Holiday Gift Guide 2017: for her!

 

The following guide is for all my ladies who might be tough to shop for or might just want something a little different this year.

one // make your last memories of 2017 golden with this addition to the Polaroid family.

two // I've been testing this bag out for you all summer long and it's the perfect day bag for trips & everyday excursions. PLUS: all the fun colors.

three // my best friend got me this cookbook when I was halfway through my Whole30. I couldn't eat any of the things at the time but I was d-r-o-o-l-i-n-g over the pictures.

four // slower mornings in 2018 with this classic pour over.

five // a beautiful way to remember an important date & a very cool addition to your wall decor.

six // if 12 amazing women like Malala don't inspire you to kick butt every single month in 2018 then I don't know what will!

seven // pamper yourself with this clay mask. I've been using it since July and I can't get enough of it!

eight // Lane and I put this little guy on our wedding registry and let-me-tell-you: one of our favorite gifts to date. There's nothing like playing a record when you get in from work and start cooking dinner together.

nine // I mean, you try to say no...

ten // you don't even need rain to make use of these boots. They're perfect for chunky wool socks & a fun day date.

eleven // in an increasingly digital age, there's something really beautiful about magazine subscriptions. Darling publishes classy articles for all kinds of women. Good reading for gals who love a strong aesthetic.

twelve // got a book lover in your midst? You will never be sorry for getting them a subscription to the Book of the Month club! It's (by far) my favorite thing to get in the mail each month!

thirteen // brain dust. sex dust. moon dust. need I say more? all natural and ready for your smoothies!

fourteen // came across this sweet cookbook the other day and I thought to myself, "this is a really cool way to start building a legacy for the generations to come!"

fifteen // forever a fan of Artifact Uprising. Lane and I had our wedding photos made into a desk calendar for him and the quality is just stunning.

 

All the love fear won't give you.

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You can ask any one of my dance teachers from childhood and they will tell you it is a pure miracle that I make a living as a public speaker.

Really and truly, this career should not be a thing.

The thing to know about me is that I quit competitive dancing when I was sixteen years old because of raging anxiety every time I went to step onto that stage. I had always been a nervous kid, always getting the jitters before a performance, but this was something different. This was a real fear. This was can't-catch-my-breath, panic-attack fear. And it didn't just happen once. It happened over and over again until I couldn't keep track anymore.

The girls on my dance teams were saints. They would talk me off the edge. They would remind me to have fun. I was a part of a team and so I knew I had to perform but when the chance came to quit at the end of the year, I leaped at it.

I told myself: I want to be behind the scenes. I don't want to perform anymore. I dislike the spotlight. I won't go back. 

This was my fear talking. Apart from childhood (thinking I might be the next Shirley Temple), I've never been one to want to shine the brightest. I simply like doing good work. I believe in ambition. I am a perfectionist at heart, recovering daily. But here is what I had to stop allowing: I had to stop allowing fear the courtesy of writing me a story that wasn't true.

 

2.

My first time back on a stage was a Christmas program. I heard someone do a spoken word poem and I thought, "I have that in me." I proposed the idea to my pastor, thinking he would assign someone the role. But he asked me to do it. More specifically, he told me I would do it and didn't give me a chance to back down.

I took to the stage with my little poem and it was like waves of peace crashing over and over me. I still had every bit of nerves leading up to it. I still wanted to cry (and likely did), but we all have one small step to take towards a better story.

 

3.

Fear isn't one thing. Fear is a bunch of little things all stacked up to look seemingly powerful. And, as much as I hate to give fear the credit, it is powerful. It stops you from moving forward. It makes you act smaller. It keeps you from being here now. Fear is the thing that says, "Don't go tonight. You don't belong there." Fear is the whisper that says, "You? People don't like you."

Fear is a voice I easily become immune to, not even realizing it is there and talking to me. It says right in the bible that God didn't give me a spirit of fear and yet I take it with me on most mornings, the way you take your jacket for that October air.

I don't lie or tell half-truths in this space. To do that would be to tell you that I never listen to the fear. That I never let the fear give me a name that isn't my own. Fear has given me medicine and fear has given me heartache. Fear has convinced me I am someone else too many times to count.

 

4.

