I've been listening to Emily P. Freeman's podcast, "The Next Right Thing," since it started. I get excited for Tuesday mornings, because I know my drive to work is going to be filled with a few moments of simple, yet profound truth. And most days it also fills my drive home, because let's be real, I need to listen to things a few times before I actually understand what you are telling me. I also love Emily because she loves lists. Each season, she records different things that she has learned and then shares them with us. I'm joining in for the first time with my list of what I learned this Spring.
This past weekend we celebrated Mother's Day. I'm thankful for my mother and the relationship that we have. But, I know for many, it can be a tough day. I have many friends who are mothers and have invited me into their families. They have each shown me something different in what motherhood is and what it means to love. As Annie F. Downs and Psalm 68:6 reminds us, “God sets the lonely in families.” My friends have exhibited that immensely by letting me be a part of their families. And it’s something I hold dear and hope to never take for granted.
And I have many other friends who hope to one day be mothers, whether single and longing or married and longing. With them, I pray the peace and hope of our Savior fills the space that feels empty. The journey is long, a marathon they say. And they say it takes a village to raise kids, I say it also takes a village to just live life. I hope we are all surrounded by friends and families who pull us in close.
And what is one thing that draws us all closer together? Food! It makes us gather around a table, breaks down barriers, is different in every culture, and we all need it! So, this weekend, we celebrated Mother's Day by going on a food tour in downtown Mobile. This tour was so much fun and has something for everyone! There were families, young couples, old couples, and even kids on our tour. My mom loved the food aspect and getting to visit the restaurants. My dad loved the history side, getting to know more about Mobile. I loved it all, let's be real. We visited many restaurants that I hadn't been to yet, I got to spend the afternoon in my city that I love (with my parents - double win), and I got to taste amazing food along the way. A definite win and a great experience. We visited seven spots in the downtown area, each with a different menu and style, on our three hour tour. About 15 to 20 minutes were spent at each location and we were definitely full as it came to an end. Good thing we were walking in between! Chris, our tour guide, also told us that we ate three of the "100 dishes to eat in Alabama before you die"! So while I would love to cross the other 97 off, I'm excited to go back and visit these spots again. Keep reading to see where we went and what we had!
We are several days into May, but it's never too late for a currently post, right? Here's what's been up lately and then a few favorites I'm loving right now.
Lately, it seems that I've only been clicking the button "new post" on this site once every month. It's not that the words aren't there, it's mainly that there are too many. I don't know where to start, or if I do, whether it will ever stop. Literal word vomit.
I saw a post the other day that an author writes all of his books by hand. In a notebook. With a pen. On pages. Full novels. That is so fascinating to me. Someone who enjoys writing and enjoys journals, yet I've never finished a journal. Except for sermon notes, I've never filled an entire notebook with just my words.
I remember when I was younger and we would go on trips, I would have a notebook even then. I wrote a lot of poems then. Some rhymed, some didn't. I don't even remember what they were about, but I remember showing them to mom sitting in the front seat and she would critique them or help me find a word that rhymed. I'd write over and over, flipping page after page.
It's not writer's block that hinders me from writing. I think I'm just afraid of what may come out once the writing begins. Why are we afraid of things that are good for us? Maybe you don't feel that, but some days, most days, I do.
And the only thing that comes from that is joy hindered.
Maybe I need to get back to the pages. Actual, paper pages. I need to grab my favorite pen and just let the words spill out. I don't need to write a novel, I just need to write.
Morning and night. After my prayers and praises, paper and pen.
I've followed with the trend of picking a word for the past couple of years now. Wait. Better. Fear. Those have all been some of my past chosen words. And here we are, time for another picking. I've been slowly making a list of goals and things that I would like to accomplish in 2017. After looking back on my goals for 2016, I realized that...well, I didn't do nearly half of what I wanted to. That bums me out, but also makes me want to worker harder in the new year.
