Let the Season Begin!

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Our favorite time of the year has come – the time to make our way back to the lake and enjoy the finest things Pure Michigan has to offer! Hooray!

My dad, grandfather, and hubby have been very busy the past few weekends preparing the marina for the spring and summer season full of boats, camping, and fishing. I decided to go up for the first time two weekends ago to do what I do best – get our place cleaned out, organized, and stocked up for the months to come. Despite it being a lot of work initially, it just means that from now on all we have to do is drive up on Friday nights, open the door, and enjoy the weekend in our favorite place with family and friends. What on earth could be better than that?!?

Spring and summers spent in Ludington is a tradition I have enjoyed since childhood. And I was fortunate to find and marry a man who shared my love for the area, as well as my passion for getting away on the weekends to enjoy the best of our great state, and who was just as excited as I was to get married on the shore of Lake Michigan. Ludington is our place. It’s the place we look forward to visiting all winter long and the sanctuary where we invite our family and friends to break away from the demands of everyday life, take a breath, and relax by the water.

Being up north means drinking coffee and reading on the deck, watching the sunshine sparkle over the water, breathing in the freshest of air, morning runs down Lakeshore Drive, soaking up the rays on the beach, walking down to the pier, indulging in House of Flavors ice cream, taking the boat out for a sunset cruise, and having bonfires under a canopy of moon and stars.

This time of year is, simply put, magical. The time spent outside, with loved ones, in addition to the slower pace all of us settle into up there, makes lake life a tremendous blessing to us. I truly believe it is these few months out of the year that somehow satisfy and sustain our souls to get through the long wintry cold months. It’s the grace our spirits need and the thing that gives us hope to keep going in midst of those bitter cold, harsh days.

I have no doubt that this season will be another one for the books! 2015 is proving to be an incredible year and I sense this spring / summer spent back at the lake will be nothing short of awesome and full of the best things in life!

Bring on the fun in the sun and let this fabulous season begin!

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This is my last post for a couple of weeks as I’ll be in Colorado over Memorial Day!

Have a great holiday weekend, friends! <3

Dream Come True

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Yesterday marked my last day as Director of Social Services for a local tri-county agency, a position I’ve held for close to two years. To be honest, I didn’t really see myself transitioning into a new job any time soon. With recently finishing the requirements necessary to apply for my full licensure in Social Work, I knew I’d start looking again once I had that LMSW in hand, but I never anticipated things happening the way they did over the past three weeks.

The organization I work for comprises many different levels – local, divisional, territorial, national, and international. Working on the local level means that I communicate with the divisional level frequently as they oversee the system in which we work day-in and day-out. It was while participating in an action planning meeting one Friday with a woman from our Divisional Headquarters that I was presented with the opportunity to apply for an advanced position: “Hannah, if you’re interested, there’s a position available at DHQ that I think you’d really be great in. Take a look and send me your resume if you think this is something you might want to do.”

I checked out the positing online, thought about the position over the weekend, talked it over with my husband, prayed about it, and decided, “Why not? Just because I apply doesn’t mean I’m going to get the job. It’s always good to put yourself out there and get the interview experience. And it never hurts to just apply and see what happens.”

Little did I know this one decision would change the course of everything within a week’s time …

I sent my resume in the Monday following the Friday meeting. I interviewed the following Monday and was told, “You are the best candidate for this job. Expect a formal offer to come by email tomorrow.” Tuesday afternoon came around, and with it, an offer I couldn’t refuse: In addition to an increase in pay, I would be able to develop in my consultant / leadership / management / teaching skills, working from home and traveling to various social services sites (at the local level) to assist with the roll-out of case management programming, all expenses paid.

Dream. Come. True.

For the longest time, I have wanted to be in a position where I work from home, have the ability to travel, and assist others in becoming the best they can be. I have longed for this and prayed for an opportunity like this to come my way. But I never thought it would look like this, nor so soon. I’m still in shock over how this has all worked out. And all I can say is, “Only God. Only He could bring this to pass.”

With the offer, came official resignation from my role as Director and spending the last two plus weeks terminating my work there, informing the community of the change, preparing my staff for transition, and the new Director for his/her future responsibilities.

