Peace in Writing

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This past weekend I had the opportunity to spend a few days coffee-shop-hopping in Raleigh, NC. The weekend was planned months ago before I knew how much I needed a weekend away to sit, process, think, sing, wander, breathe, and WRITE.  I kicked off the weekend with a dear college freshman who did YL in our town. We had dinner, I met her boyfriend, & then we headed off to the Sandra McCracken and All Sons & Daughters Poets + Saints Concert. It was a rich and restorative evening to spring board what was to become a blissful weekend of writing & wandering that I have been craving for quite some time.

My journey of writing has ebbed and flowed over the years. I have always loved to write and my stacks of diaries turned journals from my adolescence is a proof. It wasn’t until my creative writing class my senior year in high school that I realized how much of a gift it would be for the duration of my lifetime. I tend to always have a million thoughts and ideas swirling around in my mind, so putting pen to paper brings a peace only writing can offer in calming my headspace. When we first found out we we pregnant with my oldest eight years ago I started a family & lifestyle blog to document the pregnancy. Over time it became a free form of therapy for me during nap time to use my brain and hands. I started sharing songs, books, and my heart. A couple years ago when I started my counseling practice I made a more professional space that was more focused with a loose filter. I was initially disoriented in a more public space trying to find my bearings in the unfamiliar territory of writing for a wide variety of ears in addition to family and friends. One day I was fumbling around the internet trying to find a place to dig in with other writers in a similar season. Somehow I saw Emily’s post about the Writer’s Barn that she was co-hosting at her sister’s place in south Charlotte with Christa Wells. My friend Reeve had been singing the praises of her dear friend ‘The Nester’ for years and I decided to sign up!

A friend and I traveled down to the barn together and my heart almost exploded when we arrived. Everything was beautiful from the woods we drove through to the barn’s simple elegance nestled under the trees. I was expectant but had no idea how much would shift in my heart as we listened to one of my favorite authors and a new-to-me singer and songwriter share about their unique processes of writing. I found myself looking around at all the earthy and delicate details while we listened to each artist speak, sing, and we even took some time to write ourselves. I knew the Lord had arranged for me to be there that day.

After months of being “stuck” in my writing I felt like new creative life was breathed back into my soul again. This was the jumpstart, in addition to Emily’s book A Million Little Ways, about “uncovering the art we were made to live” which caused my creative juices to flow freely once again. I decided to jump into another year of writing 31 Days in October, this time about our yearning for more on this side of heaven. I was coming out of a few years of internalizing all my feelings and the grueling process of writing about it daily woke me up!

Although my new blog has been sporadic over the past 2.5 years, my personal writing has been consistent. I began the ritual of Morning Pages where you wake up daily and write 2-3 pages without an agenda. I started working out my writing muscles behind closed doors and slowly themes began to emerge. With yet another year of #write31days under my belt, I can honestly say it has over time formed the book I hope to one day write, even if it is for an audience of friends of friends & family. There’s a burn that only keeps growing inside!

So this past weekend I embarked on my more focused project of writing a book proposal. I am not sure what will come of it in the years ahead, but I have at least started a document that is organizing itself into chapters and arranging all the themes that have bubbled up.

So when I packed up to head to Raleigh, I had a list of places to check out, a few people to see, my Artist’s Manifesto (pictured above) written by Emily, and my laptop & notes. Then I found my new favorite coffee shop in Boylan Heights at Yellow Dog Bakery & Co.  It isn’t an ideal gluten free friendly bakery for my celiac needs, but the autumn spice latte was the best I have ever tasted, by far. The staff was kind & the atmosphere was peaceful, even in the midst of their Saturday morning rush on the last weekend of October with a local 5K. It also helped that Standard Foods grocery & restaurant is just a few storefronts down, which was delicious. I hope to head back down with my friend Jen, to enjoy dinner since their pimento cheese + local veggies are calling my name everyday. What a cute corner it is!


I camped out in this up and coming neighborhood for most of the morning and wandered it’s streets. I enjoyed both breakfast and lunch (down at Person St. Pharmacy) solo. Since I’ve been working on a more focused project & finishing up the Create + Complete course through the School of Creative Direction, I slacked off on my final week of my write 31 Days of October of Finding Peace in the Chaos. Thank you for following along this month! Even in my sporadic posting and sometimes wordless picture posts, I have enjoyed it. I do hope to go back to fill in the most recent posts with my favorite books, music, & podcasts!

