If we were on a coffee date, I’d probably be drinking hot tea, even though the humidity is high and the weather warm here in Kentucky. If we wanted to sit outside, though, I’d go for an iced tea latte. It would be a toss up over an iced chai latte with soy milk or an iced green tea latte with coconut milk. No matter what, my order is coming up tea. Always.
If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that my favorite tea is Bewley’s Gold Blend, a black tea from Ireland. I had it for the first time on my visit to Dublin in 2011, and since then I’ve been enjoying it almost every morning for years. You can find it at international stores, on Amazon, and sometimes in local coffee shops. I drink mine with a splash of unsweetened vanilla almond milk and it’s so rich and smooth!
If we were on a coffee date, I’d ask you how your heart is after the tragedies of the last week. I’d tell you how my own heart turned, sick and saddened, at each unfolding tragedy, and how I dove in to hashtags and my friends’ posts to listen, to learn, to gain new perspective. I’d tell you it took me over an hour to write and share the simplest Facebook post with my friends, fighting the tensions of finding the words and being brave enough to say them. I’d ask you if you were able to watch the IF:Gathering Unity discussion, Priscilla Shirer’s Periscope, “Talking and praying”, or my friend Retha’s Journey to Balance podcast episode about Latasha Morrison’s call to racial reconciliation within the Church body. I’d tell you that my eyes welled up, my throat got a little tight, and my heart was moved when a simple text message to one of my black friends to say I loved her and was praying for her on Thursday was received with such deep gratitude and kindness. I’d confess that I noticed a deeper level of the whiteness of my world, and started processing with the Lord what to do about it. I would tell you I’ve been studying Romans 12 and it’s so timely; that my pastor was preaching from the book of Judges yesterday, but intentionally turned there and encouraged us to be the Church as pictured in that passage and my heart rejoiced. I’d confess that I logged off of my social media (except for Snapchat, which I put in its own category for some reason) for the weekend and tell you it was so refreshing for my soul.
If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you how much I love learning about prayer. I’ve been diving in to prayer with the Lord lately, and it’s been so sweet. He’s been showing me how well He can handle my whole being – each and every feeling, thought, confession, and request. He’s been leading me into a greater intentionality with it – praying for friends via the U.S. Postal Service, sending prayer texts, processing life with Him in prayer privately inside of my journal, praying through His Word. As I read books on prayer and continue in the Word, I feel like my soul is expanding and being filled all at the same time. It’s beautiful.
If we were on a coffee date, I’d confess that I’ve had random bouts of body image issues over the last week. After a month of being sick – of not moving much and of eating ice cream (because when you’re sick, what’s better than ice cream?) – I find myself feeling “puffy” off and on and struggling to fit into certain pieces of clothing that used to fit just fine. I’d confess that I know the insecurity is a lie and I’m actually quite lovely. I know I am fearfully and wonderfully made, knit together in the image of God. I know this. But even still, I’ve had to pray against the thoughts that bubble up about shorts that don’t want to button comfortably right now, photos where I think I have “fat-face,” and whether or not it’s okay for me to eat a cookie when I’m trying to bounce back to my healthier lifestyle. I’d also tell you that I ate the cookie – two others, even – and had no regrets. That I looked at the photos again this morning and didn’t see “fat-face” but the light in my eyes and joy in my smile. That I’ve been practicing yoga, going for walks, eating my veggies, taking vitamins, and doing my best to stay healthy. I’d tell you that the best thing I think we can do when we feel insecure is to run to the Father in prayer and confess all our junk and let Him wrap us in truth and in love.
If we were on a coffee date and you asked me to share three things I’m hoping to do this summer, I’d say: dive deep into my local community, develop a consistent yoga practice again, and downsize my belongings. I’ve already done a few rounds of purging, but I’m hoping to tackle my closet, clothing, and desk area again. I feel the need to have less lately. My yoga practice is my primary goal for Do Summer 2016 (the secondary one is writing). So far I’ve completed almost three hours of practice (in just over a week), and it’s felt so wonderful to get back to it! As far as community goes, I’m being more intentional with people – making sure I’m at church gatherings, going to community group, initiating time with friends, and saying yes to being with others when I can. Community is important to me, and I want my life to reflect that.
Rebecca tells us that “the idea of She’s Building Her House began brewing in the summer of 2015 when the Lord had asked me to walk away from the photography business I owned for seven years. I simply thought he was directing me into a new season of writing where I could encourage women more fully through words, but slowly He unveiled an opportunity to start a podcast. My heart was to engage with the everyday woman as she sought to honor the Lord in her marriage, her parenting, her home and her work.”
