Small Business Saturday: Why I Love Shopping Small Business and Why You Should Too!

We are finally past Halloween, which means that its time to start thinking CHRISTMAS!  I know that this is increasingly becoming an unpopular thing, to start celebrating Christmas so early but I personally just have no problem celebrating for two whole months.  I have always loved, loved Christmas so I like to get in as much as I can.

And no, of course I haven't forgotten about Thanksgiving.  I'm excited for that too!  Here's how it looks in my book:

October 31:  Halloween
November 1 - November 21:  Christmas
November 22:  Thanksgiving
November 23 - December 31:  Christmas

With Christmas approaching I know we all start thinking about gift shopping and of course that means Black Friday, which is also quickly approaching.  I have honestly never been a Black Friday shopper.  It all just seems a little too crazy for me.  I could just never really get behind it but what I can get behind is definitely Small Business Saturday.

I LOVE small businesses.  They are truly hidden gems among big box retailers and Amazon.  Don't get me wrong an Amazon package is surely not an uncommon site on my doorstep but there is something about independent retailers that are just truly special.  So I try to seek them out as often as possible.

One of the things I love most about Small Businesses is their owners attention to detail.  They are often so carefully and methodically curated.  And it could be the old marketing student in me but I so appreciate beautiful displays put together with the most attentive creativity.  When it's done right its like you are walking into an experience and not just a boring shopping trip.  (my enneagram number is almost a dead tie between 4&7.  I find myself trying to make everything into an experience a lot.  as with all of the numbers on the test, it can be a great strength and a great weakness haha!)

I think the thing I love most though, is the unique selection of products, that curated inventory.  I love being able to find things that aren't so easily found anywhere else (that number 4 coming out: the individualist)

I know that small businesses are typically a little bit more expensive.  They kind of have to be in order to remain competitive but they are also offering you something special and most likely higher quality.

Just as an example:  in the context of gift shopping for my children, privately owned toy stores are some of my absolute favorite places to look, even though it will cost more.  

I would say that we aren't really even a "toy" family.  Of course we love toys but our girls' rooms aren't bursting with them.  And that's just because we rarely buy them throughout the year aside from Christmas and birthdays and also because I can be extremely selective.  I like this idea of having less things but things with more significance.  When you have less you will find your little ones playing with the same things over and over again.  As ironic as it may seem I feel like their imaginations have room to grow off of less.  I also have this vision of the toys our daughters play with turning into heirlooms that they can one day pass on to their own families.  This is why I go for things that are more carefully crafted.  Of course there are exceptions to all of this but I guess my main point is that through small businesses especially I don't mind spending a little more on things that are special and that will last.

This is why Small Business Saturday is the better choice over Black Friday!  These owners work extremely hard all year round to stay competitive to other retailers who are quadruple the size of them.  These owners are artists and creatives who think beyond the basic money grab mentality of capitalism and for that I believe they should be rewarded.  Of course they need to earn a living but they do it with intentionality.  They have both their passion and their customers in mind.

Plus on Small Business Saturdays most businesses will run some kind of sale, which is really great for local shoppers because it's not something that many can afford to do very often throughout the year.

In honor of Small Business Saturday I decided that I would round up some of my favorite independent retailers.  Bear in mind that these are of course places from my region of the country and since they are one of a kind you won't be able to stop by unless you are in the area.  But I wanted to share them nonetheless just in case you ever ARE in the area.  And at the very least, hopefully they will inspire you to go out searching for your own small businesses and lend them your support! 

1. French Toast Baby in Spokane, Washington 

Hands down my number one favorite shop is this one (pictured above).  They carry children's toys, books, stationary, party supplies, and candy.  This shop has entered into all of my girly pastel dreams and brought them to life.  I honestly just want my house to look like this shop.  If you are ever in the area you HAVE to stop by!

Instagram here!

2. Captain Little in Olympia, Washington

This is a toy store that I used to go to all the time when we lived in Olympia.  It's magical and I feel just like a kid again when I'm in there.  This is where I discovered the beloved toy brand, Maileg, which is popular in our household.  We recently visited some friends back in Olympia and while we were there I made sure to take a special trip! 

Instagram here! 

3. Compass Rose in Olympia, Washington

Compass Rose is definitely an eclectic shop.  It has everything from stationary, to jewelry, to books, to kitchenware, to sweets.  It's the perfect place to find a unique gift because they have so many different things to choose from.  I especially love their mug selection!

