December: Faithfulness + Mini Month in Review

For my Fruit of the Spirit project, this month focused on faithfulness. Faithfulness is really similar to loyalty, in a lot of ways; if you think about God’s faithfulness to us, He shows it by always staying close and guiding us through trials, so we should display that same kind of loyalty to Him and to others. When I’m faithful/loyal to someone, I want them to be able to depend on me. And being faithful to God is also about obeying His commands.

I won’t talk about everything I did this month, because you were here for most of it! Click here to go to day 1 of Blogmas, and then you can click through to the rest if you missed any. My highlights include selling my book at the Blairsville Holiday Stop & Shop, having an amazing adventure in the snow with Madeleine, having the kids’ Christmas musical at church, being in a movie with my brother and best friend, working working working like crazy (+ getting a big long-term content writing job), and having an amazing Christmas day. It was such a full month, in a very good way.

This last week after Christmas was filled with lots of reading and lots of playing Exploding Kittens (a super fun card game that Joshua received). Besides a trip to the doctor and a trip to look at Christmas lights with my dad (+ Joshua and I going to the batting cages today), I haven’t left the house in a week, which has been SO nice because I was gone basically every single other day in December! I organized my bathroom, room, and books (all 325 of the ones in my room), and later in the week I got back to work with writing/VO/working out. I also spent a lot of time planning my upcoming month and the upcoming year (I love planning, lol). And today my grandmother is coming to live with us for a couple of months as she continues to recover from her surgery. Also, I became a Goodreads author this week–please take a moment to go mark my book as “want to read,” or, if you’ve read it, leave a review! It helps me so much. (I also noticed this morning that an ebook I wrote for a client is on Goodreads as well, so feel free to mark it too.)

This month I’m…

Reading: Off Balance, Dominique Moceanu (reread). Gold Medal Winter and Gold Medal Summer, Donna Freitas (rereads). The Long Winter and Little Town on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder (rereads). Since You’ve Been Gone and The Unexpected Everything, Morgan Matson (rereads). Uninvited, Lysa TerKeurst. Little Men, Louisa May Alcott (reread). 9 total, and I read 135 books total this year.

Writing: This is not at all a comprehensive list of what I did. Blogmas impacted my record-keeping in a bad way. But, I did submit fiction to five magazines/contests, pitch three magazines, and apply for 14 jobs. I had a devotional published here, and a couple of guest posts published on friends’ blogs: Suffering in Silence and 2017: Set Free. I was also interviewed at the Modern Witnesses blog.

Listening to: Do You Love Me?, Miracle of Miracles, and Matchmaker, Fiddler on the Roof. Once Upon a December, Anastasia. World’s Best Friend, Amelie. Prologue, Great Comet. Up on the Housetop, Pentatonix. Drummer Boy, Justin Bieber (honestly, not even ashamed). Jingle Bell Rock, Bobby Helms. Other assorted Christmas tunes. You and I, JohnnySwim. Time Stood Still, Adeline Hill. This is Me, The Greatest Showman (this video is ELECTRIFYING, wow. Please go watch–these amazing creatives giving it everything they’ve got for their passion project of seven years just gives me chills).

Wow what a month! I had so much fun blogging it all. What was the highlight of your December?

 

Blogmas 2017 Day 25

Last night, I laid in bed thinking about how a book that wrote was wrapped up under multiple Christmas trees, waiting to be opened–and how cool that is!

I had told Joshua to wait until eight to wake me up today, but then a friend texted at 6:30 to wish me Merry Christmas, so I gave up on sleeping–but I did stay in bed with Sophie until eight. Opening presents was SO fun! We tried to make it last as long as possible. I gave my dad a satirical journalistic article I wrote about his life, plus a rock that I painted with the Atlanta Braves logo. I gave my brother some stamps from all over the world (ordered from Etsy) for his stamp collection, and a rock I painted with the Hamilton logo. I gave my mom a painting of Sophie done by a lady in my town (and also her favorite tweet, in her stocking).

