I've followed with the trend of picking a word for the past couple of years now. Wait. Better. Fear. Those have all been some of my past chosen words. And here we are, time for another picking. I've been slowly making a list of goals and things that I would like to accomplish in 2017. After looking back on my goals for 2016, I realized that...well, I didn't do nearly half of what I wanted to. That bums me out, but also makes me want to worker harder in the new year.
2016 was the year of fear. The year of fearing the Lord and striving to know Him more. Some dreams fell away and some old dreams returned, ones that I had forgotten about or chose to ignore in the past. So, I re-circled those dreams. The Lord has put them on my heart for a reason and I believe, in one way or another, He will bring them to fruition. I'm excited to see that happen and it makes my heart flutter just thinking about it. And I know that I'm still not close to some of those dreams becoming reality, that the season of waiting continues. However, I'm more content in the Lord than I've been in years, and that I realize, is what makes the waiting easier.
The later half of 2016 sent me on a search to find rest. I started a new job in 2016, one that I never thought I would be in, but love. With that comes new routine and changes. I found myself mentally tired, more than physically tired. For a couple of months, it seemed that things just came one right after another. There was no slowing down, no moment of calm, before something else popped up that needed to be taken care of. I needed rest. I needed renewal. And the Lord gave it to me. He showed me that He is my rest and where I find all rest. In that place, in Him, is everything I need. As long as I look to Him, as long as I put Him first and allow Him to be all that I need Him to be, there will be nothing more I need.
I began that in 2016 and I want to continue it in 2017. There are things I would love to do this year, dreams I would love to keep circling and prayerfully see Him answer, but most importantly, I want to choose Him. I want to be about the things He is about. I want to daily look to Him, I want to find my rest in Him, I want to follow Him to wherever He has me to go.
Spiritually, emotionally, financially, physically, missionally, daily, big things, little things, in friendships, relationships, in my writing, at my job, in everything! He needs to be a part, because all these things are for His glory, and I want to do the best I can with what He has given me. So, I will choose Him. In every step of the way, I choose Him. Simple.
You know, when I was thinking about what word to pick for this coming year, I was struggling with it. I wanted it to be some amazing thing, because I felt like it had to be perfect. I thought about flourish or cultivate. And while those are great words, they just seemed too fancy for me. I'm simple. And I like that. I don't need eloborate things, the smallest things make me happy, and I don't need grand gestures. I need simple and easy. As I was doing the Advent study with Sacred Holidays in December, something that Becky Kiser wrote stuck out to me. She said, "There isn't a magical formula to following Jesus. Following Jesus is simply choosing to actually follow Him. This following looks different for each person because we are all different." I love this, because it is simple and true, yet I often forget it! I get caught up, thinking that my time with the Lord, or my life even, has to look a certain way because that is what other 28 year olds are doing or what it looks like on Instagram. My call is simple, choose to follow Him. So, simply choose Him I will.
The word for this year and the word that I pray is for every year? Choose.
Have you chosen a word for the year?
What is something you want to do in 2017 that you didn't do in 2016?
It's clearly been so long since I've written a post that the first thing I did when I got on my site was hit "publish" and there was nothing new to publish. Call me anxious.
I find it interesting that I've had more hits on this blog and more visitors in the past two months of silence, then I did when I was writing consistently. I've never been one for the numbers and I'm always surprised that people come to read the things written within this small space of the internet.
I've been writing less in this space, but more on my facebook page and within Instagram. I love that on Instagram, I can combine photos with short essays or just a few words. And I'm surprised that my facebook page has over 120 likes and that my posts there have reached an audience of 700 or more. Those clearly aren't all my friends, but what happens when friends share a post and you add a couple fun hashtags.
I've been on three book launch teams so far this year. And I find it incredible that the Lord knew that I needed these books this year as much as I believe that my friends and those around me need these books. You may have seen me talk about them on instagram or twitter or facebook. But, I've also been spreading the word by mouth. I've learned the beauty of living in the in between and what it means to praise God even if all my dreams or plans don't work out. I've learned what it means to find the lovely all around me and that the lovely is given by a God who loves me. I'm still learning what it means to be wild and free in Christ. An idea that both excites and terrifies me.
I dreamed in Swahili the other night. It wasn't my whole dream, but kids started speaking to me in Swahili and I spoke back in their language. It was beautiful and wonderful and makes me want to create vocabulary cards all over again.
