thirty days off.

Thirty days off from what, you might ask? Social media.

Is it hard? Yes.

Do I miss it? Yes.

Is it worth it? Also, yes.

the logistics ::

My loose plan: No browsing Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. I’m replying to snapchats and Instagram DMs and looking at Pinterest with discretion.

the better yeses ::

More leaving my phone at home.

More eye contact.

More reading.

More creation.

More dreaming.

Less envy.

Less stress.

Less time doing homework because my attention span is broadened.

Less comparison.

the why ::

[part one]

Recently I read an article by Italo Calvino that talks about how when you begin to take photos of your life, you then feel compelled to take at least one photo a minute to give context. Because once you see one moment captured, you are fearful of fleeting moments and therefore become obsessed with fragmenting time through recording it in some fashion. In order to do record this moment, you have to remove yourself from the present, if even for an instant. You are recording for a memory and therefore already beginning to see the present moment in the past tense.

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Italo Calvino

These words inspires me to create more, look into the eyes of the people around me, sit with more questions. To take thirty days off. To live in the moment I’m standing in. To be awake to my own thoughts and to the people around me. I believe you can live fully present and have an active Instagram account. But if you live in this place of always, always needing to capture every good thing, the vision of your life will become blurry.

[part two]

When Mary was told by the angel that she would give birth to the Savior of the world, she asked “how?”. She said “I’m Yours” to the Father. She went to go visit Elizabeth and they praised God together. When Jesus was born it is recorded in Luke 2:19 that

…Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.

All of our minutes are a gift from God, but with so much of my life changing at the moment, I don’t want to look back and feel like I’ve missed it.

exhibit a – My boyfriend Zach just moved to Kansas. For the first time in our relationship, we are minutes away from each other instead of hours! I’m working two jobs with a full school schedule. I want to build community among my coworkers, my college friends, our new church home. I want to love my people well through time, love, service.

This season is unique and it’s hard to keep up with everything shifting, in big and subtle ways. When I look around at all the GOOD (& even the ugly), I want to be more like Mary.

I want to say, “How can this be?” (I’m still in this stage. Thank You so much, God. For you. For all this change. Also, please send more coffee.)

I want to surrender to His will. (His timing is not mine. His plan is not mine. His timing and His plan are best.) 

I want to celebrate with those around me, wholeheartedly. (This requires my full attention.) 

I want to ponder these things in my heart, not missing a thing.

There is more ahead then I can imagine. So, I’m marking my first deep breath here – in the margin of an empty notification screen, a heart of reflection and anticipation.

What rhythms in your life help you to ponder and process the beautiful things going on in your life?

you deserve a seat here.

We were sitting in a nonuniform circle, partaking in the awkward string of first day of class introductions and stirrings in office chairs. It’s my intro to digital photo class. My professor is from India and he has the richest, most beautiful accent. One after another my classmates say, “This is my first official class in photography.”

I’m new here.

I’m not sure what I’m doing.

One girl sitting across from me says her name and states, “I’m not good at photography, so…”

My professor interrupts her. He questions her with curiosity, compassion. A light in his eye, a lump in his throat. “Who told you that?”

Who told you that this was your name? Who told you this couldn’t change? Who told you that you weren’t good enough? Who told you that you can’t measure up? 

She answered, “Well, me.”

He leans his head towards the girl and says firmly yet playful sarcasm, “You don’t count.”


You are your own worst critic. And those thoughts? They don’t count towards the truth of who you truly are.

You have room to grow, babe. There’s no denying that each of us have things to improve – we should complain less, stretch our legs more often, create more interesting compositions, look up at the sky more. We should be kind and consistent, hard working and at peace with our lives. And you can change to experience growth and breakthrough in your life, but you never have to change to be loved. 

You might think that you don’t belong here. Like your place in the circle doesn’t make sense, that it’s a mistake that you’re learning how the inner workings of your industry flows from the professionals or that the way he looks at you in incomparably breathtaking.

