friday

Five Finds Friday // Oct. 30

There are two people in this Internet world that I just can't get enough of lately...and their names are Holly and Taylor. They're my assistant editors for The Rising (I'll never stop bragging about them) and two of the most talented, genuine, hilarious, and sweet people I know. They host this Five Finds Friday link up every week, and I love it! Join in-- it's fun and easy and great!


Funny

This otter is all of us in the morning

Posted by MiNDFOOD on Tuesday, October 20, 2015

My mom sent me this video this week because I am not at ALL a morning person, and I loved it. Who knew otters made that noise and had such personality?!


Fashionable

I have a major crush on this coat. I do not, however, have a crush on its $200 price tag. WHY, MADEWELL, WHY.

"This superwarm parka is perfect for woodsy walks and urban strolls—and has a bold buffalo-check lining that can be found here and only here."

And I swoon.


Flavorful

Best cup of alllllllmost black coffee I've probably ever had. Thanks, Shockoe Espresso and Roastery! (Also, shameless plug: I shared a post reviewing the 10 new Richmond coffee shops I tried this year-- find it here!)


Faithful

We confess how most of the time we would choose to offer advice, answers, expertise or solutions than we would to offer ourselves.

But you didn’t come as an expert. You came as a baby.

You didn’t come to solve our problems. You came to save our life.
— Emily P. Freeman

This post from Emily Freeman is beautiful: "A Prayer for When We Want Answers"


Feels

It might be cheating because she's one of the hosts of this little link up...but THIS POST from Taylor just floored me this week. After the latest video of violence against a student from a police officer, I was shocked and sickened and speechless. I didn't know what to say, but I knew I had so many strong feelings in response. Taylor found words to wrap around all of that, and it's everything I needed to hear and wanted to say but didn't know how. Find that post on The Rising here.

 

Bonus Feels 

Hope is what holds a breaking heart together.
Hope in a Big God is what frees from big fears.
Hope is a thing with keys….
— Ann Voskamp

If there's somebody who can make you feel all the feels with their writing, it's Ann Voskamp, hands down. This post is heartfelt and raw and so stunning.

Read it here: "how to keep hoping when you really just want to give up"


What have you found online lately that you're loving? Share it in the comments!

Five Finds Friday // Oct. 23

It's Friday! Hallelujah! That means I've almost survived my first official week at Salem Web Network (if you missed it, I'm the new editor of BibleStudyTools.com and loving it)-- YAY.

I also have other BIG NEWS to announce! For the last year, I've been running The Rising almost entirely by myself. It's been amazing and hard and time-consuming and so worth it. But now, with a new job and a crazy schedule/life, I need help. SO GUESS WHAT. I have two new rockstar assistant editors on board!

Holly Paulette and Taylor Schumann have graciously and willingly stepped up to the plate to help me manage all the day-to-day tasks of keeping The Rising alive. They are wonderful. I am thankful.

They also started hosting a brand-new link up today! AND I LOVE LINK UPS. And I love fun posts on Fridays that share links and updates and fun new things. This is the best thing.

Here is the first of what I'm sure will be many Five Finds Friday posts! Be sure to check out Holly and Taylor too!


Funny

It's nothing new, but when I think funny, I think New Girl or Parks and Rec. They're my go-tos, and I can't stop watching and rewatching all the episodes. I'm really going to need Netflix to prioritize getting all the latest seasons up so I can keep bingeing...

But until then, I've decided I'm finally going to give The Office a chance. I've never seen it (I know, I know) and I'm a few episodes in now... but I'm not sold yet. Please tell me it gets funnier...


Fashionable

Is it narcissistic to have pictures of myself here? Yes? Okay, I accept that. But seriously, look at that hair! It was NOT easy to do, and it was half a total mess (the half you conveniently don't see in these pictures) but I'm so proud of this attempt. I didn't leave my apartment with this hair because it's so far from real-world visibility level, but thanks to Pinterest and my love of braids, I'm making progress!

Also. Please applaud my selfie skills because IT IS NOT EASY to take a picture of the back of your head while simultaneously taking a picture of your own face in the mirror in front of you. I have mad skills. Please appreciate them.


