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The Bear Hunt for Peace

God desires peace for your heart. 

Do you believe that? Do you experience that? 

My answer is both yes or no if I’m being honest. Sometimes it seems like peace is extraordinarily elusive, almost like God is making it intentionally hard for me to find. It seems like the harder I think it the harder it runs away. 

There’s a short story I love about a boy hunting for a bear in the woods. He hunts unceasingly for the bear, looking every day and believing that he will eventually find it. Along the way he catches glimpses, things that keep him going on his quest to find it. And then, when the bear decides it’s time, the bear reveals himself. All the while he’s been drawing the boy deeper into the story – deeper into the forest. 

The search has drawn the little boy into a kind of closeness with the bear that never could have occurred if the bear had been easy to find. When it last they stand face-to-face it is as if they are old friends – both shaped by the dance that led them to each other. (As a sidenote, I’ve completely forgotten the name and author of the story amongst the thousands that I read while completing my English degree in college, so if this rings a bell please hit reply and remind me of the authorship of story so I can share it with everyone next week! It deeply pains me to send a synopsis like this without being able to refer everyone to the original.

It’s that way with us and God I think. He could just show us himself and his full glory, which would flood our souls with peace and wonder, but he does not. He allows us to seek him alongside the peace that comes from knowing him and trusting him. 

So that’s my challenge to you this week – reflect on your life. When have you seen your own glimpses of the bear – moments in God‘s presence where you have felt his peace? If you have a story you’d like to share I’d love to hear it – just hit reply and let me know.

If you’ve peeked around the shop lately you might have noticed some changes. We are moving to a simplified shop model in 2020, keeping a much smaller stock of items in our core, always available collection, and having several special limited edition items available each month for just that month that related to our theme for the month – for instance we have several “Peace” themed items in the shop right now that will go away January 31. 

To check out this month’s limited edition head right here and watch our “Limited Edition” category for new items every month!

Driving in the Fog – a Lesson in God’s Peace

The morning of my planning retreat for 2020 it was extremely foggy. I live in the city, so typically there’s not low hanging fog the way that you would expect in the country. But on this particular day there was thick white fog everywhere making visibility only about an eighth of a mile or so – you couldn’t even see a whole block in front of you. 

And so as I was driving to work that morning I was struck with a thought – there’s really only two ways to drive in fog- stressed and anxious about what it is that is out there that you can’t see or thankful for the visual quiet that allowed you to see only what you needed to see. 

When I pulled up to a stoplight I could see it clearly, as well as the other cars in the intersection. I was never in any danger. But the rest of everything that usually clogged my commute was stripped away – no billboards, no storefronts, no lights far up the road. It was just peaceful. 

So as I was driving through this fog I begin to reflect on how living the Christian life, a life entrusted to God, is so much like driving through this fog. We can only see what we need to see it any given time, but how much do I frequently let that be an impetus of fear and anxiety instead of an opportunity for deep peace – knowing, without a doubt, but I can see you what I need to see, no more, no less.

It was a peaceful revelation, but it was also a punch in the gut. 

Why was I allowing God‘s grace of only giving us the unobstructed present to be a source of such anxiety? Why could I not trust that I could see what I needed to see? 

It was so fitting that this drive was the starting point for my planning retreat for 2020. 2019 was a year decidedly marked by a lack of peace. It got so bad in the last months of the year that I begin to doubt my plan to write about peace this January because I couldn’t imagine how someone who sought peace but found it to be so elusive could ever share thoughts on it in any kind of helpful way. 

But the fog showed me that I lack peace because I haven’t really wanted it – on God’s terms. If I want to embrace it, it’s right there. God is taking care of everything – limiting my vision with the love of a father so that I need not be overwhelmed, but there I was in the midst of the fog imagining what grotesque monsters and giants could be lurking just outside the field of my vision. The peaceful place God has prepared for me had become a nightmare – stalked by the worst imaginings of my troubled heart.

