small group

This Week's Gems: A Friday Freewrite

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.

"Humility births courage and is brother to the brave." -Ann Voskamp // This woman's words constantly seep deep into my heart and wake up good and hard things in me. This post was one like that.

This medleyJust 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!

Seeds in soil.

I'm the worst at growing plants. I buy succulents, cacti, seeds, plants, herbs, you name it...and I kill it.

I love plants and I really want to be good at growing them and keeping them alive, but the truth is, I suck at it. I think this has been something I've struggled with my entire life, to be honest. I clearly remember one time when I was probably about 3 or 4, and my mom and I planted some seeds. I had this tiny little teacup that she told me I could use to water it when it needed a drink. I watered those seeds probably every five minutes. That plant was drowning in how much water I gave it! I think my mom realized this pretty quickly, and my watering rights were revoked. Why I remember that so vividly, I don't know.

Usually now when I plant something new, I have the opposite problem, and I forget to water it altogether. Maybe I'm so scarred by watering those seeds so much as a little tot that I go to the opposite end of the spectrum...who knows. I'm really good at putting seeds in soil, but I'm awful at growing them.

In small group this week, we discussed the difference between "believing" and "receiving." All of these seed stories popped into my head right away.

Believing is the seeds in the soil. Receiving is a growing, living, blossoming plant bursting from those seeds in that soil.

When we just simply "believe," we are just putting seeds in soil and leaving them there. We forget to water them. We don't keep them near the sunlight. We don't feed them and give them everything they need to sprout and grow shoots and be a thriving plant.

When we really, truly "receive," we take action. We know the seeds are planted, and we know that's not enough. We know they need food to grow, we know they need light, we know they need water, we know they need care and attention, and when those needs are met consistently and often, there is beautiful growth.

Believing in God isn't enough. We need to receive Him. We need to feed our faith with the living Water and the Bread of Life, we need to be near the Son and his radiant light. We need to take action for there to be growth.

Our faith will blossom and bloom and grow shoots and bear fruit when we receive all that is being offered to us.

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. (John 15:5-8 MSG)