Monday, January 13, 2020

2019 > 2020


Sometime I might wrap an elaborately exhaustive post about 2019. About all it was, all it wasn't, and everything in between. About what it meant to me and how it changed me. But now is not the time. I have mixed emotions about 2019. I believe there's something good in every year, but I don't think this past year was my best. That doesn't mean it didn't have some special moments and memories, though.

So for now, 2019 was...

A flight to Kansas. Finally buying a new phone. New friends. Scarfing down BBQ in between customers at work like...all summer. 692,747 mirror selfies. Sunsets and sunrises and catching both in the same day. Buying a new (to me) car. Two concerts. Getting to see my besties. Leaving a church. Seeing a movie at the theater and going back to see it four days later. Publishing my first novel. Working the spring/summer/fall rushes in a tourist town and not dying. Being asked if my co-worker and I were twins. A different co-worker being mistaken as me, resulting in my neighbor thinking I'm secretly engaged. Wearing my NineLine hoodie almost constantly during chilly times. Drinking sooo much coffee. Leaving the top off my jeep for days. A weeklong missions trip. Spent sooo much time organizing beer....long story that. House-sitting half a dozen times. Arriving at work one day and finding out the building was broke into the night before, and spending the next few weeks scrutinizing every customer and feeling like a gal from a Hallmark mystery. Soul-searching. Working thirteen days in a row and then wondering why I felt tired. Drinking black coffee...alot. Standing at the highest point east of the Mississippi.

// list of accomplishments
• first time on a plane when I flew to Kansas in January
• worked a full-time job for 9.5 months without dying *thumbs up*
• two trips downstate to visit friends, and multiple instances of them visiting here
• read 67 books
• started writing a new book...which I still haven't finished, hahaaaaa
• spent an amazing week working a ministry with others from all over my state and other areas of the southeast <3
• published my baby, Freedom
• roofed three houses?? xD
• rocked an EPIC thirteen day blog tour with my fren
• turned 19


Just looking at that frighteningly large number feels me with anticipation, excitement, and...trepidation? I don't know, I'm probably just weird, but I get this way at the change of every year. It's like I think I have to have everything figured out beforehand, or I'll be wasting time and messing up this perfect, not-yet-mistake-filled year that I've been given.

Which is sort of ridiculous when you think about it. Every new day is special and God-given and should be used for His glory. So why, just because we're buying new calendars, do we treat January 1st so differently from September 1st? or May 16th? or February 22nd?

But because we do measure things by years (and, I mean, I'm not complaining—it's a pretty rock-solid system of order), there will always be something unique and inspiring about starting a new year.

Every year since 2017, I've chosen a word of the year. Cherish, light, courage, etc. I wanted to do the same for 2020, but nothing had stuck out to me yet as something that I expected (or wanted) this new year to be devoted to. Then one day, between Christmas and New Years, I had the words from Fearless (yes, the Taylor Swift song) on my mind for some reason. It just hit me.


That's it. I want to be fearless. Not even in the way that I don't have fears, because everyone does, but to be able to face anything without being controlled by fear.

Within a few minutes, I had a second word. I had the radio on (because when do I not??), and the song that was playing said something about being faithful.


I want to be found faithful. (The alliteration is making my word nerd soul incredibly happy.) Faithful to God. Faithful to His calling on my life. Faithful to my friends and family. Faithful to be there for others, whether they ask for it or not. Faithful to myself, to be the best person I can be through His strength.

So that's it, my outlook for 2020, come what may.

Fearless + Faithful.

"I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation." 
- psalm 40:10 kjv

// list of goals 
• finish my read-thru of the Bible
• start college
• spend more time investing in others and less time investing in me
• be fully present in every moment

what was 2019 to you? how do you feel about 2020?

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Wedding Score by Amanda Tero || Book Review

|| Synopsis

Most girls dream of their wedding days. Except me. I’m too busy practicing piano and being the live soundtrack for everyone else’s weddings to think about my own. I’ve survived most of my twenties with harmonious chords and pleasant days.

So why is it that now, at twenty-seven, a discordant feeling presents itself? Is there a solid solution to loneliness when there is absolutely no potential husband on the horizon?

