February: Month in Review

What a month it’s been! To kick things off, our best friends from Alabama were in town and they stayed the night with us, which was so fun. I turned 18 on the 11th (a Saturday). I felt really awful all day, but my mom and I saw La La Land (FINALLY) and my brother made me a really great dinner and my friends were all super sweet and thoughtful.

Homework was manageable (lol except for the history exam that I thought was a week later than it actually was) and I was consistently productive–yay! Physically, things were up and down, but I did get in some good workouts. There was lots of hysterical laughter at dinner with my family each night; we visited North Greenville University, which was AMAZING (I can’t stop thinking about how much I liked it); and I lost my driver’s license and didn’t go anywhere for half the month. Ha. I went to a cute little town square with some new friends for a photoshoot. I’m completely in love with the way the pictures came out–if you live near me and you need photos done, Sally is your girl.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

My best friend Hannah slept over; we played board games, watched Harry Potter, went to Barnes and Noble, and SAW NEWSIES.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

It’s been a theater kind of a month–lots of Newsies and Dear Evan Hansen and Wicked and In The Heights and other showtunes playing, and getting a bunch of stuff ready for a talent show and an audition next month.

This month I’m…

Loving: let’s stop being so dark for no reason, furious ever afters. Thy Will, Olivia Shay. To the messy girls. This is for you, TheLittleBrittBlog. yes, i ate the bagel but…, My story. His purpose. 7 Tips for Rewriting Your Old Stories, Write for the King. fictional guys i’d totally marry, inklings press. if we want to read the thing, maybe we should write it ourselves, to the barricade. Peanut Music, Sean of the South. full heart, Totally Graced. 10/10 recommend giving all of these amazing posts a read!

I blogged four times this month: if that’s what you wanted, YOU are NOT alone, 7 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD BE OBSESSED WITH NEWSIES + how to serve others 🙂, and longing to have more of You. You can go read my posts too 😉

Watching: Morgan Yates’s old vlogs. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, parts 1 & 2The Atheist Delusion. Newsies backstage vlogs circa 2012.

Reading: Blood of Olympus, Rick Riordan (reread). Under a Painted Sky, Stacey Lee (it was AMAZING–the accidentally-stay-up-until-midnight, cry-your-eyes-out, make-dying-whale-noises-when-it-ends kind of amazing). The Twenty-One Balloons, William Pene du Bois (reread, childhood favorite!). The Hired Girl, Laura Amy Schlitz. The War that Saved My Life, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (lowkey was in tears finishing this one). The Berlin Boxing Club, Robert Sharenow. Soar, Joan Bauer (felt very personal). Salt to the Sea, Ruta Sepetys (reread, MY FAVORITE BOOK EVER). When it Counts, Lauren Hopkins (yay finally). Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J. K. Rowling (reread). I Got This, Laurie Hernandez (love her). Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J. K. Rowling (reread). Scythe, Neal Shusterman (I wanted to see what all the hype was about–IT WAS FREAKING AMAZING). 13 total.

Writing: I worked on Angelica a whole bunch–it’s currently at about 16,300 words. I also finished up a seven thousand-word Harry Potter fanfic for Hannah’s birthday gift, which was so fun! I submitted to three magazines, entered four contests, wrote a personal essay on Alzheimer’s for a scholarship competition, and had two devotional-type articles published here and here.

Listening to: So Gone, John Legend. Lifeline and Wake and Energy, Hillsong Y&F. You’ll be Back, Jonathan Groff (Hamilton). Live Life, Zayde Wolf. Another Day of Sun and Someone in the Crowd, La La Land. Watch What Happens, Newsies. Spirit Move, Kalley Heiligenthal. Narnia soundtracks. You Will be Found, Dear Evan Hansen. Losing my Mind, covered by Jeremy Jordan (2:09–SO. GOOD. That’s why he shouldn’t be on Supergirl).

Grateful for: I’m grateful for the chance to get a Christian education–one of my (many) graded assignments this month was to write a paper on how to use mass media to evangelize to Hindus, and I think that’s cool. I’m grateful for my friends–I wrote letters for Valentine’s Day to 25-ish friends and little girls at church listing the things I like about them, and I have some really great friends! I’m grateful for sitting on the trampoline in 70 degree weather watching my 7-year-old perform songs from Moana for me (all I could think was LIN but she wouldn’t get that). I’m grateful for Harry Potter fanfics at writing group, and for evenings with my brother taking his friends home from baseball practice and then spontaneously making brownies and dancing around the kitchen, and for intense games of Whiffleball on a dark basketball court and for driving around at night listening to Lindsey Stirling with Brooke and for playing Boxcar Children with friends. The month ended with the worst anxiety attack I’ve had in a while, but the rest was pretty great.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
“Serving up a good time”

What did you do this month? What are you reading/writing/listening to/grateful for?

January: Month in Review, Part I

Guess what: it’s that time of month! Since January’s recap was getting crazy long, I stole Hanne’s idea of splitting it into two parts. Today’s is my personal favorite: everything I’ve been listening to and reading and writing (including excerpts!!). Let’s get started!

This month I’m…

Listening to: Newsies. Sentimental Creatures by Jess Ray. City of Stars from La La Land. Lucky covered by Cozi Zuehlsdorff and Jenna Lea Rosen. Whole Heart by Gryffin. Natives by OneRepublic (this was my car CD of the month). Hamilton. Jewish folk music. All the King’s Horses by Karmina (obviously, my taste in music is all over the board).

Reading: John, Romans, Psalms, Ruth. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J. K. Rowling. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott. Since You’ve Been Gone, Morgan Matson (stayed up until midnight finishing this–so worth it). The Unexpected Everything, Morgan Matson. Treasures of the Snow, Patricia St. John (reread). Maria, Maria von Trapp (reread). The Lost Hero, Rick Riordan (reread). The Son of Neptune, Rick Riordan (reread). The Mark of Athena, Rick Riordan (reread). The House of Hades, Rick Riordan (reread). Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, Morgan Matson. I tried to read Gone with the Wind, but I just couldn’t.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
“Every day of your life ugly, angry, selfish thoughts will knock at the door and try to get in again. Don’t try to push them back yourself; ask the Lord Jesus to meet them with His love. Think about the love of Jesus all you can. Read about the love of Jesus every day in your Bible–and if you keep your heart full of it there just won’t be room for those thoughts to stay.”

Watching: Blimey Cow. Monica Church. Alaskan Bush People. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Katie Gregoire. The Fault in our Stars.

Writing: I wrote an article and submitted it to History Today magazine; they promptly rejected it #writerlife. I queried the editor of a pet magazine with an article idea. I submitted a humorous piece on gluten-free eating that I wrote last fall to the Columbia College Young Authors Writing Competition. I had a devotional published called “Persevering Through Pain.” I edited a short story (working title Denny & Curtis) that I wrote last month. I submitted my baby Mazarine Jupiters to the New Yorker AND SCREAMED because, HELLO–it’s the New Yorker. If you need me, I’ll be on pins and needles for the next three months. I’m now in the middle of a fantasy story for a contest, and a secret project, and a dystopian story titled Angelica. Here’s the synopsis of Angelica because I’m completely in love with it:

Kris doesn’t care anything about politics. All she ever wanted was for her father to get away from his high-pressure job as the king’s advisor and spend time with her. But when the king is assassinated, Kris’s father contacts her for the first time in months: she’s the only one who can bring Angelica, the king’s daughter and the heir to the throne, through the city and around the rebel strongholds. If she’s caught, the rebels will kill them all. Throw a handsome, sarcastic, and infuriating boy named Jack into mix and Kris doesn’t know what to do—especially when she begins to admit to herself the true extent of her feelings for him and for Angelica. And when Jack drops a truth bomb on Kris about the kind of man her father really is, things just get worse. Can they make it through the city to the palace, or will they die trying?

