My favorite season is in full swing (even if the temps are still too warm for my liking) and I'm making plans to savor every bit of it.
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!
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.
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...
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
With all the sun and afternoon thunderstorms and endless hours of daylight, summer just calls for a soundtrack all its own. Thanks to Spotify and having access to basically every song ever, I've been building these playlists over the last few weeks to set the tone for the summer ahead...here they are! Enjoy!
For cruising around town with your windows down:
These are the perfect, upbeat, wild, bang on the steering wheel while you dance in your seat like a crazy person kind of songs. They get me going every time, and if I'm not on a country road with my hair blowing in the wind, I want to be.
For a dinner party with friends:
For those rainy, summer thunderstorm evenings:
This playlist is full of songs that all have storm-related words in the title (think: hurricane, wind, thunder, etc) and they're a great mix of upbeat, mellow, and everything in between.
For when you need to get those chores tackled or that to-do list done:
I swear, nothing gets me into gear like this playlist. It's my go-to for when I need to do laundry or clean my room or just really crank out some work.
For when you just need to relax and unwind (or read and write):
This is my favorite mellow music-- calm and tranquil, but enough melody and lyrics to keep me focused and awake. Really though, I could just listen to Ben Howard or Sleeping At Last for hours and hours and it would make me the most zen person ever.
The rain is pouring down, the kind of cold, misty, constant rain that reminds me so much of my England days. I've always liked this kind of weather, always adamantly defended cities like London and Seattle with all their gray and rainy days. They're peaceful, cozy, relaxing, I argue. They aren't depressing. They aren't annoying. These days are the best days.
These are the days where it just makes sense to put on your brother's big old flannel and chunky socks under your worn-in, favorite boots. It makes sense to drive in the wild rain to the best corner cafe in Shockoe Bottom, the one with the massive windows more than twice as tall as you are. It makes sense to order the large soy chai latte instead of your usual small...it's just that kind of day. The best kind of day.
The rain won't let you forget it today. It eases up at times and passersby tuck their collapsed umbrellas under their arms and peel the hoods of their rain jackets back. But then it dumps down again with vengeance, slowing every car to a painfully slow crawl and forcing everyone under the cover of awnings and umbrellas again.
This rain will bring winter here to stay. The last leaves are slipping off the trees, having given up hope of holding on much longer. With the Christmas music already taking over the radio and every store's sound system, the holidays seem unavoidable. This rain would be snow if we were just a few states away, and I'm not quite sure how to feel about that.
I have long held onto the belief that all things Christmas should be contained in the month of December. It shouldn't spill over into November, that's Thanksgiving's month to shine.
This year, though, I've surprised myself. I found myself cooking dinner with Frank Sinatra crooning his Christmas classics in the background. I couldn't help but listen to JOHNNYSWIM's new Christmas album when it came out, and Pentatonix's new version of Mary, Did You Know played through my computer more times than I would like to admit. Even now, as I sit here under the warm glow of lights hanging from exposed wooden beams, Michael Buble is singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas in my ears.
This rainy day makes it all make sense. This weather is the kind that seems to fit so well with the songs of the holidays. While the scene outside of these windows is still one of falling leaves instead of snow, it seems to be welcoming me to winter. It seems to make sense that I've made an exception to my usually strict rule this year and let Christmas creep in early.
This is the best kind of day. The kind where the words are plenty and the ideas are endless. The kind where every conversation around me is hushed and gentle, like none of us want to spoil the magic of these moments. The kind where big bowls of soup are on every table next to our foam-filled mugs. The kind of day where only couches or coffeeshops seem appropriate and I'm glad I've found them both.
Call the rain depressing, call this day a typical Monday, call me crazy, but I firmly believe this is the very best kind of day.
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!
Yesterday, I published this post on The Rising after a week of wrestling with these big mysteries of faith. Taylor Swift's song came on the radio for the thousandth time one day and things clicked for me in a new way. I can't wait to hear your thoughts on this!
You’ve heard it, it’s on every other radio station right now—haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate…players gonna play, play, play, play, play… It will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day now, sorry about that.
The chorus is catchy, you have to give her that. Shake it off, shake it off. I didn’t want to like it at first, but now I dance around in my car when it comes on and find myself singing it in the shower. Strangely, it’s been a good reminder to me when things seem stressful and frustrating to just shake it off and let it go.
This week as this song has been buzzing around in my head, I’ve had several intense conversations diving into mysteries of the Bible that we as humans can never fully understand. They may seem simple on the surface and they might make for a great sermon topic on a Sunday morning, but they are challenging and complex in the craziest of ways.
Forgiveness. Justice. What does it look like to fully receive forgiveness and what does it look like to freely give it? What does it look like to act justly? When should we turn the other cheek and when should we fight for justice?
Continue reading on The Rising here.
It's Friday. Can I get a big, loud HALLELUJAH? What a week it's been. I've been all over the place this week, getting home just when it's time to fall into bed, working long hours, spending time with awesome people every evening. My thoughts are all over the place too, but here are some things that have been meaningful to me this week. Happy Friday, friends!
You can feel bad about yourself and the fact that you've been slacking on the gym lately, or you can suck it up and go back and get to work. I tweeted this on Monday as I was cranking out 6 miles on the bike with a very angry knee. I'm not sure why I think there will be a huge flashing sign on my forehead announcing to all other gym-goers that "I HAVEN'T BEEN HERE IN A WHILE"...but that's really what I think. Monday, I mustered up every ounce of discipline I could find and made myself go. And it was so worth it. My muscles have been reminding me all week how worth it it was. So stop feeling bad, stop beating yourself up, stop thinking everyone will judge you for skipping a few days, and just go back. Get to it. (This is me trying to motivate myself, but hey, if it helps you too, awesome.)
Gather with old friends and new ones and soak up the goodness of being together. My small group had a cookout on Tuesday after weeks of not seeing each other, and it was so good. I love being with those people, and I loved having new faces around the circle, too. It was simple and sweet and quintessentially summer-- burgers on the grill, games of cornhole, cold ciders and beers and great conversations on the patio. There doesn't need to be an elaborate plan or menu or anything, just being together and letting the night roll on is enough. Those things fill you up.
Creativity comes best in community. Several meetings at work this week were about creative projects, and the ideas that came out of those brainstorm sessions were awesome, bold, innovative. I was reminded that sometimes the best ideas come out of teamwork. One mind is great, but a group of minds is powerful. Each voice and perspective pushed our idea to a better place, a stronger place. It reminded me that the best art isn't created in isolation. We need each other.
Encouragement comes in all kinds. Texts from friends who have believed in you for years, encouraging you to do the hard things and letting you know it's worth it and sharing with you how excited they are for what's ahead. Emails from strangers around the world, filling your heart with the assurance that God is at work in the midst of all the words and the blog posts. Conversations outside of Dairy Queen as part of HOPE's young adult gathering, people asking simply "how's the blogging?" I'm so deeply grateful for every bit of it all.
This medley. Just listen. I've gushed about JOHNNYSWIM before, and I'll gush again-- they're that good. I'm a sucker for a killer mash-up. I love when unique things blend together in a new way to make something better than any part had been alone. This song is the epitome of that, and it's been on repeat all week.
I hope your weekend holds new adventures, times to rest, fun with people you love, and bits of the best parts of summer. What's been meaningful to you this week? I would love to hear!
In the past two weeks, there has been a consistent theme running through my conversations, my reading, my prayers. There has been a thread of continuity, a steady note playing long and clear, like a violinist pulling the bow back and forth against one string, moving and working to keep that same sound alive.
Stories. It's all been about stories. I've sat down with several different friends over cups of coffee and chai lattes and brunch, and we've talked about stories, about writing, about intentionality. I've chatted with friends online, catching up on life. From each of them, I've heard one thing: tell your story, and ask people to tell you theirs.
My best friend has been telling me over and over through Facebook messages and hashtags on my Instagrams-- you're a #futurebiographer, you should write biographies for a living, you really like to hear about people's stories and you're a good writer, what better job?!
Then, I pick up the book I'm reading (Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist) and she has a whole chapter about stories-- there it is again! I think I underlined almost every word.
If you are a person of faith, it is your responsibility to tell God's story, in every way you can, every form, every medium, every moment. Tell the stories of love and redemption and forgiveness every time you experience them. Tell the stories of reconciliation and surprise and new life everywhere you find them.
As soon as I finished that book, I picked up another, hungry for more truth to wash over me, eager to see if this was really from God, or if I was just making meaning out of nothing. I read Allison Vesterfelt's Packing Light in one evening, and this stuck out. (It's about stories...and this is when I'm realizing God's really telling me something here.)
This is the kind of life that makes us a worshiper. It's the kind of life where we can't help but end each day with our hands lifted high, thanking God for the ways He graciously accepts even our worst mistakes, the way He uses every experience to teach us, the way He wiggles His way into the story we're writing.
This month, with all of my New June challenges and my striving to seek Christ and purposeful living, I've seen my life blossom in a way that makes me more of a worshiper. I've seen that when I rid myself of things that are unhealthy or distracting, I see Him working so evidently. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Amen. That's true. I'm seeing Him write my story, day by day.
I've been thinking about all of this, what it would look like to share my story, what it would be like to ask people to share theirs, how those conversations would play out. It's out of my comfort zone, it's intimidating, but I think some of the best things in life are like that. I think staying in the safety of my own little bubble means I'm shying away from the ways God can work when I trust Him.
I think about writing and sharing the stories I might hear from other people, and I wonder what qualifies me to do so. I wonder if I'll do them justice, if I'll get it right, if anyone will even want to share their story with me in the first place.
I get in my car this morning, mulling this all over, and Ellie Holcomb is playing.
I don't wanna tell some arrogant story, or let myself believe I'm You. I don't wanna be a thief who's stealing Your glory, will You help remind me of what is true? The only hope I've got is You.
The only hope I've got is You. Amen again, that's so true. This summer, I'm seeking stories. I'm sharing mine. I'm taking my New June challenge of a coffee date a week seriously, and I'm stepping out in boldness to ask people to join me. I'm going to be a story seeker.
There is power in our stories because they aren't just ours. Shauna said it so well: "My life is a story about who God is and what He does in a human heart."
My story is all about who God is. The story in my heart is all about how He's moved there, how He's molded me, how He has been working there to bring me where I am, how he Has been setting every beat to His perfect rhythm. Your story, whether you've never told a soul or you share it freely, is beautiful and powerful and so worth telling.
I want to hear your story. I want to tell you mine. I want to celebrate with you over conversation and chai tea and chapters of our lives and Christ's crazy glory. If you're ready to share, I'm ready to listen. Send me a message below, and let's swap stories.
Today, I'm going back to the original vision of Friday Freewrites. Fifteen minutes, no edits, just whatever words spill out. Happy Friday, friends!
There's something about live music that captures your very spirit. There's something about the first low thump of the bass drum, the first sharp strum on the guitar, the first quick inhale of breath and first pure note and word. There's a magic coursing through the room, a breeze of cool air so alive, carrying each chord like a gift, wrapping you up in this reverie.
The way the room seems to shake and shiver with every pulse of the song, the way your heartbeat seems to align with every kick of the drum and snap of the snare. The way two voices can combine so exquisitely, each so strong and raw, flowing together in harmony that enchants you. The way these two humans in front of you, this couple, these artists, the way they look at each other with adoration and appreciation as they pour out their souls on that stage as I stand and soak it up.
It's a remarkable thing to experience, when art is shared so genuinely and honestly like that. When voices run ragged because they've sang every note with all they had. When sweat drips down faces because they've put all they are into every word, every note, every strum, every move.
That kind of thing makes you feel so alive, so electric. The chemistry so evident: a sparkling, sizzling, cracking kind of love between two halves that were radiant together as a whole.
The simplicity of the scene, the unassuming way they entered the stage and left it, the quiet resting of the rest of the band as they let these two take their time and shine, all of it whispered to me: this is how you make a good thing, this is how you open up your heart, let it leak and spill over, this is how you breathe deeply and inhale all the promise and hope and then release it out loud, full of all you were meant to do, meant to be. This is how you take this passion from in your bones and put it on like a flowy dress and twirl around your little stage with it and let it all seep out of you and into others. This is how you tell the stories of the weaknesses, the heartaches, the romances and the memories, and you leave at the end feeling poured out but full again. This is how you, so simply, let your light shine.
JOHNNYSWIM, you are wonderful in every way. Thank you for sharing your hearts and your art.