Convictions: Now is the Time to Own Them

All throughout the spring and summer of 2020, I read. The daily timeline and load were so different, so gentle to my soul, that I read two books at a time.

I read in bed in the morning and I read outside in the sun in the afternoon. Initially, I didn’t see the recurring book themes. But, by the end of year, I graciously accepted what I gained from the patterns that I saw in the pages.

I graciously accepted that the arrows were pointing toward living differently.

How long does it take to gain a new pattern or habit?

The experts say it takes about 66 days, or two months. I find it humorous that I am writing to you at the first week of March, almost two months from the beginning of the year. Exactly the time in which it takes the brain to learn new habits.

The pattern that spoke to me on the pages of books. The pattern that I have been working quite hard at the last few months. IS. A SET. OF DISCIPLINES. Almost all of the disciples start with S – which I like because most of my closest friends’ names start with S.

My nature is to tell you about all the fails. All the places that I am falling short or plain out forgetting to care about. On the other hand, I could show you my calendar which would evidence the tools and wins that I have experienced as patterns form.

But I will do neither.

Instead, I am sharing with you the dance in my mind and spirit as I live and breathe in new wineskins.

I can’t seem to get away from the parable of the wineskins. It has merged in my mind with Galatians 2:18.

If I rebuild those things that I tore down, I show myself to be a lawbreaker.

Here is what I said in December and in February and now again in March:

You can’t put new wine into old wineskins, or the container will burst. You can’t rebuild what God tore down. Or else. You’ll burst. Or be a lawbreaker. Both sound bad.

I’m finding that the wineskin parable is about creating new patterns and not going back to the old habits that are slowly dying. Remember, new habits take at least 66 days to form, so yes, it is a slow death of the old.

Let’s pause here mamas.

Trying to live in the old is a slow death.

Even if it feels painful, boring, maddening or maybe you’re just too numb or bitter? Even so. Stop for just a moment.

Consider whether you are living and breathing something that was meant to be dead. Write it down right now. Scribble it somewhere. There is always something dead to shed. Don’t be so afraid of the new that you won’t acknowledge what needs to go.

I will tell you what I am trying to let die.

Dead to Shed #1: Missing/Hitting the Mark

I am trying to let die the belief that I haven’t hit the mark as a person when I don’t put in a blow out day at the law firm. I started writing down everything I do in a day in a journal once or twice a week. I am proving to myself that I do a lot at the law firm. That I do a lot in life. Changing my “markers” is a path to changing how I judge the success of the day – which is, in turn, shifting my worth towards the way of Jesus and not the way of Sasha.

I don’t want to kill you with me and my dying beliefs/habits. But. I have three more.

Dead to Shed #2: Impacting the Global Poor

I have been convinced (by one of the authors of one of the books) that, if I don’t spend any money one day per week, then I will positively impact the global poor who are working seven days a week for little pay or as slaves in factories that are producing the stupid stuff I order on Amazon. One day per week of no purchasing could result in one day of rest for one soul. It’s a slow death, but I will do it in 66 days or less.

Dead to Shed #3: One Person/One Moment

I am letting die the notion that impact is measured by big numbers. I am replacing it with a simple trust in God that tells me that intentionality and obedience in this very moment is better than claiming to have faith big enough to cover a whole lifetime. One person and one moment matters greatly.

Dead to Shed #4: Headspace Over Multitasking

I am attempting to let die multitasking in exchange for headspace. I pride myself on doing many things at once. But sometimes I can choose differently. I can drive without Bluetooth tasking, texting or emailing. I can listen to a podcast without grocery shopping on Instacart or planning my week. I can complete a bible study without stopping to text at every whim. How about silence instead of multitasking? I think God has something to say if I just allowed the headspace.

Is the title of this blog starting to make sense?

In the course of the last two months, I initially set out to live by a few new principles that required the carving out of time, adjusting my head space and toning down the pace in my mind. The first month was mostly about intentionality and discipline.

But then something different began to happen. I began to feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

In my momentary choices, I began to feel the choice between the old and new habit. The old ways were just not right for the new wineskins. As I felt the conviction and the opportunity to change, it occurred to me that this is more than the conviction of the Holy Spirit. I own these new wineskins. These are my Convictions too.

