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“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  John 10:10

Is there anything more intoxicating that holding an armful of fragrant blooms? I love burying my face and letting the scent transport me back to the moments in my childhood when I first experienced the phenomenon.  There’s something positively decadent about the experience. It feels too much, too good and just too wonderful to contain.

That moment is what I think of when I read the verse from John listed above. It’s that kind of over the top, too good to believe, abundance that God wants to give us in life. Kind of like burying your face in a fistful of flowers. (Am I the only one who does that?)

I’ve realized though that too often we can settle for a just “good-enough” life. We stop dreaming and opt for ok. “It’s comfortable enough” we tell ourselves. We think “You’re too old, too young, too stuck, too…” and the list of limitations goes on.  Before you know it we’re living in a box of our own making. Bordered in by our own lack of imagination and faith.  What’s crazy though is sometimes we even have the audacity to look at our lives and blame God for the pieces we feel are missing.

How far from the truth that is!  His very goal is for us to live the life of our dreams and then some. He dreams bigger dreams for our lives that we can even imagine.  He is a God of abundance.

So as we prepare for Spring and watch the world to burst into bloom, my prayer is that each blossom reminds you of the over-the-top, abundant life that God dreams of for you!

Don’t settle for a solitary dandelion* when there are armfuls of peonies in your future!

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*I’m not hating on the dandelions. I think they’re just dandy.

Valentine’s Cake

cakeAre you looking for a fun way to let the people in your world know that you love them this Valentine’s Day? Might I suggest cake? The wonderful Colleen of Faith, Hope, Love & Luck posted the yummy recipe for this beautiful cake she created for our Valentine’s Day photoshoot on her blog this week.  You should definitely go check it out. While you’re there look at some of her other fun recipes like this one for “Rainbow Sprinkle ‘Crack'” and this one for “The Perfect Man Cookies“.

As Marie Antoinette so famously said,

“Let them eat cake!”

I just don’t think she meant it the same way. While you’re waiting for your cake, here are a few other fun shots from our Valentine’s Day photoshoot.

 

#YouSparkle Valentine’s Day Credits:

Photography – Lauren Modny Photography
Personal Styling – Start Close In
Floral Design – LeRoy French
Handmade Valentines – Birch and Honey
Cake – Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice
Makeup – Melissa Taylor
Model – Destiny Decker
Creative Direction & Party Styling – Piccadilly / Love Always Hannah
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Rose Almond Spritz were also featured in #YouSparkle Valentine’s Day.
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Winning

I watched the Super Bowl online tonight. My day was full of fun things like church and brunch and spray painting hula hoops (it’s my life) and before I realized it, it was 5:30pm and I hadn’t made plans to watch the Super Bowl anywhere. Yikes! Now, let’s be honest, I don’t tend to watch sports.  This shirt generally tends to summarize my feelings about sports… all of them.

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That being said, I’m a born and raised New Englander and this was the Super Bowl. My team was there. I had to watch. Given my lack of poor planning however, I ended up watching the game livestream with my friend, Ashlynn. (She’s the best!)  That meant that in addition to wine and chocolate, we had about a 2 minute delay in the game.  While this didn’t stop us from enjoying the game (read: talking about our feelings during the game and watching the commercials) and the half time show (I ❤ Katy Perry & the dancing sharks), it did lend itself to a unique experience.

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As has always been the case during the Super Bowl, my Dad called me during the game.  In fact, he called every time New England scored. Given that we were watching with a two minute delay it was like seeing into the future. I’d be holding my breathe for a big play right as the phone would ring and I’d answer to hear my Dad’s voice saying that everything was going to be ok.  This was particularly comforting in the last two minutes of the game (can we talk about that interception?!?!).  When he called for the last time all he said was,

“I know you haven’t seen it yet, but don’t worry. I already have. It’s our game. We’ve got this.”

