one hundred fifty-five minutes.

the facts are these:

Every October, The Nester does this thing called 31 Days. (or #31Days if Jimmy Fallon hasn’t yet shamed you out of using hashtags in real life. I will go down with that ship, y’all.)

A bunch of cool people commit to blogging, every day, for 31 days, about one topic.

I am doing this.

Ever the procrastinator, I decided to do this tonight. The night before it all starts, the night the big link-up happens.

At this point, a lot of people already have a blog button and an intro post and a cute little calendar with a blog plan and an outline. I have a bunch of post-its with rejected 31 days ideas (31 days of #foreveralone). Because I might color-code my agenda like whoa, but when it comes to blogging I’m more of a when-the-mood-strikes kinda person.

But lately, I’ve been wanting to be more intentional. I want writing to be more habitual in my life, something I do and share on a daily basis. And there’s nothing like a public commitment and massive amounts of peer pressure to help you achieve your goals, right?

So I’m doing 31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes. Why yes, I am shamelessly stealing Lisa-Jo’s Five Minute Friday format. I prefer to think of it as being inspired by. Sincerest form of flattery and all that.

For the rest of October, I’ll be writing a five-minute post, inspired by a prompt word. Rules are meant to be broken, of course, so it might be a fifteen-minute post, but every single day, I’ll sit down and write for a minimum of five minutes. Minimal editing, minimal planning. Just my heart on my sleeve + my words on my fingertips.

We’re all about audience interaction over here, so this is the fun part where you get involved. Give me a word! I’ll be asking for prompts regularly so throw me a word via Twitter or in the comments of any of my 31 Days posts.

So stick around, maybe? Let’s see what I come up with this month.

button3

day one: dance

day two: rush

day three: write

day four: held

day five: photography

day six: community

day seven: break

day eight: cheese

day nine: beauty

day ten: found

day eleven: ordinary

day twelve: close

day thirteen: real

day fourteen: hush

day fifteen: longer

day sixteen: resilient

day seventeen: space

day eighteen: laundry

day nineteen: victory

day twenty: story

day twenty-one: a haiku

day twenty-two: journey

day twenty-three: never 

day twenty-four: question

day twenty-five: together

day twenty-six: world

day twenty-seven: ache

day twenty-eight: whole

day twenty-nine: frost

day thirty: lead

day thirty-one: grace

p.s. please don’t judge my blog button. last-minute, remember? I don’t really know how this all works.

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[september 2013]

September is over. And for the first time in what feels like forever, I’m not totally caught unawares by it. I’m feeling settled into Greensboro and September has felt like just the right length.

So let’s talk about my September faves.

reading (book-wise)

  • Beautiful Chaos and Beautiful Redemption, Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia. I finished up the rest of the series early in the month, and to be honest, it feels like forever ago so I’ve kinda forgotten these books. But I did enjoy them – there’s some unexpected twists and they were a fun fantasy read.
  • Partials and Fragments, Dan Wells. These are right up my alley (you know, dystopian YA lit, badass chick, cute boys) and I loved these books. They’re full of twists and surprisingly thought-provoking and I could just not put them down, and now I’m stuck waiting for the third book. Gimme.
  • The Selection, Kiera Cass. This is…uh…also in my YA lit niche. Set in post-something US, America is selected as one of the girls to live at the palace and be a potential mate for the prince. She’s not into it, there’s a boy back home…you know. Think, like, The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor. Honestly, it seemed totally predictable at first but surprised me a bit. Cass hints at some more drama beneath the surface going on with the monarchy/government system and I’m really hoping she delves into that more in the next book, which I’ve got on hold. Again, gimme.
  • Cinderella Ate My Daughter, Peggy Orienstein. Orienstein takes a look at the prevalence of all things pink + princess + stereotypically feminine in our culture and questions how this is affecting our girls (and, like, us). I’m kinda not-so-secretly a raging feminist (though that term is complicated at best) and this whole divide of girl/boy toys/books/activities/careers/etc is incredibly important to think about. This is fascinating, and while I don’t agree with everything Orienstein offers, it’s worth a read.
  • Every Shattered Thing, Elora Ramirez. Right. so. Not really sure how to talk about this book because it’s painful and beautiful and it hurts and sometimes you just want to stop reading but then you don’t, and you’ll probably cry a bit. or a lot. In any case, Elora’s novel talks about a really hard thing (sex slavery in the US) and does it beautifully. Read it.
  • The Fault in Our Stars, John Green. This was a re-read for me and you’d think that knowing what was coming would make it easier, but nope, I still bawled my eyes out like a baby. If you haven’t read this, you want too. They’re filming the movie now and John keeps tweeting pictures from the set and I already have all the feels and they’re not even done with the filming. I mean.
  • waiting on my windowsill: The Gifts of Imperfection (Brene Brown, and it’s beautiful and amazing and hard and true), The Book Thief (Markus Zusak, and I know I’m like the last person in the world to read this but guys so good), Grace for the Good Girl (Emily Freeman), An Introduction to the Old Testament (Walter Brueggemann and I’m only one chapter in but it’s good and also makes my head hurt a bit).

