August: Peace (Fruit of the Spirit project, Month #3)

There’s good news and bad news… which do you want first?

Welcome back to the third installment of my Fruit of the Spirit project. I hope you learned a lot about peace this month–I definitely did! God did big things in my heart during August (that’s the good news). I wrote this beautiful article about it a couple of weeks ago–but then I sent the article to a devotional website, and I haven’t heard back from them yet. Sooo, I can’t share the exact article here. *cries* You’ll get the CliffNotes version… which I guess is the bad news, but in reality it’s always good news when you get a post from me. Right? (Just say yes.)

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First of all, I’m sure we can all agree that life is stressful. From the small frustrations like “I paid thousands of dollars for two classes this fall, and now I can’t access my student email,” to the bigger and scarier things like opening your Twitter app hoping for some cute kitten gif’s but instead receiving news of another hate rally, peace can be in short supply sometimes. We all get that. And oftentimes, the opposite of peace is worry. I was watching a great video by Christine Caine this month and she said something that sounded funny, but was actually profound: go to sleep. Just go to sleep. The best thing you can do to fight the enemy is to go to bed–Scripture says God never slumbers, so what’s the point in both of you staying awake? Don’t lose your peace over something you can’t control, or over a scenario in your head that will probably never actually happen. Just go to sleep.

Second–focus on Jesus. I don’t have much to say on this one, because it’s so straightforward: if my mind is full of His greatness, there’s no room for my little worries. Make every effort to be in His presence daily.

Third–read the book of Lamentations. Read it. I studied it probably for the first time ever this month, and it blew my mind. Lamentations is a book of mourning. The author–probably Jeremiah–watched as the Babylonian army laid siege to Jerusalem and then destroyed it. The city was razed. Even the temple–which non-Jews were not allowed to enter–had been looted and burned. The siege was so long and brutal that mothers ate their own children. With the city left in ruins, it seemed there was nothing left to do but weep. Jerusalem had been burned down to its most holy places, and Lamentations records all of the sorrow and horror and pain. It’s a book of mourning. But it’s something else at the same time–it’s a book of hope. You see, after the author speaks of his grief, he brings a new message.

“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I still dare to hope: because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

—Lamentations 3:19-23

WOW! That pretty much trumps everything. Through all the grief and pain and mourning–through a desperate attempt to make sense of a world gone mad–the author of Lamentations arrives at this eternal conclusion: we can still dare to hope because of the Lord’s great love.

I’d never read Lamentations until recently, but now I can’t stop. I find myself returning over and over; I’ll probably have it memorized soon, and it’s all because of this message. I often need the reminder of this verse, the permission that it offers me to dare to hope. I need to recall that, in this scary and stressful world, I will not be consumed. My Lord’s compassions never fail. As Lamentation tells us, they are new every morning, and great is His faithfulness. Because of these verses, I can dare to hope. And because of these verses, I can find peace.

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flower creds to Grandpa

 

What did you learn during our month of peace? I’d love to hear–please share in the comments! Next up is September: patience. (Pray for me…)

summer 2017, you were good to me.

just some little moments and feelings that I want to remember from summer 2017.

waking up to a pair of furry ears, inquisitive eyes, and four muddy paws two inches from my face every morning

sitting cross-legged on the floor of the hallway at church and feeding my favorite two-year-olds ice cream–one bite for my little buddy, then one bite for my little princess, back and forth as both of them chatter and smile at all the people walking by

pushing my body as much as possible and falling even more in love with exercise science

reading reading reading

eleven pm on a friday, in the passenger seat of a friend’s car, giggling because we went through the mcdonald’s drive-thru and asked for two cups of water because we were hoarse from a concert

writing feverishly late into the night

dancing to broadway tunes in the kitchen with my brother instead of doing the dishes

so many flowers

a tiny kitchen stuffed with cousins and cake and laughter, late into the night

the exhilarating feeling of realizing I can make a living doing what I love

finding a piano in a museum and having a “battle” with this random super sweet lady

internalizing the truth that I am set free

a 1953 green chevrolet with hands sticking out of all windows (no AC); running a yellow light just as a policeman appears, and my uncles and brother and I burst into laughter

getting caught in a huge lightning storm with my best friend and having to huddle inside the fro-yo place (hey, there are worse places to be stuck)

lots and lots of sunsets–soft orange, vibrant pink, pale purple

living barefoot and wide open

inside a restaurant, trying to judge how hard the rain is pouring; my uncle says “we could just sit here and tell jokes” and we dash for the door because we know that means “we could sit here and I could tell all the corny jokes I’ve thought of today”

lying on my stomach on the stage at church with a friend, talking about a guy and then laughing so hard when he suddenly walked in that we almost choked on our candy

art-ing for the first time in a long time–painting almost one hundred rocks and loving every one of them

do you take me for a suitcase???

