Thursday, July 7, 2016

Snatches for Your Story - Vol. 3

As promised, and just a tad bit late, here are 7 snatches to aid you in living out your wonderfully amazing summer story...
1 - Carve out a time on your calendar to put your life on pause. It's so good for us to rest. And be still. Escape the noise of the world for just a week, or just a day, or even just a moment - to be still & hear God's whispers. (Psalms 37:7) This is what we were able to do the past few weeks - go on vacation and simply rest. It was the most wonderful vacation ever.

We need times of rest so we can refuel and recharge for our times of productivity. It's all about balance. So promise me you'll take some to go within and reacquaint yourself with that still inner voice. Your whole story will become clearer when you do.πŸ•Š


2 - I hope you have been able to sketch out the beginnings of your summer story. But if not, it's never too late. Today I want you to carve out a space of time on your calendar to go to the stillness and evaluate how your summer story is unfolding. Your summer is just too precious to let it slip by without direction.

For a simple, two step framework, visit this post. A time of rest and stillness may be the best gift you give yourself this month, trust me! We all need a period of peace to reflect on where we are and where we going.

And most importantly, I hope you will reach out to me and share your summer story updates. Each of you are so important and if I can be a listening ear, or someone to bounce ideas off of, or an encourager on your journey in any way, I would be most honored.

I have loved reading about your stories and I look forward to hearing from more or you. Because I want to travel this journey together. Let's not journey alone, my friends.πŸ’—

3 - Are you convinced yet?πŸ•Š Maybe these words will help:

"We are constantly in cycles of expansion and contraction. It is natural and healthy. It is vital that we are balanced in this way, growing, creating and expressing, then internalising, hibernating, rejuvenating ready to come out again for more expansion. Like nature moves in cycles, so we too are moving in cycles.

"Problems arise when we think we should be in constant expansion and attempt to live that way - doing more, getting more, being more, attaining, achieving, creating, mastering, speaking, moving, making... there must be counter cycles to this. WHY? Because the magic does not just happen in the expansive times in your life...

"The magic is BREWED UP in the contraction phases...when you are resting, when you are retreating, when you are on vacation, when you are quiet, when you are with your family, when you are in nature, when you are reflecting, when you are learning, when you are meditating... all these hibernating, internalising, retreating moments are the times when you recalibrate...

"There is something special that happens in the pauses, the gaps in between, that allows the spaces to then be filled with what you do, create and expand into. "It's like the gaps in a song, the dramatic pause before the next note sounds...

"Make like nature...ride these cycles with grace, in and out, up and down, outward and inward, creating and retreating, expressing and reflecting."  Wise words indeed from Bernadette Logue

 
4 - A quote to guide you:
"While I have learned that dreams need doing as much as they need being, I have learned that the being always comes first. 
"Today is a day for being. Be with those you love, be kind to yourself. Be quiet and call forth the dream you buried long ago. The ember is still glowing in your soul. See it in your mind, hold it tenderly in your heart." 
-Sarah Ban Breathnach

 5 - Just a gentle thought for a gentle morning (or evening). It does one good to step off the busy escalator of life for a few days and take a slight detour onto the road less traveled...the slow and simple path.


6 - "Lord, slow me down for a few moments today to make sweet memories with those I love most." -Suzie Eller

It seemed that every day of our vacation was restful and perfect, but one night was truly idyllic. It's not often that I get to sit in the quiet of a summer evening and watch my children play with their dad all sorts of made-up games - like a football toss, rocks dropping through the cracks competition, card games, and horseback riding. We ended the evening with a late night movie at this tiny, quaint drive-in. Something empty in me was filled that night and all I feel is sublime contentment.

