Summer & Fall 2018 Favorites

Summer & Fall 2018 Favorites

I do love a good favorites post. And, technically, we haven’t actually entered winter yet (according to the calendar, not the weather). But still, we’re in a bit of a time crunch, so here is a combination of some of my favorite things from both summer and fall. What were your favorite things? Let me know in the comments!

mamma mia hwga

Movies & TV //

A Quiet Place – Um, stop everything and go watch this movie. John Krasinski is my actual hero and favorite person ever; his acting was, of course, spot-on, but his directorial skills are amazing. This story was fantastic, and I loved the disability representation. This was a special kind of scary in a world that has turned to chainsaws and zombies and whatever else they put in those weird modern horror movies.

I Can Only Imagine – I finally saw it! And it was just as good as I expected. This movie tells the story of Bart Millard, the lead singer of Christian band Mercy Me, and how his life led to him writing the group’s huge first single, “I Can Only Imagine.” It is heartbreaking, and inspiring, and not at all what I expected Bart’s life to be like. But maybe that’s why he’s so amazing.

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again – “You are the dancing queen, young and sweet, only seventeen!” Picture these lyrics being sung while Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard ride up on a boat while reenacting that “king of the world” scene from Titanic. Is it even necessary for me to say anything else? All joking aside, this movie was even better than the first, and the addition of Lily James was absolutely perfect.

New Amsterdam – This! Show! It follows Max Goodwin, the new medical director of a hospital whose mission is to treat everyone who comes through its doors, regardless of their ability to pay or whether or not they are insured. It also focuses on the head of each hospital department. There are plenty of nice side stories happening between the characters, but the real power of this show comes from its ability to make you question everything you know about the healthcare system, and to challenge one issue in particular – should healthcare be considered a right?

The Office – I did it, ya’ll. After all, “’You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. – Wayne Gretzky’ – Michael Scott,” and I had missed my shot of watching this series long enough. Admittedly, I didn’t watch every single episode, as some of them were a bit too edgy for me, but this was simply hilarious. I certainly did not expect to get so caught up in these character’s stories, but I did. I never would’ve thought that I would like this show…”Oh, how the turn tables.”

Beauty //

Olay Shea Butter Foaming Whip Body Wash – “Wow, this product is so unique and innovative! I love it!” – Me, an intellectual; “We’ve done this already.” – Every other drugstore brand in existence

L’Oreal x Camila Cabello Havana Collection eyeshadow in “Oh Na Na” – I’m not a huge fan of most of L’Oreal’s products (sorry!), but Camila Cabello is my most favorite ever, so of course I had to buy this overpriced single eyeshadow. But I love it! It’s such an interesting combination of bronze and gold, and has unbelievable pigmentation. If you can still find this collection somewhere, BUY IT.

Colourpop Super Shock Highlighter in “Lunch Money” – I’m not used to using highlighters in any form other than powder, so I was a bit unsure of this one from Colourpop – their Super Shock formula is almost indescribable, like an almost-cream-to-powder finish. But, I had used their Super Shock eyeshadows before, so I thought I could handle it. It turns out I really love this highlighter! I use a stipple brush to apply it for more control, and I always put it under any setting powder (or it’ll look weird). Overall, Colourpop is a super dependable brand.

queen's rising

Books //

The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca RossAll. The. Heart. Eyes. This is my favorite book of 2018. In a world that’s inundated with young adult fantasy books, I truly felt like this story, told not from the perspective of the queen, but of an acquaintance who comes to be a great friend, was unique, and so beautifully told. I cannot wait to read more in this world.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black – I have never read a book in the fae (aka faerie, aka fairy) world before. It turns out they aren’t all pixie dust. They can actually be quite ruthless. But, that’s what makes them fun, right? And, as Holly Black is apparently the “queen of fae,” I guess I chose the right place to start.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson – When I was in high school, I took a Gothic literature elective, and it had quite an effect on me. I’ve never read a Gothic novel written so recently, though (the 1960s). This book is fantastic. I cannot recommend it enough. I’m also ecstatic about the upcoming movie, especially since it seems so similar to the book.

