Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye, 2013

It's always really strange when you reach the end of another year.

Last January found my sister and I at the 2013 Passion Conference, singing and worshiping Jesus with friends new and old. We even hightailed it up to a lake house with my uncle's youth group and enjoyed the *chilly* Georgia weather together by singing under the vast, star-blanketed sky, huddled around a fire. It was wonderful.

Now, I'm one day away from the start of a brand new year. It's cliche how the New Year brings such fresh, long-awaited beginnings. But it's comforting at the same time. I can always start afresh. I'm actually really excited about this new phase of my life, this 2014. I feel like God's going to do big things in my life, and He's going to use me in great, new ways. This next year of my life, Lord willing, will be full of laughs, spiritual growth, and great memories. I also hope to attend Bible college in the Fall!


 Life is changing, but I'm excited. God is writing my story, and He's in control.

Monday, December 30, 2013

"Follow Me"

Do you ever try to plan something out, and then have it all come crashing down to the ground because you just couldn't make it work?

That's how I feel right now; fallible. And surprisingly, it feels good.

I try to live my life in my strength A LOT. I want what I want, and I think I know who or what will fit best into the story of my life at any given moment. I try to write it all out and plan it.

What a sad, boring way to live! I've found that God's little surprises are the best in the world. When God provides, and does something big {or even seemingly small} in your life, it moves you. It absolutely baffles me to know that we have a God, Jesus Christ, who is able to reach into the tiniest personal details of our lives and make things happen -- or not happen!

For a long time, I thought experiencing God was getting all emotional at a youth camp or conference, and having super passionate moments of worship, tears streaming, hands raised. That can be true, sure. But this past summer God taught me that none of those trappings are what it's all about. Instead, it's about getting to know a Creator that can comfort, guide and discipline me in my daily life. He is the One who whispers, "I'm here."

This is why I find it so important, so very vital, to seek His wisdom. I bet you've had your fair share of shortcomings, too. It can be so sad to see plans fail, and fall, and change. But when you spend time each day, in every moment, striving to glorify God, and coming to Him with your hurts, your pain, even your anger, He changes your heart.

God can lead you on the path of life. You only have to agree to follow.

Friday, December 27, 2013

How NaNoWriMo Forever Changed My Writing Life

So when I decided to attempt NaNoWriMo at the beginning of November, I didn't expect to finish. No, that would be far too ambitious of me. You see, I've been attempting to write my novel since ninth grade, to no avail. I've gone through nearly seven drafts, and usually never get farther than 150 pages. One solid draft had almost 240 pages, but I just stopped writing and eventually hated where the novel was going.

So imagine my surprise when NaNoWriMo actually inspired me to start writing again. And writing consistently.

It's now December 27th, and I'm still writing. I didn't win NaNoWriMo; on the contrary, my story still has only 45,782 words written. But it's encouraging to know that the challenge has helped me keep up consistent writing habits, which include sitting at my desk [usually at 1 a.m.] with a good smellin' candle (today, it's Vanilla Bean Noel), a radical record spinning (Fossil Collective's Tell Where I Lie), and sheets of photo inspiration all around me.

I'm a really visual person, so it helps to have pictures that I deem inspiration-worthy on hand when I'm writing. Often these pictures will inspire a scene, and help me visualize the location that I'm writing about; a small town in Georgia. And it helps that even though I'm sitting in the suburbs, I can at least mentally transport myself to the country, the wilderness.

What helps you to write? Did you attempt NaNoWriMo? I'm thinking next year I will give it a go again, and actually try to write 50,000 words in a month. I love a challenge!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime

I'm sitting in my room right now, with my Vanilla Bean Noel candle perched comfortably on my desk corner, burning away and smelling of Christmas cheer. A stack of new vinyls lean up against my record player, and the last hours of December 25th are dying away. It has been a very Merry Christmas.

I will remember Christmas 2013 as a myriad of things: The year my parents went absolutely all out and got my sister and I amazing gifts, and spent probably too much. I am grateful! I will remember it as the year that we made it through the intense grieving of last Christmas, and cuddled around the house, listening to records, watching movies, eating brownies and casserole and keish. I will also remember it as the year that Jesus really spoke to my heart about the true meaning of Christmas - God coming to Earth as man to be born, and eventually die, so He could win me back to Him.

Though I often get fixated on the gifts in front of me (read: Needtobreathe vinyl, wowza), this year the Giver showed me that He is the only thing that will ever fulfill me. And it's great to be in His arms.

OH DEAR this candle smells good.
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Praise God

Today, I am thankful that God has given me the gift of music, of lungs, of nature. There is so much beauty in the world that He has created just for us -- a radiant forest of pine trees, the sound of rushing waves on the sandy shore, the color blue, the taste of melted-in-the-center, warm chocolate chip cookies. Not to mention the people He's placed in our lives.