7 - Give yourself the gift of permission today: 

"Rest is hard for me. I don't really know why. It's just hard to be still and let God love me. Being productive gets more kudos and offers less guilt. I know that's not a very Godly perspective but isn't it the honest truth? How often do people walk by you sitting on a porch or laying on the couch and say, "Good for you girl!! Look at you resting and relaxing. I'm so impressed with how great you are at just being still; letting God be God.πŸ™‹πŸΌWell, I've appointed myself to be that girl for you today. Go sit down and take a break. Take a deep breath. Read a book. Close your eyes and do nothing, if that's what you need most. Even just 10 minutes would be impressive. Don't feel guilty or like you don't have time. You do. You're worth it. God is inviting us to come; holding out His hand and offering a permission slip for a guilt-free rest. πŸ’•Let's do it. Can you hear me applauding your new found amazing ability (i.e. attempt) to rest??!! πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌ"

These are wise words from @reneeswope and I wholeheartedly echo her words. Let me be that girl for you today too! How will you choose to rest in the stillness?

Friday, July 1, 2016

My Story Updates


Have you had the chance to sit in the stillness and reflect on how your summer story is progressing? We just returned from a week-and-a-half long vacation. The mountain cabin gave me an idyllic space in which to just rest and ponder on my own story. I must admit, June was a flurry of activity with not much time to relax, so this vacation was just the prescription I needed to refocus my priorities and realize just what is important for me and my family. But, you don't need a mountain cabin or a week-long vacation to take time out to rest and recharge. Even just an hour to yourself at a park or in the quiet of your bedroom can work wonders for rebalancing.

In my last post, I suggested a few questions to guide you in evaluating the progress of your summer story. If you missed it, you can read it here.

And then I promised you an update to my own summer story. Not surprisingly, my summer story is not unfolding exactly as I had imagined. But stories are never like that, are they? There are always twists and turns that add excitement and drama. Most of this past month has been exactly what I thought it would be - our farmhouse was finally started (albeit much later than I hoped); we enjoyed vacations with family; I have begun my guided journaling practice; been feverishly working on the launching of my summer collections (which should happen next week, I promise!); and the acceptance and enjoyment of just where we are here in the middle house. But what didn't happen was the intentional pauses of peace to rest and soak in the words of beautiful books. This one was unfortunately pushed to the back burner nearly every single day, and when I tried to sit down to read, my mind was still racing a hundred miles an hour preventing my focus. I could feel that living this way was draining, but I couldn't seem to balance the activity with the rest. So, for the past week, all I have done is relax, ponder, read, plan, and make meaningful family memories. {If you struggle with striking the right balance, stay tuned for tomorrow's snatches.}

In all this, I see the Lord's hand shaping this summer into the very best story for me. It's been less about what I have done, and more about who I am. The Lord is teaching me how to find the very best rhythm for my peak performance, and how to appreciate (instead of downplay or criticize) my natural strengths. An unexpected tender mercy, to be sure.

From here on out, I trust the Lord with the unfolding. Much is unknown, but with bright faith, I trust that the Lord will work out the details. He is always so good - in both the storms and the sunshine. My focus for July will be on adventure (preparing for our little baby, launching my collections and new blog design, one last getaway for my husband and I before the baby, preparation for the new adventure of homeschooling we will be starting this Fall, instilling good and healthy habits for my life, and farmhouse designing. It will be busy to be sure, but I'm not going to let the busyness get the best of me this time around. I am committing to a balance of doing and being. As for August, our baby will come and so my focus will be on stillness, rest, and enjoying each moment with my precious children.

What will your focus be for the next two months? I'd love to hear how your story is evolving. Feel free to email me or comment below, my friends, because your story matters!

Also, to celebrate this 4th of July weekend (from now through Monday, July 4th), I am offering an exclusive sale in my etsy shop! With code: JULY40 you can receive a 40% discount on anything in my shop (including all prints, thank you card bundles, AND custom orders!!) This will be my biggest sale of the year, so if you've been eyeing something special for your home or for a gift, now would be the perfect time to hop on over! Click here to see my inventory!

Signing off until tomorrow...

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Ending Your June.

Dear Friends,

Do you realize that after today, there are only 5 more days of June? I hope that this month you have been able to sketch out the beginnings of your story. Have you had the chance to sit down and write your answers to the questions I posted at the beginning of June?

If you have, the next few days will be a perfect time to reflect and refocus on where you are going this summer. If you haven't had a moment to sit down and jot down your summer story in your journal, it's not too late. It's never too late. Right now is the perfect moment to begin whatever your heart is calling you to do.

