happy seven years, inklings press {& a lil announcement}

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my mantra recently. {you’ve got mail, 1998}

{I didn’t realize it was the blog’s anniversary ’til I was almost done writing this post and I’m too busy/lazy to rewrite the beginning so.  Yeah.}

Hello, all!  How are your Christmases going?  I hope everybody’s on break by now, and if you’re not, you have my eternal sympathy and all the internet hugs.

I finished wrapping all of my presents yesterday while watching Friends and stuck them under the tree.  It’s starting to look pretty dang full.  After that, I had a cup of cocoa by the fire while “watching” a Christmas movie (and simultaneously texting a friend about whether “fluttery feelings” are a prerequisite for dating #multitasking).  Today, we’ve got cookie-baking on the general to-do list, and then I’ve got another present to finish up and mail post-Christmas.  (I’m so late that it doesn’t even matter and I really want to miss the Christmas rush.)

ANYWAY.

Last Friday, I promised a review of Scrooged and Serendipity for my next Christmas Movie Marathon review.  (Click here to see all of my previous reviews.)  WELL.  We watched Scrooged last night, but since it’s been an entire year since I watched Serendipity and I can’t watch again without my sister (who’s in NC right now, doing Christmasy stuff with her boyfriend), it’ll have to wait.  (A preview of those reviews if you need a movie night recommendation – Scrooged was pure “meh” and Serendipity is everything.)  My review should be up sometime next week; probably Monday or Tuesday because we’re leaving for Christmas with the extended fam on Wednesday (and then you probably won’t hear anything from me ’til the new year, but I’ll try to get some posts queued).

ALL THAT TO SAY: Since that’s not happening, and as a make-up-slash-Christmas-gift, I’m going to post a fanfic I wrote as a Christmas present for a good friend a few years ago. Platonic Stucky, pre-First Avenger.  I’ll post half of it on Christmas Eve and the other half on Christmas Day.  Get ready.  😉

And actually I just realized that today is the seventh anniversary of my blog.  WOW.  If you want to see my first post, you’ll have to go back to my old blog.  Feel free to look around a bit; I’m embarrassed at how HORRIFIC some of the posts were, but it’s a testament to how far I’ve come.  *wink*  Yes, I used to be a Blogspot blog.  Yes, it was originally going to be a blog for my sister and I – which is the only way my dad would let me start one, being the tender age of barely-fifteen.

Gosh.  Reliving those days just a little.  We’d just moved to Georgia from North Carolina. My birthday had been, like, three weeks before, and we celebrated with the only friends I knew at the time – coincidentally, only because my mom had gone to high school with their mom and they’d reconnected at a reunion a while before.  I’d just discovered the blogosphere and was slowly learning about online friends.  (Not ashamed to say that sometimes it felt like my online friends were the only friends I had at the time.)

Now, seven years later, I’m graduating college, have so many friends that I can’t even count them all… and I’m finally – finally – loving everything I post on this little blog.  After seven years, some of my tastes have changed (I don’t post nearly as much about period dramas as I used to, namely because I’ve realized that it’s okay to like mainstream stuff and I don’t have to be Different From Other Girls {which I could write an entire post about, as I told Jessica the other day}), and I know my writing’s gotten better.  And, um, hello – my writing went from something I just did to fill the empty hours to something I realized I actually loved doing.  And I published a novel that I started writing somewhere around that point, so that’s kind of cool.

I just want to say thank you, reader, because without you, this blog would’ve died a long time ago.  Each pageview and follower and comment kept me going, even when I didn’t think it was worth it.  I love you all muchly.  Thanks for sticking with me all these years (or months or however long you’ve been reading).

happy, free, confused, & lonely in the best way.

22, baby.  it’s been a ride.  and i can literally say that everything in this song personally connects with me in one way or another.  figures.

here’s to another year of ditching the whole scene and ending up… okay, dreaming and sleeping.  and hoping everything will be alright.

