A Gift Guide for Bookworms

A Gift Guide for Bookworms

I've gathered up a bunch of fun little giftable things the book lovers in your life are sure to adore, as well as a bunch of books perfect for all different kinds of people in your life.

A Gift Guide to Shop Small and Local (for Under $50!)

A Gift Guide to Shop Small and Local (for Under $50!)

I'm a big fan of shopping local and supporting artists and makers I know personally, and I wanted to brag about a bunch of them today! You can shop all of them online, and it will be a huge blessing to them this holiday season.

Gifts You Can Feel Good About

Gifts You Can Feel Good About

As I shop for gifts this year, I not only want to give my loved ones amazing things, but ALSO give back and make the world a little better. Join me?

73 Questions

73 Questions

I'm totally copying Vogue with this "73 Questions" idea, and stealing this list from a blogger friend, because it's just fun to share ALL THE RANDOM THINGS.

The Best Books to Give as Gifts

The Best Books to Give as Gifts

I'm one of those people who reads good books and then wants EVERYONE ELSE to read them SAP. So... I've rounded up the best books for gifts this Christmas for you and all the different kinds of people in your life!

A Gift Guide for Good

I'm all about giving back to organizations that are making the world a better place, and getting to do that while also buying gifts?! WIN-WIN, PEOPLE.

Charlottesville for the 4th

My parents and I decided to take a day trip to Charlottesville this 4th of July, and it was such a great day! There was rain in the forecast, but it thankfully didn't hit us until we were on our way home.

The Charlottesville City Market is a GREAT farmer's market-- we ended up with some black raspberries (we made them into a muddled berry/simple syrup that made for some EXCELLENT vodka tonics), sour cherries (that Mom turned into the most delicious mixed berry cobbler that we topped with ice cream), lettuce (we made Asian shrimp lettuce wraps that I unashamedly devoured), corn on the cob (because it's just necessary on the 4th), and really yummy vegan/gluten-free crackers.

Charlottesville's Downtown Mall has some adorable little shops, too! I love wandering through bookstores and shops full of paper goods...and I showed such good self-control surprisingly!

One of my bucket list items for this year was to go wine tasting at a new vineyard, so we checked out Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyard! It was absolutely BEAUTIFUL. I would love to live in a place like that. It's confirmed now that I love love love dry wines and prefer reds to whites, and it was fun getting to try five of Pippin Hill's wines. If anyone needs a wedding spot, CHECK THIS OUT right now. It would be perfect.

Our trip home was slightly scary at points with the crazy rain and storms, but we stopped at a MASSIVE antique store where I finally found a globe I love (I've been looking for ages!) and a really cool vintage metal tin to store art supplies-- nothing like some antique bargains!

Hope you all had a fabulous Independence Day weekend celebrating our beautiful country, and that WORLD CUP WIN too!

Craving A Slow Season

This season, I want slow. Mugs of creamy coffee turned cold because conversation rambled on instead. Evenings spent curled up on the couch staring at the tree, lights blurring in sleepy eyes. Mornings surrounded by Bibles and books and pages full of slanted script.

Our hearts needs slow. We don't need more, we don't need hurry, we don't need busy. We need rest, peace, slow, quiet. The songs sing it, our voices join in, but do we welcome it? Do we open up to the silent night, the holy night? Or does the frenzy take us over?

The best of winter, the best of Christmas, is the way it draws us in and close. Around fireplaces, around bright trees, around a manger scene, around a kitchen table, around a living room, around a sanctuary. The cold is outside, harsh and bitter, but we are welcomed in toward the warmth, toward the heart of all goodness and glory. We are invited in to the stillness, the silence of that holy night, invited to shed our stresses as we shed our coats, and sit before a Savior as he sleeps.

The nativity scene isn't a decoration, it's a declaration: our King has come. The infinite as an infant. The Savior as a swaddled babe.

Let's rest in that. Sit slow as that truth floods us. Gather together with the ones we love and share the sweetness of this season. 

