Craftsy Class Giveaway-CLOSED

I have some exciting news, friends! This week I’m giving away a Craftsy photography class! Have you heard about Craftsy? Some of the top experts at craft, arts, and photography have collaborated to create online classes so you can up your knitting/cake decorating/artisan bread baking/photography skills (and more!). 
 I’m working through their mini class on family portraiture, and I’m enjoying the format of video lessons presented by true professionals in a welcoming way. The classes are inexpensive ($30-60 roundabout) and manageable to complete in a short amount of time. 
Here are just a FEW of the amazing photography classes available on Craftsy. I’m particularly taken with Shoot It! A Product Photography Primer
Since I’m currently learning how to take my photography to the next level, I thought I’d let you learn with me! My word for the year is BETTER and Craftsy classes are a great place to start.
Photography Class Giveaway
with Craftsy
Ends Friday, March 14, at 12 midnight eastern time. One entry per person, please.
Click here to enterEnter to win a Craftsy class
Closed! Winner will be chosen the week of 3/17 🙂

Have fun gettin’ crafty and I can’t wait to see who wins! 
xo
Natalie
PS.> This post contains affiliate links.

Best. Year. Ever. #boom

{feel free to pin this! hover over the image and click the pink “Pin It” heart!}

You guys. Like no joke I am BEYOND pumped to jump into 2014. You can bet I’ll be the one at the starting line, in ready position, jumping off the blocks on January 1st (actually, before, but January 1st is when all of my new calendars start so…yeah).

I’m investing in 2014. Socially, spiritually, emotionally, fearlessly, boldly, bravely, and financially investing in 2014. I feel strongly that God has called me to be *prepared* for BETTER this year.

Better
is my word for 2014.

The past two years have been full of heartbreak and the difficult struggle to get my heart put back together again, whole and healthy and ready at the feet of God. He has been ever-so gracious and patient with me, and I can see His hand all over the last few years. That Footprints poem might be cliche, but I can see it was only Him who was carrying me. Now, He has set me down on two feet, and said, “Go, now, and be better.” Be stronger. Be healthier. Be braver. I think He is calling me to fill a bigger space, to be more beautiful in heart and spirit, and to dance with Him this year. To be a better version of myself, for me, for Him, for my family, for my friends, for my boyfriend, for my church, for my employers, for you beautiful readers, and even for strangers I meet in day-to-day life. Once again, I have no idea how this word will look in practice, in the rubber-meets-the-road moments over the next 12 months. I am scared, but I am willing.  

I thought I’d share some of the resources I’m using to rock 2014. I’m just so pumped to see what God is going to do and I want to do my best to be intentional and organized (woah, hey grown-up Natalie, where’d you come from being all organized and all?) to be the best version of Natalie I can be for whatever God wants me to tackle.

These are my #PowerSheets from Lara Casey. They are designed to guide you through the entire process of defining, setting, and completing goals that give you the framework to make your dreams a reality. Go far with God! I’m loving them so far.
I also purchased an Emily Ley Simplified Planner (look at those cute gold edges!). The planner is designed to simplify your life so you have the space to accomplish more. You even plan dinner in your planner…a major time-suck and money-waster if you don’t have it written down ahead of time!

Necessities: Pink legal pad, Powersheets, Emily Ley planner, Afar magazine (to get my heart interested in adventure & travel again?), hot pink Post-Its, light pink Post-it flags, pink pen, metallic pencil, blue highlighter, striped paperclips, Martha Stewart goals binder with pink clips, tea, Good Girl Style business cards, and polka-dot washi tape. Happy little things 🙂

Other Resources That Have Informed My Heart So Far for 2014: 
This song.
This blog post.
This challenge.
This reminder.
This sermon series, followed by this one.
The fact that THIS is our God.
This goal-setting plan.
This convicting blog post.
This Twitter feed.
This organization.
This poem.
This heart-truth.

There are so, so many more resources that have been speaking to me as I prepare for the new year. I hope you find some of these helpful to you as well.

Lysa posted on her Facebook page this question: “Lysa, if you are a woman with faith then are you willing to live a life that actually requires faith?” And it’s one that has been tumbling around in my own heat and heart. 

Am I ready?Are we ready?
Let’s be game-changers and faith-walkers this year. 

xo
Natalie

Cocoa Chat

Let’s share a cup of hot cocoa tonight, yeah? See, I made you a special one with homemade whipped cream, peppermint bits, and a cherry Andes mint. It’s rather delicious, if I do say so myself. 
But it’s definitely for you.
Ahem.
My writings here always come from a really authentic place, and I hope you can see that, whether they are silly or deeper-hearted. I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching lately, and I am so excited about the plans I have for this little blog-space of mine. Thank you so much for sharing life with me here.
It is my pleasure to hostess you all here for a moment out of your day.

Today is a time for words instead of pictures. 
Except, one more picture:

For me, this photo embodies my word of the year for 2012: Change.
Every year I choose a Word of the Year that I feel God has laid on my heart as the banner word over my year. I pray about it and often wrestle with the word choice, unsure of what it means or how exactly He seeks to accomplish the meaning of that word in my life. You see, often the words are not pleasant things. They are usually words like 2011’s Discipline or  2012’s word: Change.
On the heels of a rough ending to the otherwise blissfully wonderful 2011, it seemed that there was nothing BUT change left for me. God was preparing my heart. Come mid-year, I was at the end of my rope physically, spiritually, and mentally. I took six flights to visit family in two different states, fighting anxiety attacks the whole way, bursting into tears at random times and in front of strangers, feeling unequivocally beaten down. I made the tough decision to move closer to my family and start chasing some dreams. 
I wish this post were about the healing I’ve experienced, the turning point for wholeness I embraced this year. But as I’ve often said, a testimony is no good without honesty and authenticity. My heart isn’t healed, much as I hate to admit that, because it’s been a year.
 A tough one.

 I know we serve a God whose provisions are complete. He is utterly dependable and overwhelmingly in love with us.
And no matter how much love we may lose on this here broken ground, our God in the Heavens never fails. 

That photo above? That’s me, standing in front of Niagara Falls, during my move. I used to think it was strange that I decided to turn my back on the falls and look out the other way. Why didn’t I face the falls? Now, I think it’s mighty symbolic. My back is to the falls. My back is to the difficulty, to the mighty rushing river cliff of heartbreak.
A year into it.
***
I’ll see you next January to check in on my word for 2013 and how God used it in my life. 
Oh, and one of my blog-friends asked me about my goals for the upcoming year. I have a list, but I’ll share my big one:
Get my poetry published!
I wish you all a marvelous year.