A contemporary Christian short read.

|| Review

In my minimal experience with books that will supposedly divulge The Secret Methods to Living Happily as a Single Woman, they're all pretty much the same. Sometimes they're helpful, sometimes they're not. But rarely do I find myself internally exclaiming (Yes! Exactly!) when the topic of singleness and how it feels and how to deal with it is presented.

I was pleasantly surprised to find, within the pages of Wedding Score, struggles and thoughts that I could relate to. The story was good. The message was encouraging. I did feel like it could've been longer—with another fifty pages or so, the issues could've been delved into a bit deeper without rushing the closing—but it is a novella, so I can overlook that.

One thing that I disagreed with was the main character's friend's break-up. She's dating the man of her dreams, his parents think they're moving too fast, so they it off and break up? I can see taking a step back and seeking God's will if you're experiencing doubt, but to just break up walk away all brokenhearted? Like, what? Even though (*spoiler*) this was resolved to my liking, (*end spoiler*) I didn't really understand the reasoning behind it or why it was even included in the story.

Also, Stephanie's cousin's relationship with his girlfriend. At the beginning of the story, Stephanie doesn't even know that he's seriously interested in this girl, but within a few weeks he's contemplating popping the question?? Not a deal breaker, just something that kind of threw me off.

I've read nearly all of Amanda Tero's books and stories to date, and I will continue to. This one just...wasn't a favorite in my eyes.

3.5 stars

Amazon  ||  Goodreads

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

12 Days of Christmas || Merry Christmas + Recap

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Today's post is quick and to the point—a thank you to anyone who took part, and a heartfelt "merry Christmas" to everyone reading this. It's a special time of year, and I pray it's filled with joy and blessings for each of you. <3

|| Merry Christmas + 12DoC Wrap-Up

A huge thank you to everyone who participated this year, whether you were writing and sharing posts, or reading and commenting, you're amazing and so appreciated! <3  We ended up with about 77 posts from 16 unique blogs. 

This party means a lot to me, so I'm thankful we were able to make it happen again this year, even if it wasn't quite the same as years past.

Oh, and before I forget, our giveaway winners are Kassie A. and Faith G.—both 12DoCers! Congratulations, girls! I'll be in touch. :D

Merry Christmas, dear readers! I hope you all have a blessed day, celebrating the Messiah's coming surrounded by family and friends. I plan to be back in a few days with a 2019 recap and plans for 2020.

God bless and happy New Year! <3

|| 12 Days of Christmas Party

merry Christmas <3

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

12 Days of Christmas || Christmas is... {Traditions}

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone! (Is that a thing? Probably not. It is now.)

I know it's cliche, but I seriously can't believe tomorrow is Christmas. Ever Christmas season flies by, but this Christmas season has flown by.

Today I'm going to share some traditions and such that happen around here during Christmastime. Nothing elaborate, just a laidback list of sorts. :)

|| Christmas is... 

• Reading the Christmas story in Luke 2 and Matthew 1 multiple times, reflecting on different areas, and always gaining something new or discovering a different angle to something familiar.

• Watching Christmas movies for like...two months. Or at least since before Thanksgiving, or there about. Some are watched every year—It's a Wonderful Life, Christmas in Canaan, The Christmas Card, Signed Sealed Delivered: For Christmas, The Christmas Candle—and there's always some new ones too.

• Baking soooo many good things. That's how I'm planning to spent this afternoon, actually. In the kitchen. ;)  Some recipes are tried and true, and others are new experiments each year.

• Attending a candlelight service at church. There's something about standing in a church, dark by normal lighting but warmed by the glow of the candle of every single occupant, that always calms your heart.

• Reading Christmas books. I adore Christmas books and I always have a stack to read. This year, I literally couldn't finish my stack if I read a book a day...until January 10th.

• Stringing Christmas lights across my bookshelves, lighting a candle, and curling up in my chair with coffee and a book.

• Planning, shopping for, buying, and wrapping Christmas gifts. I love all the fun, harmless secrets floating around at Christmas time. <3

• Dressing up Christmasy, in reds and greens, or pretty Christmas dresses, or festive prints.

• Other than Christmas movies, I enjoy re-watching Christmas episodes of some well-loved TV shows—particularly, The Waltons, The Big Valley, The Andy Griffith Show, and Little House on the Prairie.

• Hosting the 12DoC blog party, and getting excited by seeing everyone else's excitement. <3

|| 12 Days of Christmas Party 

Read Another Page — Book #24: A Crazy, Crowded, Christmas

Old-Fashioned Book Love — Book Review: “Christmas Eve at the Backdoor” by Rebekah A. Morris

Soldier Girl Stories — The Night Before Christmas...

Whimsical Writings for His Glory — Auld Lang Syne, pt.3

I Like That — Just for Laughs: Christmas 2019

Joy in the Journey — Christmas Gift Ideas

last day to enter the giveaway! winners will be announced tomorrow <3

Monday, December 23, 2019

12 Days of Christmas || Christmas Story Snippets 3/3

Merry Christmas, everyone!

With only two days left until Christmas, there's only two remaining party days! Which means you only have today and tomorrow to rack up some entries (or more entries) in the 12DoC giveaway. ;)

Oh, but before you scamper off, enjoy the last few snippets of the party!

|| Christmas Story Snippets {pt. 3 of 3}

Before Jamison could decide whether or not to be obedient, a dark curly head appeared from the kitchen, belonging to a jitterbugging teenager in a red polka dot dress.  
“There’s my favorite little munchkin!” sixteen-year-old Molly declared as she came swooping in and held out her arms to Jamie.  
“Auntie Oll!” the toddler squealed. He bounced on the couch and clapped his hands until she scooped him up.  
Chattering to her nephew, Molly started back toward the kitchen without a word to her brother.  
“I see how it is.” Jamison leaned back on the couch and crossed his arms over his chest.  
Molly stopped and turned back, grinning mischievously. “Well, hi there. Say, you look familiar, stranger. What’s your name again?”  
“Love you too, sis.”  
“Oh my!” Molly leaned her head against Jamie’s, a dreamy look glazing over her eyes. “And now this dashing stranger has the nerve to profess his love for me. At our first meeting!”  
With dramatic grace, she twirled and fell to her knees next to her father’s rocker, somehow managing to hold Jamie upright on her hip. “Oh, Papa, whatever should I do?”  
Henry’s teasing eyes met Jamison’s, and he winked before turning to answer his youngest. “I don’t know what you’re going to do, Oll, but I think the rest of us need to ship you off to the big stage.” 

I pour up two cups of coffee in the kitchen, switch off the coffee pot and the last of the lights, and step out onto the porch just as Ryder starts back my way from the truck. Katydid trots along at his feet, looking much more awake than I am. 
I hand him one of the coffees over the porch railing and pause to lock the door. When I join him at the bottom of the steps, I glance down at Katydid. “I thought you said you coaxed her into the truck?”  
“Correction: I said I tried.” Free hand jammed deep in the pocket of his Carhartt work jacket, Ryder’s eyes meet mine through the hazy steam spiraling up from his mug of joe. “Your turn.”  
I follow his gaze down to the offending dog, surprised that she’s not obeying his commands. 
“Usually I’m the one she doesn’t mind.” Pretty sure the dog still holds a grudge against me for stealing her man. 
Stamping across the frosted grass, I follow Katydid and my husband out to the waiting truck, exhaust spilling from underneath.  
He opens the back passenger door and glances back down at the dog. “C’mon, girl. There’s plenty of space for you on top of all of Charity’s stuff.”  
“Hey, I don’t have that much!”   
After supper, Lydia shooed her out of the kitchen with instructions to enjoy the rest of the evening. 
Giving in, she wandered into the front room and sank to the hearth. The flickering flames sent skitters of warmth up her back.  
David moved from the couch to sit beside her, then silently pointed above them. Bethany turned her eyes in that direction. Uh, oh.  
The sprig of mistletoe that Erin had hung there earlier spun gaily in the firelight. She looked back to her fiancĂ©. “Don’t go getting any bright ideas, young Mr. Carnathan.”  
“Young Mr. Carnathan?”  
She grinned. “You’re young Mr. Carnathan and—” she nodded across the room to where David's father sat in the rocker, “—your father is old Mr…” The flames of a blush crept up her face as she realized what she’d said. “Oh my goodness. I—I’m terribly sorry, Mr. Carnathan. I didn’t mean that the way it sounded.” 
Raymond chuckled, heartily. “Don’t apologize, dear. We all know you didn’t mean it that way.”  
Everyone laughed and, this once, Bethany didn’t color red at being the subject of their merriment.  
“Where does that leave me?” Michael spoke up.  
“You’re not old enough to earn the title of ‘mister’,” David suggested, earning himself an eyeroll.  
Bethany smiled and leaned her head onto David's shoulder. Raymond and Lydia were the best future in-laws she could’ve asked for. So understanding and encouraging, always loving no matter what. She hadn’t been in a real family setting for so long, and it was an absolutely wonderful feeling. 

|| 12 Days of Christmas Party

Showers of Blessings — A Christmas Recipe

Read Another Page — Book #23: A Pint of Judgement

Life of Heritage — Would God Choose You? A Devotion

Little Blossoms for Jesus — 8 Favorite Christmas Books

Soldier Girl Stories — Christmas Spirit Tag

Whimsical Writings for His Glory — Auld Lang Syne, pt.2

tomorrow is Christmas Eve, y'all! *freaks out*

Sunday, December 22, 2019

12 Days of Christmas || Favorite Christmas Books of '19

Happy Sunday, dears!

Welcome back to day nine. Can you believe it? Less than three days until Christmas, whhaaaa. xD  Today we're talking Christmas books, with the last "favs of 2019" installment.

Have you read many Christmas books this year? Do you have a favorite?

|| Favorite Christmas Books of '19 

When Christmas Comes Again by Beth Seidel Levine /// Oh my gosh, I adored this book. I don't know what it is about journal-style/epistolary novels, but they always get me. (I loved Simone and her Sam. <3) Plus I don't read much WWI fiction and knew nothing about the Hello Girls, so this was an all-around gem of a library find. 

The True Gift by Patricia MacLachlan /// (C'mon, it's MacLachlan. Of course I devoured it.) I remember reading this book many years ago, I was probably nine or ten. At the time, I thought it was really sad. While it certainly has the author's trademark almost-melancholic whimsy, I wouldn't categorize the book as sad. I enjoyed the story—and found that I could sympathize with the children's fear of running out of books to read. ;)

Christmas at Carnton by Tamera Alexander /// So, I actually didn't read this one this Christmas season, but I did read it this year, back in January. And oh my stars, it was so good. Everything a Civil War Christmas story should be + the darling-est love story. <33

12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep /// Technically, I haven't finished this one. xD But I'm a ways into it and enjoying it ever so much! The story is enthralling and the writing style is simply gorgeous—both a welcome change after encountering a couple not-so-good books in the past few days. 

Waiting Here for You by Louie Giglio /// (Another book from my "currently reading" stack... xD)  Woah. This book is like one, big, 100+pg quote. One of those that you want to write down and tack up or set as your screensaver or something. The author tackles the idea that we're all waiting for something, but showing how our period of waiting is so small and less-significant compared to the world waiting hundreds of years for a Savior. 

"Waiting is not wasting when we are waiting on His plans to unfold." 

|| 12 Days of Christmas Party 

Read Another Page — Book #22: A Carol in Her Heart

RebekahAshleigh — Fun Things to Do at Christmas Time

Soldier Girl Stories — Happy Hanukkah!

Little Blossoms for Jesus — Reflections on the Wise Men

Whimsical Writings for His Glory — Auld Lang Syne, pt.1

what sort of Christmas-y things have you been up to?

Saturday, December 21, 2019

12 Days of Christmas || Christmas Decorating

Good morning, folks!

I can't believe it's less than FOUR DAYS until Christmas... O.o  Which means only three more days to enter the 12DoC giveaway!

Today's post is a little different—just some pictures of some of my favorite Christmas decorations. Sooo enjoy the photo dump. xD

|| Christmas Decorating

|| 12 Days of Christmas Party

Read Another Page — Book #21: An Old-Time Christmas

Old-Fashioned Book Love — Book Review: “For My Good” by Sarah Holman

Soldier Girl Stories — Guest Post - Enjoy the Little Things

The Peculiar Messenger — 12DoC | This or That?

Life of Heritage — History Post

what's your favorite Christmas decoration?  is it new or something you put out each year?