Friday Favs Graphic-01

 

I love a coffee date more than anyone. My love language is definitely quality time so if I get a chance to sit with you uninterrupted and talk for an extended amount of time, I feel we have shared our hearts.

 

In today’s world we can feel like we know people just because we follow them online. Which I think is a dangerous trap for replacing true community, but that is another post for another day. However, the things we can learn from one another and how we can be encouraged to do life and think about how to do life differently than the context of the world we live in all because we get snapshots and a few words on another person from around the world is one of the benefits of our digital world!

 

So, in pursuit of that, of understanding each other and for y’all to get a chance to know me, the artist behind the work, I wanted to start something called Friday Favs. It may not be every single Friday, but pretty regularly I want to hop on here and tell you the things I would be raving to you about if we could sit and have coffee together. Here are my few choices for this week:

 

ELLIE HOLCOMB – Red Sea Road

RedSeaRoad

 

So basically I just can’t stop listening to this girl. Her beautifully raw voice carries an honesty as she sings Truth-filled words like these from the song “Find You Here”:

 

It’s not the news that any of us hoped that we would hear
It’s not the road we would have chosen, no
The only thing that we can see is darkness up ahead
But You’re asking us to lay our worry down and sing a song instead

And I didn’t know I’d find You here
In the middle of my deepest fear, but
You are drawing near
You are overwhelming me, with peace

So I’ll lift my voice and sing
You’re gonna carry us through everything
You are drawing near
You’re overwhelming all my fears, with peace

 

I mean, who doesn’t need some good stuff like that in their lives. All the songs are beautifully written and fill you with joy and bring burning tears to your eyes too because you know what she is saying is truth. Love, love this album so much!! Ellie, please come to Charlotte soon! I need to hear you live!!  Go listen to it here!

 

UNINVITED – Lysa Terkeurst

 

Uninvited

 

Ok, I don’t want to be mean, but I feel like if you haven’t heard of this book by now you might be living under a rock….don’t hate me! Good news, if you are just finding out now, your secret is safe with me. So, I had several women in my life reading this, then a few of our students started reading it and they were all raving about it. So I finally broke down and bought a copy. Bonus, my morning bible study started going through this study with the video and I love it.

 

Why did I wait so long?! Honestly, the thing that kept me from this for so long was the tag line, “Living Loved, When You Feel Less Than, Left Out and Lonely.” I mean, it sounded great, but it just didn’t fit me right now in life. I feel like I don’t get hung up on rejection too much and I have always been of the camp to push on through and not dwell on who likes you and who doesn’t – you can never make everyone happy. However, it has surprised me with how much I like it, identify with it and am learning from it. Also, she doesn’t only deal with rejection in the book.

 

One quote from this week’s lesson has stuck with me:

 

“Don’t let today’s reactions become tomorrow’s regrets.”

 

Man, that’s good! This book has also helped me see how others feel rejected, and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…hidden expectations on someone else will ALWAYS leave YOU hurt and it is NOT the fault of who you are upset with. We simply cannot hold people to unrealistic standards or at the very least, realistic ones that we never communicate to them. Here are two more quotes I love and then I will stop:)

 

“No, it’s not wrong to need people. But some of our biggest disappointments in life are the result of expectations we have of others that they can’t ever possibly meet.”

 

“We must speak with honor in the midst of being dishonored. We must speak with peace in the midst of being threatened. We must speak of good things in the midst of a bad situation. We must be obedient to, trust, and believe God and let Him boss around our contrary feelings.”

 

That! We must let Him boss around our feelings….YES!

 

You can find the book here.

 

WORK + REST – Sermon by Timothy Keller

At the end of last year I started reading Every Good Endeavor by Timothy Keller and wrapped it up last month. I loved this book so much. It is a wonderful read for anyone working in a non-ministry job, where I feel a lot of times we can say, “does my work here matter to the kingdom of God?” And Timothy answers this with a resounding YES! The basic gist is how we can connect our work with God’s work. I couldn’t recommend this book enough!

