU beloved were born with a unique set of gifts, talents and skills and where you are today is not an accident. You were made to shine God’s light into the world around you. 

When my heart is feeling particularly tender, I tend to stay off of Facebook and limit my Instagram scrolling time.

If that desire to compare still creeps up, I…

STOP.

PRAY.

GIVE THANKS. 

The simple act of listing 3-5 things I’m grateful for right now is enough to bring me back to a perspective of abundance and allowing me to praise God through it all.

Like the familiar hymn reminds us…

This is my story

This is my song

Praising my Savior, all the day long.

For you, quitting the comparison trap might mean staying off Pinterest and reading a book or turning of HGTV and going for a run. The important thing is to discover the trigger of your discontentment and replace it with something that is life-giving.

FIND YOUR PEOPLE

Who do you call when you life get tough?  Who do celebrate good news with? Friends, we were not meant to do life alone.  God formed and created us with each other in mind.

I think we sometimes have this vision of what perfect community looks like.  You know, a perfectly suited, like-minded group of friends who hang out 24/7, are well-dressed, agree on everything and laugh A LOT.

In real life community is messy and imperfect, but oh so worth it.  Community means loving each other in the mess of daily life. Community means committing to each other even when it’s inconvenient.

Just last week I was having a particularly rough day.  Out of the blue I got a Marco Polo message just to talk and say hi.  She asked how she could pray for me and I could just feel the weight of the day lifting off my weary shoulders.

I want to encourage you to go out and find some people (or even one person) that share your season of life.

Don’t loose heart friend, keep stepping out in faith and investing in relationships. They are what make life worth living.

BE HONEST

Be honest with yourself, your people and your God. 

This is NOT easy for this recovering people pleaser and perfectionist.   I’ve learned that embracing your season with joy starts by being honest about those other feelings.  When we take the time to figure out what is at the heart of our struggle, we can then begin replacing it with truth!

When the emotions are running high, I know I need time to process and just let it all out. I set a timer for 10 minutes, get out my journal and just write.  When the timer goes off, I look back over what I wrote and see if what I’m feeling or thinking lines up with scripture.  If not, I find a bible verse that contradicts the lie or negative thought pattern I’ve been having and write it on an index card and stick it someplace where I can see & read daily. 

Sometimes you might need a trusted friend, mentor or counselor to process things with.  Remember friend, we are not meant to do life alone.

This season as a 30-something single woman is full, abundant and so different than I could ever imagine.  I’ve learned that just because everyone else seems to be on the same path, that doesn’t make yours any less valid.  I want to encourage you that wherever you are today, there is beauty waiting to be discovered.

Flourish in All Seasons

Flourishing in All Seasons – Natalie Wise

Happy Friday Friends!

It’s a brand new month and I’m excited to launch a new series here. As you know, one of my favorite things is hosting friends over for front porch or deck dates. Time to chat, sip a delicious drink, and just be together. I always am refreshed by hearing other’s stories and walk away encouraged at how God has worked in their life.

One Friday a month I’m going to have a little virtual deck date and introduce you to a new flourishing friend. My hope is that you are refreshed, encouraged, and walk away affirmed to keep walking where God has called you.

This month I’m so excited to introduce you to my IG friend and kindred spirit Natalie. I first encountered Natalie through reading an article she had written for Life: Beautiful magazine about vintage & modest fashion . I remember reading her words, seeing her colorful & spunky outfits, and immediately thinking “she is a kindred spirit”. And, she totally is. Her #caffinecrazy, vintage loving, adventure heart is so evident in her #happyprettymess life (more on that later!).

Natalie is a poet and author of several books including: Gifts in Jars, The Natural Cleaning Handbook, The Self Discipline Handbook, and my favorite Happy Pretty Messy. You can snag a copy of her books on her website nataliewise.com or online wherever books are sold.

Natalie’s copy of The Natural Cleaning Home just re-launched with an updated look on September 1st. In it you’ll find amazing recipes to combat flu/virus/back to school season and keep your home looking fresh! Click here to snag your copy! (*link is an affiliate with Amazon)

Happy Pretty Messy is one of my very favorite reads, appropriate for this Season!