Your being __there__ is not a mistake. You being loved is not a mistake. You stepping out into brave situations is not a mistake. You working hard and dancing freely is not a mistake. The joy you feel? It’s not for someone else, it’s a gift for you.

The only mistake is that you believe you’re here to prove yourself based on human’s measurement of success, not to build the life God is calling you to and to create a more beautiful world all around you.

You deserve a seat in the circle.

So, introduce yourself. Assume challenges will come. Ask lots of questions – after all, we’re all new here. Imagine the growth you want to see. Celebrate the tiny victories. And never forget that the voice that counts calls you 

Chosen. 

Redeemed. 

Beloved. 

#SayYesToAbundance2018

since the first few weeks in january, you’ve seen me use the hashtag SayYesToAbundance2018.

but what is saying yes to abundance? and why this year?

it’s knowing that a full life isn’t a perfect life. God came to give us joy, but not a life that makes us boast of our own achievements and blessings, but a life that is so wrung out for the glory of God that people can only praise Him as a result. a life that points to the power at work within us, not to us.

i chose SayYesToAbundance this year, because I tend to believe in scarcity. it’s hard for me to believe in my heart that after God multiplies the fish and the bread, after He multiplies strength and peace for everyone else, that there will be room for me at the table too. i love spurring people onto His table and His family, but i miss the point that the gospel is for even sinful me. i live in worry that when a good moment comes it’s too good to be true. but here is what the gospel tells me: there is always more for me. there is always more grace, always more love, always more truth, and always more to hope for.

so before you have to say yes to abundance, you have to redefine abundance as it is seen in its biblical context: which includes the term growing wonderfully.

for me, it’s about listening to the Holy Spirit when all my flesh craves is stress and the myth of control and He says let go and celebrate.

sometimes saying yes to abundance means saying yes to suffering. sometimes it means asking your boyfriend how his heart is when he hasn’t asked you yet and you don’t feel like it. saying yes to abundance means saying yes to vulnerability and humility. there will be nights you fall asleep with tears on your pillow, because when you suffer with Christ, you’re glorified with Christ. 

saying yes to abundance means saying no to all the wrong things, to all the toxic things.

saying yes to abundance means loving your enemy and leaving the last word for Him to speak.

saying yes to abundance means receiving the craziest blessings from God, the ones you don’t need, the ones you didn’t expect. saying thank you and choosing to receive in a way that gives all the glory back to Him.

abundance is telling the truth in my weakness so those closest to me, the ones who my sin rubs up against at its ugliest everyday, can see His power shine through.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21

children of God, we can get our hopes up. because we have been underestimating the love of our Father long enough. what would happen if we all dared to ask? and let Him exceed our largest prayer?

maybe abundance is not in what we think at all, but in everything He has designed from His fullness. maybe saying yes to abundance is saying yes to heartbreak and misunderstandings and hard days because through these things we let loose in love. and what could be better?

so this is what i know — half way into 2018, looking at every instagram grid and into his eyes and at all the sunsets from the interstate for just a glimpse of this glory: i’ve only begun to taste what abundance is, what God meant when He said He sent Jesus to give it to us. i know abundance means more of Him, not more of us. i know He gives us blessings from His heart, and knowing more of His heart is the greatest gift along the way.

maybe we can barely fathom the whole of what His abundance is – and maybe that’s the point.

 

 

21 reasons why i love my boyfriend.

It’s my best friend’s birthday.

I’m feeling all the feelings, grateful for his life and sad that we can’t be together and joyful that he chooses to fight for our relationship across hundreds of miles every single day.

He turns 21 and these are just 21 reasons why I have fallen in love with him.

[Here on the blog, you’ve seen glimpses of his presence, but haven’t been fully introduced. That is changing today! Here’s a bit more about the guy that’s the reason I’ve been so quiet in the writing department over the past few months – pondering it all in my heart, building up words for myself and words to slowly release to the rest of the world.]

one.

he loves Jesus

It’s what matters most and I couldn’t be more grateful.

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two.

he is goofy and serious

He’s hilarious AND so wise. This means I get the gift of laughter, discernment, joy, and perspective every day.

