on body image.

I was never a clothes shopper. It’s true – ask anyone who knows me.

(I was never a shopper, period, but I did buy books. A backbreaking amount of books, as I learned after moving them all to our new house. #noragrets)

Growing up, I usually just wore whatever my mom got me for Christmas or my birthday. I didn’t have many new clothes, and I couldn’t care less.

In this inability to care less, my appearance suffered. My go-to outfit in my teen years was a t-shirt and jeans, with a skirt if we were going to church. Before our Skirts Phase, that is. Aka The Dark Days. Then, it was t-shirts and skirts. Denim skirts.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to look put-together – I did. It also wasn’t that I didn’t have many clothes to wear – I did. It was just that… I didn’t care.

For a long time, I was uncomfortable in my skin. For most of my teen years, I had an undiagnosed medical issue that caused weight gain. I didn’t know why I didn’t look good in certain things anymore, and, more than anything else, I wanted to cover up. Plus, it’s not like I had anyone to impress. (Moving two states away right when I was supposed to start liking guys made sure of that.)

It was only recently that I started buying clothes that I wanted to wear, with money that I’d earned.

Looking back, the only discernible thing that had changed was my outlook. I stopped viewing my body as an enemy or something that I shouldn’t put too much pride in. God gave me this body, dang it, and I should be happy with it – proud of it, even!

I didn’t start losing weight until I realized this, and accepted my body for what it was – mine.

If you’re struggling with what you look like, please know that it’s okay. We’ve all been there. Some of us are still there, sometimes.

Today, I was there. I needed clothes for a temp job next month, and I felt all the lies I’d believed about myself come screaming back as I looked at myself in the mirror. But I didn’t let the thoughts take root. Instead, I just left. In another store, I put on a cute outfit and danced to Katy Perry and Ben Rector in the changing room. Needless to say, the thoughts were gone. (Totally because I knew I looked super cute.)

It’s okay to hate your body sometimes. Just please… don’t stay there.

It’s okay to love your body. It’s okay to put clothes on it that are inspired by a style that is uniquely yours. It’s okay to be proud of it. It’s okay to love it. And if you don’t, you’ll get there someday.

I’ve heard that the way to get over a crush is to focus on one of their flaws, until you can’t see why you liked them in the first place. Today, I challenge you to do the opposite. I challenge you to find something about your body that you love. Maybe it’s your nose or your legs or your elbows. It can be big or small – just something that either you love or something that others have complimented. Tomorrow or next week or next month, find something else. Keep doing this until your list reaches from the top of your pretty head to the bottom of your adorable heels (yeah, the same heels that are encircled in yucky dead skin sometimes). Whenever you look in the mirror, repeat these things over and over again. Soon, your perspective will change. If not, keep working at it. And hopefully, you’ll soon realize that you’re a beautiful, unforgettable, unique person made in God’s image, for His glory, because He delights in you.

when internet friends become real.

I’ve never believed that internet friends aren’t “real friends,” simply because I’ve loved all of the people I met on the internet (okay, maybe not all – but certainly most of them!), so much that I often wish I could meet them.

A week ago, it finally happened.

The Elf (Heather) has been following my blog ever since her sister, Jane, introduced it to her several years ago. Neither know exactly how long they’ve followed my blog (Heather says Jane’s been reading it for “ages”), but it’s been a while. Heather didn’t really start reading it until she found and resonated with my first Harry Potter post (our experiences with this franchise are ridiculously similar), and then, according to her, found out that I “wrote fantastic rants.”

Heather, for whatever reason, started reading my blog and commenting a lot, and I grew to really enjoy hearing from my elven friend, whoever she was (we didn’t exchange names until later). I soon found out that she was from Australia, so obviously we never thought we’d be able to meet, although we both wished we could. Fast forward to a few months ago, when she messaged me on Facebook and told me she and her sister would be in the States for a while, specifically about an hour away from where I live, and wondered if I’d like to get together. To which I said something along the lines of, “HECK YES!”

