Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Picture credit: Paul Tellefesen, Handlettering by me.

Last night, I had the ability to partake in something beautiful. I was invited by some of my sweetest friends to gather around a table and enjoy communion and a conglomerate homemade meal. As we were nearly closing out the night with prayer, my friend Monica was thanking God for our time together and said something along the lines of "This isn't normal." And that really stirred something in me because she was so right, it wasn't normal. Yes, we do get to gather with others around tables much more than usual during the holiday season, but to be able to set out with intention to gather a group of people who want to glorify God and praise Him in so many various ways throughout the night... That's rare. And it was so beautiful. My friends put so much thought and intention into every part of the event. We opened the night with a short message and prayer and then passed around our plates, very family style, to serve one another. We were each given Flora stationery cards, designed by my sweet friend Alexa, to write a note of love and encouragement for one person in a nearby homeless shelter & one for a person sitting at the table. In addition, the purchase of the beautiful Flora cards benefit young ladies in Eastern Europe in receiving scholarships to continue their education. I hadn't even met the girl who wrote my card until after the fact, but I was still so touched and encouraged by her words and the truth she spoke over me!



Each person brought something to the plate, from delicious stuffing, to unleavened bread, to a prayer or a laugh. It reminded of how we are in the body of Christ. Each working together, each bringing something different up to the table, each a part of a whole. As prayers began and ended the night, I felt such a wave of truth and peace on a night when I know so many were experiencing so much confusion and unrest. It got me thinking about true "peace" and the way the media is using the word. Peace is a state of mind, but even more so it's a state of the heart. 

Restricting, controlling, oppressing -- they don't create peace. That's not how God instills peace. An absence of apparent and visual violence, when hearts and souls are stirring and breaking isn't TRUE peace. 

This year, I'm slowly but surely beginning to see things differently. Not just for what they are, but for what lies underneath. And I'm grateful to God for this. I'm grateful for community, for His guidance, for His overflowing heart, that He is near to the broken-hearted & I'm grateful that God cares for and loves us so deeply and that His power can instill a sense of peace in any heart through the most trying of times. My prayers are with you guys throughout the season and throughout the different struggles you're facing today. 

- p s a l m  3 4 : 1 7 - 2 2 -
"17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
    but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
    not one of them will be broken.
21 Evil will slay the wicked;
    the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord will rescue his servants;
    no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned."

A start

Monday, November 24, 2014

There's a lot I've been thinking about and a lot I've been learning recently. A lot, in a little bit of time, from a lot of people, from the Holy Spirit, from myself, from my superiors, from my peers. There's good, there's ugly, there's straddling that line between realism and optimism, between speaking the truth and making sure it's done in love and in kindness. Between taking criticism and extracting the honesty and intention from the words. Between expressing the hurt you've felt from someone you care about and yet still lifting them up. In realizing my flaws. In repentance. In a quest to love as Jesus loves. In a mutual understanding that I'm not perfect and you're not perfect and at the end of the day the love that binds us together is the most powerful force. A force that has the ability to wash all of that other stuff away.

Does that mean ignoring the issues? It shouldn't. I feel like if two people feel strongly enough to sandwich a word as meaningful as "love" between "I" and "you" and possibly even trail it with a "so much" then it warrants as much as a couple pairs of open hears, softer, slower words, and a heart to heart on what's really happening. Does that mean it will be a two way street? Idealistically, but not always. But it does mean pushing forward. It means working to get there and building upon it once you have. In an earnest attempt to love more whole-ly. Loving past the awkward and putting yourself out there. Notice I didn't say putting away the fear of putting yourself out there. That would be amazing too, but in this case that may be of those things that follows the act.

Maybe I'm feeling this way because I am freshly 23 years old and more than anything, I want this year to be about intention. About putting a purpose behind what I do and what I say and how I act and the good works I create and the mistakes I make. I want to go there and it's okay if you don't want to go there too. But please know that if you plan on sticking around, I for one will be pushing you to. I want to get there and I want to be held accountable. I want to lift others around me higher, those here, those in my personal life, those on instagram and facebook and the ones who look on and never peep a word. And I want to be along for the experience too. I want to know hearts like I haven't before.

