These weekly (ish) posts are where I share with you all the things I find and fall in love with around the Internet -- they're random, they're short, and hopefully, they're fun to read too.
I'm just one person. My two hands can only hold so much. My heart can only hold so much. My brain can only hold so much.
I'm turning 24 TOMORROW and thought I would share 24 (very random) thoughts about what I've learned about this life so far.
I was getting so sick of the numbers games, the comparison, the pressure to share, the phoniness of it all, just the whole Internet thing, to be honest... but then I realized I needed to make some key changes to make the Internet a place I enjoyed again.
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.
I wanted to quit on this Write 31 Days project today. I wanted to quit yesterday too. I got behind because I wasn't managing my time and my responsibilities and my work well, and it made me want to quit.
In my procrastination, I got on Twitter to scroll through notifications, and saw the encouraging messages from people who are new to my site and have been enjoying these posts. Those few sweet tweets were all I needed to gain perspective-- this isn't meant to be a burden or a chore, but to be a fun challenge and a joyful project. It's 10:30 pm and I'm deciding that isn't too late to write my post for today and keep it at it. I'm not going to quit.
I published a piece on The Rising today that I found buried in my drafts from many months ago, and it's all about the mountaintops and valleys we go through in life.
Sitting at my computer now, it feels like the obvious word for today is "perspective."
The perspective from the valley is one that challenges and overwhelms us. The perspective from the upward climb is one that fuels us. The perspective from the mountaintop is one that inspires and revives us.
Life today feels like I'm on the upward climb. I can look back and see I've come so far. I can see all the pieces of the puzzle that has been my life for the last few years coming together. I can see the peak starting to come into view through the haze ahead of me. I know I've grown immensely, I know I've overcome obstacles and conquered challenges. I know I have so much further to go. I know my eyes are open and I'm seeing it all, really, truly seeing it all. I'm tired and my muscles are aching, but I'm full of fire and fuel for the journey still ahead. I'm motivated by how far I've come and inspired by what's still ahead.
Every day in October, I'm writing whatever comes to mind when I focus on one word.
You can find all of my Write 31 Days posts HERE.
Today's prompt (the last one!): A farewell coffee date. Take some time to breath, sip a warm drink, and share with your new blogging buddies. If you'd like a prompt: how did the Blog-tember Challenge go for you? Any surprises? What was your favorite prompt, or what would you like to see included next time?
My dear friend Amber does these coffee date blog posts, and every single time, they are wonderful. Now this prompt is a farewell coffee date, and I get to share my own take on it. I'm modeling mine like hers, because every time she does it, I swoon. Amber spills pure gold from her fingertips, if you didn't know that already.
If we were on a coffee date, I would probably still be cracking myself up. I posted an Instagram for #nationalcoffeeday (even though every day is basically coffee day in my book) and it was a photo from a while back, with my Bible and journal on the table too. After I posted it, I realized my Bible was open to Hebrews. HEBREWS. Like He-brews. I HAVE NOT STOPPED LAUGHING ABOUT IT. I'm a huge fan of puns and the total coincidence of this one just has me dying still!
If we were on a coffee date, I would apologize for being half-hearted in this Blog-Tember Challenge. I should have learned from The 100 Day Project that yes, it's hard to show up consistently, but yes, it's worth it...but I fell short. I saw the posts flood my feeds and I wished I was joining in with them, but time and life got away from me and now September is over. Friends that followed along with my posts when they happened, thank you! Friends that I met through this challenge, I'm so glad we connected! Bailey, thank you for pouring your heart out over this past month and being such a gracious, welcoming host.
If we were on a coffee date, I would hope it's at one of my favorite coffeeshops in my beloved River City. I made it one of my goals this year to try 10 new Richmond coffeeshops. I've visited 9 and there are a handful more still on my list. They're quaint, they're cozy, they're quirky, they're full of character, and there's a new one popping up all the time. I love this city and I would want to show it to you one coffee stop at a time.
If we were on a coffee date, I would ask you what you've read and loved lately. I'm a bookworm, it's no secret, and I always want to hear recommendations. Some of you shared yours this month when you linked up with Bailey, and I added a bunch of them to my to-read list, but there's always room for me. Leave your current book crushes in the comments!
If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you I'm still learning about waiting. I wrote about it and I'm reading about it and I'm still in the thick of it. What have you learned about waiting in your life? I would ask. What has reassured you and kept you hopeful?
