I'm a big podcast fan, especially when they're created by my people. Here are a few new shows I'm loving lately!
How cool is it that when we gather, we can encourage and spur each other on in our worship, crying out to God and calling out to one another as we praise?
I'm turning 24 TOMORROW and thought I would share 24 (very random) thoughts about what I've learned about this life so far.
Tomorrow, more than 900 women will gather in a room. How often does that happen?
Wide open spaces out the windshield in front of me, sun shining, scenes changing, music blasting, fingers tapping, wind blowing my hair around my face.
Standing in a room full to the brim with no empty seat to be found, colored lights shining from the stage, and hundreds of voices joining together to sing, to praise, to worship, to know we aren't in this alone, to know there's One who is worthy of all this and so much more.
Hot coffee in a handmade mug cupped in my hands, the steam rising to meet my lips, the flavor sweet but not too much so.
A new journal, the pages cracking open, the scent of the paper, the smoothness of untouched grids on that creamy background, the glide of an inky pen over it all as the words start coming.
Her little arms wrapping around my leg to squeeze me tight, because I haven't seen her in three weeks, and she missed me, I can tell. Her bigger sister sandwiching me in another hug too, giggles and wild streams of words flying everywhere.
The words in small black type, surrounded by smaller black numbers, whispering words of life and love and redemption to my soul.
Sitting at my desk, the new one my dad built, in the new room I now live in, in the new apartment with a new roommate, with new art on the walls, but typing on the same old computer, feeling the same old need to write but same old procrastination pulling me away, the same old heart learning so many new things and finally, finally, putting them into words.
The afternoon sun shining through my windows, shadows of tree branches dancing on my floor, the wind outside carrying faint hints of the fall I know is coming.
Trying to hammer in nails to our new walls, and laughing harder than I've laughed in a while when all they did is bend and bend and bend again.
The ache of muscles so sore from moving everything I own from one home to another, reminding me I should move like this more often, I should push myself harder, I should be thankful for a body that works and should strengthen it better.
Phone calls with an old friend and wine+Bachelor nights with a new one.
These are the things that make me feel alive. These are the things I am grateful for.
Glittery goodness and a GREAT organization? I'm sold. I want basically every single thing in the 31bits new holiday collection!
Soul Desire : This sermon series at Hope is rocking my world in the best way. I can't stop thinking about it and it's changing everything about how I live on the day to day. So good.
How to be "less busy" // This girl can put words to the best and most beautiful parts of life. This one made me smile and made me cry, and I want everyone to read it.
An art show in the open concourse of my church, with poetry on the walls surrounded by images that brought words to life in a perfect, simple, elegant marriage. A friend standing in front of the crowd, reading her words, sharing her heart, unraveling the story of a summer in her life in a mesmerizing way. Another friend beside her on a park bench, magic coming from each note of her cello in an enchanting way. It made me think this: To see art will move you, but to hear the heart of the artist and the story it all will absolutely captivate you. Thankful for that night.
A goal in the last 14 seconds of overtime to bring the W home for my Caps. Cheering wildly with thousands of my fellow fans in a crowded Verizon Center full of people rocking the red.
Apple picking at Carter Mountain with my best friends/small group from JMU...I love when traditions continue even though we are all living in different places these days. The best.
The new CAUSEBOX from Sevenly-- I am all about supporting organizations that give back and are working for social good...and getting a box full of awesome products every few months is AWESOME.
I just registered for the #fireworkpeople Masterclass and am SO excited about it. "The #fireworkpeople masterclass is a live, five-month journey that will help you live the life you’re hungry for, say yes to the fire in your soul, blow up all that is holding you back, and live out your epic-sized purpose to change the world." Yes. So much yes.
JOHNNYSWIM came out with a Christmas album and I all of a sudden became that girl listening to Christmas music in November. Not sorry.
Loved this perspective from my friend David-- Want to Be Depressed? Know Everything.
