Tuesday, November 23, 2010

+ baby. +

My sister recently posted these of us. Oh, little babies. I didn't realize how much of the same girl I am. I miss the south, and I miss the simplicity of quietness and observing the world move. I wish I was still three years old, and could get away with speaking barely at all and listening to everything. I have little to say, and I feel consistently forced to say more than what I have in my mind and my mouth.

Love simply, speak softly, believe passionately, give sacrificially, move slowly, watch constantly.

Childhood, you were an invaluable gift to me.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

+ there's a mess inside my head +

I haven't been writing much, lately. All that is about to change, starting with this.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

+ fitting in, not blending in +

Are you fitting in or blending in?

Think about it.

Their partners-of-sorts are sticking out and standing out.

Words are tricky beasts, and they will form your lives whether you are conscious of it or not.

If you are fitting in, you are a piece that has found the puzzle it belongs to. Your identity compliments and completes something greater.

If you are blending in, you are no longer a piece. Your identity is washed in with the rest and you become unvaluable as an individual.

As kids, we paid a high price to fitting in. And it's healthy. But maturity comes when you push one step further - adding value to your personal brand that makes you stand out, and falling one step back - retaining your original self.

Be invaluable, not unvaluable.

Fit, but don't blend.

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If you need some help, you might want some help in determining which is leading you: expectation, or vision.

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Also, I've changed some things around on the blog. Cleaned it up, and added some new tabs at the top. And a little bio!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

+ It's my birthday! +

It's my birthday!

I have so many thoughts and I'm high as a potato on caffeine so this is going to be difficult to bring down to the ground.

First off - infinite thanks, gratitude, appreciation and crazy love for all the incredible people in my life that have been just catapulting their excitement and love to me since before I even woke up today. I literally do not have half the words to communicate how much all of you mean to me and how beyond blessed I am. I have been given more encouragement and more community than I could have ever dreamed of. God is so good. I wish I could give everyone a supermassive hug and take everyone out to dinner, just for being my friend. I hesitate to mention certain people for fear of leaving others out on accident - but there are so many of you who have gotten me through this past year, sharpened me, taught me, motivated me, inspired me, loved me, cried with me, dreamed with me, explored with me, and prayed with me. I am obligated to thank as many of you personally and publically for enriching my life & making it into something SO full I can barely keep up. Here goes!

I'm going to start with Jamie because she just tweeted at me- hah! Jamie, you are one of the most joyful women I know - you work hard, you just ooze out love and care, and your packages and letters have always come to me at the perfect time. You've made my days so much better and I look up to you and hope that I will accomplish just as much as you do & give as generously as you do when I am a wife and mother. Oh, and your emails lighten my heart. Love.

Kelly M., I consider you a sister. I don't know how or why we've stayed as close and I pray every day that I am as good of a friend to you as you are to me. I love you and can't wait to come see you again in Charlotte. You have been a saving grace to me in ways you probably don't know. God used you to bring me back to him and remind me of the type of girl I want to be, right when I needed it. I love watching you fight to love Jesus more and love those around you and your constant desire to do and be better. You are beautiful.

Katie H. - Oh man, I have so many sisters! God gave you to me as a big sister just when I needed one, and your creativity and enthusiasm puts sparkles into all my days! Hahaha. Thank you for being around constantly and letting me pour out my heart to you at any moment. You are insanely talented & your heart is so real. I love it.

Paige - I'm knocking out all the sisters. You are my baby sister and one of the most special people in my life. You already know that you are one of the funniest people alive and your heart is exponentially bigger than your body will ever be. I cannot wait to see what happens with your life. You inspire me with your strength, your love for God, and your wisdom. I wish I could give you the world. You are one of the most beautiful people God has ever made.

Nate - Living life has changed drastically since you entering it and I'm so grateful for it. Thank you for being a good man and working your ass off and bringing me alongside you. Talking with you every day is a gift in and of itself. I believe we have created more jokes than any two people in the history of the world. Blah blah blah. :)

Josh H - Yo Digeratii! Birthday twin! You rock my world by making me laugh uncontrollably nearly every day and I'm stoked to get to know you more over the next year. Happy birthday to you too, today!

Craig - I count you as my brother and one of my closest friends. I love our freak outs, our bff talks, your crazy motivation for life in general and how faithful you are to be there for me and listen to my rants. I am so glad you re-appeared in my life after years of us both getting our crap together (more or less) and I know that somewhere in the next couple years, a mindblowingly awesome trip will happen together. And I am not talking about drugs, I'm talking about Australia or something. Hahaha. Never doubt your worth, how much you are loved, or how much much better you make my life just by being in it. I love you.

Jesse K - Jesse, I love you. I am so thankful that you've been in my life since I was 10 or 11 years old. No matter what city each of us is in at the time, you remind me of all the good parts of home and none of the bad. I admire your mind. I admire your talents. I would do anything for you and I hope you know that, always. A part of my heart is yours and always will be. I miss our Milo adventures and your hugs. Love you forever.

Lauren S - Did you know that you are the picture of unconditional love? You have been an incredible friend for me and stuck it out when I go MIA for weeks at a time. The mail you send me is incredible and I save every single bit of it. I love you so much & hope we get closer this year. There have been two letters sitting on my desk for a month, waiting for the post office hours to align with my not-at-work hours. I love you.

Cheryl - You kick ass. You've added so many laughs to all my days and let me tell you probably the most absurd and unsharable parts of my life. I'm so glad that you exist and that we are on the same level with our craziness. You just make me so happy. And thank you for introducing me to Jen. Hahahaha

J Money & Josh - I AM SO EXCITED FOR 2011. I already have a solid love for both of you and I'm so stoked to see all the awesome things that come from working with you guys. Thank you both for being phenomenal people. Hugs hugs hugs.

Kansas - I feel like I'm a broken record because I just told you this, but you're so solid and I'm so thankful for it. Thanks for being around for me and being a voice uninfluenced by hormones, hahaha. I appreciate every single time you offer to help me or listen to me. I don't take it for granted.

David - I'm sad you're on tour and I don't get to see you for awhile. :( Big hang outs when you get back. Thank you for fighting in my behalf, loving on me, praying for and with me, inspiring me to be the woman I need to be, and cutting through all the bullshit to help me find who God is and what he wants for me. You are blessed, and I'm blessed through you.

To all the Crimson boys: I love and miss you. Saud, you inject so much joy into my life and I'm down with you being my little brother forever. Josh, I admire your heart. Yates, Nick, Dan - hugs to all of you. Come back alive, please. ♥

Christen - GOOD GRIEF I am so glad I met you. You are an incredible woman and I swear everytime I see you, you just soak me in Jesus & super joy. Thank you for your hugs, your hospitality, and your crazy gifts through the Spirit. You've helped heal me from so much and I cannot express how thankful I am for you. Thank you for welcoming me into your life so quickly and so warmly. Love love and more love.

Patrick - Man, I just love how consistently you cheer me up via Twitter and how encouraging you've been to me throughout the last year. You have such a great heart and you've stuck around and made some of my really awful days way better and my good days even greater. Thank you.

Johnny - I've thanked you a hundred times for your encouraging texts that I get all hours of the day and night. You've kept my chin up during some pretty bad days. Thank you for caring so much and for keeping tabs on me.

Kelly Tonsetic - Thank you for having a relationship with me where half the time I've been bawling my eyes out. I know God better because I know you, and your love is contagious. Everytime I see you I am surprised by how beautiful you are & how joy and a clean love just radiates from you. You should be proud of the woman that you are. The man who gets you will not deserve you.

Sandy S. - Woman, I love you. Your hugs make my weeks bearable and you are so faithful to be a crazy caring friend. Thank you for confiding in me, and letting me confide in you. Your on-a-whim prayers rock my world. I love you.

Inky - Crazy girl, you've saved my ass so many times and made my life so much more fun. I wish I was close to you so I could be a better friend - but I'm coming to Nashville in January! And oh, that will be too much fun. Your texts make my day happier & I am so jealous of your energy and love for life. I admire you for how much you've been through. You're resilient, I hope you know that.

Jessica T. - There aren't words to communicate what I want. I have more love and empathy for you than you will ever know. My heart has broken with yours over this past year and I am going to tell you again how proud I am of you for remaining the woman that you are despite everything else life has handed to you. You are selfless; know that, believe that. I have been blessed by you so much and hope to never, ever lose touch. I love you.

Krista L - Ooo I love you. I know I just told you this, but you are transparent in your love and so genuine in everything you say. You are a beautiful woman & God dropping you into my life was a gift. You are so talented and I am so proud of how hard you work. You inspire me. Your entire life is just pretty and sweet. I look up to you. I am excited to see you tonight.

Bria S. & Laura L: I don't know why I just grouped you two together in my head but it's probably because you both have equal amounts of love, talent and joy. You both know what you've been through and I count myself blessed to have seen the insides of your lives, if only for a bit. You are both proof that women are beautiful in their strength and have a capacity for expressing care & support for others even when you are struggling yourselves. I cannot wait to get to know you both better. Thank you for being friends to me. Dammit, words aren't good enough - hugs to both of you and I wish I could take you both out for dessert.

Tyler - I am so proud of you. You have one of the sweetest hearts in the world and it just makes me beyond happy to see how hard you strive to love everyone around you and love God. You're a good son, a good brother and a good friend.

Phil & Julie Shomo - Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being faithful to do what God has called you to do. Your faithfulness helped bring me out of one of the worst seasons of my life, and you saved me from a lot of pain and bitterness. Julie, I cannot thank you enough for the hours you've spent talking with and praying for me. Your wisdom and your love is invaluable and I will never forget you pulling me aside to tell me that you believe in me. You have helped lay a foundation in my heart that I cannot put a price on. Thank you.

To my lovely girls: Jessica, Lydia & Bahareh. Life is a rollercoaster and thank you, thank you, thank you for staying on board through thick and thin. You are some of the most beautiful women I've ever come across in my life and I am so glad I can call you mine and be included in a group of so much heart, passion, talent & beauty. I cannot even imagine what our lives will look like when we are 25, 30, and so on - I am SO excited. I love you.

To my real sister, Courtney, and my real brother, Kevin: We've been through a lot, yeah? Thank you both for being proof that there is love that supercedes all the fights, pain, struggles, disagreements and hardships of life. I love you both more than anyone else on this earth. I don't know how to put this into words too well, but when we are together and laughing over years' worth of inside jokes, I am the happiest woman. I get to see sides of you that no one else sees and I LOVE YOU for that. I love that I can see the heart of both of you apart from all else. Both of you are incredible people. I cannot WAIT to see where all of us go with our lives and I will be here for both of you, no matter what. I'm sorry for all the times I haven't been the sister I should have, and I'm thankful for the unconditional love you've shown me. You guys keep me on my toes. :) I love you. P.S. You guys are both super-pros at giving hugs & expressing insane amounts of joy. You rock. :P

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I will be adding to this throughout the day, but back to work I go!

My life changed last night at midnight because of this, and I can't wait to share with all of you what it means and how this affects me. I have so much to say, but it will have to come later. Love times a thousand.

Friday, November 5, 2010

+ giving, minimalism, & perspective +

It's Friday! I'm ecstatic! It's been such a glorious week. November is coming through on it's promise to be great! This is going to be such an organizational nightmare of a post, I'm sorry.

I have had an unbelievable amount of energy for no understandable reason - I'm attributing it to the fact that whenever I bike or walk anywhere I sing, "the joy of the Lord is my strength" like a crazy person. Been singing that song since I was a baby and there's no reason to stop now!

I'm crazy looking forward to doing a Love Bomb video update this weekend. Exciting stuff is coming up! I'll also be blogging more for the ItStartsWith.Us blog so you'll see me around over there, too.

ALSO. I'm doing a Minimalism + Giving Project for all you bloggers! I already have several bloggers committed & I'm really excited for this!

If you want to participate, make sure you say so in the comments!

By November 20th, we will all be donating 10+ items of clothing to Goodwill or a local charity of your choice. I've been really convicted by the outrageous amount of clothing I don't wear anymore, and all the excess materialism in my life - and I'd love to do this alongside all of you.

Email me a photo of you + your clothes you're donating by November 20th, and I'll blog you as part of the project!

AND. I just spoke with Goodwill International & was showed their little donate calculator, which is sweet. So if you're donating to Goodwill, list out everything you're donating so I can get a grand total from this whole project to share with them!

I have a tiny little post script about minimalism. I'm getting hooked on it, but I'm not sure it's wise. I want stability, I want permanence, & I'm the woman that makes a house a home. All these being the polar opposite of minimalism. (Unless I'm wrong. Do you disagree? Tell me.) However, none of those things are here and now. So I'm leaning towards minimalism for the next couple years. Is it wise? Do you think it will have long-term consequences? Is it regrettable in anyway? To see how intense I'm talking, read Living With 75 Things and Quitting Your Day Job -- Should I just develop a Lauren-version of minimalism, and tackle it for 2011, including my finances too?

If you have 10 minutes, read this post by Max Dubinsky, called "Welcome To The Human Race, It's Very Uncomfortable Here." Get some perspective. I cried.

Monday, November 1, 2010

+ october re-cap +

October was killer. November will be a different kind of killer. A much better one.

Excited for the death of the former and the arrival of the latter.

However, I'm not going to talk about why October sucked. Paige Baker knows all these reasons, and I am excited as hell for a phenomenal month to make up for it. Instead, I'm going to recap some of October's best moments. And damn. I just realized there are a lot.

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Best photos:

[ colin + andrea's engagement shoot ]

[ lyd, theresa, bahareh + myself in chicago ]

[more coming when I get home]

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Best Of Tumblr:

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Best quotations:

A writer writes not because he is educated but because he is driven by the need to communicate. Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be understood. The writer wants to be understood much more than he wants to be respected or praised or even loved. And that perhaps, is what makes him different from others. - Leo Rosten

The praise of the unlettered by those who are highly educated is one of the primary themes of ‘elitist’ literature. But, the importance of the praise given the unsolitary, richly passionate life is that it simultaneously reflects the value of reflective life. - Richard Rodriguez, The Achievement of Desire

Because education seeks to impart past knowledge, when you are trying to create a breakthrough, you have to create new knowledge, and there is no way to teach that. - Peter Thiel

What must you face? What fears haunt you? What failures have marked you? What darkness has consumed you and stolen from you, robbed you, sucked out of your soul the dream God created you to flesh out? Maybe there’s a dream buried deep inside your soul and God is waiting to reconstruct it, to put the bones back together. If he commands you to act and you trust him, you will see all of creation move in concert to accomplish in you what you were created to do. - Katie Holley-ish

We, the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, for so long, with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing. - Mother Teresa

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Best realizations/insights, expressed via my Twitter:

You are a brand. Treat yourself as such. Ground your product, visualize your identity, network your life. Be open to growth.

Your world is what you make it, so make it a world in which you want to live.

Stress is a decision. Decide to not be stressed, because you cannot change what is, and you cannot create time.

We cannot feel what is real when we are asleep.

Withhold your truth until you can speak it in love, lest you embitter what is sweet.

I will never apologize for knowing what I want and what I don't.

Don't ever compare yourself to someone else. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday.

Never let someone else's perception of you keep you from living fully and joyfully. Love always.

Grace is not logical, rational, or fair. And that is why it fixes problems that you cannot.

What incredible people we would be if we talked to God as much as we talked about him.

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Best things on the Internet:

Visual mapping of emotions, via WeFeelFine

Finger-painting with Sound, via YouTube

Gay Sex vs. Straight Sex, via OkCupid

Love Bomb Update, via yours truly

"The Initiated Woman" via Danielle LaPorte

"You just broke your child." A must read. Via Single Dad Laughing

Stats say social media is increasing face-to-face time, via Mashable

"Brainwash", via Seth Godin

TeuxDeux browser + iPhone app to-do list, via TeuxDeux. Changed my life.

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Summary: It was a hard month, but doesn't pruning spawn growth? I learned more about myself in the last 31 days than I have in a long time.

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Crooked mouths, quiet down;
let your fists come undone.
Miscarried love will be reborn.
The war that we're fighting has already been won.