I also wrote a 7,000-word story titled “Shatter Me” that I plotted on New Year’s Eve in-between eating chocolate fondue and tangoing in the kitchen with Joshua and playing Nertz. I finished my first draft about a week later (and I basically turned down all my social obligations that week in favor of holing up in my room with the laptop and my two cinnamon rolls of protagonists. Again, #writerlife). 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 and I’m just OBSESSED with it. The inspiration for it came from so many beautiful places, and it was amazing to write. See exclusive excerpts below (warning, they’re unedited):

“I can’t lose anyone else,” he whispered.

“You have me until every last star in the galaxy dies.”

            She looked at him carefully. Then she smiled. The waves folded softly on the sand and a dog barked in the distant balmy air and light poured from tiny holes far above them. A sky full of stars and he was staring at her.

He passed a hand over his face, roughly. “I was just surviving. And then I came out here and you made me feel alive. You make me feel like I’m not shattered. Like I’m worth something.”

“Aren’t we all shattered?” she said. “Every person who lives under these billions of stars… we’re all shattered, Rhett. But we can be put back together. Maybe more beautifully than ever before.”

*squeals* The first draft was all blissful brilliance, but when I start editing it, I’m sure I’ll come across all kinds of holes. Just let me have my fantasy for now–okay?

Grateful for: Going to dinner with Anna. Listening to music in the car with Joshua. Vanilla EOS lip balm. Smoothies made with almond milk and frozen strawberries. New (to me) Keds. Spontaneously going to dinner with Cari. Sitting on the couch with my seven-year-old, the light outside the window growing dim, and hearing her say over and over, “Miss Hailey, look, I want to show you something.” A little girl at church telling me she named one of her dolls after me. My Pinterest “aesthetic” board (see grid below–I’m kind of proud). Quiet Sunday afternoons spent planning out my week. Getting a special letter in the mail. The band This Hope playing at my church. Conversations with my dad about how to write Christian fiction. Seeing a friend who never fails to make me laugh so hysterically my cheeks hurt. Talking fandoms with Lydia.

Loving: I’m Useless (and That’s a Good Thing) by Belle. 2017 Goals by Katie Grace. To Kill a Mockingbird–Book Review by Jess. Sometimes by Olivia. introducing my novel + a Q&A about it! by Madeline. How to be UNCOMFORTABLE at College by Emma Grace. How To Make A Beautifully Perfect Aesthetic Board For Your Novel by Abbiee. excerpt | the art of letting go by Ashley. Reflections on a quote by Hudson Taylor by a different Olivia.

I personally blogged much more than I’d expected! If you missed my posts: My prayers for you &me this semester and this year., on softball and dreams., Persevering through Pain, and How to Hit the Books!

What did you listen to, watch, read, and write in January? What are you grateful for? Stay tuned for part II–coming Tuesday!

January: Month in Review, Part II (What I Did!)

Welcome to part II of January: Month in Review! What a crazy month it’s been. I went back to marine biology on January third, back to my nanny job on the fourth, and back to alll of my classes on the ninth. I’m taking world history, world religions, and Spanish II online at Truett-McConnell University; history is hard, Spanish is easy, and religions is in-between. Although it was a bit of a culture shock going back to school (after a month off, I’d managed to forget how heavy the homework loads can get), I’m really enjoying all three of them!

The first weekend in January we had zero plans, which was good because we ended up being snowed in! We got about two inches of icy snow. Friday I went to work (my nanny job) early, and we made S’mores and read books by the fire. It started snowing that evening (I went outside alone at 10 pm and twirled around and grinned stupidly at the sky because I’m from the South, so I think snow is magical), and Saturday was spent with all four members of my family sledding, eating pie, watching Expedition Unknown, and reading lots of books. Church was canceled on Sunday and public school was canceled on Monday.

