April: Month in Review

Whatta month! Things kicked off with a week off of work during which I did a voiceover job for Scholastic, read lots of books, went to a local Australian bakery with a friend, pet-sat, shopped for spring dresses, went to multiple doctor’s appointments, and weathered some big storms. The next couple of weeks involved lots of hard work finishing up school and working (I’ve taken two finals and I have two more next week). I did go get a pre-Easter pedicure with a friend, and as always I spent lots of time at the ballpark, so those were both good. I’d been in a bit of a hitting rut so far this spring, so over spring break I went to the batting cages five days, and my teammates and coaches were shocked at how I was crushing the ball when practice started back up–that felt so so good. I went to a 16U rec softball game one Friday evening where I had former teammates on both of the teams that were playing, and one of my current teammates was the home plate ump. Crazy.

I had some hard conversations this month, but I’m learning more and more about freedom and grace and what those look like for me. I did a lot of thinking and reading and watching about missions (blog posts coming soon), and prayed about local ministries to be involved in; some very exciting plans have all fallen into place for next year! It was a pretty average month for my physical health, meaning it was a pretty bad month–my rheumatologist put me on a new course of treatment, but it’s looking like that didn’t work.

The last week in April, my family had our vacation for the year–we went to my uncle and aunt’s condo in Gulf Shores, Alabama! It was really a great, great week. Each morning, we slathered on sunscreen and walked across the road to the beach. We’d walk along the shore picking up seashells, or throw around a baseball, or go swimming in the ocean (until we saw the jellyfish, at least). Eventually we’d dry ourselves off and come back to the condo for lunch and a shower and a nap. Later we’d go down and lie by the pool and laugh hysterically about nothing at all, or we’d go find an ice cream shop, or visit with my cousins who live “across the hall.” We all went to a little zoo one day, and my brother also played mini golf and went to the naval museum in Pensacola while I was napping because I played too hard at the beach (lol). In the evenings, we’d flip-flop down to the little Pier 33 grocery store and buy Krispy Kreme’s and lemonade and Rice Krispy treats, then come back to play cards or read books or go to bed early because we could. I felt sick and exhausted some days, but not every day like I’d feared, and I also felt relaxed and I felt free. I spent time planning for and thinking about next year and getting very very excited (STAY TUNEDDD). We had dinner in Pensacola with some wonderful missionary friends, and I sat in the condo and had a conference call to become an ambassador for Bangs shoes (EEP), and I got sunburned (it’s fading into a tan, I hope) and finished my marine biology course and applied for a ton of writing jobs. Here are a lot of just a few pictures…

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Even grocery shopping is more fun at the beach!
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(Christ has made me) as free as the ocean!
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All depression walks away, on the shores of Your great love… freedom, take hold of my heart, Spirit of God come fill this place. (Shores, Bryan and Katie Torwalt)
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darling, let’s go somewhere where the stars kiss the ocean
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“It’s an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea–whether it is to sail or to watch it–we are going back from whence we came.”    –John F. Kennedy

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This month I’m…

Reading: (psa, all the links go to my Goodreads reviews, so hit them up!) The book of Joshua (so much good stuff). Shatter Me, Tahereh Mafi. My Life Next Door, Huntley Fitzpatrick. Rainbow Valley, L.M. Montgomery (reread). The Sun is Also a Star, Nicola Yoon. The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle, Hugh Lofting. Unravel Me, Tahereh Mafi. Ignite Me, Tahereh Mafi. Rebel of the Sands, Alwyn Hamilton. The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom (reread). A Dream so Big, Steve Peifer. Called for Life, Kent and Amber Brantly. For the Love, Jen Hatmaker. Anne of Ingleside, L.M. Montgomery (reread). Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo. Crooked Kingdom, Leigh Bardugo (ASZKMWEGP ALL THE FEELS BEST BOOK EVER KAZ IS MY CHILD). 15 total.

Listening to: Look No Further, Hope Unite. Western Woods to Beaversdam, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe soundtrack. Take the World, Johnnyswim. Amen, I Am They. Kings and Queens, Audio Adrenaline. Shores, Bryan and Katie Torwalt. Grace to Grace, Hillsong. Burn, Hamilton. Transitions, Stephen Cox (Stephen is my cousin and he just put out his first jazz album–it’s sooo good and you should go buy a copy!!).

