Miami University's campus at dawn
1. Chilly morning runs on campus These are my cowboy boots, but I love all my boots.
2. Carving pumpkins
3. Roasting pumpkin seeds
4. Candy Corn
6. Leaf rubbings
7. Apple crisp fresh out of the oven topped with vanilla ice cream
8. My black motorcycle jacket from the leather markets in Florence
9. Spooky scented hand sanitizers from Bath and Body Words (our family calls them hanee sanees) My favorite fall treat from Starbucks, Salted Caramel Mocha - delish!
10. Salted Caramel Mochas
But, you know my favorite part of fall? Rejoicing that God created all of these flavors, smells, activities, fashion statements and the incredible beauty of the changing leaves for us to enjoy.
What are your favorite things about fall?
Summer clothes are so easy. Even something as simple as a black tank and jean shorts looks fabulous.
It’s that time of year. I’m switching out everything.
First stop, my closet. I’ve packed up my boots and thick sweaters and swapped their spots on my shelves with shorts, sandals and swimsuits. It’s amazing how much less crowded my closet appears—how much lighter and less burdensome my summer clothes look all laid out and feel when they’re on my body. There’s an effortlessness of tossing on a cotton sundress and flip-flops and being ready for the day. There’s a comfort that army shorts and a black tank always look and feel great. If it were warmer in Ohio, I’d dress like this all the time.
Iced coffee with mocha and a little milk is my morning milkshake.
I’ve also given up my morning cup of steaming coffee. Don’t’ worry, it’s not what you think. But in the summer I drink iced coffee with mocha, a little milk, and preferably a green straw. Straws are fun, like a giant sippy cup. And my morning caffeine fix tastes almost like a milkshake for me to savor each morning.
I’ve also traded eating in the kitchen to dining al fresco. Even what I eat transitions in the summer from soups and pastas to salads and grilled shrimp. I am more relaxed on my screened in porch. Woodpeckers lightly tap our trees, searching for their dinner. The warmth of summer seeps into my skin. Last night we got a typical summer evening thunderstorm. The cadence of raindrops on the porch roof lulled my soul. And with a table laden with tomatoes and corn on the cob, alongside wedges of watermelon all from the farmer’s market down the road, my taste buds wake up from their winter slumber.
Fresh watermelon from the farmer's market wakes up my taste buds in the summer.
As I look around my house, my life, and make modifications for summer, I wonder what else I need to trade out. What’s weighing me down? What’s slowing me, crowding me, stifling me? What do I need to say “no” to or get going on? Is there anything I need to change, maybe just for a season? Do I need to wake up earlier or sleep in more often? Is there something in my work out routine that could use a boost – a new playlist? A different trail to run? How about in my family life? Is there someone I need to spend more time with? More quality time?
And in my faith walk? Where does God want me to go this summer? How does He want me to allocate my time, set my priorities? What does He want me to learn? I’ll need to spend some time chatting with Him about that, and then I’ll get back to you.
In the meantime, what changes do you make when the temperatures rise?
Tingling all over with the announcement of the second book in my Status Updates series, It's Over, releasing April 19!
Book cover for the sequel to It's Complicated, It's Over. Photograph by Kelci Alane Photography. Cover Design by Angela Llammas.
HOW CAN YOU MOVE ON WHEN IT'S OVER?
