blogtember 13 | joy alone

Your current relationship status. If dating/married, give us a glimpse of your story! If single, share about this special season.

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I am single. No significant other, no kids.

In some ways, I’m alone. It’s not anything cosmic or melodramatic, just the reality of a new-ish city…seven months in, you’re still easing into friendships and, you know, you’re never around someone you’ve known for more than seven months.

And I am relishing it. Every second. Glorying in it.

Whenever I take stock of this season of my life, I realize how much I love it. I will love it as a season, or I will love it forever.

I’m thinking of how people will process these words, and I feel pretty certain they will come across as whitewashing, or badly disguised sour grapes. But it’s not either.

I absolutely get lonely sometimes, the kind of lonely that goes on a caving expedition in the middle of your chest. But disparate facts can exist at once, and I am also grateful for this time to just be me, alone, to talk to myself in my apartment, to buy symphony tickets on a whim, to choose.

The future is misty to me. Maybe it holds little souls to mend and mold (and perfect baby hands), and wedding rings, and an SUV and a (gulp) mortgage.

Or maybe it will be like this forever. Pinterest doctrine holds otherwise, but God does not promise or mandate marriage. Paul says it in plain language, in his first letter to the Corinthians: “God gives the gift of the single life to some, the gift of the married life to others.”

I’ve gotten in the habit of trusting His gifts.

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blogtember 12 | traditions

Tell us about a favorite tradition. It could be a family tradition or from a holiday, university, you-name-it. What makes it so special?

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There are a few “real” traditions in my life.

Coffee cake on Christmas morning. Crowding into a house by the lake on Christmas Eve. Chinese food and rented movies for New Year’s.

But my favorites are the traditions that develop without anyone noticing. Ones that slip into the fabric on their own, instead of waiting to be woven in. Unengineered traditions, you could call them.

Like having more copies of National Lampoon’s Vacation around the house than any human ever needs, because my dad likes buying my mom reminders of their first date.

Like mom noticing, usually at the last minute, that we’re all wearing sorta nice clothes that sorta coordinate, and corralling us together for a Christmas card picture in July.

Like the hill a short walk from my freshman-year dorm, the one that overlooked most of campus and the crumbly, sparkly buildings downtown. Like sitting there and not reading, just thinking and being home.

I love all the miniature traditions of my changing day-to-day routine. Loved walking down King Street and half-smiling at the hippies stretched out on the sidewalks, and smiling at their dogs and their guitar cases, too. Loved breaking for lunch in my favorite lonely parking lot in Lenoir. Love dusky evening walks down to the train, especially tonight, because the wind whipped almost cold on the almost-first day of fall.

Making traditions is wonderful, but my favorite are the kind that happen to you.

Brave Love Blog

blogtember 11 | inspired

How do you stay inspired? Who inspires you the most?

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I’m inspired, primarily, by words and writing. I find ideas and motivation and the more ephemeral kind of inspiration — that kind of push to keep thinking of your life as something meaningful — in books and poetry and essays and biographies and news.

I am really inspired, millennial as it may sound,  by social media. Seeing what makes people tick — and often not in the grand, sweeping, this-is-my-manifesto-for-life way, but in the simple, everyday sense — helps me understand life and understand people.

I’m inspired by beauty, both natural and the kind of beauty that happens when people crowd together in a city and project themselves onto slopes of homes and awnings and bricks and walls.

And I’m inspired by people who are inspired themselves. People who are passionate about things. People who don’t do things the way they’ve always been done, unless that’s the best way to do them (and sometimes it is).

I’m inspired by people who throw themselves into life, caution aside, consequences aside.

blogtember 10 | ten things

List 10 things you love about yourself! Let’s kick that negative self-talk outta here!

Instead of doing what I really want to do — prefacing this with a paragraph about how uncomfortable it is to say you like something about yourself, and how I hope this doesn’t sound arrogant or silly — I’ll just go ahead and jump in.

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I like my independence. If I want to go to a restaurant, and no one’s available to go with me, I’ll eat there by myself. If I want to see something, and no one else is interested, I’ll see it by myself. If I want to live somewhere, I’ll live there by myself. I like the fact that I don’t need a buffer of people to enjoy my surroundings.

I like that I read and type fast. I can gulp down words quickly, and burn them into a keyboard quickly, too. Both convenient skills when you can’t get enough of them.

