3 Questions with Kaitie Bryant

Kaitie Bryant is a new (virtual) friend of mine. I met her as I was looking for contributors for the Sacred Holidays Advent Devo for Women because several people had recommended her, and I can see why! Kaitie's social media feed is as beautiful as her photography and as honest as her writing. I'm excited for y'all to get to know her too. She lives in suburban Atlanta with her husband and two boys. She is the co-founder of Gather Workshop, an intimate business workshop designed to encourage and educate the creative entrepreneur. She loves exclamation points, coffee, cheesy jokes, 90s rap, dancing in the kitchen, books about ordinary life, Ikea, and Jesus. 

What is some of the best advice you’ve ever received or would give?

I was having coffee with a wise friend of mine and sharing some difficult parenting situations with her, and her response came from her own experience as a mom in different seasons of big challenges.  She told me something so simple but really profound: get close to Jesus and stay close to Him.  I can't thank her enough for saying that.  She didn't try to pretend to know all the answers on what my specific child needed and a 12 step program for parenting because there isn't one.  But she gave me the best advice and one that I come back to each day that I need to stay close to Jesus and He will lead me in the way I should go in all things. 

 

How do you best connect with God?

I best connect with God through nature.  God has really taught me so much in walks outside, seeing beautiful mountains and oceans and also the regular daily activity of natural life.  In so many ways the scriptures that I read come alive to me in nature, and God seems to have created the whole world with his truth woven into every part of it.

 

What is a favorite thing of yours right now?

My favorite thing right now is Greg McKeown's book, Essentialism.  I HIGHLY recommend this book and reference it at least once a day.  There are so many good things about the book, but my favorite bit is when he talks about focusing on what your area of highest contribution and eliminating all the other areas to give your most to that one area.  I love the phrase, "do less, but better."  His book resonates with me and is something I'm really wanting to characterize how I live life.

 

Connect more with Kaitie by checking out her website, following her on Instagram, and friending her on Facebook. Also, check out Gather Workshop and follow them on Instagram, too!

- Check out the 3 Questions series. -

Three Questions: Intro

I am so excited to introduce you all to a new series I'll be hosting on my blog: Three Questions!

I will be asking Three Questions to people who I think have lived a significantly remarkable life (some of the names you will know and others will be the first you've heard them). We have so much to learn from others and I can't wait for you to learn from these women and men-- they have each made a huge impact on me! 

So you have an idea of what this will be like, I will be asking them all the same Three Questions: 

1. What is some of the best advice you've ever received or would give?

2. How do you best connect with God? 

3. What is a favorite thing of yours right now? 

 

I also thought that if I'm going to put them in the hot seat, I should go first. So here we go, my friends, our very first installment of Three Questions--

1. What is some of the best advice you've ever received or would give?

This is such a loaded question and I could have about 1 billion answers. So I’ll go with the most recent. “Becky, if you could do ONE thing in 20 years would you want it to be A or B?”

I met with a coach recently and she asked me to put two big dreams of mine head to head. I had never done that. I embrace all dreams and all pursuits, unless I feel like the Lord says “no go.” I live constantly in the here and now, that sometimes I forget that every here and no becomes 20 years from now. So when I had to answer I surprised myself with that answer. It has been wildly helpful in every next step I take each day with my family, our church, our community, my personal writing and ministry, and Sacred Holidays. 

 

2. How do you best connect with God?  

(Another HUGE questions. My future interviewees won’t have it easy. #sorrynotsorry)

Clearly I believe there are many ways to connect with God. For me, I have two favorites:

Early mornings before anyone is up (even though I’m totally a night owl, so before kids, this all took place at night after roommates were in bed). I have hot coffee, open journal and His Word. I start first with journaling and praying. I pause and reflect. I try to listen. Sip more coffee so I don’t fall asleep. About this time I open the curtains so I can see the morning sun start to spread across the sky and break through the trees in our front yard. I love doing Bible studies from time to time, but often I just like to read through the Bible at whatever pace happens naturally—typically I’m in a book of the Bible or several books (currently reading the prophets in chronological order). I interact with His Word by underlining and circling and making notes in the columns. I journal about parts that are particularly impactful. Then usually pit patters and request for breakfast interrupt this time.

My other favorite is anything in nature—toes in the sand, mountain air, buzz of a busy city street. I love it all. I struggle with faith but when I see all He has created, I am in awe. It is good for my soul to get out and be around what He has created. 

 

3. What is a favorite thing of yours right now?

The Olympics. We are slightly obsessed. We are also ridiculously tired! Anyone else? I feel like a college student except for I don’t get a second wave and am also totally done the next day. I love it so much though and we keep saying that it only happens once every four years, so we need to live it up. My favorites to watch are swimming and gymnastics. However, you could talk me into watching pretty much anything. 