Our souls need this. I've never felt that so strongly as now, that we need this rest, this waiting, this expectant anticipation. We try to race to Christmas, rushing through December, but it burns us out and steals our joy. Like the ones who traveled slow and steady to visit a family far away gathered around a manger, let's journey slow and steady to Christmas, absorbing the beauty and the truth and the mystery of it all.

Happy birthday, America!

Dear America,

Happy official birthday! I'm a big letter writer, so since we're friends, I thought I'd write you a little birthday note.

My family took a six-week road trip up the West Coast in 2004-- best summer adventure of all time. I'll never forget experiencing so much of America like that.

My family took a six-week road trip up the West Coast in 2004-- best summer adventure of all time. I'll never forget experiencing so much of America like that.

I love so much about you, America. I love that you came to life because men fought for freedom and for the things they believed in so much that they did radical things and made crazy moves. I love that you're still alive because men and women are constantly fighting for freedom and the things they believe in. I'll never fully be able to comprehend all of the sacrifices that have been made to keep me safe and free, but I'm deeply grateful for the people who have made and will continue to make them.

I love your beauty. I love the way massive clouds of dust roll over the desert city I grew up in, I love the way saguaro cacti were scattered around every rocky mountain, how mountains surrounded my world on every side and the heat of the day turned into the most vibrant and fiery of sunsets every night. I love the lush greenery of the east coast, the majestic waterfalls of Yosemite, the rolling fields and forests of Yellowstone, the scathing heat of the stark and barren Death Valley, the immensity and peacefulness of the oceans that surround you on two of your edges. I love that I can drive just a few hours and be in a whole new scene that feels nothing like the last. I love your bustling cities, each with such an enchanting personality, all with little pockets representing the countries our ancestors came here from. I love your small towns, your untouched stretches of land, your historic old town main streets and even the suburbs where families are growing up together.

I love that every one of your fifty states is uniquely different in character and I can't wait to explore every one of them. I love that the sounds of the voices around this nation are as diverse as the colors of our skin, that even the ways we speak a common language are different depending on where you are.

I love that everywhere I go, I meet new kinds of people. I don't see a melting pot where everyone is blurring and blending in to one kind, I see a mosaic where all types and kinds and colors come together to unite as the American people.

I love that you are a nation under God. Even when battles rage on and controversies divide us and politics seem to stir up debates daily, I see God at work in this nation. I see God moving, stirring, rising up a generation of passionate believers and kingdom-builders.

I love that you stand for independence, for freedom, for strong beliefs and work ethics, for big dreams and equality. I don't always agree with the decisions made to rule over your people, and I don't always think people in power make the right calls, but I'm grateful to live in a country where I can share my voice and my disagreement and choose to live and worship as I please without fear of death or persecution.

I'm thankful for the life you've given me, America. The times I've spent in other countries have opened my eyes to the very best things about you and also the things I wish we could improve, but I know I'm glad to call you home.

You're full of good people, America. You have a lot of people who live and die for you, and I like that about you. I've spent time in countries where patriotism and pride were hard to find, and even if it's not my style, I love that people are crazy about you. Your people are a rowdy bunch, but they make this place great.

I hope this next year of your life is a wonderful one. I pray that the Lord would wake up eyes and move in hearts and spirits and that the body of Christ would come alive in undeniable ways across this country in the coming months. I pray that your leaders seek You above all fame and power and success. I pray that we work to protect the beauty of your land so it lasts for future generations. I pray that we give glory for the best things about you to the One who made them all. I pray that we would truly be a nation united under God, a nation seeking peace and love and freedom, a nation of all different people living together in harmony despite the things we disagree on.

Today is a day to celebrate freedom, and I'm reminded today that it is for freedom that Christ set us free. We are free in Him, we are free in the USA, and that's something to celebrate.

Happy birthday to the land of the free and the home of the brave. Happy birthday to the United States of America, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. May that be true every day.

Love, one proud American