Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Introducing the Merry & Bright Gift Swap

Today we are taking a leap forward to celebrate an upcoming season. I've got the rest of this series in the works for next week, but today I wanted to introduce you to a project I've had under wraps for quite some time. 

It's time to announce the first annual Merry & Bright Gift Swap!

The holidays are a time especially set aside to rejoice together and to bless others, and I cannot think of a better place to launch this than in the growing blogging community. You ladies consistently knock my socks off with your beautiful hearts and how you encourage one another. Let's spread Christmas cheer together, shall we?

Really my heart behind this is to connect ladies (or anyone) who may or may not know one another so we can get into each other's worlds and send thoughtful gifts during the holiday craze. Who knows what sort of friendships may spark from this? I, for one, am excited to find out!

In the coming weeks, be on the lookout for an e-mail from me with your partner's contact info and fun facts. Everyone will be paired by November 22. Once you have your partner, take some time to get to know them! Swap e-mails, check out their photos, likes, dislikes, etc. so these gifts can be spot on and super thoughtful! The price range is $10-15, and you are welcome to spend more, but we ask that you do not spend less the minimum.

I am working on a button you can share on your blogs and social media to let your friends, family, readers, etc. know and welcome them into the exchange. The more we can bless the merrier! If anyone is spiffy in the button-making area and wants to help come up with it, that would be welcomed I've added the button slow and on my sidebar! ;) If you want to share about the gift swap, use the tag #merryandbrightGS on social media, and the quick-link to the form is

Important dates to remember:
November 15: Submissions closed.
November 22: All partners assigned + notified.
December 15: Gifts in the mail.

>>>>>>>  SIGN UP HERE  <<<<<<<

I'm so looking forward to this! Let's make the first annual Merry & Bright Gift Swap one to remember! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask either in the comments or shoot me an e-mail to

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Friday, October 10, 2014

A Brief Pause

If you haven't noticed, I may have skipped a day or two in the #write31days challenge. It looks like I'm taking my own medicine and getting a prayer answered in a way I didn't expect. When I started this, I asked for opportunities to savor my season, practical steps to take to be fully present and sink into where I'm at.

This week that has meant grad school comes first. It means taking care of myself physically, mentally, and spiritually, and stepping back from the blog. I still plan to write through this topic, and I hope to contribute to the challenge a little each week, but for now I need to take a brief pause.

Thanks for understanding, y'all. Check back in next week ;)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Search Out Your Season

Man, oh man. Never has it been so difficult to settle into my season than when I've decided to write about it. Every little thing triggers a dream or a hope or a plan set off far in the future, making my mind race with faraway thoughts. How can I savor today when I'm living for tomorrow? Tough question.

On Saturday, I touched on the idea of being aware of your season. Digging around in it to find the ups and downs, the ins and outs, both the highs and the lows. Feel it out, spread your arms wide and find the boundaries, the places where you feel you hit a wall and the places you are able to soar. All are important parts of this journey. 

One of the tools that has been most helpful to me in recent weeks is an e-book by Ashley Beaudin, 33 Questions to Ask Your Heart.  A few I had heard in another form or fashion, but many struck a new --and much needed-- cord. With her permission, I get to share a handful of these questions with you and give you a glimpse into where I find myself today.

3 of 33 Questions to Ask Your Heart

2. What gives you life + what takes life from you?
In my original notes about savoring your season, I said it was important to ask the question "what is encouraging you in this season?" and "what discourages you from savoring where you are?" The follow up was something like, "What steps can you actively take to pursue these things or release these things?" Ashley is spot on here.

In this season, being in community encourages me, but my lack of community can also be discouraging. I went from living deeply entrenched in Christ-centered community, meeting regularly with people who lived Acts 2:42-47 intentionally and creatively, to living alone in a new city with a new job and an entirely new routine. My community has shifted. In ways I am still searching for it. But it has been in these past three months that the blogging community has come to mean SO much to me, and I have found more support and sweetness there than I ever imagined. Here at OSU, I've found friendships through YoungLife and in the theatre department, even though something in my soul is still searching. God has been faithful and has provided along the way.

Blogging itself has been a sweet place that is so life giving, but when I start to strive and stress about statistics it can be very draining. On my drive home this weekend, I listened to podcasts from last year's Influence Conference and Hayley Morgan described striving as trying to pull the good things toward you by your own strength and in your own time, instead of walking with God in His will, peace, and time toward those things together. I have to do a heart check here. Being aware makes all the difference.

9. Is your heart thriving or is it wrestling?
Yikes. This is literally the heart check I have been avoiding. Or maybe the question I didn't know to ask. It is easy for me to proclaim a thriving season over my life, but sink back into the mess and let the days pass by. In some moments I feel like I am thriving, fully embracing the now and seeking Jesus in the moment, and in the next I will be wrapped up in a petty moment of frustration or concerned about something trivial. My heart is wrestling with the idea of savoring my season, and with my relationship with Jesus, because part of me is believing the lie that I should have this figured out by now.

Can I repeat that this is a LIE? I'm using one of those dangerous "should be" phrases that needs to be tossed out the window. I haven't missed the boat, and I haven't backtracked. I haven't disappointed Him beyond repair, and I haven't made such a misstep that all the previous work is discounted. I may be in the middle of a mess, but it's in the mess that He meets me. When I'm wrestling with my current situation, my job, my fears, my dreams even, it's okay. I don't have to have it all figured out or make it neat and tidy. Life doesn't work that way. It is okay --and it is powerful-- to see what is happening in my heart and confess that it feels more like wrestling than thriving. When I admit my weakness, He can make it into something beautiful. He can do that for you too, friend.

25. If you could sit down and be 100% honest, what would you say? What would you do? How would you feel?
This is one that is going straight into my journal in the morning. I have a lot of wrestling to do with the thoughts that rose to the surface when I read this question, and I need to hash them out with Jesus before brining them up here.

If you're looking for a place to start digging into your season, try some of these questions. Do a heart check. Ashley is a fire starter and a world-class encourager, and this book is one I will treasure (and return to) for years to come. According to her, "transformation starts at the table of honest conversations and hard questions." Let's pull up a chair together, and get to the heart of the matter.

Monday, October 6, 2014

On the Blog This Season

Last week I was nominated for the "Tour Through Blogland," and it gives me a little break to gather my thoughts for this week's series of Savor Your Season posts. It's also a chance for me to say hello and introduce myself to some of my new readers.

Who nominated me?

Lauren of Elle & Co. has become a sweet friend over the last few months, and I've had the joy of watching her encourage others and grow her business for God's glory. She is such a sweetheart! Her online library of printable goodies is a MUST-see, and subscribing might be the best decision you make all day. Thanks for the nomination, girl!

What am I working on?

In all my spare time --what is that again?-- I am participating in my second blogging challenge in a wrote, The Nester's #write31days, exploring the idea of what it means to "savor your season".  I've struggled with the idea of sinking in deep where I am, and I've spent far too much time wishing away today for a dream I think will happen tomorrow or two months from now. If you've been following along so far, thank you for your sweet support! If this is new to you, I hope you'll stick around.

I am also working on re-organizing my schedule (school work, blogging, teaching, etc.) to be more intentional and productive. I listened to a podcast from last year's Influence Conference about working in the margins, making time for your dreams even if it is 30 minutes a day, and I plan to.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

That is something I am still trying to establish. I know my voice is unique, but I want to make this space a special place for people to come to connect, to be encouraged, and to find community. Ask me this again at the start of 2015 ;) 

Why do I write/create what I do?

I write because I believe everyone's story is a gift from the Creator (including mine, which took a lot longer to believe than you might think), and writing is both a retreat and an outlet that has brought me so much joy over the years. My little corner of the internet has been a safe place for me to explore and share what the Lord has been teaching me and doing in my life, from adventuring across the country to pursuing theatre in college and every little moment in between.  The friends made along the way have made it all the easier to share.

How does my writing/creating process work?

I am all over the place, and that is no exaggeration. As far as brainstorming and planning goes I have half a dozen different ways I gather ideas, work posts in pieces, banter about with others when I've got a spark. The past month and the month to come are very unique with the Blog-tember Challenge and #write31days, but they have highlighted the weaknesses and strengths of my system. I'm a girl who's ready to revamp.
Who am I nominating?

My nominations go out to three lovely gals I think you should all get to know: 
  • Ashley, the heart behind the Tuesday night #fireworkpeople Twitter chats and community.
  • Nicole, a gem of a friend (and future Influence Conf. roomie! Woohoo!).
  • Lauren, a gal as sweet as tea and bright as sunshine who spreads joy everywhere.  

Check these ladies out next week for their Tour Through Blogland (and forgive my scattered thoughts tonight! 100+ pages of reading and papers await me).

"Savor Your Season" continues tomorrow. Blessings, friends!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

In Every Season

How about a late night anthem to finish out your weekend and launch you into the week ahead? I don't know about you, but as I think about the changing seasons, I want my prayer and praise to be the same. Our God is a faithful God no matter if you are in the desert or harvest seasons. He is our victory and our constant. He is worthy of our praise.

All of my life, in every season,
You are still God.
I have a reason to sing;
I have a reason to worship.
Desert Song, Hillsong Worship