Thursday, August 2, 2012

I Think I Can...Tomatoes

In my last post I told you that day 1 of my 7 journey brought the making of what I deem the secret to the best chili and spaghetti you'll ever have eat...or inhale, if you use this ingredient.

(Side note: there are a lot of numbers going on here. I'm sorry about that. I really am, because I understand. There is a reason I majored in public relations.)

My mom has been a canning machine all summer long, let me tell you. Pickles, squash pickles (she gets to enjoy those by herself), green beans, blackberry jam...our pantry is stocked full. And I love it. I love it because I think that canning has become a lost art, something that people don't want to mess with anymore because it takes time. Imagine that...having to wait on something and be patient. Yes, it's 2012 and I believe that those are lost arts as well.

But not for Britt! So on day 1, she conquered tomatoes:

This was a continuation of her summer canning projects, yes, but it was also a way to help preserve produce for our first month of 7. (If you are still completely lost as to why I keep dropping the number 7, read my last post.)
I give my mom 100% of the credit for all of the cans we ended up with, but I DID peel the skins off of some of the tomatoes after they had been submerged in scalding hot water. And then I ate them. I ate hot, limp tomato skins. I must have been starving?...But I swear they were good.




I know it looks like a weird process--and it is--but listen to me. These canned tomatoes are magical. Put them in your chili this winter (or this summer, if you're insane); put them in your pot of spaghetti and you might even decide that you don't need noodles. 
That's a lie. Spaghetti must have heaping piles of noodles.
It must also have a spoonful of grape jelly in the meat and tomato sauce. Know that I LOVE YOU because that is a secret family ingredient.
Not a secret anymore. 

I promise I can keep secrets!

So we continue our 7 journey loving vegetables and loving the time we get to spend together canning them. Because that's part of the journey, simplifying life and enjoying more of Jesus in the simplicity. 
For me, it's also discovering new foods that God gave us that I haven't made time to cook and love. One of my principles is to find seven healthy foods that I have never cooked and...well, cook them. Take advantage of the options that God has so generously provided. 
Because he could have just given us iceberg lettuce and called it a day. But He didn't, because He loves us and wants us to have things like...rainbow chard! 


I have had it before but never bought and fixed it for myself, so here was an opportunity. Rainbow chard (stems included--there the vitamins lay), mushrooms, garlic, red pepper flakes...
YUM. Thank you Jesus for rainbow chard!





7

If you are a woman (of any age, really) from or living in Habersham County, then you probably knew what this post was going to be about the minute you saw the title.

7. It's a book. It's a journey. It's a semi-temporary lifestyle--one that I hope to continue even after the journey officially ends.

About a month ago God spoke to a woman named Heather Cody--really, truly, so seriously a woman of God--through "7" and inspired her to create Group 7. The book, written by a rockstar of a woman named Jen Hatmaker, follows the author's family's journey in identifying seven areas of excess in their lives and the seven choices made to fight back against them.

Food.
Clothes.
Spending.
Media.
Possessions.
Waste.
Stress.

Thirty days are spent on each topic--thus, the seven-month journey. Each month follows a rule of seven: only seven foods are eaten, seven articles of clothing worn, spend money in seven places...you get where this goes.
Honestly, I can't possibly explain the enormity and depth of this journey on my own; any effort to do so would be inadequate. See for yourself: http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2011/12/26/an-experimental-mutiny-against-excess.

So after Heather's prompting on Facebook to become a part of this revolution, responses poured in. I think people are weighed down by the excess our culture encourages, suffocated by lifestyles that make life increasingly complicated and competitive; I know I am. So onto the bandwagon I hop! I do this alongside women in my community that I so respect and admire, alongside my sister and best friend, and alongside my mom and dad--praise JESUS for a family that is making this journey together!

NOW...I am doing a modified version of 7. When I say modified, I mean that I am not choosing seven single foods to eat for a month but will base my eating choices around seven principles that were made to make less of me and more of the sweet Jesus that I'm counting on to get me through this month. Seriously, He has to show up, because I can.not. do this alone. I could literally feel my jaw clenching as my mom and I wrote down our seven principles the other night.

"Mom. After I write this, it's done. It's done. This thing might as well have been written in blood! I can't go back after it's written. (Dramatic wail follows)"

So please ignore me when I come complaining about how I haven't gotten to eat Yoforia "oneeeeeee singleeeeeeeee stinking time" in two weeks; I'm just being dramatic, and Jesus is not amused.

I feel like I'm leaving this blog unfinished somehow, because there is SO much more to all of this than I have made known. But that's what I'm dedicating this blog to sharing over the next few weeks--shoot, the next seven months!--as I experience a journey that will simplify life and amplify Christ.

The journey technically started yesterday, so I'll share a bit of what day 1 held in a later blog post (hint: it makes for the best crock pot of chili or bowl of spaghetti you'll ever have, promise. Cross my heart, hope to DIE in a pot of said spaghetti!).

