Monday, December 22, 2014

A Look Back at 2014, Part II

The last few weeks of the year are just flying by! As eagerly as I've been hoping for the "Restart" button we push on January 1st, looking over 2014 has me all sentimental. I want to go running back to some of my favorite moments and savor them a little bit longer. There have been high high's and low low's, but through it all God has been so faithful. He has remained so steady when I've felt insecure and wavered. He knew just what I needed before I knew what to ask. 2015 will be the same.

Last week I shared Part I of A Look Back at 2014. I hit the highlights of all the places I have traveled, the movies I've seen, and the books I've read (or am still reading). Today, we continue with favorite moments, music, and the victories I want to count and cary with me into the new year.

I was in Seattle for the first half of the year, making the long journey back at the first of July. Actually my dad made the drive and I flew home --thanks, Daddy! Even so, packing up all of my belongings into my little red VW Beetle was quite the feat, and my friends sent me off with a bonfire on the beach that was heavenly. Literally. Worship music, floating lanterns, encouragements. I could have died a content woman right then and there. But I didn't ;) 2014 had so much more to offer!

Some of my favorite memories came in my final weeks in the Pacific Northwest. Going up in the Space Needle with Mel and her little one, exploring Discovery Park with Stef, food trucks at the market after church, Lifegroup fun bombs. The list could go on and on. I often said I wished I could pick up all my people and put them in my pocket to take to Oklahoma with me. Well, I couldn't do that, so I suppose hurrying myself back there this summer is going to have to do!

In September I hosted The Blog-tember Challenge which got a HUGE response! I was expecting 10-30 ladies to link up each day and sometimes we had almost 100! You gals blew me away. It was a feat in itself to blog every day for one month (I tried it in February, you know my gone-half-the-month month? That was a struuuuuuuggle). It still wasn't easy this go around, but I'm so proud of myself for doing it. The Blog-tember Challenge will definitely be back next year!

This little blog has been growing in so many ways, including my Instagram family and Twitter pals! I had the honor of being featured in Emily Ley's Simplicity Series as well as contribute to Rachel's series on Singleness at Our Yellow Door. Lauren invited me to Elle and Co. for a coffee date and I got to introduce myself to the Firework People blog two weeks ago!  I LOVE collaborating with other bloggers. Hit me up if you're interested!

At the end of this month I will have successfully completed my first FULL YEAR using the PowerSheets. Lara Casey's goal setting worksheets have made a huge impact on my progress toward the goals I set last January, and I got a new set for 2015 in the mail this weekend. I am ready to bring my best for the year to come! Now, when I say I successfully completed the year, that does not mean every box was checked or every goal was met. Oh no. Some months got a big fat question mark over multiple weeks. Life had to come first and sometimes got in the way. But I learned that every unmarked box is a space for grace, and it's all about progress not perfection. I hope to take that into the new year with me, too.

Music moves me in a powerful way. There are very few moments during the day when I am not listening to some kind of music, be it a worship CD in the car, Pandora at my office, or a Spotify playlist at home. The kind of music I listen to really affects my attitude, and I've had to make some intentional changes this year. For instance, I love love love me some country music, but all the songs about love gone wrong or longing for love began to tug on my heartstrings in unhealthy ways. It made me discontent and envious, and put me in a foul mood many days which was absolutely unnecessary. I still listen to it on occasion, but not near as much as I used to.

These days I'll choose one song, or one playlist, and have it on repeat for weeks. The songs, albums, and artists listed below have made the most impact on my heart and life this year, and they'll be the first to go on my list for 2015. I highly recommend them!

1. "Clear the Stage" by Jimmy Needham
2. "You Make Me Brave" by Amanda Cook (Bethel Music)
3. "Love Came Down" by Kari Jobe
4. "Shake it Off" by Taylor Swift
5. The Smash Soundtrack
6. Anything by Ellie Holcomb
7. The Undoing by Steffany Gretzinger
8. "Arrival of the Birds" & "Transformation" by Cinematic Orchestra
9. "I Will Raise" by Antioch Live
10. "La Reyna" by Penny and Sparrow

Really, how on EARTH do I fit an entire year in two posts? I'm beginning to think it's impossible. But there are a few more things that can't go without mentioning. This year I applied to and got into graduate school. WOOHOO! That is something to celebrate. If I'm being honest, I sometimes have a hard time naming my victories, which I know is a tactic of the Enemy to make me doubt God's goodness and provision. But no more! He led me to OSU, even if I wouldn't have originally guessed it as my destination, and has been hard at work ever since. In 2014 I moved from Seattle to Texas then up to Oklahoma. Now that's a feat!

