The Gift

That's Pretty Ace
 

Imagine with me for a minute.

Say your best friend sent you a gift in the mail. It's not the most beautifully wrapped gift... a little misshapen from it's USPS journey, but obviously wrapped with love and care. She took the time to cover the whole thing in printing paper, and used a thick sharpie to write out many of your favorite quotes and funny things you've said (ex: "Elmo says..." for all my 2012 cruise ladies). If you're anything like me, you text your friend a picture of said present: "Look what came in the mail!! Can't wait to open this!". You set the gift down on your dining table and begin to unwrap it, and inside is...

That thing you've been wanting forever. You've always been afraid to purchase it yourself. And now that you have it in front of you, you realize... you don't even know how to use it. How thoughtful of your friend to know exactly what you've been wanting! But... you don't have the skill for it. Maybe it's a pack of seeds to start your garden. Maybe it's some fancy ingredients for your kitchen. Maybe it's that awesome dress you saw at the store, but decided you couldn't pull it off. Maybe it's a camera or a guitar. 

So... you tuck it in a drawer. And it never gets used. After awhile, you forget your friend ever gave it to you.

Do you have a dream like this? 

Do you have a dream that you've tucked in a drawer out of fear that you don't know how to use it, or maybe you wouldn't be good at it? 

Do you have a dream you told yourself to forget about because it's too scary? Because it might threaten your comfort? Because it might threaten your reputation?

Do you have a dream your loved ones have whispered to you about, encouraging you "just think about it"? 

Do you have a dream your God has whispered to you about, saying "let me show you"? 

I'm going to take a leap of faith and say it's very possible that you do. It may not even look like a skill or a craft... it might be getting a group of girls in your living room to read a book together. It might be opening up your heart to a relationship. It might be taking care of yourself by seeking out counseling or a mentor. It might be mending bridges with your family or a friend. 

As for me... I've been hiding from this blog out of doubt in my skills, but I've spent the past month learning that I have a great Teacher. His name is Jesus. And He wants me to tell you about Him.

This both fills me with joy, and scares the pee out of me. 

As I've mentioned before both here and on Instagram, I've been working to make more room for quiet time. I'm so thankful I finally listened to what my heart was really needing, and the same way you might switch up your diet for a week to eat more healthy, or go to bed early one night of the week, I took the opportunity to work towards getting up early, making a cup of coffee and just sitting and being with The Lord. I'm also almost done with Celebration of Discipline and God certainly used those pages to speak to me about where to find Him and how to lay down my fear... and also how to lay down my pride. Like peeling back an onion, I found so many layers of pride within me. Being afraid of others is completely rooted in my pride. And I'm slowly learning to take it piece by piece and give it to God.

I found myself last Friday night at a women's event at church crying over my confusion... I am so weak. I need to be more humble. I need to listen more. I'm not worthy of writing. I will only come off proud. I should stay quiet. I don't know what I'm talking about. I don't know my Bible well enough. I have nothing to be proud of. 

And right there on the worksheet in front of me was the question...

"How do you boast in the Lord for what He's doing in your story?"

I will not boast in anything... no gifts, no power, no wisdom. But I will boast in Jesus Christ, His death, and resurrection. Yes, Lord. I hear you. Thank you for being so patient with me. Please continue to remind me of your grace. Please give me your courage and bravery. I need you every hour. But I know... the victory is all Yours!

So I'm going to be participating in a writing challenge tomorrow called 31 Days, which calls bloggers to write every day for the month of October on a topic of their choice. It may end up that I don't share all of what I write here on TPA. But I know the Lord is stirring my heart to jump back in and run His race He's marked for me, and He's made it abundantly clear that He has claimed this blog for His glory. I'm going to be writing out my prayers and working through the 31 chapters in the book of 1 Samuel. Writing out what I'm learning from Scripture, chapter by chapter, is something I've always wanted to do, but been too afraid of... so, by God's grace, it's time to try.

If you're here with me, curious and stirred by the gift in the drawer, I'd encourage you to go and take it out. The friend that gave it to you knows you pretty well, and He's a great Teacher.

Happy Friday!

I'm still giddy over Monday's post. Female friendships are so challenging and beyond rewarding... I was telling my younger sister this week that it took me a long time to figure out how to be a "girl friend" and I still feel like I'm learning a lot. For an introvert, it's so easy for me to hang back and not pursue good friendship. I'm in awe of the way God has kept planting women in front of me – crazily pouring them into my life this summer! – showing me that I do, in fact, have a supportive community around me. I feel like each week I am facing a new fear, and God has been using these women to remind me to be brave. Love all of you ladies that I've spent time with so far this year, new friendships and old, and want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. We are designed for community. Praise! 