It's doing the thing that makes you want to throw up. As ineloquent as that advice is, that's where you need to start most days. Whether that's saying "yes" when you would rather say no. Whether that's going on the Tinder date. Maybe it's clicking "publish" or maybe it's finally sending that text. If you want to vomit when you think about the action, then there's usually a mission there.

I wish you and I could dismantle fear in some other way. I wish it was a matter of reading a book about fear and watching all our awful fears trickle away. Fear dissolves through action though.

You get two pairs of eyeglasses in this lifetime. Call them hipster eyeglasses with no real prescription to back them up, but you can put one of two different lenses on. You've got the lens of love and the lens of fear. The two will make you look entirely different.

Love is attractive. It draws people to you. People will want to know what you're drinking and how they can do the same. Love is a party host. It invites everyone in. It says, "There is more room. Everyone scoot down, we've got the room for one more."

Fear is a shell. It dries up the atmosphere. It keeps us all on eggshells. I don't want to say people won't want to be around you if you lead out of fear. That's not a claim I can make after living that way for a long time. But I can tell you this: people notice when you live out of fear as opposed to love. It's easy to catch. The ones who operate out of love want something so different for their fear-driven friends.

 

5.

I remember my friend Dimitri gaining the courage to tell me, a year into our friendship, that when he met me he could see right through me.

He thought to himself, this girl looks cool but I feel like she is hiding behind so much. I wonder what kind of walls she has up around her.

He thought to himself, this girl looks cool but I feel like she is hiding behind so much. I wonder what kind of walls she has up around her.

I was walking into every encounter wearing fear glasses, hoping people would mistake me for love instead. But these are the people you want in your life: people who see through your act and call you up to something better. People who say, "I know who you are under that thick, thick layer of fear. I see you. I know you're coming back to yourself."

 

6.

Maybe I'm your chance encounter for the day. If I am the only one that tells you this today then let it be so, "Fear doesn't fit you.

Of all the good things God gave you, you have to stop double-fisting the thing he never asked you to hold. Fear. It'll take things from you. It'll write stories for you which aren't true.

Love is a bigger story.

I know who you are under that thick, thick layer of fear. I see you. I know you're coming back to yourself."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helping After Hurricane Harvey

Watching the news after Hurricane Harvey hit has been a really difficult experience. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone impacted by the hurricane. To my readers who call Houston and other parts of Texas home, I love you. This community stands with you through thick and thin. 

People are displaced. Homes are ruined. There will be millions of hours of rebuilding in the days to come. The crisis is far from over. It can be hard to figure out how to step out and help after a natural disaster like Harvey. The best thing we can do right now to support people impacted by the hurricane is to donate to credible organizations who are also close to the communities most affected. It's easy to be intimidated by such large organizations. You are left feeling like you don't have much to give but I promise you, every little bit counts.

I encourage you to be safe with your money and use credible organizations. I wish we could wipe all the scammers away but the sad reality is that some people try to profit off of tragedy. When it comes to knowing where my money is going, I use Charity Navigator to do my research before donating. It's a simple site. I've been using it for 6 years now and it was the go-to site for credibility when I worked at one of the world's largest nonprofits.

Want to help meet the needs of individuals impacted by Hurricane Harvey? Here is a list of local and national organizations with good hearts: 

Help a Family

If you are looking to donate to an individual cause related to Hurricane Harvey, check out all the campaigns GoFundMe gathered together in one space.

Give Shelter

If you are someone in the Texas or Louisiana who can offer shelter to people in need, Airbnb has lifted all service fees now through September 25. You have the chance to get or give shelter.

Save the Pets

Houston Humane Society is an accredited charity helping save those pups and other animals after flooding hit the area.

Amazon Wishlists

I read this Bustle article about helping fulfill the Amazon Wishlist created by a law firm in Texas that rallies to meet needs whenever a crisis such as this one happens. Hop onto Amazon and add a few items to your shopping list today.

Hygiene Kits

MAP is working with trusted partners to provide hygiene kits to those in need after Harvey. These kits include soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other essential items to help prevent the spread of disease.

Diapers

As we all know, babies need diapers (and lots of them). Give to the Texas Diaper Bank to help families with little ones.