If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that lists are everything. To-do lists, bullet journal lists, pro/con lists, grocery lists... they're all worthwhile. I always have a pen in hand (these are my favorite kind, if you were wondering, but maybe I'm the only person who wonders things like that) and I'm always making lists, and it keeps me functioning. I would forget everything otherwise. Lists on phones just aren't the same.
If we were on a coffee date, I would ask what word is stuck in your head right now. Maybe you aren't someone that gets stuck on words like me, but I'm about to start a new project (Write 31 Days) and I just decided tonight that I'm going to write about one word every day. What word has your heart struggling or soaring? What word makes you feel fired up or afraid? What word seems so big and so good that you want to just ink it into your skin?
If we were on a coffee date, I would gush about my latest baby, The Rising. It's my pride and my joy and my greatest honor in my work. The people on my team are some of the very best people I've ever met. Their words make me better. It's a privilege to be a part of, and I would just go on and on about my love for it all. Oh, and I would probably ask if you wanted to be part of it with me. If you did, I would point you here.
If we were on a coffee date, I wouldn't hug you goodbye. Because hugs aren't my thing. They're awkward and weird and uncomfortable. I would just tell you I love you and it was so good to talk to you and that I want to do it again soon. And I hope we do.
Today's prompt: Shout out five of your favorite bloggers. Who are your regular reads?
I love this! Any chance I get to brag about my favorite online friends, I will without a doubt. Here are five of the ladies I love dearly and cannot speak highly enough about!
Amber at Mr. Thomas & Me
Amber has become one of my absolute nearest and dearest online writer friends turned #collaboreads collaborator and pen pal and Rising teammate. She has a heart of gold, a beautiful way with words, and such an honest and unfiltered way of letting us into her life and soul through her online spaces. She loves deeply and it comes through everything she writes or creates in her shop. She shared her story through my Story Seeker project, so if you want to start somewhere and get to know her, check that out here! She is the host of several link-ups that I LOVE (including The Letter Link-Up, Speak Up, and, of course, #COLLABOREADS with me!) and it just shows her desire to build community wherever she goes.
Taylor at Schmusings
A long time ago, I stumbled upon beautiful hand lettering and calligraphy that I loved (probably through my wedding photog friends The Herrintons) and made my way to the website of the girl behind it all. Her name is Taylor, and she has since become someone I very much love and admire and appreciate. We struck up a conversation, and she shared her incredibly powerful story through Story Seeker, and I've just felt deeply connected to her after hearing what she has gone through and how she has kept her faith and kept chasing after the Lord despite it all. This girl is talented in so many ways. I love that she is now part of my team at The Rising and also writing on her newly designed website frequently too-- she is hilarious and honest and blunt and sassy and sarcastic and genuine all at the same time. It's a winning combo.
Hannah at Hannah Brencher
It's been quite a long time that I've been reading Hannah's words and falling in love with them. I don't think talking about her blog and her heart will quite do it all justice-- she's all about loving people well, connecting them and making them feel less alone, listening to their stories, mending broken hearts, all together sharing it through an intricately woven tapestry of words that break your heart and put it back together all in one. I've heard her speak at Yellow Conference and hugged her afterward, a little starstruck all the while. Her book is amazing, read it. Her blog is amazing too, read that also. Basically, just soak up all the HB you can, because she's the best of the best in this biz.
You can find her here: website / twitter / instagram / more love letters / if you find this email
Annie at The Free and Wild Blog
I have gotten to know this girl over the past few months and just adore her. We have a lot in common (like both being gluten free and vegan which is a rare find!) and I just absolutely love her heart for the Lord, her husband, her people, and her city. She also was part of Story Seeker, and I absolutely fell in love with Baltimore hearing her talk about it. This girl just has such a fire in her to chase after the Lord's will for her life and to serve her community. It's infectious and beautiful. I love reading her words.
You can find her here: website
Sara Gilmore at Wonder and Wandering
I don't have any idea how I first found Sara's site, but I'm so glad that I did. I have loved following her life and adventures and seeing her faith play out through the hard and the joyful times of life through her words. She's a truly gifted writer and I'm moved by her posts every time. I feel like I know her well even though we've never spoken, and I'm always quick to read every new thing she shares. Her words are rich, her heart big, her life a true picture of what it looks like to run the race the Lord sets before us.