Flavorful

As much as I talk about my gluten-free and vegan diet with people (it feels like the thing I talk about most in my life...) I realized I haven't ever really shared much about it here. I think that's going to change! It's a HUGE thing about me, and I'm constantly eating (and occasionally cooking) delicious things that I want to share. 

Here are two amazing examples! 

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This mac and cheese? Oh man. So good. And so healthy! The "cheese" is veggies boiled and pureed with spices and nutritional yeast added, and it literally tasted so good and cheesy. I was amazed. All cravings satisfied.

Here's the recipe so you can go make this goodness yourself!

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Okay, on to BBQ. There has never been a vegan version of BBQ that I've found to try...until now. This one was ridiculously simple. All you have to do is puree up a can of hearts of palm (a super weird and kinda stinky canned veggie) and heat it up on the stove with BBQ sauce. IT IS THAT SIMPLE, PEOPLE. Put that goodness on a gf bun wits some slaw and you're golden. YUM.

Here's the recipe for that!


Faithful

My dear friend Amber wrote this piece for The Rising, and I adore it. It's all about the humility of the woman who emptied her alabaster jar at the feet of Jesus...and it's beautiful.


Feels

'Hello' is taken from the new album, 25, out November 20.

I think Adele and feels are synonymous. If you disagree, you've probably never really listened to her songs. Girl can SING. She leaked a new song last night and it's AMAZING. Listen and fall in love. Listen again. And again and again and again. I won't judge, I've been doing the same thing all morning.


Happy Friday, friends! I promise consistent content will be back to this blog soon... starting with Monday's #COLLABOREADS post! YAY.

Show up.

I'm learning lately that life is a lot about just showing up.

In the mornings, when I'm only half-awake and still mostly grumpy-- show up, at the dining room table, with my Bible and my journal and a mug of coffee still too hot to drink. Be present before the Lord.

When the work day hours begin, when I'm not feeling inspired and my to-do list is miles long-- show up, find a place to start, and begin there. Do the work.

When the evening cools down, when I'm tired and Netflix beckons-- show up, put the sneakers on, take your keys, and go walk. Let the wind blow around you, see the sun set in the sky before you, feel the strength coming back as you move your muscles and stretch your legs. Go move.

When a friend gets news that is crushing, devastating, horrifying, and tragic-- show up, stand by her side, offer the few words you can find, and just love. Be there in love.

When there's a meeting on your calendar for this evening but the day has been long and draining-- show up, sit around the table, and let the wisdom, passion, and hearts of those women recharge you. Be fueled by their fire.

 

I want to show up. I want to be present. The news around me reminds me that this life is so short, and I don't want to stay asleep and afraid and miss it all. I want to rise up, awake from my slumber, and show up.

We need each other. We need people that show up and don't bail when life is hard or heavy. We need friends that prove through their presence and their constancy that they are trustworthy and true. We need to be reminded through the people that love us that the Lord's love is endless and relentless. When they show up, we remember that He does too, and that He always will.

Show up today. Be there. Be present. The Lord meets us when we show up ready, willing, and open. He will make it all worth something wonderful.


Find more Friday Freewrite posts here!

To Let Go of my Tight-Grip Fists

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This Friday Freewrite post was written more than six months ago and never published, but the words still ring true as I share them today.


I have two hands, and they're small. My two hands can't hold all the people I love, or cling to every one of the dreams I have, or heal every hurt I encounter, or fix everything that's broken in my world. My two hands aren't enough for all that. It made me mad for a while. I was angry that my hands couldn't keep someone close. I was angry that people had slipped through my fingers and are too far away to bring back now. I was angry that opportunities had turned to vapors and drifted away before I could latch on to them. 

My hands were fists, clenched tight and shaking and white at the knuckles, fighting a battle I knew I could never win. 

Then, like a whisper and a freight train all at once, it hit me.

Nothing can enter closed hands.

I was so adamant, so indignant, so self-righteous. I believed my fists were justified. I was frustrated, and I wanted things to be different, and my hands were held so tight as I tried to somehow hold it all together how I wanted it to be.

My hands grew tired. My fingers couldn't hold their grip. I let go.

It happened slowly, as if I was releasing things one by one, finger by finger, until my palms lay open before me. I let go of the stress about a job I desperately wanted that didn't even exist. I let go of the anxiety and the worry about a relationship that had consumed me. I let go of the people whose lives had drifted from mine, wishing them well and loving them even still. I let go.

