book reviews | january, february, & march

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The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

I started off my year with one of my favorite new author finds from 2016. I have some of her other book on holdout the library, they are really fun reads. This story is centered around a woman who finds a letter her husband wrote her in the event of his death, and a woman whose husband reveals a secret to her that causes them to cross paths, along with several other characters all somehow involved in a Catholic elementary school. It was suspenseful and unpredictable, and towards the end I literally couldn’t put it down. Big Little Lies is still my favorite book of hers, but this one was great too and I can’t wait to get my hands on more.

Courage to Soar by Simone Biles

If you’ve ever asked me what my favorite sport is, I probably said “The Olympics” …I know that doesn’t really count for most people, but it is one of my very favorite things ever. This past summer, I wasn’t working, so I watched it for literally hours a day. My favorite summer event is women’s gymnastics, of course! I hadn’t heard of Simone Biles until the few weeks leading up to Rio, but I loved watching her compete! What a cutie.

I saw that she had written a book, and was definitely interested to hear what it’s like to train as an elite gymnast, so I picked this one up at the library. Her story was really interesting to read. I will say that it wasn’t the best written book, you can tell she is 19 years old and she’s a pretty average writer, it kind of sounds like a journal entry. However, this style might be ideal for someone much younger, I would’ve loved this book as a kid in later elementary school. Despite the writing style, I really enjoyed hearing her journey as a gymnast and what it took to train for the Olympics, it was a fun read.

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker

For Christmas, I asked my Grandma to get my a book that she had read, liked, and thought I would like! She gave me this book, and I’m so glad she did! I will give you the shortest little explanation of the premise, but I highly recommend just jumping into this novel without reading too much about it, that was my experience and it turned out to be really fun. This is the story of a woman whose father has left her family. In search of answers about why he left and who he really was, she travels to Burma, to the village where he grew up. This novel is a love story through a daughter’s perspective as she hears it for the first time.

I really loved this book. It was heartwarming, and gave a lot of perspective on subjects I have never experienced myself, such as poverty, abandonment, disabilities, and this part of the world in the 30s and 40s. The story captivated me and I highly recommend it.

Small Space Vegetable Gardens by Andrea Bellamy

I am planning a vegetable garden this spring that will go on my balcony in containers, especially since we are most likely moving this summer. This book was so so helpful in planning and learning the basics of gardening. Up until this point, I have grown herbs, a few houseplants and succulents, and kept most of them alive (okay, all of my herbs died over the winter). This was such a great guide for me, with everything I needed to get started. It includes many helpful charts for when to plant what, which plants do better when you start with seeds vs. seedlings, and a guide in the back on every type of edible you can think of, along with special instructions for growing them in small spaces and/or in container gardens. I loved it so much that I ordered it on Amazon before even returning it to the library.

 

Here we are, one quarter into the year and 4/17 books read! It has been a slow start, but I’m feeling good for #read17 🎉

Check back in a few weeks for my April reviews!

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16 Books I Read in 2016

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Here are the 16 books I read in 2016 for my New Year’s resolution, and a mini book review for each one! I have been working on this post for a while now, and was almost going to ditch it altogether… but I had a friend tell me the other day she would read it, so even if this is only for Jackie, here we go! For each book, I will tell you what context I read it in, what I thought, and if I would recommend it to a friend. A short note, the first few were books I read for school. I read them quickly, and some over a year ago, so my reviews are short and sweet, but keep reading and I have a little more to say about all the others.

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1) Spiritual Theology by Diogenes Allen
Why I read it: Spiritual Theology class

I don’t have much to say for this book. I read it quickly, enjoyed parts of it, wrote a paper on it, but didn’t love it or go out recommending it to my friends afterwards.

2) In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen

Why I read it: Pre-Counseling Senior Seminar class

As a counseling major, Henri Nouwen was definitely my most read author for assigned reading. I really enjoy his reflections on Christian life and leadership, and stories from his ministry.

3) Soul Feast by Marjorie Thompson

Why I read it: Spiritual Theology class

Again, this was a quick read for a class. To be honest, not much sticks out!