Made this for dinner earlier this week and have had leftovers for lunch every day and it's just delicious. (Yes, I'm vegan, but I eat seafood occasionally. Let a girl cheat a little bit!)
What are you loving lately? Comment below with your must-reads, must-listens, must-sees, or must-shops!
Every day, multiple times a day, someone asks a simple question. How are you? And every day, multiple times a day, I give a simple answer. I'm good. or I'm busy. or I'm fine, how are you? But each time I say those words, I'm holding back. My soul is rarely truly good or fine. Busy is just a blanket that tries to mask the true reality. My soul is weary, restless, in need of renewal. My life is full and busy, yes, that's true, but how are you is a question directed at the soul, not the state of my schedule.
What if, when people asked how are you, I actually responded honestly? What if I chose to bare what I so often hide away behind socially accepted niceties? What if I unlocked the guarded parts of the truest places in me and brought reality into the light?
I'm weary. I'm discouraged. I'm disheartened. I'm unsure. I'm restless. I'm struggling. I'm searching. I feel unsure, unstable, uneasy. I feel shaky in my soul even though my head knows Christ is a solid rock and a firm foundation.
What if how are you became an invitation for honesty and truth to spill out onto the table? What if we asked it intentionally, with compassion and abounding love for the words spoken in return? What if we chose to not just ask these questions as we pass each other in the hallways or aisles where a real response has no room to spread out, but instead made space for these questions to open conversations full of layers and messes and gutsy, glorious truth?
If our souls are the truest, most us part of us, then doesn't how are you really mean how is your soul? What would it look like to be so in tune with our souls, so aware of the depths of our feelings and personalities at their core that we could respond openly and honestly about what's going on there? What would it look like for us to attend to our souls like we attend to our bodies, to feed them with life-giving, restorative things and remove the clutter and the chaos we've shoved in instead? What if we were real about that with those around us who want to know how we really are?
How is your soul?
Last fall, after a few years of going to my church, Hope, on my breaks from college and a few months of being back since graduation, I decided to officially become a member. At Hope, that means taking a two-day class and learning everything you might want to know about the church. We sat at circle tables, and a girl sat next to me with her haven as our table filled up with a bunch of twentysomethings. That girl was Ashley.
She was outgoing and bubbly and kept conversation alive at our table of random people and I knew I wanted to be friends with her right then. Ash and her husband, Tyler, talked about their photography business and I definitely went home that night and stalked their website thoroughly. They are an awesome team and they shoot incredible pictures of engagements and weddings and more. If you don't keep up with Herrinton Weddings on Facebook and their website already, here's a shameless plug telling you to GO DO IT.
The first time we hung out, Ashley came over to my parents' house with a bunch of her crafting supplies and we made a huge mess of the kitchen table making cards to mail to friends. It was so much fun getting to share a common interest with a new friend and get to just chat for hours while we crafted. I hardly knew her at that point, but we had so much fun just hanging out.
Then, at some point last winter, Ashley and I met up at my favorite Starbucks in Carytown to chat. This girl seriously has a heart of gold, and I saw that in her from the very beginning. She loves the Lord wholeheartedly and loves people (even people she just meets!) so well, and it's such a beautiful thing to see. She has the biggest smile and laughs easily and often in a way that just makes you feel so at ease around her.
We connected over conversations about social work since she was working on her Masters and I was working at a human services nonprofit she knew about. We talked about our community groups and what God had been teaching us through living life alongside those groups of people. We talked about boys, our blogs, everything. In just that little coffee date, I felt like I really got to know the real, true Ashley with no guards up. She is so genuine all the time, from the way she writes blog posts about her life, marriage, and work (you will feel like you know the Herrintons and are best friends with them just after reading a few posts!), to the way she serves around Hope and loves on students, to the way she connects with the brides and couples they work with...this girl is a gem.
If you've browsed around my website at all, you've seen pictures by Ashley-- yet another example of her sweet, servant heart. In the off-season of shooting weddings, she wanted to keep up with photography and improving her (already awesome) skills, so she offered to take pictures and headshots of me for my site. I was blown away by the generous offer and also so excited to see her work her magic! I absolutely love all of the pictures she got, but loved even more just wandering around Shockoe Bottom with her and having a blast in front of her camera. She made it so much fun and effortless, even though I usually act really awkwardly which never makes for good pictures!
In just this first year of knowing Ashley, I have absolutely grown to call her a true friend. She is passionate about Jesus and serving Him in every aspect of her life. She is dedicated to her work (and schoolwork) even in the times where it can be stressful or chaotic. She is gorgeous and legitimately could be a J. Crew or Ann Taylor model...not kidding. Girl has the best/cutest wardrobe and always looks perfectly put together-- a true talent. She loves so well and pours into people selflessly. She is hilarious and so much fun to be around, and even just passing her briefly in the hallways at Hope brightens my day.
I could go on and on. This girl is one of the very best and I'm so thankful for how that membership class at Hope brought us together and made this sweet friendship possible!
Here is Ashley's story.
My name is Ashley. I am a 24-year-old grad student at Liberty University, pursing my masters in Marriage and Family therapy. I also run a wedding photography & videography business with my husband, Tyler, properly named Herrinton Weddings. This story you’re seeking is not one that depicts my life story, or my conversion of faith, yet one that is continuously being written by a God that desires the best for me and calls me to turn from the things that distract me from Him.
I grew up in a small country town surrounded by nothing but trees and fresh mountain air. I was a twin and my sister and I lived a normal twin life. There was much competition, however unspoken it may have been, we both felt it. This competitive routine caught me firmly in the people-pleasing trap. I did things I thought would bring attention to my successes and minimize my failures. Because in the world of pleasing you do little to upset those around you. You also wear pride like a badge of honor. I was a “good girl” and never did anything “wrong” which kept my pleasing stature highly elevated.
Now, 6 years after my high school graduation, 3 years after my college graduation, and a year and a half into my master’s degree, I find myself still on this people-pleasing journey. A journey with more heartbreak and disappointment than you’d probably understand. Being a people pleaser robs my life of margin and the ability to say “no” when I know I should. It breeds discontentment and constant striving for something. People pleasing limits rest, masks pride, and drowns my soul.
The journey of breaking off this unhealthy habit has not been a long one. For years I simply thought I was confident, independent, and strong. However, in searching the depths of my soul throughout this past year, I found it. People pleasing.
I remember walking through a season with a dear friend in college about her struggle with people pleasing. I remember wondering what made her feel different or feel like it was truly something she wrestled with. And as much as I talked to her about it, I never considered it for myself.
I recently started reading a book, Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman with some dear friends in a book club that I just love. In one chapter she talks about hiding behind strength and responsibility. She shares, “for the girl who wears the mask of strength and responsibility, it is important to explore her perceptions of weakness. Consider what Jesus says about weakness. He chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise and the weak things of the world to shame the strong (1 Cor. 1:27). It doesn’t make sense to me and it isn’t the way I’d have done it. But it is the way of Jesus”.
This draws upon exactly why I never explored people pleasing in my life. I hate exemplifying my weaknesses. I hate failure. I hate doing the wrong thing. And more than anything, I really hate sin. The mask of strength and responsibility is easy to use to cover up those vulnerable places and draw upon the things that make other people happy. While limiting the need to live a healthy well balanced life with proper emotions. Dismantling all of this is quite a process. I’m relearning the line between reality and straight up emotion. Sorting through feelings and triggers of said feelings and sending up more prayers than I think I ever have.
People pleasing is drawn me closer to my savior because I’ve even more so realized my need for Him and invited me to a deeper journey that He’s asked me to walk. I’m excited and nervous about the ways in which he may write my future but I ready to de-mask and live fully and wholly as myself.
To read past Story Seeker posts, click here.
This art print. It's on my wall at my apartment, and I'm in love. It's of Big Ben and purchasing it helped change the lives of orphans in Zambia. What's cooler than that?!
Know your why. One Questions Businesses Should Be Answering, But Aren't.
This fall weather. PRAISE.
The Secret of Aslan. This article gave me chills -- I love CS Lewis and love how his stories are still changing us and leading us back to Jesus, even as kids.
"Vulnerability happens when you're brave and start first." Is there ever going to be a time where words from this woman don't resonate with me perfectly and wonderfully?
This journaling Bible, because come on, that's the perfect kind of Bible for a writing/doodling girl like me!
Dreaming up ideas for card sets and art prints for The RAD Store that I really and truly hope will be launching in the next week or so! Stay tuned!
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. -Psalm 19:14
Ben Howard's new album. Yes yes yes. My favorite writing soundtrack.
How cool it was to share two Story Seeker posts back-to-back about marriage...one from a couple just celebrating their 1st anniversary and the other from a couple celebrating 50 years together. I love their love and their stories.
To see past Loving Lately lists, click here! Any favorites to share? Comment below!
Do one thing every day that scares you. That Eleanor Roosevelt was a wise lady. This quote kept ringing in my head on repeat over the past week. I was asked to speak at Chapters, the young adults gathering at my church. As you know, I'm a writer. I'm not a speaker. The idea scared me. Sharing my story one-on-one over coffee? Pouring out my heart on paper or in words on a screen? No problem. I love that. Speaking in front of a whole room of twentysomethings? Terrifying.
For when I am weak, then I am strong. Paul was a really wise man, too. A friend shared with me this week how meaningful this verse has been to her lately. Like she told me, we expect to read this verse and read "for when I am weak, He is strong." But in our weakness, then we are strong.
Sitting on a stool in front of a room of more young adults than I could count, I couldn't get these two lines out of my head. I had written my story out (seven typed pages of my thoughts and verses and quotes), I had rehearsed, I had called friends to run it by them so they could give me feedback...I was anxious and nervous. This isn't my cup of tea, this isn't my forte.
But when I am weak, I am strong. When I step out of my comfort zone into the places where He is calling me, He will make me brave. Even when my hands are shaking and my face is flushed and my stomach is churning, He can use my words.
Hannah Brencher tweeted yesterday, "If you don't think God can work in spite of how you're feeling then you aren't giving him nearly enough credit."
The talk I gave wasn't about me. It wasn't about my story or my experiences or my accomplishments. That talk was about sharing God's goodness, faithfulness and love. That talk was about sharing what I know to be true-- that God redeemed my brokenness, that Christ is our cornerstone, that life is better when lived together in authentic community.
Even though what I was feeling was nervousness and uncertainty, I knew God was still at work. In the twenty minutes I was speaking, I could feel that. I felt His peace and His presence. I knew that this thing that had seemed so scary to me was something that God was using to work in my heart.
We sing You make me brave. We sing You called me out beyond the shore into the waves and You make me brave. The shore, the solid land where I felt safe, would have been sitting in my chair at my table in the audience listening to a preacher share a talk-- confident with their words, comfortable on that stage. But He called me out beyond that shore into the waves. He called me to the place where I couldn't trust my own strength. He called me to step out in faith into an area of weakness, and in that, He made me brave. He made me strong.
I've said throughout every Story Seeker conversation and coffee date this summer that every single time I tell my testimony and my story, I feel God putting more of the broken pieces of my heart back together. I feel Him healing me more and more every time I put words to my story and speak them out loud.
When we keep things quiet, when we hide things away in dark places, those things become like monsters in our closet. We become afraid. These things start to have power over us. We live in fear that if we ever were to open that door, they surely would overtake us and attack us. But when we call these things by name, when we speak of them out in the open, when we tell others what these things are and how they've affected us, we find we have power over them. Light always overcomes darkness. When we shine a light on the things that have hurt us or changed us or broken us or tried us, it exposes what is true and overcomes what seems dark.
When we are weak, then we are strong. When we do the things that scare us, when we step beyond the shore into the waves, He makes us brave. He has overcome the world and He has made us conquerors.
You can find more Friday Freewrite posts here!