{ps: i love taylor.  if you hate on taylor, i will hate on you and that’s just the way it’ll go.}

year in review: 2015

Well, it’s that time of year again.  That time of the year when I put off writing my big “Year In Review” post and then eventually do it and become overwhelmed by all of the amazing things that have happened during the year.  Which is probably going to happen again this time.  (EDIT: It did but now I’m just glad it’s all over.  HA.  I wouldn’t change anything that happened in 2015, though.  I have been changed for the better and for good.)

2015 was a big year for me.  Honestly, I think it was one of the most challenging and growing years I’ve ever gone through.  (And hopefully it won’t be the last because I know I need to grow in a lot of areas.)  My family had to go through a lot of hard things, and I had to go through a lot of hard things.  I’ve also done some pretty amazing things, too.  From seeing my book (slowly) sell copy after copy, to watching my relationships with certain people grow or change, to doing some of the most comfort-zone-stretching things I’ve ever done…  It’s been incredible.

I’m really glad a year only has 365 days (with the exception of leap years), because I don’t think I could handle 2015 if it had even one more day!  SO READY FOR 2016!!!

But before that, I’d like to look over some of the things I’ve done this year.  (And I don’t care if you read this or skim it – it’s mostly for me, anyway.  Lol.)

January

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me at the beginning of 2015.  wish i could go back and tell myself a few things, namely to brace myself and shut up.

I think January was a pretty chill month for me.  I rang in the new year with a sick Katie and Grace Unplugged.  (The rest of the family went to a friend’s house and I stayed home with Katie, which I didn’t mind because I’m lame and enjoy being home alone.)

I kept my head down and studied for a few different tests, babysat kids twice a week, and read a few really good books.  (Speaking of books, here’s my Goodreads Year In Books if you’re interested!)

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right before we left.  (also before we were almost late because i got a flat tire.  and no, i didn’t cry over it.  why would you think that. *facepalm*)

Most importantly, my younger sister and I went to see Newsies with a group and it was FANTASTIC.

Notable blog posts: ‘in this moment, life is good’ and ‘2k15 reading challenge’ (which I didn’t end up completing – LOL!).

February

February brought a lot of the same – studying, reading, and nannying.

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random adorable picture of jenna (almost 2)

Early in the month, we had a “Courtship Conversations” conference/Q&A thing at our house.  Three couples got to share their courtship story and then answered questions from the audience (we had about fifty people over!).

On Valentine’s Day, we had some friends over for pizza and a movie (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, because duh).

Shortly after, my parents went on a two-night anniversary trip and left my siblings and I at home alone overnight for the very first time.  We ate junk food and stayed up way too late crying over Monk and it was beautiful.

We got hit with a snowstorm sometime in February and took in a family for a few days one week, then a few more days the next week.

Notable blog posts: ‘actively waiting.’

March

The most exciting thing that happened in March happened later in the month.  After taking an Ethics final, I officially became a Junior!  After like a day of celebrating, I started studying for my next test.  No rest for the weary.

We celebrated two birthdays as a family – my baby sister’s 2nd and my baby brother’s 15th.

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morgan and i before the event.

Oh, and I also went to an author event at a library with Morgan Huneke and sold a grand total of one book.  Yay!  XD

Notable blog posts: My official introduction to The Art of Letting Go (which I wrote because I had a lot of new followers or because I didn’t think I’d officially introduced it yet or because I wanted to divert attention from my newly-published novel… anyway, I was excited, so I wrote it).

April

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me, james, and hannah after the last performance.  so. much. fun.

April brought in a new experience for my brother and I – something we still think about a lot.  The college near us did Into the Woods and James and I (and my bff) were in the ten-piece orchestra.  We rehearsed with the cast a few times a week, and every night the week of the performances.

I also started reading The Ascendance Trilogy in April, and the first book, The False Prince, quickly became one of my favorite books of 2015.  (It was right in the middle of about three or four really stupidly lame books, so that made it even better.)

(I’m really glad I got a lot done in these first few months and no notable drama occurred (well, it did, but it happened slowly), because God knew the second half of 2015 would be really hard for me and my family.)

Notable blog posts: A fun interview with Hayden Wand after the release of her novel, Hidden Pearls.

May

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the kids i babysat (minus the one in the top right).  (and the shirt-matching was unintentional.  of course, my children will all match all the time.) (NOT.)

During the end of April and the beginning of May, I did one of my biggest babysitting jobs ever (rivaling the infamous Florida one in October).  I babysat four children under twelve for five days (overnight, too), while their parents were in Italy.  Seeing as I hadn’t stayed at home without my own parents until a few months before, I was justifiably nervous.  (And the parents were in ITALY.  AS IN PLANE-RIDE AWAY.)  We had fun, though, and I look back on those days with fondness.

I didn’t do a lot of school in May.  After my CollegePlus coach (who I still love dearly) quit early in the month (with no warning whatsoever), I wasn’t able to study almost at all.  LOL.  The school I did do, though, was the beginning of my first “official” college course – a fiction course from LSU (which I quit for a month and a half after I got a horrible grade on my first assignment, setting the pace for the rest of the course).

My dad was gone for about a week, so we did what we always do when he’s gone – watch a ton of girly chick flicks.  I watched Easy A and The Devil Wears Prada for the first time, cementing my love for Stanley Tucci.  (Gosh, I love that man.)

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ISN’T IT CUTE?!

I also wrote a lot during this month, mostly on The Art of Letting Go.

The most exciting thing that happened was that I cut my hair super-short for the first time since I was like ten.  It had gotten so long and I just started hating how long it was and how much of a hassle it was.  I wore it up all the time.  Finally, I was just like, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.”  So I got it chopped off AND I IMMEDIATELY LOVED IT AND I STILL LOVE IT.

Notable blog posts: ‘5 things i learned while watching four kids for five days‘ and ‘just keepin’ it real.

June

June is when everything changed.  I got a new coach and started studying more, read more, wrote more, matured more, and stressed over church more.

My dad was one of the elders in our church, and everything regarding that started going downhill.  Without going into much detail, differences between the elders became harder to deal with and offenses occurred.  Nearly every Sunday, we came home and talked about the sermon.  Church consumed my family’s life – and not in a good way.  It became a drudgery and a drain, which isn’t what church should be.

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my sisters and i took my cousin on a girls-only shopping trip for the first time while we were together.  i think it’s going to have to be a tradition!

We spent a super-fun week early in June with my grandparents and cousins, and had a blast getting to know them better.  It was relaxing to be able to get away from all of the drama.  However, when it was over, we were sucked right back into it again.

With the announcement of gay marriage, I voiced my opinion and didn’t care what people said.  My opinion hasn’t really changed and I still believe that, yes, we live in a fallen world; but Who’s still on the throne?  (Recently, though, I’ve come to the realization that the Supreme Court really shouldn’t have had anything to do with people’s personal lives.  Why is it their business if two men or two women marry?  They need to be concerned with other things like the debt crisis and the shootings overseas and here in the States.  [end unintentional rant])

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still my favorite picture of me and hannah, even though my hair is defying gravity.  isn’t she pretty?!

During the last few weeks of June, my best friend left for two weeks, leaving me able to help plan a surprise party for her.  On the day of the party, we went out to eat and get dessert, then came back to “watch a movie.”  The surprise was nearly ruined by a friend we saw walking as we drove back to her house (long story), but she was totally surprised by the friends who were waiting back at her house.

Notable blog posts: The above post on gay marriage and my first book-related fangirly and ranty posts – my favorite and least favorite books of the first half of 2015.

July

I thought June was intense… and then July came.  Oh, boy.

More of the same happened – reading, writing, nannying.  I blogged more, too, which is something I’ve been wanting to do literally since I started blogging back in 2009.  I started sharing my opinion more, and writing about things that I couldn’t get out of my mind (see my Deep Thoughts tag).

