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The Routine That Made Me a Morning Person

The Routine That Made Me a Morning Person

I was the most hardcore night owl for so long, but the snooze button and the frantic feelings that came with it weren't my friends. Thankfully, I figured out what works for me, and I am a BIG fan of the mornings now.

What's in My Bag?

What's in My Bag?

Can we all just admit we really love seeing what's in other people's bags? Okay, cool. Glad we got that out of the way. Here's mine.

Bullet Journal: Back at It

Bullet Journal: Back at It

Last summer, I started my first bullet journal. I fell in love. Then, I filled it up. I went a month without one, but now, I'm back with round two, better than ever. Here's a peek inside!

What I'm Learning about Waiting

This summer has been a season of waiting for me. Waiting all summer for my big, exciting road trip. Waiting for my job to evolve to the next stage, the one where my hours and responsibilities grow and my bank account (thankfully) does the same. Waiting to move into a new home with a new roommate in a new part of town. Waiting to launch a website that has been months in the remaking and redesigning. Waiting for the actual seasons to change so the heat and humidity would be left behind.

This past year has been an even longer season of waiting for me, too. Waiting to figure out which city to call home-- a new one, or this one here by the river? Waiting to meet somebody to be my person. Waiting for the community that challenges me, loves me, and becomes my people. Waiting for clarity. Waiting for discernment. Waiting for direction.

Sometimes it can be hard to define waiting. It can be hard to know if we are just ignoring, or if we  aren't ready, or if it's already in front of us but we just haven't realized it yet. But waiting, according to the dictionary, is "the action of staying where one is or delaying action until a particular time or until something else happens."

Waiting is an action.

I picked up a book that had long been on my shelves, one written by an author of fiction that I love, and just fourteen pages in, I was met with this passage that struck me:

Waiting is both passive and passionate. It’s a vibrant, contemplative work. It means descending into self, into God, into the deeper labyrinths of prayer. It involves listening to disinherited voices within, facing the wounded holes in the soul, the denied and undiscovered, the places one lives falsely. It means struggling with the vision of who we really are in God and molding the courage to live that vision.
— Sue Monk Kidd, in "When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life's Sacred Questions"

I couldn't have written a more accurate passage to bring waiting to life.

Waiting is hard and it can be heavy. It can feel hopeless at times and hopeful at others. It's full of longing and learning. It's a time of cultivation and creation. It is full of so much searching and seeking and learning how to stay, to be still, to speak and to be silent too.

I am not any less because I am waiting. The things that I am waiting for will surely add goodness and richness and beauty to my life, but my life is not bad or poor or ugly right now.

My life right now is good, even though I'm waiting.

My heart right now is full, even though it is still longing for things yet to be.

My identity is confident and sure, even though roles might change and relationships will come and go.

Sue Monk Kidd also talked about how the imagery of cocoons and butterflies resonated with her during her own season of waiting, and I love what she says here about cocoons:

I asked myself what would happen if I could learn the spiritual art of cocooning. Might I discover a stilling of the soul that invites God and a new recreation of life? Would I see that the waiting, with all its quiet passion and hidden fire, is the real crucible of spiritual transformation? Would the posture of the cocoon allow me a way to shed old, embedded patterns of living and move into a more genuine humanity where the authentic self breaks through?
— Sue Monk Kidd, in "When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life's Sacred Questions"

I'm learning that waiting is both active and passive, that it's necessary even in the ways that it is hard, that it is worthwhile to enter into it fully and wholly and openly.

Only after seasons of waiting can new fruit come forth.

Show up.

I'm learning lately that life is a lot about just showing up.

In the mornings, when I'm only half-awake and still mostly grumpy-- show up, at the dining room table, with my Bible and my journal and a mug of coffee still too hot to drink. Be present before the Lord.

When the work day hours begin, when I'm not feeling inspired and my to-do list is miles long-- show up, find a place to start, and begin there. Do the work.

When the evening cools down, when I'm tired and Netflix beckons-- show up, put the sneakers on, take your keys, and go walk. Let the wind blow around you, see the sun set in the sky before you, feel the strength coming back as you move your muscles and stretch your legs. Go move.

