September was an extremely full month of festivals, friends, and somehow a lot of time to myself in between that was refreshing and oh so needed. Fall has officially started, and I can see and feel the season’s changing beauty in the air with each passing day – what a gift. Here’s what filled my time in September!

What I did

Visited the Van Gogh Immersive ExperienceA completely immersive experience of one of the most famous artist’s work shown in Atlanta? Yes, please! I absolutely LOVED getting to see more of Van Gogh’s artwork that I’ve never seen before and learning about his life, struggles, and history. Did you know that he was a devoted Christian who studied theology in hopes of becoming a pastor for a time? I was pleasantly surprised to learn about that! One of my favorite quotes from him that I saw at the exhibit was, “It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.

Attended the Paulding Meadows Arts & Crafts Festival. The last time I attended this annual festival, I was in my high school marching band performing in the hot sun and wearing khaki pants – in the 80 degree Georgia heat of September. Let’s just say it was a *less than ideal experience. When a friend invited me to accompany her to the festival this year, I knew I had to go and get to experience it as an excited spectator and consumer. I ended up buying some candles, a pair of handmade earrings, a huge bag of caramel kettle corn, and I got 3 hardback books for free from the library stand! It was a lovely time getting to see so many different forms of art and crafted goods.

House/pet sat for some other friends. I’ve come to learn that if you stay at someone’s house for them while they’re on vacation, word gets around and a lot of other people will ask you to do the same for them (which is a GREAT business when you get to work from home). I had a great time staying in a friend’s house with a dog and two cats that followed me around everywhere! On the third night that I was there, I realized that what I was experiencing was truly what living alone would feel like since I wasn’t expecting anyone to eventually come home each night. It was weird to think about but also made me realize that living alone wasn’t all that bad (I think I can say that because I knew there was a definite end to it though, haha).

Attended the Arts Festival at Rose Lawn. The last time I attended this annual festival, I was a competitive gymnast performing in the hot and humid September-in-Georgia weather, and it was honestly not very fun for me at all. I invited my friend to join me for this one and it was so much more fun this time! There were SO many pottery stands, and I ended up purchasing 9 books for only $10 from The Bookmobile, a non-profit organization that provides library services to children and adults free of charge. I got to say hello and catch up with my former coaches and the mom of one of my former teammates, and we ended the excursion with some delicious shaved ice!

Took a day trip to Crow Mountain Orchard. My dad and I went on a drive towards his hometown to pick up some apples from this orchard that has about 150 acres of apples, peaches, necatarines, and other berries! The drive and weather were absolutely lovely, we got to see some friendly pups, and have some good conversations on the drives there and back.

Started learning a hymn on piano. My church cleaned out its library last month, and when I saw that a few hymnals were there for the taking you better believe I took one home. I’ve been working on learning how to play “Be Thou My Vision” all month, and *almost have the treble part flowing well!

Built an Ikea bookshelf with a friend. I’ve been itching to get new bookshelves for the office space in my house, but sadly it doesn’t look like that will be happening for me anytime soon. So when my friend bought a new bookshelf for her house I couldn’t wait to contribute my mediocre furniture-building expertise to help her put it together. I love getting to vicariously live through my friends’ lives, and the bookshelf turned out looking great!

What I discovered

It really is ironic that I found three new (to me) podcasts in September after I’d made the decision at the beginning of the month to start cutting back on my podcast listening intake (which I still did if you can believe it – ha!). 

By Faith podcastI found this podcast through Andrea Burke, a woman whose faith, art, and writing I deeply admire and am inspired by. Her episode on this podcast shares her story of faith and redemption, and it was a beautiful depiction of the gospel’s saving power. I also really enjoyed listening to Jasmine Holmes’ episode too!

Coffee + Crumbs podcastI stumbled upon this podcast in the middle of the month when the new season launched talking about the topic of friendship, which is one of my absolute favorite things to experience and learn about! I made some great mental notes about how to be a good and intentional friend from these episodes, and I’m really excited to keep listening and following along with the other content that they produce.

In the Lord, I Take Refuge podcast. This podcast was a perfect addition to my queue when I saw that each episode was less than 5 minutes long, simple, encouraging, and full of wisdom and truth. Dane Ortlund’s daily reading of the Psalms and commentary has been incredibly grounding for my soul.

Kaitlyn Bouchillon. I was first introduced to Kaitlyn through this Instagram post on how to love single people well, and this quote from her really hit home for me: “Life will remind me that I’m single; you reaching out reminds me I’m not alone.” After reading through her list of “texts to send your single friends” in the post, I spent the next half hour reading some of her other posts, checking out her blog, and subscribed to her newsletter. Her words have been a source of encouragement and inspiration for living faithfully in the season I’m at this very moment, and it was so timely that I’ve discovered her work with what I’m walking through right now.

Hold Still album by Taylor Leonhardt. I was influenced by multiple people that I follow on Instagram to check out this album, and it has been one of the best music discoveries I’ve made in a long time. Her song “Mother’s Daughter” spoke so deeply to me, and I only wish my own mom were here to listen and nod in agreement with me as to how relatable the lyrics are to us and our relationship. The other songs that made it onto my playlist for the year are: “Happy or Whatever”, “The Bridge”, “Hold Still”, and “Keep Me Around”, which was a balm to my Enneagram 1 self.