Quotes & Scriptures //

“A pretty sight, a lady with a book.” – Shirley Jackson

“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” – Jude 1:24-25

“As long as God gave her the gift of today, she would cherish it.” – Karen Kingsbury

Songs //

  • “You Say” by Lauren Daigle
  • “Worth It” by Danielle Bradberry
  • “Back to You” by Selena Gomez
  • “All The Ways” by Meghan Trainor
  • “Forever on Your Side” by Needtobreathe ft. Johnnyswim
  • “Move You” By Kelly Clarkson
  • “Love Wins” by Carrie Underwood
  • “Love Anyway” by Tenth Avenue North
  • “Sue Me” by Sabrina Carpenter
  • “Make Him Wait” by Abby Anderson
  • “Shallow” by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
  • “This Feeling” by The Chainsmokers ft. Kelsea Ballerini
  • “I Have a Dream” by Lily James
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What The Greatest Showman Taught Me

What The Greatest Showman Taught Me

“Colossal we come, these renegades in the ring…”

– “The Greatest Show”

greatest showman

You may have heard of a little movie that came out about a year ago called The Greatest Showman. Starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Zendaya, and Keala Settle, the film tells the story of the beginnings of P.T. Barnum’s circus. It is, quite honestly, a tour de force of emotion. I don’t want to sound dramatic, but this movie has kinda sorta changed my life. This story and the music have become ingrained in my heart. So yes, this movie has taught me quite a bit. Now, in honor of the recent release of The Greatest Showman Reimagined soundtrack, I felt it was only right to share a few of those all-important lessons. Let’s get in to that, shall we?

  1. Sometimes it’s better to take the risk.

“Some people long for a life that is simple and planned / Tied with a ribbon / Some people won’t sail the sea ‘cause they’re safer on land”

– “Tightrope”

Charity Barnum was born in a wealthy, influential family. Yet, she chose to marry a man that, as her father often liked to point out, came from nothing. But she believed in him and his dreams. He was willing to risk everything on a business venture that could be an utter failure, and she was right there next to him. As she said, she was fine with taking a risk, as long as they did it together. Phillip Carlyle took a risk when he left his privileged life behind to join the circus (more on him later). These risks are what led to great success, after a few bumps in the road of course.

“Don’t you wanna get away / To a whole new part you’re gonna play? / ‘Cause I got what you need, so come with me and take the ride / To the other side”

– “The Other Side”

  1. Society’s opinion of what is beautiful or acceptable does not define you.

“Trust me, they don’t know it yet, but they’re going to love you.”

– Barnum

This message is perhaps the driving force behind the entire movie. Barnum was looking for “oddities” and “curiosities” in the form of people for his museum-turned-circus. It led him to find a young man with dwarfism, a bearded lady, and a man with an exorbitant amount of hair, to name just a few. As Lettie, the bearded lady, points out, “our own mothers were ashamed of us.” By bringing a group of outcasts together, Barnum had created a safe place for them – a home. But, as he becomes jaded by the shine of show business, even he forgets this. But don’t worry – Lettie is ready to step in once again…

“I know that I deserve your love / No, there’s nothing I’m not worthy of”

– “This is Me”

Whatever the world says about you, whether they hate you or love you, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is what those you love, those closest to you think. What matters is what you think – nothing and no one else.

“You don’t need everyone to love you….Just a few good people.”

– Charity Barnum

  1. Family is the most important thing in life.

“If all was lost, there’s more I’ve gained / ‘Cause it led me back to you”

– “From Now On”

Whether it’s the one you’re given or the one you choose, family is what matters most. This sentiment steers Barnum off course for a while, as he attempts to amass more money and material things for his own family, but he receives a wake-up call from his other family: his circus. All the friends he has made on his journey are insistent that he has given them what they never could have found somewhere else – friends, family, love, happiness, and so much more. Although he makes mistakes, they ultimately lead Barnum back to his family, who he promises to never leave again.

“Come one / Come all / Come in / Come on”

– “Come Alive”

  1. Never sacrifice your happiness.

“You would finally live a little, finally laugh a little / Just let me give you the freedom to dream /  And it’ll wake you up and cure your aching / Take your walls and start ’em breaking / Now that’s a deal that seems worth taking”

– “The Other Side”

Although this is certainly evident in Barnum’s story, perhaps it is told even better through Phillip Carlyle’s. Phillip is a theater producer that Barnum hires to help with publicity and growth, but he becomes so much more. Having never fit in with his rich and strict family, Phillip is unknowingly just as lost as the circus performers are. It is in them that he finds his true home, and love, that he defends fiercely despite it being considered inappropriate for the time period.