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three.

i can be myself with him

See reason number two. 🙂 He brings out the kid in me.

four.

he is good at Dad jokes

The kid is years ahead of his time in the Dad joke department. Thanks for making me laugh. And making mostly everyone else cringe.

five.

he makes himself at home in the most random places

When we reunited last summer, I introduced him to friends and twenty minutes later he was digging through their fridge looking for something to eat. For some reason, it made me smile so wide.  It’s all about the right amount of friendliness and confidence I think.

six.

he doesn’t care what people think in the best way

From wearing purple hair to his first Kansas State football game to going crazy with me on the dance floor, I don’t have much of a chance to hide out from FUN on the sidelines or in the shadows anymore. His loud and my quiet create a really beautiful balance. He’s the Chip to my Joanna.

 

seven.

he confesses sin + repents in the light

He’s not perfect. But when he sees sin in his heart and life, he takes it to God and makes it right with the people around him.

eight.

he loves his momma real well

It’s the sweetest thing to witness.

nine.

he cultivates community

He is gifted at connecting people. This makes him an incredible friend and one day will make him a terrific pastor.

ten.

he is good at conflict

We have had our fair share of conflict and he is able to speak true, hard words with gentleness. He says, “Talk to me. What’s up?” about ten times a week. When we are together, he will cup my face and says “Look at me” when I’m avoiding eye contact. He prays before and after rough conversations that could very well lead to – or we know will – lead to an argument.

eleven.

he errors on the side of thoughtfulness

Zach never stops thinking, in every situation, about everyone in the situation… and usually thinks about himself last.

twelve.

 

he looks at me like this

 

He looked at her the way all women want to be looked at by a man. – F. Scott Fitzgerald

thirteen.

he puts his all into everything he does

In a world that is constantly distracted, he is fully in the conversations he’s involved in. It’s not a matter of perfect focus, but he is so good at doing the next best thing and putting all his strength into it whether it’s an all-nighter for school, picking up extra hours at work, or playing a game in the backyard with his family.

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fourteen.

he has a servant heart

Before I even see a need or a desire of a friend or family member, Zach is fixing it or helping or going above and beyond to meet the need.

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fifteen.

he’s a baby + kid magnet

All the kiddos in my life adore him. All the kiddos we pass on the street gravitate towards him. My youngest nephew was calling him Uncle Kurt the day they met and it was too cute to ever correct him. He sees kids like I think Jesus intends them to be seen in the kingdom of God — with priceless value and intentional attention and necessary correction.

sixteen.

he was my faithful friend first

Ever since we became friends in 2013, at the end of a bad day I always knew Zach was a safe place to land.

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seventeen.

he makes life a dance party

We are always singing and dancing.

eighteen.

he prays over me and anyone who will join him 

Almost ten months into our romantic relationship, I cannot count the times he has prayed over me and with me. He leads well. In fact, I knew I was 100% ready to take a step of faith and say yes to move further in our relationship in a prayer he said over us last summer. In addition to ministering to me in this way, I have seen him minister so many times to friends and even strangers going to God in prayer.

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nineteen.

he takes care of me when i’m sick

The man has held me in the ugliness of my worst panic attacks, rubbed my feet when I had a fever, prayed over me when the lies in my head were strong, encouraged me countless times to go to a coffee shop and spend time with Jesus when I’m having a rough day, and got everything I needed including a Gilmore Girls marathon when I had the flu.

twenty.

he writes me songs and letters

I was a hopeless romantic in middle school, but I don’t think I ever thought I’d have someone who wrote me songs. Counting this as one of the many ways God goes above and beyond to grace me with Zach.

twenty-one.

he is stubborn in his love for me

When I am stubborn in moodiness and negativity and plain nastiness, he is stubborn to call me out with kind, true words. Stubborn to not hang up the phone until he knows I’m okay. Stubborn to not go to bed angry, if we can help it. Stubborn to bring my from tears to laughter. Stubborn to help me receive love and say thank you. Stubborn to get me to work through my fears and open up.