I had been actively rejecting peace. It brings tears to my eyes to say that because I felt that is all I’ve been seeking, and therein lies another problem – the very hunt for peace had become yet another source of crippling anxiety for me. 

I let the anxiety about the fact that I could not find it fester and infect other parts of myself. I drove through the fog peopled with all of my worst fears, beliefs, and thoughts, putting them there myself with effort when God has already provided a small bite-size chunk of reality for me to deal with.

So now I still know that I am probably not the right person to talk to you about peace, but I think for the first time I really understand how much peace is acceptance of what God gives us in the present moment. 

And so that’s my quiet fight for 2020 – to not fill the fog with things that may or may not be there, but to live in the space that I can see because God has allowed it to be in front of me.

Here’s to embracing the peace God has for us in 2020. Let’s do it together, shall we?

shop peace:

Giving Thanks for the Hardest Things

Giving Thanks for the Hardest Things

In our awesome Revive Gratitude resource package I included a daily gratitude worksheet.

Grab the resource package right here:

I use a version of this worksheet myself in one of the most lazy ways possible, but it makes it very sustainable. 

Here’s my secret:

I have a home laminator (office stores also offer low cost lamination) so I laminated a print out of the sheet and write on it with a dry erase marker each day. 

That’s it. I wipe clean each time I’m ready to write again.

Sometimes it’s the morning, sometimes it’s the evening, but the important thing is that I have tried to make it a part of my everyday routine. 

I know that there are many planners etc. that include space for reflecting on daily gratitude, and that’s wonderful. But I think the most powerful part of the worksheet included in the resource package is the fact that there’s a section for things that you were struggling to find any gratitude towards. 

My largest strides in growing and gratitude have all come from reflecting on the things that I write down in this section – the things I can’t figure out how to be grateful for until I stop, reflect, and allow God into them. 

This is where I put things like the one year anniversary of my miscarriage, which was just last week. But then in writing that down and opening it up for prayer and reflection I realized that I am extremely grateful for my growth in faith that was a direct result of the struggle I went through a year ago. I am grateful for the health knowledge I have gained since then, also accompanied by a lot of struggle, but which allows me to make much better decisions for myself and my family know. I am grateful for the friends that came out of the woodwork to minister to us in our sorrow, and still do. In reflecting, I realized there was actually a lot to be grateful for surrounding that horrible day. 

I’m never going to be grateful for the fact I lost my baby girl, and I don’t have to be. Please know that is NOT what I’m suggesting. But I can be grateful for the way in which God kept His promise around the horrible situation: working all things together for good for those who love Him. 

Life is hard. There’s a lot of sad, terrible, horrible things that happen every day. And we can’t always see where gratitude could even enter into those things. But if we give ourselves space, not only for us to move away from the situation but for God to move in and around us, I have yet to come across anything in my own life that was only bad, through and through. Yes, many bad things that happened, but God is faithful to his promises in Scripture. He does work everything together for good for those who love and serve him.

Sometimes they’ll be things that I write down in the “heard to be grateful for“ section and I can’t find any gratitude that day. Or the next. Or in the next week. But I have found that if I invite God into my healing, in a year there will be something, even something extremely tangential, that I am grateful for. 

You never become grateful for the loss of a loved one or another terrible tragedy, and that’s fine. You don’t have to be. But you can find gratitude for the people who showed you love and support during that time. You can find gratitude for the faithfulness of God in those hard days and nights. You can find gratitude for the strength those experiences nurture in you. 

It’s not easy. I questioned even attempting to talk about this as “just a jewelry brand” because it’s a hard topic. But I think it matters, and when all is said and done I want to look back on my life and know that I did things that mattered.

It matters to go to God however you are – angry, hurt, sad, betrayed, livid, whatever – and with whatever is in you, ask Him where He is in the hardest things to be grateful for. He can take your yelling. He can take your anger. He just wants you to bring what you have to Him. 

He can only show us His movements if we come to Him to see them. And where God is moving there is always reason for gratitude. 