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we sent this picture to my parents to let them know that we’d finally gotten there safely (albeit super late). (ISN’T MY BROTHER SUPER TALL?!)

My siblings and I took our first big trip by ourselves halfway through the month.  We drove all the way from our house in Georgia to Indianapolis, Indiana for WITAlive, a singles’ conference by Whatever It Takes Ministries.  (They did a marriage conference that radically changed my parents’ marriage – and our family’s lives – in 2014.)  We had such a good time, and learned so much.  I examined my relationship with God more closely than I had in a long time.

After going to WITAlive, I decided to become more real with people.  I didn’t want to hide behind a facade anymore.  I knew it never worked out – for myself or for people I observed around me.  I never insinuated that I was perfect (far from it), but I knew that I wasn’t being real with people, and that had to stop.  I’m pretty sure this became apparent on my blog, as well as in real life with my friends (especially with my church friends).

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basically what we did the entire weekend.  filter courtesy of instagram, which i got right after WITAlive.

Over the end of July and the beginning of August, Katie and I went to our first vacation by ourselves.  We organized it with a friend from NC, bought food, and made reservations at a campsite in SC.  The weather was perfect, and we had an amazing time doing whatever we wanted.  (We even ordered pizza the first night simply BECAUSE WE COULD.)

Notable blog posts: So. Many. Blog. Posts.  I ranted about Christian fiction, I wrote a follow-up post because I wasn’t done ranting, I talked about cussing in books, I wrote about finishing The Art of Letting Go, I wrote about the WITAlive conference and what it means to be “Open, Broken, and Free,” and I ranted (again) about writing – this time about ten things people shouldn’t say to writers.  (I told you I started writing more.  This is one of my proudest blog months.)

August

Oh, August.  Golly Pete.

For one, my normal babysitting job changed slightly, which was a little bittersweet for me.  I was able to finish up a few more courses, but focused mainly on the fiction course (which I still have a love/hate relationship with).  I read a lot of really good books in August – mostly rereads – and I started editing my novel (really re-writing, though).

It’s also notable to mention that, sometime before or during this month, one of my regular babysitting jobs dropped because our schedules didn’t correlate anymore.  I’ve missed it ever since.  : (

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shortly after we left our church, i read a book at starbucks for the the first time and it was all i ever dreamed it would be. the fact that God could give me happiness in such a dark time is just astounding to me.

Halfway through August, we decided that the church situation wasn’t working anymore.  August 16th was our last Sunday, and although we knew pretty much as soon as church started that we were going to leave, we didn’t tell anyone until the next day.  Honestly, we were all so heartbroken that it felt like someone had died.  We were relieved to be rid of the stress, but we knew we’d miss it.

Right around the same time, I discovered Dan and Phil, and Sleeping at Last (mainly through his song ‘Saturn,’ which, coincidentally [or not], just came on in my Amazon Music Library).  (Then I discovered this Captain America fanvid, which I still cry over regularly.)  Coping with the church stuff meant (besides the obvious prayer and regular conversations with my family) binge-watching Dan and Phil, random movies (and TV shows like Monk), studying a ton, and listening to a lot of music.  And basically doing whatever I could to get my mind off it.

Notable blog posts: ‘the beauty of life.

September

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look i’m covering up my ugly beach hair!  (jk my fingers were unintentionally in the way.)  (meh.)

My family needed a break from all of the drama (or an official end of the church drama and the beginning of our family’s new life), so we bumped our beach trip to the beginning of the month, instead of later, when we usually did it.  And it was relaxing and fulfilling and amazing and we all had such a good time.  I read five books in that week and it was beautiful.

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9/1/15. half intended, half coincidental, FULLY AWESOME.

