new june

Hi, July

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June, you were good to me. You brought challenges and goals and a little thing I called New June, you brought the start of a new project and brought new friends and faces into my world.

Hi, July, I'm ready for ya. I have a good feeling about what you'll bring. I don't have a list of resolutions and ambitions this month, but I have a renewed sense of focus and clarity. I'm finding that there are themes that are running through my days and weeks like little currents, and I want to give up my fight and let the Spirit work through them to carry me where He will.

"I wanna live with abandon, give You all that I am, every part of my heart, Jesus, I place in Your hands. I wanna live with abandon."

Who knew a Newsboys song on the radio this morning would put new words to the same things I was writing in my journal last night. I want to love recklessly, wholeheartedly, radically. I want to live boldly, intentionally, freely. I want to give selflessly, unashamedly, sacrificially. I want to celebrate joy and life and beauty.

Summer is all about soaking up-- the sun, water, memories. I want to soak up Jesus this summer. I want to spend time in His sun and I want to be changed inside and out by my time spent with Him. 

This summer feels full of promise. I don't think I've ever paid as much attention to the seasons changing as I have in this past year. I think it's because so much of my life has settled into a routine, with my days looking essentially the same just with different meetings. In college, every semester brought a new class schedule, a new structure for what life would look like for those few months. Now, my life structure looks pretty much the same every day, and I don't have a few months of summer vacation to relax and travel and take a break. The seasons changing reminds me that God is always at work, making new things out of old, bringing dead things to life, making beauty in the world and in my life. That's been meaningful to me in ways I didn't expect, and it's mattered more in the midst of what could have just become monotony. 

This is the first summer I've had as a real working adult, and that could have been a major downer for me, could have been something that made me feel stuck and trapped and depressed. Instead, I've been choosing to see this summer as full of promise. I chose to look at June and say that I wasn't satisfied with how I'd been living, I chose to do something about it and try to push myself in areas that needed some work. 

Now, I'm choosing to look at July and see possibility. I'm choosing to fill my evenings with coffee dates and six-hour conversations on a picnic bench until the middle of the night, because those things fill me up. I'm choosing to wake up early on a Saturday morning and go explore a new park and pick berries and wander through trails in the woods, because that brings me joy. I'm choosing to open myself up to new things, to keep marching on, to celebrate and soak up and enjoy.

Summer just feels light, free, fun. I might have to sit at a desk for eight hours of the day, but that doesn't change that this season is one to dive in to and make the most of. I want to live this summer full of abandon, full of celebration. 

I want to be wide-eyed, full of wonder, a whole-hearted worshiper in the wandering and in the seeking of wisdom.

May that be the anthem of this month. Here's to July: a new month full of new possibilities, hot days and breezy nights, wild adventures and honest conversations, shared meals and sun-kissed skin, open hearts and opportunities. 

Confessions of a Failed New June

It's the last week of June. The last week of my New June challenge. It's time to get real with you.

I've failed. Badly.

How many weeks this month did I go to the gym three times a week? Honestly? One. Did I do yoga once a day, every day? Nope. Maybe half the days. Did I spend time in the Word every morning? Nope. Not by a long shot. Did I cut out TV and Netflix completely? Well, yes, with one exception for the USA vs. Portugal World Cup game...but come on. I had to. As much as I don't love to flaunt it, I am a proud American deep down. Did I stop eating processed foods? With one (okay, two) fro-yo splurges, yep, that one I did okay with. Did I write something every day? I actually did. And it was good, and freeing, and so necessary.

Now for the last two. Did I pray big and bold, and did I get coffee with a friend once every week? These two go hand in hand. Yes. A big, loud resounding yes. I met with friends who know my heart well. Friends that asked the good, hard questions and listened well to the things I shared with them, friends that challenged me and brought up the word "story" a lot. In the past few weeks, the "story" theme has been undeniable. So, I prayed big. I prayed boldly. I asked God to open my eyes to what this could look like, to tell and hear stories.

