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.  ❤

i now have a college degree.

IMG_6465 (2).jpgWarning: Rambly angst ahead.

I have no words.  I submitted my final paper over a week ago and I’ve been waiting for my final grades before I posted anything.  Well, I got my final grade today, and I still don’t know what to say.

The main drive I had in the last four years of my life is gone.  The massive, stressful weight disappeared this past weekend as my grade slowly trickled in.  I felt it leave as I sunk to the floor and looked up at my friend from Virginia who showed up on my doorstep.  She told me to stop being irrational because of course I’d pass.  And she was right – I did.

And with that main focus leaving, I’m sitting here on my bed, lukewarm cup of coffee in hand, wondering, Well… now what?

I talked to my coach for the last time this past week and we talked about how much had changed over the last four years.  I’ve become a better version of my eighteen-year-old self – not different at all from that wide-eyed, still-trying-to-lose-her-baby-fat teenager.  I’ve got a better taste in music, I’m more confident, my people skills aren’t amazing but so much more apparent, and I’ve gotten a lot better at covering up the midnight-study-sessions-induced bags under my eyes due to my improved makeup skills.  And that’s just the non-academic stuff.

Anyway, I’ve gotten a good taste of my post-grad life this past week.  Instead of writing papers through sleepy eyes, I watched documentaries.  Instead of rushing home from doing errands to see how many distracted hours of school I could get done while simultaneously trying to nanny, I sat on the floor at the library and colored an apple tree with my charges.  Instead of cramming as much study time as I could in the quiet hours while Mom was gone with the littlest two at homeschool PE, I gave her a much-needed packing afternoon and took them myself.

While I’m pretty scared of the future and whether or not I’ll waste this newfound freedom, I’m also incredibly excited.  I hate change but I love new beginnings, and that’s what gets me through the ever-changing chapters of my life.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to enjoy my first rainy day with no school in sight.

being a college student is…

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{for le blog aesthetic // not mine.}

curling up in places too small for you and closing your eyes for just one more minute.

writing papers at midnight and then being horrified at your incomprehensible “logic” the next morning.

constantly wondering why your coffee cup is empty but not having the motivation to refill it.

spending your hard-earned cash on ice cream because your professors make you cry.

always just wanting to lay down on the floor.

generally wanting to lay down in general because you’ve never been this tired in your life.

worrying about cell phone bills, car insurance, food, budgeting, grades, social life, etc all the time.

finding new study music all. the. time.

in that same vein, finding new tv shows to watch.  (and sometimes they’re disney shows and that’s okay.) (meaning i discovered boy meets world while i was in college and honestly it helped me get through it.)

junk food. so much junk food.

developing weird ways to learn the stuff you’ve gotta learn.  (need to learn the kings and queens of england for your western civ class?  say no more.)

watching your friends get into relationships???  and get engaged???  and get married???  AND HAVE BABIES???

constantly wondering what the crap you’re doing with your life because of the above.  (“oh, that’s right.  i’m getting an education.  which will help me… how?”)

losing motivation.

gaining motivation.

meeting new friends.

saying goodbye to old friends.

setting aside hours a day to psych yourself up for something because adulting is hard.

taking tests.

sobbing in your car because you failed tests.

celebrating with junk food and movies because you passed tests.

being scared about moving on because sweet buttered crumpets, you’ll have to really adult and enter *gulp* The Real World.

moving on, despite whatever happens, because this is your education and DANG IT, you’ll get it done.


i only have a few weeks of school left.  i’m trying to live in these moments – to really relish them, despite the mixed feelings they bring – because i’m such a schoolaholic that i know i’m going to miss them.

today’s my baby sister’s birthday.  she’s four.  i distinctly remember living at a friend’s house while her adoption paperwork was going through, discovering pinterest while trying to figure out this college thing.

i’m totally scared at the prospect of a school-free life.  i’m obviously still going to learn (hello, french lessons), but it’ll be different.

more than that, though, i’m excited.  i’ll have a more flexible schedule, i’ll be able to live without a major stress-inducer in my life, i’ll have more writing time, i’ll be able to get a job without worrying about having enough school time…

saying goodbye is always hard.  but saying hello is such a bright, optimistic new opportunity, and i’m totally ready to see what i’ll greet in the next few months.

“there’s a conference for that.” | wit reunion 2017.

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Blah.  I just spent the last week with some of my best friends (okay, they’re basically family) and I. have. no. words.

You know when someone touches you so much that you can’t help but want to be around them all the time?  Constantly getting their opinion on random things, laughing with them over stupidly hilarious inside jokes, (side-)hugging & leaning & just enjoying their company?