 

Several of the points that are made in the book are shared in this sermon titled, “Work and Rest.” I loved his explanation of “the work under the work” the thing that we are actually trying to achieve in all our work on the outside. Really good stuff. Keller is the Pastor of Redeemer Church in New York City where a large part of his congregation is made up of hard working, driven people working in the secular world of business, finance, advertising and so on. Keller’s ability to walk with this group of people has provided him with great wisdom in this area which he generously shares with us.

 

 

The sermon is about 40 minutes long, so put in your headphones and listen while you fold laundry or go for a walk this weekend!

 

FRIDAY MORNINGS 

 

This one is totally selfish! At the beginning of this year I prayed about Heather’s Letters and what God wanted me to do with it. As I said in my post on my word for the year I thought maybe He was calling me to give it a rest, to wait. But as I sought Him more it became clear that creating is a HUGE part of who I am and that God was telling me to “go” but that the way I would work would not look like the rest of the world and I would need to make peace with that or give it up.

 

Looking at what what the most important to me and prioritizing, I found the places God had set aside for me to work. Early in the mornings. This goes back to my post on my goals for 2017, but on Tuesdays-Fridays I wake up at 5am to work and get in my quiet time with God before I get my kids up between 7:30-45 each morning. But on Fridays, one of Daniel’s days off (since pastors work on Sunday he takes another day off) I get up and run as fast as I can to the Starbucks by my house and work there for 6 glorious hours all alone!! I know, it probably is not a big deal for some, but since I don’t have childcare those times I get alone are precious and I work as fast as I can to get as much done in that amount of time as possible.

 

And you know what has been cool. I come home TOTALLY refreshed and ready to be mom all weekend, the kids had great quality time with their dad and I’m home before lunch so I only missed a few hours with them. It has been a big win all around! If you are having a hard time finding that time for yourself to spend with God or to do something you love pray about it, God will show you where the time is, OR what you need to cut out to make that time.

 

I know, that was a lot, but you’ve got all weekend to check these things out. Would you share and pin this? When I find something good I want to tell all my people about it!!

 

Have you been into any of these things lately too? I feel like everyone I know is reading Uninvited! Have a happy weekend guys!

 

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“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” – Harry Truman

 

I couldn’t agree more. Once you are done with your formal schooling as an adult the only way you keep growing, learning and trying new things is by educating yourself through books! Basically, it’s your adult continuing ed.

 

One of my goals for this year is to read at least 16 books. I say 16 because I know inevitably there will be some released this year that I must read. But I  want to start with the math of reading a book and a half each month will get me to at least 16. Anything above that is just icing on the cake.

 

Most of the books I read stick to a few areas of life : spiritual, business, leadership, marriage, motherhood, and relationships. I very rarely read fiction but when I hear of a really good story I am known to DEVOUR those books! I’m excited to have two on the list for this year!

 

Here is my 2017 line up in no particular order:

 

Nothing to Prove : Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard – Jennie Allen

The Mingling of Souls : God’s Design For Love, Marriage, Sex and Redemption – Matt Chandler

Every Good Endeavor : Connecting Your Work to God’s Work – Timothy Keller

Parenting : 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family – Paul David Tripp

Alive In Him : How Being Embraced by the Love Of Christ Changes Everything – Gloria Furman

Launch : An Internet Millionaire’s Secret Formula to Sell Almost Anything Online, Build a Business You Love, and Live the Life of Your Dreams – Jeff Walker

Hillbilly Elegy : A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis – J.D. Vance

Chasing Slow : Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path – Erin Loechner

Uninvited : Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out and Lonely – Lysa TerKeurst

The Life Giving Home : Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming – Sally Clarkson

Redeeming Love – Francine Rivers

Tribes : We Need You to Lead Us – Seth Godin

31 Days of Prayer For the Dreamer And Doer – Jen Sprinkle and Kelly Rucker

What’s Best Next : How the Gospel Transforms How We Get Things Done – Matt Perman

To Live Is Christ To Die Is Gain – Matt Chandler and Jared C. Wilson

Celebration of Discipline : The Path to Spiritual Growth – Richard J Foster

 

So that is my starting list. Here are a few others I would LOVE to read if I can fit them in!