That's where my Story Seeker project came from, and it isn't a coincidence to me that it was born out of a month where I challenged myself to make changes. It isn't surprising that when I cut out distractions and worked to focus on things that would grow me mentally, spiritually and physically, I saw God at work more.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Maybe my New June challenge didn't go perfectly. (Maybe this is also a reminder of why I don't believe in New Year's Resolutions...do they ever really work?) But God still is perfect despite my long list of failures and imperfections and flaws, and He's not done with me yet. I think New June challenged me to seek God more fully, challenged me to seek people more intentionally, challenged me to live more boldly.

Friends, this introvert who loves her alone time has had plans every single evening for the past few weeks, and for the next few as well. This is so out of my comfort zone, so unlike my usual patterns, and it's nothing I could do on my own strength. I really mean that. I should have been burned out and overwhelmed a long time ago, but something cool happens when you surrender your life and your calendar and your heart to the Lord-- He shows up. He is strength when you have none. He is joy when you feel tired. He is life when you're exhausted. He is in all things and reviving all things, even my own spirit.

I know I'm not a competitive person, I know I make excuses for things far too often and talk myself out of things I really should do (like go to the gym and stop snoozing my alarm clock so I can do my quiet time). I know a list of challenges doesn't change that, and I know I'm not the best at exercising my willpower and self-control and motivating myself to do hard things. But I also know that trying is better than not trying, that you can only move forward if you take steps forward, even if they're small. 

I failed horribly on several challenges, but several others have totally changed my life this month. They're steps forward. They're steps closer to the heart of God, steps closer to full and rich community, steps closer to the kind of person I want to be-- arms and heart and schedule wide open to listen to stories and share of God's faithfulness and work and love.


If you're curious about this whole Story Seeker thing, read this and learn more! I would love to hear from you and swap stories with you, I genuinely mean that. You have a story worth telling and I would be honored to hear it.

Breaking Bread: Savoring Communion with Others and Christ

This post originally appeared on iBelieve.com here.

It all starts at a table. Maybe it’s your dining room table, maybe it’s a cozy bistro table, maybe it’s a table at a corner booth at your favorite restaurant, maybe even a table at the front of your church sanctuary.

Good things happen at tables. Glasses clink together with cheers to happy things, dishes are passed around from person to person, food is shared, conversation flows. Flavors blend and meld as our stories do the same, fueling both our bodies and our hearts with richness and goodness.

Sitting down at a table to share a meal or a drink with someone doesn’t usually just happen on accident or by surprise. When you sit down to that table, you have opened up time in your day out of the busyness of life to be with someone. You’ve decided they were valuable to you, that the relationship was of worth, and that time was worth spending with them. Sitting across the table from them, sharing food, swapping stories, is opening your life and your heart to them.

There are so many conversations that are best had at a table, with a steaming cup of tea in hand or a big bowl of pasta sitting in front of you or a slice of gooey cake waiting to be devoured. Something about that object, that food, that drink in front of you breaks the ice a little bit. Hard conversations seem easier when there’s something to cut the tension, even something as simple as a meal. Easy conversations seem sweeter when something tangible is enjoyed at the same time.

I think food and drink become little (and delicious) vehicles of trust and truth, gentle wrecking balls breaking down our guards and our walls as they fill up all the cracks in our stomachs and souls.

People relax when there’s food involved, maybe even a little more so if red wine is involved... but people loosen up and breathe a little easier and let more of who they are show. It’s like these things on the table are inviting us to dig in, try new things, taste, savor, celebrate.

...continue reading here!

An Artist and Author at Work

Have you ever watched an artist work? Stood still, captivated by their movements, seeing the brush held confidently in their hand dip into the paint and then glide along the canvas almost effortlessly? It seems fluid and graceful, like the brain and hand are in perfect synchrony as the art comes to life.

Last fall, I was still recovering from knee surgery when a street art festival took place at the Carytown Bus Depot downtown. Still shaky on my feet and learning to walk again with this altered knee, I went to see the murals.

As I entered, I saw a man painting. He was working on a stretch of wall outside of the main area, on a side street with little traffic and few passersby. I stopped and watched him work for a few moments. He wasn't being showy or dramatic or drawing any attention to himself, he was just quietly at work on a stretch of coated brick on a design I couldn't quite make out yet.