That one sentence hit me and in a moment I felt the words echo in my heart from my heavenly father.  You see this has been something of a challenging season. I’ve found myself in the midst of the unknown. I’ve been surrounded by what seem to be insurmountable mountains. Definitely out of the boat and feeling the water start to lap at my ankles. In the midst of it all, I’ve been desperate to know what’s next.

It only took that one little phone call to remind me though, that I have a God who sees way more than two minutes into the future. He’s a God who has promised to work all things together for my good (Rom. 8:28) and is as we speak doing what is needed to ensure that I win in life. I may not know what tomorrow holds, but I do know that He’s already in it and always has my best interest in mind.

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So, tonight I’m grateful for a few things…

I’m grateful that the Patriots won!

I’m grateful for #KatyPerry. (This was me)

I’m grateful for dancing sharks.

and, most of all, I’m grateful for a God that sees the future and is saying

“Hey! Don’t worry. It’s our game. We’ve got this.”

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GUEST POST: Getting to Unicorns

Ah 2015.  A new year.  No matter how you feel about new years resolutions, there is an inescapable freshness and excitement when a new year begins.  We reflect, we dream, we take action. Our professional, personal, and spiritual lives feel like a glowing harmony of colorful unicorns prancing around clouds, giggles, and, since this is Hannah’s blog, glitter.  We feel unicorns. We think unicorns.

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Some of us have big changes ahead this year, whether it’s getting married, healing a wound, organizing that hall closet, traveling the world, a season of rest…or learning to navigate TJ Maxx all by yourself (hey, that’s legit!  I’ve done it twice already and I felt like I was climbing Mt. Everest).

But how do we get to all those unicorns?  Especially now that we’re a few weeks into the new year, and our vision of prancing unicorns filled with sunshine and superglue can start to feel like we just got kicked off of a muddy wild horse in the middle of a thunderstorm.

Grace.  For ourselves and for each other.  

I’ve thought a lot about grace the last few weeks.  I need it everyday. There is no shortage of verses, blog posts, and Pinterest quotes about grace (I need grace for the amount of time I’ve wasted on Pinterest btw).  We all know what grace is, but I’ve been challenged recently to practice it with far greater intentionality than ever before.  Sometimes I am grace’s worst repeat offender.  And some moments it’s hard for me to choose it.  I get hurt.  I disappoint others. I want to point out why I am right.  I get impatient.  I am mean to myself.
But that’s the beauty of grace – it’s unmerited and undeserved, it doesn’t work on a performance basis, but communicates love because of who we are, not what we do (or don’t do).  I get to receive and give it because of my flaws, which gives me the freedom to make progress on all that this year holds for me, without having to feel like I need to be perfect.

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Grace doesn’t eliminate the need for hard conversations, or even consequences, but it allows us to push through the awkwardness, resulting in even closer and healthier relationships. Grace helps us see with more compassion that others are doing the best they can with what’s in front of them.  It helps us empathize with what they are going through, and where they are at, rather than where we wish they were. It parts the waters for forgiveness.  It heals wounds and destroys shame.  It gives us hope in second chances.  It gives others freedom to choose things and respond to what God has uniquely asked of them.  Grace doesn’t offend, and doesn’t take offense.

Grace is the most radical love that God gives us in unlimited amounts, all the time.  In the words of Philip Yancey, “Grace is free only because the giver himself has born the cost.”   Intentionally giving grace the way God gives it to us is worth the hard work, risks, and vulnerability.  Since I am human, I will mess up giving it (and there is grace for that!) this year.  But I am so grateful to covered completely by it.  It’s free, and it’s powerful.  Grace makes us grow.  And growth means change.

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Angie is one of my wonderful friends. She’s an incredible encouragement, an avid triathelete and lover of everything purple. She constantly inspires me to go after the dreams God has placed in my life and is one of the strongest voices saying, “You can do it!” . I’m so grateful for her and her willingness to share her thoughts with us today. Hopefully this is the first of many such posts! I ❤ you Angie!