+ here are some links for your weekend:

Meet a Ruby... Whitney Kennedy

Meet a Ruby – Whitney | That's Pretty Ace
 

Sweet Whitney and I met through our husbands (law school) and I've loved getting to know her and her incredible heart ever since. Whitney is focused, compassionate, and lives life to the fullest. If you ever want to "talk it out" on a question that's on your heart, Whitney is totally your girl... she will back you up, point out the lies, and give you the encouragement you need to see Truth. Love. Her. I'm so excited for you to get to know her!


Tell us about yourself! Hi, there! My name is Whitney Kennedy and I currently live in Dallas with my sweet husband of four years, Ryan. I grew up in Midlothian, TX then moved to Dallas in 2005 to attend SMU and have been here ever since. My Bachelors and Masters degrees are in Accounting, but I am currently the Director of Team Development and Communications at University Laundry. I love to decorate our house, love on our furs babies, Trigger and Kona, and to have friends and family over to our home.

What inspires you? Productivity inspires me. That may sound weird, but I often say, "the lazier I am, the lazier I am," meaning that when I get going there is little that gets in my way, but when I don't have much on my plate I am slow to move. Productivity makes me excited, it encourages me, and it casts a vision for the future. I also find productivity contagious. If I am around someone who is extremely productive it spurs me on to do better. 

What are your gifts and talents? For most of my life I thought I was gift-less and talent-less. This spring, however I read Jennie Allen's book Restless as a part of TPA's book club. Restless challenged me to spend time in prayer about my gifts and to seek God's reason for blessing me with them. While I haven't exactly discovered what God's hope is for the use of my gifts just yet, I have a confidence that He did, in fact, give me gifts.

One of my gifts is hosting. I love planning parties, lunches, brunches, dinners, get-togethers, game watching parties, showers, you name it. I love to plan the theme, meal, the activities, the decorations, the setup. I love to make lists, clean the house, add new decor to our house to fresh up the space, to buy-then return-then buy again the detail pieces. Of all of the elements to hosting though, my favorite part is when our guests arrive and I get to introduce new people to each other, catch up on our friends day/week/month/ year depending on how long it's been since we've seen them. And I believe that God put a desire and talent for hosting deep in my heart and I love to use it to serve Him and His people.

 
Meet a Ruby – Whitney | That's Pretty Ace
 

How do you use your gifts to serve others? One way I have been able to use my gift of hosting is by inviting freshmen girls from SMU to our home for a weekly Bible Study. Some weeks our group is pouring over The Word, discerning verses, and giving personal reflection from scripture. Other weeks it is an hour of tears, laughter, talking, fellowshipping, encouraging, questioning and question answering.

What would you do if you had nothing holding you back from your dreams? I would love to own a personal organization business. I find peace in a clean and organized home and realize that not everybody is naturally inclined to do so. My favorite times at our house are when we are hanging out in our living room, with our pups, candles are lit, and everything is in its place and I mean, everything has a place. I think it would be a blast to help others experience this feeling of peace.

Tell us about a season of suffering that lead to good things in your life. When I was in college I was surrounded by people all of the time, but was desperate for acceptance and attention. I would do almost anything to feel loved and pursued. I remember thinking at freshman orientation that everybody was richer, prettier, and smarter than me. I know now that Satan planted that thought in my head the moment I stepped on campus, and I spent the next four years trying to make myself and others believe the opposite. I was a believer but was not abiding in God or seeking relationship with Him. The affects of these temporary means of satisfaction caused suffering, guilt, and shame. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." Because of this scripture, I know that it was never God's plan for my college years to play out like they did and that only I could deny the temptation. Thankfully, 1 John 1:9 says "But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness." THANK YOU, GOD. This means that even when I give into my flesh, God is faithful to forgive and to redeem. I have a heart for college women and yearn to love them, encourage them, counsel them, and teach them about our God who loves us. I am so thankful for my gracious God and His endless mercies. 

 
Meet a Ruby – Whitney | That's Pretty Ace
 

Share your proudest moment. I can't exactly pinpoint the precise moment, but I am most proud of persevering through a particularly difficult season of life when Ryan and I were engaged and newly married. Getting married is a huge adjustment for anyone, but we transitioned very quickly from dating to Ryan proposing to me, so during our engagement we had a lot to work through reconciling our pasts to where we wanted to direct our future as one. After a couple of years of fighting Satan’s persistent attacks on our marriage, there came a day when I realized how strong Ryan and I were, that we were in a place to counsel other newly married couples, I felt confident in our relationship, and excited that God was using us in His beautiful plan of building His Kingdom. I was so proud that God chose me to be Ryan's wife and partner in ministry. 

I feel my purpose in life is to... Gosh, I often wish I was one of those of those people who just knew exactly who they were, someone who was determined to be a CEO by the time they were 30 or just knew that their purpose in life was to be supermom. I'm not that person. A career-driven woman, I am not. I would, however love to be blessed with children some day. My favorite thing right now is being a wife, but I know that the answer to this question is so deep and is in my bones.  

I feel my purpose in life is to make God known and I want to do that by loving God, loving people, and serving both. 


To meet more Rubies, check out the rest of The Ruby Project! 

All images via That's Pretty Ace

Goodness Gathering

Goodness Gathering | That's Pretty Ace
 

I've been dying to write to you about this for weeks upon weeks... and since this little shoot is being featured on SWOONED (my heart might burst), I can finally tell you all about it! Back in June, I asked a few friends to bring their skills together for a vision I had. I have a very special memory of my study abroad trip in 2010, where several girls and I dressed in the finest clothes we had and went out to a nice dinner together in the seaside town of Cinque Terre, Italy. We toasted to one another, each girl taking a turn to stand as we went around the table and shared what we loved about her. It was an evening that became firmly implanted in my memory, especially as I've learned to appreciate the friendships in my life in new and deeper ways. 

So Taylor and I gathered up a team, and decided to create a styled shoot where 1. female friendship was celebrated in a very unique and intimate way and 2. where the team involved could really let their talents shine. Looking at these pictures makes me teary every time... I'm so honored to be surrounded by so much love and life. These women make my heart full in the most incredible way. 

 
Goodness Gathering | That's Pretty Ace
Goodness Gathering | That's Pretty Ace
Goodness Gathering | That's Pretty Ace
 

The way the day fell together was so perfect. These ladies transformed a random picnic table in a field littered with trash into the dreamy landscape you see (I'm telling you, they're amazing). I lightly directed the mood and feel, set the date, found a location and our models, and made sure everyone had what they needed. Taylor of Magnolia Tree Paperie brought gorgeous paper goods – illustrated quotes, the sweetest invite, and even a cocktail recipe card. Molly of Pearls & Poppies shared her magic for the gorgeously simple florals. Carah Vallejo of Carah Bonita did an incredible job of styling our table and providing the perfectly un-fussy decor and food. She even made a custom cocktail! It was divine. Especially at 7 in the morning...! And Jessica Welshans truly captured the intimacy and joy of friendship by using her skills in both digital and film. Our precious models are actually all dear friends of mine, and Molly even jumped in to make our group an even number! What a trooper :) It was so special seeing friends from all corners of my life come together, getting to know each other quickly as they linked arms and giggled in a big field. I loved watching them toast to one another not long after meeting for the first time. I love these women more dearly than I could ever describe. 

 
Goodness Gathering | That's Pretty Ace
Goodness Gathering | That's Pretty Ace
Goodness Gathering | That's Pretty Ace
Goodness Gathering | That's Pretty Ace
Goodness Gathering | That's Pretty Ace
 

If you'd like to see more images, please head over to Swooned to check out our feature. And because I can't help myself... you can click through this gallery page as well! Once you're done, go love on your friends. Call them up. Meet for coffee. Give them a hug. Heck, get crazy like we did and throw a whole shin-dig. You know they've earned it :)

All images via the talented Jessica Welshans

Happy Friday!

 

The past few weeks I've fallen in love with quiet time. Honestly... I've never been good about making intentional time to be with the Lord and read my Bible, except for spotty weeks here and there, and never has it been the first thing I do in the morning. I go to bed now excited that I get to wake up, make a cup of coffee and sit on my couch for thirty minutes to an hour with Phoebe. It's definitely not easy to get up at 5AM but I began praying that the Lord would make Himself my desire first thing in the morning... and ask and you shall receive. This morning I even woke up at 4AM dreaming about a Bible verse that talked about the ocean. I had to make myself sleep longer. WHAT.

The most special thing that's happened for me during my quiet time is that I feel waves and waves of peace come over me. I have so many questions, and I feel like this is the perfect place to bring them. First thing in the morning, I get to lay all my cards out on the table, ask my questions, then shift my thoughts to praying for others – instead of starting off my day thinking about my own personal to-do list. It has been so wonderfully freeing (like every other thing God has been teaching me this past year!). My heart is being made new every day by a God that delights in me, knows all one billion of my weaknesses, and desires to fill those weaknesses with Himself. Yes, Lord.

If you get the chance on Monday, I encourage you to get up fifteen minutes earlier than usual to just sit. On the couch. Out on your porch. Upright in your bed. You don't even have to say anything... just listen. Cup of coffee in one hand, palm up in the other. And take in your peace for the day ahead. I promise you won't regret it.

 

+ some links for your weekend:

 

Image via That's Pretty Ace