Sometimes, I just sit quietly in a loud space. Well, nearly quietly. Really I uncognitively begin humming, because when I find myself a quiet soul in a rambunctious environment, it just happens. Maybe it's a soothing mechanism, or maybe I just want to add something to the sound of life happening around me. But sometimes, I sit and just look around a room and I want so badly to just reach out to someone. To hug them or ask them how they're doing. No, how they're really doing. Someone I barely know. Or someone I know really well. And not necessarily because I feel badly for the person, but just because for some reason or another I feel for them. And if I feel drawn to reach out to someone, other than my own personal trepidations, really, what's prohibiting me?

I read this piece by Hannah Brencher and it was filled with so much yes, I had to share it on my blog. I think so many of us want to do more, but we don't know how or where to start. My mind and iPhone notes are filled with little lists of ideas of how to connect with people, and words, and thoughts that I feel and if I'm honest with you, I fear a day when that will be all they ever became. A bunch of ideas and words and thoughts that I felt that were kept comfortably in the notes section of my iPhone and in hidden pockets of my mind.

I don't want this blog, and more specifically, yet also more generally, I don't want my life, to be just about me. I recently came across the notion that I have been given the gift of connection. And although I'm not too entirely sure what it means, or what it looks like, I know it has to do with a whole lot more than just me and being preoccupied by the little space bubble that is my own mind and my current realm of comfort. So today, although I'm not leaving you with any answers, I'll leave you with this. And also, with a place to start.

And I was sitting the other day, tucked into the booth of a McDonald’s we found off the beaten path on the way to our campground, and I told my friend that I don’t really have a bucket list. I don’t know how we even got on that topic.

“There is no bucket list,” I told her. “If you told me this thing was going to end there wouldn’t be any places I really wanted to see.”

It’s not about that for me. There’s something more I’d want to do.  I could just picture myself gathering up every person I love and adore into one space-- maybe a cozy coffee shop that does a boss-of-a-job with an au-lait. I’d want them all to be there. And I’d want to get some sacred space to be able to hold their hands one last time and look them straight in the eye and tell them what I think of them and who I can see them becoming. Because that is the most powerful thing you might think to tell someone today: not just who you see them to be but who you know they are capable of becoming. We all want to become someone different and beautiful-- it might be a little easier if we cheer each other on in the making.

I’d want to make sure I pushed them one last time. If I had you in my grips I would make sure to tell you to look up. And look around. And invest in what actually matters. And stop doing the things your heart is not living inside of. And just hold tight to the good things-- the true things-- that walk into your life.

“I just want to be able to be the person who calls other people out and notices them,” I told my friend.
And then, right there, in the booth tucked on the edge of the wilderness of North Georgia, it felt like my heart was breaking in two.

Because I am alive. And I am well. And I am not on a sinking boat. And I do not need a lifeboat right now. And yet I am missing it. I am missing it when I let another day slip by where I do not live inside of the one thing I say I want to do for others if ever there comes a time when I am running out of time: affirm them. Tell them who they are becoming. Don’t let them get swallowed up by the valleys and the hard things of this present moment and just beg them to keep their eyes on what will come. Enough trust, and hard work, and good deeds will get you places you cannot imagine. Enough of your skin in the game is going to change you and make you into someone’s miracle one day.

Life will never get un-crazy. We can't worship the idea of one day having enough time to say what we really need to say. That time is now. Right now. It’s just this: look at the people you love, the ones who surround you, every once in a while. Look at them and make sure you tell them how you really, truly feel. Don’t wait for a holiday. Don’t wait for a time when you have them in your grips again. Just pick up the phone. Send a quick text. Write a little note and stick a stamp to the envelope.
Each one of us is fighting a battle we don’t really talk about that often. It’s hard for all of us. Some days it feels harder. Other days, easier. But you always feel lighter, you always feel like you want to fight harder, when someone picks you out from the crowd and tells you you’re capable. Hardworking. Earnest. True.