Undies

In a crisis like this one, we rarely think about underwear. It's a vulnerable need but someone has to take care of it. I'm loving Undies for Everyone and how they spread their mission around Houston.

Cribs + Kiddies

I love and support Save the Children for their work all over the world. I worked for them after college and got to see, firsthand, the impact they make on the lives of children everywhere.

Food Banks

There are a ton of local food banks in and around the most affected areas. We need to stay mindful that areas outside of Houston are recovering too! Corpus Christi Food Bank is one of the many credible nonprofits to support during this time.

Texas Needs More Love Letters

Lindsey Meeker-- a longtime supporter of More Love Letters who became a friend of mine when I visited Tulsa-- is collecting love letters for those devastated by Hurricane Harvey. While we know nothing can take the place of monetary donations at this time, affirmation and tangible support

While we know nothing can take the place of monetary donations at this time, affirmation and tangible support are still critical when it comes to our local communities around the world.

We encourage you to rally friends, family, your college community and write love letters to those impacted by Harvey. You can send the letters to the following address:

Texas Love Letters
c/o Lindsey Meeker
948 S. 91st E. Ave. Tulsa, Ok, 74112
tying you closer than most,
hb.

Don't miss the call.

Callings.

I want to talk about them for a few minutes. We use this word a lot. When I first started going to church, that's what everyone talked about. People spoke about callings like they were waiting on a legitimate phone call from God with specific instructions. As if God were going to mouth into the phone, "Go to the closet and pull out a black shirt. Put it on. Grab your bag. Go outside. Take the A bus to downtown and wait for me there."

Do I think God is mysterious and weighty? Yes. Do I think there are some things we can't know right now? Sure. But I don't think God holds out on people. The God I know doesn't dangle a "calling" in front of your face and taunt, just try to figure this one out! I can't imagine a God who tells us to put our life on pause and just for the calling to show up.

The calling talk exhausted me. It made me feel like maybe I missed the phone call. Like this phantom "calling" everyone talked about was visiting everyone but me. 

And then I learned something pretty valuable. It maybe took me 5 years of working for myself to let it sink in but I think I am grasping it now. My calling isn't some castle in the distance that, if I work hard enough and pray even harder, I will suddenly get to. My calling could very well be a castle but it's not in the distance and it's not just going to appear. I must build it. Brick my brick, I have to build the life I want. I can't just expect it to arrive without the work.

Now some people are going to be real dumb and try to convince you that you need to walk cautiously in everything you do. They will try to fill you with this "don't step on the crack or you'll break your grandma's back" kinds of fear and tell you that IF YOU MESS UP THEN YOUR CALLING ISN'T GOING TO HAPPEN.

Pause the crazy.

Let's talk about Jonah for two seconds. Jonah is that character in the bible we all know from that one time he got swallowed by a whale after trying to run from God. The moral of that story always was: listen to God, don't make him angry, or else a massive Orca is going to come and eat you.

Admittedly, I never grasped a deeper meaning to that story until recently when I read it for the first time as an adult. I honestly didn't even know it was a book in the bible. Jonah has his own book. I mean, the dude there has to be a story bigger here than "man meets whale" if he got his own book. 

What we never talk about in the story of Jonah is how he clearly messed up because he allowed fear to take over. Turns out, it was fear and a little bit of pride. God gave Jonah a clear mission and Jonah didn't really want it to go that way. He had bigger plans. He had different plans. This is me often: God, I want it to look different. Yes, use me. But wait... I have clear guidelines. 

God does not need to subscribe to our guidelines.

God used Jonah anyway. Even though Jonah ran as far from this calling as possible, God picked up right where he left off and had Jonah do the exact thing he wanted him to do before the whale drama. God didn't give up on Jonah. He allowed Jonah to be human and he still picked him for his team.

The story doesn't end when Jonah the human messes up, misses the mark or gets spit up by a whale. This is a story about redemption and it's also a reminder: keep your eyes on God above the calling. 

I don't think we can treat this idea of "calling" as if it were the 4 pm train that only stands still for a minute before it roars off into the distance. Your calling isn't something you step into once. Your calling is something you are constantly stepping into.