What I love most about Natalie is that she isn’t just all pretty coffee cups and vintage prints, she is vulnerable and honest with the hard stuff. Natalie has walked through some incredibly challenging seasons, and it’s been an encouragement to watch her grow.

So my friends, pour yourself a tall glass of cold brew and step out onto my back porch for my interview with Natalie.

Tell me a little about yourself?

My name is Natalie Wise and I’m the girl who is writing poetry half the time and cracking myself up with terrible jokes I’ve created the other half of the time. I’m 32 and I’ve been married to a pastor (so yes, I’m a “pastor’s wife”) for 2 years, and we live in Catskill, NY. I’m the author of 4 lifestyle books with a new one on natural cleaning coming out this fall. I call myself a “Modern Lifestyle Philosopher” but really all that means is I want people to realize that life isn’t perfect, can’t be perfect, won’t be perfect, and to embrace it wholeheartedly, with all of its happy-pretty-messy-ness. That’s my life motto #happyprettymessy (well, and #caffeinecrazy because it’s hard to do life in any form without caffeine!). 

Let’s start with the most important question: If I invited you over for a porch date, what would your dream drink and snack pairing be?

Ooooo strawberry shortcake and something sparkling and refreshing to drink! Sparkling elderflower lemonade, perhaps? I’ll bring the gluten-free shortcakes and homemade whipped cream! 

What does an ordinary, but beautiful, Tuesday look like for you?

This is such a good question! Tuesdays actually tend to be my “get through” days, with lots of MESSY for the happy pretty messy! I love Mondays, Wednesdays are great for getting things DONE, and we all love Friday, but Tuesday is just…there. Thursdays have actually always been my favorite day (yes, I have a favorite day. And favorite dates. And favorite times.). The best thing about Tuesday is Bible Study after work is done, which used to look like dinner with friends and a cozy indoor sharing session. Now it’s socially-distanced, wask-wearing outdoor Bible Study, but I’ll take it! 

What nourishes your soul?

Jesus and caffeine! That’s about all I need, and I can do without the caffeine if I have to. Otherwise, snuggling our chocolate lab, writing letters, writing poetry, creating packages to mail to friends and family, doing little things to surprise people (acts of service or gifts, usually), time off to do ANYTHING with my super-busy husband, full-body yoga stretches, and donuts. Gluten-free donuts really help nourish the soul, did you know that?! 

What season would you say you find yourself in? (student, single gal, dating/engaged, newlywed, married with kiddos or without, unexpected homeschool mamma, retired…)

Right now my season is fairly-newly-married-without-kids, but I feel added challenges of recent health issues I’m working through and being a fairly new pastor’s wife. I’m also in a season of really working on flourishing after some intense seasons of anxiety. 

What is one unexpected joy about your current season?

The personal growth that marriage brings. It has been truly amazing to see God growing me as a person. I lived alone, in my comfort zone, for 12 years before I got married at 30, so I was used to doing things my own way. Let’s get really honest for a sec: The growth has mainly happened in my words and my patience. I used to be so careless with my spoken words, and now I take such great care to use my words to nourish my husband and uplift him, instead of to critique him, bother/nag him, or beg him for attention/time (I’ll admit it). And that patience thing goes right along with the ‘begging for attention/time’ because getting used to being a pastor’s wife, with a congregation of 150+ WONDERFUL members needing my husband too (and a love language of quality time) was hard. God has brought me into a deep place of companionship with Him, which allows me freedom to allow my husband serve God and others with a free and content heart. It was, and is,  a growing place, to be sure. 

What is one hard thing about your current season?

As I mentioned, I am still struggling with a health issue (I had a seizure last fall, so we are still working through that with medical help), and striving to flourish despite anxiety. I’ve come such a long way with my anxiety, but it still impacts my life in this season, which is frustrating. If you’re struggling with anxiety, don’t be afraid to get medical help, and to know that it is a long road but God is always with you and I’m here to cheer you on, too! 

If you could share a piece of advice or encouraging word to others in your season, what would it be?

