Life Lessons + Books · Uncategorized

Propel Book Club: Unexpected

Hey guys! I am popping in briefly to share about a book club that starts on Monday. In case you’re interested I wanted to make sure you had plenty of time to grab a copy of the book.

Propel Women is hosting an online book club for Christine Caine’s latest book, Unexpected: Leave Fear Behind, Move Forward in Faith, Embrace the Adventure. The title alone is enough of an invitation for me. I don’t know about you, but in this current season, I can use some fear-slaying, adventure-calling wisdom (and probably a kick in the pants too) from Chris Caine, one of my faves.

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The book club will span the course of five weeks, and when you sign up you’ll receive one video each week. No book club would be complete without a community to discuss it with, so you’ll also have the opportunity to connect with others online who are reading the book.

We start this coming Monday, July 23, 2018, and it’s not too late to join us! Visit Propel Women to sign up. The book can be purchased here, and if you have Amazon Prime you could have it in your hands in 2 days!

Will you join me for this book club?

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Life Lessons + Books · Uncategorized

The Art of Neighboring

This summer, my church is doing a sermon series around the theme of being better neighbors. I’m a southern gal with a heart for hospitality so this was pretty cool in my book. While I do enjoy connecting with people, it doesn’t always come easily. Gone are the days of high school and college where friends are easily made over study groups and open door dorm room events. Which leads us to the inevitable question – how do we make community in the working years?

I was honored to be invited to share my story with my church of ways that I neighbor with those in my community. After reflecting on what has worked well for me, I’d like to share some of those ideas here, too.

Be open and vulnerable. No one likes a phony, and most people can tell when you’re not being authentic. And who has time for that? No one! Be yourself. If you don’t mesh with someone, then maybe they aren’t meant to be in your tribe. But if you are true to who you are, when you do meet people you want to do life with, you’ll breathe a lot easier.

Several years ago, I lived under the guise of “I’m fine,” when truthfully I was so broken inside. I remember *finally* breaking down in front of coworkers about a failed relationship I was struggling to get over. You should have seen their stunned faces. One told me that she thought I never had any problems because I was so happy all the time. [insert my stunned emoji face here]. That was the moment I realized that “fine” doesn’t work if I wanted to have deeper level friendships.

Show up. Wash, rinse, repeat. You can’t build a relationship if you’re always missing in action. Make time to be there for the other person. Listen when they’ve had a tough day and be there to celebrate the wins.

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My Birthday Party – 2018

Invite others, and go when you’re invited. I love to invite friends and neighbors to different events. Mostly I prefer one-to-one or small groups, but this year for my birthday I invited more people than usual for a game night. I wanted friends from all areas of my life to come together, instead of just silos here and there. Not everyone could make it, but I was so excited to have neighbors, college friends, friends who also attend my church, etc. all in the same space. It was one of the best birthday celebrations I’ve had. Community truly does add richness to our lives!

Kick perfection to the curb. It helps no one. Most people don’t care, and when we show up with our realness, it allows them to do the same. All the energy being used to put up a facade can be used elsewhere, and you can actually relax!

Love covers a multitude of sins. We are all human and have tough days. Give each other the benefit of the doubt and show grace upon grace upon grace. Forgive when you’ve been wronged, and ask for forgiveness when you’ve hurt someone else.

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This week’s book is Bread and Wine, by Shauna Niequist. If you haven’t read any of Shauna Niequist’s writing, do yourself a favor and start with this one. In Bread and Wine, Niequist shares how hospitality takes shape in her life, which, most often, is around the table. Each poignant story about life and community is paired with one of her favorite recipes for you to try at home. Reading Bread and Wine awakened a desire in me to cook all the things! Generally speaking, I am a decent cook but I tend to prefer the exactness of baking. However the more I read, the more I wanted to experience the joys of trying new recipes around the table with old friends and hopefully new friends too.

What I also appreciate is that the “around the table” approach isn’t exclusive to food. There’s lots of ways to invite others into community if you’re not a master chef. If cooking isn’t your forte, what about a craft and chat group, a game night, or even a book club? You could organize a community service project to get others involved with a great cause. If you’re not ready to extend an invitation, sign up for a Meetup.com group and meet others who have common interests as you. Whatever you choose, make it fit who you are.

Who can you be a neighbor to during this season? Take the risk. Extend the invitation, and watch the magic happen. You’ll be glad you did.

Bookstore Spotlight · Uncategorized

Bookstore Spotlight: Second Story Books

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One of my favorite things to do is explore the city, and what better pastime than to explore new-to-me bookstores.

