|Morgan Harper Nichols|
March 17, 2021
January 26, 2021
Reading: I am currently reading Fighting Forward by Hannah Brencher and loving it! This book released on the day I left for Romania. Since I pre-ordered it, I was hoping and praying that it would get delivered before I left for the airport...and IT DID! I started reading it in the airport, and then I took a little break. Sometimes, with nonfiction, I have to read it slowly in order to fully digest the contents. And this book is FULL of good stuff so I'm taking my time and trying not to underline every word Hannah wrote. The subtitle is "Your nitty-gritty guide to beating the lies that hold you back", which is something I'm majorly needing these days.
|Click here for this recipe and lots of other filling ideas.|
Eating: I have been loving this viral tortilla/wrap hack from Tik Tok. I don't have Tik Tok, but I tend to see them on Instagram. The basic idea is that you lay out a tortilla and cut vertically, from the middle to the edge. You then fill each 1/4 with whatever goodies you'd like and cook it in a pan with a little butter or oil. This hack stops things from falling out like they usually do when you wrap it like a taco or burrito. It's genius.
Thinking About: Excellent question. I've been thinking about a lot of things, most of which I'm not ready to blog about. However, something I was just thinking about last night is whether or not I'm going to choose a word for 2021 since it's already January 26th. As you might know, I usually choose "one little word" at the beginning of each year in place of making resolutions. I usually think and pray about a word and allow it to guide me, more or less, throughout the year. You can read about my previous words here: 2020, 2019 and 2018.
And there you have it. A look at what I'm currently reading, eating, thinking about, listening to, watching and loving. As always, thanks for following along. And if you want to share some of your Currently items, I'd love to hear them!
I first saw the "Currently" feature on the blog Sometimes Sweet, which was a blog by Dani Hampton. The blog doesn't exist anymore, but I still want to give credit where credit is due.
January 9, 2021
2020, what a year. I won't say all of the cliche things because we all know how the year was. Even if we didn't take a single photo or video, it was truly one that we'll never forget. Okay, I had to say at least one cliche thing!
Like I did in 2017, 2018 and 2019, I continued to document my days, weeks and months with the 1 Second Everyday app. As much as I want to be consistent in blogging, journaling and taking photos, in an effort to document my life, I can never seem to keep up with those habits. But I've found my method...my 1 Second Everyday videos.
If you haven't already downloaded this app, I would strongly encourage you to do so. It takes some getting use to and you have to train yourself a little bit to be on the look out for a daily moment to record, but it's so worth it. Try something new in 2021!
September 8, 2020
As you may remember, I wrote a blog post back on October 1st about how I felt like I was in a season of transition. I wrote the post while I was sitting in the Bucharest airport, waiting for the bus to take me home to Sighisoara. Here's a tiny part of that post...
"I feel like change is coming. I don’t know what kind of change(s). I don’t know when things will change. I don’t know why things will change. I just feel like God is taking me into a new season."
Back then, I had no idea what that change was going to be. I was confused, scared, overwhelmed, anxious, etc., and I didn't even know how to take the next step. But now, various changes have been made and I'm excited to share them with you!
So...drumroll please...I will be starting a brand new teen program called "courage + co"! Yay!
This program will aim to help young people feel seen, heard and loved through intentional relationships (with self, others, community) and courageous conversations. And the "co" represents "connect, cultivate and create", which are themes that the different groups will focus on as they move through the program.
In order to get here, to a place where I felt like I could start a new program, I had to step away from some other roles and responsibilities. After months of praying, journaling, reflecting, listening, etc., I knew it was time to officially make some changes...
At the beginning of this year, I stepped away from the Romanian Studies Program (RSP), where I was serving as the On-site Coordinator for American university students who came to do their practicums with Veritas and/or the church programs. This is the program that brought me to Romania in 2015.
I thought that "the big change" was going to be just stepping away from RSP, but even after making that decision, I knew there was something else. That feeling led to more praying and reflecting in the spring, which eventually led me to another change...
In June, I met with the executive director and board president of Veritas, the nonprofit organization that I have been working with since I came to Romania, to talk about my departure from the organization. Veritas had been a huge part of my work in Romania since the very beginning. The It Takes Courage (ITC) programs that I co-led for five years fell under the umbrella of Veritas’ educational programs. I had also worked very closely with the Kids’ Club program when I first came, and supervised the RSP students in various Veritas programs. In addition to these two major roles, I also helped a lot with marketing and fundraising for Veritas. Basically, Veritas was a pretty major part of my work/life in Romania over the last five and a half years.
