An Unexpected Blessing of Marriage

Marriage is beautiful. I’ve shared 2.5 weeks alongside my best friend and it has been the greatest adventure of my life. I know Dillon well, but I’ve learned him even better in these past few weeks. Early in our relationship, I fell in love with his character and ambition, his heart for others, and his complete trust in God.

I have the privilege of sharing firsthand in his joy in the best moments and am spurred on by his faith in the trials. Since day one, he has been alongside me in my joys and sorrows too. He listens to my goals and speaks truth into my fears. He strengthens me at my weakest and challenges me to be my best. Thankfully, he always leaves so much room for my dreams, too.

Ruth Eileen Photography

Faith and vision fuel me every day. God has blessed me with beautiful, vivid dreams for my life – which is now our life together. After months of pouring ourselves into wedding and marriage prep, my creative well had started to feel dry. I was investing almost every ounce of creativity into making our day meaningful and intentional. While it was sweet and rewarding to see it all come together, I wondered when I’d get my usual measure of creativity back.

I found myself filled with so much vision since a few days after our wedding. When the excitement and exhaustion balanced itself out after our day, a refreshed vision took its place. I had always wondered what it’s like to bring your existing dreams and vision into a marriage. After all, you are taking two lives and unifying them into one. The unexpected blessing of it all is that Dillon has celebrated, spurred on, and contributed to my dreams and vision even more in marriage than before.

Dillon has his dreams too, and they are combining with my dreams to become our dreams together. Marrying him has only added to my vision. He encourages me to bring my dreams straight to God in every circumstance. My husband leaves plenty of room for my God-given vision, and for that I am so thankful!

If you are married, what unexpected blessing did you find early in marriage? Please share in the comments below –  I would be so grateful to learn from your wisdom!

Lessons Learned in 2016

I hope you all had the merriest Christmas! I see this week between Christmas and New Years as an invitation to prepare well for the year ahead. For the past three years, I have used PowerSheets to take stock of the previous year and set new goals for the one ahead. My process has looked vastly different this year, as I am taking Lara Casey’s advice and making a mess within the pages. I’ve cut the flowery words, applied what I learned at Making Things Happen in October, and rolled up my sleeves to do the good work. Y’all, the work has been such a sweet gift!

One of my favorite steps so far has been writing out my lessons learned in 2016. This year was hard but it has ultimately been the most beautiful year, too. It has yielded incredible growth and equipped me with lots of knowledge to apply as I move forward. While I tend to lean away from reflective personal posts these days, I’m sharing these snippets today in hopes that they will be a blessing to those who read them. Enjoy!

Lessons Learned in 2016 - Rifle Paper Co. Wildflower Giftwrap

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Lessons Learned in 2016:

— We really can renew our minds in Christ. I had heard this scripture countless times, but this year I finally realized its worth. We have the incredible gift of God’s willingness to renew our minds through prayer, the reading of His word, and letting go of that which was never meant for us to carry.

— The roots must be pulled. Prior hurts, mistakes, worries, and fears are best removed when traced back to the source and pulled at the root. This often takes hard work, patience, and help from trusted people, but it’s so worth it.

— Stress is never, ever worth it and it comes at a high price. I’ve seen it cost others their good health, relationships, success at work, and joy. While there is good stress that can be helpful in certain situations, it should not be a regular mode of operation.

— In all things, release control to God. Life is much more fulfilling when we stop trying to do it all on our own.

— God knows better than I do and His timeline and method might be different than mine.

— Good health is so valuable and worth fighting for. Proper nutrition, regular exercise, and being informed are all excellent ways to invest in our health. The payoff is huge when we are proactive with our health and treat the source of any issues instead of bandaging the symptoms.

— Personal responsibility is not the same thing as control. It seems silly as I type it, but I used to think that assuming responsibility for my time and resources was taking control that was meant for God. Instead, I now see it as the privilege we get to have in taking good care of the things He gives us.

I believe we can learn so much from each other, and so would love to hear any lessons or wisdom you gleaned from this year in the comments below! 

While I benefit greatly from PowerSheets, you do not need to buy any products to prepare well for the year ahead. Lara offers a great step-by-step guide through her blog’s annual goal setting series.

 

Chapel Hill Bound! My Road to Making Things Happen

I have imagined this day for a long time and am incredibly grateful that it’s here. I am writing aboard my flight from Manchester to Baltimore, the first part of my trip to the Making Things Happen Intensive in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I have been thinking a lot lately of when the seed was planted in my heart three years ago to attend this conference and I think it will be fun to share that and have it to look back on. 


In September 2013, my faith was on fire and my heart was suddenly – and simultaneously – stirred for design, creative expression, and all things Southern. Through a few compounding circumstances, I had decided to take the semester off from school, something that lent itself to lots of extra time for reading the Bible, teaching myself Illustrator and Photoshop, and delighting myself in the charm of Southern culture. My sweet friend Emily passed along some of her issues of Garden & Gun and Southern Living magazines and I was quickly smitten with the charm, tradition, and heart of life beneath the Mason-Dixon. I had developed an entrepreneurial spirit and was eager to combine it with my new interests to do something meaningful, I just didn’t know what that was yet. (I still don’t yet, but I believe I will soon!)

Later that fall brought about a really difficult season of injury and the subsequent road to healing, a time that the Lord used to strengthen my heart and my spirit beyond anything I could have ever accomplished on my own. As He did this, I continued to turn to Him for wisdom and comfort, and He blessed me with something really good in the thick of it. 

At Christmastime, Emily told me about Southern Weddings magazine, describing the beauty of the content and the mission behind it. V6 had just come out, and she picked up a copy for me at the only bookstore in NH that sold it. At that time, I was feeling a restless tension between brokenness I was experiencing and all the unused ambitions in my heart. On a tearful evening in the glow of my Christmas tree, I was craving something more and opened the magazine for the first time, instantly experiencing this heart feeling of ‘YES. These pages communicate my heart so well.’ The design was beautiful, the layouts were warm and inviting, and the message was heartfelt and sincere. I wanted to know the heart behind the magazine, so I grabbed my laptop and Googled the name of the editor in chief, Lara Casey. I was soon comforted and so encouraged to find that she is a follower of Jesus who vibrantly shares the redeeming work He has done in her life. I found so much hope in her story, something I had lost sight of in my circumstances. I explored her website, taking in every bit of goodness that I could, and found that she offers a conference twice a year in North Carolina called Making Things Happen.

I knew at the time that a trip to Chapel Hill was not possible, but a seed was planted in my heart when I felt an undeniable tug to someday attend the conference. Fast-forward through the start of my blog, healing fully from my injury, a trip with my mom to the Southern Weddings V7 Launch Party in North Carolina, falling even more in love with the South, the completion of a degree, two design internships, two back-to-back year-long creative positions (one in weddings, one in design), an incredibly difficult season of pruning and growth, and falling in love with Dillon, here I am today. I can see how God has set the foundation that I needed to get the most of this intensive. 

I have gained so much life experience in the past three years, and have had lots of opportunities to work through and explore some of my creative ideas and ambitions along the way. I believe with all my heart that God had in store for me to attend this conference all along, and I am so incredibly grateful that the pieces all came together to make it possible today, right where I am. I don’t know what’s next, I don’t know where this all leads, but I trust that God does. My heart and hands are open to what He wants to do here, where He wants to direct me, the vision He has for me, every bit of it. As my favorite print from Lara’s shop says: amen, hallelujah, thank you Lord.