2017 Highlights & 2018 Goals

2017 Highlights & 2018 Goals

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{ 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.

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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 }

My Spring Favorites

My Spring Favorites

Summer is now officially upon us. While it seems that everyone loves summer, there is definitely something special about spring, when everything that had died comes back to life (and when it is not yet 100 degrees outside). Before I jump fully into summer, I thought I would share a few of my favorite things from spring.

spring faves

Movies & TV //

  • Hidden Figures: I first saw Hidden Figures in theaters for my birthday, and I fell instantly in love. Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae do a fantastic job portraying Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson, three female African-American NASA employees who did nothing short of change the world. As a woman, I feel so grateful for what these three women did and the sacrifices they made.
  • Beauty & the Beast: Does this even require an explanation? The original has always been one of my favorite movies, but the remake certainly outdoes it. Emma Watson’s portrayal of Belle was perfect, and I love the closer focus on Belle’s intelligence during a time when this was not welcome in women.
  • Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them: I am, and always will be, the biggest Harry Potter fan. This movie was a great addition to the magical world without trying too hard (*cough* Cursed Child *cough*). Also, Newt Scamander is basically the most adorable character ever.
  • Downton Abbey: Yes, I have finally fallen into the inescapable hole that is Downton Abbey. The story, the characters, the history – I love it all. Obsessed is a strong word, but I might be at that level. I just finished the entire show, and I’m still trying to recover.

Beauty //

  • Essence Pure Nude Highlighter: I have just gotten into highlighting in the past few months (what was I doing with my life before?), and this one is by far the best that I’ve used. It’s not over-the-top, but it definitely leaves a visible sheen. In my opinion, it’s perfect.
  • Maybelline The Colossal Big Shot Mascara: I am a mascara junkie. I’ve tried all the drugstore classics, and a few high-end favorites as well. This is definitely the best mascara I have ever used. It adds the perfect amount of volume and length, without one over-powering the other. It is certainly not for the faint of heart, though – this is definitely a false lash look.
  • CoverGirl Oh Sugar! Lip Balm: This stuff beats every other tinted lip balm I have ever tried (and I have tried quite a few). I love keeping the shade “Candy” in my purse for when I need some moisture, and using the shade “Punch” for when I want a wash of color.
  • L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Glow Foundation: My skin tends to lean in the combo/oily direction, so luminous foundations scare me. But, I decided to give this one a try before it got too hot, and I love it. I definitely won’t be able to keep using it through the summer, but it’s perfect for the cooler months.
  • Smashbox Always On Liquid Lipstick in “Stepping Out”: I got this in one of those Sephora favorites kits, and I’m obsessed. I never would have thought that I would like this color on myself, but I do. With my complexion, it looks like a nude with a mix of rusty orange.
  • Colourpop Lippie Stix in “Lumiere”: I had had my eye on this shade for a while, but I was hesitant to purchase it because I rarely wear cool-toned lip colors. But once I finally got this shade and started wearing it, it was like I had been missing it my whole life. Seriously.
  • Bath & Body Works Bonjour Paris Lotion: I honestly have no words for this lotion. It’s a newer release from B&BW, and I have to say, they are killing it with their new products. This scent (a little floral, but not too much) is everything.

spring swatches

Books //

  • Girl Defined by Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird: This is a Christian nonfiction book that features the tagline “God’s radical design for beauty, femininity, and identity.” I am very picky about the Christian nonfiction books I read, and I didn’t agree with every single thing that sisters (and bloggers) Kristen and Bethany wrote in this book, but I still loved it. It was perfect for my done-with-modern-feminism heart.
  • Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth: This is my favorite book I have read so far this year. Basically, it’s a dystopian about two warring peoples. But that’s not the reason I loved this book. One of the main characters, Cyra, deals with chronic pain, and has been severely psychologically affected by it. I have never read a book that features a main character with a chronic illness before, and I think Veronica Roth handled it perfectly.
  • Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys: It will come as no surprise that historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. This book, which focuses on the rarely-discussed labor camps created during World War II not by Hitler, but by Stalin, is incredibly moving. I cannot recommend it enough.

Quotes & Scriptures //

  • “Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ.” – Sheila Walsh
  • “But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest ye haply be found even to fight against God.” – Acts 5:39
  • “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – Romans 12:2
  • “…and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” – Esther 4:14
  • “If you feel a little overwhelmed, take that as a good sign. It indicates that you can sense the magnitude of the trust God has placed in you.” – Henry B. Eyring

Songs //

  • “Every Little Thing” by Carly Pearce
  • “Better Man” by Little Big Town
  • “Magnify” by We are Messengers
  • “Road Less Traveled” by Lauren Alaina
  • “Out of Hiding” by Steffany Gretzinger
  • “May We All” by Florida Georgia Line & Tim McGraw
  • “The Cause of Christ” by Kari Jobe
  • “In Case You Didn’t Know” by Brett Young
  • “Beauty & the Beast” by John Legend & Ariana Grande
  • “Castle on the Hill” by Ed Sheeran
  • “Once” by Maren Morris
  • “Million Reasons” by Lady Gaga
  • “Back to God” by Reba McEntire & Lauren Daigle

So, there you have it – my favorite things from spring 2017! Let me know what you were loving last season, and whether or not we share any favorites, in the comments below.