tips for improving your Christmas spirit

I am sure I’m not the only person who has experienced a Christmas time or two where the spirit of the season seems to get choked out by the commercialism, or busyness, or stress that surround a holiday that is intended to focus on the greatest gift of all: the coming of a Savior. In years past, I have shamefully recognized a dullness of heart due to the familiarity and distractions that are sometimes intentionally designed to make the holiday about something other than what it is intended. The past couple of years, though, I have taken a little more intentionality towards the holiday and it has made all the difference. While my heart isn’t always perfectly postured, I have recognized a certain level of restoration in my spirit during this time of year. And I wanted to share some of the things that have helped me in case you might be needing the same thing too.


There are those special souls that have a unique love for Christmas music. You know the kind: they have an itch to start those festive tunes by mid-July because they love it so much. But if you are not one of those people and you either get burnt out on Christmas music fast, or you’re just not a fan of the traditional choruses, then my biggest tried & true suggestion is finding some Christmas music that you actually like. If Mariah Carey’s voice drives you mad like me, then simply don’t listen to it. I promise you can find songs that stir up some Christmas spirit without making your ears bleed. Look up if some of your favorite artists have any Christmas albums or covers and make a playlist of them. I find that I get much more excited to listen to Christmas music over and over when I like the style of the songs I’m listening to. Here are some of my top recommendations:

  • Hillsong’s The Peace Project & We Have a Savior albums (some classic, and some original Christmas songs that really focus my heart on the reason for the season)
  • Future of Forestry’s Advent Christmas EPs 
  • The Oh Hellos’ Family Christmas Album
  • Coldplay’s “Christmas Lights”
  • Jimmy Eat World’s “Last Christmas” cover
  • Andrew Belle’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” cover
  • And out of pure nostalgia, N*Sync’s Home for Christmas album

Want to listen along to my whole ‘Tis the Season playlist? You can check it out on Spotify here.


Too often the familiarity of Christmas used to leave my faith feeling a bit dry this time of year (working retail during the holiday season didn’t help either). So a couple years ago I picked up an Advent devotional and calendar to help better prepare my heart for a holiday that is intended to stir up great rejoicing over the coming of my Savior. And I must say, it helped! Through simple readings, thoughts, or actions, I was able to better make room in my heart for the story of Christmas and see it flesh itself out better in my life.

I know Christmas is just two weeks away now, but it’s never too late to dive into Scripture to help prepare your heart for the coming celebration. One way I’m doing that this year is through She Reads Truth’s Advent reading plan. Each day there are a few passages of Scripture and a quick devotional to help you chew on what you read. If you’re interested in joining in, you can check out their website where they release daily content.


As I have gotten older, I have grown fonder of doing some sort of activity with loved ones in place of exchanging gifts on holidays. Gift giving can be tricky – it can feed into the commercialism at times, it can create pressure to get just the “right” thing, it can produce more STUFF – and if you are like me, you don’t have a need for more random stuff that you won’t use. A solution? Just spend time with the people you love and consider the gift that that is. As some examples, one year the girls in my husband’s family got pedicures and grabbed lunch together. Last year, my husband’s entire family enjoyed Top Golf and then had our normal Christmas potluck afterwards. Sharing a meal or an activity with loved ones can sometimes be more meaningful and memorable than exchanging gifts. I’ve especially grown an appreciation for this method because we live far away from family and only get to spend so much time with loved ones, so taking the time to do something goes so much further than handing over an object that may or may not be needed.

Something to note, though, is that there are many people that find great joy in giving and receiving gifts. So I’m not saying diminish gifts altogether. But it may be helpful to visit with your family about what brings everyone the most joy, and determining a plan from there – even if it is a bit unconventional. Maybe that means shifting HOW you exchange gifts, or maybe you alternate between gifts and family activities. However you do it, do what works best for you and your family.


For many, the holiday season + retails stores = a hot mess of craziness. Aisles are cluttered with more people and more mess, and wait times are longer. If this makes you want to pull your hair out, it can put a big damper on your Christmas spirit. You can try and avoid the stress by doing some shopping online from the comfort of your couch next to the Christmas tree instead.

Or, if the endless options online overwhelm you (or if you just prefer to support brick and mortars), either plan to go shopping at a time that is a little less busy, or go in prepared for the craziness – give yourself some extra time to navigate through the mass amount of people and expect it to be busy so your patience doesn’t run thin. And please, please, please be kind to the retail workers – they’re usually doing the best they can in this busy season.

Also falling into this category is giving yourself enough time to shop so you don’t have to scramble at the last minute. This is advice that I certainly could take better myself, but the years that I do plan and figure things out a little earlier have always led to a less stressful holiday season.