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That was literally all of the fifty-plus people I shared a cabin with this past weekend.  Together, we watched movies, sang Broadway, fangirled/fanboyed over literally anything, played games ’til 3am, cried, prayed, walked, and communed.  All on four or five (or less) hours of sleep.  It. was. amazing.

I’m still reeling from all of the memories I made.  I’ll never look at certain things the same way again.  I’ll never look at the same people the same way again.

I think the thing that truly made this weekend was the fact that we all already know each other on such a deep level.  Because of WITAlive, we all know each other’s deepest struggles and weaknesses and challenges.  However, this past weekend, we got to discover the more surface-level things while still being mindful of the deep stuff.  Bonding with each other (partially thanks to twenty-second hugs) over these things made us closer than most of the friends I have outside of this small, tight-knit circle.

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If you haven’t experienced the wonder that is WITAlive… what’re you waiting for?

coffee session | some things i’ve learned recently.

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(for le blog aesthetic / not mine)

You know the drill.  Grab a cup of coffee, listen to some music, and let’s have a chat.  (My side of the conversation is below; feel free to share yours in the comments!)

*sips coffee*

So my sister got some toffee nut syrup from Starbucks a few weeks ago and y ‘ a l l.  It’s so good.  Makes her mad when I “borrow” it, but it makes my coffee soooo yummyyyyyy.  (Why yes, I am drinking it right now – why do you ask?)

*sips coffee again*

I have a coaching call in literally one minute but I’m here writing out this post and if that doesn’t say something about my time management skills, I don’t know what will.

What’s a coaching call, you ask?  WELL.  CollegePlus – Lumerit, SORRY – is a distance-learning thing, and the thing the company does to keep you on track is give you a coach that calls you once every two weeks to chat about your life and your schooling and how it’s all going – and, most importantly, how you’re handling it all.

{musical interlude while I do my call}

Anyway, my coach is amazing and I love her to death.  She’s my fourth coach because I had three coaches in a year and let. me. tell. you. – that was not fun.  But she’s an angel and I think I love her best out of the three.  If I pass my last two courses (fingers crossed because they’re a little harder than I thought they’d be), I’ll be finished in March and that’s kinda sad because I’m going to miss talking to her every few weeks!  Plus she’s getting married, so that’s pretty dang exciting.

*sips coffee*

(it’s actually the next day and i’ve got coffee again and… yeah.  me in a nutshell)

So the Dear Evan Hansen soundtrack came out the other night and oh my gosh.  It is all kinds of wonderful.  Seriously, I don’t know that I’ve related to a musical so much.  It’s so needed, too.  Such a beautiful, beautiful thing.  Listen to it.  If you’ve only got time for one song, listen to this one.  And really listen to it – turn it on, put headphones in, close your eyes, and just sit for a minute.  It’ll make you day a million times better.

I stayed up ’til after 1am listening to it when it came out, first laughing and dancing and dramatically lip-syncing in the bathroom and then sobbing while curled up in my bed with the blankets over my head.  Because that’s just the kind of musical that it is.

*sips coffee*

Like I mentioned before, college is hard.  I knew that going into it, and all the courses I’ve done have been different kinds of difficult, but… dang, these last two.  I’ve cried more over these than I have over any other course in my entire four years of college – which is kind of a lot because I don’t get stressed too easily.

I’ve always been super hard on myself, and have always had high expectations for myself, beating myself up inwardly if I didn’t meet those expectations.  I’ve always known that it’s probably not best for me to do that (LOL) but I’ve always let it slide because how else will I do anything well?

WELL.  All of the stress – courses, moving, trying to finish a freaking novel – came to a head over the last two-ish weeks (hence why I haven’t posted anything in a while – sorry, guys).  And it was bad.

Because I used to not get stressed too easily and then I was stressed literally all the time, I had to figure out how to take care of myself.  Definitely not by lowering my expectations for myself – because how stupid is that – but by not beating myself up in addition to everything else that’s putting pressure onto me.

SO.  While I certainly do. not. have. the. answers. (as evidenced by the fact that I still get stressed easily and will most likely cry over these courses again next week – looking forward to it), here are some things I’ve learned.

First and foremost, ask God for help.  Literally, this is the best thing you can do.  I think worrying is just being blinded by your own incompetence, so it’s a great idea to lean on the One who is good at everything, right?  Ask God for help and He’ll guard your heart with His peace that passes understanding.   Approach His throne with boldness and He’ll give you grace.

Second, figure out what’s giving you the most stress and see if you can relieve some of the stress.  Is your room a wreck but you don’t have time to clean it?  Do it in steps: Make your bed one day, take five minutes to pick up all the clothes the next day, spend ten minutes on it instead of on Facebook the day after that (which should be the first thing because we all need reasons to stay off Facebook these days).  Family member making you stressed?  Get out of the house, if only just to spend some time in the backyard or something; use headphones to shut it all out for a little while; or, better yet, encourage them to get out of the house.  (There’s almost nothing better than having an entire house to yourself.)  School giving you trouble?  Find someone who can help, work on it in spurts, set deadlines for yourself, reward yourself.