4) True Spirituality by Francis Schaefer

Why I read it: Spiritual Theology class

This is a pretty good one to start with, if you’re looking to go deeper in the topic of spiritual theology.

5) Poverty of Spirit by Johannes Baptist Metz

Why I read it: Spiritual Theology class

I got to choose this book to replace one on the syllabus that I had already read. I asked my local Spiritual Formation guru to recommend a book for me, and she loaned me this one. It is a very short read, I read it in a few sittings. I really loved it and actually want to reread it at some point. I would definitely recommend it.

6) Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality by Mark McMinn

Why I read it: Pre-Counseling Senior Seminar class

This book is a BIG one! I read it too fast, and will need to go back to get more out of it. However, even reading it and even skimming certain sections, I really learned a lot about the integration of these three important facets of counseling, and of life: psychology, theology, and spirituality. In Christian counseling, integration is a huge topic of discussion and one of the biggest things we need to wrestle with as helpers, educators, counselors, social workers, and ministers of the gospel. It is so important to have a robust understanding of this topic, and I totally don’t have it down yet! This book was a great start for me, and I would highly recommend it to those who want to dig deeper on the topic. I would even recommend it to someone not in a helping profession, who may just be curious about the topic, attending counseling themselves, or wanting to understand God’s role in psychology.

7) The Gift of Sex by Clifford and Joyce Penner

Why I read it: Zach and I were assigned this book as part of our premarital counseling

This was a good book, and I definitely recommend it for engaged or married couples. That’s probably all I need to say about this one!

{Okay people- at this point we are moving on from assigned reading, I got a library card, and kicked my reading life into high gear because I had no job over the summer and was going to the beach at least once a week}

8) The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Why I read it: I tend to jump right on board (see what I did there?) when everyone is reading a book, and especially before the movie comes out.

This was my “I’m finally done reading for school and wedding planning and can read for fun again” book. I got a library card as soon as we moved into Newmarket, and this was the first book I picked up. I loved this book. It was suspenseful, dealt with some real issues without being too serious, and kept you guessing until the end. It was definitely “un-put-downable” as Anne Bogel would say.

9) The Assistants by Camille Perri

Why I read it: I had seen this book on a few summer reads lists, and was able to grab it from the library.

My next summer read was super light, a catchy premise, and a good beach read, as they say. I wouldn’t say I loved it, but I definitely enjoyed it and would recommend it if the plot intrigues you.

10) When I Get Married by Jerusha Clark

Why I read it: my sister-in-law loaned it to me

Side note: Victoria had given me this book literally over a year earlier, and I had actually read a few chapters during that time, but with school I just couldn’t get all the way through it! I finally finally finally finished it at the end of the summer, and returned it… I think I’ll be much better at borrowing books now that I don’t have assigned reading.

This book was very good, and definitely explores some of our expectations, especially as women, coming into marriage. She illustrates these with compelling stories of her own marriage, or stories from friends.She is realistic, honest, encouraging, and convicting. She speaks God’s truth in a creative way, and I really appreciated it. A great book for single, engaged, or married women. 100% may not apply to everyone, but most of it is thought provoking and freeing content. I definitely recommend it.

11) Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

Why I read it: I really love Shauna’s writing, and I miraculously spotted this one on my library’s New Releases shelf! I scooped it right up.

I love love loved this book. Shauna gets so real, puts to words many of the things I have thought and felt and preached freedom, vulnerability, and presence. Like her other writings, she uses stories in essay format to weave together her main points and to illustrate what she learned during this season of her life. One point I should make about this book is that it isn’t filled with Scripture, theology, or teaching in the way you’re used to. Yes, it is full of truth, and of course she mentions God as a massive part of her journey, but biblical teaching isn’t the main focus of the book. For this reason, I would recommend this book to Christians and non-Christians alike. Each could benefit greatly from what Shauna writes in this one, my favorite of her books for sure. I cannot say enough good things!

12) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne and JK Rowling

Why I read it: I am a huuuuuge Harry Potter fan, and have been since childhood. I had to wait for this one at the library, but was excited to finally get my hands on it in the fall.

