let's be grateful

So lately, in addition to chanting the Doxology and the Lord's prayer in my head when I feel anxious, I've been trying to turn my thoughts to gratitude rather than pain or fear. It's definitely hard work, our most common thought patterns are the easiest to think and the hardest habits to break. But I need to keep training my brain to focus on the good in my life rather than all the things that might go wrong with it.

Before my yoga class last night, I was laying on my mat and just breathing in and out the things I'm so grateful for. I told myself that I would do this until the instructor started speaking - it was probably 5 minutes. I let myself start small and just see where I went from there. At times, I repeated things and started my list over, but I am determined to make gratitude a common thought.


Here is my list of things I'm grateful for today - in no particular order:
a perfect cup of tea
a new tea cup
finishing a good book
a new grey dress
my family
my mother (happy birthday momma!)
my coworkers
saying "i love you"
the fact that I have things to look forward to - tonight, tomorrow, the next day, next week
my job
san diego december
cute yoga pants that make me feel strong
kind people
good drivers
trader joes
Christmas music
vegetables for breakfast
new nail polish
dark chocolate

See? If I can practice gratitude toward even the small details of my daily life, I can make it a habit and can be grateful for big things too. Then maybe my mind won't flip to panic so easily and I can work on having a better perspective when things get tough.



remind each other

People need to be encouraged. People need to be reminded of how wonderful they are. People need to be believed in—told that they are brave and smart and capable of accomplishing all the dreams they dream and more. Remind each other of this. [Stacey Jean Speer]


This Will Pass

Breathe. You're going to be okay. 
Breathe and remember that you've been in this place before. 
You've been this uncomfortable and anxious and scared, and you've survived. 
Breathe and know that you can survive this too. 
These feelings can't break  you. 
They're painful and debilitating, but you can sit with them and eventually they will pass. 
Maybe not immediately, but sometime soon, they are going to fade and when they do, you'll look back at this moment and laugh for having doubted your resilience. 
I know it feels unbearable right now, but keep breathing, again and again. 
This will pass. I promise it will pass. 
[Daniell Koepke]

Laura Simms | Create as Folk


Dancing Warriors

Encouraging words from a dear friend...

Sweet pea, through ups and downs, never forget that life is a learning experience. 
It is for the living - for those who explore and are open to whatever life and God brings them.
Naturally there will be pains, especially for one who feels as fully and deeply as you do.
Lean on God foremost, friends, family and the ways you connect body and soul.
You bring love, friendship, insight, support, and connection to this world and those around you. 
We see it, feel it, cherish it.
Don't resist the pain, but flow with it, adapt, learn, feel.
You should be so proud of how far you've come.

Free Bird by Heather Le Mert

Praying for you this day and this weekend. May we continue to trust God's will in our lives. May we trust His promise of daily bread and learn to take each day as it comes. May we focus on changing our perspective and not our circumstances.

Let's be dancing warriors.



He gave me everything I needed

When I asked God for strength, He gave me challenges to make me stronger.
When I asked God for wisdom, He gave me problems to solve.
When I asked God for courage, He gave me danger to overcome.
When I asked God for favors, He gave me opportunities to work hard.
When I asked God for peace, He showed me how to help others.
When I asked God for love, He gave me difficult people to care for.

God gave me nothing I wanted,
He gave me everything I needed.

[Swami Vivekananda]

Elisabeth Elliot.

Last night in yoga, our instructor read this (not in these exact words) at the beginning of the class and again at the end. I'm not in a place right now where I can deal with or talk about what's happening in my life, but I know that God is in the process of doing great things and is giving me exactly what I need. And it is not what I want, but that's the point, isn't it? I wouldn't choose to put myself through this.

God doesn't give us things just because we want them. I've learned so many times that the things I think I want for myself are never the things God wants for me (no wonder I don't trust my own decisions). But I'm reminding myself (every minute, every day) that God's plans for me are greater than anything I could imagine for myself. So if I have to go through the fire to get there, then I will trust God to bring me out the other side. I've never felt weaker in my life, but what a great opportunity for God's strength to carry me through this.