You are in the middle of your calling right now. If you are in a bad job, you are in the right place. If you are in the best season of your marriage, you are in the right place. If you are suffering and shaking, you are STILL in the right place. In the bad and the good, your GPS location is not an accident and every space will be a teacher if you allow it to be.

Some stretches of time in your life are going to feel more meaningful than others. Some will herald more celebration than others. The mistake gets made when we belittle our current location in the journey because we just want to be "there" now. I think "there" is really just "here" with more wrinkles in its face. I tell myself, stop waiting to arrive and just be here now. This day counts. This hour. All of it.

Daily vitamins made simple & personal.

Let's be honest: The whole process of vitamins overwhelms me. I know I need to be taking them but which ones? And what brands? Can I just have the Gummies? Why does health feel so hard sometimes?

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When media stops being social. Pt. II

Comparison, as nasty as it is, keeps me from having to look at the real issue. I can become so fixated with comparison that I never think to acknowledge the root of it. Every little thing has a root, a starting place. So I dig for the bigger questions: What am I so afraid of seeing in my own life? What feelings am I trying not to face? 

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When media stops being social. Pt. I

When Instagram stories first popped up on my radar, I thought to myself: I am not getting involved with this. This is just another form of media that will suck away my time and attention span. I am going to resist.
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I resisted for about two months before I was right, up in the front, consuming and producing stories for my Instagram followers. Suddenly, everything became important. Making soup became important and worthy of documenting. Going for walks with my husband became important and worthy of documenting. Little things-- things that used to be simple and all my own-- became packaged and delivered out into the world. My life was ready to be consumed.
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We've seen the good, the negative, and the somewhat weird effects because of that delivery. We've been in public places where people come up to us and classify us as "couple goals." We get the "I love watching your life" comments.  I don't fault these people. We put it out there. As much as we think our actions won't affect people, they do. Somehow, I have thousands of people who watch me cook dinner or go out on a date night. I give them peeks into my life. It's on me.
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But recently, I started to feel tired. I noticed that even though I was creating my own Instagram stories, I went spending just as much time (maybe more) consuming the stories of other people. Rarely, unless it was a food blogger, did I walk away feeling like I retained any of the information. More than that, I was consuming the stories happening in the lives of my friends. I was peeking in throughout the day to see what they were up to, how their work was going, or what funny things they'd discovered about life that hour.
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Instagram stories became a regular habit in my life. I watched them in the morning, sleep still stuck in my eyes. Lane and I would sit up in bed and you could hear the voices of friends and family floating over the railings of our lofted bedroom.
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I found different feelings starting to sprout up inside of me: exhaustion, sadness, and envy. Never joy though. Envy was a big one for me. There would be nights where Lane and I would both be sitting on the couch, watching stories when we should have just been talking to one another, and our moods would suddenly switch. We'd see our friends on the screen, hanging out and laughing with one another. We'd witness hang-outs we never got invited to. Suddenly our nights became the sagas of Why is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
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More feelings came up. Deeper feelings of bitterness or sadness. Insecurities. It's crazy how social media turn us on or off in this way. One minute we are golden and the next we are in a pit of despair because of something that happened on a screen. You start to ask yourself questions: What is wrong with me? Do they not like us? You question the things you post online: Am I being inclusive? Am I only posting this to let people know I am doing it? Am I purposefully hoping this story will leave someone else feeling left out?
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It's a nasty cycle. More and more, we are beginning to have honest conversations about social media and how it is transforming our lives. We are reciting the statistics back and forth to one another. There has been a rise in anxiety and depression in the last few years, thanks to social media.
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My friends and I were talking about this other day while we grabbed a coffee. My friend Liz said something that I believe is crucial: we are in control. No one is forcing us to consume social media. It's on us if we are allowing the snapshots of other people's lives to make us insecure, bitter, resentful or jealous. At the end of the day, we are responsible for how much we consume and if we keep consuming it after it makes us feel nasty inside.
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So a few months ago, I started taking my life back. Little by little. Piece by piece. It began with Instagram stories.
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And let me tell you, something in me shifted. Something changed and it was beautiful.
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TO BE CONTINUED >>>

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Cultivate by Lara Casey- a review.