Similar but not the same — I like that I can write. It’s a good thing, because (unless it’s an actual speech and I had the chance to write it out before) I am no good at expressing my thoughts any other way. Writing has opened up a lot of doors for me. I’m grateful for its portability, too. Who can take it from you, when you can take it with you anywhere?

I like that I can be at home anywhere. I really believe that you could dump me anywhere on earth and I could make a home of it. It may not be my ideal (if it’s not a city, it probably won’t be), but I could find something I loved about it, something that made it worth being there. Likewise, offer to take me on a trip just about anywhere and I’m on board. I’m not adventurous at all, I just like places.

I like my work ethic. It really only applies to actual work (I wish I had applied it to school). Actually, if we’re being honest, it applies disproportionately to work I enjoy in some way — but I’m lucky enough to’ve felt that, at least a little, for all but one or two menial jobs. I like that I enjoy working and I like that I’m willing to overdo it a little.

I like my hair. I spent most of my life hating it because it is 100 percent insane and uncontrollable. I finally decided to just embrace the madness, and that’s made my life better.

I like the fact that I’m not afraid to have feelings. And, yes, let me tell you — I have a lot of them. If I’m not feeling some kind of overwhelming emotion, I’m probably asleep. But I think that giving in to those emotions — not allowing them to control me, but allowing myself to really feel — is such a key part of being alive. I have no interest in pretending to be on a cool, even keel.

I like that I am growing. This one varies depending on the season I’m in, but I generally refuse to be stagnant, and I like that. It was hard to think of ten discrete things I like about myself; this one was easier: When it comes to all the things I don’t like about myself, I know I’ll work to change them.

But really, everything good in me is Jesus. Those aren’t empty words. I have tried to develop good in myself independently, but I’ve found that I’m in constant, desperate need of a hand to pull me out of the muck & mire (and the more earth-bound parts of me want so badly to call that muck and mire home). I owe everything to Jesus, who makes me new.

Brave Love Blog

blogtember nine | INFJ life

Let’s talk personality types. Introverted? Extroverted? Unsure-troverted? ;) If you know your Myers-Briggs type, tell us about it! If not, you can take this similar test and share your results.

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I am all INFJ, y’all.

Taking the Myers-Briggs personality test (a few years ago? something like six or seven?) kind of changed my life. Like most people, I found it completely revealing and, honestly, a relief — it helped me come to terms with my own idiosyncrasies and better understand their sources.

I’ll self-indulgently copy/paste the whole description below, but first I want to talk a little about my INFJ personality.

Fundamentally, I am introverted. I need relationships as deeply as anyone does, but I find forming them a hurdle and maintaining them an act of discipline. My narrative is based on what’s flashing and floating through my mind more than it is the people I’m around, and I tend to define myself based on my surroundings.

All that aside, deep relationships are a core part of what I need to survive. I place enormous value on people I feel comfortable around, people who enable me to relax into the moment without fretfully analyzing every word that comes out of my mouth and every motion I make with my hands. Once I find those people, I hold onto them for dear life. Sometimes, maybe I hold on too tightly.

I’m all feelings and intuition and poetry (written by other people — I’m incapable of de-clunking my words). I spend something like 30 minutes on my to-do list every day. I may not always grasp how people operate on the outside, but I think I have a pretty good understanding of how individuals operate on the inside. I am desperate to share my thoughts but, when I do, I feel exposed and raw. I come across better in writing than I do in person, and I’m willing to bet you’ll either like me a whole lot or not like me very much at all. I am stubborn. My temper is by far my biggest flaw. I believe in morality and I believe in progress.

And now I feel very, very self-involved for writing all of that out. Not sure if that’s an INFJ trait or just a human one.

INFJ Description (just the first one from my Google search):

As an INFJ, your primary mode of living is focused internally, where you take things in primarily via intuition. Your secondary mode is external, where you deal with things according to how you feel about them, or how they fit with your personal value system.

INFJs are gentle, caring, complex and highly intuitive individuals. Artistic and creative, they live in a world of hidden meanings and possibilities. Only one percent of the population has an INFJ Personality Type, making it the most rare of all the types.

