Archive for 2014

2014 Wrap Up

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Well, it's that time of the year where everyone begins to look back on their year, what they accomplished (or didn't), and what they hope to achieve the following year.  I wouldn't want to throw off everyone else's groove by not doing the same myself :), so here's a look back on how I did on my 2014 goals.  I wrote these out with the intention of having my readers hold me accountable, so here goes some brutal honesty with myself....

You can read the original list here.

  • Enhance my photography knowledge.
      • Well....let's just start this off with a bang and go ahead and admit that I failed miserably in this area - ha!  I probably haven't gotten my camera out more than 5 times all year since we got back from Haiti in April.  Not proud of this fact, I've just has a gazillion other things going on that weren't quite doctor's appointments, working 3 jobs, etc.  Here's to hoping next year will be a little better in this area!

  • Improve my overall fitness level.
      • Well, I certainly didn't lose 50 pounds like I had hoped, but that's ok.  When I wrote that original blog post, I had no idea that my incision would open 3 times, or that life would take me on a roller coaster this year.  I can say though, that since starting my new job here at Duke, that I've signed up for a gym membership and am starting to swim again with mom!  I also signed up for Weight Watchers this week, and my Doctor is on board to do what she can to help me lose weight.  I'm just beginning, but I finally feel like I've got a good support system and plan in place to make this a reality.  This goal is top of my list this year, so here's to hoping 2015 will see a 50lb lighter me!

  • Improve my quiet time.
      • This goal I was actually successful with -woohoo!  I'd say I still have more room for improvement, but I got better about making my devotion time a priority, tithing regularly, and found a devotion app I really liked too.  I started reading the Bible chronologically last month too.  It puts the stories I've heard so many times into a timeline which I've really enjoyed.  It's a year-long read through the Bible chronologically, so it will take me into 2015, but that's ok with me!

  • Decrease time on social media.
      • I'd say overall, I've been pretty successful with this goal too.  Between work and things we've had going on at church, I haven't had a ton of time to be on social media, but I have found myself recently not gravitating towards my phone as easily.  This goal is still on my list for 2015, because lets be real we could all still improve in this area, but I can definitely tell a difference from where I was in February, sitting and surfing the web mindlessly, to where I am now - which is checking FB only once or twice a day.

  • Pursue dream of becoming a wedding planner. 
      • This goal completely flopped. Once I began pursuing it, I realized that wedding planning is something that I'd rather do on the side for friends right now than make it a career.  I did find a career this year though - so here's an AMEN to that!

  • Become a better reader.
      • This is the one goal that I surpassed even what I thought I was capable of!  I not only read 2 books, I read almost 6 this year!!!!!!  Whoop, whoop!  Again, I know you readers out there think I'm crazy, but for someone who hated reading just a year ago, this is HUGE!  I'm finally becoming a reader and have even found a favorite author.  I still hate the library (thanks E for getting books for me!), but I'm reading so that's something! Beggars can't be choosers after afterall! Here is a little review of the books I read:
    • "House Rules" by Jodi Picoult: Probably my favorite read this year.  Jodi Picoult did a great job exploring the world of children with Aspergers while creating a suspenseful story that kept me on the edge of my seat until the last page.
    • "Vanishing Acts" by Jodi Picoult:  This one was good too with lots of twists I didn't see coming.
    • "Perfect Match" by Jodi Picoult: Gut wrenching read about the sexual assault of a young boy and the journey of bringing his rapist to justice, but man the book was so good!
    • "Nineteen Minutes" by Jodi Picoult: I'm still reading this book about the story of a school shooting and so far Jodi Picoult has impressed as always.  I'm sure there is some big twist coming before the ending, but I haven't gotten there yet.
    • "The Last Song" by Nicholas Sparks: I liked this book, and parts even made me cry, but I found it to be a typical Nicholas Spark's story.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I enjoy the suspense of not knowing what's coming in Jodi Picoult's books versus the expected outcomes of his books.  
    • "Beachcombers" by Nancy Thayer: I couldn't get into this one. I tried but when I still wasn't hooked after chapter 5, I put it down and never went back to it.

  • Become more responsible and aware with my financial planning.
      • This is another area that I surpassed my goals in.  I not only have a great budgeting system in place now, but I even ENJOY doing my budget each month.  I finally get to be stress free over money and can look forward to the next pay check because I am in control now, not the bills!  I've gotten an emergency fund in place this year, almost completely paid off one of my small loans, reimbursed funds that I'd borrowed, bought a new car, organized my ministry finances, and am set up to hopefully pay off two complete school loans in 2015!!!!!  I can't even tell you how good it feels to be in such a place of peace and control when it comes to finances.  If you're struggling with money and haven't tried the Dave Ramsey system yet - go do it NOW!  It works people.  It's not easy, it takes work, dedication, and patience, but it WORKS and it even becomes fun when you get the hang of it!