If you looked at my Instagram, you might think I drink coffee and pick veggies in my garden and read books all day long, or that I just go on road trips and don't have a real job. I do all of those things quite a bit, but I actually do have a real job. I get to spend my days working for an incredible group called Rethink.
I realized recently that I don't know if I've ever really talked a lot about Rethink in this space, and it's about dang time that I did! Our team is small, but we are mighty. The men I call coworkers, I also call friends, but they feel more like big brothers. We all live in different cities, but we work together really well over the Internet and lots of video chats.
We do awesome, hard, challenging, rewarding work for a wide variety of clients-- a brewery, an author, a personal trainer, an outdoor adventure company, churches, nonprofits, a roofing company, and more. We create websites, design logos, write blogs, build and implement social media strategies, shoot video, take photos, publish ebooks, and the list goes on and on. Anything related to marketing or anything creative, we can and will do for you.
So that's the business side of Rethink...but that's not all that we do. We also created a totally different space on the Internet to house our words. We called it The Rising, and it was born in August 2014.
The Rising is my baby. It's been my passion project since we first had the idea to move Rethink's blog to its own platform. We had a small team of writers who poured out their hearts through their words and helped bring the whole thing to life.
This summer, after a lot of looking back and a lot of dreaming about the future, we decided The Rising needed a makeover. We had been in a hurry to launch the site originally, and now it was time to really take it to the next level. The website went down, and it's still down as we work to build something beautiful and engaging and truly great.
We've been talking to new writers and recruiting more people to join our team, and we have been AMAZED at how many people have come on board. We don't even have a live website to show them, but they're excited about what we're doing and they want to be part of it. That blows my mind.
Now, we're just a few days away from launching our new site full of new words from new writers. IT GOES LIVE ON SEPTEMBER 8. I cannot wait.
We share about faith, culture, and stories. We talk about the church and what we love about her and where we feel she needs to grow. We talk about the music we're listening to and loving. We share videos that are inspiring, stunning, and incredible works of art. We debate controversial topics. We share about the deep places in our own lives, our weaknesses, our struggles, our sin, our hope, our joys. It's a space where nothing is off limit and challenging the status quo is encouraged. We want to push things to their highest and best place-- elevating everything around us and leaving no stone unturned.
I love The Rising and every person who has ever been or who is currently a part of our team. I love Rethink and the men I get to work with who relentlessly encourage and support me and The Rising so well. I love that this is my job, but that it so often doesn't feel like work at all.
Shameless plug: If you are interested in writing, sharing music, photographs, or videos, or contributing to The Rising in any way at all, I would LOVE to talk to you! You can click on the "Write for Us" button HERE and shoot me a message, or just comment on this post and I'll be in touch.
The Rising will be live September 8. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook so you don't miss anything! There will be some fun things happening when we launch that we are excited for you to be in on.
We can't wait for you to see it all.
Thankful: feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative.
I'm thankful for freedom. For the kind that comes from living in a country where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are protected and defended daily. For the kind that comes from being washed in the blood of a sinless Savior who died to release my chains and draw me close to His side forever. For the kind that lets me worship, lets me write and speak and publish, lets me love, lets me live as I do.
I'm thankful for grace. For the undeserved gift of extravagant, amazing grace that washes over me and floods me and changes everything about me.
I'm thankful for family. For all the people that have known me from my first breath and support me unconditionally. For the memories, the traits and the traditions we all share. For the times we can all be close even though we all live far.
I'm thankful for community. For a church that is vibrant, alive, welcoming, growing. For my small group and how we've grown as believers, people and friends over the past year. For my circle of friends who laugh with me, eat with me, adventure with me, do life with me. For the Rethink guys and The Rising team and all of their persistence and dedication to changing the world through their words and their art. For the #fireworkpeople who light up every day with beautiful encouragement and passion and fire.
I'm thankful for change. For a different life and different goals and different dreams today than I had last year, because that means I'm growing. For new circumstances and new challenges, because they mean that life is moving onward and I'm not stuck.
I'm thankful for technology. For being able to make friends all over the world through Facebook and Twitter and blogs. For a platform I can use to share my heart through my writing with anyone.
I'm thankful for creativity. For museums full of art from centuries past to remind us where we came from, what we saw, what we found beautiful and meaningful. For websites full of words that challenge and inspire and connect us. For crafts and for dance and for murals and for music.