Maybe just pick someone out today. Maybe just let them know with a subtle nudge, “Hey, I see the fire in you. I see you. And I want you to know that you matter more than you think.”
- Hannah Brencher


Friday, November 21, 2014

Recently, I had the opportunity to work with two amazing organizations at once: Socality & VRSLY. A fellow church-member, and one of the founders of Socality, Paul Tellefesen contacted me and asked if I would be interested in creating some hand-lettered pieces for Socality PDX to be featured on VRSLY. I was so excited to be able to contribute and wanted to commemorate this opportunity on my blog too. It was so cool because not only was I able to work with these awesome organizations, but I was also able to connect & collaborate in a different way with other artists & people all over the world. It was so neat looking at the #madewithvrsly  & #socalitypdx hashtags & seeing how people used my writing to share their stories with the world via Instagram. It has truly been such a gift to me to be able to use one of my gifts to help people connect with others & make this big world seem a little bit smaller. Below are some instagram posts I created and some of my favorites from my featured time on VRSLY.

For Day 1: The Movement Is Love

Day 2: Created To Create

Day 3: Your Story Matters

deux & trois - Part II

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dress: BCBG; Florals: Query Events

deux & trois
a homage to 22 & a new chapter; 23

one two, one two
step after step, one year after another
seize it, seize it make sure it's not like any other
bravery, bravery it's your very core my dear
persistent adventure; dismiss every fear
heavenly whispers that calm my heart and mind
trying, trying, searching to find
patience, humility, discipline, whatever it takes to be refined
seeking, seeking He shows up, I'm found
loosened, untied, He ravels me unbound
genuine friendships built and tried 
stuffed faces with all things sweet and fried
warm hugs, heart to hearts, endless dancing, & bellied laughter
celebrating youth, cool breezes, missed sunrises, 
& reminiscing over brunch the morning after
falling leaves, muddy boots, teepee living, and hearts intertwined
lasting moments, memories captured and hearts rendered one of a kind
two three, two three
leaps, leaps, silent steps, head down, heart open, learn to really love, be true
turn to me, turn to me, I'll never leave, I'm always with you
be here, love big, stick with Me
you're found, there's no fear, set sail, rejoice, you're free.

more info & tips on creating your own fort gathering below.

#SEYSEYTurns23 - Part I

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Florals by Query Events, Cake by A Slice of Life Cakes, Macarons by Laura Macarena

Since I was a child, I've always celebrated my birthday one way or another. From hotel sleepovers, to tea parties, from wedding inspired large gatherings, to dinners with my closest friends. As I've gotten older and parties have undoubtedly come to look very different, I found myself retreating to the things I enjoyed most growing up. My mind landed upon forts. Whether it be with my parents or my cousin or my best friends, building "forts" were always my favorite. For a great part of my childhood I had various canopies hanging above my bed because I always loved the secluded and whimsical look and feel of being surrounded by a light, ethereal fabric.

So I decided to retreat back to this thought process. Keeping the idea nearly completely a secret, I invited a few of my closest friends over for dinner at my house. We sat under the stringed lights and drank cider and wine, listening to 1989 - sidenote: can we have a discussion in the comment section about how good this album is please, and being ridiculous as usual. I even got my friends to call me SeySey, a nickname I've always desired that never took root. I loved being able to be surrounded by some of the people who know me best and was so grateful for each person's presence. My parents helped me create this mini haven and it was so neat to see my little dream that had been festering in my head come to life.

On my actual birthday, I was seriously overwhelmed with so much love, gratitude, and excitement. I was moved to tears throughout the day and was ugly laughing by the end of the night because I was so giddy. My best friend called me at midnight and we ended up talking for an hour, my office gave me cards and cupcakes, my phone flooded with sweet texts, calls, emails, and posts, another sweet friend surprised me at my office with lunch, and a few friends even surprised me with a dinner, gifts, and a chantilly cake adorned with the most beautiful sparklers. I ended the night dancing to the music in our heads with one of my besties & even getting a little birthday shoutout from Zooey Magazine. And of course, resided one last time for the night in my wonderland of a fort. 22 was a really, really good year.  I have been SOOOOO incredibly blessed, and believe me, I know how undeserving I am. God has given me opportunities greater than I've even imagined at this stage in my life and love and relationships there's no way I could've ever earned. This year... I learned, I grew, I acquired new friendships that I cherish so dearly, I had heartbreaks and new experiences and faced challenges head-on. As disappointment was felt even more dreams came true and I honestly believe 22 may have been the best year of my life. But there's a little voice in my head, and yes, that voice very well may be MJ himself, that says 23 is going to be even better.

Thank you guys for sticking along for the ride.

xx, SeySey

(click below to see photobooth & cake-cutting photos!)