I pray for patience for you today. We aren't supposed to understand everything right now. Be still and know that He is God.



Elisabeth Elliot on Waiting

Elisabeth Elliot.

Waiting requires patience - a willingness calmly to accept what we have or have not, where we are or where we wish we were, whomever we live or work with. To want what we don't have is impatience, for one thing, and it is to mistrust God. Is He not in complete control of all circumstances, events, and conditions? If some are beyond His control, He is not God. 

A spirit of resistance cannot wait on God. I believe it is this spirit which is the reason for some of our greatest sufferings. Opposing the workings of the Lord in and through our "problems" only exacerbates them. It is here and now that we must win our victories or suffer defeats. Spiritual victories are won in the quiet acceptance of ordinary events, which are God's "bright servants," standing all around us. 

Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy. Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on Him who has all things safely in His hands...Nothing touched [Jesus] without His Father's permission. Nothing touches me without my Father's permission. Can I not then wait patiently? He will show the way.

If I mean to be obedient and submissive to the Lord because He is my Lord, I must not forget that whatever He allows to happen becomes, for me, His will at that moment. Perhaps it is someone else's sinful action, but if God allows it to affect me, He wills it for my learning. The need to wait is, for me, a form of chastening. God has to calm me down, make me shut up and look to Him for the outcome.


Ouf. Can she read my mind? This is part of a chapter in Keep a Quiet Heart called "Waiting." And thank God because this is exactly what I need to hear today. I tend to get inside my head a little too much and build up so much unnecessary anxiety, I have to remind myself to get off that stupid hamster wheel and just sit and rest with God. I realize that anxiety comes in waves, but I need to keep reminding myself that if I stop fighting myself and God, everything will happen when and how it should.

I was in yoga class last night and when the instructor said to establish a focus for the hour and pick a word, guess what word popped into my mind? Patience, darling. Okay, that was two words, but still...PATIENCE. I'm not a patient person, but that's the point. I clearly need to practice. Take a nap, little tired hamster, get off your wheel.

Sing it loud:

Trust and obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.

Twinkle, twinkle, big star.


For the love of Ron Swanson.

I love Ron Swanson. (Buzzfeed)

And this definitive stance on vegetarianism.

And all of Parks and Rec. Everything. (Buzzfeed, again)

100 "Parks And Recreation" GIFs To Celebrate The Show's 100th Episode

Famous brands updated with honest taglines. I laughed out loud. (via Cupcakes & Cashmere)

Fall is the time of reading lists.  My book club is reading The Light Between Oceans this month. (Shauna Niequist)

Tips for saving time...aka plan ahead (via Smart Pretty and Awkward)

I made Em's sesame slaw last week, so yummy.  (Emily Greene Blue)

This post is amazing (Hannah Brencher) - such a good reminder that we shouldn't feel sorry for the space we take up or the emotions we feel or the choices we make. I want to start embracing the madness and sass and emotion that comes with life and appreciate it because it means I'm alive and I'm taking chances. Amen, woman. Amen. ("I feel like you're about to break into song." -Lorelai Gilmore)

I’m not gonna tell you you’re dainty, and fragile, and a flower in the field. I’m not gonna turn you into a delicate line of poetry when you were born with so much feist & zeal & madness inside of you. How dare the world not tell you, right from the start, that you are some kind of warrior. 

You Are Always Stronger Wall Decor


glitter + gold

My office is having a pumpkin-decorating contest, so naturally I went for gold, glitter, and stripes.

Gold acrylic paint, several coats.

White glue, paint brush, orange loose glitter.

Cardboard box for easy clean-up.

Go. To. Town.


Bachelorettes and Recommended Reading

This past weekend was my twin sister's bachelorette party. Talk about the perfect way to spend a weekend - with sisters and good friends in Palm Desert, relaxing, laughing, and catching up. My only complaint was that we only had two days together, but it was so much fun.

Rockin' the tiara like a boss

I love this beautiful girl more than anything and am so excited to stand with her on her big day.

The bride and her 'maids

Now, let's see what's been happening around the blogs lately...


41 Quotes from Runners.  (Thought Catalog)

25 things every woman needs to know (Hannah Brencher)

Leslie Knope's Girl Code - this made me so happy (via Cup of Jo)

Leeana's reminder to be a friend to yourself (Gypsy Ink)

Challenge: "let's be women with eyes that look out" (Darling Magazine)

23 Signs You're an Introvert (via Cupcakes & Cashmere)

Curious cats (Buzzfeed)

One of my biggest pet peeves - your vs. you're (What Should We Call Me)

Take this quiz - I got 32/36. Can you beat it? (via Cup of Jo)

A message from the Broken Heart Committee...we've all been there.  (Hannah Brencher)

The view from my front door

The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.
Numbers 6:24-26


Paleo Banana Carrot Lemon Muffins

Let's make that title a little longer, shall we?

I finally paid attention to what I was making and have an actual recipe for these muffins - I guess I'm growing up. I bought lemon curd at Trader Joe's last weekend and needed something to eat it with, so I decided to try to make muffins. I found a recipe using coconut flour and adjusted it a bit, because I wanted to add carrots like my mom does. We love hiding healthy things in baked goods. But actually, the only sugar in these muffins comes from the banana and the lemon curd. So you can totally eat them for breakfast. And a snack. And dessert.

Not the best picture, but it's better than the one of the half-eaten muffin I could have posted...

Preheat your oven to 400. Using a food processor, mix the following:

2 big carrots, shredded
1 ripe banana
1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
5 eggs
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup almond meal (or use only 1/2 cup coconut flour like the original recipe intended)
1 tablespoon lemon curd
big squeeze of lemon juice (I used a quarter of a big lemon)
1 teaspoon baking soda

I used the shredding attachment on my food processor to do the carrots, then threw everything else in there and mixed it with the normal blade. I suppose you could add vanilla extract, but I didn't have any so I skipped it.

Grease muffin tins with cooking spray or coconut oil (depending on how lazy you're feeling) and fill halfway with batter. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cooked through and a tiny bit golden on the top. I got 15 muffins out of this recipe, but you could fill the tins more and get 12 bigger ones. They don't rise a ton, so mine are small, but that means I get to eat two at a time, so I'll take it.

Bonus points if you spread lemon curd on the muffins like frosting.


quotes for your tuesday

I hope you're having a lovely Tuesday. I recently re-read The Mermaid Chair again and it's just lovely...again. I recommend it. Now I'm in the middle of The Secret Life of Bees (which I haven't read since high school). Sue Monk Kidd is just wonderful; her writing is like a cup of tea - so comforting. Anyway, I hope something you read today sticks with you somehow and brings comfort - that's the whole point, right? I'm a born empathizer, but the flip-side of that means I need empathy more than most people, and reading words from others about emotions or life stages helps remind me that I'm not the only one experiencing them.


Everyone who terrifies you is sixty-five percent water.
And everyone you love is made of stardust, and I know sometimes
you cannot even breathe deeply, and
the night sky is no home, and
you have cried yourself to sleep enough times
that you are down to your last two percent, but
nothing is infinite,
not even loss.
You are made of the sea and the stars, and one day
you are going to find yourself again.  
[Finn Butler]

Little by little, one travels far. 
[JRR Tolkien]

Relax. You will become an adult. 
You will figure out your career. 
You will find someone who loves you. 
You have a whole lifetime; time takes time. 
The only way to fail at life is to abstain. 
[Johanna de Silentio]

