Lately, I’ve been wanting to write so badly, but haven’t been able to find the words. I feel like I have a permanent case of writer’s block and it sucks. Writing has always been such a huge part of me, and it’s a little disconcerting when all the right words are suddenly out of reach.

That being said, I’m sorry if things aren’t quite up to par around here for awhile. I know I’ve been MIA for a few months, but I want to start writing something again…even if it’s not the greatest. Something is better than nothing, right? I’m hoping the right words will catch up with me soon enough.

•     •     •     •     •

Earlier today, I was getting frustrated with the never-ending writer’s block I’ve been dealing with for months, and thought of this Ben Franklin quote. I looked out my window to see a perfect summer rain:

Soft. Slow. Ready for skin.

I stepped outside and stood there for a moment, just letting myself feel the rain on my face and shoulders. So simple, but so wonderful. I decided to take Riley to the park for a walk to enjoy it while it lasted, and I noticed:

The sound of rain falling through the trees, hitting the pavement beneath my feet.
The sight of my sweet little dog and his happily wagging tail.
The smell of grass & dirt & little adventures.

Intricate, beaded raindrops on grass & windshields. Bright green leaves against a dark gray sky. Thunder overhead, rain on my skin, happiness in my heart.

Realization: I cannot find meaning & connections in moments I have not experienced. Life is meant to be lived before it is captured—on paper, on camera, on canvas. How can God teach me when I’m not paying attention to what He puts right in front of me? The fuller I live in each and every moment I can, the more I will be able to find in them.



As most of you know, I am currently finishing up my master’s degree in Holistic Child Development (a weird-but-fitting hybrid of counseling and nonprofit design). My focus is children in poverty, and through the process of writing my thesis, I have learned so much about the realities of poverty and how it affects those experiencing it. 

Recently, an essay on poverty has been making its rounds around the internet. It was written by a woman who is actually struggling with poverty, and it’s a real perspective-changer, even if you're already sympathetic towards the cause. I highly recommend checking it out, if you haven't already. It’s not a difficult read, and it is absolutely worth your time.

And for an alternative perspective (also by someone in a similar situation), check out this response.

Poverty is so much more complex than most people are willing to recognize. While it may be true that some people are lazy and legitimately unwilling to put forth an effort, I have found from both extensive research and personal experience that this is usually not the case. I encourage you to take a step back from what you can observe on the surface, and take the time to recognize all of the systems and barriers that make it incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to break out of the cycle of poverty. If you need a place to start, check out this article about how poverty affects the brain (if you'd like to read the full study, you can find it here.)

If you're interested in continuing this discussion, I would love to chat! This is an issue that is really close to my heart, and has consumed the past year and a half of my life (yay, grad school). Shoot me an email at brittanystoess (at) gmail (dot) com!



Fiery and brown, leaves and trees lining the sidewalks. A charming little coffeehouse tucked inside an old historic home. Sunset setting the gray skies on fire. An elderly couple to my left and a group of twenty-somethings to my right, all enjoying each other’s company and taking time to just be. People working, learning, creating everywhere around me.

I love my city.

After living half an hour away for the past 5 years, being able to call Chattanooga home just feels right. It’s the perfect city for me right now: not too big, not too small. Modern, but moves at a pace that is just. slow. enough. Outdoorsy, creative, and in the mountains. It’s familiar and close to the people I love, but far enough way that it still feels new, independent, mine. It feels like me. It feels like home.

There is only a month left in this year, and I can’t help but be relieved. It has been one heck of a year, full of work and planning and lots of changes. All good things, but between getting married and working to finish my masters degree, I am in desperate need of a break. My thesis is due in less than one week and I defend it in less than two. Graduation is only three short weeks away, but it still feels so out of reach. I am progressing, but the amount I have left to finish feels so overwhelming.

But today, I’ve found a little corner of peace amidst the crazy. I’m supposed to be working, but something about today makes me want to rest, to embrace the slower pace around me. The slow picking of guitar through my headphones, the coziness, the smell and taste of coffee, the sunset. I just want to be here.