How I did: January 2016 goals

So. My first goal recap of 2016 is here. It wasn’t the best start. But February is here. I’m armed with a new planner. And I’m determined, even if I am behind.

January 2016 Goals – How I did:

  • Be intentional about time with Jesus. Daily devotion. Verdict: CONTINUING IN FEBRUARY.
  • Lose 6 pounds. Verdict: CONTINUING IN FEBRUARY.
  • Read a non-fiction book. Verdict: ACCOMPLISHED
    • Review coming soon, but I tackled Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love.
  • Cook a new meal each week. Verdict: ACCOMPLISHED
    • Week 1 – Crustless spinach quiche. Verdict? Great ready-made breakfast for the week.
    • Week 1 – Pesto salmon with Italian vegetables. TWO RECIPES. Victory. Also, this salmon was to die for. Even my husband LOVED it and said it’s his favorite salmon.
    • Week 2 – Light chicken parm. Served this over zucchini noodles and Brett said it was a win.
    • Week 3 – Chicken mozzarella pasta with sun-dried tomatoes. This was good, but it wasn’t perfect. I didn’t use the same kind of noodles, I kind of burnt the sun-dried tomatoes, and my sauce wasn’t thick enough. But taste was decent. I need to try this again.
    • Week 4 – Not quite. But I was ahead.
  • Create a cleaning routine. Verdict: TRY AGAIN.
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More than a song…

Some days are hard. I think that’s the thing I’ve come to realize about life as a grown up.

For all the amazing things – and there are many, many amazing parts of the adult world – there are some seriously crappy times.

I used to think you could ignore the bad days. I thought you could wish them away. I thought you could be good enough that they wouldn’t happen. Really, how funny is that? I’ve (slowly, I’ll admit it) come to realize that there is nothing you can do about it. You are going to have bad days. Sometimes you are even going to have bad weeks or months. You can only control so much. Some people aren’t the brightest crayons in the box. Some times things just don’t go your way.

I’m learning to be grateful for the bad days. On the bad days, I’m reminded of how much God loves me. I’m reminded of how lucky I am to be married to a man who will go to the greatest lengths to make me smile. (That’s a longer story for another post). I’m reminded of how awesome it is to have friends who know you so well that the rest of the world can disappear when you sit down together with coffee or wine.

I was having a bad day a couple of weeks ago. Driving to work, I was listening to music from my phone and I just froze. I’ve had Casting Crowns’ Thrive album for over a year, but I had never noticed the song that came on. It was the perfect song for that moment. I’ve listened to it almost every day since because it is a reminder I need in my life.

Just take a few minutes and listen.

It kind of leaves you speechless doesn’t it? Here’s to finding time to be held.

*****

“Just Be Held”

Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding onAnd when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it goSo when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be heldIf your eyes are on the storm
You’ll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You’ll know I always have and I always willAnd not a tear is wasted
In time, you’ll understand
I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands

Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you’ll find Me
And where you are, I’ll hold your heart
I’ll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who wont let go

Ode to caffeine…

Just walking to work clutching my umbrella and coffee. No biggie.

Just walking to work clutching my umbrella and coffee. No biggie.

Oh, coffee.

Caffeine.

How do I love thee, let me count the ways.

Really, my love affair with caffeine is long-standing. I discovered the magic of a mocha latte during my early days as a college newspaper reporter. I fell in love with local coffee shops in my hometown (also my college town.) I discovered Starbucks, where my favorite drink for many, many years was a mocha light Frappuccino.

As I’ve grown up – and needed more caffeine in my life – I’ve fallen even more in love with espresso. Now my go to drink is a grande skinny mocha. Fall brings a tiny bit of toffee nut added. Winter brings a little peppermint. You’ve got to spice things up.

I like warm {coffee}. And hugs.

I like warm {coffee}. And hugs.

As I’ve tried to make my love for coffee a little healthier over the past few years, I’ve been making more of my own drinks at home. I’m armed with both a Keurig Vue and a Keurig Rivo, so I’ve been experimenting more and more on my own.

Now that my favorite Coffee Mate Sugar Free Peppermint Mocha is out of season, I’ve to to find my next favorite for plain brewed coffee. Stay tuned. I’ll be reviewing my attempts.

In case you don’t believe my love of caffeine…. so I’ve included just a few snapshots of my recent coffee escapades at home.

What’s your favorite way to drink coffee? Any great, light creamers you love? Share!

A quick stop to Fresh Market on a lunch break for their divine dessert coffee.

A quick stop to Fresh Market on a lunch break for their divine dessert coffee.