September was also notable for me and my siblings because it was the month my we started reading the Harry Potter books.  A lot came out of this (good things and bad things), and it’s interesting to note that this happened right after we left our church.  (Although it’s not related at ALL, it’s almost a symbol of everything we were going through at that time – being more free in Christ and dwelling less on the things we can’t do as Christians and more on the things we get to do as Christians.)

Also, a friend introduced James to Twenty One Pilots, who introduced it to my dad, who introduced it to me, who introduced it to Jenna.  And now the four of us are hooked.  XD

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feelin’ 22.

My best friend started a relationship with her boyfriend, which changed a few things in our relationship.  Not bad things… just different.

We planned an awesome 22nd birthday for my sister Katie with some of our new friends and old friends, and it was fantastic.

Probably the most exciting thing that happened that month was the fact that most of my family left to go to vacations and conferences, leaving my dad, me, and two of my siblings home alone for a week (and then my dad left, leaving me in charge of my siblings).  Needless to say, we had a blast.  What happens when Ashley’s in charge… will probably never happen again because starting a movie at 1am after watching a stupid movie sounds great but doesn’t end well for anyone involved.

Notable blog posts: ‘on convictions (and harry potter).‘ (More like an essay than a blog post… nevertheless, I am proud of it.)

October

October was a slightly more chill month than the last previous months.  We visited a few churches, did some school, and mainly just tried to lay low.  No more drama, if we could help it.

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me and the three children i babysat.  we had SO much fun together (even though my smile looks totally fake).

Later that month, I went with my mom and dad to Florida, where they were going to help out at the next WIT marriage conference and I was going to babysit some of the counselors’ children.  I dropped them off near the airport, met one of my “charges,” and drove three hours to a house to meet the other two children.  Four days later, I drove three hours back, met my parents, and drove the seven-hour drive back to my house.  It was pretty insane.  And very adult.

Notable blog posts: My first book review

November

November was a little more stressful, but that’s due to school and other stuff, such as Mom and Dad’s new ministry.  We jokingly say that they traded one ministry for another, but it’s the truth.  Almost as soon as we left our church, they had couples coming to them for help with their marriage.  Soon they were meeting with people they didn’t even know.  (I think we’ve counted seventeen couples total.)  We’re doing a marriage study at our house every Friday night and it’s been going well!

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my siblings and i got to put up my grandparents’ christmas tree on thanksgiving day, and this is still one of my favorite pictures i’ve taken this year.

We’ve also really enjoyed seeing what our community of believers is doing, and have visited a lot of neat churches.  We’re content to just keep visiting, though, and don’t really feel the need to join one.

I also started becoming obsessed with Hamilton during this month, which was a good and a bad thing.  : P  No regrets!

Despite my best friend’s relationship status, I realized sometime this month (or during October or even earlier) that I didn’t feel the need to be in a relationship.  That was an incredible feeling for me because I’ve always struggled with that area of my life – feeling like I’m not complete without someone.  But I am!  At the WIT conference, I was reminded that I’m complete in Christ and I don’t need a boyfriend to fulfill me.  (This feeling drifted away a bit during the holidays, but it’s since returned even stronger and I’m so grateful that I’m finally satisfied in Christ.)

Notable blog posts: ‘currently,’ my thoughts on God’s Not Dead 2, my top five favorite Christian films (which is Important because I’ve been wanting to do this post for a while but have never been able to narrow down my list), and my thoughts on the Captain America: Civil War trailer (which is also Important, for obvious reasons).  (I also wrote about being thankful when it’s hard, and got a lot of very sweet encouraging comments, which made me even MORE thankful, so thank you!)

December

Ahh, yes.  Now we come to the end of the year.  From family drama to friend drama to normal holiday drama, this month has been insane.  My best friend broke up with her boyfriend (which eventually caused our first fight [which I totally started]), and a few other friendships are rocky.  (Speaking of, this is the first year I’ve ever had a fight with one of my friends, first time I ever felt genuine disgust over someone I know personally {nobody who reads this blog – don’t worry : )}, and one of the first times I’ve ever heard something awful said about me behind my back.  All within a few months.  So… yay for firsts and yay for this year and YAY FOR NEXT YEAR.)