The early years of marriage go so fast, and they’re a really important proving ground for the rest of your marriage, so be very intentional with them. Do the hard work to look at yourself in this new role and to ask God to help you soothe your rough edges as you find them. They’ll show up, as relationships always have a way of bringing those to light! Pray for and minister to your husband daily, and lift him up in public and in private. There’s no need to complain to others about your husband or join in ‘girls chat’ about how difficult it can be to live with a man (any married woman knows that!). Don’t go to bed mad. Truly, I mean that, don’t go to bed mad. And if you change the living room furniture arrangement, clean the entire kitchen, re-do the bedroom decor, etc., text your husband to give him a heads up. I text my husband those things ahead of time and usually add, “So please take the time to properly admire it when you get home :)” because at the end of a long day, sometimes husbands just genuinely do not notice these things. And why let that be an issue when it is so easily avoided? Communication is key, and we are lucky that is so easy these days!

Anything else you like to share?

Life is tough and busy and we have to intentionally work to bring out the happy sometimes. It’s worth it. The small things actually matter more than the big ones in my mind. The big life things are going to happen anyway, but the little things are easy to let go. Why not light the good candle, put on a face mask (the self-care kind, not the currently-required kind), and take 5 minutes to lay on your back in the dark and talk to God? It can literally change your life. Then meet me on Instagram, because I’d love to be friends so we can encourage each other in all seasons of life! I’m @goodgirlstyle 

Flourish

September – Goals

Happy September!

I can’t believe September is already here. Fall is my absolute favorite season with crisp weather, football, bonfires, crunchy leaves, and cozy scarves!

The fresh hope of a new month and season is here and I’m feeling the push to start fresh, begin anew, and hope that the best is yet to come. There is something about this start to the school year that has me longing for a clean slate.

I’m taking some time this month to look at my rhythms and routines, using my “Weekly Routine” guide from my friend Diana Kerr and Powersheets Goal planner to help me prioritize what matters most in my life.

I don’t know about you, but with all the changes, rescheduling, and uncertainties there are so many days I forget what day (or even year) it is. It’s already an abundant time of year with events at work, soaking up every last drop of Summer weather in the Midwest, garden harvest, and so much more. I feel like my days have gone from a solid 35 mph pace to 90 mph overnight. The life and times of a #reluctantfarmgirl

For me, that is a bit hint I need to pull out my trusty rhythms and give them a refresh. In the sake of accountability and honesty, I’m sharing my refreshed Fall 2020 Goals and September 2020 tending list.

Fall 2020 Goals

  1. Refresh my weekly rhythms (home & work) and complete “Weekly Routines Guide”

2. Prioritize mental & physical health with 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week (hike, bike, yoga, swim) .

3. Prepare my home, gardens, & heart for Fall.

4. Restore a sense of wonder & adventure with local adventures and social distance deck dates.

September 2020:

Monthly Action Items:

  1. Preserve the Harvest: pesto, apple sauce, tomato sauce…

2. Read: One: Unity in a divided World by Diedra Riggs

3. Schedule a Fall Retreat

4. Prayerfully consider how to serve at my local church.

Weekly Action Items:

  1. Regular blog posts & hope*writer day
  2. Family Meal
  3. Local Adventure
  4. Bike Ride

Daily Action Items

Move

Pray

Savor

Uncategorized

Flourishing Fridays – Rhythms & Routines

This week I made my first batch of applesauce (in 90 degree weather), bought a new fall candle, and floated in the lake. A beautiful mix of Summer & Fall. While I want to hold on to Summer sunshine & weather as long as possible, I’m craving the fresh rhythms and routines that Fall brings.

Fall is my favorite season, there is something about back to school that has me longing for bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils and a crisp new planner (nerd alert!).

In honor of the beginning of a new month & season, I wanted to share my favorite resources for prioritizing, organizing, and fall rhythms. I hope they encourage you to take a few moments to spend some time to reflect, refresh, and cutivate a life you love.