 

 

In my stocking I received lots of candy, socks (one pair with Sophie’s face on them), EOS lip balm, and paint. From my immediate family I received a Harry Potter calendar, two wooden signs for my room, a dystopian card game called Coup, and five books: Uninvited, Little Men, Mark My Words, A Writer’s Guide to Harry Potter, and The Emotion Thesaurus. Then I went shopping on Amazon with money from extended family (which was SO fun, because I don’t really shop for myself). I bought some notecards with watercolor Bible verses on the fronts, a Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit game (can’t stop screaming about how excited I am about this), the Hamilton CD for my car, and four more books: The Blood Race, Wired for Story, Looking for God in Harry Potter, and All the Light we Cannot See.

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Sophie was pretty good this morning–she loves to eat paper, but she had new squeaky tennis balls in her stocking, so she was okay. Eventually she did get banished, though. With six balls, she reminded us of this video (so now Joshua and I have spent the evening laughing hysterically at dog vines).

 

My aunt, uncle, and cousin came for lunch. We had our typical meal–ham, sweet potato souffle, baked pineapple, chicken and dumplings, rolls, green beans, corn, chocolate pie, and cherry dump cake. Then we visited for a few hours and had such a nice time. Joshua and I looked through the stamps I gave him and built his new Lego set. When our company left, I was exhausted, and I read a couple of my new books until we ate leftovers for dinner. It couldn’t have been a better Christmas.

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Thanks for sticking around for all 25 days of Blogmas! I was looking forward to Blogmas all year, and I’m sad to see it go. But I have lots of exciting new content coming up. I’ll probably be posting bi-weekly the next few months; I’ll finish up my Fruit of the Spirit project (next installment coming this Sunday, along with a mini month in review), I might review a few books, and I definitely have some rants in store. My family got one at the dinner table tonight that they didn’t even ask for: in a nutshell, it drives me crazy when people want something, but they aren’t actively DOING ANYTHING ABOUT IT. If you want something, go get it. You have to work for it. At the end of this year, it’s an amazing feeling to think about all the things I wanted at this time last year, and to see how they have now come to pass. (Hey, I’m still in a bestseller contest through Sunday, so go buy my book! Winners will be announced in early January, and I fully expect my name to be at the top–but that can’t happen without your help.)

The next couple of days will be filled with reading and card games and organizing projects, and then I’ll slowly get back into the swing of writing work. We’re also preparing for a transition–more on that this weekend. It has been a crazy great December and I’m so glad you came along with me!

Here’s what I did last year on December 25th. What did you do today?

Blogmas 2017 Day 24

We didn’t have Sunday School this morning–just church. But even though I got to sleep in, I still felt completely horrible all morning. It’s been a long week of going places, staying up late, and eating sugar, so I need to stop doing those things, haha. It wasn’t a great morning in many ways.

We had refreshments after the service. Someone I haven’t seen in years said, regarding my book and my other writing exploits, “I’m so proud of you! You figured out what you wanted to do, and you went out and did it.” Which was so nice because–yes. Exactly. “If you want something, go get it,” is a quote I live by.

I felt especially awful by the time we got home and I just wanted my bed. By the time I woke up (and watched a Julia Robertson vlog) I felt much better. Joshua and I tried to make a gingerbread tree (expectations vs reality); I live streamed it on my Instagram, so you can go watch the video until approximately 4 PM tomorrow (Christmas day), when it will disappear. Then I journaled until dinnertime.

(I win) (Have I given an appreciation shout out to all my amazing blog friends yet this holiday season? They’re amazing)

We had the most amazing fun dinner… ham and cheese pinwheels, chocolate covered strawberries, Tostitos and Rotel dip, strawberries and grapes to go in the cheesecake dip, white chocolate covered pretzels, carrots, and cookies. It was so delicious!

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After dinner, we sat under the Christmas tree to read The Cajun Night before Christmas, the Christmas story from Luke, sing a few Christmas songs, and tease each other about presents. Then my mom and I cleaned the bathroom while the boys made a cake, and now we’re watching The Christmas Story because it’s not Christmas Eve if we don’t.

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Today is the best day of the year… I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas!

Here’s what I did last year on December 24th. What did you do today?

Blogmas 2017 Day 23

This morning I finished up the Christmas project I started last night, and now I’m completely ready for Monday!

