2013 Motto and Resolutions (Better Late Than Never)

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So the icy weather allowed me some time to finish this, since it’s oh, HALF-WAY THROUGH JANUARY! Nevertheless I have resolutionz for 2013! So going backward, New Year’s Eve came all of the sudden, and I realized I needed to think what changes I wanted to make for 2013. There’s the typical “lose weight” one, but I felt like I needed something clear and directional for my life, a motto of sorts, especially since 2012 brought a lot of disappointments and rough times. Thankfully it came clearly.

My life motto for 2013 is “Cleaner House, Messier Life.” I just keeping thinking “Yes!” It’s not exactly the specific, measurable kind of thing (I need to add those parts), but it summarizes a lot of what I want to focus on this year.

Cleaner House. If you know me, you’ve probably heard me mention needing to clean my house or the state of mess my house is in. I’m really not a slob, just “cluttery” as my mom would say. I’m not a neat freak. I don’t mind a little mess when it’s just me, but when other people come over, I want my home to look clean and relaxing. So I need a routine or a plan to get more organized, clean regularly, and to enjoy where I live. Deep down this also means I want to use my house and the things I own to be used well, for my good and for the good of others. I want to take care of what God has given me and to bless others by it.

My first plan for a cleaner house is to go through each room, and purge the things I don’t want (sell, donate, or throw away–but I’m really green at heart and try not to do that). So far I’ve organized my attic and my Tupperware cabinet. This also means only buying things I really will use/need and love.

Messier Life. Um, this scares me, I’ll be honest. A few different friends began tapping on this door of thought before Christmas by challenging me to take more risks and to let the Holy Spirit lead me (and for them I am forever grateful). I’ve been playing this [life] too safe. Somewhere along the way I let fear creep into my life. Lots of emotions and behaviors boil down to fear. I am a daughter of the Creator of the Universe who causes everything to work out for my good and His glory. Who drives out fear with love and whose plans never fail! (Just preaching to myself, sorry)…I do know messier life means more risks, more faith, more serving others. More others period. Less of my thoughts and plans, more of the Lord’s. I sat down a few days into the year thinking, “I need to pray about this, because I don’t know what my motto means.” And the answer was “You don’t need to know what it means right now.” So yeah, that’s all I can write about it. 🙂

I also have 3 resolutions this year (not 10!) which are specific, doable, and the most important to me this year:

1. Get to my goal weight. (started…today)

2. Read the Bible in a year. (so far, so good)

3. Learn a new craft skill. (thought about)

I’ll hopefully do some updates about my progress. Here’s to all things new, friends!

Have you made resolutions? Or do you choose a word or motto for the year?

 

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Looking Back at 2012

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A new year is so refreshing, isn’t it? It seems everyone is reflecting on the past year of their lives and setting goals for the next. I wish I had done (and posted) this reflection a few days ago and got my resolution post up yesterday, but I’m kinda sliding into this new year. The 12 days I had off of work went slow at first (while I spent time at home with my parents and relaxed to the max) then flew away with a blink getting ready for a NYE party. Anyways, I’m writing a few days late about life in 2012, mostly because I think it’s important for me to really think about it. Writing helps me do that. If someone were to ask me about 2012 I would say it may be one of the hardest years I’ve had…I feel like it’s been too boring or too disappointing to blog about. I haven’t even journaled much on my own…maybe my attempt to forget. BUT as I read others’ annual chronicles, it made me think about the FULLNESS of a year. The graciousness of a faithful God. So here we go. (And then next will be a resolution post. Allison G. said it was blog worthy when we talked last night :))

I wrote myself 10 resolutions at the beginning of 2012. And that’s down from 20+ I wrote out the year before. (I know, crazy.) Keep in mind I’m more of an ideas person than a productive person. Ten was reasonable in my head. But of course I didn’t make it close. I did keep three though:

*Increase savings to $ (a specific amount)…in fact I almost doubled that amount.

* Read 10 books and listen to 4 audiobooks…I have come back to my love, friends. 14 books isn’t a lot for some, but I’m really bad at making time to read, plus I am not a fast reader. I just counted the books I read (in any format) this year and came to 14, and I’m close to finishing 2 more. More on reading below.

*Do not buy scrapbook paper or fabric unless project-specific. I’m pretty sure I did well with this. And I still have stacks of both to use up.

I’m going to organize this review by big topics and events of 2013:

DATING–From taco trucks to coffee shops to concerts and fancy restaurants, I went out with the most guys I ever have in one year (not that that is saying much). Some good, some bad, a lot of weird/awkward of which I will gladly share a story about in person. Online dating again for a long period contributed to some of the increase. Good stories, that’s what I was left with.

STUDENT LOANS–Paid those things off!!! The day before my 30th birthday I paid the balance of my last loan from graduate school. I felt freer than I imagined. Yay!

TRIPS–I went to Guatemala for the second time in March with a group of college students and my friend Julie. We traveled into small villages and held medical and dental clinics for the people there.