For women who are tied to the moon, love alone is not enough. We insist each day wrap it’s knuckles through our heart strings and pull. The lows. The joy. The poetry. We dance at the edge of a cliff, you have fallen off. So it goes. You will climb up again.
You rare girl, once again, you have a body that belongs to no lover, to no father, belongs to no one but you. Wear your sorrow like the lines on your palm. Like a shawl to keep you warm at night. Don’t mourn the love that is lost to you now. It is a book of poems whose meters worked their way into your pulse. Even if it has slipped from your hands, it will stay in your body.
You loved a man who treated you like absinthe, half poison and half god. He tried to sweeten you, to water you down. So you left. And now you have your heart all to yourself again. A heart like a stone cottage. Heart like a lover’s diary. Hope like an ocean.

Solitude is chosen separation for refining your soul. 
Isolation is what you crave when you neglect the first. 
[Wayne Cordeiro]

Have patience with all things – but first with yourself. 
Never confuse your mistakes with your value as a human being. 
You are a perfectly valuable, creative, worthwhile person simply because you exist. 
And no amount of triumphs or tribulations can ever change that. 
[Saint Frances de Sales]

The fact that you're struggling doesn't make you a burden. It doesn't make you unlovable or undesirable or undeserving of care. It doesn't make you too much or too sensitive or too needy. It makes you human. Everyone struggles. Everyone has a difficult time coping, and at times, we all fall apart. During those times, we aren't always easy to be around - and that's okay. No one is easy to be around one hundred percent of the time. Yes, you may sometimes be unpleasant or difficult. And yes, you may sometimes do or say things that make the people around you helpless or sad. But those things aren't all of who you are and they certainly don't discount your worth as a human being. The truth is that you can be struggling and still be loved. You can be difficult and still be cared for. You can be less than perfect, and still be deserving of compassion and kindness. 
[Daniell Koepke]

Yes, of course I realized that the paintings were a series of self-portraits – how could I not? – yet I didn’t control them. They came like eruptions, like geysers. I didn’t know when the diving would stop, what spectrum of the rainbow the water would turn next, where the bottom was or what might happen when the woman reached it. 
[Sue Monk Kidd, The Mermaid Chair]


Guess Who's Painting?

I finally gave in and tried acrylics again. I used them in high school, but I've never really enjoyed painting as much as drawing with charcoal or pastels. I like getting my hands messy when I'm drawing, I feel like I'm more connected with what I'm doing - using a brush feels so different. Plus, painting takes planning, and if you know me at all, you know that planning ahead when I'm sketching (or cooking) isn't my favorite thing to do.

I bought a cheap set of acrylics a few weeks ago. My mom suggested trying acrylics and pastels together, so I thought it could be a fun challenge. Because if I didn't like the acrylic underpainting, I could just cover the whole thing in pastels and be done with it.

I decided to try Crouching Woman. I've done this figure so many times - I wanted something I was already comfortable with since the paint was already going to be challenging. I did a quick, rough sketch with charcoal so the proportions and angles would already be laid out. I could have underpainted the whole thing, but I didn't.

I started by laying out my highlights.

Then the shadows and mid-tones (Is that the right term? I have no idea...)

 I know the lighting is bad (my living room is a cave), but here is the finished picture next to a picture of the actual statue:

It's a little rough with the highlights, I didn't blend the colors at all since I don't usually like to with pastels. But for a first try with acrylics, I had a lot of fun.

So of course I wanted to do another one.

Woohoo! I didn't even sketch this one with charcoal, I just started with a flat blue and went to town. I realize that trying to add highlights at the end doesn't really work, but that's okay, I'm learning. I remembered the reason I'm not crazy about acrylics - they dry so quickly, there's really no hope for blending on the paper, but I like how these turned out.

I think I'll add some pastels over the paint next time and see what happens.



On Comfort in Chaos

Confession: I'm a quote-collector. I love reading quotes and songs and prayers from other people because I can always find one to describe how I feel at any given moment - usually more eloquently than I could express it myself. My best friend and I started sharing a document of quotes a long time ago which has now grown a bit out of control. In college, I had post-its all over my desk with quotes I had found - I suppose I'm a bit of an old soul because it took me a while to realize I could keep them electronically instead of sticking them all over creation.