Finding gratitude around the things that frankly are the worst is one of the most formative things you can do as a person. It makes you into the kind of person after God’s own heart. 

And that, my friend, is the kind of person I want to be. How about you?

With joy, 

Jill

The Impact of Gratitude

The Impact of Gratitude

It may be a cliché, but we’re going to spend November talking about gratitude. I’ve written about gratitude in past Novembers, but I always did it with one eye on Thanksgiving and not with both eyes on all of every day life like I should have. November is a wonderful time to kickstart thinking about gratitude but if we let it go as the turkey wallows in our stomachs, we have rather wasted our time. 

Each November is a lovely opportunity to reconnect with our gratitude in such a way that we are able to treat it as a kind of “gratitude new year.” Just as we revive our commitments to various areas of our lives each January, I think that November it’s a wonderful touch stone to have in place to revive our practice of gratitude. 

I love this quote from Oprah Winfrey:

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

It’s true, isn’t it? When we have a level of contentment with life—not complacency, but contentment—a lot of the stress and anxiety of “leveling up” dissipates.

If it wasn’t so sad I would find it kind of comical the way our society tries to embrace both gratitude and constant discontent. Mainstream shops are full of signs that say things like “choose joy“ and “blessed and thankful” and popular blogs ooze with articles about thankfulness and being present.

But self-help books and TV shows run rife with promises about achieving something, whether it’s organization, enlightenment, the perfect relationship, or even the life changing magic of tidying up, that will finally make life enough. Enjoyable. Whole. That feeling you’ve been looking for is right on the other side of your next achievement.

It’s so worthless. Just like a relationship won’t fulfill you if you are not already fulfilled as a person, cleaning out your sock drawer or getting your dream job will never make a miserable person into a happy one. It just doesn’t work that way.

We control our responses to the situations in front of us. And one of the responses we can choose is gratitude.

Gratitude matters because it allows now to be enough, making joy in the present moment attainable. No longer will our eyes be stuck on the future when what we are finally hoping for will come to be, but they are fixed in the present, where gratitude feeds the grace that God has available to us.

Gratitude allows us to be at rest. And as we get ready for the busiest time of the year for many of us, it’s well worth it to take some time to nurture gratitude and protect our rest. 

God deeply desires that we rest. It’s right there in the 10 Commandments when He asked us to keep Sunday holy and set apart. In the spirit of the Old Testament, I don’t think that this is an arbitrary commandment – it gives us what it is that we actually need. God commands rest because as human beings we need to rest. And it’s so much easier to rest if we can be grateful for where we find ourselves and not trying to squeeze in one more day of hustle to try and get ahead (oh boy, #preachingtomyself right here).

This month we’re going to be talking about ways that we can build habits of gratitude that can carry us through this month and beyond. I’d like to start by asking you what your greatest struggle is with gratitude. What is it that makes the daily practice of gratitude easy or hard for you right now? 

I’d love it if you leave a comment and let me know. 

Let’s do this together.

with joy,

Jill

Making Space for Creativity

Making Space for Creativity

It has been such a joy to spend this month talking about creativity with you. After several years of struggling with what exactly I’m supposed to say in communicating with all of the wonderful people that follow my work this month has been a breath of fresh air for me as well. The clarity that the Holy Spirit has given me through this process has been a tremendous gift and all of you that I’ve reached out to me with words of thanks and encouragement for the good that this month has brought to fruit in your life has been the icing on the cake.

As a final reflection on creativity I want to talk a little bit today about how we make space for creativity. 

Our world is loud. 

There’s so much going on, and we have so much information thrown at us every day that it can be hard to get in touch with the voice inside ourselves which is essential for creativity. Here are a few ways that I have made space in my only for creativity and hopefully they will get you thinking about what you can do to not only give yourself space to be more creative, but cultivate a greater sense of peace throughout your daily life.

