Monday, December 1, 2014

Giveaway Winner & 40% OFF

Hey Y'all! Guess what happened to me last Wednesday? Two days before most small businesses hold Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday sales, my laptop decided it was done with life. Dead. All gone. And I mean, ALL gone...

Once some tech savvy friends get all the guts they need out of it, I'm holding a funeral and moving on to greener pastures. :( I started BGD on that laptop, so I shed a tear for the memories. The hunt for a new one is still on, but for now my sweet sister is letting me use hers to tell you who won the giveaway!

Paige Pierog is our winner! Congratulations, Paige! I've already contacted her for information, so she should have her prize very soon. :)

Also, even though some of the things I needed to run a truly awesome sale are still in the brains of my old, dead friend, I want to do something to kick-off the holidays. So, through tomorrow, everything in my shop is 40% off with this code: HOLIDAYBEGINS2014

If you are a reader of my friend Beth's blog, Oak and Oats, you can get an extra 15% off with her gift guide code.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a great start to December! And if anyone loves their reasonably-priced laptop, tell me in the comments please!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Inspired to be Positive...Laura Jean of According to Laura Jean

Friends, today is the last Inspired to be Positive post and it has been penned by the very sweet and lovely Laura Jean of According to Laura Jean! I introduced myself to Laura Jean specifically to ask if she could write this post. Her blog has been a very fun and encouraging read to me and I knew she would pass that on to you, as well. When I received her post, I was blown away by how beautiful her message was. It's pretty much exactly what I had envisioned for this series. Please make sure you take the time to thank Laura Jean for being here today, and check out her blog! :)

Hello dear ones! It is a joy to be with you today and share a bit on the topic of positivity. I apologize in advance for being that blogger who shares about her husband and somewhat goos and gahs over him. But stick with me, even though I do think of him pretty highly, there is a distinct reason he emulates the word positive.

Jacob is best described by those who know him as a positive ball of energy and that is no exaggeration. The world could easily come crashing down and while every other person would fall into mass chaos, myself included, he would still be looking at what is right, beautiful, and positive. Even to strangers, Jake seeks the best in every situation and person.

Honesty time, throughout different seasons of my life I deeply struggle with getting stuck in little bothersome moments and focusing on negative thoughts rather than positive. Is anyone with me? A blueberry smoothie spills on the white carpet - I break into tears and instantly am overwhelmed. I get to work five minutes late and don't have time for breakfast - my thoughts are immediately focused on how this will ruin the rest of my day. My friends, remaining positive is difficult and when these examples are said aloud I feel somewhat foolish. I share them with you however because I venture to guess I am not alone.

This is where Jacob plays an integral part of my everyday life. I have learned from him there is a distinct difference between remaining positive and feeling happy. Happiness is a feeling that can come and go like the wind whereas remaining positive is a choice you make in your everyday moments, attitudes, and words. Spilling my smoothie certainly did not make me happy but Jacob reminded me that remaining positive would have made the whole situation better.

I covet Jake's natural ability to grow and thrive in positivity through all situations. Focusing on being positive is not an overnight process nor is it natural in the negativity that surrounds today's culture. It is essential however to grow in the grace of Jesus and share this character trait with others. Now from the very words of Jake himself, enjoy these practical ways to focus more on positivity in your life.

Don't Get Caught Up in the Small Things
Becoming easily upset and distraught over the small things will only skew your perspective of the grand scheme of life. Choose to overcome these moments with positive thinking and give yourself grace for mistakes.

A Day is a Day
If you are having a bad day, know that it is only one day and tomorrow has the opportunity to be better. It is easy to get stuck in a rut of bummer moments, hours, and seasons of life but when we remain positive and hopeful for what is ahead our mindsets slowly change.

There are Always Two Outcomes
Every situation presents the choice to think of it negatively or positively. With most situations in life there are two ways you can leave it - thinking about it positively or letting it overcome you with negative thoughts and emotions. Take a moment to pause and reflect on what direction you will choose your attitude to take.

Thanks again, Laura Jean! Here's wishing you, and all of YOU sweet readers, a Happy Thanksgiving! May you choose to live it with positivity! :)


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Etsy Gifts!