INFJs place great importance on havings things orderly and systematic in their outer world. They put a lot of energy into identifying the best system for getting things done, and constantly define and re-define the priorities in their lives. On the other hand, INFJs operate within themselves on an intuitive basis which is entirely spontaneous. They know things intuitively, without being able to pinpoint why, and without detailed knowledge of the subject at hand. They are usually right, and they usually know it. Consequently, INFJs put a tremendous amount of faith into their instincts and intuitions. This is something of a conflict between the inner and outer worlds, and may result in the INFJ not being as organized as other Judging types tend to be. Or we may see some signs of disarray in an otherwise orderly tendency, such as a consistently messy desk.

INFJs have uncanny insight into people and situations. They get “feelings” about things and intuitively understand them. As an extreme example, some INFJs report experiences of a psychic nature, such as getting strong feelings about there being a problem with a loved one, and discovering later that they were in a car accident. This is the sort of thing that other types may scorn and scoff at, and the INFJ themself does not really understand their intuition at a level which can be verbalized. Consequently, most INFJs are protective of their inner selves, sharing only what they choose to share when they choose to share it. They are deep, complex individuals, who are quite private and typically difficult to understand. INFJs hold back part of themselves, and can be secretive.

But the INFJ is as genuinely warm as they are complex. INFJs hold a special place in the heart of people who they are close to, who are able to see their special gifts and depth of caring. INFJs are concerned for people’s feelings, and try to be gentle to avoid hurting anyone. They are very sensitive to conflict, and cannot tolerate it very well. Situations which are charged with conflict may drive the normally peaceful INFJ into a state of agitation or charged anger. They may tend to internalize conflict into their bodies, and experience health problems when under a lot of stress.

Because the INFJ has such strong intuitive capabilities, they trust their own instincts above all else. This may result in an INFJ stubborness and tendency to ignore other people’s opinions. They believe that they’re right. On the other hand, INFJ is a perfectionist who doubts that they are living up to their full potential. INFJs are rarely at complete peace with themselves – there’s always something else they should be doing to improve themselves and the world around them. They believe in constant growth, and don’t often take time to revel in their accomplishments. They have strong value systems, and need to live their lives in accordance with what they feel is right. In deference to the Feeling aspect of their personalities, INFJs are in some ways gentle and easy going. Conversely, they have very high expectations of themselves, and frequently of their families. They don’t believe in compromising their ideals.

INFJ is a natural nurturer; patient, devoted and protective. They make loving parents and usually have strong bonds with their offspring. They have high expectations of their children, and push them to be the best that they can be. This can sometimes manifest itself in the INFJ being hard-nosed and stubborn. But generally, children of an INFJ get devoted and sincere parental guidance, combined with deep caring.

In the workplace, the INFJ usually shows up in areas where they can be creative and somewhat independent. They have a natural affinity for art, and many excel in the sciences, where they make use of their intuition. INFJs can also be found in service-oriented professions. They are not good at dealing with minutia or very detailed tasks. The INFJ will either avoid such things, or else go to the other extreme and become enveloped in the details to the extent that they can no longer see the big picture. An INFJ who has gone the route of becoming meticulous about details may be highly critical of other individuals who are not.

The INFJ individual is gifted in ways that other types are not. Life is not necessarily easy for the INFJ, but they are capable of great depth of feeling and personal achievement.

Brave Love Blog

 

blogtember eight | music that moves

Write about music that moves you. Are you a Spotify addict or a Pandora guru? Tell us your favorite artists/stations? 

I listen to Spotify and pretty much nothing else (and continue to shell out $9.99 a month for premium, sigh). There’s literally one song in my iTunes and it’s Shake it Off, because Taylor Swift refuses to put her new music on Spotify right away.

My taste in music is nothing to write home about, but here are a few songs I have on repeat lately.

Bleed Red – Ronnie Dunn

Silver Lining – Kasey Musgraves

She Keeps Me Warm – Mary Lambert

I Lived – OneRepublic

Doxology – Jadon Lavik

Grace  Like Rain – Todd  Agnew

In the Garden/There is None Like You – Watermark

Have Your Way – Andrew Peterson

To Be Alone With You – Sufjan Stevens

Only Alive – Jars of Clay

The Weight of Lies – The Avett Brothers

Brave Love Blog

 

 

blogtember seven | read words

What’s on your current reading list? Or what have you read that you’d recommend? 