Soooooo here we go! Jesus be near and please, for the love of all things sweet, keep Grit cake away! Satan would have a field day with that one...

Saturday, June 30, 2012

summer update: via instagram (and a few captions, too)

This post is more to pacify my OCD tendencies than anything else. Because how can I carry on with my blog when I haven't even written about what I'm doing this summer?? For all the blogger world knows, I could have been hiding in a cave for the past two months.

I haven't, by the way.

I've been in Atlanta, interning at a public relations firm called The Reynolds Group. I always knew that PR was a fast-paced industry, but now I know it..you know? I've loved it though, finally getting to experience PR first-hand and see the side of it that you don't ever learn about in the classroom (there are moments I wonder if they don't do that for a reason). I've already been sending prayers up about the process I will begin this fall in applying for an opportunity to do this full-time. 
Where will I live?
At what agency will I work? Big? Small? 
Who will my clients be? Will I get perks? (okay...the second question is a selfish one.)
Will I have friends??
Who knows...we'll see what God has in mind in a few months.

I'm living in a beautiful house in Buckhead with three other girls who love Jesus and who love the city--what more could I ask for? It really has been a beautiful summer, amidst the unknowns that still linger. 
You can see for yourself:

Yoga on the terrace at Loews Hotel (one of The Reynolds Group's clients)

Well I can't go a WHOLE summer without being at Lake Burton....

...because then I would miss out on late nights on the porch like these

Camping out in a vineyard in Chattanooga with an old friend and some new ones

oh, did I forget to mention that one of my very best friends got MARRIED? Grace was the most beautiful bride--such a great wedding weekend! Love that one so much..


typical monday night in our house. awesome, right? (side note: this is my photographer roommate who is SO talented and you should check out her work! Or add her on facebook, because a lot of it is there, too. okay, that's all.)
and this is what I am coming home from, which was MUCH needed on my part.  chair in the sand, book in hand, life was...grand...)
And it's only halfway over. To be continued...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will win this battle

You want to know something? My fingers are fighting this right now. Fighting so hard. Fighting with every fiber of their being.

Let me tell you how I won the battle against my fingers. 

But let me preface with my current situation. Right now I'm on vacation with my family; this year, for the very first time, that includes my mom and dad. This is my first summer vacation without my sister, Morgan, since...ever. 

Yes, I have let myself have a few pity parties. I'm sorry about it. But not really, because I just miss her. 

Well, Hurricane Debby decided to make an appearance at the start of our vacation; torrential rain, winds that had palm trees on the x-axis, rain, small bodies of water, rain, 200% humidity, and rain ensued. I'm not kidding.
But you know what my sweetest dad did? He scheduled massages for all three of us to make up for days lost on the beach. He's the best, I tell you.

And as I was laying on the table, curls going in 17 directions and with a thin layer of sand still on my body from the beach that morning, I fell into this trance. From the first minute of that massage (which was the best I've ever had, by the way), I could literally feel endorphins releasing. Or maybe those were all the toxins running, screaming as they were pushed forcefully out of my muscles. But I'm pretty sure they were endorphins. Because all of a sudden I couldn't stop thinking about this darn blog. I've been fighting it for so long, mostly because it's been too long since I last wrote. I hate starting and not finishing things, or just not following through with them the way I think I should. I'm a perfectionist. It's a blessing and a curse--a blessing for obvious reasons and a curse because I get frustrated when I don't do things the "right" way and end up just avoiding them. Well that fixes the problem...not.

So I'm laying on the table, soaked in oils and the most relaxed I've been since never and this. stupid. blog. won't get out of my head. 
Fight it, Sarah Beth. Write. Who cares that you haven't written in 167 weeks? Who cares that you couldn't possibly cram the past two months (okay...so maybe it's only been 8 weeks) into one post? Or even 10? Just write. 
Write.
Write.
Write.
SHUT UP. I get it...

And then there's today. I was sitting on the beach, reading a solid classic novel with the sun beating down on my body--oh, there is nothing better--when I got this whiff of cinnamon. Maybe a hint of brown sugar, too. Whatever it was, it took me back to my childhood and all of the mornings my mom would fix cinnamon toast for breakfast. I have this thing with smells--I remember them and connect them to moments for the rest of my life. So, naturally, the cinnamon (which was, in reality, probably some 4-year-old opening a pack of teddy grahams five feet left of me) made me a little nostalgic. And I started going back in time a little and thinking of old, good memories. So the blog came back to me. Because it's an old, good memory to me right now. (ha! I laughed as I wrote that, and I don't know why. probably because that's a little sad)

And that's when I won the battle against my fingers. Because those two moments brought about in me a resolve--a resolve to write. My life is confusing and sporadic and spread out and exciting (and, consequently, a little stressful) at this point, but that doesn't mean I can't write about it. Or about anything. That means I should write, because maybe it would keep me sane. 

