On My Radar: 2018 Edition

Happy 2018!

I can’t believe it’s the start of a new year. In some ways 2017 flew by, but in others it dragged on. I’ve been eagerly awaiting 2018 for a while now, and it is finally HERE. Cue all the praise hands and happy dances.

So many exciting things are bound to happen this year, I can hardly wait.

Although I am still planning and finalizing my “resolutions,” I will share those with you soon. In the meantime, I wanted to share what’s on my radar lately because I’m really excited about them.

On My Radar…

ONE: “The Magnolia Story” by Chip and Joanna Gaines

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This book! I received it for Christmas because I’m a huge fan of Fixer Upper. I was always intrigued by the husband & wife duo who flip and design houses, raise four kids, live in Texas, and keep God at the center. However, while reading The Magnolia Story, I became an even bigger fan of the Gaines’.  It’s an easy read, too, so it hasn’t taken me long at all to be almost finished it. I’ll probably finish it tonight and I started reading it a few days ago.

 

 

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TWO: La La Land Piano Sheet Music

This piano sheet music book is another thing I received for Christmas and I *love* it. I’m always on the search for new songs to learn on the piano to challenge myself and keep my skills sharp. Since I teach piano and no longer take lessons myself, playing for fun usually does not happen on a regular basis. La La Land quickly became one of my favorite movies in early 2017, and the soundtrack is downright ah-maze-ing, so I am excited for the challenge.

 

 

THREE: Fur Vests

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This trendy piece of clothing has stumped me. I love how it looks and received one as a gift this year. I’ve pinned a few outfits on Pinterest that includes this statement piece, but I have yet to test it out. It’s so warm and stylish, I’m excited to wear it soon.

 

 

FOUR: Bloom Daily Planners’ Daily Calendar

Screen Shot 2018-01-02 at 4.10.56 PMI discovered Bloom Daily Planners a few years ago while researching the best academic planners to use during my senior year (*cough* my Type A is showing *cough*). Bloom is a Delaware-based company and their founders attended the University of Delaware, so obviously when I found this out, I was hooked and purchased my first of many products from Bloom. This year, I received the Bloom Daily Planners’ Daily Calendar and it sits proudly on my desk at work. It’s not only adorable and colorful, but every day features a quote or a challenge – two of my favorite things!

 

Those are a few things on my radar. What’s on yours?

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5 Words: The Secret to Not Procrastinating

DISCLAIMER: 

In my blog post, “The time is now,” I mention I was reading through drafts of my unpublished blog posts that at the time did not go live because I was not sure if I wanted to post them. In “The time is now” I hint that maybe I’ll finally publish some of those old drafts.

The below post is one of them.

 

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The Secret to Not Procrastinating in 5 Words:

 

 

 

 

 

Turn. Off. The. Cell. Phone.

The time is now.

Well, it’s been a minute.

Actually, it’s been many minutes because I took an unplanned blogging hiatus as life continued around me.

I do not regret it…not one bit.

You see, I hadn’t realized this, but I was wearing myself thin. My brain was constantly in “work hard” mode and I mentally succumbed to this thought process that I had no time to “play hard.”

What exactly is “play hard?” You hear all the time this motto many proudly state as their own: Work hard, play hard. However, for me, as a Type-A perfectionist with a tendency to over achieve at whatever I do, “playing hard” does not always come easily, or naturally, to me.

I get stuck in the “work hard” cycle and rarely allow myself to “play hard.”

This does not necessarily mean I am a workaholic. I love my job and I love what I do every day. Coming to the office is not the issue.

The issue is the thought that I do not deserve to step away from whatever is considered “work” to instead, once in a while, focus my attention on spending time on myself.

Unfortunately for over a year that meant blogging was pushed to the back burner, as well as, a few of my other hobbies. I always said, “It’s not the time,” or “I don’t have time today,” or “There’s something else I should be doing.”

I made excuses for all the reasons why I shouldn’t or couldn’t.

Well, that’s changing. The time is now.

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The other day, I needed a break from whatever I was doing (I don’t remember what). I decided to log onto my website for the first time in over a year. I decided to click “Drafts” and read all of the blog posts I was always scared to push live.

That’s when it hit me.

I missed blogging.

I missed getting my thoughts on paper because I wanted to, not because I was expected to.

I missed making time in the day to write, about anything, to no one in particular. To the digital space in the hopes that maybe someone out there would read it, but maybe not.

That’s when I realized that it was time.

The time is now.

To start again. Maybe not as frequently as before, but maybe. Who knows.