“You’re here in my heart / So who can stop me if I decide that you’re my destiny?”

– “Rewrite the Stars

  1. Let your head be so full of dreams that there isn’t room for anything else.

“A million dreams is all it’s gonna take / A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make.”

– “A Million Dreams”

P.T. Barnum was the son of a poor tailor who died when he was still young. He sold old newspapers to make money for food, and took a job with a railway company when that craze took hold. As an adult, he struggled to hold a job and provide for his family. But there was never one moment when he lost the whimsy and magic he believed in as a child. It’s how he found his calling, and how he helped so many who felt they had nothing to give the world find hope and love. Dreams are not distant, impossible ideas. They are real and powerful.

“All the shine of a thousand spotlights / All the stars we could steal from the night sky / Will never be enough”

– “Never Enough”

rewrite the stars

{ images via pinterest | imdb }
Spring 2018 Favorites

Spring 2018 Favorites

spring 2018 faves

Yes, you read the title of this post right. This is my spring favorites post. I know it’s a little  late for that, but as you can tell from my last post, I was kind of busy at the beginning of the summer. And because I have this strange love for favorites posts (and I already had it outlined), I decided to go ahead and write it. After all, since I started with these favorites posts, I’ve never missed one. So, read it or not; it’s up to you.

Movies & TV //

Avengers: Infinity War – I feel so confused about this movie. Like, I didn’t love it, okay? I’ll admit it. It wasn’t my most favorite movie ever, or even my most favorite Marvel movie ever, which I was kind of expecting. That being said, I went into this movie ignoring the fact that it was somewhat of a two-parter. And, regardless of how much I liked it, it completely destroyed my heart. So, yes, I believe it belongs on this list.

Forever My Girl – This was so. Cute. Yes, it was very cheesy and kind of felt like a Hallmark movie at times, but it was heartwarming and taught such a good lesson about the importance of love and family. I absolutely adored this.

Same Kind of Different as Me – First and foremost, I will see any movie with the highly underrated John Voight in it. But beyond that, this movie was fantastic. It tells the true story of a woman who volunteers regularly at a homeless shelter. When trying to mend their marriage, her husband begins coming with her. Over time, their entire family befriends one homeless man in particular. Going beyond that description would spoil what happens, but this is definitely something that will make you think, and remind you that there is no difference between you and me and that homeless person on the street corner.

The Royal Wedding – Yes. I am including this. I have no shame. Prince Harry is my favorite royal (don’t tell the others), and if he wouldn’t marry me, then I’m glad he married Meghan Markle. She is simply fantastic, and I loved the combination of traditional British and American themes in their wedding ceremony. Also, she looked fabulous.

Beauty //

Simple Replenishing Rich Moisturizer – You might have noticed the large amount of skincare products I’ve been listing in my favorites posts recently. While I do just love skincare (I think it’s connected to my makeup obsession…I have problems), the real reason I’ve been trying so many different things is because my skin is mad at me. But, never fear, I think I have finally found a moisturizer that my skin and I can agree upon.

The Body Shop body butter – I thought Bath & Body Works had good body butters; it turns out that they have okay body butters. (Also, if you’re wondering what a body butter actually is, it’s basically a super thick body moisturizer. I guess it does kind of feel like butter, but it’s not slimy and nasty.) You see, I have been deprived of the pleasure of having an actual Body Shop store near me (#smalltownprobs). I could buy Body Shop products from Ulta, but why do that when they’re way cheaper at Marshall’s/TJ Maxx? Anyways, wherever you buy them, these body butters are incredibly moisturizing and amazing, but check out the scent first, because some of them are kind of…not great.

Tarte Maneater Mascara – Yes, I am still using Black Friday deals because I have no concerns about sanitation. In almost every case, I stand by the fact that drugstore mascaras are actually better than high-end options. This mascara isn’t necessarily better than my drugstore favorites, but it’s definitely as good. It can give a nice, fluttery look, or you can build it up for something more dramatic. Cue Hannah Montana singing “Best of Both Worlds.”

CoverGirl Total Tease Mascara – Another fantastic mascara is making the list this time. This one isn’t quite as dramatic, but still really nice. However, please do not let the strange wand throw you off. It looks like some strange sort of toothbrush, but it actually works really well for catching all of your lashes, no matter how short.

Books //

100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs – This is a devotional book that I started earlier in the year and finally finished. Normally I’m not into the whole devotional thing, but I really love Annie Downs and how relatable she is. Also I feel like the little tasks for each day were really good. (Like, have you ever written a thesis statement for your life? Well, now I have.)

Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz – Apparently de la Cruz and her family went to see Hamilton, and her kids asked her about Alexander Hamilton and his wife Elizabeth Schuyler. She did some research to try to answer their questions, but there is very little known about them. So, she did the next best thing: she wrote a historical fiction novel with only the major, verifiable historical facts. The rest was purely fiction. But I hope that maybe, just maybe, it did happen this way.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys – In my opinion, Sepetys is one of the most prolific young adult historical fiction authors…ever. This novel centers on a group of refugees fleeing East Prussia during World War II. But this isn’t a cute happily ever after story. It is a true testament to what happened to millions, and it is hopelessly painful. But Sepetys is perhaps one of the few authors who could inject such beauty into that pain.

Beautiful Uncertainty by Mandy Hale – Mandy Hale is better known as The Single Woman, which also happens to be the name of her popular blog. And, yes, she does discuss being single in this book. But, more than anything, this book is about waiting. As Mandy recounts a year in her life, she makes it clear that although waiting for anything in life can be difficult, God is with us through every second of it.

Quotes //

“We the survivors are not the true witnesses. The true witnesses, those in possession of the unspeakable truth, are the drowned, the dead, the disappeared.” – Primo Levi

“I am braver than I realize. And I will prove it today.” – Annie F. Downs

“of course i want to be successful / but i don’t crave success for me / i need to gain / enough milk and honey / to help those around / me succeed” – rupi kaur

“You have to allow yourself to be broken sometimes without trying to cover it up, run from it, hide from it, or conceal it from the world. You have to let the pain do its thing. Allow it to wash over you, allow the tears to fall, stop asking, ‘How do I make it stop?’ and start asking, ‘What did this come to teach me?” – Mandy Hale

Songs //

“In My Blood” by Shawn Mendes

“Butterflies” by Kacey Musgraves

“Tequila” by Dan + Shay

“No Excuses” by Meghan Traior

“Who You Say I Am” by Hillsong Worship

“Get Along” by Kenny Chesney

“Cry Pretty” by Carrie Underwood

“Found/Tonight” by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt

“Tremble” by Mosaic MSC

“You Make it Easy” by Jason Aldean

“Queens Don’t” by RaeLynn

“I Lived It” by Blake Shelton

“Babe” by Sugarland ft. Taylor Swift

“Broken Prayers” by Riley Clemmons

My Winter Favorites

My Winter Favorites

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{ image via Donna on Unsplash }

It may be a little late to be talking about winter, but spring came very late this year. In fact, I’m fairly certain we’ve only had about two weeks of it. So, late or not, here are some of my favorite things from the months of winter…

Movies & TV //

The Greatest Showman – Oh my goodness. I cannot put my love for this movie into words. It is joy and magic and acceptance and love personified. The story, the cast, the music…everything is simply perfect. If you haven’t seen this yet, you are missing out. Big time.

Wonder – I pretty much never use this word, but this movie was a delight. Taking the message of accepting people’s differences and not judging them down to the level of middle schoolers was fantastic. This is one of the few instances when I believe the movie actually was better than the book.

The Resident – If there’s one thing that I obviously needed, it’s another drama to watch. (But, this is a medical drama, and usually I stick to crime, so there’s that!) This new show tells the story of senior resident Dr. Conrad Hawkins, who is assigned to train first-year resident Dr. Devon Pravesh. With the help of surgery resident Dr. Mina Okafor and nurse practitioner Nic Nevin, they basically become hospital vigilantes. Two of the most important physicians at the hospital, as well as the hospital CEO seem to be involved in some shady stuff, and being the awesome people they are, they just aren’t going to stand for it. This show actually takes on a lot of important issues ranging from immigration to medical insurance issues and shows the dark side of hospital administration.

