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This morning as I was scrolling and sipping coffee (as one does on a Thursday morning) FB showed me this piece I wrote for my friend, Steve Weins last year. I chuckled into my coffee cup as I read it again, not because my words were particularly clever, but because the whole piece was about editing, about sacrificing our most precious and self-indulgent pieces for the overall good of our work (metaphor for life somewhere in there, I think?) and as I read it, the irony of how much I have yet to learn about “killing my darlings” was not lost on me.

It’s a process, yes?

Speaking of processes, the whole piece made me think of you guys. Of how you’re doing over there on the other side of this screen.

We’ve talked a lot about the “creative process” lately. I wonder what you think of when you hear those words?

Do you think of paintbrushes on canvas, words on a page, music notes being played, scenes being rehearsed? Do you think of art as some kind of bold and intimidating word?

?? I used to.

I used to think that I wasn’t a creative person at all. I wasn’t even mad about it, really. I just always put art in a box and when I didn’t see myself fitting into that box, I assumed I didn’t have anything to offer in the creative arena. (Sometimes I am not very smart.)

But if there’s anything I’m learning, it’s that our whole lives are a creative process.

It’s that “art” can look like a keen sense of humor, like food arranged on a plate, like bringing order to chaos in our homes, like the rare ability to make people feel included, welcome, and seen.

It can look anything and nothing like what you expected.

But at the end of the day, your art is your art. My art is my art. I can’t do yours for you and you can’t do mine for me.

Yet the world waits, desperately needing all of it.

I wonder what creative process you find yourself in right now?

Whatever it is, I hope you find the courage to kill your darlings along the way. And I hope you have the audacity to enjoy the process too, because the process is your actual life. 

If you’d like to read the piece that made me think of you this morning, click the photo or link below!??

Love you guys.imageKill Your Darlings

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Last week my friend, Melissa Blair, invited me up onto her blog porch and I am not lying when I tell you it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time.

For the latest installment of her “Barefoot Sessions” Mel asked me all kinds of personal questions and I gave her all kinds of honest and unfiltered answers, which is how most of our interactions go, really.

We met on the Internet (as one does nowadays), which led to Voxing each other (or is it Voxering?), then we met in real life at the Hope*Writers Conference in North Carolina and over the course of the weekend we bonded as we shared our inner monologues, snacks, and a rented car.

I knew I liked her from the start, but there is always one defining moment in a new friendship. The one where your fate becomes sealed and you know in your knower that this is one of your people.

For me, that moment came on the second day of the conference, as we pulled into the parking lot right next to one of the keynote speakers, Emily Freeman, as she was innocently exiting her car.

We parked, and while I was searching the cup holder for the ridiculous, fancy key FOB (why don’t they just go in the ignition anymore? it makes no sense) Mel reached over and honked loud and long at a startled Emily, quickly pulling her arm back so it would look like I did it.

We both started laughing hysterically and I knew she’d be a friend for life.

Because obviously we are two extremely mature adults who naturally gravitated towards each other.

But really, it’s because she just so happens to be a fun-haver and I, much like a 5th grade boy, just so happen to regard teasing as the highest form of affection.

ANYWAY. I’m over on her blog this week and things are getting real personal.

It’s a quick, interview-style read, so click the link below and come join the fun!

The Barefoot Sessions With Amber Salhus 

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P.S. If you happen to live in Arkansas, please drive by Mel’s house and honk loudly. She’ll love it. Promise.

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There’s precious little left of 2016 and while it’s been a wild ride, I wonder if you, like me, find yourself eagerly looking to 2017 to bring fresh hope and new adventures.

This year has been full of ups and downs but one thing remains certain- You guys are the funniest, warmest, coolest people I know. By showing up, reading along, openly sharing your own stories, and generously making room for mine, you’ve helped make this not only a soft place to land on Internet, but a uniquely fun and quirky community that I’m honored to be a part of.

I thought it would be fun to look back together and revisit the top 12 posts from 2016, so I did a little investigating, compared the numbers, and found out which essays from this year resonated with you the most.

Most of these are among my own personal favorites from the year, so air-high-five for being in sync with each other! Also, you’re welcome for sidestepping a whole slew of N’Sync jokes there. Consider it my early Christmas gift to you.

Without further ado, here are the Top 12 posts (in order) from 2016.

1. When Women Use Their Magic image

2. How To Have Zero Chillimage

3. How To Order Taco Bell

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4. In Your Dreams: When Creative Work Feels Impossible

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5. Confessions of an Honest Pastor: Why It’s the Best, Worst Job Ever

– A Guest Post by Steve Wiens

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6. In Which I Tell My Big Secret (That Everyone Already Knew Except Me)

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7. Confessions of a Single Girl – A Guest Post by Bruk Marsh

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8. A Real Life Love Story 

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9. House Flip Before & After

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10. What If Hospitality Was As Simple As An Act of Vulnerability?

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11. 5 Ways To Cultivate Rest This Holiday Season 

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12. Why It’s Better To Be Wounded Than Guarded

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As always, dear readers, thank you from the bottom of my heart for making this community such a fun place to hang out. You guys are my favorite.

Here’s to the new year and all the possibility it holds for us.

 I’ll catch you on the flip side.