  1. Limit social media. I’ve noticed a huge shift in my anxiety level as I have severely ratcheted down my social media use, but that said I have done this by using tools that support me in healthy social media use and not total eradication of social media. I use the Facebook Newsfeed Eradicator extension for Google Chrome that gets rid of my Facebook newsfeed so that I am not trapped in endless scrolling. I also use the time limits available on my iPhone to let me know when I have spent 30 minutes on Instagram and then I log off for the day. I’m not personally on Twitter, but if you are, I would personally recommend you stop. I know some people like it, but that of all social media channels is a cesspool of negativity and anger. Your creativity doesn’t need that. (Feel free to disagree, but find a healthy way to limit it if you choose to stay active there.)
  1. Limit sound. I try and make as much of my day silent as possible these days. Now, ambient noise from the people that I share my life with is not included in this – I’m talking about manufactured, additional noise – TV, music, podcasts, etc. We enjoy music as a family some throughout the day but by and large I try and keep things quiet. My children’s imagination flourish and I have space to become aware of my own thoughts.

  2. Clean up. It’s hard to be creative in a messy, chaotic space. And this is coming from the girl who is chronically a mess. I know it’s an old stereotype that creative people are messy, chaotic, and flighty, but these things don’t truly nurture creativity. We practice a version of minimalism that is a work in progress, but helps simplify tidying so that I don’t spend my creative time cleaning the whole house (most of the time).
  1. Gentleness. Be gentle with yourself, just as much as you would be gentle with your own child. Our creativity is a version of ourselves as a child and it doesn’t respond to admonishments and competition. It responds to love, space, and room to play.

Those are just a few of the ways that I have created space for creativity in my life over the last few months and they’ve made a great deal of difference. When we limit what we consume, in all manners, we are able to better direct what we produce.

But now is the month draws to a close it’s time to make some decisions. Was this month of exploring creativity just a one off for you? An opportunity to try some new things but ultimately not make any big life changes? It’s OK if it was. Change isn’t right for everybody at the same time and you’ll always have these materials and emails to return to shed the time be right in the future.

But if these resources and words have touched something in you that you want to continue to nurture it’s time to commit. After today I won’t be showing up in your inbox talking about creativity anymore. (We have an awesome new topic planned for next month that I’m equally excited about, but it’s bittersweet to let creativity find its way into the archives.)

If you’re ready to commit to really changing the way you go about your day today life to create more space for creativity and infuse your faith life with creativity there’s two things I’d like you to do. 

First of all, I want you to download and print this commitment card. It’s the size of a business card (and pretty!) so if you print it and cut it out of the sheet of paper it will fit in your wallet, pocketbook, or the corner of your mirror. Put it wherever it will remind you of the commitment you have made – to live with greater creativity in all areas of your life. 

The second thing I’d like you to do is consider selecting a physical item to support your commitment to creativity – an item from the Creativity Collection or one of our brand new creativity bundles – that can serve as an every day reminder of the revival that you were seeking in your life. That’s the whole reason we make these products. This is what they’re for – to reinforce the work the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives and draw our mind constantly back to the commitments we have made.

With Joy!

Jill

If you have friends that you think would benefit from the Revive Creativity resource package and the other content we are putting out this month, I encourage you to point them to this link: https://pinksaltriot.com/creativity/. There they can sign up and receive the packet right away in their inbox and follow along with the email for the rest of this month and beyond. 

Healing Creative Wounds

Healing Creative Wounds

I think it’s unfortunate how often we throw around phrases like “Sarah is so creative.” Or “Maddie doesn’t have an athletic bone in their body.”  These kinds of labeling situations, especially amongst the young, can create beliefs that define our perception of what we are capable of. One of my great creativity teachers, Julia Cameron, emphasizes how important it is for us to move through these preconceived ideas we have about our creativity if we’re going to actually be creative. 

If you are one of those people that were affected by negative reinforcement of your creativity throughout your life, I’m sorry. 

That shouldn’t have happened. 

Whether you can’t draw to save your life or can’t sing a note or couldn’t tell a sonnet from a haiku, it was unfair of whoever said it to make the general statement that you were not creative. Even if you believe it is true.