  1. Powersheets Intentional Goal Planner
Powersheets at home on my desk. Summer goals are the best!

If you have known me for any length of time, you know I’m a huge believer in Powersheets and the mission of Cultivate What Matters. Not only are the products fun, bright, and intentional, but the women who are apart of team Cultivate are some of the most powerful & purposeful ladies I know. I have been doing Powersheets for 7 years now and they have have allowed me to define and be focused on what matters and let go of the rest.

My Powersheets have helped me set big goals like saving for my first home and smaller ones like getting back in the pool and swimming for 30 minutes non-stop. Even if you aren’t into traditional “goal setting” I encourage you to look into Powersheets or check out the Cultivate Blog for encouragement.

Their new collection launches in October, and I can’t wait to see what their team has dreamed up!

2. Get Your Life Back Guide by Diana Kerr

My amazing friend Diana is a Certified Life Coach and such a gift to me (and so many others). I worked with her several years ago during a season where there was much uncertainty and doubt in my life. Her wisdom and encouragement helped me to refocus on where God was calling me and make space to dream of a different way of life. While I know that coaching isn’t in everyone’s budget, one of my favorite resources is her weekly routine guide. I will typically revisit mine twice a year (Spring and Late Fall) or whenever I need a reset.

3. Daily/Weekly Paper Pad by Cultivate What Matters

Tackling my weekly prep at a new coffee shop and bakery in Oconomowoc (Ginger Ovens)

I have always been a “planner person”. I love the crisp new pages of a day planner and would count down to my favorite designer’s launch day. Last year my schedule was in complete flux and changed on a daily basis. My planner became full of appointments, scribbles, and honestly so much confusion. I’m all for making a mess in your planner, but when you miss an appointment because you can’t read your own writing something needs to change!

I made the switch last year to keeping my life/work schedule through google cal. That way when someone calls me and I’m in the garden or when I’m on the go, I can pull out my phone and give them a quick answer.

I also know there is power in the written word. So, I have a hybrid system with keeping all my work/life appointments in google cal and then on Friday afternoon I break out my weekly planner sticky pad, reflect on the past week, catch up on todos, and write out proposed week to come.

What I LOVE about this one from Cultivate is there is a place to write my top three priorities for the week. I try to write one vocational, spiritual, and physical priority each week. A reminder that life is more than just work 🙂

4. Creative Calender by Lindsay Letters

My home office and command central.

The office wall behind my desk displays a large calendar by Lindsay Letters. On the last Friday of each month I wipe it clean and refresh for the coming month. I’ve used it for writing out schedules, goals, tasks, and even during Safer at Home my gratitude for the day.

I’m a highly visual person, so having a big calendar that gives me a snapshot of life, helps tremendously when I’m working from my home office.

The regular rhythm of wiping down the previous month’s activities is oddly therapeutic. It also gives me a chance to evaluate my schedule and ensure I have made time for what really matters and haven’t overbooked my weeks or days.

5. Work and Play with Nancy Ray Podcast

I met Nancy through Making Things Happen and Return to Rest Retreat. She is a kindred spirit and a powerhouse when it comes to working hard and resting well. Her shows are intentional, well thought out, and overflowing with helpful information. I love listening to podcasts when I’m taking a walk, doing the dishes, or just sitting on the back deck relaxing.

Some of my favorite episodes are:

Episode 2: Rule of Life

Episode 7: You were Made for Hard Things

Episode 25: Work Hard, Sabbath Hard

Flourish

Hope for the Harvest

Towards the end of summer the garden starts to look a little wonky.  The hot and humid days are the perfect breeding ground for disease and pests.  The ground is dry and perpetually needs watering.  My tomatoes turn from not quite ripe to overdone in a blink of an eye.  It’s the time of the year when I start looking at my garden, and have to actively fight the urge to ripe it all out and start again. 

The reality is with our first frost date of early October in Wisconsin, I could really only replant radishes and lettuce.  Don’t get me wrong, I could make one killer salad but I would also miss out on vine ripened tomatoes, roasted eggplant, crunchy sugar snap peas, beautiful bouquets, and so much more.