Oh my goodness. I so wanted to like this book. I don’t like to use this word, but I pretty much hated it. Maybe the play translates the story better. The whole thing felt like I was reading fan fiction, I had a hard time with the format, the characters and dialogue felt completely unbelievable, and the story both stressed me out and couldn’t hold my interest. I hated hating it.

13) Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Why I read it: saw it on books lists online, I love a good retelling of an old story, and my mom read this before me and really liked it

This is a modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice, which was a really fun spin on a love story, with the quirky cast of characters, fun mix of old and new, and plenty of sarcasm thrown in. The premise alone carried it most of the way, but the story was also surprising, intriguing, and held my attention the whole time… and it’s a huge book. I definitely recommend it, but won’t promise that it’s at all as good as Jane Austen. It’s very light and fluffy, which I personally enjoy, so if you do too, I recommend it.

14) Let’s All Be Brave by Annie F. Downs

Why I read it: I listen to Annie’s podcast, and had a friend recommend this one to me. She has newer books than this one, but it was a good one to start and felt timely as I was in this post-grad season.

I love the way Annie speaks and writes! I read the whole thing in her voice. If you’ve heard it, you know what I’m talking about. Her book was an encouraging, vulnerable, and fun read about a topic that taught me more about myself and God. I loved hearing her stories and passion for life. I would recommend this one for sure.

15) The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

Why I read it: like many others, I am OBSESSED with all the things these two put their hands to. I’m just throwing money at all their big projects lately, and obviously Waco is now on my bucket list. I knew for months that this book was coming out around my birthday, so when some of my family asked what I wanted, it was first on my list! My sweet in-laws got it for me.

I was really intrigued by how this Magnolia empire came to be what it is today. I loved hearing Chip and Jo tell their story of marriage and business. The only negative thing I could say about it is that it sounds much more like they were telling the story out loud and someone wrote it down, rather than writing it themselves. So the style and tone of the book bothered me a little bit, but I was definitely able to get past it and enjoy it as a really good story. One of my favorite parts was hearing about their faith, and the way God provided for them in business, and let them towards fulfilling the dreams he clearly gave them in the first place.

16) Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Why I read it: I saw this book recommended all over the place- podcasts, blogs, Pinterest, etc. and knew I had to check it out especially when I hear they were making it into an HBO series (that just came out, by the way).

I really really loved this one. It was set in a community of kindergarten moms in Australia, which I related to having been a nanny and observing moms there. The format of the book, dispersed with police questionings, was very cleverly done and added to the mystery of the story. The characters were really well developed and hilarious to read about. At the same time, the book dealt with several more intense topics in a way that was thought provoking and a good reminder of what suffering can be happening just under the surface of a person. The ending was not predictable at all, which I almost expected it to be. I can’t recommend this enough to fiction lovers!

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Those were my 16! I still can’t believe I reached my goal. I am working towards 17 in 2017 as we speak, and hope to have more book reviews up very soon. Here is a little summary of my favorites:

Favorite Fiction: Big Little Lies

Honorable Mention for Fiction: The Girl on the Train

Favorite “Jesus book”: Present Over Perfect

Favorite Nonfiction: The Magnolia Story

 

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throwback thursday | graduation, wedding, and #housewifelife 

Wrote this post in July and it never saw the light of day… here are some snapshots of last summer!

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I GRADUATED COLLEGE.

Goodness, I could, and probably will, write a blog post about all that my four years at THE Moody Bible Institute taught me. I have been changed by Moody, not only by my education, though certainly that, but also by the people, by Chicago, and by the experiences God gifted me with during my years there. So thankful. And I’m so happy I’m done.

My family was able to make it for the whole graduation weekend. We had the best time eating and laughing our way through the city, including a Cub’s game and my first post-grad drink, then they helped me pack up boxes and boxes of stuff and get my floor ready for its end of the year inspection. Those lovely people were moving furniture, doing dishes, revacuuming rooms, and keeping me sane during the process of closing s dorm, which was also the close of my role as an RA, one of the greatest privileges during my time at Moody.