No matter your shopping tactics, I suggest doing what works best for you, and brings you the most joy in the process.


There have been some Christmases that we haven’t traveled to be home with family for the holidays. We’ve hung back and celebrated just the two of us, or with friends where we live at the time (#militarylife). While this sounds a little sad, it brings a different benefit to the holiday season. There’s something really wonderful about slowing down and celebrating the holiday quietly, just like Mary and Joseph welcomed Jesus into this world in the quiet stable, away from all the noise in the inn. Quietly, unexpectedly. Slowing down can allow us some space to really see – really behold – the coming of our King. Because when we’re going, going, going, we might breeze right past it all. Don’t miss it. Take some time to slow down. Whether it’s a little bit each day, a day each week, or just a few hours one day leading up to Christmas to calm yourself, rid your mind of all the to-dos, and just rest in the anticipation of Christmas.

I hope that in the days left of this advent season that you are able to take some time to really rejoice over what Christmas is about – that amidst a broken and sinful world, Jesus came on a rescue mission for us all. And because of the success of that mission, we can have hope in Him to come again. I pray your Christmas spirit comes alive in new ways this year, and for all the years to come.

christmas at the pruims

Happy December friends! Now that Thanksgiving has passed and it is officially socially acceptable to be in the Christmas spirit, I thought it would be fun to give you a peek into our home at Christmastime (although, I’ve been enjoying it since early November this year, #noshame).

This is our third Christmas in this home, and I must say, I’ve found my groove with where I like things to go. Just like my typical home decor style, I keep it fairly simple and modern with Christmas decor, with some personal touches. Much of my decor is the result of a slow accumulation of things from over the years, built from a foundation of gifted decor from my mom when we first got married.

Historically, I haven’t naturally enjoyed the winter, but as I’ve gotten older, starting out the cold weather season with some cozy Christmas decor has shifted something in me and not only do I enjoy it, but I look forward to it. The highlight for me is the magic that comes from those twinkle lights. This time of year I spend much of my free time cozied up on the couch by the tree so I can soak up all the feels. It sparks a special something in my soul and is one of the reasons I’ve grown eager to decorate earlier and earlier as the years go by.

Before I invite you in, to help set the scene, let’s pretend you’re coming over to catch up over a warm cup of hot chocolate. There’ll be a Spiced Apple Toddy candle burning and my ‘Tis the Season playlist quietly playing the background. We’ll chat the day away on the couch next to the tree. But, truthfully, with or without you, that’s probably where you’ll find me the rest of this Christmas season.

I hope you enjoy this mini tour of our home during Christmas time!

The little tree on our table used to serve as our only Christmas tree before I inherited our current one from my last job. Before that, this tree was my and my college roommate’s tree, and before that it was a “money tree” gift from my parents in high school. This little guy is still hanging in there after all these years.

A few years ago I started celebrating the Advent season with a calendar and devotional through All Good Things Collective to help center my heart on Jesus during this season that is meant to be a celebration of His coming. The calendar serves as a beautiful addition each year to my Christmas decor. Unfortunately this year is AGT’s last year of business (they’re having a major close out sale if you’re interested in filling your home with some beautiful scripture and art), but I will definitely hold onto the habit of intentionally setting my heart and mind on remembering God first in all of the Christmases to come.

One really personal touch this year is a piece that my Father in Law made us for Christmas last year. Alabama Christmas is about the only Christmas album that exists in my husband’s family, and so all four sons received a version of this last year to represent a line from “A Candle In the Window” that states that ‘Christmas is in your heart.’ It’s a true Pruim family memento.

And here’s one last shot of the tree lit up in the evening – the time when the real magic comes out.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this peek into our Christmas-y home. So tell me – what’s your favorite part of the Christmas season? Let me know in the comments below!

the girl for the job

Hi friends! I know it’s been a bit quiet around here over the summer and the past months. And rather than just pick up where I left off and pretend like it never happened – which trust me, I kind of wanted to do – I feel compelled to share with you why.

I’ve been in a confusing spot when it comes to this blog. It’s been on my mind consistently – whether I’m thinking of ideas for posts, or I’m just thinking about how I haven’t produced much for it. It’s something I truly want to be investing in. And yet, I haven’t been making time for it.

One reason why comes down to distraction. The biggest culprits of time fillers in my life lately are scrolling on my phone or binge watching Survivor, making my schedule feel deceptively more “busy” than it actually is.

A similar reason why comes down to procrastination. Putting it off until the time feels right. Until I’m in the mood. Until everything else on my never ending to-do list is done first so that all of my distractions are diminished. Until I have more time and more focus.

But truthfully, what it really comes down to is fear.

What if no one reads what I write? I put so much thought and attention into what I put on here, so if no one really engages with what I share, that can be really disappointing.