This is Us – I have watched maybe five episodes of this show. I’m not kidding – that’s it. I started with the infamous Super Bowl episode, because everyone was talking about that thing that was going to happen and it was on TV so why not? Now this show is basically my life and I needed season three to start yesterday. Also, JACK PEARSON HOW DARE YOU?

Gilmore Girls – When I picked out a new show to binge-watch, I had no idea that I was picking a show that would become a way of life. I am a Gilmore Girl. I can identify if you are a Gilmore Girl. I am basically Rory, with a little bit of Lorelai and Paris mixed in. In case you couldn’t tell, this show has taken over my life…but I’m happy it has. (Also, just so we’re clear, I’m #TeamJess.)

Beauty //

Mario Badescu Rosewater Facial Spray – Okay, I kind of used to think these sprays were fake news. Like, what do they actually do for your face? While I have not noticed any benefits from all of the vitamins, etc. this supposedly contains, and while I don’t really notice a difference in the way my face looks when I use it without putting any makeup over it, it feels really nice. Mainly, I have come to love using this before doing my makeup. I honestly do feel like it works a bit like a primer and helps keep things from looking too dry.

Milani Make it Last Setting Spray – Setting sprays: another thing that we must question the function of. Do they really work? This one does. I truly do notice a difference in my makeup’s longevity. So, for that, I give it my approval.

Philosophy Fresh Winter Morning shower gel and lotion – I got this as a set at Ulta on Black Friday, and I absolutely love it. I had never previously considered what a winter morning smells like, but I think this is actually it. It’s crisp, it’s snowy, and it’s bright. (How awesome am I at describing scents?!)

Elizabeth & James Nirvana Black perfume – My sister gave this to me for Christmas, and it has become my confidence perfume. (Really. I wear this when I give speeches in my Public Speaking class.) The scent is a bit darker, making it good for the colder months, but I think it’ll work for any time of year. Also, it gives me flashbacks to my Mary Kate and Ashley fangirl days. (Elizabeth & James is their brand.)

Books //

Wonder by R.J. Palacio – As I said above, I liked the movie better. But, this book was still great. I enjoyed the multiple perspectives it was told through, and I found myself loving all of the characters. Plus, I think the book drives home the message of acceptance and love even better than the movie.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – I read this for the first time for school in fifth grade. I had never read anything remotely science fiction before (those were my Nancy Drew days), so I was hopelessly confused and eventually gave up on trying to understand what was happening at all. Re-reading it now when I’ve got a bit more experience with the genre under my belt, I adored it. The message, the symbolism – it was all so beautiful, and L’Engle’s writing style is nothing short of stunning.

Champion by Marie Lu – This is the conclusion to a dystopian trilogy, and I cried for three days over it. That is not an exaggeration. Dystopian books are, of course, about some sort of power struggle and battle, but this one packed so much emotion in with it. It was absolutely fantastic.

Quotes & Scriptures //

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand

“Your crown has been bought and paid for. Put it on your head and wear it.” – Maya Angelou

“I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” – Psalm 40:8

Songs //

The Greatest Showman soundtrack

“I Won’t Let Go” by Switchfoot & Lauren Daigle

“The Middle” by Zedd ft. Maren Morris

“Greatest Love Story” by LANCO

“Different” by Micah Tyler

“Woman, Amen” by Dierks Bentley

“Wild Hearts Can’t be Broken” by P!nk

“The Champion” by Carrie Underwood ft. Ludacris

“Broken Prayers” by Riley Clemmons

“Parallel Line” by Keith Urban

“Still the Same” by Sugarland

“Consequences” by Camila Cabello

“You Broke Up with Me” by Walker Hayes

“I Do” by Morgan Evans

20 Facts for 20 Years

20 Facts for 20 Years

In honor of officially entering my twenties recently (what???), I thought I would share twenty random facts about myself with you all – one for each year. I hope you all enjoy getting to know my strange self better. 😉