Close second: meeting the neighbors. I do mean close, because it could be first. We have lived on our street for a little over a year and we have met all our neighbors but not really started to connect. Well this past couple of weeks that has all changed. When Chandler turned one and started walking, I felt like a whole new world has opened up to me. I've also gotten better about prioritizing our time, so had more time to actually have people over and not just wave from the driveway. This has been super fun to make great friends on our same street! 



Would you like to have me ask someone these questions? No one is too big or too small for me. Submit their information here:

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Best FREE Stock Photo Sites

Finding stock photos that are both awesome and truly free is nearly impossible. I get so irritated when I search for "free stock photos" then am told that I will get "free stock photos" but I either end up having to pay or sign my entire life away to get them. No thank you. 

I wanted beautiful images for social media and the studies we write with Sacred Holidays and like most start ups, my budget was zero. After nearly a year, these are my favorite go to pages. I've had them bookmarked individually but thought I'd pull them all together... for both of us.

In no particular order, since all our preferences are different, these are my top sites I go to with a little description of each: 

Albumarium

I want to like this site, and I do because if you want high quality and free, well you can only be so picky. However, I feel like their download time is really slow. Also, the search fields and selections and fresh uploads seems lacking. Still, I still use the site because the photos that I like, are worth it. I just feel you have to dig a little. 

 

Death to the Stock Photo

So the major disadvantage of this one is the you can't search for what you want, they email you 10 a week once you sign up by giving them your email. I will tell you they really don't spam and you really do get 10 high quality images each week. I wouldn't recommend this unless you use stock photos on a regular basis. They are actually some of my favorite pictures and works if you file pictures away to use on specific projects. Not good if you are always looking last minute. 

 

Gratisography

This site I LOVE but it is not for everyone. They have "normal" stock photos, but if you like to have fun with the images you use, they will have exactly what you were hoping to find! They allow a lot of humor in the images that they host on their site. They still have the standard looking kind as well too. This is one of the first sites I start with. 

 

Life of Pix

Selection is good, not amazing. I always feel like I have to dig more. Still it's free, so that's awesome. 

 

PicJumbo

This site is a good one BUT there is a slight catch. They have free images AND paid. Of course when you search they show you both. There are plenty to choose from in the free but with the even more awesome paid ones right next to the freebies, you will be tempted to pay or disappointed at times. So consider yourself warned. 

 

Pexels

Great photos with high quality and a wide variety of artistic expressions. Easy to search. They do ask you to donate to support the cause, but it is not pressured or required. 

 

Unsplash

This site is definitely one of my very favorites and most used. I feel like they upload new photos frequently (this is important if you are using stock photos frequently). I also don't feel like I see their pictures everywhere else (people like free stock photos and once you use these sites you'll see lots of repeats). It's easy to download and pics are high quality. You can easily search in the top bar whatever category you'd like. 


Happy browsing, my friends! 

Bookmark this page now, so you can get the free sites anytime. 

Share it on Pinterest so you have it there and all your pinning friends can be in the know too. 

Share this link in Facebook groups of small business owners, we gotta help each other out! 

Why I'm Going Facebook Live

I didn't want to do it because we do NOT need another social media channel.

So I avoided filming videos and uploading them to YouTube and then to a website or sharing it other places. Who has time for that? Then I avoided Periscope too. I really wanted to jump on that wagon but I just couldn't do one more social media thing. Then Facebook started Facebook Live and I have been trying to find reasons not to do it, ignoring the encouragement of many friends. 

I'm a believer in Jim Elliot's quote: "Wherever you are, be all there." While he wasn't referencing social media, but actual people in an actual community, I still think it applies... and it happens to be a major motivator for going Facebook Live

I am not a part of a church that has tons of women's classes on Sundays or during the week. This was an adjustment for me as I've always had a place were I could teach. I'm grateful for this shift-- it's created space for God to move and grow our family and me personally. Sacred Holidays wouldn't be in existence had this space not been created. Our family wouldn't be where we are, both literally and figuratively, if this space hadn't been created. However, I've grieved not being able to teach and speak as frequently. 

I've struggled with why I felt sad about this. Could it be vanity? Am I not content with where God has me? I don't think that's the issue. 

This morning was a big breakthrough. As I've been reading through the Prophets, I've realized they had a message that they HAD to speak.

Do you relate to that? Is there something you just HAVE to do? You may not even know what IT is yet, but you know there is something. 

For me that thing is teaching. It comes in various forms-- sharing on Instagram something I learned or saw that day, writing a blog post when I have something that I just have to write out, and then, occasionally, speaking in person at events and women's prisons. There are so many times I'm reading in God's Word and I think, oh I have to share it! The back of my journal is filled with blog posts that have never been written. My inbox is filled with reminders to write about things God has showed me (anyone else use their Inbox as their running To Do list?). Occasionally, I'll share on Instagram and Facebook if I can condense the message, but the best ones are in draft form. Blogging takes time, the good posts anyway. Even then, just words can't quite convey what a face-to-face message could. 