  • Blog more.
      • I didn't blog nearly as much as I'd hoped this year, but I've been doing pretty good these last couple of weeks, so maybe that counts?  I'm sure all of you readers are rolling your eyes right now :).  I'll get better, just stick with me!

Stay tuned for my 2015 goals.  Here's to hoping that 2015 will be a little less crazy, and a lot more successful in the goals department!

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End of another year...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Is 2014 really almost over?  As I think back over this year, I'm blown away by where all it has taken me.  I've learned over and over and over this year, that my plan is not God's plan, and that is completely ok with me.  If you would have asked me last December where I thought I would be writing this post from today, the last place I would have thought of would have been my desk here at Duke. But, here I sit reminiscing over all this year has encompassed feeling completely at peace with where God has me.  Here is a look back at all of the highlights from 2014:

I had the honor of being a bridesmaid in one of my best friend's weddings.

Which then led to the realization that I would need back surgery, where my sister lovingly took this picture for us all to remember the occasion.

February - March:
Which made the next two months pretty much consist of this...

In April, after finding out the second hole in my incision was not closed and a third had begun, I decided to not return to Haiti full time.  Mom, Erin, and I, instead decided to take a short week-long trip over Easter to pack my stuff up and to bless the kids at HFHM with a week full of Holy Week activities.

I also started working at Michaels in April.

We got to celebrate Andy's graduation from college!

I got the privilege of watching another one of my very best friends get married!

And, I got to see Julianne and Derek Hough on tour (yes this was a highlight of my year!).

In July, I opened my Etsy shop.

and, Erin and I got to spend a weekend, just the two of us, with Grandma and Pa, where we introduced him to smores (probably one of the top highlights of my year!).

I started my temp position here at Duke with UCAE.

and, did LOTS of dog sitting!

Septemeber - October:
Late September into early October, I took a trip up to Virginia to see all of the girls from college.

In mid-October, I said farewell to Helga and welcomed this beauty into the family after accepting the permanent position here at Duke with the UCAE team!

Andy came home from Vegas to surprise us all.

and we celebrated Thanksgiving old school style with Bue's Brunswick Stew recipe.

The Student Involvement team, here in UCAE, took a day to volunteer at the local food bank in Durham (I love that my job gives back!).

Erin and I hosted a Thirty-One gives fundraiser.  Through your purchases and support, we raised $100 which was donated to Carrington Middle School to buy Christmas items for five families in need this Christmas.  We also were able to purchase over $500 in free products which will be given to 18 moms at the Ronald McDonald house today!

To finish off December, we will be doing all of our usual Christmas traditions.  From watching the Summit's DPAC Christmas performance, to traveling from Raleigh to Elkin to spend time with family, and even having Christmas breakfast at home.  It's going to be a busy last few days of December, but this is always my favorite time of the year!

It has been a great year.  One that I would not have necessarily planned myself, but one that has blessed me beyond belief.

So from our family to yours, Merry Christmas!

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Thirty-One Gives, Christmas Fundraiser

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

To help support a family in need this Christmas, Erin and I are hosting a
Thirty-One fundraiser next Wednesday night at 6pm!

15% of EVERY sale, as well as ALL hostess rewards that are earned, will be gifted to them this Christmas

This is a great time to come out and see some fabulous products, finish your Christmas shopping, buy some items for yourself, and support a great cause at the same time!  You can see all of the gorgeous products on the link below.

Erin and I get no personal gain from this party, but you will bless a family tremendously this Christmas by shopping online through the link below or coming to the party!  As a bonus for reading my blog, use the coupon below at the party for special deals as well!

Curious what the family could earn?

Well, if we get $600 in sales the family will receive:
$90 in cash
$100 in free product
2 half price items
A Large Utility Tote with a Stand Tall insert
& 2 Hostess Exclusive items!

If we get $1000 in sales, the family will receive:
$150 in cash
$200 in free product!
2 half price items
A Large Utility Tote with a Stand Tall Insert
& 2 Hostess Exclusive Items!!!

If we get $1200 in sales, the family will receive:
$180 in cash
$250 in free product!
THREE half price items
A Large Utility Tote with a Stand Tall Insert
& THREE Hostess Exclusive Items!!!

  • Click here to shop online
  • Come to the party, see the fabulous products, and shop in person!
    • Date: Wednesday, December 10th
    • Time: 6pm
    • Where: Erin's house - email me for the address -!
    • Use the coupon below for extra gifts as well!

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Inventory Blowout!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

I've got some exciting changes coming to the Etsy shop in the next few weeks.   Even better though, is all of the new products I'll be adding too!!

To make room for these changes and product additions, all of my current inventory must go! Shop now for prices up to 60% off (no coupon code needed).  Act fast, items will go quickly at these prices!