And the podcast is just that – a conversation with a friend who wants to see you encouraged as you seek to honor the Lord in whatever your daily life looks like. I was so excited when Rebecca invited me to be a guest on the podcast to talk about rest! Rest has been a huge area of growth for me over the last year, so we had a great conversation about the invitation the Lord has for us to enter into His rest and what that’s looked like in my life. You can listen to Episode 5 of Rebecca’s podcast here. I hope it encourages you in your own journey with rest. 🙂
I was so excited when Retha Nichole asked me to be a guest on her podcast, Journey to Balance! We spent some time together one morning, talking about being brave, spending time with the Lord, red lipstick and hot tea. I shared about some of my work as a virtual assistant, my writing, and fighting the desire to hide. We also laughed – a lot – and I had such a great time having this conversation with Retha. I hope this podcast episode will be a blessing to you!
Be sure to check out other episodes of Journey to Balance for encouragement in living a balanced and whole life. I’ve been so encouraged by these conversations and I know you will be, too. Enjoy!
It’s hard to believe this is finally happening! I’m so glad I can finally say:
I am so glad that you’re here! This space is truly a piece of my heart on pages, and it’s an honor to be able to share it with you. Get cozy and take a look around!
Oh, and because I’m so excited you’re here – how about a little giveaway? These prizes aren’t sponsored directly by any of the brands involved, but you should go give them some love anyway. They make great goodies that I think you’ll like!
To enter, follow any of the steps below! To win you must live in the United States or Canada. You have until 11:59pm EST on Sunday to get your entries in and I’ll announce the winner on Monday!
Maybe it’s part of being a brave heart working to burst out of a shy shell, but lately I’ve wanted to curl up on my bed and raise my fuzzy blanket up to my chin. Hidden and warm. I’ve been fighting the desire to hide from the internet – from social media, from this space I was creating, from writing where it would be seen.
Of course this feeling came as I was working, slowly but surely, toward unveiling this space. It came as I was sure of a calling to share more, in writing and in speaking and in everyday life. I knew I was being drawn out into this space of open-hearted vulnerability, and I wanted nothing more than to hide from it all.
There’s a distinct sort of bravery required when you’re moving into deeper waters – one that goes so far beyond your own ability to be courageous. It’s a bravery that is brought to life inside of you by the Holy Spirit of God. It’s a flame lit in His power, fanned in faith and obedient trust.
I’ve been fighting the desire to hide by seeking instead. There’s evidence of it each day, in a brown leather Bible with markings up and down the pages sitting by my bedroom window. In a journal filled with prayers written out line by line tucked nearby. In the passages of Scripture pinned above my desk to shake up my heart with faith. The desire to hide comes from staring at the wrong things, but with eyes fixed above and a heart that’s seeking? Fear is banished and faith is emboldened, all in the presence of Jesus.
You and I, we’re made for more than that. We’re made to be light, reflecting the beauty of our God and shining into dark places. It’s a light that can’t be hidden once ignited. It’s a voice that can’t be silenced within you. It’s a stirring to do, to be that you cannot ignore. It’s more than us.
When you seek Him with all you are, you find Him. And in finding Him, you find peace and bravery, joy and the heart to move ahead. When you seek Him, He draws you out in gentle love in a way where that desire to hide fades away.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us,
that we should be called children of God;
and so we are.
-1 John 3:1a
I grew up learning about this God-Man named Jesus in places like church, school, and home. I knew of His miracles, His teaching, His life story. I studied the Bible – for Awana, for homework, to know Him more personally, to talk about Him in small group settings. I learned Him through felt figures and Sunday school lessons, books and movies, lectures and devotionals. I memorized Scripture for church programs, classes at school, and youth group challenges. I’ve led children in learning memory verses in vacation Bible schools in Kentucky and in gypsy villages in Romania. I’ve heard sermon after sermon after sermon – from church pews and high school gymnasiums, in concert venues and mess halls, via podcasts and retreats and conferences. I have been surrounded by Jesus, Christianity, and the Word of God my entire life. But it wasn’t until the Spring of 2015 that I finished reading through the entire Bible – cover to cover.
It took three years for me to complete the “read through the Bible in a year” plan, but high up in the clouds on an airplane last March, I journaled from the last section of Scripture on my little list. And just like that, I had read His every exhalation onto page.
This verse – 1 John 3:1 – is one that I had already read multiple times over. And yet, as is often the case with the living Word, I found myself drawn in to it. The Father has lavished his love on us, calling us His children – and so we are. Simply because He says it.
The world may shout that we’re one thing, but even His faintest whisper stands as truth over it. Lies and insecurities may run wild in our minds, but the truth doesn’t shift or change at those whispers. They’re crushed at His feet. Our identity rests in nothing other than the Lord. It is what He establishes that remains and rings true.
He calls us His beloved. His people. His children.
His, His, His.
And so we are.
He chooses to lavish His love on us, giving it freely, without a deserving action on our part.
And so it is.
He says we are fully seen, fully known, fully and freely forgiven and set free.
And so we are.
I want to claim this truth and live it out in every heartbeat and inhalation. I want to remember who He has said that I am and who He has said that you are. I want to remember and use every bit of that truth to run, run, run my race. And I want to remind those running in lanes nearby.
He says we are, collectively, the beloved children of a good and gracious Father who lavishes love on us in delight.