Thinking back on how he created his art, I remember little things: slow, steady, moving and adjusting and improvising, skilled, constant.

The more I've been shaping my project of seeking and sharing stories, the more I've been embracing thinking of God as Artist and Author. I'm seeing Him at work in the stories I've heard, even just the few so far: slow, steady, moving, adjusting, improvising, skilled, constant. They haven't been stories of divine, radical, earth-shattering moments, but rather of an ongoing journey of grace and learning. I've seen God like that street artist, doing His work and designing His art in quiet ways, not demanding attention, but gracefully bringing beauty to life where there once was just a dirty space.

The design doesn't always make sense as it's being worked on. It isn't always obvious what the final product will look like. I'm learning that's the best part of it all, the trusting in the process, trusting in the hand that holds us, trusting that the things that are worth it take time and patience and a willingness to adapt.

I'm learning that my story is never finished, that there will never be a time when the Artist gives up and walks away. I'm learning that grace is abundant, that mercy has been given to me, that love says "you're worth working on, the best is yet to come."

I'm still learning to walk, but now it's more learning to walk in steady step with my Savior. I'm seeing the beauty in every story, the signature of the Artist stamped on every life, the brushstrokes of grace in every piece of heartbreak and renewal. 

What an Artist. What an Author.

No TV? Happy me.

Erica Boden wrote an awesome blog for Rethink and sent it to me a few weeks back before she left for a month at camp where she would love on students at beautiful Saranac. Her words were what inspired by New June challenges, and I'm so thankful for friends and writers like her who propel me forward and push me toward the fullness of life Jesus offers. Read her blog on Rethink here. My thoughts on the same topic are below, kind of like a part two to Erica's. Feel free to share your own experiences with us in the comments!


I'm a huge fan of Netflix. I get sucked into shows like it's my job to watch them, cruising through episode after episode with only a second to breathe in between. I get emotionally attached to characters, like Brooke Davis is really my best friend and it matters if I think she or Peyton should end up with Lucas. (ps-- Erica, props to you for also referencing OTH!) I get stressed out every time Jack Baeur gets chased by a cop or a terrorist, my heart racing and my palms sweating like it's really me they're after. I cried when Lexie and Mark died in the plane crash and when Cristina left the hospital and the show for good.

I get pulled in to these plot lines like I'm part of the story. I spend my evenings staring at a screen watching fictitious lives play out in front of me, my real life wasting away all around my preoccupied self. I even found myself thinking about the characters while I was at work, wondering what would happen to them in the next episode, planning my day around how many episodes I could squeeze in.

When I decided to make challenges for myself for the month of June after being inspired by Erica's post, I knew I had to do something about this. I knew I had to cut out all Netflix and TV from my life like she challenged herself to do as well. I knew it was going to be hard. It's such a mindless, effortless thing to watch shows like I did. Come home from work, relax, watch a show. It made sense.

Here I am now, 12 days in to my New June challenge, and I haven't watched even one second of a show. Let me just tell you-- it has made a remarkable difference.

Maybe you aren't a big Netflix-er, and I applaud you if that's the case, and I realize you probably think I'm ridiculous (and rightfully so). I think other people get what I'm talking about. Maybe you've been binge watching OITNB this past week, maybe you watched the newest season of House of Cards in a day or two... I get it. I really do.

Here's what I've learned in these past 12 days: The plot line of my own life is infinitely better, richer and fuller than the plot line of any show I could watch. Granted, it may not be as suspenseful, dramatic or riveting, but it's real, and it's going to keep playing onward whether I dive in or tune out. I've sought out face-to-face time with friends and strangers more, and I've left every time feeling fulfilled, deeply satisfied and challenged to grow. I've never felt that way after an episode of Gossip Girl or Friday Night Lights. By shutting out the noise and disconnecting from the shows, I've had time to listen to the thoughts in my own head, to pray more meaningfully, to think and process and internalize things in my life in a clearer way. It takes more effort to come home from work and pick up a book and engage in things that will take brainpower, but those are the things that make me feel alive and make my life feel purposeful. When I'm not filling my head with other characters and story lines, I have time to devote to my friends and relationships. I have time to write letters to the friends giving their summers to serve students at camps around the country, I have time to make fun cards to send to this month's new pen pal, I have time to journal and let my words flow and my heart rest.