In 2014 I fell absolutely in love with my Firework People. These gals could use their own post --their own series!-- for how much of an impact they have made on my life in the past three month. Firework People is an online community of women rooted in the encouragement of one another, calling each other up and out to live out their wildest dreams and conquer fears. What started out as a weekly Twitter chat has blossomed into a family of 850+ women. They never cease to amaze me! I have the joy of being on the core team and the Street Team Coordinator; my life is so enriched by these women! I am sure you will hear more about FWP in the future, but if you're curious send me a note or check out some of the twitter chats here: ROCKIN' 2015 + RISK

Some of the greatest joys of the year have come in small packages. I have loved having my own apartment to decorate and call home. It is the perfect retreat at the end of a long day. I made a bold move and went ombre with my hair at the beginning of the school semester, which I also loved! (Don't ask me how I feel about cutting it all of next week.... okay, I'll tell you, I'm STRESSIN' just a bit!) Being close enough to drive down to Waco for a weekend has also been so sweet. I got to celebrate a friend's bachelorette party in August, make it to the first homecoming in Baylor's new stadium in November, and see a friend in Les Mis earlier in October! It feels so good to be so close. 

2015 has a lot to live up to, but I'm sure it's up for the challenge. Now to spend the rest of this week savoring the holiday season with family and friends. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Look Back at 2014, Part I

This year I'm on top of things. 2015 is still two weeks away, and I'm already in planning mode. My PowerSheets should arrive in the mail within the week, blog posts are being scheduled each day, and I've got my game face on. But before we launch into the New Year, there is so much of 2014 to be celebrated.

2014 was a year of travel and changes. It included the second half of my "Adventure Year" in Seattle, and wrapped up that season so sweetly! As hard as it was to leave my friends in the beautiful PNW, I knew that it was the right move. OSU is exactly where I am supposed to be right now, even if it isn't always easy.

In February I was gone 14 out of the 28 days. In the shortest month of the year I went every which way. Seattle, of course, was still my home, and I got to explore the city with friends from church. I had an interview in Alabama, and with some major rain/snow delays ended up in Denver for quite some time as well as a surprise night at my parents' house. Although I did not end up attending the university there, I learned so much about who I am and what I want during that process. I wouldn't change any of it!

Luis and I road-tripped to Portland for a weekend, and it was a blast! We met up with a friend from Baylor, checked out an awesome waterfall, ate way too much, and even took some time to relax. It's a beautiful things when friendships are so simple and run so deep. We also rocked out to Disney music almost the entire drive there. Be jealous ;)

Another interview took me to Chicago where I got to see more Baylor friends and some fantastic theatre. I drove hours and hours in the snow to the middle of nowhere, again learning so much about myself and rejoicing in the much needed alone time. I have learned that traveling alone thrills me!  Of course, the spring would not be complete without our family vacation to Disneyland. We really vacationed in San Diego, hitting Seaworld and Legoland for my little bro, but Disney was my day! I was in heaven. We ended the evening with Chick-fil-a and seeing Frozen, which was icing on the cake. 

I'm pretty sure I saw ALL THE MOVIES. Okay, not all of the movies, but quite a few of them! In the spring one of my roommates and I saw a movie almost every week. It was our thing. Then we'd process and gush and overanalyze the heck out of them on the way home. Or we'd sit in stunned silence, at a loss for words. Being a theatre gal, it's hard to take something at face value anymore. I've also become that annoying person who whispers through the entire movie:

"OH! That actor was in this one movie you probable never heard of..."
"I heard that song the other day! Did you know...?"
"OOps, did you see that? They totally messed up that last..."

I promise, I try to keep my mouth shut! Thankfully, Emily and I could go on and on and on about those things together, so I don't think I was too annoying. I hope we can pick the routine up again next summer when I'm back in Seattle.

The above were some of the most memorable, and several are now in my Top 10. Magic in the Moonlight was an unexpected favorite, and The Hundred Foot Journey is stunning! Most recently Mockingjay did exactly what I expected it to, which was ripped my heart out and tore it into a million pieces. I paid to have it done and just might do it again, it was that good. There are so many movies coming out next year, I think I might burst... or go broke. Whichever comes first ;)

2014 was also the year of the books. It was on my 101 Goals in 1001 Days list to read 15 books in 12 months... well, I blew past that number in July. I don't quite think I'll make it to 25 because I left half of the books in Oklahoma (boo!) but I'm still proud of myself! I traveled across the country and back several times during February which gave me plenty of plane rides to read through my library. 

