lilies & sparrows

Tuesday Choices.

…so I decided that happiness is better. Joy is better. It’s better than wallowing in haves and have-nots. The way of joy is better. So I choose it. You have a choice too, you know? Two paths to choose today. As said in Deuteronomy, “oh that you would choose life.” It’s a choice. Stand up, walk in it, choose it. You have power in today - decide on joy. Settle on joy. Direct your feet towards joy. Carry out your day in joy. Today holds all the joy you can stand - choose to own it. In my mind, joy owned, celebrated and shared defines a well-lived life - joy, joy, increasing joy. xx “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20 ESV)

I like you.

Over margaritas and some good healthy gossip, several precious friends and I gathered for the ever-bonding meal of queso, chips and tequila. It had been a Tuesday and we “just needed to linger together.” To talk ex-boyfriends and complexities of work, future baby names and the true meaning of motorboating.

— and then one said the most lovely of phrases “I just need affirmation.” Whew - don’t we all?

Her brass confidence, often hidden by women, startled me just a bit. A confession common amongst lifelong friends, but this was a group with fresh, new roots. And instantly, I liked her.

So hear today, that I like you. More than you are brave, you are capable, you are successful, you are strong — all of which I am most certain you are — hear today, I like you. Don’t you need to hear it?

Affirmation has toxic potential should we become dependent; so, I, an affirmation addict, must root myself in the promise that I am “chosen by the beloved.”

And from those roots, we turn that affirmation and acceptance back out to the world — and tell them what our Savior said on the cross:

I like you.

Hear that today.

Love,
the girl who is happy to be writing again.

the music with which the bells of heaven ring, a song in a word, an ocean for comprehension, a matchless oratorio in two syllables, a gathering of the hallelujahs of eternity in five letters. — Pretty words on the sweet name of Jesus written by Charles Spurgeon.

settle down, it will all be clear.

home.

This I know, that God is for me — Psalm 56:9

as you are

A week slipped into two, a month and then two weekends in Atlanta, a wedding, several beach trips and a work trip led me to here.

Months - plural - without writing. And also to these boots:

Sigh, but back to writing.

Who would have thought the thing that lights sparklers inside my chest is the thing that I have buried in the bottom dusty dresser drawer? Under faded sorority swap shirts and the tap shoes I still cling to in the event my career as a Rockette takes off, I hid writing.

In actuality after shoving that drawer shut, I sprinted away from it.

But passions have a way of finding us.

And I know I have some sliver of meaning in writing. Many of you make numbers into beauty (bless you child) and many of you have the patience of Job with a classroom of bubbling, talkative 1st graders. Several of you know medicine well enough to heal people.

For me, beauty is words woven into art. And I have neglected them enough to be rendered wordless.

Have you ever been here? Stuck? It’s quite scary, no?

Whether it be in a career, in a relationship, in your spiritual life - we all fight seasons of quick sand. Ankles to calves to knees, we involuntarily sink deeper.

What is our rescue plan when we feel lassoed in a pit?

We dig and dig and dig. Deep into Truth. Until we “know, believe and understand” who we are in the Lord. Until we know that we are not stuck because we are lavishly loved children of a purposed-filled God - whose unruly love knitted you in the womb, sings over you in the night and promises new joy at the break of daylight.

Until we are knelt down, bowed low, we dig deep.

I believe the purpose-less days come from drawing WHO we are from this side of heaven. When we seek definition from a broken world instead of from our very-present Savior, it never feels whole. That is why Paul tells us to “fix our eyes on Jesus” because everything else loses it’s luster. Businesses fail, people leave, jobs flop, money disappears. 

Pursue, fight, change, be, grow. Several of my favorite people call this season “becoming” and I readily raise & clink my glass to that. Because I’m living this becoming. I’m living this here and there, this watering your own God-ordained patch of grass and trust ME, follow ME, lock eyes with ME.

Because despite the feeling, you.are.not.stuck. In fact, you sink faster in quick-sand when you a panic. Experts say to relax, breathe deeply and take your time - anxiety makes one lose buoyancy and sink quicker. Tis true, no?

You are becoming, my dear.

Becoming more grounded, more lovely, more alive. Relax, breathe deeply and take your time. There is pain in shedding and regrowth, but is new life not always, always, always for the better?

Do the thing that lights the sparklers in your chest - when they burn, you glow. And baby you’re a firework.

greenville.

She seemed like a James Taylor kind of girl. The kind who wouldn’t mind windows down, in fact prefers the breeze, begs to ride in the Wrangler and tends to tuck stray wildflowers behind her ear.

But it was just a subway ride. Strangers brushing shoulders between here and there. A glance exchanged between Bowery and Canal.