In its most basic synopsis, Cultivate is a book about embracing imperfect, grace-filled progress to grow a life of joy. It's about silencing the inner critic, the voice in your brain that rattles on with grand gestures of procrastination, comparison, and worries so something better could grow.

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How to be steadfast.

I think faith is like a muscle. We have to train it. We have to push it. We have to build it. As I train in the gym, I realize that I can only take on more weight when I've learned how to properly handle the weight in front of me. I think faith is the same way. You dig. You pray. You experience something. Your faith grows. More comes. More struggle. More hard stuff. And, as you stay in the fight, your capacity grows as well. 

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Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.

If you want to grow, you've got to get low to the ground. Get in the dirt and start to dig. We constantly want to be getting bigger and more expansive with our lives, and our profiles, and our followings but what if the world is sending us the wrong message? What if the key to true growth is the willingness to get down on your knees and into the dirt, the mess of life? 

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Honesty Hour Vol. 2: What do you think about weddings?

Our first Honesty Hour was a massive success! I am so excited to be striking up these conversations throughout the month!

I found myself reading this TIME article the other day on the problem with weddings. A little bit of an intense approach, the writer speaks up about why she hates weddings:

"There’s the very good argument that weddings are tradition. But did our great, great, great grandmothers register at Crate & Barrel? Did they hire make-up artists and spend thousands on cakes? Probably not. And yes, everything evolves. But I’m thinking this evolution has gone too far and, in the end, hurts us."

Weddings in the last 10 years, since the rise of Pinterest, have gotten increasingly more extravagant. However, I've also seen a lot of friends forgo the traditions and stick to a small and holy ceremony. Mind you, I did a lot of the things the writer referenced in this piece. I had a registry at Crate & Barrel and Target. I had a make-up artist. We honeymooned right after the big day. We chose to forgo the cake to do a milk & cookies bar. Our guest count was 220 people. When it came to finances, some money came from my parents and some came out of my own pockets. My mom, on the other hand, was married in the backyard of my dad's home wearing sandals and a purple dress.

There were definitely some times throughout the wedding planning process where I wondered: Why does tradition say we should do this? Can we just skip this part? 

There are some things she wrote in this article that I agreed with:

"Contrary to what romantic comedies would have you believe, a wedding is the starting point, not the finish line. And by obsessing over this one event, we’re putting ourselves behind in the marathon that is a marriage."

At the core of our wedding, Lane and I wanted the day to be about our guests and what God had done in our story. I like to think we went extra lengths to make our people and God the priority: handwritten notes for each guest, seating charts, a worship-filled ceremony. Every wedding is different and that's what I love: you get to make the day your own.

So, readers, let's have Honesty Hour. Chime in and say whatever you're feeling. No wrong answers here: 

What do you think of weddings? Did you have a big wedding or do you dream of one? Married or single, what investments truly matter to you on the wedding day? Regrets? Things you would do over in a heartbeat? 

Be the invitation.

The following post was originally published in my Monday Morning Email Club on June 12, 2017. Enjoy new content and a Monday pep talk every week by joining the list here

This past Saturday marks 6 months of marriage for Lane and I. I think to myself, that's wild... Admittedly, it's been easy so far. I'm not naive to think it will stay that way forever and I am not going to put our relationship out to dry all over the internet but so far, so good.

One of the hardest things to figure out together is community. Cultivating community is weird when you are single and creating community is still weird when you get married. You struggle to keep old friends, you scrounge to make new friends, you figure out in the trials of adulthood who is really standing with you.

Lane and I talk a lot about community. I text older friends, ones with years of marriage under their belts, and I ask them: how do you figure it out? How do you make friends at this age?

I think there should be a book about forging good community because it feels like the manual runs out when you graduate from college and move to a new city. Suddenly it is harder to make friends.

As a single person, it seemed like the most important quest for me was to find someone to be romantic with. It was always at the top of my list until one summer, two years ago, when I got my heart broken. A romance was no longer the priority and what I did in that month to follow was maybe the healthiest thing I did throughout my whole entire life: I built community. I built community through action. Through accepting invitations and saying yes when I wanted to say no.

The thing about community is that it isn't instant. Social media wants you to believe that one party will mend your little heart and fill in the hole that aches for meaningful interactions. But no, you are going to have to do more work than that. It is work to show up to the places where you meet other people. And it is work to open up your heart after you closed up shop for a little while.