Originals : How Non-Conformists Move the World – Adam Grant

Anything : The Prayer That Unlocked My God, and My Soul – Jennie Allen

Missional Motherhood : The Everyday Ministry of Motherhood in the Grand Plan of God – Gloria Furman (This would be a re-read just because it is THAT good!!)

Hands Free Mama : A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters! – Rachel Macy Stafford

These Strange Ashes : Is God Still In Charge? – Elisabeth Elliot

 

And update: I have already finished Every Good Endeavor and LOVED it! I highly recommend this for anyone who feels like working their “normal” non-ministry job is not serving God. You will feel completely differently once you read this – very encouraging!

 

Are there any others I should be adding to the list?

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HeatherI know, you’re thinking, “2017 goals, but January 1 was a month ago?” Yeah, that’s what I used to tell myself too.

 

If I didn’t start a plan, a goal, whatever on the day it was supposed to start then I often felt like why bother? Well, truth is, there is nothing magical about January 1. And, I have been working on each of those goals since then but I have enjoyed the time to simmer on them for about a month and see what is realistic and adjust as I need to. So now, I’m happy to share them with you AND what progress/changes have been made!

 

2017 Goals:

  • 1. Resume 5am wake up calls to work and have morning bible study and prayer time. Wake up at 6am if not working. – I have jumped right back into this routine and loved it! On Tuesday-Friday mornings I am up at 5am and the other mornings except for Saturday I am up at 6. I am getting more focused work done, I feel ready for my day by the time the kids get up and I have been much more consistent in my bible study and prayer! The most important of all.

 

  • 2. Develop a discipleship program to take students through one-on-one. Use while discipling 2 girls during each season of the the year. – So this is cool. After writing this down as one of my goals just a few days later Daniel and I went on our annual day to plan and pray over the student ministry for the year. He didn’t know this was on my heart but I brought it up as an idea of something I wanted us to pursue in discipling our students one-on-one. He jumped right on it and right then and there we created the outline for the entire curriculum! Now just to write it! In looking at the calendar we know this won’t happen for a few more months and won’t be implemented at earliest until the fall, but wow! How cool that it got “in the works” that fast! Also, we adjusted our calendar to how many students to disciple in accordance to the rhythms of the school year, church activities, etc. Yay for progress!

 

  • 3. I will take better care of myself so I can feel rested, filled, healthy and energetic enough to care for everyone else. – Women, amiright?! I wasn’t so bad at this until we had Elliott, and in our busy life it is very easy for me to put myself last intending to serve others well first. So this goal encompasses lots of action steps I hold myself to monthly, weekly and daily such as : exercise, healthier eating, starting a skincare routine, planning restful activities for myself on my sabbath, getting in bed by 9pm each night to get adequate rest, etc. So far, this has gone well, it has still been a struggle, but I don’t feel as drained as I did before so I think a month of making the effort is definitely paying off!

 

  • 4. Continue to work at getting rid of debt and firming up some financial planning for our future. – You know, it stinks when you look at your debt and go “I don’t know if I should be proud or sad that in all of this I didn’t at least get one good vacation or anything.” Ha! Medical bills, and taxes from a horrible job we had in the past that really screwed us over, and my student loan is what we pay on. Nope, nothing fun like vacations, furniture, jewelry or home makeovers. Just boring expensive things like surgeries and taxes. The good news is we are continuing to snowball our way out of all of that so we can do and give more! This is important to us and will be a long on-going goal, but one we are eagerly attacking with a good plan!!