2016 was the year of fear. The year of fearing the Lord and striving to know Him more. Some dreams fell away and some old dreams returned, ones that I had forgotten about or chose to ignore in the past. So, I re-circled those dreams. The Lord has put them on my heart for a reason and I believe, in one way or another, He will bring them to fruition. I'm excited to see that happen and it makes my heart flutter just thinking about it. And I know that I'm still not close to some of those dreams becoming reality, that the season of waiting continues. However, I'm more content in the Lord than I've been in years, and that I realize, is what makes the waiting easier.
The later half of 2016 sent me on a search to find rest. I started a new job in 2016, one that I never thought I would be in, but love. With that comes new routine and changes. I found myself mentally tired, more than physically tired. For a couple of months, it seemed that things just came one right after another. There was no slowing down, no moment of calm, before something else popped up that needed to be taken care of. I needed rest. I needed renewal. And the Lord gave it to me. He showed me that He is my rest and where I find all rest. In that place, in Him, is everything I need. As long as I look to Him, as long as I put Him first and allow Him to be all that I need Him to be, there will be nothing more I need.
I began that in 2016 and I want to continue it in 2017. There are things I would love to do this year, dreams I would love to keep circling and prayerfully see Him answer, but most importantly, I want to choose Him. I want to be about the things He is about. I want to daily look to Him, I want to find my rest in Him, I want to follow Him to wherever He has me to go.
Spiritually, emotionally, financially, physically, missionally, daily, big things, little things, in friendships, relationships, in my writing, at my job, in everything! He needs to be a part, because all these things are for His glory, and I want to do the best I can with what He has given me. So, I will choose Him. In every step of the way, I choose Him. Simple.
You know, when I was thinking about what word to pick for this coming year, I was struggling with it. I wanted it to be some amazing thing, because I felt like it had to be perfect. I thought about flourish or cultivate. And while those are great words, they just seemed too fancy for me. I'm simple. And I like that. I don't need eloborate things, the smallest things make me happy, and I don't need grand gestures. I need simple and easy. As I was doing the Advent study with Sacred Holidays in December, something that Becky Kiser wrote stuck out to me. She said, "There isn't a magical formula to following Jesus. Following Jesus is simply choosing to actually follow Him. This following looks different for each person because we are all different." I love this, because it is simple and true, yet I often forget it! I get caught up, thinking that my time with the Lord, or my life even, has to look a certain way because that is what other 28 year olds are doing or what it looks like on Instagram. My call is simple, choose to follow Him. So, simply choose Him I will.
The word for this year and the word that I pray is for every year? Choose.
Have you chosen a word for the year?
What is something you want to do in 2017 that you didn't do in 2016?
It's clearly been so long since I've written a post that the first thing I did when I got on my site was hit "publish" and there was nothing new to publish. Call me anxious.
I find it interesting that I've had more hits on this blog and more visitors in the past two months of silence, then I did when I was writing consistently. I've never been one for the numbers and I'm always surprised that people come to read the things written within this small space of the internet.
I've been writing less in this space, but more on my facebook page and within Instagram. I love that on Instagram, I can combine photos with short essays or just a few words. And I'm surprised that my facebook page has over 120 likes and that my posts there have reached an audience of 700 or more. Those clearly aren't all my friends, but what happens when friends share a post and you add a couple fun hashtags.
I've been on three book launch teams so far this year. And I find it incredible that the Lord knew that I needed these books this year as much as I believe that my friends and those around me need these books. You may have seen me talk about them on instagram or twitter or facebook. But, I've also been spreading the word by mouth. I've learned the beauty of living in the in between and what it means to praise God even if all my dreams or plans don't work out. I've learned what it means to find the lovely all around me and that the lovely is given by a God who loves me. I'm still learning what it means to be wild and free in Christ. An idea that both excites and terrifies me.
I dreamed in Swahili the other night. It wasn't my whole dream, but kids started speaking to me in Swahili and I spoke back in their language. It was beautiful and wonderful and makes me want to create vocabulary cards all over again.
