January 2018 Monthly Wrap-Up

January was characterized by transition; my grandmother came to live with us while she’s recovering from surgery. I officially left my home church (not completely full-time though) and began visiting around for something new. I invested a ton of time in a HUGE project (it’s literally my heart and soul) that’s coming March 1st. I became an official employee of the nonprofit I work for and tweaked my schedule a little–I work more hours a week than last year, but less days per week. I was asked to be the head coach of an 8U softball team this spring–wow, what a dream come true!! I went to way too many doctor’s appointments (which included fun stuff like my neuro making me drink baking soda every day). I also had a stomach virus for the first time in years and y’all, I would rather have D.I.E.D. a slow and painful death.

Fun stuff: I saw The Greatest Showman twice (AHHHHHHH MY LOVE FOR PASEK AND PAUL’S MUSIC IS ENDLESS), went to an outdoor mall with my brother and our friends Marshall and Thomas, went to Huddle House with a younger friend from church, had a photoshoot with my friend Jordan, went to a weekend choir festival with the youth choir from my home church (click here to watch a video I made of the weekend), and hung out at a cute coffee shop with my friend Reyvin. I also found out that my grandpa is taking my aunt, uncle, Joshua, and me on an Alaskan cruise this summer!!!

 

This month I’m…

Reading: Under the Lilacs, Louisa May Alcott (reread). The Blood Race, K.A. Emmons (TOO TOO DANG EPIC). A Darker Shade of Magic, A Gathering of Shadows, and A Conjuring of Light, V.E. Schwab (W.O.W. SHE IS MY NEW FAVORITE AUTHOR). Red Queen and Glass Sword, Victoria Aveyard (reread). The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern (reread). All the Little Things, Brooke Norris (my irl friend!!). Lion, Saroo Brierly. 10 total.

 

I also made a bookstagram and you should go follow it–nothing fancy, just me fangirling.

Listening to: Moments to Memories, Adeline Hill. THE ENTIRE GREATEST SHOWMAN SOUNDTRACK, HUNDREDS OF TIMES. Also the Anastasia soundtrack, and Seventeen from Tuck, and Stuff We Did from Up (excuse me while I stare out the window at the rain and think melancholy thoughts about life).

Loving: What if my clothing purchases are contributing to someone else’s poverty? by Amy. Surrendered Dreams by Eliza (Window into My World). Why Kids Books Should Be a Little Sad by Kate DiCamillo (for Time). Across the Globe by Elizabeth Anne (chasing moonlight).

I blogged twice this month: Fighting Injustice Without Hate (I feel like the title doesn’t really address what the post is actually about, but go read it because this is really important to me), and Fruit of the Spirit Project: January (Gentleness).

Watching: Amazing Race. American Ninja Warrior. Julia Robertson’s road trip vlogs. JessetheReader. Interviews with the cast of The Death Cure.

Writing: In the way of fiction, I began working on my dystopian novel Angelica again and wrote about 12k words, doing lots of important expanding; it’s now at exactly 40k, the end is in sight, and I remembered how much I LOVE this story. I’m also writing one short story a week this year. The first four were titled Circus Runaway, When You Left, Above the City, and Rain in Paris. I submitted fiction to 18 magazines/contests, and I also took a course on Show, Don’t Tell from Excelsior Writing School that was extremely fun and helpful! (Over on my Facebook, I’m doing a flash giveaway with cute bookmarks–and while you’re there, check out the cookies I’m selling to help Sara).

In the way of freelancing, I technically started a big new job this month, but haven’t actually gotten any work yet. It’s a weird, unpredictable process. *shrugs* So I filled my time applying to 18 jobs and pitching 17 magazines/websites. I also joined the Reckless Abandon blog team, and had a phone interview for a dream fitness writing job. I was asked to develop a writing curriculum and I wish I had time. I had a devotional published here, a health and wellness article published here, and another devotional published here. And Hanne interviewed me!

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Grateful for: This little boy in the movie theater who made best friends with us and then was breakdancing and had the whole theater clapping for him. That it snowed again… but also, getting fro-yo and going to the park on a 70 degree day. Being used by God to encourage a friend. The reaction of a friend’s younger sister when I ran into her at work. A fun (and well-paying) voiceover job where my reading of the script will be piped through the building at an escape room-type thing in an amusement park. Also I realized that I love Chinese food this month which I never knew before!

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This conversation is worth noting:

Today Joshua ate a chocolate that had “Kahlua” listed as the flavor. Mom pointed out that that was a kind of alcohol. Joshua (who’s twelve) said, “Drat! I was trying to stay sober. There goes my dry January.”

Big takeaway from January: it’s not a wasteland just because I labeled it one. 

