Category: faith

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Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about blooming.

I know, how deep, right?

Thinking about blooming in the springtime?

Call someone call Oprah! Tell her to get out the overstuffed chairs and place them in the forest! It’s time to sit down and talk about how deep and unique I am for having a revelation basic to the human existence! (Btw, I never planned on referencing Oprah so much in my writing. It just happens sometimes so I’m rolling with it.)

Anyway, blooming- I’ve been thinking a lot about it.

Which is sort of new, because I don’t exactly have a green thumb- In fact, I’ve killed every plant that I’ve ever owned. Every single one. Even the succulents on my front porch, which I assumed were basically indestructible. After 15 years of attempting to have greenery in my home, the plant-killing became too much for my conscience to bear so I finally gave up.

I’ve never even been one to notice flowers, much less learn their names, how to care for them, or appreciate their unique beauty. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not some kind of cold, cynical monster who landscapes her front yard with exposed aggregate instead of grass, I guess you could say I’ve just never exactly stopped to smell the roses.

Until lately.

Last week flowers made me cry.

They weren’t even flowers that someone picked or bought or presented me with. They were just out in the wild. And by “the wild”, I mean that one island of trees in the middle of the parking lot at my kid’s elementary school; the one that runs the length of the carpool lane.

There were cherry blossom trees in full bloom there, in the middle of all that asphalt, bursting with so many pink petals that they covered the entire surface of the ground below.

It probably feels like I’m about to ramp up here into some metaphor about life springing up out of dead places or something, but that’s actually not where I’m headed. (Although, maybe it should be a post for another day? 🤷🏼‍♀️Please mark yes or no and put in locker #7.) Read More…

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I recently turned 35.

While it’s officially the oldest I’ve ever been, I decided to do something that felt admittedly…childish? No, that’s not it.

Indulgent?

No. Thats not it either.

I don’t know.

Let’s just say it felt wonky, but in the good kind of way.

Even though it was freezing cold I went outside to sit on my back porch (because being outdoors helps me think) and I brought my favorite spiral notebook- the one that reads “Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You” in shiny metallic gold lettering across the front.

It’s the notebook that currently holds all my most important words.

My ideas.

My notes.

My outlines.

My reminders.

My inner monologue.

It’s all there.

But I realized there was something MISSING from the book. Something so important that I can’t believe I’ve never bothered to write down.

My dreams.

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As I sat on my porch casting vision for the year ahead and reflecting on the year behind, I realized that 2016 was full of surprises. As I’ve told you here before, my “One Word” for the year was “Yes” and God certainly wasted no time using it to draw me directly outside of the comfort zone that I’d carefully created for myself.

Remember on Inside Out when Joy draws a circle for Sadness and tells her that her only job is to STAY INSIDE THE CIRCLE? It was kind of like that except I’d drawn my own circle,  labeled it Comfort Zone, and planted myself there like a fool. We could really get deep here and talk about Joy and Sadness and how in reality, comfort zones are the easiest place to become miserable, but we honestly don’t have time for that today.

The point is, all of that changed the moment I began saying YES. Read More…

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Well folks, 2016 is officially over.

Between the election (don’t worry, I’m not even going there) and everything else that happened (side eye to you Brad & Angelina), let’s all be real here: It was a bumpy ride, yes?

But take heart, dear readers, because it wasn’t a total wash.

We did learn a few things along the way.

Things like…

CHECK YOUR JUNK MAIL

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I cannot tell you how many times this year I sat wringing my hands, checking my inbox, or even foolishly ignoring it, ultimately having no clue that emails were just sitting in my junk mail collecting dust. And I don’t just mean Old Navy ads and those pesky emails from the dealership where you bought your Chevy Traverse 4 years ago.

I mean like, important emails.

“Oh, that editor actually wants to have lunch with you and she needs to know if Wednesday works? Cool, cool, cool. You should probably just sweat bullets, assume she’s never going to respond, and that you’ve clearly made the whole thing up, only to discover at the last minute that she had emailed you DAYS ago.”

“Oh, you’re going on a podcast and you’re wondering what the questions will be, but you’re not sure if it’s kosher to ask? You should probably just wing it, only to discover 17 minutes after you nervous-talked all that nonsense about your recurring Amy Poehler dream to your gracious interviewer, that he had, in fact, emailed you offering to show you the questions ahead of time.”

“Oh, you just yanked your two grumpy children out of bed and hauled them to school because you didn’t see the email from the school district about the snow day?” In the famous words of Adam Sandler in the Wedding Singer, “This information would’ve been useful to me yesterday!” 

