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“Good News Notes” will be a fun, uplifting, happy monthly e-mail in the inboxes of those who wish to receive it. I’ll share my current favorites: quotes, books, faith encouragement, positive influencers to follow, and even freebies for you to download on occasion. I’ll also share recent good news I discover from local, regional, national and neighborhoods around the world.

Subscribers will be the first to hear of new product releases, EPC related events/workshops, and other ideas I hope to create in the future. I will handle your email address with care and you can unsubscribe any time, but I hope to be such bright spot that you’ll stick around.  

What Everyone Ought to Know When They Feel Different

I’ll bet Ann M. Martin didn’t expect when she developed her Babysitters Club characters (30+ years ago) that a little girl from Tennessee would be drawn to big earrings from forteen to forty because of artsy Claudia.

We just never know who and how we will influence someone with our words and actions, hopefully for the good.

Growing up, I wasn’t a big reader, but I loved the Baby-Sitters Club series. My sister and I rewound and rewatched the VHS versions multiple times.

Claudia, Vice President of the Babysitter’s Club, was creative and always at art class. The fact that she embraced her artistic side, dressed in her own style (the afformentioned big earrings) and was not the best speller at school made her personality appealing to me.

Photo Source: Scholastic

Like Claudia, I wanted to be artsy, unique, and do my own thing even if it meant I wasn’t popular. Being true to my creative nature was something I valued at an early age, but I needed someone to identify with in that way.

Writers have the ability to meet the reader right where they are, connect with them, and help them not feel alone. Words travel far distances with power, stories are transformative, and characters inspire us to have the courage to be who we are meant to be.

When you live in a small town and have a talent that doesn’t check the box of athletic, life can be more difficult as a kid. Team sports come with the benefit of an automatic friend group and bond. Reading about Claudia’s life helped me to see that there was a place for artistic me in the world and maybe just maybe there were people like me out there somewhere.

I took notice when I’d see an artist in town, even though there were just a few that I knew of at the time. They have no idea that I even was encouraged by them, but I was. Even though they were adults, they were showing me with their life that dreamers really can be doers. The few classes I had with a local artist and the craft days offered at the Park and Rec made a big difference in my life.

We can think in error that what we have to give, as far as our talents go, won’t really make a difference in the big scheme of things. These stories remind me that what we have to offer the world matters.

Ann M. Martin’s writing has made ripple effects in my life even today, yet she doesn’t even know me. I still look to those local artists in admiration, because they are showing me that once a creative, always a creative, no matter how much you age.

Feel free to share on your Instastory.

We don’t know who we are influencing for the good in our art, faith, writing, positive social media presence, work ethic, teaching, mothering, helping hand, or public service. The important thing is that we are faithful to share what we’ve got in a world that seems to try to snuff our our lights at every turn.

You may be the only public Christian influence someone sees fleshed out. You may be the only life long learner who is so passionate about teaching that you change a child’s life forever. You may be the only one who shows unconditional love in the life of another. You may feel different, but by being true to who God created you so eclectically to be, you may just be reaching others that need to see themselves in you.

Be that person that someone, even a child, can look to today to know that they can be a life giving, faith filled, loving, and creative individual, too.

We bring hope to the world when we live that way.

Inspiration

I have a practice of starting my day in God’s eternal, infallible, word. It’s full of promises and encouragement for me. It grounds me, gives me vision for the day, and helps me gain perspective that life is more than what meets the eye. Seeking God first keeps me focused and creating.

When I keep my biblical lenses on, I can stay positive in the face of negative, remain steadfast in prayer in the face of hopelessness, and be inspired to keep on keeping on day by day as I do the next thing He leads me to do.

This week’s Action Steps:

  1. I challenge you this week to think about a book character that you identified with as a child or people in your life who you looked up to in that way. I’d love to hear about it!
  2. I also encourage you to read one Psalm per day. They are life giving and a contrast to what you’ll see on the news. See how your perspective changes. Also sign up to receive my Canva tutorial and create an encouraging scripture image to send to a friend or your social media followers.
  3. Once you think on these things, reach back in your memory bank and remember one hands on activity you used to enjoy as a kid, or even as an adult but haven’t done in a while. Purchase the supplies and try it again. I worked on a painting this week for the fun of it. It’s not perfect, but it was fun, relaxing, and it makes me happy as it hangs over my desk.

    Have a great week!
    Emily
Click the image to sign up to receive my Canva tutorial.

Identity: How to Reclaim Your True Sense of Self

Twice lately it’s caught me off guard that my almost twelve year old didn’t know two major things about my life.

“I want to be a writer.” I stated matter of factly to my kids a couple of weeks ago


“I didn’t know that.” my son said surprised.

I rephrased, “Well, I actually am already a writer. I had a blog…” He interrupted me, “What’s a blog?”

