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Cultivating January Goals

More than halfway through the month and sharing goals? Sounds about right around here ;) January is off to a roaring start, and it's is actually about to slide in for a finish next week, how crazy is that?! Between jumping back online and kicking off the second semester at school, I'm taking complete advantage of labeling January a GRACE MONTH to get my feet wet and establish a routine.

I'm currently in Galveston for a theatre convention with teachers from across Texas, enjoying the sun and view of the beach -though it's still a crisp 60 degrees out- AND (drum roll please) I'm posting just in time to go BACK offline for a few weeks. I know, I know. Just stick with me.

One thing I haven't shared much about online is the discipleship school I am attending this year, and when I signed up I knew there would come a time for a media fast. Honestly, I'd been hoping it would happen in the fall when I was already offline, but no such luck ;) Starting tomorrow, Friday, January 26th, we'll be offline and away from media (Netflix, movies, any music other than worship music, etc) until February 15th. They've also encouraged us only to check our phones once in the morning, once midday, and once in the evening. To say it is going to be a challenge would be an understatement.

But I'm bringing you in on this with me to ask for prayers and understanding; I've loved jumping back online and connecting, but I can already feel the overwhelm of old tendencies, so I'm actually grateful we are taking this break again. And I am hoping to pray into and pursue breakthrough over the next three weeks for a few areas of my life, particularly physical health and financial responsibilities, my two primary goals for the year. Will you join me?

So before I go, here's a recap of what's been happening in January so far:


Monthly Goals:

  • Go to NYC on a Field Trip. Check! It was a blast!
  • Go to the Texas Educational Theatre Association FestivalCheck! I'm actually here now!
  • Direct our One Act Play wellCheck! We are ahead of schedule, and I'm so thankful!
  • Budget in Every Dollar. Mmmmm... not so much, but I'm working on February's. 
  • Study Prayer using the Give Me Jesus JournalCheck! I'm LOVING this journal so far!
  • Research & implement ketogenic eating. Ehhh.. yes and no. But not consistently enough to count.
  • Prep for the 3rd 6 weeks of school (all lesson plans submitted)Check! Done and done!
  • Arrange all spring field trips. So close! I'd say this one is halfway done!
  • Read 5+ Books. Check! Books read so far:
    • The Practice of the Presence of God
    • The Final Quest
    • Walking on Water
    • Victoria
    • A Court of Wings and Ruin

Weekly Goals:

  • Work out at Orange Theory at least three times. Nope. I actually froze my account for the time being.
  • Discipleship school reading (book & Bible). 3/4 weeks so far! 
  • Eat out MAX one time. Haha... well... not quite.
  • Meal prep/plan on Sundays. 2/4 weeks it's been successful! Planning to do so this weekend, too.
  • Attend church, lifegroup, and discipleship with JOY. Yes! It's been so good to be back!
  • Read/finish at least one book. Yep, yep, yep! Five books in 4 weeks!
  • Blog 2-3 times. Ah, not so much with this one either...

Daily Goals:
  • In the Word first.
  • Workout at Orange Theory. 
  • Read for fun.
  • Ketogenic eating.
  • Zero dollar day (no spending).
As far as daily goals go, the only ones I've been hitting consistently are "In the Word" (not always first sadly) and reading for fun. The others are certainly works in progress.

What about y'all? What did you make happen in January? 
And what are your plans for next month? 
See you February 15th!


2017 in Review

One of my favorite posts from last year was a year-end review of 2016. Back then, it was a much needed moment to count the gold in a very difficult 2016, and I'm pleased to say it was so much easier to trek bask through 2017 to find the glittering moments. In fact, it was hard to narrow them down!

I also thought it would be fun to give a glimpse into the past 5 months I've been offline. Now you can know what I've been up to :)

January 2017
In the first month of the year I...

