on finding a tagline

My friend Mary DeMuth wrote a great post the other day about finding her blog's tagline. Hers, by the way, is "Live Uncaged". How amazing is that?! I love it. And it perfectly suits Mary.

She shared about her journey of arriving there, through years of blogging. And how she recruited people's assistance in the process.

"Last summer, I knew it was time to re-evaluate. So I went fishing (in an Internetty way). I asked my email distribution list, Facebook fans, and Twitter followers this question, 'When you think of me, what is the one thing you think of?'"

And it got me thinking.

I'm in the beginning stages of a blog redesign. {I know I've said this before, but I mean it this time. Hopefully.} And I'm going to relaunch under {which was a painstaking decision to make, believe me}. I figured I would use some form of grit and glory in the tagline, but Mary's got me wondering about other possibilities.

So this is where you come in.

Would you answer a simple question for me? I'll even make it a fill-in-the-blank. So I guess it's not even a question then, is it?

How about you just complete this statement:

Alece helps people to _______________.

Any other thoughts you have are welcomed as well!

channeling the divine

I keep thinking about Adam.

In the Garden.

And how God asked him to name the animals.

"Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals."

God didn't ask Adam to do this because He was all out of ideas.

It's not that His creative juices had run dry or His mojo had gone missing.

He wasn't too tired from all that creating.

He didn't have "creator's block".

God asked Adam to name the animals because He wanted to invite him into the creative process with Him.

Adam was created to create. God wanted him to be part of the incredible work of creation along with Him.

So while God formed each creature out of the dust of the ground, as only He could, He invited Adam to play a creative role as well, by determining what each animal would be called. Forever.

Even in the simple task of naming what God had fashioned by His own hand, Adam was channeling the Divine. Because creativity is God at work through us.

But God is ever a gentleman.

He will never force Himself on us.


So when you and I sit down to create---whatever that looks like for me or for you---we are met with a challenge. A calling. A question.

Will I attempt to create on my own?

Or will I invite God into the creative process with me?

Will I fashion something solely with the strength, wisdom, and creativity in my own heart, mind, and hands?

Or will I purposefully choose to channel the Divine?

: : :

This post is a part of Darrell Vesterfelt’s series on The Personal Creative Process. Check out the other posts here  >

Tell us about your creative process...

i'm that insecure

I can't help but wonder if I'm the only one who struggles with this---or maybe it's just that I hope I'm not---so I figured I'd blog it out. Fingers crossed that many of you someone can relate. I love networking. Although, honestly, I hate that word. Sounds so business-y. And professional. So let me rephrase.

I love connecting people with other like-hearted people.

I'm energized seeing new friendships and ministry partnerships flourish. It's incredible to watch those I love, value, and enjoy get to know others I love, value, and enjoy. There's something wildly exciting about it.

But, at times, there's also something very scary about it.

If I'm being most honest, I often feel threatened when I introduce friends to each other.

I think immature, stupid things like,

"I hate feeling left out..."

"She's probably gonna end up liking her more than she likes me."

"What if they get really close and cut me out entirely?"

Yes. I'm that insecure.

Without even being conscious of it, it causes a flare-up of fear somewhere deep inside me: I'm easily replaceable. I'm more leavable than lovable. I'm not enough.

I don't really know how to combat that except to continue to connect people anyway. What do I always say? I do it afraid? Yeah, I guess that applies here. I do it afraid.

But I don't want to be afraid anymore.

I don't want to live shackled to that insecurity. I want to walk confidently and securely, rooted in who I am. Or rather, rooted in who He is.

So I'm working on renewing my mind and replacing the lies with His truth. And with the power of public confession, I'm exposing the darkness in my heart, letting His light illuminate and transform it in the way only He can.

And now the hard part of real change begins.

Because saying "I'm working on it" isn't enough. I've got to actually do something about it.


i still can't believe you even show up

I love that so many of you joined yesterday's All Skate! (It's not too late to lace up your rollerskates and join in if you haven't yet...)

I've had a blast reading all your comments. It's been fun seeing all the creative ways you've responded, and I've learned tons of new things about you.

I'm astounded by all the lurkers who've come out of hiding.

I'm so glad you did. Seriously.

I appreciate knowing who I'm talking to everyday.

And now that you've officially de-lurked, hopefully you'll start commenting more often. Because, I promise you, the best part of the Grit isn't my posts.

The best part is the comments.

I cherish the community that takes place there. I value the conversations that unfold in that space. I am grateful for the safety and freedom you feel to be authentic and transparent.

In the comments, hearts are shared and connected.

It's where I get to know you, and you are my favorite part of blogging.

Thank you for listening to my heart and for sharing yours. Thank you for walking with me through this valley, and for strengthening me with your prayers and encouragement.

Thank you for simply showing up.

I'm still amazed that you do.

gypsy for a day

Did you know I can speak Afrikaans? (It's one of South Africa's 11 official languages, in case you have no idea what I'm talking about.)

I can. Well, just enough to get me into trouble hold my own in a conversation.

I'm pretty rusty since I've been Stateside for over a year now. But apparently I can still speak it well enough to impress a South African.