The following weekend I went to a softball camp at Covenant College, which was my dream college for a couple of years because of their majors and location and the fact that the coach was recruiting me (I found out soon after the camp that I won’t be able to attend Covenant). It was perfect weather, and so much fun meeting girls from all over the Southeast who are just as passionate about the sport as I am. We started the morning with defense drills; I got in two hours’ worth of hard work in the outfield before I caught a throw weirdly and my thumb started really hurting (I tore a ligament in my right thumb and had a big reconstructive surgery about a year and a half ago). Reluctantly, I decided to sit out the rest of the day. I went to lunch with some of the current Covenant players and then cheered for the other campers during the scrimmage. Finally, I went on a campus tour with my family. We got home around nine pm (and we’d left at seven that morning–#softballlife). I had a huge headache, could barely stay awake, was worried I’d torn the ligament again and I’d miss my last season of travel ball, and my leg muscles were so sore I could hardly walk–but it was still a great experience!!

The third weekend in January I spent at a statewide music conference called ReelFest with my youth choir. Many choirs come together and have less than twenty-four hours to learn and then perform five pieces of difficult new music (click here to hear one). It was so much fun meeting kids from all over the state, hearing all the vocal and instrumental talent, and sharing a hotel room with two of my best friends.

Finally, last Friday my friend Brooke slept over at my house (she convinced me to watch The Fault in our Stars and my life is ruined now); then on Saturday I took her back to her house, where her mom had planned her a surprise birthday party. We actually pulled it off!! Today is Brooke’s sixteenth birthday, so Cari and I secretly drove to her house at eight AM, made French toast in her kitchen, and then woke her up and basically acted like the obnoxious friends that we are. Fun times.

What else happened this month? Joshua and I played tennis and basketball. My dad and I went for carne asada and discussed theology, then saw Hidden Figures (10/10 would recommend). I ate at Panera a lot with various friends, family, and by myself (is there such a thing as a spirit restaurant? Because Panera is mine). I went to writing group once, and honor society just once, and church a whole bunch of times. I ordered a Ravenclaw Quidditch sweater from Etsy and I LOVE IT. There is no such thing as being too obsessed with Harry Potter, okay? NO SUCH THING.

Rainy days and starry nights. Hands covered with ink smudges, toes wrapped in blue fuzzy socks, and clear eyes that hold big dreams. Warm fleece blankets and old maps and piano music. These are the things that Ravenclaws are made of. (x)

My head hasn’t stopped spinning this entire month! January was so crazy busy. Physically, I felt pretty awful, even though I took a short break from softball and working out. But with the help of a stricter diet, lots of Ibuprofen, and going to bed earlier, I think I’m going to make it. There were some disappointments this month and a few periods of anxiety, but reading back over this blog post makes me grateful for my life. February, let’s gooo!

What fun and exciting things did you do this month? I want to hear! If you missed part I of my month in review, make sure to check it out here.

How to Hit the Books!

Like many of you who are reading this, I’m a student. I think in terms of semesters, and I spend a large portion of my life surfing Pinterest and stressing about all the studying I should be doing. I’m currently a high school senior taking three classes online at a local college and one class at home. Over my long and illustrious school career (ha), I’ve discovered a few things that make studying easier–especially studying at home for online classes. Keep reading to find them out!

1. Get dressed!

Homeschoolers, we’ve all been there: we get up, eat breakfast, and then go right back to bed with a big stack of textbooks. The next thing we know, it’s after lunch and we haven’t showered or gotten dressed. Although I understand the temptation–especially in the winter–of cozy pajamas and fuzzy socks, I’ve tried to stop letting myself fall prey to it every. single. day. I get my workout in during the morning so that I can go ahead and shower and get ready. Something about putting on jeans and fixing my hair just helps my overall mindset and puts me into gear to get some work done.