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We’ve almost taught Sophie this month to get excited and run to the fireplace when we say “Santa.” This morning my mom was trying to take her on a walk, but Sophie was so excited-slash-obnoxious that she kept biting my mom’s shoelaces and untying them.

Today’s workout was a short resistance band video and then a quick kettlebell circuit of my own planning, making sure to focus on low reps and low cardio–it went far better than yesterday’s. Then I got sidetracked with some old choir music.

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After lunch I sent a LOI to a healthcare marketing company, painted a Christmas tree cutting and took a cute Christmas picture for Instagram, tried to learn how to use my new curling iron, and finally made myself do laundry so my brother and I could watch a TV show highlighting the MLB best plays of the year. Also, we had a Harry and David’s box delivered (from my grandpa) with all kinds of cute cookies!

We went out to look at Christmas lights in various neighborhoods after dinner. We thought we were doing something nice by letting Sophie come with us instead of leaving her home alone, but she sat there trembling for an hour and then threw up three times. So it wasn’t nice for any of us.

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I’ve been thinking about majors and school today. My plan recently has been to get my associate’s degree in sports management within the next year or two (online, so I can keep writing and making money). However, now I’m rethinking that. Although it wouldn’t hurt, I don’t really need a degree to coach softball… and I’ve already established that I don’t need a writing degree to write. So now I’m considering getting an associate’s in marketing or something. It would be a good skill to pair with my writing experience. Spanish is still an option, too; there are always jobs open for people who speak Spanish. I know I want to write and have a ministry through softball, I just don’t know what degree would help me do both of those things to the fullest and make money! And I have so many interests that I can’t narrow it down. Oh well, we will see what happens.

Tomorrow is the best day of the year!

Here’s what I did last year on December 23rd. What did you do today?

Blogmas 2017 Day 22

I’ve probably talked about Julia Robertson here before, but ugh I just love her so much. If you’re looking for uplifting YouTube content and you’re frustrated by Vlogmas videos where people seem to worship Christmas instead of Christ–like Julia said in yesterday’s video, which was so encouraging–you should definitely check her out. She’s my favorite ever–desires to follow Christ, is such a sweet genuine person, and she has a job that I would absolutely love to have one day! (Currently she writes content for Adventures in Missions.)

A small peek into my journal from this morning (I do write out prayers and meditations of my own, but more often I will just copy down things I have read online so I can save them and think about them further):

“If you dwell on your own feelings about things rather than dwelling on the faithfulness and love of God, you’re likely to have a very bad day… but dwelling on Him is always safe.” (Elisabeth Elliott)

“Jesus knew deep shame. He despised it because He saw beyond it. Shame was powerless to define Christ. It could not influence Him or control His future, because He saw joy beyond it.” (Desiring God)

“We count down to Christmas… but before Him, people counted UP. There was no end in sight to their waiting. But He had not forgotten them. Suddenly, hope was restored.” (Instagram)

“CHARA–joy. Ancient Hebrew had a variety of words to express happiness. Joy is a key theme in the whole Bible. But obviously, our world has been corrupted. Joy is our attitude because of our hope in His love. When Moses led the Israelites to freedom, the first thing they did was sing for joy. (Psalm 105:43) Joy in the wilderness. (One of my many favorite Isaiah verses. “Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away…”) Joy in the anticipation of their future redemption. The good news of Jesus brings GREAT JOY. The early Christian communities were known for being full of joy, even when they were persecuted. The joy of faith/of the Lord (Paul). Don’t suppress sorrow–but yet, rejoice. Our loss will not be the final word.” (Word study video by the Bible Project)

Joshua and Dad were gone all day. I pitched a magazine, entered a fiction contest (which had the most beautiful name–Celestial Musings), sent some emails, brainstormed for a nutrition website I’m blogging for (can you spell ashwagandha root tea? Because now I can). I also cried about my favorite scene of my favorite movie (hint: it’s the ending of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince). It’s never a bad time for some Harry Potter laughs, so here you go (click to enlarge and then scroll through):

After lunch I cleaned my car out–I’ve been living out of it lately more than ever, and I was getting tired of telling people “just move all the stuff,” especially because I often have three kids in the backseat. Then I cleaned my room, which took forever and was exhausting and required much JohnnySwim Christmas music. I tried to do this thirty-minute FitnessBlender kettlebell workout, but I’ve never actually used a kettlebell before, I was still recovering from my busy week + not working out for seven days, and I was so dizzy and fatigued halfway through that I just collapsed. Then we watched The Brady Bunch, ate dinner, I spent time looking at different churches + working on a Christmas project, and now I’m off to end the evening with another Julia Robertson vlog!