I've been learning how to better share my faith over the past eight weeks. And within those eight weeks, I've been frustrated with myself in not being more intentional in sharing the Gospel. And I've been reminded that the Gospel needs to be real to me every day. It's the most important thing that has changed my life completely. And I need people to know that.
I've been torn between whether to come back to writing and what to even write at all. I miss this space. I miss the friends here. I miss the community. And while I want all that to grow, I'm afraid of where it might take me also. I've never been good with follow through. I have the hardest time finishing something that I've started. I don't feel like I'm supposed to walk away from this right now, but I don't know where to begin again either.
I've moved into a new house and gained two new roommates. Our house is lovely, sitting in a wonderful neighborhood, where childhood friends still ride their bikes to each other's houses. Where people wave to me when I'm running and dad's play basketball with their sons in the afternoon. I'm finally back in a house with a physical address and not a PO BOX and we have a doorbell that works.
I'm still fascinated with the little things. And so amazed by how I see God working in such big ways through those little things.
I'm right where I've always been, yet farther along at the same time.
Where have you been lately? Have you felt like you've been in the same place for awhile or are you in territory completely new? Let's catch up in the comments below or by e-mailing me!
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Skylar over at Blonde Freedom had this fun Christmas survey up on her blog the other day. And because it's the busy week of Christmas I thought I would snag it and fill it out as well. Keep things light and fun this week. Plus, I love posts like these where you get to know someone a little better. Enjoy and happy Christmas Eve!
Wrapping Paper or Gift Bags? | Wrapping paper all the way! I love going through all the bins of wrapping paper in the Christmas aisles at the stores. There is so, so much that it can be overwhelming. But, I love it! This year my paper was a craft type with old school Christmas lights printed on it. Last year, I had simple brown craft paper and twine and fun tags for a fun package look. Plus, we have a long standing joke in my family about how much tape we put on gifts and how it makes it seemingly impossible to get into them.
Real tree or Artificial? | I am all about some real trees! To me, there is nothing like them. Yes the needles get everywhere and if the tree starts to dry out the needles can poke you very hard. But, nothing can replace the fun of going to pick it out, towing it back to the house, and then the amazing smell that fills your home. That being said, all trees I'm surrounded by this year are artificial. Nothing wrong with them, but my preference is definitely real.
When do you put up the tree? | I like to put up the Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving. Although if my roommate had her way, our tree would have been up on Halloween. Or never taken down in the first place.
Hardest person to buy for? | My Dad definitely wins this answer. Mostly because you can't buy the man anything! Anytime we remotely have a handle on what he wants or needs and get ready to buy it for Christmas, he goes and buys it for himself. Dad has always been one to want us to have things to open instead of him. Although he is hard to buy for, he is one of my favorites to buy for.
Easiest person to buy for? | Mom gets this one. Because I usually get her a few of the same stocking stuffers every year that she loves and then she is easy to please with books or cute little knick knacks. And I usually ask her what is one thing she would love to have, but wouldn't buy herself. That's always fun.
Favorite Christmas film? | Well, there definitely isn't one! The ones I have to watch every year are (in no particular order): The Santa Clause, All I Want For Christmas (1991), I'll Be Home For Christmas, A Christmas Story, Elf, and White Christmas. I also watch Little Women every Christmas.
Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? | Another hard one, but all the candy and pies! I don't think I eat a real meal except for Christmas Day because of all the candy and pies that are brought out this time of the year! Speaking of pies, remember the cherry or pecan debate? Pecan won and is being made tomorrow morning!
Snow: love it or hate it? | I've never grown up in an area that was known for white Christmases. Memphis rarely got snow, but mostly got ice. And ice is not fun like snow. Until I lived in Tahoe, I had never had a white Christmas, but there is something different and special about having a white Christmas. I love it, until I have to shovel it. :)
Lights on the tree: colored or clear? | I'm more a clear lights person, because then the different colored ornaments all glow more brightly! But, colored lights are festive and fun. So, put both on there! Plus, it makes it look more full!
Favorite Christmas song? | Again, there isn't just one, but O Holy Night is my top favorite!
Reading of the Christmas Story or an Advent? | Both! I love to start Christmas readings the first of December to begin celebrating Advent, but focus more on the Christmas story the week of.
Travel at Christmas or stay at home? | Normally my parents and I travel to Memphis for Christmas to celebrate with our entire extended family. This year, with my Dad recovering from surgery, we are staying at home in Alabama. It will be different not going out of town this year, but I'm grateful and happy to be spending a few days with my parents at their home. Christmas definitely would not be Christmas if I was not with them.
