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!


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!


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.

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.


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?


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.



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.


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!


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.


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!

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

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.


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.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

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. 

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

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?


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?