INSPIRE: The Beauty of An Ordinary Life

Hello, readers of Scribbles from Emily! I’m so honored to be here with you today. Thank you, Emily, for giving me this awesome opportunity and for trusting me with your online space.

The overarching theme of my blog is intentional living. More specifically, it’s where I share my own journey to live a more intentional life, because the good Lord knows that I don’t have it all figured out yet. So, I don’t write to sound like an expert; I write as a friend who has invited you over, sits across from you at my kitchen table, and just talks about what it means to live life on purpose.

So, friend-to-friend, let me paint you a picture of what my life as a full-time, stay-at-home mama to a 4-and-a-half-year-old Little Man looks like {and, if you’re a fellow SAHM – or work from home mom – this will probably look all too familiar}:

spilled milk, Legos and Lincoln Logs, loading the washing machine, Hot Wheels cars, unloading the dishwasher, picking up clutter, paying bills, stepping on toys, clothes in washer sour {left them in too long – oops!}, The Avengers {you know… Thor, Hulk, Iron Man…}, picking up more clutter, loading the dishwasher…

You get the point, right?

My life, by the standard of most people, would seem boring… ordinary… mundane. All those words that can mean “blah”. And I wouldn’t say that I could blame them for feeling that way because, I admit, most days I’m not thrilled with my life either. I mean, I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but I don’t exactly get an adrenaline rush every time I throw a load of clothes in the washer or have to play Legos for the umpteenth time.

But as uneventful as my life may seem, there is so much beauty to be found in it… IF I know what to look for: After all, the toys that cover my floor are proof that an active, growing, creative little blessing calls this place home, too. For some reason God thought me trustworthy enough to place him in my care… and I’m so thankful!

The mountain of dirty laundry and the stacks of yet-to-be-washed dishes in the sink are proof that we have more than enough clothes to dress ourselves and more than enough food to fill our bellies. We have been blessed with more than some people dare to dream of.

This life I live may not be glamorous or impressive and I’m not likely to win any awards or receive many verbal accolades, but I am a blessed woman. And because of that, I have a choice to make: Will I join society and scoff at my life? Or will I intentionally seek out and take note of the things that make my life beautiful? Will I also actively pursue ways to cultivate beauty in my home? Through décor, sure, but also through things like: the way I arrange our dinner on the plate or how complex my son and I can build a Lego tower.

So, this is my challenge to you… to us: let’s look for and appreciate the beauty within our days and then intentionally pursue ways to cultivate even more beauty in our lives, as well. If we will do this, we’ll find that our life isn’t as boring or ordinary as we might have originally thought and that we already have more than we could ever need.

Life doesn’t get more beautiful than that!

God Bless,

Alana Taylor is, first and foremost, a sinner saved by the grace of God.  She is a twenty-something full-time wife, mama, and homemaker, living in central Alabama with two of her favorite guys: her hubby and her four-year-old Little Man.  Her biggest passion is to creatively pursue a life of intention, as well as to encourage and equip like-minded women to do the same.  With her faith as the foundation of her message, she talks about how intentional living impacts everything about our lives, from the big things {such as motherhood and stewardship} to the seemingly small things {like decorating/organizing our home and getting dressed each morning}. 

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Emily here, thank you so much for sharing your heart with us, Alana! Even though I don’t have children to pick up after, I can relate to feeling like my life is mundane and blah. Your story was a blessing and encouragement to me.

What about you, readers? Can you relate? How you you find beauty in the everyday? Share your thoughts with us in the comments! 

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Confidence Challenge: The Year So Far

It’s hard to believe that this year is now halfway over. I took a look back at my New Year’s Resolution, summed up with the word: Confidence.

I want confidence. Confidence that doesn’t come from what job I have or what I can produce, but in who God made me. Confidence that no matter what happens, He has a plan for me and is working all things for good, even the things that seem like mistakes or detours to others…and myself. 