And my hands were filled again. This time, with peace so real I swear I could feel it settle over me. This time, with friendships out of the blue bringing comfort and laughter and the sweetest quality time. This time, with ways to serve and spread joy and love on people.

Blessings came when I surrendered my grip and held my hands open before Him in surrender and in worship.

The Middle Has Never Been My Home

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All in or all out. Hot or cold. Lovers or strangers. I ricochet from one extreme to the other, flying between polar opposites, refusing to believe middle-of-the-road is a place I could reside. I don't work that way. Lukewarm has never been my preference, even-keeled has never been an adjective next to my name.

Stubborn, passionate, hardheaded...these are the words they put next to mine. You can find me in the North Pole or the South Pole, but never along the Equator. I'm sure it's nice there, 70 degrees year round, perfectly pleasant and comfortable, but that's never been my home.

Here's the thing about being a girl of extremes: you'll be intimidating. You'll be exhausting. You'll be misunderstood. You'll get asked a lot of questions about why you can't just calm down, can't just take it easy, can't just let things be. And you won't know how to respond. Why would you want to live a half-hearted life? you wonder. Why would staying in the median be better?

Sure, the medians are grassy and full of wildflowers with a perfect view of the traffic flying by on either side. The medians may seem safe, may seem like a haven, but they're just a place you get stuck.

The road is where things happen. You have to move. You may come to abrupt stops, or you may fly faster than you're meant to, but that's living. You may have to U-turn or slam on your brakes, you may miss a beat and hear honks from nearby cars, but that's living. Median living? Living on the equator? Trying to stay safe and sound? That's not really living.

I want the extremes. Call me crazy all you want. I want to sip drinks when they're still steaming and scald my tongue because I just couldn't wait one second longer. I want to run into the crashing waves even though they'll freeze my toes because I finally found an ocean this year and I don't want to miss this moment.

I want to speak my mind, even when my thoughts are tangled and my words are wandering. I want to be present, in the moment, whole-heartedly there in every scene of my life. I want to merge into the speeding traffic, avoiding nothing, feeling everything, responding and reacting as I go, learning all the while.

I want to embrace that this, this hot and cold, up and down, high and low self, is who I am.

I Wish We Danced A Little More

I wish we danced a little more. I wish, when the drum sticks click to give us the beat, we all started tapping our feet. When the melody starts, I wish we swayed with it, feeling it coursing through our bodies and responding intuitively. I wish we raised our hands when the words stuck chords in our hearts, wish we clenched our fists when they hit us in the best way. I wish we let our bodies be part of the worship more than we do.

We stand still, poised and polite. We sway slightly but mostly stand still. We stare ahead, singing along if we know the words, silent if we don't and silent if we just don't care.

I wish we danced a little more. I wish we spread out into the aisles so we all had room to breathe, and I wish we moved. I wish, when the voice from the stage sang loud, we sang back just as proudly. I wish we responded in a way that made it all seem like a glorious dance, like a swirling, twirling, twisting dance of words and limbs and songs of praise.

I wish we felt more free. I wish we weren't so aware of the hundreds of eyes around us, so worried about what those hundreds of minds might think. I wish we just moved as the Spirit moves.

I wish we shouted "AMEN" and declared "Yes, Lord!" as the message was given. I wish we murmured our assent more, nodded our heads more, clapped in affirmation more. I wish we raised our hands more, fell to our knees more, laughed out loud and cried more.

Inside of me is a girl wanting to break free and dance wildly around the sanctuary's chairs. Inside of me is a girl wishing to worship wholeheartedly and freely with voice and dance and every beat of my heart. Inside of me is a girl who feels just a little bit stuck in her own skin, more afraid than she should be to worship her Creator as she desires. Inside of me is a girl who wants to shake the standards off her shoulders and shatter the stereotypes and just let it all go at the feet of her Savior.

Isn't that what worship should be? An outpouring of love-- heartfelt, pure, true, expressive, wholehearted, honest, authentic, all-we've-got for all-You-are kind of love?

I wish we worshipped a little more wildly. I wish we danced a little more.

