I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

I have lived in New York for over 7 years now and I cant even believe just how fast the time has gone. When my parent first dropped my off at my dorm room in college, we kind of gave a quick hug goodbye and then I didn’t even think about seeing them again until I was home for Christmas. I never got homesick at all when I was in college, didn’t feel lonely or left out (like the way I felt in high school, but we will save that story for another day).

I have to give all the credit (well, to God of course), but also to the community He had placed me in from such an early stage in my life in New York. Now don’t get me wrong – I love my Mom and Dad, but they can’t always physically be in New York City and sometimes I just need some person to person contact / realness in my life. So I had quickly made friends with some of the people who lived on my floor freshman year of college and have been friends with them ever since. I even met my best friend Isabella within my first couple years of living in NYC. And, if we didn’t live on the opposite sides of the United States, we would be inseparable. Even now, after a couple of year of feeling lost and a couple of years of missing God-centric friendships and relationships in my life, I came to Liberty Church (by way of a referral of a friend of a friend). I’ve met some of the most incredible people of my live there (including my best friend Louisa) and I know it as not by accident.

Throughout the years, these friends have been speaking LIFE into me. By encouraging and challenging me, I have stepped out of my comfort zone and into a place where I am living life to the fullest. Just recently, I took a solo trip to Paris, which wouldn’t have even been dreamt up if I didn’t have my two best friends lead as example.

Long story, not so short, if it wasn’t for these incredible, encouraging and nurturing people in my life, I would not be doing what I am today. This year, I want to remind myself of the power of a word of encouragement towards someone and how much that can have an impact on someone’s life. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 reminds us: “Therefore, encourage one another and built each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” I want to challenge myself (and everyone who wants to take part) to do a year long writing challenge, inspired my my letter writing friend Rhea Abramson of Devoted Diarist and Mail More Love. The challenge will be to write 1 letter of encouragement a week. Now, if you’re anything like me, 1 letter a week doesn’t seem like a lot, but the challenging part will come when I have to be consistent about sending out 1 each week. To help out, I’ve made a little bit of a guide / how to / organizational tip (but seriously… the organizational tool is mainly for myself).

Rules: send out 1 letter of encouragement (snail mail) to someone every week. This doesn’t have to be a close friend. It could be anyone: your next door neighbor who just had a baby, an old classmate you used to study with, one of your coworkers who is seems to be in a bad mood all the time, the guy (or gal… this is the 21st century after all!) who mows your lawn every week, your super who legit refuses to fix your radiator (totally hypothetical situation… not at all true), or even that relative you haven’t spoken to or seen in 5 years. Remember, it doesn’t need to be fancy, it just needs to be thoughtful.

Tips:
-Set a reminder on your calendar (on a not busy day or the week), in the morning or evening to sit down a write your letter. It could be a short as a postcard, or it could be as long as a 5 page letter. The most important thing for me to remember is being able to take the focus off of myself to think about the future of someone else. The well being of someone else, their talents, and the potential that you see in them.

-Go to USPS (yes, the Post Office. No, not everyone is as grumpy and slow as they seem if you smile). Buy 2-3 sheets of FUN stamps (not that there is anything wrong with the American Flag Forever stamps), but you can get some fun Oscar De La Renta stamps too for the same price. So why not? 3 sheets (60 stamps total) will last you until the end of the letter writing challenge.

-Plan ahead. Make a list ahead of time of the people you want to send a little letter to. Then you have to do “the ask” aka “the address ask.” It’s sometimes weird to just send a text saying “what’s your address?” It can seem awkward. So if you’re not on that level of comfortability yet, you can say “what’s your snail mail address?” Or if you want to sneak up on them, you can ask someone close to them OR if you know where they work you can send it to their work address. (If they work for a financial services company, investment bank, accounting firm, law office, they will probably have a compliance department to read / sift through the mail so bear that in mind too).

-Make it fun. Decorate your envelope. Add some stickers. Draw on a smiley face. Buy a hilarious, beautiful card that the other person would really appreciate. (I currently justify my card budget by saying that it is technically a gift for someone else, so I’m not really spending the money on myself- lol).

Where: I’ve made a little guide to where I like to go shopping for cards! (Stores are based in LA, OC, & NYC). There are a range of different price points, so there is something for everyone!

Everywhere: Target & Michaels: Both of these stores can sometimes have a great selection of boxed cards (around 8-10 cards) for around $2-$3! I personally like the thank you ones the best, but I have gotten some generic greeting cards there as well.

Online: Etsy, The Social Type, Egg Press. You can find some great deals on Etsy for cards, especially if you are looking for something rather specific. Also, The Social Type and Egg Press both have sample sales every once in awhile (i’m talking letter press cards for $.80 people!!), so be sure to sign up for their mailing list and follow their social accounts to be the first to know about their sales.

LA: The Social Type is great (as I mentioned before- they have awesome sample sales), and they have a store-front in Los Angeles as well Another great suggestion from @writebella (aka the card whisperer in my life) is La Familia Green as well as Urbanic and Lundeen’s).

OC: Surprisingly I don’t have too many OC suggestions, but I do love Sugar Paper even though it is on the pricer side. They have a great selection of beautifully crafted cards and small gifts for any paper lover. Posh Paper in my hometown (Yorba Linda) is also excellent: they have a great selection of stationary as well.

NYC: Oh gosh. There are so many great shops here I don’t know where to begin. But I’ve narrowed it down to my favorite 2 shops Pink Olive and Paper Presentation. Pink Olive is the perfect place for any paper lover, gift lover, cute things lover (and there are 5 locations in total – including the cutest and latest addition to the family – the Cold Spring store!) There are beautiful cards for every occasion (I LOVE the selection of Rifle Paper) as well as their in house collection featuring the phrase “You Are Loved.” What incredible words to live by. Paper Presentation is a one-stop-shop. You can pick up everything from greeting cards, to wrapping paper, to custom stationary, to stickers with unicorns on them to dress up any card. I often stop here when I am running errands in the Flatiron District.

Montreal: If you happen to be in Canada, Boucle Et Papier is a a great shop. They have a wonderful selection of Sugar Paper, as well as Liberty London, which I have had a hard time coming across in the past.

Lastly: Tell people and encourage others to do the year of encouragement too! Share on your social pages and accounts with the #YearOfEncouragement to get others inspired to also send encouraging letters. The one a week letter is just to be a guideline. If there isn’t anyone to send a letter to that week or if you forget- don’t worry about it! You can always pick up from where you left off. Remember that sending even one letter out is better than not sending one at all.

I can’t wait to kick off 2018 with words of encouragement for others and taking the focus off of myself for a little while. I hope you join me in this #YearOfEncouragement

Consistency is Key

In every area of your life it pays to be consistent. To say you will do something and follow through with it. Repeatedly.
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I’ve noticed for me that consistency leads to growth and developing new habits. This can go either way: maybe I consistently go for a run and develop that habit. Or I could consistently come back home and watch TV for 2 hours after work and develop that habit. (For the record, I’ve done both).
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Challenge yourself starting today by asking: are the habits and choices that you are consistently making leading you towards a life that you want to live? Towards a life that will help you grow in your faith? I know I personally can be better about how I spend my time and my money. What changes can you make today that will help you tomorrow, in five years, and in ten years?
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This series of drawings is of a cast- iron building in New York City on 901 Broadway. It was built in 1870, and was formerly a Lord and Taylor dry goods shop.
Enjoy!
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Are We There Yet?

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The waiting and timing of promises can be frustrating, especially when there are many unknown factors. I was reading through Isaiah this morning when it hit me that God is an artist, a creative, and a creator. (Something you always know but you see it differently some days).

He formed each and every one of us uniquely and with love. He has painted and fashioned a beautiful life for us; and all of His promises for us are ours when we choose Him and let the Holy Spirit guide us every day. Imagine an art studio, where understudies watch a seasoned master paint. The artist isn’t finished, but the students don’t know that. The artist begins to pack up for the day, clean his brushes and the students say, “so that’s it? Are you done?” The artist then replies “My work is not yet finished, and I will be back tomorrow to paint again.” Unlike the artist, the creator, the students cannot see the end vision, they cannot see the complete and beautiful painting.

How is that different when we question God’s artistry and orchestration of our lives? Isaiah 45:9 says “Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter ‘what are you making?’…” (NIV).

While we are on this journey called life, trying to fulfill His purpose for the Kingdom, we need to have faith in His timing. I had this vision, where I find myself on this road trip, in the back seat of a car (probably a G-Wagon becuase this is, after-all, my daydream); and God is driving. We are in the middle of the desert, and I find myself asking God “Are we there yet?” “Have we close to our destination?” “Are we out of the desert?” “Have we reached The Promised Land?” Meanwhile, He’s driving the car, turns around and says “We will get there in time, trust me.”

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God’s timing is not our timing. When you feel yourself unfulfilled by the promises of God, know that you aren’t finished with your journey yet. Trust God on the windiest of roads, and know that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion…” (Philippians 1:6). Don’t be weary in your well doing.

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Why Dream?

Dreamers often get the short end of things. Sometimes we get a bad rep for being off in our own world, living purely out of our imagination. But you see, that is just the things that make dreamers so important and relevant in this world.

What if we never had people who were born to dream, who imagined the world to be a different place, who challenged the status quo? What if we never had people who asked questions, dreamt of new possibilities, and more efficient ways to accomplish things? What if dreamers did not exist?

Dreaming is important because dreaming changes things. It sees a current circumstance and wants to improve the situation. Dreaming is the spark to a movement and the beginning of a revolution.

If there is a vision on your heart that you have for the world, you must keep that alive and never stop pursuing the dream. Nurture your dream every day, even if it you only have five minutes. Do not lose sight of the very things that bring your soul to life.

To dream in big you must be persistent, constantly reminding yourself as to why it is you want, what you want, so badly. Having a dream is not a gift to be taken for granted. So use your original ideas for good, and let them come to life!

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A Dream Within a Dream

Most times it is easier for us to imagine what our life would be like without actually having to work for it. You catch yourself saying “wouldn’t it be nice…” or “I’m too busy to…” or “someday when I have…” or my  personal favorite (aka most often used phrase), “once I have the money to…” Sound familiar? Welcome to my every day life.

There has always been and there will always be circumstances around me that try and challenge me, belittle me, and make me feel like I am not good enough to accomplish something. These hypothetical circumstances contribute to a negative thought pattern that is not only unhealthy, but also preventing me personally from turning my dreams into practice.

You see, if we are not careful, our dreams can remain that: just dreams. Who said that you aren’t good enough? Who said that you don’t have the time, the money or the experience to set goals and go after them? Yes, you will have to sacrifice in other areas of your life to accomplish what you want to. Yes, it will be hard. Yes, you will have to say no to many other things (distractions). But at the end of the day, you have to start somewhere.

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A friend had once given me a greeting card that says ” ‘Begin Anywhere’ -John. Cage.” It has been tacked on my wall for about a year now, but it just hit me a different way when I looked at it the other day. As you can see, I am really into writing. I have always wanted to write with and own a fountain pen. I now own one, but it has been sitting in the box for the past few months. Until today, I had not ever opened the pen, for fear the ink would get everywhere, my calligraphy wouldn’t be the perfect typography, silly things like that. If I never opened the box, if I never tried out the pen, if I never practiced writing my name in cursive a few times, I may have let the pen sit there in the box. Unused. Until the ink expired.

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Don’t let the fear of not being good enough or messing up stop you from even trying something to begin with. A devotional app I use said this “Do you hide your talents, gifts, and abilities? Put your light on a stand and let everyone benefit from the light you give off.”

You can begin anywhere, but you can’t begin everywhere. You must pick and choose what areas in your life you want to win, and what areas in your life you will sacrifice. Most importantly, be brave enough to start, becuase you never know who will need to hear what you have to say. If we are going to make the most of every day we are here, we cannot afford to remain neutral. The motivation and determination to start – it’s IN you.

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So don’t let your dreams be just dreams.

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Dreaming of a Brand New Start

I find so often that there are so many great ideas going through my head, but I don’t even know where to begin. My mind runs at one hundred miles per hour, then pretty soon all my ideas, dreams if you will, end up falling to the curb or shelved for a season. This happens to me. All. The. Time.

I don’t know if it is becuase I have a fear that I can’t accomplish something great (even though in my heart I know I can). Or maybe am I overwhelmed, or intimidated by the amount of things I have to do that I don’t even start anything. Ever.

Sometimes we need to step back and think of some practical knowledge and guidance that will help us navigate the new and start something fresh.

First of all, I encourage you to take it step by step. You are not going to become the next millionaire overnight, just like you will not run your fastest mile on your very first run. Remember that the quicker you come, the faster you go. There is power in building momentum, there is power in resilience, and there is power in moving forward even if you feel you are not making progress.

I am in the middle of reading this book called In The Company of Women, and there was a highlighted passage by this graphic designer from Philadelphia, Veronica Corzo-Duchardt that really stuck out to me. It says this: “You can’t do it all. You need to choose what’s most important to you and go after it. And that can change at different points in your life, so it’s important to be flexible and react to the moment. Put your efforts toward the things that are important to you and that you do best, the things that only you can do.”

Dreams. Direction. Dedication.

 

xo

Kylie