Friday, March 27, 2015

{Friday Gratitude}

Dear books, I adore your pages and taking in all of your words. Time spent with you is never wasted. Dear Miss B, thank you for creating a safe space for me to unpack my heart and understand it a bit more. Dear Lauralee and Angie, thankful for a friendship with you that continues to grow as we walk alongside one another in this life. Dear dreamer, take responsibility for those desires and big ideas. Trust the wisdom and understanding you've been given to shepherd them. Dear J, thank you for sharing a walk with me and the space to talk through so many of the things we are learning. Dear bravery, you are a gift that is given to us and while we don't always know why or understand you, I'm sure glad you keep showing up. Dear D & K, I'm grateful that I get to love you, know you and be your sister.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The dance

I never really bought into fairy tales as a little girl, I gravitated more towards complicated stories that were messy and imperfect, because I already knew that is how love would look sometimes. If I wrote a fairy tale though, it would probably be a lot like Beauty and the Beast because there are books, and dancing, and she is a little strong willed. Mostly... because of the dancing!

Dancing connects to me in a way I don't quite understand. When the movement begins, my mind stops working so hard. I've been dancing my way through the good and challenging in life for quite some time now, dreaming of that one who is always going to find their way to the dance floor with me.

I read a blog post by Hannah Brencher, that just wrecked me. Like, I read it several times while tears rolled down my face. Not a pretty cry. Like real big tears that blocked my view of the screen, made my nose runny, and laughter come out (a sign of my big cry). Some words just do that to you. You read them thinking, someone captured my heart right there in those words. 

I've been pretty dedicated to growing and developing these past few months. Not like I want to get through this moment and then I'll think about what I learned later. No, not like that. A lot like, I am going to pursue wisdom and understanding in places that make me incredibly scared, joyful, and vulnerable in ways that I don't even want to be with myself. I've been praying, A LOT. And growing, A LOT. 

There are moments when I want to rest, like this week, when I don't want to pray, or read, or write, because I know there is going to be something in it that I don't feel ready for. Even the good, this week. I am not even certain I am ready for that. In those moments of just not wanting to be vulnerable, my armor comes out. Now I know what it looks like when I fall to that, but I didn't fight it at first. I let it come over me until I read that post and then it was like a sweet whisper of, you don't have to put that on. I won't let you go, just trust me. 

I am reminded a lot in this season how uncomfortable I feel trusting others, even God, putting up barriers that others won't want to fight through. Desperately hoping that someone will, validated when they don't, praying that God will heal that space, and not trusting that He can. 

Then right there on my screen and right into my heart, God reminded me that I am already loved the way I dreamed of. He put that desire in me to love Him. I don't have to wait until the next song to find a partner. He is the most faithful, showing up in every beat of the song. When I twirl out, He watches me ever so closely, holding onto me, if only by my fingertips. He holds me tightly with strength, giving the confidence and fulfillment that only He can. When I step on His toes, He gives encouragement. I don't have to give a perfect performance or even know the steps. He will lead me. Just like that, in full surrender, I can let go. He's got me. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Test Kitchen: Strawberries!

We are in full strawberry season in Florida, which I must admit is one of my favorite times of year. I could almost turn into a strawberry for the quantities that I am consuming. If you are looking for your own strawberry fix to kick off spring, try this delicious appetizer. These strawberry and goat cheese crostinis are party favorite, with a great blend of tangy and sweet. Enjoy!

Strawberry + Goat Cheese Crostinis 

Sliced (or finely chopped) strawberries
Fresh Basil
Crostinis or Bagel Chips
Balsamic Vinegar
Goat Cheese, spreadable

Chop fresh basil and strawberries. Spread a fine layer of goat cheese on your bagel chips or crostinis. Assemble your delightful appetizer by placing strawberries on top and sprinkling with basil. Just before serving, give a few drops of balsamic vinegar on top. Enjoy!

Have a happy week!

Friday, March 13, 2015

{Friday Gratitude}

Some days I get so caught up in what goal I am working towards or thing I am praying through that I let my thinking and emotions run wild. Those things are often not a real portrayal of my life. Sure there is growth, that sometimes looks difficult, but the reality is that my days are filled with good, an overwhelming amount of good actually. Maybe this is true for many of you too, but sometimes I just need to simmer right down, get out of my head, and live into the sheer beauty running throughout my life. I am spending far less time thinking, analyzing (although it creeps in some days) and resting in gratitude a lot more often, which is a really great place to be.

Happy Friday! Take a moment to relish in what you are grateful for today!