She was unlike anyone he’s ever met yet he’s never met her.

I’m losing my mind, he thought as she drummed her fingers to the steady beat of the subway car clicking on the tracks.

At the abrupt motion of the slowing train, she worked her way past briefcases and grocery bags to the door - her exit. Surveying the car in a daydream glaze, she caught his eyes fixed on her. Blushing, she held his gaze, grinned, nodded and scurried off at Bowery and Delancy.

Without so much as a word, she wrecked him with daydreams of sundresses and Jeep rides in the heavy heat of a Carolina summer.

grace in my garden

One early Spring morning, I wandered over to our side yard - a place I rarely visit - and discovered this pink beauty blooming. My heartbeat stopped for nearly an hour. Peonies? In my yard? I am dreaming, no way Lord that this is real. 

But they were. And I quickly went from an entirely normal 20-something girl to the strange lady who greets her flowers in the morning telling them how very lovely they are.

The first bouquet left me nearly speechless.

Continuing to bloom, I continued to adoring, swooning conversations with them. Peonies make me do crazy things, I tell you.

But that is how the Lord works, isn’t it? A day like any other, an afternoon stifled in schedules and deadlines, delicate pink peonies bloomed in my yard. 

No planning, planting or watering - absolutely no effort - just the most gorgeous flower of all simply blooming for me and my 5 roommates.

The Lord swiftly, softly whispered the Truth that weaves through - exactly, you did nothing. Receive, peonies & grace. Both are yours for the taking.

The first day, I picked a few. One here and one there. It seemed quite strange to claim something as my own that I had absolutely no hand in.

Before long, the best part of my day was spent scissors in hand, clipping blossoming, blooming, popping pink flowers. I dare that there was no happier girl in Nashville.

I received and received and received. Thankful that my severely handicapped green thumb was of no hindrance to these beauties - thankful that despite my shortcomings, grace blooms.

cultivating

Oh hello long lost friends of mine!

Recently I’ve seen more and more of the “make it happen, live it out, don’t settle for anything less than a life that sparkles” movement across this blog world of ours and I just had a little bit to say about that.

Especially since many of you just moved that graduation tassle from right to left (!!!! so proud !!!!) and you’re entering this wild world called Post-Grad.

So, I am a firm, firm, firm believer (as I’m most certain you are too) that we have agency over our own life. Like ol’ Don says “you write your own story” and we determine how ours will read. However, I refuse to relay that message to you as I am a first-hand sufferer of the ‘do more, be more’ disease.

So yes, go, do, dream, believe, be. Take on that world and change it, by George. Hear me cheering for you!

I’m a fan of that.

But if it feels like a weight, like another person telling you you’re not enough, don’t believe it. Hear me say, you are enough. Yes there is more potential you can achieve. Yes you’ve got more reach and stretch left in those arms of yours. Yes, you should deeply survey the place you are in your life and see what you have at your little fingertips that helps you leverage a dream.

But don’t rush it. Don’t feel that at 23 you should be owning your own company.

In fact, I don’t think you should, quite honestly. You have no idea how to run a business. You have never bought insurance or fired an employee. You’re young, baby you.are.young.

Learn from the pros. Learn from the ones who have done it before and edit, change it, but learn it.

And when you click a blog and someone’s life looks rosey through their DSLR camera and all their outfits look impeccably styled and their hair perfect while frolicking in a field of clovers and they wax poetic about intimate six-course meals in Tuscany or their ER doctor husband who rescued a dying seal last night - you take that iPhone instagram, put on that J.Crew top you’ve worn 10,000 times, eat a spoonful of peanut butter, hug the person beside you whoever he/she may be and b-r-e-a-t-h-e.

All our lives are not blog-worthy.

Thank God because ya’ll would be so bored with mine. 

Be You [already enough]. Do You [already enough] 

heart you.

Indeed, I count everything as a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Phil 3:7

"Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness." Psalm 37:3

snapshot : the three-piece suit

In the early days, I knew he was special by his tendency to wear three-piece suits on Tuesday afternoon strolls. And the day my eyes were clouded with questions, moving home to take care of Mama or stay with him, he leaned in and said “I know one thing, you’re mine for today. Let’s dance.” Mighty special, alright.

60 years later, Mama’s on the other side of heaven and whenever we have fork-in-the-road decisions, questions with no peaceful answers, sun-filled days that settle in like a cloud-covered night sky - he whispers our time-tested cure for the blues “I know one thing, you’re mine for today. Let’s dance.”

Special, alright.

neck candy giveaway.

Listen to this story:

I’m a big ol’ fan of Amber Lehman and when I saw she started styling several artists in HeavyMetalbyLW jewelry, I instantly fell for Lauren and her designs.