What if people do read it and don’t like it? All the more disappointing.

What if I’m a fool for thinking that I have anything original or unique to share?

What if people think I’m being “extra” for being a blogger? I mean, I already feel silly enough mentioning to someone that I have a blog. Extra is one of the last things I want to be.

Or what if it people do read it? What if what I share from my heart and about my life is put out there and complete strangers know too much? What if I don’t set good enough boundaries and I find myself too vulnerable? I mean, the internet is a scary place these days.

And what if I make it about me? I know the Lord has called me to write for this blog, but what if instead of Him getting the glory, I miss the point and become a distraction from the gospel?

And the biggest whopper of them all – the one that encompasses them all – what if I fail?

Whether those “what ifs” are reasonable or not, they have been real thoughts and fears in my mind. They are thoughts and fears that I have had to wrestle with. They are still thoughts and fears that I have to fight with.

My general fear of failure came to light in my life in big ways last year, but it has shape-shifted a bit when it comes to blogging. As strange as it feels sometimes, I truly believe this blog is something God has called me to. I don’t think it’s coincidental that after all these years, whether I have been posting or not, that this space is regularly on my mind. Through many prayers about it, I have felt nothing but affirmation that this is an open door God has placed before me. It feels like a natural way for me to utilize some of my God given gifts. It’s felt like that since the conception of this space.

With that in mind, this blog is not something I want to take lightly. I don’t want to treat it passively, but very intentionally. If it’s meant to be for the glory of God, then I want to do it well (a perspective that I hope one day reflects all capacities of my life). But with that perspective I unintentionally put pressure on myself when I rely on my own strength, and it gives way to my fear of doing it wrong, because I feel like there’s more on the line.

Towards the end of the summer, amidst wrestling with some of these lingering fears, I joined in on the launch team for Jess Connolly‘s latest book “You Are The Girl For The Job.” If you are unfamiliar with Jess, she is one of my favorite authors and truth speakers (I highly recommend following her on instagram for a daily dose of truth and encouragement). But I digress…To be honest, I was excited for this book simply because it was written by Jess, and I liked what I saw of the build up for what it was about, but I didn’t realize just how much it was for me. It ended up exposing some of these fears I had been facing, and it spoke straight to them – or against them, I should say. It unveiled a lot of deep rooted reasons I was holding myself back from truly running on mission for Jesus, and it equipped and spurred me on to choose obedience in all capacities of life, INCLUDING this blog, so I could glorify God, benefit others, and in the process experience the Lord’s abundance.

I could share quote after quote from this book (trust me, I have literally half of the pages underlined), but in correlation with what I’m sharing here, this was one excerpt that literally took my breath away and almost left me in tears:

“I need the gentle reminder that I can’t fail God because He never put me on a pedestal. Not once has God gotten our relationship confused and expected me to be the perfect one. Not once has God put pressure on me to produce something worthy of His affection. Not once in my entire existence has He forgotten that I am the workmanship and He is the creator. I often forget that, but He never does…Jesus cannot be disappointed by your failure, because (A) He is all-knowing and chose you anyhow, seeing all your wins and all your losses, and (B) He has never put pressure on you to produce. You are HIS workmanship, and the rest is worship.”

These words cut me to my core in the most disarming and freeing ways. I think because they speak against so many of my natural thought processes (I’m a 1 on the enneagram if that helps explain anything). I’m still working to let these words, and so many others from YATGFTJ, change me, and a step in that for me is through choosing obedience when it comes to this blog.

I’m fighting to believe that this is something the Lord has called me to and equipped me for. And because that belief has carried on from the day I started thinking about starting a blog, I’m fighting to believe that He has abundance in store through it. The truth is, I’m doing it wrong if I don’t even try. God isn’t going to be glorified by this blog if I sit back and shirk away from an opportunity He has given to me specifically. He will certainly go on and continue to be glorified in other ways, but then I miss out on the abundance I could experience by joining in.

I’m tired of missing out. I’m tired of having fun ideas to post about and letting too much time pass and it’s no longer relevant. I’m tired of getting excited about sharing something the Lord’s put on my heart and talking myself out of doing so. I’m tired of thinking, and not doing.