I've been learning how to better share my faith over the past eight weeks. And within those eight weeks, I've been frustrated with myself in not being more intentional in sharing the Gospel. And I've been reminded that the Gospel needs to be real to me every day. It's the most important thing that has changed my life completely. And I need people to know that.
I've been torn between whether to come back to writing and what to even write at all. I miss this space. I miss the friends here. I miss the community. And while I want all that to grow, I'm afraid of where it might take me also. I've never been good with follow through. I have the hardest time finishing something that I've started. I don't feel like I'm supposed to walk away from this right now, but I don't know where to begin again either.
I've moved into a new house and gained two new roommates. Our house is lovely, sitting in a wonderful neighborhood, where childhood friends still ride their bikes to each other's houses. Where people wave to me when I'm running and dad's play basketball with their sons in the afternoon. I'm finally back in a house with a physical address and not a PO BOX and we have a doorbell that works.
I'm still fascinated with the little things. And so amazed by how I see God working in such big ways through those little things.
I'm right where I've always been, yet farther along at the same time.
Where have you been lately? Have you felt like you've been in the same place for awhile or are you in territory completely new? Let's catch up in the comments below or by e-mailing me!
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Skylar over at Blonde Freedom had this fun Christmas survey up on her blog the other day. And because it's the busy week of Christmas I thought I would snag it and fill it out as well. Keep things light and fun this week. Plus, I love posts like these where you get to know someone a little better. Enjoy and happy Christmas Eve!
Wrapping Paper or Gift Bags? | Wrapping paper all the way! I love going through all the bins of wrapping paper in the Christmas aisles at the stores. There is so, so much that it can be overwhelming. But, I love it! This year my paper was a craft type with old school Christmas lights printed on it. Last year, I had simple brown craft paper and twine and fun tags for a fun package look. Plus, we have a long standing joke in my family about how much tape we put on gifts and how it makes it seemingly impossible to get into them.
Real tree or Artificial? | I am all about some real trees! To me, there is nothing like them. Yes the needles get everywhere and if the tree starts to dry out the needles can poke you very hard. But, nothing can replace the fun of going to pick it out, towing it back to the house, and then the amazing smell that fills your home. That being said, all trees I'm surrounded by this year are artificial. Nothing wrong with them, but my preference is definitely real.
When do you put up the tree? | I like to put up the Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving. Although if my roommate had her way, our tree would have been up on Halloween. Or never taken down in the first place.
Hardest person to buy for? | My Dad definitely wins this answer. Mostly because you can't buy the man anything! Anytime we remotely have a handle on what he wants or needs and get ready to buy it for Christmas, he goes and buys it for himself. Dad has always been one to want us to have things to open instead of him. Although he is hard to buy for, he is one of my favorites to buy for.
Easiest person to buy for? | Mom gets this one. Because I usually get her a few of the same stocking stuffers every year that she loves and then she is easy to please with books or cute little knick knacks. And I usually ask her what is one thing she would love to have, but wouldn't buy herself. That's always fun.
Favorite Christmas film? | Well, there definitely isn't one! The ones I have to watch every year are (in no particular order): The Santa Clause, All I Want For Christmas (1991), I'll Be Home For Christmas, A Christmas Story, Elf, and White Christmas. I also watch Little Women every Christmas.
Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? | Another hard one, but all the candy and pies! I don't think I eat a real meal except for Christmas Day because of all the candy and pies that are brought out this time of the year! Speaking of pies, remember the cherry or pecan debate? Pecan won and is being made tomorrow morning!
Snow: love it or hate it? | I've never grown up in an area that was known for white Christmases. Memphis rarely got snow, but mostly got ice. And ice is not fun like snow. Until I lived in Tahoe, I had never had a white Christmas, but there is something different and special about having a white Christmas. I love it, until I have to shovel it. :)
Lights on the tree: colored or clear? | I'm more a clear lights person, because then the different colored ornaments all glow more brightly! But, colored lights are festive and fun. So, put both on there! Plus, it makes it look more full!
