Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better To paint a picture, or write a letter, Bake a cake, or plant a seed; Ponder the difference between want and need?
Dust if you must, but there’s not much time, With rivers to swim, and mountains to climb; Music to hear, and books to read; Friends to cherish, and life to lead.
Dust if you must, but the world’s out there With the sun in your eyes, and the wind in your hair; A flutter of snow, a shower of rain, This day will not come around again.
Dust if you must, but bear in mind, Old age will come and it’s not kind. And when you go (and go you must) You, yourself, will make more dust.
Last weekend I discovered this simple and poignant poem. It’s reminder that as much as I enjoy a beautiful home, I would rather spend my time creating a beautiful life.
And yet, it’s often the little acts of preparation and work that help us prepare well and enjoy a season. Small actions done with intention and consistency free us up to live a life we love.
My goals for this upcoming month center around preparing well for Spring. Spring is a busy time for me with travel plans (finally!), planting all the seeds in the garden, hosting friends for IF: Gathering and so many other fun things.
In order to flourish and truly enjoy this Spring, there are some house-keeping things that help make my life run smoothly. Even as a single woman, I find when I make time on Sundays to prepare healthy meals, tidy up my home, reflect on the week prior, and invest in my physical and emotional health. I’m so much more present with the people in my life.
February 2021 Recap
March 2021 Goals
Monthly Action Items:
Plan home gardens
Complete Floret Workshop!
Host If: Gathering at Koselig Cottage
Contentment Challenge Reset
Clean up (2) areas of basement (canning and seasonal home decor)
Soak up MAGNOLIA vacay
Weekly Action Items:
No TV Monday-Saturday!
Share a meal with local community.
Meal prep on Sunday.
Weekly reflection (examen & Next Right Thing Journal).
We had an unexpected snow day this past week. A day where the storm rolled in over night dropping inches of fluffy snow. It was magical to wake up to a Winter wonderland and take a few minutes to pause and savor the scene.
But then, the realities of the snowstorm upended my idealic morning. Messy roads, snow removal, slippery driveways, canceled plans, and delayed celebrations. Yes, my day now held extra margin, but it also meant holding plans loosely and letting go of expectations. A theme I’ve been learning on repeat these days.
Winter reminds us that everyone and everything needs some quiet time.
Winter is a time to rest, be still, and quiet our hearts. For me, that conjures up koselig scenes of snuggling up by the fire with a hot cup of tea, cozy blanket, and an inspiring book or magazine.
And while that is LOVELY and a rhythm I savor extra in the Winter, true rest comes not from a single moment but walking daily in rhythm with our Creator.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
This last month held heartache & hopes deferred. However, the goodness of an easy yoke overflowed in countless mundane moments. When I choose to acknowledge the good gifts alongside the challenging ones, I’m reminded that our Father is at work through every moment of my life.
That is my prayer for you in this season. The you would find rest for your weary soul and recognize the good gifts from your heavenly father.
January 2021 Recap:
February 2021 Goals:
Monthly Action Items:
Winter Home Declutter (clothes, books, basement, office)
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9
2021 Yearly Goals:
Embrace the rhythms of the church calendar and spiritual disciplines (daily office, weekly examen, sabbath, rule of life)
I have always been a “planner girl”. Excited to try the newest organization tool and am giddy at the fresh start of a new month, year, or page.
Yet the last few years, I’ve moved to a primarily on-line planner for the ease of having my schedule “on hand at all times.
But this last year with all the uncertainty and change had me craving trying something new. I wanted a planner that was different than I could find at Office Max and cultivated my heart and soul as much as my calendar.
The goal of incorporating the liturgical calendar into my year, lead me to Sacred Ordinary Days. After downloading and LOVING their monthly sample, I took a leap and ordered a hard copy of their yearly planner.
It’s simple, clean, flexible, and centered on what matters most: my relationship with God. I’ve been using it over a month now, and I particularly love the weekly & seasonal examen and Sabbath day page. A consistent reminder each week to check-in with my soul and look back on where I’ve abided in Him or tried to accomplish things on my own.
Nourish my body with whole foods, movement, and soul-care.
I don’t know if you have been feeling it too, but so many of my conversations lately have been centered around feeling the weariness and weight of this world. With everything going on in our country, nation, and community it’s so important to care for our bodies, mind, and soul.
My rhythms have been thrown off track over the last few months and I’m committing to re-establishing healthy habits in 2021.
For me that looks like:
simple, nourishing meals packed with plenty of protein
enjoying whole, seasonal foods
weekly yoga and daily stretching
swimming laps at least 2X a week
getting outside as much as possible
committing to a screen-free evening once a week to journal, read, and rest
Courageously speak and write truth.
When I think of a year of grit and grace, I see a year that is full of brave words. That might look like sharing a cup of tea with a friend, taking a walk and asking the hard questions, or sharing what God is teaching me here on this little corner of the web.
This recovering people-pleaser has struggled to find her voice and not just say what others want to hear. However, I’ve learned that with a whole lot of prayer prayer and plenty of God’s grace, it is possible to share words that are brave, true, and full of grace.
A women of gentle grace earns respect.
Love my family & local community well.
Looking back on my most treasured memories of 2020, they all involved my family and local community. In the year of Safer@Home, I found the joy of local friendships and having my family close.
Time with family at the cottage, gatherings on the deck/porches with friends, Emily’s Safer@Home bake shop, and life group game nights brought a deep joy to my weeks. I tangibly saw a long awaited prayer answered last year and I want to steward this gift well.
Some of the ways I will love my people in 2021 is:
continue porch drop off of Emily’s Bakeshop
celebrate birthdays and milestones of family and dear friends
host outdoor celebrations in each season
savor time with family at the cottage
send snail mail to friends and family far away
Celebrate and rejoice in each Season.
Working in an agriculture based ministry, I can’t help but see how God wired us for seasons. Winter is a time of Rest, Spring a time of planting, Summer is tending, and Autumn is the harvest.
I’m always learn, process, and grow when I spend time reflecting on God’s creation. This year I want to take it even further to embrace the celebrations/seasons of the church (Advent, Christmastide, Lent, Easter, etc.) AND also the seasons of nature.
One way that I’m walking through the year is joining Lady Farmer’s Almanac. It’s a group of farmer, nature, slow-living, like-hearted ladies with monthly classes, articles, and a book club each season.
This Winter we are focusing on REST and how it looks in our home, closets, use of technology, etc. The class this month shared about creating a “cozy cocoon” space that is full of things you love and a place to just rest and enjoy. To be honest, sometimes my whole house feels this way, but then I see the unwashed dishes or remember that I never sent an e-mail, so my brain clicks into overdrive again. I spent 15 minutes this week to take down my “upstairs Christmas decor” (a small tree and one sign) and refresh for Winter. I cleared off my bedside table and left the fairy lights up for a cozy, restful space.
Challenge my mind, body, and spirit with new adventures.
“Enockson girls have adventures” is a motto that I share with my sister (and now sweet niece) on a consistent basis. For Christmas I created them each a photo book and short story about how Enockson girl’s have adventures on a daily basis. It’s my biggest hope and prayer for them, to remind them that they are brave, courageous, and kind.
I want to model the adventure-filled life and push myself outside my comfort zone to try hard things. This year it might be cross-country skiing instead of the familiar snowshoe, cooking new recipes, seasonal “bucket list” adventures, reading books outside my usual genre, trying projects, and saying YES even when I’m afraid.
A full life isn’t meant to be lived in our comfort zones. A full and vibrant life is full of mistakes, hard things, joy and LOTS of adventure.
Grow beautiful blooms at ZA and home.
If you know me even a little bit, you know my love, okay obsession, for flowers. My wardrobe in the Spring consists of 80% floral pieces and a handful of neutrals, my kitchen table always has a bouquet of blooms or potted bulb, and my favorite time of the week at ZA is when we stock the farm cart with blooms for the community.
So, NOBODY was surprised last fall when I decided to participate in Floret Farm Cut-Flower workshop. Erin has been a role model for farmer-florists everywhere and I love how she continues to cultivate beauty and purpose through her IG feed, family and farm.
2021 holds so much possibility for my home gardens and ZA. I can’t wait to see how this goal literally grows over the next 12 months.
Cultivate a heart of contentment and give generously.
A heart of generosity and contentment continues to be one of the hardest and humbling goals. I want to be quick to give and be generous with what I’m given, and yet so often I think about my needs before others.
This year I’m joining Nancy Ray for the contentment challenge. Three months of purposely NOT shopping or spending on frivolous things. After the excess of Christmas, it feels refreshing but also reveals how quickly I click “add to cart” or “purchase now” before actually thinking if I need or truly want something. This year I’m joining her again and choosing not to purchase clothing, books, or home decor from January – March.
She recommends having a hobby or habit you want to cultivate and replace the time you would have spent at target or on-line shopping. For me that is watercolor and hiking outside. I want to cut out the habit of pursing the isle of target after a long week and instead go outside and soak up God’s amazing creation.
This week between Christmas and New Year is one of my favorite times. While we can easily fall into the black hole of not knowing “what day or time it is” and post-christmas sugar high, there is a beauty to a slower pace, with a little of the Christmas sparkle left in it.
I stumbled upon this quote yesterday and it’s the exact sentiment I want to step into the New Year:
“I don’t know exactly what’s next but I’m stepping forward with grit, anchored in grace.”
When the calendar flips on December 31st at midnight, all the pain and hardship won’t just go away. 2020 has been a year of numerous challenges, growth, and letting go.
Friends, with a little bit of grit, a whole lot of prayer, and big leaps of faith we can step into the fresh start of a new year anchored in His grace.
To me, a life of grace & grit begins by celebrating & marking the challenges, good things, and growth of the previous year.
This ENFJ, Enneagram 2W3, Extrovert girl LOVES to process and learn along-side fellow believers. I can often get in the “bad habit” of signing up for to many studies or conferences because I just get excited to dig into Scripture with my people, it’s what sets my heart on fire.
But, the good heart work of listening to our souls begins with cultivating a practise of silence (time spent in quiet) and solitude (time spent alone).
The soul is like a wild animal-tough, resient, resourceful, savvy, self-sufficient. It knows how to survive in hard places. But it is also shy. Just like a wild animal, it seeks safety in the dense underbrush. If we want to see a wild animal, we know that the last thing we should do is go crashing through the woods yelling for it to come out. But if we will walk quietly into the woods, sit patiently by the base of the tree, and fade into our surroundings, the wild animal we seek might put in an appearance.”
I’ll never forget my first introduction to the practice of silence and solitude. I was in college attending a discipleship training course put on by the Navigators. Time well spent learning, growing, serving, and deepening our faith with fellow believers in one of my favorite places in Northern Wisconsin.
Towards the end of our time together, we had a 3 hour “Time alone with God” (or TAG as we called it…insert eye-roll here). I was curious and a tiny bit anxious.
We were each told to go find a place alone, apart from anywhere else and just be with God. There were no questions to walk through or topic to cover. Only me, God, my bible, and the great Northwoods.
I found a comfy spot outside (no surprise there!) to read scripture, pray, and listen. I was excited and expectant to what God might reveal to me during that time.
I wish I could tell you I had some great earth-shattering revelation, but my mind would not shut off. I kept thinking, dreaming, and planning. My thoughts ping ponged between ideas and trivial concerns. Before I knew it my time was up and I felt like I never really spent time just being with God. I quickly jotted a few things down to share with my team, but there was not a depth there and the experience felt lacking.
When I look back on that experience, I see a girl with so much to learn but one who truly wanted to “get it right”. And here is the truth my friends. There is no perfect formula or prescription for silence and solitude. It will look different for everyone and it will change in each season.
In the years since my 3 hour TAG, I’ve learned to let go of expectations and just enjoy the time.
Our hearts, minds, body, and souls live at a frantic pace. There is always more to learn, consume, do, intake, or make happen. Our culture thrives and pushes us to be constant consumers or creators. The practice of silence and solitude forces us to put aside our inner voice telling us to “do, go, produce”, and forces us to just be. It humbles us to realize that HE is the ultimate Creator and author of our lives.
Silence and solitude it one of the most life-giving rhythms in my Rule of Life, but it is also one of the most difficult to keep. I live alone, am unmarried, have no children or pets to care for, and yet I struggle to make time for silence and solitude in my days.
When I choose push aside the to-do list, light a candle, and just be still my soul is renewed and my heart recentered on my Creator.
A life that is full of God’s amazing grace begins with quieting our souls to hear our Father. There are countless examples of Jesus stepping away to lonely, quiet, and desolate places to pray alone.
And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
This practice will take time to cultivate in your day. It will feel akward and challenging to begin with. But friend, it will be so so worth it.
I would encourage you to take just 2 minutes today to sit and be still. Turn your phone on airplane mode, get away from people (lock yourself in a closet or bathroom if you need), and be with your Creator.
If you find your mind anxious or full of hurried thoughts, hand them over to your Father. I like to make a practice of beginning my time in silence and solitude with praying out-loud or writing down any concerns, worries, or anxieties that I’ve been carrying.
The tangible act of speaking my concerns help shift my heart and focus into a posture of letting go, and prepare my heart to listen.