Here are some of the most memorable, as shown above:
1. The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
4. Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers
5. Let's All Be Brave by Annie F. Downs
6. Four, A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth
7. The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst 
8. Love, Skip, Jump by Shelene Bryan

I'm in the middle of The Best Yes and Love, Skip, Jump currently and they are ones I'd highly recommend (and I'm only 4 chapters in!). I am typically in the middle of four or five books at one time (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and The Greatest Gift are also on my nightstand), so I'm sure some of these will be re-read after the new year. Over all I really enjoyed the Divergent series, most of all Divergent and Four. The latter was a companion book of four short stories in the perspective of one of the other main characters. I was also very impressed with the book-to-movie adaptation of Divergent with high hopes for Insurgent in the spring. Anyone else a fan of these??

Check back next week for Part II. It's been such a great year I can't possibly keep it all in one post!

Monday, December 15, 2014

ADVENT | Savor Your Season

Advent is unlike any other season. There's extra magic in the air, an expectation that bubbles inside of us, an eagerness in the waiting. But with that eagerness comes a unique willingness to wait. We're ready for the festivities and family get togethers on the horizon, but we don't want the season to end. Advent is a special season where each day is savored, infused with the knowledge that this feeling, this day, will only last for a little while, so we should put as much as we can into it and get as much as we can out of it.

If only I could approach every season this way.

During advent, I find the quiet moments, the stillness, and breathe deep.
During advent, I find more patience for the long check out line at Target.
During advent, my to-do's become have-done's in record time to secure a free hour for that Christmas party.
During advent, I drive a little slower in parking lots, watching families bundled in mittens and scarves scurry to the car.
During advent, I savor the sounds and the scents, trying to memorize each one, because I know it could all be over tomorrow.

I think the advent season is such a reflection of the Lord's desire for our hearts. Each season is intentional, well planned, infused with God's presence, and its ours for the taking. It's ours for the savoring. But often we --or at least I-- see what's up ahead, or think I know what I want to happen in the next season, and I barrel forward. I push and press and pray for a change in season, and I miss out on what's right in front of me.

The temptation is there with advent, too. 2015 is just around the corner, and amidst the red poinsettia Starbucks cups and holiday deals, a plethora of goals setting tips and work out plans and New Years savings begin to pop up. Get ready for the next big, BEST thing! The advertisers know this is how we're programed.

I say we take back the waiting. I say we make intentional moves to savor the season. THIS season of advent. OUR season of life. MY season of grad school, singleness, whatever it might be.

Look at today.
Look at the center of it.
Give thanks for what you have where you are.
Ask the Lord what it is He has for you HERE.
Trust Him with tomorrow, and press into HIM and His Word today.
Find joy in the waiting. Savor your season.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My Pretty Little Wish List

It's funny, but I often have the hardest time answering "What do you want for Christmas?" I'm pretty sure my sister asked me and I responded with a very articulate "........uh?" In a way it's a miracle I was able to put this list together over the weekend, and it's partially because I did some of my own Santa shopping this year so I know these guys are already hiding under the tree. Thanks, Mom ;) I put my Anthropologie discount to good work and kept the steadily coming winter in mind, and I'm pretty excited for the unwrapping to ensue!



Accessories and home decor seem to be the theme here. I have some physical fitness and closet purging goals in mind for 2015, so I'm staying away from purchasing too many clothing items, but the StitchFix subscription is the exception (and maybe my favorite thing on this list)! I love that the stylist takes into account your likes and your inspiration boards (hello, Pinterest!) and sends items to suit you each month. You get a few days to try it out and send back what you don't like, then are charged for the times you keep. My first Fix comes in the mail next week, and I cannot wait to show you the first go-around! Check out the details HERE

The deer-print tote is one I've been eyeing for a while, but I thought my fascination with the deer and lamas (and the pom-poms!) might pass, but every time I passed it I picked it up. It is the perfect size for my Simplified Planner, wallet, pencil bag, and all the oddities that wind up in my purse. I think it would make for a good-sized school bag for the spring semester, though the straps don't appear to be strong enough to handle my Macbook pro. A few of the Kate Spade school supplies would happily and easily fit into that beauty ;)

What about you? What's on your wish list this year? Anyone else hit Anthro's mega sale-on-sale this weekend?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Making December Happen

This month might be my favorite. Winter is certainly my favorite time of year, and a month full of hot chocolate, Christmas music, cozy sweaters, and crisp weather takes the cake. Once again, this month arrived much faster than I expected, and once again I've got a list full of goals I want to make happen. But even with my long list of to-do's, I want to spend time savoring this season, operating out of rest and intentionality so that I don't burn out in these last few weeks of 2014. Anyone else with me?