Moving on to slightly happier things, earlier this month, I developed my first crush in a while, which was… interesting.  (And speaking of firsts, it was the first time I ever told anyone about who I was crushing on.)

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this is the picture i posted on instagram on my birthday.  because it was this baby’s birthday, too.

Also, I turned 21.  : )  Full disclosure (and for anyone who’s wondering), I tried champagne on my birthday (and disliked it), and my first drink at a bar (at my mom’s insistence) was sweet tea.  So… yeah.  Pretty good indication of how my “legal” life will go.  NO WORRIES THERE.  XD

I thought my friends had forgotten about my birthday or didn’t care because everybody was busy and couldn’t do anything with me, BUT LO AND BEHOLD, they had planned me a SURPRISE PARTY.  (I have the best friends ever, guys.)  It was book-themed, and all of the food were references to all of my fandoms, and everybody gave me books, and I had just THE BEST TIME.  I could write an entire post about it, but you probably don’t want to hear it.  : P

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ALL OF MY FRIENDS CAME AND IT WAS SO MUCH FUN.

 

(I did tell all of my friends that I couldn’t have imagined that at my 21st birthday I’d be wearing skinny jeans and eating food mentioned in books like the Hunger Games trilogy and Anne of Green Gables and Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series… which is still weird to me, but mostly because it shows how much I’ve changed in the past few years and how far I’ve come since being that annoyingly works-based Christian I was even three years ago.  Incredible.)  (And I could write an entire post about that, too, but you probably don’t want to hear it, either.)

And then Christmas happened and I got many lovely things (including books and clothes) and gave many lovely things (including books and clothes), and my siblings found out we’re GOING TO DISNEY IN FEBRUARY HUZZAH (MAGIC POWERS).  This is exciting for obvious reasons PLUS the fact that I haven’t been since I was six, so yeah.  WAHOO.