For all of my lovely blog followers, here is a sneak peek at some of the upcoming products:

 New mini card prints!

Fall/Holiday Decor!

New patterned card prints!!

Even more will be debuted shortly!  Shop now though for the best prices of the season on current products.

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My Happy Place

Saturday, September 13, 2014

My day has consisted of:

- Sleeping in
- Cooking a hot homemade breakfast (so much better than cereal!)
- Criminal Minds and a Lifetime Movie
- Washing my bedding --> don't you just love clean sheets!?
- Finishing off the rest of the laundry
- Cleaning out and organizing the fridge
- A shower
- And now a blog post followed by Netflix and dinner.

This might not sound like the an enjoyable Saturday to you, but a good cleaning/organizing day has done my soul well.  There is nothing like the satisfaction of laying down at night knowing the house is clean….at least for today anyway :)

My happy place.  Oh how I love Saturday's where I don't have to work!

How did you spend your day?

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On the Job

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sorry for the long break of silence... I clearly have not been doing so well on the blogging goal lately.  Since I'm sure you're just dying to read an update, here goes!

I started a new job with Duke Temp, near the end of August, working at the front desk of the UCAE office in the Bryan Center.  UCAE stands for: University Center Activities & Events, which basically means this is the go-to place for events and Student Involvement.  We work with student organizations on campus, help plan events, manage room reservations, and plan all of the big student events (like the Activities Fair and First Big Weekend that happened last week).   My specific job duties cover all of the normal front desk/reception roles.  I've also begun taking on more administrative support roles by assisting with specific projects in the office, and am also in charge of managing the student workers in UCAE. I'm really enjoying working here, and have applied for the full-time permanent position that just opened - Fingers crossed I'll get it :).

Honestly though, this is the most fun I've had working in a very long time.  It's a great fit for me, and I am so thankful Mama Barb and Uncle Don talked me into applying with Duke Temp!  Here's to hoping I'm employed permanently full-time very soon!!!!

Other than that, life has pretty much been carrying on as normal.  Helga (my car) is still temperamental as usual, but once I get a permanent position I will finally be able to consider getting a new car!!  Lets hope she can hold out a few more months though.  I'm also beginning to entertain the idea of getting an apartment, and if you know me, that is the most exciting idea ever!  Having my own space, designing my space - my way, organization... seriously yall I can't contain my excitement that this may really be a possibility soon!!!!

Until then, it's back to reality and continuing to save up for those big steps!! 

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Brain Dump #6594

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I couldn't think of good title for tonight's update so why not go with my 6,594th brain dump post…after all that's what all my posts end up being :).  So here we go: prepare your self for an all over the place blog!

Erin and I went to Grandma & Pa's last week.  I honestly can't remember the last time just she and I went and stayed with them for a few days.  Growing up we spent most of our school breaks up there on the farm, but it's probably been years since just the two of us hung out with them.  It was SO nice.  I felt like I was reliving a part of my childhood and kept finding myself feeling immensely grateful for the opportunity to go see them.  I love my grandparents and am so very blessed to call them mine!

Pa had never heard of, let alone tasted, s'mores so we had to introduce him! I think you can tell he liked them :)

We helped supervised Grandma & Pa while they cut and canned tomatoes - over 12 quarts worth!

My Etsy shop has been open for two weeks now, and while I haven't gotten as many sales as I'd hoped, I'm really enjoying having the shop!  The creative juices are always flowing and I love trying to come up with new ideas to sell.  Stay tuned, you may see some new fall/halloween items going up in the next few weeks ;-).

For an update on my goals:

-I have officially read 3 (and 1/2)…yes T-H-R-E-E books this year!!!!  I know you book lovers out there are laughing at me, but this is HUGE!  I'm pretty sure I've never read this many books for fun, ever!  I really enjoyed the last one I read, called Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult, and am thinking about starting a second book of hers next.  I know, I know, four books is impressive ;-)!  Ha!  This does mean I've not only met, but exceeded my goal for the year in this category!!  I'm feeling pretty proud of myself!

-Pursuing my dream career path is still in the works too.  Driving to Grandma's last week, I realized how much I miss living in High Point.  Erin suggested looking for jobs up that way again, so I've been doing just that!  I found that it's hard to get a job when you don't live in the area, but I'm hoping and praying for the right position to open up!  I would so, SO, love to move back up there again!!  In the meantime, I am meeting with the Duke Temp agency to try and get some more part-time work and experience to build my resume (and wallet!).  Please keep my job search in your prayers. I know it can seem unimportant compared to other prayer requests, but it would mean so much to me!  I'm ready to get into a full-time career and begin this next phase of life, so please pray that God would open and close the right doors to get me there!