I know, I know, we are living in the digital age where we have one-click ordering online, e-readers, etc. But I’m an old-fashioned girl. I love the smell and feel of an actual book in my hands. Turning the pages, and sometimes reading ahead.

There’s nothing like it.

I love meandering through the aisles of a bookstore, seeing all the spines of best sellers, bargains, and more. Seeing which titles and colors catch my eye, or where the books by my favorite author are. There’s nothing like a lazy day spent at the bookstore with no particular book in mind, just taking it all in.

So in addition to reflections and book recommendations, this blog will also spotlight brick and mortar bookstores in the city.*

First up is Second Story Books!

Located in Dupont Circle Washington, DC, this is a unique bookstore that specializes in Antiquarian books. If you are like me and feel the urge to google it, I saved you the trip – they have tons of unique, rare books. I loved seeing the books with special bindings, books that are first edition copies signed by the author. WOW!

My favorite thing about Second Story Books is the quotes painted on the walls. If you follow me on IG, maybe you saw my photos last week! Sadly I forgot to save them..which means you’ll have to visit for yourself!

Second Story Books has discount sidewalk sales as well as special events, so be sure to keep them on your radar. They also sell CDs and DVDs. Visit their website for Consignment opportunities. Heads up, while this location is friendly for meandering, there’s no real sit down environment, so don’t go with that expectation, unless they have a special event.

Stay tuned for more Books Around Town!

*I do not receive anything from the bookstores; I am just sharing my personal reflections as I visit them.

Life Lessons + Books · Uncategorized

Hot Fun in the Summertime

It’s officially summer! YES! Bring on the bathing suits, sunscreen, and fun summer reads!

For my family, summer signals only one thing – that it is time for our annual family vacay. The planning started several months ago, and I admit I slowly started packing in May. One day away and we are all beyond excited! One week of unplugged adventure with my loved ones. My hand is raised 🙋🏾‍♀️ Calgon, take me away!

You might be wondering what books made the cut for the journey. This book-aholic always has a tough time narrowing it down. I usually take multiple books and read something based on how I feel. Sometimes I tote all the books and don’t touch them.

Friends, I have seen the light.

That’s wasted luggage real estate.

I finally decided to give myself a limit.

One fun read.

Nothing too heavy, but something that will give me an ab workout from laughter. Something perfect for the beach that I can stop and start as needed to go play.

I’ve decided to take Twenties Girl by Sophia Kinsella. I’ve read a few of her books and I am ready for the laughter! One book. That’s it.

Plus my Essence mags – the ones with Chadwick Boseman and Mike B Jordan on the covers. Because #WakandaForever Swoon!

This week’s book choice is summer approved. The Undomestic Goddess, by Sophia Kinsella, is the perfect beach read. I was first introduced to Sophia Kinsella through a friend who gave me her copy of Remember Me? Kinsella’s books are hilarious, with great leading ladies who are navigating this crazy thing called life. The Undomestic Goddess is no different.

Follow Samantha Sweeting on a journey of self-discovery as she faces a harsh reality after making a huge mistake at work. Afraid to go back and face the disaster, she inadvertently signs up to be household help. The only problem? She hasn’t the slightest idea how to do any housework. Has she truly kissed her chance for partnership goodbye, or will she face the music and find a new path? I guess you’ll have to read it and find out 😉

What are your plans for the summer? What fun reads are on your list?

Life Lessons + Books · Uncategorized

Belonging

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Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting – over and over announcing your place in the family of things. – Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

In April I went on retreat with some of the girls from my small group. In a challenging season, I was eager desperate to get away from the chaos. My pastor always says that “a change in pace plus a change in place equals a change in perspective.” I really needed a new perspective. While excited to travel with the girls, I was anxious. Exactly how much togetherness time would there be? This introvert needed to know! My friend and small group leader both reassured me that there would be plenty of opportunities for alone time. YES!

Y’all, the weekend was amazing. The retreat home where we stayed was beautiful. No detail was overlooked, from the room themes down to the linens. There were designated quiet spaces, a plethora of books inviting us to journey through their pages, and an observatory. Friends, there was even a Narnia closet that led to a rooftop perch looking out onto the property. Space and hospitality matter to me, and from the moment I walked in my spirit was at peace. I am so grateful that over the weekend, I was able to find rest, connect with nature, and bond with the girls.

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On Sunday, we sang songs, read scriptures, and took communion. As my friend passed us the bread she whispered, “The body of Christ, broken for you.” Something about the words she spoke, heard countless times, resonated with me in a new way.

On this day, it really resonated with me that Christ’s body was not just broken.

It was broken for ME, for Stacy.

So that I could walk more closely with him and others.