I also wrote a list of ten goals for the year that I tried to revisit and re-write every week. It’s a tip I learned to help you accomplish more since they will probably go through changes from the first of the year to December. My goals for the year in January were:

  • Launch a business that I was working on at the time with two co-partners
  • Get published
  • Run a 5K
  • Get my closet down to 100 items
  • Pay off a school loan
  • Guest post on 3 blogs
  • Quit Target
  • Redesign Scribbles
  • Finish the church flyer and my quilt
  • Make art
So much has changed in six months. As of June,
While I’ve met many of those goals, and many more I’ve made throughout the last six months, I wonder how I’m doing on my overall resolution – growing in confidence. 
Dealing with failure and rejection has helped me grow in confidence. For example, when the business partnership didn’t work out, I went through a period of self-doubt, but I was also determined to try again on my own. Bleu Feather Paper Co. doesn’t have people breaking down the (virtual) door yet, but I have learned so much in the process of setting it up, creating the brand, marketing, and trying to find what works. For example, you’ll find out via the next newsletter that there’s been some important pricing adjustments.
I’ve been rejected for a several jobs that I thought I was a great fit for, without even an interview. That really struck a blow at my confidence at first. I wallowed a little, thinking I wasn’t good enough for anyone, but instead of letting that last for months, I decided to proactively work on getting more experience so that I could be a better contender. 
Interviews are a great way to work on your confidence, as it turns out! After all, you’re selling yourself, your skills, and the potential benefit to your employer. I’ve had two interviews this month, and while at first I felt a little like I was faking it, now I do feel more confident in my abilities. 
And I can tell more changes are on the way for the next six months. For one, I’m very excited to announce that I am now an intern for Sage Grayson! My first day is July 1st, and I will be helping her with social media, scheduling, and graphic design. I know I’m going to learn a lot from Sage, and I’m glad that I’ll be able to use my skills to free her up to focus on coaching and writing.
From right here, I can see the beginnings of many possible paths for the future. Who knows what the next six months will bring?!

“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).”

I’m deeply grateful that God knows the plans He has for me, and it’s all under His control, not mine!

I’m also deeply grateful for all the love you guys show me through your faithful reading and sweet comments. Thank you so, so much for being here!

Did you make New Year’s Resolutions? How are you doing on keeping them? Share your progress in the comments!

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Why Fair Trade Matters to Me, By Mercy Ink

foot washing guatemala

One day last October I walked down a long, dusty road into a poor Guatemalan village to wash the dirt off little feet. As the children came through the line, one by one, the grime was washed off their shoeless feet and replaced with a new, clean pair of TOMS shoes.

 

shoe drop guatemala

When Emily asked me to share why fair trade matters to me, it didn’t take much thought to bring me right back to these little feet. TOMS shoes is one example of a company that not only produces fashionable products in fair working conditions, but goes a step further to give back to the very people who have so often been exploited by fashion: the poor and destitute of third world countries.

 I’ve shared before on my blog that I definitely do not have this fair trade thing down 100%. I am a mother with not only myself to shop for, but three little ones that grow quickly and change sizes often. It’s certainly not simple and my life would definitely be easier if shopping fair trade did not matter to me. As Emily has written about here and last week at my place, learning to shop ethically is a process and involves intentional decisions and hard choices.

 And yet thinking of my own three little people really makes fair trade matter that much more: when I think of how our life might look if we weren’t born in this country, if I had to make the choice to starve or send my children to work in degrading and abusive conditions for next to no money. Fair trade matters because children matter, because people matter and the work of their hands matters and has value that is worth a fair wage.

I also cannot escape the Biblical mandates for ethical treatment of workers, the poor, and orphans:

You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. (James 5:3-4)

Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees,to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. (Isaiah 10:1-2)

Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. Psalm 82:3-4

Strong wording, isn’t it?

We could excuse ourselves from these verses and say that we’re not the ones making the laws or treating people unfairly, but ultimately, as long as we are consuming the products, we’re giving our nod to the oppression.

Finally as a small business owner and handmade shop owner myself, I value the time and care that goes into crafting a product. I value the person behind the product and believe they should be compensated fairly for their work. Can you imagine if I spent all day, every day working on prints for my shop, and got paid pennies on the hour for my work? Or if I were a single mom and worked in a retail store, say stocking shelves for 10 hours a day, and brought home a $1 for the week’s work? It would be cause for a lawsuit in America.

Fair trade matters to me because people matter to me. As a mother, as a worker, as a believer, and as a human being, I making the hard but totally worth it choice for fair.

What are your thoughts on fair trade? Why does it matter to you?