I was pretty nervous about giving my notice at Veritas. It had been such a difficult decision to make, and I didn't want it to seem like it was a flippant decision, or that I was upset and leaving because of any major issue. A lot of things had happened over the last year...Adela (my ITC co-leader) went on maternity leave, our program was going to be moving buildings, various other unknowns were up ahead (and this was pre-COVID!), etc. These things, and an unsettled feeling in my heart, led me to this decision. Thankfully, the conversation where I gave my notice went very well, and at one point, someone said, ”I’m just glad there will still be an educational program like It Takes Courage in our community”. And that felt like further confirmation that this was the right decision.
"Further confirmation" has actually been a huge part of this journey. With almost every step that I took, I received confirmation in one form or another. In conversations with others, both with people who knew I was making changes and those who didn't, a comment, question or idea would be said that confirmed something I was thinking/feeling/doing. I had one incredibly vivid dream about a week after having two major conversations, related to all of the changes. Despite the fear and anxiety of the whole situation, I found myself feeling peace more often than not. I kept taking a step and then another step. I just kept doing the next right thing. (Side note: go listen to The Next Right Thing podcast and read the book too!)
And now, I'd like to officially invite you to join me on this exciting new adventure! There are lots of different ways for you to get involved...
- Listen to the new Chosen Voices podcast episode where I share more details about courage + co and the story behind it.
- Purchase a cute t-shirt or sweatshirt from my Bonfire fundraiser. Proceeds will help me purchase items for the program space.
- Sign up for my email newsletter, Coffee & Courage, that I send out monthly with personal and ministry updates.
- And, last but not least, all prayers are appreciated. Prayers for guidance as I continue to make decisions and plan for the program...for physical health...for wisdom in leading a program during the time of COVID-19...and for the teenagers, that they will feel seen, heard and loved in this new program.
|Art by Morgan Harper Nichols|
I cannot tell you how excited I am for courage + co to start! This year, I will meet with two separate groups (a connect group and a cultivate group) during the week, as well as planning some other events (create) like service opportunities, meals together, game/movie nights, etc. All of these activities will be held in the church building, and I'll be sure to share some photos when the space is finished and ready for the program!
In addition to starting this program, I will continue to work out in the village at the child development center. I miss those kiddos SO much, and I cannot wait to see their sweet little faces! I will also be helping to lead the local youth group at the church in town (where courage + co will take place). This will be a new challenge, but I'm excited to meet some new teens!
So there you go. An announcement, an invitation, a story, etc. Lots of new things happening over here. Thank you, as always, for your unwavering support! You, my people, are truly the best. I am grateful for each and every one of you.
August 2, 2020
I say this, not only for myself, but for you as well. Give yourself grace if your 2020 goals don't look the way you thought they would. Because, well, 2020 hasn't exactly looked the way any of us thought it would.
So, without further ado, here's my mid-year check-in for create. And might I add, that I'm actually writing this post and processing through this more for me than for you (as is true for a lot of my blog posts), but I'm glad you're along for the ride!
Other beautiful things that I've created in the first six months of the year:
- Spotify playlists: Music is everything. I tend to make a playlist for each season (ex. Spring 2020, Summer 2020, etc.), and I have them saved from as far back as 2015. I loooove going back and listening to each of them because they really transport me back to that time in my life. And, as you can probably imagine, I created a playlist, or five, during quarantine.
- A cozy apartment: While this isn't specific to the first six months of 2020, I've definitely made a few cozy changes to my apartment, specifically during quarantine, since I'm spending A LOT more time here these days. I've had a few people over in the last month or so and almost every single person has commented on how cozy and peaceful my apartment is. For an introverted homebody and enneagram 9 (if you don't know how that's relevant, ignore it), that's a high, high compliment. My apartment is really my sacred space. I feel incredibly blessed to live in such a beautiful place, which includes this apartment, whole house, medieval citadel, beautiful city, gorgeous country, etc. I am grateful that I get to create beautiful things in this beautiful space.
- Oils & Courage: Just this month, I created a new space on Instagram to share about my love for essential oils and toxin-free products from Young Living. I've been using oils and other YL products since 2018. I share quite often with my friends, like I'd share about a really good cup of coffee or cozy slippers, and I finally decided it was time to expand my circle and share with more people. Young Living has an optional business side that helps people to gain financial freedom, and, as a partner funded missions worker with student loans, I'm allllll about some financial freedom. I am the farthest thing from a pushy salesperson (do you even know me?!), but if you're curious about oils and toxin-free living, you know how to find me!