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  1. My favorite celebrity couples are Tom Hanks & Rita Wilson and Ryan Reynolds & Blake Lively.
  2. My favorite Taylor Swift song from each album of hers (in chronological order) is “Stay Beautiful,” “White Horse,” “Mine,” “All Too Well,” “Out of the Woods,” and “New Years Day.”
  3. I am somewhat of a quote collector and have a ton of favorites, but one that I always remember is: “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand
  4. I’ve been interested in politics for several years now, but I’ve become very passionate about several social issues within the past year.
  5. My dream job is writing about politics for The Washington Post while doing some political commentary for NBC.
  6. Sometimes I get freaked out watching Gilmore Girls because I literally am Rory Gilmore, so it feels a little bit like I’m watching a TV show about my life.
  7. I read. Every genre (especially fantasy). All the time.
  8. My favorite colors are pink, gold, and mauve.
  9. I might have a slight make-up buying problem. And I strongly believe that you should do your make-up the way that you want and not let anyone else’s thoughts bother you! Wear the bold lip color! (At least that’s what I do.)
  10. My favorite scripture is Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
  11. I’d rather write five English essays than do one science lab.
  12. Ronald Reagan is one of my heroes, and is absolutely one of the reasons I have come to love politics and conservatism so much.
  13. I am so grateful that I have such a close relationship with both of my parents, especially my mom (#besties).
  14. I was pretty much born in the wrong era. I love old music (Frank Sinatra is my favorite) and movies. Audrey Hepburn is flawless and I will never not love Sabrina.
  15. I love true crime shows, especially Dateline. Not to brag, but one of their correspondents, Josh Mankiewicz, has replied to my tweets multiple times. And I would like for one of their other correspondents, Keith Morrison, to follow me around and narrate my life.
  16. I was diagnosed with my first chronic illness when I was three years old.
  17. My all-time favorite albums are Rivers in the Wasteland by Needtobreathe, Where I Find You by Kari Jobe, and Red by Taylor Swift.
  18. I love going to concerts. Some of my favorites that I’ve been to are Needtobreathe, Luke Bryan, and Ben Rector. My concert bucketlist includes Rachel Platten, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, and U2 (you gotta aim high).
  19. The first job that I was seriously interested in was being a defense attorney. I think it’s because I used to watch way too many Matlock episodes. I also thought that this would be a very dangerous job, because of those same Matlock episodes.
  20. Although I love politics, I truly believe that art can change more than legislation ever could. We look to music, film, and books for inspiration, not Washington.
2017 Highlights & 2018 Goals

2017 Highlights & 2018 Goals

persisted

{ Image from Tradlands }

I won’t say 2017 was a good year, because it wasn’t. In fact, I think it was a pretty bad year. I’m not going to miss it. And while I don’t think you necessarily need a new year for a new start, that’s how we act, isn’t it? We tend to reflect back on what we went through the last year, so here we go – my list of highlights of 2017…

  • My trip to Nashville. If it weren’t for my chronic illnesses, I never would have gone to Nashville at all. My real reason for going was to go to the dysautonomia clinic at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. (You can read about that here.) That was not the best experience in the world, and I ended up getting sick from some of the testing they did. But, after I got over this insanity, I was able to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, the Grand Ole Opry, and, of course, a couple of stores that we don’t have here in the middle of nowhere. (Shoutout to the ladies at Lush at the Green Hills Mall! They are the sweetest employees ever.)
  • I went to a Luke Bryan concert. My sisters were sweet enough to give me tickets to a concert I desperately wanted to go to for my birthday – Luke Bryan, Brett Eldredge, and Brett Young. I become a huge Brett Young fan, I cried over Brett Eldredge (I don’t have a problem…), and I screamed the lyrics to every Luke Bryan song (and maybe cried some more). Other than an acoustic jam sponsored by a local radio station, this was my first country concert, and it was beyond what I could have hoped for.
  • I was a bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding. This year, my cousin got married, and I had the honor of being one of her bridesmaids. I also got to help throw her bridal shower, which was beyond fun. Being a part of her bride tribe is a memory I will hold onto forever. Also, if you missed our bridesmaids dance, I’m sorry you’ll never get to witness that beautiful moment in time. (JK, people are probably having nightmares about it still.)
  • I saw the solar eclipse. I live right in the path of totality, and I saw it all. I saw the sun covered. Then I saw it uncovered. It was all great. (Although maybe slightly less of a bigger deal than people made it out to be. Also I got bitten by approximately twelve [not exaggerating] mosquitoes.) Other than that, it was great.