So in these last few days of June, I want you to carve out a time in your calendar to "escape" and go within. Maybe you'll carve out a slice of time to go somewhere daily - perhaps out in nature or in a quiet place of your home. Or maybe it works better for you to set aside a whole day for stillness and rest. Or maybe you'll be fortunate enough to leave on a 5-day hiatus to really get away from it all. No matter which option you choose, make sure it works best for you and your situation, because all three are perfect for the inner work you will be doing. So, pick up your calendar right now and schedule it in. Your story is too important not to.

Now that you have your time of rejuvenation inscribed in your calendar, all you need is an agenda for what to do while you are in the stillness. So let me give you a framework. 

1.  Don't do anything. Simply be. Take some time to just breathe. Maybe this will be all you do and that's okay. Or maybe, after being still for a time, your heart and mind will clear, and you will be ready for deeper reflection.

2. Reflect on how your summer story is unfolding. (And if you haven't had the chance to write down a synopsis of your summer story, now is the perfect time to do just that.) 

A few questions to guide you:
-Is your story being written in the way you thought it would?
-How do you see the hand of the Lord shaping your story (whether your summer is going according to plan or not)?
-Where can you extend grace to yourself?
-How will you rely on the Lord and trust Him more during the rest of your summer?
-Where will you go from here?
-With just two summer months left, what more do you want to write in your story?
-What will you subtract from your days so you have more time to do the things that really matter?
-What will be your focus for July?
-Where will you place your focus for August?

Will you commit to do this heart-searching with me?

To follow my journey of Stillness over the next 5 days, follow me on Instagram where I will be posting snippets to guide you for these last few days of June. My Instagram handle is @writinginthestillness.

(If you aren't on Instagram, don't worry. I will do a summary of my posts next Saturday for volume 3 of "Snatches for Your Story.")

And sometime this next week I will post here snippets of my answers to the questions above. Because I want to travel this journey together, with you. And I would absolutely love for you to comment or email me your summer story updates. Each of you are so important and if I can be a listening ear or just someone to bounce ideas off of or an encourager of your journey in any way I would be most honored. Let's not journey alone, my friends. 

I have so enjoyed reading the stories of those of you who have reached out to me and I look forward to hearing from more of you. So please reach out - I will respond to each and every comment and email. 

May you have the most restful weekend.

Love,
Jamie



Sunday, June 19, 2016

Snatches for Your Story - Vol. 2

It's Sunday, and I may be a day late, but yesterday we had the most wonderful Mission Reunion commemorating 10 years since my parents came home from their mission in Portugal. Such a rekindling of friendships, reminiscing of memories, and feeling of the Spirit.

So today, if I might gift you with inspiration in living out your summer story, here are 7 snatches for your story:

1 - This is how I feel every day. So inexplicably amazed at all the Lord has done and continues to do for me. I want to praise His name all the day long for His goodness and yet, it wouldn't be enough. No matter how hard I try (and fail), I can never repay His kindness.

And this sort of gratitude? It's the secret to living the most satisfying story.

2 - We just can't seem to stay away from our wheat field. Even though we haven't started our farmhouse yet, still it draws me like a magnet. And when we drive back to the Middle House, it feels as if we're going the wrong direction...like we're leaving our home.

Sometimes the beginning of new stories can feel disconcerting like this. But if we keep turning the pages and living out each day in the way the Lord guides, the unsettling feelings will someday be replaced with peace, joy, and a feeling of home. It just takes putting one foot in front of the other - day after day, moment after moment. We take it step by step and are guided by the Lord line upon line. It's not the instant way that we are so used to in this digital age, but it's the way the Lord intended us to live out our lives.

3 - This is such a fine mantra for a Monday, {or any day of the week for that matter.} Sometimes Mondays can hit like a ton of bricks after a restful, soul-satisfying Sabbath.

Last Monday, when I woke up feeling all out of sorts, the Lord led me to Jeffrey R. Holland's last general conference address: "Tomorrow the Lord will do Wonders Among You." It was just the dose of hope I needed to press on through the week. 