  • kicked off the year with my word of the year and 2017 goals!
  • wrote the Goals with Grace devotional for Illustrated Faith (it's sold out, but find the reveal HERE).
  • rang in the New Year with Rachel, Dana, and Annie at a Fixer Upper in Waco.
  • started my second semester of my first year of teaching. Phew
  • interviewed at a local junior college in order to teach dual credit classes.
  • visited the birthplace of Baylor University: Independence, Texas!
  • attended TheatreFest in Galveston with hundreds of fellow theatre teachers.
  • watched TWO incredible films: La La Land and Hidden Figures. SO good.
  • started watching The Crown, This is Us, and Victoria. If you haven't watched yet, go now!

February 2017
In the second month of the year I...

  • started Bible journaling through the Psalms (didn't finish, but the start was fun!).
  • attended Beth Moore's LIT conference with Annie!
  • Bible journaled with some of my students after school. What a gift!
  • directed my first UIL One Act Play: Proof by David Auburn.
  • launched an online workshop with Illustrated Faith: Celebrate Your Season!
  • attended two play clinics with my students (and we all made it back in one piece)!
  • finally purchased a Letterfolk board! It's gorgeous and so fun.

March 2017
In the third month of the year I...

  • visited a local drive-through safari (yes, we have those in Texas...) and fed a giraffe!
  • competed with my first One Act Play! We didn't advance, but we got two acting awards.
  • had my sister visit for a few days of spring break to rest and relax around BCS.
  • retreated to Waco as a chaperone for another theatre group, visiting college friends and mentors.
  • took my first class at YogaPod!
  • watched and fell in love with The Amish Project at Baylor University.
  • got a little brave and started sharing more about theatre/my classroom online.

April 2017
In the fourth month of the year I...

  • joined in on an Illustrated Faith retreat with Shanna and the gang!
  • watched one of my best friends kick BUTT in a show called Bruises in Dallas.
  • went on a few dates with a great guy (adventuring around a bookstore included).
  • saw Once the Musical and was blown away multiple times!
  • found a house to rent with a new roommate for the fall! Living with Jess has been a blast ever since!
  • wrote a script and did the lights for Jess's spring dance show. 
  • took a weekend trip home for Easter and to celebrate family birthdays. 
  • took and PASSED my teaching certification test. Praise the Lord!

May 2017
In the fifth month of the year I...

  • finished my first year of teaching! Yes and amen!
  • BOUGHT A CAR! Goodbye, 2006 VW Beetle. Hello, 2017 Honda HR-V!
  • went to a recording of two sessions of Beth Moore's videos for The Quest study. Girl can preach!
  • took 12 students on a field trip to New York City. What a blast!
  • saw three shows on Broadway: School of Rock, A Bronx Tale, and WICKED!
  • got stuck at the JFK airport for 12 hours on the way back.... and got 3 hours of sleep before the first day of finals... sheesh.
  • flew to Seattle for the Illustrated Faith Creative Team Retreat!
  • collaborated with DaySpring on two gift guides: Mother's Day and Graduation.

June 2017
In the sixth month of the year I...

  • visited old friends and roommates from Seattle, including watching the sunset at 10:00pm.
  • road-tripped with Emily to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
  • saw several amazing shows including Shakespeare in Love and Henry IV, Part I.
  • met Jenna, an Instagram friend, in real life!
  • took a couple weeks off between trips to pack my apartment.
  • saw Something Rotten in Houston with 4 of my students.
  • went to California with Carissa to adventure and visit family!
  • spent 18 hours in Disneyland with Carissa (the 30,000+ steps and 13 miles were worth it!)
  • completely nerded out in the Harry Potter section of Universal Studios.
  • saw Allan Leech (Tom from Downton Abbey) and Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow from Once Upon a Time) in Constellations in LA. Dream team!

July 2017
In the seventh month of the year I...

