Summer Best

With yet another polar vortex making its way through the country this week, I thought I would warm things back up by sharing the BEST parts of my summer thus far (and also those things I’m loving this season) …

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Summer sunrises. The dawn of long, sunny, warm days. My personal best and most favorite time of every day.

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Saturdays spent soaking up the sun. Here in Michigan, sunshine is something we crave and desperately need. Beach, deck, backyard – doesn’t matter – I have been committed to basking in this wonderful gift to the fullest extent possible this season!

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The Fourth of July holiday weekend shared with my sweet hubby, family and friends at our lakeside retreat. Definitely the BEST weekend of this summer so far, and quite possibly one of the BEST holiday weekends ever! It was an absolute blast and a much needed break from the normal routine!

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The ladies and I stumbled upon these awesome wine glasses boasting our love of Pure Michigan while shopping in downtown Ludington over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. All of us fell in love with them immediately, and if I’m not mistaken, I think we grabbed the only ones that were left! They are fabulous, if I do say so myself! I think this is my favorite newest item I’ve gotten in this season to date!

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Continuing to work my way through the Abide Journal + Field Guide. This intentional time of focus on abiding, remaining, and resting in God has been such a breath of fresh air to this girl. I have been blessed, encouraged, and inspired by each week’s topic. It is my prayer that the lessons I’m learning will carry into the next season beautifully as God works out some things in my heart and life for the future.

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Whether it’s texting each other throughout the week, meeting for lunch, or making time to get together on weeknights or on weekends, girlfriend time is truly one of the best times! I have so come to appreciate the honesty, transparency, and courage that each of the ladies in my life demonstrate. I’ve learned that true friendship means being accepted for who we are, as we are, where we are, and vice versa. I’m beyond blessed by the friendships in my life and this season has proven to be one rich with connection and fellowship with those girls I hold most dear.

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I’m not a big t.v. watcher, but I like to find at least one or two shows I can DVR to watch when I don’t have anything else to do (or when I don’t feel like doing anything else – LOL!). I heard about the new ABC Family show, Chasing Life, that started back in June and wouldn’t you know I’ve become a pretty big fan. If you’re looking for a new show to get into, give this one a try!

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Non-Fiction: Finding Spiritual Whitespace. I really enjoyed this book and the author’s insights on what it really means to find rest, peace and contentment. It also greatly aligned with the focus of the Abide journal, so it was a perfect fit with the theme of this season for me!

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Fiction: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Yes, there is the movie, but the book … the book is so. good. I caved and bought it after hearing so much about it from family and friends, and I’m glad. Hilarious. Beautiful. Tragic. All the makings of a can’t-put-down story. Read it.

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Seeing all of my flowers at home blossom and bloom. Love how this season bursts with color and life, especially after the harsh and long winter we endured!

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Golden hour at the ranch. I love watching the sun make its descent through the trees at night, setting everything aglow. I’ve come to really enjoy summertime out in the sticks (aside from the mosquitoes) since we moved from the city four years ago. There’s a special beauty and calm this time of year that I look forward to at the end of the busy work days.

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Summer sunsets. The best way to wind down a day, in my opinion, is to watch the sun dip below the horizon (on the lake preferably). No one sunset is ever the same. Each one is truly a unique masterpiece that costs nothing to behold, aside from a few precious moments of time. Give yourself permission to at least take one in if you haven’t done so already. You will not be disappointed.

There is still plenty of summer yet to come and I fully intend to make the most of every single minute of it! I hope you find yourself doing the same, engaging in those things that make you excited, happy and fully alive in your life!

What I’m Learning this Summer

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I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that the theme of this summer, for me, is “abiding.” Abiding in God, abiding in the things I’ve accomplished thus far, abiding in rest, abiding in relationships, and abiding in hope for whatever is to come next in my journey. As I allow my mind and heart remain still in this season, here is what I’m learning …

  • Health, wellness, and ultimately wholeness, are fostered through intentional times of rest. Taking time-outs to nap, unwind, and do nothing are key to contentment, peace, and overall well-being in every area of life.
  • In order to produce good fruit, one must prune. Cutting away the dead and broken branches, whatever they may be, in our lives allows for God to grow something beautiful, fresh, and new in their place. It isn’t an easy thing to do, but what’s in store for us as we do so is far better than we can imagine.
  • Time spent with the very best of girlfriends is not only a great time, but absolutely vital to my health. Laughing until I cry, having the freedom to be completely transparent, and finding common threads with other strong, confident and bold women makes life so rich and meaningful. Nurturing these relationships is essential.
  • The next phase of my journey (career-wise) will be found at the intersection of my education / skills and my passions / dreams. A change is coming in regards to what I do full-time. God is changing my heart when it comes to ‘work’ and I’m learning to trust Him for the plans He has for me even though I don’t know what’s to come or when it will come. But I do know it’s going to happen and I am to remain open to where He is leading.
  • I need to give more of my energy to the things that make me feel alive and that set my heart free. Worship. Writing. Photography. Enjoying nature. Exercising. Hosting and entertaining family and friends at our home and up north abode. Getting lost in creative projects. Decorating. Baking. Reading. More of these things are in order for me.
  • It is God’s grace, goodness, and strength at work in me that empowers and enables me to live my best life now, today and every day.

I am grateful for this season of intentional rest and stillness. Abiding in Him this summer is probably the best thing I could have done for myself. I am blessed by what He is speaking to me, even the hard things, and look forward to what He will produce as I continually sink and soak in His marvelous grace. I know that remaining in the vine of His unfailing love is where real life is found.

What seems to be the theme of your summer? What things are you learning in this season? What things make you come alive and set your heart free?

Let’s commit to learning, growing, and reaping a harvest of rest and goodness in this season, friends!

Happy 4th of July!

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It’s Friday! And it isn’t just any Friday – its Fourth of July Friday! And for us that means a long weekend at the lake spent with our dear family and friends! Hooray!

Starting today, 15 of us will gather to revel in the goodness of Pure Michigan, including: laughing and playing in the sunshine, indulging in the very best food and drinks, and taking part in some of the Harbor Fest events in downtown Ludington, making memories to last a lifetime!

Even more important, this weekend we’ll celebrate the freedom we have in this blessed country, as well as the good life each of us are living in our own unique ways! What could be better than this?!?

Whether you’re gathered with loved ones or taking a much needed break for yourself today and in the days ahead, I wish all of you the best and most happy 4th of July holiday weekend!

Live it up and enjoy every minute of it!

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eBook Update

I AM eBook

Happy Saturday, friends! I hope this weekend finds all of you well!

Today I thought I’d share a quick update on my eBook. It has officially been on the market a month, and I’ve been beyond blessed to hear from many of you who have downloaded and read through it already. Thank you so much for letting me share my story with you. I continue to hope and pray my words speak life and truth to you, and that my journey provides inspiration for your journey!

If you have not yet bought the book and are interested in checking it out, you can find it online at the following retailers …

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Christian Book

Google Books

!ndigo

WestBow Press

Keep me posted if you decide to get yourself a copy, by either commenting on here, messaging me on Facebook, or finding me on Instagram (@hgottschalk12). Use #iamebook to connect with others who are reading it too!

Thanks for following along and for the support of my eBook release! Blessings!

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Words are more than just ink of paper.

They are soul prints of God’s voice  -

carrying the unique timbre of heaven-on-earth

that only you can speak.

Bonnie Gray

Abiding in Summer

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The sweet summer season is officially here! Hallelujah! I, for one, am a HUGE fan of this season with its long days, sunshine, and warmth. I love to spend the weeknights out on the deck, enjoying the color and scent of the flowers I’ve planted, grilling and eating delicious dinners with my hubby, and getting comfy with a good book to wind down the busy days. As mentioned in my last post, I also love being up north on the weekends, spending time with family and friends and soaking in all the graces that lake life offers. One other thing I love – my classy wardrobe of t-shirts, running shorts, and sandals – I pretty much live in these all summer long! (It’s the little things!)

This summer I am being intentional in facilitating three specific things: Connection. Rest. Wellness. In all areas of life. And my method to accomplishing these things is quite simple: Abiding in God and the good things He has blessed me with to make the most out of this season.

As I think more specifically about this new season, here is what my heart is hoping for over the coming months …

  • Remaining and resting in God. Being refreshed by His love, taking time to bask in His grace, and being inspired by His beauty and goodness. As I lean into Him and let Him work on my heart, mind and soul, I pray that He will heal the broken areas and clean up the messiness inside, bringing me to a new and restored place with Him. I also hope that I will find clarity of calling and purpose as I focus on Him and what He wants for me (vs. what I want for me).
  • Spending quality, one-on-one time with the hubby, whether it’s doing fun and new things or doing nothing at all, I want to connect and make the most of any little bit of time we have to be together. We’re both looking forward to a long weekend in celebration of the 4th of July holiday and we’ll be taking a week off at the beginning of August for another adventure to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary! I’m excited for the good times that await us in the next couple of months!
  • Spending time with loved ones – family and friends – both at home and up north. For connection and conversations, fun and laughter. To be present with those who comprise my “home team” and give to them what they so graciously give to me.
  • Physical healing of my foot. I am on a new regimen of spinning, stretching, walking/jogging, and wearing an ultrasound bone healing mechanism for forty minutes every day. I am not one for laying or sitting around much, but I feel in this season that aside from exercise and the have-tos of housework, etc. I need to be taking it easy and give this last portion of injured bone in my foot time to completely heal once and for all. I hope when I see my doctor at the end of next month that he tells me I am finally over this hurdle for good!
  • Physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual balance. For all of these areas to be aligned to the best extent possible as I take the time to tend each of them accordingly.
  • To get lost in a variety of good reads. I have a list of books I am making my way through, both fiction and non-fiction, and I look forward to any opportunity I get to dive into a good story, learn, and be encouraged by words on the page.