I don't remember how I first wandered over to The Gypsy Mama's website, but I'm so glad I did.

She basically lives the inverse of my life---a South African living in America. And she's a beautiful writer. Simply beautiful.

We moved from met-on-the-net to hugging-in-real-life when Lisa-Jo came out to my Starbucks meet-up in DC last November. And I couldn't resist busting out some Afrikaans for the occasion. So fun to have someone to speak it with!

Well, Lisa-Jo gracefully rolled out the welcome mat for me over at her blog today. I'm honored to be her first guest poster (poster?) ever!

So come on over to hear about some differences between South Africa and America.

(Don't worry. I wrote in English.)

And while you're there, spread some Gritty love to The Gypsy Mama.

I'll see you there!

she was my first

Mandy was the first met-on-the-net friend that I got to hug. Leading up to that first worlds-colliding visit a year and a half ago, I told her I was "nervousexcited" to meet her. I was nervous mainly because I wasn't sure she'd like "in-person" me. But I was so excited to finally spend time with my friend. And from our very first hug, the nervousness quickly faded away. I can't help but smile just thinking back to that ridiculous weekend in Boston. Good times.

Mandy was also the first "other" to consistently comment on my blog.

She literally threw the blogosphere door wide open for me. I remember being so blown away that someone I didn't know wanted to read what I was writing. It completely changed my purpose of blogging. What started out as a way to keep a small group of friends and family updated on my life in Africa, evolved into a divine provision of community and connectedness. I am so grateful.

I'm down in Southeast Georgia spending time with Mandy again. In between the laughter, long talks, and southern food, I keep thanking the Lord for my friend.

cookie dough

To be honest, I often forget how we met until someone asks how we know each other.

Because the truth is, we aren't blog friends.

We're simply friends.

happy blogiversary to us!

Yesterday was my four-year blogiversary. I started blogging as a "let's see how this goes" way to keep a handful of friends and family updated on my life in Africa. But the opportunity to write personally in addition to all the writing I do for ministry made it quickly become a passion.

Then about two years ago, the Grit took on a life of its own.

It became the welcome mat that invited people into my life. I began developing real friendships. Conversations progressed from comments to emails. Then there were phone calls, and webcam chats, and even hugs.

Nobody was more surprised than I was.

And it surprises me still.

I have more friendships now than I ever have---real, raw, authentic friendships---and that blows me away. The sense of community that's been fostered here is one of the most unexpected blessings of my entire life.

My eyes fill with tears just thinking about how God's used you to carry me through this difficult year. I'm humbled and honored to call you friends.

I no longer blog simply to keep people updated on my life. And I certainly don't write just to throw words at you. Or to hear myself speak.

I come to the Grit for strength, support, encouragement, and community.

And I've never been disappointed.

Here's to you! Happy four years, friends!

meet me at starbucks

I'm gonna be in DC next week. I know a bunch of you live in that area, and I'd love to meet up with as many of you as I can. But I'm only there a few days, and there's just no way I could possibly get to everybody. So how about everybody comes to me?! On Sunday afternoon (11/15), I'll be chilling at a Starbucks in Alexandria, VA for a few hours, and I'm hoping you'll come say hi. Because I'd love to hug you! And it would completely suck if nobody showed up!

Let me know if you're planning to come, and we can swap phone numbers for just in case.

meet me at starbucks in DC

[Get directions here.]

blogroll in crisis

Does anyone even read blogrolls? I want to pass along the amazing blogs I read, but who can be bothered reading a long list of links?! I'm guessing not too many of you.

So I'm working on categorizing them to make the list at least easier to peruse. And hopefully more blogs will grab your interest that way.

But it's so hard. (I'm whining, I know.)

I honestly can't figure out what categories would be best to use. I certainly don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. And many people fit into more than one group anyway. What do to, what to do...

So I want your input.

Gimme your top four category ideas.

Got any other tips or suggestions for me?

junes gone by

June 1st?! How is that even possible? I feel like the past year of my life has been stolen from me. But demanding it back isn't going to help at all. Although, if I'm being honest, sometimes I really want to just throw a good ol' fashioned temper tantrum. Won't change a thing, but it would be a great release. I'll refrain though. At least for right now.

I'll reminisce about Junes gone by instead.

  • All too often, I'm still guilty of living as though I'm not convinced God's mindful of me. Worse, I spend too much time living without being mindful of Him.
  • If you've never read it, you need to read about the shocking ugly heartfelt birthday gift I got from my Mosotho friend Joyce a couple years ago. It'll change your life. Forever. Okay, maybe not quite. But it'll at least make you laugh.
  • I miss much. Like Starbucks (the bird, not the coffee). And my car. And my job. And that's just the short list.
  • Last year I was struck with how much I need relationships, and this year that's been reinforced even more. I'm grateful I do not journey alone.

Tell me something about your June(s). Past, present, or future.

we have a winner

In a surprising turn of events, TheNorEaster swooped in and stole the 20K comment! Congrats, Nor!

