community

Listening Long & Logging the Hours

    

The other night I was sitting next to my husband at church. He had just arrived back in town from a work trip to D.C. and we were both weary and eager to spend time together. Yet, our church had a meeting on this particular week night so we were there sitting quietly trying our best to listen to our pastor share. I will be honest, this was quite the struggle for me. I was sleepy, and having a hard time focusing on the words coming out of his mouth. 

However, there was one moment during the teaching time that these words were said, "We must respect one another enough to listen, and to listen long. We must listen long to look for the areas of unbelief." I quickly whipped out my notepad and jotted these words down. They struck me to the core. 

Often we desire quick community, or at least I often find myself desiring this. The type of community that instantly hits it off, has everything in common, and is totally comfortable opening up and sharing deeply with one another. I don't think it is wrong to desire this, no I really think we should all desire this. However, it is unrealistic to expect this to happen within days, weeks, months or even the first year of a relationship. Listening long takes a long time. It may take 100 conversations over many different meals and events before we really break through to that level we consider to be true community. 

Shauna Niequist is one of my favorite authors, and she recently spoke at a conference and was asked about pursuing community. She began to talk about the topic and address the question and one thing that she said was, "you have to log the hours...". How true this is. Community takes time, and SO MUCH of it. I have seen this to be true within our own church community here where we live. We have been a part of this body of believers for almost 2 years yet still find ourselves longing for a deeper community than we currently have. I often find myself discontent and frustrated that I am not surrounded by deep soul sister that understand everything about me without me even having to explain anything...I often feel as if I am alone and without "my people". 

But, in light of these two talks, one by our pastor and the Q&A with Shauna, I am able to see two things.

One. Community takes effort. It doesn't happen by chance, and it is not something we should wait around for. We must be the ones willing to log the hours and listen long, we must initiate it rather than crying behind closed doors hoping someone else will reach out to you. The pursuit of community is brave, and willing to be rejected, but most of all it is patient. 

Two. Community takes time. Listen long. Log the hours. Long and hours are words that imply more than just a few minutes, and more than just once every now and then. Time, community truly takes time. It is not a quick fix kind of thing that we get simply because we want it. Similar to family, community takes years to truly develop, and it messy and hard to navigate, and beautiful when you are accepted exactly as you are. 

I am blessed with a loving church that is committed to community. We are not there yet, but every member is willing to log the hours and try to listen long. It is a beautiful thing to be a part of a community that is stumbling along somewhat clumsily at times towards a goal that takes so much time and effort. I am reminded that I am not exempt from these things yet should make it my goal to seek others out and to labor to develop truly genuine relationships with them. Laboring long, and logging the hours. 

What are your thoughts on Community?

BEST GIVEAWAY EVER!

I have been counting down the days for this post to go live...I have the most exciting giveaway to date for you all. I am just giddy about it. I am teaming up with

Jenni of Frankly My Dear

, my new kindred spirit that I met in real life last weekend at the Renew Retreat to bring you all something HUGE! We have teamed up with a large group of bloggers to bring you not one but TWO tickets to the Influence Conference 2015. YES! TWO ladies will get tickets for the conference next September, for FREE!!! 

Photo Credit -

Madison Wetherill

I found out about the

Influence Network

through Jenni. Which is why she was the first one I contacted about teaming up with me on this...she introduced me to this amazing community that I want each and every one of you to be a part of. The Network is just incredible. It is full of creative and God fearing women who desire to use their online influence for Jesus and his glory!! Hello?! Count me in. They offer classes, and community groups, and a opportunity to connect and "network" with women just like you. 

I have reaped rich benefits from being a member of the network, and I have purchased my ticket for the conference next year, as has Jenni (we will be roomies!). So not only will you get a free ticket if you win this giveaway, but Jenni and I and several other ladies helping host this giveaway can hug your neck in person in September and pray with you, and maybe even grab a meal together! How amazing would that be?

A big thank you to all the ladies that are helping give these tickets away! You are all so wonderful! I hope everyone will show them some love today as they are all HUGE in making this happen! 

What is the Influence Network?

TWO lucky readers will win a ticket to the 2015 Influence Conference. The conference is a three day event held in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Westin Hotel. You will meet women from all over the country who are seeking to learn the right tools for their passions. There will be workshops, classes, speakers, coffee, & shopping. There will be bloggers, mothers, small business owners, writers, and the list goes on & on. 

Two Places At Once

    //    

What She Saw

    //    

Rivers & Roads

Oaks & Oats

    //    

Amy Cornwell

    //    

Simplicity Relished

She Lives Free

   //    

Elah Tree

    //    

Mandy Living Life

Vallarina Creative

    //    

Camp Patton

    //    

23 and 9 Creative

Wetherills Say I Do

     //    

Oh Simple Thoughts

    //    

Frankly My Dear

You do not have to be a member of the Influence Network to enter or the giveaway OR go to the conference but I can personally attest to the growth I have seen in my life through the network and the relationships I have built through it.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**Please note that this giveaway is in no way sponsored by The Influence Network. 

We are a group of independent women who are joining together to make this conference happen for two of our readers. The two recipients will only receive tickets to the event & are responsible for ALL other expenses, including but not limited to travel, lodging, meals, parking, etc. If for some reason either of the winners cannot attend the conference they will be expected to contact one of the hosts immediately so that another winner can be chosen.

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Community Brew / Vol. 4 / Gratitude

Friends I am so excited about this month's Community Brew topic. Madison and I have so deeply enjoyed getting to know each of you and hosting this link up. It truly is a joy for both of us. I feel as if thanksgiving and gratefulness have been two things the Lord has been teaching me for several months lately and I am eager to share some thoughts with you today. 

First, we want you to meet our co host this month, Martha Kate of Seasons with the Strattons. Love Martha Kate, and fun fact, we both went to the same college and even had a super fun English class together in which we sat by each other and loved every minute of the super boring class...remember that MK? Meet Martha Kate!

Seasons with the Strattons is a lifestyle blog focused on bringing Glory to God while living out the Minor League Baseball lifestyle.  You will find stories from my adventure of being a Minor League wife, recipes, home projects, and faith posts.  Mostly, Seasons with the Strattons is a creative outlet for me to share glimpses of our life and the way God uses it. 


The rules for the link up are the same as they have been...
1. Follow your hosts and co hosts
2. Comment on at least 2 other blogs
3. Share your heart on the topic we provide for the month!

So gratitude. Where do I even begin. I feel as if lately the Lord has pressed the slow motion button on my life, and been patiently showing me how to slow down and notice the smallest moments in my days. It has been so easy for me to just blaze a trail every day full speed ahead ready to tackle anything and everything in my way. I hit the pillow at night wiped out emotionally, physically, and mentally...I am so empty. Yet, I arise the next morning with the same goal...get everything done as quickly as possible. 
I fly through my days and fail to notice the beauty of sun rays pouring in through the bedroom. Or the way that it seems like magic to smell bread baking that has taken three days to get prepared for the oven. Gratitude means so much more than saying thanks for physical items. or the big things in life. In fact, I feel as if I am seeing in my own life that I simply cannot be truly grateful for the big things if I do not have the ability to express thankfulness for the small things. 

So now I name things. I take time daily to write in my journal, take pictures or document things in my phone and count the little moments, and speak them. If I do not speak my joy, awe, and thankfulness for the yellow leaves falling life gold to the ground, I will forget and blaze my selfish trail without stopping. 

Here are a few things on my list from the past few weeks. 

Homemade whipped cream
Movies that make me cry
projects using my hands alongside my husband
Wind that whips my hair 
relaxing days that end with naps on the couch
lunch with friends that is not awkward
the beauty of onions becoming caramelized
sourdough bread...how does it become bread?! Magic!
Air that is easy to breath and cool on your skin
muscadine wine that reminds me of summer
baby messes and drool
I love these lists. Some people may think they are silly, or shallow, but they mean so much to me. They truly do teach me how to practice gratitude. They remind me of moments I would normally storm on by and forget before they are even over. They remind me to rejoice in the Lord daily. 

What does gratitude mean to you? 

PSA- if you would like to purchase one of my handmade crochet headwarmers I am having a Flash Sale on my @ohsimplethoughts instagram account today until 3:30 pm CST. It is Auction style so everyone has a chance to win a headwarmer! 





Community Brew #3 - Thoughts on Rest

It is time yet again for Community Brew! So excited to create space for all your ladies to share your hearts and lives with one another. Most of you know this by now but if you are new, Madison and I are the hosts of this little monthly get together! 
Madison of The Wetherills Say I Do // Rachel of Oh Simple Thoughts 

Each month we have a co-host as well! Some months we post topics and others will be a free topic to talk about whatever has been on your heart. There is only one rule to what you post...this link up is a place for vulnerability. So whatever you write about, we hope that it helps us to get to know you better and for us all to grow in fellowship and our walk with the Lord.


This month was a free topic month so we are excited to read about what the Lord has been teaching you and doing in your hearts and lives. Before I  dive into my post here is our lovely co host for this month. Christin of Quirky Anthems. She is a super awesome gal and has a heart for the Gospel. She loves coffee as much as I do (which is big) and even as her own coffee business with her husband and a few others called Sweet Aroma Coffee (you should all check them out!). 

I'm Christin Eastman and I'm so excited to co-host with my sweet friends, Madison and Rachel! I started Sweet Aroma Coffee in October 2013 after I'd traveled around the world on an 11 month mission trip called The World Race. The brokenness I experienced in each country was unlike anything I'd ever encountered. During this time, the Lord planted a dream in my heart of starting a coffee company that would fund ministries who work with survivors of sex trafficking. Sweet Aroma Coffee raises awareness through social media and by partnering with folks who have a heart to see the captives set free. We share about our monthly coffee subscription at Sweetaromacoffee.org and we donate 36% of the gross profit to ministries working with sex trafficking victims in Kenya and The Philippines. I blog about life, coffee and missions at quirkyanthems.com and I'm so looking forward to hearing everyone's heart today! Thanks so much for having me!

So we are just sitting down and chatting now, and being really honest. So friend, honestly, August has kicked my little tail thus far. It has been a whirlwind from starting a new job, Ben having some big deadlines to meet at work, Piper having surgery, and I have been working a ton on a secret project that I hope to share soon. But I have felt like I have been barely able to keep up. 

Ask anyone that knows me and they will testify to this. I have taken more naps, responded to fewer text messages/emails, and hardly had time to read my favorite blogs...It has been crazy

So in light of all the crazy, I have been thinking about the idea of rest a lot. One thing the Lord has shown me is that rest goes much further beyond the boundaries of sleeping and laying in bed. Rest encompasses much more. I found myself just trying to take another nap, or go to bed earlier, but found I was still in need of rest. (I will speak on Ben's behalf and say he was feeling the same way). We were so tired, so empty, and so overwhelmed with the feeling of being behind. 

I kinda felt like I was watching myself from above, like I wasn't really myself and unable to really live into the moments in which I found myself daily. Does this make any sense?! I pray it does. 

So what is rest? And how have I begun to practice it?

Well I know what rest is not, or at least what it is not only. Like I said, it is not only sleep, and it is not only being still. It is stopping to thank the Lord for sunlight streaming in and making rainbows on the wall. It is saying a prayer as I begin to work on a long to do list for my secret project, it is slowing down, while still working efficiently. Sometimes it has even been saying no to some things like TV, Pinterest, Instagram, and blog reading so that I can say yes to fully listening and loving my husband at night when he gets home. 

Another things that rest is...it is God ordained. Sounds crazy huh? Well one thing our pastor has pointed out to Ben and I in the past few weeks (when we have been at the end of our ropes and ready to crumble) was that the Lord instituted patterns of rest for his people. He created the Sabbath day, the Passover feast, and other yearly, monthly and weekly times of rest. Times that everything stopped and the Lord's people rested. 

So if the Lord wanted his old testament people of Israel to practice this, why would we think it would not apply to us? We are called to rest. We rest so that we can work harder for the Lord during the week. We rest so that we can pour ourselves out more fully and intentionally. Without rest and being refilled how can we pour out? We rest so that we can love well and not selfishly. 


I can think of so many times when I came home from a sleepover party in elementary school, middle school and even in high school, and was just out of my mind tired. More than likely I had stayed up way too late with friends doing silly things like prank calling the boys in our class or playing truth or dare.My mom would always say the same thing when I would come home cranky, ill and tired..."You need sleep"...I tell this story because I think this is what happens to us in life when we do not rest. We turn into that cranky and delirious middle schooler that cannot love selflessly if they wanted to because they are so sleep deprived. 

So friends, I was so discouraged last week, and so worn down. But now I feel more relaxed and at rest because I am simply stopping during the day and resting in the Lord and all he has done for us. I am working hard but trying to make time to stop and set everything aside. 

How are you doing today? How is your heart? 

Big thanks to Nikki Mckenzie Photography for these lovely shots. They are a part of her Coffee Project. Check out more of her work here




I am an open book -- Ask Away!!

I have LOVED the question and answer sessions I have seen on some of my favorite bloggers spaces lately. I think it is a brilliant idea, and really allows for you as the readers to get to know the person behind the blog. So today I am doing just that. I would love for you all to ask me all kinds of questions...it can be anything from things you want to know about me, marriage, our puppy...anything. I would love to be as transparent as I can be, and open myself and my life up to you all a little bit more.


So just use the form below and enter your questions. All of these will be anonymous, so no worries about that! I cannot wait to see what questions you come up with. I will be posting my answers in a video in a few weeks so yay for the second blog video, and a chance for you all to hear my apparently rather southern accent again! 



Also, meet one of my sweet sponsors this month, who recently just did a Q&A session herself, Bailey Jean of Brave Love Blog! Bailey is a sweetheart, and it is so evident to see how much she loves life and Jesus when you spend just a few minutes on her blog. I love her post on what kind of blogger she is, and her 101 in 1001 list, they are both so inspirational. Make sure and hop on over to Bailey's blog and show her some love today!

What is your favorite smell? 
Oh, girl, tough question! After working at Anthropologie I fell more in love with the Voluspa Volcano candles than I thought was possible. They have a relatively new scent call Blue Jeans in the same signature blue container and it is divine. 

What song always puts a smile on your face?
Summertime demands a good country playlist in my book, and I have to admit "Play it Again" by Luke Bryan is a recent favorite. Really anything with a little bit of twang is the sweet tea to my summer, and his Crash My Party album has been on repeat  ;) 

What is one thing you have learned this month?
This past month was my in-between month, transitioning from Seattle to Texas to wait for the start of grad school in Oklahoma next week. I have learned that transition is not an excuse to forego discipline, especially when it comes to spending time in the Word and taking care of my physical health. It is easy to put things off with my routine out of whack, but the Lord has graciously taught me that every person and every place on my path is purposeful and an opportunity to seek His will for my day-to-day, even when each day looks different than the last.


If you are interested in joining my sponsorship team for September hop on over and use promo code COFFEEDATE for 50% off all spots TODAY ONLY! I would love to have you on the team and work to grow your blog or business!

Happy Weekend friends! I am unplugging this weekend, and stepping away from social media to enjoy some sweet time with my little family. So enjoy the weekend, and rest with those that you love! 

Bread & Wine Project / Vol. 2 Restaurant Style Salsa

Friends...Yesterday was crazy, and awesome but was a whole lot of crazy. I started a new job at The Biscuit Shop...think doughnut shop meets biscuits. That is right, we sell all different varieties like peach, strawberry, and blueberry, and ham and cheddar and chocolate chip. It is amazing, and the perfect job for my extrovert soul. However the 6 am morning are a kick in my routine's booty, so I am worn out, and just had this entire written and my computer didn't save it and refreshed the page and I lost everything...bah tough day.

Anyways, Today is Ben's birthday! YAY! So I have been going a million different directions this week trying to get ready for work, start work, prepare for my hubby's birthday, oh...and our little Piper girl got fixed on Monday, so we have been taking care of her too. CRAZYYYY. Again thank you for your patience with me as I am navigating this new change in my schedule. You have all be so encouraging and supportive and it means so much to me! Y'all rock! 

So, WELCOME to the 2nd Bread & Wine Project! So happy to have you here. The rules are simple. Follow your host and co host, link back to this post, comment on two other blogs! I hope you will meet some new friends and find some great recipes! 

Meet your co host this week! Kaitlin, of Sew My Soul!

Hi! I'm Kaitlin at Sew My Soul, and I blog about life, marriage, faith, food, and everything in between. I love to read, write, bake, sew, and anything else I can do with my hands. I'm married to my high school sweetheart (who I will have met exactly 7 years ago on August 17th and we have a furbaby Basset hound, Daisy. We love good food and good friends, and want our home to be a place where those things can be celebrated as we work together to serve the Lord.
Today's question to foster some discussion on using our homes for the Gospel is... How do you use your tables to make your guests feel safe? 

For me I do some very simple but powerful things to make this happen in our home. First, I put my phone away. I want to focus on the people at the table and not have my nose in my phone. Secondly, I make sure to not stress about the little things, like dirty dishes still being out, or not finishing my make up. Yes, I try to tidy up and look presentable, but I try to not go into a tailspin if this doesn't happen. Last, I ask questions about the people around our table. Our greatest desire is for people to feel loved and cherished when they are in our home, and one way we can do this is to stop and talk about the others sharing a meal with us. How about you? How do you make your table a safe place for your guest? 

This month my recipe was supposed to be something different, but sometimes life happens so here I am with this recipe for the most simple restaurant style salsa you will ever eat. 

RESTAURANT STYLE SALSA

Ingredients:
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes with juice
2 can rotel tomatoes
2 tablespoons of chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/2 cup cilantro
juice of half a lime.

Directions:
Combine all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor or blender, and pulse to combine. Taste to see if it needs anything else. Serve with tortilla chips, rice, tacos, or on grilled chicken.


Simple, easy, but such a crowd pleaser. This salsa tastes just like what you get in Mexican restaurants and this recipe makes so much salsa so it is perfect for a crowd.


Thank you again for linking up today! Remember to link back to this post and to comment on at least two other blogs to make new friends! 





The Most Exciting Announcement - Renew // Blog Retreat

I could literally squeal, and dance, and sing really loud right now! Y'all...Madison and I have been working on a little something for a couple months now, and it is finally time to share with you all! As you know both Madison and myself, as well as so many of you blog ladies out there, have huge hearts for community. We have been so blessed by the amazing friends we have made through blogging, and we want to provide opportunities for that to flourish, and for those relationships to grow and deepen!



SO...we are hosting a RETREAT! That's right, a getaway retreat in the mountains of Tennessee. We had this idea awhile back and began talking about it, and finally decided, well why can't this be a reality?! So we started looking into cabins, and dates, and planning our little hearts out. And here we are. So let's talk about some details. 

What is Renew about? 

Well this is a women's retreat for fellow blog ladies that want to deepen their community in the online world. This will be a focused time of fellowship, and encouragement in the Word, in order to renew our spirits and encourage one another in our faith. 

Where will the Renew Retreat be?

The retreat will be in the mountains of Tennessee (Sevierville to be exact) in this gorgeous cabin! (Hopefully if enough people sign up), and we will be staying there for 2 nights! This place is awesome, and even has a hot tub, hello late night hot tub chats!




What are the dates of the retreat?

October 17-19th. This will be a two night weekend retreat! We will begin around dinner Friday and leave around lunch on Sunday!

What all will we do at the retreat?

We will be doing all kinds of awesome things. Aside from eating yummy food and drinking loads of delicious coffee, we will spend time studying the Word together, have a super fun DIY craft time, enjoy some fellowship time, as well as have some blog chat time to share tips, inspiration and ideas. We will share more details about other activities in the days ahead! 

How much will it cost? 

We want this to be something that is affordable for everyone, so we are working hard to keep the costs to a minimum. To sign up you will have to pay a non refundable deposit of $50. This will cover the initial cost of booking the cabin. In addition to this deposit, you will be informed of your remaining balance once sign ups have been closed. The total cost will not be over $100, and we hope to keep it less than this. Once we see how many people sign up, we will inform you of the remaining balance, that will go to cover food, craft supplies, and your super awesome swag bags/t shirts pictured below!
How do I sign up? 

There will be 12 spots open, these are all first come first serve, so if you really want to go make sure to sign up quickly. To sign up you simply fill out the Google Form below, and send your $50 deposit to Madison per the form instructions.

Sign up here!

Once these first 12 spots fill up we will have a separate form that will be our waiting list. These people will be able to fill in for any of the 12 that may have to cancel. AND because sign ups are filling up so fast, we are hoping to fill up a SECOND CABIN with those on the waiting list if enough people sign up!

If you sign up and are later unable to attend, you have the option of selling your spot to someone on the wait list, but you will not be able to get your deposit back unfortunately! So make sure to take that into consideration as you sign up!

Is there a deadline to sign up? 

Yes! You must sign up, and pay the $50 deposit by FRIDAY, AUGUST 1ST in order to secure your spot. If you have a conflict with this date or need to discuss it with us for some reason please do not hesitate to send Madison or myself an email and we will do our best to work with you! 

We are so excited about this time to meet one another face to face, and to enjoy deepening sweet friendships for a weekend together! We really hope you will consider joining us, and cannot wait to see all the Lord is going to do for the Renew Retreat! 

If you have any questions feel free to comment below or email me! :)

If you are an Etsy or Small Business owner and would like to contribute to our swag bags please contact me through the contact button above. We would love to feature your handiwork as well as get your brand into the hands of some awesome bloggers!