Dear warmth, thank you for returning and allowing some beautiful days outside. Dear Alexis, thank you for filling my Monday with laughter, conversation, and T. Swift's new album. Dear Mal Pal, I so enjoy our roommate chats, had while sitting on my bed, and the opportunity to pour love into each. It may be my favorite moment(s) in living with you. Dear sweet dress, you make a girl feel pretty. I delighted in having pockets all day! Dear Lisa, Skylar, and Kelly, thank you for inviting me into friendship and affirming that red table purchase. Dear beach, you did good things for my heart this week. I needed every minute I spent with you and I'm looking forward to our next date. Dear pollen, you are rough on my allergies this season, but a great reminder of God's beautiful design. Dear new job, you are feeling less new and more like this is exactly where I should be right now. Thank you for letting me take risks with how you look and how we serve campus. Dear big smiles, I love that you reflect how I feel on the inside. It's good to wear you. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

{Celebrate} The Things I Do

A gift that I have been given these past two months has been the space to reconnect with my self-awareness. I have learned that striving to be everything is a fruitless path. It dominates more than your time. Living without boundaries creates negative thoughts, bitterness, and generates behaviors that you don't recognize in yourself. The really great news is that I am neither the rescuer for other people nor all things. We are all created uniquely, by a perfect design, and with purpose. How incredibly freeing to know that we don't have to live everyone else's purpose? We only need to live out our own.

I am really not usually the girl who lacks a sense of self and clarity in purpose, but I was feeling a little like Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride, not knowing how I like to eat my eggs. Before I could start living from that center again, I needed some reflection to connect with what is me and what are the things I am doing for the approval of others. Naturally, I made lists - things I do and don't do.

First up, celebrating the Things I Do:

1. Pursue my relationship with God.
This is the foundation from which everything else is generated. It hasn't always looked that way, I've tried to run from or reject this at times, but it is my first, best, and most important relationship.

2. Appreciate when others help me.
My roommate made my bed the other day and I was so touched she took the time to do that act of kindness. I am the worst at asking for help, but I feel overwhelmed with appreciation when someone does something that adds support to my day.

3. Small, intimate gatherings.
I always try to convince myself that I enjoy shindigs of any size but I actually dislike large parties. I am more authentic when I host or attend more intimate gatherings that allow me to genuinely connect with those in attendance. At larger parties, I can usually be found creating a smaller setting with a group of people.

4. Experiences.
I find happiness in so many moments of my day because I treasure experiences and the process for arriving at them. There isn't much that I don't think of as moment to be savored. Sharing a meal at the table is one of my favorites.

5. Travel.
My wanderlust is serious. There are so many places to explore and people to know. Now, if only my budget could catch up!

6. Alone Time.
I love people and I have a threshold of time for being with people. It is either genetic or a learned behavior from my Momma. Either way, stealing away for a few minutes allows my mind to settle, recharges me, and lets me be present when I engage again.

7. Write.
Letters. Blog Post. Prayers. Lists. Notes. I write it all down. Storytelling fills my heart. I am thrilled when I receive written forms of communication. A used book with an inscription is like candy to me because I imagine story lines involving those people. And, I have a hard time parting with letters and my lectures notes from my favorite classes. Maybe I'll get paid to write someday.

8. Breakfast.
My favorite meal is breakfast. If every Saturday morning involved a leisure moment to sip coffee on the porch and have a full breakfast with people I love, I'd be delighted. I'll sneak in a breakfast experience any chance I get!

9. Nest at Home.
For all of my gallivanting ways, I sure love to be in my home, wherever that may be in the current season of my life. Days where I work on little projects and have leisure time at home (probably in my PJ's) balance me out. I always hope that I create a space where others feel like they are at home when they visit.

10. Learn and pursue work I am passionate about.
There are so many fascinating things out there to be learning about and doing. I wish I had time for all the ways I would serve my community or careers I would pursue. I don't have a master plan for how I want it all to look. My only hope is that I contribute my talents in the ways that I am led to.

11. Vote.
I turned in my voter registration paperwork on my 18th birthday which was the best present. Community and political engagement energize me. I can usually be found beside myself with excitement on election night as the results come in.

12. Invest in my relationships.
I have been blessed with a really great home team to do life with. Each season of my life has been filled with people I am so fortunate to know, love, and be in community with. I treasure these people.

13. Laugh when I cry.
If I start crying, I will also, usually, start laughing. I used to think it was embarrassing, but then I realized that it is a gift to know joy and hope in the midst of hard stuff. I hope that I use it to remain with people in their messiest moments.

When you strip away all of the supposed to's, what are the things that you do which help you to live out your gifts?

Next up? The Things I Don't Do!