Blog move for the New Year!

Hey all!

I have been secretly plotting and preparing a new space for us to meet. You can find this new space at wattswell.com .

As of this post I will not be writing here any longer.

If you already follow this community…no need to worry you will automatically get updates in your wordpress feed.

However, if you are like me and you enjoy getting an email simply click here.  Fill in your email in the right hand column to get updates straight to your inbox.

If you have been getting emails you will no longer and will need to take the step above to keep listening in on the conversation from your inbox.

At the new space, go ahead and check out my list of fabulous reads of 2016.  I’d love for you to comment so we can hear what you loved reading this year.

I am excited to regroup with you guys at my new web home.

Blessings,

Lauren

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Sunday’s (X-mas) Loop

This is the week folks…

The week is the reason for so many houses being adorned with red and green and shimmering white.  Christmas is upon us in America.

It is also the week that the grocery stores are crazy busy.  Stores are jam packed.  And Starbucks employees are quite tired. Kids are set free from classrooms.  And delicious foods are yet to be prepared.

On that note, as we launch into christmas week here are a couple of things that might help to keep you sane—I mean in good spirits and in the festive mood.

  1. Johnnyswim’s sweet Christmas album:
  2. Niki Hardy gives us all a most needed friendly reminder that we don’t have to do it all this season.  Hope her writing helps to lighten the load that may be in your soul.
    You can find her post here
  3. This new original by the talented artists at Seacoast Church:
  4. Though not all celebrate the church season of advent, I find the mere definition of the word “advent” to be powerfully revelatory of the season.
    Advent- the arrival of a notable person, event, or thing.

May we take note this week of the one who has already came and who comes near even when we do not notice.

Blessings as you begin your week.

Candles upon cake

He does not manage us, to-do list us, or bullet-point us. He loves us. Is with us. And believing him feels impossible, until we do, like a miracle, like lukewarm water turning merlot red right there in the cup. And hope sprouts new, because God doesn’t give us a list. He invites us into the story.

-Emily P. Freeman, A Million Little Ways

This one has felt unusual, like a comma connecting two different ideas.  It doesn’t feel monumental nor extravagant.  But it feels like a pause, a gearing up for another long stride.

It is my birthday.  My personal New Year’s day.

This morning I sat cozily under my nap blanket with a piping hot mug fitting just right in my hands.  I read the quote above by my favorite blogger.  It grabbed me and pulled me in to listen closer.

I tend to look back over my life and compartmentalize seasons.  I shove 2-3 years in a cubby, as those years threaten to come bursting out onto the floor.  Labels hang above each square, generalizing its contents.

Its a system that fails me often, as pieces do not always stay in their proper place.

In a moment of silence this morning, with coffee as my witness.  Thankfulness sprang out of my heart and washed over my head and down to my feet.  Not the kind of washing that comes from emotional hormones or warm fuzzies, yet a washing that comes from the Spirit.

And in a brief moment all of my personal history was strung together in one note.  In one sentence. And this here, this day, feels like one glorious small comma leaving room for what is yet to be written.

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Oils blend, smearing into one another, causing art to appeal to the senses.

Last year I wondered and I desired for what was to come.  All I knew was that change was coming. But this? Different job, pursuing another degree, and regaining old ground in a new way.

Yea, you can’t make this stuff up.

I hadn’t a clue. But He had laid the colors. He took his thumb rubbed it across the canvas and smeared the scene into place.

We live one continuous journey.  All our stories worth telling.

What is He creating in your life?  And are you willing to let Him blend the pieces together in His perfect way?

He is

Me?

I am not self made.  I am uniquely designed, one of a kind.

I am who I am.

Moving from glory to glory.  Oh please, Amen! Amen!

I want to smell of Love and for that there is a cost.

I will gladly take the purging by fire.  Bring it on!  For I was built to withstand!

I will emerge even brighter, ever purer.

I am who I am because he is the great I am.

I am not self made, he brought me forth as his.

Breathed life into these working limbs.  Dreams knitted in this beating heart.

I am because he is I AM.

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Sunday’s Loop

Here we are looping back to Monday again! Who’s ready?!