Watching: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The Amazing Race. 7th Heaven. The Making of Harry Potter, 1 & 2. Julia Robertson’s World Race vlogs (literally every single day). Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition.

Loving: dear best friend forever by Clara (The Zephyr). 10 #FangirlProblems That Will Give You The Crisis You Always Knew You Needed by Cait (PaperFury). To: you by Ashleigh (theashhaines). what has happened to being genuine and real??? // HOW I STRIVE TO SHOW PERSPECTIVE by Julia (The Barefoot Gal). remember by Vivian (Day-Dreamer, Night-Thinker). Purpose In This Place by Katherine (Song Beyond Silence). In Defense of Second-Class Missionaries by Mrs. Medina (guest post on A Life Overseas). Can Spoons Refer To More Than Just Energy? by Sara (Romans 5:3-5). To All The Young Writers by Savannah Grace (Scattered Scribblings). BEWARE THE NANO BEAST by Katie Grace (A Writer’s Faith). Worth the Wait by Grace Anne (Totally Graced). sometimes, you just can’t handle it by Caroline (the beauty in the brokenness). Missing out When You Have a Chronic Illness (Part 1) by Ally (Chronically Constant).

I blogged four times this month: Send Me Questions + Guest Posting for Sara!; (GIVEAWAY) 1-Year Blogiversary!; Q&A + Giveaway Winner; Tranquility: A Prayer and Reflection Coloring Journal (Book Review).

Writing: Welll, I started out doing something really cool for Camp NaNo, but then life got in the way and I didn’t finish it (I did a lot in the first week or two, though). I came up with a super cool new dystopian novel idea (titled When He Found Me) and played around with that; I typed up and began to expand Warsaw Children, a children’s novel about the Warsaw ghetto uprising that I began handwriting in a notebook several years ago; I applied for a whole bunch of freelance jobs on Upwork and Guru; I entered two contests that both required writing something new; I submitted old stuff to three publications; and I had a devotional published here. Basically, April’s writing consisted of daydreaming about old stuff that I’ll finish this summer and forgetting Camp was even a thing. Ha.

Grateful for: Rainy days at home with new library books and chocolate chip cookies (read: heaven). Constant emails with new blog friends. Playing with babies at the ballpark. Catching up with a friend who lives across the country and whom I haven’t spoken to in years. My kids I nanny being so sweet and grateful when I took them to the pool. My coaches. The super soft and cute T-shirt I got in Gulf Shores. Corey and Kara catching up (THEY ARE FLAWLESS HUMAN BEINGS OK).

Did you do Camp NaNo, and if so, how did it go? (Hopefully better than mine…) Do you have a love affair with the beach like I do? Do you know who Corey and Kara are without me even telling you their last names? (If so, I LOVE YOU FOREVER.) Tell me all the April things!

Tranquility: A Prayer and Reflection Coloring Journal (Book Review)

I GOT A JOURNAL AND IT’S SO GORGEOUS AND PERFECT AND ASKWIGHLSB.

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I love that the theme of this journal is peace and tranquility, because when I received this journal (which was several weeks ago… what can I say, I’ve been busy), the concept of peace is a concept that God was (and still is) really teaching me about.

I can’t get over how beautiful this book is! I wish I could show you a picture of every single page, because each one is so unique and well-thought-out. One page talks about Ruth and Naomi and having loyalty to friends; one page has space for you to write quotes about peace; another page reminds us of the beautiful promise of heaven and has a mountain range for you to color. But if I told you about every page, that would ruin the surprise when you buy this journal for yourself. 😉

I really appreciate the fact that Tranquility is hardcover–it’s very durable and sturdy. It’s so beautiful, and I’m so excited that it came out a couple of days ago because now all of you can enjoy it too! Go here to order this journal on Amazon!

Disclaimer: Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Also: I’m going to the beach tomorrow!!! Since we’re at the ballpark all evening tonight and all morning tomorrow, and since I’ve been sleeping/catching up on science homework/working on freelance jobs all day, I now have approximately thirty minutes to pack a weeks’ worth of books and school and clothes. Ha. Procrastination at its finest. Wish me luck!