And, now, a few favorites…

My Top 10 Most Played Songs of the Year:

  1. “Better Man” by Little Big Town
  2. “Legends” by Kelsea Ballerini
  3. “Broken Glass” by Rachel Platten
  4. “Every Little Thing” by Carly Pearce
  5. “I’ll Find You” by Lecrae ft. Tori Kelly
  6. “How Far I’ll Go” by Auli’i Cravalho
  7. “Can I Be Him” by James Arthur
  8. “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran
  9. “In Case You Didn’t Know” by Brett Young
  10. “Road Less Traveled” by Lauren Alaina

My Top 5 Favorite Albums of the Year:

  1. Unapologetically by Kelsea Ballerini
  2. Flicker by Niall Horan (clean version, y’all)
  3. Wonder by Hillsong United
  4. Waves by Rachel Platten
  5. Brett Eldredge by (you guessed it) Brett Eldredge

My Top 5 Favorite Movies of the Year:

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. The Greatest Showman
  3. Beauty & the Beast
  4. Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them
  5. Hidden Figures

My Top 5 Favorite Books of the Year:

  1. Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
  2. Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys
  3. Caraval by Stephanie Garber
  4. These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
  5. A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

2018

{ Image from Pinterest }

And now, we’re in 2018. I can’t say that I have very many New Year’s resolutions; I’ve just never really gotten into that kind of thing. I forget them in two weeks and then feel guilty about it later. But, this year, I’m making more of an effort here. I picked a word for the year: Grace. Not just the kind of grace we receive from God, but the kind of grace we should give to ourselves. So I guess that’s one of my goals: to be a little bit easier on myself. To remember that I’m human, and God expects me to be worthy now, not perfect. And, I have a scripture picked out; it’s Doctrine and Covenants 82:10: “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” So, English translation: When we do what the Lord says when we are obedient to His commands, he is bound to His promises. He will do what He has told us to do. But, if we don’t obey him, then he is not required to give us his promised blessings. So trust him in the waiting, and do what He says in the meantime. You’ll get your blessings in His time.

I don’t know what’s coming this year. It could be great. It could be horrible. But I’m here, and I’m ready for it.

My Summer Favorites

My Summer Favorites

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Ah, summer. Who doesn’t love the season of sun and warm temperatures? Now that we are about a month in to fall, I thought it would be a good time to finally write about my favorite things from the summer. Although, in my defense, I’m pretty sure Mother Nature got the memo that it was actually fall only about a week ago.

Movies & TV //

  • Wonder Woman – Do I even need to provide an explanation? I feel like I have been waiting for this movie my whole life. Diana (Wonder Woman) is an incredible role model who strikes the perfect balance of being strong, fierce, and independent, while still being compassionate, generous, and kind. A wonder woman, indeed.
  • The Shack – I had my doubts about this one. I just want to say up front that, despite what this movie’s creators and the author of the book it is based on might lead you to believe, much of this movie is not based in Biblical doctrine. That being said, I don’t know if I have ever been so inspired by a movie in my life. I laughed, I cried, and I came away with a greater sense of gratitude for God’s love.
  • Lion – Long version: Lion tells the true story of the life of Saroo Brierly. Saroo grew up in India, but, after being separated from his brother at a train station, he ends up riding a train that takes him hours away from his home. He is too young to identify where he is from, so he is eventually placed in foster care and adopted by an Australian couple. Later, when Saroo is in college, he begins to wonder about the family he lost. He uses the new (at the time) invention Google Earth to meticulously comb through India until he finds the small town where he grew up, leading to him being reunited with his long lost family. Short version: Prepare to sob.
  • Victoria – I absolutely love period dramas. And I also happen to love the Victorian era. And, ever since I watched The Young Victoria when I was barely old enough to understand anything beyond her being a pretty queen who got to wear fancy dresses, I have been fascinated by the story of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. This new series from Masterpiece (aka the people who brought me the love of my life, Downton Abbey) has captivated me so far, and I can’t wait for the second season.
  • America’s Got Talent – Watching AGT is my summer tradition, especially now that we have the perfect judging panel (Simon Cowell fan for life right here). I loved this season, and I feel like there truly were so many standout contestants, many of whom were sent home far too soon. But, thankfully, my top three, Preacher Lawson, Evie Clair, and Mandy Harvey, made it to the finale. Alas, the top prize ultimately went to the also very talented Darci Lynne.