Speaking of podcasts, lastly I must share the home community for writers & creatives alike that I frequent online to find the most inspiration and hope in a corner of kindred spirits. Hope*Writers is an online group led by sisters, Emily P. Freeman (Chatting at the Sky) & Myquillyn Smith (The Nesting Place). It includes rich resources, a private FB group, etc.

Learn more & sign up for Hope*Writers … I can assure you it is worth every penny & more!

If you are interested in the sold out workshop this weekend happening in Charlotte you can also purchase a recording for an inside listen to all the things that will be discussed.

Peace in Movies

Our family recently decided to go see the remake of the beloved kid’s film Pete’s Dragon. I was amazed by the scenery and music as we all entered into the narrative of a boy’s life. We were all transported from our sweltering summer afternoon into the coolness of a dark theatre and then taken into an adventure deep in the wooded home of a lonely young boy.

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Our kids are pretty young and have only seen a few movies on the big screen so far, but Pete’s Dragon was worth every penny we spent to go as a family. The low saturated scenes mirrored the emotions of each character as the story unfolded about Elliot’s loss and love.

 

Peace in Porchtime

People used to sit on their porches all the time back in the day. When life was a little slower, families had the white space and margin to take the time to sit and fret less.

Why is it so hard for us to sit on our porches these days? What drives us to go, go go?

 

 

I know for my there is always a never ending list of things I would like to scratch off my to-do list. It ranges anywhere from laundry to writing a submission for a publication. Most days the mundane trumps the things that make me feel alive & the necessary responsibilities push my dreams to the back burner. But I wonder what the world might look like if we created corners in our schedule that allowed for interruptions and time to sit and stare off in space and lets our creative juices flow. I know for me my most inspired times come when I am standing in the shower or sitting outside breathing in fresh air.

Peace enters my soul when I leave my phone inside & swing outside for even just a few moments with a magazine or book or even a child of mine. The stillness of porchtime breathes life into the ruts of my daily routine that keep my moving like a robot. I long to be spirit led versus acting out of my own desires and selfish longings moment by moment. I have found that in order to have the head space to hear the subtle, yet bold voice of my Creator I must provide an environment that drowns out the distractions and lets His will be heard.

I have to be very intentional to not bypass my porch swing when I head to the mailbox every few days. I feel my heart longing to go sit and take some time to just be, yet usually I keep walking and doing everything inside that needs to get done. I am left many time feeling anxious and overwhelmed by all the things, even good things, I feel I need to do. However, when I take even 5 minutes to slow down and enjoy some porch time, I come back into my house with a fresh perspective. I am renewed by the reality that I don’t have to go, go, go to feel peace. It is actually the opposite. When I find myself moving nonstop controlled by the burdens of this world, I run out of steam because I am doing it in my own strength. There is something about that time on the porch that allows me to meet with my Maker long enough to remember that He is the One who gives me the strength to keep going. May we all take some time this weekend to practice porch, patio, stoop time sitting.

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Peace in Anxiety

“every moment wasted on anxiety is a moment missed of living.” –Heather Dixon

A friend is doing 31 Days of Battling Anxiety and I have been so encouraged by her writing. You can find Heather Dixon over at The Rescued Letters writing each day in October about her struggle with worry upon a diagnosis she didn’t expect. She points us to the Truth.img_2811

You can read more about her story here  and the hope she finds in the midst of the heavy.

I am continuously amazed by women who battle a diagnosis at a young age and point us all to choosing life when life can feel fragile. May we all soak in each moment with less worry & rest in the truth that He has us, no matter what our season or circumstance may suggest.

We all know the feeling of anxiety even if it manifests in different ways in each of our bodies. Our hearts race, we get sweaty hands, or our heads may spin. It is a sense of feeling out of control and being overwhelmed by an emotion that we do not prefer to experience.

There are many ways we try to soothe the angst, but having scripture woven into our hearts is something we can tap into from any place. Heather points us to the wisdom in the Word and reminds us of the power of God’s living letters to battle against the broken.