As I looked around the room, I was struck with a sense of greater belonging. Here with these girls, I was accepted and appreciated for who I was {Click to tweet}. I struggle with rejection, and until that moment I didn’t realize how much I was waiting for a moment of rejection, which never came.

When I first joined the group, I was still healing from some relational wounds. I was hesitant to connect with others, especially in a group setting. But I felt the Lord nudging me to say yes. Ironically, a book study drew me in – Jesus knew that was all it took!

A book started it all, but it led to something greater. Spending time around the table and doing life with this group of girls allowed God to make me vulnerable enough, and pull me close enough to whisper my name and say Stacy, you are accepted. You belong. You are not alone on this journey {Click to tweet}. I went seeking answers to my chaos; instead God gave me an even greater gift.

Friends, I hope this encourages you and that you hear the truth in these words for yourself.

The body of Christ, broken, for you.

Here’s to friendships, retreats, and a deep sense of belonging.

Devotions by Mary Oliver

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This week’s book recommendation is a poetry book called Devotions, by Mary Oliver. This poetry anthology is comprised of poems written by Mary Oliver over the years. I discovered her work several years ago when a dear friend share the poem, “Wild Geese” with me. Even now it is such an encouraging message for me, for all of us. That we belong. We have a place and life is calling out to us to discover more of it.

I discovered Devotions at the retreat house, and it was the perfect read for my weekend away. While I have not completed the entire book of Devotions, I recommend this book to you. I hope the words speak to your heart.

What has helped you on your journey for belonging? Are you still searching? Leave a comment below.

Uncategorized

Seasons Change

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Spring is {finally} here and summer is just around the corner. Insert praise hands emoji here. Read to the end for some exciting news about the blog!

I have missed sharing my stories and reflections with you. I’ve let the chaos and stress of life keep me away. Lately, Jesus is nudging me back to writing. Whispering that I was made to do this. This is my space, and if my voice is silent, there is no replacement. So I am excited to be back with you, sharing my crazy stories and encouraging words with you.

Anyone who knows me irl (in real life) could tell you how much I enjoy stories. Interesting stories just seem to find me, even when I am not looking for them. Sometimes I really wish they wouldn’t LOL!

I get a kick out of telling stories about people I meet and the circumstances we find ourselves in. I try to provide as much detail as possible, so much so that my listeners are almost in the story with me, roaring with laughter by the end of the telling.

I love the power of stories to connect us to each other.

I feel the same way about books. In middle school, I discovered that books can make you laugh, cry, and think. Books make the world come alive. By the time I’ve finished a great book, the characters are friends that I have come to love.

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That look on your face when you just finished a really good book! Or is it just me?

I am always reading at least three books at once, content to find a cozy corner of the world to snuggle up in with a really good read. A bit socially awkward, I admit, I once ignored a room full of people at a party to go explore the bookcase. Thankfully, a more socially adjusted person reminded me to be present with those around me.

But I always feel that pull. Is it clear yet that my love of storytelling knows no bounds?

Just as books can make us feel joy, sadness, and make us think, I am also a firm believer in the ability of books to facilitate healing. That has been my experience over the past few years. Just the right book at just the right time made it’s way into my hands by divine providence. A gift from a friend, Little Library find, or a book that was already in my possession, kept safe for the appropriate time.

Those books were a balm to my open wounds of fear of the unknown, dealing with change/loss, letting go of striving for perfection,…you name it. I remember finishing one book in less than 48 hours. The author’s words and the work of the Holy Spirit within me made it just what I needed.

Now, I find myself dispensing book recommendations the way some doctors dispense pain medications. Bibliotherapy, if you will. As much as I love sharing my stories with others, I enjoy sharing book recommendations just as much.

Which is why I am excited to share that my blog, like the season, is making a shift. For each blog post, I will will share a reflection or story from life paired with a great book recommendation. Each book that I post is one that I have read from cover-to-cover (with the exception of some poetry anthologies). These are books that challenged me to grow and helped me through the hard times. My prayer and heart’s desire and that these books will also bring healing to your hearts, wherever you are on the journey.

Here’s to new seasons, return to writing, and really good books.

Will you join me?

Uncategorized

Overcoming Fear

Faith is Risky Business
Faith is Risky Business

Hi friends!

It feels like ages since I’ve written in this space. How I have missed sharing about life lessons and fun adventures, and I look forward to sharing more in 2018. For now, please join me over at God-Sized Dreams as we continue to read “You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream” by Holley Gerth. My blog today talks about facing fears pertaining to your  dreams (chapter 5, Overcoming Fears). I hope you’ll join me at http://www.godsizeddreams.com. Leave a comment to let me know you stopped by!

Blessings,

Stacy