Q&A + Giveaway Winner

Make sure to stay tuned to the end of this post for the winner of the giveaway!

From Leah C:

What is your favorite animal? Definitely a dolphin. I also love dogs and tigers and really all animals.

Are you a night or morning person? I used to be a huge morning person; I’d get up at 5:30 every day. Since I got sick, I have become neither a morning bird or a night owl–I’m some form of permanently exhausted pigeon. (Yes, I stole that from Pinterest. But it fits.)

What is your favorite season? Fall! Something about the gorgeous leaves and bonfires and warm sweaters… love love love.

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Any special plans for this summer? My plan for this summer is to not have a plan. 🙂 I’m going to write a children’s novel and teach music at VBS and go swimming a lot. I’m also going to begin working closely with an organization called Next Generation Focus that tutors underprivileged kids (it’s looking like this ministry will be a huge part of my life for the next year, so I’ll share more later!).

Where do you usually go to write (library, coffee shop, your room…)? I’m not super picky about where I write as long as I’m alone. I can’t write at the library or a coffee shop–even though those are two of my favorite places in the world–because I get distracted so easily. So I normally end up writing at my desk or on my bed (except if I’m in bed I end up falling asleep, haha).

From Esther:

What is your favorite book in the Bible, and favorite book outside the Bible? My favorite book of the Bible is either James or Esther. James has so much wisdom packed into just a few pages, and I’ve always loved the story of Esther because of how we can see God working behind the scenes. I have SO MANY favorite books outside the Bible… the first few that come to mind are The Chosen by Chaim Potok, The Chronicles of NarniaHarry Potter, and the Anne of Green Gables chronicles by L.M. Montgomery. Oh, and Outcasts United by Warren St. John.

Do you prefer letters or emails? Letters! I use email more often, though.

What is your favorite baseball team? The Braves–gotta be loyal to the hometown team even though it’s been a rough few seasons.

What is the biggest thing God has been teaching you lately? I love this question! I’ve been learning that not only am I saved by grace, I am also sustained and held by grace. From studying the book of Joshua, I’m learning that victory is assured when one is called by God–not because of our competency, but rather because He will be with us. I’m learning that He is my competence and I don’t have to have it all together (2 Corinthians 3:5). I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about how the church should react to poverty, and I can feel my heart being stirred towards something more, but I’m not quite sure what. (That was more than one thing… oops.)

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What is your favorite “old” band? I don’t like any bands from the 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s, so I guess I’ll throw it all the way back to the 40’s and go with the Andrews Sisters or Glenn Miller’s orchestra!

Mechanical pencils or wooden pencils? Mechanical, always. I’ll do just about anything to get out of using a regular pencil.

What do you do when you are bored? I’m rarely bored, but when I am, my first reaction is either to pick up a book or play catch with my brother!

What is one place that is on your bucket list to go to someday? Any of those little Eastern European countries that were involved in WWII and the Holocaust–Denmark, Austria, Poland, etc. I’ve always been utterly fascinated by them.

If your name was not Hailey, what would you want it to be? Miriam, Elise, Rebekah, or Caroline! (I’ve actually given this matter a great deal of thought over the years, haha.)

What is your favorite Joshua quote? I don’t think I can choose just one! I’ll give several and you choose your favorite. 🙂 (These are all from when he was younger.)

Joshua: Mom, you are the cutest cutest mommy that I ever ever seened. You are so reasonable and cute. I really like you pretty much.

Joshua: I don’t want to have eyebrows because they stick to me. I want to take them off.

Joshua: I used to be in college, but now I’m in preschool.

Dad: What did God put in the sky after Noah’s flood? Joshua: Cowboys.

 

Joshua: If only I was eighteen–then I could stay home alone and clean the baseboards.

Joshua: Ice cream doesn’t go with whiskey.

Mom: The chicken I made for dinner tonight is executed differently than normal. Joshua: Does that mean it got its head chopped off with a sword instead of an axe?

And finally, once Joshua was playing baseball in the backyard and hit the window with a plastic ball. He said, “I didn’t mean to hit the window, Mom. I thought Jake was going to do one of his spectacular catches.” Jake was Joshua’s imaginary friend.