Because I have not yet started the job, I don’t know all that is to come with this role, but I am SO EXCITED for this new adventure to begin! Sure there will be good and bad days, easy and hard times, but such is life. I know this is an answer to prayer, and I feel honored that our Divisional Headquarters recognized the work I’ve done as a Director and felt confident to hire me for this new role as a Regional Coordinator.

I also feel incredibly grateful for all the education and work experience I’ve had leading up to this moment. Everything I’ve done since graduate school has inched me forward to being able to have an opportunity like this. I’ve grown and learned so much from each position, every boss, my fellow employees, and the clients / community I serve. Social Work is not the most glamorous, high-paying, or easy profession, but it’s one that I take great pride in and one that continues to surprise me time and time again.

So with that, I move forward and walk through this door God has so graciously opened for me, looking forward to all that He will do in and through me in this new role. I trust Him to provide for me, making me the best professional I can be in this position, and to continue to do the amazing work that only He can do!

And I thank Him, again, for this dream come true – this chance to do something I have had visions of for such a long period of time that I lifted it up to God day-after-day asking Him to bring it to pass in His will and His way. And just like that, He did.

He is the giver of dreams fulfilled. He is good. SO. GOOD.

Indianapolis 2015

Last September I traveled to Indianapolis for the very first time to attend The Influence Conference which I wrote about here.

Over Easter weekend, I had the awesome and exciting opportunity to attend the 2015 NCAA Final Four Men’s Basketball Tournament with my dad, brother, and best friend to cheer on our beloved Michigan State Spartans! Although it was a very tough game to watch, and we ultimately did not win against the Duke Blue Devils, it was still an absolute blast and one heck of an experience to share with three of my most favorite people on this planet! There’s nothing better than being with loved ones, enjoying beautiful weather, and showing some team spirit! The city was electric and on fire!

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This past week, I was originally supposed to head back to Indy for a work conference, however, due to a recent change in positions (more to come on this soon) and only having two weeks left in my current role, I opted out of the trip in order to get things done in the office.

Fortunately, I’ll be making my way back there in September for this year’s Influence Conference which I am SO excited about! After last year, I knew I had to make this an annual event – it was that powerful, life-changing and transformational for me. I have no doubt this year’s will be even that much and more – and getting to share it with two of my best friends is going to make it even more special!

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With that, thank you Indy for the good times this year! It’s been a pleasure and I’ll be seeing you again SOON!

The Blessing of Girlfriends

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A big goal of mine in 2015 has been to connect with family and friends more throughout my days and weeks. Although this seems like a ‘common sense’ goal and something that would be easily achievable, it’s amazing how quickly our precious time gets eaten up by not only our ‘have to’s’ but all these extra things that come our way that we feel obligated to do and end up taking on, leaving very little time for others, let alone ourselves, at the end of each day.

I believe a significant part of ‘living the good life’ means connecting with our people whenever and wherever possible. Spouses, children, family, friends, neighbors … whoever you consider ‘your people’ … make time and make room for them. The bottom line: We need each other and the encouragement, love, and support that comes from having our people in our corner.

One way I’ve managed to make this happen this year is by setting aside one Saturday a month to connect with two of my girlfriends. Two of us live in the same area, the other one is a little further away, but we make it work; she either comes to us or we go to her, and we spend an afternoon adventuring the local area, taking a break from the normal routine and being together, just us girls.

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Cultivating great girl-friendships has meant a lot to me, personally, for a few reasons in particular …

For starters, growing up I was definitely more of a ‘tom-boy’ than a  ‘girly-girl.’ I’ve never been much into fashion and material things, spending a lot of money on clothes and hair, and nails, nor did I swoon much over famous teenaged heartthrobs. I’ve always been what you might call more ‘modest’ and ‘simple’ and into things that involve being outdoors, going and seeing places, having experiences, etc. I’m the girl who grew up fishing with my dad on the Great Lakes, preferred camping to a hotel, would rather wear a hat than do my hair, and could be found playing out in the woods behind our house, building forts with my brother. Although I definitely embrace being a woman and some of those ‘girly-girl’ activities now, I’m still very much a ‘tom-boy’ at heart.