Sister, here is where I feel peace and joy. As I recognize and acknowledge the fruit, I see how much I like the feeling of agreeing with the Trinity.

My commitment to new patterns and ways of living are my firmly held beliefs – My Convictions. It’s not about running for cover and curling up in a ball as the Holy Spirit convicts, it’s about claiming the Convictions. Living the Convictions. Declaring the Convictions. I feel joy as I claim the Conviction that the Holy Spirit offers me. I like that I can own the change in my life.

I won’t get too mountain toppish here. The reality is that some days I win on a few fronts and lose on others and then it flip flops the very next day. Sometimes I blow air at the conviction of the Holy Spirit and cling to the old wineskins. But I don’t like that feeling in the end.

For some, they say, it can take up to 254 days to form a habit. It takes longer for some of us to “teach” our neurons to fire up over the new patterns instead of the old. I don’t really want to take 254 days to stop contributing to oppressing the poor or multitasking over the voice of the Father. Or, basing worth or value on the vastness of achievements. Right?

What’s your list?

What are your convictions?

What new neurons do you want to fire up?

What are you missing because you’ve got the wrong noise turned up?

Who are you negatively impacting with your actions?

What part of yourself needs to be acknowledged as valuable and what part of yourself needs to turn off or tone down?

Claim Your Convictions. Live Your Convictions. Declare Your Convictions.

Feel joy as you claim the Convictions that the Holy Spirit offers you. You can own the change in your life.

Love,

Sasha

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Getting to the Heart of the Matter: Stubborn or Stuck?

In my family, we have a stubborn strain running through our DNA.

I’m not particularly against it.

This kind of stubborn keeps you from giving up when it matters. It helps you stay for the long haul in relationships and friendships. And, it keeps you following your dreams even as life’s seasons change and morph.

We are particularly stubborn with people. We believe the best, want the best and don’t like to see our loved ones give up. Whether career paths, raising families, hobbies or passions, we give you every reason to keep going no matter the obstacle.

This kind of stubborn can take you far.

When you just keep showing up and not giving up, the balance tends to fall on the good side of the pursuit. My mom says reach for the moon because you may just land on a star. This is the sparkly, shiny, shimmery side of stubborn.

Stubborn has another side. You can call it the matte finish, dull side or mix-all-of-the-paint-colors-together poo color. Yes, I did say that. It’s my middle brother’s fav emoji when he doesn’t like what I say.

This is the other side of stubborn:

  • I can’t see the (bad) reality of my marriage or close friendship.
  • I’m not a people pleaser; I just care a lot about whether people accept me.
  • Of course I understand grace, I just like to work hard to prove my value.
  • I trust God, but I feel abandoned when I don’t understand the hard things in my life.

This is the flip side of the good stubborn.

When life is going fairly well, it is hard to know if you have the good stubborn in your DNA or whether you are headed for stuck.

I remember stuck well.

The old version of myself really believed I could do it all. Full time work. Present mothering. Domestic queen. Write a book. Take two classes. Volunteer. I was very stubborn about this.

Until one day, I couldn’t go anymore.

Really, that’s what happened. I got out of bed one weekday morning. I walked partially down the hall in dim light to wake up my kids. I stopped half way and desperately prayed that I would make it back to my bed without collapsing or throwing up.

That was five years ago. It’s not possible to summarize the last five years. Instead, I have transparently shared bits and pieces of my story with you and what I have learned along the way. This post is yet another piece of that story and the growth that took place.

Are you stubborn or stuck? It’s a fine line.

I already said that the good stubborn can take you far.

The bad stubborn will take you down.

What is bad stubborn?

That’s when you are stuck. Although I tried really hard to recover from my burn out, I was using worn out tools that didn’t help me move or breathe again in new freedom. I really did try. I reflected a lot about who I wanted to be to my family and self. I wrote in my journal. I prayed. I talked to God. I got some rest. But not a lot changed.

The depression set in deeper. The anxiety began to show up during the day instead of just at night. The sound of the alarm clock caused my chest to feel like someone low volt tased me. Music turned up the anxiety instead of calming me. Work was one of the few things that steadied me. But that was one of the problems.

