Celebrate returning to faith, hope, culture and life with community.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

August's Fabulous Finds

Patience is a word I need to be familiar with.

In the back of mind it's already been September for two weeks. You can drive yourself crazy thinking, planning, dreaming one step ahead, one step ahead, one step ahead.

This is a surefire way to waste a lot of precious time. Because we can make plans. And then, life. And then, rent goes up. And then, and unexpected opportunity or a dream you thought you'd put to rest long ago begins to take on a life of its own.

And all those plans? Though, perhaps they gave us a sense of control and security in the interim, there's no escaping what they really are: a waste of time.

I Tried Day Designer for a Month and Here's What Happened

So, we don't make big plans for the future. But we can plan our day-to-day. We can write out our goals and tasks for the day. We can keep our appointments, meetings and due dates in order.

As a planner-addict, I'd coveted one of these bad boys for a long time. They're so pretty and their social media game is so strong. Peonies, creamy coffee, puppies. Utterly drool-worthy.

I'll be honest, it took a little while for me to get used to the day-by-day version of the planner. I typically like to stick to the week-at-a-glance sort of planners. But for someone who gets a little overwhelmed at her task-list, it's nice to turn over a new leaf every day and rank your most important to-dos.

There's even a space at the bottom of every page to write something you're thankful for, a space for meal planning (something Gordon and I have been able to keep up since January) and a by-the-hour section for appointments.


Overall, I'd mark it as a "fabulous find" because it's helped me focus on one project at a time rather than getting absorbed by a week-long list of deadlines for my real-person work, my freelancing side-gig, blogging and pod-casting.

If you have a lot to balance and are a keep-the-plates-spinning sort, I'd encourage you to try it. Now that I know how this planner works, I think I'd have a really hard time adjusting to another one a year from now.

What I Read

Our small group is cooking our way through Shauna's Bread and Wine. I know, I know. I harp on her a lot around these parts. But, goodness, her books are so relevant at any time, honestly.

I'm also continuing to work my way through Present Over Perfect. I'm reading it too quickly. Her chapters are so short but so chock-full of little nuggets of wisdom. If I zone out in my usual reading pattern, I miss stuff.

Other than that, I'm looking for some good, fun, fiction. Because. Well, try as I might, I'm a grown-up. And we grown-ups can read whatever we like when we like ;)

What We Watched

Slim pickin's for movies in July. Gordon and I checked out the Bourne movie. Which, was pretty good, and had a story line for people like me who hadn't seen the other 27 movies before this one came out.

Florence Foster Jenkins

It was a delightful film, really. Meryl (Muriel) is always a safe-bet. I had some fundamental problems with the story. But it wasn't really the movie, if this was how it all truly played off in real life. I was going in anticipating a Julie and Julia piece of work. And it was a smidgen darker and more depressing. But the costumes. The soundtrack. And the courage. It was pretty inspiring. And heartbreaking.

Who I Followed

I made a new friend on the internet! Her name is Danielle, and she creates these magnificent signs and sells them through her Etsy shop.

We met each other on Instagram, and before I knew it she told me she was going to send a sign in the mail -- one from her hymn collection. I was so jittered, and was so excited when I received her package.

Little did she know this is my all-time favorite hymn. At the end of my graduate school commissioning ceremony, my cohorts and I sang it together. That moment, everything collapsed, emotionally:

The years I spent working nights and weekends, the financial and social sacrifices I had to make to even get through school. The work. Heavens, the work. And yet, the loving professors who truly rooted for me. And the fact that God's faithfulness, in that moment was so real. 

What I Learned

To get back up when you're frustrated with your life's circumstances. And to not despise the day of small beginnings. Because they can lead to something outrageously fun.

Would you like to be featured on a Fabulous Finds post? Let's chat! It's important to me that I only ever feature products and services that I know and love. If you' think we'd be a great fit, email brett@theprodigalsister.com.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Bringing Others into the Story

Meet me for emergency pedicures?

It was one of those fly-by-night, shot-in-the-dark texts. Very last-minute.

And in a season where so many of my friendships have to be scheduled around full-time jobs, kids, volunteering, side-hustles, I didn't expect her to be available.

Not that it's a bad thing, to work to make time for friends. But still. It was all very exciting when she responded with a yes! When and where?!

Those are the sort of people I always want to have in my life, and the type of friend who everyone should have: someone who will drop everything to get a pedicure with you.

That's when I knew that Sarah was a woman I wanted to bring into the

Prodigal Sister story.

For those of you who are new around here, Prodigal Sister started way back in 2008 as a college assignment. One of my professors had instructed our class that if we wanted to write we should be writing.

Back then it was more of a diary – a place for me to write out thoughts about college. Then it became a sort of therapy. A place where I could grumble about singleness or life post-graduation.

And now, thanks to a little persistence, encouragement from my professors in graduate school, my sweet best friends and a few internet BFFS (hi, Renee, Sarah, and Jenny!), here we are. The Prodigal Sister. 

A blog about community. Faith struggle. Marriage. Friendship. Red lipstick. Coffee. You name it. I've written and written and written myself into a frenzy. Online. Professionally. And in the nooks and crannies during lunch breaks and when my husband is doing schoolwork, the writing I love best.

I'd have to blink at the stats on the page. Because it seemed like more people were reading along than just my mother.

Frankly, I'm still surprised when I discover someone other than my close friends or family members are reading along.

It's an honor, really.

And I feel so lucky to live in a world where we can communicate so easily. Where we don't have to cower away in a chilly, Dickens-like home by a fireplace, hunched over parchment. We don't have to do any of it alone. Our lives, our careers, our free-time can be vibrant. It can be beautiful.

Besides, a blog about community should have more than just one voice.

One thought-process. One opinion. One upbringing. Don't you think?

That's why (drumroll, please!):

We're launching the Prodigal Sisters Podcast!!!!

A weekly podcast that's girlfriend therapy for the life journey. We don't have all the answers, but we promise to be there every step of the way.

This project, comically, started in a similar vein as our friendship. A series of texts, digital blips, where we joked about starting a podcast together.

And then we got serious. Started writing down topics, and having grown up meetings in coffee shops, and had our pictures taken by our friend Christen.

We even have a few episodes recorded. They're giggly and deep. And, honestly, I can't wait to see where the project takes us. In our friendship, certainly, but also in bringing others into the community. Into the conversation.

It's been a long-time dream. And I'd love to invite you to come along!

Our very first episode will be live in September 2016, and we couldn't be

more jittered.

We hope you'll follow along on Facebook and Instagram for important updates as we continue to get our website and voices spiffied up.

I can't wait for you to hear it. And I sincerely hope you'll be with us from

the very start.

Thank you, sweet friends, for allowing me to have the privilege to write and be read. I don't take this lightly, and I'm looking forward to growing with you.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

On Letting Yourself Get Interrupted

"Sometimes if I have to write a paper and a friend calls or wants to stop

by, I'll just turn the paper in late. It's just a paper."

I blinked at my friend. Nothing in my life was just anything. Just a paper? Just a deadline? How foolish, I thought. How irresponsible. How borderline-lazy.

Those words were spoken to me and a group of friends several years ago. Back in college. Back when papers were necessary currency to your GPA as well as your intellectual standing with your friends/classmates/competitors.

Back then, I couldn't imagine putting something as important as a paper on hold for a person. I couldn't imagine putting my academic career on the line to make time for a coffee or dinner date.

I'd sing a constant song with how stressed I was or how much I had to get done when one of my friends who was really making an intentional effort to spend time with me asked me to dinner. Again. And again.

My answer to her each time was a personality cocktail of incredulous tension: I don't have time.

To which she replied, you do still have to eat, though, right?

Back to my friend, who was speaking to a group of us. Sharing her wisdom with us in a quiet, safe circle:

"I always want to make time for people," she said. "So I let myself get interrupted."

And so, I carried on my merry way, momentarily baffled by this philosophy on friendship and life in general. Letting myself let go of the temporary in favor of the eternal. Staying up a little later, or all night, if it meant helping a friend get through a fight with her boyfriend at 3 a.m., or accepting a simple coffee date even when my schedule was jam-packed.

(Or at least, the collegiate version of a jam-packed schedule.)

And let me tell you: I don't remember a single paper I turned in. I don't remember the individual grades of each one. I don't remember the tests that wore me down and made me unable to function without a Venti coffee and an energy drink throughout the day.

But, I remember the dinner dates.

I remember my a capella group rehearsals three times a week and weekend performances that we we were all too busy for, but somehow still made time for.

Those moments are what I remember. Those glorious, rose-gold interruptions. Thank God we made time for them. Thank God. Or I would've missed out on one of my fondest seasons without realizing it.

So much of my life as a writer is time spent alone. 

Time spent inflecting. Getting in some face-time with my bright-white screen.

And many writers will tell you to make time for your art. To be diligent. To  prioritize your creativity and your ambition over everything else. Because no one will do it for you.

I do this sometimes. I burrow myself away in a room when all of the extroversion within me would rather be sipping tea with a girlfriend or spending time with my husband that doesn't include plopping on our big red couch and watching Frasier reruns.

It's not really a discipline for me. I know the writing will get done.

But the letting myself get interrupted? In the name of a grieving friend or a discouraged family member? That doesn't get done as often as I'd like.

I do this with my spiritual life, too.

I don't want to be thought of as productive. Well, as only productive. Do I want to be a hard worker? Yes. Do I want to under-promise and over-deliver in my professional and creative life? Of course.

But, I don't want that to have such a stronghold on my life that it's the only adjective that describes who I am. I don't want to be so focused on what I think should matter: money, writing, gaining followers, writing fiction and non-fiction that stacks up in the industry that I forget.

My dreams, my goals might get interrupted. 

Many times I feel like my career, my progress as a human who's been pruned and encouraged and uplifted enough to believe that she's destined to have a big impact on the world around her, is at a stalemate.

But maybe, at this time, in this season, it's simply being interrupted. Interrupted for character growth. Or personal development. Or to simply enjoy.

We are always at risk of being interrupted at the hand of our Creator, our master storyteller. 

How many of us have been surprised by a pregnancy? 

Or swept into a whirlwind of a seasonal shift? 

A move?

An illness?


A car repair?

A new opportunity?

A job failure that pushed you into a new career?

A book deal?

A boyfriend who becomes a husband? 

Our lives might be fraught with interruptions. For better or for worse. And we can choose to invite them in. To let them perform somersaults in our schedules and day-to-days. We can welcome them in, and watch the friendships, the joys, the frustrations, setbacks, surprises and disappointments play out.

Because we put what we thought was important on hold long enough to see the beauty in a life that makes room for interruptions.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

How to Go Deep With the People Around You

 This is the season we've been waiting for.

The season that we've looked forward to since we were children. The nights that we can stay up late, the nights that we can drink cocktails and jet of to whirlwind-far places. The time to live in wide-eyed wonder and freedom.

But here's what happens – at least from what I can tell in my limited experience in adulthood – finding and experiencing true freedom in this season: freedom from stress, job pressure, five-year plans, career goals, career frustrations, schedules, all of it is at best, manageable.

And at its worst? Nearly impossible.

Let me state on the record: I do not have a hard life. I don't have any kids to wrangle, just a few dreams and ideas I have to chase and keep at bay. I have a home, means to pay for things that I need (and what I want). When I need a time-out, I can take it. My husband holds me in his arms and I feel safe and secure. In a lot of ways.

I have a lot of freedoms as an American woman living in this century.

And I need to remember that.

But what I'm beginning to see is how the jobs, the budgets, the hunting for side gigs, the achieving, the mixing, the chaotic fray of working through life is such a distracting. Such a hindrance to freedom.

I'm beginning to see how narrow the road is to heaven. I'm beginning to see how I have a camel-through-the-eye-of-the-needle sort of life.

I'm beginning to see how this life, this wonderful, wholesome, American-dream life is, in spite of all its blessings, brings a colossal hindrance to true community. To really growing relationships with the people around you.

I met one of my favorite people from the internet a few weeks ago.

She is the co-host of a podcast I've grown to adore. And she was just as beautiful and vivacious as I expected her to be. She's the sort of person who travels. A lot.

She just happened to be in the area where I live for a spell, so, as you do when you have the chance to meet someone you truly admire, I invited her for cocktails with a few of my friends. She said yes, and we were thrilled (even if it was only because we offered to buy her a drink).

Our drinks turned to dinner, and dinner turned into shared desserts and dragging our waiter outside to get the perfect Instagram photo together. But, the night stands out to me because our conversation was so rich.

She went deep. Fast. And made me feel like a lazy conversationalist.

Which is fine if you don't have a master's in journalism, and haven't been trained to ask the right, open-ended questions. But, I do. I have. And when I found myself talking about marriage, my dreams, my past, with a one-way stranger, it was a big wake-up call.

I'd been so distracted by the achieving, the dreaming, the doing, the budgeting, the car repairs, dental work, grocery shopping, bills, that I'd forgotten that this life is meant to be enjoyed.

Not only that, but this life is meant to serve and care for others. And one 

of the most important things we can do for our friends is simply listen.

I've been walking through the conversations in my day-to-day like someone who texts and drives. Only really halfway paying attention to something really important.

I've been holding back. I've been fearful. I've been unwilling to go deep because it's time-consuming. Even a little scary. Or it doesn't match my brand. Or I can't make money from it. In a word, selfish.

This person showed me what freedom in Christ truly looks like. She showed me what it's like to have that wonder of the season. The season we've all wished for our whole lives.

The freedom to let go of your distractions, and your moments. 

Maybe not all the way – we're not perfect.

But perhaps enough to go deep with the people you break bread and clink cocktail glasses with.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

I Like My Coffee Like I Like My Life: Regular

We live in a world, it seems, addicted to change.

We chase happiness, fulfillment like children in an Easter egg hunt. Dropping plastic orbs in our baskets and scurrying away to the next, letting them rattle in the bottom of our baskets. Plopping the chocolates into our mouths, unwrapping another as quickly as we can.

Never stopping to be thankful. Always looking for another prize.

This is me at my worst. Collecting points and accolades and resume-boosters like seashells. Entertaining for just a moment, just to turn-over in the palm of my hand, before I send them back.

It's been like this for as long as I can remember. At the start of every new season, every new endeavor, I was ready for the next.

When I was a senior in high school, I couldn't wait to get to college.

When I was a senior in college, I couldn't wait to get plugged into the real world.

When I was single I couldn't wait to date a man who loved me.

When a man who genuinely loved me and proved he could be trusted, I couldn't wait to be engaged to him.

And when he finally popped the question on Thanksgiving Day 2014, I was ecstatically happy for a week or two. And then I was overwhelmed with a longing to be married.

I approach every good season with the same hunger and eagerness:

Well, that was fun. But what's next? What's new?

Let's get on with it, shall we? What's the next level to unlock? 

Always in a spell of growing up, up, and up. Never growing down. Always more. Never less. Never still. Always with an itchy craving for the next season, the next job, the next status update.

I live life looking for the next opportunity to level-up without stopping to track my steps and see how good I have it. How far I've already traveled.

I'm not in an extraordinary season right now.

Not really. Life is wonderful, don't get me wrong. I am loved. I have the bandwidth to love and serve others. This is a life of plenty. This is a life to be thankful for.

But then, there's the hunt. The crawling ache for the next season.

There are obvious tells of what our next season should be to a couple who's been married for an appropriate amount of time. Oh, sweet, life-altering parenthood.

And the answer to the question my husband and I get, mostly from strangers, is when we'll spread our lives into that season. When we'll begin to try to be a part of that fraternity of frazzled, busy and supremely loved people who are parents.

That's the next level, isn't it? That's the next logical step.

And for those of us who like to see change and additions and fun parties and Pinterest boards you wish you could hop into with the help of Mary Poppins, it could be really tempting to jump into it head-first.

All in the name of change. All in the name of keeping life entertaining.

But I'm learning that there is an art to contentedness. There's a discipline here I'm missing.

So for now, I wake up. I pull out a dress from my closet. I kiss my husband goodbye. And then I'm off to the office in my little blue car, tracing the same commute, drinking the same coffee, curly hair pulled into the same, chaotic top-knot for optimum concentration powers (amen?) over and over and over.

I'm trying to embrace the regularity of life. To sit satisfied, humbled and thankful. Without the hustle for more, for the next, for the brighter, the flashier, the shinier.

Resolving to stay the same. For now. As much as I'm able. It's hard. I'm not the best at it. But, like my wise friend, Christen says, I don't want to look back and remember these days as the good old days without realizing that's where we are. Right here, right now.

I'm trying to find the extraordinary in every season. Because at one point, I wished for this season. At one point this place where I've arrived is where I desperately wanted to be.

This is what I know:

Any lot, any toil, any broken-down day I've ever gotten through has come out from under complete surrender. Falling-to-my-knees in the shower moments.

And those moments only happen when I feel stuck. Trapped. Like I've reached the end of my rope. Like nothing is changing. Or challenging. And the only way through is by Christ.

Not by myself. Not by more money. Not by more likes, follows, words on a page, promotions, children. The next season. The next Instagram-worthy career. None of it.

And sometimes surrender feels a whole lot like stopping. And being thankful for this moment. For this day. In all of its glorious normalcy.


Thanks to all of you wonderful, beautiful people who've signed up for my email list and have joined the Prodigal Squad. You guys rock. And for those of you who haven't, we're cool, we're cool ;) There's still time to win a free copy of Shauna Niequist's Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living. I'll be announcing the winner on Instagram tomorrow! Good luck!





Thursday, August 11, 2016

Treasure These Small Beginnings

When I held him in my arms, my heart broke in the best possible way.

It was a frigid day in February; my husband and I were scattered every which way preparing for a flight out of town. We were so worried he'd be born while we were away. That we'd miss out the joy of his arrival.

But the world stopped when I held my nephew. My heart broke of selfishness in that moment. Of fear. Of doubt. And for a moment it broke up bitterness that crumpled and rolled off like marbles in the palm of my hand.

It's been six months and now this darling, wriggly boy is on the move. He smiles. He laughs. And he wants anything but to sit still. A trait I can identify with on so many levels.

He's a small beginning. A reminder that something so little grows and grows. But he had to start somewhere. And that start in that darkened hospital room on that cold, February night was such a joy.

A neighbor congratulated us on our first year of marriage.

Back in July, through a row of magnolia trees that separate my family's home from hers. She'd attended our wedding with her husband of almost 60 years.

"And how are the newlyweds?" she asked.

Gordon stood up straight and smiled, "We're not really newlyweds, now," with the pride of a kid showing off his artwork. As if to say, it's been a year. We're in the midst of it. We're on the road doing the lovely and refining work of marriage.

But, to a woman who's been married to the same man for three-quarters of her life, we are newlyweds. And likely will be until we hit the ten-year mark. Until the time that we've been together outweighs the time we spent living without each other. Some twenty-odd years. Maybe even longer.

Our love is so small in comparison. But it grows and grows.

Scripture says, "despise not the day of small beginnings."

I'm not a theologian by any stretch of the imagination–I've even carefully curated a Bible study with some of the world's greatest people that's more of a book and tea club as to avoid becoming one.

But to me, despising-not means to honor fresh starts. To have the faith that God will bring these small beginnings to fruition if they're truly of Him. 

To me, it means to hold them like an infant. Like a small, silver band on your wedding day. Treasures. Keepsakes. As vital as that first big breath after you break surface from beneath the water.

Often in my own life I'm tempted to forget I'm a small beginning, too.

In my faith, certainly. In how I emulate Christ to others, of course. Beginning, beginning, ever-loving beginning.

And then the gap between college and what we call real life has widened year after year. My ten-year high school reunion is in its planning stages. But my career, my dreams, even after all this time, isn't exactly where I thought it'd be.

So often I want to be mature, veteran, deep and rooted. I want to appear to know what I'm doing. I want to give counsel. To be an expert-witness. To be trusted.

But the truth is, I'm starting. And I'm starting small. I'm learning not to resent it just like I don't discriminate an orchestra for tuning or buds for pushing up the ground.

We trust that they will be complete in their creation. We trust the conductor will wave and silence the cacophonous start into a structured, rhythmic piece of art.

We trust that God is always in the midst of refining our character in our work, in our family lives, in our day-to-day.

We trust that babies and marriages grow. And we trust that He who began a good work in us will fulfill it to completion.

I don't know where you are tonight. I don't pretend to. But if you find yourself like me, in a small start, waiting for business to pick up, relationships to dive deeper, babies to be born, maybe it's time we learned to do more than to not despise our new beginnings.

Maybe it's time we learn to adore them.

Speaking of new beginnings, I've started an email list like a real blogger! If you sign up below between now and Wednesday, Aug. 17th you'll have a chance to win Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Livingby Shauna Niequist!



Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Present Over Perfect Giveaway!*

It's here! It's finally here!

Y'all, this book. I could hardly sit still during work yesterday because I knew what was waiting for me on my doorstep.

If you've been a longtime reader of the blog, you'll know that Shauna Niequist remains one of my favorite authors of all time. Her words inspired me to get the ball rolling in my own writing world. I started blogging after reading her book Bittersweet, and when I finished, I was delighted to know that her first book, Cold Tangerines was mine for the taking.

When Bread and Wine was released a few years ago, I drank it in like a bubbly champagne. Savor, too.

But Present Over Perfect will be a merlot.

When I first discovered Shauna's work, about five years ago or so, I was in the midst of a heavy emotional battle and an emotional relationship. When I picked up her books, she made me believe that my voice matters.

In writing, certainly, but also in life. If a woman from Michigan could inspire me to adopt French cooking, go back to church and gather girlfriends around my table in a delicious, rich community, what could my words spark?

Much of what you know from the Prodigal Sister blog today is a direct result of Christ's healing in my life. And Shauna's books. This is a big day.

Now I want to pass her words along to you! I'm giving away one free copy of Present Over Perfect to one of my email subscribers.

All you have to do is enter your email in the form below and that's it! You're entered! (And if you're already a #ProdigalSquad member, you're already in the running.)

I'll be announcing the winner on Instagram (brettwtubbs) on Wednesday, August 17th.

*This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you click on a product and order it from this page, I may make a penny or two from Amazon. Nifty, isn't it? But, you should know that I'll never promote anything that I don't find truly fabulous ;)


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

What I Wish My Married Friends
Knew About Being Single

Why, hello and a happy Tuesday to you!

Today, we have the privilege of hearing from one of my sweet friends, Holly (or the Common Queen as she is known by her internet subjects). She's guest posted for me before and somehow manages to make me laugh with her words, then cry with her genuine spin.

Part of the goal with the Prodigal Sister is to bridge gaps and begin conversations about our struggles, big life questions and triumphs as a community. Oftentimes we get caught up in our own little worlds we forget to engage with people living life right beside us.

For the next few months, we'll explore these worlds. We'll answer tough questions and maybe dive a little deeper into understanding the narratives we claim as our own. Holly's story is threaded with singleness.

Here's what she wants her married friends to know:

I’m thirty-two and single.

I mention my age, not because I expect any applause for getting to this age and being single (although I will accept complimentary chocolate), but because it’s been over 10 years of friends getting married and having babies.

And me, well, not.

Many of my closest, dearest friends are married and because of them I’ve learned a ton about marriage and relationships of which I’m thankful (and sometimes frightened). As much as I’ve got stuff to learn from them, and I do, there are some things I’d like them to know and learn from their single friend.

I’m happy for you, but I’m not happy for you.

How can those two seemingly contradictory sentiments exist at the same time? I have no idea. I just know that they do.

For every phone call, text message, Facebook post, postcard in the mail letting me know a friend is getting married or having a baby I feel excitement and happiness for them. Marriage and babies are a blessing and should be celebrated.

Yet, while I am happy I am also simultaneously sad and grieving the fact that my wait isn’t up.

It’s hard for me to express both of these emotions at once so sometimes I don’t ask questions like, “How’s the wedding planning going?” Not because I don’t care, but because talking about your happiness reminds me of my own sadness.

It’s not selfish to hurt, but it is selfish if I make your celebration an opportunity to turn all eyes on me. So, I keep my mouth shut and send congratulatory cards instead.

Married people need single friends.

Not just to babysit your kids because let’s face it I’m free most Friday nights. Single people have worth and I feel like sometimes we get looked over.

We have a wealth of wisdom because we’ve had to make decisions and do things on our own without the help and support of a spouse.

We’ve bought houses, gone to scary doctor appointments, stood up to mechanics and cooked large holiday dinners.

Sometimes I think married people assume we eat microwavable mac and cheese every night for dinner. One of the perks of singleness is we CAN eat it for dinner every night, but we don’t.

Some nights we choose frozen pizza or Ramen.

We’ve got wisdom from experience and those experiences often allow us to bring a different perspective to the table that maybe you’ve missed.

That’s the beauty of having friends in different stages of life. They let you in on lessons they’ve learned and you can do the same.

You are complete, regardless of your relationship status.

As singles, we spend all this time working through the lie that says we need someone else to complete us. This is a battle, especially when we see our married friends talking and acting like their spouse completes them.

Sure, they may not come out and say it in those words, but it can be found behind comments or actions.

Honestly, it’s discouraging because it feels like this battle for completeness is only a temporary victory until I get married. Then, it’s okay to throw that philosophy out and become “one.”

Biblically speaking, you, your spouse and Christ are braided together to make one chord, but you are still your own strand in the mix.

Unity doesn’t demand melding into an unrecognizable individual, but being completely you. Your completeness outside of your relationship with your spouse, I assure you, will bring a strength to your relationship.

Singleness ain’t for the weak.

Sure, some nights it’s a party...and by party, I mean watching an entire season of Friends on Netflix while eating nachos.

It’s full of laughing, crying and beating your head against a wall asking “Why, God, why?”

Which sounds an awful lot like marriage.

But, as hard as this season of singleness has been, I know it's helped shape me into the woman of God I've become. A woman who is both independent and yet still understands my need for others.

A woman who loves to serve and give of her time and talents generously. A woman who walks through grief and still seeks beauty everyday. A woman who continues to hope. Through it all may those lovely qualities (and many more) continue to grow in me both in my singleness and in my future marriage.

For more sass and thoughts on singleness, visit Holly's blog, follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


Hola, Brett here!

Heads up, tomorrow I'm launching a very special giveaway solely through my e-mail subscriber list. People who have signed up before we officially launch tomorrow will automatically have five entries. Sign up below for weekly updates and Prodigal Sister posts sent directly to your inbox.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

And If You Fall? Darling, Get Back Up

It's always a little nerve-wrecking when you're starting out.

A few nights ago a new friend and I settled into my dining room for what Emily P. Freeman refers to as a boss lady meeting.

And because we love her and would do everything she tells us to. Within reason (and sometimes without), we took her advice to heart.

We sat on the edge of our seats at the table. Chocolate in one hand, fancy new matching planners in the other -- as you do in any good endeavor -- and we chatted about our goals for the project, what we hope to accomplish and most importantly, why we both want to do this in the first place.

The main thread that weaves through both of our lives is a hunger for something creative. Something to throw ourselves into. To remind us that we're more than our day jobs and other adulthood responsibilities.

We have more to share together than we do on our own.

And though we're not quite ready to reveal what it is just yet, know that there is heart behind it. There is good, soulful work to be done. And we feel called to do it. To bring our friends, our community and maybe even a few strangers into a world of bridging gaps and hashing out the tricky, inconvenient, yet joyful bits of life.

We're embarking because don't have to go at any of this alone.

So, we worked. And chatted. And planned for the rubber-meeting-the-road moment. The actual doing. Past the planning, and talking. And talking about planning.

And we realized: this had the potential to be terrible at the start.

It wasn't negative self-talk out of nerves or uncertainty. It was just a fact. We weren't going to be an experts on our first try. We weren't going to be polished or naturally have it all together.

Not right away, at least.

What if I fall? Darling, what if you fly

I've seen the adage with swirling hand-letters and gold-foil print. It's a great,whimsical, hopeful thought. Inspirational. The thought of flying instead of falling on your first go-round. The ambition of moving ahead. Being discovered. Having a total Cinderella moment twirl your life into a different trajectory.

Because that's what we want to believe at the start of every new endeavor, isn't it? And in many times, it's what gets us through the rocky, uncertain beginnings. The ones that push us from thinking about starting to making the actual leap.

So often we don't fly on our first attempt. Or even our third or twentieth time. We get laughed at. Or misunderstood. Or even worse, ignored.

The truth is you might fall. It's nearly a guarantee. Not only that, but we're supposed to consider it pure joy when you do.

Falling doesn't have to be bad.

Falling gives us perseverance. Falling refines us. Falling helps us eliminate what doesn't work from our trials and errors.

We could take this further into our twenties and thirties. In our careers, in our hobbies, in our identities as mothers, daughters, friends and wives.

We learn what not to do from leaders who don't communicate well. We learn how resilient we are when there are setbacks and failures. Our work oftentimes gets stronger when it's critiqued.

And we get comfortable with doing things very badly in the beginning. Otherwise, we'd never do them.

So, yes. Falling is a reality. An inescapable one. Not always, of course. But sometimes.

But if you fall, darling, I hope you'll get up. I hope you'll start again.

 And I hope you'll be willing to fall again and again for a chance to fly.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

4 Ways to Break Through Your Fear of Failure

Early morning fog fell over my hometown in Mechanicsville.

The little town just north of Richmond, Virginia is a series of twisty roads met by acres and acres of green, velvet grass. Where I learned to ride horseback.

I approached this hobby with a sort of wide-eyed horror, wonder and intimidation all at once. Like how it feels when you find yourself in the midst of a celebrity sighting.

And then the terrifying and wonderful moment would happen. I'd swing my leg over and rest in the saddle, grab the reins and move forward. One day at lessons, my teacher was trying to coax me into a quicker pace, moving from a cantor (a middle-speed) to full-on gallop.

But I was too scared when the hooves met the road.

Galloping looked so fast in the movies. What if I lost control? Or did everything wrong? What if I couldn't do it?

"What's the worst that could happen?" my teacher asked. "You fall? If you fall off the horse, could you get back on? If you're good with that, then you can do this. But you can't let that fear keep you from trying."

Though I don't think simply falling off is the worst-case scenario of horseback riding gone wild (anyone who's seen Gone With the Wind can attest to that), my teacher was right. I couldn't let fear of failure keep me from getting on the horse.

Lately, I've treated my creative projects much like those early mornings of riding lessons. Full of fears. Asking myself all of the what-ifs:

What if I lose control? 

What if they hate it?

Or worse, what if no one cares?

What if I put in all of this extra effort and it's not good enough?

Then I remember horseback riding. And the bigger scarier question takes top-billing: 

What if I never start?

If you find yourself on the brink of a creative-gallop, but too consumed with a fear of failure before you begin writing, singing, painting, podcasting, job interviewing, anything-ing, here are a few ways to combat the fear of failure from holding you back:

Do it For the Practice.

I've loved blogging for years. I do it because I love to hear thoughts from others and express frustrations, joys, and big life questions.

But I also do it to put myself out there. To break through the fear of being judged.

For so many of us, the singers, the violinists, the teachers, the chefs: this work comes from our hearts.

And if someone rejects our work, if they don't like it on Instagram or if we don't cultivate a large Facebook page, it feels like rejection.

But the more content you create, the more practice you have releasing the work, allowing it to live beyond your closed doors or journal bindings. It becomes easier. I promise.

Do it to Be in the Game.

There's a group in downtown Norfolk that runs together. Attended by very fit people. Like, people who have run marathons and are trained to be physically elite as they serve in the military. Bless it.

And then there's me. Desk job. Extra pounds hanging on my waist (and, let's be honest, other areas). Huffing. Puffing. The weakest link by far. I'm at the back of the group, worried that I'm annoying or inconveniencing others by needing to stop and walk.

But I've learned to appreciate being a part of the team. Of having a place on stage rather than a seat in the arena. I've learned to enjoy the encouragement from others trying to reach a similar goal. I'm not the best. Not even close. But I've pounded my feet and traveled much further than I ever could on my own.

Finding community in the midst of creative work can have a similar impact. Alright, maybe you're not the best writer, singer, tap-dancer. Maybe you don't have an MFA or certificate that launches you to the head of your field.

But who in their settled, emotionally stable mind creates to be at the head of the pack?

Do it for the joy it brings you.

In this day and age, we've entrepreneurialized our creative worlds to corporate-building, New York City skyscraper heights. In other words, if you're not making money off of your creative endeavors, you're not really an artist.

But what about the women who sit in their sun rooms with a canvas and watercolors? The actresses who serve tables to balance their budget? The freelance writers and editors who have to stitch their living together like a patchwork quilt?

The majority of us will not become multi-millionaires from our art. But society of late has convinced us that if we're not, we're failures.

If we're too focused on monetizing our joy, we'll lose the sense of why we ever picked up our brush, pens, or guitars in the first place.

Do it For How You'll Feel About Yourself After.

This isn't for results. Statistics.

This is for sense of completion. A sense of beauty that comes from making something. Of speaking, writing, cooking or singing something into existence that wasn't there before.

The only failure we're guaranteed is the failure that comes with being
too tangled up in fear to ever begin in the first place.

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