When a friend gets news that is crushing, devastating, horrifying, and tragic-- show up, stand by her side, offer the few words you can find, and just love. Be there in love.

When there's a meeting on your calendar for this evening but the day has been long and draining-- show up, sit around the table, and let the wisdom, passion, and hearts of those women recharge you. Be fueled by their fire.

 

I want to show up. I want to be present. The news around me reminds me that this life is so short, and I don't want to stay asleep and afraid and miss it all. I want to rise up, awake from my slumber, and show up.

We need each other. We need people that show up and don't bail when life is hard or heavy. We need friends that prove through their presence and their constancy that they are trustworthy and true. We need to be reminded through the people that love us that the Lord's love is endless and relentless. When they show up, we remember that He does too, and that He always will.

Show up today. Be there. Be present. The Lord meets us when we show up ready, willing, and open. He will make it all worth something wonderful.


Find more Friday Freewrite posts here!

Let me tell you about The Rising

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.

WORK // A Speak Up Vlog

So, funny story... last month, the topic for Amber and Annie's Speak Up vlogging link-up was restoration. In all the craziness of getting ready for my trip and for moving, I wanted to record it before I left, so I rushed to get that done.

Well, I did it, and I loved it...but once the whole thing went live, I realized I had the topic TOTALLY WRONG. I recorded a great vlog on redemption...yeah, not the same as restoration.

Anyway...this month, I got the topic right! HA! We are back talking about WORK this month, so here is my take, and make sure to check out Amber and Annie's as well!

Here are the five things I hit on, and if you click them, they'll lead you to links that represent each one for me!

BALANCE // COMMUNITY // REST // WRITING // INSPIRATION

Not Over Yet

Way back in December, I got an email from a girl named Samantha who wanted to share her story with me. I have to admit: the email got totally buried in my inbox. Blame it on a busy holiday season or just a totally forgetful brain of a girl who is really bad at responding to emails...

Fast forward to April, and she emailed again. Thank goodness for people who give me grace and don't give up on me even when I totally drop the ball! In her email, she shared that because of how things had played out since December, she now clearly knew the story she wanted to share. How cool is that? I never meant to leave her hanging for so long, but it was in that season that the Lord worked in her life to really bring about a story she wanted to share with the world. 

She emailed me and shared so much about her life and I absolutely loved it! Email is not the best way to get to know somebody (I would always always rather meet someone face to face for coffee to really connect) but she was so warm and friendly and sweet and I knew we would get along great!

And guess what? I dropped the ball AGAIN. Like, come on, Rachel, EMAIL PEOPLE BACK. I felt horrible. I had read her email right when I got it and was so excited to reply...and then totally didn't.

She gave me even MORE grace. She STILL wanted to be part of this whole thing. I was shocked, honestly. I had totally let her down not once, but twice, and she still was willing to share her story with me, to be vulnerable with a stranger, and to let me publish her words for the world. Wow. That floored me. I had completely given her no reason to trust me...and she did anyway. I've seen so much grace and love come from her and it's been a beautiful thing. 

That's what I love about this whole Story Seeker thing-- people that I never would have crossed paths with before, people I never would have gotten close to, people I would have never reached back out to again...they become people that change me. They become people that grow me, that inspire me, that move me, that push me to be better, and that remind me with their gracious hearts and their powerful words that our stories matter and are so worth sharing.

I am so honored to share Samantha's story with you. This girl is one of the good ones.


storyseekerhands.jpg

Hey there, I’m Samantha. I love writing, be it on my blog, movingpeaces.com or with my husband when we write songs together. We live happily in a little yellow house in Raleigh, NC, tucked between our garden of veggies in the backyard and the chocolate shop across the street out front. It sounds really cute and fun, but sometimes I struggle knowing how to tell people who I am or where I belong. Occasionally, I let my identity get caught up in other things--whether it’s my job, my husband’s job at church, my weaknesses or my strengths. Thankfully, there’s one identity that matters most and that’s in Jesus Christ. 


Sometimes we think the story is already over when we’re barely halfway through it.