So tomorrow, when Monday weighs ever so heavy, let's repeat this mantra to ourselves and dedicate this week to J O Y!!


4 - On those days when you want to give up on your story before it's really even begun, just remember and repeat: "Hope on. Journey on." Hope and perseverance are mighty powerful when combined.

And if we look for the rays of summer sunshine each and every day, the Lord will bless us with eyes to see His miracles all around. Who and what brings summer sunshine to your story? The more you notice, the sunnier your days become.

{This photo is a close-up of the two prize prints from the giveaway I hosted last week on Instagram. I've had such a lovely time adding splashes of watercolor to my new products!! (P.S. These two prints will be available in my new summer collections that will soon be launching!!)🎈Stay tuned.}

5 - Whatever your story is, know this: it is significant. With such a royal heritage, how could you be anything but extraordinary?

Consider that your gifts, your nudges, your callings, your longings, your very life originate from your Heavenly Father. He is light - and all the good we do, and all the good we are - are reflections of His light.

View your life story in this light, and it changes everything. You start to feel as if you, yes you, are a glory-bearer for your God.


6 - As I mentioned above, gratitude changes everything. So let's take it one step further and choose someone to thank. There are so many people surrounding us with love each day and offering bits of heaven to our ordinary lives. It wouldn't take but a minute to express our appreciation for them.

And today, I must THANK YOU X 1000!!! I am truly humbled at the growth in this little community & shop - we've reached over 1000 followers on Instagram. To celebrate I've added to the shop something I've been hoping to for a long time -- ✨THANK YOU CARDS!!✨

{You can purchase these cards in a bundles of 10. They are the newest listing in my shop and you can find them by clicking on the etsy link in my sidebar. Thank you again my sweet friends. You are truly amazing! Thank you for your support, love, and encouragement. I can't tell you what it means to me. ❌❤️❌❤️X1000‼️}


7 - The last snatch is rightfully directed towards fathers, for today is Father's Day. But maybe we can try to make it always Father's Day in our hearts by the way we treat and love our fathers, our husbands, our brothers, our sons, and most importantly, our Heavenly Father. Elder Robert L. Backman has said:
"Father is the noblest title a man can be given."
I believe this to be true. Isn't it miraculous to think that of all the titles our great and marvelous God could be called, He has asked us to call him Father? It is such an endearing, humbling thought. And even more, He has gifted men the sacred privilege to have the very same role here in mortality. How grateful I am to my own father who exemplifies my Heavenly Father so well. It's so easy for me to imagine the love of my Heavenly Father because I have felt and feel every day, the love of my own earthly father.

And my husband continues the legacy of righteous fatherhood. Loyal. Trustworthy. Honest. Faithful. Diligent. Dedicated. Steadfast. Obedient. These are just a few of the words that describe my sweetheart husband, the father of my children. Forever will just not be long enough...

May we reach out to the fathers in our lives and express to them the poignant feelings of our hearts.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Snatches for your Story - Vol. 1

It's Saturday, a perfect day to try something new. I'd love to create a weekly compilation of little bits of wisdom to encourage you in the living out of your story. So, without further ado, enjoy these 8 little snatches...

1 - If you are worried to step into the story of your summer because of those imperfect details in your near or faraway past, don't linger there. 

Say yes to "now" and this summer and all that awaits you. Trust that because of the Savior's grace, you are creating a beautiful whole.


2 - This view. I can't even believe it.

We mapped out where to place our house in this waist-high wheat field this past week. This will be our view out back and the front view is equally breathtaking.

The little ones just played and played and played. I can't believe I am finally witnessing what I have envisioned for so long playing out before my very eyes. For three years I've had these visions of my children running through wheat fields and me following close behind with a camera.

The best part? The story's just beginning...
What story will you be starting this summer?

3 - Quiet confidence and the Spirit of Christ.  It's just what we all need for our summer story to run smoothly.