So I’m stepping out. Stepping out from the fear because I won’t let it be king anymore, and instead stepping out in faith, because if the Lord has called me to this, then whom (or what) shall I fear? Stepping out because I am the girl for the job. There will certainly be failure and setbacks and flops along the way, but “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

I’ll leave you all with this, in case you need the encouragement to fight your own fears as well:

“Let’s…not be limited by what might come our way. Let’s be…defined by action and activated faith, trusting God and His Word over how things look, how we feel, or what we fear.” -Jess Connolly

Until next time,

P.S. I cannot recommend You Are The Girl For The Job enough for you ladies. You can find out more about the book and order a copy for yourself here.

my 28th year

This weekend marked the completion of my 28th trip around the sun. As I reflected on this past year, I took into consideration all that I experienced and learned. I am of the opinion that no matter what age we are, as every year goes by we will always have more to learn in life. So here’s a look at ten of the standout things that made an impact on me in my 28th year:

The pursuit of health is about the journey, not the destination. I can easily default into the thinking that once I lose X amount of weight, or once I tone up X area of my body, THEN I will have “arrived” and I can just maintain from there. But I’ve come to find that, for one, those X factors are easily capable of endlessly changing; and for another, once those X factors are achieved, it takes just as much, if not more, work to maintain. Pursuing physical health is a winding road that looks different through all the seasons of life, so I’m really working to shift my perspective for the long haul, rather than trying to “arrive” and be done with it.

Approaching my health in a worshipful way rather than as a vain pursuit is an ongoing mental battle, but it is a battle worth fighting. I have been trying my darnedest for the last two-three years to approach my health it in a way that glorifies God, rather than simply trying to look a certain way. This past year has specifically been filled with many victories in this area, but at times it has felt like an all out war on my mind as I try to rewire my reasonings and approaches. As I continue to journey on this path, I know there is still more fighting to come. And I’m here for it.

Days spent away from my phone are always good days. Always.

Justice is the Lord’s. It is not mine to deliver. His providence is present in all of life’s circumstances, so I can, and should, trust Him to carry out His good and perfect will, even if it is not what I think is most fair in the moment.

Comfort is a huge idol in my life that majorly holds me back from obediently following Jesus. And it’s taking a lot of prayer to re-wire my brain and uproot it.

Take it ALL to the Lord in prayer. Like, everything. Joy, sorrow, gratitude, praise, disappointment, frustration, pain, confusion – all of it. There is no greater counselor to work through my “ish” with. He is a safe place and a refuge – even and especially when all around me feels unsteady. He can handle the messiest and ugliest parts of me. And he does so with grace, mercy, love, and gentleness.

Work from approval. Not for it. It’s so easy for me to seek to please or seek praise from others. But I was not made to work for approval – especially from people. I have already been considered approved by God through the blood of Jesus Christ, and therefore I will turn around and work with confidence in, and gratitude of, that.

Communication is a (if not THE) key to abundant relationships. And I am not as good at it as I thought I was. The only way for me to get better, is to practice. Thankfully I’ve had a lot of opportunity for it this year, most significantly in my marriage. I am really trying to remember that no one is a mind reader, so the best way to make my feelings known, resolve conflict, create unity, or establish understanding is to kindly speak up and use my words. It’s proven to be better than avoidance or bottling up (my defaults) 100% of the time.

Have gracious assumptions of others. There is much more going on in someone’s mind and intentions than I ever let myself believe. I need to give others the grace to be as beautifully complicated as I am.

I have spent so much time striving to be my Ideal Self rather than embracing my Actual Self. And while my Actual Self is full of brokenness, messiness, and sinfulness, that is the part of me that God has equipped to take on my specific life circumstances. This is just another area of myself that I need to cool it with the striving and embrace the grace.

Well there you have it – ten major things that God has been teaching me and giving me the grace to implement in my life in the last year. A significant thing for me to point out is that these are not things I have mastered. But they are all lessons that have stopped me in my tracks at least a time or two, and shifted the way I think or the way I approach life. I can guarantee you that I’ll be carrying all of this with me over into my 29th year, and all the years after.

What about you? What has stood out as a life lesson in your latest year of life? Maybe there’s something I learned in year 28 that already comes easy to you, but maybe there’s also something that you could benefit from learning too. If there is, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Until next time friends!

colorado springs anniversary trip

Over Memorial Day weekend we celebrated six years of marriage, and thanks to the long weekend, we chose to head a few hours South to finally check out Colorado Springs as a way to celebrate. It ended up being the perfect weekend getaway. We quickly realized that this city has so much more to offer than a weekend’s worth of activities, so we plan to return to check out the things we weren’t able to this go around. Here’s a breakdown of what we did do during our time there.

Where We Stayed

Adam found the most perfect Airbnb for the weekend at a fairly reasonable price. The location was perfect – a cozy, quiet neighborhood, but still only a few minutes away from the downtown area. Pretty much all the activities we did were within a 15 minute drive of where we stayed. Plus you could see Pikes Peak from sitting on the couch, so that’s a total win in my book. The house itself was the perfect size for just the two of us, and they were very accommodating for us bringing our two pups as well. The decor was minimal and fresh and made me feel so cozy and relaxed while there. I just loved it, and if we have the chance, I would definitely stay there again on our return trip.

