roasted tomato toasts (+ an update on self-employment!)

roasted tomato toasts

Somewhere in the midst of the last two weeks—nestled right in amongst planning a wedding, looking for a place to live, climbing (up ropes! for my first! time! ever!) at Cummins Falls, watching fireworks, meeting and spending time with the very lovely Joanna and Brad (and feeling like we’ve been friends a long time), attending a Vitamix party, getting my car’s brakes fixed, and making two batches of coconut macaroons—I hit a pretty important milestone:

For those of you who’ve been with me on this entire journey, you’ll know it’s something worth celebrating, which is exactly what I intend to do with this post: as of this month, I’ve been self-employed for an entire year.

take a tomato and chop it up

Milestones have a way of making you think about things, if you know what I mean. You look back, you look forward, you compare where you are with where you’ve been, with where you thought you’d be. A year into something, you have a better perspective than you did two months in. And so, a year into working for myself, I say this more confidently than I could last summer: the last twelve months have been pretty amazing and truly a gift.

It was because of self-employment that I could move to Nashville, right in the beginning of February, without needing to quit one job and find another. It was working from home that’s allowed me to take trips back to Chicago almost every month since then—a rare blessing when living far from your family. And while it’s true I make less money than I did in my office job, I’ve still had every need supplied. What’s more, I’ve learned (and am learning) a lot about dependence through this variable income, things I didn’t know I needed to learn—and while I might not have chosen to learn them this way, I’m thankful for them, too.

fresh tomatoes

During the first ten months of the last twelve, there were times when I felt the insecurity of a changing income, sure, but overall, I saw amazing things happen, and these things helped me grow in trust: when one client would leave, another would come; when one project ended, another would start; businesses approached me with work. I’ve told so many people, I had known it was God providing for me when I had regular paychecks every two weeks; but in this new lifestyle, I’ve really felt it.

roasted tomatoes

The last couple months, though, have been stretching in an entirely different way, as work has slowed down and my income along with it. I’ve prayed. I’ve been tempted to worry. I’ve prayed more. Then I’ve been asked to give and, in faith, I’ve tried to open my hands, albeit grudgingly, and I’ve realized how much I still need to learn about trusting God—my provider when I have money to spare, but still my provider when I think I don’t.

roasted tomatoes on toast

Looking back at the last year and all the blessings and struggles and lessons it’s brought, I’m hit with the same things you’re probably hit with when you reflect on the last year of life or, marriage or, work or, something else. I’m thankful.

I’m thankful for the providence that’s brought me up to this exact point, today, where I sit, rich in time and rich in love, loving working from home but willing to return to an office. I’m thankful for the sovereign hand that’s been overseeing this whole process, overseeing me, using all of these things for good.

And I’m thankful for how looking back makes me more excited about looking forward—to whatever the next year will bring.

Roasted Tomato Toasts
In honor of the simple things.

Sliced rosemary sourdough bread (available at Whole Foods bakery)
Roasted tomatoes (I used whole tomatoes this time, but grape are also wonderful)
Fresh basil, chopped
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar (I like the small, squatty bottle from Trader Joe’s)
Salt and Pepper

Toast sourdough slices lightly, then drizzle with olive oil. Top with roasted tomatoes and fresh basil. Drizzle with balsamic. Salt and pepper to taste.

Alternatively: use unroasted tomatoes, just sliced or diced.


  1. says

    what a reflection on a wonderful year! i’m so very happy for you.

    alternatively, you can roast up some red/orange/yellow peppers when tomatos aren’t in season…

  2. says

    Shannalee, this was a wonderful reflection on your last year. I’ve been going through some life changes recently and I know how hard trusting God’s sovereignty can be. Worry and anxiety start to close in and it seems easier to try and do it yourself, to tell God you’ll get back to him.

    I was very encouraged by your faith this morning when I read your post. You reminded me of the last section of Matthew 6 when Jesus tells us not to worry, because if the Lord takes care of the lowly birds, how well will he take care of us, his children? Thanks, Shannalee, and congrats on your one year!

  3. says

    Reading this is such an inspiration as I consider, debate, and pray, about going from full-time to self-employment too.

  4. says

    What a witness to God’s faithfulness and provision you are! He may or may not give us what *we* think we need, but God does indeed give us what we need. May He continue to bless you as you go forward into this year!

    And those ‘maters look scrumptious!

  5. says

    I love your writing so much and I needed to hear that reminder that God is always behind any provision, no matter what it looks or feels like to us.

    Hooray on your first year and hooray for meeting!

  6. says

    This is such a beautiful post. And I am so glad you have been able to keep the faith even when our first instinct is to worry. You are going to do great, and will be praying for you also. Now, these beatiful toasts look delicious and so comforting. I love it.

  7. says

    Congratulations on a year of self-employment!! I’ve been dealing with ups and downs on my own journey and this post really touched me. You have such a gift.

  8. says

    Oh, that looks lovely. Just like your post was. So excited for your milestone- those lessons are deep and meaningful… Love ya!

  9. says


    Congrats on a full year! It almost seems impossible that it’s been that long! So wonderful to hear how the Lord is providing for you and stretching your faith. Your name came up to other day becauase Laura Scalzitti(Krause) came to the Orchard for church and we went out to lunch afterwards. We all wished you were there with us! Trusting that God has some great things in store for you and Tim :)

  10. says

    Gratitude is so important and even if we have experienced hard times we should focus on good things so that we can be blessed more. If we focus on all the wrong stuff, then we will keep attracting that kind of negativity into our lives. Thanks for writing this post and reminding us to all be grateful.

  11. says

    Congrats on the year of self employment and all the joyful things in your life! I’m almost to my year milestone of working for myself and this was a great reminder to celebrate that and all the other little joys in life. Thank you for all the inspiration in the kitchen and in life!

  12. says

    Hi sweet shanna. Always stay who you are and those that need you will find you and He who takes care of you will always be there. It’s still funny that we picked your favorite sour dough rosemary bread the night you came here. I see you still love it and this rendition of a bruschetta is delightful. The next time you come over (I hope soon) we are going to fix you pizza made on the grill. We can help make sure you are well fed. See you Saturday. We look forward to it.

  13. says

    What a lovely post, Shanna. Congratulations on a very reflective and productive year, and on all the times to come. I am inspired to revisit your roasted tomatoes, perhaps this weekend. xo

  14. says

    Thank you so much for sharing such a beautiful post — on what it looks like to journey in faith in trusting God as the One who provides. I’ve been on a similar journey these past two years, and it has it’s beautiful moments of provision and it’s raw moments in prayer. May the Lord continue to bless you!

  15. says

    This lovely bruschettas have been my dinner since a few days…I just never get tired of them, too nice! Simple flavors and good+ good-for-you ingredients are the key to feel good in life! Lovely post!

  16. Giuseppa finocchiaro says

    Shannalee I loved your latest post! It really spoke to me. I love the way you use food as a way to talk about other things. Your passion for food, life, and love is evident with each post.

  17. says

    I love reading about your adventures in self-employment! I’m so proud of you for reaching the one-year mark; congratulations, and here’s to the many more successful years you have ahead.

  18. says

    I’ve checked out your blog before and had yet to catch on to your faith in Christ. This is such an encouraging post and (with similar dreams and desires for a career) it gives me hope. Thanks so much.

  19. says

    Thank you everyone for your sweet comments. I have wanted to reply to each one of you individually, but I’ve honestly been overwhelmed by the responses! Thank you all so much for encouraging me and for being a part of this journey.

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