A week ago, we finally met. We hugged, then got in the car and took a picture to send to our relatives, assuring them that we were all real and not random middle-aged men!

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{heavily photoshopped bc the girls were in shadows and we were too focused on talking to get another one}


My sister and I drove them to a famous fast food restaurant and sat for at least two hours talking, eating, and laughing together. And it. was. a. BLAST. I’ve rarely met people whom I’ve connected with so closely and so quickly, and finally listening to Heather and Jane’s story after wanting to for so. dang. long. was amazing, to say the least!

In those short hours, we talked about homeschooling and our (uncannily similar) church experiences, conservatism and feminism, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, courtship vs dating, and marriage and relationships. I would’ve loved to pack up my bags and roam the US with them for the remainder of their stay (especially their next stop, which is one of my favorite spots in the entire country), talking with them more about all of these things, but we’ll have to limit it to all of the social media platforms we connected on within five minutes of leaving one another. (Provided the elders approve.) (We made so many inside jokes, guys, and I am here. for. it.)

In summary, my sister and I had an amazing time meeting Heather and Jane, and can’t wait to see where our friendship goes! Maybe a trip to Australia is in order? We’ll see!

{ps: hey reader. yes, you. hello there. if you’d like to meet me too (and aren’t a 65-year-old man), let me know and i’ll see what i can do. this meeting has gotten me addicted to meeting people i’ve connected with online and i want to do it again!}

the deadline is nigh!

Hello, all!

Just dropping in to remind you about the deadline for responses to my novel. I’m extending it slightly to the 15th because I haven’t been able to check my email since we moved, but it’s still approaching rapidly. If you requested it and haven’t read it or sent me your critiques… the ball is in your court, my friend. (If you’ve gotten back to me, thank you. The ice cream social will commence at noon.)

I’m going to be replying to everyone’s emails asap (sooo sorry if I haven’t gotten to you yet). The reason is that we still haven’t fully moved out of our old house, so the days where I’m not nannying or cleaning the new house (or preparing for my awesome graduation party & entertaining out-of-town guests) are spent packing at the old house. (To quote Helen Parr, “Why do we have so much junk?!”) I just downloaded the Gmail app to aid in keeping up with my email, so yeah. I also downloaded the WordPress app, which is how I’m doing this post, so give me your thoughts on whether this is laid out differently or anything.

Now. Back to Taylor Swift and reading everyone’s critiques.

“it feels like there’s oceans between you and me.”

(title taken from this song, which has been on repeat for the last several months.)

This is just a “hello update I am not dead” post.  Because I am not dead, I’m just without wifi.

(Basically the same thing.  But I digress)

If you’ve been following me on social media or know me in real life, you’ll know that my family (finally) moved into the house we’ve been working on for the last year.  It doesn’t have wifi (and won’t, for reasons too complicated to go into), but my sister and I have our own little apartment (complete with kitchenette and living room space) that I’ve just fallen completely in love with, so I adore it.  It’s beautiful and we haven’t moved in all of our junk yet, but my friends from Virginia came in last night and we’re having most of The Squad over tonight to celebrate my younger sister’s birthday, so it’s finally starting to feel like a home.

I’ve been jumping head-first into the post-college writing life, starting with query letters.  I sent one, then contacted a new author friend whom I met a few weeks ago and asked for her help critiquing it.  I took the past week off to move, but I’m planning on going to Starbucks on Monday to work on it and send it to a few more agencies before the weekend, so that’s exciting.  I’m also planning on starting my next novel in June, so stay tuned for updates on that.

I’ve also traveled some since I last posted.  A few friends in Florida graduated college, so my sisters and I went down there for the weekend and attended, sneaking in visits with other friends in between Starbucks dates, a production of Fiddler on the Roof, and my first trip to Oxford Exchange in Tampa (and I’ll definitely be going back bc books + coffee + food?  UM YES PLEASE).