  • spent the 4th of July at a family reunion in Texas.
  • hopped back on a plane to fly to Detroit to begin the blogging road trip of my dreams!
  • visited Mt. Vernon, Ft. McHenry, Fords Theatre, and more on the drive to Washington, D.C.!
  • adventured around the city with Dana, Annie, and Sarah, with art museums, monuments, and cupcakes included.
  • stopped in Richmond, VA to add Rachel D. to our adventures and bough way too many books ;)
  • popped over to Staunton to see Loves Labours Lost at the American Shakespeare Center. Amazing!
  • made a quick stop in Tennessee to get breakfast with Taylor S. at Tupelo Honey!
  • bounced around Nashville picking up a few new friends, plenty of sweets, and all the Instagram worthy pictures.
  • took ANOTHER plane to New York City for a week of workshops and shows!
  • saw eight Broadway shows in 6 days. AGAIN! The Play that Goes Wrong, Anastasia, Bandstand, Waitress, Aladdin, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dear Evan Hansen, and Come From Away.
  • had brunch with the incredible Jordan, another blogging friend!
  • went on a retreat to the lake with my Lifegroup and it was SO life giving!
  • had quite possibly (well, without a doubt actually) the best month of 2017!

August 2017
In the eighth month of the year I...
  • quit the internet. A hard but good decision, you can read the BEFORE and AFTER if you haven't already.
  • moved from an apartment to a house! It has been one of the best decisions of the year.
  • started my second year of teaching with a BANG! What a difference one year makes!
Now here's where it gets tricky. I took THOUSANDS of pictures over the years and documented my days on the regular, but I quit the internet and suddenly I have little record, besides my journals, of what's gone on. Seriously, I took like... 10 pictures from August to December. Okay, back to it...

  • auditioned and cast our fall show, Enchanted April! Nothing says back to school like starting rehearsals one week later.
  • got a balayage/balayaged(?) my hair for the first time. I love it!
  • started the Antioch Discipleship School through my church.
  • had days of school cancelled due to the rain from Hurricane Harvey hitting Houston.

September 2017
In the ninth month of the year I...
  • got free tickets to a Baylor football game and attended with Addison! We lost, but it was still fun!
  • went to my 2nd ever Texas A&M football game and bought my first maroon Aggie shirt... 
  • went to Houston with my church to serve families who were affected by the hurricane. We completely gutted two houses in one day.
  • dressed up for twin day with my roommate Jessica (she's the dance teacher at my school) and confused a lot of students and teachers!
  • went to the CRAZIEST costume shop in North Texas to rent our costumes for the fall play (and had lunch with my sister and brother-in-law). 

October 2017
In the tenth month of the year I...
  • opened and closed our fall play, Enchanted April! I was a little worried it might not happen, but we made it!
  • celebrated after the show at Freddy's with around 25-30 church friends who came to support me!
  • went to Silobration for the second year in a row with Rachel! Cupcakes, cute decor, and Johnnyswim for the win!
  • hosted a pumpkin painting potluck for our Lifegroup (pictured above). Mischief Managed ;)
  • went to Baylor on a field trip with the business students and caught up with some professors.
  • saw JohnnySwim AGAIN as a birthday present from Carissa. AH-mazing!
  • had dinner at The Cheesecake Factory with my family for my mom and sister's birthdays.

November 2017
In the eleventh month of the year I...
  • spent barely 24 in Indianapolis for a reunion with Dana, Annie, and Rachel! Oh so worth it.
  • helped throw an outdoor dinner party for Addison's birthday. The wind and rain wouldn't keep us away!
  • celebrated my roommate's engagement at the final football game of the year! Congrats Jess and Chuck!
  • went on a few more dates, including another bookstore adventure and ice skating. I didn't fall!
  • headed home for the Thanksgiving holidays for another family reunion and plenty of Christmas decorating.
  • wrote another script for and helped prep Jess's Christmas dance show.

December 2017
In the twelfth month of the year I...
  • decorated our house for Christmas with Jessica. It's so festive!
  • made it through the rain in the local Christmas parade with my students.
  • had an almost-snow day! It snowed in DROVES one night and was so powdery!
  • celebrated said snow by going sledding and having a snowball fight at 11pm on a school night.
  • hosted our 1st Annual Christmas Dinner Theatre Spectacular!
  • had a Young Adult Section Christmas party of epic proportions with my church group.
  • adventured around town to see ALL the musical Christmas lights at least twice.
  • went with Sam to pick up her GORGEOUS wedding gown!
  • cast and cut our spring One Act Play: Silent Sky!
  • finished the first semester of teaching and relaxed, writing this post on the first day of break.
  • headed home for the Christmas holidays.
  • went to Kansas City for the One Thing Conference by IHOP!
  • simplified my 2018 goals LIKE CRAZY (more on this to come).

