Monday, January 25, 2016

This Quiet, Holy Space of Grace

     Inside, all is quiet. All the rush of this world and my personal world blur, with only one thing steady: my Lord.

     My happy place is currently anywhere there are words to be read but no words to listen to or to speak. This is the quiet depths of my covers before I turn out my light at night. This is the library, the bookstore--the one where no one asks you if you need help. This is the hush of the outdoors as I read the tree line.

     The most freeing space is the one where I can sit with no pressure to do or be or speak. I can simply rest in all the Lord wants to give me. I can think upon His Words as they come like honey to my lips. But they stop there, in the unspoken, in the quiet, in the holy.

     Maybe it's when I'm worn out and have nothing left to give that the stillness captivates me the most. It wraps me up like the arms of a fuzzy blanket. I have all I need, and I desire nothing more.


Monday, January 18, 2016

What I Read in 2015 ~ A Definitive Guide

     Me: "So, do you have any blog post suggestions?"

     Them: "Well, I really like whenever you write about books. I'd love it if you gave book recommendations."

     Me: *grins* "So be it!"

     By far, the most common topic people suggest I write about on TLD is books. As I adore reading and writing, writing about books should be no difficult task. Books have been one of my favorite things for as long as I can remember, and thinking, talking, and writing about books comes as naturally to me as breathing.

     Luckily, Goodreads creates a handy page for members that is essentially a snapshot of their year in books. When you hover over any book on the page, it will tell you what I rated the book. Basically, if a book has four or five stars, I totally recommend it. Therefore, I give you my year in books: My 2015 in Books. Click over to see it.

     The Fast Facts
63 books ~ 20,160 pages
Shortest book: Animal Farm by George Orwell
Longest book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Average length: 325 pages
     Be sure to check out this page that shows all the books I read. It's a pretty cool thing to have all their covers on the same page. It shows the phases I went through (and the subjects I was studying in school.)
     I discovered two awesome series...
The Selection series by Kiera Cass ~ The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
     I read a bunch of classics...
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens ~ Little Women by Louisa May Alcott ~ Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery ~ Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte ~ To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee ~ Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell ~ Great Expectations by Charles Dickens ~ Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
     I also am in went through a Jane Austen phase...
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen ~ Emma by Jane Austen ~ Mr. Darcy's Diary by Amanda Grange ~ Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James ~ Longbourn by Jo Baker
     (You can read about my past Jane Austen phase here. Ok. What's the use? I still adore her work!)
     I read some fantastic non-fiction too...
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom ~ The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst ~ The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo ~ Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine ~ Praying Upside Down by Kelly O'Dell Stanley ~ Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman ~ The Dating Manifesto by Lisa Anderson ~ Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint Hill
     There are a bunch of other books on the Goodreads page, so I'll link to it just one more time.
     And remember, I don't necessarily recommend ANY of these books. Check the Goodreads page to see how many stars I gave it.
Five stars ~ IT CHANGED MY LIFE!!!!!!!!!
Four stars ~ I loved it!
Three stars ~ I liked it.
Two stars ~ Meh.
One star ~ *chunks book across the room* This book doesn't deserve to exist.
     So, on that note, happy reading!
P.S. What bookish posts would you like to see in the future? Reviews? Favorites? Series?

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Selfie Sweater

     We're taking a break from the usual beat of the drum to talk about something fun: selfies!
     So, I have an awesome hand-me-down sweater that I wear fall, winter, and spring. It's funky, with a flip-down pocket that people think was ripped. It wasn't. It's a style.
     And I noticed that I take A LOT of selfies in this sweater. Case in point:

     Above is me in a hammock. That's why it's sideways.

     Everyone needs a selfie sweater, something they look awesome and confident in. And it can't hurt to have a selfie brother too. #photogenic


This is my 500th blog post! Hooray!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Discourse on Dreams

     The alarm clock clangs, and I'm surprised that it's already 6 am. It feels as if my head just hit the pillow. But then I recall that between 10 pm and the alarm's ringing, I was deep in dreamland.

     I have vivid dreams too--full technicolor, multiple plotlines, so many recognizable faces, and emotions. The false reality I slip into is one where I can feel hot breath on my face when someone whispers to me and tears slipping down my cheek when someone dies.

     I'm sorry to tell you who don't have dreams like this that you are missing out. Maybe it's the 824 page novel or the colorful pictures on my wall, but these vivid, imaginative dreams come to me every night.

     Before big days, I will often have a realistic nightmare or two--opening night at the theater going dreadfully wrong or my SAT being in another language. These are frantic and leave me crazy, but there could be worse. The good thing is that I watch and read so few scary things that I rarely have truly terrifying, blood-chilling, heart-beating, lungs-panting-while-running-for-my-life nightmares.

     But often it's the beautiful, seamless combination of dreams that create a truly elegant tapestry in my mind. The way faces and ideas and upcoming events blend into a kind of music that I can see and be in. The stories my mind creates are often absurd, like last night's dream of going to prom with a thirty-five-year-old blogger I follow because none of my friends could go with me. Other times they are sacred, like holding a baby or the wind whipping my hair at the front of a boat. It's like when Jonas begins to experience the fullness of life in The Giver.

     The best kind of dreams are the ones in which people I know are not only standing in the background of my dream, but they get in on the action, helping me or showing me another side of their perceived personality. The worst kind of dreams are the ones in which someone dies. I've awoken from too many dreams sobbing because someone I loved dearly (or barely knew) died.