Anyway, I used to feel guilty when the Lord spoke something to me and I wanted to share it with others. I used to think it was some hidden vanity or pride. I knew it wasn't but I thought maybe it was deep down. So I always hesitate to share the things I learn from the Lord or others. I keep silent for fear that I should be content to just be private with the Lord. 

Until today. FREEDOM

For the first time I realized, maybe I have this constant urging to share, not because I'm prideful, but because I am a teacher. I knew I was a teacher, but I never equated this need to share with being a teacher. I never share to impress (anyone that follows me knows that since the majority of what I'm sharing is my failures, ha!). I share because I can't believe what I've read or learned and want so much for someone else to know too! 

So that's why I am going live. 

Jim Elliott encouraged us to be "all there" "wherever" we are and the truth is our society is online, specifically Facebook and Instagram for my people. So I want to be there more fully with you. I want to be able to engage and interact more with you. 

I would love for you to join in on my very first Facebook Live event at 9pm CST. 

<<Click the image below to go to my Facebook Page and friend me. You can turn on notifications so you don't miss it or just come back to my page at 9pm CST.>> 

If you miss tonight's Facebook Live event, you can still go back and watch it and comment after it happens. I will stay active in the comments even after the session is over. 

Thoughts to my Mid 20s Self

This is part of a series of posts, Thoughts to My Mid-Self, I started as I officially entered my mid-30s. I wanted to look back to my other mid-age ranged selves and speak some truth to myself then. I hope that, especially if you find yourself in that age range currently, you can learn something. If you are out of that age range too, then maybe you can look back on that range and give yourself some grace and recall what you've learned since then. 

This too shall pass. Hold on-- it's gonna be a rollercoaster. So many highs and so many lows are about to hit you. The very best years of your life and some of the very hardest. Everyone seems to want to stay in their 20s forever, not you. I know you are ready to leave all the drama of the 20s behind you. You will. You will absolutely love your 30s. For now, let all the lessons of your 20s soak in. 

You will find your career-- all the floundering isn't failure, it's experience. You will feel discouraged that you hop from career to career. That one job didn't work out like you expected and another was unfulfilling and another was heartbreaking. The constant thread in it all: God was growing you and each one taught you something. It's really funny to look back now because there is no way Sacred Holidays would be as successful without each of those jobs you were questioning God about then. You won't look back and feel frustrated any longer. You will see how what seemed like a haphazard plan, was so perfectly woven together for your good. 

Your moms dating advice is crazy, don't listen to it (except for a good laugh). Your mom will start calling you for a weekly dating advice because she is concerned you will be an old maid. She will tell you to pull your shirt down a little "because even Christian guys like a little cleavage" or "Why don't you try going to different churches since there are so many services to choose from on Saturday and Sundays." Keep laughing at them. Also, she might randomly call someone she saw on Good Morning America because she thought y'all would be perfect together and set y'all up on a blind date. File this under things only your mom will do and laugh some more.

That guy that is SO not your type and you think he is just a friend, you are going to marry him. He is unlike any other guy you've ever dated and you are unlike any other girl he has ever liked. This was God's plan. You become really great friends before either of you even have an inkling of a crush. But one day you will sit at that outdoor table of Starbucks and have a little DTR (define the relationship). A couple of weeks later he will go with you to Thanksgiving with your family because he couldn't go home and you will know you will marry him. You are right. 

4 1/2 months is just enough time to plan a wedding. People will gasp when they hear your engagement will only last 4 1/2 months, after all you've only dated for 8 months. You both know though. It's time. You are right. The wedding will be anything but Pinterest worthy, but it will be fun and you will remember it so fondly. Don't let yourself get stressed, it is what it is. Just focus on that guy in front of you. Spend your money wisely and say no to things that are frivolous. Your guests can eat dinner before hand, cake and snacks are more than enough. Don't wear heels, even though your mom says you should. Oh and don't forget to un-bussel your dress. You will really regret this, but one day you will laugh about it. It will also be the only thing you regret about this day. That's pretty good!

Chris will grow you more than you've ever known, he is your perfect balance. It's the thing most say about your relationship then and now-- you balance one another. This can be really hard a lot of the time. He is your opposite in nearly every way. You like the outdoors, he prefers inside. You like people, he likes alone time. You like new adventure, he likes to plan his course. You like to eat out, and he likes to eat in. You like to shop, he likes to save. You like to be sarcastic, he likes to be serious. You like a full calendar, he likes a cleared calendar. He is literal, you are figurative. You speak in exaggerations, he speaks in perfect accuracy. He is black and white, and you are every shade of grey. He likes to follow the rules, and you see rules as something to be... expanded. He likes dishes done before you've even finished your last bite, you like them to pile up and conversation to linger. He likes a show ready house, you like a lived in house. You are different.