2. Homework schedule: specific + realistic.

On Sunday afternoons, I grab my planner and write out all my assignments for the week. Everything is typically due the following Sunday at midnight, so my personal goal is to have everything done by Friday evening. That way, I have a buffer of a couple of days that I can use to wrap up loose ends that I didn’t get done, or else review everything I learned that week. Last semester, I would write down way too many items every day and then end up with only half of them checked off, which is not a great feeling at the end of the day. So this semester, I’m trying to look more closely at each assignment before I begin and make a realistic estimate of how long I think it will take. It also helps me to write down something specific–if I just write “marine biology,” I tend to interpret that as “skim a few pages and you’re good” when I actually sit down to do the work. So instead, I’ll say something like “read and take notes on pages 330-345; study vocabulary on Quizlet for 15 minutes.” Which brings me to my next point.

3. Quizlet app.

I used Quizlet briefly during sophomore chemistry, and I wasn’t really impressed; it didn’t help me learn what I needed to learn. But maybe that’s just because chemistry was not my thing, because I recently re-discovered Quizlet and I’ve been loving it! Apparently, Quizlet has an app for Apple (I think for Android as well). I deleted Instagram and Pinterest off my phone yesterday in the hopes that when I pick up my phone, I’ll do something productive (Quizlet or Duolingo) instead of wasting time on social media (but let’s be real–I’ll probably end up re-downloading Pinterest in a week or two).

4. Match your music to your material.

I’m one of those people that can’t study without music, and I spend way too long creating a playlist before I ever crack open my textbook. I’d long been in the habit of listening to Aventura while I studied Spanish–so many memories–but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I thought about applying this concept to other subjects. In world history, we just finished a couple of weeks on France–the War of the Three Henrys, Louis XIV, Versailles, etc. As I was reading, answering questions, and writing papers, I looked up French music from the 1600’s and listened to that. This week in world religions, we’re studying Judaism–which I’ve always been fascinated by–and I’ve been listening to Jewish folk music while I study. Something about that distinctive violin/flute/Middle Eastern percussion sound and the Yiddish words just helps the history of the Jewish religion sink into my mind better.

What did I leave out? How do you study? Leave your own tips in the comments!

Persevering through Pain

Good morning everybody and happy Wednesday. I just put on Apple Blossom and Lavender lotion, I’m listening to City of Stars (there has never been a more perfect piece of music written), and I’m about to write a paper on Versailles, so it’s a pretty good day around here so far.

This is a quick PSA that I had a devotional called “Persevering through Pain” published on the life.com and you can check it out here. It’s pretty funny, actually; I wrote this article last November/December-ish. At that time, I had no clue that last weekend would happen. I guess I should go read it again myself. Thanks to everyone for the support and encouragement, by the way–I have a lot more peace now.


Also, because I kept forgetting to post it during Blogmas, here is Conversations: Episode 3.

Joshua: “When I grow up I’m going to name my child Bonzo so I can say, ‘Bedtime for Bonzo!'” Mom: “You can say it anyway.” Me: “No, no you can’t.”

Joshua: “YAAAA! That’s my battle cry. Don’t worry, I shot all the bad guys in the bedroom.”

Mom: “I’m not a fisherman.”

Joshua: “I hate studying. It takes you away from us, far far away until you’re just a mere speck on the horizon.”

Mom to me: “Nine o clock at night is not a good time to have a notebook emergency. You always need a new notebook at the most inopportune times.”

Me: “Joshua, you’re a Hufflepuff, and if anyone ever tries to tell you Hufflepuffs are miscellaneous–don’t listen to them. You are not their leftovers.” Joshua: “Of course not. I eat all my food.”

Me (talking to myself and quoting from a kids’ movie I used to like): “Roses are red. Violets are blue. You’re the loser girl, and no one likes you!” (I promise it has a good message haha) Joshua (appearing out of nowhere and highly offended): “GOD LIKES ME!”