In the last few weeks, I've tried to narrow it down a bit. One of the things I've really been wanting to focus on is reading and better understanding the Bible. I started Angie Smith's Seamless study with a friend, and we have one more week to go. Honestly, I've put off starting this last week because I don't want to be done with the study! Silly, but that's what I do! Anyways, I'd highly recommend this study to anyone who is wanting to better "understand the Bible as one complete study", which is the subtitle!
In addition to these conversations, I was able to have a small group of girls from the village over to my apartment a few weeks ago, along with Roxana (leader of the children's program in the village). The children's program still isn't meeting, but Roxana has started meeting with her smaller preteen girls' group again. During a conversation with Roxana, I told her that I'd love to have her and the girls over to my apartment sometime, and a week later, they were here!
While there weren't any monumental moments during this fun "girls' day out", it felt like Roxana and I were able to invest in them in a new way. We talked about life. We talked about their hopes and dreams. We talked about their futures. Roxana and I both felt like this day, a day out of the village and their normal routine, opened their eyes up to new possibilities...and to hope. After returning to the village, Roxana and I chatted for a few hours about the day (and lots of other things). We both felt like this day was one neither of us would forget...and we were pretty sure the girls would never forget it either!
There are so many unknowns that lie ahead related to programs. But, regardless of what official programs look like in September, I know there will always be opportunities to invest in the lives of others, and I'm excited about that.
May 13, 2020
As I mentioned in my last blog post, I have thoroughly enjoyed Jess Connolly and Katie Walters' Made Up Morning Show. Thankfully, they've figured out how to save them on IGTV so you can go back and watch the shows from last week. Basically, the goal of each show is to give the viewers a strength tip and a joy tip, and to offer some encouragement during this strange time we're all living in.
Jess' strength tip from yesterday was "adjust accordingly", and those two words are exactly what I needed to hear.
One thing that I've been thinking about a lot is our next/new normal. I know this is something we're all thinking about and navigating through, and it's just been so heavy on my heart. There are still soooo many unknowns related to programs and ministry, my trip to the States this summer, what the fall is going to look like, etc.
But I think the biggest fear I have right now, as the world opens back up, is that we're all going to go back to "normal". I'm afraid that the world is going to return to the busy, chaotic pace that none of us can keep up with. I'm afraid that we're going to try to make up for the weeks and months that we've "lost"...even though I feel so strongly that we have not lost this time, nor can we make up for everything we wanted/needed to do during this time.
And more than that, I think deep down I'm afraid that I am going to return to the busy, chaotic pace.
I'm afraid that I'm going to get up and go at the last minute in the mornings, instead of enjoying the peace that comes with a slow morning of coffee drinking, Bible/book reading and music listening.
I'm afraid that I'm not going to be able to effectively communicate to others my desire to keep a slower pace. Of course, I'm not here, in Romania or on earth, to sit in my house, but I'm also not here to go go go until I burnout and crash.
I'm also afraid that I'm going to be so excited to spend time with my people that I do one of two things...potentially put myself at risk by exposing myself to too many people too soon...and/or...fill my days and nights with time with friends (in person and online) and neglect the me time that I so desperately need to survive and thrive as an introvert living cross-culturally.
I'm afraid that I won't be able to find balance in our new normal.
And this is where I circle back around to adjust accordingly. I am going to have to give myself grace, give others grace, and adjust accordingly. It's as simple as that...and yet I know it won't be simple at all.
|Photo by Mathyas Kurmann on Unsplash|
She went through a number of questions that we can ask the wave and/or ourselves as the waves come in. Where did the wave come from? Where does the wave need to go? Where will the wave be the most effective? Do I need to send the wave away? Is this wave a lie from the enemy? Is this a wave of grief that I need to make space for? Where can the wave empower my life the most right now?
I realize that this might seem pretty abstract, but hopefully you understand what I'm trying to say...through what Jess was trying to say. And actually, Katie stressed the importance of paying attention to what we're thinking and how we're feeling. We need to give ourselves time and allow ourselves to get quiet in order to let these thoughts/feelings come in. She suggested journaling ways that we've grown in the last 8 weeks (or however many)...as well as to note what we've overcome. But also, as we're thinking and/or journaling about this, to do so without shame, judgment, discouragement, etc.
While I consider myself to be a fairly emotional person, I'm not great at recognizing my feelings and feeling them. I tend to push them down and avoid them...especially the hard feelings like fear, sadness, grief, etc. But, I think to be able to adjust accordingly in a healthy way, I need to know what I'm thinking and how I'm feeling.