Let us make this our intention every day of this lovely summer. To pray for, breathe in, and live out this quiet confidence for the future that the Lord has prepared for us. Because it will be glorious. And even when the days are dark and stormy, we can still exude the quiet confidence that we trust that everything will always and forever work out for our eternal good.


4 - And sometimes you just need a couple of delicious playdoh cupcakes affectionately made by your best friend.

There are little gifts all around us each and every single day. They come in the form of sunsets and shapes in the clouds and blooming roses, and pictures from children and smiles of passing strangers. They come in the form of your favorite lilac scent hovering in the air when you walk to your car or the lyrics you needed in a church hymn. And sometimes they even come as playdoh cupcakes. However they come and whatever form they take, it's Heavenly Father who sends them. And when we recognize these little things as heavenly gifts, our life stories flourish with gratitude and happiness.

5 - One key to creating a successful summer story is to have a special place where you can go to rejuvenate and refresh. I like to have several such spots in the summertime -- the gray velvet chair in my bedroom, a shady spot in the backyard, the picturesque temple grounds.

Remember too that you can escape to anywhere in the world within the corridors of your mind. I make it a habit to set aside just a few minutes a day where I can practice deep breathing and creative visualization. It works wonders.

6 - P.S. It's always a good idea to have a little satchel for your happy place filled with all the things you love. All those books you've been meaning to read if you ever could find a sliver of peace. All those little creative projects or thank you cards or journaling you've been hoping to carve out time for.

Once it's packed, it will always be ready at a moment's notice for the planned happy place times as well as the unexpected pockets of time when you're at the park or watching the kids play outside.

{And in case you were wondering, the contents of my bag change quite frequently, but right now my little denim bag is filled with my journal, Simple Abundance by Sarah ban Breathnach, The Child Whisperer by Carol Tuttle, and a guided journal by @charissasteyn}



7 - What thought will you snatch and hold onto today? It could be a wondrous day in this summer story of yours...

8 - This little boy came into my story nearly 7 1/2 years ago but I'm not sure where the time has gone. This was the last picture I snapped right before my husband pulled out his two front teeth.

I smile to think of all that I have become because of my sweet 2nd son. He graced my life with peace and stillness from the second he was born. He is my little ocean of calm, and yet he has an ever-present playful side that shines all the time. He's taught me patience and enabled my unconditional love to grow to higher heights. 

One thing I know: I couldn't live without him. 

Pause for a moment today and think of at least one special person in your life. What have they taught you? Who have you become because of their presence in your life story? Take a moment and tell them just how much they mean to you.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Best Way to Start your June...


Summer is here - are you ready for what's coming?

Can you hear it? The birds crescendoing their melodious chorus every morning.

Can you smell it? The tangibly sweet yellow sunshine dancing in the air.

Can you feel it? The warmth cascading from the top of your head down to your pretty painted toenails.

Can you taste it? The sugary tang lingering all around.

I know you can see it - the pastel colors of the fading spring exploding into vibrantly rich rainbow hues.

Summer is bursting with possibility and it's all yours for the taking. The question is, will you snatch this summer with both hands and savor the story you will create?

Do you feel like this summer is calling you to step into a new story - one of change and growth? I sure do, and I'm sure you do too. Our stories may look different, but the principles are the same. If you're ready to embrace this summer with open arms and delve into the transformation that can be yours, please come along.

Lysa TerKeurst said, "Real freedom won't occur with just an external relocation. It requires a complete internal renovation."

This summer we will be building our Farmhouse and externally relocating sometime this Autumn. But I know without a doubt that even with a change of location, the real renovation will take place in the depths of my heart. There are places I need to travel inwardly - there is shaping that must happen. I don't know where the journey will take me, but I know where to start. It's right here. Right now. 

This journey requires wholehearted acceptance of my story just the way it is. This little, old rental house; the mess all around me; the imperfect, unfinished projects pleading for my attention; the waiting. Yes, I need to embrace the awkward living of this middle place. Because here I will experience such wondrous adventures: the growing and birth of my little baby boy; the expansion of my little shop to include two brand-new summer collections; the simple, summer magic of restful family vacations and peaceful memories; the quieting of my to-do list to explore my heart through guided journaling; the intentional pauses of peace to soak in words of cherished scripture and fresh books.