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People of the Internet! Learn from my mistakes!

CHECK YOUR JUNK MAIL.

Regularly. Read More…

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She yells it to me through my television screen at least twice a week:

“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable! Right now, this moment! This is when it counts! When you’re tired and you don’t think you can do it and you want to give up- THIS is when you make change happen!”

It turns out there’s more to learn from Jillian Michaels than how to simply not die during a high intensity cardio session.

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Remember a couple of weeks ago when we talked about how sometimes creative work feels impossible? I confessed that I’d gotten to “the hard part” of my project and how I’m learning to sit in that tension instead of struggle against it?

Well I thought “the hard part” was being brave.

Brave enough to step out, brave enough to share that journey with you, and brave enough to be honest about it along the way.

Because all creative work requires bravery.

We know this. 

We love to talk about the bravery because it’s noble and grand, but we don’t speak much of the aftermath that almost always follows. The wake of those unsorted and far less noble feelings of confusion, doubt, and disorientation that come after the bravery.

The questions of, “Wait, did I do that right?

Should I be embarrassed right now?

Was that really true and helpful and good?

Or was it self indulgent and foolish and cringeworthy? Read More…

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Some days having a dream to pursue feels dreamy. But some days it’s like an elephant is standing on your chest; you feel a lot of pressure and you’re acutely aware that you’re dealing with something much bigger than yourself.

Can I be honest? Today was one of those days. I woke up and before I even opened my eyes I remembered that I’m carrying around a dream. A dream that suddenly feels as is if it weighs a thousand pounds.

I’ve tried putting it down, I’ve tried ignoring it, and I’ve tried shouldering it alone only to realize two steps further that I’m exhausted and not cut out for this nonsense because I’d definitely rather be watching Netflix.

As you might imagine, none of these tactics actually worked, so here I am with my book dream. We’re no longer strangers, startled to find each other there every time we turn around, but we still havent quite figured out how to co-exist, either.

We’re sort of just chillin’ here together, except nothing is chill and The Book Dream and I are either madly in love or completely at odds, depending on the day.

It’s all very dramatic, you see. Read More…

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I have a confession to make. It’s the sort of thing that a writer should never admit.

I’m a VERY picky reader.

When it comes to purchasing books, I rarely discriminate. At this very moment I have at least 20 fantastic books on my shelf that are still waiting to be opened. I love to buy books. I love the smell of them, the feel of them nestled in the crook of my arm as I walk into a coffee shop, and the way my little heart skips a beat every single time I walk through the doors of a Barnes & Noble.

But when it comes to actually reading books in their entirety, I do admit that my standards are…shall we say…a bit high? I’m not easily entertained. I can’t help it! I’m just not.

If a book doesn’t grab me within the first 3 chapters I rarely pick it back up. I realize that this makes me sound like an elitist snob, and no, the irony is not lost on me that as a humble and lowly writer myself, I may need to consider suggesting LOWER standards for consumption, but whatever. I don’t care. It’s the truth! And I’m only telling you so you understand that when I recommend a book, I really mean it.

So obviously I’m going to recommend a book now.

Are you ready? Read More…

Photo By Richelle Photography

Today I’m over at The Mudroom, sharing a personal glimpse into the real truth of (our) marriage. I’m only posting part of it here, but I hope you click the link and read the rest of it over at Mudroom, because I think the ending is important. I really bared my heart in this one and I hope that you find it useful.

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This morning I sat down with my coffee and some old photos with no other intention than to reminisce. Today marks 14 years of marriage for my husband and I, and to celebrate, I decided to take a little trip down memory lane. Because if there’s one game in life that I enjoy more than “Name that movie”, it’s “Remember When”.

Everyone close to me has grown accustomed to my random blurting of (completely out of context) sentences that begin with “Remember When…”

“Remember when we all snuck out of bible college to pull an all-nighter at Taryn’s house and Danny and John climbed through the window to scare us at midnight? Remember how we all panicked and thought we were going to die, but Amber B. was the only one smart enough to run out the front door?”

“Remember when you had giardia, and you were high on pain medicine and came into the library where I worked at 11pm in your sweatpants loudly demanding some kind of meat, preferably jerky?”

“Remember when we were dating long distance, and you’d call me every night at the same time, and you’d always be wearing that same noisy jacket that crinkled in the background? I still have that jacket.”