When four college roommates lose pieces of their lives, the pain isolates and the tension rises. Emotions are hard to hide and even harder to tackle. How can the girls move forward, when there is so much pain in letting go? Together, Claire, Kat, Palmer and Hannah learn to lean on God and each other, and through it all they learn loss is a part of life."In It's Over, Laura L. Smith confirms the truth we've been told that we are never alone in the midst of heartache and struggle. In fact, she takes us to a place where we not only get to see, but feel deeply the truth of the fact that every single one of us has a story. Every single one of has experienced pain. But more importantly, that every single one of us has great hope. Laura L. Smith's writing strikes a deep chord in my heart. It makes sense. It's real--and in my opinion, that transparency makes all the difference." ~Holly Starr, Christian recording artist
"Laura Smith speaks for the broken. With a voice that’s warm and true, Laura gives words to those rendered speechless by issues that high school and college girls should never have to deal with—but so many of them do. In writing that’s raw, relevant, and real, Smith goes where few authors dare to go: straight into the heart of today’s young woman." ~Amy Parker, bestselling author of Courageous Teens
"YA author, Laura L. Smith crafts another story that will appeal to all girls, because no one is untouched by heartache in all its forms. The grace Smith extends the four girls in It's Over will touch readers in deep ways, as they follow these characters through some of the worst parts of life. Best of all, they'll cheer when the girls lean on one another and find ways to be thankful in everything. This is a fantastic read, one that will resonate with teens, college girls and their mothers." ~Laura Kurk, author of Glass Girl
Two women running in the wintery woods
I have a friend who makes me run in freezing cold conditions. Yesterday it was nineteen degrees outside and with the wind chill it felt like seven, as in single digits. And yes, we ran – IN THE WOODS - OUTSIDE!
I love to run outside, but come on. I get cold so easily. I’m currently writing this indoors with the heat on, wearing a jacket and sipping my Starbucks (which I just reheated). I have permashiver in my bones.
I’ve tried getting out of these runs before.
I’ve texted: looks too chilly for me
and my friend texts back: bundle up
I'll need to type frantically to finish my manuscript next week!
There are so many things that don’t seem doable, like running in seven degrees, who would do that? But there are bigger things too, like finishing the manuscript I’m working on by the end of next week or completely forgiving someone in my life, who I’m currently holding a grudge against, tightly. There are challenging moments in scheduling, everyday kind of life, like getting my four kids to all of their practices and games while my husband is in Sri Lanka or maneuvering the roads this morning after the ice storm that hit last night. (Did I mention I’m not that strong of a driver?) But with Christ all things are possible, and my friend pushing me to run outside on a freezing cold morning, is the perfect reminder.
One of my all time favorite Bible verses Phillipians 4:13
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
Not some things, or the easy things or the convenient things, but ALL THINGS. So what things are you struggling with today? What seems difficult or inconvenient or tricky or down right impossible? There is a way around, through, over or under it. For me and my run, it meant wearing long underwear, gloves, “heat wear” and my Columbia. And you know what, our run through the woods was invigorating. I saw the beautiful patterns of water frozen in motion on an icy stream. I breathed in fresh, clean, crisp air after days and nights of stale air recirculated from dusty heaters. The cold breeze on my cheeks revived my senses. I shared laughter and stories with a friend and allowed my mind and body to fall into the healing rhythm of a run.
Not only is the impossible possible, it usually provides an invigorating path for discovery. What’s overwhelming you today? I’d love to pray for you to find your way through it.
fall leaves in yellow, orange, red and green scattered on the ground - which one do you like best?
Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?
So, who is the fairest of them all? Taylor Swift? Gabby Douglas? Selena Gomez? How about _________ (insert your name here)?
Hard to pick, isn’t it? Impossible maybe.
You see, God created Taylor with thick blonde hair and an amazing voice. He gave Gabby a strong body, dark coloring and a killer smile. When God created Selena he gave her full cheeks and lips and chocolate eyes. They are all stunning.
And so are you.
On a recent run as I crunched through the leaves, I was stopped in my tracks, mesmerized by the stunning beauty of fall foliage that had floated to the pavement. Reds, oranges, yellows and greens, oaks, maples, beech and leaves I couldn’t even identify. Their damp, sweetness filled my nose. What a gorgeous collage of color! As I wondered at the beauty of leaves changing color I kept telling myself, “Wow, that one is so pretty.” And as I shifted my gaze, “Oh my gosh, that one is spectacular.” And then looking at the leaf overlapping it I thought, “The way that one is streaked with red is amazing.”
Which leaf is your favorite in the photo above? Hard to choose isn’t it?
Because each and every leaf that falls from the ground is magnificently designed by the greatest artist of all time – not Van Gogh or Magritte, but by God, the Creator. And each and every human is magnificently designed by the greatest artist of all time, you guessed it, God the Creator.
“Walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you?” Matthew 6: 28-30 MSG
Take a look at those leaves again. That’s how God sees us, but even more so. He takes pride in us, each and every one of us. We are all beautiful to him, because He creates us in His image.