The different will be hard at the beginning, but you will find it to become more and more beautiful each year. 

Ignore that pre-marital counselor: you are not your parents. You will have a pre-marital counselor look you both in the eyes and say: "You are not well suited for one another. Your personalities don't match well and you both come from divorced homes. Every odd is against you." That person puts a good reality check on you and makes you stronger as a team. You are not your parents. Your God likes the odds. 

Sex is awesome. Nine years in and you will wonder why the movies portray that sex with one person is a punishment or one of the biggest sacrifices getting married entails. Oh my goodness, it just gets better every single year. Those Cosmo writers and movie writers are all idiots. 

That time you get stranded in Vegas, rent a car and drive back to Houston. It will be one of your favorite weeks ever. 

Losing friends totally sucks. You are a people person but even more than that you are a your people person. Over the next coming years you will lose a few friends for various reason and it will crush you. You will put walls up keeping everyone else out. You still grieve the loss of those friendships and ache when their names are mentioned, but you are OK.

Don't put up the walls. Others, especially Chris, don't need to suffer because those people shattered your trust. Let others in, they won't hurt you. Spend less time trying to win those friendships back. When you make new friends, it's OK to be fully yourself. Don't hide. Don't put up this facade. Let others in. Until then, know that you have a tribe of women headed your way. You will sob giant tears one day over the answer to endless prayers for God to bring you your people. He will. 

Don't buy that house-- it's not as glamorous as HGTV makes it look. God uses all things for good and so much good will come out of that place that you will find it hard to say that you shouldn't buy it. It's not just that house, because you made the best purchase you could've. You were smart with your money-- you didn't over buy or stress yourselves out. But you both weren't really ready to be home owners. It will make your first years of marriage harder. It will tie you up and keep you in. Turn off HGTV and go get an apartment. 

Don't tolerate the gossip. There will be so much whirling around you. Stand up stronger to it. It's not OK. Gossip is not OK. Don't contribute to it. Don't tolerate it when you see it. Speak honestly with all people and when there is a chatter, stop it immediately. Too much chatter. It's so very stupid. 

Work out, it's so easy now. You will think it's hard now but your life is so easy. You have SO much time even though you feel like you are constantly busy. You aren't. You just aren't. Your busy is all optional, one day your calendar will be monopolized by a husband, three beautiful girls, and a business. All things you will love your calendar and days being filled up with, but you will have very little free time. New habits require much more effort. So do this. Hit play on that DVD or actually train for that half marathon you've dreamed of doing. You can do this. Don't fear it. 

Don't spend a dime of your paycheck. You and Chris will be advised not to ever live off your salary, but to pay off debt with it or save. You do that. In just a few years your financial standing is drastically changed because of all you've said no to in order to save that money. 

You aren't as far from your calling as you think. You are confused by your day-to-day circumstances. You envisioned doing ministry differently, thinking it would be a full time gig. One day it might be. Today, it's not. Your counselor will tell you, "If God has called you to it, then you can trust that it will happen." She's right. Until then let this in between be a season of growing you. Also know that the in-between is filled with moments of ministry, you aren't as in-between as you think.

Teach and write even when the numbers are small. You will have a women's class you teach weekly with no more than 20 regulars. Stay faithful to this opportunity. The Lord will grow you as a teacher more than you realize. Ignore the blog stats and just write. It doesn't matter how many come, if just one needs to hear what God has to say. 

You will have a baby, against doctor's predictions. Before you were even married you feared your fertility, once you were married this anxiety only increased. The doctors prognosis ringing in your ears: "You might be able to conceive but your body will likely attack the fetus and cause miscarriages. You will likely never be able to have your own baby." You grieve this before it's even a possibility. That month you think you might be pregnant you wait until you are 2 weeks late to even get the courage to take a test. Guess what? Two lines will appear. Against all odds. 

 

(Note: There are parts of my story I am vague in sharing, I don't mean to do that to cause curiosity or distract you, sweet reader. There are parts of my story I don't share because the story isn't just mine to share. There are parts of my story I don't share because they aren't your business. I mean that with love. Some things we need to hold to just those very few closest to us. Some parts of my story I don't share because it's not time to share. Some parts of my story I don't share because my vagueness is more helpful, it allows each of my readers to connect in their own way. You all know that I aim to be an authentic, vulnerable and open book here and in the Bible studies that I write. So thank you for being gracious with the vague allusions. Love you so.)

To see all the posts in this series, click the image below: