August 2016 in Review

What I Focused on in August: 

1. Finishing the 15th draft of WLHYL, and beginning to work on my Echoes series again

2. Marathon training (eating healthily, lots of running, and trying to go to sleep at a reasonable hour)
3. Family Time 
4. Getting back into the swing of things at home 


Birthday Challenge and Dream List Update 

4. Go to Wednesday night church 24 times {2}
8. Writer 24 A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words short stories {1}
13. Write a monthly review on my blog within 5 days of the end of the month whenever internet is available {COMPLETED!}
14. Blog my 3 (or more) top goals for each month within 5 days of the beginning of each month whenever internet is available {September still to go}
24. Read out loud for 24 hours {4}

None

Non-Fiction: 4
Fiction: 3
Reviews: 7
Audio Books: 1 

Traveling
Nights gone: 12
New States or Countries: None 
August Goals 
If God wills and I live, in August…
1. I will be able to do a half marathon (13.1 miles) in 3 hours {YES!}
2. I will send the completed 15th draft of WLHYL out for another round of beta reading {YES!}
3. I will read three non-fiction books {YES!}
4. I will begin writing 1,000 words each day for my 24 before 24 challenge {YES!}
5. I will finish memorizing the first 3 chapters of Philippians {Haha…Nope. I did work on it, though.}

,
What I’ve Been Learning
Ah, this month was fantastic, as was August in 2015, which I find mildly amusing. See, for years August has been my least favorite month of the year, it’s hot and stuffy and just plain in the way of glorious September. But then last year and this year, I went into the month determined to fully appreciate it and not dwell on upcoming September too much, and guess what? It works. Mindset really does make a big difference, even with “little” things like embracing whatever month is currently taking center stage. 
I didn’t do a ton of reading this month because I was really focused on editing and then writing, but I still managed to glean a lot from the books I did take in. I learned more about piano and being a musician, read about service dogs (amazing creatures), and about how different people react to motherhood differently. 
Through Intercessory Prayer, a book by Dutch Sheets, I also learned a great deal about what the Bible really has to say about prayer, and how to pray more effectively. Since beginning the book, I have indeed begun changing the way I pray, so that’s a plus. I’ve also been trying to learn about how to study the Bible in a more productive way. 
This month I’ve also enjoyed delving some into American History. I’ve always enjoyed history, but it’s been a while since I’ve sat down and just studied it. Looking at how our nation was founded is always a good reminder of where we came from and put life back into perspective. 

I was reminded over and over again of how I’m surrounded by amazing people. Sometimes I forget about how blessed I am, but then people waltz in and do something that makes me shake my head in wonder. Like my brother calmly saying “It’s totally fine, I’ll fix it” when I make a mistake at work that costs him time and energy. Or my sister making siblings breakfast in bed. Or a friend pulling an all-nighter to finish beta reading WLHYL. Or several people band together so some of my most wonderful friends can come and stay for a week. Or when I talk to another brother on the phone and he prays for God to bless me. Or when my best friend shares her special food with me. Or when other beta readers give me updates and spend so much of their time on the book. Through all this I’m learning to set aside my plans and be willing to help, too, because being like those^ people is a high ideal to reach for. (Being the hands and feet of Christ, y’all!) 

Other

This month started out with editing, and then morphed into writing. I had a lot of fun spending time working on my new series, Echoes, and getting updates on When Life Hands You Lymes. Yesterday was day 19 of writing at least 1,000 words each day, and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the challenge. Writing 1,000 words doesn’t take much time, but it really helps the story progress at steady pace. 
I spent nearly the first two weeks of the month in Florida visiting family. When I wasn’t working on writing or running, I had lots of fun conversations and played a multitude of games. *cue happy sigh* When I got home life was crazy and busy, and amazing. And I mean like, very crazy, and very busy, and very amazing. One of the wonderfully happy parts was being thrilled and excited to have some of my amazing friends who live across the world come and visit me for a week. So yay! (Like, lots of Yay! and lots of late nights, and lots of laughter, and…you get the picture.) (Can you feel the enthusiasm?)             
THE OLYMPICS! Can we just take a moment to breath in deeply and happily and sigh in delight and maybe dance around the room and do a couple of backflips? I’m incredibly thankful and blessed that God worked it out so that we were around TVs during the Olympics. We don’t have TV at home and I literally never wish that we did, but the Olympics? Goodness, do yo have any clue how incredibly inspiring they are? Since we were in Florida during the first half of them, I had such an incredible time watching them. Someday I’m gonna have to write a whole post about them, because wow… (Aka, the USA ladies gymnastics team is just utterly amazing.) *cue happiness and excitement and inspiration*
Eating healthily was a big part of this month, and it turned out really well. Like, why do I ever stop? Who knows. (Actually, I do. It’s because it’s generally more work to find food that’s paleo, and sometimes I crave other stuff, so…) But yeah, being healthy this month was good for me. 
OH! Folks, I have a darling new nephew. I hardly ever talk about my family on this blog, but I wanted to gush about being an aunt for a moment. BEING AN AUNT IS WONDERFUL! Okay. We’re good now. You can go back to your normal lives. 
Woah. I’m not sure when I’ve ever had such a gushy month review. Just to make sure we have a little bit of perspective (cause, I go back through and read these posts at the end of the year), there were some hard moments this month. My health wasn’t as stellar as I was hoping for (which was pretty hard), and there were some misunderstands, and deadlines and goals weren’t always met, but overall? Overall it was really amazing! I’m incredibly thankful for this month and quite excited for next month! (SEPTEMBER, oh glory be!)
* * * 
So, I’d be delighted to hear about y’alls August. How did it go? 

July 2016 in Review

What I Focused on in July: 

1. Hanging out with my adopted parents because my adopted dad had open-heart surgery 

2. Working on the 15th draft of When Life Hands You Lymes 
3. A busy week with my non-writing job

Birthday Challenge and Dream List Update 
Read aloud 24 hours: 4 hours
(Oops… I’m kinda behind now. Oh well.)
None

Reading Update
Fiction: 7
Reviews: 7
Audio Books: 0 
Traveling
Nights gone: 24
New States or Countries: None 
July Goals 
No goals: Accomplished all of them 
,
What I’ve Been Learning
From the looks of things, my life probably isn’t going to slow down any time soon, which means I’m going to have to do a better job of keeping up with every day life even when I’m not in a place where I can have a routine. That means continuing to eat healthily, train for the marathon, get to sleep at a reasonable hour, and move forward with my writing, even when it’s really difficult to get everything smashed into a day. 
Despite my fantastically large imagination, there are times and places when focus is obsolete and boredom is an actual reality. (I hadn’t realized this was possible.) 
Life certainly isn’t predictable, and sometimes the best thing to do is let go of expectations and goals and change your focus. Just because you don’t feel like you’re doing something important doesn’t mean that you aren’t, and sometimes it’s the little things that can be most important in the long run. 
It really stinks to miss church for multiple weeks in a row. Personal devotions are really important, but nothing takes the place of actually being in church and fellowshipping with like-minded people. 
Even when some writing projects feel pretty hopeless, if you just stick at it long enough and work through it and keep going and going and going, eventually it will (most likely) begin coming together. So, don’t quit.
Other
This whole month was a blur. Not like a fast blur, but a long blur. Between June 28th and July 24th, I was only home one night. Then, I was home from July 24th until the 30th, and headed out again. Most of that time was spent not exactly knowing how the next day would play out, and since I thrive on planning, it was a probably really good for me, but also a bit like “aghhhh.” (So descriptive, I know.) 
It was delightful getting to spend most of the month with my adopted parents and I’m incredibly thankful I got to. I did miss my other family a lot during the month though, and now that I’m with my other family, I miss my adopted one. (Which obviously means I’ve been incredibly blessed to have two families to take turns missing.) 
This last week I was able to empty my email inbox. Any of y’all who have emailed me in the past can testify to the fact that I was practically the world’s worst email-replier ever, which is pretty sad. I’ve had a great time this year keeping my inbox close to empty (I put the emails in folders as soon as I reply to them), but to have it totally empty makes me pretty happy. Of course I also like receiving emails, so if any of y’all wanna give me ideas for posts you’d like to see on Noveltea or if you’re interested in doing an author interview, just email me at: aidylewoh@gmail.com. 
This is a rather short monthly review because there isn’t a ton to write about, but overall it was a good month with lots of answered prayers and grace and non-expected happenings. 
I’d be delighted to hear about y’alls July! 

June 2016 in Review

What I Focused on in June: 

1. A couple of (really) big weeks at my non-writing job
2. I was sick for a couple of weeks, so trying to keep up with life while not feeling well
3. Family time

Birthday Challenge and Dream List Update 
Birthday Challenge: (The ones that are bolded are completed, and I’m just continuing to work on them.)
2. Pray the “prayer of Jebez” every day for three months {1}

4. Go to Wednesday night church 24 times {1}
6. Read 12 non-fiction “spiritual” books {2}
7. Read the Proverb of the day every day for six months {1}
10. Make 24 meals from different countries {4}
11. Get up at 6:15 or before 24 days in a row (not counting weekends) {12}
12. Go to bed at 10:30 or before 24 nights (not in a row) {12}
13. Write a monthly review on my blog within 5 days of the end of the month whenever internet is available {Yes}
14. Blog my 3 (or more) top goals for each month within 5 days of the beginning of each month whenever internet is available {Yes}
15. Write 24 book reviews {11}
23. Read 24 non-fiction books {4}
24. Read out loud for 24 hours {2}