I could go on, but you get the picture. I like to relive the past. There is a whole compartment of my heart dedicated solely to nostalgia. Usually the memories I find myself returning to again and again are the happy moments, the funny moments, or the unbearably tender moments. But today was a little different. I found myself looking through old photos, scanning to find an echo of some of our more difficult moments.

Because, can I be honest? This last year was harder on us than we expected, and today I found myself simply needing to remember another time like this. A time when we overcame. A time when we burrowed down into the foxhole together until the storm passed. A time when we learned to tear down certain walls in order to strengthen our foundation.

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While we’ve always been a couple that generally gets along, we’ve certainly had our share of trying seasons before. (Side eye to you, colicky babies.) But if pressed for a reason, I’m not sure I could even tell you why this year was harder on us than most others.

Maybe it’s the fact that after 14 years, we’ve been married just long enough to actually have baggage. Old wounds that have been healed and forgotten can be pricked right back open again in an instant.

Maybe it’s all the new dreams sprouting in our hearts, and the fact that those dreams require a bravery and vulnerability that have left us both feeling fragile and exposed in our own ways.

Maybe it’s all the outside pressures of work, money, schedules, and ministry that press in and down on us at times, threatening to burst our happy, intimate little bubble.

Or maybe?

Maybe it’s just growing pains.

After all, growth means change, and change can be rather uncomfortable at times.

READ MORE HERE:

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Today I’m inviting you up onto my blog porch, pouring you a cup of hot coffee, and sitting down beside you to hear from one of my favorite people. When I say “favorite” I mean it in the sense that I have always admired her coolness from afar, not in the sense that we hang out all the time in real life- although I’m fairly certain we would if we still lived in the same city. I have known Bruk for well over 10 years, and watched her grow from a confident, self-assured teenager into an effortlessly cool, relentlessly authentic, stunning-from-the-inside-out, grown up lady. It seems that Bruk has always known exactly who she is, and as a fellow woman, I find that to be both refreshing and inspiring.

She does interesting things like make jewelry, write songs, and take pretty photographs, and she does brave things like live in Africa for a year. The words she wrote here are just one small part of her big story.

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“When she reaches for him, you reach for Me.”

Those words changed my perspective the teeniest bit.

You know… when you know that God has the best plan for you, but you don’t entirely believe it until He gives you a fresh look? Maybe you don’t know. In my mind I’m the only person that doesn’t always trust God, but go with me here. I’m about to get real open about some stuff that I just don’t like getting real open about.

I’m 28 and single. When I say 28, I actually mean 27 and turning 28 next week, which is weirdly freaking me out. And when I say single, I mean it in every sense of the word.

Always. Forever. Single.

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It’s recently been pointed out to me that being single isn’t really the thing I struggle with, so much as the fact that I’ve never had a relationship. While I almost think that’s true, it’s also sort of not.

I’m good at being single. That’s the thing that scares me a little bit. I live mostly on my own. I’m great with power tools. I support myself, move as I wish, travel as I wish, shop as I wish. When I have a date I’m not thinking “Oh man, I hope he likes me!”, I’m thinking, “Oh crap, what if he likes me?” and the self-sabotage sort of starts there. Read More…

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This week’s guest post is from my friend, Kris Camealy, and I’m thrilled to be hosting her words because they are honest and real. I hope that you, like me, see an echo of yourself in these paragraphs, and are encouraged.

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I sat down on the front stoop the other evening and watched a flock of Canadian geese fly overhead, while my kids scattered themselves down the street, making new friends with the neighbors. They’d been recruited for an impromptu soccer game happening up the street, in the common area between a couple of houses, an invitation unlike any we’ve ever had. This kind of living is completely new to us.

Before we moved here in March, for nearly twelve years, we lived on a noisy, unfriendly street that over the years, became more and more transient with the shifting tides of the economy. Our neighbors changed frequently as houses changed hands, suffered foreclosures, became rentals and so on. The neighbors who did remain we rarely saw, on account of a number of factors.

But it wasn’t all their fault. We could have made more of an effort.
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When my husband and I first moved to the old house, we had one toddler and one baby on the way. After walking through a number of nasty houses, we stumbled into a house that was clean, tidy, and move-in ready. We didn’t deliberate long before signing on the dotted line. We made our home there, and for a while, tolerated the openness of our large backyard. But as the boys grew into preschoolers, and we added yet another baby to the mix, the lack of fencing around the perimeter of our yard gave me pause. Our backyard became a regular cut-through for teens making their way to the bus stop, or to the main road. People regularly walked through our yard as if it were a public thoroughfare, and honestly? I hated this. The regular foot-traffic of strangers across our property made me feel unsafe, and caused me great angst when the children wanted to play in the yard. This, coupled with the fact that our home sat only one house into the neighborhood, off of a busy road, made me long for a fence to keep the kids in, and the wanderers out.

As soon as we were able, we had a 6 foot privacy fence installed all the way around the backyard. I would no longer have to deal with the neighbors dogs pooping where my kids played, or the teenagers behind our home traipsing past my living room window on their way to wherever. My kids could play freely without my worrying that they’d somehow make their way to the busy street out front. This was exactly what we wanted.

But now? I would no longer see my neighbors.

Before the fence, we’d greet each other while returning our trash cans to the backs of our homes, or while raking the yard or letting the dogs out. Before the fence, we could wave hello as they sat on their back deck, or grilled burgers across the lawn.

Before the fence, interaction with our neighbors happened naturally, without much effort, without any pretense.

The fence gave us exactly what we wanted. I still think we needed the fence for all of the reasons I mentioned, but at the same time, we lost something too. When we locked the door on that house for the last time, after 11 years in the only neighborhood my children had ever known, we didn’t say goodbye to anyone. We had no relationships there to grieve or miss. We’d been rooted there alone, and partly by our own doing.
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After nearly 12 years in what felt like a social dessert, we’ve miraculously landed here, on what is arguably the most social street in the state. Six months ago, I didn’t know places like this actually existed, outside of Hollywood sound stages and sitcoms. We are living in a place “where everybody knows your name”. For real. It’s crazy-amazing.

Almost no one has a fence.

Our current backyard is a wide open space that bleeds indistinguishable into our two neighbors yards. Our children play between the houses, and in the common area situated smack out my kitchen back door. On any given afternoon, half of the neighborhood can be seen wandering between each others homes, sitting in each others driveways, and wandering in and out of each other’s garages. Here, you can’t help but see each other.
I’ve thought a lot about fences since we settled here. I’ve thought a lot about the ways we build them in real life, and relationally. If I am honest, I liked living behind a fence. It made me feel safe. The 6-foot privacy fence erected behind my old house is not the first fence I’ve lived behind. Or hidden behind. It’s only in the last couple of years that God has revealed to me, what a master architect I have been at building fences.

Last year, God called me to launch GraceTable, a hospitality themed website where writers share stories of what it is to love their neighbors, to live in community and wrestle out what Jesus meant when He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself”. GraceTable is a virtual space, but through it God is teaching us what it means to make actual space for people. As we have been coming around to the idea of practicing intentional hospitality, it’s not lost on me that God planted us here, in a neighborhood free of fences. This is a place God is growing me, growing us, as a family. We are learning what it is to let others in, to let them walk on our grass, and discovering the beauty of fence-free living.

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Kris is passionate about bringing people to the table to be nourished by good words, good food and Jesus. Meet Kris at her blog, kriscamealy.com and on Instagram @kriscamealy. Kris is the author of the book, Holey, Wholly, Holy: A Lenten Journey Of Refinement and the founder of GraceTable.org, a community Table open to all who are hungry for more of Jesus.

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You guys are in for a treat today. In fact, it’s kind of like a double treat, so, you’re welcome.

Not only do you get a hilarious peak into the creative process of real life editor, Cara Sexton (which made me feel a whole lot better about my own creative process, btw), but you also get a sneak peak into the making of Soul Bare: Stories of Redemption, which officially releases August 5th! That’s tomorrow!

You guys. This book is amazing. It’s a compilation of stories from so many of my favorite authors and each one is real, raw, personal and gutsy. Do yourself a favor: Order it. Go to your local bookstore and buy it. Borrow it if you have to. Just get your hands on it! Read it. Let these stories refresh your tired soul. Be blessed.

Okay, here is Cara’s post!

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I’ve always been fascinated by the creative process of other writers, and I also aspire to one day teach writing classes. Because of my unparalleled expertise in this area, when Amber asked me if I’d consider guest posting on her blog (ohmygosh, did you hear that?! Amber Salhus asked me to guest post on her blog EVERYBODY BE COOL), I figured you all could take a lesson from me on one of the important aspects of blogging/writing/being basically awesome in every way.

Here are 10 easy steps for writing a guest post for one of your favorite bloggers when the opportunity presents itself:

Step 1: Promise to deliver it on Sunday or Monday.

Step 2: On Tuesday, begin existential panic. Read More…