Make Me Like You // A Friday Freewrite

I want to be bravery. Unshakeable, powerful, rock-solid confidence not even a tornado could shake. Humble and gracious, like soft silk in my skin, not passive, not a pushover.

I want to be loyalty. Fierce and devoted, always cheering in the corners of the ones I love.

I want to be boldness. No hiding, no holding back, no hinting. I want to use my voice to speak my heart and say the things I know to be true without any hesitation.

I want to be grace. Deep and rich, sweet and surprising, endless as the sky that never leaves or fails or forgets to show up every day.

I want to be love. In words and actions, in letters and phone calls, in smiles at strangers and eyes that truly see. In acts of service and quality time, in gifts and compliments, in just showing up.

I want to be compassion. The not afraid to get dirty, stay up all night long, cry when words fail, just be present kind of thing.

I want to be intentionality. Honest. Genuine. True. Reaching out and pressing in and persisting. I want to be truth. No facades, no white lies, no exaggerations.

I want to be mercy. Never turning blind eyes, never feigning ignorance, never shying away. The generous kind, the giving kind, the graceful kind, the gritty kind, the glorious kind.

I want to be forgiveness. Turning my cheeks, letting others go from the hook of guilt and shame, freeing hostile bonds in endless love.

I want to be kindness. Soft words, gentle touches, a ray of light, a glimmer of hope.

I want to be goodness. Seeing beauty, seeking joy, sharing smiles, touching lives, leaving footprints worth following.

I want to be like Jesus. I'm nothing like Him when I look in the mirror-- I'm flawed, crumbling, damaged, broken. My intentions are selfish and impure. My actions are careless and chaotic. I fall before Him, barely held together at the seams, every beat of my heart echoing in my ears a desire for Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. More of You. Take over more of me. More of You. Flood more of me. More of You. Redeem more of me.

More of You, making me more like You. More of You, transforming me to look like You. More of You. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, make me like You. 


Read more Friday freewrite posts here!

Loving Lately: Jan. 23

Grab your favorite hot drink, wrap the biggest and best blanket you own around your legs, and take a little break in your busy day to check out all the things I'm loving from all around the internet this week! 


5 Down to Earth Instagram Accounts to Follow.  // because don't we all need a little more down-to-earthiness in our Insta feeds?

These chocolate chip chickpea blondies // made these this week and was so pleasantly surprised by how delicious they are considering they are made with two cans of chickpeas. I don't think a healthier blondie could exist honestly. But YUM.

My current on-repeat playlist. // this is the kind of worship music that makes me turn the volume up and dance around my room wildly and freely and wonderfully.

The Letter Link-Up from Mr. Thomas & Me. // you know I love writing letters, and you know I love any idea Amber has, so you know her new link-up is my new favorite thing.

RVA people: go here. Order a dirty chai (pictured above). You're welcome.

At 90, She's Designing Tech For Aging Boomers // don't you want to be that awesome when you're 90?

It's OK to be 22. // a short and simple and so true post on life when you're 22. stay humble, stay hopeful. (buy a lokai bracelet also)

Parenthood. // There are just two episodes left of this show EVER and I just don't think my heart can handle it. All the feelings.

This video. This brand. This mission. // all the yes. this gave me chills. 

Empty Space: A Friday Freewrite

Empty.

Everything is gone. Just slanted wood floor and shadows from the sunbeams remain. There's nothing here to give a sense of scale or even to make the space make sense. You can't tell what happened here. The walls can't whisper memories of the hands held on the couch or the tears cried there months later. The floors can't sing you the song of how he twirled you around, half asleep and sliding in your socks yet safe in his arms as he dipped you low and pulled you in close. The windows can't wrap you in lullabies of how the rain soothed you to sleep when the darkness seemed desolate, or how the sun stirred you to believe again, try again, love again. You can't hear echoes of late nights of laughter with best friends, the tunes of the songs blasted here, the voices on the TV from your favorite shows. The kitchen doesn't carry the scents of the meals cooked here, the cookies baked here to be shared with friends, the coffee brewing every morning to keep the writing coming. The hallways don't hold the frames of memories from past travels and photographs from seasons long gone. The air doesn't hold the sweet scents of autumn that burned from crackling wicks long into the night. 

This place is empty. A shell. A vacant memory.

Empty.

Everything is gone. Soon this space will hold new faces, the floors will carry new feet, the walls will surround new life.