I'm thankful for joy. For giggles from children discovering new things in this world. For laughter shared with friends that brings tears to our eyes and aches to our stomachs. For a deeply rooted freedom that bubbles over in trusting faith and lasting happiness and unwavering belief.
I'm thankful for forgiveness. for redemption. for healing.
I'm thankful for unity. for shared meals. for solitude.
I'm thankful for the unexpected. for provision. for protection.
I'm thankful for Jesus. for the resurrection. for salvation.
I'm thankful for life.
I'm thankful for love.
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!
So much of the work that I do on my little corner of the internet here is work I do alone. I write at my kitchen table with just the clicking of my keys for company, I wander around city streets with just my camera to scout out shots, I doodle and journal sitting on my couch with just a glass of wine by my side.
But this year, I learned something. My work is so much better when I don't do it all alone. Even more than that, my heart is better, my soul is better, my life is better when I don't do it all alone.
It started with Rethink Creative Group back in January. I found myself on the phone with a guy who lived in Texas who had gotten connected to my blog, and he asked me to join a team of several other men who were using their creative talents to glorify the Lord and change the world.
I had been a blogger before that, but I wasn't consistent, I wasn't very committed, and I honestly wasn't really very good either. But those guys saw potential in me, saw what my heart was after, and they invited me in to their community and I became part of their family.
My writing improved dramatically over the months that followed, and it's because I had a team backing me every step of the way and encouraging me to grow as a person and as a writer. I wasn't just writing by myself and putting it on my blog without anyone else looking at it, I was now collaborating and brainstorming and working with other people who challenged my work and made it the best it could be.
Now, as the editor over Rethink's new blog, The Rising, I get to be part of building that community even more and taking it to new places and depths, and it's an incredible honor and challenge and gift. The collaborations of our team and all of its members, with each of their individual hearts and gifts and voices, are unbelievable and so beautiful. None of us could accomplish on our own what we can do as a team.
At some point this summer, I caught wind of something on Twitter called #fireworkpeople. If you follow me on Twitter, you've probably seen me blowing up your feed with that hashtag every week. Curiosity got the best of me, and I clicked on the hashtag one day. I was amazed at the positivity, joy and encouragement that radiated from the tweets that filled my screen.
I knew I wanted to be in this group, if for no other reason than I wanted that kind of light in my life. I joined the Facebook group and jumped right in to the weekly Twitter parties (Tuesday nights at 9 pm-- just search #fireworkpeople and join us!)
Now, again, I'm reminded astoundingly that we are so much better when we are together. People from around the world are joining this group of talented, driven, passionate, radiant creatives of all kinds, and the community is growing rapidly. It's not surprising, really.
We are all hungry to be seen, hungry to be heard, hungry to be loved and appreciated and valued. When we are alone, nobody is there to see us, hear us, appreciate us. When we are together, when we join in, when we live in community, we have people that see us. They hear us. They wrap us up in love and appreciate everything about us.
I'm better because I'm part of these groups. A better human, a better writer, a better dreamer and believer and passion-follower. These people aren't always necessarily like me, I haven't met most of them in real life, they aren't perfect, sometimes I disagree with them...but they're my people.
They're the ones that I share my heart with, share my words with, dream big ideas with, problem solve with, laugh with, cry with, celebrate with, change the world with. They're the ones that remind me every day that life is a beautiful thing and there is always something to celebrate, even in the midst of overwhelming uncertainty. They're the ones that make me laugh (shout out to my girl Ansley!), that make me feel unstoppable (Ashley, the force behind #fireworkpeople, is the best at this!), that free me to dream big and encourage me endlessly (here's to David, the dreamer behind Rethink!).
We are all so much better when we are together.
In the early days of my writing with Rethink, I wrote a whole post called "Your Art Needs Other Art." I wrote these words then, and find them even more true and meaningful today.
Let the art of others inspire you. Let it challenge you. Let it refresh you. Let it make your art better.
The work that you do may be work you've always done alone. I get that. But your life doesn't have to be lived alone. You can bring all that you are and all that you do and make and create into community, and I promise it will be for good.
If you want this kind of a fiery, beautiful, life-changing community to call home, #fireworkpeople would absolutely love to welcome you with open arms and big virtual bear hugs. If you are a writer and want to be part of a team that's changing the world for Jesus, The Rising would love to hear from you.
This post is part of the #fireworkpeople blog tour! To see all other posts on the tour, click here.