Where We Ate

Bingo Burger – Our first stop after getting into town was this fun little burger joint with locally sourced and farm fresh ingredients. I tried the Shooks Run, and while the burger was good, the bleu cheese seemed to overpower it a bit more than I would have liked. Their chipotle ranch dipping sauce with their fries was tasty though.

Denver Biscuit Co. – We had been to the Denver location of this a couple years ago and enjoyed it, so when we found out there was a location in the Springs we wanted to give it another try. I got their Biscuits and Gravy and Adam got The Franklin and we were both very satisfied. Our waiter also convinced us to snag one of their highly sought after Giant Biscuit Cinnamon Rolls, and they are not kidding when they say giant. We had just a few bites before taking it to go and having it for breakfast another day, but it was scrumptious.

Dos Santos – When snagging breakfast at Denver Biscuit Co., we really liked the vibe of the collection of other restaurants that shared the same corner, so we made it a point to come back. One of those stops was Dos Santos (also recommended by our Airbnb hosts – actually pretty much all of the local places we ate were). They seem to pride themselves in their drinks as well as (surprisingly) their brunch, but we went for an afternoon pick me up after a hike, so I went with two street tacos – the Arrachera and the Porky Lechon – and they both hit the spot.

Frozen Gold – After Dos Santos we went next door for some ice cream. Frozen Gold serves unique soft serve creations that had me take about five solid minutes to decide which one I wanted. There were some that had cereal toppings, goldfish crackers, and one with Kool-aid candied popcorn (?!). I ended up going with the Samoa Samoa, and for a vegan option, it was still extremely delicious. Adam went with their Peanut Butter Puffy. Honestly, it looks like we couldn’t have gone wrong with any of the options…except for maybe the one with the goldfish. I’m definitely looking forward to coming back here when we visit again.

The Exchange – We went for a casual, light lunch at this local coffee shop and bar, and enjoyed our time there on the patio. Their caprese panini was on point, and we both enjoyed their smoothies as well. We didn’t try their coffee but they locally roast their fair trade and organic coffee.

The Melting Pot – this wasn’t a local try, but we saw it one day when we were downtown and decided to make it our official anniversary dinner destination since we had never been before. We tried their classic four course experience. While the experience was cool, I wasn’t overly impressed with the taste of the food, especially for the price we paid. I can’t complain about the chocolate fondue though, and their Yin Yang Martini was pretty tasty too.

What We Did

Seven Falls – This was one of the top things I saw recommended to do in the area so we were sure to cross it off our list. When we first arrived, they directed us to a parking area that was a bit out of the way to drive to, and then we had to take a (free) shuttle back, but I also read that you could park at the Broadmoor and also take a shuttle – we just didn’t realize that the two parking spots would be different. It created about a 30 minute delay for us, but in the end, our timing was still perfect. We probably officially arrived at around 9:30-10ish, and it wasn’t super busy yet. In fact it felt super casual and calm, which allowed a better experience taking in all the amazing views as we walked in through the canyon up to where the falls were. Once we arrived at the base we took on the 224 step staircase to climb up alongside the falls. After we reached the top we continued hiking to Inspiration Point, which overlooked the city of Colorado Springs, as well as some amazing mountain views. The trails were still fairly quiet, so we also did the other hike to Moonlight Falls. The weather was perfect and the hikes weren’t too strenuous. By the time we made our way back to the falls it was around noon and the crowds were definitely picking up. We climbed another set of stairs to get to the Eagle’s Nest for one final great view of the falls, and then we made our way out. I definitely would recommend going, and I would suggest going a little earlier so you can beat the crowds. There was a fee to enter, but they did offer a military discount.

Garden of the Gods – One of the other most highly recommended places to visit in the area was Garden of the Gods. We were given the advice by some trail-goers the day before to go early and beat the crowds and get good parking, especially since it was Memorial Day weekend, so we got there around 6:15am to do so. It was awesome to watch the sunrise over these incredible rock formations and get to explore the walking paths without too many people around. We weaved in and out around the paths to cover most of the grounds, but we didn’t venture off onto any of the hiking trails. Perhaps when we come back that would be something we would do, because I imagine that some of the views would be spectacular between the rock formations and the Rocky Mountain range all within the landscape. This is a free park and definite must see.

Drove Through Manitou Springs – After our time at Garden of the Gods we strolled our way over to Manitou Springs and drove through this quaint little touristy town. I was hoping to take on the infamous Manitou Incline but we chose to save that for our return trip when we get a little more hiking and stair climbing under our belts this summer. We saw it from a distance and I will say it looked even more intense in person that in does in pictures. We didn’t stay in Manitou long due to opting for a nap after our early morning, but I know there are a lot of cute shops and restaurants in the area that could be worth checking out.