I am fighting against my instincts right now to not create a content calendar. You laugh, but I shake my head. I am not going to make this a “work hard” thing. A content calendar and lists and to-dos are part of the “work hard” mentality.

Maybe one day I’ll switch to that, but for now, I will not.

“Play hard” has no restrictions. So therefore, blogging will have no restrictions (for now).

We’ll see how this works.

Maybe I’ll start by finally publishing a few of the drafts…

Or maybe not.

Whatever happens next, it doesn’t matter. I’ll just do it. No overthinking, no worrying, no unrealistic expectations put on myself by me.

The time is now.

January: The month of eventuallys

Winter session is winding down. Having almost two months off school is both a blessing and a curse. If you keep busy, the weeks fly by and before you know it, you’re back on campus with a running start. However, if you don’t have plans lined up for the long winter months, seven weeks can feel like an eternity.

Thankfully, I learned my lesson freshman year and every winter session since then, I’ve chosen wisely and filled my time productively. {Freshman year winter session was crazy long!}

At the start of this much-needed break, I wrote out a list of things I wanted to accomplish before the spring semester began. I can’t have too much free time or else I’ll go completely insane and start creating lists {and Pinterest boards} for everything. I decided that when I wasn’t interning or working this winter, I would use my free time to tackle the list of “eventuallys.”

While creating the list back in December, I stuck to indoor tasks thinking snow would keep me stuck indoors. Obviously that hasn’t really been the case, but at least I was prepared! One might wonder what a “list of eventuallys” is; it is exactly that: a list of things I said I’d do, but never got around to. Some of the items were easy to accomplish, while others took some time to complete.

I proclaimed January the month of eventuallys and got to work. IMG_8855

I’m a huge reader… when I have time. During the semester, I don’t prioritize “fun reading,” because of homework assignments and school-related things. Lately, there have been several books I’ve wanted to read, including Yes Please by Amy Poehler, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Bossypants by Tina Fey. Light reading, yes, but books I wanted to read nonetheless. I found Bossypants and Gone Girl at Goodwill for $1 each (no lie!), so those were no-brainers to buy. I received Yes Please for Christmas, so I was excited about that. Those are just three of the books I read this winter, but they’re all amazing and I highly recommend them.

IMG_8721Another “eventually” was to deep clean my entire computer, which consisted of erasing all unnecessary files, deleting duplicate pictures, organizing documents into folders and creating an extensive online writing portfolio (you can sneak a peak at a very similar one here). It amazed me how much space I was wasting just by saving random word documents from high school. I must’ve been a hoarder in my past life, because as much as I love to stay organized, I keep way too much unnecessary stuff– emails and word documents being two of them, apparently.

A few other items checked off are: create several versions of my resume, complete my LinkedIn profile, order business cards, revamp sections of my blog, apply to several big-girl jobs, finally watch the movie Grease, catch up on “How To Get Away With Murder,” meet with several professional mentors, guest blog for another blog, host a guest blogger, complete taxes (wooooo) and prepare social media plans for the spring semester.

I still have a week and a half left of winter session before life picks back up. I’m ready to get back into the swing of things. It’s been great to intern, work and organize my life, don’t get me wrong. However, I never thought I’d say this, but I’m ready for classes and exams again {am I insane?!}. Plus, this is my last semester of school ever {uh, what?!} so I’me excited to see what it will bring.

What about you? What types of items are on your list of eventuallys?

2015: The Year Of Three Words

2015. It’s finally here.

Day 5 and I’ve already done this multiple times: 201415

In the past, I have begun each year with a list of resolutions. Doesn’t everyone? A list of tasks, goals, and dreams I believe would make me a better person. A more well-rounded individual.

Read more. Run more. Write more. Laugh more.

This year is different. 2015 crept up on me. No list was created.

The other day, I read this post by a blogger I follow, Jessica Lawlor. In it, she explains three words she wants to focus on for the new year: light, possibility and choice. She goes on to dig deeper into why she chose each word and that got me thinking.

Instead of writing a list of tasks, I, too, would choose three words.

Three themes of 2015.

I am excited to see what 2015 holds and will use these three words to help guide me through the journey:  Slide1

1. First. 2015 will be the year of firsts. The first time I graduate college. The first time I start a real-world job. The first time I don’t go back to school in the fall. But what else? Yes, I will approach several key milestones this year, but I think 2015 has more in store than that. I resolve to look for other firsts this year, to not be afraid of opportunity because it’s new. To experience life through the lens of adventure and transition. To look at 2015 as a year of awesomeness even if I don’t know how yet.