ZACH KURT!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

You’re a good man, and these are just a few of the reasons why. There are so many more. Don’t celebrate too hard without me – kick those finals in the butt, drink a round of green tea shots, and live it up with those handsome Spiicy Short Boyz. Can’t wait to party with you in just a few sleeps.

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spring reads.

I’m slowly feeling like myself again, figuring out where reading fits into my new normal. I used to scoff at college students that said they didn’t feel like reading for fun and now I understand. Some days it will be the exact medicine you need and some days you need to relax in different ways and that’s okay. But, as a whole, every time I pick up a book I leave refreshed and wonder why it’s taken me so long. These three were no exception when I found pockets of time in my day to cuddle up in my dorm bunk with a cup of coffee and crack these open:

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Scary Close by Donald Miller

“I no longer believe that love works like a fairy tale but like farming. Most of it is just getting up early and tilling the soil and then praying for rain. But if we do work, we just might wake up one day to find an endless field of crops rolling into the horizon.”

This one was a re-read. The last time I went through this book, I was a single lady and I knew that it was worth revisiting with my new perspective. I love the way Miller looks at life and shares about the trials of love so honestly. If you struggle with intimacy (um, who doesn’t?) this is a good place to dig deeper and become more real, especially with the one you love most. You can see my original review for more info here. 

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Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors

“He wasn’t promising a world without trouble, without heartbreak along the way. He was promising me Himself.”

I have missed Uganda and I have deeply missed Katie’s words. I ate this book right up. It deals with the tough questions we all ask about God’s goodness in the face of illness, death, rejection. Katie’s stories of how God has held her in the middle of the night and through the worst times are relatable and life-giving. And, for those of you that have followed Katie’s story, it gives one stunning life update that will leave you in tears. *Benji’s proposal* *sniff sniff* 

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Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

“So don’t berate yourself for being in pain. It just means you are walking toward victory by not numbing yourself right now. You are making progress. You are going to be strengthened by it, healed from it, and better off because of it.”

and my personal favorite…

“We won’t think about thighs in eternity.”

Okay, let’s be honest, Lysa TerKeurst isn’t my favorite. But this book was exactly what my heart needed in this season. I read what I needed the day I needed it. The truths such as “her success does not threaten yours” has been on repeat in my mind, helping me when I’m struggling with comparison and jealousy. It was a refreshing read that I’d love to study with a group of gals. She tackles the roughness of love lost from high school boys and mean girls who break your heart with biblical truth — what a GIFT to us in 2018.

BONUS:

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I just finished this Bible study from HB! Hannah has a fresh way of looking at the text and letting us see the stories of Jesus in a way that makes us see where we, as 21st century victims, fit into His story just right. I was convicted by her pointed questions that made me examine my heart, no excuses, and was brought back by the way she pointed to the goodness of God’s heart.

You can download it (FOR FREE!) for yourself here: First, Be A Follower

What am I currently reading?

A Woman After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George

THAT’S A WRAP.

Let me know what you’re reading in the comments!!

abundance over success.

I am a huge fan of January 1.

My ideal first day of the year is spent in comfy clothes with a planner and pen in hand, counting the fruit in how I’ve grown in the year past and brainstorming about how to make the year ahead stand out.

This year my optimism was down. And it wasn’t because of a sour year. In fact, 2017 was my best year yet. But when 2016 ended, I was desperate for a new story. I was just happy to see a change, desperate to feel one, when 2017 rolled around. But 2018? 2018, while I’m looking forward to what God will do, there are too many blank spots on my calendar. 2018 feels unknown. Unknown: translate as daunting. Scary. Darkness and possibly a few dragons.

I grew so much last year. My confidence grew, I discovered a brand new level of independence, relationships are better than ever. But the more I know, the more questions I have. The next year is laced with one big fat, “Am I doing the right thing?” from school to work to my home address.

All this restlessness is not based on my true home. It’s focused on the earth, not on eternity.

The problem with allowing your heart to get busy with worldly things, is soon you’ll walk defeated. Shoulders slumped. Eyes down, don’t dare look at them. You’ll use any mechanism you can to look like you’re ahead, to make yourself look better than you feel. You want to look impressive. You risk being genuine for a false sense of security.