Learning to say no…

I wound up kicking off 2016 with a couple of decisions about what should be on my plate this year. I struggled. I knew saying yes wouldn’t make me happy, but I do hate to disappoint people and organizations I love and believe in.

If you don’t read/follow/love Jen Hatmaker, let me take a minute to encourage you to do that. My non-fiction book for this month is her latest, For the Love. But her Facebook page provides almost daily laughter and inspiration. Check her out. Really.

In the midst of trying to reach a decision, a friend pointed me directly to this post and I have to share it with you.

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That thought process for me? It’s life changing. “If it’s not a HELL YES, then it’s a no.” Oh my goodness, thank you Jen. That’s freeing. I refuse to say the guilty yes or the resentful yes. I will only say yes if it’s a HELL YES. Y’all hold me to that, ok?

So I’ve learned something just a few days into 2016. I said no.

Saying no is hard. But I’m learning, and remembering that saying no a few times will leave me room for the things I cannot envision my life without.

Here’s to a year of well-placed nos.

Measure your life…

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I’m a writer by trade, so words have a lot of meaning to me. I’ve got two journalism degrees, and write everything from social media posts to newsletters and web stories to magazine features now.

But most of the time, it’s not really my words I’m focusing on.

It’s the quotes of others and the stories they tell that matter day in and day out. But on a nighttime car ride with a dear friend last night, we started talking. I love those kind of talks. The ones that are big and bold. The ones that aren’t afraid. The ones that give you hope and strength. The ones that speak to your soul.

In the middle of one of one of the rounds of our talk, I stumbled onto a thought. We think a lot about the work we are doing – at home, at work and everywhere in between. We plan it, measure it and track it.

And I think more often than not, we forget what actually matters. This is what I came up with…

“Don’t measure the work you are doing.

Measure the impact you have.”

Really, I’m kind of proud. That’s my own thought. My own quote. The friend I was with is an incredible big-picture thinker. She comes up with the best ideas, the best thoughts. So yeah, a little part of me was just proud at what I thought.

But really. Imagine if this was what we spent our time focusing on. What would that look like? So this week, this month, this year? I’ll do the work I need to, but I’m going to set my sights on the impact I’m having.

Don't measure the work you are doing. Measure the impact you have. {jessiepjones.wordpress.com}

The holiday bookshelf…

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I love Christmas break. Almost a dozen days off of work with lots of down time and family fun is pure bliss. But one of the best parts about it is the time I get to dive back into reading. I get a lot of my writing energy from reading. I write better when I’ve been reading – no matter what kind of book it is.

So I’m excited to go back into work at a busy time with a head full of new words.

Here’s what I’ve read over the break and what I thought about it… You know I’ll be back with more soon.

Drawing Fire by Janice Cantore

I absolutely loved this book. When I went to look it up on Amazon to share for this post, I had to laugh when I saw it frequently purchased with books by Dee Henderson, another favorite author of mine. That absolutely makes sense.

Drawing Fire is a great read, featuring homicide detective Abby Hart. A recent case brings more to light about her past, and how her parents were killed in a fire. She fights to learn the truth and finally bring their killer to justice. Along the way she gets to know an intriguing (and handsome) PI. Fun, easy read. You can check it out on Amazon here.

Conflicting Webs by Darlene Quinn

I’ve read the four previous Darlene Quinn Web series books, and was so excited to hear that this fifth book was out! You really could not imagine all the challenges April Toddman and Kyle Clark have to go through to get to their wedding day and life beyond – it’s unreal. But the Toddman clan, and all the cast of characters you’ve become familiar with are back and better than ever in this book. Highly recommend, but while they say this can stand alone – I’d read them in order instead. Check it out here.

From Scratch by Rachel Goodman

This book is the one I’ve known about the longest among this trio of reads. Rachel Goodman used to blog as Mojito Maven, and you can still find her on Twitter. So hearing about this book from when she signed to write it on through it’s publication was fun. I think it’s absolutely fantastic on top of that! It’s definitely “sweet” if you’ll pardon the pun.

In this fun Southern romance, Lillie has to head back home and winds up facing numerous demons. She winds up competing in place of her father in the annual regional baking competition Upper Crust – and gets a whole lot more than she bargained for in the process. A happy, romantic, fluffy read, this would make the perfect spring getaway for your brain. Check it out on Amazon here – just $5.99 right now! (Future plug, Rachel’s also got Sour Grapes coming out in May!)

Happy New Year!

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I can’t believe it’s 2016.

A new year brings so much possibility. It’s time to get organized, to set goals. I’ll be back tomorrow with my actual goals. But today? I just want to act like my sweet pup, and embrace the moment.

Here’s to running headlong into a new year. Let’s make our dreams come true.