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[Free printable made by Heather]

Peace in Nature

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” -William Shakespeare

This past weekend my kids and I took a road trip up to the Blue Ridge mountains with 5 other mamas and their 10+ kids. We stayed at a friend’s cabin and soaked in all the beauty of falling leaves, the mustards and burgundy, early morning fog, and late afternoon rays of light. The kids ran wild + free as we snagged broken conversation, sipped tea and wine, and ate meal after meal together. Even in the midst of all the noise my heart felt such slowness. A peace I can’t quite explain kept emerging in the chaos that is mothering x6.
We took walks, picked apples, fed horses, skinned knees, stubbed toes, collected leaves, hunted wooly worms, had baths, sprayed hoses, watered flowers, and laughed a lot. It wasn’t hard to see the handiwork of the One who holds it all together as we looked around at the wonder of the world around us and then looked down at the little ones right before us.

Over the past 7 years I have cultivated rich friendships with a few other moms in our town. We have been doing life together and overlapping more in the mundaneness of motherhood and the highs and lows of life. We each have one common bond in that we know Jesus and are longing to know Him more and hope to spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Our personalities vary and our styles of mothering have similarities but differences as well. Over the summer we started making plans for a mountain getaway with the kids in tow. Landing on a date that worked for everyone somehow supernaturally aligned for mid-October and off we went! The anticipation was building this last week as we talked about meals, festivals, and the routes to get us there. I anticipated that each day would be full and that our hearts would be even more filled to the brim, but I did not expect the overflow. You know that feeling you get when you just simply cannot contain all the joy bubbling out of your heart? I felt that nonstop this weekend. Just looking around and seeing all the goodness in the way my friends love on their kids and mine alike. I gazed out the windows watching the leaves fall in what felt like slow motion while smoothies were blended behind me. One babe cried in sorrow, while another learned a lesson in sharing. One mom washed the dreaded toddler food tray, while another nursed a baby to sleep. Some read books, some caught salamanders from the pond, some cooked dinner, and some swept floors. We all did as we felt led to contribute for the greater good. Communal living at it’s finest.

We all crave connection and intimacy and it is in that search that we lose our contentment. We want so badly to be known and loved for who we are in the midst of every season of our life, and yet sometimes we feel so invisible or alone that it seems life is just passing us by.

As I sat on the back porch of my friend’s mountain getaway this weekend, I was reminded that our Creator blesses us not only with the beauty of His creation in nature, but His greatest creation of all, His people. I could have honestly sat outside in the grass by the pond watching leaves fall solo all weekend and felt His presence deeply. Yet the peace I found in the midst of the mountains was in the relationships with the people He has placed in my life for such a time as this. The colorful, bold foliage pales in comparison to the tender care of my dear friends. I could not be more grateful for the gifts they are in my life. The trees reflecting in the water, the sun blaring through the scraggly tree branches, and the bark siding of this home away from home were just the icing on the cake for me.

May we all take the time to go be with those we do life with. May we love each other well.

Peace in What We Eat

Over the past 5 years I have had a major change in diet. When my middle son was born he was having all kinds of digestive, rash, and reflux issues. I soon noticed a pattern that it was after certain things I would eat and then nurse him that he would have such an unsettled stomach. At the time we had an incredible integrative pediatrician, Dr. Sheila Kilbane who suggested we take a look at my diet in attempts to help out our little guy. So we began the grueling process of the elimination diet to find just the foods that were offenders to his little 9 lb. frame. Within days of removing gluten and dairy from my diet I had a new, symptom free, happy, cooing, and rested newborn baby. I was amazed and intrigued! I could not believe how quick the results were for our family and that it was as simply as what we ate. For the first time in 2 months I felt like I could rest easy again.img_1469We brought home this precious little bundle to a wild and wonderful toddler ready to meet his first sibling. It wasn’t long before we realized he was in a lot of pain when food passed through his tiny tummy, which resulted in a lot of tears for us all through the process. When I first took him to the doctor about it he was 2 months old. I thought maybe he was just a fussier baby in general and that we might just have to stick it out until he got a little older. As soon as I told our doctor the symptoms he was experiencing she suggested the elimination diet starting with the basic offenders of gluten, dairy, peanuts, eggs, and citrus. For someone who loves a good burger, cheese on everything, and daily eggs this was not going to be any easy feat for this exhausted, nursing a newborn, wrangling a toddler mama.