I have loved writing for as long as I can remember, although I haven’t always realized how important it was to me. My major was in journalism and mass communication, and my minor was in English. (I’m super well-rounded, huh?) The funny thing is, I didn’t actually know how much I loved writing until I wasn’t doing it.

By the end of graduation, I was newly engaged and offered a position in the public relations department of an ad agency. It wasn’t my dream job, but it was a job in my field that sounded glamorous to my peers and friends. I knew I would get good experience, and I needed some time to figure out what my dream job might be.

While I gained a variety of experience, it came at a cost. I worked crazy hours, was stressed out and spent the majority of my first year of marriage incredibly sick. I learned a lot at that job--that my marriage was a higher priority, that I had no interest in climbing a career ladder if it meant stepping on toes or pushing people aside in the process and that I believed I was meant for something more.

I found another job and found rest, but before long my husband and I felt it was time to move halfway across the country. That is another story for another time, but the short of it is this: we quit our jobs, said goodbye to our friends and picked up everything without jobs or guarantees waiting for us on the other side.

Having just moved on a whim, I found myself looking into a different career path and considering grad school. I began working in an administrative office at a major university and while I did well, I missed working creatively. I missed writing and challenging myself in the way that would best suit me. I couldn’t foresee a future in the field of higher education anymore, so I returned to what I knew by working in a web development agency.

I told myself this was the job I was going to stick with for awhile. It didn’t matter what happened, I needed a long-standing position on my resume. While I still missed writing, I figured I could make it work as a project manager. My determination was strong, but the business was not. Due to some financial instability, we all went weeks without our paychecks. Clients and employees were dropping, leaving me without much to do and no choice but to step away, too.

After all the struggle and effort, I felt like I came up short. A failure. Some days I wondered if my career was over forever, if I would never amount to anything. I questioned and doubted myself and my abilities. Was I weak? Incapable? Naive? Why had my career path looked like such a mess?

For nine months I scrambled and panicked--applying for jobs and desperately hoping for acceptance. Instead, I met rejection after rejection and was the “runner-up” job candidate on several occasions. In that time, I also managed to slowly open myself up to new opportunities. I finally shared my blog with more than just close friends and family. I planned the women’s event at my church, and I agreed to play in a band. My writing and creative work soared.

Then, in February, I was offered the job I had been looking for all along, a creative communications position with a small company. I felt triumphant as I accepted the position, grateful to have found my strengths and skills in the process. It was perfect, and I was ready to put those days of job struggles behind me.

It was then that I contacted Rachel about writing my story, thinking it was in the past. I was ready to look back at it with ease knowing that the hard part was behind me and the lessons were already learned.

I wanted this journey to be nicely wrapped and tied with a bow. Everything in me wanted to finish this story up and present it for all to see. I wanted to tell the story of success and accomplishment. Instead, here I am, vulnerable, exposed and recently unemployed. Just like that, my new job was gone, and my story started a new chapter.

That’s the thing with stories, they are never really over. Our life continues and it doesn’t all end in a bow. But the story still matters. It still carries impact, lessons learned and wisdom gained.

Your story matters, no matter what part of it you are on. I don’t know yet where my story will go, but I know I’ve grown so much in the process. My faith, my marriage, my friendships and my creativity are all stronger. Instead of panic for what is to come, I am so excited for the opportunities ahead of me. This story is not over yet, and I could not be more thrilled. 

Grace is Changing Me

Life lately has seemed like one big lesson in learning grace. Not just as a pretty little church word, but as the big, gutsy, life-changing, transformative gift.

Grace is changing everything about me.

I'm a perfectionist. My parents raised me with high standards and expected me to be my very best, and I took that very seriously. I've realized there's a lot more people pleaser in me than I ever cared to admit. I'm an all-star at getting things done. Responsibility is my number one strength according to Strengths Finder, and I love leadership positions and having a clearly defined role to play. I'm impossibly hard on myself and ridiculously critical too.

But grace is changing everything about me.

A dear, dear friend this week saw me break down completely as I realized how this standard of perfection and the consequent feelings of failure and frustration have been eroding all areas of my life.