And there you have it! What a year, friends! It's absolutely crazy to me that it has already come and gone, but I am full of hope and expectancy for the New Year! Hope you enjoyed the highlights :) I sure enjoyed writing them!

Cultivating My 2018 Goals

I am not a gardener. I never have been, and I don't know that I intend to be. I think the issue is that I don't like to get my hands dirty, and maybe that says more about me than I realize ;) My grandfather had a garden, and I remember perching against the fence while my sister dug holes in the red dirt to play in, fresh grown corn and tomatoes sprawling in the background.  But gardening was never for me.

I'm more the kind to wander a farmer's market and admire someone else's blooms, paying the $5-$20 to enjoy those blooms in my own home, rather than to take the time to tend to my own plot of land and wait, wait, wait for the harvest to come.

Last year Lara Casey, one of my role models, published Cultivate: A Grace Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life and I promptly picked it up off the shelf, read three chapters, then lost it in the flurry of beginning the new year. I picked it back up again in December and decided to dig into it  -alongside my beloved Powersheets- to plan 2018, and it has made all the difference!

*The yearly workbooks pictured above are sold out, BUT you can still sang your own PowerSheets HERE

Truth be told, I wrote this post twice. Once with 8 major goals and then, after a few chats with friends and working through the Goal Setting Series on Lara's site, I narrowed it down to three. THREE goals for 2018. It felt pretty scary at first but now it feels oh so good.

My three goals came from Proverbs 31:25, a verse I had already chosen to be part of the vision for the new year. Verse 25 says, "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she laughs without fear of the future." So, with that in mind and without further ado:

My 2018 Goals

1. Cultivate STRENGTH. The dictionary definition of strength includes "the quality or state of being strong; bodily or muscular power; mental power, force, or vigor; an inherent capacity to manifest energy, endure, and resist." In 2018, I want to make positive changes to my physical health and tend to some unhealthy habits and thought patterns. This one is #1 because progress here will set me up for success in years to come, and it will allow me to say a ready yes to opportunities and dreams that God brings along the way. I also want to strengthen my heart in the Word and by spending daily time in His presence and prayer.

Cultivating STRENGTH looks like:
+ dedicating daily time to prayer, scripture, and seeking God.
+ implementing a sustainable, healthy way of eating.
+ committing to an active lifestyle.
+ take 100 Orange Theory classes in 2018.
+ creating simplified routines.
+ practicing self control to break unhealthy habits.

2. Cultivate DIGNITY. The dictionary definition of dignity includes "the state or quality of being worthy of honor; a sense of pride in oneself or self respect; a composed or serious manner of style." When I think of cultivating dignity this year, the primary way is by practicing financial responsibility. I want to get out of credit card and personal debt, managing my money more wisely instead of stressing from paycheck to paycheck, as well as be able to adventure in the summers and give generously. Things begin with cultivating financial responsibility. Also, I want to make my work meaningful, which means preparing well, not overcommitting myself to good but unnecessary things, and approaching what commitments I do have prayerfully.

Cultivating DIGNITY looks like:
+ Reading Dave Ramsey's Total Money Make Over.
+ Beginning his 7 Baby Steps to Financial Freedom.
+ Use EveryDollar to track spending and Qapital to begin saving.
+ Prepare well at work, cutting out procrastination.
+ Honor what commitments I have and prayerfully limiting any I might add.

3. Cultivate LAUGHTER. It felt a little silly to include the dictionary definition of laughter, so instead I will share with you my definition of this word in the context of goal setting. When I think of laughter, I think of cultivating joy and gladness, taken from 2017's verse of the year, Isaiah 51:3. Joy makes me think of cultivating contentment, but also doing more of those things that fire me up. Gladness makes me think of savoring my season, digging into local community, and being a positive presence online. All of those things had been worked into my original list of 8 goals, so it seems fitting that they fall under the laughter category here.

