We are just days away from 2018 so I’m sitting down to create the vision of our upcoming year. Just like I probably won’t make it to the gym unless I wear my work-out clothes to bed and I likely wouldn’t make my appointments without requesting them off of work and writing them in my planner, I will definitely not take advantage of the fresh start of a new year unless I set my intentions now.
Setting intentions sounds boring and even stressful, but if you have the right (and pretty) tools , accompanied with the right mindset, I think you might actually love it.
Our friend Annie F. Downs advises us to think of our New Year’s Resolutions as New Year’s experiments. Here are my tips and tools for fun and fulfilling goal setting for 2018.
1. Pick Your Word
Every year I pick a word that is the central theme of my year. In 2016 my word was “rise”, in 2017 my word was “grateful”, and this year, I’m leaning toward “awake”. I think God is calling me to be engaged in the moment instead of obsessing about the future or worrying about the past. I want to spend this year striving toward an interrupted life, awake to God’s work not only in my quiet time, small group, or church, but in my day-to-day routine. My word-of-the-year generally represents the spiritual theme of my year and invites the Lord to go to work on those areas of my life.
2. Categorize Your Goals
I’ve attached a worksheet I created a few years ago that breaks my goals into specific categories that are right for me. Feel free to download it and use it for yourself. Change up those categories if they aren’t relevant for you. I also love the more lyrical version here by Ann Voskamp. This is the 2017 version, so be on the lookout for the 2018 addition coming out soon.
3. Set Aside Time
Ben and I call the time we take filling out these worksheets and having conversation about what we loved, what we would like to see change, and where we would like to grow in the New Year, our Year-In Review. We brew a strong pot of coffee and eat leftover Christmas cookies and use pretty pens while we brainstorm. It always makes me feel more connected to Ben and more excited about the coming months.
4. Be Realistic
Don’t be mean to yourself. If you would love to get in shape, make your goal two days a week at the gym for now, not a marathon in three months (unless that sounds fun to you….). If you want to grow closer to the Lord, start with a 15 minute quiet time, not an uninterrupted meditation practice at 4am. Make goals that will be fun to live into. This is not a time to stress yourself out and highlight all your current shortcomings. We are going to experiment with what living our best life might look like, and try to find what practices may be life giving for us. Don’t put pressure on yourself, just be open to the experiment, and embrace your New Year with intention.
Finally, I would LOVE to hear your word for the year. If you decide to choose just one word or phrase for 2018, please share it with us in the comments!
Advent has been huge for us. This practice is about finding the stillness in this season, living in the tension between the coming of the Messiah as a baby and the advent of his coming again. It is so easy to miss the thread of spirituality in all the celebration, so at the end of each day, Ben and I meet at our dining table, light the candles, and read from The Art of Simple’s “Simple Advent Guide”. The guide provides a reading, question to consider, and a suggested song from the playlist linked below. This time has been so meaningful for us. We draw near to Jesus as a little family everyday and it is priceless.
2. Real Trees
Having a real tree in the home for Christmas has been a value for both of our families so we went to Saum’s tree farm this year to cut down our own. I choose to decorate with sentimental ornaments instead of perfectly matchy and it stands in our living room as a representation of where we’ve come from and where we are now. Plus, the smell!!!
3. Elf on the Shelf!
Last week, I came home from school and told Ben about my third graders announcing that their elves had come over Thanksgiving weekend. He could tell how excited I was for them so HE GOT US OUR OWN ELF! He moves it every morning because I hop out of bed SO excited to see where Buddy has moved. Ben is basically a saint. Here are some of the sweet places I’ve found Buddy this week!
4. Christmas Eve Letters
On Christmas Eve, before I turn in with my siblings for our annual sleepover, Ben and I have decided to take a minute to ourselves under my family’s tree to trade letters. We are going to write about the biggest lesson we learned during our year together and our most treasured memory. Someday, when years have gone by, I know these will remind us so much of who we were in our first years.
What are your couple traditions for this season? How do you make the season special for your little family of two?
Black Friday Steals
This year I'm online Black Friday shopping for the very first time! The deals are so good that it can be overwhelming! So I'm breaking it down for you.
First off all there are two gift guides you need to plan around. The Sorta Awesome Gift Guide gives some pracitcal ideas for gifts that also give back to the community. If you want your gifting dollars to be doing some good for others this year, this is a great guide to follow.
Living with Landyn's gift guide is also a go to for me because of her incredible taste and o how specific her choices are! She has guides from fathers-in-law to tween girls and it's pretty perfect. The price point is a bit higher so these might be good for inspiration. Landyn also has a Black Friday guide that I'm super excited about. Both are linked below.
For Black Friday shopping, there are two companies in particular that I am SO excited about! Their products make perfect and thoughtful gifts and they help support small businesses (Small Business Saturday is this week!) I've linked to their shops below but you should sign up for the newsletter or follow them on Instagram to get the best discounts.
Last year I wrote a post on how to do your Christmas cards on the cheap (linked below) and this year after a lot of pricing, I found that the best deal is a Vistaprint. We ordered 100 5x7 full color photo cards and envelopes for about $65. That was only possible because of the Black Friday weekend deal though, so if you want it, go snag it up! They make the design process super easy so it shouldn't take you long to link it together.
Our Christmas shoot this year is from our go-to photographer, Cassidy Dawn Photography. We ALWAYS love her work and this year was no exception!
Well it has certainly been a minute and SO MUCH has happened. Here is a quick and dirty update on everything that has gone on around here in the last few months.
We've been married for two years now (look how precious) and we've moved to a new apartment, praise the Lord (and look how decked out for fall)! My sister graduated and is living in Columbus so dreams do come true, we went to Disney (it was as magical as I knew it would be), and we went back to Virginia Beach (and stayed in this darling beach house). My girlfriends and I went to Nashville and met my favorite person on this planet (Annie F. Downs!!!!), I moved to Olentangy to teach music and I love it with all my heart, and I started grad school at OSU that is kicking my butt and one of the best parts of my life. I went to El Salvador on a mission trip that changed everything for me, and here we are in fall, on our way toward the holidays and taking stock of how very much there is to be thankful for. SO as soon as you get through this little photo album collecting down here we'll get started on my favorite new things of fall 2017!
1. Apples apples apples
The neighbor closest to my parents' house is about a quarter mile down the road and has a whole front yard full of apple trees. When we all went on a walk after dinner the other night he stopped us at the end of his driveway with grocery sacks and asked us to take as many apples as we could carry. So ever since, both drawers of my fridge and my whole fruit basket have been overflowing with apples. I've been using them in my decorating to try and find some use for them all. So finally, I cracked out my crock pot and make some homemade apple butter! I've been canning it and bringing some extra cans with cute labels as housewarming gifts all fall! Here is the link to the recipe I used, and can I just say that I think it's probably the best.
2. Pumpkin Patch Photo Shoots
Last weekend we gathered each of my siblings and a mess of our friends together for a big fall themed weekend, and the highlight was (and always is) our annual trip to the pumpkin patch for a photo shoot. Every family needs to get on this! It's free, it's adorable, and your adult children keep on coming back for it because apparently everyone can get behind posing for cute pictures when there are pumpkins in the background.
3. This Album is Everything
Welcome! I'm a brand new wife, second year music teacher, Jesus follower, and am chronically curious about just about everything. Join me as I kick off this adult life.
"I am the Vine, you are the Branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."