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The Best of the "Be Encouraged" Blog

Psst ... the “Be Encouraged” Blog has 50 posts! Yep, that’s 5-0 … We couldn’t believe it, either!

We’ve gleaned many of our favorite entries for stories, insights, reflections, and industry nuggets. And we’re here to present our “Best Of” list to keep the encouragement alive! Visit each post for the full scoop, and see below for our favorite highlights!


Katie on her new home: “It wasn’t until recently that the love of stuff turned into the love of simplicity. I love what thoughtful decor can do to a space. It can turn four walls into a dwelling where love can live. It can set the tone for others to experience community and fellowship. It can build a foundation of refuge and rest for the weary. It can remind us of life’s biggest blessings and turn our eyes to the things that mean the most to us. What do you need to clean out so you can make room for more? What are you keeping that’s just collecting dust? I hope through these times you find yourself making room for the most important things in your life.”

. . .

Janie on carrying twin baby boys: “Honestly, we don't know what the rest of this pregnancy will entail, but I am learning to let go of control to the one who wrote all of our stories, including the two little guys squirming in my tummy as I type this. I've relearned (again and again!) that the BIGGEST blessings have been when my plan gets shaken and a better one emerges.”

. . .

Katie on a closed door in her career: “As I reflect back on these last 5 years, it’s my trust and faith in the Lord (and a lot of hard work) that has gotten me to this place. Over the years there have been many “closed doors”… it seems too many to count. But each “closed door” gave way to a new “open door”. And without them, I wouldn’t be here. There is purpose in every “closed door”. They direct you, protect you, and give life to your true calling. They weed out the shortcuts, the pit stops, and the potholes. And it only makes sense in reverse. I think the key is we must make space in our lives for God to do the work He has planned for each of us.”


On starting a new creative venture: “Take five minutes to write down things you have already accomplished across different areas in your life. This simple list will be a great go-to when self-doubt inevitably creeps in.”

. . .

On adapting to quarantine life in 2020: "Sarah is now working from home most days and working from the office when needed. She still wakes up at 5AM during the week, so when she doesn't have to commute, she has some extra time in the morning. 'There are many things I like to do to get the day started, but when I list them all out, it feels like a daunting task list I have to complete. A couple of months ago, I reframed it all by putting together a ‘menu’ of things I can choose to do with my extra time in the mornings. Each item is written on a post-it, and I move them around based on what I’m in the mood for that day. With a food menu, I’m never going to be able to eat all of the things I might enjoy in one sitting, just like I’m never going to be able to do all of the things I enjoy in one morning. It helps to take the pressure off and just do what feels good each day!'"

. . .

- Travel, or just go somewhere in your own city you’ve never been to before. A simple park or museum or a new local shop will do the trick.

- Tidy up your home, even if it’s a small area. This can help to free up physical and mental space for you. Plus, getting rid of physical things that don’t serve you can help you look more critically at everything. Is the project you’re working on serving you? How can it be changed to something even more meaningful? There’s some freedom in mindfully editing your environment so that you can be a little lighter creatively.

- Moving your body can also really help get the creative juices flowing - go for a walk, shake it out, dance like nobody’s watching, stretch, laugh! Have a good go-to playlist ready to take you out of your mind and into your body when you need to.

- Rest if you can, or just close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.

- Lastly, just start. Start generating ideas you know will be bad just to get the ball rolling. Sometimes just getting started with a low-stakes warm-up will give you some great momentum.

. . .

"Here’s a quick trick! If the budget doesn’t allow for us to fill the entire space the way we envision, we tackle one or two vignettes very well, rather than trying to sparsely fill everything. A well-styled vignette that tells a story or provides a strong anchor will get the job done. After all, the devil is in the details!"


Papa Driver always made sure we took this poem to heart :)

If you think you are beaten, you are

If you think you dare not, you don't,

If you like to win, but you think you can't

It is almost certain you won't.

If you think you'll lose, you're lost

For out of the world we find

Success begins with a fellow's will

It's all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are

You've got to think high to rise,

You've got to be sure of yourself before

You can ever win a prize.

Life's battles don't always go

To the stronger or faster man,

But soon or late the man who wins


― Walter D. Wintle

. . .