So, I try and over look the worn parts of the garden and continue the hard & good work. Once again learning from my garden to be diligent in the small things while I wait for the abundance to come.

Just like my garden, my heart and life are feeling a little bit dry and weary in this season.  When COVID-19 first appeared I was in Florida on vacation with my family.  I remember seeing the news and thinking it was blown out of proportion and if anything would blow over in a few weeks.  Here we are more than 6 months later and in a new reality of face masks, social distancing, canceled events, quarantine, virtual school & activities, Zoom calls, and regular COVID testing. 

In the midst of this COVID Pandemic we have been facing heartbreaking social injustice, a turbulent election, and countless unknowns in schools, schedules, and life.  Just one of these things can be challenging, but combined they can often feel overwhelming and make our hearts weary.

Friend, I don’t know what you are going through, what challenges you face or what your views are with all that goes on in the world today.  I’m not here to tell you what to do, but instead to listen, learn, and share a little encouragement and hope.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 

Galatians 6:9

This verse in Galatians sits on a tiny stand on my desk.  A reminder in this season (and all year really) to put one foot in front of the other and walk in the calling I have received.  Some days are a whole lot easier than others.  I’ve learned to give myself grace during this time and know that my productivity might look different.  To know that sometimes true purpose & productivity can’t be measured by tasks accomplished or items checked off a to-do list.  

The world around us is changing at an ever increasing speed, but what does not change in this season is my calling.  To LOVE GOD & SERVE OTHERS in every season, in every action, and in every way.  Sometimes it looks like putting aside the to-do list to listen to a teammate and other times it means taking a big leap of faith to start a new project or follow through with a dream.  The size of the calling and good works isn’t what matters here, but our hearts.

So my friends, wherever you find yourself, I want to encourage you to not give up in your good work, whatever it may be. Whether that is navigating virtual school with your kiddos, tacking a new project at work, writing, hosting a bible study, tacking the laundry pile, or resisting ripping out your actual garden. 

Don’t try to do it all today; remember apples don’t grow from seed to fruit overnight my friend.  Instead, choose just one small step of obedience that you can accomplish this week and then share that with a friend (or in the comments below!).  We are not made to live our lives or carry out our callings alone.  Strength comes when we open up our lives and hearts to community around us.  Friend, the bravest thing you can do today is to step forward into where you are called to be.

Nourish and Grow:

  1. What have you been called to do in this season?
  2. Where is your heart and soul weary?
  3. What would your small step of obedience look like today?
  4. Who can share your heart with and be encouraged?

Koselig Cottage

Flourishing Friday – August 21st

Happy Friday my friends!

I’m currently tucked away in our upstairs porch at our scandinavian inspired cottage in Northern Michigan. Koselig Cottage (Norwegian for cozy) is one of my favorite places to rest, explore, recharge, and get away for awhile.

Our cozy cottage on the river is such a gift and reminder that we all need a happy place to get away and unplug. Friend, whether it’s a screen porch by the river or 5 seconds on the back porch with a cup of coffee, take a few minutes today to stop and just breath. Your soul will thank you.

Today I’m sharing my current favorites, Koselig Cottage style.

Currently Adventuring

Morning walks and “gator rides” to collect wild flowers

Currently Reading

A timely reminder to step into God’s plans, not just hustle to make my own happen.

Currently Creating

Watercolor landscapes to capture the beauty of Michigan Summer

Currently Savoring

Sunsets on the River

Flourish

Adventure Fuels Creativity

I love a good adventure, don’t you? The anticipation of planning for, discovering, and exploring a new place sparks life into my days and joy in my heart. I believe that adventures, near and far, are not just a luxury but an essential rhythm in a flourishing life. 

Yet, so often wait for picture perfect circumstances to incorporate adventure into lives.  I used to look around me at all the people going on beach vacations, swimming in majestic waterfalls, and traveling to foreign countries and get a serious case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). 

Oh how I would love to be exploring the ffjords of Norway right now or sipping a espress on on the streets of Florence. But, life is just to short to not live fully and embrace a spirit of adventure wherever we are.  In this season I might not be able to jet off to Italy or Sweden at a moments notice, but I can still find the joy of adventure close to home. 