Thanksgiving's so close. It's scary close. But we all know that right behind it looms Black Friday, which means the time has come to think about gifts. And when you do, there's nothing better than to gift handmade things, which is when you turn to Etsy! Here are just a few shops I'm watching this year for awesome and unique handmade gifts...

-First is When It Rains Paper Co. They specialize in custom stationary, but they also have personalized notebooks, luggage tags and desk calendars...

-Ravenscourt Apothecary is a British company with handmade soaps, bath salts, fragrances, oils and lip balm. I love the literary spin they put on some of the names. Wanna know what Mr. Darcy smells like? This is your chance.

-Next is All is Yay. (That's a super cool name, in my opinion.) The entire shop is pretty much all black and white. They sell notebooks and tote bags that are adorable, but my favorite things right now are all the hats and (huge) mitts!

-Lastly, I chose Pop Chart Lab as a shop to watch. Designer prints that make a chart out of anything and everything...Gift a Great Gatsby chart, a Round-up of Notable Golf Holes, the Giant-size Omnibus of Super Powers, The Breweries of Europe, or Carrie Bradshaw's shoes.

AND don't forget, through Thursday night, you can enter to win a free gift from my own Etsy shop!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 21, 2014

Pre-Holiday Giveaway!

Hi there! I've been slightly MIA this week, but I'm sure you'll forgive me. My Inspired guest poster had conflicts that caused her to put everything blog-related on the back burner (totally understand), and I have been making and listing new pieces like a fiend! In addition to online shop listing, I've also been prepping for a local show that will be running every weekend from now through mid-December. Busy busy holidays!

I have a special post for you today, though. I will be giving away the above gold rock crystal necklace to one lucky winner just in time for the sparkly season. The giveaway will run through Thanksgiving and the winner will be announced on Black Friday to kick-off my Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday Sale. :) More on that to come...

To check out the details on this necklace in the shop, click here, then go ahead and enter below! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friendly Terms & Conditions: Giveaway is open 11/21/2014 and ends 11/27/2014 at 11:59 pm. Winners will be chosen by Rafflecopter. Winning entries will be verified. Winners will be notified via email and have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected. Winner will have to provide a shipping address, which will be kept confidential, in order to receive prize. This giveaway is closed to participants outside of the US. Facebook, Bloglovin', and Twitter are not in ANY way involved with this giveaway and are hereby released of any responsibility or liability.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Lamp Shining in a Dark Place

Good morning, lovely friends. I woke up to beaucoup amounts of snow in the Midwest yesterday. Or at least it felt like a lot. It was all nice and clumpy on the trees, too. Wanna see?

This morning, I've been spending some time in 1 & 2 Peter and decided to forego the usual blog post to share with you some of the most encouraging things I read.

First of all, I've always liked 1 & 2 Peter. They're written so beautifully. Listen to this: "...And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts..." -2 Peter 1:19 I mean, I think Tolkien may have stolen that to use in his trilogy somewhere, it's gorgeous!

Some more favorites:

"For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does." - 1 Peter 4:6

"Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor." -1 Peter 2:16-17

"And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you." - 1 Peter 5:10

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." - 1 Peter 5:6-7

I hope one of those uplifted or gave you direction in some way... If you feel stress over things people care too much about like your physical appearance, your true life is something that can't be seen. Honor everyone and love the brotherhood of special people around you today, because you are a FREE and living servant of God and you have so much to give. The God of all grace will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you, so feel restored, confirmed, strengthened and established. And cast all your problems and life pressures on Him because he truly cares. :)

Have an awesome day rain or shine or snow!


Friday, November 14, 2014

Box of Chocolates Friday Vol. 8

This weekend I'm attending a Bible study, going out for coffee, visiting old friends and carrying on my pre-holiday jewelry making crusade. There are new pieces covering a designated portion of my work space, lending extra inspiration and encouragement whenever I need it. I can't wait to share them with you! To be honest, the next portion of the process is my least favorite: the photoshoot. I love having beautiful photos of my jewelry, but sometimes getting them can be a long and tedious experiment. I'll let you know how it goes. :)

From the week (and last week):

-Renee Zellweger & Learning to be Happy with How You Look This is a sad, yet fascinating story. I've always thought she was so uniquely beautiful.