2. Risk. Similar to “first,” the second word I choose is “risk.” With a year of firsts also comes the risk of the unknown. A set of adventures waiting ahead with endless possibilities. A planner and organizer at heart, I am also an adventurer. (I said that here.) Adventurers take risks. Adventurers don’t back down from challenges. A few months ago, I wrote a post discussing a few tips for Type-A Adventures like myself. Risk is inevitable and can sometimes be confused with lack of thought. “Oh, that was risky.” “I took a risk and now I regret it.” In 2015, I want to take risks and step outside of my comfort zone, but don’t mistake that for stupidity. You can take risks and be smart at the same time. Risk is inevitable, but I’m ready for it.

3. Joy. Different than “happiness,” I choose “joy.” Happiness is temporary and circumstantial. Joy is a mindset. Through the little things, I yearn to discover the joy. I’ve discussed the idea of joy before, and I want to continue this through 2015. With a year of risks and firsts, it may sometimes be a challenge to find the good. Choose joy and keeping choosing it — that’s what I want to do. Instead of “I have to …”, replace it with “I get to…” Changes the perspective, doesn’t it? A mindset makes all the difference. Through every situation, good or bad, I aim to focus on the joy of it all.

So those are my three words for 2015.

2015 is another adventure, I can feel it. I’m excited for it. Ready.

A year of firsts, risks and joys.

A year of three words.

Let’s do this thing.

A fleeting moment’s journey

– Three weeks ago – 

I sat on the couch, listening to the still of nothingness that surrounded me.

For the first time in a long time, time hesitated to continue.

I froze, willing myself not to breathe — for fear this moment would soon be lost in the rest.

Nothing was inherently special about this day, this hour, this moment. Just another Thursday.

But it was a moment, none the less.

I embraced it, this one phone-less moment, to ponder the ones before it.

To think back on a year that had, once again, flown by too quickly.

Of all the obstacles endured and conquered. Of all the good observed and experienced.

She believed that she could, so she did. A quote I had always reminded myself of in the moments where I lost perspective. Of the tiny moments when  I lost all confidence to continue studying, dreaming, doing, working, pursuing, trusting.

But it wasn’t the quote that kept me pushing forward. It was this verse.

The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still. – Exodus 14:14 

The fear of unknown dissolves when you understand the magnitude of God’s grace and strength. I am nothing, a fleeting breath in the wind, but I was made to worship Him. To be still, to take a moment to breathe — God fights for you. Overwhelming, yet true.

The moment continued in a whisper. Looking at the lights glittering on the seven-foot pine, ignoring the distractions of technology, I continued to analyze and digest all that had occurred in the past 300-some days.

A year of changes, both good and bad. A year of being pushed out of my comfort zone in more ways than I had anticipated.

A year of difficult decisions, but a year of unexpected joys and blessings. A year of deciding which thoughts to dwell on and which ones to discard. A year of forgiveness and acceptance. A year of wondering God’s plan for my life (like always). A year of confidently putting faith in the One who sees all.

A year of seeing God work through little details.

God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them. – John Piper

The story isn’t finished yet. Is it ever? In the midst of ‘what ifs’ and ‘if thats,’ we transition between ‘I understand what God’s doing’ and ‘I have no idea what’s going on.’

Piper’s words encourage me. It is easy to dwell on the three things we know for sure, the three things God allows us to see. However, it is harder to accept the other 9,997 things God orchestrates behind the scenes. I sometimes feel like a passenger in a car I can’t control. I don’t know where I’m going, but I know I’m going somewhere. The driver won’t tell me — I have to wait and see.

Life is like that, and it’s sometimes a difficult concept to surrender to. A thriving struggle with our own mindsets — our own agendas — and the one God has for us. Faith. Sometimes it’s easier to focus on the hardships instead of the joys. Sometimes, the hardships are all we see.

But when we worship, when we remember God’s plan — that He makes no mistake — we are renewed.

I am renewed. Renewed in the fact that letting go has never been my forte. That surrendering is foreign to me. That it’s okay to let go of a grasp I’ve held so tightly for so long. A part of the healing process. A tug towards faith, instead of control. A daily battle of fight and surrender. A part of what needs to be done to transform into the person God wants me to be.

Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. – Psalm 62:6 

– Today –

I wrote the above blog post three weeks ago, but didn’t post it. I didn’t think it was done yet, but I didn’t know how to end it. Didn’t know what it needed to be considered complete. Until today.

In that moment of silent gratitude, just twenty-one days ago, I realized 2014 is just another fleeting moment. But in that moment, in this year almost gone, all that God has done intertwined with the past and with the future. It was in that moment of silence, right before the clock resumed its circular journey and the phone buzzed again — it was in that moment, I was renewed and reminded.