I don’t really keep a reading list — I just scoop up handfuls of whatever looks good at the library, or used bookstores, or wherever. But here’re two lists — one of good books I’ve read this year, then some of my all-time favorites. Presented without commentary :)

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this year

1. The Lovely Bones

2. This is How You Lose Her

3. The Casual Vacancy

4. Every Day

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

6. Orange is the New Black

7. Thunderstruck and Other Stories

8. Detroit: An American Autopsy

9. The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion

10. The Joys of Love

 

forever: 

1. A Ring of Endless Light

2. Beach Music

3. Little Women

4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

5. East of Eden

6. Blue Like Jazz

7. The Rosewood Casket

8. The Stand

9. The Thirteenth Tale 

10. The Great Divorce

Brave Love Blog

blogtember six | currently

A “currently…” post. Tell us what you’re loving, hating, reading, eating, etc. If you want to borrow a list, mine is here.

Reading A Ring of Endless Light, for the millionth time, and Enough by Will Davis Jr. In the mornings, I’m reading the She Reads Truth Hosea study and the book of Genesis.

Watching Parks & Rec reruns, mostly. Also a few shameful Teen Mom 2 marathons.

Trying to improve my work ethic, at actual work and in life.

Eating nothing, but preparing to eat a pizza I ordered at 10 p.m. #college except I’m not in college and this isn’t actually acceptable. I forgot to make dinner, y’all!

Pinning stuff for work, mostly, and jewelry and apartment ideas.

Tweeting all day err’day for work. Other than that, about work/education, news back in the mountains, lyrics apropos of nothing (always) and the spider on my ceiling. Her name is Charlotte and she is so scary.

Going to Asheville this weekend.

Loving most everything. Teaching Sunday School. Work. My apartment. Newfound courage. Atlanta, so much.

Discovering the crucial combination of pushing myself and thinking through the consequences beforehand.

Enjoying rare times of relaxation, sweet cool weather, and chocolate-cherry ice cream bars.

Thinking about the co-existing facts that I had a terrible day and life is so good.

Feeling good, overall. Tired. My head still stings a little, which seems bizarre.

Hoping for good news ahead and grace to relax into God’s provision and plan.

Listening to John Piper podcasts and Avett Brothers favorites.

Thanking God for being faithful to the ages…to Noah, to the Israelites, and to me.

 

Brave Love Blog

blogtember five| passion

“I am passionate about ______________.”

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I’m passionate about my job. Once upon a time I would’ve used the word career, but that’s not it. I’m passionate about the task set in front of me, about knuckling down and crossing things off lists and learning a new world of professional priorities and lingo. I am not passionate about grabbing elbows or schmoozing or networking in the hollow sense, but I’ve found that really caring about the job you have will get you farther than any of the above.

I am passionate about place. I love places; I could fall in love with anywhere if I tried hard enough. I want to see as many places, small and large, significant and insignificant, as I possibly can.

I am passionate about children, and I want desperately for children in this country, who will never start life all on an equal footing, to have access to an education truly, vitally capable of leveling the field. To me, that’s the essential promise of the American dream.

I am passionate about the mystery of faith, and I am passionate about Christ, and I don’t care so much about marketing Him to people as I do about immersing myself in Him. I hope that people around me will see the difference.

From She Reads Truth’s This is the Bible study:

We are the aroma of Christ. Not peddlers of a way of life. Not salespeople for a system of beliefs. We are those commissioned by God to transform the very air in which we live, not because of who we are but because of who He is.

And here’s Madeleine L’Engle on the same topic:

We  do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.

Brave Love Blog

blogtember four | trendy

Pick a fashion trend you love and a fashion trend you hate. Win us over!

Confession: I almost skipped this day, because no one needs my expertise (read: lack thereof) on fashion. But, if I went around skipping every post that didn’t immediately appeal to me, that’s not much of a challenge. So with that said…

Lately, I have been loving anything with a tassel on it. That was inspired by these (kinda ubiquitous) Kendra Scott Rayne necklaces:

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And these earrings:

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Howeverrrr both of those options are kinda pricey, so I went with a couple of Charming Charlie’s knockoffs in case I stop liking tassels in three months when the trend dies down. We’ll see what happens!

On the other hand, I do not love the kimono trend:

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I don’t know why but I’m just NOT feeling it. Now I feel mean, though, and more convinced than ever that I’m not a fashion blogger in training.

I’m sure if you have & wear a kimono-thing, you look great :)

Brave Love Blog

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