Instagram here!

4. Always More Shop (Online)

I have been following Audrey Roloff's blog for years and have always been so inspired by her heart for the Lord.  So when I found out that she was opening up a shop I was onboard.  Her shop sells things like sweatshirts, hats, tops, and jewelry all inspired by her life mantra "always more" which derives from Ephesians 3:20 found in scripture.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us."

In Christ there is always more.

If you have never checked out Audrey's blog I highly suggest that you do!  Her heart bursts for the Lord and you will never leave without feeling encouraged.  She also runs another blog with her husband called Beating 50 Percent so if you are married or thinking about getting married it's a great resource.

Back to her clothing line though.  Everything has this casual comfy feel.  Anything you buy you can just throw on and go and still look cute while carrying truth.  I have one of her dad hats and I literally wear that thing every single day to drop off and pick up my daughter from school.  It's my favorite thing ever and I love supporting her ministry!

Instagram here! Website here! Audrey's Blog here!

5. Inklings Bookshop in Yakima, Washington

This is a new discovery for me since we just moved to the area but I absolutely LOVE this bookstore.  I could spend an hour or two just looking around.  They carry most new books so you can definitely get your hands on recent releases but they also carry special editions.  For example if I find a bookstore that carries any number of the Penguin Clothbound Classics I'm sold and this shop has a generous selection!  They also carry a lot of Rifle Paper Co. products, which is another favorite of mine!

Website here!

6. Pretty in Paint in Medford, Oregon

If you (or anyone you know) are into the farmhouse esthetic then this is the place for you!  Pretty in Paint sells the most beautiful up-cycled furniture that will give you all the vintage feels.  I bought one of my daughter's dressers from here and we love it!  I also came across my beloved butter dish that looks almost exactly like one I was eyeing at Anthropologie but only for a fraction of the price!

And I also found out that they will ship anything that you find on their Instagram account, which is amazing!

Instagram here!

7. Paddington Station in Ashland, Oregon

Every time I visit my parents I always try to make a trip to Ashland.  It's one of the most charming little towns in all of Oregon!  They have so many amazing small businesses but my favorite is Paddington Station.  This shop is full of the most unique finds in all kinds of categories.  I love browsing their book section because I always find things I have never heard of before!

Website here!

Well I could probably go on forever but for now this my top seven favorite small businesses!  I love small businesses for so many reasons and I really hope that this post inspired you in some way to go out in your own city to discover new retailers.  It's so much fun and a great way to support your community!

Oh!  And I am wishing all a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I hope your bellies get so full that you have to undo your pants!

Did God Really Say?

I don't think I ever went into great detail about my life as of lately here on the blog but over the past nine months I have developed rather severe anxiety, which has especially escalated over the past two months.  This anxiety that has recently plagued me comes in the form of hypochondria.  Nine months ago, almost overnight I just started to question everything about my health.  Any terminal illness you could come could come up with, you name it and I have diagnosed myself with it.  It has compelled me to take two trips to the ER, two trips to urgent care, and several trips to see my primary care doctor and each time I have left with resolvable concerns but nothing life threatening.  But still I return home questioning my vitals.  I consistently check things like my weight, breathing, and other things about my body to see if I can see any abnormalities (EVEN THOUGH I AM NOT A DOCTOR!) and I am constantly seeking reassurance from my family and friends.  OH! and don't even get me started on my googling symptoms.....

It's almost embarrassing to share but I'm just being honest.  It has become quite weighty, a burden that I was never meant to carry.

fear has washed over me.

Even though it has become difficult for my mind to tell myself that my body is healthy I can pinpoint why this was brought on.  As a wife and a mother it has become really easy for me to imagine my family having to go on with life without me.  It terrifies me because my husband and two daughters are my team and I want to be a part of this team for a very long time.  The more nights that my husband Bryan and I lay awake late at night talking about our vision for our families future we feel more and more like the Lord is calling us into a specific purpose.  We feel like He has laid certain desires on our hearts and you know what?  To me, they are SO exciting!  I am giddy for our family to serve the Lord through these desires but wait, what if I never make it there?

que the panic 

It's really funny because over these past nine months or so even though I have been so full of this anxiety and fear, not once have I felt like God has stopped speaking to me.  Every prayer in which I have cried out in fear I have felt the Lord tenderly whisper, "I know the plans I have for you."  and each time, these desires continued to circulate within my heart.  I knew without a doubt that they were from the Lord.

I was struck even deeper a few weeks ago when my mother asked a family friend of ours to pray over me.  I was sitting in my dads office at his church and this wise woman walked in and laid hands on me and began praying over me.  My tears became uncontrollable because I knew that she was spirit filled and I was just in awe that once again my God had chased me down.

Once she was done praying over me my mother left the two of us alone so that we could talk.  I opened up to her about everything that I was experiencing and I tried to best explain my biggest fear: God giving me passion, desire, and vision and then stripping it all away.  Is God going to place all of these things just beyond my reach and the snatch them right before they enter my grasp?  

She responded by telling me that she firmly believes that God does in fact have a plan for my life and the life of my family, which really confirmed what God had already been speaking over me.  I think that God knew that I needed her, that I needed this confirmation from someone who hadn't been witnessing first hand this anxiety that I was experiencing day to day.  There was no bias or frustration, her word for me came in the pure form of love and faith.  Sometimes it takes an act of someone else's faith for us to act on our own.  I am so thankful for community and for others willing to lift up others!

The one thing that stuck out to me the most during our conversation was that every time fear left my lips she countered with truth.  Truth always out lives fear.

"but what if God...." 

"That is not who God is.  That is not who God is.  That is not who God is.  Why are your trusting in things outside His character?" 

Wisdom in it's simplest form.  Thank you, Christle (if you are reading) for your wisdom, your love, and above all for your confident faith in our Jesus.  Thank you for sharing it all with me, God knew I needed you in that very moment.

I kept dwelling on her words and a few weeks later God lead me even deeper into a place of peace.  I had been studying in the book of Genesis for several days and on one particular day I was lead to Genesis 3:1 and I stopped in my tracks.

This is what it reads:

"Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made.  He said to the woman, 'Did God really say, 'You can't eat from any tree in the garden?'"

That's it.  That's all I read and then it was like this lightbulb went off in my heart.

Side note:  this is what I love about the Word of God.  It's amazing.  How many times have I read through Genesis in my lifetime?  A lot, and yet on the particular day God had something to say to me in a new way.  I am telling you, plain and simple, the Bible is living and breathing.  God is always waiting to speak to you through His word.  You just have to be willing to open it!

"Did God really say?"  I realized then that this was the voice I was listening to, a voice that takes what God says and contaminates it with doubt.  I let this voice fill me with anxiety because suddenly I was unsure that God was really speaking certain things over my life.  But God stopped me in my tracks and really challenged me.

Who's voice are you going to choose to listen to?

John 10:27 says this:  "My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me." I love this because it paints this beautiful picture of intimacy between us and our Father.  He knows us and if we know Him then we know His voice.  

Something about sheep is that they only listen to their master's voice.  Any other voice comes along and they ignore it because they are so in tune with their master.  Seriously.  Don't believe me?  Click here for proof.  It's absolutely amazing.  Not only do sheep know their master's voice but they also trust that their master's voice is true.  They know that their shepherd is for their good.

"Did God really say?"

This is a voice that has been around since the garden and somehow we fall so easily into its devious and calculating efforts.  But we have to remain diligent because that enemy voice just needs us to become fearful enough to give up on the things that God has really called us to.  That's really all it takes is fear.  It's fear that makes us believe that God isn't really who He said He is or that God isn't going to do what He said He would do.

But when we are bold in faith we can hear that voice of deceit and say, "That is not my Master's voice and I refuse to lift my eyes to it!"

"Did God really say?"

"Yes, God really did say..."

This is how we walk in freedom from anxiety and fear, we memorize our Master's voice and then we learn to ignore everything else.

He is good

He is for you

He has a plan for you

and what He says is true 

Tune into His voice, memorize it by getting in the Word and studying what is true.  Because when we start believing what God says...sweet, precious freedom lies just beyond.

"Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, 
Just to take Him at His word 
Just to rest upon His promise, 
Just to know, "Thus saith the Lord!" 

My 2018 Fall Reading Picks!

It's no secret that I love to read, especially during the fall and winter!  There is just something so joyous about snuggling up with a good book while the air outside is cool and crisp.  What better way to celebrate the changing seasons with a super atmospheric book to give you all the fall and winter vibes?  As I do every year I put together five books that I think would be great to read alongside the sipping of your pumpkin spice latte!

1. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

This is a book that I will recommend ANY time of the year because I love it that much.  It is easily my favorite book I have read all year if not my favorite book of all time.