sitting on the porch of our friend’s house eating cookies as big as our faces and finding a nest with baby birds

a window seat in an adorable restaurant; a table filled with cannoli and flowers

fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name–you are Mine.

long conversations over mac n cheese with a friend who’s been gone for a year

my lifelong dream coming true–holding my story in my hand, seeing it on the coffee table whenever I walked into a friend or family member’s house, being asked to sign autographs (!). a season of many dreams coming true

sitting around laughing hysterically with my family

mood: googling “cheap plane tickets from atlanta to anywhere” and “how to travel when you’re a broke college student”

pulling over on the side of the road to film a carpool karaoke video with disney throwback tunes with friends, but then finding that none of us had any storage space on our phones

“you’re my new best friend hailey” — from a little girl who attended Rooted

finally having pen pals who actually write back (yay)

realizing how you can have a period of mourning and celebration at the same time (lamentations–I still dare to hope)

not as many days sick in bed as last summer

discovering a bunch of bomb music that played 24/7

always keeping five pairs of shoes in my car because someone got me wet at vbs (ahem) or I got ants in my shoes at a picnic

evenings spent in the backyard, swinging with the puppy and eating ice cream and playing frisbee

there’s a million things I haven’t done but just you wait

we’ll stay young forever

Well this was a fantastic summer and I’m kinda sad to see it go, but also really excited for the upcoming year. What are your favorite memories from summer 2017?

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Writing Lifehacks #2: 5 Tips to Writing your Best Fight Scene Ever

Fun story: a long time ago, I decided to start a series called Writing Lifehacks. I wrote one post in May about antiheros, but then my summer got busy and I never picked it back up. Good news, though–I’m back! And today we’re going to talk about something super fun: writing effective fight scenes.

For a long time, fight scenes were my nemesis. They were hard. They were ugly. I didn’t write that many, but when I did, they basically looked like this:

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same Peter, same

But lately, I’ve realized that shoddy fight scenes are something that can 100% peg you as an amateur lazy writer who doesn’t want to do the research. I’ve been reading up on sword techniques, and where to hit in a fistfight, and types of knives. I’ve been studying fight scenes written by well-established authors whom I admire. I’ve even been applying everything I know from other parts of my life (writing for a CrossFit company, reading about exercise science, working out every day) to the creative writing part of my life (writing novels) because it’s just fascinating to me. AND YES I KNOW I’M A NERD, THANK YOU. But because of all of this, I like to think that my fight scenes have considerably improved (not that I was setting the bar very high to begin with). Anyway, today I bring you #2 in my Writing Lifehacks series: fight scenes. Let’s get started.

Lifehack #1: Recovery time from injuries should be realistic.

This drives me nuts. UNLESS the characters in your story have magical powers that allow them to heal quickly, then you need to remember that they’re going to be in pain and stiff and sore for at least some period of time afterwards (depending on the degree of the injury) and adjust the following scenes accordingly. For instance, I mention in passing that a secondary character in Angelica (my WIP–a dystopian novella) hurts his finger. It’s not a huge part of the plot or anything–I just need to show that my little band of kids is outnumbered by the rebel army. Since I mention that his finger is injured, I make sure to say that he has trouble putting up the tent that night–and, a few days later, he’s still flexing it and grimacing in between some key bits of dialogue.

Lifehack #2: Training, both physical and psychological, takes time (for you and your character).

This drives me nuts too: if you have a character who’s new to your world/new to fighting, they WILL NOT be perfect with just a few days of training. Are there weapons involved? To use those weapons correctly and effectively, years of training would probably be required. Are fists involved? Same thing–lots of training is necessary. There’s a right way and a wrong way to hit people. (not that I would know from personal experience ha) Another thing to consider is the psychological effect that fighting has on your character–typically, people don’t enjoy hurting other people, even if they’re mad at them. This is especially true for people who are new to combat. And if your character faints at the sight of their own blood, what will they do when they see someone else’s? In addition to considering how much knowledge your character realistically has, think about how much you have. I’ve found through my fitness writing ventures that hands-on experience is important in order to be able to write about physical movements effectively, so just go punch all the people who annoy you. Take an archery class or something. Which brings up another sub-point: if you’re writing about weapons, research them. Research them lots. Not only do you need to know how they work, but you need to be able to describe them–no need for long detailed paragraphs about your antagonist’s dagger (unless the fact that it’s bright red is super important to the plot or something), but just get familiar enough with the weapons that you can casually throw in an accurate line or two about their appearance and then just keep right on going.

