Saturday, February 27, 2016

You know what keeps me from posting on my blog? Someone else's vision of success.

You know what keeps me from posting on my blog?
  1. I think that everything I say has to fit into a "strategic vision" for my brand and if my thoughts don't fit somehow related to paper flowers, weddings or parties, then it doesn't have a space here to be shared. 
  2. I'm afraid that people will disagree with my beliefs and be dramatic about it. 
  3. I'm nervous that something I post will always alienate someone: if it's about starting a business it would be difficult for a follower to read who is having a hard time with their business or finances; it if's about parenthood, a follower who is struggling with infertility would feel alone; if it's about weddings, a follower who is single would feel left out...and the list goes on about everything.
  4. The combination of the above makes blogging seem more like an over-analyzed fake business task rather than an actual outlet where I share what I'm interested in, tips/tricks and *gasp* my feelings and beliefs. 
Anyone else have these thoughts?

Here's what I'm preaching to myself to combat these thoughts - I'm hoping my public reminder will provide some accountability and may also help some of you out there too.
  1. I didn't start this blog to be a marketing space for my paper flower business. I didn't start this blog to amass followers. I started this blog to share whatever I wanted, to have fun doing so, and to talk about Jesus to those who weren't necessarily searching the internet for him. Telling myself my blog has to follow all of these rules out there that others have created to ensure "successful blogs" isn't working for me. It's a standard I can't keep and I don't want to. I don't want the "success" they describe. (Sidenote: I make this sound so easy - but I constantly have to remind myself "you don't want THEIR success, or rather anyone else's but your own definition of success.")
  2. Jesus never said followng him would be easy. Why do I expect that everything I say that involves Jesus online will be met with virtual hugs and heart eye emojis? What do I have to lose? More importantly what do I have to gain?
  3. I struggle with this in all aspects of my life. I need to pray before each thing I post, ask for wisdom, and then walk confidently in my decisions realizing I'm not perfect and never will be.

Maybe you're not a blogger, but what is it that you're holding back doing because you're afraid it doesn't meet someone else's version of success? Hosting a bible study that doesn't offer gourmet snacks and hand lettered invitations? Sending a thank you note because you don't have a matching card and envelope that actually says "thank you" plus it's three months late?  Starting an Etsy store becuase you think your products aren't as great as those on the front page? Delivering a warm meal to your new neighbor or a new first time mom because you don't own a single cookbook? Hosting a birthday party at home because every pinterest idea you've tried has failed and your house is a mess?

Friends, remember that our success isn't defined by pinterest, by a blog course, by the number of sales in an online store, by the number of likes on a facebook status, by the number of friends we have, or by the number in our bank account. Success is building God's kingdom and doing so in WHATEVER unglamorous (according to the world's pinterest standards) way He calls you to do it.

So post your honest blog post, send your uncoordinated and likely late thank you note, upload a picture to instagram that wasn't professionally edited, host a cozy and real bible study, deliver a novicely created but likely yummy warm meal, and throw an imperfectly perfect birthday party.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day! His unqualified love for imperfect me.

“It amazes me what this little girl will crawl over and through to get to you” my husband chuckled as my eight month old daughter made her way to me across the field of toss pillows, laundry baskets, and dining room chairs. A sweet thought, but my heart sank.

“Lord, what I WON’T crawl over and through to get to you” a tiny voice in my head retorted. “Lord, I’ve put you in a convenient box and I open it up when dinner is cooked, laundry is folded, and my post-it list of thank you notes is finished.”

“But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29).

My daughter seeks me with all of her soul. I watch her eyes and she is intently focused on me. Only me. Her eyes don’t wander, they don’t reflect a distant stare. They lock on me and no obstacle will block her from coming. I sustain her, I fulfill her, I provide for her every need.

He sustains us, He fulfills us, He provides for our every need.

Friends, our love for Him should be that simple.  He wants us to desperately, easily, and innately seek him.  Every moment I look in my daughter’s face I am reminded of His love for me.  His unqualified love for imperfect me.

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God for the living God.” Psalm 42 1-2 ESV

There’s nothing complicated about this relationship. The deer doesn’t schedule a time to quench his thirst. The deer doesn’t prepare herself and her habitat to approach the stream.

But most importantly, He keeps pouring grace.

But here is where it gets good. What about when we don’t approach him easily? When we focus on our to-do list first? He opens His arms wider, He calls to us louder, He gently points all things in our life back to Him.

His grace is un-ending. Every morning is new. Lord, may we remember we are your daughters (and sons). You sustain us, you fulfill us, you provide for our every need. I pray that we crawl over vacuums, recipes, empty gas tanks, grocery carts, and laundry piles with our eyes and hearts solely fixed on you.

What is blocking you from being in constant communion with the Lord? What do you stand to lose if you crawl over these things?  Friends, we know what we have to gain.

Happy Valentine's Day <3 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Free Printable: Snow Patrol Chasing Cars

A long, long, LONG time ago I made this printable for the gallery wall in our bedroom since I walked down the aisle to an instrumental version of this song. I put it up in my Etsy shop but then took it down as I realized I shouldn't (can't) sell lyrics that I don't have the rights to.

*Sidenote: If you do this on any prints or items, think carefully and do your research - you very likely can't! Same with items like "NFL inspired" or any sports league/movie/etc.*

I somehow get tons of views to my shop every day from this printable pinned on Etsy and I want to redirect the traffic here to where it is actually available...for FREE. Holla.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

An Ideal Customer? Find confidence in YOU.

I've heard this thrown around a lot but never thought it applied to me. I thought it applied to photographers or wedding planners booking their ideal client that matched their brand and dream image.

I haven't been worrying about an ideal customer at all. I also haven't been worrying about my own style at all.  Instead I spent the last year producing products to fit the market. Burlap and lace. Got it. Yellow and Gray. Got it. Blush on blush on blush? Got it.

So when I was asked about my style and specifically to show pictures of some of my favorite orders and color combinations I was stumped. I thought for sure they existed until I started scrolling back in my camera uploads, further...and further...and further.  My products didn't look like me. They looked like me thinking too hard and too carefully about what I think everyone else wants. Did I confuse you? Case and point.

That, friends, is a big mistake. You know why I didn't make designs that were 100% me? Because it's scary!

Because I like unique color combinations.

Because I like bold and bright.

But if I'm being truly honest. It's mostly because I am afraid my sales will totally plummit if I make what I love.

I think as artists we need to find a balance. If we need to make money, we need to make money and we can always target whatever market we want. But we can't lose our creative identity in the process. Because then, our businesses are just businesses, not creative businesses.

I'm making a promise to myself to make what I love, to be inspired by the colors I love, and to share that with you. I'm excited to see what is in store!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Ice Cream Birthday Party - Mini Chalkboard Signs and Paper Flower Decor

While late adding these (like seriously at least over a year...), it doesn't make this precious party any less sweet! Jennie Tewell of Jennie Tewell Photography  put together a dreamy ice cream birthday party shoot that involved over fifty talented vendors. Check out the full blog post from Jennie to see more of these perfectly styled pictures. I'm sharing those with our chalkboards in them below: