You matter. And so does your story.

YOUR STORY MATTERSWe all have stories, but how many of us spend the majority of our lives downplaying the power of those stories?

I love this blog – it’s my little space on the internet to share glimpses of what I’m learning and who I’m becoming as God shapes me. It’s a place to exercise my gifts of writing and creativity, to connect with others in my city and beyond who can relate to things I’m learning, and to document for my own benefit the work God has done and is doing in my life.

But I spend a lot of time doubting. I tell myself I have nothing worthy of sharing, nothing worthy of others reading… and that’s simply not true. Friend, your story matters. And you’re the only one who can tell it.

When you hear the whisper that you aren’t good enough, that what you have isn’t sufficient enough, or you aren’t skilled enough… don’t let that lie paralyze you from sharing anyway. You are the only one who can share your story, and you’re the only one who can hone your gifts… so use them. Use your gifts, no matter how developed they are, to write, to speak, to create, to photograph, to design – whatever it is that small piece of you buried deep down longs to do. Don’t let lack of development hold you back – it’s doing that will further your development. And God will use your development and your bravery to share along the way to empower others to do the same.

So whatever your story – share it. Don’t hold back. Show up anyway when that voice tells you that you aren’t enough and prove it wrong. You matter. And so does your story.


New Design + Hosting Move!

Surprise!! 34 Magnolia Street has a brand new look and… well… it was a long time coming! Although, I didn’t know today would be the day until about 7:30pm last night, when I accidentally deleted my Blogger blog from the face of the Internet. (Cue tears, bad words and immense self loathing for about 25 minutes)

Long story short, I’ve been thinking – and sometimes talking – about moving my blog from Blogger to WordPress for more than a year now. I had just been dragging my feet, due to the cost of self-hosting/themes/migration/etc., the worry of doing all the correct steps in the right order, and overall busyness. So last night I took the first step and created my BlueHost account with my current domain name (face palm). Hence, my blog disappeared for a few hours and a few of you probably saw the weird WordPress “this site is under construction” page. After despairing and whining to Jacob for a few minutes, I decided this was the kick in the pants I needed to just make it happen.

So I did! And here’s the new 34 Magnolia Street. It took me about 4 hours last night to get to this point, but there is still a lot to do – fixing image widths, making sure URLs transferred correctly, re-sizing my signature, learning more about plug-ins, etc. To be honest, I had no idea what I was doing and only now have a vague idea of how WordPress really works. So stay tuned as Magnolia Street develops and gets cleaned up a bit over the next week! 🙂

What my blogging break taught me: it’s not over

Photo by Abbie Driscoll

I’m not finished with it. The blogging break, anyway.

I realized that when February came around and I dreaded sitting at my computer. I thought, maybe I just need to get back into the habit… But I’ve dreaded every part of it. Sitting, thinking, writing, editing, promoting, answering emails, etc. All of it.

A lot happened over the past two months. In January, I breathed deeply, read like I was starving for words and spent many nights cooking with my husband. I was less stressed, less distracted and more me than I’ve felt in a long time.

Beautiful things happened. I wrote my first serious song and played it for my band mates. That was the most frighteningly vulnerable thing I’ve done in a long time. We put it to more instruments and I can’t explain the feeling of hearing other people playing to the melody and lyrics I wrote. It was magical and one of those moments I just felt full, you know?

My church asked me to come on part-time as an interim worship pastor at our newest campus while they search for a long-term replacement. That was thrilling and terrifying all at once. The craziest part of the story is that for the first time ever, I whispered out loud that might be something I was interested in around Thanksgiving. To my husband in private. At that point, there was no opportunity and I didn’t expect there to be. Not here, not now… But little did I know God was preparing me for a conversation with our executive pastor a few months down the road. What an opportunity to dip my feet into something I’ve wanted to do, but feel very unqualified for! He’s walked with me through the swinging pendulum of fear and excitement, and I can’t wait to watch the growth unfold. It’s already been quite the ride.

I have a lot of extremely creative friends who are willing to be brave with me. Like writing music and poetry, and discovering who we really are and living it, even if it’s different than the norm kind of creative friends. God has blessed me with those friendships, with these people who aren’t willing to settle for the easy road in our short lives and who are open to being vulnerable and doing hard things. I can’t tell you how empowering and freeing that is.

God has been blowing me away by things like this lately. And with all of these changes, with making small steps toward unveiling the things that really get me excited and drawing near to God through it all, I don’t want to come back to the screen.

Not yet. Right now, I can’t live slowly while also working my job, working for the church, attending small group, investing in the student ministry with Jacob and blogging 20 hours a week. So maybe I’ll be back periodically… maybe it will be a while before my next post.