Go to North Dakota

Reading Update

Fiction: 7
Non-fiction: 4
Reviews: 11
Audio Books: 3 

Traveling
Nights gone: 7
New States or Countries: North Dakota 
June Goals 

1. Run or Jog at least 10 hours (not at once) – Haha. No
2. Make four meals from other countries – Yes – At least mostly 
3. Finish memorizing the second chapter of Philippians – No
4. Write 5 “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words” short stories No
5. Read and review 4 nonfiction books – Yes
6. Read out loud for 4 hours – Only about 3 hours
7. Get to bed by 10:30 at least 12 times (not in a row) – Yes (I think, I might have only done 11 nights)
8. Get up by 6:30 at least 12 times (not in a row) – Yes
9. Write up a game plan for the next draft of WLHYL – Haha. No
10. Work at least 80 hours on my non-writing job – Technically no, but what I was actually meaning, Yes

What I’ve Been Learning

This was an interesting month for me. One of the biggest things I learned was that plans change and grace is often needed in abundance. Also, I’m not quite as good at getting things done as I thought I was. But, but, but… I can push through when absolutely necessary (and do a passable job, although you probably don’t want to be around). And, well, God’s grace and peace is amazing. I also discovered that my focusing ability is pretty much nil in certain situations, and that sometimes goals have to take a back seat.
I also read several good books this month and learned about finances, log lines (for writing), and how to create open friendships where spiritual conversations are natural. 
Along the lines of studying countries… Poland, Cambodia, and Honduras were pretty interesting to study. I’ve read a lot of historical fiction that takes place at least partly during Poland, so I enjoyed seeing more of what it’s like modern day, compared to back during WW2. 

Other
June was a crazy month, and one I’ll be happy not to repeat. I was sick for about two or three weeks, which made June’s productivity very low and the non-accomplished wannabes rather daunting. Despite that though, I really actually enjoyed the month a lot. It was beautiful, enlightening, and lovely. 
I took a spur-of-the-moment trip to visit my sister and her seven kids. (Lots of reading, imaginative games, yummy, healthy food, and sibling time.) A friend invited me and my best friend to a camp out. During the first part of the month and the (almost) last part, we had some really busy days at my non-writing job which are always fun. 
On Thursday the 23rd, my adopted dad who was out in Montana had a heart attack. He’s been in a hospital in Bismarck, North Dakota ever since. I flew down a week ago to join him and my adopted mom. I’m incredibly thankful to be here, but it’s been a crazy week. I can hardly even recall June actually, so hopefully this post makes sense and I didn’t leave anything huge out.  

May 2016 in Review

What I Focused on in May: 

1. Editing and re-writing When Life Hands You Lymes 
2. Traveling – I was gone for two thirds of the month 
3. Long distance walking 
4. Getting back into the swing of things at home


Birthday Challenge and Dream List Update 


9. Walk 24 miles in two days (in a row) {Completed twice!}
12. Go to bed at 10:30 or before 24 nights (not in a row) {15 nights – Completed}
13. Write a monthly review on my blog within 5 days of the end of the month whenever internet is available {8 months}
14. Blog my 3 (or more) top goals for each month within 5 days of the beginning of each month whenever internet is available {7 months}
15. Write 24 book reviews {10 – Completed}
24. Read out loud for 24 hours {2}



None


Reading Update

Fiction: 7
Non-Fiction: 4
Reviews: 10 
Audio Books: 4? (fiction)


Traveling

Nights Gone: 21
New Countries or States: None 
Spent time in: Mexico and Colorado 


May Goals 

1. Go to bed by 10:30 fifteen times {Yes! Actually, I might have been one day off, but I think I accomplished it.}
2. Get up by 6:30 fifteen times {Yes!}
3. Walk or jog 100 miles {Yes! Around 110 miles in all.}
4. Read & Review four non-fiction books {Yes!}
5. Get WLHYL ready to send to beta readers and send it out {Yes!}
6. Stick to my healthy eating for at least 29 days {Haha, No. This was before I found out I was going to Colorado and then I decided to ditch this goal.}



What I’ve Been Learning

A lot of the times if I set my mind to something, I’ll be able to get it done, even if it’s difficult and takes a lot of time. Therefore, I need to make sure I’m deciding to do the most helpful things in life so I’m not wasting my time and energy on things that aren’t important. I also need to pace myself well and live life with balance. (And that, folks, is one of the most recurring lessons in my life.) 

The countries I “visited” in the Around the World series were DominicaBosnia and Herzegovina, and Montserrat. Although I was focused on WLHYL at the time and so didn’t study the countries as much as I normally do, I still learned a lot. I especially enjoyed researching Bosnia because I have friends who lived there for a few years and have heard lots of stories about their life there. 

Several difficult events happened to people I’m close to this month and pondering the fragility of life and praying for my friends helped bring life and purpose into a more clear focus. I was reminded that when it all boils down, what we do for God is what really counts, and we’ll be held accountable for the time we waste. 