I think it’s so important that our faith creates a place for us to grapple with these damaging beliefs about ourselves and move through them. Connection researcher Brené Brown also talks extensively about the “creative wounds,” her interviewees often speak of which go on to affect them throughout their life.

All this to say that you don’t have to listen to all the voices from your past, even your own, when it comes to your creativity – or anything for that matter. You are not defined by the words that are said about you, but it doesn’t change the fact that they can hurt. I think that a huge part of the healing process is to accept both of those things and hold them both in your heart no matter how hard it might feel.

I was one of those kids that was just always the “creative one.” My life has been defined by music, theater, fashion design, graphic design, photography, all culminating in my career as a creative director. I’ve never met a creative endeavor I didn’t want to try my hand at. 

But subsequently I was also labeled the “not athletic one.” It was the whole cliché 9 yards – the last one picked for teams, lowest grades in gym class, and I think I cried through every one of the six soccer games I attempted.

It was only as an adult that I allowed myself to believe, even just a little bit that maybe being “not athletic“ was not a defining fact about me. Seven months after I had my second child I signed up for my first 5K. Obviously not a feat of massive athletic prowess, but definitely more than I had ever attempted before. I trained all summer, faithfully following my couch to 5K running plan. Even on the morning of the race I didn’t know if I could do it and the memory chokes me up even now – because I did do it. I did what I had always believed was not possible for me even if it was for other people. I proved to myself that “not athletic“ was not a static truth about myself.

So if your version of my story is about being the “not creative” one, take heart. You too can prove to yourself – because you’re the only one that matters in the situation since God already knows the truth – that your non-creativity is not a static truth about yourself. Just as I have a body that is healthy and created by God and therefore able to run despite my lack of natural inclination to do so, you have a complex and beautiful mind that is all your own able to undertake feats of creativity in the image and likeness of God your creator.

So that’s all mushy and well and good and stuff, but what do you actually do if you have always believed that you’re not creative and now want to try and move the needle? You’d be hard-pressed to find a “Couch to Watercolor Florals“ training program, right?

Well, you’d be surprised. If you really would like to test your specifically artistic use of creativity then there is a wealth of beginner materials available. The biggest obstacle people face is the simple fact that it is a struggle for many people to allow themselves to be beginners. You’re early art is going to be bad. Your middle art is probably going to be mostly bad. And yes, even when you reach the later stages of artistic creative expression there is going to be a lot of bad art. And so being OK with that is an integral part of the process. 

To get started, why not jump on Youtube and search for some tutorials? Maybe test out a membership teaching platform like Skillshare that will let you learn lots of different types of things from lots of different professionals? (If you use that link for Skillshare you will get two months of premium membership free to test it out!) Creative friends are also a great resource. See if they will let you join in or observe their creative juices at work to get yours flowing. And last but not least, there’s always the trusty library. Check out a book and learn about a new skill that interests you.

But you definitely don’t have to jump into an artistic creative pursuit if you’re looking to dip your toes into creativity for the first time in a long time, or maybe ever. Throughout this month I’ve shared lots of non-traditionally artistic creative activities you might enjoy – photography, cooking, music appreciation, tinkering, and landscaping. You can pick one of these or another that appeals to you and get your feet wet. A simple book from the library on any of these topics will greatly expand your horizons and give you lots of food for thought.

And also, if you feel that you are harboring a creative wound from childhood, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is that you admit that and also reject the lie that it has superimposed on your life. God wants to heal all our wounds, whether in this life or the next, and that includes our creative wounds. Admitting what you have been through, no matter how small and petty the story my seem, and vocally giving those wounds to God and rejecting the lies attached to them can be a powerful agent of change in your life.

PS. If you have friends that you think would benefit from the Revive Creativity resource package and the other content we are putting out this month, I encourage you to point them to this link: https://pinksaltriot.com/creativity/. There they can sign up and receive the packet right away in their inbox and follow along with the email for the rest of this month and beyond.