But before I go, I just need to say thank you. This blog has served me so well for the past several years. It has taught me to be disciplined, to take risks, to write even when I don’t feel like it, and it’s introduced me to a lot of stellar women who I am blessed to know.

Thank you for your encouragement, for your prayers, and for reading. This blogging thing is pretty cool, but I’m just not in a place where it fits for me now.

So, I wish you the very best. I hope you live this short life we have well. Be brave, be present, and love. Love. Love. Love.

The weight of words & a good reminder

The inspiration to write comes at the oddest of times. Just when I think I have nothing left – not even an ounce of something worthy to share, something comes out of the blue and knocks me off my feet. Have you ever started writing and been surprised by the ending?

To be honest, that’s one of my favorite things about writing. I learn so much about myself and how I see the world around me as I let my fingers type and my mind roll with it. It’s pretty dang fun.

Lately I’ve been working on a few posts that require a lot of rewriting. My writing flow has not come as easily and the topics are heavy, which doesn’t make a great mix. To make it even more complicated, I’ve been reading through Proverbs and have been so struck by the weight that words hold. It’s so easy to just let whatever first comes to my mind fly out of my mouth (or onto the screen) without pausing to think – is that helpful? is it necessary? is it uplifting? is it truthful? is it God-glorifying?

Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. – Proverbs 29:20

Shew. Does that sting anyone else at all? There are several relationships in which I really struggle to rein in my words, let alone my thoughts, and it’s not pretty. The weight of that realization has been heavy on me these past few weeks. I’m also reading Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin, which I’ll be sharing more details about Monday! But one of her first points is the ever important reminder that the Bible is about God. The Bible teaches us about God’s character, and drawing near to him, studying him, learning more about him is what makes us desire to be more like him. That is what gives us guidance in tough situations.

The Bible was not written for us to find the how-to answers we seek when life gets tough. It’s not there to tell us where to go to college, whom to marry, where to work and go to church… but it does teach us about God’s character, gives us glimpses of who he is, what he’s like and how he calls us to be holy as he is holy.

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity. – Proverbs 2:6-7

So not only am I attempting to be more thoughtful about the words I express, but I’m also reminding myself to draw near to God and learn about him in my Scripture study, rather than looking for a solution to my problems. Isn’t it funny, how we can take a book so clearly about the King of this earth and make it about ourselves? And by funny, I mean such perfect proof that we so desperately need him.What does writing look like for you? Have you experienced days when you’re surprised by what you write? Have you felt the weight of your words in a way you wish you hadn’t?

Magnolia Must Reads | 29

Happy Saturday! I’m going to brag for a second and tell you that my weekend started on Thursday this week! We took a few days off to visit my family and friends in Ohio and it has been so refreshing. Today we’re meeting up with family friends, attending my high school reunion and playing too many card games with my parents. I’m loving it.

I hope your weekend is off to a good start! This week’s MMR post is geared toward bloggers – I found a lot of awesome blog-related posts this week, so enjoy! I hope you glean as much info as I did!

Blogging for Days
+ Need a dose of blogging encouragement? Read the politics of blogging.
+ 10 things I’d tell myself when I started blogging.
+ Something I haven’t considered but is very worth thinking about, what will happen to your blog when you die?
+ Why I didn’t pick your blog to work with our brand.
+ How to run a kick-butt sponsorship program (& discount codes from 6 bloggers!)

What you may have missed this week:
+ Operation Read Your Shelves: The Bluest Eye
+ These boots are made for walkin’.
+ You are loved. You are enough. You are worth something.
+ October StitchFix review & $75 credit giveaway!

To everyone who has ever called himself a writer,

Thanks for doing what you do. The other day as I scrolled through blogs and other various articles shared on the internet, I was just overwhelmed by the freedom to share what we think.

I appreciate that freedom so much, but what I appreciate more is that people actually exercise it. It’s not easy to express your thoughts on controversial topics, to share your story of disappointment or loss, or to be vulnerable for the sake of sharing wisdom with others.

Writing has become very much a therapy for me – an avenue to process so much of what I take in around me. It balances my need to create when most of my 8-5 day is very not creative. It balances my need to speak when my introverted husband needs some quiet ;), and it balance my insecurities when I feel stagnant and need reminders of true growth.

This is my moment to just say thanks. Because as much as I love writing about what I think, what I feel and what I see in the world around me…. what I love even more is reading about what you do.

So thanks for being vulnerable, for writing when you don’t feel like it and for not letting your passions go unrecognized. This world is fleeting, so why should we spend a day, a moment, or even a second wasted by allowing the current to push and pull us along its flow? Thanks for contributing to the world in ways that prevent us from remaining closed-minded.

Happy writing,