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Last week I was over at Grace Table, sharing a rather personal and unflattering story of Hospitality Burnout. While they were the most gracious of hosts, I have to admit that it was difficult to write, because if I’m being completely honest, the fact that I’ve always been “the hospitable type” is something that I’ve secretly taken pride in. But life is funny, and it often has a way of bringing you down a notch. This is one of those tales. I’m only sharing a snippet here, but you can click over to Grace Table to read the whole piece.

This is for anyone who’s learned the hard way that part of true soul care sometimes involves putting yourself in a time-out.

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“Once I got married and had a home of my own, hospitality was a habit I carried with me. Husband and I are both very social and we love to spend time with our people. We love to open our doors and invite friends in; To sit around tables, living rooms, and porches, sharing all the small moments in life that really are big. Moments of laughter and food shared, of children running underfoot, and of kitchens full beyond capacity with friends chatting, chopping, and pouring drinks.

I found that hospitality came naturally to me and that I truly enjoyed it. I loved inviting people into my home. I loved planning and hosting dinner parties, play dates, coffee dates, and holiday extravaganzas.

Until suddenly I didn’t anymore.

Ironically enough, my hospitality burn-out came at precisely worst time. After 10 addresses in 14 years of marriage, we had just moved into our long awaited “Forever House”. We finally had all that space we’d wanted.

I expected to move in, make the house into a home, and fling my doors wide open.

I expected that I’d want to.

But life is unexpected (and so is God), and from the minute we took up residence at the Forever House, I found myself both constantly hosting guests and suddenly resenting it. I’d always talked a big game about hospitality and I’d always backed it up by practicing it in my real life. But suddenly it felt like God was calling my bluff.

I’d been happily hospitable when it was on my terms. But what about when it wasn’t so convenient? What about when I didn’t feel like it?

From the day we moved in we seemed to have a revolving door. There was a never-ending stream of people and pets; of phone calls saying “We’re coming for a visit! Can we stay?” And other phone calls saying “Bro, can I crash with you for a few months, until I figure out my next move?”

Every time we said yes, because these were all people that we love, care about, and enjoy spending time with. We said yes, because we’d always been the “hospitable type” and if I’m being completely honest, that was a part of myself that I’d secretly taken pride in.

But I found myself quietly becoming resentful of our revolving door.

I found myself dying a little bit on the inside each time I put on my hostess hat.

I craved time for our own little family to make memories in this new home with just us.

I longed for small, quiet moments without an audience.

I grew tired of constantly having to be “on”. I grew tired of constantly worrying whether the kids were pestering the current houseguest (they always were), or if we had enough snacks in the pantry, or if I’d ever have the freedom to walk around the kitchen without a bra on again.

There was never enough toilet paper or clean sheets, the coffee pot was always empty, and the toilet seat was always warm. It was all making me slightly claustrophobic…

READ MORE:

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Since we promised to keep it real with each other you should know that I’m currently having trouble controlling THE VOLUME OF MY VOICE. I don’t like this version of myself. The slightly frazzled, worn down, short tempered version. Mean-mommy voice has come out more than once this week. I’m not proud.

The children have been beastly. This morning before my eyes were even open I could hear their shrill argument with each other carrying up the stairs from the breakfast table. It’s been a fun and busy month and yet they are acting progressively more miserable and ungrateful.

Why is does this always seem to happen when I am trying to do cool things for them? It’s like they’re sabotaging their own fun. I want to give them the whole Jerry McGuire speech- you know, “Help me, help you” and all that, but I think I’m just too tired. Read More…

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I had planned to write a lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek, funny blog post today but in light of yesterday’s headlines regarding another senseless shooting, the idea feels not only wrong, but impossible. I can’t be lighthearted. We said we’d keep it real, right? There can be no faking it today, when my heart is so very heavy.

I hesitate to comment publicly on these tragedies because it feels almost disrespectful to speak of such horrors on social media walls and news feeds that deal mostly in banalities. Yet it feels even more disrespectful to stay silent, to look away and move on with my life.

The number of senseless shootings this year is more than I want to count. But count is the least we can do. We must acknowledge. We must bear witness. Each number is a name. Each numbered victim is a person with a family. How many of them had little babies at home that will grow up without a parent? How many of them were young and tender, just starting out in life? How many of them were engaged? How many of them were about to retire?

I can’t stop replaying the whole day in my head. Yesterday morning I got up early. I poured myself coffee. I made my kids breakfast. I got to work on a new writing challenge. I kissed my tinies goodbye when they went to school. I had coffee with friends. We laughed. We played cards. It was a normal day.

Until it wasn’t.

Read More…

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You guys.

What was I thinking?

What on God’s green earth could have possessed me to think that getting a puppy roughly five minutes after moving into our brand new house was a good idea?

Deep down I knew this was an error in judgement.

But one look at this friggin face and I was toast.

image I mean, really. I still can’t even deal with how cute he was. I say was because that small adorable puppy turned into a big puppy.

That big puppy began to do all kinds of unspeakable things to my new carpet. Things he should be ashamed of. That big puppy chewed our brand new baseboards. He chewed our brand new porch posts. He farts uncontrollably. He snores. He killed one of the neighbor’s new chickens and then left it on our doorstep. For me to pick up.  And dispose of. And apologize for. As if I would be pleased by this. As if he is doing me some kind of favor. Read More…