I feel like the Psalms especially echo this. Psalms is one of, if not my absolute favorite, books of the Bible. It talks about nature, people, music, praise. As a lover of lyrics, writing and the outdoors, this is such a beautiful book to me. It's a great expression of praise and adoration to our Creator, who calls us out of darkness into His magnificent light.

A favorite that came to mind today was Psalm 150:6. It says:

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!

Imagining the entire Earth raising up a shout of glory to God is beautiful, amazing. I sometimes struggle to remember that I, too, am a creation of the Lord. I am one of the works of His hands. But when I raise up a shout, a song of praise to Him, it's refreshing, exciting. I find that when I praise Him, my soul is fulfilled in every possible way.

Let everything that has breath, praise Him!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

I Get By with a Little Help from my Friends

When you know someone for a long time, you find yourself mimicking their mannerisms, thinking their thoughts, becoming more and more like them in all you say and do. When you truly know someone like that, it's wonderful, and it's frightening, because you realize that there's this person, this someone so completely not you, that means so much in your life. In your soul.

When you know someone so completely that the silence in the air is crackly with unspoken conversation, when the words they say have hidden meanings, when you can truly and fully understand a person, and resonate with all of their being, that, my friend, is glorious.

I am so grateful to have amazing, God-given friends that bless me each and every day. Friends that are more like family, and that have seen me at my worst {*ahem* my entire 7th grade year}, but stick by anyways. What a blessing!

Oh and guess what it's almost Christmas and I can't believe it I'm trying to believe it but I simply cannot and I have been trying to usher it forth by listening to the Relient K Christmas album  to make it feel more like winter but alas it is a balmy 82 degrees and yet it did not deter me from donning a red scarf to church today and oh my these Christmas commercials are making me feel the feelings what is this emotion 

Literally, I can't believe Christmas is right around the corner. I'm spending the last few days before it hastily {procrastinating} making my Christmas cards, caroling with my church group, hanging out with my splendid pals, and getting uber emotional at the new Apple commercial with my mother. Really, Christmas and other family-oriented holidays (read: Thanksgiving) seem to just get more and more emotional each year. Suddenly I am not the little girl running around the house, the one with the chubby cheeks and the new Christmas dress. No, I'm the 20 year old at the adults dinner table, not yet an engaged cousin, but no longer a young teen. It's great, and it's scary, and it's life.

I hope your Christmas is splendid! I had a great morning worship service with my church group, and it is always refreshing and healing to hear the voices of the people I've known my entire life singing to the Lord. I hope that this Christmas finds you basking in the light of His blessings, and celebrating the Savior that, out of love, was born to die for us. Merry Christmas! :)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Obsessed with: Andrew Garfield

You know those glorious, inexplicable days where you just wake up cheerful and oh-so-excited? That's me today. Chipper and happy!

It has everything to do with Christmas being five days away, and me finally having time to sit down and write my novel, and the good-smellin' Pumpkin Caramel Latte candle I currently have resting on the corner of my desk. It might also have a whole lot to do with the fact that I found this here *ahmazing* website dedicated entirely to gifs of Andrew Stinkin' Garfield.

I'm not usually a fan of celebrities, but can we give it up. CAN WE JUST It doesn't help that I was already totally obsessed with Spiderman (read: the best of superheroes, seeing as he manages to pull off a Spandex suit AND a career in journalism - like a pro!). I was content with Tobey Maguire in the first three films, but then they cast this glorious creature of British awesomeness and Tobey was no longer my favorite superhero actor. So long, Tobes.

And then there's Emma Stone. Anyone who tells you they don't approve of the Andrew Garfield/Emma Stone off-screen romance (aka "Stonefield", which is equal parts adorable and creepy), is lying. Just look. JUST LOOK AT THIS GLORIOUS LOVE There are entire blogs dedicated to these things, people. Entire blogs!

Another thing I am currently obsessed with (though not as much as Andrew Garfield, I will admit) is this wicked awesome PicMonkey feature, Snowfall, that lets you digitally paint snow onto the photo of your choice. This is marvelous for many reasons:

One. It doesn't snow here in the South, or at least not where I live. No, I could roll on down to the beach right now and stick my pinky toe into the ocean and not have a problem. It gets cold at night, but barely. So the chances of me taking a photo like this, with Actual Snow, is -17,000%.

Two. I've never even seen snow. There was that one time that I went to Georgia for the Passion Conference and it fell in my eye. It was actually quite glorious. When snowflakes fall from the sky, it's kind of an emotional experience. But a cold one. A freezing one. I was not amused. Anyways -- suffice it to say that snow-painting my photos is the closest I'll get (for now) to a legitimate snow day. Sigh.

On the bright side, here is a digitally altered photograph of Andrew Garfield in the dead of winter:

Have yourself a Merry little Christmas.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

On Stubbornness & St. Augustine

Do you ever feel opposition in your relationship with Christ? I discussed this a bit already in my Distractions post, but I wanted to address it a little more.

I am a stubborn person. I was such a strong willed child that when I was still a toddler, I tried sticking my finger in a light socket despite my parents' punishments. I think that my stubborn personality can be used for Christ if I let Him work on me, but more often than not it gets me into trouble.

It's harmful in that I always tend to think my way is best. I like to think that I can take control of my life, and handle it while God helps me with the really, really big things. But that's such a waste of God's rest for us. I want to enter His rest and throw all of my burdens onto Him without a single care of my own. The whole point of Jesus dying for us was that we simply could not carry the burdens ourselves.

When I tend to think that my plan is better, or if I start walking in my own strength, I can bet I'm going to fall, and fail. I can't even imagine the plans He has for me, they are so full and glorious. (Check out Jeremiah 29:11 and Ephesians 3:20-21 if you want more knowledge on this topic.)

This verse is my battle cry today:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. - Proverbs 3:5-6

On a lighter note, today is Thursday. Throwback Thursday. I usually never do these types of things, because they are hokey and silly, but at the same time, they're actually kind of fun, so here goes nothing:

Last December, my family and I journeyed to the glorious hipster/historical mecca of St. Augustine, FL. If you've never been, you absolutely have to go, provided that the time you you choose to travel isn't a holiday weekend. The streets were packed with people when we went, and it got a little stressful. I would recommend taking a trip in January when it's starting to get a little cooler, otherwise you will be *indefinitely* sweating in the Florida heat. Like a dog.

Also, if you visit St. Augustine, you must (must!) stop by Flagler College, which is basically like a castle, no big deal. One of my close friends goes there and she absolutely loves it. If you can get inside for a quick tour, do it, at least just to gawk at the amazing mosaic on the ceiling.

Only six days til Christmas, folks! THE JOYS

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


It doesn't seem real that in only seven short days, it's going to be Christmas.

Last Christmas was....different. It didn't feel much like a holiday, what with grief looming over my house like an ever present dark cloud. I can't believe it's been a year since last December. In many ways, it feels like my grandfather passed away years ago. Memories can be like that -- elusive, fuzzy, on the fringes.

This Christmas, despite it being cheery and nice and normal, doesn't feel much like Christmas, either. It hasn't been super cold here in the South; it's only just now starting to feel like Fall! My mom hasn't had as much holiday music on rotation around the house, and our Christmas tree is artificial.

That said, there have been bonfires and late nights in sweaters and scarves, even if they are entirely unnecessary. And soon there will be caroling and marshmallows, family and the Bible, Christmas morning spent eating waffles in my pajamas.

Sometimes I wonder what God thinks of Christmas. It has become so much of a shopping event, focused on presents. But there is still hope. It's encouraging to walk past houses that still have nativity scenes, or my personal favorite, a Santa Claus praying next to a tiny manger. I've seen several cars in the past few days with "Keep Christ in Christmas" bumper stickers. There are people out there who still celebrate the Savior.

Also, on the more hilarious side, we have this:

Go about your day, good people.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Chocolate & Houses

Happy December 16th! What is December 16th is you ask? WELL IT'S CHOCOLATE COVERED ANYTHING DAY HOW ABOUT THAT

I wish I could say that I spent my first delightful Monday off of school hoarding and eating chocolate pastries of various shapes and sizes (such as: chocolate cupcakes or chocolate scones or even just a can of chocolate cake frosting) but alas, I did not. I spent my first day off of school working.

My dad's a realtor, and I help him out by doing computer imputing work and other such glamorous tasks. Today, it was delivering magnetic calendars to some nearby neighborhoods. *magical*

It sounds like it would be a miserable, boring job, but I actually kind of enjoyed it. Today was gloriously cold -- I actually had to wear a sweatshirt, say what! -- and the neighborhood we were in had lots of pine trees, so it was beautiful. There is also some pretty gnifty stuff you find out while delivering things door to door.

Things I Learned Today:
-- There are some people on this Earth that have a fondness for tiny, yippy dogs. And they will scare the living daylights out of you when you stroll up innocently to their homes. This is very displeasing.
-- There's a lot you can learn about people if you look closely. The way someone keeps their house, or the stickers they have on their car can say a lot about the person that they are, and what they enjoy.

Alrighty then!

Friday, December 13, 2013

On Distractions

Sometimes, when God has something really amazing for us in store, or plans to use us in a mighty way, the devil lobs distractions like bombs into our lives.

It is both encouraging and discouraging to know that the devil is out there, fighting against me.

It's discouraging, obviously, because I am easily distracted by anything, really. Especially my own selfish desires. The devil will use whatever he can to get my sights off of the Lord - stressful school work, temptation, worry, even beautiful things like new records or a cool show. He'll do anything to get me more focused on the gifts than the Giver, especially at Christmastime.

It's encouraging, however, to know that I have opposition because that means God is using me. If I wasn't going anywhere, and had no potential to impact others for the sake of Christ, to be a light, to really matter, than the devil wouldn't bother. But the fact that he is trying to distract me and throw me off my game shows that I am headed in the right direction. I should be more concerned if there was no opposition at all.

It's going to be tough. It's going to be hard. Following Christ means loving Him more than I love stuff, places, people. It means I'm going to have to sacrifice buying that amazing vinyl that I want that has "just a few" minor hiccups. It's going to mean possibly deleting this blog if I feel it's getting in the way of my relationship with Christ. But most of all, it's going to mean running into the loving arms of my Savior because He is the only thing that can truly satisfy me.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. - Exodus 14:14

Thursday, December 12, 2013


I am so beyond glad that I serve a God that is creative. There is so much sheer beauty in this world. If you really think about all the little things He lets us enjoy, it's truly exciting. What would my life be like without my favorite worn pair of Converse sneakers, the sound of scratchy music reverberating from my record player? How much less exciting would life be if I couldn't watch sunsets at the beach, or strum an acoustic guitar, or laugh? What would the world be like without chocolate?

I see God's blessing in all of these things.

And then there are people. People are so beautiful. There is so much variety, diversity in the human race, and yet we were all created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).

It's odd to think that we as humans are creations. I get so excited and pumped and passionate about a project I'm working on -- whether that be a novel, a song, or a painting. I get so much joy out of making things, and that's because I was made in the image of the Creator Himself. Radical!

Obsessions: Downton Abbey

I'm going to come right out and say it: I have an obsessive personality.

It doesn't help that I hoard collect things incessantly  I wouldn't say I'm a pack rat, but if you asked for an assignment I penned in fourth grade, I'd probably be able to reach under my bed (or into the abyss of my closet) and pull one out. I don't keep everything....but I keep most things. 

Because I collect things, I get easily obsessed with things that come in sets - book series, lip glosses, Pokemon cards. OH THE POKEMON CARDS

So it's safe to say I'm *extremely* used to my obsessive ways, but even I was surprised with the magnitude of my fandom when my mom brought home a little show called Downton Abbey. 

If you haven't seen the show, well....I don't know what advice to give you other than run, don't walk, RUN to your nearest library or video store (do those still exist?) and snatch up the first season. Cousin Matthew will thank you, the world will thank you.

I can't even fully expound on my love for this show. It's really pitiful to admit, but I feel like I know these people. This happened when I read The Fault in Our Stars (Augustus! Hazel Grace! Phillip!!), and it happens while I'm writing my novel, but I've never really had a television show affect me like this one.

And can we all just take a moment to appreciate the glory of Cousin Matthew. I love this guy, seriously. It's a joke in my family, how the people of Downton never call him by just his first name, it's always "Cousin Matthew". If you haven't seen the show and don't know what I'm talking about, please, PLEASE just watch an episode. It's British, it's hilarious, it's emotional. You will laugh, you will cry, and at times, you will feel deeply confused by the many epic (and heartwrenching) plot twists. You will adore the sassy remarks made by the Dowager Countess, you will hate and love Thomas and O'Brien in equal measure, and wonder why Edith can never -- never! -- catch a break. Oh and also may I mention COUSIN MATTHEW

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Obsessions: Vinyl

At the risk of sounding like a complete "cultured," too-cool-for-you hipster type, I would like to say that one of my current obsessions right now is vinyl.

I know it gets old hearing all the relentless twenty-somethings babble on about how much they love an old format they weren't even alive to understand, but I'm glad that records are something that have survived the decades and that I am able to enjoy them.

My college is situated right around an artsy, thriving downtown area, and exploring the city means browsing a lot of vinyl at the local record store. I may be one music and word obsessed girl, but I find visits to the bookstore and record shop so enjoyable. I could literally be there for hours, sifting through titles and albums.

I think that it's more fun to splurge on something when there's somewhat of a special occasion for it. This year I'm on staff for my university's newspaper, but I haven't touched any of the earnings. In a sort of way to reward myself, and celebrate the end of my third semester of college, I bought this beauty at my favorite record store. It's a perfect album for vinyl; it sounds haunting and ancient and gorgeous at the same time. I wasn't a massive Coldplay fan before, but this record changed my mind. It's an absolute piece of art.