I couldn’t believe the boy who’s life I chronicled from birth-Kindergarten didn’t even know that piece of my story.

Yesterday I was painting a huge canvas for my office when he said, “Mom, I didn’t know you could paint. You’re really good!”

It seems over the years, as we’re tucking babies into bed, we can also tuck major parts of who we are away without even realizing it.

This post is about recapturing the essence of who we truly are so we can love our people, our lives, and who God made us to be, more abundantly.

As multitasking moms, career women, and modern day “social-medialites” we can slowly slip away from who we were before we took on those roles.

Labels get slapped on us, we get typecast in life, and we can feel like there’s no use in even trying anything new because we feel defeated before we even attempt it. Who has time for dreaming when there are mouths to feed, a carpool to drive, and clothes to wash?

Without even realizing it, like floating down the shore at the beach, we can look up and we don’t even know who we are anymore and where we are heading in life.

We seem to live at such a hectic pace of going through the motions that we may not even recognize we aren’t becoming who we set out to be.

Yet there’s hope. We can still reclaim the youthful dreams and desires of our hearts that used to beat with expectancy and joy.

So, where do we start? How do we get back to who we were made to be?

Maybe we’ve just gotten off course a little bit? Or maybe we feel lost in the woods. Either way, I believe we start with truth.

Living in the Word will help us to live more fully, love more abundantly, and have the creative energy we need to make change for the better.

Some great verses on finding your identity in Christ:
1. John 1:12: You are a child of God.
2. Ephesians 1:7 You are redeemed, forgiven and full of His grace
3. John 15:16 You are chosen, fruitful, and you have God’s ear for prayer.
4. Romans 6:6 You are crucified with Christ so you don’t have to be slave to sin any longer.
5. Genesis 1:27 You are made in God’s image.
6. Jeremiah 1:5 You are set apart.
7. 1 Peter 2:9 You are a part of a royal priesthood, part of a holy nation, God’s special possession to praise him for bringing you from the darkness into the light.
8. John 15:15 You are no longer a slave but a friend of God
9. 2 Corinthians 5:17 You are a new creation in Christ

10. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

”Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Fearfully made means you see something that is so overwhelming that you say, “Whoever made this, should not be messed with. Whoever made this should be worshipped.”

So, when we look at creation (including who He designed us to be) we should live out of that awe and reverence toward Him and know He loves us to have created us. He created us in His image! We reflect Him!

He’s given us one life here on earth to steward. If we spend it in self-doubt, repressing our gifts, how will our lives magnify His name and draw others into the abundant life and love He offers through Jesus?

Motherhood has brought me the most happiness, given me the most confidence that I can do anything, but also the most self doubt as, in a way, we are growing as our kids do. Missteps in parenting are a given.

There was always that fear in the back of my mind that my full creativity may never return post mommy brain. I’m now learning that all seasons pass and “once a creative, always a creative.”

Have you ever been in those insecure shoes before?

I’ve drafted some steps to help get myself back on track spiritually and creatively. Do you want to walk with me back to who you were made to be, too?

Remember. I hope to remember where I came from and where I’m going, recapturing my free spirited nature along the way and sharpening my creative skills.

I also need to recall how far God’s hand has brought me to bring me to this place. He is SO faithful to pull us out of the “miry clay, and set our feet upon a rock, and establish our steps.” Psalm 40:2

Do you remember a time in your life when you were more fully YOU than you are today?

Reimagine. I’m reimagining my professional life, although that wasn’t in my 2020 plans and it’s still a creative path. (I’ll be sharing more on how all of this unfolded in a future post).

Has your life been flipped upside down by COVID, too? How are you handling it? Has this been an opportunity for you to grown and reimagine things?

Rest. I’m learning to listen to my body when I’m tired, feeling overwhelmed or stressed. I had no idea until this stay at home/safer at home season how extremely exhausted I was.

How has this season of safer at home been for you? Have you recognized that you needed a slower pace?

Reach. I want to reach old friends and new readers with words of encouragement and the good news of the gospel. I also want to reach out to local friends in a more intentional way through phone calls, texts, coffee, letters, and even Marco Polo.

Is there anyone who may benefit from your encouragement today?

Restore. I would like to restore your faith in me to be consistent and dependable with my writing. I didn’t know the term “ghosting followers” before a few weeks ago, but it’s a thing and I totally did it (unintentionally) with facebook and my old blog.

Side note: Can I be honest with you? Nothing in my life has made me feel more anxious and like a guinea pig than being the first generation to learn to navigate life on social media. To think we are also the first to teach our children’s generation to do the same is also overwhelming. There were pitfalls. There were mistakes. But, as with everything new in life, you live, you learn, you know better, you do better (and you learn to set boundaries!)