With the books I read this month, I was reminded of how important it is to love people. Life isn’t about impressing or accomplishing or even about changing the course of history. Life is about bringing glory to God and being His hands and feet and sharing His love and truth. That’s hard (especially when I’m not feeling like being around people), but keeping that focus in mind and asking God for His help does wonders. 

As far as writing goes, I’ve been learning to focus on the end result when I’m feeling completely overwhelmed and to not let myself get bogged down with the here and now. It’s also been helpful to look back and think about the reasons why I started writing in the first place. Writing isn’t always easy. It doesn’t always feel glamorous (haha) or special or even needed, but stepping back to get the big picture is important and helps keep me going. 


Other
May! It’s one of the most wonderful months of the year and has always been close to my favorite (coming in after September and October). I’m thrilled to have been able to be home part of this month and spent many hours cutting grass, walking along the road, and working in my office with my windows open, enjoying the delightful cadence of May

Going to Colorado was kinda a last-minute trip for me, but I’m so very thankful I got to go. Where else would I rather spend four days in May? Visiting the top of Pikes Peak and zip lining were two of the highlights of not only the week, but also the month. 

And of course being home. Ah, home is so utterly delightful. I’m incredibly grateful for the amazingly delightful place where I live and all the people I get to share the every-day adventure of life with. 

One of my biggest accomplishments this month was getting to do a ton of walking during the first half of the month. Not only did I walk twenty-four miles in two days, but then a week later I walked over twenty-six miles without stopping. Now that was rewarding. 

And, last but not least of all, I sent When Life Hands You Lymes out to beta readers. That was something I focused on a lot and worked pretty hard on. I’ve gotten some good feedback back from the readers and I’m hoping to hear from the rest of them within the next couple of weeks. 
* * * 
What did y’all do in May? I’d be delighted to hear!

April 2016 in Review

What I Focused on in April: 
1. When Life Hands You Lymes – Lots of editing, chopping, and adding
2. My Mexico trip 
3. Family Time  
4. The A to Z Challenge

Birthday Challenge and Dream List Update 
2. Pray the “prayer of Jebez” every day for three months {Completed in December. +3)
3. Read the whole Bible {Completed}6. Read 12 non-fiction “spiritual” books {1}
7. Read the Proverb of the day every day for six months {6 months – missed one day}
13. Write a monthly review on my blog within 5 days of the end of the month whenever internet is available {6 months}
14. Blog my 3 (or more) top goals for each month within 5 days of the beginning of each month whenever internet is available {5 months}
15. Write 24 book reviews {10}23. Read 24 non-fiction books {4}
None 

Reading Update
Fiction: 6
Non-Fiction: 4
Reviews: 10 
Audio Books: 4 (fiction)
Traveling
Nights Gone: 20
New Countries or States: None 
April Goals 

1. Complete the A to Z Challenge and visit 200 other A to Z Blogs {Completed the challenge – didn’t visit very many other blogs}
2. Finish the first edits on SL (WLHYL #2) {Yes }
3. Prepare and leave for Mexico {Yes}
4. Read and review 4 non-fiction books {Yes}
5. Contact 100 (___________) {Haha, nope: Only like 15.}


What I’ve Been Learning

I read a book about the USS Indianapolis and WW2 and the struggles people went through to bring the horrible war to an end. It was crazy the extremes that people had to suffer through. From Dangerous Love I learned what it’s like to keep going, even when the going gets tough. God’s love can change us and mold us if we allow it to. When Others Shuddered gave me an overview of the lives of eight women who made a big difference in their world and reminded me that I, too, want to be a world-changer. 
During the month I read three historical fiction books that took place during the Civil War. They were very historically accurate, including snippets from people’s letters and journals who lived during that era. It was sobering to think about how our country was once torn and fighting each other. It also made me thankful that our country stayed together and that we can heal and look past our mistakes and differences. And, it also made me realize how very important it is to do just that. 
I also had fun learning about the countries that I “visited” this month during the series I have on Noveltea called Around the World in 52 Weeks. (The countries were Norway, Bhutan, Cayman Islands, and Georgia.) The country I’d want to visit most out of those? Probably Norway. They really like books there and I really like books… So, it sounds delightful. 
It’s much easier for me to keep up with life when I’m keeping up with the small things – like eating healthily. I let myself have about eight or nine days of eating sweets and dairy and breads and all those yummy treats and yikes… I’ve discovered that really and truly nothing tastes as yummy as being healthy feels. I’m happily and confidently back on my healthy lifestyle and although I might take a meal (or day) off now and then, I won’t be doing such a long stretch again for a long time. 
Although I had fun with the A to Z Challenge, I got tired of it near the end of the month. I wanted to be creative and post whatever I wanted, instead of just posting about creativity. That actually surprised me a bit. I think it’s partly to do with the fact that I was out of my normal environment and everything felt “off.” All in all though, the challenge was enjoyable and it stretched me a bit, so that was good. I think my main concern was that Noveltea would seem really redundant to y’all, so hopefully that wasn’t the case and if it was, then I whole-heartedly agree with you. 
I need to make sure the monthly and weekly goals I set are realistic, and if they aren’t or if they aren’t moving me forward in the overall range of my life goals, then I need to learn to let go and reevaluate. 
Re-writing and adding and chopping my WIP can be rewarding and fun, but it can also be really difficult and draining and make me want to take a dozen naps. Pushing through will be worth it in the end and bribing myself with listening to music and taking walks really does help. 
Other
This was a good month. And a very long one. I can barely remember what happened back at the beginning of it because so much has been going on in my life. Thankfully these last two weeks have been slow, easy-going weeks with a lot of reflection time. 
Right before I left for Mexico I had fun answering questions for an interview I did over at this blog. The questions were great and made me really think, so it was fun. The interview went live today so y’all should check it out. 
Family time is amazing. I’ve had wonderful hours spent playing tons of Uno with my youngest brother, swimming in the ocean and pool, cooking, doing dishes, walking, playing multiple games multiple times with multiple people, and just hanging out. 
* * *
It’s that time again where we get to choose where Annie goes for this week in our Friday Series, Around the World in Fifty-Two WeeksAnd the destination is: Dominica! 