Peace in the Broken Way

A few years ago I was first introduced to Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience  when her One Thousand Gifts book released when I was in the throws of having babies and surviving hormones, toddlers, a husband in full time ministry, and an identity crisis. I was used to operating as a productive, more type A, go-getter for the first 25 years life, and then it all came to an initially unwelcomed halt. Enter, a book that helped me slow down & breathe.

My middle little guy was 9 months old when I found out I was pregnant with our youngest little lady. 2011-2013 were my hardest years to date in this life and I cannot imagine walking through that season without Ann’s wisdom bound together in the pages of her book. She helped me, and millions for that matter, pause and hunt for beauty in the midst of our chaos. She helped me find the root of peace in my swirling circumstances of having 3 kids under 4, while moving houses, doing ministry, and losing a dear friend to cancer.

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Ann is releasing her next book Oct. 25th and I am honored to be on the launch team for The Broken Way. You can pre-order it through amazon & it will arrive in your mailbox that day! I received my hardcopy this week and have already flown through the first half. I was reading it yesterday while longing to be flying up to Canada to join the launch team on Ann’s farm for chapter readings in her barn, but alas, an early copy in my hands was the best birthday gift. The subtitle ‘a daring path into the abundant life’ gives a glimpse into the reality that Ann expresses throughout the book, that the ‘broken way’ is truly a dare to a more full, authentic, and connected life. Peace is found in the broken, yet beautiful places.

Check out this trailer to learn more about The Broken Way from Ann:

Peace in Leaving a Legacy

Tonight we rode up to Hickory, NC to attend their Young Life banquet to celebrate 30 years of ministry in the Catawba Valley. My husband had the chance to speak to the legacy that has been left by so many people over the years and how as a community we can keep it going for years to come! My heart was moved in looking back over the history of a YL national video reminding us of how Young Life started in the first place with one man’s prayer in the 1930’s, 75 years ago! Jim Rayburn asked the Lord to, “Give us the teenagers that we may lead them to Thee.

When Ben & I grew up in Greensboro, which is celebrating it’s 60th year of ministry in November, we were gracefully embedded into the fold of a rich legacy as well. I remember walking through my high school’s front doors encountering for the first time Jonathan & Ann Smith. They were standing and smiling and hugging every kind of person in my high school. I realized quickly they were not students or teachers, but yet were choosing to step into the world of my high school friends, and my life as well. Almost daily they showed up, along with Mary McLarty, and Matt Hannam, to spread the love of Jesus to our school. Sometimes it came in the form of Yum Yum’s hotdogs and lunch, standing in the student section at our football games, or playing guitar and leading us in chubby bunny marshmallow skits in an old white house downtown before they got up to speak about Jesus. This picture of people who could be choosing to do other things stepping into my messy world has stuck with my over the years. When I reached college I wanted to do what they did, so as I mentioned in a previous post, I became a Young Life leader in Raleigh, NC.

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I remembered what it felt like to my friends and I to have consistent men and women show up in our lives. They were one of the few constants in an ever-changing world of emotions and social drama at my high school. My senior year I finally started to catch the vision that I could take a little focus off my self and begin to love people just like my leaders were, and so began a beautiful refreshed slant to my daily purpose. Not only was I growing as I began to pour out the love I had experienced, but people my age and younger started catching a deeper glimpse of unconditional love rooted in Jesus.

On spring break I went on a campaigners trip to Tijuana, Mexico were we slept in tents, ate every meal outside, and used bag showers & portable toilets. Little did I know while I was hugging the most dear children, mixing concrete, and building homes for those in need I would meet my future husband on the worksite next to mine. It took us 6 months to go on our first date, but the rest is history.

Ben & I would not be the same today without the legacy of Young Life over the past 75 years. It has taught us about the gospel of grace that we all are offered that brings full life. We cannot help but continue on that legacy here in the Lake Norman area for as long as we can!

 

 

Peace in Monday Moods

img_3965Y’all, Mondays can be rough. I had one yesterday, but staring at this beauty from our weekend soothed my soul. Sometimes we sit, breathe, and remember the goodness of a few days before and it meets us where we are. I don’t want to live for the weekend, but some Monday moods require tapping into another space from our mundane routines. xo