coffee date

Community Brew Link Up // Community

Words literally cannot express how overjoyed I am about this link up! Many of you linked up with Madison and I for our Coffee Date, and we loved getting to know so many of you, that we decided to take things a level deeper. We have spent a lot of time praying over this link up, and brainstorming what would be the best for us all! We wanted to create a link up that welcomed vulnerability, honesty, and transparency. So Community Brew is all about knowing each other more, and pushing each other to loving the Lord more! The link up will happen once a month, and some months we will have prompts like this one, and others will be open for you to just share where you are and what you are learning!


So grab a button for your page, if you'd like, link up below and we have one more treat for you! This month we have a giveaway sponsored by Sweet Aroma Coffee. This coffee shop offers monthly coffee subscriptions AND a large portion of the proceeds go towards organizations that fight against sex trafficking. Enter below to win some goodies from Sweet Aroma!

We are also opening up this link-up to one co-host each month. This is a great opportunity to gain exposure for your blog and grow in community. If you'd like to be a co-host please click here and look for Community Brew Co-Host.

Let me introduce you to this month's co-host: Holly from Holly's Joy!


"Hi, I'm Holly! First and foremost, I am a Jesus-follower. He has totally transformed my life and I would be completely lost without Him.  I'm also wife to Derek, an absolutely lover of all things DIY, and a private childcare provider by day/entrepreneur by night. Holly's Joy is my creative outlet where I get to share my passion for people and encourage others. From customized invitation designs to motivational prints to organizational tools, each item in my Etsy shop was created with love to inspire and bring you closer to what matters most in life. I spend most of my time over on my blog talking about DIY home projects, organization, and life's adventures as we strive to live a life filled with joy, simplicity, and balance."


Today's prompt is community. Some questions to go along with the prompt, and a passage of scripture-

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
What does community mean to you? 
Why is it hard to pursue community or open up to others? 
What does it look like to "live in community" with other believers and non believers? 
Why is community important to you? 
What does it look like to love your neighbor?

Community is a tough one. All of us are wired for community. We see in Ecclesiastes that two are better than one, the Lord designed community to be enjoyed and pursued. So why is it so hard? Well, I think I could write 17 different posts on this topic because it is so packed full...but for me, community is hard because it is not cut and dry. Friendships, relationships, and community are not all the same...so there is no system or method that can be put into place when you are trying to pursue community...you have to invest. And you cannot just invest a little bit. To really live life in community you have to jump into other people's lives, and messes, and heart aches, and let them jump into yours, and then attempt to navigate murky waters together. Y'all that is scary!

I think the hardest thing about finding community is really pressing into the reality that community is not always pretty. You have to open up, and let others in, and see you for who you really are...and that is really uncomfortable sometimes. BUT, while it is uncomfortable, it is worth it.


It is worth it because true life on life, deep in each other's messes kind of community looks unique. It is counter cultural, and so it draws attention to itself by just being different. This attention then gets to be directed to Jesus. So to me I think that "living in community" should be done with other believers, for the purpose of loving each other well and bringing non believers in. When those that do not know the Lord step into a community that loves each other in the messes of life, they become curious because this kind of community is not common. So praise JESUS, community gives us a chance to make his name known!

I know that since I have been married, pursuing community often just means opening the doors of my home. It means inviting college students in, and not just for one meal, but for people to come into our home, and into our lives on a regular basis. This is a struggle for me. I LOVE hosting people in our home, but often I view it as that..."hosting". I am viewing it as a production. House clean, food ready, dessert, and my hair all curled and looking good...but this is not real life. The Lord has really shown me lately that community happens is the moments when Ben calls from work and asks if a single guy from church can come over for dinner because he is having a rough day (and it means me being okay with that last minute change, even though I haven't showered, cleaned the house, or have a great menu planned out).


I am learning to live in community in real life...not just during the coffee dates, church meetings, small groups, and cook outs...but in the little moments of last minute dinners, drop in guests, meet strangers in our city, and loving people well in the midst of a messy house or less than clean kitchen. Does that make sense? Can anyone else relate? Where are you in your journey to "living in community"?

For all future dates and prompts go here!
community brew link up




Friday Letters + Link Up Survey

Dear Destin, FL, We are coming for you! We have been daydreaming about your white sand and clear water for months now. Even though you are predicted to rain on us every day we will be with you, we promise to still love you... well, only if you agree to give us some sun time for our pasty white skin. But really, we need tans. We are so excited for our first ever official family vacay, and the much needed time away from town! Cannot wait to make many memories with you!

Dear Benjamin Caleb, You have worked tirelessly this week so that you can take off Friday and Monday without guilt...thank you for that. Thanks for being so diligent and such a hard worker. Also, thanks for letting us make a pit stop at Starbucks this morning...you know the way to my heart. Here's to a weekend of delicious food, sleeping in, and turning me into a sand mermaid again. 

Dear Piper the Pup, You are getting bigger, and we squeal (well at least I do) every time we get updated pictures of you. You look like a little stuffed animal, and I am in love with you already. Cannot wait to meet you next week and to bring you to your forever home. 

Dear Husband, (because sometimes he just needs two letters) this week you dropped everything to go take pictures of the sunset and teach me how to do a few new things on our camera. You chased a bird around trying to take his picture, sadly he got annoyed and flew off before you snapped one... You are my favorite. 

Dear Self, Remember your worth is in Jesus Christ. You are his child, and that will never change. Do not look to any man made thing to rank yourself, or make yourself feel good. Chase after Jesus. Do not run after people trying to make them like you and think you are cool. Life is too short to not fully pursue your Savior....Also, pluck your eyebrows, they are terrible. 

Love, 

Rachel

Anyone else out there love letters? I started Friday Letters as mental notes and sweet little letters to Ben...I look forward to them so much!


In other news, Madison and I (mainly Madison hehe) put together a survey for you all to take in regards to the Coffee Date link up! We have loved hosting this time of vulnerability on our blogs, and many of you have expressed the desire to make it more consistent. SO, take a few minutes to fill out this survey and let us hear your thoughts.

We will be giving away a $20 Starbucks card to one lucky person who fills out the survey, so please fill it out even if it is just for a chance to get some free coffee! ;) We would love to get your feedback! 


Check out my sweet sponsor this month, Jenni of Frankly My Dear!

Coffee Date vol. 2

Good Morning, Friends! Happiest of Fridays to you all! I have been looking forward to this day all month. It is time for another coffee date. Last time we had a virtual coffee date in March, it was a rich blessing to my soul. I was not expecting so many people to link up, but the numbers were a sweet testimony to the desire we all have to know ourselves and to be known by others! Amen and Praise the Lord that he has designed us to live life with others; he never intended for us to go at it alone!

So, welcome to the second Coffee Date. This time I have a lovely co-host joining me. Madison of The Wetherills Say I Do has become such a dear friend...like we text every single day...basically all throughout the day. She encourages me in my new design pursuits, and we talk through so much about blogging and friendship with each other. It is so precious! So we are joining forces today to just create space. Space for you to share, space for you to be heard, understood, recognized exactly where you are. We want this to be a time of sharing but a time of encouragement more than anything. My biggest prayer all week is that someone linking up or reading would see, for maybe the first time, that they are not alone...that they would feel seen and understood. So please, reach out to each other and connect! 
Okay, so now onto coffee talk... I have been going through a time of transition, in my job, my friendships, in a whole lot of areas. This has left me feeling very lost or maybe just unable to wrap my mind around what all is happening. As I wrote earlier this week, I have felt the Lord awakening me to so many new things I was unaware of in my heart until recently. I have begun to discover passions and desires I did not know I even had the capability of having. It has been exciting but also terrifying to realize maybe I do not actually know myself or my unique gifts as well as I thought.

I am naturally a doer, I thrive on action and completing tasks. So when I find myself in a place like I am in now, with lots of transitions, and not as much responsibility, I often crumble. I sink into a pity party, and feel sorry for myself that I have nothing to do. I convince myself that I am without purpose, and fall deeper and deeper into this cycle of sadness and pity. 

On Wednesday I spent about an hour an a half tuning into Lara Casey's LaraLive video chat, and wow, was that good for my heart. Lara shared about starting fresh and owning where you are and the place the Lord has you. I was really fascinated because this is basically opposite of what I want to do. When I feel lost, I want to figure out the problem, fix it, and move on. I hardly ever stop to ponder why the Lord has me experiencing the situation...but that is what I should be doing. How am I doing today, what am I believing in, what am I trusting in, where does the Lord have me now, and how can I learn from this place...answering these questions has been so helpful for me to own the season Jesus has me in right now. 

Another thing that has been bouncing around in my mind is the idea of being known by others, or being vulnerable with each other. Why is it important, why do we crave it, why is it scary...all these things have been swimming in my brain, and I am not sure where I have landed yet, but it has been so exciting to discuss this with others. The idea of being vulnerable is what has inspired these coffee dates, I want to identify with others, and I want to know others. I want others to feel identified with and to know with certainty they are not alone. I love this verse and asked Madison to add it to the button for this coffee date, "We have spoken freely to you...our heart is wide open." 2 Corinthians 6:11. This is my goal - to have my heart wide open to you as readers, not to talk about how awesome I am, but so you can see the work of the Lord and how he does great and mighty things in and through his children.

2corinthians611
"Be messy, because it allows others to be messy" - Haley Morgan. I have said it before, and I will say it again. I pray often that no one comes to this online space and leaves thinking I have this awesome perfect life devoid of problems. I want to share my "mess" with you, with wisdom and discernment, in order to allow space for others to see Jesus more clearly and to know him more. 

The goal is Jesus, pushing others to Jesus, pursuing Jesus, making his name known. It is all about him. So in light of that, how are you doing today? How is your heart? What areas in your life could use some light brought to them? What is bringing you joy? Where does the Lord have you right now? How are you owning that place?

It is not too late to start fresh. It is not too late to seek Jesus in whatever place you are in, and to strive to own that circumstance. It is not too late to pursue the lesson the Lord has for you in this situation, and it is not too late to surrender to his grace, authority and will for you. IT IS NOT TOO LATE. Rest in that sweet friend! 

Thanks to every single person linking up today! You all bring me such joy, and this online community blows me away. If you could please grab the button below and include it in your post. Also, comment on at least two other blogger's posts, we want to foster community so encourage another blogger who is opening up! Also use #acoffeedate on Twitter and Instagram so we can all follow each other!! Finally, I would love to pray for you, so please comment how I can be lifting you up in the comment section or shoot me an email at rach.elizabeth.915@gmail.com. I would love to connect with you!



Check out my sweet sponsor this month, Jenni of Frankly My Dear!





Coffee Date


It is no secret that I adore coffee. I love the taste, the coziness of drinking a warm drink with a friend, and I love the trendy coffee shop in our little Mississippi town. It brings genuine joy to my heart to share a cup of coffee with a dear friend as we open up and share our hearts with each other. So think of this as a virtual coffee date. I deeply desire for this blog to be a place of encouragement for everyone who reads, as well as a place for me to share my journey... the good as well as the mess. I never want people to come to Oh Simple Thoughts and think, "Man that girl is so full of herself", or "Geez, she has got it all together"...I want you to see me, the real imperfect, impatient, sinful me. That is my heart behind this post, being real with you as my readers, and tearing down my desire to portray myself as "all put together" on this blog.

So grab some coffee, or tea, or whatever makes you happy and come talk with me. You can grab the button below and link up to your blog. No rules or obligations to link up, just link back to this post and enjoy some sweet encouragement. 
Okay, so If we were getting coffee in real life, I would probably suggest for us to meet up at 929 coffee bar here in Starkville. It is my favorite spot in town, and is walking distance from our house. I would suggest their Americano or Caramel Latte... and then we could go downstairs to a cozy (and insanely large) booth and we could just relax and talk. 

I think the first question that is always asked over coffee is "how are you doing", or "how are things going"...some variation of this question. Can I be really honest? I am terrible at answering this question. Terrible. I tend to answer quickly without giving much thought to my response. I find myself being generic and vague... I am learning that generic and vague do not work for deep and meaningful friendships. So here goes nothing... "How are you doing?"

Well, I am doing pretty well. I was away this past weekend and was able to spend so much time outside. It was glorious. I am finding myself more and more amazed by the Lord's creation. It is just so beautiful and I cannot get enough of it. It has been sweet for the Lord to stir my affection for him through Creation. Honestly, I have felt so distant from the Lord lately, I think it is due to my struggle with "keeping up"... I wrote about this a couple days ago, read about it here -> Joy vs. Shame. I really have struggled to figure out how to serve the Lord and seek him without falling deeply into the trap of guilt and shame. I find myself often weary with the journey rather than filled with joy. Yet, the Lord patiently pursues my heart and draws me to himself. He has been so kind to reassure me of his unconditional love in so many ways lately. He really is good. 
  (Answers like this are so uncomfortable sometimes, admitting that I am without answers or struggling is difficult, especially on my blog, but it is always so sweet to see the Lord work mightily throughout honesty and vulnerability for his glory)

How are you friend? Are you weary? Are you barely stumbling along? Are you filled with joy and rejoicing in the Lord? Are you overwhelmed? I want to connect with each of you, to bear one another's burdens and to encourage one another together. I would love to hear from you in the comments below if you feel comfortable sharing or via email (rach.elizabeth.915@gmail.com) I would love to pray for you, to read your thoughts, to just intercede for you. I think that sharing our stories and journeys can be so glorifying to the Lord... they force us to come face to face with our hearts and the reality of our weakness. When we become aware, truly aware of our inability and weakness, then and only then, are we totally aware of our need for a strong savior God. 

So here are a few other questions I tend to ask my close friends over coffee. Answer if you would like to, maybe this will just get you thinking.

What is the Lord teaching you? 
How is your marriage?
How are you doing in managing your household?
Are you finding yourself joyful in the Lord lately?

On another note...I love music. It stirs my heart for Jesus. Have you heard Sovereign Grace Music's latest album? It is incredible. And this song in particular has brought me a deep peace and joy in the story of the Gospel. I pray you listen to this song and are encouraged by the truth of this song. 

"To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 1:7 


"But exhort one another every day, as long as it's called today, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." Hebrews 3:13

How is your heart today friend? Praying that vulnerability and openness will bring us to our knees in praise before our mighty and perfect Father God!

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Oh Simple Thoughts

Much Love,

Rachel