So...hopefully you've found some encouragement in all of these words. I recognize that they aren't super organized or clear, but the main idea is to give yourself and others grace as you adjust accordingly.
|A recent sunset from my balcony|
April 9, 2020
|My morning must-haves during shelter in place|
And then one week passed...and another week passed...and before I knew it, I had lost my momentum. I feel like I've been riding a rollercoaster with lots of ups and downs...and a few of those crazy upside down loops. I've felt relaxed, lonely, peaceful, sad, productive, lazy, content, fearful, refreshed, frustrated, calm, impatient, fulfilled, upset, optimistic, bored, safe, useless, encouraged, anxious, blessed, isolated, thankful, etc. Are you understanding why I'm using the rollercoaster comparison yet?
I'm sure many of you are experiencing these same feelings whether you live alone, with a roommate or spouse, have children running around the house, etc. We're all doing this for the first time and I think it's safe to say that nobody has a clue how to do this "well".
|I completed a floral illustration during the first week of shelter in place.|
"How can I be healthier
- emotionally, physically and spiritually -
on the other side of this?"I've thought a lot about this, and truthfully, I get overwhelmed if I try to answer it. Why? Well, because I want to listen to this podcast and read that book and clean my apartment and organize my things and go for walks and cook more and establish a better sleep routine! I want to DO all of the things! But, here's what I've learned...I can also just be. I can sit with my feelings and journal. I can take walks and listen to podcasts. I can start every day by reading the Bible instead of checking social media. I can be slow and quiet and still be productive.
So...that's what I'm doing. I'm not being super productive in the idea that I'm doing a lot of projects or crossing a lot of tasks off of my to-do list, but I feel kind of productive. I'm taking things one moment at a time. I'm not putting as much pressure on myself. I'm learning to be slow and quiet...and productive.
With all of that said, I wanted to share some of my 'shelter in place' favorites with you! There are a handful of things that I make sure to catch every day/week, and I think they're worth sharing. I'm hoping maybe one of two of them encourages you in some way!
A few of my favorite things...
TSFQuarantine podcast: Again, my fav, Annie F. Downs, has been doing a daily quarantine podcast with another favorite of mine, Eddie Kaufholz. As you can see in the little photo above, they talk about everything from baby goats to jazz leadership. I often listen to this podcast while I'm out on a walk and I usually end up laughing out loud at some point. Good thing nobody is around to hear me!
Made Up Morning Show: I can't really link to this one since the shows are live each day (well, just Monday through Thursday actually). But these shows have been such a HUGE encouragement to me. I don't have many things written on my weekly schedule, but this is definitely on there! Jess Connolly and Katie Walters are sisters who decided to create a made-up morning show where they share tips for strength and joy...and they also just chat like two sisters.
Kitchen Covers: Drew & Ellie Holcomb, both singers with their own music, have been bringing these Kitchen Covers to Instagram every single day. They are covering a variety of artists and songs, and it's fun to check in each day and see what they've done. They're amazing performers! I've enjoyed each of them, but Wildflowers by Tom Petty has probably been my favorite so far!
Bridgetown Daily: This podcast comes out of Bridgetown Church in Portland, Seattle, which is pastored by John Mark Comer. I've read a few of John Mark's books, and I really enjoy reading/hearing about how he sees God and Sabbath, specifically. Anyways, Bridgetown is releasing daily podcasts focused on a variety of topics. They "tagline" for these podcasts is "A daily meditation on scripture, a quote, or the life of a saint to ground you in God and his peace." And I think we all need that right now.
Good News Movement: This is an Instagram account that has brought me so much joy! Basically, they share a little good news every day! Most of it is related to COVID-19, and it reminds me that we really are all in this together, figuring things out one day at a time.
There you have it. That's, more or less, what I've been up to over the past few weeks. I've also enjoyed many, many gorgeous sunsets from my balcony, as you can see above. I've baked chocolate chip banana bread. I've hosted weekly Zoom calls with my It Takes Courage 2.0 group, and started a Bible study via Zoom with two of my girls (past ITC teens who are now in college). I've participated in a variety of other Zoom calls, FaceTimed with my sister and the kids a lot more, read a few books, watched a handful for TV shows and movies...all of the normal things :)
As I wrap this post up, I hope that you will remember to have grace with yourself, and with others, during this time. I also hope that you will ask yourself how you can be healthier - emotionally, physically, spiritually - after this is over. And I hope you will enjoy these pretty doors!