For me, it is the perpetual worry that everyone in my life is hanging out without me. It sucks away my joy. It dictates my emotions. My mom doesn't get it because my mom didn't grow up into the world where every last action was eloquently recorded for the world to watch and witness from behind a screen. I want the invitations. Even if I cannot attend, and even if these are the not the people I need to be surrounded by, I still want the invite. I think we all are driven by the same things: we want to be seen, we want to be known, and we want to be understood. 

One of my older friends tells me I need to be the invitation. She tells me that if I am constantly worried about not getting an invitation from people in our neighborhood to hang or clink glasses or celebrate a birthday then I should put my big girl pants on and just be the invitation. 

In practical terms, she's telling to invite people in. Kill the FOMO with a fancy invite and some fun, unexpected occasion. Invite people to the table. You can literally do just that and invite people to a big, round table to talk or you can make your own variation of that. You can create an event. You can host a movie night. You don't have to worry about everyone in the room knowing one another. Just say one big prayer over the whole shindig: that hearts would meet, that prayers would be answered, phone numbers would be swamped, and the community would grow, because and in spite of you.

The age of idleness.

I’m fearful sometimes. I don’t want to give fear a big role in this story but I am scared sometimes of who we are becoming when we focus so much on watching other people live their lives. We have our own lives to live but we would rather be spectators. Assuming the role of a spectator is easier than going out and living. Watching and interpreting from behind a screen is easier than reaching out to have the hard conversation.

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29 life rules.

I found this magazine article yesterday and it really inspired me. Life rules. It's a pretty powerful statement to set rules for yourself to live by. I used to create rules for myself all the time but they were rigid and boring. They were rules I placed on myself because I thought maybe I needed to be contained or kept in line. Rulebooks that don't give you any room for growth or mistakes are dumb. I like these rules much better.

Today I am turning 29. It's a year I have honestly waited my whole life to get to and I am not sure why. I've just always loved the idea of being 29 and so I decided today would be the perfect day to write a new rulebook, create some new life rules. 

  1. The leftover fear of "what if" should always be bigger than the fear of failure. Go out there and try new things even if it scares you half to death.
  2. Celebrate other people as they go after what makes them feel alive. No room for jealousy at this point, champion people and help them win.
  3. Never say no to taco dates. Tacos and friends are always most important than whatever is on your to-do list.
  4. Boundaries are important. People have told you that for years and you've rarely believed them. But now you see it. Spend this next year establishing better boundaries, preserving your heart, and knowing when you need to step away.
  5. Prayer. Lots of it. In every situation. Don't ever belittle that thing and don't ever misuse the concept by telling someone you are praying when you aren't. Get down on the carpet and keep getting down into the posture of prayer, even when you feel like nothing is moving.
  6. Remain teachable. The older you get, the less you actually know. Allow someone to teach you instead of being a know-it-all. Stay humble in learning.
  7. Keep your spaces clean. Chaos squashes your creativity. To keep your brain calm, keep your room clean.
  8. People are flawed and they will mess up. Find more grace in the pockets of your heart. Consume grace regularly, as if it were a vitamin.
  9. Rule borrowed from Anna Quindlen: "You can embrace a life that feels like it belongs to you, not one made up of tiny fragments of the expectations of a society that, frankly, in most of its expectations, is not worthy of you."
  10. Let it breathe. When you feel something, don't keep it bottled up inside of you. Talk to someone you trust. Air it out. Don't let your feelings eat you from the inside out.
  11. About that rule #10: Note the "someone." Avoid the itch to tell anyone and everyone your struggles, problems, hang-ups. Create your people circle and lean hard into them. Less is more, babe.
  12. Wear the romper.
  13. Try your best to send birthday cards in the mail. Writing on someone's Facebook wall is nice but if you know the person, and you have their address, then scoot your butt to the post office and mail them a card. They will be so thankful.
  14. A lesson you learned in your 28th year that will still prove to be valid as you turn 29: if you want to see results you've never seen, be willing to do things you've never done.
  15. Your expectations of people are not reality. Not always. Don't be consumed by how a person does or does not treat you.
  16. Rule borrowed from Lane Sheats: Find joy apart from the need for others' approval. Joy wrapped up in the validation of others isn't really joy at all. It won't last. It won't stand firm when life knocks you down.
  17. Prioritize simplicity and strive for it. Experiences > Stuff.
  18. Keep your 5am hours as much as you possibly can. Cool stuff happens when you are awake and alert before the rest of the world has their morning coffee.
  19. Don't go to Target when you're emotional or feeling bad about your life.
  20. Keep weekly dates with the people you're investing in. Consistency is a surprising rarity in the world today. Seize it with both hands.
  21. Weed your garden at least every month if not twice a month. When I say "weed your garden," I really mean: take time to write out the lies that are currently holding you captive and pull them out from the root. Replace them with little seedlings of truth.
  22. Rule borrowed from Ellen Degeneres: Never follow anyone else’s path, unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path and by all means, you should follow that.
  23. Don't worry about the things that haven't happened. Wait for each moment to have it's own birthday and deal with it then. No use in crying over things that aren't even real.
  24. Give. Be a giver. When you give, there is always more.
  25. Replace gossip with prayer.
  26. Forgive the version of you who didn't know better. Forgive that girl and love her, she was doing the best she could.
  27. Be slow, like snail-pace slow, to judge a pair of shoes you've never tried to walk in.
  28. Put on the damn bikini and go out to the pool, girl. Get yourself a tan.
  29. Hannah- remember, remember, remember: the fullest moments of your life will never be documented or captured for the world to clap at or approve of them. Make room for the full moments that only happen when you are shut off, tucked away, found in a quiet space by God.