I rambled as I realized I expect too much out of myself, and when I fail or fall short, I quit and give up. I lock my heart up from people when relationships don't progress like I should in the time I think they should. I give up on projects when I can't figure things out in the time I think it should take. I pull away from God when I don't feel like I'm living well or I don't think He's responding. It's always been how I handle things-- I'm impulsive and spiteful and excellent at giving up when things get hard.

He looked right at me and told me gently, "that's not who you are, though." I laughed while still crying and was baffled-- it's what I do, though. It's what I do in every area of my life. How can it not be who I am? Isn't what I do also who I am?

Oh, Rachel. 

He smiled at me and I avoided eye contact and he told me none of that is who I am. None of the guardedness, the pushing people away, the stress and the anxiety, the feelings of failure and desire to just quit, none of the critiques and the shortcomings, none of the roles I play or the positions I hold or the work I do... none of them are me. 

I am Rachel.

Rachel. At my core, that's who I am.

This friend told me: "It's like trying to describe God. You can say God is love and God is justice and God is mercy and hope and all of these things, but it doesn't get to the core of who He is. God is GOD."

I'm a perfectionist and I've failed at projects on my plate and I've let people down and I've damaged relationships and I've struggled and I'm stressed and overwhelmed...but none of those things are who I am.

I am RACHEL.

Grace is changing me from who I was to who the Lord has planned for me to be.

When I accept the massive gift of grace that's right in front of me, it changes me. It puts broken pieces back together again. It transforms me. It makes me new. 

There is grace for me in my work when I can't accomplish the tasks on my plate. A coworker stepped in and helped with the part I couldn't figure out and the project got done and looked great. Grace like that is changing me.

There is grace for me when I shut people out and close myself off from friendships. A friend came to town and told me over Chinese food that it was a phone call several years ago that I had forgotten ever making that made it clear to her that our friendship would last. She told me it was because I called and wanted to figure out if something was wrong that she realized we would stay close. I realized I've since become a friend that doesn't put much effort in, and I saw that she was now the friend fighting to stay close despite my lack of trying. That friend is the one who texts me when I feel like a mess and reminds me that I'm okay, that I'm loved, that I'm strong, that feeling how I'm feeling "IS NORMAL!" Grace like that is changing me.

There is grace for me when I've run far away and squandered everything good I was given and am the perfect picture of the prodigal son.

There is grace for me when I return, head hung low, ashamed that I couldn't have just stayed where I was loved and wanted.

There is grace for me when I put other things in the Lord's place in my life.

There is grace for me when I fail to love well, fail to extend a helping hand, fail to fight for justice, fail to be the hands and feet of Jesus, fail to show mercy, fail to be present.

There is grace for me even when I struggle to have grace for myself.

Grace is changing everything about me.

The sin, the shortcomings, the struggles, the stress...they aren't me. I am Rachel. God is GOD. I am beloved and chosen and covered in His amazing, amazing grace.

I Bit The Bullet (of Journaling)

You may or may not have seen this new "bullet journaling" trend circling the Internet. I had seen it first from Amber (the source from whom all best ideas flow) and then from Kristin who just made it seem irresistible.

I was the girl who had a huge planner (that I never took anywhere because it was massive, and therefore never knew my schedule when I needed it) and also a book that was just for to-do lists, and then another journal for notes from work, and a million index cards taped up on my walls and scattered around my desk with random ideas... I was a mess. A bullet journal seemed to be the perfect way to combine all of those things while still giving me flexibility and freedom to organize things in a way that worked well for me.

I bought a kraft Moleskine (I am so loyal to Moleskine, it's ridiculous) with the square grid paper (my all-time favorite kind, I will never go back to blank or lines) and doodled my heart out on the cover.

It's been a few weeks of implementing this new system, and I AM IN LOVE. Seriously, this is the best way I have found to stay organized with all the different things I have going on, all in one place in a journal that's easy to take with me everywhere...it's just so great.

There are different ways to go about this, but there are some things that make a bullet journal a bullet journal: an index, a calendar of the entire month, and daily to-do lists. I added other things to mine and customized it a bit based on what I need to keep track of, and I think I'll keep evolving that over time as well.