(The first two countries I landed on were Pakistan and Central African Republic, but both of them had strong warnings against visiting them at this time because of unrest so I figured Annie wouldn’t have been able to go.)   

January 2016 in Review

What I Focused on in January
1. My non-writing job. I started taking on some extra responsibilities and enjoyed doing so.
2. My writing work. I kept track of the hours that I spent on writing (the first time I’ve done that for an entire month), and logged in a little over 70 hours. Not quite what I was hoping for, but still good.
3. Eating and being healthy. 
4. Family time with extended family.
Birthday Challenge and Dream List Update 
2. Pray the “prayer of Jebez” every day for three months {Another Month}
3. Read the whole Bible {Jeremiah and Lamentations}
4. Go to Wednesday night church 24 times {2 or 3 times}
6. Read 12 non-fiction “spiritual” books {1}
7. Read the Proverb of the day every day for six months {1 month}
12. Go to bed at 10:30 or before 24 nights (not in a row) {8}
13. Write a monthly review on my blog within 5 days of the end of the month whenever internet is available {Yes}
14. Blog my 3 (or more) top goals for each month within 5 days of the beginning of each month whenever internet is available {Yes}
15. Write 24 book reviews {1}
20. Track all the money I spend for 24 days {Yes}

None

Reading Update

Fiction: 0
Non-Fiction: 1
Reviews: 1 
Back in December I took a break from reading fiction. I’m not sure how long this break is going to last, but it’s the longest time I’ve gone without reading fiction in fifteen years… Craziness. Note: I am continuing to read my own writings as I work on editing them.

Traveling

8 Night Gone
New countries or states: None 
November Goal Updates 

My goals for January 2016:
If the Lord wills and I live I will…

1. Begin my Friday Series {Yes!}
2. Keep track in my Really Living book {Yes… Most of the time.}
3. Eat extremely healthily the whole month {YES!}
4. Spend 80 hours on my writing stuff {Nope.}
5. Spend 80 hours on my non-writing job {Haha. This is cute. Um, no.}
6. Read only non-fiction books {Yes!}


What I’ve Been Learning

Thanks to my Around the World in Fifty-Two Weeks series, I got to spend a fair amount of time studying 
Portugal, Mongolia, China, and Guatemala… As well as the art of traveling and airport times and traveling routes and all that good stuff. It was amazing to me how involved I got in the research and how it really did feel as if I were actually visiting the different countries. 
This month I also began trying to get my blog posts up between 7:00-8:30 each morning. That didn’t happen every single day, but I managed to squeak through most mornings. This, along with keeping track of the time I spent on writing related ventures and having a new system of tracking my non-writing job, taught me to be a lot more aware of how I spent my time and to plan my day better than I used to. And that, my friends, is a very good thing.
I learned a lot this month about what WLHYL really looks like from an outside perspective and flaws it has that I’d never even thought of. I worked on learning to respond graciously even when I didn’t agree with what beta readers were saying and to really think about what they were saying, even when my initial reaction was that they were totally wrong. I also worked on articulating what I really was trying to say in the book so it would be more concise.
To be content with what I can and can’t do (still really working on this one). My thyroid has been being a bit hard to get along with recently and learning to deal with all that entails instead of freaking out is something I’ve been working on. 
I enjoyed looking up and highlighting verses about Love, Joy, and Peace and really trying to focus on what God has to say about them. It was helpful and overall helped make the month better. 

Other

Overall I’m excited and happy for how Twenty-Sixteen started out. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but the good far outweighed the bad and I am joyfully satisfied and thankful with how the first twelfth of the year went by.

During the first week of the month my dad and I spent a lot of time working on an overwhelming project I’d been trying to get done for the past five years. I was so relieved when we finally accomplished it that I could have slept for the next two days straight (and possibly did).

The weather was wonderful for part of the month with gloriously beautiful snow and crisp, cold air. I enjoyed it immensely and was so thankful to experience some real winterish weather before coming down to Florida.

During January I got to play an amazing amount of games – most of them with my little brother as we traveled together and hung out when the rest of my family was gone doing other things. It was fantastic. We also had one of our really good family friend back from college for a couple weeks of break and he popped over a lot of evenings to play Ticket to Ride, 7 Wonders, and Dutch Blitz. Happy times.  

* * *
What about your January? I’d be delighted to hear what you focused on. 

January 2015 in Review

What I focused on in January

1. Getting my book, Where Dandelions Grow to my editor for the final edit
2. Getting ready and going to Africa and Florida 
3. Helping our friends in Africa 
4. Getting ready for our business meetings in Florida 



Birthday Challenge: 
1. Read 23 Non-fiction books – I read 2 
11. Read the Proverb of the day 3 months (not in a row) – I missed one day, but then read it the next day

13. Go to bed before 10:30 23 times (not in a row) – I need to count it up, but I’m pretty sure I did this about 7 or 8 times

15. No texting for 23 days (not in a row) – 15 days
Dream List: 

Go to Africa


Reading Update 
Fiction: 
8
Non-Fiction:
2
Reviews:
None

Traveling 
I was gone 22 nights
Countries & States: The Ivory Coast (layover) and Ghana (14 nights) Traveling (2 nights) New York (layovers) Pennsylvania (traveling) Florida (6 nights)
New Countries & States: The Ivory Coast and Ghana

What I’ve been Learning

*Making my life count now. When we were in Africa we received the news that one of our friends from back home had drowned. The shock and sadness were mixed with the feeling of He lived his life well. Peter was just a few years older than me, yet he made an eternal difference during his short time on earth. He had run the race set before him and he had finished his course. No matter how long I live I want the same to be said about my life. 

* I had a fantastic time learning tons about the Ghanian way of life and their unique qualities and quirks. Wes and Charity, our friends who we were visiting, have lived in Ghana for around twelve years and they’re very knowledgeable about the culture. They were happy to answer hours and hours of questions.  


* January was a month greatly void of energy for me, which was really hard. It did give me a chance to continue learning a lesson that I’ve been working on for about eight years now: My self-worth is not determined by what I can accomplish. 
It is so crazily hard for me when I can’t look back at the end of the day and have a huge list I’ve accomplished. I’m still working on learning to rest in God and be ok with what I can and can’t do. My worth is determined by the fact that I’m created in God’s image and I’m His child, not by how much work I can get done in a twenty-four hour period. So simple to write, so hard to actually believe and put into practice.  

Other Things 


And I saved the best for the last. On Monday the 26th I was in an elevator when my phone rang and I missed a call from my cousin Alexa. I called her back after I was in my hotel room to be greeted with the wonderfully exciting news that just a few short hours before her amazing boyfriend had proposed and she had happily said Yes


Growing up Alexa, Aubrey (her sister), Helena (my sister) and I did everything together. Since we are all fairly close in age, one of the questions we had over the years was which one of us would get married first. Our predications always placed Alexa close to the top of the list and I guess we were right. It’s exciting entering this new phase in our cousinhood.

Alexa and Zach, I’m so excited/happy/thrilled/antispation-filled/delighted/joyful and all that good stuff for y’all! 

December 2014 in Review

What I focused on in December

1. Christmas
2. Family
3. Editing Oh, the joys of editing! 🙂 



Birthday Challenge
Read 23 Non-Ficton books – I read 6
Write 23 book reviews – I wrote 6

Dream List
* Eat kettle corn – 12-19-14 At the Creation Museum Christmas Town 
*Read twenty books in a month


Reading Update
Fiction: 
18

Non-Fiction
6
Me last monthI only read three non-fiction books in two months? I think I’ll try for four or five of them in December. Nice…
I also wrote six reviews. 


Needless to say, I did a large amount of reading this month. It was good. It was busy. It was fun. My reading spree started on a road trip where I had a lot of car time. {So very, very thankful I don’t get carsick!} Between the 23rd and 27th I read eleven books. 

Traveling
In December I was only gone for 3 nights. That’s the second most I’ve been home any month this year. (In June I was only gone one night!) 
States I was in: Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. 
New States I was in: None 


What I’ve been Learning this Month

How to play that^ game. It’s amazing. Fun. Challenging. Strategic. My brother and sister-in-law got it for our family for Christmas and we played our first game on the 26th. I think we’ve played around 12 games in the last three days and I’ve played every single one of those games. It’s intense, people. Like, to the point where yesterday we realized that all five of the players were standing up, tensely watching the action. I’m a great enjoyer of board games and so Christmas time with lots of family and board games makes me very, very happy. 

Ok, so what I’ve been learning for real this month: I’ve been reviewing this year for the last several days and working on my goals for next week. All that’s going to go into my 2014 review though, so I don’t think I’ll go into it here. So, y’all will just have to wait. 

What I’ve been reflecting on though is this: God is able to do amazing things through seemingly un-amazing people. We’re each created for a purpose. And those hard times we go through? He can use those, too. 

Plus, of course, the wonderful, generous, fantastically loving way Jesus came to earth as our Savior. I am so very thankful for that! 

Other Things 

A little over halfway through the month I finally got my new phone! After going for over a month without my own phone (my amazing dad let me borrow his when I needed one) it’s been incredible to have a phone back. So many books to read, music to listen to, and pictures to take. I’m so thankful for my mom and brothers for all the work they did to help with my phone. 

I started a five day juice cleanse on December 26th. So far it’s been… Interesting. (Up there^ are some of the juices on the cleanse.) I can’t say that I’ve actually been hungry since I started it, but man, it sure is hard at times! We still have all our holiday festivities going on and I know I would be eating way too much food if I hadn’t decided to do this cleanse. My hope is to start out 2015 with my body brimming with health instead of slogged down with junk. (Check out the cleanse here.) They said the first three days are the hardest, and I’m on day four, so today should be good. I wanted to do it longer than five days, but with my upcoming trip to Africa, I don’t think it’s very feasible. 

My “identical twin” Incredibly long inside story there, folks! from South America was able to come and visit our family for a couple of days with some of her family, so that was really great! And, getting to go to the Creation Museum with her was great! 


Over all, getting to spend copious amounts of time with family this month has been more than amazing. I love my family stupendously. They’re fun, encouraging, helpful, loving, sweet, ornery, kind, generous, quite competitive and just all around wonderful. 

And board games. Board games, people. I don’t think I ever grow tired of them. The hardest part is holding myself back because sometimes I get so um… crazy, that my family won’t play with me any longer. So far, I’ve been able to contain myself reasonably this season. 

So, what about you? What have you been up to in December? 

November 2014 in Review

What I focused on in November:

1. My book release 
2. Busyness at the private retreat where I work 
3. Thanksgiving/Family time
4. A trip to Nebraska  



Birthday List:

1. Read 23 Non-fiction books – Read 2 in November 

15. No texting for 23 days (not in a row) – Did four of the days

22. Make 5 blankets for a pregnancy center – Started one

Dream List:

Have a girly movie night with my sisters/friends Haha, I we had one in NE but I ended up sleeping through most of it….

Write and publish children’s chapter books that teach them to grow and set goals, have good habits, be leaders, etc… I published my Action Kids book in November! 
Reading Update

Books read in November: 15 
While anticipating the release of my book I was rather stressed out and so I’d lay in bed at night and read. 
And read. And read.
I read ten books in the first nine days of the month. Yeah… It was crazy.

Fiction: 13
Non-Fiction: 2

Only three non-fiction books in two months? Ugg. I’m going to have to work on that one.
I think I’ll try for four or five of them in December… 

I also signed up with two new book review sites and ordered four books to review. Fun times.


Traveling:

This month I was gone for nine days, from the 21st-29th. My sister and I drove to Nebraska with some friends (18 hours and four states away) and then flew home. It was an amazing trip that I still need to blog about. 

New States I was in: Missouri and Nebraska  

I was only about 20 minutes away from Kansas. I really wanted to go there and check another state off the list. Oh well. At least now I’ve been to half the states, so that’s pretty cool. 

Nebraska is flat and windy, people. It was amazing. 


What I’ve been Learning this Month: 

This month wasn’t really my cup of tea. I had a lot of expectations when it came to my book release and they all pretty much fell flat. It was discouraging and hard for me to deal with at times. I had some really good, long talks with three of my friends who are also artists and they all helped me keep on track. 

*Being a writer is a process. It’s long, difficult and can be discouraging, but in the end, it will be worth it
*It’s ok to step back and just enjoy life for a happy interlude and not feel guilty about getting behind with writing
*Non-artists aren’t going to understand what I’m going through at times, but they’ll think they do understand and that’s ok. They’re trying to help
*There will be intense times of feeling alone. The best thing is to use those times to learn to grow
*I’m a human that writes, not a writer that’s human 
*The amount of sales that I do or don’t make, the amount of pageviews I get and comments that are left do not define my worth as a person. I need to have my identity in Christ, not in being a writer
*Trust is hard
*Trust is an essential part of being a balanced human so even when I’m hurt I need to learn to trust again
*Having good friends who you can talk over deep things with is non-compareable 

Other Things: 

* Medallion, our guard dog up at the goat barn, had puppies. We’ve got cute little half mutt, half purebred pups stumbling around now. Anndddd… I think that the ‘half-mutt’ part of the equation makes them full-blooded mutts.

*My cell phone broke the rest of the way. It came apart back in August and I’ve had it taped together and discovered a wide variety of tricks to make it still function part way, but it’s all gone now. *Sniff, sniff.* I hope to get another one this week. 

*I got to do a book signing in a mall in Nebraska! I haven’t blogged about that yet, but it will be coming up soon. 

* * * 
Now it’s your turn! I’d be delighted to hear about some stuff that you got to do/learn/see this month! 

February in Review

February was another one of those crazy busy months! I’m seeing a trend here though, and I’m not expecting life to slow down any time soon. Did I mention that I’m, Lord willing, going to Europe in April? I’m so very excited about that! I can’t wait to share some more about that with y’all! Anyway, back to February, here’s the month in review. 🙂 


1. Write and send 22 snail-mail letters – CHECK I’ve actually sent out more than 22  I’ve sent out more, but I didn’t keep track
2. Go for 22 days (not in a row) without Internet – I’ve gone four days so far – every Sunday I’ve done four more Sundays
3. Go for 22 days (not in a row) without computer – I’ve gone four days so far – every Sunday I’ve done four more Sundays
4. Read 22 non-fiction books – Read 2 and I’m reading three more right now I read one more non-fiction and am reading several more
5. Read 22 fiction books – Read 6 I read four of them, which surprised me because I hadn’t realized I read so much. I read at the beginning of the month and the end, but hardly anything in the middle
6. Write 22 thousand words in my journal – CHECK I’ve written a couple thousand more 
7. Memorize 22 (Bible) verses – Memorized 6 verses (Proverbs 1:5-7 and Proverbs 10:19-21) Ooops, I didn’t do good with this, I’ll have to work on it more this next month
8. Move to our new house Well, I have about half my stuff moved over and my room is a disaster as I’m working on packing up and going through the rest of my stuff
9. Go to Florida – CHECK – Currently in Florida We were in Florida until Saturday the 15th
10. Go to Europe 
11. Go for 22 days in a row without sugar – CHECK – From Jan. 1st. until Jan. 23rd. I’ve had sugar two days this year, but been off of it the rest of the time 
12. Host a writing contest on Noveltea
13. Do a guest post or be interviewed on other blogs or host a guest poster or interview on my blog 22 times – HERE and HERE, plus I have several guest posts waiting to be posted Oh, I’ve got some great ones coming up, y’all! I can’t remember if I did any more this month… 
14. Track all the money I spend for 22 days
15. Do the 100/100 challenge with Limes – I’ve kept up with this Yeppers! I now have over 6,000 words 🙂 
16. Write the continuing Limes story on Noveltea, at least 500 words a segment – Kept up with this I almost forgot until too late yesterday, but got it posted just in time… 
17. Get my drivers license
18. Do my idea with the jar and marbles/beads, etc…
19. Get WDG totally edited
20. Write the first draft for my AK’s book – CHECK – Completed on Jan. 10th, 2014 And it’s at the editors now! Yay 
21. Get my second Creation Quest book totally ready for publication
22. Write ten book reports/reviews – Reviewed 5 (Herehereherehere and here) Wrote one more, here
(5 out of 22 completed, 9 out of the remaining 17 started)


Now let’s move on to my daily, weekly and month-long goals: 

I have seven daily goals and eleven weekly goals that stay the same, I’ve kept up with each one of those. In addition, I also chose ten goals each week with a certain number of times I want to do each of those goals. I’ve kept up with those, too. Lastly, I have three weekly goals (that change each week) and three monthly goals (that change each month) and fifteen year-long goals. Here the Month and Weekly goals are: 

Monthly Goals:
1. Pack my room at least 1/2 of the way  =YES
2. Help out with Business Meetings  =YES
3. Have a list of 150 MG blogs = YES

Week One Goals:
1. Get ready for Business Meetings = YES
2. Find 65 MG blogs = YES
3. Spend quality family time each day = YES

Week Two Goals:
1. Finish up business meetings = YES
2. Pack van and go to Everglades = YES 
3. Write future blog posts = YES

Week Three Goals:
1. Find 45 MG blogs = YES
2. Begin packing room, hopefully 1/4 = YES
3. 5 future blog posts = YES

Week Four Goals: 
1. _________ = YES
2. Pack at least 1/4 of room  = YES
3. Get at least 7 future blog posts done = YES

Year-long Goals:
I worked on several more, but didn’t get any accomplished all the way. 🙂 

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How about you? Did you accomplish your goals for the month? If so, I’d be delighted to hear about it! (And, even if you didn’t, it would still be great to hear what you did during Febuary! 😉