     So, there are pros and cons of vivid, varied, imaginative dreams. They are mostly positive. My dreams fascinate me. I go to bed every night expecting something cool to happen while I sleep, and I wake up at 6 am wishing I had stayed in the dream for just a few moments longer.


Friday, January 8, 2016

6 Ways to Complete Your 2016 Goals

     Last year, I completed *most* of my goals. I read 63/50 books, eliminated refined sugar, biked and walked a lot, finished reading the Bible, and overall learned a lot about myself and grew as a person.

     I call 2015 a successful year. So what if I didn't break EVERY bad habit or complete EVERY goal. It's about the becoming and the learning and the trying, not the perfection.

     But, if you're like most of America, you have some sort of goal you're striving toward, even if you didn't make it on the first of the year. So here are my six ways to you complete your goals and chase your dreams.

1. Root goals in God's Word. Why do you want to do X? Is it to glorify God? Is it to make disciples for His kingdom? Is it so you can practice submitting your will to His? Everything successful and lasting will be somehow rooted in your relationship with Him.

2. Check up on your goals. Quarterly. Monthly. Weekly. Daily. Whatever it takes. Have regular points of checking up on yourself. You absolutely can keep yourself on track throughout the year.

3. Take a step towards it today. Every elephant is eaten one bite at a time--or something like that. :) Make some kind of progress today. Nike. Just do it.

4. Work it into your day. Not only should you start today, but you should work whatever it is into your daily routine. 10 minutes of reading before bed. 20 minutes of exercise before showering. 30 minutes to prepare and eat a healthy breakfast. Whatever it takes, be committed to making it a habit.

5. Get accountability. Tell people your goals and update them regularly. This works best with a good friend or family member who won't get annoyed. :) Even if they don't care about your goal, they will care about you and therefore, they'll listen. And they may even check in every now and then and help you stay on track.

6. Steel your will. You can do anything. I believe in you, so you should too. So plunge into the new year with faith in the Lord and determination that you can complete your goals. I know you can.

     If you would like, share your goals in the comments. I'd love to hear what you'll be applying these tips to.


Monday, January 4, 2016


     Sometimes I come across something on Pinterest that stops me in my tracks. This word is one of those things.
A quaintrelle is a woman who emphasizes a life of passion, expressed through personal style, leisurely pastimes, charm, and cultivation of life's pleasures.
     This word is the summation of all the beautiful things I love and the beautiful lifestyles of girls in books like Little Women and Anne of Green Gables that have stuck with me and shaped me. Quaintrelles embrace lives of beauty, passion, grace, truth, margin, simplicity, and rest. Sound familiar? That's my bio. And that's the kind of life I am living and want to live.

     Above all, quaintrelles are sophisticated. Their fashion tastes are both defined and refined. Their leisurely pastimes include reading, writing, baking, or whatever they enjoy most. They are full of charm and grace in their manner of walking, speaking, thinking, and being. They love to cultivate life's pleasures, meaning they love to focus on or work on the good things in life.

     Naturally, I cannot leave you with words and descriptions alone. We must have some visuals.
     Remember Adeline Bowman? She is a wonderful example of a quaintrelle. Jane Austen heroines? More great examples!
     Here are some of my Pinterest boards that best show the life of a quaintrelle.

     Do you love quaintrelles? Here are some ways you can live like one.
  1. Get rid of the apathy in your life. Don't be lethargic or neutral about things. Find your passion and chase it. Don't mope around or be bored. Get up and do what you love. If you have an area of your life where you're being apathetic, either get energized about it or get rid of that area of your life.
  2. Develop your sophistication. Balance fashion sense with a knowledge of your favorite d├ęcor style. Find what your favorites are, and suddenly, people will recognize your Pins, your stamps, your stuff without knowing it's yours. Some of my trademarks are simply my favorite color yellow, my favorite animal the bunny, and my love of books.
  3. Indulge in pleasure and pastimes. Life isn't supposed to be all work (you know who you are). Have some fun! Find what you love and do those things that you enjoy.
     I know there's a lot of "finding" involved in each of those ways to be a quaintrelle. I think that a lot of what being a quaintrelle is really about is discovering yourself and living passionately in whatever you find. That is real sophistication! If there is any good time for discovering yourself, it's certainly the new year.
     I hope you're able to spend some of 2016 discovering yourself and living passionately.
     Ta ta for now, my quaintrelles!
     P.S. If you want more help discovering your style or what you love, I'd love to coach you. :) Comment below or email me.

Friday, January 1, 2016

A Letter to 2016

Dear 2016,

     I'm new here, and I was hoping you could show me around. I'm full of excitement for what you hold, whether lost dreams or mountaintop thrills. Both the sadnesses and joys you will bring are beautiful to me.

     I'm on page 1 of 365 in this adventure story. My darling 2016, you are full of mystery, action, and poetry.

     2016, what do you know about hope? I'd like for you to tell me all you know. Experiential knowledge is better than anything Google can tell me. I want hope to sink into my soul. I want to be anchored in The Hope and trust Him every moment.

     2016, you don't have any obligation to do anything for me. But I do want to have an obligation to you. I want to make you smile. I want to make every day of you the best I can, and I want to be your friend.