I MOVED BACK TO NEW HAMPSHIRE

With my stuff piled, Tetris style, in the back of Felicia, our family’s beloved RAV4 (okay it’s mostly Kylie’s), we were off. My dad and I left the city, with me in happy, sad, and thankful tears, saying goodbye to the place I called home for four years. Our journey as exciting! We went through a few Midwestern states then drove through Canada, which, surprisingly, is a very convenient way to get from Illinois to New Hampshire.

We went to all the essential chains, like Culver’s and Tim Horton’s. We made a list of the wildlife we saw on the road (no moose, I was disappointed), and counted how many Walmarts we saw. We almost had to pay a bunch of money in Quebec to get our car checked out when some useless plastic thing fell off our car, but we avoided that. And finally, we drove back into NH, another emotional moment, and there we have it folks! I’m back.


I GOT MARRIED.

Uh, yeah, that was the best day of my life. Everything went perfectly (okay not everything, but most of the issues I was unaware of). I got to spend plenty of quality time with so many of my favorite people, especially my bridesmaids, even a couple who travelled on planes because they love me. Best. Family and friends came from everywhere, the weather was literal perfection, the ceremony was amazing, and then we ate pizza and partied. Seriously, best day of my life.


I MOVED IN WITH A BOY

After our honeymoon in Newport, Rhode Island and Cape Cod, we finally got to live in our apartment together! We have been settling in, filling it up with furniture, and making it home. This has included some epic target runs and an impressive IKEA adventure with my my bro-in-law and sis-in-law, and we’ve been loving it. We are also loving the town we live in, with trains running right through it, a gorgeous river, and a walkable Thai restaurant (dangerous).

I’M A HOUSEWIFE

Okay, but just for now. I am currently on the job hunt, so I’ve been chilling at home most days, which is totally fine with me. I’ve had a ton of projects to do at home, including moving the rest of my stuff in, organizing, cooking, cleaning, decorating, and just enjoying a little break after a crazy season of life. #housewifelife

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update: if you missed it, I did eventually get a job as a nanny and have been working since August.

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the week of lasts.

 

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Oh, hey, remember me, the one who tried to blog while finishing her last semester of college, working as an RA, planning a wedding, finding a place to live, and hunting for a job? Hello. It’s me.

I’m back. How do I have time to blog today? Well, I’ve got a job and we signed a lease, so that gives me a little more time…

OH ALSO BY 2:15 THIS AFTERNOON I WILL HAVE EARNED A COLLEGE DEGREE.

All I have to do is attend a class today, and then I’m done. While it feels like there should be fireworks and other such celebrations the moment I walk out of my Abnormal Psychology class with Dr. Milco, I know it won’t feel like that. I might cry, as I have a couple times this week during things that were surprisingly sentimental, like ending my last chapel with “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”

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On Tuesday, I went to my last PCM (Practical Christian Ministry), the field study of my biblical education, after doing some type of ministry every single week for four years. My two friends and I said goodbye to the older women we have spend our Tuesday afternoons with this whole year. They have blessed us, and we have come to really love each other’s company.

Tuesday night, we had our last RA small group, where I have spent my Tuesday nights every week for two years. The significance of that probably needs its own post to explain. On Wednesday, I gave my last group presentation, and watched next year’s RAs find out their new bro-sis pairs.

Yesterday, I finished my last paper, and I was reminded of a senior on my floor freshman year who ran up and down the halls rejoicing when she had written her last paper. I have been waiting for that moment ever since. It’s not that I hate writing, obviously… it’s just how it was a clear mark of hundreds of pages of papers written, and a lot of hard work. Later that afternoon, I finished my last reading assignment, closed the book, and that was it. And now, by the time class gets out today, I will have earned my degree.

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Last night, I led my last floor meeting, giving information about the dorms closing and preparing everyone for that process. We had a sweet time of encouragement, honoring what this year has been as we have lived each day together. Then we celebrated summer birthdays with gnome hats (party hats) on our heads, one of the last ways we are participating in this year’s floor theme, “Celebrate.”

Graduation isn’t until the 14th, but today feels significant too. I’ve spent four years as a Moody student, 7 semesters on campus and 1 in Greece. Moody is a part of me, and I will forever be grateful for the Lord’s clear direction in bringing me here. I don’t doubt his perfect plan as I reflect on all I have learned, both academically and about everything else. There are people here who have changed me for the better. I have had some of the most amazing opportunities and experiences. I have grown closer to God.