Adventures, near and far, are an essential ingredient to a flourishing life.  They expand our mind, open our eyes, spark our creativity, and bring LIFE back to living.  A life that is flourishing is rooted in living on purpose and joy. A life that flourishes is a poured out life, walking in our callings with clarity and passion.  However, if we continue to pour out we will become weary, dry, and empty. In order to live out a flourishing life, we must find ways to fill up our well so that it overflows in to the lives of others.  For me, adventure is always the spark that fills up my tank and renews my creativity.

Several Summers ago I was in a one of those poured-out, creativity lacking, dry spells.  I had suffered a major injury earlier in the year that left my physical body tired but my soul weary too.  After the physical healing took place, my soul needed some nourishment too.  A good friend was reading “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron and her short description intrigued me.  I ordered it on-line and impatiently anticipated it’s arrival.  One of the foundational parts of the workbook is to take yourself on weekly “Artist Dates”.  What is an artist day you may ask?

An artist date is a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing creative consciousness, your inner artist…You do not take anyone on this artist date but you.

– Julia Cameron

That Summer, after spending 10 weeks on the couch and with limited mobility, the idea of 2 hours out and about was balm to my spirit.  I began implementing weekly artist dates, usually a Friday late afternoon, I carved out 2 hours by myself, and explored my hometown.  I visited the local antique mall and found the most beautiful enamel pitcher. I drove back country roads and encountered a sunflower field and took a shameless selfie. I made the trek to an Indian spice store to purchase ingredients to create a new dish.  I jumped in the lake and floated on my back looking at the shapes and forms of clouds every chance I could get.

My artist dates were a weekly reminder that I was gifted with this one and precious life and it was up to me to make it one worth living. Three years later, I’ve continued my rhythm of consistent artist dates with one exception.  I don’t always do it alone.  (Yes, my extrovertedness is showing.) Adventures with my people are some of the best kind. Adventures with dear friends or family spark a deeper kind of creativity.  A creativity that is less about doing what feels good and more like living a wild & free life that overflows to everyone you meet.

My favorite local adventure ideas (solo or with friends):

-Stop by your local coffee shop and ask the barista for a recommendation.

-Frequent your farmer’s market and select ingredients for a meal or a indulgent charcuterie board.

-Explore a local junk sale or antique market. Discover the history and beauty of another’s treasure.

-Search for “Little Free Libraries” in your town and walk or bike to the one closest to you.

-Jump in the lake/river/ocean, just float and look at the sky.

-Sit on a patio with live music and sip a delicious cocktail or glass of wine.

-Got to a movie by yourself…with extra popcorn!

-Attend an art exhibit or museum.

– Visit Indian or Asian market/bakery and purchase ingredients for a favorite meal. Share it with your people…or make it just for you!

Faith

A Season of Abundance

Have you ever stumbled upon a garden mid-August? Tomatoes reaching towards the sun and vining over trellises, sunflowers waving in the afternoon breeze, cucumbers that weave their way and attach to any object, and bush beans overflowing with the delicious tastes of Summer.   

A Summer garden is the most beautiful picture of overflowing abundance. But, If you aren’t careful, that abundance can quickly turn to overwhelm.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.

Colossians 3:23

And as a reluctant farmgirl, my life often mimics the seasons in the garden. On January 1st I have bright eyes, a bold vision for the year to come, and have made time to reset my goals and priorities. Then we hit August, and my life feels full to the brim and the idea of adding one more thing is just to much to handle.

I’m guessing that these hot August days in the middle of Summer can feel overwhelming, repetitive, mundane, and long for you too.

But with patience and time I’ve learned to embrace the chaos and beauty of the abundant season. To put aside my unrealistic expectations and be grateful for this day…weeds and all.

When I view my days through the lense of the gospel, my view shifts. Watering the gardens, work appointments, responding to e-mails, watering the garden…again, doing the dishes, writing, or making dinner. No longer are they just tasks to be completed, but they are opportunities to embrace this life, love God, and love others.