on softball and dreams.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you probably know that I love softball. If you’re new–hi, welcome, and guess what? I love softball. My softball journey is long and complicated and beautiful, but here’s the Cliffnotes version: I fell in love with softball when I was fifteen (I’m almost eighteen now, for some perspective). I had never played an organized sport before, but I worked super hard every day and got my skills from zero to being able to hold my own with girls who had played travel ball for years. I played two seasons of rec ball, got hurt/coached 8U/decided that I was meant to be a missionary in the US working with kids through sports after college (go here for more on this), and then played two seasons of travel ball last year with a metabolic disease that’s like a cross between asthma and mono–all the while planning to play ball in college and then, post-college, build a ministry through coaching. Now I’m here, January 2017, facing my third and last season of travel ball, and I’m injured again: I caught a ball weirdly (right on the spot on my thumb where I had surgery in 2015) at a camp in Tennessee last weekend. I won’t know until Thursday whether I re-tore the ligament that I tore a year and a half ago–which would mean surgery with a six-month recovery time–damaged it, or just bruised it.

I think that deep down I’ve known for a while, even before I ended up in the dugout with ice for the rest of the day on Saturday, that I’m not healthy enough to play softball in college. But I didn’t want to admit it; I couldn’t imagine being at college and watching the softball team walk by on their way to practice and know that I wasn’t part of it. So I kept pushing myself, killing myself trying to play, because I just couldn’t let go of that dream. It finally sunk in this weekend that my softball playing career is about to end, and that makes me so depressed, because it was not long enough.

See, before I injured myself again on Saturday, I was holding my own. The other girls at the camp play big tournaments every weekend; they fly to California in the summer to play at PGF Nationals. I play two or three tournaments a season, and none of them are further than two hours away from my home. Those other girls have been playing since they were little; I’ve been playing since I was fifteen. They all appeared perfectly healthy; often I can’t breathe, walk, or stay awake. And I was still just about as good as them. And I feel like life isn’t fair, because I know I could play college ball if I was healthy.

The field is narrowing. Over the last few years, I’ve been through so many different scenarios in my head, but it’s time to make a decision and this is the reality: I’ve been accepted to three colleges. One of them is very interested in me softball-wise, but for various reasons, I probably wouldn’t have been able to attend there even if I was healthy; the other two coaches, despite my best efforts, don’t seem to know I exist. I’ve considered volunteering as a team manager or something, but am I even healthy enough for that? I think it will be all I can do to stay awake enough to study for class.

Is He pushing me harder towards coaching? I love coaching, but I also love playing. I think it’s still a struggle of identity, a lot; I want people to perceive me as an athlete. But overall, I honestly just LOVE playing softball. I’m tired and mad and sad and feel like I can’t catch a break. I don’t know what’s happening and I really hope that I can look back at this one day and see His hand through it all. One of my dreams is being destroyed. I just need faith that He has something even better coming.

I thought I’d have an amazing testimony to tell little softball players one day: I started playing when I was fifteen, and I was injured, and I never had any private lessons, and I still played college ball–you can do it, too! And I still think I’ll have an amazing testimony to tell little girls, and everyone, but maybe it will sound more like this: sometimes God wrecks your dreams and replaces them with His own. It’s confusing and scary and sad, but the end result turns out better than anything you could’ve ever dreamed. Have faith.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
It’s 10:39 at night and here’s what I know:
1. God brought me into this sport for a reason.
2. That torn ligament and surgery in 2015, my metabolic disease in 2016, and my injury yesterday–He’s in them too.
3. I’m not leaving softball anytime soon. Even though my playing days are wrapping up more quickly than I’d prefer, I haven’t come this far to only come this far. I still have an impact to make for Him in the softball world.
I’m struggling with some tough questions tonight. I’m worried about the future. I won’t lie–there have been a few tears because the hits keep coming, I’m weary, and I just want to play softball. But here’s what I know most of all: He is here and He has a plan. (x)

It was probably two years ago now that I wrote my youth minister (at the time) an email asking about college sports–he was a high school athlete and is still passionate about sports. I was really just asking if he had any recruiting tips, but his answer was much deeper. I’m glad, because it’s is something I’ve gone back to time and time again–in particular, the line that’s typed in bold.