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I always love the gratitude and sweet spirits of those I serve on mission trips. I also LOVE the students I went with…some are good friends of mine now. They have no idea how much life and joy they have given me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March also brought a trip to Memphis for my friend Rebecca’s wedding. College friend reunionIMG_2313!

 

I also went to Illinois and visited my friend Tina and then scooted over to see Katie, Arrow, and Hazel. In June, I went to Chicago for a college health conference. I did a little shopping and eating too. For the Fourth of July, I went to Panama City with 8 wonderful girlfriends. Oh. my. goodness. We had us some fun.IMG_2693

Over Labor Day weekend, I went to Atlanta with Julie, Laura M. and Ashley. Good times. And I’ve been to Chattanooga multiple times to see my parents and best friend.

LENT and SCRIPTURE–I wrote about my plans for the Lenten season here…I gave up all drinks except water for 40 days (and this was while in Guatemala, land of good coffee and lack of rest). I donated the money I would have spent on drinks to Blood:water Mission. I think it was around $130. Also, I wanted to add something to this time so I chose to memorize Scripture. I focused on Isaiah 53 and the Beatitudes…can’t say I fully memorized them, but I got a lot. I want to continue memorizing Scripture. I have also worked on Isaiah 61:1-4 and Philippians 2.

DEPRESSION–I was trying to start out with happy things, and that’s kinda how the year started. Then in the summer, I started crying and couldn’t stop. Surmise it to say I went through a bout of depression. Nothing bad happened in my life; rather just nothing good (or what I wanted) was happening. There weren’t any triggers other than a whole bunch of factors converged leaving me with a lot of disappointment and decreased healthy coping skills. I felt hopeless. It was rough, but I’m grateful for the experience that allowed me to understand others’ struggles in a truer sense and grateful it was short-lived (though still peeks through steadily). I must fight for joy, choose contentment, and rest in the blessings that God so richly gives me. I alluded to this when I wrote about what helped me here. I’m happy to talk more about it in person…it just feels weird to write about it when I don’t know who reads this. Unfortunately, being depressed is what I focus on when I think about the year along with the disappointments.

READING–One of the saving graces for 2012 was books! Increasing the amount I read was one of my resolutions because it’s something I’ve always loved but don’t take time for. It’s been so delightful to get lost in some of the stories, especially Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery. There’s still several books left in the series for me to read, but they were pure joy for the little girl inside of me. I also loved Elizabeth Berg’s What We Keep. These fictional books made me realize I love child narrators. On the nonfiction side, I read all of Francis Chan’s books…I liked Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit most. Learning to count the gifts in my life has been so important in staying out of depression so I highly recommend Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are to everyone. Revelations of A Single Woman: Loving the Life I Didn’t Expect by Connally Gilliam offered well-thought perspectives, validation, and honesty which I found helpful during this season of life. Also, I got to review a book for teenage girls here that is great.

How did I read more? Two things: my Kindle Fire which makes books easier to transport and easier to read at the gym. And I started listening to audiobooks most days on my drive home from work. I usually have music playing on my computer in my office, so it’s nice to listen to something different while getting through rush hour. My Goodreads list is on the left hand sidebar on my blog now. I’ve got a lot of books I want to read in 2013!

SPRAY PAINTING–Yep, spray painting gets a spot. I finally joined the blogger’s diy club and started spray painting stuff in my house. Hopefully I’ll do a post of some of my projects…some may or may not be half-finished and sitting on my deck in the rain. Ahem.

TURNING 30!–The milestone birthday seemed to consume my thoughts during the year and how I judged my life, and I dreaded it for so long (contributing to the depression) because it seemed like a mark that meant I failed. I never expected to be single at 30 and feel unchallenged. It’s unproductive thinking, and ultimately I knew that 30 would be what I made it so I focused on how I could enjoy my birthday. Two lifelong friends, Tiffany and Allison O., came to Nashville the weekend before and wanted to do whatever I wanted. So we visited a bunch of antique stores in Nolensville, went to Arrington Vineyard, stopped in Cool Springs for a bit, then ate at The Pharmacy in East Nashville. On Sunday we ate breakfast at Fido in Hillsboro Village and went shopping at Opry Mills. We each turned 30 this year and celebrated each birthday which was fun since we live in 3 different cities.

My parents came and spent the night with me the night before my birthday and took me to my chosen breakfast restaurant of choice (Dunkin Donuts!) then went and hiked at Radnor Lake.  We went back to Nolensville, browsed at Goodwill, and ate lunch before they left. That night 9 of my close girlfriends came to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Ellendale’s. I ordered the salmon pasta I’ve dreamed about for the 3+ years since I first ate it. Angel made me mini pecan pies plus a hummingbird cake! So far, 30 isn’t bad, but it sure makes me feel old.

THINGS I’M DONE WITH–At different points during the year, I decided these things were over for me. Leaving in 2012:

  • uncomfortable or old underwear
  • canned soup
  • watching movies by myself (I don’t pay attention)
  • uncomfortable shoes (at least at work)
  • feeling guilty about giving too much/too little in terms of gifts

2012, I’m glad to say goodbye. Thanks for what you’ve taught me.

2012 (blog) review

 *I’ve been away from here for a long while. I am so hoping to do a 2012 review tomorrow, but I’m also decorating for a NYE party so that might take up the day. I thought this was funny…especially what people search for. 

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Book Review: Perfectly Unique by Annie Downs

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Being a woman is hard. I know guys have their problems too, but all I know is about being a woman. And when I think back to when I was a teenage girl! Oh my! This week I’m doing 2 posts about teenage life. Random, yes (actually no, I’ve been thinking about it). Several weeks ago I got an email from a publicist asking me if I would review new book by Annie Downs for teenage girls called Perfectly Unique. At first I thought, “Me?” then 4 seconds later, I wrote back saying I would love to. So a few days later I received the book in the mail. Unfortunately I didn’t start it right away (says the slow reader of 6 books at one time) so I’m just now finishing it.

My yes was so fast because I feel like a weird stalker of Annie’s. I’m really not stalking her, don’t worry, but I am a fan of her blog; seriously it’s a bright point in my Google Reader. She also lives in Nashville, knows people I know, and I’ve seen her at least 3 times but haven’t said hi. Just wanted full disclosure.

Perfectly Unique delves into many issues that teenage girls deal with in a fun, honest way. Each chapter goes over a part of the body (i.e. knees, heart, feet) and how it’s important physically and how girls can use it to glorify God. Annie is so brave in sharing parts of her life as a teenager and the lies she believed. She talks candidly about body image issues, mistakes she’s made, and areas where she struggles.

There are parts I want her to delve in and cover so much more, but this gives just enough information to be thoughtful and well-rounded. At the end of each chapter, she gives readers questions to ponder on how they can honor God with that particular part of the body. Some issues I could get nit-picky over on the details, but I had to remind myself that this is for teenagers. Girls will love how open and funny Annie is, and I hope in turn be more accepting of who God made them to be. It’s powerful because it’s believable. If you know any teenage girls who could use a guide on dealing with real struggles and learning how to glorify God in practical ways, this is a great book to buy. Even if you’re almost 30, Perfectly Unique reminds you of the beautiful ways in which God created you.

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Living, Even When the Days are Hard

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(I don’t in any way want this to invoke pity. I hate that.)

Last night outside handing out clothes to my friends living on the street, I noticed that night was coming sooner than before. Summer is in its last hurrah. Crazy! The weeks have flown by though honestly the summer days have felt all too long. Too LONG. There’s been a lot going on in my mind and heart. I don’t know if I could wrap it up in words…it’s not wrapped up in real time yet. But it is time to write and process a little because it is time to choose life over carrying anything that prevents joy and peace and love. That’s for me. But for you, I want you to know that when you question, when you fold under, when can’t see through the fog, you are not alone. (Email me, I’ll assure you.)

Yesterday I read one of my favorite blogger’s (and writer’s) entry, and it was something that I had to share. Ann Voskamp pens the truth in one of the most beautiful, touching, and heartfelt ways that I’ve ever beheld. If you follow me on twitter (@practicingjane), you will see I tweet many of Ann’s posts. I finally started reading her bestselling book, One Thousand Gifts, and it is everything I thought it would be in how a life of thankfulness (she calls it eucharisteo) changes your life. Seriously though, it may be the cure. So all that to say I love her, and I think you should read her stuff, but THIS story is truly powerful: How to Really Live. You may need a few moments to soak it in and get composed again.

This line, this line made me write: “It’s time to be tired of being the living dead.”

There are burdens that happen because we are human, and there are burdens that we carry when we could lay them down. So I’m telling myself it’s time to stop living as one who has no life or hope or freedom. One of my favorite things my friend and gifted writer Allison G. guides her life by (asks out loud) and teaches other women about is the power of “living in freedom.” That my friends, I have not.

I’m here to say that it’s okay to not have it together. It’s okay if you’re broken. It’s okay if your heart feels weary. Your life will have hard seasons because that’s how we grow and are reminded that we are fragile humans and that we are not in control. But there are times when you (I) must choose to live and dwell in the present goodness of the Lord, surrendering all else.

Even through some rough days, I’ve been thinking about what really helps in seasons of weariness because I want to share something valuable, not the “pray harder” or “think about this good thing” very unhelpful kind of advice (all well-intended I’m sure).

  • Read the Psalms and hold onto any Scripture that you have memorized (Psalm 23 is one of the longest I know by heart but oh so rich).
  • Talk to trusted people who can listen to your heart and not preach.
  • Thad Cockrell‘s EP To Be Loved. I hadn’t listened to it in over a year, saw him perform “Great Rejoicing” a few weeks ago, and boy this album is piercing me all over again (in a good way).
  • All Sons and DaughtersSeason One. I just started listening to this duo, but seriously this album has been a beautiful gift.
  • Do something you love. Bake, hike, sing, draw, run, dance. And if you can’t figure out what you enjoy, think about when you were a kid and start there.
  • Get enough sleep.

Praying for the courage to uncover the life that got tangled and covered in burdens, insecurities, and fears. Because “it is for freedom/I am set free.” –All Sons and Daughters.

Do you have any other suggestions for weary hearts?