Which brings me to my third idea, the one I’ve been learning the most about recently:

SELF. CARE.

This is literally one of the best things you can do for yourself.  I’ve found that it’s mostly talked about in the realm of people who have depression, mental illnesses, self-harm issues, or other issues like that, which is kind of a shame because everybody could use it.

I’m so glad I started to learn about self-care personally, because it’s changed how I cope with things.  Instead of just bottling up the stress and pushing forward and never giving myself a break, I know how to deal with it in a better way now.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve learned how to reward myself when I’ve done my best by taking breaks after a long study session and curling up with a good book or guilty pleasure show.  (I’m halfway through the second season of said guilty pleasure show and halfway through the book I’ve been rewarding myself with.)  I set aside a day a week to work on my novel, which is a good idea because it needs to get done, it’s part of my massive final project, and it’s getting me into a good routine for when I’m done with college and can focus solely on my writing.

Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t work hard anymore.  Far from it, actually.  I’ve found that making myself take breaks has made me work even harder – and better.  My writing has improved, my focus has improved, and my general attitude towards life has improved.

Plus, it’s always nice to have unexpected blessings, like spending the day with a good friend or your mom surprising you with gluten-free cupcakes.

All in all, my life has been pretty crazy lately, but mostly in good ways.  I’ll probably be here less, but I’ll come back when I can.

Have some laughing babies.

coffee session | i’m gonna start working on my novel again and i’m super nervous.

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(for le blog aesthetic / not mine)

You know how sometimes when you’re writing, the thing you’re writing is, like, so beautiful and perfect in your mind and you’re just like, “Yes, this will win all the awards and have a film adaptation and will make me super famous and people will come from miles to get writing advice from me, the author”? (#whyyesimhumble)

Well.  It’s happened to me.

In my mind, The Art of Letting Go (read more about it here) is pretty dang good.  I know it’s got it’s flaws, but – thanks to like three drafts and a ton of mind-plotting – they’re few and far between.

Thing is, I have no idea if this is true.  Why, you ask?

Because I haven’t touched my novel since July.

*cue freak out mode*

Before you get on me for being a bad writer, here’s the reason: I’m a full-time college student.  In order to focus on school last semester (including the four [+/-] writing courses I’d be doing), I put it down.  I just couldn’t justify spending my entire day doing school and then working on my novel whenever I had free time.  Daniella and David and Kyle and Matt and all of my characters deserved more than that.

So I made the really hard decision to put it aside.  Believe me, it was torture.  On one hand, I was relieved to not have it constantly pestering me, poking at me in the back of my mind whenever I finished school for the day.  But on the other hand, it felt so good to just take a break and not have to wonder if I had enough time to work on it.  I didn’t want to take away from my school or my characters, so I focused on the more pressing one – school.

Anyway, I always told myself I’d pick it back up when I graduate in March.  Turns out, I’ve got a big creative project to do for my last course (in addition to a fifteen-page paper and a slideshow) and guess what I picked to submit.

That’s right, my little novel.

All that to say, I’m going to Starbucks tomorrow to work on it, and every Friday after that until it’s finished.  (I’m finally one of those writers who works on their novels at Starbucks.  YAY.)

I’m so. incredibly. excited. to be getting back to that world – that oh, so emotional world that made me cry the last time I tried to edit it at a coffee shop. (#yay)  I’ve had that world teasing at the back of my mind ever since I started writing it (wayyyy back in 2014), and I’m always adding to its Pinterest board. (Click the linky.  I’m such a proud mama of that board and this novel.)

But I’m also nervous.  I’m so scared that I’ll open it, read the first few pages, and go, “What is this absolute garbage?!”  I’m scared that it’ll be clunky, unreadable, and, worst of all, a total waste of time.

I want to find an agent for this project.  I want to get a book deal for this project.

But what if it’s not good enough?  What if my characters are flat?  What if my story doesn’t make sense? What if it needs so much more work than I have time for?

What if it doesn’t sound as good on paper as it does in my head?

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the scariest part about writing.

I can stare at a blank document all day long and not get worried because I know I’ll eventually get something on it.  I can give my writing to people and get criticism.  I can even publish a mediocre novel and then not talk about it for the rest of my life.  (*cough* Becoming Nikki *cough*)

But not knowing that what I write is actually good?  That’s mind-numbingly horrifying.

{I’d appreciate any feedback, but I’m not asking for compliments or anything, lol.  This was honestly just my way of getting my thoughts out while updating you guys on where I am with my writing right now.Thanks for listening.}