Notable blog posts: my Christmastime Is Here blog series, a post about my birthday and reviewing my ‘21 before 21‘ list, and hello oh look oops I’m a Star Wars fan now.

~~~~~~~~

So… now that it’s December 31st and the year is finally over, I’m left thinking about how INSANELY QUICKLY this year went by, but also how insanely slowly it did, too.  I spent so much of this year stressing out about stuff (friendships, church, school), and not enough time being content with just living in the moment and seeing the beauty of life.

This year, I’ve become a little more observant.  I’ve always tried to think the best of people, and since that slipped me up earlier this year, I’ve tried to look at people more realistically.  Maybe it’s made me more cynical, too, but I think it’s changed me for the better.  I know that there’s more to people than what meets the eye, and that there’s more to people than they’ll ever tell you.  Everyone has secrets (and everyone has regrets).

I think next year I’d like to learn how to love people more, how to love life more, and, most importantly, how to love God more.  My relationship with Him has been really rocky this year, and I’d like to go back to my first love, now that a lot of the distractions are gone.  I feel like the beginning of 2016 will be a lot of rebuilding for me, especially where my relationship with God is concerned.  I’ve changed a lot over the past year, and I don’t want to lose sight of Him in the midst of all of the changes.  (I saw something on Tumblr that said, “2015 was my character development year which means 2016 is strictly action and story progression and i don’t know about you but i’m excited” and I feel like I relate to that a lot.)

Because of this, my verse for the year is one that has always been one of my favorites.

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORDand on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

Psalm 1:1-3

I feel like, in the middle of everything that’s gone on in the past year, I’ve lost my love for Christ.  I want to regain it in the coming year.  : )

And that was my 2015.

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continuing the tradition of year-end bathroom selfies with pachelbel.  : )

happy birthday to moi.

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happy birthday to me… and this thing i’m holding.

Wellsies, looks like I’ve finally made it to another birthday.

WHEW.

Which birthday, you ask?  My twenty-first.  I guess it’s pretty special.  I mean, I can finally drink legally now, which I’ll probably take advantage of, like… once a year.  (I’ve tasted wine and beer before before and they’re both just… no.  I’m interested in trying champagne, though, which will happen tonight – YAY.)

I’ve done so much this year that I can hardly believe it was a YEAR ago that I made that Twenty One Before Twenty One list!!!

And, speaking of, let’s take a look at it and see how I did.  (I forgot to look through this or print it out to make sure I did the things.  Whoops.)

  • Ride a roller-coaster – LOL.  Yeah, that didn’t happen.  I didn’t get the opportunity to do it, either.
  • Go to Disney – Lol again.  We didn’t get to go, but I did drive by it twice (and I’ll get to that later).
  • Finish writing The Art of Letting Go (and immediately start editing it) – Check!  Hey, I actually did this!  I’m super proud of myself, so yay.  I’m almost done editing it, too (just starting chapter ten of eighteen), so that’s farther along that I thought I’d be.
  • Try to publish The Art of Letting Go… via the traditional route (aka with an agent and through a publishing house) – Haven’t started trying yet, but I’m getting there.  I’m researching, so…?
  • Start a third novel or finish Sneakers and Hot Fudge Sundaes – I’m gonna say that I did this one because I’ve started plotting my third novel in my mind and on a secret Pinterest board.  I can’t give any details out, but I’ll say that it’s gonna be good.  Hopefully.
  • Reach ninety credits in my degree (Senior Status!) – ALMOST!!!  I’m at 75 credits, but I’ll hopefully be at 81 by Christmas.  YAHO.
  • Do NaNo at least twice – LOL.  Yeah, that didn’t happen.
  • Go see a touring Broadway musical – Nope, but I did see a musical at Reinhardt the other day and it was fantastic.
  • Participate in a play – Nope.  My sister did, though, and I’ve got my sights set on auditions for another play next year.
  • Read sixty books – I’m at 59 for the whole year so far (starting from January), and I know I read a ton after my birthday last year, so that happened.
  • Attempt some fanfiction (Eva, you’ll have to help me on this one) – This one definitely happened.  I did one as a Christmas present last year, and I’ve got another on the way.
  • Learn a few really hard pieces on the piano – Nope.
  • Practice violin more – LOL.
  • Look Up more – I’m gonna give myself this one because I do feel like I put down my phone a lot (even though I got an iPhone for Christmas last year) and enjoyed life.  This year has been incredible, and I’ve tried not to miss out on it.  I’ve read a lot, written a lot, and thought a lot.
  • Attempt a fanvid – This one only happened in my mind.
  • Organize a dance – I don’t know what I was thinking with this one.
  • Write more film reviewsDoes my Top Five Christian Movies post count?  I think it does.  I’ll check this one off.
  • Play in more weddings – Nope.  I haven’t played in a single wedding since last November, but that’s okay.
  • Read the Bible more – I got on a schedule of reading my Bible every night and it’s really helped me focus on God more.  Even if I lose track of Him during the day, it’s good to bring everything back to Him at night.
  • Pray more – I’m not going to check this one off because I think I could always do better with this.  I don’t pray as much as I’d like, and I know my relationship with the Lord suffers because of it.
  • Learn to love God more – Same with this one.  No matter how much I do and how much I fall in love with Jesus, I feel like I can always do more.  The trials I’ve been through this year have brought me to my knees more than I can count and I’m grateful that the Lord has brought me closer to Him through all of it.

7/21 isn’t great, but it’s not too shabby either, considering half of these were put on here on a whim.  XD  (But I did discover Twenty One Pilots, so that needs to be a thing.)

However, if I’d known half the things I would do this past year when I wrote this list, I would’ve given myself a lot more slack (which is why I’m not doing a Twenty-Two Before Twenty-Two list).  Because I did a lot.

For starters, I traveled with my three siblings to Indianapolis for a conference.  ALL BY OURSELVES.  NO PARENTS.  It was a beautiful thing.  (Of course, I only drove like five hours total because the hour I was able to drive on the way back was through the Tennessee mountains with eighteen-wheelers LITERALLY DRIVING ME NUTS.)  (“Driving.”  Lol.  Pun intended.)

Also, I took an entire road trip by myself.  By myself, people.  Do I need to emphasize that?  I will.  BY MYSELF.  I drove almost eight hours round-trip on roads I wasn’t comfortable with in a state I’d hardly ever been to before to go babysit kids I’d never met before for an entire weekend, all with a 12-year-old girl I’d never met before (who was asleep the entire way back).  That’s probably the most insane thing I’ve done this year.  (And I drove past Disney twice.  Talk about battle of wills.)

Plus, I went camping with my sister and a friend all by ourselves.  For an entire weekend!  And our family left our church, which was super hard, but I won’t get into that now.

Anyway, all that to say… I’ve had a busy year, full of adulting like crazy.  (For example, I just rescheduled a test from LSU and got a proctor lined up, aaaaand I just sent heart-eyed emojis to my sister in reply to a picture of her full gas tank gauge.  Can’t really get more adult than that (unless I have kids which, LOL, ain’t gonna happen for a while).)

So, I’m entering the next year of my life cautiously optimistic.  I have no idea what’s gonna happen (I know that we’re gonna build a house, though, which will be an adventure, and that we have to find a church, which will also be an adventure…), but I’m super excited.

And you all get to experience it, too, because I’ll be blogging along the way.

TO ANOTHER YEAR OF AWESOME!

twenty-one before twenty-one

Today, I turn twenty years old.

(Insert obligatory WUUUUUUUUUT.)

I’ve loved being a teenager, but I feel totally ready to be almost an adult.  I say almost because I’ve been thinking about this age a lot, and I’ve decided that twenty years of age is going to feel a little weird.  After all, you’re no longer in your teen years, but not quite an adult yet because you haven’t actually turned “legal” yet.

All that said, I want to make my twentieth year the best one yet.  I want to do things – meaningful things, things with eternal value.  And what better way to do that than to make a list?  (I love lists.)  So here we go.

Twenty-One Before Twenty-One (in no particular order)

  • Ride a roller-coaster
  • Go to Disney
  • Finish writing The Art of Letting Go (and immediately start editing it)
  • Try to publish The Art of Letting Go… via the traditional route (aka with an agent and through a publishing house)
  • Start a third novel or finish Sneakers and Hot Fudge Sundaes
  • Reach ninety credits in my degree (Senior Status!)
  • Do NaNo at least twice
  • Go see a touring Broadway musical
  • Participate in a play
  • Read sixty books
  • Attempt some fanfiction (Eva, you’ll have to help me on this one)
  • Learn a few really hard pieces on the piano
  • Practice violin more
  • Look Up more
  • Attempt a fanvid
  • Organize a dance
  • Write more film reviews
  • Play in more weddings
  • Read the Bible more
  • Pray more
  • Learn to love God more

There we go!  Twenty-one things to do before I turn twenty-one.  I’ll post the list again on or around my twenty-first birthday and we’ll see how much I got done!

four days more…

Four days ’til The Big Day – December 8th!  It’s a triple whammy – my birthday, the release date for Becoming Nikki, and the start of the Becoming Nikki Blog Tour!  YAY!!!

The blog tour is going to be fantastic, you guys.  There are at least two posts every day.  I have fifteen pages of interview questions and answers, and I have at least three people doing reviews.  Add to that a giveaway, and a few random posts I’ll be doing here, and you’ve got a pretty major party.  😀

I can’t wait for next week; it’s going to be fantastic!  I hope to see you ALL there!!!

Meanwhile, enjoy this mashup of ‘Best Day of My Life’ and ‘Hakuna Matata’ by the cast of The Lion King on Broadway.