 

photo credit: Michele Lyn Ault

Lauren is a young mom of three, Jesus follower, and wife of a youth pastor. She is proponent for all things fair trade + handmade and blogs at MERCY iNK as a passionate advocate for the least of these. Lauren designs Scripture prints for the mercy(iNK) print shop. > > > connect with Lauren on twitter or facebook.

Confidence Challenge: Finding Purpose

I didn’t post this yesterday, because I didn’t want anyone to think it was an April Fools joke. I quit my job. You know, the one I actually get a regular paycheck from.

Suddenly, I knew, with every fiber of my being, that I was done. I wrote a resignation letter giving two weeks notice, and turned it in the next day. After three months of agonizing deliberation, it was done and over. April 13th is my last day.

I won’t go into detail, but a situation at work allowed me to realize that this job is not in anyway going to take me in the direction I want to go in life. I honestly don’t know what direction that is, but I am absolutely certain that it wasn’t the direction I was going – nowhere. Or backwards.

Stuck. That’s what I told Brian, through many tears. I feel stuck in life, stuck because I don’t know what sort of job I want. Do I really want to work from home and own my own business? Because sometimes I think it would be nice to actually go to work every day and know what’s expected of me. On the other hand, sometimes working in an also office also sounds like being stuck, just with nicer clothes and more money.

Finally it came down to this. The honest, ugly, painful truth:

I want a job so that I can point to what I accomplish and say “See, I did this. Therefore, my life has meaning, purpose and value.” 

I want to be defined by my work. I want to be above criticism and quips about selling myself short and wasting my four year degree and magna cum laude. I want my work to give me value.

And yet, I know better. I know that it never will. Even if I landed a job like some of the fourteen jobs I applied to last week, it would never fill the void.

But even ministry is tainted. When I serve, if the desire to help people is really wanting to give my life value, it’s all about me. Not God, not others.

So before I pour myself into finding a job or ministry, I have to find my meaning, purpose, and value. I think the first step is to stop thinking about myself so much. Stop fearing what other’s think of me, stop agonizing over what my life’s purpose is and what I’m supposed to be doing. Just stop it.

Instead, I need to put my brief life in perspective of God’s cosmic plan and vast greatness. And then in awe of His greatness, and then overwhelmed that He has chosen me, I simply say, “God, use me today. Let your love and grace shine through me today to a world that desperately needs it.”

And that will be enough, because if I am a vessel for God, then I will be also be filled.


But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

2 Corinthians 4:7 


For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3: 14-21 

A Royal Daughter

Lately


Restless + Exhausted.

That pretty much sums it up. Every day Brian and I rush from one thing to the next, work, painting, laundry, groceries, youth group, birthday parties, weddings, blogging, planning, emailing, baseball coaching, and then by five my brain is fried, and I scrape together dinner with whatever I can find,  before zoning out on the couch, falling asleep, then going to bed. And then Brian falls instantly to sleep, and I lay awake for a few hours. Then we get up and go-go-go the next day.

“We’re busy,” Brian responds to inquiries. We are busy, too busy. And yet, nothing seems to get done.

It seems like we never have anything to eat, we forgot to send that youth group email, we still need to plan for our trip to Iowa in a week, I didn’t have time to blog, there’s still a long list of to-dos not crossed off. It feels like some kind of twighlight zone/Narnia thing, always busy but never productive.

And always tired. We drag ourselves out of bed, and collapse at night. Some of it, for Brian at least, is physical exhaustion, now that he’s getting up earlier, working a full day, then coaching baseball afterwards. I’m mentally and emotionally exhausted.

Work has been hard lately; anxiety inducing stress overload. On top of that, I didn’t get a job I applied for that I really wanted. And I still haven’t had any sales from Scribbles Shoppe.

I’ve been refusing rest, constantly driving myself on, or filling my time with distractions. I think the real reason I’m so busy is that I’m trying to run. I don’t want to slow down, because then I’ll feel it. Disappointment. Fear.

And I am afraid. Afraid of being stuck in a job I don’t enjoy. Afraid of quitting, and then failing at having my own business. Afraid of the future, afraid of what’s next, afraid of not knowing. Afraid that there isn’t a next. Afraid of selling myself short, afraid of setting my sights too high. Afraid of wasting time, and afraid of not doing anything worthwhile with my life.