Favorite Christmas cookie? | This is a hard one too! But, I'm a big fan of the peanut butter cookies with the Hershey kisses on top!
Favorite Christmas tradition? | Normally we are out of town and always rushing from place to place, so traditions are hard for us sometimes. With my parents we normally will go and see a movie and we usually tune into the 24 hour marathon of A Christmas Story. The past couple of years I've begun a couple of my own Christmas traditions like sending out handwritten Christmas cards and reading A Christmas Carol.
Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? | Mom usually lets me open one present on Christmas Even and then we do the rest on Christmas morning. I get more excited about my stocking! I love going to sleep with it empty and waking up with it full! No matter how old I get, that will always be exciting to me!
Most annoying thing about this time of year? | Probably just the traffic that is everywhere! I go out and wonder, "where did all these people come from!?"
What is the "silliest" family tradition you do or miss doing? | This definitely isn't a silly tradition, but a fun one. When I was younger and we still lived in Memphis, my aunt would give me and all my cousins movie theater coupon books. After we had dinner and opened presents all the cousins would go to the movies and just pile on top of each other like we were in our own living room. It was so fun!
What do you want for Christmas this year? | Books are always on my list, every year! This year I also said a subscription to Real Simple magazine and The Pioneer Woman's Cookware Set or really anything from her collection!
What holiday traditions are you looking forward to most this year? | I'm not sure, but just being with my parent's will be great. Since we are doing our normal Memphis Christmas, maybe this year we can begin some new traditions of our own.
Happy Christmas Eve!
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It's time for The Circle! One of my favorite monthly link-ups from my friend Kiki. This month is all about Christmas traditions and Christmas home tours. I can't wait to read through these posts. I don't have many Christmas traditions, but over the years I've been wanting to start some of my own. I've made it a point to start writing out Christmas cards, I watch Christmas movies, listen to Christmas music on the way to work, and for the past couple of years I've read "A Christmas Carol" every year. Being single during the holidays can be hard, but that's no reason to not create your own traditions! That's a whole other post. Today, I'm taking you around my small, but cute apartment living room. I have to admit, all the Christmas decorating was done by my roommate with the exception of the tree in my room and our front door. So, today I'm showcasing mostly her skills.
Our living room is really the most decorated room in our apartment. In the kitchen, we have some Christmas towels hanging, along with a Christmas oven mitt, and a dish full of cookies and candy. My room has a small Christmas tree decorated with Mardi Gras beads and a soon-to-be finished paper tree garland might be hung over my windows. And the apartment either always smells like Holiday Cheer from a candle or a Christmas Cottage from my Scentsy warmer and coffee. Happy Christmas! :)
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During the month of November, I joined in with One Month of Thankfulness to take daily time to think about and reflect on things that I am thankful for. November always seems to be one of those months that leaves as quickly as it comes. We can spend most of our time in November thinking about our Christmas shopping that needs to be done rather than slowing down and taking the time to reflect on the blessings that surround us. I shared part one of this list a couple weeks back, check it out and then enjoy part two down below!
19. Going to the movies
20. Happy mail from friends
23. French press coffee
24. God's provision
27. Home-cooked meals
28. Saturday football watching with Dad
29. Quoting movies with Mom and Dad
What are some things you are most thankful for?
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I'm excited for this month's edition of The Circle! This has always been one of my favorite monthly link-ups and I've missed the past few, so I'm happy to be joining back in! The Circle is hosted by one of my favorite bloggers, and friend, Kiki, from In Its Time and this month is co-hosted by another favorite blogger of mine, Elena from Beautiful Hope. Kiki and Elena challenged us to write an acrostic poem using the word THANKFUL. I think this is perfect for the month of November, because Thanksgiving is right around the corner and this is the best time to slow down and reflect on all the blessings we have been given. I shared in my post yesterday that the holiday season can be busy and tiring for many people. We fret over the number of weeks we have left to shop or over the dinners we have to get cooked. It's easy to forget that the holidays are the perfect and best times to slow down, relax, remember and praise God for his blessings, and enjoy the time with our family and friends. The world can be turmoil all around us and things can be happening that we may not understand, but through it all there is thanksgiving. And we have much to be thankful for.
Trees. Full of new life and greenery in the spring, giving shade in the summer, turning beautiful colors in the fall, and the stark beauty of bare trees with twinkle lights in the winter. I love trees.
Hot Coffee. Especially on cool, fall mornings when I can return back to bed for a few minutes with my cup.
Aunthood. Being an aunt is one of the best things! I'm so thankful for the four of them and the happiness they bring.
Netflix. Thousands of TV shows and movies to choose from and allows me to binge watch my favorites like FRIENDS and Gilmore Girls. I'm currently addicted to Fixer Upper.
Kids. I've always been surrounded by them, whether it be at church or work. They have taught me patience, gentleness, love, and how to have fun by doing the simplest things.
Family and friends. The people who help make the holidays special, the people I can text or call whenever, the people who give me joy, the people who invite me into their homes, the people who do life with me. The real MVPs.
Undeniable love. I have to admit that this is a take away from Kiki's unconditional love. I was struggling with the "u" in this poem, but when I saw hers it was perfect! I'm so thankful for the unconditional love of God, that in every season of life, wherever I may walk, his love remains the same. And I'm thankful that his love is undeniable. In now knowing and experiencing his love, there is no way I can avoid it. His love is great, merciful, unconditional, and undeniable. God is love. "...but the greatest of these is love."
Laughter. Whether it be the chuckles or giggles of children or the deep belly laughter that makes you lose your breath, laughter can truly be great medicine. When laughter happens, those are the moments I want to remember.
What are you THANKFUL for this month?
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If you have been around this blog at any point around the holidays, you've probably read where I talk about the holidays being a major struggle for singles. Well, at least for this single the holidays can be rough. Family and friends do make the holidays so very wonderful, but it never fails that around this time I start thinking about traditions I could be having with someone by my side. I have dreams of what the holidays could look like in the future, but those dreams are just prayers right now. For now, I'm single and I'm determined to create my own traditions that one day I may or may not get to share with someone else.
One of these new traditions is to properly celebrate the month of November. This poor month can often get overlooked or made to pass by too quickly. The end of October brings Halloween and with it parties, candy, costumes, and fun events. Then, November quickly comes, but our minds may focus more on Christmas and how we only have a certain amount of weeks to get all the shopping done. Thanksgiving, to me, is a wonderfully overlooked holiday. It's a time where we can slow down and intentionally spend time with our family and friends. Christmas is busy! Thanksgiving just seems relaxed and slowed down. This year, I wanted to be intentional in remembering November and the time of thanksgiving that it brings. One of those ways has been to daily take time to think about things that I am thankful for. And with us being halfway through November already and Thanksgiving next week(!), I'm sharing part one of my list of things I'm thankful for. I'll share part two the first of December.
1. The Bible and a hunger for the Word of God
3. Alone Time
4. Slow, quiet mornings
6. Morning light pouring through the windows
7. Home with my parents
8. Redemption Church
10. My Grow Group
11. Children's Ministry
13. Friday night nachos and drinks
14. Saturdays in bed with books
15. Sunday naps
What are you thankful for this month?
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Reading | Oh, friends. I love to read and I'm usually caught reading multiple books at one time. The one thing I haven't gotten into is listening to audiobooks, but maybe I'll start that for some of my morning drives. I'm just afraid that I'll get sucked into a story and then stay in my car all afternoon instead of actually going into work! Right now I'm reading Wild (almost finished finally), Multiply, Job: The Wisdom of the Cross, The Pursuit of God, and The Longest Ride (had to have some cheesiness in there somewhere! ha!). I'm not sure if I'm going to make my goal of 24 books in a year, but check out my BOOKSHELF to see what all is on the list.
Making | Lots of pasta salad. We have been having lots of birthday parties at work and that is my go to right now. I also made a green bean casserole this past week for Bible study. Who says they are only for the holidays? I'm really craving some homemade biscuits though, so those will probably be made again in the very near future.
Pinning | Lots of food related things. Apparently I only Pinterest when hungry...hmm. Speaking of food and biscuits, here is a recipe for homemade biscuits I'm wanting to try.
Anticipating | Fall. Football. Flats. Falling leaves. Pumpkins (But not the Spice Latte kind). Apple picking (is it possible in the South?) Scarves. Cardigans. Cooler mornings and nights. September 23rd, the official beginning of all of these things.
Loving | That this weekend is a long weekend and that it is going to be an enjoyable one. First, there is a party for a very sweet kiddo from work who is turning one. Second, I'll be heading to my parent's house for the second half of the long weekend (and it feels like forever and a day since I've been to visit my parents). Third, college football is back and that means Alabama Football watching parties with my best friend, Dad. Fourth, I will be enjoying my parent's back porch and reading all the books listed above.