Some of us are returning from a turkey stuffed vacation and others of us are continuing the norm.  Some of us are reassessing goals for the week, and reseting, hoping those goals do not get lost in hustle.

So from my life to yours…here’s a few fun things for your wind down tonight, before your wind up tomorrow.

  • My Sunday evenings are spent shamelessly eagerly awaiting 8p.  I will gladly admit I am a “oncer”. That’s right I dig my “Once upon a time”.  Heroes, villains, redemption, magic, sappy moments that sometimes make me cry. Not to mention Jennifer Morrison is a total bad ass as a savior.  You can find it from the beginning on Netflix.
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photo credits: abc

  • Audiobook (did I mention this grad school girl is loving the wonderful innovation of audiobooks) of this week and next week: Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes.I do not watch Grey’s nor any of her other shows.  But this book has got me hooked.  She is a fresh captivating writer and storyteller.  She reads the audio version and it has had me dying laughing on more than one occasion.  We might not have the same perspectives, but man I am learning a thing or two. Here is a taste through her TED talk:

  • Experiments with old things becoming new and well…just new things.  Its rare moments when I actually put down the work and books and create something out of thin air.
    I experimented for the first time with chalk and charcoal and I am digging the feel of it and how messy my fingers look after.img_2317-copy

This week, may you kick defeat in the teeth as you choose to be a hero, a good guy, a light giver.

May you dream, but may you ‘do’ in order to achieve your dreams.  After all as Shonda says dreamers end up living in other people’s basements.

May you give your self the liberty to experiment with at least one thing this week. A recipe, a dance, an art medium, or a way you spend time with your kids…doesn’t have to be elaborate, just some form of “mixing it up”. Who knows you might enjoy it.

Peace to you!

31 That’s a wrap!

Whew! I took up the challenge to write 31 days.  By no means did I blog each day for those 31 days.  However, I choose to not quit.

This week’s silence has much to do with the unexpected stressors of life. But in a still moment this weekend, I realize that this gives me life.

This space shared with you is a wonderful adventure.

This empty canvas to paint upon is where my heart is free to express.

If there is one thing I have learned through this challenge it is that I am wired to write.  Some days I would sigh looking at the academic paper I knew I had to write before I allowed myself to write in this place.  Why?

Because my heart was yearning to share with you. It was desiring to create something authentic.

We must feed the artist within, otherwise he slumbers and dies with lost potential.  Between the work hours, the obligations, the housework, the meetings, the school work we must fight to keep the artist alive in us.

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There is a message stored up in each of us.  And listening ears are waiting to hear.  Seeing eyes are waiting to gaze upon the beautiful expression.

What is the message you carry?  What is the artful expression about to explode out of you?

May your unique expression stir so violently in you that you cannot ignore it any longer.  May we be brave to let loose the artist within. And may we take the time to encourage others to not look like anyone but who they were meant to be.

May we reflect the image engraved on our hearts.

Day 28-29:: Simply impactful

I said with obligation, “Hey. How’s it going?”

-Hesitation- And no true answer.

“You’re doing alright?” I say, as if to cue him.

He gives me an honest answer. And I sympathize.

I do not feel much like talking.  Honestly I am only an inch above defeated.  I feel discouraged, not bubbly.

As Benjamin is scanning my grocery items he looks up, “Sorry if this sounds weird, but you seem like a cool person.”

What?! Me?! Does he know who he is talking to?  I had a million reasons up until that point I felt incredibly uncool.  In fact I was feeling lonely and burned out.

Totally uncool like I questioned, “what do you mean? Like calm?” People tell me I am calm all the time.  So if he tells me oh yea that is what I meant, then I have permission to go back to my hole of discouraging thinking.

“No. Cool.”

I was speechless.  Permission denied.  He was so sure.

I walked out of the store, after also not so cool-like asking for the stream of coupons he had behind the counter.  I wanted to cry as soon as the night air hit my face.

He made my night and he’ll never know it.

I had no more reason to wallow in woe-is-me’s because his words pulled me up by my bootstraps in the most unusual of ways.

I was deemed cool.  But it was not that which made tears come to my eyes.  It was because I was seen and encouraged in a moment when I felt unseen and discouraged.