Here's how I've set up my bullet journal!

 

The index is just the table of contents with what is on each page! Numbering the pages is hugely helpful and helps keep things all on track.

I laid out my calendar in a box monthly format instead of a numbered list, because it's helpful for me to see how the weeks play out in a more visual way! Plus, I have more room if I need to add more to each day. I only add things that aren't my normal routine here (I don't list when I'm at work or at church on Sundays, etc).

This was something I added to help keep myself on track with all my writing, and I have loved it. I've scaled back my blogging this summer to just twice a week on my blog, with occasional freelance posts scattered throughout as well, and I've loved seeing them all listed out. I've never planned posts out until now! It's great.

These were other pages I added, as a way of keeping track throughout the month of both the books I'm reading (to make my blog post recaps even easier!) and the things I'm learning (to boil down my pages and pages of processing in my journal down to short bullet points I can blog about later).

Here are what my days typically look like. The boxes to the left of each item get filled with an X when they are accomplished, and an arrow if they need to get moved to another day or postponed indefinitely. Having those boxes motivates me SO MUCH more than I realized it would!

Do you bullet journal?! Anything you've added to yours that you absolutely love? Any questions about how this whole thing works? Comment below! Let's be bullet journal buddies.

When You Remember Grace is Amazing

It was a rainy summer night and I was at my parents' house while they were on vacation. The screened-in porch out back is perfectly cozy on nights like that one, the best kind of spot to sit and read and write while the rain falls and the crickets chirp and darkness blankets the sky. Something about being by myself in that big house and that weather made me more introspective and reflective than usual, and my pen was pouring out words onto paper in a way that hadn't happened in a while.

The chorus of Amazing Grace was stuck in my head for some reason, and I pulled up an instrumental version of it next to the lyrics on my phone. As an acoustic guitar played this song that's so familiar and I read through the words, I was struck by the power and immensity of grace. I sat still, put down my pen, closed my eyes, and let it all sink in.

We say it all the time, casually...amazing grace. The two words have become joined over time, we say it as one thing, and I think we've lost some of the awe of how amazing grace really is.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. Wretch: an unfortunate or unhappy person. That feels like the most appropriate description of who I have been lately. In the midst of so much ambiguity and uncertainty throughout all aspects of my life, I've been sinking into myself, shrinking away from truth and the Word, questioning everything and trusting little. It is unfortunate. I have been unhappy. I've been a wretch.

I once was lost-- I feel that. Right now. In a season of overwhelming changes, I absolutely feel lost. I feel blind. I don't know what's next, I don't know what's around the bend. Wretch, lost, blind...yep. How easy it is to convince ourselves that we can't change these things, to give these things power over us to keep us down and out and hiding on the sidelines in fear.

But I'm not stuck there. I'm not out of the race. Oh, amazing grace. I'm saved. Grace saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.

Neon signs didn't light the road ahead of me with flashing directions, the long list of questions in my head weren't automatically answered, the concerns didn't disappear...but amazing grace flooded over me. I may feel like a wretch, feel lost, feel blind, but I've been saved, I'm found, I can see. I can see grace redeeming and feel love restoring. The questions and the fear and the anxiety pale in comparison to the tsunami of grace washing over my starving soul.

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace, my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.

That grace appeared when I believed. I could run, I could hide, I could shrink back and lash out, but when I stopped fighting and started believing, grace appeared. How precious, that grace. 

Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; its grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.

There have been circumstances more challenging than these. There have been doubts bigger than these. There have been dangers, toils and snares. I have come through them all. Grace has brought me through each one. Grace isn't done with me yet, grace isn't tired of me and all my antics, grace isn't intimidated by my questions or turned off by my doubts. Grace grabs my hand and leads me home one step at a time. Grace picks me up when my legs are too tired to keep going. Grace wraps me up in a big bear hug when I make it over a hurdle. Grace cheers me on and celebrates every victory and chants my name and believes in me when I'm out of breath and struggling and ready to quit. Grace leads me home.

The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secures; He will my Shield and Portion be, as long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail, and mortal life shall cease, I shall possess, within the veil, a life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, the sun forbear to shine; but God who called me here below will be forever mine.

When we've been here ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we've no less days to sing God's praise than when we'd first begun.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.

Hallelujah.

List Love: round two

Remember the first time I did this list? I loved it so much, it's sticking around. Sometimes, on Fridays, you just need to dive in to a big list of verbs and make sense of the crazy of life in little bites. Here it is!

 

Making | lots of to-do lists. I have four pages of them at the moments. Yikes.

Cooking | tacos that are pretty much identical to my regular order at Don't Look Back (TVP, traditional style on corn tortillas)...so good, people. So good.

Drinking | Breakfast Blend from a k-cup, because if it's in the work kitchen, I'm going to drink it. Multiple cups of it. All day long.

Reading | Emma by Jane Austen. A classic.

Playing | more Pictionary in the last two weeks than ever in my life. I've learned I'm much better at guessing than drawing!

Deciding | to choose joy in every circumstance. (Easier said than done.)

Wishing | I had funds to fuel a worldwide adventure. The wanderlust bug has gotten me good this summer!

Enjoying | the little things, the last minute plans, the late nights, the busy calendar

Waiting | on the world to change (shout out to John Mayer) and praying with everything in me for peace to flood the globe and love to heal every hurt and wound. 

Liking | dark navy nailpolish. After School Boy Blazer by Essie is my current favorite.

Wondering | how it's possible that there have new been two 1787 weeks at JMU since I left. I miss that buzz of insane school spirit those first few weeks a new class of Dukes is on campus...enjoy the next four (or three if you're like me) years of your lives, class of 2018! (I'm old...)

Loving | this new soy (vegan and gluten-free!) "chorizo" from Trader Joe's...oh my yum. It has changed my life this week and I'll never be the same.

Pondering | what life would be like if I just packed up and moved to another country...I'm praying and dreaming big about what adventures the Lord might have in store for me!

Watching | this.

Hoping | for a cooler weather weekend so I can go on Richmond adventures. I'm feeling like just wandering this city on foot and taking pictures of anything and everything I find.

Marveling | at the massive, relentless, undeserved and shocking gift of sweet amazing grace. I spent one evening this week just listening to this version and journaling the lyrics and letting it all flood over me. I would strongly encourage you to read the words and really let them sink in to your soul.

Needing | to start packing for my trip to LA! (I am the worst packer. Maybe ever.)

Smelling | a fresh cup of coffee...my first of many today, I'm sure.

Wearing | the best and softest purple skinny jeans I got in London when I studied abroad-- they're my favorite.

Following | lots of new incredibly passionate and creative women thanks to The Yellow Conference-- cannot wait to meet you all next week and spend a few days together!

Noticing | that the more I write, the happier I am. The opposite is also true. Dedicating time to pour my thoughts out on paper is so necessary, but it's always the first thing I sacrifice when my days fill up.

Thinking | of new blog post ideas...do you have any? Want to try your hand at writing? The Rising would love to hear from you!

Admiring | writers like Sarah Bessey and Ann Voskamp who put words to the hard, messy, heart-wrenching things of life.

Sorting | through my closet and finally getting rid of things I never wear. I'm on a mission to be more intentional and conscientious about the clothes I buy and brands I support, and that starts with making room in my current wardrobe!

Buying | a subscription to Darling Magazine has me checking my little mailbox every day

Getting | SO excited for California. Finally a vacation!

Bookmarking | this

Disliking | how fast time is flying by this summer (pumpkin spice lattes are already back at Starbucks, friends. that means fall is almost here.)

Opening | a little brown paper bag from my Monthly Miriam subscription a few nights ago and finding another beautiful piece made my night. Love Miriam Designs and love each piece those sweet women create!

Feeling | full of anticipation for what God has in store for me next. New adventures, new places, new opportunities, new mercy. Thankful.

Happy Friday, sweet friends! Fall in love with the world around you this weekend. It's a beautiful one even in the midst of tragedy, disease, injustice and brokenness. Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.  Make a difference. Be a ray of light in the darkness.

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