December 2017 in Review

What I focused on in December:

  1. Family, friends, celebrating Jesus’ birth, making memories, and being thankful for a year well-lived
  2. Work – all three jobs
  3. Making a couple of short surprise trips

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Reading Update

Fiction: 7
Nonfiction: 4
Book Reviews: I’m not sure (but I got all the way caught up)
Audio Books: 2

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Traveling

Nights Gone: 6
New States or Countries: None

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Goals

  1. Read 4 non-fiction books – YES
  2. Catch up on all reviews – YES
  3. Vlog 4 times – No: Only 3 times
  4. Edit 5,000 Echoes words – YES (I changed it to WLHYL words)
  5. Work on setting goals for 2018 – YES
  6. Write weekly goals – YES
  7. Go to bed by 10:30 15 times – YES (I think….)
  8. Eat paleo 20 days – YES
  9. (This one is a goal about some of the Christmas gifts I’m working on, so I’ll not specify) – YES
  10. End the year with a clean room, clean bathroom, and laundry basically caught up – YES

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What I’ve Been Learning
 As it turns out sometimes traditions have to move along when life changes, and that’s not always a sad thing. There were several things different this year in my holiday celebrations, and even though in years past that would have made me sad, this year it just felt like part of the flow and I went along languidly.
Praying out loud is important. I knew that. I know that words are extremely important and that we need to be careful not only what we think, but also really careful with what we say. A book I read this month about prayer helped bring this truth to the forefront of my mind, and I’ve been working at praying out loud more often.
I love my family. I know this, but I’m learning more and more just how much I love them and how crazy special they are. (And just plain crazy.) We had some fun adventures and family time this month, and that was delightful and filled my little soul with happiness. I’m so very, very, very thankful for this era in my life.
Twenty-Seventeen wasn’t at all what I had expected or imagined twelve months ago, life didn’t take the curves I’d expected, instead, it kept yelling Plot Twist! and it was wonderful. I am incredibly thankful for all I learned, the opportunities, opened doors, changes in expectations, and the hardships I was able to work through. I’m learning to embrace the unexpected and really (despite what it may look or feel like) be flexible.
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Other

People. This month. It was like a firehose of life aimed straight at me. After recovering from the blast of water, I jumped into the puddle with both feet and didn’t look back.

  • I randomly joined in the Christmas play for the last couple of weeks of rehearsals
  • I won second place at a tacky sweater party (Y’all. I have tacky down.)
  • I rode around on a hay wagon with about 50 other people from our church for three and a half hours Christmas caroling (and I might have howled like a wolf once or twice)
  • I got my first flat tire
  • I surprised one of my bestest friends in PA by randomly showing up at her house
  • I also surprised my adopted parents right before Christmas Eve by being at their house when they got home from work
  • I sighed in delight at the beautiful snow we have
  • I worked a bunch of evening shifts at work (before this month I only worked one evening shift)
  • I attended a life-long friend’s wedding
  • December also meant epic amounts of guests
  • I went to our church’s delightful Christmas Eve Service
  • I played lots of games and made lots of memories and felt incredibly busy the entire month, but the best kind of busy.
  • I read a lot during the first week of the month and then hardly touched another book until near the end of the month, and therefore thought I didn’t read a lot. Apparently, I have a skewed view of what “a lot of reading” entails.
  • I also listened to a couple of audio books that in reality were nearly life changing – not because they had amazing info, but because of the writing style and what it did to artistic me

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December was a wonderful month, and the best way to bid farewell to 2017. I’m thankful. Very thankful.

What were some of your highlights of December?

November 2017 In Review

Hey folks! I started blogging this morning, then was called away to babysit for someone who had to leave suddenly. So, my day was spent hanging out with a delightful little girly and no computer, but I’m back home now and I’m finally posting. Enjoy!

What I focused on in November:

  1. November went so fast I didn’t feel like I had time to focus on anything other than keeping up
  2. Family time – between a cousin’s weekend, Thanksgiving, and going to an out-of-state wedding, I was able to log a bunch of good time with people I love
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Fiction: 4 (Edit: Actually 5 – I forgot about one. Obviously it didn’t make a big impression on me.)
Plus the first “book” in a novella collection, but I decided not to read the rest of the collection, so I don’t have a review of it.
Nonfiction: 4
Book Reviews: I’m not sure #oops
Audio Books: 2