A few other things have happened – including the preschool graduation of the twins I nanny (so. many. tears.) – but my siblings want to go back home now, so I’d better sign off.  I’ll definitely be back soon, though.  I miss all of you!  Leave a comment telling me what you’ve been up to!

your time has come.

I’ve taken a month off to recuperate from college and am ready to jump headfirst into this whole writer life thing.  That means scheduling time to write my next novel (check), starting to send of query letters for The Art (check – legit the scariest thing I’ve ever done but I’m so ready to keep doing it), and asking for beta readers for the aforementioned (basically finished) novel.

SO!  If you’ve ever wanted to read the novel I’ve been working on for literally the last three years (The Art of Letting Go, if you forgot) now’s your chance.  I need feedback on it so that it can be the best it can be.  Anything and everything will help – inconsistencies, plot holes, places that don’t make sense, basically anything that I didn’t fix in the last three drafts.

The only thing I ask of you is that you’re serious – that you’ll read it and get back to me with your critiques by, say, June 1st.  That’s an entire month.  You can do this.  I believe in you.

Sooooo if you’d like to beta read my novel, comment with a reason why you should and how many (if any) novels you’ve beta read in the past.  (If you haven’t done any, that’s totally fine.)  In a separate comment (which I won’t publish), leave your email address.  I just got a new Gmail specifically for my writing and I’m going to start using that one for blog stuff.

I think I’m going to limit the number of beta readers to five, but I don’t think there will be more than five, so that’ll work out.  (In the event that more than five people want to read it, well, first I’ll keel over in astonishment, then we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.  Maybe I’ll take beta readers in waves.  {My life is crazy rn.  We’re moving.  I’m trying to get a job.  Etc, etc, etc.})

THANK YOU SO MUCH IN ADVANCE & I LOVE YOU ALL.

the greatest oxymoron.

I used to go to a church where we had communion every Sunday.  I didn’t understand why at first.  Then I worried that it would become rote, with a weekly occurrence robbing it of its sacredness.  But after a few months, my family and I embraced it.  It brought us closer as a family because there were always recent events that we needed to apologize to one another – instead of trying to wrack our brains once a month for stuff to say sorry for.

The same can be said for the Easter story – all of the events surrounding the crucifixion, the burial, and the resurrection.

If you’ve grown up in the church, you’ve heard this story.  A lot.  You’ve been to multiple services on Easter weekend, all touching on some aspect of the story, and maybe you’ve even been to Passion City Church’s Good Friday service with Louis Giglio (which, if you haven’t, is a must because it’s unparalleled).

Easter, in a sense, can also become rote – obvious and dull for all of us who have grown up listening to this story over and over since it’s so essential to the Gospel.  In the midst of meals with extended family members, egg hunts with small children, and making sure your outfit is finished by Easter morning, it can even be forgotten.  This same struggle happens around Christmastime, when the true meaning for all of the celebrations is pushed aside by the chaos and distractions.

This is true for me.  In the past, I’ve had to repent for focusing more on traveling to see family members than on Jesus’s precious gift to me.

That’s one thing I never want to lose sight of.  It’s the greatest oxymoron I’ve ever known – that by His wounds, He gave me healing.  I’ll never get over that.

But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5

This Easter, spend time with your family members and enjoy the egg hunt (it’s perfectly fine to be scared of the Easter bunny, though it’s too big why I don’t understand), but take the time to get alone with God.  Sit in your room or take a walk in the woods or drive on a random road in the mountains – whatever it takes to get rid of all of the distractions and outside chaos.  Think about what He did for you, and thank Him for it.  I know I’ll be doing it, because I’ve been awestruck by His grace and love – the love that saved my soul.

the book tag.