After getting worse, I began counseling. I mostly sat in silence for a few months. I wrote the counselor journal notes from my week. He would read them in advance of our meeting and then he would tell me stories that had principles tucked in them. After telling me the story, he would ask me what I got from it. I would eventually relearn my faith and gain an abundance of relevant tools to live by.

How does one move out of deep silence and extraordinary loss? The answers do not come with the degree I have.

But what I do know is that I had a significant revelation about six weeks into counseling. I determined that, although I had a fairly good view of myself in terms of strength, capabilities and relationship with God, there must be something off center. Otherwise, I would not be in the state I am in.

Ding. Ding. (That’s the bell of revelation).

I ventured into a new way living, a new way of understanding God and new tools to work with the mental illnesses that became part of my life at that time.

So, are you stubborn or are you stuck?

If you are good stubborn, you are pressing into the battles and obstacles that lead to life, freedom and service.

If you are bad stubborn, you probably are stuck.

I trust the timing of God. I wish that I had not suffered for the six months or so before I acknowledged I had to change the way I thought, my faith and the way I ran my life. My good stubborn ran out and I didn’t realize it. I had tipped the scales to stuck and stayed there until I almost completely lost my hope.

If you are in a place of anguish, anxiety, depression, burn out and emptiness, your good stubborn has run out. You are stuck. You will have to choose to give up your ways and relearn life and faith. Or you can remain flopping like a fish in a puddle craving oxygen.

Even if you don’t understand the path ahead or how you will navigate the loss, you will have to choose new life if you want to recover.

I am going to share my Big Three with you. This is all extra. I hope I have already said enough to help you decipher between stubborn and stuck.

The big three helped me sort my way out of silence.

Friendships

When it comes to friendships, very few are core. Most are circumstantial or peripheral. That’s okay. Cherish and rely on core friends. Enjoy the other friends as they move through the flow of your mutual lives.

Impossible Things

When it comes to control, remember that life is a moving target. The only control you have is over you. When hitting the target becomes impossible, it’s a cue that the arrow belongs to the Holy Spirit. Pass the impossibility to the one who is faithful to work out impossible things.

Expectations

When it comes to expectations, they must be based on past experience. Stay in reality when it comes to your expectations. When I am rooted in reality, I am able to plan my days with security. This means that whatever happens, I can do what’s right without fear. 1 Peter 3:6.

Do you know if you are stubborn or stuck?

The good stubborn will take you far.

If you’ve morphed into the bad stubborn, then you are probably stuck.

If you’re stuck, my hope is that you’ll simply acknowledge that there is a better way to live, think and believe. I didn’t understand the path ahead or how to navigate it, but that’s not a condition for getting unstuck. The condition is that you are willing to reach outside of yourself for wisdom, grace and the hope you need to change.

I love you my friends.

Love,

Sasha

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Grab Bag: Pick One! Vision, Friendship or Quitting

Back in December, I shared a Grab Bag. The idea was to pick one or two things from the “bag.” I shared three picks as we stepped into the Christmas season. My heart was to help us (me and you) not miss out on celebrating the season, both in inward and outward ways.  

My heart’s cry is that when you read this post, your heart will stir with excitement. I hope something in this post will cause to get busy with something good.

Grab Bag Pick One: Take One Tangible Step Towards Your Vision

This first pick is about taking action on your vision for the new year.

I am proud of you for having a long talk with your girlfriend about what you want to see happen or change or be in the new year.

I am proud of you for writing in your journal your vision for your family, your business or ministry.

I am proud of you for allowing yourself to begin again this year despite whatever may have disappointed you in the past.

Now it’s time to mold your girl talk, vision and hope into action.

My 2021 Vision Board

In January, I shared my vision board that included hospitality in the form of gatherings, meals, celebrations and workshops.

I had two vision board workshops at my home. I took care, thought, focus and time and created a space for the women I love to consider and share their vision for the year in a safe space. I had time for two workshops, but not three or four. So, I packed the supplies for the vision board, wrote a blog and gave four women the tools to create their own vision boards at home.

The new year came toppling in with much of the same angst that 2020 provided, but your dreams are still alive. God is rooting for you to pursue the passions He sewed into your heart.

Here’s the task for Grab Bag 1.