Books We Love Highlights:

Love Does” is a collection of paradigm shifts, musings, and stories from one of the world’s most delightfully engaging and infectiously good people, Bob Goff. Bob's love takes action because Bob believes Love Does.

Fire Starter Sessions” is the brass-tacks, get-your-hands-dirty kind of workbook designed to get you really honest about what you are meant to do in the world. It’s a guide to creating success on your own terms and getting to the heart of your core desires with practicality, intention, and courage.

The Circle Maker” draws from the legend of Honi the Circle Maker, a man bold enough to draw a circle in the sand and who would not budge from inside it until God answered his prayers for his people. This book shows that we, too, can uncover our own deepest desires and unleash them through bold prayers that delight our God.

In “Daring Greatly,” Brene Brown walks us through a transformative new vision for the way to lead, love, work, parent, and educate. This book teaches us to harness the incredible power of vulnerability, all while centering around this quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly . . . who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

. . .

“What good is it having a belly if there's no fire in it? Wake up, drink your passion, light a match and get to work.” - Simon Sinek

“The greatest tragedy in life is the prayers that go unanswered because they go unasked.” - Mark Batterson

“To lead the orchestra, you have to turn your back on the crowd.” - Max Lucado

“This is God’s way: Putting extraordinary tasks on the plates of ordinary people so that ordinary people can see what an extraordinary God can do through them.” - Priscilla Shirer

. . .

"Whatever it might be, stepping out with faith may just change your life … I know it did for me. With that being said, I want to encourage you to:

- Listen for your calling or that gut feeling. It nags at you (in a good way) and never seems to leave your thoughts. If you want a great example of this; listen and follow along to ArtistEducation as she reads to you my favorite children’s story: “What Do You Do With an Idea?” by Kobi Yamada … It is a great reminder to chase your dreams!

- Surround yourself with supporters, dream defenders, and encouragers. Ain’t nobody got time for naysayers!

- As soon as you muster up the courage to take that leap of faith … never look back and have no regrets. Because making that decision is exactly what you wanted to do in that moment"

. . .

Our June 2020 Uncommon Acts of Kindness was a special series, honoring the memory of George Floyd. We gathered nominations over nine days and selected nine winners to receive gift packages featuring products from local minority-owned businesses and artists:

Victoria Sweets

Owner: Manjit Harrison

What we love about Manjit Harrison: The most beautiful and delicious gourmet desserts, willingness to accommodate dietary allergies, female-owned and operated, her sweet and tender heart to serve and bless others with the skills she has been given!

Gus Dean Coffee

Owner: Gus Dean

What we love about Gus Dean: The smoothest cold brew you will ever taste, local minority-owned business, free Twin Cities delivery... you get to meet Gus in person!! :)

Jajja Wellness

Owner: Henry Kisitu

What we love about Jajja Wellness Tonic: Its history and family legacy, its health and wellness goodness, local minority-owned business, sharing kindness and joy with everyone he meets!

Andres Guzman

Andres is the incredible artist who drew this portrait of George Floyd, who this series is all about.

. . .


Here are 5 tips I have for people struggling with digestion issues:

1. Seek help! Go straight to the specialists(unless you need a referral from you GP first)… see a gastroenterologist and don’t self diagnose. Your journey will be long, answers might not come in a timely manner you want them to, BUT they will come and with that, a prognosis of how to move forward.

2. Don’t take yourself off gluten before seeing the doctor… this tip SUCKS, believe me, I know but they might want to run tests based on your symptoms and they CAN’T get accurate tests if you have taken yourself off gluten.

3. Round up your Stomach Defenders… who might those be? People in your life that will help see you through this. My mom, sister, and grandma(and many many more) all supported me through my transition by switching recipes, researching, and changing their cooking and baking habits. It’s because of them I can eat with my family during meals!

4. Once you have seen a doctor and gotten the word that you are infact needing a gluten free diet… become a label reader. Gluten is a sneaky thing and will creep into even the most unlikely foods! Taco seasoning, root beer, licorice, etc! Read labels!!

5. Breathe… you WILL get through this! I promise!!

. . .

So what are some of YOUR favorites from the past few years?! We’d love to hear what insights resonate most with you. And we'd also love for you to keep doing your thang and being the amazing, inspiring people we know and love.

All the best,

The Uncommon Team


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