 

  • 5. Read 16 books this year! This is one I am super excited about. It averages out to a book and a half a month. So if I commit to read 30 minutes in bed each night before I go to sleep and use extra minutes reading instead of online or watching TV I can definitely accomplish that maybe even more! My reading list will be posted soon!

 

  • 6. Complete at least 2 house projects a month! – We moved into a house this summer that is amazing in so many ways, but is soooo “not us” style-wise. Because my surroundings are important to me and influence me in my art (and lets be honest, I’m home 24/7 so I need to not hate every paint color and light fixture I see all day) and because we are on a really tight budget (see goal 4! ) and our time is limited I chose 2 per month. That can be as small as finding a new lamp for the nightstand or as big as a room makeover. If I accomplish more than 2 per month then that’s extra awesome! But I figured by the end of the year and will be able to see that I made at the least 24 small changes to make our home feel more like our family’s home and not like somebody else’s anymore. So far I painted the playroom/office and moved around the furniture. We were going to get two more bookcases for toy storage but the budget has bumped that until next month. And I have bought paint for Teague’s room. He is ready to have it done and has been telling me for months “I want a manly room.” Too cute. 

 

  • 7. Workout at least 4x’s a week for at least 30 minutes to build strength, energy and have a stress-relief. – This one goes back to goal 3 – taking better care of myself. I was an athlete all growing up, and I don’t like “exercising” but I like being active! This is one of those areas I used to feel like if I didn’t get in a hardcore workout, dripping with sweat and shaking afterwards then it wasn’t worth it. And that is something I just have to give myself grace on right now. I may not be able to get that kind of workout in  every day but I might be able to put the kids in the stroller and take them on a trail with me for a long walk/run! And that is better than nothing so I am doing what I can, where I can. This has still been a struggle to get 4x’s a week down because during early morning and nap times when a lot of mom’s workout I am working. So I have to get extra creative. How do you guys fit it in? I’m looking forward to doing a better job next month!

 

  • 8. Continue to cultivate a legacy of a healthy, inspiring marriage by having at least one date night out a month, weekly date nights at home and attend at least one marriage conference. – So there’s a lot to this one, and it will be a continual process of planning for us to make all these things happen. So far we have had our weekly “mini date nights” I call them at home. We order food to go from a restaurant, put the kids to bed by 7 and enjoy the evening alone sharing a yummy meal! We had planned to go to a concert this month but tickets sold out before we could get them. But next month with Valentine’s Day and my birthday we will get more than one date night out so that makes up for it. Also, we plan to attend Snowbird’s marriage retreat in the fall and next month we are tuning into The Mingling of Souls Marriage conference simulcast. We are super excited about that one!

 

So this won’t be a forever long post I won’t even worry about January goals at this point and just move right along to February! My birthday month – woohoo!

 

February Goals

Monthly: 

  • Makeover Teague’s bedroom
  • Finish playroom and office makeover
  • Watch Mingling of Souls Marriage Conference simulcast with Daniel (this will take 2 seperate nights).
  • Finish a book and a half! – Reading list coming Friday!!
  • Purchase and begin skincare regimen…because right now its soap and moisturizer.
  • Finalize financial plan and tweak budget
  • Paint our fireplace – this one is of least priority to me, and may get rolled over to March.
  • At least one date night OUT!
  • Order canvases for HL shop – this one I am SUPER excited about!!

Weekly:

  • Mini date nights once a week
  • Work out at least 4x’s a week for at least 30 minutes
  • Planned, refueling and restful sabbath
  • Meet discipleship student at least once a week
  • Blog 2x’s a week – This one takes WAY more time than you would imagine so its hard for me to accomplish.

