Loving Lately: Welcome, Summer!

Hey there, friend! It's been a while! How are things in your corner of the world? Where I am, summer is in full swing and I'm loving every moment. My life feels like it's humming, somehow: buzzing with excitement, activity, and joy. Today I'm sharing some of that with you, as best I can, in Loving Lately: a collection of the moments, changes, and activities that I'm most enjoying right now.

Life Changes I'm Loving Lately

Life Changes I'm Loving Lately

Ken and Sara's House of Dreams

The biggest life change that I'm loving lately is that Ken and I finally have an apartment! We've been working on this update for months, with the last few weeks serving as the final stretch of debate and decision-making. A few weeks ago, we made an offer on a lovely little apartment in Leiden, and after a little negotiating, we received confirmation yesterday that our latest offer was accepted. Ken will sign the paperwork this Monday, and then it will be ours! I fell in love with this apartment from the moment I saw the photos, and I can't wait to share pictures and updates with you as we make our house a home.

Cutting Out Negativity

I normally try to be a positive and kind person, but in the last few months I found myself reading negative things more and more. I checked in on a snarky forum from time to time; after I ended a friendship with a very toxic person, I found myself occasionally checking her social media; and I often got my news from cynical commentary sites. I noticed after a while that these activities were having a negative influence on my perspective, even making my think judgmental thoughts about people on- and off-line. I am not about that. So about a week ago, I made a commitment to stop engaging with that sort of media, and I'm happy to report that I already feel better and more positive since!

Projects I'm Loving Lately

Projects I'm Loving Lately

Women of Valor

One of the major reasons this blog has been so silent lately is because I've been knee-deep in projects for my other site, Seasons Illustrated. Those of you who have been reading this blog since last fall will remember that I hosted a challenge on the blog last winter called Advent Illustrated, as part of my hobby of making art in the pages of my Bible (a process called Bible journaling). As that project took off, I decided to dedicate a separate site to it so that Sara Laughed could remain a college lifestyle blog.

I'm currently writing and leading a new Bible journaling study over at Seasons Illustrated, this time on women of the Bible. The research, graphic design, and writing for that have been taking up a lot of my free time, and tomorrow I will beginning the plans for this year's Advent Illustrated!

Cooking

I'm also learning to cook right now, which has been way more fun and rewarding than I ever thought. As a teenager, I used to hate cooking for my family, because I found it exhausting without much benefit (as in, I got tired and the food was never that good). But lately I've been using an online recipe program that's customizable and has been really great in teaching me basic cooking skills. I now try to cook one to three times per week (though my mom will be quick to tell you that the truth is closer to one than three)!

Media I'm Loving Lately

Media I'm Loving Lately

Music: Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper

A good friend of mine introduced me to this mixtape when it was released, and I've been loving it. Great beats and lyrics, and really cool shades of Gospel on a lot of the tracks. My favorite tracks are All We Got, No Problem, Blessings, Angels, and Finish Line/Drown.

Television: Orange is the New Black

I've been watching Orange is the New Black on-and-off since the release of Season 1, so I checked out Season 4 a few days after it came out (and ended up binge-watching it all in 3 days). I really loved the commentary that this season provided on a lot of pressing social issues, from the privatization of prisons to the Black Lives Matter movement. The ending broke my heart, like it did for a lot of people. I'm excited to see what Season 5 has in store.

Video: 5 Things that Are Harder than Registering to Vote, Featuring President Barack Obama

This video is really funny (watching Barack Obama make a friendship bracelet for Joe Biden is hilarious and just heartbreakingly adorable) and also has an important message: register to vote!

Books I'm Loving Lately

Books I'm Loving Lately

I've been reading a few books simultaneously, which means that I haven't finished any in a while. Below are a few short summaries of the books I'm reading. Currently on my bookshelf is:

Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner. This book is the account of a woman who converted from Orthodox Judaism to evangelical Christianity, sharing her thoughts on what Christians can learn from the traditions and values of Jewish people. I first read this book a few years ago, when I myself was still pretty steeped in studying the Jewish tradition. It's interesting to reread it now that I'm a practicing Christian.

Sabbath in the Suburbs: A Family's Experiment with Holy Time by MaryAnn McKibben-DanaI'm in the process of starting my own sabbath practice, so in addition to a few more serious books on sabbath days and habits, I picked up this memoir-of-sorts of a family's attempts to keep a sabbath day. From what I've read so far, it's funny, engaging, and a little educational, too!

A Faith of Her Own: Women of the Old Testament by J. Ellsworth KalasI have a small arsenal of books on women of the Bible for the Women of Valor series I'm writing right now. This one is my favorite, even surpassing Women of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture, which I've had for about five years now. It frames certain issues and stories in a new way, and is informative while remaining truly engaging.

Blog Posts I'm Loving Lately

Blog Posts I'm Loving Lately

“How to make the most of your summer vacation in college” by Shannon at Endless May. Shannon is a dear friend of mine, and her suggestions in this post are really on-point. Check out her whole blog – she's a beautiful person and has lots of great resources for college students!

“How to build healthy relationships in your twenties” by Rebecca at Life as a Dare. This post is so thoughtful and true. I love how Rebecca frames the issues of connection and community as being vital not only to our roles as people, but also to our own health and wellbeing. Check out her post here!

That's all for me today – what have you been loving lately?

Author: Sara Laughed

I'm Sara, a writer, recent grad, and American abroad. I graduated from college in December and promptly moved to the Netherlands, where I live with my boyfriend and our 11 plants. Follow along as I figure out my roaring twenties: I don't quite know what I'm doing, but that's not stopping me from writing about it!

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