What did you do this month? Have you read V.E. Schwab’s books? Are you having snow, or 70 degree weather, or both? Tell me everything!

Fruit of the Spirit Project: January (Gentleness)

“Let your gentleness be evident to all.” –Philippians 4:5

Gentleness is such a nice concept, such a nice trait. Matthew 11:29–Jesus is gentle. He connects gentleness with humility–gentleness is wanting to humbly help other people. Meek and lowly are also related words. Jesus was gentle to the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). God is overwhelmingly gentle with us. Being gentle doesn’t mean we should be a doormat; we still need to be strong in our beliefs. However, it does mean we should be loving when we express said beliefs to others.

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this picture is totally unrelated to this post but I miss that time last month when Georgia became Narnia

We’re coming up on our final month of the Fruit of the Spirit project: self-control. In February, I’m not going to eat any refined sugar except my birthday dessert, and I’m only going to allow myself to visit each social media platform that I’m on one time per day for 15 minutes each time (unless I’m working–for example, scheduling Facebook posts for the nonprofit I work for). Sort of like a mini-Lent. Feel free to join me!

What did you learn about gentleness this month? How do you plan to work on having self-control in February?

Fighting Injustice Without Hate

If you’ve been living under a rock, this week Larry Nassar, USAG (USA Gymnastics) doctor who sexually abused hundreds of girls, was sentenced to 175 years in prison.

I’ve been an avid gymnastics fan for several years. I remember seeing Nassar on TV or in photos from every event. I remember when the first accusations started to surface, and USAG brushed them under the rug. I remember when the more prominent gymnasts, the ones whom you’ve probably heard of even if you aren’t a gymnastics fan, started to speak out and could no longer be ignored. All of this led up to last week, when over 150 athletes testified in court. Among them was Jordyn Wieber, one of the first gymnasts I ever fell in love with and started following. I cried when I watched her video. Something of this magnitude is difficult for anyone to hear about, but so many of the survivors’ sentiments resonated with me personally.

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This is basically all that has been in my Twitter newsfeed, and I was incensed about the whole thing. But when I started to find myself thinking the same kind of sentiments about Nassar that I saw on Twitter–which I won’t repeat because they’re so ugly–I was brought up short. As a Christian, how should I respond to this issue? I hate what Nassar did and I am all about empowering the survivors and educating the next generation to prevent any child ever being abused again–but is it okay to hate Nassar himself?

The Bible says no. (Luke 6:27-28, Matthew 5:44, Matthew 7:12, Romans 12:14, Proverbs 20:22) I know it’s an easy call for me to make, because I didn’t stand up in that courtroom and speak. If you’re going to hate someone, Nassar is an easy target and a worthy one. I will never condone his actions or attempt to justify them. But my life as a Jesus follower is supposed to be about love. If you’ve been following this case as well, and maybe you’re not a Christian and plan to continue hating Nassar with a vengeance, I am 100% not preaching at you. Please do not get the impression that I’m saying “everyone has to love child molesters!” I am saying, though, that I was personally convicted this week about the way I was approaching the whole situation. I can be passionate about injustice, yeah–but without hating its perpetrators.

Christians are supposed to abhor what is evil (Romans 12:9), and if that isn’t clear by now, I do. I completely abhor what happened to these 150+ women; I abhor any kind of abuse, and I hurt for anyone who has a story of it. But we’re also commanded to love. So simple, and yet so difficult when you hear about someone like Nassar.

Empowering girls has been a theme in my life lately and I am all about it. I was making a birthday card this week for an elementary school girl in my life; she speaks five languages and translates for her parents. Their financial situation is so bad, they couldn’t even buy her a cake for her recent birthday. I told her I think she’s a fantastic writer and artist and I know she’s going to go far in life, because I don’t think anyone has ever told her that before. Then recently I was having a conversation with a girl at church who complained that her “boyfriend” (insert me rolling my eyes into my head because she’s in FIFTH GRADE) won’t stop hugging her even though she asked him to stop, and I told her that she needs to get an adult to back her up because no one should touch her if she doesn’t want them to. And also, I’ve been asked to be the head coach of an 8U softball team this spring (dream come true!!!), and there is so much I want to teach them on and off the field that I don’t even know where to start.

I don’t necessarily agree with all of the connotations that come with the word “empower” and how it is used today. But, I am ALL about telling girls they have value and they are worthy and LOVED. I am all about USAG (finally) making steps towards change. I am all about applauding the 150+ brave survivors who spoke in the courtroom. I just think that I needed a perspective shift this week. Because as a Christian, I can fight fiercely all day long for the causes I believe in–which I 100% plan to do. I just don’t want to hate anyone.

Have you been following the Nassar case? Do you think it’s okay to hate the people who commit crimes? How do you empower the young girls around you?