Secondly, I have found that there exists a strange competition among women. In childhood and into my adult years, I have experienced way more drama with female friends than male friends. It’s seemed almost easier at times to be friends with guys than with girls. Anybody else with me on this? In my experience, I found that among women friends, there tends to be more comparison, more sizing-up, more judgment, and more fear expressed. And I hate that. As women, we should stick together and help each other. We deal with things that men cannot and will not ever understand (sorry guys, but it’s true) and yet we’re the hardest on each other. So finding and keeping good girlfriends who can respect one another, embrace the differences that make us unique, and be there for each other no matter what is a HUGE deal to me!

Third and lastly, I’m a believer that when you have true relationships with people, although they won’t always be 50/50, there does need to be a mutual ‘give and take.’ I’m a person who gives my all when it comes to those things I hold most importantly in my life. But there have been times where all I’ve done is give and give and give and give, and never once did I receive anything in return – not just with friendships but other things too. And you know what? It doesn’t work. It burns me out, leaving me tired and feeling the ‘lack’ – the despair of what it is vs. what it could be – and it’s ultimately, discouraging.

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My grandfather has always said, “If you can count your friends on one hand, you’re a very lucky person.” I feel incredibly blessed to say that I can count ten people who I would definitely consider my best friends, seven of whom are women. Two of them, I’ve already mentioned above and all of them are women I can trust implicitly, who I know would be there for me in my best and worst moments, and who I talk to on a fairly consistent and regular basis. These relationships have made a tremendous difference in my life through the years.

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Steph and I

So, as this year continues, I hope and plan to make as much time for the wonderful girlfriends in my life as I can. A simple phone call, text, email, or Facebook message, going out for a meal, spending an entire day together or going away for a weekend … whatever it takes to cultivate and grow those friendships … I’m in! I strongly encourage you to do the same – to seek out that connection time and be blessed by what it fosters and nurtures in your life!

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Cultivating Creativity

A big part of my process in “Making Things Happen in 2015″ has been carving out time to be creative and be inspired by others’ creativity. I don’t consider myself an artist or a designer by any means, but putting materials and objects together to create something beautiful and fun is an activity I very much enjoy. I have found that taking the time to exercise my creative side lifts my spirits, reminds me of the good and simple things in life, and spurs me on to encourage and help others find joy as well.

Here are a few ways I’ve been cultivating creativity this year …

Bible Journaling

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Using embellishments, stickers, markers, and washi tape to capture the truth of God’s Word in a meaningful and purposeful way.

Decorating

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I recently had the opportunity to move offices at work and decided to go for the one with the window. Even though the space is small, I’ve made it work, using the natural light and some fun, bright colors and accents to have it be a nice sanctuary for me to get my work done and have others come in when they need to take a break or meet. I’ve received a lot of compliments on my decor, and the freshness of a new space has done wonders for my spirits in what can be an often challenging environment.

Hand Lettering

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I started dabbling in hand lettering as part of the #letteritmarch challenge on Instagram after a fellow blogger and Influence Network member invited others to participate with her, and I’m so glad I did. I love to write, obviously, but I’m a sucker for markers and paper, as evidenced in home office where I have just about every kind of colored pen, sharpie, marker and type of paper you could imagine – it’s the inner child in me (LOL)! For the 31 days of March, we had a phrase we would hand letter in any way we felt inspired to do so, and then we shared our creations on social media. So fun!

Photography

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I had the honor of bringing two of my Pure Michigan photos to my friend / stylist’s salon to be put on display and advertised for sale. I so appreciate the opportunity to share one of my favorite places (Ludington) with others in this way, and am grateful to my friend for inviting me to participate in the decor of her beloved business. It’s so cool to walk in every six weeks and see my work on the wall!

PowerSheets

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I’ve mentioned on here previously that I received the 2015 PowerSheets from my hubby for Christmas and what a fabulous tool these have been to encourage me with accomplishing my goals for this year and bringing meaning and purpose to my days! There’s plenty of opportunity to get creative with writing and vision-casting each month, and I have really appreciated this process of being intentional to go after the desires that God has placed in my heart.

Style

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This year I’m also learning to be more creative when it comes to my personal style. Because I’m a person who LOVES bright splashes of color, I decided to be brave and add a little hot pink to my hair last week when I was at the salon, and I couldn’t be happier with it! It felt freeing in a way to do this, and it’s amazing how many compliments I’ve received, even from strangers, proof that boldness and creativity inspire others!