Lifehack #3: Cut the dialogue.

Unless you’re Voldemort (see below), people don’t have time to hold a conversation in the middle of a battle. Physically, they’re working hard; they’re probably short of breath, and maybe in pain. All of your energy is focused on staying alive. If your characters just really need to talk right then, you can have them gasp out a few words as they run by each other wielding their swords (but don’t run with swords bc that’s not safe k thanks). As a general rule, though, keep it focused on the fight.

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why is this so true

Lifehack #4: Keep your prose short and sweet.

In the same vein, your writing should consist of short and choppy sentences, mimicking the fast-paced intensity of the fight. There’s no time for long paragraphs of dialogue or emotions or philosophizing–just focus on simple but powerful language, strong and interesting verbs, and using all five senses. This will make the reader feel as if they’re really there.

Lifehack #5: Adrenaline works against you.

A lot of writers seem to think that adrenaline helps you during a fight, but adrenaline actually has more negative effects than it does positive ones. Adrenaline is secreted into the bloodstream when people are exposed to something that could be dangerous; it increases your heart rate and blood pressure, preparing you to do one of two things–run away or fight. Other symptoms include shakiness, weakness, a decrease in coordination, and not thinking clearly. Besides those conditions, an adrenaline surge is unfamiliar; it reminds people of the way fear feels, and can make them freeze. So don’t assume that adrenaline will always help your character fight harder and better–it might do just the opposite. Also, keep in mind that hand-to-hand fights don’t last long unless everyone involved is in very good shape and has lots of endurance.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing fight scenes for you? Do you have any lifehacks you’d add to my list? Let’s chat!

Rooted (Tips for Leading a Girls’ Outreach Event)

This past Friday, I launched a ministry called Rooted. Thirty little girls came over to my house for crafts, ice cream, and a Bible study, and it was so so fun and special! Since a few people have asked me how I structured this event, thinking that they’d like to hold one of their own–and since I want to remember what worked and what didn’t so that I can plan accordingly in the future–I thought I’d put up a quick blog post about the night.

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Two weeks ahead of time, I put ads for Rooted on my Instagram, my Facebook, our neighborhood Facebook page, and our homeschool e-loop. I said that first grade all the way up through college girls were invited, because I’m a big believer in big girls loving on the little girls and vice versa; I billed the event as a “craft night” primarily, but I made sure to mention that a Bible study would be happening as well. As I was researching ways to advertise, I read a quote that really stuck with me:

You can’t communicate intimacy through mass media distribution.

I decided to order postcards from Vistaprint.com, and I passed these postcards out at church. I also gave several postcards each to four families in our neighborhood, asking them to pass the postcards on to their friends–which they all did! The rsvp’s began to come, and then they kept coming, and kept coming, and kept coming. I watched in awe (and with a little bit of panic, tbh). I had been thinking that if ten girls came, I’d consider the event a huge success, but I doubted that a whole ten girls would show up–and then I ended up with almost thirty! God blew my little plan out of the water and far exceeded my expectations. Over half of the little girls who came were from my neighborhood. A few friends who are closer to my age were there, as well as a few middle schoolers from our homeschool group, and a handful of girls from my church (which is thirty minutes away from my house, so I knew that not many people would be able to make the drive). I knew seventeen of the girls already, and I met ten of them for the first time Friday night, which was great! The only thing I didn’t like about the event being so large was that I didn’t have time to sit down and have a conversation with each girl who attended.

 

I’m not a super crafty person, but I was very excited to decorate for Rooted (I love flowers), and I spent the whole summer poring over Pinterest for ideas. I used lots of streamers, lots of pink, and lots of flowers–both fake and real!

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Rooted took place from 7-8:30 PM this past Friday evening. When the girls arrived, I had a simple sign-in sheet for the parents to fill out (except I forgot to ask most of them to fill it out haha) with simple contact information, allergies, and asking if it was okay for pictures of their child to be posted on the Internet. The girls began by doing crafts in the garage using the paper, rocks, and (scissors–just kidding) neon paint that I had set out.