If this is the Lord’s calling on your life I’m certain He’ll provide opportunities for you to advance your career, but if it isn’t I pray that the Lord opens and closes doors for you. I’ve learned a lot, but one thing is certain: we are only truly at peace doing what God has called us to do. Anything else just fails to offer the same peace… You’re a child of God, so either you will be blessed to be a part of the game you love for the rest of your life or you’ll be blessed to be part of something else. Either way I would continue to pursue and enjoy the game you love with the right perspective.

So what happens now? First, I’m going to kill my last season of travel ball (hopefully–if my hand is okay). Then maybe I’ll minor in sports administration, or be a team manager for my college’s softball team, or maybe I’ll take a break for a few years and just throw in the backyard with my brother when I come home in the summer and at Christmas. And then I’m going to start my career as a coach in earnest, and I can’t wait. It will be amazing; it will.

I’m grieving. I’m coming to terms with the fact that my dream of playing college ball is probably not going to come true. But maybe that means it was just that, all along–my dream. Not His dream for me. Maybe all this time–these last three years of getting up at five AM to work out and watching softball games on Youtube every day and posting countdowns to tournament days on my bedroom door–I’ve been working towards something completely different and I just didn’t know it yet. Maybe this isn’t the end–maybe it’s just the beginning.

My prayers for you &me this semester and this year.

Remember that we’re forgiven. Known. Called. Set apart. Made worthy. Loved. Searched out. Pulled close. Chosen.

Pursue Jesus like never before. Ask Him to be our everything. Focus on Him–don’t let Him get lost in the busyness of life.

Don’t get overwhelmed (this one is especially for my fellow seniors). Take things one day at a time. Love people, work hard, and give the rest to God.

Live completely unencumbered by the expectations of others. Don’t let ourselves become polluted by the world. This year, I want to truly embrace the way God has made me, down to all the little mannerisms and things that I sometimes dislike about myself. I recently heard someone say “the next J.K. Rowling,” and I thought–no. I want to be the first Hailey Hudson. I’ve learned that when I attempt to copy other writers, my stories come out as just that–copies. Weak copies, at that; there’s no real spark, no life. In the same way, if we try to copy other people in how we live, it just won’t work. Be you. Be real. Be authentic. Fall in love with who God made you to be instead of constantly pushing yourself aside.

Learn to be a servant.

Don’t be bound to worry and fear and anxiety; instead, be excited about life!

Focus on God. Don’t worry about what others are doing, if they’re doing it better or worse than you, what they’re thinking about you–only live for God and yourself. My dad told me that one time and I think it’s some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten.

Make it a habit to verbally talk about God. We had a conversation in Sunday School a few months ago centered around the fact that the spoken name of Jesus holds power, but we are losing that because we are not an oral society–our primary communication these days centers around texting and emails. Before that conversation, I had already been thinking that I don’t really talk about Jesus a lot, and it actually feels uncomfortable and awkward to me to do so. But with practice, it will become a habit. This goal of mine was reinforced when I met someone last week who, at first glance, looked like your typical teenage girl–cute trendy clothes and silky hair and iPhone in hand. As soon as I began talking to her, though, I could tell she was different. We discussed a sermon on unreached people groups she recently heard at Passion City, and how she wants to take a gap year after high school and do the World Race, and that she wants to go to Asia and be a medical missionary after college and I want to be a missionary in the States. The way she talked about God, her faith, and her calling to live out her faith even to the ends of the earth inspired me so so much.

Find balance. This is hard for me. Prior to the beginning of each semester, I spend a big chunk of time making a long list of fun things I want to do with friends. Then the semester starts and I instantly decide that I don’t have time to do anything fun, I just need to work and work and work because I want to do everything I do (and I do a lot of things) at the highest level possible and I want to be successful (no, I’m not a Slytherin). I’m still trying to find a way for relaxation and work to coexist.

Watch sunsets. Talk to strangers. Put your phone down and read a book. Stargaze. Learn. Buy someone flowers. Buy yourself flowers. Dance. Write letters. Try new things. Drink deep of the world.


Which one of these things will be the hardest for you this semester and this year? What would you add to the list? What are you looking forward to about this semester/year?