I am but a fleeting life, but in it, I will worship.

God used a whale to get my attention

Have you ever had a bad day?

Sure, we all have.

How about a bad week?

Yep, that, too.

 

Good, I’m not alone. In fact, none of us are. It happens. A part of life.

This week was one of those weeks where I struggled to stay optimistic.

For lack of a better way to phrase it– I felt spiritually under attack all week.

On Sunday, the sermon focused on how Satan attacks those who are spiritual leaders; those with a vision or those about to go through a spiritual victory. As I sat in the pew, I jotted down a few notes and Scripture verses, all the while thinking that the coming week would be like every other.

That night, a friend sent me a Bible verse. Joshua 1:9. It says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged; for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9 is one of my favorites so I found the “coincidence” an encouragement to start my week. I copied the verse onto a post-it note and stuck it to my mirror.

Sometimes, a spiritual attack comes all at once. A hard hit you didn’t see coming. Other times, it comes one punch at a time. A pinch, a hit, a punch. Little by little, it makes its presence known.

This week, it came little by little. One discouragement after another. One almost-right thing at a time. One “you’re not good enough” thought at a time. One “you don’t deserve this” thought at a time. One “How can you believe in Jesus when the world is so cruel sometimes?” thought at a time. One incontrollable situation at a time. By Monday night, I thought, Here it comes… it’s only Monday and I’m done with this week. 

By Thursday night, I collapsed at my desk, teary-eyed. The week had been fine– no dramatic situations had occurred– just little punches to the stomach. Little thoughts of negativity swam around my mind like fish in a sea. Little punches, however, add up to bruises, whether they come hard or not. By Thursday night, I felt spiritually, mentally, and emotionally bruised. Tattered.

Joshua 1:9 echoed through my mind as I awoke on Friday morning. I was drained. I couldn’t move. I didn’t want to get up. I didn’t have the energy to face whatever that day would bring. Quite frankly, I just didn’t have it in me to discover what that day had in store.

That’s when it hit me.

Satan wants me to feel like this.

He wants me to feel so utterly discouraged, weak, and lethargic that I won’t want to live for Jesus.

Be strong. The words echoed in my head as I got up.

And courageous. I brushed my teeth.

Do not be afraid. I packed my lunch.

Do not be discouraged. I packed my back pack.

For the LORD your God will be with you. I drove to school.

Wherever you go. I parked.

Feeling an urgent need to stay positive and reflect on the week and what God wanted to teach me, I listened to “Nothing But the Blood” and “In Christ Alone” on repeat. It was then, walking the college green, that I realized what today was.

Youth group.

As a youth group leader, I spend my Friday evenings with hundreds of junior and senior high school students. I help lead a small group for ninth grade girls. I love getting to know the kids who enter the doors. I look forward to it every week except this week, I realized that something big was going to happen.

Something was going to shake me. I felt like God was slowly preparing me for whatever He had in store for that night.

Fast forward to that evening. I hesitated walking through the doors. I didn’t know what was coming. I didn’t think I was ready for whatever it was.

Be strong… do not be discouraged. I entered.

I pushed the negativity away. I pushed the thoughts back so far that when the talk began an hour later, I felt okay.

“How do we know there’s a God?” the speaker began.

He continued. Verse after verse, example after example, the speaker listed the ways in which God is everywhere. “There is no random chance. Everything is strategic. Everything has a purpose.”

The words repeated in my head. Everything has a purpose. 

It’s when I saw this video that I lost it. THE HEAVENS DECLARE THE GLORY OF GOD.

The HEAVENS– the oceans, the whales, the fish, the stars, the planets, the sound waves.

Watch this (it’s worth EVERY minute):

The pure impact of this video collided into me. Like a punch in the stomach, I couldn’t breathe.

Everything has a purpose. I have a purpose. YOU have a purpose.

Sometimes, we will have bad weeks.

Sometimes, our weeks will be SO BAD that by the end of it, you don’t want to face the next day.

But, “Be strong and courageous. Do NOT be afraid. Do NOT be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you WHEREVER you go.”

What a great reminder, huh?! Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes, I need that reminder. I need to be shaken out of my comfort zone. Sometimes, I need to be punched in the stomach in order to wake up, look up, and turn my eyes back to worshipping my Savior.

This past week is behind me. A new week will begin. I know that no matter WHAT happens, God doesn’t do random. Everything has a purpose. Sometimes, that purpose is unknown to us. Sometimes, discouragement overwhelms us to the brink of exhaustion; but fear not, for God is with you.

Isn’t that the best news for a Saturday?

Get ready.

Sunday is coming.