I thought for sure that @ngie, Joy Renee, or Andrew (get a blog!) would have won it, with their ridiculously creative commenting this past week. And to be completely honest, I actually held out hope that a "real" comment would take it. Not to dismiss the fun I had with all the crazy banter. But, ya know. A girl can dream.

Way to go, Nor! Your persistence paid off.


Email me and let me know which prize you want.

And as for the rest of you---

Thank you for so faithfully coming back to read what I have to say. You're so my favorite part of blogging.

Happy 20K,  y'all!

20K prize


You guys gave me some great ideas on the prize for the 20K competition. Here's what I've decided.

The person who posts the coveted 20K comment will win their choice of:

  • a personalized Moleskine journal with thoughts from me scribbled throughout it
  • a framed photograph of mine (of your choosing) with some ramblings from me about the picture
  • a $50 gift card to wherever you want

So get commenting. (Time to de-lurk, all you Grit stalkers!)

Not another word from me on the subject until I'm announcing the winner...

the 20k grand prize


We're getting close to 20,000 comments here at the Grit. And, at least in my little world, that's a pretty big deal. One that's worthy of a competition and, of course, a prize.

20,000 comments is worth celebrating because it reflects what I love most about my blog: the community that's had here. The best bits aren't found in my posts but in the comments. I value your input and feedback; I cherish the glimpses into your heart; I laugh at the crazy shenanigans that erupt.

Seriously. The comments are where it's at.

So in celebrating the 20,000th comment, I'm really celebrating all of you. For making the Grit what it is. (Everybody together: Awwwwww.) Since we can't all get together for a rockin' party, the next best thing is a giveaway.

I was thinking how amazing it would be if the 20K commenter could win 20K. But yeah. So not gonna happen.

But I want the prize to be something you think is worth winning. I got some of your initial thoughts on this already, but it's time for a serious Grit brainstorm session.

In the past I've given away brownies and gift cards to Starbucks and iTunes. We need to top those. So gimme every suggestion you've got. (How 'bout I set a budget of $50?)

What do you want to win if you post the coveted 20K comment?

Oh, and all you lurkers out there? Now's the time to come out of hiding. I'm just sayin.


What are you known for? My husband is notorious for asking that question when we visit a restaurant. He wants to know what's uniquely theirs that keeps people coming back for more. And then he usually orders it. He wants to taste and see for himself.

Sometimes it's bit him in the butt. Like the time in Sicily he ended up with an entire fish---bones, head, insides, and all! But most of the time he really enjoys whatever it is they're known for.

I've been thinking lately about his famous question---but in the context of me. What am I known for?

I could easily tell you what I want to be known for. But what I actually am? That takes some more thinking. I think it's a question worth knowing the answer to, though.

How about you? What are you known for?

Maybe it's your contagious laughter, or your gentle spirit. Perhaps it's your loyalty, your passion for God, or your spontaneity. It could be your authenticity, or your love of baking. Or even your much-applied minty lip gloss.

Ruminate for a minute, and then let us know what you think. I'll be back later to answer the question for myself.

What are you known for?

Feel free to answer anonymously.

meet gym

I've been hanging out with Gym a lot lately. Like five or six times a week. And let me tell you, he's been kicking my butt. Kick.Ing.It. With a name like Urban Active, how could I resist joining? I knew I needed to do something not only to get in shape but also to improve my mental/emotional health. So I hooked up with Gym.

To say I was intimidated on our first date would be a ridiculous understatement. My chest tightened with anxiety just looking at all the equipment that I had no clue how to use, and seeing all the people who very clearly knew what they were doing.

But I dove right in, expending more energy in one 20-minute session than I had in weeks. Months.

And I hobbled for days afterward. No lie. Hover-peeing was completely out of the question, and walking down a set of stairs nearly ended in catastrophe on more than one occasion.

But I kept seeing Gym.

And the I-can't-believe-it-hurts-this-much soreness gradually subsided---for the most part.

Now Gym and I spend an hour together just about every day. I work hard; I sweat a disgusting amount; I huff and puff all the way to the bitter end. Today I pushed myself really hard. And I've had jell-o legs ever since. [Note to self: Hold the handrail on the way downstairs.]

While I don't expect I'll ever say, I love working out!, I do walk away feeling exhausted proud of myself.

So for that reason, I can say I love Gym.

Even though he kicks my butt.



My depression seems to have kidnapped my passion.

Right now it feels impossible to dream big or plan ahead. Most of what used to excite me isn't stirring me or making my heart leap anymore. At least not like they used to.

But one passion has remained. It's flickering like a candle near an open window, but it's still there.

I love to write.

Writing helps me process my own thoughts. It's therapeutic. Cathartic. My scribbled notes in my Moleskine, unpolished and unkempt, tell me my heart's still beating. My Gritty thoughts sent out through the cyberwaves remind me I still have something from Him to offer.

Despite the fog that envelops me, I still love to write. And the significance of that isn't lost on me.

Pay attention to dreams that don't die.

I'm trying to pay attention. And keep writing. Even when it's all I'm able to do in a day.

So while I wait for the ransom to be paid on my other passions, I'll guard what He gave me and use it for His glory.

And I'll trust that---somehow---He'll use it for my healing.