A few things I learned this winter.

In case you haven't been around these parts for very long, let me explain. One of my favorite writers, Emily P. Freeman, periodically shares a list of things that she has been learning (in the past she has done this monthly, but I think she recently decided to share them seasonally instead). They always include a healthy mix of the serious and the silly, the poignant and the frivolous. You can find her lists and lots of other beautiful things over on her blog.

So, without further ado, here are a few of the things I've learned over the winter.


1. Minimalism is less about what you possess and more about what possesses you. This realization is totally changing the way I think about my stuff. I watched the Minimalism documentary on Netflix and was stunned when they said "you can never get enough of what you don't really want." Um, ouch. What makes this lesson all the more important is The Contentment Challenge and really gaining an understanding of the truth that things will never be able to fill and heal me the way that Jesus and his body do.


2. Taking chances on people is always worth it. A couple months ago, I started looking for a local simulcast of IF: Gathering and found one at a tiny storefront church in Clemson. I signed up immediately, without knowing a single person who attended the church or was attending the gathering. And it was one of the best weekends I've had in a long time. The women who hosted were some of the warmest and most welcoming that I've ever encountered. Since then, C and I have had dinner with one of the hosts and her husband, and another attendee and I are planning on getting coffee next week.  Another friend and I had an impromptu lunch date after bumping into each other at the hair salon and just getting to spend the time getting to know her better was such a gift to me.


3. The TV show Lost isn't quite as intimidating as I originally thought it would be. I don't know why I do this, you guys, but I let hype intimidate me. It really is ridiculous, and I know there's a lot I'm probably missing out on that I would really enjoy because of this. C introduced me to Lost last weekend, and we've almost reached the end of the first season. I honestly thought I wouldn't understand it, but so far, it isn't so bad. I just wonder if there will ever come a time when I don't hate every single person on the island with the exception of Jack and Sayid.


4. The best remedy for being overwhelmed by the tension is to do small things with great love. I cannot tell you how much this has healed my heart, you guys. A couple months ago, a friend shared that she, her husband, and their daughter were all battling the same stubborn flu. So I offered to bring over dinner, and I think I ended up being more blessed than they were. It's why I love writing love letters with MLL and picking up the tab when I can and just being more willing and more open with my own brokenness.


5. Confession is a big deal. Lately, my car has looked like a confession booth. As a recovering good girl, I have to admit that confession never used to feel like a big deal. It wasn't as if I had a lengthy rap sheet, after all. But recently, I have started to simply confess my need for Jesus. And the fact that my life is usually plagued by mixed up priorities, and all the times I feed my gifts, my body, my marriage, my identity, my relationships to shame. Just saying it out loud while driving to Target or the post office helps me to feel lighter.


6. As a low energy person, I must take advantage of days when I'm feeling motivated. Speaking of confessing, there were a handful of days over the past month or so that I really felt driven to get things done, but instead, I clicked next episode. Inevitably, I ended up hating myself for this. So I'm really going to try to be intentional about how I steward those days in the future.


7.  Maybe people see me after all, and that's really okay. I am used to being the needed, rather than needy. My preference always leans more towards wanting to help others before I am helped. Perhaps the most simple way to put it is that my most prominent spiritual gifts are hospitality and service. Which is great, except for the fact that it means I struggle alone more often than not. But a couple weeks ago, a friend texted me after seeing C at work and basically said hey, I know that things aren't easy and I know you must be hurting, but I just want you to know that I see you guys and I appreciate you. Cue the ugly crying.


8. The word panic actually comes from the name of the false god Pan. You guys, could Jesus be more kind? Could he have made this any more simple and obvious? All my panic is directly correlated to my tendency to drift towards lesser loves.


What are some things you've learned lately? Let me know in the comments below.

what i learned in 2014

PicMonkey Collage I've never looked forward to New Years quite the way I have this year. And while I have to admit, I'm anxious to turn the page on my calendar, I also believe that reflection and closure are important parts of moving forward. So I'm settling down here long enough to punch out some of the most important things that I've learned: the ones I want to carry with me into 2015 and beyond. This is not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination.

1. In 2014, I learned that I am a highly sensitive personI was browsing my friend Sarah's blog when I found her post on being a highly sensitive person. It was as if she had been camping out in my brain and taking notes. So I did a bit of googling, took a self-test, and was not at all surprised by the results. I am a highly sensitive person. I tend to be easily overwhelmed as it is, but if an environment is particularly busy or requires me to pay attention to numerous things at the same time (i.e. driving in the city) I am much more prone to anxiety and I exhaust much quicker than I normally would. So I have to be conscientious of that parameter and make sure I make an effort to engage in self-care.

2. I'm hungry for adventure.  I am in no way an adrenaline junkie. But I did several things for the first time this year that I never thought I would or could do. I rode roller coasters (the highest in the south east at Six Flags over Georgia), went zip lining, shot a gun, got my hair highlighted, showed up at the lovely Dawn Camp's house for (in)RL, played church softball, and saw one of my favorite musicians. Obviously some of those things are less adrenaline inducing than others, but even the small things left their marks. Sure, I didn't want to open my eyes and see how high off the ground I was, but when I did, all I could see were the lights. There were lights for miles.

3. Just do it. Pretty simple. For crying out loud, quit whining and get on the dang roller coaster. It will be awesome (don't tell my husband I said that). Also complex, in that I learned that it is okay to reach for something, to dream, to try a lot of things without being afraid of rejection or failure -- because I will fail, probably over and over again along the way. But I will also kick some ass and figure out what it is in this world that makes my heart beat fast.

4. The Nature Noise playlist on Spotify is my jam. In the office, in the shower, in the car, in my ear buds at Starbucks. Hours and hours of rainstorms, jungle calls, and ocean surf. It is so relaxing.

5. 2014 taught me to be more gracious when things go haywire. Because I know what its like when the computer system at the office is down and when people are late and the whole schedule is thrown out the window and what its like to deal with frustrated people. So by asking how are you on the phone or by telling my hairdresser to take her time, I can actively expand the margins and create space for myself and the people around me to breathe easier.

6. I feel called to some kind of leadership. Vague, I know, but I don't have a radically clear picture of what it looks like right now. Back when I was writing the identity series, I was intentional about including reflection questions that could spark conversation centered around our stories and who we are in Christ -- and I noticed that my breath caught in my chest when I considered the idea of doing a study like that with other women in my home. I got excited by the prospect of creating an environment where honesty and authenticity could take center stage. So I decided to invite a handful of women from my church to my house in January to explore what this might grow into.

7. Home is my element. I love being at home. There was a time in my life where all I wanted to do was go go go, but now all I want to do is stay. I want to cook and clean and decorate and organize and make my home a place to enjoy. I also learned that whenever I use the term "nesting," people automatically think that I'm pregnant. I'm not pregnant.

8. Nothing encourages me like encouraging you. So much, in fact, that I am seriously considering getting a masters degree or some kind of certification in life coaching. I love sitting down and talking about goals and dreams and passions and callings and gifts and parameters and how to dig deep and make it happen.

9. I heart Grey's. Like, I actually shed tears at the end of season ten, ya'll.

10. Praying for others is much easier when I'm intentional about asking how I can pray. So, friend, how can I pray for you today?

11. To pay attention to how things make me feel, and how I want to feel. Insert shameless plug for Danielle LaPorte here. For example, I prefer the doors in my house to be open because it makes me feel open. Its incredibly simple, I know, but it makes a difference. Also, my core desired feelings are creative, spacious, gratitude, aligned, and authentic. 

12. It is totally okay to enjoy girly things. For the longest time, I have been ashamed to profess my love of makeup, nail polish and hair styling. But over the past few months, I've started watching essiebutton, and I've been thoroughly enjoying diving into the wonderful world of cosmetics.

13. How to redefine "comfort zone." Watch this.

14. I can write a book. I self-published (very informally) an e-book based on my 31 Days series from 2013, and then I wrote strong and hard for 31 days in 2014. I used outlines, and edited, and each came out to be over thirty pages. It was just a matter of actually sitting down to do the work. Related: I learned that there are roughly 250 words on the average a book page.

15. Refusing to compete with the people around me gives everyone space to breathe and freedom to be themselves. Including me, surprisingly enough.

16. Bacon Numbers. Another win for Google. You can actually search for the number of degrees a famous person is separated from Kevin Bacon. Charlie Chaplain's Bacon Number is 2. Let that sink in.

17. #idhtbptbb. Thank you, Nester.

{Linking up with Emily Freeman today.}