If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say. . .

women's march

Not Alone – Alyssa Kibiloski

I’ve been scrolling through Facebook for the past week watching the drama unfold. It annoys me, but I still do it. Why? Because it fuels my poetry I guess. Growing up in a rural area, I have a lot of people on my news feed who support the President and call those of us who don’t agree with all of his policies and have protested his candidacy “babies.” Going to a liberal arts school, I have a lot of people on my news feed who support women’s rights and human rights and marched on Saturday either in D.C. or their respective counties. There is quite a diversity on my feed, and not many people are nice about it.

I’m still trying to figure it all out.

I am a feminist, but maybe a bad feminist. To the liberals, I’m conservative. And to the conservatives, they would definitely think I’m liberal. It’s a time in my life where I am figuring out my place in the world. I loved reading this article by Sarah Bessey about what it looks like to be a Christian Feminist and not exactly knowing your place.

That may be how I would describe myself. I squirm under the title of evangelical Christian when I realized there is so much pain attached to the name – when I realized that so many of “my people” put a man in office who contradicts the value system that my Jesus taught me.

I start to sweat when people in my family start to speak out against feminism solely because of pro-life issues. Pro-life is a huge thing in conservative cultures. And of course I would never advocate for the death of a child or a fetus. But what about women who have been raped? What about women who live in poverty and cannot raise their children? What about sex traffickers? I’m not saying these are reasons for abortion. I’m just externally processing which is a dangerous thing to do on the internet.

But feminism is beyond pro-choice, rights for the LGBTQIA community. Feminism is about having a choice and standing up for the oppressed. Maybe not all white upper middle class women feel oppressed, but minority women do and they are. Muslim women do and they are – especially in countries around the world (thanks to healthy discussions with close friends to remind me of this!). And yes, there are white women who are oppressed. To those who say feminism is irrelevant in 2017, look beyond yourself. Take off those privilege glasses and choose to get in the trenches. Like I said with the BLM movement, talk to someone outside your circle. And preferably, do it in real life, not on Facebook. That way you can see their face. You can see their humanity. You can see their expressions when you say something that hurts them. Stop cowering behind your keyboard.

But if you don’t have access to that, then read blogs. Those are generally well constructed and more thought out than a Facebook status.

For someone who says it better than me, read this post at The New Wifestyle.

my Guiding word

following your dreams requires not only creativity, but vulnerability

Last January when I was picking my word for the year, I picked a “be” verb. Rather than doing, I wanted to “be.” I wanted to embody a word that made me recognize how I lived my life. I wanted to “be” something that reflected how I carry myself. Last year I wanted to “be inspiring.” At the end of the year I asked myself – what did I do to inspire? I sought to be authentic in my speech – which sometimes resulted (and results) in saying things I wanted to swallow. Being inspiring was not about standing out, it was about encouraging people to know love and vulnerability.

I mentioned the other day that I was certain on “Be Creative” as my “be” word for this year. I wanted to get a bullet journal which I was sure would manufacture creativity (and distraught over my perfectionism.) I wanted to write every day. I wanted to craft. But as I was going to sleep one night before January 1, a different word popped in my head.

Be Brave

I’m going to be honest with you: I wrestled a lot with this word. Why bravery? Bravery requires a lot of things: more vulnerability, courage, choosing to do the scarier thing when you would just rather cozy up with a cappuccino and the Netflix . . . so I tried to get it out of my head. I don’t need to be brave, I need to be creative! I need to write! I need to try that new DIY wood pallet tree sign I saw on Pinterest. But I couldn’t shake it. Be Brave.

So then I freaked out.

What does this mean?!

And the first thing that came to my mind were all the terrible things that could happen to anyone. Don’t worry, this is a regular routine.

When my parents left my siblings and myself with a babysitter while they went out for a date night, anxiety ensued. My face would get hot, I would start to cry, because what if they didn’t come back and I was left forever with this baby sitter who doesn’t smell at all like my mom? Would I have to get a job and take care of my siblings? Would I never get to chase my dreams? Seven year old me probably needed some therapy.

Now I have adult freak outs. That’s why I went for the whole “prisoner of hope” goal last year. So I guess the good Lord just wanted to extend beyond that and encourage me to step out and be brave.

So after I pushed the 10 plauges, death, and pestilence out of my head, I sat down with my journal to figure out:

Why bravery?