Circle back to your vision for 2021 and pursue something tangible related to it. Here are some examples:

My friend Steph’s enormously demanding career will take a significant turn towards slowdown in the next few months. Her vision is to expand her volunteer role at her church, read solely for joy, journal her hopes and dreams and consider branching out from technical writing to other genres.

I know this is mouthful.

It won’t happen all at once.

  • Steph will start a book list and set aside a few minutes each day or week to read.
  • She’ll journal in the wee hours of the morning like I know she loves to do.
  • She’ll connect with a church leader for opportunities.
  • She’ll research other writing genres.

It will happen one at a time in the right time.

The point is to take a first step and pursue it!

Grab Bag Pick Two: Step Out With A Friend

In January, my mom had a dream to collaborate her artistry with food with my love for writing. We have been talking about this for awhile and my mom made it happen. Really, she gets the blue ribbon for this one. She did her part and reminded me everyday to do mine – – until I actually did.

We created a Galentine’s gift of hand decorated sugar cookies, my mom’s prized recipe, a February Bucket list and a gratitude list. We spread the word (on very short notice) of our mother daughter love project. We got it done and now we have a prototype for doing it again, even better than the first time.

What have you been talking about with your mom, friend or business or ministry partner that hasn’t been put in motion?

Success is taking the step and sharing with others for the very first time.

Success does not have to be measured by sales, whether it went viral or whether the project is perfect.

While your aim should be excellence, perfection is not the standard.

While it matters on some level that your idea is embraced by others, fear of testing the waters should not stop you.

The task for Grab Bag Two is serving in community.

Reflect on the repetitive conversations you’ve had with your best friend, parent or partner. Is there something you both want to do together but you’ve never taken the idea to the next level? I bet there is something.

My friend Trina has a huge love for the elderly. During COVID-19, she and her best friend Cindy had the idea to create Boxes of Joy to send to seniors. Trina’s story of the last few years does not necessarily lend itself to starting a new business.

Despite the story of scarcity she could have told herself of the resources and timing, she proceeded with an abundance of hope and skill. And, she didn’t go at it alone. She took the hand of a friend whose passions aligned with hers. Thank goodness for the gift of friendship.

Passions may come to light in solitude. Dreams are often born in quiet spaces. But calling is always lived out in community.

Will you do it? Will you take the first step with the friend or family member who has always wanted to go along with you anyway? Leave fear and perfection to the wayside. Your calling is right in front of you.

Grab Bag Pick Three: Get Ready to Shed

December’s Grab Bag Pick Three will live on right here. I told a quick story about wineskins (which I still find to be a weird word). You can’t put new wine into old wineskins or the container will burst. And, you can’t rebuild things that God tore down or you’ll be a lawbreaker. Galations 2:19.

Girl, I did not realize how hard it is to dig a new template. Okay, well, that’s my tendency, to think it’s up to me to dig a new template. Rephrase. I did not realize how hard it is to be new wine and not try to fit into the old wineskins.

Let’s move on to modern English.

My word for this year is SHED.

Previously, I had a season where I spent a lot of time caring about what others thought of me and the display of my calling. I spent a lot of time seeing those who have different gifts than me as superior. I had a rough time being okay with me in a new pool as a beginner.

Sometimes it takes some time to shift towards the one voice that matters.

Okay, so where are we going with this?

If you are going to live out your calling in this season, you are going to have to shed some things.

There is a lot of noise in this world. There is an abundance of choices you can make and directions you can go. You can go down rabbit holes. Don’t get me wrong. God is in the rabbit hole. But. God is also in the shedding of the things that are off center from your calling.

Grab Bag Pick 3 is about quitting the things that do not directly relate to your calling.

Calling is not a performance. It’s a way to live that allows you to bless others through the actual person that God made you to be. If you are seeing your life through a lens where there is a three-judge panel marking your every move, reset. The measure for success is whether you are blessing at least one person. And, sometimes, that person is you as you become a little more like Christ through pursuing your calling – just like Jesus did in his life.

What should you shed?

This is where I write.

If your gift is relating to women by writing, write. You’ll have to quit a few things to give some time for that. You’ll have to add somethings that help you do that well. (Yes, that’s for me, but insert your gift into the same directive).