The evil one taunts us and makes us itch for the world’s view of successful. To say we have arrived. He keeps our minds on things like making sure we don’t leave the house with tear stained faces that expose weakness, making sure we feel superior, making sure our checking account is large enough not for provision’s sake but for our false sense of identity. God asks us if we’re loving our neighbor. 

We aren’t armed with what the world’s got.

The reason we feel defeated, the reason your soul might feel a bit crushed, is because we are trying to fight with worldly weapons when that’s not what we were ever made for.

“Come on,” said the Philistine. “I’ll make roadkill of you for the buzzards. I’ll turn you into a tasty morsel for the field mice.” David answered, “You come at me with sword and spear and battle-ax. I come at you in the name of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel’s troops, whom you curse and mock. This very day God is handing you over to me. I’m about to kill you, cut off your head, and serve up your body and the bodies of your Philistine buddies to the crows and coyotes. The whole earth will know that there’s an extraordinary God in Israel. And everyone gathered here will learn that God doesn’t save by means of sword or spear. The battle belongs to God… – 1 Samuel 17:44-47, THE MESSAGE, emphasis mine

The year up ahead? Daunting battles are coming. But we are fighting for the God of Angel Armies. Fight with the ways of the world and you’ll return empty-handed, fight His way and you’ll see victory and experience real joy. We don’t have to explain ourselves to Goliath – we have to know we are under a law he doesn’t even know the language of. The victory will shout His name.

I can walk into this year confident. My God will provide for me. He is in the details of exams and arguments and U-haul boxes – of this I’m sure. But He doesn’t measure my success in a 4.0 GPA or in looking put together. He knows I’m a mess. What He cares about, what gets Him excited, is when my heart is open to Him.

All of the questions 2018 raises are valid. Am I doing my best? What needs to change? What do I need to fight for? Where should I live? What do I need to maintain?

But maybe what’s more important than this questions is saying, “Am I loving hard? Am I opening my heart at the risk of being cut wide open all over again? Am I believing God while I dream of the future and am I serving faithfully where I am? Am I sacrificing for the glory of God? Is my heart breaking for what breaks His?”

Maybe what’s got me worried about this year is what everyone else will think, if the world will measure my tidy answers as successful by the time December rolls around again. My heart gets caught up in earthly treasures like success, getting that one job, popularity. But when it comes down to it, I’m more interested in abundance than success. Humility over pride. Surrender over ego. Inheriting the kingdom over gaining the world.

“Our armor isn’t the old clunky armor of King Saul. That armor is man-made and only slows us down. We weren’t designed to walk around in man-made armor and still be effective giant slayers. Our armor is God-made. It was forged in the fires of his holiness. It was handed to us by the power of his Spirit. It’s available for us to wear anytime we wish. All that’s required of us is to put it on.” – Louie Giglio, Goliath Must Fall

When I get to the end of my life, my God won’t ask me if I chose a major that was impressive, that made jaws drop in awe, if I did things conventionally and in the correct order according to my culture. He’ll ask if I knew Him and loved like He did. It will matter more that I lived in the paradox ways of the Kingdom, even and especially when it looks like rejecting the conventional ways of America.

He will ask me if I cared more about being impressive or if I picked up my armor of humility. And the whole earth will know there’s an extraordinary God in Israel.

freshman year :: vol. one

“How’s college?”

Amazing. I truly love it. It’s not perfect and I might have a few gray hairs from the stress. But life has been treating me well at Kansas State this first semester. The photo above is the most accurate representation of my life right now — I’m loving life at Kansas State while simultaneously much of my heart is with my boyfriend, Zach, who lives in Iowa! It is overwhelming to see how much my life has changed in such a short amount of time. It has been a fast and furious season — so I’m starting here, with gratitude. Here are a few highlights from some of the hardest, sweetest months of my life so far!

long, hard, fulfilling days and nights creating at the studio 

adventures with friends

studying so hard it hurts

my favorite thing… coffee dates

FaceTime is such a gift in the chaos of college

so many road-trips to be with the sweetest man I know

slices of sanity and worship

visiting with author Eric Metaxas

finally hugging author Jess Connolly

The natural and architectural beauty in this place, always beckoning my eyes to look up and thank Jesus for such a season as this

 

I look at those pictures and have one gut reaction: THANKS, GOD. He might feel far from you right now, but I’m here to tell you what my soul also needs to hear: His love for you will not run out and He delights in writing the wildest love stories over your life. Stay in your lane, stay content, and do the next best thing. He is with you.