Honesty Hour Vol. 1: how do I make my world better?

photo cred.

 

First off, oh. my. goodness...

All I have wanted to do in the last two months is get back to blogging. I've missed this space!

I tried several times to write something while on my book deadline but my brain just wasn't having it. I'm learning to give myself grace in the book writing process.

But I've officially finished draft 1 of the book and I am so stinking excited to be back here with you. I've been brainstorming and coming up with new content and I really cannot wait to grow this blog and strengthen what is already here.

So, in the spirit of that, we are starting a new series! This series is meant to be interactive and a chance for readers like you to connect with one another in the comment section. I find there are a lot of big, scary issues out there (and some light and funny ones, as well) that you guys email me about and ask me to tackle. Truth is, I cannot tackle them alone. I need your help, your experiences, your insight and your advice!

We are officially naming this new series: Honesty Hour.

For those of you who have been around here for a while or a regular reader of the Monday Morning Email, then you know the origins of Honesty Hour. It's a term I came up with on my first date with Lane. I was sick of playing games. I was sick of all the “light get-to-know-you banter” that happens on a first date. I wanted to get right to the point and figure it out: are we in this or not?

I found myself saying out loud to him throughout the date, "This is an honesty hour."

"Honesty hour?" he asked me.

"Yes, honesty hour. In honesty hour you get to say whatever you want."

"Okay," he answered with a nod. "Honesty hour. Let's go."

And so, for the rest of that date, we stayed within honesty hour and it was refreshing and like breath to the parts of me that always feel the need to be polished and insightful. When we said risky things, we could preface with, "After all, this is honesty hour." And there was no judgment or worry sitting between us. It felt really good. It felt really safe. It felt like we were handing one another permission slips: permission to be in process.

So how does an Honesty Hour like this happen on the blog?

Every other week, we will post a new question/topic. Then it's your chance to weigh in and give your feedback. Our hope is that we will learn from one another, inspire each other, and push one another to be stronger. I want to talk about all sorts of stuff: life, relationships, food, TV shows, culture, all of it. Sound good? 

So, without further, ado.... let's have our first Honesty Hour.

Honesty Hour Vol. 1 


How do you make your world a better place?


I had a different topic in mind entirely this afternoon but I've been particularly impacted by the Manchester Bombing news. There are no real answers when it comes to a tragedy like this one and it is hard to stay hopeful as you watch the news some nights. Sometimes it feels like this world is so dark and like, no matter what we do, we cannot possibly make a difference. I want to be strong though, strong and hopeful even in the midst of some scary chaos.

So I want to hear from you guys: what do you do to make your world a better place?