Remember: you were here. This space mattered. Imperfect and impulsive though it was to live here, it mattered. Life, sweet and stretching and important, happened here. This place is empty and this is a farewell, but the next steps are full, your heart is full, and this is the start of something new.


Find more Friday Freewrites here!

This Feels Like My Road

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The roads are wet from a day of soaking rain, darker than usual and split in half by the blinding yellow of the stripes. The trees are tangled, a canopy of barren limbs and twisted vines. I stare at them as I drive aimlessly on, caught up in the mess of it all. No color seeps from the sky. Everything I see is a gloomy shade of gray and it soothes me. There's no glaring sun to squint at and it seems as if it could be any hour of the day in these moments. 

This feels like me. This feels like my road.  

Far off, headlights appear. Light is now on the scene and it feels like a rude interruption. I was quite liking the haze, the mist, the mess. I felt right at home in the twisted branches and colorless sky. It seemed right today. I wasn't wallowing in it, I was welcoming it.  

When the color is gone, the sky seems like a blank canvas waiting to be painted. When the leaves have fallen, the trees seem like mannequins waiting to be dressed. When the roads are empty, it seems like the journey is mine for the taking. 

I quite like the possibilities of that.  

Lord of this Dance: A Friday Freewrite

This Friday, I'm back to the original "Friday Freewrite" model-- 15 minutes of unedited freewriting. Last weekend, I celebrated my grandparents' 50th anniversary at a huge party and actually got out on the dance floor for a good while. This week, several devotions and passages I've been studying have resonated with me. The two combined are what led to this idea and post. Happy Friday, friends!

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It's like I'm at a party, a bustling gathering with a band crooning in the background and the lights down low. I'm unsure of the proper moves. I feel awkward. I'm moving, I'm dancing, but it's disjointed and disconnected and doesn't feel (or look) right. I glance around at the people around me and try to copy some of their moves, the ones that seem right, like they know what they're doing and have been doing it for decades. The more I dance, the more I realize I'm clueless and my skills are seriously lacking. But then You swoop in. You ask me if I would like to dance. You gently wrap your arm around me and hold my hand in yours. You have a radiant glow about you, like You are the host of this party and You are ecstatic we all have come here to celebrate with You. You start to sway with me, gently guiding me as You show me the steps, slow, simple, steady. Just in these few moments as this dance begins, I realize You just saved me from myself. My dance on my own was all wrong, out of place and clumsy. You move gracefully and effortlessly to the song like Your movement and the music are perfectly married. I lose my footing and trip, stepping on You and worrying I've hurt You. You laugh sweetly with warm eyes on mine and swing me around as we continue on like it never happened. My embarrassment vanishes in the light of Your gracious response. As we dance, I know this is what I was meant for. Wrapped up in You, following as You lead, trusting You when You twirl or dip me, knowing You know the steps better than I do, this is the dance I was designed for. I couldn't know these moves on my own, it's only with You that I'm learning. What felt foreign as we began grows easier as we dance on, my trust in You deepening as I learn You won't drop me or turn away when I stumble. I've never felt more beautiful than I do in Your arms. I've never felt more free and alive, like I'm soaring and shining and it's all because of how You move me. I'm better with You than I ever was on my own, and though I know I'll grow tired, I never want this dance to end. When one song ends and another starts, I stay with You, knowing You'll know the steps to this one, too. Some fast, some slow, some wild and some calm, You lead me perfectly through them all. I was meant to dance with You, in unison. I was never meant to do it alone. You are the Lord of this dance and the Lord of my life.


You  can find more Friday Freewrite posts here!

Loving Lately: Sept. 12

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You don't need to grow your audience. You need this instead.

White chocolate pumpkin fudge. It's gluten-free and vegan. Need I say more?

A calendar full of coffee dates with new friends=the best kind of busy.

#RealNotRetouched

This collection. Those tags in shades of black/white/grey...I'm swooning.

When an author you love already comes out with something new, you fall in love before your hands even hold the pages.

Learning how different boys are from girls. Nannying two little guys has been a wild (read: very physical and loud) adventure already!

This book. Why have I waited so long to read Anne Lamott?

The beauty of this ring (on my finger 24/7 now), this company and their values. So good.

 

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