If you try to ___________ without quitting somethings and without getting some help with the main thing, you will be putting your gift in old wineskins. And, inevitably, the container will burst, and you will be a lawbreaker.

That may have come across harsher than planned. But it’s true.

We can live, move and breath in what He has provided, or we can explore rabbit holes. God will be there in either case. But.

Taking directions for the road trip contains more wisdom than driving south to Orlando from Key West.

That’s it girls. 

Grab Bag Pick One is taking a step towards your vision in a tangible way.

Grab Bag Pick Two is serving in community.

Grab Bag Pick Three is about shedding the things that do not directly relate to your calling.

Pick One!

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Welcome 2021: The Good Work of New Beginnings

Whoosh! And the month of January is almost at its end.

January represents some of my favorite themes. I’ve always been madly in love with fresh starts and new plans.

For me, 2020 brought into focus the meaning and pursuit of rhythms in my life. I welcomed back the word intentional when it comes to rhythms.

Intentionality has been overused in my opinion.

Be Intentional. Blah, blah, blah.

If you don’t actually put some power behind the punch of intentionality, it’s just an intention. Intentional gets washed away with every distraction, moment of exhaustion or stressful season.

When I hit bottom physically, emotionally and spiritually almost five years ago, I started from scratch. I began to rethink the meaning of time. I rescripted the physical part of my life to be kinder to my mind and soul. I figured out what made me tick in a healthier way and moved toward my giftings. I began a different journey because the old ways were crushing the person that God made me to be.

I am going to share some of the key areas I hit on this January. All three will lead you to rhythms that ground you and stand as your safety net as you intentionally become more of the woman God made you to be.

Daily Calendar

Word of the Year

Your Vision

My purpose in sharing is for you to consider what hits home for you. My purpose is to encourage you to begin a godly pursuit in the areas that spark your heart. There isn’t anything you can’t accomplish if you are utilizing your daily calendar with a purpose and a vision.

By accomplish, I specifically mean, pursue with grace, as your anthem.

Daily Calendar

Your daily calendar holds the key to becoming who God made you to be.

It’s January. Ask yourself a few questions. If you have been checking in on me on Instagram, I’ve been offering up journal questions to help you move into the new year.

Your answers fuel and speak into your daily calendar. If there’s a disconnect between what you think, who you are and how you are living your life, then sitting down with your calendar is your next step.

When I hit bottom, one of the tasks my counselor gave me was to write out my weekly calendar including the stuff he was suggesting for me to do to get healthy again.

When your brain is scattered and your heart is broken, writing out a life-giving calendar is not easy. But I did it. I now check myself with this exercise when I feel lost or when my purpose feels foggy and dim.

There is a lot we don’t have control over in this life. But I honestly believe that we have more control over how we spend our time than we think.

Try the exercise and you will find a viable path to God’s plans for you this year.

Side Note: Have you heard of the bullet journal?

It’s basically merging your journal, planner and daily rhythms into one notebook. If you like artsy things, but aren’t quite the Picasso you’d like to be, this is a great creative outlet.

I started strong week one of 2021 (with the bullet journal), but I realized that it would take more time and effort that I was willing to give. So, I used my favorite planner and added the bullet journal style to it. Less time but still serving my creative outlet.

Here’s my hybrid bullet journal. Do what works!

Word of the Year

I love quizzes and tests. Isn’t it fun to learn about yourself? To get to the bottom of why you need so much alone time. Or why you are uncomfortable with conflict. Or why it’s hard to ask for what you need. Yes, so fun.

I discovered a word for the year a few years ago when Dayspring offered a quiz. I later ran into Lara Casey’s awesome end of the year blog series which includes finding your word (and goals) for the year. The Dayspring quiz is quick and Lara’s series is long. Try either one or my version below.

It’s not that having a word for the year changes everything. The value is in the time it takes to consider the themes God is speaking into your life.

If you haven’t landed on a word yet, here are some clues to help you reflect.

  1. Look at the photos in your phone categorized by the twelve months of the previous year.
  2. Page or scroll through your 2020 calendar.
  3. Do the same with your journal.
  4. Write down the books you’ve read and the bible studies you’ve completed.
  5. Bullet your successes and failures from the past year.
  6. Anything else you can think of that allows you to review the past year.