From Joshua (my brother):

What is your deepest and darkest fear? Do you really think I’m going to tell you? You live across the hall. I don’t want it coming back to haunt me.

Why do you never have time to play a game with us? I’m taking four college classes and I work three jobs and I play travel softball AND I have a chronic autoimmune disease that means I’m incredibly tired and feel awful all the time. So–I’m just a tad bit busy. Hopefully once I’ve graduated high school and gotten my VO and writing careers a little higher off the ground, I’ll be able to play more board games.

Why do you not like spaghetti? I have no idea, but just reading the word makes me gag.

From Anna:

What is your dream vacation? I’m pretty easy to please–beach, mountains, it all sounds great. Just somewhere with a beautiful view, a good book, and no agenda. Like I said earlier, I’d love to visit Eastern Europe!

If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why? Colombia, because that country completely stole my heart five years ago. It was so hard to sit at home this week while everyone else was there. I’d want to live in either the small town in the mountains mentioned in the latter half of this post, or in a very specific part of Bogota near some very specific people.

What is your favorite Disney movie(s)? Is it bad that I had to Google “Disney movies,” and then I’d seen only one of all the movies that popped up? That one is Fantasia; I have a vague memory of watching it at my grandparents’ house years ago. So I guess I’ll go with that!

 

Out of 339 entries, the winner of the giveaway is… Sarah H! Sarah, I sent you an email–answer with your mailing address and I’ll send you your Starbucks gift card 🙂 Thanks to everyone who entered!

Your job: choose your favorite three questions from this post and answer them in the comment section! 

(GIVEAWAY) 1-Year Blogiversary!

Guess what? Today is my one-year blogiversary! *throws confetti* It completely snuck up on me, but I’m SO excited! To celebrate, I’m giving away a $10 Starbucks gift card to one of you lovely readers. But first, you get to hear me wax nostalgic a little bit.

My first post on Now All I Know is Grace was a year ago today (I’m not going to link to it because it’s pretty embarrassing. If you want to go dig it up, you can). It started out, “Blogging. If you can’t tell yet (you will soon), I have basically no clue what I’m doing here.” I then proceeded to say that “I journal every day, and I plan for this blog to be an extension of those journal entries, documenting how God is working in my life.” Ha. Well, if you’ve been around for a bit, you’ve probably noticed that my blog ended up not having a specific theme like most other blogs. Sometimes I review books. Sometimes I rant about my personal life. Sometimes I scream about musicals or share devotionals I’ve had published elsewhere or try to give some encouragement to others. I’ve shared my writing journey and my sickness journey and my softball journey, and I’m on another journey right now that I would like to share as well. You never know what you’re going to get on my little corner of the Internet, but I kind of like it that way! I’m thinking about adhering to more of a structure in the future. We’ll see. I’ve also been saying for months that I’m going to switch to Blogger because WordPress frustrates me and Blogger just seems cooler, but that’ll probably never happen. So.

According to WordPress, my blog has had 1,293 views, 58 likes, and 108 comments on 60 posts in the last year. I currently have 64 followers, and I’ve had hits from 22 countries. (If you’re the person from Poland or the Netherlands or the United Arab Emirates, how did you find me?!)

I’m so grateful to be a part of the blogging community–I’ve made so many wonderful friends here! Honestly, I don’t think a single day goes by that I’m not interacting with some of my amazing and lovely fellow bloggers, whether that be through comments on one of our blogs or Facebook messages or personal emails. And I LOVE that! Guest posting, Q&A’s, flailing about fictional characters or commiserating about writer’s block or praising God for His faithfulness–it’s been a good, good year with you guys.

So, without further ado–it’s giveaway time! To enter the giveaway, click the link below because I’m low-tech and couldn’t figure out how to insert the Rafflecopter widget into this post. You have to be following my blog by email or with your WordPress account, you have to live in the US (sorry, Poland/Netherlands/United Arab Emirates readers), and you have to be okay with emailing me your mailing address if you win. I’ll announce the winner next Saturday (the 15th) in my Q&A post. Go enter for your chance to win a $10 Starbucks gift card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

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Send Me Questions + Guest Posting for Sara!

