gratitude, day 15.

gratitude_xsgratitude is a miraculous, wonderful thing. it really does turn what we have into enough. sometimes – often, even – it reminds us that what we have is even more than we need. although it’s kind of a “thing” for people to list something they are grateful for each day in november, this isn’t really that. it’s sort of my mash-up of a daily writing exercise i see people do every day in october paired with practicing gratitude. it won’t be the same every day. sometimes it will be a short, quick post, and other times it will be a reflection or recipe. but most importantly, every day there will be gratitude.

today, i am grateful for life with community.

life together apps

dustin & i love to have people over. we love sharing our home, cooking, and sharing a meal with people we care for. we don’t get the opportunity to host all that often, but when we do, it is a special event, and we relish it. tonight, we were able to have all but one of the couples in our small group over, and it will be one of the highlighted memories for me of our time living in this sweet little home. it was a snowy day turned into a snowy night, and our friends made the trek west to our home, navigating delayed babysitters, weather, and a bad accident along the way. we were able to invite good friends into our warm home to have drinks, catch up, share a meal, and to essentially open our lives to entrust pieces of ourselves to each other.

talking over the night as we put a few things away & did dishes, we talked about what a great night it was. we are blessed.

life together dishes

gratitude, day 1.  ::  gratitude, day 2.  ::  gratitude, day 3.  ::  gratitude, day 4.  ::  gratitude, day 5.
gratitude, day 6.  ::  gratitude, day 7.  ::  gratitude, day 8.  ::  gratitude, day 9.  ::  gratitude, day 10.
gratitude, day 11.  ::  gratitude, day 12.  ::  gratitude, day 13.  ::  gratitude, day 14.

 

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inspiration & gratitude.

brave life

*original link is no longer available. if anyone knows to whom credit belongs, please let me know.

oh, time…you crazy, crazy thing. sometimes i feel you whooshing past me. thank you for the nights & weekends & hours filled to overflowing with adventures & laughter. and thank you for the just-plain-busy days and weeks of the mundane, not-so-glamorous yet necessary, every day life stuff. both are teaching me, and memories & goodness are in it all.

so, where i last left off…creativity. fears. dreams. the gap. perseverance.

inspiration is honestly everywhere. in gathering people at our house, in nature, checking out a new or visiting an old favorite restaurant or cafe, in a conversation, in sunsets and conversations…the list goes on. and, of course, there are copious gems on the inter webs, too. i’m thankful for brave, savvy creatives who have taken risks, shared their passions, and created spaces for beginners like me to look up to. here are some of my inspiration, encouragement, advice, & support go-to creatives.

cooking

  • smitten kitchen: deb’s writing is fun, witty, & approachable.
  • sprouted kitchen: sara’s recipes are fresh, healthy, & delicious.
  • molly yeh: i love molly’s blog for her lightness & silliness, stunning photography, & all-around inspiration. and a girl who did an in-depth study of the best mix-ins for funfetti cake?
  • sara kate gillingham: co-founder of the kitchn, cookbook author, & a potter, too!

life & faith

  • caroline schandel: this woman’s words pierce my heart & refresh my perspective in ways no one else’s ever have.
  • today’s letters: i could gush about this one – a daily go-to. hope-filled, life-giving, creative, encouraging. em writes most, but tim sneaks in sometimes, too. they write about everything from marriage to their backyard chickens, local coffee & good food, getting outside & the beauty of community, gratitude, raising their sweet babe, recipes – it’s a total mixed bag of goodness.
  • jen hatmaker: this post catapults me into laughter-until-i-can’t-speak with tears streaming down my face every. single. time.
  • story people: i love brian’s beautiful, simple-yet-profound work.
  • natalie creates: this woman really spans a number of categories, too: farming, creating, cooking. very down-to-earth, approachable, and fun.
  • momastery: her post earlier this month, the 5 habits every strong woman keeps, was incredible. this part in particular: “I have come to believe that a woman’s character is not just formed by the roles she plays or the job she has or where she’s from or what has happened to her. A woman’s character is most profoundly shaped by the daily habits she keeps. And this is hopeful to me, because it’s never too late to adopt a habit or two from a woman we admire.”
    part 2 jumped out at me instantly: strong women show up before they are ready. this is an area i have been desperately, intentionally seeking to grow in. i am so thankful for glennon’s thoughts on this. i love what she said about us having two roles but for some reason creating a third that we somehow put first. (although the link above works, embedding the video here isn’t working at the moment. i’ll add it as soon as i figure out what’s not right.)

paper & hand lettering

#WriteOnDesign #inspiration #HandLettering #KidPresident

A post shared by write on! design (@jenngietzen) on

makers

  • little bit funky: i follow crystal on instagram more than her blog, but her blog is full of fun tutorials & inspiration, too.
  • amanda rydell: amanda is such a fun, local creative. she started be crafty workshops that she hosts here in minneapolis but she also travels to host them around the country, too! her instagram & blog are full of colorful, beautiful ideas & projects.
  • curly girl design: i am such a sucker for leigh’s cards. her way with words & whimsical images spark something in me.
  • the purl bee by purl soho: i mean, just one peek at their site is candy for a creative girl’s eyes! the patterns, yarns, photography…i could (and sometimes do!) get lost in the awesome tutorials & ideas!
  • fresh lemons quilts: faith’s quilts & other projects on her blog are beautiful! this is the quilt that first caught my eye (on instagram, of course), but i was quickly enamored by all of her work. definitely lots of inspiration here for this quilting-wannabe :o)
  • floret: ooooh my…erin can do things with flowers that make my mind race. she & her family plant and harvest field upon field (upon field) of the most unbelievable flowers. and her arrangements – i can’t even go there. you need to check out their website, blog, & instagram feed to soak up all of the overflowing goodness. i have never seen such stunning sweet peas, ranunculus, peonies, & dahlias. nor did i ever know there could be such a diversity of each type, color, & shade of bloom. the image below, from erin’s instagram feed, is just one example of what i’m talking about…

My view this evening. #farmerflorist #dahlias

A post shared by Erin Benzakein – Floret (@floretflower) on

one thing that i am beyond excited to work with next year is lara casey’s power sheets. i learned about them last year and finally jumped in when she launched the beautiful 2015 sheets. after learning a lot this year (you know, things like being true to myself, naming fears…) and desiring to grow in goal setting & tracking – paired with being & diehard list-maker :o) – i am really, really excited to see how the power sheets will help me grow personally & creatively in making what matters most to me & our family happen.

dear beginners, there is a gap.

there is a gap_ira glass

image from 7Plums on etsy

i first stumbled upon this quote from ira glass a few years ago, and it stopped me in my tracks. [side note: i think it’s one of the first things i ever pinned on Pinterest. although the original pin was a different version, a few years may very well = vintage in Pinterest years.]

to this day, i still come back to it regularly. for encouragement, reassurance…and sometimes for a little push. at my core, i am a creative, full of dreams & hope, but i am also a practical realist. as a result, i can easily get caught between the scales of these traits.

at my best, my hopes & dreams cheer me on, and ira’s words are comforting: keep trying new things. you’re not alone! it’s normal that this part is hard. but at my worst, the potential failure, disappointment, rejection, and unmet expectations can be paralyzing. fears loom large, threatening to cast long, dark shadows on my creativity, passions, dreams – everything. i get caught up in ira’s other words: it’s just not that good. a lot of people never get past this phase. it takes a long time (years).

it’s such a normal struggle. not just for a creative – for all of us, in all of our roles.

what i’m learning helps me tip the scales towards hopes & dreams is to be honest with & true to myself. on tough days, i’m learning to acknowledge the fears & even name them (not an easy task). i’m finding that when i know what i’m up against in my mind (fear & doubt’s favorite playground), i can start to knock them down with truth, and i can ask for help & prayer. i’m learning to not push past this part but to instead honor my real feelings. that has been helpful for me in two ways. first, i’m learning to give my real feelings time & space because denying them doesn’t help me grow. second, i’m learning that when i allow myself to feel my real feelings, often i better understand the root of them. as i’ve begun to try to do this more often, i’ve seen some little wins where a past fear or doubt actually motivated me in a positive way to achieve something i once thought was impossible (hello, starting – and re-starting – the blog! hello, writing a post about fears!).

and then, of course, there are the good days. days when i’m humming along jotting ideas, reading blogs & sites that inspire me, trying new things, and dreaming. even those days can get a little sticky here or there, but my perspective is set further ahead. i remind myself of the bigger picture & realize that little bumps are ok – they’re actually part of the adventure.

most importantly, whether it’s a good day or a tougher one, having people who support, encourage, & believe in me makes all the difference. i’m lucky to have people in my life who see & call out of me the potential that i sometimes lose sight of. they hold me accountable, dream with me, cheer me on, and love me unconditionally. being honest with them about my fears helps call out the truth that combats doubt, and wins & growth are that much sweeter to celebrate together.

i have a few more thoughts on this that i’ll follow up with this week, but in the meantime…

do you have some favorite resources that help as you dream & plan? favorite practices or routines?

who are your go-to creative inspirations?

how has having a community/tribe of friends & family helped shape & grow your dreams?

*my friend laura sent me this sweet vimeo version of ira glass’ interview that captures this quote with a visual of a fun overlay of the words. very creative, and it’s great to both see the words and hear ira speaking them.

community, failure, & chocolate chip cookies.

IMG_5670

when dustin and i got engaged, i remember that one of the first things i felt in some of those initial conversations as i shared our exciting news was feeling like i had just gotten invited to a special club. not because of the ring or anything like that, but because as one of the last people to get married in my group of friends, among lots of fun new connections, being engaged allowed me to (finally) be part of the marriage-y conversations. the good, the challenging, the utterly hilarious.

marriage, like all relationships, requires us to be intentional, present, and honest, and having a community to share with and be accountable to has added a richness to our growth as a couple. we are blessed beyond measure to have a community that stretches near and far including friends and groups we meet and share with individually as well as family and friends that we hang out with together. we are also incredibly grateful to have been welcomed together as a couple into a couples small group. we get together monthly at one of our houses for dinner, a considerable amount of laughter, and conversation about marriage, challenges, joys, faith, encouragement.

this month’s dinner was this past weekend, and we had volunteered to bring dessert. i woke up saturday morning super excited to find a new recipe to try, and it didn’t take me long to do so. my search ended when my heart got set on bon appétit’s caramel budinos with salted caramel sauce (“budino” is Italian for “pudding”). they had me at caramel. topped with salted caramel.

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in my glory.

for many kids – i’d go so far as to even say, probably most – growing up is full of backyard adventures, skinned knees, building forts, dress up, and make believe. although i do have a few pretty ridiculous memories along those lines (like alli & i collecting baby frogs from the pond by our house and putting them in our strawberry shortcake toy bin to “play with later”…accidentally leaving a few in our pockets for our mom to wash & dry.), i was in my glory when i was making something with my hands.

little heather cookingmy mom did a fantastic job of involving us in the cooking & baking she did for us. i bet we can create a pretty legit timeline through our childhood out of just the pictures of my mom with us in the kitchen: from bellying up to the counter by standing on the open dishwasher door or a chair to helping with Thanksgiving & Christmas dinners. i imagine that time spent together in the kitchen planted a seed for my love of all things culinary. i soaked up every opportunity i could to learn, taking cooking classes in elementary summer school, practicing with a kids cookbook i adored, and dreaming up my own concoctions.

little heather sewingof course a girl can’t be in the kitchen all the time, and when i wasn’t unveiling some new recipe, i had no end to the crafts i wanted to learn. instead of playing with dolls or dressing up, i would color for hours on end. i adored my little play sewing machine, making crayon shavings “stained glass windows”  and  friendship bracelets, doing cross stitch, and so much more.

many years later, it’s abundantly clear that creating is more than a fun pastime or hobby for me. creating brings me deep joy. it is a way for me to be refreshed and energized, to unwind, and to connect with others – a passion that the Lord knit deep inside of me. being able to dream up new ideas and being inspired by others is a blessing that i am most often at a loss to find words to explain, so having this little space to share it all in as i continue to grow and learn is such a gift.

10 things: 12.2013.

10things_witness

  1. i would love to have a “year of the sock” à la amanda.
  2. dear youtube, thank you for helping me determine that our washing machine was, in fact, broken and for showing me how to fix it so easily!
  3. and then there is this (unfortunately they re-did the video & added annoying extra commentary – skip that part. the little boy is incredible!): 
  4. it took everything in me to not put up our advent calendar the day we got it. this is the first time either one of us has done an advent calendar, and we for sure picked a stellar one – this beauty from naptime diaries. it was my favorite decoration, and it was my very favorite way to end each day.IMG_3747
  5. this month was full of great highs & hard lows…
  6. but through both, we learned deeper value in God’s vision of marriage. and we are so, so thankful.
  7. our little JulieAnne is still rockin’ through the winter, still giving us beautiful lemons. it’s, like, “infinity x ten” times better than a unity candle. and the flowers that are still blooming in december…in minnesota?! our house smells heavenly with the sweetest smelling perfume.
  8. our contribution to christmas eve dinner was, per usual, dessert. we ended up tweaking this gingerbread latte cake with this eggnog buttercream. YUM!
  9. my absolute favorite memory of our first married christmas was christmas morning with just us. it was more special than i imagined it could be.
  10. we got to have a fun new year’s eve night with just the girls while we sent michael & joy to the thunder game. it was our second annual celebration, kicked off with pan-a-cakes for dinner :o)

10 things: 06.2013.