What are the common threads? What is God speaking to you through your reflection? What were your blind spots? Hopes? Dreams come true? Things you’re still waiting for?

All of these arrows will lead you to a word or phrase. Go ahead, give yourself the freedom to reflect.

It’s okay to cry as you reflect if you feel it. Angry? That’s okay too. Grateful? Some years are abundant even in loss and grief.

Let it out and then let it grow into something fresh and new for the new year.

My word for this year is Shed and here are the reasons why.

Shed the Overwhelm: There is really only one voice that matters.

Shed the Need for Stuff: We don’t need more than we already have to do the will of God.

Quit the Things: Your Calling has a finer focus than you think.

SHED: Live.Move.Breathe. In What He Has Already Provided.

Seek God. He is not far from us, for in Him we live, move and have our being. Acts 17:28

Vision Boards

I believe strongly in visual inspiration for the things God is leading us to. A vision board is a daily visual reminder of your goals. It’s not the place to write the goals or the place to execute them (i.e., daily calendar). The vision board is a place to articulate your dreams through images and words.

I have a ton of fun with boards with the ladies who take my Follow Your Call class. We create idea boards as we brainstorm God’s call over each woman’s life. But I’ve never done it for myself at the beginning of the new year. Here’s mine.

My board rests on the window sill at my desk. I look at it every day.

Here are the tools to create your own vision board. I hope you will grab your girls and do it together.

Whoosh! And the month of January is almost at its end.

Even so. It’s not too late to embrace fresh starts and new plans.

Go ahead. Be intentional. With your Calendar. Your Word for the Year. Your Vision.

When the distractions come rolling in. When the occasional exhaustion sets in. When the unexpected, impossible circumstances arrive. Your time. Your words. Your vision. These God inspired truths will be your safety net.

When your brain is scattered. When your heart is broken. When your purpose feels foggy or worthless. Your time. Your words. Your vision. These God inspired truths will ground you. These truths will cast you back to hope. There is no greater weapon against the darkness than hope.

All Along You Were Blooming
– Morgan Harper Nichols

You can always return to the good journey. The path that is fertile ground for a healthy mind and soul. The path that honors and refreshes your body. The steps that lead you toward your giftings. You can always reset. You can always choose to become more of who God made you to be.

Embrace The Good Work of New Beginnings!

Until next time, my sweet friends.

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Meaningful Book List of 2020: Read One!

If you check in on me on Instagram, I posted my 2020 book list. It is the perfect time of year to share such a list. I humored myself by writing that I won’t be sharing my 2021 book list in January. Simply because I am not that organized and far too emotional about my book choices to have a preselected list.

Cheers to imperfection!

So, why share my reading list? In some ways, the books we read are like the photos we take, the events we go to, the people we meet. What we read impacts us. For me, books help me grow and they spark my imagination and actions in a godly way. I am guessing it is the same for you, with whatever good things you enjoy.

Here we go girls! Enjoy the list and, if you don’t read or listen to books on a regular basis, this is one of my 2021 challenges to you!

One more thing, I placed them in the order I read them. It’s not a best is first list. And definitely don’t judge them by the length of what I wrote. Length varies but not my positive journey with each book.

Obviously. For two reasons.

First, I’ve spent the last five years growing and learning though seasons of depression, anxiety and panic. Tools, counseling and community have been my remedy. This past February, I used one of the methods in this book to talk myself down on the way to speaking on a panel. I was doubting my value and was sure the other panelists were more accomplished and successful than me. I followed the steps in this book on the way to the panel and got out of my own head. Woohoo!

Second, I love the vision of Jennie Allen. I ran across IF:Table online several years ago on a road trip home from NC. It led me to IF:Gathering which I have been a part of for the last four years. The message of discipleship and community has ministered and empowered me to grow and help other women to do the same.

Margaret writes like you are sitting in the living room with her. I completed this 52 week devotional in seven weeks. I even colored the spectacular coloring pages. I started this at the height of the quarantine which probably explains the coloring and the daily commitment, but fun nonetheless!

Margaret is a cancer survivor, bible teacher and outspoken, loving sister.

She authored a study on my bible boyfriend James that I may put on my desk for January.