The hours may not be long enough to complete the hundreds of tasks I have. My eyes may be bleary with insufficient sleep. My body may be slow in this last trimester of pregnancy. But I will keep walking this journey. And when I come to the other side of the summer, perhaps it will all be clear. Maybe this fuzzy little caterpillar will have changed into a beautiful butterfly.

So, now it's your turn. 
  • Where will your summer story take you? 
  • What do you need to accept to begin your journey?
  • List out exactly where you are right now and all the good and the bad and the terrifying that you will have to embrace in order to flourish.
  • And lastly, what wondrous adventures lie within the pages of your very own summer story?


Whatever lies in store for us this summer, one thing is for sure. Our stories will sing of heart changes and transformation. All we need to do is take the first step and say "yes."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

{And now for a just a bit of housekeeping:}
  1. My blog is going to be completely transformed in the next few weeks and all of you dear subscribers will be offered a free gift for being my loyal readers.
  2. My writing focus is being streamlined to better inspire and encourage you to discover your unique story and live it to the fullest.
  3. My etsy shop will soon have a page here where you can see all my available products.
  4. I will be launching my new Summer Line of products into my shop within the next few weeks. There will be two fabulous collections that will include watercolor, summer greeting cards, 8x10 prints, journals, and a few little embellishments. I am almost finished curating these collections and I just can't wait to show them to you!
  5. If you haven't already, please subscribe here so you don't miss out on any of the new changes and exciting surprises.
  6. If you haven't already, please follow me on Instagram or Facebook where I will be hosting several summer giveaways featuring my products along with darling creations from some of my favorite handmade makers.
  7. If you would ever like to reach out to me, please feel free to leave me a comment below or email me directly (writinginthestillness@gmail.com) and I will write you back. If you need a friend or an encourager for this summer story you are living, I'm here for you!! So please don't hesitate to reach out. I'd love to connect with you!!!

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Christ-Centered Home

With the celebration of Mother's Day yesterday, it's natural for mothers to enter this new week wondering where to go next. With cards and flowers, breakfasts in bed and little homemade gifts, our hearts are renewed to continue strong in our mothering journeys. And yet, we desire to be just a little bit better; we long to make a greater difference in our children's lives. We fully realize our role as homemakers is to be the heart of the home and create an atmosphere of love, peace, and refuge for our families. And yet, does it ever feel a bit daunting when we consider just how to accomplish this?

May I suggest a little book that might help?

"The Christ-Centered Home" by Emily Belle Freeman


I have dearly loved every book by Emily Freeman, but this one is my new favorite. With her gift of weaving stories and ideas into practical life lessons, Emily invites us on a 12-month journey to center our homes on our Savior, Jesus Christ.

In addition to inspirational stories and scriptures, each chapter includes journal questions for introspection and a lesson to teach our families (complete with a conversation, a connection activity, and a celebration treat to make together).

This book came at just the right time for me - in this transition phase of renting a little home while building our farmhouse. I've been searching for a way to unite my family and provide some sort of stability for them in this bit of upheaval. My answer is clear - I must create a Christ-centered home. Because it is only through Him that we will find the peace and stability we all seek in this ever-changing world with its continual trials. As I've taken the time to read, my cup has been filled with joy and resolve to reclaim my position as homemaker and home-changer. I hope that throughout this year, my family will feel a noticeable shift in the atmosphere of our home and by next Mother's Day, our hearts will be knit together in Christ.

Perhaps one of my favorite quotes from the book is this:


This is how I feel every. single. day. I feel to rejoice with all my heart for all of the ordinary and spectacular miracles He grants me each day. The tender mercies never stop raining down upon me, and the more I notice them, the more I find. Heaven has not forgotten me and heaven has not forgotten you. I hope that with the start of this new week you will feel how very much your Heavenly Father loves you and your family. He wants you to succeed and receive all the glorious blessings He has prepared for you. And if you seek for His grace, you will surely find it.

With love for all of you,

Your friend,
Jamie