My garden, and in turn my life, may not be as clean and tidy as my January dreams, but the fruit is bountiful and even more beautiful than I could imagine. Life does not need to be Pinterest perfect to be a life worth living.

Friend, your ordinary day can become an extraordinary gift. Stop, breathe, and delight in the beauty of this day.

Flourish

30 Brave and Beautiful Things in my 30’s

Since I was a little girl my heart longed to have a family of my own. To have a life partner with 2.5 adorable children, a home of my own complete a white picket fence, and a full time career. But there I was, about to turn 30 working part time, renting super tiny one bedroom studio, and had little to little dating prospects or hope.

I knew there was good in the season, but I wasn’t quite sure there was joy.

So on the eve of my 30th birthday I sat down, on the deck of my tiny house (that was literally in the backyard of my dear friends..but that is another God story), with a mason jar of cold brew, and got to work envisioning what a brave & beautiful decade would look like.

I scribbled down deep, seemingly impossible dreams like owning my own home, going on a mission trip again, and participating in Making Things Happen again. There were also LOTS of fun adventures like visiting an outdoor theater, homemade gelato, and starting my own garden. It was a marker to choose a life of beauty and bravery. In writing that list a shift began in my heart to cultivate a life I love, even when it looked different than I envisioned.

Here I am today, five years later, and look over my list of 30 Brave and Beautiful Things and see a full and vibrant life. There are still a few items that I can’t wait to check off…Country Living Fair and mission trip adventure are at the top post COVID life 😉 But, as I spent time reflecting on the items I’ve been able to check off my list, I noticed so many other gifts in this season that were unplanned and unexpected.

In my 30’s I also…

-built lasting friendships both near and far. My “forever friends” are such kindred spirits and unexpected gifts.

-embraced my calling at ZA as a servant-leader and reluctant farm girl.

-did (and continue to do) the heart and hard work required in counseling through seasons of transition, anxiety, and everyday life.

-found a local church home that is not perfect, but even better is rooted in the gospel and full of people who love each other and love Jesus.

-invested in my neighborhood and got to know them as friends, beyond just a quick “Hello!”.

-gained a sister and became an auntie to the sweetest little love bug ever.

-adventured all around Wisconsin, the US (NYC, Chicago, New Hampshire, Sanibel Island, Boston, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina,…), and most importantly the UP and our Koselig Cottage.

Memories and joy that I would have overlooked if I just focused on what was missing. My heart still longs for the “white picket fence” ideal (or whatever version that might end up being), but the truth is that this life is good, beautiful, and full of a deeper joy. I’ve learned that gratitude doesn’t but a “happy mask” on our life circumstances, but it does allow you to shift your eyes to the gifts of today. On the eve of 35, I can’t wait to see what the rest of my 30’s will bring. I have a feeling the best is yet to be.

30 Brave & Beautiful Things in my 30’s

  1. Love on littles through an overseas mission trip.

2. Plant a fig tree!

3. Learn the art of hand lettering.

Letting go of perfectly stylized ideal and instead embrace my naturally swoopy style.

4. Get a tattoo 😀

Shortly after my 30th I got a small cross tattoo as a reminder to live with open hands and a surrendered heart.

5.  Be completely debt free!

6.  Host “An Evening to Bloom”

Such a sweet evening of flower crowns, friendship, and delicious food.

7.  Weekend adventure to Nashville with girlfriends!

Nashville weekend road trip with my friend Kristin!

8.  Attend a farm to table dinner.

PS23 Farm to Table Dinner was such a dream.

9.  Write an e-book.

10. Go Blueberry Picking

Imagine my delight discovering wild blueberries at our cottage in Northern Michigan!

11. Finally visit the Country Living Fair!!

12. Plant a garden of my own.

My daddy and I prepping my own raised beds at my house.

13. Take an art class and let go of perfection! (pottery, calligraphy, painting..)

Set Apart Art in Watertown and Online Tutorials for the win!

14.  Speak at women’s conference

Influence Conference “Every Day Woman Panel”

15. Complete the Bravado (run/walk, bike, kayak)

16. Have a little free library.

17. Master sourdough bread.

Making bread is my favorite kind of “baking therapy”.