-All of my other goals are pretty much where they were when I last posted.  They may be progressing slowly, but progress is progress!

Well, that's about all for now :)

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Now Open!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Etsy shop, LHDCreations, is now open!!!!!!

I've been working very hard the last few weeks to stock pile an inventory of beautiful goods for you to shop from.  I've got lots of different handmade cards, pillow covers, and decorative wood signs!  There will be even more coming soon!

Like my shop page, @lhdcreations, on instagram for a coupon code valid today only!!  This page is where I'll update with new products and coupons regularly so stay tuned!

For now, happy shopping!

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The Crafting Bug

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Picture from Ashley Brooke Designs.

Crafting has always been a passion of mine.  It's honestly one of the most relaxing and rewarding things I do.  After college though, I kind of hit a wall when it came to being creative.  I guess after four years of projects, deadlines, and 100s of trips to Hobby Lobby, I got burnt out.  I've tried little projects here and there but nothing has really kept my attention or made me want to be creative, until now!

Ever since I started working at Michaels, the crafting bug has hit me hard!!  I find myself inspired every day to try out new techniques and begin exploring this passion again.  Just the other night I was inspired by an item I saw online and thought, "I could make that!"  which then sparked the idea of opening an Etsy store.  I think it would be fun to get paid to craft; plus it would force me to keep pushing the creative bounds and learn new things!  

The more I thought about opening an Etsy store today, the more excited I got about the possibility.  Not to mention that Michaels has an incredible Martha Stewart craft section, and I want every. single. piece.  Seriously.  I don't know what it is about the Martha Stewart line but I'm loving everything she has, and it's giving me the confidence to try new things; like embossing. It looks pretty cool and from what I've read, it should be fairly easy!  Now I just need to stretch my budget a little further so I can buy the supplies.  Anyone want to gift me a Michaels gift card!?  Haha kidding.  Sort of :)

Once I get a few items made, I'll look into opening the shop.  Any thoughts on what I should name it????  

I'm off to brainstorm more projects!

Leave a comment below with your shop name ideas.  If I pick yours, you'll get 10% off one item once it opens! 

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Budgeting Baby Steps

Thursday, June 12, 2014

If you've been following my blog this year, then you know one of my main 2014 goals is to get a budgeting system in place.  I want to take control of where my money goes instead of letting it control me.  I've found over the last couple of months that this makes such a huge difference in my day-to-day life.  The stress of wondering if I'll have enough money to fill my tank up next week, or where the funds for big purchases are going to come from has practically gone away.  There are still a few moments here and there where the bills seem higher than the paychecks coming in, but God is faithful and has provided every time that little voice of worry begins to creep in.

As I've looked over my expenses and budgets these last few months, it has become clear that for the last few years money truly has controlled me.  I've never given it much thought, swiping that debit card day after day, but when I sat down and looked at the big picture I was losing the money battle big time!

The hardest slap in the face moment so far was when I calculated and really examined where I had been putting all of my money over the last year. I went through all of my old bank statements to see just how I was spending those funds.  I realized quickly that I spend WAY too much money on going out to eat, way too little on paying off my loans, and way too much on casual shopping trips.  I had to make the hard decision to cut almost all of my favorite spending areas in half (or more!) in order to make my budget successful.  I was living beyond my means, and not using the gifts God had given me in a way that glorified him.

Over the last two months I've worked out a tracking system using the Dave Ramsey snowball/budget method and have seen a vast improvement!  I've noticed I don't miss having less fast food, or smaller shopping trips.  It's almost more exciting when I get to fill up my general fund and know that I get to treat myself that month.  The difference being that I now control how much I spend and where it goes. No more swiping that debit card when I get the munchies on the way home or when a girl friend asks to go shopping.  When my cash envelopes (which hold a designated amount each month) are empty, then they're empty!  Aka no more shopping or eating out that month!  Pretty common sense and basic, but genius at the same time!! If you're at all like me, then you know what I'm talking about.  It's harder to spend cash and see it dwindling away than it is to swipe that debit card one more time. Am I right, or am I right?!?

This little wallet from the Dave Ramsey store has been my favorite tool in this process!  It helps keep everything organized and with your envelopes all in one spot, tracking your finances is even easier!  Thanks to Nancy Ray and her organization series for showing me this wallet!  You can buy one here.

It felt like this would be impossible at first, but it's not!  I'm loving the Dave Ramsey system so far, and am loving the control over my finances even more!  If you're struggling getting in front of debt, or finding yourself each month with less and less money, then I strongly encourage you to read through Dave Ramsey's system and put it to work! The baby steps I've taken the last couple of months during this budgeting adventure have made all the difference.  Try it, it works!!

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You're never too old...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

…for a slumber party that is :)

In the past couple of years (since college), I've realized that slumber parties, and staying the night with friends, is becoming more and more something of the past.  I had started to accept the fact that we are all simply growing out of that stage, but I'm not quite ready to move on yet ;-)

This past weekend I traveled to Virginia to see one of my best friends from college get married.  It was SO fun seeing my roommates and celebrating this milestone with them!  However, it made me quickly realize how much I miss those crazy nights living together.  While I know being roomies again is not an option right now, I am making it my mission to see them more than once a year from now on!  A year is just waayy too long a time between visits!

I also had the privilege of staying with another friend Monday night; which once again confirmed that slumber parties are a necessity of life.  Maybe we'll call them something different as we get older, but I never want to take those times and memories for granted!  I love getting to catch up, enjoy an evening away, and just have some quality girl time every now and then!

Here's to never growing out of that stage and always making friendships a priority!

And for fun, here are a couple of pictures from the weekend!

Congratulations again Meredith & Jack!

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Meet Helga

Thursday, June 5, 2014

For those of you who have not met Helga… please allow me to introduce you.

Oh yeah, she's a beauty!! (please sense my sarcasm here)

This little bundle of joy was lovingly named while I was in college.  My roommate Jodi had a gorgeous BMW named Heidi (after Heidi Klum - the supermodel), and we decided it was time to give my piece of junk gold a name.  Since she is oh so temperamental, and lets be honest -- the furthest thing from a supermodel, she lovingly became known as Helga.  A little ugly, with a mind of her own, but my mode of transportation nonetheless.

Over the last few years the list of Helga's quirks has grown, and grown!  Things like:  accelerating on her own, missing hub cap, interior dash peeling up, a gear shift button that likes to fall out and disappear, crazy idle issues, and so on and so forth.

Honestly, I never know what surprise she will reveal next, but she's still kicking!!

Today that surprise was completely worn down, on the verge of blowing, tires.  If I'm being honest this wasn't a complete surprise, but I certainly did not expect the level of destruction taking place. Oops!

After searching for tires all afternoon, she is now sporting a brand new set of shiny black tires! All is good in her world…for now!  She is riding like a gem though, so hey she's not a complete loser :-)

The point here is that while Helga can be quite the piece of work sometimes, she certainly has been reliable. Here's to hoping she keeps kicking for another year or two. And hey!  Now with new tires, she better be riding smooth for a while!

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Happy Dance!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

If you haven't heard already…. I got the all clear from my doctor on Thursday!!!!!



(insert happy dance)

I was so stinkin' excited!  He checked my incision, turned around, and shook my hand to let me know I was all done!  That was by far my best check up yet :)

4 months, 10+ packs of gauze pads, 8 rolls of gentle paper tape, too much antibiotic cream, 3 doses of antibiotics, a little bit of lavender essential oil, and I am finally healed from surgery!  Thank the Good Lord!!

This also meant I got to start swimming again this week!  First thing I did after work on Thursday was head to the pool.  It felt so good to get back in the water.  I could tell with every movement and lap that it had clearly been 4 months since my last swim, but I didn't care.  It just felt good to get moving again. I was only able to do 10 laps in 30 minutes (about half of what I had been doing) but it was the best 10 laps ever!!

My piece of Heaven today :)

I was able to go swimming again today after church, and got up to 18 laps in 45 minutes!  That's much closer to where I was pre-surgery.  It amazes me how quick my body can get back into swimming now.  My goal is to get back to doing at least 20 laps for 45 minutes, 2-3x/week.  I'd love to get up to swimming a mile each time (which is certainly attainable) but it will probably take a few weeks.

I'm just so happy to be cleared and able to swim again.  I forgot how good I feel after a good cardio workout.  Plus it's helping to strengthen all those back muscles again, which is huge!! And hey, maybe I can get that fitness goal on track now.  I've put on wayyyy more weight than I wanted to during this recovery.  It's time to get all of that (and more!) off!!!

Thank you all so much for praying over my recovery!

And just for fun, can we all take a moment to appreciate how cute this sweet little puppy dog is?!?

Happy Memorial Day Weekend :)

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Goal Update

Monday, May 19, 2014

Well in other news…It's probably time for an update (and accountability check for myself) on my 2014 goals. I haven't done very well with keeping up with them, but I've also had a crazy few months.  Here is where I currently stand on my goals for this year.  You can read the full list/details of each goal here.

Photography -  wellll…. I did finally use my camera during our recent trip to Haiti.  I also learned a thing or two about editing, so I guess that counts??  I need to start taking more pictures, I just haven't been very inspired recently.

Fitness-  This goal was completely halted temporarily due to my surgery and incision issues.  However!  I go back to the doctor later this week, and IF (fingers crossed, prayers lifted!) my incision is closed with no new openings I will officially be cleared to resume exercising!!!  I can't even put into words how badly I want to get back into swimming laps.  I've never been in great shape, but I haven't felt this out of shape in a while. I guess bed rest and limited activity will do that to you.  But man, I am so looking forward to getting this goal progressing ASAP!