Does anything in your life need restoring today?

Rewrite. I am going to rewrite the rules of social media for my life to be a tool for me to use, not for it to rule over me.

I want to be an example for my children of how to use social media with a mission statement in mind, intentionally posting through that lens, and in the process shedding the tendency to react and instead respond to the world in kindness.

Our social media mantra, “We don’t get our identity from “likes” but from who we are in Jesus.

I also want to set limits on how much screen time I allow in my own life so that I can foster more time for creativity.

The enemy of creative thought is interruption and distraction.

Does anything come to mind for your own life when you think of the word “rewrite?” Are there any rules you need to rewrite to help you love the person God made you to be and those around you more abundantly?

Reconnect. It’s time to reconnect with you, by writing in order to serve you, encourage you, and inspire you to live a more authentic and enthusiastic existence.

How can I help you? What topics would you like to see covered?

Maybe you can take some time to write these words in your journal to reflect on where you want to make changes. We are all works in progress! I hope to see you back here next Tuesday to discuss the topic of creating eclectically.

Thanks for reading,
Emily

If you’re new, start here.

Introduction

I wanted to introduce myself for those of you who don’t know me and say “hello” to those of you who do. I’m Emily for those of you who are new. Welcome everyone!

I am a photographer, designer, and writer. I started a blog twelve years ago to share my photography and my days of becoming a mom and the things God was teaching me through that time. After about five years I was led to close that door for a season to wait on what He had for me next. (I’ve written here and there, but not with specific intention).

Over the last few years through sickness, tragedies too sorrowful to put into words just yet, and overcoming hardships the Lord has begun to put a new song in my mouth, handed me a blank canvas, and put a hastening in my spirit to magnify Him through the gifts He’s given me.

For a long time, I held back my full self because I felt different, didn’t want to seem too “extra,” and didn’t really think my voice was relevant anymore. When in fact, maybe the Lord made me that way and placed me where he had me to bring something only I could.

He’s been calling out that girl in me who was made to color the world. I want to inspire you to find what sets you apart so that you shine brightly for Him in your corner of His Kingdom. You have that thing that sets you apart, too, you know.

Through this blog, I want to help call out your uniqueness. Let’s not let the fear of not fitting the mold of this world hold us back from being who we are meant to be.

We serve an extraordinary God, don’t you think He might have thrown more than a few extraordinary people in the mix of a generation?

What if you are the piece of the puzzle that makes your town or city complete? It takes all kinds to make the world go round. You may not be an artist, but you were made in the image of The Creator, so I know you were made to create in the area of life in which you’ve been placed.

Why do I Write?

-I write because I don’t want to take today for granted. This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it! I write to bring light and positivity into the world. Psalm 118: 24

I write because I want to be a voice for those who haven’t quite found their place in the world just yet. You are not alone.

I write because I want my kids to see that for a dream to have legs, you have to take action. I write to show them that anything is possible if you just take one step at a time towards your relevant goals.

I’ll be writing with these three themes in mind each month: Live Fully, Love Abundantly, and Create Eclectically. I’ll write a newsletter to my subscribers with a collection of positive stories I’ve collected the previous month. Click to subscribe.

My instagram feed will reflect each post and I hope to engage and interact with you as we both seek to grow in these areas.

The first official post this week is in the “Live Fully” category. It challenges us to still set goals even when the world seems to be falling apart.

I will be asking you to contemplate what things might be holding you back from a small or big goal you want to set. Many times, we have to cast off things that are holding us back to reach a better place in life.

For example, in order to meet my goal to consistently write and stay in a positive and healthy place, I’m having to reign in my media consumption. Instead of binging TV, I’m reading, writing, and creating to foster a life that’s more fulfilling to me. I still enjoy media, I’m just giving myself limits.

I had to come to the uncomfortable point in my life where I knew something was missing in order to walk away from the things I enjoyed that were time drainers.

I hope this week’s post helps you in some way or another. Let’s talk about it. Here’s to taking the next step towards my writing goal. I’m glad you’re here with me for it.

Have a great day!
Emily

Setting Goals in Spite of Outward Circumstances

You had your resolutions ready to go. It was the dawn of a new decade, a new year, a new you. It was time to turn over a new leaf.

You even picked your word of the year and maybe even a word for the decade.

This would be your year.

But, then it wasn’t.

Does this sound like you?

The word I chose for the year is minimize (worry, spending, distractions, possessions, waist line) and my word of the decade is launch (prepare my children for the world they’ll one day live in, release new art, etc.).

I had no idea when I chose these words that a pandemic would minimize my life more than I could have ever imagined. (I went through all of the stages of grief when this all started, sometimes all on the same day), but I’ve come out the other side changed (I think for the better), and out of that place I am launching this new blog, a blog with big goals in mind in spite of the unknown.