18. Own my own home.

My Grace-Full Home- December 2016!

19. Complete whole30 challenge.

A kick start on a journey towards health & real food.

20. Gather farm fresh eggs!

Literally my job…;-)

21. Try Stitch Fix for a special occasion outfit!

Adding Haley to the family was cause for celebration…and leggings because WI in May is still cold 😉

22. Visit a fresh lavender farm.

Picking lavender last August on my birthday at Fragrant Isle Lavender in Door County.

23. Host a girls weekend at Koselig Cottage.

So so so many sweet memories here!

24. Outdoor theater or concerts on the square.

P&P Picnic Outside at SummerStage in Delafield…

25. Purchase a really comfy, squishy reading chair.

You’ll find me here most mornings (flash back photo from 2019…with sweet Belle!)

26. Learn to flip a pancake (seriously people, it’s BAD!)

27. Enjoy a Spa Day.

From home spa, bath soaks, unexpected spa gift certificates, and 30 minute massages…this has become a major part of my self care routine!

28. Host a weekend retreat.

A lovely fall retreat for friends at Koselig Cottage

29. Make lemon-basil gelato with my lemons.

30. Attend Making Things Happen Conference for the 2nd time and be encouraged to live on purpose and make what matters happen.

MTH2018 at the Carolina Inn. I just love this place…and these people

Faith, Flourish

Still and Savor

Summer in the Midwest is when the world comes alive.  Everyone comes out of hibernation and the calendar is full to the brim with backyard BBQs, road trips, outdoor concerts, and trips to the lake. We fill our schedules to the brim in order to squeeze out every single last drop of Summer.  It’s a season of yes and abundance!

This year Summer has looked incredibly different. With fairs, events, weddings, concerts, and even gatherings being canceled or restricted my schedule has more open spaces and margin than usual.

A few years ago this go-go-go girl would have cringed at the amount of “whitespace” on her calendar. It can be so easy to equate busyness with worth, and a full social schedule with a full life. But the truth is, you can have a full schedule and still have an empty life.

Two years ago when a tumble left me with a shattered leg & prescription for 8 weeks of R&R, I was forced to put down my glorification of busy and embrace an unexpected season of healing & rest. All in the midst of a Wisconsin Summer.

The first few weeks were a flurry of appointments, visits from loved ones, and catching up on my Netflix queue.   Then a few weeks in I began to get restless and discouraged.  I was tired of sitting, asking for rides and couldn’t imagine reading another book (shock of all shocks as I’m an known bookworm!).  I wanted to get out and go to the farmer’s market, kayak on the river, or even just go to the drive in movie theater!  I still had 4 weeks ahead of me and yet I was ready for life to return to “normal” as soon as possible.

And so that day I decided to begin a new habit.  Twice a day I would head out to my back porch, kick back in my lounge chair, and just look at the clouds.  No podcast playing, book to read, or friend to chat with.  Just me, a deck chair, and the Lord. 

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Savoring the stillness was hard.  I think of something else I could be doing or distracting thoughts would come to mind.  But slowly, the rush and hurried pace melted away and I began to lose track of time just noticing, dreaming and praying.

My deck dates became soul-anchoring moments in my day.  It was that season I learned that slowing down allows me to see the goodness I usually overlook as I’m hurrying from place to place. 

In this current season of unknown and uncertainty, I find myself out on the deck more often. Finding pockets of time in my day to pause and recenter my thoughts. My sacred space has become a reset for my day and a recentering of my heart.

Something happens when we choose to quiet the noise and let go of distractions. That is why God calls us to rest.

When we choose rest, priorities are shifted, & concerns melt away. Stillness gives us fresh eyes to see the beauty around us.

Friends, in a world that champions busy let’s choose stillness instead.

Nourishment for your Soul: Pause and Ponder

What brings your soul rest?

Is there a place that is sacred to your soul?

Take a few minutes today, visit that space, turn of your phone, still your heart, and savor the gift of rest.