As you probably know if you’ve been around for a while, for the last fourteen months I’ve been struggling with multiple physical health problems (I tell people that I have an undiagnosed chronic autoimmune disease, but honestly, we still have no idea). Today my friend Sara–fellow blogger, fellow spoonie, fellow Christian teen girl, and an all-around awesome person–is letting me share on her beautiful blog, Romans 5:3-5: Hope and Clarity! Click here to read my post “You Know You Have a Chronic Illness When…” and make sure to give her blog a follow while you’re there!

The next order of business is this: I need your help! I want to do a Q&A post sometime in the next few weeks. But to answer questions, I need people to ask me questions (#logic). So, please comment on this blog post with all your burning questions about myself and my life and my writing, and you’ll have my undying gratitude and appreciation (and if you have a blog I’ll link it in the Q&A post). Nothing is off-limits–ask me my favorite color or why I love Jesus or what’s my favorite coffee from Panera Bread. (The caramel latte, obviously.) Ask away! And stay tuned, because something is exciting is happening later this week that may or may not involve me sending you free coffee. (Like, I’m not joking. It totally involves that. Come back later this week and you’ll see.)

On a side note, rainy days at home with chocolate chip cookies and new library books and peace of mind are pretty much the best thing imaginable and I had a great one yesterday. To wrap up this scrambled post, here’s Conversations: Episode Four.

Joshua: “This is a hatchet. But it could be an elephant if I wanted, because I have an IMAGINATION.”

Me: “An object at motion will tend to stay in motion. Isn’t that Kepler?” Joshua: “No, it’s Newton. You don’t know anything. Tell me, what’s the capital of Mongolia?” Me: … Joshua: “It’s Yulan Batar. DUH.” Me: “Okay, tell me this: how many of the Federalist Papers did James Madison write? Oh, darn it, never mind–you listen to Hamilton.”

Me: “I’m an expert in brothers. I’ve had one for…” *realizes I have no clue how old my brother is temporarily forgets how old my brother is* (he’s 11)

Me: “You’re not Spider-Man.” Joshua: “Yes I am.”

Me: *takes a piece of paper out of a library book with a date and place written on it* Joshua: “You better give that to me right now. The government needs to know. It says media center, but say media center, my foot. I’ll bet you ten bucks there’s hidden writing on here.” *gets out microscope* “Ah-ha! Just as I thought. Mom, we need to call the White House. The media center was just a put-off. Look closely. I was analyzing this and there was invisible ink. Tomorrow there’s going to be an explosion. Oh man, I’m a good detective. What book did this come out of? We need to dust it for fingerprints! You don’t KNOW what book?! Well, don’t blame me if there’s an explosion tomorrow and lots of lives are took.” *cue me cringing because grammar and because he reads too many mystery/detective books*

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Don’t click away from my blog until you’ve followed Sara’s blog and left me some questions! Please 😉

March: Month in Review

March was a long and hard month, y’all. There were lots of dark days that resulted in lots of hard decisions. It was also such an important month, though, because on March 7th I took the first steps towards healing and change. I may or may not share more about this in the future, but for now I’ll just leave it at this: I’m expectant to see how the Lord will bring me freedom and restoration during this season!

I bought my first car from my parents this month, which was completely unexpected because it wasn’t supposed to happen until July; my car is a silver Toyota named Dobby after my favorite house-elf. My dad and a few friends had birthdays. Ball season started back–practice and games for my brother, and just practice so far for me. I worked in nursery at church (you have to be 18) for the first of many times to come. Our friends came and stayed for two nights, and I played laser tag for the first time with some other friends, and I had some really good cheese dip at a Mexican place with yet other friends. I cut seven inches off of my hair! Joshua and our friends and I enjoyed doing a paraprosdokian (Google it) skit at the church talent show.

This month I’m…

Reading: Carve the Mark, Veronica Roth (OH MY GOSH I HAVE SO MANY FREAKING FEELS). The Tanglewoods’ Secret, Patricia St. John (reread–so sweet). I Am a Pencil, Sam Swope (really enjoyed). Road to Memphis, Mildred D. Taylor. Sarah’s Key, Tatiana de Rosnay. The Battle of the Labyrinth, Rick Riordan (reread). The Last of the Olympians, Rick Riordan (reread–fave). Girl in the Blue Coat, Monica Hesse. Some Kind of Happiness, Claire Legrand (ugh–too emotional). The Orphan’s Tale, Pam Jenoff. The Giver, Lois Lowry. Little Men, Louisa May Alcott (SO. SWEET. I want to be Jo March when I grow up). Anne of Ingleside, L. M. Montgomery (reread–love love love). 13 total.