reading (blog-wise)

  • Cassi Clerget’s post for So Worth Loving on speaking kindness to yourself. It’s hard, and important. 
  • 5 Lies Every Twentysomething Needs to Stop Believing and I think I just need to read this on the daily. 
  • Preston Yancey is back to blogging again (yay) and writing some beautiful beautiful things. I’ve been practicing yoga for around a year now and this is so good, and so true.
  • “It is good, I hear Him say, and for the first time in a long time, I feel it.” Bethany Suckrow writes an ode to her body.
  • Kaleigh Somers writes truth and reminds us that are so, so much more than broken.
  • Hilary Sherratt, on being unkind to her body. (Is there a trend here with my posts this month? Let’s practice some self-love, yo.)
  • Antonia Terrazas on remembering your baptism, and living it daily.
  • Last but certainly not least, Hannah Brencher continues to remind me why I fell in love with words in the first place.

listening

this month’s jams are right here. been loving We Don’t Eat by James Vincent McMorrow, and fell in love with Coby Grant after one of her songs was used on Dance Academy.  Little Bastille, little Katy Perry, little Daughter.

I’ve also re-discovered my love for Rachel Platten. I’ve known + loved her music for a while – my old dance teacher back home hosted her house concert a couple summers ago, and then again recently. I was bummed that I wouldn’t be home for it but then learned she’d be playing in Greensboro the very next night. I was totally that loser that went to a concert alone (sorry to everyone who had to endure #hannahlivetweetingherawkwardconcert) and had a great time. I can’t wait for Rachel’s new album to come out – it’s going to be amazing – but for now her music is on repeat. She’s incredibly sweet and talented – she sings, plays the guitar and piano, write or co-writes all her songs…and she beatboxes. She also gives really good hugs and doesn’t judge you if you start crying in front of her. Or so I’ve heard.

and it’s been kinda a tough month, and I’ve been working on my brave, so I made myself a total girl power playlist. it’s kinda short for now, but you can bet it’ll be sticking around and growing up. sing along and dance in your bedroom with me.

watching

  • finally watched Hercules. Disney, yo.
  • re-watched Thor and while it’s still not my fave of the Avengers-tribe films, it’s still pretty good.
  • Dance Academy, duh. As terribly good as always.
  • Bones is back!
  • A little Supernatural, here and there.
  • But mostly…Elementary. Guys, I’m obsessed. I was totally one of those hardcore-dedicated-to-Sherlock-refuses-to-watch-Elementary people but I love it, so much. Joan Watson is probably one of my favorite characters on TV right now – she’s smart, strong, independent, queen of sass, and totally able to handle all of Sherlock’s craziness.

eating

loving

  • HELLO FALL. I’m ready to bust out my scarves and sweaters and there have been some perfectly crisp evenings. It’s beautiful.
  • chocolate chai latte. hello. you can keep your PSL.
  • treated myself to some new tea. chocolate hazelnut – good. the pumpkin spice rooibos my mom mailed me – also delicious.
  • my #fmfparty community. I have received so much support, love, and encouragement from everyone this month and it makes my heart happy.
  • farmer’s market trips. I have had the most beautiful tomatoes + perfect peaches + beautiful fresh flowers in my apartment, and it’s awesome. I bought eggplant this week. I have no idea how to cook eggplant, but it’s just so pretty.
  • I also bought a little aloe plant for my living room, to keep Joey (my spider plant) company. now taking suggestions on names.
  • Romans. my church is doing a sermon series on Romans, so we’re discussing it in community group, and my bible study is doing a Tim Keller study on Romans. all the Romans.
  • beautiful blue skies + gorgeous sunsets. North Carolina, you pretty.
  • short hair don’t care. maybe I’ll just keep my hair this length forever.
  • seeing Maya Angelou speak at my school. I mean, dang. That woman is full of wisdom and strength and wit.
  • raiding my apartment-mate’s closet. Thanks Carolyn. you have cute clothes.
  • all the pumpkin things, duh.
  • self care. because it’s important.

and just for fun, this was the most-viewed post on my blog this month.

that was kinda super long. September’s been a good month, all things considered. as usual, I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’m into. so tell me….what’s made September good for you? (and more importantly…pumpkin spice latte or chocolate chai or salted caramel?)

the Gospel is more [at Church of the Redeemer]

“Gospel” is, if you think about it, kind of a loaded word.

The gospel is such a heavy thing to sling around. Live out the gospel. Explain the gospel. Share the gospel.

Telling me to share the gospel reminds me of 4 Steps to Salvation booklets and street evangelism and the Romans Road and swaying choirs in long robes and that little picture you learned to draw in youth group with you on one side of a canyon and God on the other, and the cross bridging the gap.

And that’s accurate, but that’s not everything. Because the gospel is so much more to me than salvation booklets or cute drawings attempting to illustrate something so mysterious and marvelous that those drawings can’t even come close.

This week, my wonderful church was kind enough to ask me to write for their blog. We’re doing a series on Romans and so today, I’m talking about what the gospel means to me. Click right about here to read the rest, won’t you?

true | not-five minutes on a not-friday

what a beautiful mess this is 

Lately, everything has been feeling like a mess.

And then Lisa-Jo goes and asks for our true stories.

Do you want my true story?

My true story is yesterday involved me lying on the carpet crying. Multiple times.

It’s been a week, y’all.

My true story is I just wanted to bake cookies for my bible study, and when I discovered that I had baking soda but no baking powder, I put on real pants and jumped in my car and drove to Harris Teeter to buy cardamom and baking powder and then freaked out because goodness cardamom is expensive and do you want my firstborn for that? and then I got back and discovered that I bought not baking powder, but baking soda, and now I had two containers of baking soda and no baking powder and all I wanted to do was just bake some stinking cookies.

And, like every normal person, my response to that was to curl up in a ball on the ground and cry a little bit.

True life.

And then I proceeded to eat a lot (like a lot) of the dough. and eight cookies. And then four today. This is a judgement-free zone, right?

My true story is that three weeks ago, I dropped one of my majors. And that was exciting and terrifying and good and scary and there were a lot of tears involved. But it felt right, and it felt like freedom, when I realized that I was brave enough to walk away from something that wasn’t making me happy to pursue instead what I loved and what I wanted to do with my life.

And then I realized that I don’t really know what I love. I mean, peanut butter and puppies and Jesus and words, but somehow those don’t all combine to make a job description that would fit me like my favorite pair of jeans.

(which, by the way, don’t fit me anymore. eating your way through europe will do that to you. and so my true story also involves a lot of love and hate and maybe more hate and than love with my body right now.)

So I’m a senior in college, and I just walked away from three years of investment in a major, and now I don’t know what I want to do and if I’m going to add another major and when I’m going to graduate and for someone who has a past history with anxiety and trust issues and color-codes her agenda like it’s her job and likes plans… this. is. terrifying.

And I’m only 21 and I know, I know that’s young and I’ve got time and all that stuff but y’all, all my friends are looking forward to graduation and life plans and I have nothing figured out. and sometimes, that makes me feel like a failure. sometimes, that makes me feel like I can’t do anything right. I mean, heck, I can’t even manage to buy baking powder. and sometimes, it feels like every. stinking. thing. is falling down around me and I’m left trying to keep a brick wall together with tape when really I need a bag of cement. and some industrial-size construction equipment. and I’m pretty sure I’m not qualified to drive any of it.

My true story involved me frustrated, and upset, and mad at God, and angry-journaling at 11:45 pm and I kinda don’t want to open my journal tonight and have to look at that page cause it ain’t gonna be pretty. Because there are a lot of things I don’t understand, and in case you don’t know by now, I have this thing where I like to be in control. Just a bit.

and I don’t understand. I don’t understand why I have no idea what I want to do, and why He couldn’t have pointed me towards a different major three years ago, and why I’m still single while it feels like everyone I know is getting married, and why I feel like a huge failure half the time, and why I can’t just learn how to love my body already, and can someone please just tell me what the heck is up with predestination because I don’t really know what’s going on with that whole concept and why can’t everything just make sense already?

why won’t God just tell me what’s up?

there were some more tears. do you see a trend here?