So here it is. I win. I win. And I'm not making any promises, so don't create any expectations. But I will write. I will write even if I go nine days without writing. I will write even when I feel like I have nothing to say. Because who always has something to say? (well...some people do. and it's not always a good thing) I will fight my fingers every day if I have to, because I know that my thoughts are much, much bigger. And they will win.



Friday, May 4, 2012

end of an era

Today my dad will make his way to Athens in one of those beloved (and by that I mean obnoxious) Uhaul trucks and finish the process that my mom and I painstakingly began on Monday. 
moving out.
so bittersweet, is it not? 
I've been in the sweetest little house with Amberleia (roommate and friend of 8 wonderful years) for the past two years, and it's been so good to me. It's walking distance to campus (although some would argue with me on that), in the midst of a neighborhood whose mornings find women working in their yards and babies in their strollers, and--more importantly--a hop, skip and a jump away from Yoforia.
love you, Southview.
I also said my goodbyes to "the Hampton House" a few nights ago. It's the house I moved into when I first transferred from Presbyterian College to UGA 2 1/2 years ago. Through a friend of a friend of a friend...etc. I found out about a girl who was studying abroad and needed someone to sublet her room. 
Did I know her? you ask.
No, I didn't. 
Did I know her roommates that would still be there?
Negative.
Quite seriously one of the scariest things I've ever done. 
But Jesus is so good, and those girls quickly became my best friends. It's still so crazy to me how one phone call to a random girl asking her if I could live in her bedroom for four months changed my college years forever. 
(so just a side reminder: if you're ever wondering what in the world God is doing with you, know that He has a purpose and a plan. and you might just end up with four new best friends because of it.)
I say all of that to acknowledge that I have come to the end of an era--one that has been full of, well, everything. Up's and down's, big changes, growth, classes that make you hate your life for a little bit, and lots of nights spent at Jittery Joe's (although that's not quite over for me yet). 
So I leave Southview and Hampton with little pieces of my heart and move on to the next era--one that is full of unknowns--in the hope that it will capture my heart in just the same way.

the end.
(before I get too sappy and reality sets in)






Wednesday, May 2, 2012

here and now

I come to you reporting from UGA's exam week, Spring 2012. The forecast is sunny with high levels of stress and procrastination. 
...and clearly exams are taking top priority in my life right now. 
Honesty, I can't remember ever being so ready to be done with a semester (I think I say this at the end of every semester), and so my mind has already fast forwarded to summer--which, by the way, I will be spending in Atlanta, praise to God above!
But...
as I find myself being so removed from the present and ready for the next adventure, I find myself missing out on what God is doing here and now. This semester has been a long one--good in so many ways, hard in a lot of ways. I've spent a significant amount of time looking back on the past four months and wondering if I didn't make the wrong move at times, if I didn't mess up God's plan because of my impulsive, emotion-based decisions. 
The cool thing is, nothing--absolutely nothing--I do can ever mess up God's bigger plan. He is God, King of the Universe. He is Infinite and All-Powerful and All-Knowing. 
And I really think that I, a simple, sinful human, could mess Him up? 
Well, I have cut myself a hefty slice of humble pie and realized that the answer to that question is never
So I cannot dwell on the past, nor on the future--because that's God's plan, too--but I can live in the present, soaking up the last part of this chapter and preparing myself for the next. 
Hold true to the hope that God will work through even the messiest past, is right beside you--inside of you--in the present, and already knows your future, promising to love you the whole way.
Sweet relief.

"Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends! 
His mercies never cease.
Great is His faithfulness;
His mercies begin afresh each morning."
Lamentations 3:21-23

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

and it's all the happier

It's mid-morning but my room is still dark, only lit by the lamp that sits atop my nightstand. The rain is coming steadily--no pitter patter here. To my right I hear what sounds like a stream rushing by; to my left, the drip of raindrops falling from the edge of the rooftop. 
My coffee is hot. My Bible is near. 
oh...what a Wednesday.
And while rainy days tend to seem dreary and absent of things happy, they are so full of life. Literally, the rain is what gives life to everything we enjoy on those sunnier days, no?
So I should be no less thankful for rainy days--yes, even when I have to run through them for dear life to get to my classes. 
This morning I was reminded of that in the happiest way. The opening to my quiet time could not have been any more fitting:

"Love and laugh. Make your world the happier for your being in it. Love and rejoice on the gray days."

I love this. And though I mess up daily, hourly, on the minute, I tell you, I pray that God is able to make himself at home in my heart and mold me into a person that makes the world happier for my being in it. 
Love and laugh. 
That means love everyone--especially the people who are hard to love. 
Laugh always--it's our way of showing God that we enjoy Him and everything He has given us.
Which is everything, by the way. 

love, love, love. it is the secret to everything.