Daily:

  • Drink at least two of my water bottles a day – it’s this Contigo water bottle that holds 24oz
  • Read at least 30 min a day
  • Work out for 30 minutes – trying for some activity each day but really holding onto that 4x’s a week minimum
  • Skincare Morning + Evening
  • Early to bed early to rise – In bed by 9pm, up by 5am on work days and 6am on non workdays

 

I know, it starts to look like a lot but really so many of these have become habits and rhythms of my days I don’t think about them much. But we can kind of lie to ourselves and think we worked out 4x’s in a week but looking back I realize it only happened twice. So the list holds me accountable and helps me not to waste idle time online or doing something pointless when I have things I really want to do waiting for me. So I glance at this multiple times a day to make sure I am making the best use of my time.

 

Are you a goal setter? I love seeing what people are trying to accomplish and I am hugely inspired by others living on purpose. What are you doing to make that happen this year, or even just this month. If you haven’t thought about it yet, start praying about what God has for you. He will show you for sure. But always hold those plans with a loose grip, He sometimes changes them too.

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The quiet life in this loud world is the good life.

 

As the heat of summer rolled into the beginnings of fall in 2016 the change of seasons began. Kids went back to school, pumpkin spice everything was everywhere and all things fall and holiday planning came into view. I also felt a shift in my heart. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was but I felt it.

 

I didn’t long to draw and build and create because all I wanted was to draw and build and create with my babies. To go to the park instead of mommy needing to squeeze in a little more work and to not have to tell them one more time to please play quietly and let me finish what I didn’t get done during their nap time. I was so done with all the noise! Have you noticed, this world is very LOUD.

 

There was no major life event that caused this, I believe it was a simple but intentional pursuit of God after my heart again. Its like He was slowly leading me away from a busy street and setting me in front of the sea. No more hustle, no more bustle, just less.

 

Simple, quiet and slow.

 

Those were the three words He impressed on my heart one afternoon I forego my afternoon work time while the kids slept and instead felt pulled to just sit and wait for his presence with a cup of coffee as sunlight streamed in the back windows of my house.

 

Simple, quiet and slow.

 

Those words kept rolling around in my head as I consciously and subconsciously made choices to shift my heart and actions towards whatever those words were going to mean in my life. But WHAT did that actually look like? In late December I began digging deep into what God wanted for me in 2017. Part of that is picking a word for the year that will help keep me focused on what God has pressed into my heart.

 

At first, the word “less” came to mind. Less stuff, less noise, less busy. Yes. Less seemed to be a good word for the year. But I wasn’t settled. So I wrote down those three words : simple, quiet, slow. The ones God had been whispering to me for months and I knew it! But which one to pick? Well, “simple” was my word last year and while it could have been the focus for this year too, I was drawn most to the word “quiet”.

 

Now, with two little kids and a slew of teenagers my life is anything but quiet. In fact, when I’m alone in the car these days (which is rare) I usually just enjoy the silence instead of having music on! My life is quite overloaded with noise. But that wasn’t the meaning of “quiet” that I was drawn to. It was the sense of calm and less hustle. Then the verse came to mind,

 

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: you should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anyone.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

 

So then I looked up the definition of “quiet” and one of the definitions was “calm” and a few of the words to describe the opposite were “busy, hectic, hustle”. THIS. This is exactly what my heart had been trying to push away. The busy, hectic, hustle. As I stated before, our life is full of little children, teenagers, families, responsibilities, etc. just like yours so the prospect of my life not being busy on a day to day basis is entirely unrealistic. But if it were only busy with the best things. The good things, that carried eternal weight and value and not the other things that clamor for our attention in this very noisy world? That is what I am after in 2017. The quiet life.

 

Then, beautifully, and as God does, He swept in affirming this call to focus on the quiet life and work with my hands….how perfect for a mother and artist? Thanks God. I was having my morning quiet time studying the Bible and praying the morning of January 16 and what are the verses waiting on me to study? You guessed it. 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. So I did, I tore those verses from limb to limb prying out whatever ounces of wisdom and understanding on this word God is clearly placing on my life for this year. And y’all, it was beautiful. And there is so much to be shared but I will focus just on a few high points here and I encourage you to go dig deeper for yourself.