Then, on the 4th of July, LW walked.into.my.house with her massive, lightening bolt smile and short, blonde pixie haircut. I died. It was like seeing a celebrity in my living room.

Fast-forward 10 months and Lauren is one of my dearest friends who I somehow convinced to let me do PR for her line (still feel like I cheated the system here).

A-maze image from the Fall photo shoot.

Lauren designed a custom piece for the ever-chic VIE Magazine, based in Santa Rosa, Florida aka my heaven. The VIE ladies are sweetly giving the piece away (!!!) on their Facebook page and all you have to do is ‘Like’ them (duh, which you already do) and enter on the ‘Givies’ tab. That’s it!

No strings.

No hoops.

Just a good old fashioned giveaway.  

Now get your hustle on, the giveaway ends tonight!

"Success is not a future event - it is the progressive realization of worthwhile goals. Thus you are either successful today or you are not."

Boom. Tell me ‘bout it, Dan Miller.

Take it from this lady, success is built. And we have the great opportunity to be successful in multiple areas of life - career, relationships, spiritual, physical, financial. So maybe you are not seeing success in one of those areas, that does not make you ‘unsuccessful’.

Build success somewhere in your life. I promise you’ll feel better about all the others too. 

#randomTuesdaythoughtsfromMCK

Barefoot and martini in hand, she was 20 again with sparkling eyes, a dream in her heart and direction in her footsteps. And then he came, she thought. Barreling down the lanes of independence and ambition, the most glorious of train wrecks occurred one balmy July night in a breezy shag bar on Myrtle Beach. A collision happened, north now was south, east now was west, right turned left and up flipped down. Shagging on the Carolina coast, her ambition redirected towards a life built with him. One she never imagined before July 16th, 1947 and one she couldn’t breathe without after. 

And now, fleeting peeks into her past sneak up on nights like this. When work has taken him away for the weekend and the children have scattered to the neighbors for a night of sleepovers, hide-and-go seek and far too many sweets for her liking.

Barefoot and martini in hand, she leads a rowdy evening of solo Carolina shagging with a thankful heart that one mid-summer evening those sparkling eyes found a new flame, that heart rooted dream found a new horizon and the direction in her footsteps spun and dipped right into him.

hair wars.

Ever since I became friends with the ever-adorable Parker Welling, I’ve been envious of long, wavy/curly light brown with a touch of blonde hair  - PW does it perfectly. 

See?

Yep she’s real. And beautiful. Oh and the lady can s-i-n-g (perks of living in Nashville, your dearest friends aren’t just choir singers they’re writing-and-getting-Carrie-cuts-and-talk-of-the-town artists. Thank goodness I have my tambourine, right?)

So, growing out my hair has been quite the challenge. Someone once said that it takes curly hair longer to grow because when it comes out of my head it twists instead of just growing straight — I’m not sure if that is accurate, but I suppose it makes sense?

NOPE.

Alas here’s some hair I have been envious of as of late: 

Oh my my, just pining after some long locks of curls. Today, I visit Angelica my hair magician and I believe I’ll take the dark plunge - thoughts, concerns? One time in 11th grade I let a man who called himself an “artist” color my hair dark brown (he was channeling Brittany Murphy - um. clearly that wasn’t a wise idea) and then I cried all night and immediately went back and said “I don’t care what you do, but make me blonde again.”

In other news, there may be a series of hair posts in the near future. Stay tunneedd.

bragging on nash + published!

Winter of 1988, Davis and Angel Kinney became joyful new parents. And in the summer of 1988, they unknowingly arranged my marriage.

All it took was ten tiny 6 month old toes wiggling in that creamy white Gulf of Mexico sand and I was one enamored girl. Hooked. Marriage it was.

Fast-forward 20-something years and whenever my car turns onto that skinny two-lane stretch of heaven known as 30-A, butterflies commence. Wedding bells possibly?

And when I had the opportunity to write for Santa Rosa-based VIE (thanks to my dear Ainsley) and brag on my current home of Nashville - sparks flew, worlds collided, it was a lovely affair.

Words provide an venue for me to unfurl all that emotions, circumstances and thoughts conjure up. There is such beauty in rhythm and tone. I find the way words align to create a pulse, speed and emotion fascinating.

Thus, the chance to be published was quite the cherished moment. Additionally, I wrangled my sweet friend and gorgeous photographer Rick Bennett to snap a few lovely shots of town. Working with friends is just about the best thing.

Oh hey beauty! Ainsley wrote a feature on Jillian as well:

And spotted some Leona swim:

Such a joy. If you’d like, you can read the article here. Thanks VIE!