It’s hard to believe, but I’ve already got 2 classes down and 3 to go! There will be many late nights, moments of freaking out, and cups of coffee in the next 7 days. But there will also be laughter, reflection, hugs, and counting fruit. Pray for me as I finish this semester strong and dive into this merry and bright season. See y’all on the other side.

love, 

your favorite wildcat

 

let’s dance, stand, and run!

Today Dance Stand Run launches into the world! *insert dancing emoji here*

If you haven’t heard of Jess Connolly, she is a sweet daughter of God, wife, Momma, author, speaker, and business woman.

I first heard of her via Hannah Brencher’s Instagram when HB got Jess’ first book she coauthored, Wild and Free. I read the tag line “An anthem for the woman who feels she is both too much and not enough” and said SIGN ME UP PLEASE!

Since then, I’ve been growing in my walk through the simple act of following Jess on Insta. From the first day I heard about this book stirring in her heart, I was on board. It was so fun to read the book before it launched with a lovely group of women, and it is my honor to share it with YOU today.

I’m a kingdom girl! I’m not a slave to sin or a foreigner living in a world where I’m trying to fit in. I belong in heaven, but I’ve been sent to earth by God to believe and receive the gospel, and to be an ambassador of light, calling others out of darkness and into relationship with my King. I’m a kingdom girl.

What does Dance Stand Run stand for? 

Dancing in God’s grace, agreeing with our righteous standing before Him, and running on mission.

Jesus bled for this message. 

It’s not because Jess has some crazy super power. It’s that she leans into the power of the Holy Spirit in her weakness. Because of this, we get a book that is saturated in the GOOD NEWS. Which brings me to my next point….

Is this book for me? 

I honestly believe that if you’ve been a Christian for years or you are just beginning to walk with Him, this book is for you. I have been in the church my whole life. I was familiar with all the truths and the Bible stories in this book. But I was still able to engage with them in a fresh way that drew me deeper into the reality of Christ’s love! So whether this book would work as a foundation for you or a refresher, it’s worth your time. (Also, fun addition: there is a glossary in the back of the book for all those “churchy” words we use so often but rarely know what they truly mean. SUCH a beneficial tool!)

So engaging. 

Stories of pregnancy and pop culture references? YES PLEASE. I laughed, I cried. Grab your pens (you’ll want to process through this book, not just read it), a hot drink, and your girlfriends. Because this is the perfect book to grow in grace and truth AND laughter.

The headlines. 

Jesus is better than pretty little liars.

We aren’t becoming more holy; we are agreeing with the truth He has already written over our lives.

We can throw off guilt and dance in grace!

We are not here to belong; we are there to be used by God.

I get to call brothers and sisters out in love, but first and foremost it’s important for me to examine my own heart.

We get to pray, we don’t have to.

We don’t live in America, we live in the Kingdom.

We are not here to stress about our hot bodies, but to know we are loved and to pour out that love on the world.

We are safe to celebrate.

We are already runners.

We have been called.

Join me? Are you ready to dance, stand, and run? 

Don’t read this book if you are wanting to make your life look more tidy. It’s not a self-help book that will get you to your desired goal in 10 days. Read this book if you want a deeper walk and an re-energized mission with Jesus.

Get your copy here. 

Follow Jess here. 

Let’s talk about grace, holiness, and mission here.

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dorm sweet dorm 

Since I pressed Publish last, my summer of life change, travels, and preparation flew right before my eyes and all of a sudden — I’m here! At the school I’ve been dreaming of! Running late to class with the best of them!