Beauty //

  • Maybelline Super Stay Better Skin Foundation – If you’re like me, and you’re so pale that people should just start calling you Casper, then you need this foundation. I have the worst time finding a good foundation match for my skin tone; even the lightest shade in a particular range is often still just a bit too dark for me. But the lightest shade of this foundation is literally perfect for me. Bonus: The formula is also fantastic.
  • Catrice Liquid Camouflage Concealer – I picked this up at Ulta after hearing one of my favorite YouTubers, KathleenLights, rave about it. Since then, it’s become my favorite concealer. It has medium-to-full coverage, and never feels heavy or cakey (which is a beautiful thing).
  • L’oreal Lash Paradise Mascara – This. Mascara. Is. Amazing. I have tried almost every mascara at the drugstore, and this one is certainly a stand out. It gives a really nice voluminous look, without being too clumpy. It adds just enough oomph without being over-the-top.
  • Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk – When I bought this product (with a Target Cartwheel coupon, obviously), I thought I would probably use it as a detangler/leave-in-conditioner. But, as it turns out, this is actually an amazing styling product to use on slightly damp hair. I use the one specifically for curly hair, and it tames my kinks and frizz while still giving me the slightly messy look that I love.
  • Wet ‘n Wild Liquid Catsuit Lipstick – Okay, I have tried a lot of liquid lipsticks since they first became a thing, and let me tell you, nothing (not even high-end options) compare to this. And it’s only $4.99. It lasts through meals easily, and doesn’t start to fade for hours. My personal favorite shade is Rebel Rose.

Books //

  • Portraits of Courage by George W. Bush – Okay, confession: I love George W. I mean, how can you not? During his presidency, President Bush made his love and respect for our military known, and has continued his dedication to them since leaving office, hosting events in Texas for veterans to get together and find healing through sports. Coincidentally, President Bush has also taken up painting as a post-administration activity. This book combines these two passions, telling the stories of veterans he has met, most of whom suffer from PTSD and traumatic brain injuries, along with pictures he painted of them. The stories are beyond inspiring, and President Bush’s love for the book’s subjects practically jumps off of the pages.
  • Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie – This was my first ever Agatha Christie book. I read it in preparation for the film adaptation coming out in this month. It took me a little while to get into the story, but once I did, I was hooked. I honestly could not predict who the murderer was, and I was completely caught off guard by the ending. Not only was the book great, but I think it will translate very well to film.
  • The Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson – This is the third book in Dickerson’s Haggenheim fairytale retelling series with a Christian twist. I have read several books in this series (you don’t have to read them in order), but this is by far my favorite. Based on Beauty and the Beast, it was inspiring, but also featured plenty of conflict and action to move the story along.

Quotes & Scriptures //

  • “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17
  • “You’re allowed to be broken and a total mess and love Jesus.” – Jordan Lee Dooley
  • “I am a woman. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a Mormon.”
  • “To the girl who reads by flashlight, who sees dragons in the clouds, who feels most alive in worlds that never were, who knows magic is real, who dreams…This is for you.” – Megan Spooner
  • “She’s the kind of queen that knows her crown isn’t on her head but in her soul.” – Adrian Michael
  • “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour….But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” – 1 Peter 5:6-8, 10

Songs //

  • “I’ll Find You” by Lecrae ft. Tori Kelly
  • “Yours” by Russell Dickerson
  • “Broken Things” by Matthew West
  • “God Bless This Mess” by Jillian Jacqueline
  • “Broken Glass” by Rachel Platten
  • “Glimpse” by Kim-Walker Smith
  • “Life Changes” by Thomas Rhett
  • “My Girl” by Dylan Scott
  • “Hills & Valleys” by Tauren Wells
  • “Even If” by MercyMe
  • “Legends” by Kelsea Ballerini
  • “The Long Way” by Brett Eldredge
  • “Can I Be Him” by James Arthur
  • “Look What You Made Me Do” by Taylor Swift

 

{ Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash }