The Journey of 1,000 Books

I recently saw a quote that completely rocked me as a writer.

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It was on a pin on Pinterest. (I know–shocker right?) Not gonna lie: Pinterest is one of the places that I frequently find profound encouragement and inspiration amidst the recipes I’ll never use and clothes I cannot afford. I. LOVE. IT. Anyway, this particular pin was a quote cited as being from Virginia Woolf that said, “Read a thousand books and your words will flow like a river.” What a beautiful thought.  It caused me to stop and think, “How much better/deeper/richer would my writing be if I had 1,000 books of inspiration behind it?”

(You can see this pin and other things I find beautiful/challenging/all-around-awesome on my “INSPIRE” board on Pinterest. http://pin.it/TGRfhW2)

Now, granted, this quote was probably meant as a figure of speech–simply suggesting that the more you read, the more writing and communication will come naturally to you or the better it will be, and, frankly, I have no idea if Virginia Woolf ever actually said this, but it challenged me nonetheless.

Y’all, I am an extremely goal-oriented person, and I was completely inspired by this quote, so I am taking it extremely literally. I have officially made for myself a new goal: to read 1,000 books and to document the journey, no matter how long it takes. I will post each book that I read and write a sentence or two of reflection or summary after each one, so you can come along with me in this new journey! Now, I am aware that this goal may take me most of my life to complete. Even reading one book every two weeks, this would take me over 38 years to accomplish, but you know what? I don’t care! I do not care how long it takes, because the fact of the matter is I do not want to ever be satisfied with the way that I write, the way I think or engage with ideas and people, or the way I listen and communicate. I want to be ever-growing, ever-changing, ever-learning, and what better way to start really allowing myself to grow in new ways and opening myself up to new ideas than to dive into as many books as I possibly can?

So come along with me as I navigate this journey of one thousand books, one thousand stories, one thousand new beautiful opportunities to learn… I cannot wait to see how God uses this to challenge me, to stretch me, and to lead me into new depths of knowledge, thought, faith, love, and understanding. You can follow this part of my story on the “Journey of 1,000 Books” tab.

So, dear ones, where do you think I should begin? What books have challenged, changed, stretched, or inspired you lately? What are your favorite stories? Share them in the comments! I’d love to hear what you LOVE to read.

You are so dearly loved and cared for–it’s ridiculous,

B

First Step

There is something about a quiet, grey Sunday afternoon–a stillness–that causes me to pause. It causes me to still my heart and try to remember who I am. And what I’m after. It’s times like these that I feel the most myself–in quiet, contemplative moments.

Today, I realized that I stopped writing almost a year ago. It has been a full nine months, to be exact, since I last published anything I’ve written. Putting that in black and white, staring that actual reality in the face…stirs up a lot of feelings in me: firstly, sadness. I can’t believe it’s been so long since I last put the metaphorical pen to the page, since I last sat down to write and gave it more than a moment of time, attention, and care. This reality also causes me to feel shame. Why have I neglected for so long something that I hold so dear? Why have I allowed it to slip away from me? When I stop creating, I stop operating in the way I have been wired to operate, I stop being most fully myself. And so I feel an anxious curiosity to know why I have seemed to lose myself over these last months. When did I stop writing? When did I stop composing? When did I stop admiring beauty and trying desperately to communicate it in whatever way I could? When…?

And to be honest, I really miss that girl. I miss the girl who was brave enough to share her heart, even if only 5 people would read it. The one who would stay up through the night to finish one post about love or life or adventure. I miss the woman who sought after beauty and vivid experience and then did her absolute best to translate it into clear written (and hopefully beautiful) language. I really miss her.  

There are moments in this season where I feel like I have almost completely lost who I am. Have you ever experienced this? It’s kind of like your heart takes a backseat while your mind and body go into autopilot and just do whatever it takes to get through the day. There are moments of wondering if the passion is gone for good. If that person that you used to be was just naive or an immature manifestation of someone that’s just not practical to be.  

But then there are moments…

Usually briefly-noticed but poignant enough to leave behind a slight stirring in your heart…

Moments where the coffee smell hits your senses just right…

Or the breeze is just cool enough to wake you up all the way down to your fingertips…

Or someone smiles…

Or says thank you…

Maybe you see something beautiful…

Or someONE beautiful…

Or you laugh and are reminded how capable of beauty and light and joy you really are…

And suddenly, for a moment, you realize that you are okay, or at least… that you are capable of being okay. And maybe that’s all you need right now. To remember that you are not a lost cause. That your happiness is not an impossibility. That you are capable of life and health and vivid experience again. 

And maybe your profound un-okay-ness is actually something beautiful, too. Maybe the discomfort that you are feeling now is rooted in your identity–the person you were created to be–screaming to be heard, to be noticed, if by no one else, then at least by you.  

Dear friends, this is where I find myself today–searching, trying to find the creator, the dreamer, the believer in wild and beautiful things that I know I am. That I know I was. That I can be again. I know that girl is not gone. Because she is who I was always meant to be. And I am determined to find her again.

So, consider this blog post my first tiny step towards finding that girl, the one who dreams big, loves hard, and takes risks–even if those risks are as small as sharing a blogpost on Facebook. Here it is. My first step. 

With Love,

B

Musings on the New Year

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Tomorrow is January 1st, the beginning of a New Year.  Today is the day when we all resolve to be better next year, to bring about changes to our lives.  But have you ever made a New Year’s resolution that you did not keep? Have you ever made too many New Year’s resolutions at once? Can you count on one hand the number of resolutions that you have maintained past the month of January? I have definitely been guilty of all of these things.

If you’re anything like me, you absolutely love making goals.  I am the kind of person who, every time New Year’s rolls around, writes a list of approximately thirty things I want to change about myself in the next year.  I want to watch less TV, I’ll exercise every single day, I’ll keep my closet clean and organized, I’ll essentially get my entire life together….

I make my list and feel so inspired, so certain that this time it will be different.  This time I am really going to change.

Unfortunately, I fall into the majority of the population that makes resolutions every single December 31st and subsequently gives up on them by around January 4th.

We have all been guilty of this at some point, right?

So what exactly is going on? Why is it that we find ourselves in this cycle of making goals, breaking them, falling back into bad habits, and starting all over again?

There is something about the concept of a new year beginning that inspires us to want to recreate ourselves.  But maybe that in and of itself is the problem.  We want to recreate ourselves.  We are buying into the lie that if we try hard enough, if we push ourselves far enough, if we just muscle through and don’t quit this time, THEN we will feel like enough.  THEN we will be happy with who we are.  THEN we will feel worthy.

Friends, this way of thinking is a special kind of bondage that disguises itself as a path to freedom.  The lie is that you have to work harder, do more, be better in order to find freedom, in order to find contentment, in order to love yourself and be loved by others.  I am here to tell you that this idea is a bunch of garbage.

Here is the truth: You are already enough, because God calls you HIS. In Isaiah, God says to Israel, His people:

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” 

You. Are. Mine.

Your identity lies securely in God’s hands. What HE says about you is the most true truth, above any other perception of who you are.  Friends, there is no amount of self-improvement strategy that can make you worthy of God’s love.  We have ALL fallen far short of God’s standard for holiness.  On our own, we could never be worthy of Him.  Yet, He CHOSE us to be His own.  That is where your value lies, and your place with God cannot be diminished or improved by your ability, or lack thereof, to keep your New Year’s resolutions.

Please do not misunderstand me.  I still believe in making goals.  I believe in making conscious choices to care for yourself and others better, to seek to love and serve the Lord with your life.  But I think we all need to reexamine where our motivation for these changes comes from.

Are we seeking to change ourselves so that we can be free, so that we can be happy with who we are? OR are we seeking to bring about changes in our life because we are already free, because we KNOW who we are in Christ?

If you want to exercise more, eat healthier, organize your closet, stop swearing, watch less TV…. go for it! Do it. But don’t do it to earn love or acceptance from anyone—not from God, others, or even yourself.  You are enough exactly as you are, right now.  You are worthy in God’s eyes, not because you are perfect or have earned it, but because it has been free given to you—already!

So go ahead. Make your New Year’s resolutions.  Choose to care for yourself and other around you.  But do it out of a place of freedom, knowing that even if you fail, there is nothing to fear.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”

Happy New Year, everyone! May 2016 be a year of freedom.

With Love,

B