Let's talk concrete actions: do you reach out to friends? Do you write letters? Do you volunteer? If so, where? Do you pray? Do you read certain things? Let's band together and share our best ideas and resources on how to impact our world in a positive way. 

Also, include your name, age, and where you are writing from! It always helps to know where you are in the world. 

I realize no amount of talking can take the pain out of these tragedies but I also don't want to be afraid to use our voices when we feel defeated, tired, or fearful.

Meet me in the comments section below.

A new project, a new chapter.

Dear reader,

It felt simple and appropriate to write this news to you in a letter. That’s how you and I have been communicating all these years. I love knowing I can come to this corner of the Internet and find you here ready for any mess of words I’ve got.

It was October 2014 when this news began to evolve. I’d just turned in the final edits for my first book and I was ready to start book #2. I remember sitting down on the couch in my co-working space at the time. I had my iMac on my lap, triumphantly typing out what I thought would be the first few sentences to this next story. I would learn in the days and weeks ahead that it wasn’t time to write book #2 because I hadn’t yet learned how to live out what I was planning to write about. In that moment, I could tell God wanted me to learn my biggest life lesson yet: less words, more work. Live a good life, don’t just talk about it.

I got a big, fat “not yet” from God when it came to this second book and I wanted to ignore it so badly. I want you to know there is beauty and purpose in the “not yet” moments you encounter with God. Don’t ignore the chance to grow and develop. Soak in the “not yet,” gain all the wisdom you can, and then say, “yes” when the time is right to finally begin.

The months following me putting my pen down were some of the hardest and the best months of my life. I did so many things to build a life I wanted: planted a garden, went on bad Tinder dates, figured out how I like my eggs, broke away from friendships, established new ones, went to therapy, learned to be honest, said “no,” read my bible for more than 5 minutes a day, figured out how to pray, showed up for my neighbors, and discovered what forgiveness feels like. I fought for so many things that I know now to be invaluable: a sense of rootedness, a place on the map to call home, discipline, and relationships. I would say the biggest thing I possess today is a real, honest faith with God, rebuilt from the ground up and finally, completely mine.

After several hard and good years of living this story, writing dozens and dozens of draft pages, I am so thankful to introduce to you my second book, available August 28, 2018, in bookstores across the country:

You Are Here: Lessons in Showing Up for Your Life with Faith Over Fear (working title)

Life can be scary. Adulting is hard. And in the chaos of building a life of your own, it’s all too easy to let fear take over and become the leading character in your story.

I know this because I have struggled with fear my entire life. I’ve given it different roles and I’ve let it reside in my presence under different names. But in the last 3 years, I learned the one choice that makes all the difference between living out of fear and living out of faith: the courage to show up for your life, with the confidence that God will meet you there, day after day.

Our hyper-connected era has led us to believe life should be a highlight reel—where what matters most is perfect beauty, instant success, and ready applause. And yet, nothing about faith, relationships, or character is instant. The life worth living isn’t a highlight reel—it’s made out of small acts of truth and kindness on repeat. This is what gives us roots to belong deeply to God and to each other and to become who we most long to be.

I want to tell you the truth I encountered and how I learned to fight back at fear and step out in faith, and show up for life.

….

I couldn’t be more excited to tell you this news and start this journey with you! We’ve got a long road of writing and editing ahead but I wanted to create a space where you and I could collaborate and commune. I am designing this closed group to be a place to connect with other readers, share stories, and receive news about the book as it makes its way to publication. I’d love for you to join me!

In the next few months, I’ll be continuing to write my heart out. I’ve started a love letter wall in my office space that is in plain sight as I sit with my computer every day and think about these words. I would love for you to write me a letter of encouragement to keep going and keep pushing fear out of the way. I would love to hear your story of kicking out fear and showing up for your life. I will add it to my writing wall and your words will be the words I look at as I try to write the best words in the world to give back to you.

You can mail all letters of encouragement to:

Hannah Brencher

535 Gresham Avenue.

Atlanta, GA.

30316.

Thank you for standing in my corner. Thank you for cheering for me. Thank you for showing up to this space again and again. It means so much.

Stay golden & keep fighting.

tying you closer than most,

hb.