I read this book alongside Get Out of Your Head because of the similar themes. The books are very different in style but address the truth which is: Identify the false beliefs in your mind and talk back with the truth of Christ.

I met Hayley at the Meet the Authors tent at Nest Fest. She wrote in the book: Sasha, He is mighty and bright in you! Keep going!

Side note: If you are a millennial, I think you will especially like this book.

This is one of the two guy authored books I read this year. Ann Voskamp wrote the forward which is how I found the book. I’ve realized over the last few years that daily rhythms and spiritual disciplines supersede the day’s agenda. I used to and often still revert to running off performance, the needs of others and the demands of the day, but I’m getting better at prioritizing rhythms and disciplines. The neat part of this book is that the author, for each discipline or rhythm, provides philosophical, biblical and historical context, plus a good story. Pastor Shigematsu includes intimate journal questions after each chapter – I answered each and every one.

You will like this book.

I can’t think of strong enough words to lovingly share this book of community. I only pass one or two books on to my mom each year and this is one of them.

I will simply say, Take your shoes off and walk with the author to places you wish you would go but don’t. Must Read. Especially if you want to walk like Jesus.

We moved one summer ago, and I used this book to decorate our master bedroom. I also used it to canvass what I had already styled in our new home. The book has beautiful pictures and gives a step by step process for styling each room. Cool, right?

Cozy Minimalism is a mindset that helps you get whatever style you love with the fewest possible items. You set your home up for true connection and rest without using more resources, money and stuff than needed.

This book taught me how to use the things I love like vintage, handmade and sentimental pieces in a way that does not clutter up the space.

In the spirit of CoMi, Myquillyn hosts an annual event in NC called the Nest Fest. Two years ago, my friend Steph and I had the best time ever. It’s all about banjo music, food trucks and creative vendors. I’m hoping to go again in October 2021.

I read this book just before it became impossible to get a copy. If you’re light skinned and admit you live in a bubble, read Latasha’s story and, with truth and love, assess your beliefs about racism in our culture. Latasha wrote a lament at the end of each chapter, similar to a spoken hymn.

As a white, middle class person, it was sometimes hard for me to read out loud the lines of repentance for collective racism. But I think that is just one of Latasha’s calls to us as a country.

I highly recommend checking out bethebridge.com to see how you can be part of the dialogue.

There is so much depth here. Few books stun me.

Dr. Thompson’s description of the Trinity’s creation, love and vulnerability towards us moved me to seeing God for who he actually is – closer to my humanity and kinder than I have ever imagined. And, I already believed God to be infinitely kind.

I will oversimplify and say that shame may be keeping you from releasing good into the world. This book will help you understand why and overcome the shame in your story.

My friend Suzanne gave me this book a few years ago. She doesn’t have time to read but she knows I will. If you do life with a group of authentic, transparent sisters, this is your anthem. If you’ve been hesitant about pursuing real community, this is your instruction guide. For more of my thoughts on this book, read Let’s Do It: Choose Real with Two Questions.

Alia preaches:

Your gift may be your weakness, and in that place, you may show yourself to be strong.

The author’s story and biblical perspective is eye opening and empowering.

She shares nakedly about growing up in poverty, the love between she and her husband, her darkness suffering from mental illness. She uses a language of hope and grace that only someone who has experienced weakness can know.

We read this book in my bible study together. The resulting conversations about poverty, racism, births of our kids, mental illness and imposter syndrome were rich and needed by all.

This is my first year commemorating Advent. It’s so strange, but I am not ready to talk about Advent yet. I am a little behind on the daily devotion, but that’s not the reason for me not being ready to talk.

Can you think of a time when you tried something new, but lack context and experience?

Like the time I took a course called Performance Theater and didn’t know why we started with Aristotle. Yes, duh, he is responsible for the way we analyze and create format for productions. So, with Advent, I really haven’t reached my Yes, duh moment.

Advent is more than the cultural, commercial push back. It’s sort of like letting yourself be solemn so that you can prepare to usher in the birth of the King in joy. I may circle back to this in another post, but I will be back to Advent again next year.

Enjoy the list and, if you don’t read or listen to books on a regular basis, this is one of my 2021 challenges to you!

Love,

Your Soul Sister

Sasha

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