REI & Boone’s Birthday Celebration – These are definitely not local things to do, but we had some gift cards to REI, and we knew it was their big Memorial Day sale, so we chose to spend the evening having a little shopping spree. That night we also celebrated our Boone boy’s 5th birthday and followed our tradition of taking the pups to Petco for him to pick out a few new toys and getting special treats.

21 Keys Escape Rooms – It’s truly not a Pruim vacation without an escape room. We took on 21 Key’s “Jester’s New Playmate” room, and had a successful escape in the end. Now I won’t go too nerdy on you all and give my in depth debrief of thoughts on the room, but from our experience, I would give this room a 3 out of 5 stars. There were definitely some challenging puzzles that stumped us, but some of them seemed due to a poor connection of clues in the room. A challenging room is one thing, but it needs to make sense as well. Thankfully they offered an unlimited amount of hints so we used some to still be able to progress through the room and enjoy our time. The decor and set up itself felt a bit sub par too. The staff was nice though, and they had plenty of other rooms to try that could be better.

Apart from all of that, we enjoyed lounging around our Airbnb and taking the dogs for walks around the neighborhood. Like I said, there is so much more to do in the Pikes Peak region, so we definitely plan to come back to check out some more. On my list is the Manitou Incline, the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, and Cave of the Winds Mountain Park. I’ve also heard amazing things about the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. And while getting to the top of Pikes Peak would be a dream, driving to the top didn’t seem as desirable for the cost, and we are no where near ready to hike a 14er (although it has become one of my life goals), so we’ll see if we ever get any closer in the future.

If you are considering or planning a trip to Colorado Springs, this website was a great guide, offering an in depth look at all the different attractions of the area.

As a whole, our weekend was a perfect mixture of relaxation and adventure – just the way I like it. And it was a beautiful location to celebrate our anniversary. I may or may not have asked Adam if we could move there at least 20 times throughout the weekend. Maybe one day the Air Force stars will align…

I hope you enjoyed this little travel recap. If you’ve been to Colorado Springs, let me know what your favorite things to do or places to eat are! And if you’ve never been, which activity seems most up your alley? Let me know in the comments.

the little things // vol. 2

Today I’m sharing with you another installment of The Little Things. These are some recent simple things that have been impacting my day-to-day life in bigger ways. Hopefully you might enjoy one, or all, of them too.

Kristen Ess Dry Shampoo
This is without a doubt my favorite dry shampoo of all time. Most of the dry shampoos I’ve tried leave my hair feeling gritty or stiff, which has been ok for days where I could use some texture or volume in my fine hair, but my hopeful purpose of using dry shampoo is so my hair can look and feel clean without having to actually wash it. And guys, this dry shampoo does the trick. When I use this, my hair actually looks AND feels fresh and clean. It makes day two hair a lot more manageable for me (unless I workout, I usually wash my hair every other day). I will confess that it is a little more pricey in comparison to some of the other dry shampoos I’ve used, and I seem to go through it fairly quickly, but I’ve grown to accept that the end result is 100% worth it. Plus it gives me an extra reason to swing by Target (as if I need an excuse to go there…)

Inkjoy Gel Pens
I’ll admit, I’m kind of a pen snob, especially with the pens I use on a consistent basis. To me, a good pen is one that comes out clean and smooth, without too much pressure, and doesn’t skip out on me in the middle of a sentence. I was recently turned onto Papermate’s Inkjoy Gel Pens and it’s been a heartfelt affair ever since. They come out with a clean, not-too-thin, but not-too-thick finish (I guess you could call it my Goldilocks pen), almost looking like a fine tip Sharpie…but better. I personally love that the ink is smooth and I don’t have to put too much pressure on the pen for it write nicely (I have a tendency to hold a death grip on my pens, so my hand has thanked me). And even though they’re gel, they don’t bleed through and they dry pretty quickly. I only have the occasional smear if I’m writing a little extra fiercely. If this is your kind of feel for a pen, I’d suggest checking these out.