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{for le blog aesthetic // not mine}

My lovely friend Eva over at Coffee, Classics, and Craziness tagged me in this wonderful book tag and I decided to do it!  (I rarely do tags, not because I don’t like them, but because I usually forget.  Keep tagging me, guys!  One of these days I’ll remember to do them.  XD)

Rules
You must be honest.
You must answer all the questions.
You must tag at least 4 people.

1. What book has been on your shelf the longest?
I’m gonna have to go with the trilogy of E.B. White books my godfather got for me when I was a baby, or Spy for the Confederacy, which I’m pretty sure is the very first book I ever bought myself.  It was on a shelf at a homeschooling convention, and little eight-year-old me, with such a massive love of both spies and the Civil War, decided to buy it.  I still love it.

2. What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next?
Current read: I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter.  Oh my gosh, where has this book been all of my life?!  I would’ve liked it a lot when I was a little younger, but I’m super glad I found it now.  It’s about spies and forbidden teen love and it’s just so great.  10/10.
Last read: Always a Bridesmaid For Hire by Jen Glantz.  I enjoyed most of it, as it’s probably a good overview of what my life will look like for the next few years (minus the business part).  See my review here.
Next read: The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker.  The plot sounds great and I’m always looking for random books to try out.  Plus, that cover tho.  *heart eyes emoji*

3. What book did everyone like, but you hated?
I try not to hate books, but I really didn’t like The DUFF or Eleanor and Park (which, arguably, was only my second RR book, and I’m planning on rereading it again in the future to see if my opinion has changed).  I also greatly despise a lot of those conservative purity books that I got pulled into when I was younger – So Much More and Before You Meet Prince Charming, for instance.  (I’ll write a post about it in the future if y’all want to read my ranty opinion, but the short of it is that a girl isn’t a sub-helpmeet for her dad and should be free to decide, with guided wisdom from authorities, what to do with her life – and, yeah, that includes moving out, getting a job, and going to college if she feels like that’s God’s will for her life.  These books basically tell girls that their only biblical place is in the home, under her father’s authority, until she gets married.  I know young women aged 25-30 who still live with their parents, uneducated and jobless.  Do. Not. Like.)

4. What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?
My goal in life is to READ ALL THE BOOKS, but there are probably a few that I’ll never get around to – the other Mitch Rapp books (unless they’re made into more movies bc Dylan O’Brien tho), and various classics that I have no interest in.

5. What book are you saving for retirement?
What’s retirement???  I’ve got a few books that I’ve been stockpiling for when we move into our internet-less house, including Les MisTumble Fall, Everything Leads to You, The Unexpected Everything, Illuminae, and The Infinite Moment of Us – all of which I’ve gotten recently specifically for this move.  (Except for Illuminae, which a friend sent me.  Oh, and Les Mis, which has sat, in all it’s bricklike, unabridged glory on my shelf for about six years.  I’ll get to it.)

6. Last page: read it first, or wait ’til the end?
I AIN’T ABOUT THAT SPOILER LIFE, FAM.  If the wind flips pages forward and I see stuff that hasn’t happened yet, I get all annoyed and heartbroken and achy inside and question whether or not I want to even finish the book.  Last-page-readers are sub-human and will not survive the winter or the zombie apocalypse.

7. Acknowledgement: waste of paper and ink, or interesting aside?
I adore acknowledgments.  Probably because I’m a writer, but I just love seeing who has influenced the author.  It’s so much fun to also get a sneak peek into their life and the little inside jokes they have with people they thank.  Plus, it’s a great way to find agents to pester to represent my book.

8. Which book character would you switch places with?
Hermione Granger or someone from The Berinfell Prophecies, preferably whoever kisses Jimmy, whom I’ve had a crush on for the last eight years, with absolutely no sign of ceasing.  Or maybe Jo March, since I’m already basically her already.  (I’d say yes to Laurie in a heartbeat.  Screw whatever’s “supposed to happen,” to quote Eliza Schuyler-Hamilton, “THAT BOY IS MIIIIIINE!”)

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life? (Place, time, person?)
Oh heck yes.  I can’t read Fangirl without thinking of the porch swing at my grandparents’ house where I inhaled it for the first time, or The Final Storm without remembering literally chucking it against a wall in my room while screaming “NO!” and sobbing, or The List without flashbacks to remembering the skiing trip where I was first introduced to Robert Whitlow (and remembering that a friend of mine gave me a signed copy of it because he met Robert), or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone without thinking of all the minds I’d blow by reading it, or The Scarlet Pimpernel without thinking, “This is a classic???  And I’m ENJOYING IT???”  Every single book holds memories for me, and sometimes I reread books just to revisit the memories surrounding them.  True story.

10. Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.
Besides the previous story about a book personally signed to me by Robert Whitlow (*heart eyes emoji*), I think the next most interesting story is the story behind A Thief in the Theater: A Kit Mystery.  Yes, that Kit.  Ever since a good friend had gotten to go to the American Girl store in NYC back when I was like ten, I’d always dreamed of going.  So when my dad took me to NYC for my high school graduation, the American Girl store was one of the first things on our to-do list.  I walked out of that store with that book and two t-shirts (one for me and one for my doll, of course) with PRIDE.

11. Have you ever given a book away for a special reason to a special person?
All of my books are my precious babies, but I did buy three copies of If You Find This Letter to write in and give to people as Christmas presents.  Still one of the best gifts I’ve ever given someone.  That book is literally life-changing.  Read it.

12. Which book has been with you most places?
Probably Fangirl or The Martian.  When I was reading them (and then rereading both), I couldn’t put them down.  Even when I wasn’t reading them, they had to be by my side, in my “mommy purse.”  Other than that, I’m gonna have to go with Eva’s answer and say my Bible.  It’s been on almost all of my vacations, plus all over Charlotte when I did summer missions.

13. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?
I was never a classics person when I was younger, which I’m not ashamed of, especially since I’m able to come to them now, for the first time, with an adult mindset that I didn’t have when I was younger.  For instance, a friend and I were talking the other day about girls who got into Austen when they were teenagers and loved them purely for the romance – which is fine, but I’m so happy I’m able to see past the romance and enjoy Jane for her satire and wit, not to mention her feminism and the fact that she was so far ahead of her time.

14. Used or brand new?
Used that looks brand new.  I prefer cheap books, and if I can find a new copy of a book for $5, I’ll absolutely get it.  I like my books in pristine condition and will pay a few extra dollars to get a new book over a used one, but I’m blessed with knowing a few different places to get cheap, beautiful used books.  (*cough* 2nd and Charles, where I got 2 books, a movie, and the first season of Graceland for $14 the other day *cough*)

15. Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?
Nope!  I’m vaguely interested in The Da Vinci Code, though!

16. Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?
Mockingjay.  I thought Part 2 did a great job of fixing the problems in the book.

17. Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks included?
Are you kidding; every book makes me hungry.  There are a few books that make me especially hungry, though, including The Little Women Letters and Harry Potter.  (One word: BUTTERBEER).

18. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?
Cait (Paper Fury).  I adore her.  Plus, she’s so incredibly sweet and friendly – it seriously feels like we’re friends whenever she replies to my comments on her reviews.  Read all of the posts on her website.  She’s hilarious, too, and I want to be just like her when I grow up.

19. Is there a book out of your comfort zone (e.g., outside your usual reading genre) that you ended up loving?
Classics are a recent pleasure, thanks to the Lit courses I took in college (how is that past tense already it feels like i just started college i can’t evennnnnn) that made me study quite a few classics.  (we’re talking 50+, 12 of which I read and wrote essays on in two months.  college is hard, y’all.)  I’ve also started really enjoying memoirs, thanks to Unbroken and If You Find This Letter.  People are fascinating.

Alrighty, I tag all of my followers who want to do it either in the comments or on their own blogs, especially Jessica and Katelyn.  ❤