Here’s what I did last year on December 22nd. What did you do today?

Blogmas 2017 Day 21 (finally got my Hogwarts letter)

Last night a cheesecake from my grandpa was delivered to our house, but we didn’t see it until this morning! I started my day super exhausted with some McKenna Kelley vlogs. Then I listened to Amelie and Great Comet and Christmas music on the radio during my long sleepy drive to meet Hannah for a lunch-and-shopping day. We started at the bookstore, of course, and then had quesadillas at a Mexican place; I also had jugo fresca de guava, which was exciting because I haven’t found many places in the US that have jugo fresca. Also, Hannah gave me the BEST Christmas gift–a stuffed owl bearing an official Hogwarts letter and a list of supplies needed by first-years. So cool! Click through the pictures to see how realistic my Hogwarts letter looks.

My grandpa had sent me some Christmas money this week. I bought a 20 lb kettlebell, some resistance bands, a gingerbread tree-making kit, and a curling iron. We ran into a lady who used to go to my church, and Hannah’s sister joined us at Target. 

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In the afternoon I tried to be productive, but I was just too exhausted, physically and emotionally. I ended up in bed, slept for a while, missed dinner, and could NOT feel my legs when I woke up. But now I’ve eaten (including cheesecake), I’m going to make Christmas cards for my out of state friends, and we’re all watching Fixer Upper. 

I have this nagging feeling to give myself time off until Christmas–I’ve been so busy I haven’t even had time to be excited for Christmas yet–but I can’t. I just have too much to do. If I can be productive tomorrow and Saturday, though, I won’t do anything on Christmas Eve and will also hopefully take a few days off after Christmas.

Here’s what I did last year on December 21st. What did you do today?

Blogmas 2017 Day 20 (I WAS IN A MOVIE WITH MY BEST FRIEND)

I’ve been up for SIXTEEN HOURS now and I am dying of tiredness. I don’t know how I am even typing this. But this was SUCH a fun day.

Here’s what I did last year on December 20th. What did you do today?

Blogmas 2017 Day 19 (so much driving + work Christmas party)

Started out the day with two Desiring God articles: Lift the Heavy Burden of Shame–How to Care for Parents of Prodigals and Pray Them Home–Three Prayers for Prodigal Children.

When I added things up, I drove for about three hours today… but it was okay, because I had the Amelie and Great Comet soundtracks! I had a counseling appointment, and then I went to our youth pastor’s house and visited with Erin (his wife) for a while and ate lunch.

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I stopped by home for a snack and to try to figure out some PDF forms with my dad. Then I headed to work. I did some social media and advertising before the kids got there; the kids dragged in slowly, so we all just sat around and told funny stories about them. I worked with two second-grade girls today when they finally arrived, and besides a lengthy meltdown involving one of them lying on the floor under a table sobbing… it was a good day. We saved the last thirty minutes for our Christmas party–JR, a high school tutor, brought supplies for the kids to decorate cookies and play a game. Want to see some adorable pictures of my amazing kids? Of course you do! Click here to see the Facebook album I created, and drop our page a like while you’re there.

My caption today on my personal social media (Instagram @haileyh412):

Eight months ago, I began looking for a job at a local nonprofit that works with kids. When I looked at the pictures of the kids on the Next Generation Focus Facebook page, I knew it was the one. Not only do I get to tutor amazing and hilarious kids on a daily basis, but I also do grant writing, advertising, marketing, and social media (now I’m the one posting cute pictures of the kids). Besides writing, my future plan is to start a nonprofit where kids can play softball and baseball at a high level for a low cost + hear about Jesus, and my job at NGF makes me feel like I’m taking huge strides towards that dream. Ending my first full semester here with a grateful heart.