Deep breath.

Is it any coincidence I read this yesterday morning?

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalms 46: 10-11 

I keep reading it, over and over, and it hushes the fears with the whisper: Be still. And know that I am God.



Building Confidence Through Failure

Unraveleddesign

Sometimes, the beauty of dark times in our lives is being able to clearly hear God’s voice.

Let me explain. For the past several days, I’ve been wallowing. You know, what you do after a break up. Sleep until noon every day, stay up until 4 am. watching youtube videos, and eat lots of ice cream. And cupcakes. A lot of cupcakes.

I feel like I’m going through a break up. Like my eight month engagement got called off at the rehearsal dinner.

That analogy isn’t my words, it’s how my former business partner described it. I planned to post an update on my confidence challenge today, about the confidence I’ve gained from starting a business. Not Scribbles Shoppe, this company started eight months ago and involved two other business partners. That’s what my second and final big announcement was all about. We were going to launch Saturday. Well…it just didn’t work out. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

I’m not mad. We’re still friends. I totally agree with the decision. I’m just really, really, disappointed.

My confidence in my ability to be an entrepreneur is pretty much shattered right now. But I know that wallowing isn’t accomplishing anything, other than adding back those recently shed pounds. Did I mention the cupcakes? Help.

I need to find the good in this situation. I need to know it wasn’t all for nothing. I need to learn something from this.

  • Good: it ended when it did, not after officially launching.
  • Good: I learned so much about the modern crafting community that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn about.
  • Good: I got to start drawing again, after a hiatus that was way too long. 
  • Good: I discovered that I really, really love drawing and painting, and I miss making art. 
  • Good: I rediscovered embroidery, and I’m actually tempted to get into quilting.
  • Good: I’m learning that it’s ok to fail. 
  • Good: I get to learn how to move forward after failure.
  • Good: I get to look for new opportunities. 
  • Good: I’m learning how to readjust my sails. 
  • Good: God is still faithful. 
The morning after this all went down, I sat at my desk and pulled out my Bible and prayer journal for my morning devotions. I started to unzip my Bible case, and then paused. I held it to my chest and closed my eyes. “God, I really, really need to hear from you today. Please.
I took a deep breath, and opened to my bookmark in Psalms. My reading for the day was Psalm 25. 

In you, Lord my God,
I put my trust.

I trust in you;
do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you
will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
who are treacherous without cause.

Show me your ways, Lord,
teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you, Lord, are good.

Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.
All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful
toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.

For the sake of your name, Lord,
forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

Who, then, are those who fear the Lord?
He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.

They will spend their days in prosperity,
and their descendants will inherit the land.
The Lord confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them.
My eyes are ever on the Lord,
for only he will release my feet from the snare.

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart
and free me from my anguish.
Look on my affliction and my distress
and take away all my sins.
See how numerous are my enemies
and how fiercely they hate me!

Guard my life and rescue me;
do not let me be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness protect me,
because my hope, Lord, is in you.
Deliver Israel, O God,
from all their troubles!

He reminded me that He is still good. He is still loving. And He is still faithful to me.


I don’t know what’s next. I’m really not sure what the future holds for this blog, my Etsy shop, or my job. I haven’t really figured out my options yet going forward. But, I can choose to still trust Him, and wait for his leading.

How can I build my confidence through this failure? By believing this:

For you, O Lord, are good.

Who You Are

This is a blog about finding the beauty in everyday. But we both know that some days, it’s hard, if not impossible, to find the beauty in a situation that seems senseless, that’s tragic, and that’s painful.

Last Wednesday night, Brian and I learned that a couple we know from our hometown in Iowa were in a car accident. Micah is still in ICU, badly hurt, but Becca didn’t make it.

Not only are we from the same hometown, we also grew up at the same church. Micah is my best friend’s brother, Becca is also the sister of one of my very good friends.

This is a picture of them at my friend Ami’s, Becca’s sister’s, wedding last fall. I know it’s a goofy picture, but I’ll always remember them as a very fun loving couple. 
Please be in prayer for Micah, as he recovers, for their families, the community, and especially for these three, who still very much need their mom: 

During the last several days, one particular song keeps coming to mind. JJ Heller’s, “Who You Are.”