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This happened over a few weeks ago, but it has stuck with me.  His words popped my bubble of stinking thinking.  And for that I was very grateful.

May we choose to rethink how we are thinking this week.  And may we challenge other people to do the same by saying “weird sounding” encouraging statements.  May we reach out, going beyond the norm and hug people with our words.

Day 26-27:: Fiery boots

Summer seems to be in a war with fall to gain a few more minutes of glory here in the South.  Being a warm sun loving babe, I do not mind one bit.

Well, except for the fact that I am ready for bonfires and boots.

Bonfires means an excuse to get together with others. For some reason, fire makes conversation easier.  There is not so much focus on what to discuss, but rather all those gathered can focus on being in the moment around the warmth.  Wine. Fire. S’mores. Its common place where we can be at ease.

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And well as for boots, they just make you feel powerful.  Well at least for me.  I feel like I stand taller and more confident.  I am ready to conquer whatever the day may bring.  I have something to offer, and here I go putting it out there for the world to see.

To be more open.  To be more sure.  A fire.  Some boots.

Its funny how we associate things with some of our inner desires.

As you begin this week, may you find the time to be self-aware of what it is you are desiring.  Then with confidence and openness may you pull on your boots to take up the challenge to go after those things you desire, want, or need.

Maybe the first step is simply acknowledging your need or your desire.

May we all find the courage this week to partner with a Good Father who desires to give us good gifts and provide for those things we need.

 

 

Days 23-25:: Prayer from the table

Traveling sometimes makes writing a bigger challenge.  I find that I do more thinking and less writing.  The writing comes after the journey.

The traveling is more about the experience.  But it is good to get sweet small moments to write in the midst of the travels.

The first part of my journey had a few of these small moments.  These were rich moments but simple.  I truly believe we need those moments to refresh our souls from the hustle.

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Here is a prayer I jotted down one morning.  I modified it just for you in case it would be a place in which you may let out a sigh and take a small moment to reflect and refresh.

Maybe you feel like there is not enough to go around.  You are worn and feel like your basket is empty.  Or maybe you are scared, scared you have nothing to give. Possibly your hungry, starving even, for more than just crumbs.

He is not a frugal God. May your heart be pleasantly surprised this weekend.

Bring me up, Lord, to where you are calling.  Put a song in me to sing.  A harmony so sweet, where you and I can meet.

Grant me today my daily bread.  Let me not forget to feed the hungry and those in need. You will supply me for the day for my needs, and the needs of others.  Help me to give away what you have entrusted to me.  Show me the truly hungry. And teach me to give how you gave.  When you gave and all was said and done there was more than enough.

May it still be true of you through me.

Amen

Day 21-22:: The unruly discipline

Black Balsam’s Knob- Pisgah Forest

Did you know that solitude has been considered a spiritual discipline for quite some time now? 

And to think most of us consider solitude to be a priced possession. One minute without the kids at your heels. A whole hour when the phone is not ringing with business. An uninterrupted lunch break. You name it and claim those in between moments. 

I’ve been hiding away for the past few days.  I was uneasy about making this trip alone.  I was torn because I was desiring some companionship.  Not only desiring it but feeling like it may be something I was needing. 

However I was craving adventure, the kind that I semi plan and semi just fall into. Needless to say, much of my time has been spent in solitude.  

I’ve been watching Holy Spirit fill gaps that need filling and leaving space for some breathing room.  

What I’ve found is solitude feeds the discipline of prayer.  Prayer being both listening and speaking. 

Solitude enhances my hearing. And hearing makes me hungry for more. 

It’s hard to fit solitude into our busy fast paced culture. 

I believe there is a gate to solitude that many people never make it in through, even though they set out to. 

At the gate of solitude there are travelers’ packs, weapons, walking sticks, and even some shoes.  At the gate of solitude we are invited to take off our armor and for the brave, our self-sufficiency.  Many turn and walk away clinging to their possessions broken-hearted they could not enter without them. It’s a shedding of pride and defensiveness at the gate. But for those who leave their belongings, accepting the invitation to enter, they themselves are sending out their own invitation.  “Come do what you want to do. Here I am.  Listening. Waiting.”