Essentially, I am hoping and praying that this will be the BEST summer yet! A summer that truly recharges and renews, inspires and energizes, and that ultimately allows me to revel in all. things. GOOD.

Hoping the same for you, friends! Cheers to summer!

P.S. If you’re looking for a great way to abide this summer, I recommend the Abide Journal + Field Guide by Naptime Diaries. I started working through this two weeks ago and I fell in love immediately. It speaks to exactly what my heart and soul are craving this season, and it’s self-paced which is a welcome change for this girl who operates everything by a specific schedule. Check it out and let me know if you decide to jump in!

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“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.

I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.”                     

~ John 15:4-8, The Message

Lake Life

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Over the past month, the hubby and I have officially retreated into what we call, “lake life.” Simply stated, “lake life” means we’re at home (and work) Monday – Friday, with the weekends spent at our most favorite spot in Pure Michigan – Ludington – during the summer season. Friday nights are the bright spot at the end of our busy weeks, where upon getting up north, time has a magical way of slowing down, the days last forever, and everyone around us is laid back, content, and just plain happy. The lake is our oasis – the place where we get away from the demands and stress of every day life and allow ourselves to enjoy fun in the sun with loved ones and the beauty of this gorgeous state we live in! It’s what we look forward to all winter long and I am happy to say that time is finally here!

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Some things I’m especially loving so far this summer in regard to our lakeside paradise, include …

  • The Friday night drive up north with my hubby. We look forward all week to that moment when the work day ends and we hit the road for our special place. The further we get from home, the more our burdens and worries from the week drift away. It gives us time to talk, or listen to our favorite music, and sometimes just ride along in silence taking in the lovely sites we pass on our journey. These are definitely treasured moments together!
  • Our revamped deck space that feels more like a cabana / spa overlooking the water vs. a marina! My hubby has created a lovely space that is so comfortable and inviting. I absolutely love drinking my coffee and reading out there in the morning hours, as well as chatting with our neighbors, or just laying down and resting for a bit outside. This upgrade has been a fabulous treat the past couple of weeks.
  • Sunrises and sunsets over the water. I never tire of these daily wonders. The peace and beauty they offer are just one of the many ways we soak in the grace of this season.
  • Morning walks down to the pier, as well as downtown at a trail that runs along Lincoln Lake. I’m giving my foot continued time to heal and rest, so I’m not quite back to running as much as I was before, but I’m still getting my weekend exercise in up north with a brisk walk. I put on my iPod and let myself take in the sights and think for a bit. The physical activity out in the fresh air does wonders for me!
  • The vegetable garden my grandpa and I planted together last weekend. He’s lucky and gets to be there every day, all summer long, so thankfully he is able to check on it and take care of it while I’m at home. We got creative this year and planted tomatoes, cucumbers, green and yellow bell peppers, and even sweet potatoes. Although we’re not sure how this will all turn out, I’m confident we’ll yield a decent harvest, and I am looking forward to enjoying the fruits of our labor!

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So far, between the release of my eBook and our weekends spent at the lake, summer is off to a fabulous start and it’s only just beginning! I fully intend to revel in every bit of this wonderful sunny season!

What is your summer looking like so far? What things are you enjoying and basking in to start the season?

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Official eBook Release!

At the beginning of January, I committed to Making Things Happen in 2014. One of my goals for this year was to finish a project I started over two years ago. I am happy to say that the project is not only finished, but published and on the market!

Today, I am excited to introduce and share with all of you my very first eBook  …

Book

This book is my personal “coming to faith” story, from my heart to yours. It’s about what God has taught me through every day, ordinary things and various life circumstances. It’s about who God has revealed Himself to be through His Word. And it’s about finding myself in Him.

I invite you to check out the book on Amazon and / or WestBow Press, and to get cozy and dive-in! The book is a series of short essays with reflection questions at the end of each chapter, making it perfect for either self-reflection or journeying through it with others in community.

My prayer is that as you read, you’ll come to see the wonderful possibilities that exist within a faith-filled life and how God can take us – just as we are, no matter where we’ve been or what we’re going through - and make our lives beautifully unique for His glory. I also hope it inspires you to seek Him for the ‘good life’ He calls you to live. This is ultimately the heart behind my ministry (blog, book, and photography) altogether.

Thanks for following along, friends, and allowing me to share my dream-come-true with you today!

Blessings!

P.S. I’d love to hear from you as you purchase and read through this! Share today’s post to tell others about it, and use #iamebook on Facebook and Instagram to keep me posted! Happy Reading!

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God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

~ Ephesians 3:20, The Message