Listening to: Kids, covered by the Gardiner Sisters. i can’t breathe, Bea Miller. Popular, Wicked. Closer than you Know, Hillsong. Scandal of Grace, Hillsong. The Schuyler Sisters, Hamilton. Shores, Bryan and Katie Torwalt. You’re Gonna Be Okay, Brian and Jenn Johnson. Great Divide, Humming House. Riptide, Vance Joy. All for One, Five for Fighting.

Watching: Monica Church’s stair vlogs. Maze Runner cast interviews. USAG’s Made in America. Bruin Banter. Soul Surfer. 7th Heaven. Tyler Mount. Beauty and the Beast on opening night with a friend. Old Newsies vlogs. Liv and Maddie (the little girl I nanny and I have been blazing through this on Netflix, and I won’t lie: it’s kind of cute and I kind of have gotten addicted to it). Facing Darkness.

Loving: and somehow, we find acceptance, Madyson Grace. “what’s your editing process?” // how I go through drafts, To the Barricade! How to Liven Up Your Secondary Character, Scattered Scribblings. After the Rain: Lessons from a Stormy Day, True and Pure. a study: birth, down by the willows (GO READ THIS, seriously). Riches, Lead Me to Wisdom. Some Nights, Day-Dreamer, Night-Thinker. How to Do Spring Break: A Comprehensive Guide, rockandminerals4him. Book review // Between Shades of Gray, Thriving Hope. Future Hope in the Midst of Life’s Changes, Katherine (on the Reb). Class of ’21, something much greater. MARCH IS ALL OVER LIKE WOWOWOWOW, the barefoot gal.

My blog posts this month were as follows: Why You Won’t See Me on Instagram Anytime Soon, Dear Batting Cages: Thank You., Looking for Beta Readers! (Shatter Me), Creative Moments of Grace + Pocketful of Promises (Reviews), and I’m Doing Camp NaNo?! 

Writing: I took a break from Angelica to do a couple of rounds of edits on Shatter Me, which I really enjoyed. My story Hope is the Thing with Feathers (click to read) was selected out of thousands of entries in the Story Shares contest as a “Relevant Read” and formatted as an ebook–thank you Story Shares! I entered five contests and had a devotional published here. I plotted a fantasy story, did quite a bit of bookkeeping stuff–researching submission opportunities and places to pitch and HELP I NEED A RESUME–and came up with a super exciting new project that I’m doing for Camp NaNo.

Grateful for: The pistachio pie Joshua made for St. Patrick’s Day, and the banana pie we bought at the church bake sale (I like pie). My teammates. The amazing paintings that my friend Cari made me (see pictures below–I wouldn’t be getting by right now without her, for sure). Buying amazing homemade snickerdoodles from our neighbor two days in a row during the neighborhood yard sale. Driving the kids I nanny somewhere on a beautiful afternoon with the windows down (in MY CAR). Joshua’s teammate’s mom bringing me a blanket when I was cold during an early Saturday morning game. Meeting a bunch of kids from Alaska who came down here on a mission trip. Staying safe during the enormous storm that we had. Being pen pals with Sara. The Google+ community of teen Christian girls with chronic illnesses that I’m a part of. Hammocks.

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What exciting things happened to you this month? What are you reading, listening to, watching, and grateful for? Let me know in the comment section!

I’m doing Camp NaNo?!

Y’all… I’m doing Camp NaNo!

Full disclosure: even though I have spent 90% of my free time writing for the last ten years, I’ve never done NaNo. Ever. I was always just too busy in November. I wanted to do Camp NaNo this year, but I was going to be out of town for half of it–until my plans changed, and now I’m not. Add that to the fact that I came up with a SUPER. EXCITING. IDEA. for a new project earlier this week (it’s all I can think about), and… I just spontaneously signed up for Camp NaNo!