What are you currently up to?
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Hello, August! The month of back to school and more hot weather for the South. Although I'm a pre-school teacher, I wish I was still a student some days. Only because I'm obsessed with school supplies and cute backpacks.
Creating | Sadly, nothing at the moment. Yet, there are many things I want to. Maybe this will finally be the month that I create my California photo book. I've also been thinking about business cards for the blog, but I'm not sure whether I've reached that point or not. Whatever "that point" is supposed to be.
Wishlisting | So many things! New car, money to pay off student loans, a puppy, a new, more grown up wardrobe, anything for my room or apartment. Speaking of, Mobile just got a new HomeGoods store and guys, that is going to be dangerous. I did just purchase a cute new laundry basket though. Fingers crossed I win that $1,000 shopping spree. Hey, they don't call it a wishlist for nothing!
Hoping | That the Lord continues to work on my heart when it comes to my job situation. I feel stuck in between two main thoughts: I'm not happy there and want something new, but maybe it is where the Lord wants me. I want to be able to wake up and be excited about going to work, not go to bed and wake up dreading it. The Lord knows our wants and I feel He will honor that in one way or another. But, I need to remember that this is ultimately about His will and where He wants me to be so that He can use me in the best way possible. I've already been through a year of job searching and it was not a fun year. I just need peace for the whole situation.
Eating | All the bad stuff again. At least, that is what it seems. It's a new month and summer is soon to be over. Splurging needs to stop happening and discipline needs to come back.
Watching | If you went to my Hulu+ account, you would see: Pretty Little Liars, Baby Daddy, Chasing Life, The Last Ship, and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. If you went to my Netflix account, you would see: Gilmore Girls, The West Wing, and the Jack Ryan movies. Also, it's summertime, which means Big Brother is in full swing! #HelloTVaholic
What are you currently up to?
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I think I say it every time another year passes, but I truly can't believe it's been another year of me writing in this space. Yesterday, Polished Arrow turned two. And I love this space even more. It's been another year of connecting with believers and encouragers around the world. It's been another year of wandering just exactly what I want this space to be. It's been another year of searching and seeing that I'm not alone in my twenty-something struggles. It's been another year of celebrating, rejoicing, and praying with a community I'm so happy to be a part of. It's been another year of me trying to be real in this space. Blogging helps break down walls, helps you connect with others, and helps you to see that you aren't alone whatever stage of life you're in. It's been another year, but this post and these hopes below are just as true to me as they were when I first wrote them last year.
There are only so many things that I can keep up with for a year or more and I'm so glad that blogging is one of them. Blogging isn't only therapeutic, but fun! Not too mention the great community that comes along with it. I love when you guys stop by and when commenting leads to conversations. And then, when those conversations move toward actual written letters with one another. I love the encouragement that we can give to one another and that even though we may be states or nations apart, we still find ourselves in similar seasons of life. Blogging can definitely be another example of how the Church is more than just a building, it's all of us, together, pointing each other toward our commonality, Christ.
I love that each of us is different, but we all learn something unique from one another. Whether we are twenty-something and single, newly married, moms, DIY-ers, small town gals, city dwellers, travelers, explorers, shop-owners, sport lovers, book lovers, whatever it may be. We learn more about each other, more about ourselves. We discover new places we want to go, new things to do, and more projects to take on.
We tweet, we pin, we like, we enter giveaways like crazy, we post pictures and double-tap for hearts.
It isn't always joyous. Sometimes we get too caught up in this blogging life. We wish we had the life of another blogger, wish our house looked like theirs. We long for more page-views and more followers. We check for comments constantly and study analytics intently. Sometimes we get burned out and we want to throw in the towel. We dream of living the life of the "big" blogger, instead of remembering why we started blogging in the first place...whatever the reason may be.
Even if the day comes where our blog makes it big, where the page-views reach 1,000+ daily, our followers exceed 500+, or we're making money...
Let us never stop being real.
Let us never stop sharing our struggles and our triumphs. The highs and the lows.
Let us never be afraid to be real in a world dominated by "perfect" lives on social media.
Let us not ignore the seasons we are in. Let us remember that we are not alone in them.
Let us not miss the life that is happening before us.
Let us not just look out the window, but step foot outside.
Let us remember that while blogging is fun, there is a world waiting for us beyond the computer screen.
Cheers to another year of being real with one another!
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