 

Then they went inside for an ice cream sundae bar. (My brother Joshua wants everyone to know that he made the brownies.)

 

 

Next, everyone gathered in the living room and I spoke, giving about a twenty-minute devotional. I had been praying about a theme Bible verse for a while this summer; I liked the idea of a flower theme, and I liked the name Rooted, so I finally landed on Ephesians 3:17-19:

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know that this love surpasses understanding–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Since I knew that some of the girls didn’t attend church, the first thing I did was to share a bit of my testimony and how I came to know Jesus, and I briefly laid out the basics of salvation and left an open invitation for anyone to talk to me about having a relationship with Jesus anytime they wanted to. Then I talked about our theme verse, using cups of water to illustrate the concept that if we are a cup and God’s love is water, we need to be overflowing His love onto others. Love is not something that just exists–love is something that does things. I ran through some points about loving others during the school year–encouraging people, being kind, being intentional, and recognizing that we CAN make a difference even if we’re young and even if our life might not always seem very exciting. The two things I wanted the girls to take away were as follows:

1. God calls you beloved and wants a relationship with you.

2. We are set free to love others, and love does things.

 

Our final activity was another craft–we made flower crowns, like Snapchat filters come to life! This was a little chaotic as the wire got tangled and the tape kept getting lost, but the crowns came out super cute (one little girl said that she was going to wear hers every day, and sure enough, she wore it to church this morning).

 

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My next door neighbor is cuter than yours.

So many people helped me put this event together. I spoke to several ladies who work in women’s ministry, running my plans by them, and they had great advice. My mom and brother dog-sat our puppy who hates people; my brother made brownies, my parents contributed financially even though they didn’t have to, and my dad read over my talk. A sweet lady gave me two huge bags full of fake flowers, which saved the day (or at least, my wallet) as I used those flowers for both decorations and the flower crowns. Mrs. Misty and Mrs. Mary were so sweet to come and help out; Cari answered my emergency texts and came over to teach me how to make flower crowns, because my first attempt was a laughable Pinterest vs. reality; and Cari, Anna, and Lydia were a huge help with crowd control at the event.

Several moms told me that Rooted was all their daughters had talked about since they received the invitation. When one mom was dropping her daughter off, she commented on how many people were there, and I told her how surprised I was. She said, “That’s because this is what our neighborhood needed.” I think an important concept of Rooted is that it happens at my house–people who don’t go to church are much more likely to come to your house. I’ve been learning and thinking a lot about the Biblical concept of hospitality this summer, and I’m so glad I could put it into practice. There were several teenagers that I looked up to when I was younger, and I would’ve been over the moon if they had invited me over for something like this–now, I’m over the moon that I can do this for other little girls. This kind of stuff makes me feel so fulfilled and just confirms that I want to spend my life doing missions work with kids here in the States.

I’m planning to have five more Rooted events this school year: a fall theme in early October, a cookie decorating day at the beginning of December, a Valentine’s Day event in February, a spring theme, and then a big celebration at the beginning of next summer with popsicles and tie-dying T-shirts and water balloons. If you live near me and you’re a first grade through college age girl, or you know a first grade through college age girl, please come to Rooted/get them to come to Rooted! If you don’t live close to me, I would absolutely encourage you to pray about how God might use you in your own community to mentor the little girls around you. He confirmed over and over that this event was His, and I can’t wait to see what He does through the many other Rooted events that I plan to hold!

Big Sister Camp 2017 (Cheap, Fun Summer Outings)

This year was Joshua’s and my tenth annual Big Sister Camp (commonly known around our house as BSC). We’ve done this several different ways throughout the years; at first we’d take one week out of the summer and fill every day with fun activities (stuffed into an extremely detailed schedule–as in, “8:55-9:00: walk to the backyard for the next activity” kind of detailed–that I would labor over for weeks beforehand). Last year, we did one activity every day. This year, BSC was one day each week. If you’re looking for fun ideas of things to do with siblings or friends that won’t break the bank, keep reading, because I’m very happy with how both the fun factor and the $$ of our summer turned out!

BSC Day 1: June 2nd

It was National Donut Day, so we kicked things off by going to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast. Then we came home and played Yahtzee. Total cost: $5.

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BSC Day 2: June 8th

We made KitKat cookies and then laid on Joshua’s bed with the puppy (whom we actually got on day 1 of BSC!) and watched an I Love Lucy on YouTube. Total cost: free.

BSC Day 3: June 15th

Water day! We played with water balloons in the yard, sprayed each other with the hose, and then went to the pool. Total cost: free.

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BSC Day 4: June 30th

We went to Panera with just the two of us on the way home from somewhere, but because Joshua hates Panera (how could anyone hate Panera?), this probably doesn’t count because BSC activities have to be something that we’ll both enjoy. Anyway, we then watched a Destination Truth, blew bubbles for the dog to chase, did Pop-Its, and made pan cookies. We were going to go outside and stargaze, but it was too cloudy. Total cost: $3 (I had a gift card to Panera).

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BSC Day 5: July 6th

A carnival randomly appeared in the parking lot of the outlet mall near our house, so obviously, we went to it! We only rode one ride because it was so expensive, and also because Joshua was looking pretty green near the end of it. He was like a walking Nike ad that day (he is every day, honestly), so we went in the UnderArmour store just to spite them. Then we went to Culver’s and got custard. Total cost: $13.

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BSC Day 6: July 15th

Around this time I found out about the new worldwide trend: people paint rocks (often with an inspiring or encouraging message) and then hide them out in public for others to find. When you find a rock, you can post a picture to my county’s Facebook page; then you can either keep the rock or re-hide it. Joshua and I painted several rocks and then drove around hiding them–we even found a rock while we were out. I love this project so much that I’ve painted and hidden many rocks since then. Total cost: $15.

 

BSC Day 7: July 18th

A restaurant near us had recently been voted to have the best cinnamon rolls in our county, so we went to try them out. Then we went swimming, although it wasn’t very successful because I swear that cinnamon roll weighed three pounds and I couldn’t float if I tried. (I really regretted breakfast–I spent the afternoon sleeping off a huge headache.) Total cost: $15.

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BSC Day 8: July 27th-28th

This was spread over two days: I bought us fro-yo on the way back from somewhere, and then the next morning we went to the batting cages (which is something we do multiple times a week, but whatever). Total cost: $7.

BSC Day 9: August 9th

The grand finale: one of our favorite-ever musicals, Newsies, was in theaters again (click here for a post I wrote about Newsies back in February), so obviously we HAD to go see it. We stopped by Great American Cookie, hid some rocks, and then obsessively fangirled over Ben Cook’s dancing and Kara Lindsay’s general flawlessness and Jeremy Jordan’s adorkable-ness and complete lack of dancing skills. (But who needs to dance when you can sing like him??) Total cost: $20 (for me–we each paid for our own ticket).

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Today’s headline: bagel puppy is the new King of New York.

An entire summer of fun for just $80? Um, yes please! I’m all about saving money, and I accomplished that this summer (wellll… at least in the way of BSC, haha) and we still had a ton of fun. Win-win. Hopefully this post inspired you to go do something fun with your siblings!

What are your favorite cheap and fun summer activities?

July: Month in Review

At the beginning of this month, I said it was going to be a month of insanely hard workouts and lots and lots of writing–and it did not disappoint! (Well, at least not until the middle of the month, when my health took a huge nosedive. But after returning to a strict diet, things got a little better.) Let’s recap!

The month kicked off with lots of Independence Day festivities: a party at my friend Laura’s house, an evening at the fairgrounds to see fireworks with all of our church friends, and my dad and I visited a Hindu temple near our house on the 4th (that’s a whole separate blog post). We went to a state park with our friends Mrs. Donna and Leah and then hung out at their house; I spontaneously went to Dahlonega one afternoon and had a photoshoot with my friends Brooke and Cari; and I went to Cleveland for the day with my friends Anna and Lydia. I hung out at the batting cages with some friends who play baseball, we had a church picnic + softball game, our friends Mrs. Misty and Thomas came over to swim, and I had lunch at Panera with my friend Andrea (whom I haven’t seen in a year because she went to college in Texas!). We went to a wildlife preserve and to the aquatic center with the kids my mom keeps. I met my friend Brooke N at Panera to work on our NaNo novels, and my friends Cari and Jesse and I went to a Hillsong Young & Free concert (I way overestimated my physical abilities here, but HILLSONG UNITED RANDOMLY SHOWED UP TOO I WAS THIRTY FEET FROM TAYA SMITH so who cares) and then Cari slept over. That looks like a lot, but it was interspersed with lazy mornings in bed with the puppy and long light evenings reading on the couch and laughing with my family. I was also so SO excited to get a new camera this month; I took photography classes in middle school and loved it, but I didn’t have time to pursue photography during high school, so I’m looking forward to doing so this year with my beautiful Canon Rebel T6. (Seriously, I’m in love with it.)

 

 

 

This month I’m…

Reading: Eight Cousins, Louisa May Alcott. The Stranger in the Woods, Michael Finkel. The Moonflower Vine, Jetta Carleton. Jack and Jill, Louisa May Alcott. When Nobody Was Watching: My Hard-Fought Journey to the Top of the Soccer World, Carli Lloyd. Taking Flight, Michaela DePrince. Running for my Life, Lopez Lomong (reread). Game Seven, Paul Volponi. Love Does, Bob Goff (so good). Sports Psychology for Youth Coaches, Ronald E. Smith. The Boy on the Wooden Box, Leon Leyson.

Listening to (I’M VERY VERY PROUD OF MY SUMMER PLAYLIST SO YOU SHOULD ABSOLUTELY LOOK UP ALL OF THESE SONGS, especially the first three because they’re absolute gold): Young Forever, High Valley. Celeste, Ezra Vine. Live While we’re Young, Johnnyswim. Thank God for the Summertime, Ben Rector. Call Me Maybe, Carly Rae Jepsen (no shame). Dumb, Sean Kingston (Disney throwback tunes for the win amirite). Every Little Thing, Louisa Wendorff. American Beauty, Drew Holcomb. Falling for You, Johnnyswim. Dancing in the Dawn, Tossing Copper. Band of Gold, The Gray Havens. Fireflies, Colin and Caroline. Good Company, Jake Owen. Flowers in Your Hair, the Lumineers. Ends of the Earth, Lord Huron. Never Come Back Again, Austin Plaine. Saints out of Sailors, Flannel Graph. I Like You, Ben Rector. SO MANY GOOD TUNES. This was an A+++ month for music.

Watching: Bringing up Bates. A message to my fellow college age friends by Sadie Robertson (I procrastinated watching this forever, but WOW it changed my life go watch it). U.S. Classic.

Writing: I OFFICIALLY BECAME AN AUTHOR THIS MONTH AT THE RIPE OLD AGE OF EIGHTEEN. WHAT EVEN IS LIFE. Go here to buy my debut children’s novel! Apart from applying for a lot of blogging jobs, I didn’t do much writing this month–just focused on the CrossFit company I work for (I have SO much fun writing those articles), and on Florida Market, my NaNo novel (I ended up with 16k, way short of my goal. Oops). I had a devotional published here, and I’m working on several interviews/collabs (some regarding my book) that I’ll post soon. I also just did a lot of thinking about how this is a season of dreams coming true. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer. Now–much sooner in life than I had expected–I’m a blogger, an AUTHOR, and a professional freelance writer. How cool is that?! I can’t believe it, honestly, but I’m so grateful.

 

Loving: WHY IN THE WORLD AREN’T BOOKS RATED LIKE MOVIES ARE?????!!! // encouragement + neat t-shirts [Day 6 of NaNo] by Julia (The Barefoot Gal). On Coming out of Depression & Experiencing the Faithfulness of God by Amanda (Scattered Journal Pages). Lost Girl by Sean (Sean of the South). Is It Possible For Introverts To Be Confident? by Abbie (Abbiee). {DREAMS AND CALLINGS} the best is yet to come by Audrey (Audrey Caylin). God Can Resurrect Dreams (When long-term illness makes them die) by Sara (R5:3-5). (Don’t) talk to strangers? by Sam (Sam’s Grand Adventure).

I blogged four times this month: Abbie’s Early Writings Tag!, I’M OFFICIALLY AN AUTHOR WHAT + buy my book and join my launch team!, Camp NaNo Survival Guide: July 2017, and July: Joy (Fruit of the Spirit Project, Month #2)

Grateful for: Someone in my town asked on Facebook for birthday cards to be sent to her autistic son, who was checking the mail and coming away disappointed every day; hundreds of people responded, even some of you lovely blog readers, and we ended up in my town’s paper! Redoing my bulletin board. Painting, hiding, and finding rocks (the new worldwide trend). Friends who go grocery shopping with you. All the laughter I got from convincing my dad I thought Josh Dobbs (a former UT football player) was a Russian hockey player. Planning Rooted (I am SO excited for this: if you live near me, check my social media for details about this Bible study/craft night, happening August 11!). Making carpool karaoke videos to old Disney songs. My sweet friend Kat and the Truth-filled letters she sent me this month. Planning the upcoming year.

What did you do this month?