I moved in to the dorms a week and a half ago (it feels like approximately three months in mostly great ways) with my best friend. Dorms tend to have a cold, plain feel, and I am happy with how we spruced up our space.

OUR INSPO:

 

 

This “ABIDE” print comes from All Good Things Collective. When my roommate Rachael and I first started brainstorming about decorating our dorm room, we found this print on their website and from there we used it as our whole basis from the rug to our towels.

You can see the bulk of our inspiration at our Pinterest board: college.

MY FIRST LOOK ::

“Here it is. This is where you’re going to be thinking all those impressive thoughts. It’s just waiting for your decorative stamp! …And a little air freshener.”

– Lorelai Gilmore

 

 

 

 

 

Without further ado,

Welcome to one of my favorite places to hang my hat! Rach and I will be glad to host you any time. 🙂 

 

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LITTLE DETAILS ::

Iowa heart print from Etsy. Chalkboard was a gift. Curtain, Christmas lights, and globe (and so much more, if we’re honest) from Target. Entry poster and all prints above my desk are from the one and only All Good Things Collective. Coffee bar print from Rifle Paper Company. I literally can’t card from Lindsay Letters. Ann Voskamp quote canvas was created by yours truly! Isaiah 41:10 Print from Etch. 

LET’S BE REAL, THOUGH ::

I think our dorm room is cozy. I love inviting people over. I love hanging out here. I love the Scripture prints and the floral accents. But what makes a place a home are not the objects, but the heart.

“It’s not particularly beautiful. . . .I mean to say it’s not a museum piece. . . Take your furniture: it does not make one say, “What lovely things!” No. And yet this room has a soul.” –  Vercors, Silence of The Sea

I think our space is beautiful, but what I love most is that it is ours.

Thank-You, God, for a roommate that prays with me, goes deep with me, and makes me laugh so hard that my stomach hurts on the daily. Use this space for Your glory, not ours. Keep us expectant and obedient.

If you’re looking to make a space feel like home and to create a culture that furthers the kingdom of God, cultivate the hearts that live within those walls and watch God move. 

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P.S. Deck out your dorm with these awesome tips from All Good Things!!! (And if you haven’t noticed, I kind of like what they’ve got going on.)

summer to bloom: your guide to planning + surrender

Have you ever arrived to August, looked back at the rhythm of your days, and wondered, “What did I actually do this summer?”

When I look at that question I find myself shooting out some real, some impressive, and some sad answers: I slept in everyday I wasn’t working. I hosted a Bible study. I binge-watched Scandal. I swam. I wrote, but not as much as I wanted to.

When finals week approached me early last month, I knew one thing: I wanted to practice working without distractions and resting without shame.

I want to sit down at my writing chair when I’ve penciled it in on my calendar and leave my phone out of sight. I want to go to work and be fully present with the kiddos I have a chance to invest in. I want to prep for college in a less frantic way that my creative soul tends to allow. But I also want to CHILL OUT. I want to sit on the front porch and read, make time to pour into others, watch movies, and take the occasional afternoon nap without feeling this draining, heavy guilt over all the things I could be accomplishing. In summary? I want to do everything I must do with discipline and everything I have been dreaming of doing with persistence when it would be easier to just watch Netflix.

Balance is a tricky thing. There isn’t a secret to it. I won’t accomplish all my goals exactly as I first imagined. Honestly, I’m not interested in balance — I am interested in an abundant life. I know that I have to begin with some goals. At the cusp of summer, a good friend and I sat down with our planners, Bibles, and journals and went crazy. These goals are not meant to be written in stone, but rather to know the general direction of how I want to schedule my time and splurge with my fringe hours.

I am starting here. Join me?

When I get to August, what words do I want to describe these months? 