Bombas No Show Socks
It’s taken me nearly 28 years to realize that a good pair of socks can make the world of a difference in your footwear. And boy have I find some good socks. I had seen Bombas around for awhile, but was always hesitant with the price tag – I mean they’re socks. But as I’ve learned the value of investing in quality over quantity when it comes to my wardrobe, I’ve found myself freed up to invest in quality essentials as well. For Christmas I received two pairs of Bombas Cushioned No Show Socks and since then I’ve gone on to purchase numerous more, this time in the lightweight version. I have quite a few pairs of shoes that are the in-between of flats and sneakers. For example, my Keds, Vans, and knock-off Sperrys all require socks, but ankle socks still peek out, and all of the no-show socks I’ve used have been too low cut, are poor quality, and require constant adjustment. But struggle no more – these socks are the perfect cut where they feel like a real sock, but they remain hidden when worn with lower cut shoes. And the best part? They ACTUALLY stay put. Most no show socks I’ve used claim that they will, but these are the first that have actually delivered. They have made wearing the shoes I mentioned that much more enjoyable because they’re so much more comfortable and I don’t have to think about them (simplicity WIN). Plus, they help keep my feet a little warmer even when my ankles are exposed. If you’ve seen ads for Bombas or have been debating giving them a try, I’m here to tell you they are worth it, and you can use THIS link to get 25% off your first order.

The Milk and Honey Podcast
I was recently turned onto this podcast and after starting out at episode one, (which is what I usually do with a new-to-me podcast), I was pretty hooked. Lindsey and Amaris share very openly, intentionally, and vulnerably about the wisdom they have gained from their life experiences, and they aren’t afraid to confront topics that might be more uncomfortable to discuss. I love that they seek truth in God’s wise counsel on all the topics they discuss and they do a really great job at encouraging their listeners to actively choose to honor God in all areas of their lives. So far I’ve really enjoyed Episode 4: Insecurity, Intimacy, and the Gospel; Episode 1: More than Our Mess; and Episode 10: Sex Intimacy. I love hitting play on an episode when I’m on a long drive, making dinner, or folding laundry. It truly feels like getting to listen in on a casual chat with some girlfriends.

Writing Things Down
In an attempt to combat some of the frazzled feelings I’ve had about life the first few months of this year, I’ve been making a more intentional try at writing things down when I think of them to: 1) get them out on paper and out of my head for mental clarity, and 2) so I actually remember to follow through on them. When I leave the thoughts floating in my head I seem to get more overwhelmed as I consider ALL the things I need or want to do. But by writing those things down, I have been able to release the thoughts and then come back to them when I can follow through in a more timely manner. I’ve been actively doing this more frequently for about a month now and I can say it has truly made a difference. I’ve forgotten far less stuff; I’ve accomplished more; and my mental state has felt a little less overwhelmed. I use my bullet journal and have a monthly “dump” page where I basically just list off to-dos, ideas, or random thoughts I want to remember when they come to mind, and add to it throughout the month. It’s actually where I made note of a few of the things on this list to share with you all. If you find yourself struggling to remember all that you want to do, or if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed with all the flowing thoughts in your head, I’d suggest giving this practice a try and seeing if it helps.

That’s it for today – five little things that have been making a big impact on my life lately. I hope that even just one of these things sparks your interest, because they sure have benefitted me. If you give any of these things a try (or if you already use any of these products/resources) let me know in the comments below with what you think!

Note: this is not a sponsored post. All links are to products that I have personally used and truly enjoy, and I just want to share the love. I do not make any profit or benefit from these links, with the exception of the referral link for Bombas in which case you can get 25% off your first order, and I get some credit towards my next purchase.

a letter to my 17 year old self

I kind of can’t believe I’m typing this, but I graduated high school 10 years ago today. It’s a bit baffling. But rather than diving into a long rant about how time is wild and I just don’t understand it, I thought it’d be fun to write a letter to my 17 year old self (because I was a youngin’ and didn’t turn 18 until the week before I left for college) as a form of reflection. So here it goes…

Dear 17-year-old Kelly,

Congratulations! You finally made it. You finished high school and get to move on from this place that you’ve been looking forward to leaving for the last 3 years. Since I’ve gone ahead and taken on the next ten years of your life already, I figured I’d give you some insight to ease your mind about what is ahead – or at least prepare your heart for what is to come – without giving you too many spoilers. So here’s what I have for you:

First things first, get ready for a roller coaster ride. And not the kind that you ride over and over again because you love it so much. But the kind that you can only ride once and you have no idea what is going to come next. Because honestly, that’s what life is. It’s full of ups and downs, twists and turns. There are high highs ahead, and there are also low lows. But don’t be afraid of them. They all piece together to make you the person that is writing this letter to you now. And while she’s perfectly imperfect, she’s grown significantly more in the last 10 years than you could ever expect.

While we’re kind of on the topic of it, I know you don’t like to consider yourself a perfectionist, but we both know that you’re chasing perfection in pretty much every area of life…and to be honest, you’re going to keep chasing it, and you’re going to keep coming up empty handed. Don’t let that statement discourage you. Honestly, the sooner you accept that, the sooner you’ll feel freed up by it. Life isn’t meant to be perfect. YOU are not meant to be perfect. And even though you’ll come to learn that your desire for it is just how you’re wired, it doesn’t mean you have to be stuck in an endless chase. There are far better things to chase after. So take the pressure of yourself, do your best, and most importantly give yourself GRACE.

I know you’re going to overlook that last word, because it just sounds like a simple church word to you. But I’ll warn you now that through some hard and heavy failures, you’re going to truly learn what God’s amazing grace is and it’s going to be a game changer. It won’t be until you experience these hardships that you truly understand your need for Jesus, and that up to this point you’ve still been trying to save yourself. The sooner you surrender, the sooner you can rest in your freedom in Christ, and the sooner God can really use you for His glory.

I know you feel like you’re “behind” in some way for only knowing Jesus for a few years, but girl, He is just getting started with you and that is a beautiful thing. He’s going to wreck your heart and build you back up so much stronger – which might not sound appealing, but trust me, it truly is for your good. He’s going to use you in the quiet moments – some you’ll be aware of, and many of them you won’t. Just be open and willing to be used for His glory and be ready to be amazed of all that God is capable of. Following Him truly leads to a more abundant life.

I remember now that you’ve been trying for awhile to fully believe it is ok that you don’t know what you want to do with the rest of your life. You’ve been told it many times from other people as well. I’m here to confirm for you, it really is ok. Even when it feels like you’re doing something wrong because everyone else seems to have it figured out, you’re not. The fact that you accept this will only make it easier for you to find your path when the time is right. Because God’s not leaving you hanging. He’s just waiting for the right time. He’ll let you in on what you need to know when you need to know it. And that means you’ll figure things out piece by piece. (Heck, I’m still figuring it out. And don’t worry, I’m so okay with it). Until then, I know you’ll come to this verse on your own eventually before you head off to college, but I’ll throw it out there to emphasize it’s importance for you: “Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Life is never again going to look like it does right now for you. It’ll weird you out, and confuse you, and create some tension within you at times, because I know your tradition loving self likes to cling to the way things are when you are happy with them. But trust me when I say it’s okay to accept change and step out into the unknown. Your best memories will happen because of it. Your most significant growth will happen because of it. And it’s true that in order to experience the greatest abundance you have to let go of some things in the process. I’ll affirm with you, though, that there won’t be a day that goes by that you look back and want to return to high school. You’re going to love college. You’re going to love what comes after it. Good days and good things are ahead.

Now let’s be real, I think there’s some temptation for you right now to think you have it all figured out. I mean you’re about to turn 18. You’ve experienced a lot of life so far and you’ve already learned so much. But please let me do you a favor and lovingly tell you that you don’t. And that’s a good thing. Embrace humility in accepting that. And more importantly, embrace humility in admitting that. This will especially come into play as you navigate friendships. I know you’ve had your fair share of trials when it comes to friends (be encouraged that you do learn from them), but there’s still so much room for you to learn and grow here. There’s still some hurts ahead of you, and there’s certainly still some hurts that you’re going to inflict on others. Know that there is beauty in redemption, even when the road to it is painful. And there is also peace in letting go at the right times, even when the road to do so is painful. The friendships that endure through it all in the end become all the more worthwhile because of it.

Speaking of relationships…now I probably shouldn’t spoil this surprise for you, but it’s just too good not to…that boy you’re dating…you’re going to marry him. I know, I know. It’s wild. You’ll defy the odds of the statistics and marry your high school sweet heart. But your journey together is just getting started and your path won’t be without trials, heartaches, and pain, so don’t get too far ahead of yourself. But you’re also going to experience redemption and forgiveness and restoration in ways you’ve never known. Everything you’ve ever expected out of your relationship with him probably won’t go as planned, but it turns out better because of it. (And I’ll let you in on a secret, he only get’s more handsome).

On a different note, I’m going to be the bearer of bad news in saying that what everyone told you about your metabolism catching up with you is true. You’ve had it easy up to now. There will come a day when your health is going to require much more effort and intentional work than it ever has. It’ll rock your world for awhile, and it’ll hit you in waves and seasons, but I tell you this so that maybe you’ll handle it better than I have. Don’t take for granted your walks to class and your intramural sports. And when it does hit you, don’t be afraid to confess it like I was. You are not alone in the insecurities you’ll face, and you are not less than for feeling them. The more that God’s truth can be spoken against the lies you’ll believe, the sooner you’ll likely snap out of them and embrace the truth that you are loved and valued no matter what the shape of your body is.

Now I recognize that this has been quite a lot (yep, your wordiness doesn’t change one bit as you get older), and there’s so much more I could say, but let me finish off with this: It’s nothing but an adventure ahead of you, sweet girl. So buckle up and hang on for the ride (maybe throw your hands in the air for the thrill of it every once in awhile too)…it’s a good one ahead.


27-year-old Kelly