10things_witness

  1. i have the most genuine, thoughtful, loving friends who planned the most fabulous shower & bachelorette parties for me. i was abundantly blessed to start june off surrounded by some of my very favorite people – laughing, introducing them to each other, sharing a meal & stories, and truly being humbled & overwhelmed by their love, joy, & presence. for a never-ending list of reasons, i am truly, truly the luckiest.
  2. our pup turned 10 years old!
  3. on the heels of my work trip to europe, dustin had his two week AT for the Guard. it was unfortunate timing, and as hard as we tried to make the best of it, being away for so long, back-to-back was pretty much killer.
  4. i had so much fun making OK & MN cookies :o)
  5. caroline has a voice that resonates deeply in me. her style of sharing & processing what the Lord is teaching her continues to refresh & challenge my thoughts & perspective. her post, this is a gift, is no exception.
  6. ohmygoodness – the at&t commercials slay me! this one in particular: 
  7. then there was that date night where i was SUPER excited to take my fiancé to man of steel…and i fell asleep. oops?
  8. our CSA pick-up began again! that’s what i call christmas in june!!
  9. i found the perfect fabric for the gabi & piper’s flower girl dresses. eeeek!
  10. we got the sweetest little orchid – i’ve always wanted one. now, to try to keep it alive…

10 things: 05.2013.

10things_witness

  1. i got to do my first dress fitting. i still can’t believe i get to wear such a gorgeous wedding dress!
  2. as hard as it was to be away from d for so long, i was able to spend 10 days in europe for work. it was even more beautiful than i imagined.
  3. while in europe, i got to go on a little adventure! i took a train from germany to belgium to see my cousin & her sweet family for the first time in far too long. of particular importance was getting to meet their sweet Everett who had been born just a few months earlier :o)
  4. another europe highlight: lo & behold, i really did have THE most delicious Belgian waffle ever in Belgium. i don’t use the word “ever” lightly, i promise.
  5. we are absolutely loving the mill city farmer’s market winter market
  6. pre-marital skype dates with mike make my heart so, so full.
  7. my handsome fiancé finished his internship!
  8. we found d’s (3 piece!) suit for a steal.
  9. i was so hopeful that we would avoid dress drama, but the bridesmaids’ dresses are looking like they will be quite delayed :o(
  10. i am so happy to have found a veil! i loved che bella.
    europe2014_collage2

10 things: 04.2013.

10things_witness

  1. d & i started a blog together!
  2. we went to our first hockey game. it was extra special since it was part of dustin’s birthday celebration :o)
  3. we got to spend a whole weekend with eli.
  4. these nanas know what’s what: the 9 nanas
  5. sadly, we have seen too much tragedy lately. i’m reminded over & over again how precious life is. thankfully, in the midst of tragedy, heroes rise up.
  6. we’re finally getting some warm weather!
  7. we got dustin’s wedding band. eeeeek!
  8. we’re at the cake-recipe-testing-invitation-making-suit-shopping stage of wedding planning. so fun!
  9. i’ve said it before, and i’ll say it forever: we have the most wonderful wedding photographer. she sent us a date night package with gourmet popcorn & movie theater tickets!
  10. ohmygoodness: bacio’s french toast.

10 things: 03.2013.

10things_witness

  1. our community is incredibly kind, generous, & encouraging.
  2. i got as close to tears* as i have so far with wedding stuff when the girls picked, to try on, what they ultimately chose as their bridesmaid dress.
    *i get ridiculously happy & excited but, oddly, haven’t cried yet. still baffles me…
  3. it was SO fun to have a whole weekend with alli & joy (even tho i ruined the surprise for joy’s visit).
  4. celebrating dustin’s birthday was such a such a simple, special, fun day. and i get to celebrate him for all of his birthdays for the rest of his life. rock on!
  5. we celebrated my 2nd hospital-free-iversary!
  6. we broke below 100 days until the wedding. eeeeek! :o)
  7. it was our first Easter together. Good Friday at OD, Easter at UR.  so blessed.
  8. all four of the of the celebrations above were wonderfully timed to hit every other day for the last week of the month. such an awesome way to celebrate out of march & into april.
  9. loving this article from shane claiborne: what if jesus meant all that stuff?
  10. we learned that registering is way more draining than we ever imagined. what a well kept secret…