Quiet Time- Getting my quiet time into my morning routine has been a harder habit to start than I expected.  One way I've been able to get the ball rolling (and this applies to another goal as well) is to not allow myself to look at any social media, texts, games, emails, etc until I have read through a short devotion time that day.  This may sound silly, and honestly it shows how out of whack my priorities can be at times, but it really has helped.  I  like to lay in bed for 10-15 minutes when I first wake up to give myself time to really wake up before I have to kick off the day.  This time used to involve checking my phone, responding to texts, Facebook, and a little stretching to help out the back.  However, I have now been able to make those moments into a quiet relaxing time with God, which has made a huge impact on how I feel when I get out of bed and it seems to be helping maintain that attitude throughout the day.  While there are still some days where I totally fail - just being honest here! - it really has helped get this goal moving and it has made an impact for the better.  I'd like to get a more thorough quiet/journal time going in the mornings, but this is the first step! Baby steps :)

Social Media-  The time I spend on social media has certainly decreased, but is still not quite to where I'd like it yet.  The devotion priority I mentioned above, and working more, have certainly helped eliminate countless social media hours, but I'd still like to become more disconnected.  I'm considering setting one day a week as social media free.  Not sure how successful that will be, but it's worth a shot! My generation (and lets be honest, every other generation too) has gotten out of control when it comes to technology and our addictions to it.  I don't want to keep falling further into that hole.  Now is the time to crawl out and make changes for the better!

Wedding planning-  This goal was going really well and has now hit a road block, or potential U-turn.  I had signed up for a certification course in wedding planning but for various reasons it didn't work out.  After further exploration I became very hesitant in the quality of the course and company, and decided it was best to put that on hold and get a refund.  I'm not turning away from this passion, but it's temporarily delayed as I explore these other job opportunities that have opened up.  I guess the ultimate goal here is to simply follow my dreams, trust my gut, and listen to my heart this year - wherever that may lead.

Reading- Ha!  Well I guess I have read through 1/2 of the Dave Ramsey book on budgeting, so that counts right???  I had hoped this goal would be accomplished by two personal/fun reads, but this is certainly progress for me so I'll take it!  E, I need to come raid your bookshelf -- or rather, have you raid it and pick some good ones for me :)

Finances-  This is one goal I actually am on top of!  I am working my way through the Dave Ramsey plan to get myself out of debt and gain control of my finances.  I've created a budget, am about to begin implementing the envelope system, I've secured an emergency fund, and my debt snowball is actually rolling!  This will be a life-long process that will evolve over the years, but I am feeling very good about my progress and the potential I'm seeing so far.  The best part is seeing results!  I haven't paid off a loan completely yet, but I'm certainly on my way and will crush it so much sooner than I originally thought!  The extra jobs are helping a lot too.  I'm learning that sometimes taking an extra job, or doing side jobs, is sometimes the best, and only, option to get in front of debt and take control.  It feels good to be in the driver's seat now and to know that the loan agencies will not come out on top of this battle!

Blogging- I'm trying to get better about this one, but it hasn't been super successful so far :-/

Well, that's where I stand right now. It really does help to stop and write out where I've succeeded and failed in these areas over the last few months.  Just by writing this post I've discovered specific areas I can improve on immediately that hadn't really crossed my mind recently.  Good thing I've got all of 2014 to fulfill these goals right?! ;-)  Kidding of course!  This accountability helps so much.  Here's to a more successful month!

How are your 2014 goals going so far?

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Brain Dump: Job Edition :)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Wow…has it really been THAT long since my last post?  I feel like I just blogged my official notice of leaving Haiti yesterday.  Where has the time gone?!

Actually I know exactly where its gone:  to one of the 5 different jobs I'm working this month! And yes, I really do write that with excitement!

Most of the last three weeks have been spent working part-time at Michaels. I'm not super proud of myself for this position, but it's paying the bills, and the employee discount is pretty sweet! I am very grateful for this job though, and I am so thankful for God's provision and timing with this placement.  It won't be a forever job, but it's what I need right now. I also love the staff there, and it has been fun so far which makes working that much more enjoyable! Getting out of the house and back to some normality with life/my back has also been wonderful.

I'll also be working with/for three other people this month (and hopefully part of next) doing various different jobs for them: i.e. errands, data entry, cleaning, child care, etc.  I hadn't planned to take these small odd jobs, but God placed them in my life at just the right time - don't you just love how he does that?!  I was beginning to worry about my student loans and other bills, and literally within days of each other, these offers opened up.  I'm trying SOOO very hard to get my budgeting goals in line as well as get my student loans paid off quicker rather than later so these three jobs are a huge blessing!

With that in mind, I am also really excited about a part-time commission based position I was offered -- or rather am in the process of being officially offered. I'm pretty excited about this one seeing as how I could pay off my student loans in the next year or two if I can get good at it!!!! That would be SO amazing! I will also get to work from home and make my own hours with this position, and depending on my success it could potentially become something full-time later down the road.  The best part is that this position is with a company I believe in and has a missions emphasis; how perfect right?!  What a dream come true it would be to get paid to do missions!  The future part is in God's hand, but for now I am just grateful for the opportunity and excited to see where it leads. More details to come on this once the offer is official and accepted :)

The last couple of weeks have certainly been a whirlwind, but it sure does feel good to get back into the workforce.  I can't wait to see what comes next!

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Holy Week Recap

Monday, April 28, 2014

For those of you not on my email newsletter list, here is my most recent (and last) update on missions in Haiti.  It explains in more detail my decision to leave the international mission field full-time and where I will be going from here.  You can also read my previous updates if you missed them here and here.  Thank you all again for your love and support.  Comment below, or email above, with any questions you may have!

Below is a little photo recap of our recent trip to Haiti.  Mom, Erin, and I had so much fun serving at Have Faith Haiti Mission (HFHM) and celebrating Holy Week with the kids there.  Every day had a special Easter theme leading up to Easter Sunday.  It was an incredible week, and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to close this chapter properly.  Thanks again to the Hambrick family for letting us stay with you and for all of your love, guidance, and support over the years.  Your friendship is one I hold very dear to my heart. Love you guys!

Day One: New Life seeds, painting flower pots, and dirt dessert snack!

Day Two: The kids did spring cleaning at the mission (Clean House, Clean Hearts theme) while we took the day off to pack up my things at HFMS, visit the apparent project, and enjoy an afternoon swim.

Day Three: Egg-Stravaganza!  Egg dyeing, a massive Easter egg hunt, and coloring paper eggs.

Day Four: The Last Supper.  Jeremiah held a special devotion time that evening to teach the kids about communion and the significance of why Christ washed his disciple's feet at the Last supper. It was  a tangible teaching time as everyone got to experience the servant hood in having someone wash your feet and by participating in communion.

Mom, Erin, and Jeremiah also took a group of kids up to the Baptist Mission that afternoon.  They had a fun time exploring hiking paths, souvenir shopping, a petting zoo, and the playground area.  They even topped off the day with a Haitian happy meal for lunch!

Day Five: Cross activities in honor of Christ's sacrifice on the cross.  We also ended the night with pizza and a sunset swim over at Jim and Debbie's.

 Day Six:  We had all of the kids try on their "new life" Easter outfits that so many people lovingly donated for them.  If you can't tell from above, they all LOVED them! We had to leave for the airport shortly after, but they spent the afternoon doing "in the tomb" activities.  On Sunday everyone got to wear their new outfits to church and celebrate our risen Lord!

And last but not least, our fabulous hosts for the week!

It really was an awesome week!

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Haiti Bound

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Mom, Erin, and I head to Haiti in the morning to spend a week with Jenn and Jeremiah working at Have Faith Haiti Mission (HFHM).  I will also be packing up my items at HFMS to move back home.  I've decided with my back that it is just not physically feasible right now to live and work in Haiti.  This was not an easy decision, and is one I will elaborate on in a later post, but I believe it is the right choice and one God has directed me to.  I am so looking forward to spending this next week back in Haiti though.  I've missed it so much, and I cannot wait to celebrate Easter with Holy Week activities at the mission.

I will update and give more details in the coming days/weeks, but for now it's off to bed! 4:30am is going to come EARLY in the morning.

Please keep our travels and this upcoming week in your prayers.  Some specific ways you can pray for us:

  • For safe and timely travels.  That our bags would arrive on time with no damage or anything missing.
  • For patient and loving attitudes throughout the week.
  • For my physical health and strength.  My back is still very limited and begins to hurt quickly.  Please pray that there will be little to no pain, and that I will have the strength to endure the activities ahead.
  • Pray for the kids and workers at HFHM. Pray that these activities will help them to truly understand the meaning of Easter and will impact their lives for the better.

Off to Haiti we go (again!!).

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Not Me Monday: Target Edition

Monday, April 7, 2014

After one too many boring days at home, I did not decide a shopping trip to Target with my best friend was a necessity.  I would never use the fact that there was a super cute purse waiting for me as an excuse to get out of the house.  I never indulge in shopping therapy.

And if I had taken this trip to Target, I would have never allowed myself to buy a $40 purse.  I always wait for items to go on sale.  My budgeting goals are going strong and I never give into impulse buying, even if it is a REALLY cute purse (that I happen to love)! I have great self-control.

And since I didn't take this trip to Target, and I didn't give in to an overpriced purse, I would never add insult to injury by walking out of the dressing room with my shirt inside out.  Of course I noticed it right away and promptly went back in to fix the problem.  I would never laugh hysterically and proceed to walk around the store anyways.  I hold myself to a high degree of dignity and would never convince myself that wearing my shirt inside out was acceptable.  After all, everyone probably thought it was just the new style.  Ahem.

Nope. Not me.

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Wishful Wednesday: My Favorites

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I love to go shopping, but I also really love online shopping.  Lately I've found some fun new websites with great deals that I just had to share with you all.  After all, I wouldn't want you to miss out on all the fabulous deals out there! Statement necklaces seem to be the eye catcher for me, but these sites also have great prices on home decor, fashion, and kid items as well.  I've bought some beautiful pieces from both sites recently, but there are still quite a few pieces I've got on my wish list.

Enjoy and happy shopping! :-)

GroopDealz:  This website has something for EVERYONE.  They update with new deals every morning which include items ranging from fashion to home decor, and more!  I've bought two really cute necklaces from them recently and have had my eye on a couple of other deals as well.  If you like great quality products for an ever better price, this site is for you!  Plus it helps small businesses which I love!! You have to be quick though because most of their deals only last 24 hours!

This is my most recent purchase from GroopDealz, but I bought mine in mint.  Only $6.99 and free shipping!

Simple Addiction:  Ok, so I only found this page a few days ago, but I had to exercise some very good self-control to not buy every piece of jewelry on their page!  The one piece I did purchase was this gorgeous white/cream and gold colored statement necklace that I've had my eye on for probably a year now.  Everyone else sells them for $30+ (I refuse to spend more than $20 on a necklace, and even that is pushing it for me), but this site had it on sale for $5.95!!!  Um yes please!  Needless to say, it will soon be joining my wall of jewelry.  I love this page because they too update with new inventory every week which means their unbeatable deals are always changing. Seriously, go check them out!

This is the necklace I mentioned above.  Only $5.95 and $2 shipping! They still have them in stock and it comes in three colors, but hurry the deal ends soon.

Ok, well now that I've put a dent in your wallet, enjoy the rest of your day.  Hopefully we'll get to enjoy some nicer weather soon!

This post is not endorsed by either GroopDealz or Simple Addiction.  
Opinions stated above are solely my own.  
Pictures are from the GroopDealz and Simple Addiction websites.

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Let Go & Let God: Update on Haiti & Recovery

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

This blog post is overdue, and that's because I have been putting it off.  I've told this story to so many people lately, explained my thoughts/circumstances, and received so many thoughts to consider over the last few weeks, that I feel like a broken record that just can't seem to get back on course.

I'm lost, unsure, and a little discouraged over it all, but I'm leaving it at God's feet and trusting He will show me that right path when the time comes.  I ask that after reading this post, that you would lift up a prayer for me as I seek God's will on what to do.  I'm at the point now where I just have to "Let go & Let God" - a quote on a gift from a dear friend and mentor.

As many (if not all) of you know, the recovery process since my surgery has been more complicated than originally anticipated. This has left me with some big decisions to make regarding where to go next on this journey.

Option A:  I return to Haiti as soon as I'm able (it is still unknown when that will be an option) and finish out my commitment through October.  This would mean putting long term PT care on hold, potential risk of further injury, and limited access to medical care if something were to happen; BUT it would allow me to follow through with my commitment and dream of living and working in Haiti on the mission field, which so many people have donated to help me do.

Option B: I stay here in the USA, continue PT for best results, have easy access to my doctors and medical care, and begin focusing on short-term/local missions for a while.  If I go this route, I would also begin exploring career options & dreams of mine.  However, this option would mean breaking my commitment to living in Haiti for the year, and giving up (at least for a while) the dream of being a missionary overseas.

Neither option is perfect, and neither option is a no-brainer for me.  There are days where either one seems like the best course and then the next morning I'm on the fence again.  Do I make my commitment to Haiti or my long-term health the priority right now?  Either way I choose I can be successful in different regards, and either way I know God will use me, but I'm still unsure of which one is best.  As I said, I'm desperately in need of your prayers right now.

This is not a decision I take lightly. So many of you have given to help me following this calling, and I want to honor everyone's support and financial gifts to the best of my ability.   For now, I'm focusing on getting my incision to heal, gaining strength, and our upcoming short trip to Haiti in April.  Please continue to keep me in your prayers.

Thank you all SO very much for all of your love, support, and advice throughout this journey.   Hopefully I will have an update with a decision for you all soon.  Until then, please just keep me in your prayers.

On a really random and more upbeat note:
I REALLY miss these girls!! I think a reunion needs to be in our very near future =).

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