 

In verse 11 we are told to “lead a quiet life” and this word “quiet” is as much about self-control as anything else. It is about the believer having a calm, peaceable temper as we see in 1 Peter 3:4 “…the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.”  For me, self-control is hardest when I am over-stressed, overworked, and feel like the demands keep coming at me like arrows one after another.

 

I read that the quiet life is one whose soul rests easy even in the midst of difficulty. Yes, Lord. That is what I want. If I am a busy body as talked about in the second half of verse 11 my life is characterized by not having control over myself or a peaceable, quiet spirit that God intends for me.

 

While tearing apart these verses I was using my Matthew Henry commentary and he said this of controlling one’s spirit:

 

“A true Christian’s main concern lies in the right controlling and commanding of their own spirit (Proverbs 16:32). Where the hypocrites’s work ends, the true Christian’s work begins.”  – Matthew Henry

 

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”                  – Proverbs 16:32

 

Those are strong words, but man, they are good!

 

The second part of verse 11 is the command to, “work with your hands.” As an artist, I love this. But what is God really getting at with this? Basically, He is referring back to those busy bodies again. Those who are being busy meddling in other’s lives are not working as diligently as they should be in their calling and therefore, have very little quiet in their life. There it is. Do the work God has called you to do, work at it without worrying what anyone else is doing and you will reap the quiet life God wants for us AND we will have the respect of those who aren’t Christian’s for the work we do, the quality of our character and we will be able to support ourselves from that focused work (v.12).

 

It is easy to relate this verse to those people that kind of make our lives miserable because they won’t get their noses out of our business, but lets first examine our hearts. Maybe you are that busy body in 1 Thessalonians, good news, in those verses God tells you how to stop being that way and what to pursue instead! Secondly, you may be sitting here like me and saying, thank God that’s not me! Personally, that is an area that I thankfully don’t struggle with very much. If anything, I am maybe too content to not know what is going on in everybody else’s lives. I guess that’s what you get being raised with all brothers and all boys on your street growing up! I’m pretty no nonsense and anti-drama.

 

But in this world of being able to watch each others lives quite literally online all day long aren’t we just becoming that busy body that has to know what people are doing? I mean, do you have that person or those few people that you follow online and you are just dying for their next post, video, blog, whatever? Either as a fan or because you love to hate them and are waiting for them to trip up? Or maybe you just make sure to check at least once a day to “see what the world is up to?” I’m guilty on that one. When we are spending our time – minutes and hours of our lives – keeping up with the Jones’ online whether personally or in business, we are wasting time and energy we should be pouring into our own good work God has set before us. That in turn robs us of energy, time, creativity, confidence, and wait for it…money. Yep. You rob yourself of so many good things when you are so worried about what everyone else is doing!

 

The quiet life in this loud world is the good life.

 

The quiet digging, plodding along at our own good, God-assigned work for His glory reaps many rewards for you because it is God’s design for you. Will you, will we submit our spirit to a life like this, or will we continue to chase the next piece of gossip, headline or post to make sure we won’t miss anything? In reality when we live like that, we miss the good stuff, that soul satisfying good stuff that will matter eternally. These verses have spoken life into me personally, in business and ministry for this year. After wrestling with this thought for months God has uncovered in layers what this will look like for me and recently has given me a specific vision for my year ahead. I am so excited about all of it, and that this work God has given me is unique to me and my gifts, and my limitations in life currently. So I have decided my small creative business will stay very small. That my work won’t look like or compete with everyone else’s and that is ok!

 

Because instead of trying to play by the world’s rules of when I should be making this or that, when to release products, what kinds of things I should be putting out there, I get to make and release and put out exactly what God leads me to and His opinion is the only one that matters. And I am confident if I follow this path, trust in the Truth of His Word I will look back when I’m 80 and be satisfied that I didn’t waste what I was given and cannot get back. This year won’t be perfect, but it will be purposeful. And quiet. And I hope the same for you! Blessings today, friends!

 

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