Here’s the deal, though: this project that I’m so super excited about is kind of a, um, secret. *laughs nervously* But because I’m really bad at keeping secrets, I’ll give y’all a couple of hints: it’s nonfiction. It’s short (the final word count will probably be around 10k). It’s going to require a lot of formatting and editing and marketing, BUT, you’re going to be able to buy it and read it this summer! (If all goes as planned, that is. Which, when does it ever? But I’m going to do my darndest.)

So–just thought I’d pop in and share my exciting news with y’all since I haven’t blogged in a week or two. Things have been kind of rough lately, but I’ll have a Month in Review coming up in a couple of days. Now excuse me while I go try to plot something or figure out, like, what I’m going to write because it hasn’t fully sunk in that I’M DOING CAMP NANO. Oh also, I cut seven inches off of my hair last week. It was a traumatic experience, but I think I’ve recovered, so here’s a pic.


I want to hear from you! Have you done Camp NaNo in the past? Are you doing it this year? If so, what’s your project? (Unless it’s a secret too–in which case, no hard feelings!)

Creative Moments of Grace + Pocketful of Promises (Reviews)

Today I’m reviewing two beautiful journals that will be coming out soon through Bethany House Publishing. Number one has the most beautiful cover I’ve ever seen and is called Creative Moments of Grace: An Interactive Journaling Experience. The journal is designed so that you can use it either alone or with a group, which is really nice. Gayla Irwin, the author, talks about her memories of drawing and coloring as a child and how she realized as an adult that those creative efforts could be so healing. The pages of her journal are filled with cute doodles, devotional activities, and spaces for you to doodle and write as you discover His truth. Each page is unique and meaningful and I absolutely love them all. The one and only thing I didn’t like about this journal was that it’s not spiral-bound; it would have been a lot easier to manage if it was. Creative Moments of Grace comes out on April 4th and you can pre-order it on Amazon here; go do it!

Number two is Pocketful of Promises by Margaret Feinberg. It’s a tiny, cute coloring book; each two-page spread has a Bible verse, space to journal about the verse, and a full page to color. I’ve never been big on coloring, but if anything was going to convert me, it would be this journal. Again, it would have been easier if it was spiral-bound, but no worries. This charming little journal is also coming out on April 4th and, again, you can pre-order it here!

How’s everyone’s week going? These journals came in the mail at a time when I really needed them so that was cool. Go order them!

Disclaimer: I was sent a free copy of each of these journals by Baker Publishing Group in exchange for my honest reviews.

Looking for Beta Readers! (Shatter Me)

I’m looking for beta readers for my current WIP aka my baby: a 7,500-word (10 pages in Word) realistic fiction story titled Shatter Me. If you’re unfamiliar with the process of beta reading, here’s how it works: I email you my story + a few questions about it, you read the story, and then you email me back and answer my questions + tell me what you liked and disliked about the story. In return, you get my everlasting gratefulness and adoration–sounds great, right? Plus if you ever need a beta reader, I’ll be the first to sign up! Here’s the synopsis of Shatter Me:

Ara and Rhett share two things: a love for astronomy and the night sky, and the fact that they’re both shattered and think they can never be put back together. When their paths cross during one sunny California summer, their perceptions of their worlds drastically change. Can they heal each other? Is it possible for them to be put back together, or are they shattered for good?

It’s a story about the night sky and falling in love and being shattered and then put back together more beautifully by the greatest Potter; it has an observatory overlooking a craggy beach, to-die-for Nietzsche quotes about the stars, and a little blue-and-white kitchen where Ara’s older sister cooks amazing food. Cue my happy sigh (mostly about the food tbh). My only two rules are as follows: be honest, and be specific. I’m totally fine with you disliking something, but tell me why you didn’t like it so that I can tweak things. It’s called a work in progress for a reason! I want to complete this round of beta reading by the end of March. If you want to jump on board, comment below or email me at hhudson412@yahoo.com, and we’ll get things rolling!

If this mini-Pinterest mood board doesn’t get you excited to read this story, I don’t know what will. None of these pictures are mine, but aren’t they beautiful!!

Dear Batting Cages: Thank You.

