Archive for December 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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