Travel

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Adventuring to places near and far (and capturing the world’s beauty via camera) always fuels my creativity. Getting away from the normal routine, seeing new places, and experiencing different things enhances my perspective and is just plain good for the soul. Whenever I return from a getaway, I’m always fired up to move forward in a more positive and productive way, and doing creative projects is often one of the results.

How do you cultivate creativity in your days? What creative projects do you enjoy doing?

Books I’m Loving

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Good morning, friends! I hope all of you are having a fabulous start to this Saturday morning! It’s been awhile since I’ve written a book post, so today I thought I’d share some of those that have truly encouraged my heart and inspired me in my journey so far this year!

31 Days of Prayer for the Dreamer and Doer

I very much consider myself a “dreamer” and “doer,” therefore I absolutely love, love, LOVE this treasure of prayers, scriptures, and devotions! I started this about a month into the new year, and each day’s reading resonated with me and where I’m at in my life on so many levels, with passages on things like freedom, rest and balance, wellness, simplicity, dreams, confidence, goals, creativity, online influence, and so many more.  I underlined, wrote out notes, and prayed over those things that God spoke to me through each page; engaging with God like this every morning over those 31 days has set the tone for how I spend my time with Him now. If you’re looking for the perfect thing to set the course for your day and awaken you to living more boldly and passionately for Him, this is it!

I Want God

I’ll be honest, it was the title of this book that got me. “I Want God” … “revival” … the very things I say and pray for on a fairly regular basis. Yet, this book challenged me. It’s not a very long book, and yet out of all the books I’ve listed today, this one took me the longest to get through. And that’s because it’s convicting. It made me think about all the times I say I want God and then how I actually live out my day-to-day life, not inviting God into all of the stuff going on, the good, the hard, the beautiful and messy. But it’s powerful what happens when we allow Him to challenge our thinking and take the time for self-reflection. The message of this book is life-changing if you allow it to penetrate your inmost places. It reignited a spark in my heart for going after the things that are most important to God and to living a life that has true Kingdom impact. If you want a book that pushes you a little harder and gets you out of your comfort zone, this is the one!

Just RISE UP!

This gem of a book was written by fellow Influence Network member, Sarah F. Martin. After meeting Sarah at the Influence Conference last September and hearing about her book, I knew I had to add it to my list of “books to read in 2015.” I love Sarah’s heart for Jesus and her passion for women to make Him #1 in their lives. The chapter entitled “Our Dreams, Purpose, and God’s Agenda” really encouraged me as I intentionally seek Him for what He’s wanting to do in and through me, and as I put the skills, talents, and education He’s blessed me with to use each day. It was also a good reminder to me that everything I have is from Him and all that I do is for Him. This is such an important truth to keep in the forefront of my mind as I navigate this thing called ‘life.’ Bravo, Sarah!

Make It Happen

This. Book. AWESOME. I strongly recommend this read to any woman wanting to let go of the “perfection trap” and go after a life of meaning and purpose. So much of what Lara shared from her own life, as well as the truth and wisdom from God’s Word, made a significant impact on me as I am making a concerted effort in 2015 to live a life that matters. This book has inspired me to live life more transparently and openly, giving and sharing more of myself to those in my sphere of influence. If you’re a goal-setter like me, this book is a great companion to assist you in your journey of making those things burning deep in your soul happen!

The Fringe Hours

I heard about this amazing book from some of the writers I follow on social media, and after listening to Jessica N. Turner’s episode on The Influence Podcast while at the gym one morning, I decided this too was a “must-read” for 2015. I think any woman who has ever felt overwhelmed, burned out, or too busy and tired to make time for themselves needs to hear this book’s message: It’s okay to make time for YOU. The Fringe Hours is about self-care, essentially carving out space and time to do those things that are life-giving and soul-filling to you, resulting in living in freedom and grace, and with passion and purpose, and therefore becoming a better woman in all areas of life. If you’re a person struggling with balance and feel like you’re lacking in self- and soul-care, this book is for you!

What books have you read and what are you focusing on and learning this year?

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Easter Wishes

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See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:19, NIV

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Just a quick post today to wish all of you a Happy Easter (on Sunday)!

Praying all of you know the love, joy, peace, and NEW LIFE this blessed day affords!

May you be refreshed and restored in this spring season!

Happy Easter, friends. <3

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And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

 Revelation 21:5, ESV

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