-35 Author on Author Put-Downs Perspective is a powerful thing.

-"Putting aside the distractions and lust for the elusive success and putting forward a charge to love others well, to love my family well, and to love myself well." - Leia Bryn (In This Season)

-Sweet Honey and Jalapeno Cornbread Muffins YUM

-20 Quotes from Children's Books Every Adult Should Know

-The Disease of Being Busy This (very liberal) publication got it right.

-What Playing a Musical Instrument Does to Your Brain

-To the Girl Who's Trying I put this on my bookmarks bar so I can quickly find it. I needed it this week.

-I don't particularly like rap (I do like HP), but this...this is impressive:

-This will make you tear up. This paraplegic veteran's buddies rigged up a harness so that his bride could have a surprise dance with him at their wedding:

That's all, folks! Have a happy Friday!


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Inspired to be...Positive: Madison of The Wetherills Say I Do

Hey Everyone! Exciting! Madison of The Wetherills Say I Do is here today to share about a special lady who fought for her positivity. Thank you so much, Madison, for sharing this story with us! For those of you who have never visited The Wetherills Say I Do, it's a very encouraging faith and lifestyle blog where Madison writes about she and her husband's lives, cooking, blogging, designing, and much more. Stop on by after you read today's Inspired story:

When I think back to the person who was most positive in my life, I think of one person. It's not a parent or another family member. In fact, it's someone I didn't get along with at first. But now, she will always be a huge part of my life and who I have become. Her name was Debbie. She was a small group leader for a college group that I was a part of my freshman year in college. At first, we didn't click because I thought I knew what was best, typical 18 year old, right? Over the next six months after we met, we started to build a relationship. She had had cancer before and it was back. But that never stopped her from keeping her eyes on Jesus and moving forward.


I've never met someone so positive. No matter what was taken away from her (her strength, her control, her body, her life) she was always positive. There were rough moments where she was completely vulnerable and definitely showed her weakness, although it was never about faking it. But regardless of how she felt or looked, she always kept the "glass half full" mentality. I only knew Deb for a short amount of time, and I will always wish I had had more time with her. We always want more time, don't we? But in my time with her, she became like a second mom to me. She prayed weekly for her "High Point girls" that were a part of our small group. She hosted dinners at her house or took me out to breakfast, even though she couldn't drink coffee for fear of staying up all night, even if she had one cup at 9AM.


I envy her positivity because it's something we can all struggle to find. Something as little as a stained shirt can ruin an entire day, rather than it being a fleeting moment that doesn't affect the outcome of our day. Watching Debbie overcome the mental battle she faced with cancer was inspiring and awing. Here are a few things I think Deb would tell us to do to stay positive: 

  • Focus on the good - There will always be rough patches. Focus instead on what is good right now. 

  • Focus on what you can control - My dad has this huge lecture he used to give me about what's in your circle of control versus what's outside of it. It's a powerful illustration to realize what you're able to do and what you aren't. There's no use focusing on what you can't control or change because that just causes negative energy. 

  • Focus on the eternal - We live in a very perishable world. We focus on material things that ultimately won't go anywhere with us. Instead we should focus on those things that God has given us that will continue with us. We can focus on the negative that nothing will come with us into eternity or we can focus on the positive that God already has so much stored for us in heaven that we don't need anything here. 

The main thing to staying positive is to learn to rely not on yourself, but on Him for your ultimate happiness. That's the end game.

Thanks again for being here today, Madison! This was a very impactful message. :) 

Stay positive, you guys and have a happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thank You, Veteran

I may or may not have posted this video before, but there's no greater time to hear these words than on Veteran's Day. Our country has been chaotic and divided lately and for the last few years, there have been whispers that it's wrong to take pride in America as we know it, that there is much we have to be ashamed of and that our standards have to change. For anyone who believes our country needs to apologize for being what we are, a nation of free men and women, Ronald Reagan has the perfect words:

I'm taking this opportunity to thank veterans of the present and the past for their sacrifice. We are so blessed to have the freedoms that we have and it's because of their sacrifices that we still have them. Sadly, we sometimes take our freedom for granted today and what could be created and built by free people is often overlooked in favor of mediocre, couch potato life. As citizens, there is no greater honor to be paid to the soldiers who protect us than living well and working hard. We are Americans. We should be proud, but we are never entitled. May we all be soldiers who work to protect our way of life not just from being eradicated by an enemy, but from being unappreciated by extremely blessed citizens.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Grateful Heart

Most of you know this (or maybe you don't), but I live at home with my mom, dad and older sister. We are four adults with our own separate work and separate spaces, but at the end of the day, we share a roof, meals, and responsibilities. This has come with a myriad of challenges, and there have been times when I've had negative feelings about it (being honest), but it's an arrangement that has benefited me tremendously these last couple of years. And for that, I am grateful.