So the real talk is this: I have no idea what I’m doing. None. Whatsoever.

I don’t know where I’m going. What’s happening. Who I’m going to be in twenty years, or ten, or two weeks.

but there’s a song by Jason Mraz that goes something like this:

what a beautiful mess this is // it’s like picking up trash in dresses 

and that’s the truth. it’s a mess, all of it, but it’s a beautiful mess. because I believe – I have to believe – that He makes beautiful things out of us, out of our mess.

and there’s a lot of trash to pick up.

so I might as well wear a dress while I’m doing it. it’s just a beautiful mess.

————

Five Minute Friday looks a little different this week, obviously. It was not five minutes. Check out Lisa-Jo’s post over here and maybe the massive amount of nonsense above will make more sense. And tell me your true stories. It’s all a beautiful mess, so put on your dress and take my hand and we’ll dance in the middle of it together.

 

she | five minute friday

She’s bold and beautiful, really.

Beautiful in a million ways, and most of them hidden beneath the surface, peeking out just so. Shining in her smile, breaking the silence in her mischievous giggle. There’s a glimmer in her eye, and a depth too. Wisdom beyond her years seems to hide behind her baby blues.

Because her years might be few, but she’s seen a thing or two.

She’s known pain and heartbreak. She’s seen nights of mascara tears staining pillowcases and been the post-break-up-ice-cream-provider more times than she cares to count. She’s been up and down, high and low, everything in between.

She doesn’t know where she’s going, but she walks with a spring in her step anyway.

She’s stepping out, walking into something new. She’s believing that she’s strong, that she’s brave, that she can – and so she is.

She’s doing.

She’s trying.

She’s got her years of experience – however few they are – tucked in her back pocket, and her hands are open to the years ahead. She’s blank pages and questioning eyes and curious heart. She’s wild love and headstrong impulses. She’s hesitant and shy and eager and afraid and finding out who she is.

She’s bold and beautiful.

And she’s starting to believe it.

————

It’s 10 pm Thursday night – so it’s Friday.  Linking up with Lisa-Jo to write for five minutes, on one word, no editing. And, of course, tweeting and laughing and living together. Like we do. 

hearts and stories.

sometimes, I forget why I write.

I get distracted. Frustrated. Lost somewhere in the sea of view count and subscriber number and twitter follows and goodness knows, that’s not so much a sea as a soul-sucking swamp that’ll trap your feet and pull you down slowly.

And I forget what it’s really about.

because it’s about you. and me. and hearts laid bare.

and I prefer to share our stories over coffee & cookies, but well, you’re not close enough for me to hold your hand and hug you tight and know how you take your tea.

because it’s about hearts and stories. it’s about dreams and heartbreaks. it’s about trying and falling and trying again and trying yet again. it’s about walking forward when everything in you wants to stay in bed.

it’s about words and the way they look on the page & roll off the tongue. it’s about phrases woven together and knitted into a sentence so cozy you want to slip it on like a sweater. it’s about how something so simple as a combination of keystrokes can cause my soul to sing.

because that’s where it began. it began with a girl, and her heart, and some words. it began with a love affair. an obsession with the way the words can dance along the page, can plumb the depths of the soul, can make you smile, make you laugh, make you cry.

it’s about where I’ve been & what I’ve learned. where I am. where I’m going, though Lord knows that part’s entirely unwritten, and blank pages are full of beauty and possibility and just a little hint of terror hiding on the smooth white surface.

but I’m going there anyway. and I promise you that I’ll leave a trail of words behind, marking my steps. I’ll leave pieces of my heart to puddle in the footprints in my wake.

because it’s about hearts and stories, and both are meant to be shared.

I forget.

I forget sometimes

that this is a relationship

and maybe you can spell relationship without work

but you sure can’t have it

so forgive me

for the times I made other things more important than You.

things like homework

and sleep

and friends

and facebook and pinterest

and even these words.

Because I might write with the penmanship of an angel

but if I have not love

well, I’ll have a lot of subscribers

but that’s not gonna do me any good in heaven

or on the judgement day

(I don’t think God takes view count into consideration when He weighs my soul)

and that won’t even help me today

when I am full of words

and empty of You.