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Traveling

Nights Gone: 4 or 5
New States or Countries: None

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Goals

I didn’t really write goals for November, and I think that really cut down on my productivity.
Near the end of the month I did jot down a few things I wanted to accomplish, and that helped some. My list included:
1. Read 4 Nonfiction books (YES)
2. Bed by 10:30 5 times (this was just for the last third of the month, and I did at least 4 nights)
3. Walk 15 miles (Again, during the last week and a half, and no I didn’t)
4. Edit 3,000 words of Echoes (Altogether – yes. During the last third of the month, no)
5. Clean my bathroom, office, and get laundry done (Yes, although I sadly didn’t hang up all my laundry, so #oops)
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What I’ve Been Learning
Y’all. I learned how fast a month can fly by. I can barely even remember November it seems like. Life happened. Lots of life. Like, uber amounts of life. And that’s good and makes me happy, but also leaves my brain in a bit of a “I need to catch up so much” state of being.
One of the big things I learned this month was how I can “reset” as an introvert, so I can spend more time with people. And yes, that sounds weird, but it was a total lightbulb moment for me, and I plan on blogging about it soon.
My sister shared one of my blog posts (this one) on Facebook, and I had a lot of people read it and comment on her post. It was really encouraging and reminded me that my words – like everyone’s words – are important. I want to use my life and my words to help others, even when that means a lot of extra work. I’d been praying recently about God using my blog, and seeing people respond to that post gave me some ideas that I’ve continued praying about.
Although my fiction reading was lacking in the brilliancy compartment, I had some winners when it comes to the nonfiction reads of November, and I’m thankful for what I could learn through the books. I want my life to be full-out for God, and that doesn’t just happen. This month I’ve been learning not only about doing things for God, but also just being. Sitting and taking time to be still. And yes, I know I’ve been learning this for a while, but it’s different aspects each month, which is why I keep bringing it up.
I learned a couple of new games, and that makes my little heart happy. This time of year is pretty much the best ever, because it means long evenings spent sitting around the table playing games with family and friends. One of the games involves a bunch of dice and guessing and challenging and that kind of fun. (Do any of y’all know what I’m talking about? And if so, does the game have a name?) Another one of the games is called “Hand and Foot” and you play it with Skip-Bo cards.
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Other 

I generally refresh my mind of what’s been happening by going through my pictures at the end of the month, but the lens on my case is scratched, and it’s a bit of a hassle to take my case (it’s LifeProof) off, so I don’t have many pictures. Therefore, I don’t have quite as many easily-recalled memories of this month.

I worked at a retreat at the beginning of this month, which means I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, and that’s always rewarding. I also did a fair amount of Christmas cookie baking with one of my jobs. Now that was fun. In two days I listened to two whole audio books plus a lot of Christmas music.

During the second week of the month, I went to Columbus for a Girl Cousin’s Weekend. We haven’t had one of those for a couple of years, so it was nice to get all together again. We cooked, played games, talked, shopped, and at one time even took an unplanned group nap. #Goodtimes

The next weekend I went to PA for a wedding where my beautiful sister was a bridesmaid. I got to visit some good friends there, so that was fun. By the time the reception was over it was pouring down rain, so the bride and all the bridesmaids ran out to get some pictures in the deluge. How’s that for a great way to end the day?

Thanksgiving was a special time even though some of the family was sick, so we were missing them when the rest of us got together. The following few days were also nice as we spent a lot of time together as a family making memories and watching dreams unfold.

Other special snapshots of the month include cutting grass during a light snow flurry, making baklava that actually turned out the correct way, buying ice cream that was on an extreme sale when we stopped at a gas station, a surprise birthday party for one of my cousins, finally getting back to eating healthfully, finding a mystery series that looked interesting, and enjoying the delightfulness of November.

How was your November?

October 2017 In Review

{Y’all. October was a long month – in the very best way possible. It felt like SO much happened and fit into that 31 day span. And now November has been rushing by far too fast, so… We’ll just pretend like this month review isn’t nearly half a month late.}

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What I focused on in October:

  1. Lots of busyness with juggling my two nonwriting jobs during a busy time with my retreat job
  2. Catching up on book reviews and, well, lots of reading
  3. Soaking in being home in October/learning/life/family time/being sick

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Reading Update

Fiction: 8
Nonfiction: 7
Book Reviews: I’m not sure, but I know I caught up from previous months
Audio Books: 7
{Yeah. I read a lot.}

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Traveling

Nights Gone: 5
New States or Countries: None

{Craziness, I felt so very happy and blessed to get to stay in beautiful Ohio during the entire glorious month of October. That hasn’t happened in October for a while.}

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Goals

In October of 2017 wanted to….

  1. Write Weekly Goals {YES! – I might have missed part of one week}
  2. Eat Paleo (except coffee) 21 days {Loosely – very loosely translated as paleo, but YES}
  3. Get to bed by 10:30 10 times {Ha! I totally lost track}
  4. Switch winter/summer clothes {YES}
  5. Vlog 4 times {YES}
  6. Blog by 9:30 20 times {YES – I think so anyway?}
  7. Edit 10,000 words on Echoes {Cute. No.}
  8. Read 3 non-fiction books {YES}
  9. Get writing program on computer & Work on Plotting book {YES to the first and NO to the second}
  10. Focus on getting into the correct rhythm at coffee shop {YES}
  11. Catch up on reviews for all the books I’ve read in the last few months {YES}
  12. Blog about: Coffee Shop Job, 25 Before 25 Update, Birthday Musings, Monthly Review, and Take part in at least 2 Link-ups {I did one link-up, one tag, so counting that}

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What I’ve Been Learning

 

Y’all. I read a treasure trove of fantastically wonderful nonfiction books in October. There were so many four and five star reads it makes me wish I could always have so much “success” in the books I choose.

Calm, Cool, and Connected reminded me to continue working on something that I’ve been trying to implement into my life for a while. Technology and social media are wonderful as tools, but I am adamantly against them being masters. It’s so easy to turn to my phone whenever I have a few free moments and either browse online or else read a book, or even just “clean up.” (I can’t stand having notifications or excess things on my phone.) BUT! It’s not healthy or who I want to be when I’m always turning to my phone. I’m trying to get much better at being detached from my technology and really only getting on it when I have a certain purpose in mind. (I’m still on it a lot, but working at only doing so intentionally.)

True Identity was another hugely helpful book because it’s something I’ve been working on learning for years now. My identity and satisfaction can’t come from what I accomplish because when it does I never feel satisfied or good enough because it’s simply impossible for me to do enough to make myself happy. But, I don’t need to be enough or try and do enough. Because who I am, where my worth comes from, is who I am in Christ. And yes, I’m still working on doing what I can and should do, but there’s a huge difference between that and the pressure I’ve put on myself for so much of my life.

In addition to learning from reading, October was good for learning from other things, too. I went to a weekend retreat where I very much enjoyed turning my phone off, put it away, and just focusing on people and God and what I could learn. That weekend provided a lot of food for thought and reminded me where I currently am and where I’m heading and how thankful I am for various things.

Vlogging was another area where I spent some time learning and growing in October and having a lot of fun at it. I’m so glad I took up that new venture in life.

And folks, this is what happens when I don’t review the month right away – I begin to forget what months I learned certain things. #OhWell

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Other 

 

As I mentioned above I went on a weekend retreat. It was with my group from church and it was lovely. I work at a retreat so I’m used to doing all the little behind the scenes things and being a part of the staff. Therefore it was SO WEIRD to be on the other side of the line – being an actual attendee. (It wasn’t at the retreat center where I work though.) I wasn’t really looking forward to attending because serving is much more of my comfort zone… but I knew that if I was going to be an attendee with anyone, I would want it to be with the group I was going with. It ended up being fantastic and I am so thankful for that weekend.

I had fun randomly going to my adopted parent’s house a few times, including once for the night. There are some months where I don’t get to see them, so getting to hang out three times in one month was pretty great. One of the times I took my little brother so we could have some brother-sister time because we don’t get to hang out as much as we used to.

In addition to everything else, I watched the Children’s Hosptial Marathon in Columbus with my best friend while her husband ran the half marathon. I also spent some time hanging out at my sister’s house, worked on editing Echoes, and musing over the fact that I’m now a quarter of a century old and how that actually doesn’t change much. I also spent huge amounts of time inwardly (and sometimes outwardly) gushing over how glorious October is and how thankful and happy I am to live in Ohio, especially during this time of year.

Near the end of the month, I was delighted when one of my most wonderful friends in all of forever came early to surprise me. Hosanna was planning on helping out at a retreat I was working at, but having her come early was simply amazing because then we got to spend some good, quality time together outside of work.

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What were some of your highlights for October? (Or was that so long ago that you already forget?)

September 2017 Month Review

What I focused on in September:

  1. Releasing Where Dandelions Grow 
  2. Getting settled into my new part-time job (Working at a coffee shop)
  3. Visiting family in Florida

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Birthday Challenge Update

Y’all. I’m going to have to do a whole blog post about this sometime since you’ve been on this year-long journey with me…. But let’s just say that I did pretty bad on the challenges this year. Oh well, folks.

  1. Buy 25 Books – 4
  2. Request 25 Books for Review – 5 (?)
  3. Vlog 25 Times – 2
  4. Dance, Skip, or swing in the rain 25 times – 2 (?)
  5. Watch the sunrise or sunset 25 times – 5
  6. Read to, or cook with, children 25 times – 1
  7. Color 25 pictures – 2
  8. Blog by 9:30 a hundred times – (?)
  9. Go to Wednesday night church 20 times – 1
  10. Drink coffee or tea while reading or journaling 25 times – 4 (?)

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Reading Update

This month was strange as far as reading went – I started multiple books, and even got pretty far into several of them, that I then stopped reading because 1) They weren’t worth it or 2) They weren’t interesting or 3) They had content I didn’t agree with. Because of that, and not being prompt with marking the books I did read on Goodreads, I feel like I am missing a book here or there from my list….

Fiction: 4
Nonfiction: 2
Book Reviews: ???
Audio Books: 3

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Traveling

Nights Gone: 14 – Unless you count camping back in our woods, then 17
New States or Countries: None

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Goals

If the Lord wills and I live, in September of 2017 I will…

  1. Get settled into my new part-time job/learn the ropes – YES
  2. Stay caught up with work for my other part-time job – YES
  3. Fill out/answer/write all my author interview and “Behind the Scenes” posts for the release of Where Dandelions Grow blog tour by September 22nd – YES
  4. Finish preparing for the release of Where Dandelions Grow – YES
  5. Release and Celebrate Where Dandelions Grow September 26th-30th YES – (except I took the 30th off and finished it October 2nd)
  6. Read 4 non-fiction books – I read 2 non-fiction books that I remember, but I really feel like I read at least one more, I just can’t remember what or where. #oops
  7. Write 10 book reviews – I actually lost track of how many I wrote, but I don’t think I succeeded. (As of October 2nd I am caught up with writing book reviews for the books I’ve read.)
  8. Have focused family time while visiting my grandparents during the second half of the month – YES
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What I’ve Been Learning

So. Much.

And that about sums it up.

One of the biggest things I spent the month learning was about my new job at the coffee shop. Learning what different drinks are. How to make various drinks (coffees – which I don’t make a lot of – smoothies, teas, etc…), sandwiches, wraps, and salads. Also those other important things like working a cash register, the proper way to wash dishes up to code, where everything belongs, how to restock the kitchen, and, well… You get the point. I’ve even found myself going over the steps as I fall asleep at night or when I wake up in the morning. #ThanksBrain

Time management is another one of those things that I worked on a lot this month. Trying to figure out how and where to fit in my writing along with the rest of life. (Short story: This morning – October 3rd – I rushed around like crazy so I could write and publish a blog post before leaving for work…. Then when I checked the computer this evening I discovered I hadn’t hit the final publish button to make the post go live. So oh well.)

Also, I’ve been working on remembering to stop and think through why I do something before I do it. So much of what I do is automatic, but that doesn’t mean it’s good – or the best. I want to stop being on auto-pilot and be intentional.

Along with being intentional, I’ve begun working on not filling my moments so full. I have the habit of pulling out a book to read (or something else to do) if I have a moment here or there. But sitting and being still, or thinking, or praying, is all so important. So, I’ve begun making the choice to not fill each moment. It’s good for me.

How to do a proper book release. And what things I need to change in order to make it go better. And that book releases are tiring but in a good way. And that sometimes people aren’t on time and that can be frustrating. But sometimes I’m not on time either, and so giving grace is pretty wonderful.

One day when we were in Florida I was blessed to get to visit some good friends of ours who are in their 80s-90s. They were missionaries all of their lives and have the most amazing stories to tell. The lady and I sat down together and she let me video her while she told mind-blowing stories for nearly an hour. It was such an encouraging, eye-opening, and faith building time.

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Other 

Y’all. September. Seven hundred and twenty hours of life lived, experienced, filled, and packed away into my memory bank. I think back to the beginning of this month and it feels like it was so far away. It was beautiful. Glorious. Busy. New.

September started out with our county fair – something that I’m not a big fan of because it’s not really my cup of tea, but I went along a couple of times anyway. (And might have ended up sitting in the grandstands reading a book while my companions watched the truck pulls, etc… But at least I was part of the group.)  Still, even though I don’t particularly like the fair, I still have good memories of hanging out with my family there.

And speaking of good memories – one of the most grandest and wonderful parts of September was getting to camp out for a few days. If you know me, then you know that’s pretty much the background music to my life – being out in nature, campfires, relaxing under the stars, delightful conversations, the whole shebang.

As mentioned previously, I began working at a coffee shop the last day of August, so September was full of learning moments and fun and driving long distances. (Which is where audiobooks come in.) I also bought a car, so that was a pretty important thing to do. (Since my other parttime job is within walking distance and my dad had a car I could borrow pretty much whenever I needed it, owning my own car wasn’t incredibly needed before this.)

I also bought a car, so that was a pretty important thing to do. (Since my other parttime job is within walking distance and my dad had a car I could borrow pretty much whenever I needed it, owning my own car wasn’t incredibly needed before this.)

Not only was I busy with working at the coffee shop, plus my writing (with a new book being released!), but I also had a really busy week with my other part-time job. And I spent the second half of the month in Florida with relatives. (Including some who’s apartment suffered damage due to all the hurricanes.) So, September was jam-packed full. But wonderful.

The book release was wonderful. And involved a lot of celebrating. And a lot of work. And a lot of tiredness when it was over.

Oh, haha. I totally forgot. But I also had a birthday. I’m now a quarter of a century old. Pretty crazy, right?

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What were some of your highlights for September?

August 2017 Month Review

What I focused on in August

  1. Where Dandelions Grow (This. Mostly This.)
  2. A week at the Creation Museum
  3. Getting back into the goal mindset

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Birthday Challenge Update

  1. Buy 25 Books – 5
  2. Request 25 Books for Review – 3
  3. Vlog 25 Times – 4
  4. Dance, Skip, or swing in the rain 25 times – Several times 😉
  5. Read to, or cook with, children 25 times – 3
  6. Color 25 pictures – 2
  7. Go to bed by 10:30 sixty times (not in a row) – 12 (?)
  8. Blog by 9:30 a hundred times – 15 (?)
  9. Go to Wednesday night church 20 times – 2
  10. Drink coffee or tea while reading or journaling 25 times – 8 times (?)
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Reading Update

Fiction: 8
Nonfiction: 5
Book Reviews: 16
Audio Books: 1

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Traveling

Nights Gone: 8
New States or Countries: None

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Goals

If the Lord wills and I live, in August of 2017 I will…

Health:
1. Be in bed by 10:30 Ten Nights – YES
2. Get up by 6:30 Ten Mornings – YES
3. Eat Paleo (my version) Twenty Days – YES 
4. Go on at least Five walks a week – YES 
5. Do the PEMF Mat Twice a week – YES 
Spiritual/Mental:
1. Read two “spiritual” books – YES 
2. Read three nonfiction books altogether – YES 
3. Go to Wednesday night church when home – I missed one week when sick
4. Go to Church & Sunday School when home – I missed one week when sick
5. Watch Golden Nuggets – YES 
Writing Work etc…:
1. Plot DD – Partly
2. Write at least 30,000 words in the first draft of DD – No
3. Blog by 9:30 Twelve times – YES
4. Research blogging/vlogging for Ten Hours – No
5. Post a Vlog every Thursday – I missed one week when sick
6. Work on Writing/Vlogging/Research work for 100 hours (bonus – make it 120 hours!) – YES (or at least I’m fairly sure I did, I ended up not keeping track)
I ended up focusing most of my writing time on Where Dandelions Grow instead of DD – a conscious decision on my part that ended up being a really good idea. Goals are supposed to get you where you need to go – not lock you into working on a certain project even when it’s no longer the most profitable thing for you to be doing.
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What I’ve Been Learning

August was really a fantastic month. Despite being sick for a week I still feel like it was one of the most productive months I’ve had in a while. One thing that really stood out to me is how many solid nonfiction reads I had this month. There will be book reviews to come for most of them, so stay tuned.

I read books about prayer, loving, serving, and viewing God the correct way, the Biblical view of the refugee crisis, how to better take care of children and serve in the church, and how to interact, love, and be friends with LGBT people the way God wants us to. That last book was probably the most eye-opening for me and I was really pleased with the strong stand the author took on loving but making sure it’s done in a Biblical way.

In August I also learned a lot about networking, staying focused, making a plan and moving forward, keeping up-to-date on work-related emails, and all that’s involved with a (Lord willing) very successful book release. I had a delightful time reading, learning, experimenting, praying, and watching the results pour in.

Far too often I’m all jittery about getting more, more, more done and too focused on accomplishing. This month I felt like I (thankfully!) hit a good balance for getting a lot done, but not freaking out when I couldn’t do all I wanted to/felt like I needed to do. This is something I’ve worked with on a pretty much daily basis for years, so that was really exciting for me. It includes a lot of letting go and remembering that God’s plans for me are far better than my own.

Twitter. For the most part, I haven’t done much on Twitter, but there are a couple of people’s tweets that amuse me greatly and I sometimes click on their profiles when I need a few minutes to chill and laugh. I decided I wanted to be one of those people, so I worked on it during the last month and had a ton of fun. I mostly talk about books, writing, and randomly throw in antidotes regarding my bunny, Whimsy. Learning about Twitter has been fun. My followers also grew a lot, so that was rewarding.

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Other 

In August I was: Sick for a week. At the Creation Museum for a week. Had some pretty epic dreams come true. I did better than previous months with getting to bed at a reasonable time and eating healthfully.

Really, it’s less than a week after the month ended and August is already kinda a blur to me, with the main focus being on Where Dandelions Grow. I wrote hundreds of emails. Contacted dozens of bloggers personally, and even more through networking. I tried to write more quality posts on Noveltea and was thrilled to watch more people subscribe/follow my blog. (In August Noveltea had 35 new followers, compared to July where only 6 new people came on board.) One of my totally favorite things to do this month was watch new reviews and ratings pop up on Goodreads for Where Dandelions Grow Only twenty days (!) until the release of this book, which is crazy exciting. (Y’all can pre-order it on Amazon for only $0.99 which is a totally amazing price, people.)

My week at the Creation Museum was really amazing – complete with getting to sign some of my books and meet some of my blogging friends. Pretty cool, right? That type of activity always makes me writerly heart happy. I also was blessed to meet up with one of my sweet friends and her children, and we walked around the Museum grounds for a few hours talking and hanging out. Another fun part of the week there was making goofy videos for another friend, including a “fake” interview with my adopted dad regarding how he builds life size models of dinosaurs. Nothing like that type of thing to create good memories.

Apparently August was also a very sparse month when it comes to pictures, which I’ll endeavor to remedy in September.

And of course, August ended in September, which is just about the best month ever, so YAY!

What were some of the highlights of your August?

 

July 2017 in Review

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What I focused on in July

  1. Busy, busy, busyness with my non-writing job
  2. Lots of good people time (family, friends, teaching VBS, and babysitting my best friend’s toddler for almost a week)
  3. Dinosaur Dig!
  4. Learning more about vlogging

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Birthday Challenge Update

  1. Buy 25 Books – 5
  2. Do 25 new things and write them down – 11
  3. Take pictures of Sequoia (teddy bear) in 25 different places – 1
  4. Request 25 Books for Review – 2 (?)
  5. Vlog 25 Times – 3
  6. Dance, Skip, or swing in the rain 25 times – 3 (?) 
  7. Read to, or cook with, children 25 times – 10 
  8. Have a picnic in each season – 3 (?)
  9. Go to Wednesday night church 20 times – 1

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Reading Update

Fiction: 7
Nonfiction: 6
Book Reviews: 7
Audio Books: 1

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Traveling

Nights Gone: 8
New Countries or States: Montana

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What I’ve Been Learning

So. Much. But, since that’s rather vauge, I’ll endeveor to add a few more words to that conclusion. 😉

I’ll start with the books from July. One of my favorite reads was Eygpt’s Sister. The worldbuilding was so good that I promptly went to the libaray so I could learn more about that time period in Egypt. I haven’t had time to throughly go through the books yet, but I do feel like I’ve had a refresher-course in Egyptian History.

Near the end of the month I read a couple of short books about writing. I’m trying to get into the habit of doing this more consitantly, because there’s always so much still to learn when it comes to the writing craft. Plotting is still a stumbling block for me, but I’m really working on that aspect of being a writer.

The books I read (both fiction and nonfiction) also did a good job of reminding me how important it is to have balance. So, balance is one of those beautiful (and somewhat elusive) things I’m working on.

There were various things with my non-writing job that were new to me. Not only skill-wise, but also learning to adjust my attitude and let go and be open to new ideas. It was a good month for all those types of things.

Vlogging. Going on the Dino Dig provided a perfect time for me to branch out from my normal bookish/writing vlogs (which is what I mainly want to focus on). I’m still new-ish to the whole vlogging set of skills, so it takes me a loonnggg time to figure everything out. (Speaking of which, I’d be beyond delighted if y’all would suscirbe to my Youtube Channel. Since I’m new at it, buidling an audience has been a rather slow processs…. Also, if there are any questions you have, or bookish vlog ideas, just let me know!)

And of course I learned a lot with the dinsoaur dig itself. There’s a lot of informaiton that was tossed at us throuhout the week. How to tell the difference between rock and fossil. The proper way to dig. What would happen if you didn’t dig the proper way. How to find floaters. The correct way to hold tools. How to walk in posion-snake-country (we didn’t see any…). The differences between creation and evelution. Clear evidence for creation. Evidence that man and dinsoaurs lived together. How to clean fossils and glue and putty them together. So much wonderful information.

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July was an incredibly packed-full month. Combine that with the fact that I all-out forgot to do a month update on June, and goodness! I feel like I have gobs of information I could spew forth onto the page, but I’ll limit myself. 😉

July began with a massive bang of busyness (and no, I’m not even talking about fireworks that I ended up forgoing because of how crazy life was on July 4th). Along with the busy and crazy and chaotic was delightful and memories and when-can-we-do-it-again? Even as I’m writing, more things that I did in July kept popping into my mind.

One of the best things by far was getting to meet one of my dearest friends, Kaitlyn, in real life for the first time. We had been introduced via email by a mutual friend so Kaitlyn could beta read When Life Hands You Lymes; and over the months I was amazed to discover what a kindred spirit she was. We emailed, chatted, texted, and eventually vidoe chatted on a regular basis for a while, but still hadn’t gotten to meet. (Although, legened has it that a few years ago we once waved at each other at the Creation Museum – long before we’d been intoduced by email.) When the opportuntiy presented itself for us to voleenter at an event together, along with my totally amazing friend Hosanna, we all jumped at the chance. And, well, it was beyond delightful.

And speaking of the event we voleentered at… That took up the first third of the month with fun, laughter, gobs of work, and some stepping-out-of-my-comfort-zone type situations.

Cue the second third of the month. This involved VBS every night for nearly a week, which of course meant herds of rambunctions and precious kiddos running here and there and everywhere. I’d missed out on the last two years of VBS at our church, so I was incredibly blessed to be there this year. I co-taught a group of the third and fourth graders (which is the same age, and some of the same kids I help co-teach Sunday School to), which was fantastic. I love how our church pulls together for events like this. I am so, so, so thankful for my church family! Although I was pretty exhausted after the week of VBS, I missed it once we were done.

The following week I babysat my best friend’s little girl from Monday till Friday. I’d never actually watched her overnight before, so I was slightly curious to see how it would work. As it turns out, we had a fantastic time together (although, book vlogging that week ended up being a no-go). One of the best things we did was go to the libaray the first day and stock up on kids books to read. It was wonderful getting to cuddle and read a couple times each day.

Then, the day after that, I headed off to Montana! Actually, I went to my adopted parent’s house so we could fly out early the next morning, but the point is that boom, boom, boom, life kept on a really steady pace the entire month. (Including lots of company all throughout the month, like getting to hang out with my oldest sister, her husband, and their eight children for several days.)

Goodness, people! The Dinosuar Dig was so. much. fun. It was also fun having a subject to vlog about other than books, and I worked at remembering to film various things to add to the vlog. Visiting Montana has always been one of my dreams, and I’m so thankful that it came true. I look forward to hopefully going back one day.

I arrived home just in time for our Sunday Night Small Group. Exhaustion had fairly become the norm by then, so I sat back behind everyone so I could be a part of what was going on, but still be apart from all that was going on. 😉

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How was y’all’s July? I’d be delighted to hear about it!

 

April 2017 in Review

What I Focused on in April: 

  1. The A to Z Blogging Challenge
  2. Catching up with reading
  3. Editing – both with Echoes and When Life Hands You Lymes 

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Birthday Challenge Update 

  1. Buy 25 Books – 3
  2. Request 25 Books for Review – 10 {Completed now}
  3. Vlog 25 Times – 4
  4. Dance, Skip, or swing in the rain 25 times – 3
  5. Watch the sunrise or sunset 25 times – 1
  6. Eat paleo 25 weeks (not in a row) – 3
  7. Try 25 new recipes – 1
  8. Read to, or cook with, children 25 times – 4
  9. Color 25 pictures – 1
  10. Have less than 5 emails in my inbox Saturday night 25 weeks (not in a row) – 4
  11. Have a picnic in each season – 1
  12. Go to bed by 10:30 sixty times (not in a row) – 15 {Completed now}
  13. Blog by 9:30 a hundred times – 20
  14. Go to Wednesday night church 20 times – 2

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Nonfiction: 7

Fiction: 11

Reviews: 15

Audio Books: 0

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Traveling

1 Night Gone

New States or Countries: None

April Goals 

  1. Get to bed by 10:30 twelve times – YES (15 nights)
  2. Eat Paleo for 24 days – YES
  3. Go on 12 walks – YES (plus some)
  4. Do the A to Z Challenge (and post by 9:30 at least 20 times) – YES and YES
  5. Leave 200 comments on A to Z blog posts – YES
  6. Vlog 4 times – YES
  7. Read and review 4 books – YES (plus some)
  8. Finish the 19th draft of WLHYL by April 20th – NO
  9. Begin the 3rd draft of Echoes – YES
  10. Get ready and leave for Mexico – YES (currently writing this from Mexico)

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 What I’ve Been Learning

This month was a great one for learning. I ended up being sick a fair amount which meant I spent a lot of time resting, and during those resting sessions I caught up on some reading. During April I read seven nonfiction books, and most of them were full of great information.

I learned more about personalities, how the brain works, and ways to re-train my thinking and therefore my responses and reactions. It’s fascinating to me to read about why people respond to situations the way they do, and then to look back over my life and see how I’ve reacted in the past. It’s amazing how much easier it is to change the way you view life after you figure out why you view life the way you do.

In April I learned a lot about how to logically learn how to defend Christianity and the Bible. Forensic Faith, a book I’ll be posting a review for on May 17th, was a fascinating, helpful, and wonderful read. I highly recommend it, and look forward to reading more books by the same author. What he said made so much sense. It’s great to be able to logically go through arguments skeptics have about the Bible, and show them the truth. The book also made me realize how much more I need to study this subject.

Strangely enough, two of the nonfiction books I read this month had to do with murder – one was about forgiveness and was written by the mother of a murdered daughter, and the second one (Forensic Faith) was by a homicide detective. Neither one of the books focused on the subject, but it was amazing for me to realize how huge of a difference it makes in someone’s life long-term, and how very important forgiveness is. I also learned more about the judicial system here in the USA, and it was rather enlightening.

Think Again was a book that I needed to read, and probably a book I’ll be re-reading again before too long. Through the book I learned practical ways of making sure that I keep my focus on God instead of allowing it to drift to myself. Introspection can be good, but only when it’s done in a balanced, biblical way. This is another book I highly recommend.

Mid-way through the month I went to a day-long conference where I learned a huge amount of great information. I took notes until my wrist decided it had had enough and compelled me to take a break. During the conference I learned about taking ownership, excelling in my job, focusing on the correct things, connecting with people, how success often times starts out looking like failure, and the list goes on.

Learning more about writing was a big thing from this month. I world built, studied plots, and worked on thinking through why I have certain characters do certain things. Some of what I thought made sense ended up being rather allusive or nonsensical when it really came down to it. This month reminded me once again how far I have to go with my writing.

Vlogging. Oh, joy. I’m trying to get into a good rhythm with this “new” venture of my life, and that means I need to study and research it more. “It” being filming and Youtube and all that in general. Lord willing I’ll be studying the craft of vlogging a lot more during the next few months cause I have a lot to learn. While vlogging I’ve also been working on learning how to talk slow enough for people to understand me, not wave my hands around in too distracting of a manner, sit up straight, and all those physical things. All of this needs to be accompanied by me keeping in mind what I’m trying to get across to the listener. It’s more of a challenge at this point than it should be. (But, a fun challenge.)

This month I’ve been continuing to learn and realize how important it is for me to take care of my health. After all, my body is the temple of Jesus, and I’m supposed to glorify Him with my body. It’s easy for me to loose track of taking care of myself when I feel well, and therefore I end up pushing and that’s not exactly helpful for revitalizing my health overall. Learning to stop and look at why I’m doing certain things, then figuring out if it’s really worth it and really needed in my life has been helpful.

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Goodness. This month was absolutely incredibly beautiful. It’s the first time in several years that I’ve been home for so much of April, and all throughout the month I kept thanking God for the blessing. I could literally see a difference in the level of green each day. It was nearly breathtaking. I also spent quite a few hours mowing grass, so that was nearly the definition of perfection. (Slight exaggeration, but only slight.) If you know me, you know that cutting grass is basically my favorite thing ever.

This month was a looonnnggggg month, but in a really good way. Despite being sick, I felt like so much was packed into the month that I can hardly categorize all of it. We had lots of company, obviously gobs of reading, great conversations, memory-making meals eaten out at the picnic table, windows open all the time, a pretty epic thunderstorm, and tons of happiness.

Completing my goal of the A to Z Challenge without doing any prep beforehand was a new experience for me. Generally for the challenge I schedule a lot of posts. This month I didn’t schedule a single post, except the last day of the challenge was a Sunday, so I scheduled that post. So, not only was I posting every day (and sometimes twice a day), but I was also working on posting by 9:30 twenty times. There were times when I was slightly overwhelmed, but overall it was fun and really helped me stay on track. I also commented on over 200 blog posts during the month, and answered all the comments on my blog (except for yesterday, which was Sunday). I got nearly 200 comments on my blog, which was really rewarding and tons of fun and THANK YOU to everyone who commented!

As I mentioned, I was sick during a lot of April. It wasn’t what I had planned for the month (obviously!), but thankfully God blessed me with some really encouraging conversations that helped me keep the month in perspective. Near the end of the month I received some important information about how I need to rest and take it easier for a bit to give my adrenals, thyroid, and immune system time to ramp back up. Because of that, I’m not sure if I’ll have any set-in-stone goals for May or if I’ll just work on chugging along at a slow pace while resting. That’s something I’m still praying about and thinking through. I’m really thankful for April though, and very much looking forward to May!

How was y’all’s April? I’d be delighted to hear!

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