Where’s your favorite spot to take in the fall color?
Oscar Pistorious a.k.a. The Blade Runner competes in the 2012 Olympics with two amputated legs.
With the Olympics at the forefront of everyone’s minds and screens, we are filled with visions of young athletes overcoming impossible odds, training and working and sweating and crying and clawing and sacrificing and praying their ways to finding their dreams.
What’s your dream? To what ends would you go to achieve it?
I know it’s not easy. There are roadblocks at every turn. Hurdles and obstacles like:
It’s never been done before. I’m not strong enough. It’s a tough road. It’s not practical. When I’m older. If I was younger. I’ve never been formally trained. I’m not tall enough. I’m too tall. I don’t have enough money. I’m so busy. I don’t know how I’d get there. I’m exhausted. I don’t know anyone who does that kind of thing. I don’t even know where to start.
ENOUGH! Or to use one of my favorite Italian words - BASTA!
You could spend the rest of your life coming up with excuses why you never chased your dreams.
You could think of all the things you’re going to do today, tomorrow, before the Olympics are over to launch them into a reality.
Oscar (Oz) Pistorious, aka The Blade Runner, is a double amputee. He plays rugby, water polo and tennis with prosthetics – unbelievable. But what is even more miraculous is OZ will be the first double amputee to run in the Olympics. Let me say that again. He had both of his legs amputated below the knee when he was a baby, yet he is running in the 2012 Olympics.
He will be competing in both the 400-meter and 4 x 400 meter races for his native South Africa. Oz’s motto is. “You're not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have." It’s no wonder his last name rhymes with victorious.
In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:37
What abilities to you have?
How are you going to use them today?
runner in the winter
It’s winter. It’s cold. It’s gray. I’m chilly. I’m shivering.
I’ve traded tall glasses of cool water for earthen mugs filled with steaming H2O to warm my hands, throat and insides as I hydrate myself throughout the day.
Throws and blankets litter my couches, so no matter what room I’m in, whether I’m writing, reading, chatting, playing, anything, I can snuggle into the warmth their thick folds offer.
My fuzzy slipper boots with the leopard print haven’t seen my closet in weeks. They are either on my feet or next to my bed, eager for me to trade out my clompy boots at the end of the day and slide into their softness.
I am drawn by the warmth and dancing flames in the fireplace. I savor the scent of coffee, rich and strong in the mornings. I look forward to layering fluffy sweaters and fur vests over my body.
But part of me, something deep inside of me, longs for outdoors.
Like our tortoise, who revels in sunning himself under his heat lamp, but always seems to be planning his great escape, I want to bang my head against the windows and find a way out of my terrarium, aka my house, and out, where there’s air and sky and breezes and life.
So, today, I went running outside. I wore long underwear and a turtleneck and a hooded sweatshirt tied tight around my face. Thick, polar fleece gloves encased my fingers. But, I felt it. I felt Him.
Outside, I am always closer to my Maker and always closer to me, the person He made me to be. The park was desolate except for one person walking their dog and a pair of soccer players passing the ball back and forth, the leather echoing against their cleats in the stillness of the day.
I inhaled long and hard the cold, crisp winter air. It broke through my fog and stirred my lethargy and made me feel alive. The wind stung my eyes, making them tear up, but the tears were warm and wet and real, and seemed to cleanse a film off my lenses making everything more vivid.
The air in my warm nest of a home has become stale with the hum of the heater. But the air outside was as fresh as a farmer’s market, alive and new, just grown today, for my lungs to take in and push back out.
I returned home to a soothing warm shower, my favorite jeans, three layers of tops and of course, my slippers. As I sit here and write, I sip steaming water and intermittently clutch the warm mug to my chest. But my soul is stirred.
My eyes are wider. My heart beats faster. My mind races with ideas.
My cozy home is a safe haven for shelter and heat, but I do not need to hibernate. I will take the gift of life, the essence of the universe and infuse it into my very soul and all I do.
I will take the gift of creation and visit it again sooner, rather than later, to keep me in sync with my Creator and His plans for me.