This verse feels extra true to me today, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-12). 

There is much more to say, as I continue to have closure and to process all that has happened in the last four years. Here’s to the week of lasts. Peace out, homework.

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2016 Rhythms | January + February

 

This year is already flying by. I am almost halfway into my last semester. Here are some things that have happened in the last two months, including some insta, snapchat, and never-before-seen iPhone shots. This is a trial run for this type of post. I’m a little worried that it will be boring, so let me know what you think!


 

{January}

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Ended Christmas break in NH with Ellen visiting, partying it up with Zach, Kellyn, Kylie, and other pals until we had to head back to the city on an early flight out of Boston, which was a tiny bit rough but SO cheap.

New year, fresh start, goal setting, new planner.  Love that stuff.

ResLife Winter Retreat, where we hung out with other RAs for a few days, meeting on campus daily, preparing for the semester. I learned a lot from our speaker, and was refreshed by times with friends. Transfer students arrived, none on my floor, but it’s always fun to see new faces experiencing Moody for the first time.

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So much time with friends. This was much needed. Also, Ellen and I got besties mugs and she taught me how to make homemade magic shell.

LAST SEMESTER. Senioritis is setting in. Wrote a post about this strange and wonderful season of life. 

Classes: Only taking 12 credits, thank the Lord. Senior Seminar, Abnormal Psychology, Spiritual Theology, and Apologetics.
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Last semester with my gnomes. Feeling all the emotions about that. Also, look how CUTE we are!!

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So much cooking! I have been attempting lots of new recipes these last two months. Other days, I’ve been sticking to my staples- smoothies, pasta with pesto, veggies/chickpeas/rice, sweet potatoes, frozen tamales, avocado toast. It’s a fun adventure cooking in a dorm.


 

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Yoga. Attempted Yoga With Adriene’s Yoga Camp, but life got in the way. Even so, I did more yoga than I would have without a goal in mind, so it was good stuff.

Resolutions? Caring for myself, half way through one book. That’s my simple update, I’m feeling good about it.

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Went to the Art Institute with Bro/Sis. We had a scavenger hunt, my bro-RA dressed up like Waldo, and we had a grand ol’ time.

{February} 
Founder’s Week. Listened to 14 sermons in a week, it was encouraging, but also plain EXHAUSTING.

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Went to the Field Museum for the first time even though I’ve lived here almost 4 years! It was fun. I met Sue, this ginormo dino.

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Ellen and I escaped to the suburbs the weekend after Founder’s Week for a much needed time of fun, rest, food, and shopping.

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Do-Rite Donuts. 

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Applied to GRADUATE FROM COLLEGE… nbd.

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Every Tuesday, two friends and I visit a nearby nursing home and hang out with the residents there. Sometimes we read, sometimes we sing or listen to music, sometimes we play bingo, sometimes we watch interesting movies they have on for them, and we do a lot of talking! Many of the patients on the floor we visit have dementia, so we have very interesting conversation. It is very rewarding, even though we are required to go.

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Some of my friends hosted a Galentines Brunch, which was the most fun.

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Not going to lie, The Bachelor has been one of the highlights of the semester. Unlike this picture, I usually watch it live in a lounge in my dorm with a group of girls, and we comment the entire show, it’s so fun! If you follow me on Twitter, you will have seen my passionate live tweeting.

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My cousin Kaylee came to visit, and we walked around 3.5 miles all over the city, lots of it with Ema, seeing and eating everything there is to see.

Ellen and I spontaneously decided to drive to the suburbs for an Oscar party on a Sunday afternoon, and it was a really good decision to rest and have a fun mini-road trip.

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Now I’m counting down the days to spring break… 3 more to go!
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P.S. I am struggling with the formatting of this post, and I have no idea why! Please excuse the lines everywhere, I figured that would be better than having all the text squashed together. Thanks for reading!

Ramblings | It’s only February.

I’ve been having a lot of conversations lately about being a senior, and what this final semester means and feels like. I’m in my last semester of college– by this May, I will have my Bachelor’s Degree in Bible and Pre-Counseling. I will graduate from the “16th grade”, and there is no “next semester.” I have been in school since Fall of 2000. I was six years old. Countless classes taken, lectures noted, books read, papers written, presentations given, and lessons learned- and it’s all going to come to an end as I sigh in relief and gratitude. I am getting married 42 days after graduation. I am moving back to the state I’ve called home my whole life, moving away from a city and school I’ve called home for the last four years. Graduation, a 1,000 mile move, and marriage all in the span of 42 days.

This is a big deal. But it’s only February.

Here’s the big question: How do I live in the tension  between enjoying this season and anticipating and preparing for the next?

Two options present themselves here: 1) fully live into this season, not thinking or worrying or anticipating the next. The mantra for this option? “Be present.” And, 2) fully live into senioritis, daydream through my final classes and homework, through my goodbyes, through all the lasts.The mantra for this option is a little less catchy, “soon you’ll be living real life, just get through these few months and try not to be too grumpy.” These aren’t very good options. So I learned, through prayer, good advice, and gracious friends who allow me to verbally process…

This season is BOTH a season of being present AND preparation and anticipation for what is to come. There are wonderful things to come AND wonderful things left to enjoy here. This may seem like a simple truth, and I would’ve believed it factually, but until I was living it, feeling it, and hearing it from the Lord, I didn’t fully accept it as truth.

The mantra I mentioned earlier, “be present”, is not unhealthy in and of itself, that’s not what I’m saying at all. The change I would like to make to this phrase, as it pertains to me right now, is to be present in a season of transition, not just being present here, at Moody, as a senior, as an RA, while I’m wedding planning, and with my friends. I need to hold this truth, that it is a season of transition, alongside that mantra.

So what does this look like? It means leaning into things that don’t excite me anymore, and enjoying them more than I thought. It means getting excited to be married, or staying up late looking at apartments in NH. It means checking things off my Chicago bucket list, and savoring sweet moments with my friends. It’s both/and. It’s living in tension. It’s asking for peace. It’s living in thankfulness.

It’s only February.

Ramblings | Authenticity

{September 6, 2015}

Here are some thoughts. These particular thoughts have been churning up in me for a while. I think, in our culture, especially Christian subculture, we make ourselves into detectives, trying to spot anyone be inauthentic. Especially with social media, there is attention out there, people are watching, and every person who participates in this game gets a certain degree or percentage of that attention. This week, Kim Kardashian reached 45 million Instagram followers, the most of any account on the app. Also this week, a friend of mine posted a picture of her little tiny firstborn daughter, and those who follow her got to comment and welcome her to the world. Welcome to the world, little one. We “like” you. Now, that sounds kind of haunting as I type it, but that’s a conversation for another time. I can’t say I am one of the 45 million following Kim, but I definitely follow other accounts that have millions of followers. The question I posed to myself today: is one of these women posting pictures on Instagram more authentic than the other? Maybe.

My best friend tweeted this today: [can’t keep up with all these “I’m doing something so I started a blog” blogs] and it really got me thinking. Recently, I have been thinking a lot about my own blog (note: my old blog), sitting out there in the internet world, neglected for a number of months. Facebook keeps reminding me that I have one, because every so often I will get another view or like on the page I created for people to keep up with my posts. I’m sure none of those Facebook likers are wondering where I’ve been, wishing that I had more thoughts for them to read on my blog, wishing I would post about another cooking experiment, wishing I would post more pictures of my fabulous life in Chicago. So I haven’t posted in however many months, because I haven’t had anything to say.

I tweeted my friend back, “the question is, how do you blog differently, more authentically than that?!” This was mostly me thinking about myself, as I have been playing with the idea of going back to blogging for weeks. I miss having a project like that, a piece of the internet to make my own, however trivial what I post ends up being. She responded, “I know I know, I’m wondering… but I feel like your authenticity will be questioned/mocked no matter what platform!”

She is so right. Let me throw out some buzzwords for you. Pay attention to the first things that pop into your mind, and then the articles, blog posts, or Instagram rants you have read about each one.

Yoga pants. Leggings. Modesty.

Church.

#blessed

#community

Doing life together.

#citylife #collegelife

Vibes.

What a gem.

You get what I’m doing. Whether it’s a blog post, Facebook rant, shared article, clickbait ad, or even a real, human, face to face, screen free conversation, we all question each other’s authenticity on a daily basis, simultaneously to make our lives look a little better than they really are. We actually have a lot about our life we really love. How can anyone tell the difference? Look up #blessed on your favorite social media platform. Look up the popular #liveauthentic hashtag on Instagram. You’re going to find a whole bunch of people who are truly blessed. You’re going to find people of every religion. Some are authentic, praising the Lord publicly for something that He has put into their lives. Some are not, wanting everyone to look at their blessings in the form of latte art or the perfect hammock spot. #blessed… Can you spot the difference? No. You literally can’t, at least not fully. Does that mean we should stop using that hashtag? Should we stop noticing when God is putting something in our life to bless us?

There is something about these words being overused, and about noticing when the authenticity behind them is lost, that makes them lose their meaning. Yet we have to reconcile something of the fact that we are blessed, we do live in community, we do strive for authenticity, people are gems in our life. How do we do that when the best words to describe something have lost their meaning? People’s perceptions of another’s words, especially behind a screen, can be totally skewed based on so many things- the overused words they choose, the quality of the photo, the filter, the hashtags, previous experience of that person in real life, even the person’s gender… don’t get me started on that one.

Honestly, I’m not sure what to do with this yet. I’m wrestling. I haven’t deleted any of my social media accounts. I don’t think that’s the right way for me (me, personally, just me, no judgment here) to handle it in my own life, or to combat anything. These thoughts are not consuming me, or eating away at me with comparison. My judgmental thoughts about other’s authenticity can be kept at bay most days. Obviously, you can see I had more to say about this than 140 characters on Twitter will allow. Offline, this friend and I texted about authenticity, and what I should blog about, and @socalitybarbie (you should look up this Instagram when you’re done reading this) She said, “where are we every truly authentic? Even when we try to be or claim to be, it seems so fake…”

There’s only a few things I do know how to do: 1) pray, and 2) write something if God gives me something to say. For this post, He did give me something. Next time, it might be a recipe, or pictures from my senior year of college I would enjoy looking back on and my grandparents want to see. I just know that I want my words to mean something, something more than likes and views and comments and perceptions.

Don’t know how to land this plane. The End.


Housekeeping Note: I noticed a lot of you missed my second blog post about 2016. You can find it in the sidebar or right below this post. Thanks for all the support so far!

2016 | A Year of Transition, Self Care, and Celebration

> Have you read my first post? If not, scroll down and let me say hello before you read this one!

2016 will be a big year.

With 2015 in hindsight, I am simultaneously thankful for it’s challenges and joys, and thankful that it’s over. I am also a huge sucker for new starts, resolutions, and challenges with friends to accomplish goals together.

2016 is the year I will finish my last semester and graduate from Moody Bible Institute, officially move all my stuff back to New Hampshire, get married, move in with Zach, and begin a new season of life as a newlywed, working as he finishes grad school. There will be lots of new rhythms, blended with lots of familiarity, lots of savoring last things, lots of looking back, lots of looking forward, and lots of celebrating.

On the first day of the year, I felt refreshed, loved, and inspired by the length and possibility of the next 365 days.

I am heading into this year with one theme and only two resolutions:

2016 Theme | The Year of Self Care

I am going to write a whole post on this soon, but for now I will just say that with a lot of transition, it is important that I take care of myself. In 2015, I discovered new ways that I could feel the love and presence of Jesus through doing things that refreshed me. In 2016, I am going to focus on those things, knowing that what I will gain is for his glory and energy cultivated to be used in service to others.

Resolution #1 | Read 16 Books in 2016 

I’m hoping to recapture one of the loves of my childhood, reading! We are hash tagging this business #read16. I’m jumping into it with two of my best friends, Kellyn (we came up with the idea together at a Barnes and Noble right before Christmas), and Ellen— follow their blogs too! More about this project to come, updates on the hashtag!

Resolution #2 | Rhythms of Celebration Blog

If you are reading this, I have already reached a HUGE goal for 2016: launch a new blog. I’m not going to write a specific number of posts, aim at a schedule, or anything like that, but here I will be when I have something to say! This also ties in with #read16, I will write book reviews and post them here.

That’s it!

I’m trying to keep it simple this year. I am working on the habit of setting monthly goals, and even setting more intentions at the beginning of each day, realizing my limitations and practicing self care by carefully monitoring the expectations I have for myself.

What are your new year’s resolutions? How are you doing after more than two weeks of 2016? Do you have a theme or word for the year? What is God calling you to in this season of life?
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Welcome! So, what do I have to say, anyway?

Hello!

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Over my lifetime, I have had 7-8 blogs. Someday, maybe, if that sounds interesting, I will throwback some posts and maybe even share the precious secret URLs with you. I have always loved writing, even when it was tainted by an uninteresting paper throughout my years of schooling. I love being creative in that way, crafting words just perfectly to convey a thought, idea, feeling, or story, fictional or not.

I started out with questionable handwriting in Lisa Frank notebooks, and moved to pages and pages of notebook paper with fictional stories. I took writing classes, I read about writing, and I learned to set up a fiction novel by spending hours writing every quirk of my beloved main characters and writing plot outlines. True confession, I even tried my hand at fan fiction in middle school. More on that probably never, it’s the most embarrassing period of my writing life.

During middle school and high school, I discovered the interactive fun of an online platform.  I had 4-5 blogs. One was named something like “The Hundred Acre Wood” because I thought that was cute, I’m not sure what I wrote there, honestly. Then I discovered Tumblr. I had one main blog, with passive aggressive and vague comments about my life, and endless rebloggging that included pictures of puppies and babies, cute clothes, Harry Potter, and beautiful places I dreamed of traveling to. On that same platform, I had a blog I posted on while I read through the New Testament one year, and another called “me eighteenth year”, which was actually my nineteenth, the year I was 18 years old. Math < writing. I tried my hand at monthly favorites, awkward and awesome posts, Instagram compilations, and that sorta thing.

I eventually moved to Blogspot, writing on “Some Things to Write Home About”, the most popular site at the time for “real” blogging. A friend designed my site, and I blogged there very inconsistently throughout my time at college. I tried my hand at recipe posts, blogged through my study abroad experience in Greece, and continued the usual fun of sharing my favorite things, current playlists, and the occasional post that got a little more real, like a response after the Boston marathon bombing.

As I wrote in my 2016 post, this is a time of transition. I have grown a lot through all these years. 4 or 5 months ago, I began itching to write and blog again. On September 6th, words poured out of me after a conversation with my best friend, in a piece I wrote about authenticity. It was fun, a raw and sassy post about something really serious that I was wrestling through in my own heart. I can’t wait to share it with you.

On this blog, I will post when I have something to say. Some days, it might be that I made up a new recipe, and I say you ought to try it! Other days, it might be raw and emotional. I might share pictures and document any adventures I go on. I am going to be posting 16 book reviews throughout the year, to go along with my new year’s resolution. It can be a little weird to put something out there on the internet that has a page entitled “about me.” It can feel weird to say “Hey, everyone, I have thoughts and feelings that might make you think or encourage you, my voice is worth hearing.” It is not weird because my voice isn’t worth hearing, but because everyone’s is worth hearing. I’m just throwing out some words on a website, working hard to make it a place that expresses who I am and what I’m learning, is fun to read, and encourages someone once in a while.

It took me weeks to come up with the title of my blog. I love the word rhythms, and have learned to appreciate what is habitual, and whatever comes at us in life and joins our everyday moments. I am also learning a lot about celebration, and pointing to significant moments in life and expressing thankfulness and joy in light of what God is doing, and how wonderful so much of life is. So there we have it, rhythms of celebration.

I am excited for the possibility. I actually worked for hours throughout the last few months trying to get a real domain name, site host, cute theme, and all that… but it kept failing or getting too expensive. Okay, God… I hear ya. let’s just keep it simple for a while. Good plan. Better than mine, as always.

Welcome to the Rhythms of Celebration.