I can’t decide if I am comfortable or complacent. On the relationship side of things, I am 100% out of my comfort zone since, you know, I live with a boy now. We’ve already covered that intentionally dating is like Vulnerability 100, engagement is like “Vulnerability and How to Communicate Through Stressful 200,” and then you just jump to a 500 level practicum called “MARRIAGE: The Vulnerability That Never, Ever Goes Away. Subtitle: Trying not to freak out when your husband picks up your creative writing notebook.

On the dream chasing side of things, I’m paralyzed. Maybe because I don’t want my husband to read my creative writing journal . . . So it got me thinking. Bravery doesn’t just mean standing strong during life’s challenges. Yes, we’ll face hardships. And am I prepared for those? Nope. But I believe God will give me the strength and courage when that time comes. For me, bravery means going into a deeper understanding of vulnerability. Blegk.

This is what I’ve decided: It’s time to punch my fears in the face. What if there is something amazing in store for my life and I am too weighed down by the “what if’s” (of failure, let’s be real here) to seek out the things I’m passionate about?

Since I graduated college, it feels like I’ve been on one of those rooftop decks that just spins around and I’m trying to find solid footing and the room just keeps on spinning. It’s hard to dream when you’re motion sick.

This year I’m going to be brave. And what is my first step to being brave?


Being vulnerable.

Punching fear in the face.

Follow Inspiration

Find inspiration. Sit at its feet. Glean from those before you. And don't be afraid to stand out on your own. Because they will stand all around you.

Good morning! It’s a slightly snowy day here in Tennessee. While the snow isn’t sticking, there is a light dusting of white on the rooftops – perfect for a cozy weekend in. My best friend from college will be in town tonight, so I have a potato soup about to go in the crock pot and I’m ready to crawl back under my sweater blanket and pull over some cozy socks.

Since the wedding is over, I’ve had more time to catch up on reading blogs, writing a bit more, and listening to some really awesome podcasts. When I started working, I let my writing fall to the wayside. I’m looking forward to finally clearing off that $14 desk I found at the Salvation Army and sitting down with my paper and pen. The grey winter days always inspire me to introvert with my books and my pens.

To be a good writer, you must be an excellent learner. So today I wanted to share with you a couple ladies who have inspired me lately to open myself up to more creativity.

 Creativity requires vulnerability.

Yesterday I re-listened to this sermon by one of my favorite power houses, Kim Walker Smith. It’s a long one, so if you have an hour where you’re doing something mindless or cleaning, I highly encourage you to listen.

For the past few years, I’ve been practicing deeper intimacy through vulnerability. And being married – SHEW. It’s like Vulnerability 101 got skyrocketed to a 400 level practicum. Marriage is ALL the vulnerability, even when you’re only 3 weeks in.


One of the most vulnerable writers that I have been following over the past several years is Emily from The Freckled Fox. We are so privileged that she invites us into her life and her story. Recently, Emily lost her husband to cancer. As I followed her story, I was heartbroken. I couldn’t even fathom what she went through – a mom of 5 and a widow at 25. I admired that she kept writing. She not only just wrote, but she bared her heart and soul in her writing always with a tone of gratitude. As I continue to follow her blog, I remain encouraged by her love for her family and her love for writing. She doesn’t follow “blogging” trends in the sense of “I must put a header on everything and list everything.” Instead she composes essays that draw you in and invite you to stay.



As I was going into the year, I thought my word for the year was “Be Creative.” Last year I decided that rather than find action words for my year, I wanted “be” verbs. I wanted to practice just being instead of doing. This year I’m continuing with that trend.

I want this to be the year of creativity for me. This is the year to try new things, and to better my craft at old things. I want to, as Mary Oliver says, “make an appointment every day with my writing.” I want to carve the time to write – whether that be blogging, journaling, or scribbling a poem in my moleskin. Yes, I keep a moleskin in the pocket of my purse. I want to learn to be a better cook. No, it’s not a newlywed thing, it’s therapy. I want to understand the way flavors combine and explode. One day I imagine being the house where all the kids want to come just because I’m an excellent cook. (That will be my way of making sure my kids stay out of trouble. 😉 )

Chase your inspiration

I want to study creativity in everything – the way we love each other, the way a poet’s words seemingly fall from their heart onto the page (see: Mary Oliver & Nayyirah Waheed), the way a photographer angles their camera just so. . . I want to chase inspiration. I want to sit at the feet of those who went before me and celebrate their success. I want to practice vulnerability because I want to practice creativity.

So “Be Creative” was my word until a few nights before the New Year. Just as I was falling asleep, a different word popped in my head and wouldn’t let me go. And the word terrified me. I thought I could post it today, but when I sat down to write, the words didn’t come. The irony is, I am being the exact opposite of my word for the year. So when you come back to this space on Monday, hopefully I will have composed my thoughts enough to make a post more coherent than the one you’re reading right now. 

Thank you for staying through my rambles. 

The Best of 2016

learning to thrive in a world of hopelessness

My 2016 can be easily recapped into one big word: WEDDING. That’s almost all that I thought about for 7 months of the year. But before May, I still did have a life, and that life consisted of “book dates” where Pai worked on grad school homework and I got to idly read because I wasn’t in school. Yay!

Undeniably, Hugs and Lattes suffered a little bit underneath all of the wedding stress. I thought this was the year – this was the year to monetize my blog, grow my readership, and make it all happen. I realized towards the end of this year that that kind of life isn’t just me. I was putting way too much pressure on myself. Even though I hadn’t even started the process, I was paralyzed by the overwhelming thought of it all. Blogging wasn’t fun anymore; it felt like a chore.

There was a lot I wanted to do, and there was a lot I didn’t do. But most importantly, I grew. I grew in my friendships – both old and new. I grew in my relationship with the Lord, and I grew in some areas of my life that definitely needed maturity.

I learned how to be a prisoner of hope. . . and how to eat broccoli without gagging.

I accepted that I’m not a great blogger, and also, I have a lot of questions.

I faced what keeps me from inspiration. 

chili dinner

I tried to find the balance between sharing sacred moments and keeping them to ourselves. (And honestly, I’m still trying to figure this one out.)

I learned that it’s OK to be loved in the way you best receive it.

I found ways to practice contentment and endurance.

I shared the joy of what it means to date in community.

I went on adventures.

I changed my name.

And I got married. :)

the best of 2016


What was your favorite part about 2016?

Helene in Between

Things I Will Not Apologize For


I have a great friend (and fiance.) (and sister.) who gets on to me every time I say “Sorry.”

“This didn’t turn out the way it looked on Pinterest. Sorry.

“My house is a bit chilly. Sorry.

“This coffee is a weak. I should have used two cups. Sorry.

“Can you run this errand for me? I don’t have time today. Sorry.”

I’ve noticed that women especially are bad about this. I bumped into someone, sorry. I turned a report in late, sorry. I sneezed, sorry.

Eventually we use that word so much that it loses its meaning when we actually need to apologize. “I hurt your feelings when I rolled my eyes at you. Sorry.” It’s embarrassing how often I have to say this. Someone needs to get control of their eye muscles.

This morning I apologized for something I didn’t even need to apologize for. As soon as I heard sorry come out of my mouth, I bit my tongue. How many of you can relate?

The more I become aware of my words, the more I become aware of my heart. Apologizing for nothing is apologizing for our existence. We don’t have to be sorry that we are here. We are placed right where we are in this season for such a time as this.

Lately I have been feeling apologetic for a number of things.

-I haven’t blogged enough lately.
-I haven’t spent enough time with my friends lately.
-I don’t call home enough.
-I don’t see my whole family enough.
-I’m sassy.

I’m learning that I am in a busy season and that is okay. In a month and one week. (A MONTH AND ONE WEEK.) My life is going to relatively calm down. And then no one will be paying as much attention to us, and I won’t keep dreaming about the guest list every night, and I won’t be planning little things in my head every second of the day, and I might have a Saturday morning where I sleep in, make biscuits and gravy, and drink a leisurely cup of coffee. I don’t have to apologize for my busyness. My friends understand. My family understands.

Inside of me there is this drive to do all and be all. But I can’t do all. I can’t be all. And neither can you.

So let’s stop apologizing together. 

Stop saying sorry for slightly burnt cookies.

Stop saying sorry for saying no to something you don’t actually have the time to commit to.

Stop saying sorry for taking time for yourself.

Let’s say sorry if we actually hurt someone. But let’s say sorry and mean it.

And to my faithful commenter’s – I haven’t responded to you in like a month. I’m not going to say sorry, instead I appreciate your faithfulness. And I will respond to you soon. Sorry not sorry. 😉

Today make sure to give someone a hug, grab a latte, and have a Happy Thursday. :)