(my family and I many moons ago. weren't we cute?)
I am grateful for parents who are wise and grounded in God's truth who can provide loving council when I need it. And also for a sister I get along with incredibly well. I've never been more grateful for these people than I am today. For the past couple of years, I've found myself approaching the holidays with a sense of sadness at the thought of again spending it in the same place. Over the weekend, I had the realization that I was very happy to have another Christmas with my family. It'll be over sooner than I think.

What are you grateful for today?

This post is linked up with Ember Gray's Grateful Heart Monday.


(photo via)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Operation Read Your Shelves: Villette

It's time for the next book review in the Operation Read Your Shelves series! It's been awesome having this little project pushing me to read. I love love love reading, but making it a priority is hard.

I just finished this book. I actually contemplated writing the review without entirely finishing it because I wanted this post to go live on Monday. But, I soon realized it was quite impossible to judge Villette without having completed it. Villette could have ended one of many ways, affecting whether or not I loved it. And...I loved it. It kept me guessing the whole way through! I was entirely unprepared for a few of the plot twists, including the ending. That's a nod to Bronte's skill, though, because while I wasn't expecting the story's outcome, I was surprisingly ready for it and it was surprisingly perfect.

To explain the plot just a little: Villette is narrated by the main character, Lucy Snowe, and is about her struggle for independence out of an orphaned childhood and the life she builds amongst strangers in a new country. I would say the core of the story is her desire to belong somewhere and be loved by someone. She consistently finds herself watching everyone else from the outskirts of life and can't seem to make anyone realize how much she wants to be invited in.

Lucy is a refreshing female character who feels the need for love in a very relatable way... Many heroines are either so pious they shame you for feeling anything or they're so dramatic about love, it becomes ridiculous. Lucy Snowe was a heroine I connected with on multiple levels. She's probably one of the most complex characters I've ever read. While she's sensitive, she's also smart, humorous and self-reliant. At several points in the story, she experiences difficult emotional struggles and noted moments of growth.

To give you a taste of the feel of the story, it predominantly takes place in a French town. French is spoken throughout the book, so if you didn't at least take high school French, you might feel a little lost without a dictionary (nothing absolutely critical is spoken in a foreign language, though). There is interesting attention paid to the religious tension between Protestants and Catholics during that time. And, there is a gothic feel due to the spiritual undertones and a haunting (ooooo) similar to that in Jane Eyre.

Of course, being written by Charlotte Bronte, you're probably wondering how Villette compares to Jane Eyre. To be clear, I love Jane Eyre. I've read it multiple times, and it's one of my favorites. But, I enjoyed Villette even more. This was Bronte's last novel and the greater amount of writing experience gained at this point in her life is evident in the intensely rich descriptive passages and dynamic supporting characters. The settings and scenes are more varied and colorful, as well. In my opinion, Lucy simply has more heart and openness than Jane.

I'll say no more. Obviously, I'm in favor of this classic and would encourage you to pick it up and discern for yourself how good a read it is. There's more I would like to say about the love story, but I'd be flirting with spoilers if I did that. :) Let me know in the comments if you've read it and enjoyed the love story as much as I did. Villette is now counted among my favorite books. I hope you get the chance to enjoy it some day.

Have a beautiful Thursday!


(photo via)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Inspired to be...Positive: Meg of Rivers and Roads

We're back with a new topic for Inspired! This month, we're focusing on Positivity. We'll be hearing from four women who have people in their lives that inspire them to live with joyful attitudes. It should be a blessing for all of us. :)

I'm so excited to introduce you to today's guest: Meg of Rivers and Roads. I began reading Meg's blog back in the spring. She has a very relaxed style that draws you in and makes you want to stay a while, reading about her and her life in Chattanooga (one of my favorite places). Just recently, she has become 1/3 of a new project called Tristyle & Co. Check it and her blog out, and enjoy reading about the special gal who inspires her to be positive... 