Dear batting cages:

I haven’t been to the ballpark in a few days, but I saw yesterday on Facebook that you were torn down; you’re being replaced with shiny new cages and nets and backstops. I can’t say I’m not glad–I’ve complained about your ratty nets and rusty poles more than once. But I also can’t say I don’t appreciate you. So here it is: our highlight reel.

You were there for my first practice and my first game. In fact, you were probably there the first time I ever hit a ball. I fell in love with softball late, but I also fell hard, and I think you knew from the beginning that you and I were going to be spending a whole lot more time together in the years to come.

You’ve been there for all my best and worst moments. When others only saw the big hits or the big strikeouts on game day, you saw everything behind the scenes. You saw all those times I showed up and put in work, and you saw all the times I didn’t. Remember that time last winter when it snowed, and I came anyway? Your entire ground was coated in ice; I set my tee on home plate, and every time I hit the ball I had to skate across the frozen surface to go retrieve it. My fingers were numb even through my batting gloves and my teeth were chattering uncontrollably–I only lasted twenty minutes. But I have no doubt that those twenty minutes made me a better ball player.

You were there for the sweat and the tears and the days I got discouraged and stalked out, slamming the gate behind me and vowing never to return. If you had a mouth, I think you would have been smiling a little, because you knew that I’d come back the next day–a little sheepish, a little bashful, and a lot ready to work hard.

Then there was that time I got injured; a torn ligament, surgery, and six months of physical therapy. You saw me show up that fall with a team of eight-year-olds, my arm in a cast. You saw me tell them “Great job!” whether or not they made contact, and you saw the longing glances I gave you behind their backs, wishing that I was the one holding the bat. I healed eventually and was back at it, day after day and rep after rep.

We’ve had fun, haven’t we? It hasn’t been all work; softball is a game, after all. There have been long light evenings with my dad pitching to my brother and I while my mom sat outside in the grass and watched; there have been early Saturday mornings joking with teammates before games while our coaches threaten to make us take the necks of our jerseys in our teeth if we can’t just keep our heads down; and there have been all the times when I came by myself and just hit. Ball after ball, bucket after bucket, hour after hour–catharsis for whatever else was going on in my life. I shouldn’t say I “just hit,” because there was really much more to it than that–I sometimes envisioned myself in OKC, wearing an Auburn jersey and whacking one out of the park against Florida to win the WCWS. Or sometimes I just pictured myself at practice the next night on the little county field down the hill, getting a solid base hit down the middle against the annoying new girl on my team who thought she was such a great pitcher. Either way, I didn’t “just hit:” I dreamed. You dreamed with me; I felt it. From the rusty poles to the ratty nets to the holes beside home plate where hundreds of cleats and tennis shoes had dug in, attempting to make their own dreams come true–you were rooting for me. You were rooting for all of us.

And now you’ve been torn down. We have “better” cages at my home park now, and I was excited at first, but now I don’t know. I’m going to miss you, old cages; I really am. In more than one sense, I grew up in you. Some of my best memories involve you. You were watching as I learned how to lay down the perfect sac bunt, and as my batting gloves sprouted hole after hole, and as I messed around with my teammates on those dewy Saturday mornings that we thought would never end. It was with you that I learned about hard work and determination and perseverance and all those things that softball is supposed to teach you. Please don’t worry: I learned those lessons and learned them well.

So this is goodbye, except it’s not. It’s goodbye to your dingy home plate and ripped-up nets and muddy ground, and again–I can’t say I’m not glad. You were pretty old and rusty, friend. I think it was your time. But it’s also not goodbye, and here’s why. Twenty years from now, I don’t know that I’ll be able to lay down a beautiful sac bunt on demand. I probably will no longer have my holey batting gloves, and I most likely will have lost touch with many of my past and current teammates. But the memories? The power of a dream? The value of hard work and perseverance and determination? Those will never leave me. Ever.

Thank you for everything.

Love, Hailey

If you want to hear me wax poetic, just mention the word “softball.” This entire post randomly sprang into my head at eleven-thirty last night when I was in bed trying to go to sleep, so OF COURSE I got up and typed it out on my phone. I’m not gonna lie–I’m pretty proud of it! How’s everyone doing this week? What makes you nostalgic? Any fellow softball players out there? Leave me a comment!