I don't know if anything better exemplifies my obsession with planners than the above picture. The pink Simplified Planner by Emily Ley will be my main organizing tool for 2015. The white and gold polka dotted Notes planner by Sugar Paper LA is largely blank pages with a 12 month overview in the front. I'm using this to tackle the Firework People master calendar and highlights from all the weekly meetings (core team, street team, Twitter chats, master class, Insta challenges, etc). Lastly, I picked up a mini Kate Spade agenda to serve as my blog base binder. I want to enter 2015 with series planned, posts written, and the vision clear. Now onto last month's recap and this month's goals.

November's Goals:
Finish this show with a good attitude. I'd say this was accomplished! I actually enjoyed the tech process, even though auditions fell in the middle and stressed me out to no end. Thankfully all ended well ;)
Have MY show performance ready before Thanksgiving. Well, we're mostly performance ready. The final show is this Friday so I have a few more days to tweak things as needed, but I am so proud of all the hard work my girls have put into this!
Assign all Merry & Bright Gift Swap partners. GLORY BE! This happened! I had a much larger response than I was expecting to the swap (I hoped for 20-30 but ended up with 150. What?!?!?). It took me hours to pair everyone up and send the info to each partner. However it is FINISHED. Hallelujah. I can't wait to see all the swaps!
Finish my research paper! I finished the rough draft, 7 pages, so that counts yes? I am currently procrastinating the rewrite as we speak... and it is due tomorrow. Yikes!
Finish The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst. Er. I didn't quite finish this one. It's on my list.
Read/study Acts & Romans while continuing the Influence Conf. devotional. I spent more time with the devotional than I did Acts & Romans. Those are on my list for the start of the New Year!
Get active 3x's per week. This was closer to 2. I took a Zumba class, went to the gym several times on my own, ate better, and lost 5 lbs! Woo! I call that progress!
Decorate my apartment for Christmas! This happened in part, and I was on track to finish completely until I realized half my decorations were still in Texas. Boo.
Tackle my inboxes at the beginning and end of each week. YES! This is something that has been consistent!

December's Goals:
Journal through the Naptime Diaries Advent study + #illustratedadvent. I bought a journaling Bible specifically for art journaling last month but did not have the time to begin. There are several ladies intentionally journaling through the Advent study and I hope to join in! Follow #braveloveadvent on Instagram, and check back at the end of each week for an update.
Clean + Declutter before the break. Over the weekend, my mom and I overhauled our storage unit, and I brought new things back with me to school. My apartment is in major need of reorganization, even unpacking that I have been putting off since August. I want to find a place for everything and put everything in its place before I go home for Christmas.
Memorize These Shining Lives. Remember those auditions I mentioned above? I was cast as the lead in a show for the spring, and my character, Catherine, narrates almost the entire thing as well as participates in scenes. I have a lot of memorizing to do! If I'm off my game, everyone else will be, too. I hope to have 75% memorized before the New Year, and the rest before school.
Work as much as possible at Anthro with a positive attitude! Retail during the holidays can be stressful, but I want to make the most of my job/short time to work by bringing a positive attitude in and walking out with the same. There's something about that store that can make gals catty, plagued with comparison, and materialistic, so I am declaring that those things WILL NOT cover my break!
Plan holiday festivities for my family. We already have tickets to see the musical Once, and mom and I have agreed to visit the Arboretum's 12 Days of Christmas, but there are a few more things to add to the list! I want to soak up as much of the Christmas season with my parents and siblings as possible.
Read The Greatest Gift, Love, Skip, Jump, The Best Yes, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I am SO CLOSE to completing my 101 in 1001 goal of reading 25 books in 12 months. It was initially 15 in 12 but I blew through that number in July. These books are either partially read or have been sitting on my end table for weeks waiting to be picked up. Let's do it!
Save for Hope Spoken + The Influence Conference. My job at Anthro is not just for fun money. Well, it technically is because these conferences are going to be MORE than fun! I want to put a significant amount in the bank to cover travel expenses for these exciting weekends.
Prepare for 2015. This includes praying about/choosing my word(s) of the year (I already have a few on my heart!), organizing my planners and school schedule, revamping ad swaps and sponsorships for Brave Love,  beginning my 2015 PowerSheets, and more. I get the feeling it's going to be a great year and I want to be prepared!

What about you? What are you making happen this month? Any fun holiday traditions I should try out? What books are you reading over the holidays? I'd love to know!