Till We Have Faces retells the classical myth of Cupid and Psyche and ultimately translates into allegory concerning the one True God and His relationship with man.  Although, personally I think that readers can come to many different interpretations involving all Divine Persons of the Trinity.

The retelling starts with the love between two sisters.  The older and uglier sister, Orual demonstrates a pure yet possessive love for her beautiful younger sister, Psyche.  Because of her great beauty Psyche is chosen to be a sacrifice to a monster known as the Shadowbrute.  Heartbroken, Orual is determined to give her sister a proper burial and so after the sacrifice she sets out to find her body but instead she finds a still living Psyche who tells Orual that the Shadowbrute is not a monster but a loving god who has taken her as his bride.  Orual is filled both with anger and jealousy as she becomes convinced that her sister was stolen from her.  Thus Orual sets out on a path that brings both destruction and redemption.

Guys, this book WRECKED me, in the best possible way!  C.S. Lewis is such a gorgeous storyteller and compels you to think deeply in ways you never thought possible.  I sobbed the entire last half and plan to reread it many more times throughout my coming years.  I cannot recommend it enough!

"I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer.  You are yourself the answer.  Before your face questions die away.  What other answer would suffice?  Only words, words; to be led out to battle against other words." 

-C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

2. Snow & Rose by Emily Winfield Martin

I don't think there is anything more perfect for fall than a classic fairytale retelling and Snow & Rose is just that.  This is a retelling of Snow White and Red Rose and tells the story of two sisters who's father one day disappears into the enchanted woods just beyond their home.  While the two sisters try to navigate their broken hearts and their mother's sorrow they find themselves thrown into the mysteries of the enchanted wood and it's binding spells within.  Will they find a way to break it's curses?

This book is so incredibly charming and immersive especially because it contains illustrations.  The illustrations are beautiful and totally swoon worthy.  I promise you will not be disappointed!

"Snow and Rose didn't know they were living in a fairy tale-- people never do." 

-Emily Winfield Martin, Snow & Rose  

3. The Dollmaker of Krakow by R.M. Romero

I don't find myself picking up a whole lot of WWII fiction but in my opinion the best time to read it is during the fall and winter because it can be so atmospheric.  This book follows a doll named Karolina who lives in the land of the dolls.  One day her world is taken over by war and she is whisked away to another world experiencing it's own war, Krakow, Poland.  In Poland she befriends the man responsible for creating her, the Dollmaker.  Together, Karolina and the Dollmaker who posses magical abilities join together to help hide Jewish families being threatened by Nazi control.

This book is so heartbreaking and yet it's told with such magic and whimsy that you can't help but feel hope the entire time you are reading and in the end it is most definitely a story about hope!

"You can destroy a person, Karolina, but destroying their story is far more difficult.  No one is ever really lost as long as their story still exists." 

-R.M. Romero, The Dollmaker of Krakow 

4. The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

The last two books on my list are two that I have never read before but am looking forward to reading this season!  The first one is The Hazel Wood.  It follows a girl named Alice and one day after the death of her grandmother, a famous fairytale author her mother too goes missing.  Alice learns that her mother has been taken by a mysterious figure who claims to come from the fictional land found in her late grandmothers tales.  Alice teams up with her classmate Ellery and together they dive straight into the mysteries left behind by her grandmother in order to rescue her mother.

I love the idea of this book for fall because of the dark fairytale aspect.  I also love reading books about books or books about mysterious authors.  I'm thinking this one will be a lot of fun!

"Look until the leaves turn red, sew the worlds up with thread.  If your journey's left undone, fear the rising of the sun." 

-Melissa Albert, The Hazel Wood 

5. Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Uprooted centers on a quiet village set in a valley surrounded by a dark and dangerous forest.  The village has secured protection from the forest by a wizard known as the Dragon.  However, the Dragon demands payment for his services every ten years.  Each decade the Dragon approaches the village and choses one young maiden to serve him.

No one knows the motives behind each choice the Dragon makes in choosing his servant but Angieszka was never suspected to be chosen.  However, this choosing, Angieska seems to be the target.

I have heard SO many great things about this book!  It just seems so adventurous and I am so excited to pick this one up!

"There was a song in this forest, too, but it was a savage song, whispering of madness and tearing and rage." 

-Naomi Novik, Uprooted 

Well those are my top five reading picks for fall I hope I have inspired you to pick up one or two of them.  Let me know if you have already read any of these!  I would love to hear your thoughts.  Wishing you the best fall reading season, see you next time!