If you read the paragraph I posted yesterday about transitions, or if you know me at all, you already know that I'm in a transition-phase in my life. I thought this would end when I finished my "first year out of college," but alas, here I am and I'm still in transit.

I realize that we never really stop transitioning. There's always somewhere to go and something to learn. I don't ever want to reach a point where I've "arrived" and can't grow any more. Life happens when we're stretched and pushed past our limits and out of our comfort zone. Sure, it's scary, but anything less would be dreadfully boring, and I don't want to live a boring life. I'd rather be uncertain and a little nervous but challenged and surprised at how far I've come when I look back.

This philosophy has been drilled into my head and my heart for as long as I can remember. My dad always reminds me that even when things are hard, I'm doing well because I'm growing. It's become a joke in our family that we're always "doing so well," but I think there's truth in it - it just depends on our perspective. When we're going through challenges and transitions and pain, we can't recoil and hide from it because then we're running away from our potential. I'd rather put on my big girl pants and face whatever is happening so I can learn as much as possible.

Of course, this is much easier said than done. I know myself well enough to be able to admit that yes, I have moments where I want to curl up and hide from the world (don't we all?), but that can't be a permanent state of being. I don't want to be timid. I don't want to stay inside my comfortable bubble and miss out on life at the edge. We all have that natural hesitation when it comes to facing challenges and pain, but pushing through can only make us stronger and I think that's what God wants for us. It's not that He likes watching us struggle, but He knows the rewards are so much greater when we're challenged - He knows our potential and wants us to realize it too. And in all that struggle, we seek Him more fiercely and are able to see His power (2 Corinthians 12:9-10....amen) and love in our lives. So if I have to choose between my comfort zone with lukewarm love or life on the edge-of-who-knows-what with God's love and strength...I'm sure you know which one I'd choose.

So, back to quotes. I looked through my quote document (I should think of a better name for it) this morning and pulled some that jumped out at me and, spoiler alert, they're all about transitions and challenging oneself. Even if you don't feel like you're going through a "phase" like I am, remember that we always have chances to push ourselves, even if they're little ones. But take them! Try something new and see what life is like on the edge.

I'm also including some drawings from earlier this week - I've found that sketching these images has been my form of retreating into safe territory for a little while (introvert alert) before before facing the world again.

Adventure can expose your deepest thoughts about yourself. You might find out that you’re not as brave as you thought you were. Or, perhaps, just the opposite, that you’re much braver than you ever imagined. Or, most likely, that you’re both brave and not brave. And it’s ok. You’re still standing. You might come to realize that you are incredibly hard on yourself. Far harder than necessary. You might come to realize that you always give yourself an out or an excuse and don’t take responsibility for your life and that’s got to change. You might find out that you have no idea how to really be with yourself. You have no idea how you really feel, what you really want. And, you might also find out what has been the greatest desire of your soul all along. What has always been down there and needed some breathing room to bloom. 
[Leeana Tankersley]

My mom gave me the cutest set of conte crayons this weekend - quick sketches look pretty cool in sepia tones

All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow. 
[Leo Tolstoy]

Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.
[Cecil Beaton]

The original sculpture is Danaïd by Rodin

I have come to realize that life is actually so much more about the process. Entering into the process is nearly always a mess. We will never be able to do things perfectly and glamorously all the time. What we’re talking about here is walking into the mess and being gentle with ourselves as we do so. That’s the miracle...It’s about walking with ourselves into imperfection and, in the face of fear, participating in life. It’s called being brave
[Leeana Tankersley]

Her eyes are fixed on the floor, but I am sure they do not see it—her sight seems turned in, gone down into her heart: she is looking at what she can remember, I believe; not at what is really present. [Jane Eyre]