What made me smile

Brainstorming for a new creative outlet/project. I’ve taken a complete step back from posting about my life on social media this year, which has left me wrestling with why I was compelled to do this and what I want to do moving forward with sharing my life on internet spaces moving forward (hence these monthly reviews that will likely be retiring at the end of this year). I’ve spent half of this month brainstorming the idea of creating a newsletter (!!!) that will consist of what’s happening in my life and what I’m thinking through, and I’m really excited about what I’ve come up with so far for this new project. The structure has been built out, a title has been decided on that fulfills all of my simple + alliteration dreams, and I’m working on batching content and finishing touches before I launch it into the world, so stay tuned! (PS – I’m posting this here to keep me accountable to actually go through with creating and sharing it – I’m not letting imposter syndrome hold me back this time!) If you’d like to go ahead and get on the email list, you can subscribe here!

Using the Marco Polo app with friends. I was introduced to this app by one of my friends who’s a mom and finds it easier to communicate through this medium as opposed to text messages, especially since we have conversations that always cover a lot of topics. It has been so fun connecting with friends using this app!

Reading Meet Cute: Some people are destined to meetI got this book for free at one of the arts festivals I attended this month, and it was the best fiction read I could’ve gotten right now. It’s an insanely heartwarming anthology of varying kinds of “meet-cutes” – a term I recently learned about when I told my own story of a meet-cute I had with the first friend I made in college and heard used for the first time by my pastor (go figure). It’s defined as “a scene in which the two people who will form a future romantic couple meet for the first time, typically under unusual, humorous, or cute circumstances” (source: the trusty Wikipedia). My semi-heartbroken self needed this book as a reminder that anything can potentially happen between two people, especially when you least expect it.

What I wrote down

“Life is weird and hilarious and awful and mundane.”  – Lindsay Wilkins

“I’m not just a person doing things, I’m a person who is becoming someone.”Emily P. Freeman

“Over time, we discover that His presence is better than any “happy ending” we had in mind (2 Corinthians 12).”Ray Ortlund

“I made a dent in the mountain of grief through a few tiny acts of hope.”Ashlee Gadd

“God isn’t into karma, He’s not waiting to reward you for good actions or punish you for bad ones. He just wants you—wherever you are along that spectrum—to remember He loves you and sees you and hope is coming soon.”Lore Ferguson Wilbert

“God is more interested in making us grow than having us look finished.” – Bob Goff (via Kaitlyn Bouchillon)

“The work that lasts is usually the work that takes its time.”Tsh Oxenreider

“I need to cultivate the habit of not needing immediate feedback or instant gratification. I need to relearn what it means to find satisfaction in the day’s work being done, and that’s it.”Tsh Oxenreider

“Reading books can help you develop the discipline of sustaining interest. It can help you engage wider curiosities. It can help you develop sympathies and sharpen reasoning. That sounds like a virtue project to me. I’d even call it a spiritual discipline.”Jen Pollock Michel

“Knowledge isn’t about what you remember or memorize, it’s about knowing how to find the answer.”Jonathan Graham

“Hope is often built through suffering, not just because I get what I want, but because even when what I want doesn’t happen, somebody’s coming for me in order for me, once again, to be seen, soothed, safe, secure.”Curt Thompson

“We are people of great longing and we are people of great grief. And life is to be lived in the middle of those two things.”Curt Thompson

“Do not forget that you’re allowed to take a step back from the never-ending improvement train and let yourself simply be who you’re becoming, trusting all the healing that will naturally happen along the way.”Lisa Olivera

Where I saw God

I was out for lunch with some friends from my church one Sunday afternoon, and the topic of our membership portal and profiles came up, reminding me of my membership and baptism forms that I’d filled out two years ago when I was in the process of joining my church as a covenant member. I decided to look back over them when I got home that day to refresh my memory of what I’d written down, and it was such a sweet reminder of where I was at in my faith and life at that point, an Ebenezer stone of sorts for me.

Fast forward a week later, our church’s youth pastor reached out to me to discuss a need in our student ministry that I might be able to plug into on Wednesday nights. As he was telling me how he’d thought of me for the position, he mentioned that he’d looked over my membership forms before he’d contacted me and since I’d recently looked back over them, I knew exactly what he was about to ask me to do before the words even escaped from him. On the membership form, there is a question that asks, “What are some ways that you think God has gifted you to serve?” to which I had responded, “My heart is definitely for middle school girls.” Here we are, two years later after I had completely forgotten that I’d written that specific age group down, and a new leader is being sought out to teach middle school girls every week. Won’t the Lord do it?

After we discussed everything I would be taking on, I spent the next few days seeking direction and affirmation from trusted friends and mentors in my faith community. I then started remembering conversations with various people that had happened over the last few months that can only be explained as the Spirit’s leading my mind and heart towards serving in this way, and it has been so amazing being able to trace and recognize all of the strings where God’s been writing this chapter of my story. I still can’t get over it.

What I’m looking forward to

I am in complete denial that the last quarter of the year is here, but I am all kinds of excited that fall is happening and the leaves are changing colors! I’ll be practicing being a boys’ baseball mom for a couple of Saturdays in October, settling into a teaching rhythm for the middle school girls, visiting my friends in Augusta, and hopefully going to a football game at my alma mater at the end of the month! Bring on all the fall weather, fashion, and fun activities – I am SO here for it all!

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