Cultivating LAUGHTER looks like:
+ scheduling things that bring me joy into my week.
+ cultivating contentment in my season, with my belongings, and when online.
+ blessing and encouraging others whenever possible.
+ digging into my local community.
+ doing more of what fires me up.
+ reading 52 books in 52 weeks.


Voila! Ohh, it feels strange and scary and exciting to only have three goals this year! Honestly, I think simplifying it to three categories will set me up for more success in goal setting than I've ever experienced. At least that's what I'm hoping.

You'll notice that I included a couple of numbered goals in there, too, namely reading 52 books in 52 weeks and taking 100 Orange Theory classes. I wanted to be sure to include my book challenge, bringing it down from last year's 75 books (missed it by 10!) since reading is one of those things that both fires me up and inspires me creatively.

I also added the 100 classes goal as a non-scale-victory in the category of physical strength. Instead of saying X number of pounds lost, making myself dependent on the scale to see if I've been making improvements, a class count will mean that I have been utilizing my somewhat pricey gym membership and after 100 classes I can almost guarantee to see a difference in strength! Both of these things excite me very much.

What are your goals this year? 
How do you plan to make what matters happen in 2018?

Away and Back Again | My Social Media Break

The internet is a funny thing, isn't it? A still relatively new resource, it has consumed our daily lives and dependencies like rapid fire, and while a blooming garden of inspiration and encouragement, it can just as quickly turn into a black hole that strips us of time, confidence, and contentment.

Don't get me wrong, I love it and am deeply grateful for it, but in the first half of 2017 I found myself hurtling through the time warp rather than strolling down the garden path. Returning from a month of travels, phone in hand, wrist aching as a clear sign of over-attachment, it was finally time.

If I'm being honest, I felt the pull to step away from the internet last May, and I didn't do it until August. Even then, I didn't do it perfectly. I spent the last two months ghosting (glancing on line, scrolling without posting or engaging), willing away the time until I could jump back online.

My "break" was hardly what I planned or expected. 

Even so, It wasn't a waste. 

And that sentence right there is evidence of a heart shift that's happening. It's still a work in progress, but there's forward movement.

I'm a perfectionist. A procrastinator. A people-pleaser. A pre-planner. 

I tout my affinity for pretty goal planning pages and checklists, while in reality I weigh myself down with guilt for things left unfinished or hurried at the last minute. I post framed prints of "Progress not Perfection" while running myself ragged with reprimands for mistakes, or throwing goals out the window entirely when the first smudge of ink smears the edge of the page.

These last five months have shown me that I need a heavy dollop of grace atop the mess of my life, and they've taught me that the mess doesn't have to be shelved neatly (or shoved away in a closet) for growth or progress to be made.

Yes, I'd love things tightly ordered.
Yes, I'd love to tackle a project perfectly.
Yes, I'd love to return to the internet with a laundry list of accomplishments and blessings.
Yes, I'd love to say that I'm a completely changed woman and the internet is best left alone.

But God.

But God taught me that He is at work in the mess.
But God revealed that He is pleased by my faithfulness rather than my forced fruit.
But God isn't a blessing vending machine and instead is a faithful, forgiving, fun-loving Father.
But God did change me and God CAN use the internet to do so.

But God didn't do it in the way I expected.

It's true, I'm back on the internet and glad to be so. I'm excited to write and share and connect with all of you all over again. I stepped away for a while, and it was good for my soul, even though I "failed" the commitment more than once and scrolled away a day or two.

I'm not entirely sure what's next, but I'm excited to see.
I'm excited to share, but I'm excited to keep some things close to my heart, too.
I'm grateful for you who've cheered me on and stuck around.
I'm thankful for you who are finding this space for the first time.
I'm praying you see more of Jesus here than of me, and I'm anticipating a pretty big learning curve.
I'm saying thanks in advance for the grace as I make a mess, and I pray we embrace the mess together.

I've gone away, and I'm back again, and I can't wait to see what's up for us next.