If we let ourselves be caught up in our circumstances or our fear of failure, we will never accomplish our fullest potential. Out of pain comes purpose. Out of hardship comes strength to persevere.

Will you set a half year goal with me?

There is that flickering light inside of each one of us, a flame that needs fanning. Pay attention to to what excites you and gives you butterflies. Follow that towards setting your 1/2 year goal.

I have had a lot of success setting resolutions in June instead of January, less pressure I guess. The year before last on June 1, I gave up gluten for good. It improved my health so much that after that first year of being gluten free, I felt empowered to start exercising.

Last June, I gave myself a goal of walking one mile 3X per week. Now, a year into completing my goal, I bike 2 miles and walk 2 miles every day of the week! If you would have told me last year that I would have improved that much, I would have laughed at you.

One Year Later I Feel So Much Better! Woo Hoo!

That’s the beauty of a long term goal. It takes a while to come to fruition, but once you break a bad habit or gain a good habit it is the best feeling in the world!

So, this year, my June goal is to show up for you and write one post every Tuesday and send out one newsletter per month. I’ll also share three instagram posts each week on M, W, and F, that tie back in with the weekly blog topic. I hope you’ll engage and interact with me there so we can build a little community of encouragement over this next year.

So far, I have a great track record with June goals, so I’m hopeful this one will bring me joy, too.

May I offer some practical tips for sticking with your newfound goal?

Think about what you need to minimize in order to maximize your goal setting potential. 1. Specific. Name your goal and tell a friend.

2. Measurable. Make a note in your planner, journal, or phone to declare your start to be able to track your progress.

3. Achievable. Set micro goals to move you towards your big goal.

4. Relevant. Make sure your goal is realistic. Start small so you don’t burn out or get discouraged.

4. Timely. Set a timeline to achieve your big goal and map out your micro goal target dates.

If you’re giving up a bad habit, find something good to replace it with. For me, gluten was in everything, so I stocked my fridge and pantry with quick gluten free snacks I could reach for in a pinch, especially those first 3 weeks.

If you’re aiming to start a good habit, like consistency in exercise, first pick a specific time each day to schedule it on your calendar. Last year for me it was 6 a.m. To make time for your particular goal, you may have to remove or rearrange something from your schedule. Be intentional about that. It makes all of the difference. For my writing goals, I’ve had to give up media consumption. For one, it clouds my perspective and secondly, it sucks all of the creative energy from me. Writing for me has been just as much about breaking a media addiction (a bad habit) in favor of putting something positive in the world (adding a good habit).

Pick an activity you enjoy doing or something to reward yourself with. For me that was certain podcasts I saved just for my walks. I looked forward to the podcast even when I didn’t feel like walking. I rewarded myself with a bike one month into sticking with my goal.

Currently, instead of turning on the news after I exercise or checking my social feeds, I read, write and design. That’s my happy place.

I hope this leaves you encouraged and inspired to move forward confidently in the direction of your ambition this year. I can’t wait to hear what goal you choose! Please let me know in the comments.

Have a great day and thanks for reading!

Emily

Second Act

I’m calling it my second act. In 250 days I’ll be 40 and I’m strangely excited about it. For the first time in a long time I feel I’m coming fully alive.

Maybe it’s because 2020 has been turned on its head and it feels a bit disorienting, but I’m enjoying the thought of reimagining these next twenty years, even though I would never have set out to do such a thing had the pandemic not thrown us a major curve ball. 

Way back in 2008, my first year as a full time photographer, I determined to “kill it” and that I did. Defying all of the “starving artist” quotes, the entrepeneur in me out performed my engineer husband in earnings. In the midst of this, I was expecting my first baby and quickly my focus changed from getting rich to creating a richer life. As I was making plans, taking pictures, making art, my Creator was making me. 

That process has continued through these twelve years of being in business. He has continued to shape me, mold me, and inspire me to travel roads that I may not have chosen to get me to a better place, a more beautiful life. 

This fork in the road has been no exception. God has not left me or stopped leading me. In the middle of this unplanned year, Friday I took my first step on the path to a new adventure to join hope*writers.

What better time to set out towards a goal I’ve had for a long while to devote more time to growing as a writer.

If you are a kindred soul who loves all things creative, seeing God’s hand in your everyday life, and are not mad at all about slowing down a bit this year, you are welcome to read along. I’ll try to share with you in an artful way, as I attempt to capture the fleeting moments of family life through the lens of faith.

I hope to be a bright spot in your day and for my little corner of the internet to be a retreat from the sometimes negative hum of the newsfeed. Stay tuned in the coming days as I share more of my writing. Everyone has to start somewhere and I’m starting right here.

Thanks for reading,
Emily