When Anna asked who taught me the importance of staying positive, several people came to mind who have influenced me in different seasons of my life. However, the one I kept coming back to is my best friend, Beth. To me, "staying positive" translates into "choosing joy." Beth is one of the most joy-filled individuals I know, and that joy is contagious. 

Beth has a way of listening to and taking in everything you are feeling and then helping you turn those feelings into something positive. She always finds the silver lining, or that one glimmer of hope to hold on to, and she always always always points me back to Jesus.

I'll be the first to admit that joy and positivity does not come easily or even naturally for everyone. We live in a messy and broken world full of pain and confusion and misunderstanding. So how do you stay positive in the midst of all the gloom? 

Several months ago, I felt as if the whole world was weighing on my shoulders, and everything that could go wrong was going wrong, and I was at my breaking point. I was struggling to find even an ounce of happiness in that moment. In talking to my best friend about that week I told her, "I love Jesus so much. Life is just so hard sometimes." Beth is always there to encourage me or just to cry with me when I need it.

So what do you do when the world wears you down? Do you sit there and take the beating? No way, sister. You stand firm and thank the Lord your God for the gifts he has given. The gift to wake up each morning, the gift to glimpse another sunrise, the gift of laughter, the gift of life itself. Every single gift. You name it.

You choose joy. 

"Seriousness is not a fruit of the spirit, but joy is."

I'm not saying you have to be happy all the time. Happiness is not the same thing as joy. Joy is a spiritual discipline, and you must choose it over and over. This world will do all that it can to wear you down. Fight, brave hearts, with all your might, for joy. No matter what you are facing, there is a Gospel and a King worth celebrating. And guess what? That King celebrates over you as well. You are his, and he cares more deeply for you than you will ever know. 

Personally, the key to a positive and joy-filled life is learning the art of celebrating this life we have been so graciously given. The key is giving thanks for each and every gift. The key is knowing you cannot do this on your own. The key is leaning on Jesus to be the song of our hearts and the hope of our souls.  

Thanks so much for being here, Meg! You've graced us with beautiful, positive things to think about.

Have an awesome day, everyone! I'm still recovering from a late night of watching election results. Anyone else? :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November Goals

Hey there! Another new month, another opportunity to make goals and mark progress. There's something refreshing and comforting in doing both. And there's something extremely motivating in sharing them with you. :) Here's how I did with October's goals:

1.) Decide on new packaging that incorporates logo. Check!

2.) Have all blog posts finished a week in advance, at least. A few were planned a week in advance but not many. Oh well...

3.) Read two books (Finish Villette & 7 Habits). I'm sharing the Villette review on Thursday, if you're interested.

4.) Bring inventory up to 100 listings on Etsy. I reached 75 pieces made, but they're not all listed yet. 

5.) Write a handwritten letter once a week. 1 handwritten letter was written. That's not really acceptable, is it? 

6.) Conquer laundry like a boss. Laundry was conquered like an intern. It's a stepping stone.

7.) Get in the habit of waking up at 5:30 every morning. (cue laugh track) Didn't happen. Are you surprised? When someone sets a goal expecting to fail, it doesn't usually work.

8.) Each piece I make MUST be something I love. Check!

9.) Finish reading Daniel & the New Testament. Finished Daniel and am working through Hebrews now.

Now for November:

1.) Refine schedule to allot enough time for each work-related & home-related (and just me-related) responsibility (that includes figuring out what wake-up time will get it all done)

2.) Finish 7 Habits & P.G. Wodehouse's Joy Comes in the Morning

3.) Read the remainder of the New Testament

4.) Reach 100 listings by Black Friday!

5.) Prep for local weekend craft fair that runs from mid-November to mid-December

6.) Write a handwritten letter every week.

7.) Make sure local boutique is stocked with my jewelry for the holidays.

8.) Run another giveaway (coming soon)

What are your goals for the month? Feel free to link to them in the comments below.