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A concept that has been on my mind lately is being “for” someone. There’s a church near me whose motto is #ForGwinnett, and I just LOVE that. There is so much power in telling someone that you are for them. God is for us, so why shouldn’t we be for others? I am for my friends. I am for these beautiful kids I work with. I am for my city, my nation, and my world.

Here’s what I did last year on December 19th. What did you today?

Blogmas 2017 Day 18

Today I had a guest post published on my friend Sara’s blog. Go check it out!

I was so completely exhausted this morning. I couldn’t move when I woke up because the nerve pain was so bad, especially in my legs. But the big long-term writing job I spent so much time applying for recently? I got it!! It’s been a few months since I’ve had steady money from writing. I’m pumped. (And I’m remembering how much I hate signing W9 forms and independent contractor agreements, because we don’t have a working scanner.)

I had to spend the morning at the shop getting my headlight fixed. I planned Wednesday’s Christmas party and journaled/read my Bible. Some journal thoughts:

“My heart craves so much more than to just exist. It craves to exist LOUDLY, love abundantly”…”I have no reason to doubt Him. He is forming me for beautiful things. I am growing. Wonderful things are coming”…I am SO EXCITED for the rest of my life < and so excited I can truly say that…”It’s not a wasteland just because I labeled it one for so long”…From today’s Advent devo: “humility is not thinking of yourself as less. It is never forgetting the fact that it is Jesus who made you more.” This meditation and prayer (“A Private Litany of Humility, p 87) is EXCELLENT. I need to pray it every day.

By the time I got home, it was basically time to leave again—I went in to work two hours early to learn about grant writing. It’s a skill that will be really useful both as a freelancer and when I have my own nonprofit one day, so I’m really grateful I could learn about it. And it’s really not that hard! After that I did some advertising work and then hung out until the kids got there. I took the three fifth-grade girls today.

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Here’s what I did last year on December 18th. What did you do today?

Blogmas 2017 Day 17 (show day)

I had a guest post published on An Ordinary Pen today. Go check it out, and check out the rest of Chelsea’s blog!

Because of being tired after the festival and because of the snow, today was the first time I’ve been to Sunday morning church this month. Mornings are so hard because of my chronic fatigue; getting up today was horrible, haha. My Sunday School teacher (“college and career class”) wasn’t there, so I went in my dad’s Sunday school class because he has been saying I would like it, and I really liked it. The service was nice; it included lots of Christmas music and a Skype call with our missionaries in Colombia.

After lunch (where the conversation/argument mostly centered around how guys never observe and remember important details) we all sat in the living room. I was having a lot of trouble not falling asleep, but I emailed a few magazines and wrote a letter and read my book. Then Joshua and I had to leave mid-afternoon for rehearsal.

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We had a good rehearsal, then ate and hung out for a while, and then people started to arrive.

Every year, we think we aren’t going to pull things together in time… but every year, we always do. This year the musical was titled In a Galilee Far, Far Away, and it focuses on the crew of a spaceship. The crew time-travels back to the time of Jesus’ birth, with a few accidental detours along the way. Joshua played Otto, the ship’s captain. The rest of the crew included a navigator who is always lost (kind of like me), and a robot. The crew picks up a few “hep cats” from the 1950’s when they travel back to the wrong time period.

There were only a few small mistakes that were quickly covered; there were lots of lines nailed and songs loudly sung.

It was a great evening! I was thinking on the way to church that I need to write out the names of all the children I’ve had the opportunity to invest in on a regular basis during the past couple of years through church, nannying/babysitting, coaching softball, my job at the nonprofit, etc–the number is probably up towards one hundred. But these twelve–this was our sixth musical together, and they’ll always be my favorites.

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I’m overwhelmingly sleepy and I have a huge headache. This coming week is shaping up to be the busiest of the year, and tonight I noticed one of my headlights is out–so that’s how I’ll start my Monday morning. Yay. Hopefully I survive the week…

Here’s what I did last year on December 17th. What did you do today?