You might be craving rest. As you proactively remember that your identity and victory is in Christ alone, you are able to breath afresh and go into Autumn energized. You might have had an amazing, refreshing spring and you need to go into summer being poured out through service. Your words might be: loved, laughter, joy, rich, light, dance, sunshine, thrive.

e x a m p l e :

My word is bloom. Bloom means to flourish or thrive, to be in or achieve a state of healthful beauty and vigor, to glow with warmth.” I felt like it summed up so many of my dreams and plans: being confident in my writing not because of me, but because of Him, buying flowers, exercising and eating well, a face radiant because of time spent with God, growing right where I am.

I also considered playing with these phrases: invest, worship over worry, fly, building the kingdom, honesty, writing, freedom, praise hands.

What are your ideas that seem too big, too simple, too weird?

MAKE TIME FOR THEM. And not only time, but make the space to listen to those ideas. We often say no to dreams because they seem like too much work or we wonder what people might think — what would you do if you weren’t so afraid?

e x a m p l e :

I want to write a book proposal this summer. Every part of me was squirming in my seat as I wrote that down on my list of goals. Who am I to write a book? To actually be read by someone other than myself? I don’t know where to begin. But I ultimately knew that writing this book proposal has been something I know God is calling me to regardless of where it goes, something that has been increasingly stirring up in me since September of 2016, and that it was only fear keeping me from going after it.

Take your wild dreams and brainstorm attainable steps. 

Once you have considered these wild, beautiful dreams that have been planted in your heart, you’ve got to create step one. Because as soon as you get discouraged, it is likely you will quit sooner if you haven’t broken this amazing thing down into daily habits or weekly ideals.

e x a m p l e :

  1. Writing a book proposal isn’t a simple task. Instead of focusing on everything that would entail, I scheduled writing times away from my house to (1) help me to keep that time sacred and (2) to get me away from the distractions of home where so many quicker projects are within my reach. This isn’t the only step that is necessary in order for me to reach my goal, but it was a significant step that helped me invest in my wild dream so that when the free time presents itself I don’t shrink in fear but walk forward with my plans.
  2. I want to live healthier this summer than I have the past few months. I have thought out exercises, wrote down the classes I want to attend, thanked God that avocados are good for the human body, and will allow for one ice cream sandwich or Dr. Pepper a week (basically, I’m keeping my eyes on foods that nourish and sizes that are reasonable, but will allow for a meal with queso because I’ve got to live my life).

Make it your own. 

Make a fun bucket list of summer wishes. Ask someone (or many someones!) to keep you accountable. Make a hashtag. Create a playlist to play to keep you dancing and worshiping as you work.

e x a m p l e : 

My hashtag is #summertobloom!

I have asked for prayer and accountability from brothers and sisters in Christ.

I have made a loose, fun bucket list, but I’m keeping it simple this year compared to ones in the past. The shorter the list, the more I am apt to really dig into what DID make the list.

I’m slowly but surely building playlists for running, writing, and riding in the car.

This is for you even if your schedule doesn’t change with the school year.

God designed this season, and I believe there is something new for you in it. I believe there is a reason it is light later in the evening, that you bump into new people in the community at the pool, that people are sitting outside instead of always being in. These beautiful little details of summer are opportunities, and they don’t go unseen. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box even though your schedule hasn’t given you the freedom to mix it up as naturally!

Surrender.

His plans are bigger and smaller and holier than our own. You can’t guarantee that your summer aim will be your summer understatement — it’s not a magic formula, it is a way to see the direction you’re heading. Midstream you might be led to take ten goals off of your list for one aim that will take more of your emotional and physical energy. We weren’t made to be productive machines, we are disciples walking in step with the Spirit.

God, keep us faithful in the little things, expectant for Your movements. We want to live these days You’ve given us on purpose — keep us disciplined, yet rested. Help us to be bold, to see mundane ways as opportunities for Your goodness to be shown. Keep us rejoicing in all things. And God, even if we reach the end of this summer and we are completely heartbroken and burnt out, but an abundance of Your glory spilled out along the way? That’s all we want. Just lead the way. 

[P.S. Want to dig deeper into being intentional with your precious days this summer? Follow Jess Connolly and sign up for her newsletter to receive the Summer To Thrive guide! I have found her ideas SO helpful and life-giving in my own planning.]