As I'm transitioning into November, here are a few posts you may have missed from October: 

Oh, and get out and vote! :)


(photo via)

Friday, October 31, 2014

What I WOULD'VE Worn If I'd Gone Trick or Treating...

I have never gone in for Halloween. And you can guess why. It's the same personal conviction many people have about what's behind the holiday (no judging you if you enjoy it, though :)). My parents felt the same way, so I never went trick or treating as a kid. But, I always enjoyed dressing up when I was little and had a deep love for movie and book characters. If I had walked the streets with a plastic pumpkin from ages 4 to 12, this is totally what I would have worn....

1994 - A Mouse - I loved little mice (think Beatrix Potter) when I was a tot. And Mom would've come up with something adorable for me to wear.

1995 - Piglet - I was Piglet as a child. I'm not sure how I feel about that now.

1996 - Cinderella - It's Cinderella, dude! She was my favorite Disney princess.

1997 - Nancy Drew - Nancy was the coolest. And somehow all 56 original yellow hardback mysteries wound up in my old attic.

1998 - Kirsten - I was an American Girl enthusiast. Back when it was at its best.

1999 - Ballerina - I'm just realizing how typical my choices would have been. I'd say I was a pretty normal little girl, at least!

2000 - Queen Amidala - Do y'all remember the craze over this movie??? It was insane. And attempting to imitate this look would have been equally insane. Good luck, 10 year old self.

2001 - spy - Not just any spy...I would've channeled Laura Holt. My sister and I got into '80s spy/detective shows around the turn of the century. I can still hear the theme songs in my head.

2002 - Lord of the Rings elf - Last, but certainly not least... An elf. Massive obsession with these books and movies. Massive. Trick or treating would've ended at age 12 but the obsession continued for another 2 or 3 or 10 years.

So, there you are. You now know more about me than you wanted to know. What were you into as a kid and could you have gotten a costume out of it? :) Have a happy Friday!


(photos: mouse; piglet; cinderella; kirsten; ballerina)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hiding & Acceptance


As believers who have personal relationships with the God of the universe, we sometimes have a tendency to revert to what seems most natural: HIDE!

Often if there is something (anything) in our hearts that we're ashamed of, we instinctively want to conceal it and ourselves from the eyes of God. Within the last month, I've been feeling that desire to stay hidden and avoid any confrontation with the Most High. It was over this attitude: I want to take care of myself. I want to be in control. I don't need Your help, God. I got this...

There is no greater lie than "I don't need God." There is never a more prideful attitude than "No thanks, Lord." And after thinking that way for a while, I constructed a wall in our relationship.

The interesting thing is, any walls I construct are really only affecting one person in the relationship. There isn't any wall where God's concerned. His power and love are ever active in my life, no matter what. And while I'm allowing guilt to keep me from him, he never stops extending grace and mercy to me.


After feeling convicted of my pride, I confronted my wall and did the right thing: I took responsibility for my actions, repented, told God it would never happen again, that he could expect much better from me in the future, and that I was now a person he could be proud of. Because that's what God wants to hear, isn't it? Isn't it? No, no it's not, and that's not what I did. I repented, but I realized that "There is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus our Lord." And, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." All he asks of us is humble acceptance of his love and provision for our sins, and reliance on his work to make everything better. Acceptance is really all that faith is.

It was a little hard to do that. Even though I knew I had nothing to add to what Christ paid, it was still difficult for me to be okay with it (after having just been convicted of having a prideful attitude, too!) God handing freedom to you and me, no charge, is hard to accept. Just like we would love to be able to handle our lives on our own, we would love to do something, anything to deserve his forgiveness. We can't. He has to do it all, and he has done it all. We're responsible for receiving it and nothing more. The overwhelming thankfulness and love we feel when we finally accept it is what changes us into people who honor Him.

Like this quote I shared with you on Tuesday, we try to gain understanding and love from the Lord, but it only truly comes when we just receive it... freely and abundantly. Hiding when ashamed is unnecessary and trying to live in our own strength is fruitless. He is the only one who can overcome our struggles and who loves us despite our flaws. We just have to accept that. And when we do, we are free to enjoy the overwhelming security, peace, comfort and joy that is always ours for the taking...

-Song (thanks to Amy!) :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Inspired to be...Courageous: Leia of Leia Bryn

Today's guest is a new, sweet friend of mine! A woman with a passion for encouraging others, Leia of Leia Bryn has been so wonderful to work with, and her blog is really going places. I have high hopes for her. :) Leia works alongside her husband in campus ministry and in the month of October she wrote 31 days of posts focused on all aspects of writing (she and I share a common love). She's telling the story of the man (the first male to be featured in an Inspired post, by the way) who inspires her to be courageous today. Take it away, Leia...

We are more courageous than we lead ourselves to believe. Courage is defined as the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous - and don't we all experience difficult circumstances in our lives? For some of us courage can be as simple as getting out of bed each morning to show up at a job that we've been called to do but struggle to find the muster to give it our all. For others, courage may reveal itself in more exciting ways, like launching a new business, deciding to start a family, or moving to a new city. Courage has many faces, friends.

There are however those individuals in our lives that inspire us to be more courageous beings. They're the friends, family, and strangers that venture into new territories of life not allowing fear or difficulty to stand in their way. These individuals make us all more brave, brave to pursue our passions and giftings, or very simply, brave to show-up and do the job we've been given that day.

My husband, Guy, is one of those individuals. To explain I'll have to take you back a few years in our relationship. Back to senior year of college to be exact. Guy and I were recently engaged, just babies when I think back on that time in life, and both preparing for our post-graduation careers. I was stubborn and eclipsed by fear. My career was a choice I made because I wanted everyone else to be proud of me, I wanted approval of others, and those gleeful congratulations when you shared you landed that dream job. Guy went about the process far more thoughtfully than I. He pursued God's will in the decision and ultimately made an incredibly faith-filled, courageous decision to work full-time as a missionary in college campus ministry.

Over the course of the following two years I witnessed him remain faithful to his values and calling. When others didn't understand his decision to be a missionary and verbally expressed their disappointments in him, he remained unwavering in his choices. He showed true courage, not allowing fear or difficult circumstances or hurtful words to stand between him and the role he knew he was called to pursue.

When his new role as a missionary required him to raise his full support, a process not for the faint of heart, he showed up daily, and diligently raised his full support. Ultimately this was God at work in his life and the life of others, but it required Guy to trust God and remain faithful to the job he was called to do. Having now joined him in raising support I firsthand know the kind of courage this activity requires.

I sat on the sidelines watching this courageous man for almost two years. Each and every day he would wake, drive into campus, and share Jesus in discipleship, during large group weekly meetings, and with inquiring strangers on campus. His very job in life requires great courage as it stands entirely counter-cultural to popular society today. I know that his courage does not come from his strength alone but rather very literally comes from God alone. I guess I've realized that courage very closely relates to our trust in God's faithfulness and our willingness to submit our will to His.

Guy has quite literally inspired great acts of courage in my life and very few days go by that I don't wonder where I would be today if not for his display of courage. Almost two years ago, as I sat in an office, in a job I had accepted for the reasons I shared in the beginning, I made the monumental decision to stop allowing fear to control my life. I very clearly saw what living out a courageous life meant because of my husbands daily acts of courage and I wanted in.

Today, we work together as missionaries, in a new city, and I have the immense blessing of watching him being courageous day in and day out as we work together on the many college campuses in our area.

Guy's courage reveals itself in very small moments of his everyday routines. If you're not looking closely you might even miss it altogether. But like I said in the beginning, courage has many faces. Sometimes courage will mean taking major steps of faith and radically shifting your life, but other times, and I believe maybe most often, courage happens in the small decisions we're making daily.

Do you see moments today where you've been courageous? Or do you feel like you're sitting in the office chair I once did two years ago; eclipsed by the fear of others, fear of walking through difficult circumstances, or fear of failure? What might it look like for you to take courageous steps today? To submit your will to God's will? Courage, I believe, requires great faith. And being courageous won't mean we will be without failures, painful circumstances, or disappointment, but I do believe if we are stepping out in faith, trusting God, and abiding in Him, we will not regret being courageous with our life.

What does courage mean to you?

Blessings to you and Guy, Leia! I'm so thankful you were able to share your story with us today! It's a beautiful one.

Follow my new friend, Leia, blog readers. She's one of my favorites. :) Have a great day and value courage!