I needed to break up with Netflix. I needed the time apart. I'm not even sure I'll keep my subscription going after this month. I'm realizing my time is better spent when I'm not glued to a screen. I'm realizing I have an overflow of time for good things, time for people, time for projects and new ideas and adventures. I'm realizing I'm happier and more free without TV, and I'm realizing I like my life that way.

Story Seeker

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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.


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want to swap stories? let me know. want to spill it out right here? feel free. want to meet up for coffee? i'm down.

An Art Masterpiece

From far away, it's a masterpiece. From this view, this perspective, it's beautiful in every way. A glorious picture, a marvelous story. The closer I get to it, the more detail I see. The intricacy of this work of art is exquisite. Some places have huge gobs of paint where it took extra layers to get the final color just right. Some places are worn thin, like time stripped away part of the original design. The brush strokes of the artist are all over this canvas. On this one in particular, I can recognize the artist by his signature in the corner-- not bold or boasting, but there, a quiet reminder of where credit is due. It's telling a different story from this up-close angle-- now I'm getting personal. I'm seeing the scratches in the surface, noticing ragged edges and uneven lines. When I take a few steps back, it all fades to that masterpiece again. I appreciate it more now that I got all up in it. I know it's not perfect, but that's what makes it so remarkable. That's what gives it true character, makes it unique. If it were perfect, I wouldn't relate so well. I have places in my life where layer upon layer have been piled on, just trying to achieve the final goal, make things look and feel just right. There are places that have been worn thin, places where time stripped a part of me away. The brush strokes of the Creator are all over my life like that canvas. His signature is there, not yelling and demanding fame, just quietly waiting, knowing the credit and all the glory are His.

Come on now, get up close. Come on in to my life. See the scratches, the scars, the rough edges. See that I'm just a canvas at the hands of my Creator.

New June

Hi friends! Newsflash: It's June. I know I'm not the only one amazed at how fast time is flying by, but really, it's crazy that summer is here again.

After reading an incredible blog post by my friend Erica (that you'll see in a few weeks on Rethink), I was challenged and motivated to make changes in June. Some are simple, some are meaningful, some are going to be tricky. All of them are going to push me to be better, to engage in the world around me, to really listen and hear and see, to strengthen my mind, my body, and my spirit, to draw closer to my Creator.

I'm not one to usually make New Year's Resolutions in January, but this June, I'm making a list of challenges for myself that really are resolutions. I'm calling it New June. You can follow along on social media, I'll be using #NewJune!

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Here's my list. (every good list has a Legally Blonde reference, am I right?!)

If you want to join me and make a list of your own, it's not too late! Join in the fun. Let's team up. It would be awesome to see how you're setting goals to grow too. If nothing else, please shoot me a text or a tweet or call me up and ask how it's going and help me stick to it-- I'm going to need accountability, trust me. Also, please don't spoil The Bachelorette for me!

My prayer for this month of June is this: that I may be increasingly more in tune with the words and the ways of the Lord. that I would put only good things into my body so I have the strength and the energy to live and glorify God in all I do. that I would work to make my body strong and healthy instead of hating the skin I'm in. that I would lean in to the silence and turn off the noise and distractions, lean in to hear the Spirit's voice, lean in to my own thoughts and questions. that I would soak up the Word, and that I would devote time to crafting my own words. that I would seek community and accountability and relationships without waiting for them to find me. that I would grow ever closer in intimacy with my Savior, that I would talk with him ceaselessly. that more and more His ways would become my ways, His heartbeat set the rhythm of mine. that my prayers would be bigger, bolder. that my belief would be unwavering and undeniable. that when July rolls around, I'll be different, more brave, more whole, more content, more like Jesus.

It's a whole new June. I'm ready to cannonball in, ready to feel the sun on my skin and the wind at my back, ready to discover more of my Maker and more of myself.

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