 

IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING : 5 Steps to Turn Your “I Can’t” into “I Can”

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Ah the new year! So fresh with possibilities and newness. Is it just me or does the air smell different on January 1?  There’s so much possibility in each breath. It’s amazing how in one stroke of the clock I become convinced that I can leap small buildings in a single step and suddenly love leafy greens with a burning passion.  Somewhere in about that second week of January, however, that burning love affair with broccoli starts to wane. I don’t know about you, but right about now, I start getting hit with two little words.

I CAN’T

They barrage my subconscious until I’m pretty much ready to call it a day and curl up with my favorite blanket, a box of wine (swirly straw sold separately) and every Netflix marathon ever made. All my wonderfully laid plans start to unravel. I realize that I’m still me with all my hang ups, insecurities and inadequacies AND I’m still not a fan of broccoli.

It’s not a fun revelation. The temptation to crawl back under the covers and go back to la la land indefinitely is almost too much to bear. Here’s the thing though, even in the midst of my finest sulks, there’s this pesky little verse that I learned as a child that keeps coming back to me. Gah!

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” – Philippians 4:13 

Thanks to Mr. Donut Man I will never be able to forget this verse. Follow this link for a trip into my childhood. You’re welcome!

While there may be any number of things that you (and I) feel inadequate to tackle, the truth is you were never intended to face them on your own. The key in that verse is the “through Christ” part.  When you invite him into your life He actually takes you up on the offer.  He moves in and starts helping you tackle even the hardest obstacles.  Why you might ask? Because He’s God and He’s cool like that.

So in the midst of all my spectacular spirals over the years, God has shown me a few things that have helped change my can’t into a can.

Here’s 5 quick (please note I didn’t say EASY) steps:

1. Take a personal survey

Ask yourself, “What am I listening to?”.  Is the voice that tells you that you can’t louder than the voice that says you can? Are you spending more time thinking about the negative what ifs instead of the positive what ifs?  I’m not talking about living in a dream world, but I’m talking about facts.  It’s been proven that what you think about over and over effects what you become. In Hebrews 4, we have the example of Abraham who they say recognized (HE RECOGNIZED SON) that his body was as good as dead BUT (I like big BUTS and I cannot lie) He believed that HE who had promised is faithful. He believed that he would have a son at like bazillion years old. Spoiler alert: He got one!

So all I’m saying here is make sure you’re feeding the voice that says you can. Spend time with the one who put the dream in your heart to begin with. He’s got a plan to unfold it too.

Want to hear more about this point? Check out this great message, entitled ‘The Struggle is Real” from one of my pastors.

2. Set realistic goals

Awesome, so you’re telling me you already set AND broke all your New Year’s Resolutions.  Well done you! You’re not alone. Here’s a thought, how about you go set some more. I wrote a post about setting SMART goals last year and it still applies.  Make sure the goals you set are Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, Time-related.  Here’s the kicker though, DO IT ON A TUESDAY AFTERNOON. Don’t wait until the new year or even a Monday. Do it now!

3. Take Baby Steps

Recognize and celebrate the little wins. Baby steps are still steps. You don’t have to be perfect. In fact, there’s no way you will be. You were born human. You will die human. You are not perfect. The end.

4. Make Friends

This relates to point numero uno, surround yourself with people who say (and believe) that you can. Give those people air time. Your time is valuable. Don’t give people time who fill your space with negativity.  Even if they’re not telling you that you can’t, if all they do is talk negatively, I want you to take two simple steps. Step one: Slam the door. Step two: Yell “BYE FELICIA!” Done and done.

5. Take a break (DANCE PARTY!)

Lastly, give yourself a break.  Figuratively AND literally.  Close the laptop. Put away the checkbook.  Get off the elliptical. Take a break.  Preferably a DANCE PARTY break. Dust off your best dance moves and go to town. Whether you realize it or not, you are actually doing it. You’re pursuing that dream. You’re kicking those goals in the face, baby step by baby step.  That deserves to be celebrated.1527076_10102838762678684_1832303073579197706_n

Might I suggest this song? Miss Iggy and the God of the entire universe agree on this point…

IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING!

Bring it on 2015!
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