Favorite Christmas song? | Again, there isn't just one, but O Holy Night is my top favorite!
Reading of the Christmas Story or an Advent? | Both! I love to start Christmas readings the first of December to begin celebrating Advent, but focus more on the Christmas story the week of.
Travel at Christmas or stay at home? | Normally my parents and I travel to Memphis for Christmas to celebrate with our entire extended family. This year, with my Dad recovering from surgery, we are staying at home in Alabama. It will be different not going out of town this year, but I'm grateful and happy to be spending a few days with my parents at their home. Christmas definitely would not be Christmas if I was not with them.
Favorite Christmas cookie? | This is a hard one too! But, I'm a big fan of the peanut butter cookies with the Hershey kisses on top!
Favorite Christmas tradition? | Normally we are out of town and always rushing from place to place, so traditions are hard for us sometimes. With my parents we normally will go and see a movie and we usually tune into the 24 hour marathon of A Christmas Story. The past couple of years I've begun a couple of my own Christmas traditions like sending out handwritten Christmas cards and reading A Christmas Carol.
Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? | Mom usually lets me open one present on Christmas Even and then we do the rest on Christmas morning. I get more excited about my stocking! I love going to sleep with it empty and waking up with it full! No matter how old I get, that will always be exciting to me!
Most annoying thing about this time of year? | Probably just the traffic that is everywhere! I go out and wonder, "where did all these people come from!?"
What is the "silliest" family tradition you do or miss doing? | This definitely isn't a silly tradition, but a fun one. When I was younger and we still lived in Memphis, my aunt would give me and all my cousins movie theater coupon books. After we had dinner and opened presents all the cousins would go to the movies and just pile on top of each other like we were in our own living room. It was so fun!
What do you want for Christmas this year? | Books are always on my list, every year! This year I also said a subscription to Real Simple magazine and The Pioneer Woman's Cookware Set or really anything from her collection!
What holiday traditions are you looking forward to most this year? | I'm not sure, but just being with my parent's will be great. Since we are doing our normal Memphis Christmas, maybe this year we can begin some new traditions of our own.
Happy Christmas Eve!
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It's time for The Circle! One of my favorite monthly link-ups from my friend Kiki. This month is all about Christmas traditions and Christmas home tours. I can't wait to read through these posts. I don't have many Christmas traditions, but over the years I've been wanting to start some of my own. I've made it a point to start writing out Christmas cards, I watch Christmas movies, listen to Christmas music on the way to work, and for the past couple of years I've read "A Christmas Carol" every year. Being single during the holidays can be hard, but that's no reason to not create your own traditions! That's a whole other post. Today, I'm taking you around my small, but cute apartment living room. I have to admit, all the Christmas decorating was done by my roommate with the exception of the tree in my room and our front door. So, today I'm showcasing mostly her skills.
Our living room is really the most decorated room in our apartment. In the kitchen, we have some Christmas towels hanging, along with a Christmas oven mitt, and a dish full of cookies and candy. My room has a small Christmas tree decorated with Mardi Gras beads and a soon-to-be finished paper tree garland might be hung over my windows. And the apartment either always smells like Holiday Cheer from a candle or a Christmas Cottage from my Scentsy warmer and coffee. Happy Christmas! :)
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During the month of November, I joined in with One Month of Thankfulness to take daily time to think about and reflect on things that I am thankful for. November always seems to be one of those months that leaves as quickly as it comes. We can spend most of our time in November thinking about our Christmas shopping that needs to be done rather than slowing down and taking the time to reflect on the blessings that surround us. I shared part one of this list a couple weeks back, check it out and then enjoy part two down below!
19. Going to the movies
20. Happy mail from friends
23. French press coffee
24. God's provision
27. Home-cooked meals
28. Saturday football watching with Dad
29. Quoting movies with Mom and Dad
What are some things you are most thankful for?
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