I will often light a candle to signal to my soul that it’s time to rest and settle in. When my brain starts tip toeing into overdrive, I take a few breaths and focus on the flickering light.
Friend, God desires to be with us and hear our hearts cry. The one prayer God will always answer with a hearty yes is “Lord, be with me.” After all, during this season of Advent we are reminded that He is our Immanuel, God with us.
Tips and resources to help you on a grace-filled journey.
Today I couldn’t be more delighted to introduce you to my friend Kate of Taproot Photography. Kate was one of my first friends when I lived in Indiana (since then…we have both moved on from the great state of IN to be closer to our families).
I met her for coffee and quickly learned we shared a love for being creative, gardening, and good wine. I would often spend my days off with her and her son sledding, making homemade pasta, creating projects, or just hanging out. Kate and her family were such gifts in that season of my life.
While I don’t get to see her as often as I like, it is such a joy to watch her step into her God-given gifts. Kate is one of those friends who really makes time for you, listens well, and is full of such grace. She continues to remind and encourage me personally to make time for rest, margin, and fight for what matters in your life.
Kate is a talented artist, photographer, and just launched a new adventure with Scout and Cellar selling organic, clean crafted wine (their “Scout Sampler” pack is my new favorite!). I’m excited to share her story with you.
You can learn more about Kate and follow her journey at:
I’m an artist who is passionate about living a creative life and being open to new ways to grow and learn. I think it’s important to give myself the freedom to try new things to see how they suit me. I started my storytelling family photography business 14 years ago. As a deep feeler, I do get emotionally wrapped up in my art and I have to say that the most emotionally and physically intense subject that I photograph is birth. In a matter of hours it takes your emotions on a wild and beautiful ride! It’s important to me to find meaning in my work and play! That’s really accomplished through connection with people. My main goal in life is simple… love people.
If I were to invite you to my porch, what would your dream drink and snack pairing be? I’d have to go with an assortment of cheeses! Definitely baked brie or something warm and gooey too. And of course wine.
What does an ordinary but beautiful Tuesday look like for you?
No Tuesday is the same for me. But they tend to look a little like this… My husband, Seth usually takes care of the morning routine with our 13 year old son so I have some flexibility to lay in bed for a bit in the morning. I know, it’s really nice! I like being able to catch up on messages first thing and I often do that while I’m still cozy in bed. Then I’ll walk around my yard to see what has changed overnight in the garden. Seth and I may end up at the grocery store in the late morning. I drive since he’s unable to do so because of his eyesight and he shops which is so nice. If I have photo editing or office work I’ll do that or I’ll catch up on stitching. Last year I decided to branch out with my business and start making these fun custom stitched portraits of families, pets and homes! Seth and I play a game or two at the kitchen table if my work is slow that day and in the evenings we’ll all hang out as a family and watch a movie or something.
What nourishes your soul?
Creating, being in nature (my garden), long baths and emotional connection to people. I’m really a miserable person when I’m not using my hands to create! It brings life to my soul. Both being in nature and quietly alone in the bath help clear my mind of clutter and encourage me to pray and to process what’s on my heart. And I thrive when I feel emotionally connected with people. I’m not talking about needing to have super deep conversations but about simply taking a moment to understand someone, to connect and be present with them.
What season would you say you find yourself in?
My life always seems to be so much different than the life of other moms with kids my age. Seth and I have been married for 18 years and have a 13 year old but we have always said that we mesh best with either singles or retired people because we’ve created a lifestyle that allows us more freedom. It can be isolating at times though and I find myself wishing that the world around me wasn’t so busy.
What is one unexpected joy about your current season?
Friendship! This year I decided to work harder on my friendships. Being in quarantine this year actually made it easier to connect with friends more often. I’ve enjoyed being able to focus on my friendships even if it has to be from afar.
What is one hard thing about your current season?
I’m now the mom of a teenager and I’m realizing that my relationship with my son needs to be constantly changing and adapting. It’s a hard balance of continuing to nurture his heart and mind while giving him the space to be his own person. There’s so much that we want to control as parents. I’m learning to let go of that control (aka “micro managing”) and to really focus on our relationship.
If you could share a piece of advice or encouraging word to others in your season, what would it be?
Reevaluate your life often and make sure that you’re living the life that you want to live. Make sure that you’re being the person who you want to be. If something doesn’t suit you then let it go. If you find yourself complaining about a certain situation in your life then take whatever action you can to improve it. Allow yourself to change and allow others to change as well.
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)
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