Blog Posts.

7 Things That Are Saving My Life Right Now: The Summer Edition

If you’ve been around for a while, you probably already know that I’m a huge fan of Emily P. Freeman’s work. If you’re unfamiliar with her, you shouldn’t be, because her contemplative style and warm way of welcoming you into a very safe and sacred space is nothing short of pure genius. She’s a writer, a licensed spiritual director, and host of The Next Right Thing Podcast. I’m a frequent listener of her podcast, where she gives practical tools and Christian contemplative wisdom to help her listeners discern their next right thing in love.

Emily has a quarterly practice on her podcast of sharing a certain number of things that are saving her life each season. She just released her summer list of things that are saving her life right now, and I had so much fun listening that I decided to offer you my own list of things that are saving my life this summer.

(If you’d like to listen to that podcast episode of Emily’s, you can do so here: What’s Saving My Summer Life)

Last fall and into this spring, I was learning how to hold space for and process some pretty heavy grief and trauma from my past that laid dormant in the dark for a long time. But now that summer is here, and the grief and trauma are beginning to melt into grace as I learn to embrace them as a part of the story of my life that makes me who I am, I’m thirsty for fun. This summer, I feel pulled toward joy — a deep, un-earthable joy that isn’t dependent on circumstance but is a result of two things:

  1. The joy of Christ in me
  2. Paying attention to and leaning into what’s bringing me life in this season

So while this list is titled ‘7 Things That Are Saving My Life Right Now’, it very well could be titled ‘My Life-Giving List’, or ‘Things in this Season That Are Light and Fun and Bringing Me Joy’. So, without further ado, here’s my list of 7 things that are saving my life this summer (and giving me life), in no particular order!

7 Things That Are Saving My Life This Summer

Early Morning Walks

As soon as the spring weather turned warm, I began to cultivate a regular rhythm of walking. When I started this practice, I was still processing some grief and needed a form of movement that was gentle, where I could go at my own pace but still get out of my head and into my body. These walks began with a friend before the summer Indiana heat took over in the afternoons. Now, I walk early in the morning by myself, and on the days I don’t do it, my soul feels it. I usually walk about 3 loops around my neighborhood, sometimes more, and each walk looks a little different depending on what I’m needing that day. Sometimes, I need to clear the noise and walk in silence, listening only to the sounds of the morning. Other times, I’m hungry to hear from others on a podcast or worship with music in my earbuds. Sometimes I pray. Most of the time, I immerse myself in the present moment, loving the sensation of tennis shoed-feet on concrete, the rhythmic pace of putting one foot in front of the other, easing the tension in my body and the worry in my heart.

Lighting a Candle

I’m not sure if I’ve shared this yet in this space, but my word for the year 2023 is Light. It came to me from Isaiah 9:2 one early morning in December of 2022 as I was praying and asking the Lord for it. I set my intentions on a word for the year as a way to anchor me and point me back to the path if I ever feel directionless — which lately, is all the time, truthfully! But because my word for the year is Light, I feel especially drawn to physical light, and I find myself paying close attention to it wherever I go; the way light seeps through the windows during golden hour, splashing gently yet abruptly onto walls. The light of an early morning sunrise and the breathtaking fire of a sunset. And, the lighting and warmth of a candle. I have always loved candles and light them in the early morning hours when I sit down to drink my tea and commune with God. But lately, I’ve gotten into the habit of lighting them during other times of the day, too, like when I work, when I journal, when I sit down to write blog posts, and sometimes even when I eat.

The light of a candle reminds me that I am never alone — that the Light and presence of Christ is always with me, wherever I go. The flame is not the Holy Spirit, I know that. But it’s a physical representation for me of His nearness and His warm invitation for me to come as I am and be embraced and changed by Love.

*My Etsy shop, The Beholding Co., now offers 8oz, 100% soy wax candles that smell lightly of freshly brewed coffee. You can grab one here if lighting a candle is a sacred practice for you, too, or if you just like the smell of coffee and the warmth of a good candle: Be Still & Know Candle

My Oil Cleansing Duo from Primally Pure

Ok, so hear me out: this is not an affiliate link, nor am I attempting to sell you something. I am just telling you, my friend, that this product has totally changed my life… well, it’s at least changed my skin, which impacts my self-confidence, so in a way, I suppose it is changing my life! I learned about this company from a dear friend of mine, and I love them because they use minimal, certified organic ingredients to help you care for your skin. I use their oil cleanser for oily and acne-prone skin (because that is me, to a T), and then I follow up with either their plumping facial bar or their clarifying bar, depending on what my skin is needing. I have always struggled with acne, blackheads, oily skin, and texture. You know, all the fun things! I do not have naturally flawless skin (who does, really?) and I have always had to put a little bit of extra effort into my skincare routine to feel comfortable with my skin. But I’m telling you, this oil cleansing duo changed the skincare game for me and has majorly helped me control my acne, my oiliness, and my blackheads!

I’ve been dipping my toes in the water of minimal makeup, and this way of cleansing and caring for my skin has made me feel very confident in doing that. I’m actually starting to like my face better without foundation covering it, which is crazy for me!

I’m not going to bore you with the science behind oil cleansing (but from an oily girl, I’m telling you, it works), so if you’d like to read more about the oil cleanser that I use, you can check it out here: Oil Cleanser for Oily + Acne Prone Skin

Or, click here to check out all of their cleansers, including their facial cleansing bars: Primally Pure Cleansers

Also, my good friend, Abby, has a really cute Etsy shop — Bloom Cleansers — where she makes her own oil cleansers and toners! All are made with organic and high-quality ingredients at a great price. Check out her shop here: Bloom Cleansers

This AMAZING Book: Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown

There are some books that you come across in life that from the very first page you just know are going to be lifers — as in, lifelong favorites that you reach for again and again and again. I’m reading Brene Brown’s newest book, Atlas of the Heart, right now, which is essentially an encyclopedia of emotions that help give language to the human experience. If you haven’t heard of Brene Brown, she’s a professor, author, and podcast host. She’s known for her work on shame, vulnerability, and leadership. Bottomline: she’s amazing! And this book has really helped me name a lot of emotions that I don’t always have the language to name. The book is backed by years and years of research and for those, like me, who are trying to be more intentionally connected with themselves and others, I would highly recommend reading it and keeping a copy on hand. Her words and findings have helped me understand myself and my people better because naming and language are powerful and essential tools for emotional and spiritual growth!

Grab the book here: Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience

Trips to Maine with My Momma

If you didn’t know, the coast of Maine is my absolute favorite place to be. The rocky, moody, romantic coastline adorned with lighthouses and sailboats, loads of lobster, and cooler weather is what the inside of my soul looks like; I’m convinced of it. I dream one day of owning a cottage on the coast in a quaint, New England town in Maine. Maybe someday. But for now, I plan to travel there frequently to get my fix. I went for the first time last summer with my husband, Max, and I fell in love at first sight. This year, I invited my momma to come with me on our first-ever girls’ trip! We both had monumental things in our lives to celebrate and reflect on, so it seemed fitting to go to the one place that feels — for both of us now — like a sacred homecoming. We got there the first week of June (which I know is technically still spring, but I’m counting it anyway on my summer list), and spent 3+1/2 days in pure Maine bliss. We adventured, laughed, ate our way through Portland, and found Light and warmth in each other’s company on the coast, and I’ve decided that I can’t live without trips like these.

My soul breathes deeper in Maine in a way that I can’t make sense of or describe adequately. I just know deep down in my bones that I was made for this place, and now my momma knows she’s made for it, too.

Here are a few of my favorite moments from our trip:

Journaling & The Pen & Mend Co.

I have always been a journaler. The stacks of filled and finished journals laying on the floor at the back of my closet are evidence of this. I approach the blank page to find healing, love, light, and sometimes revelation. Most of the time, I don’t walk away from my journal pages with answers to my questions, but with a deep sense of peace having spent time naming them in a safe place. I journal to wrestle, to pray, to lament and vent, to find myself, and mostly, to find God — to find the presence of Hope in my life. My journaling rhythm always looks a bit different depending on the season of life that I’m in, but it remains the one spiritual practice that I consistently return to in every season. And in this season, I’ve been hungry for community. But not just any community, a safe and welcoming community with people who are a bit likeminded. I found that kind of community in The Pen & Mend Co., hosted by Kristin Vanderlip, which is a journaling community that encourages and equips you to write for healing and hope.

Kristin offers weekly journal prompts, monthly meetups, and journaling workshops, among other very fun and needed resources. I have found a sense of comradery among the gentleness of this group, and it keeps me journaling regularly, which I love!

Every once in a while, Kristin opens the doors for new members to join, so check it out here if you’d like to read more (at the time this post is being published, the doors are open to new members! So go grab your spot!): The Pen & Mend Collective

Coffee Dates with Good Friends

As I mentioned earlier, I’m hungry right now for authentic connection and community in safe spaces. And I’ve noticed lately that one-on-one coffee dates with a good friend are really feeding my soul and gifting me with a sense of belonging. As a natural introvert, and someone with trauma in my past, I can find it hard to open up to new people — to let myself be vulnerable and trusting. But I started seeing a counselor earlier this year who has encouraged me to take small steps toward community, and I have, and I feel more and more like myself and less and less afraid as I move toward emotionally healthy people and authentic friends.

I wrote more on the topic of community and connection and how it’s impacting my life in a recent Substack letter, which you can read here: Finding Myself in Community Again (I send out a letter every Friday through Substack for those longing to slow down, seek still moments, and behold God’s presence with them in the everyday. Go subscribe at that link if you’d like to receive it!)

A Blessing for the Summer (and for the things that bring you life and joy and light)

And that concludes my list of 7 things that are saving my life right now, the summer edition! I had so much fun writing this and thinking of all the things that are bringing me joy right now and I pray it blesses you in some shape or form, too. Putting this list together brought to the surface a feeling of gratitude for my life and the things in it that are good. For that reason alone, I would recommend making your own life-saving/giving/joyful list, friend! It’s a reflective practice that can help us move forward in love and clarity. Thank you, again, Emily P. Freeman, for inspiring this!

Now, I will leave you with a short and sweet blessing for this summer season (and for the things in your life that bring you joy and light).

May your summer days be drenched in light and warmth.

May you know that your questions and your wrestlings are welcome in the presence of Love,

And your dreams and desires, too.

May joy find you in unexpected ways and places.

May you come to know yourself and God more as these summer days grow longer while the nights grow shorter.

And may you remember, always, that the presence of God goes with you wherever you go.


With you on the journey,