Sometimes life doesn’t make any sense
Full of war and pain and accidents.
He’s praying,
I don’t know
I don’t know what You’re doing,
But I know Who You are.

Going Confidently in 2013

“Is working at Target worth getting a college degree for?”
“So, you’re short-circuiting your writing career to work at Target?”
I’ve received these comments, and many similar ones, from a particular church member who feels called to change my misguided ways with unsolicited advice after church every Sunday.
Last Sunday, my blood began to boil as he went on about how becoming addicted to a regular paycheck would ruin my writing career, how I’d start telling myself, “I’ll write tomorrow,” and tomorrow would never come. I gritted my teeth and didn’t say a word.
But what bothers me more than this person’s comments is the fact that I let them get to me. They ruined my entire day. In fact, two days later, they’re still hovering over my head, a gray cloud of doubt and discouragement.
I want to scream: You don’t even know me! Do you think this is easy for me?! Do you think this is my ideal?! When I dreamed about what I would be when I grew up and finished college, it wasn’t about being a Target employee. This isn’t what I planned for. In fact, moving to Arizona wasn’t in my plan either. Or majoring in Technical Communication. Or getting married young. Or getting $20,000 of school debt from my spouse when I got married.
Do you think I don’t realize that I look like a failure? I get it. I know what people think. But this is where I’m at. I have to make the best of it. I’m working a part time job in retail to add a little padding to our budget while I start my own business and figure out what I want to do with my life.”
And you know, that’s really not so bad. I really don’t need to feel inferior about that. I certainly don’t need to listen to people who want to make me feel inferior about it.

So why do I consent? Why do I consent to letting a random person who really doesn’t know me at all speak into my life? 
Because deep down, I think he’s right. 
Warning, this is about to get real.
I do feel like a failure. I don’t believe I’m capable of achieving my dreams, or even, worthy. 

Yet a part of me fights back. Something in me whispers, you were made for more. 
I want confidence. Confidence that doesn’t come from what job I have or what I can produce, but in who God made me. Confidence that no matter what happens, He has a plan for me and is working all things for good, even the things that seem like mistakes or detours to others…and myself. 
Confidence that I am capable, and I have worth, because I’m His child and I am loved. 
I don’t have a set of formal resolutions this year. I have one word: Confidence. 
Meredith Crawford from One Sheepish Girl inspired me with her Blogging for Confidence series. With the encouragement from her blog readers, she undertook a series of challenges, like taking herself on a date, wearing red lipstick, and knitting in public, to grow her confidence. This year, I’m going to follow suit with challenges of my own!
I have a few ideas that I’ll share later. The areas I plan to focus on this year include:
  • Confidence in relationships: taking initiative, saying “No,” asking for what I need, not avoiding confrontation. 
  • Confidence in who God made me:  my gifts, skills, and passions, being myself, feeling good about my body and appearance, doing work I enjoy without apology, and doing hard things that scare me.

I think this year’s goals could take the rest of my life. But, I’m excited to see where I’ll be at the end of 2013. 

Thank you for joining me on this journey. I really can’t thank you enough for the encouragement and love you show me through your comments, and even just through your presence here. Thank you for reading! 
I’d love to know, what are your goals for this new year? 

A Year of Celebration

“Everyday you’re alive is a special occasion.” I entered 2012 with a renewed desire to celebrate the beauty in everyday.

http://karlseen.tumblr.com/

It was a struggle sometimes, but looking back now, I can tell that I’ve begun to learn to slow down and celebrate small and large successes, milestones, and events. In 2012,

This year has seen changes here on the blog also. The posts you’ve enjoyed the most are as follows:

Quite the variety of topics there!

I started two new features this year, Waxing Poetic Wednesday, and just recently, Beauty Find Friday.

My photography has greatly improved!

I ran a month long series about materialism and ethical fashion,  Fashion for Freedom.

I started the year with 3,474 pageviews. Last month, I had 27,900 views. I noticed when I updated my November pageviews on my sponsorship page, my views had DOUBLED from October! Thank you SO MUCH for being here! Your presence and your comments are so, so, encouraging to me. You inspire me and challenge me to create my best and be my best. Thank you!

Goodbye 2012!

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