what I read in 2019

I know, I know – It’s the latter half of January. Aren’t all the 2019 recaps over with? But in case you are on the search from some new reads, I wanted to put some options on your radar. Today I’m sharing about the nine books I finished in 2019. It can sometimes feel daunting to determine if a book is worth our time, so hopefully this helps take some of the guess work out of these options. I hope you find at least one that piques your interest!

Reading People: How Seeing The World Through The Lens Of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel | My Rating: 4.5 Stars

This book gives a nice overview of many different personality frameworks (i.e. Myers Briggs, the Five Love Languages, Strengths Finder, and the ever popular Enneagram) in a way that helps you better identify who you are at your core, as well as better understand others. When we seek to really know ourselves and know each other, we can have a greater appreciation for our differences and find ways to come together – each with our own strengths – rather than cast each other apart.

Lagom: Not Too Little, Not Too Much: The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life by Niki Brantmark | My Rating: 3 Stars

This was a quick little read, but it’s more like a good coffee table book. It dips into Swedish culture and how so many aspects of it are impacted by this concept of “not too little, not too much,” which is quite radical in comparison to the American way of life. It’s a concept that coincides well with what I value in minimalism. This book covers how this mentality can affect all facets of life – our homes, our clothes, our schedules, our parenting, our relationships, and more. It gave some simple, practical ideas of how to live life with slow intention.

Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual by Jocko Willink | My Rating: 4 Stars

My husband has been a fan of Jocko’s methods of motivation and discipline for years, so I’ve been on the receiving end of many Jocko-fueled pep talks in my time. But I picked this book up for myself because discipline and boundaries truly do bring freedom to my life, so I wanted some extra reinforcement on that. Made up of short essays of motivation and tough love from the perspective of a former Navy Seal, this book is filled with quotable statements to push you to get after it. Jocko also includes his thoughts and methods for nutrition and exercise, even incorporating some workouts of his own for you to try.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown | My Rating: 4 Stars

This is another book on this list that aligns with the concept of minimalism and how our typical tendencies to live overstuffed, rushed, and busy lives is draining us and preventing us from enjoying what really matters. This book formats practical ways to be more selective in how we spend our most precious resources: our time and attention. It’s about doing less, but better, in every aspect of our lives. You’ll come away from this book equipped with ways to set better boundaries, as well as fuel to chase after what you deem to be essential in your own life.

Imperfect Courage: Live a Life of Purpose by Leaving Comfort and Going Scared by Jessica Honegger | My Rating: 5+ Stars

This was the first of three books I read last year that quite literally shook me. God was just in the beginning stages of revealing to me how much I cling to comfort and this book reached into those dark crevices in my soul that I try to hide and lovingly exposed them. As Jessica shares her own story of fear and struggle, and how her business (Noonday Collection) came to exist through it, she connects strongly with the reader to encourage action, despite the presence of fear, in order to live a more fulfilling and impactful life. This book feels deeply personal and it radiates a vibe of chatting with a friend over coffee. The kind of chat that you don’t walk away the same from.


You Are the Girl for the Job: Daring to Believe the God Who Calls You by Jess Connolly | My Rating: 5+ Stars

Book #2 of 2019 that wrecked me was this one right here. I’m a big underliner when I read, and I’d dare to say that more than half of this book is COVERED in ink. While the title can make you think this is another “you go girl” pep-talk kind of book, it’s rather a disarming, yet equipping coaching session that spurs readers on to live unconventionally in wild abandon and obedience to God. My favorite summary of it is that our obedience + God’s capacity = abundance. Unbeknownst to me, this book prepared and equipped me for the current season I am in, and it has even been shepherding me through it as I just finished it for a second time in six months (it’s that powerful). If I could give you one book recommendation out of this entire list, this would be it, without hesitation.


Something Needs to Change: A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent Need by David Platt | My Rating: 5 Stars

This book was a very fitting follow to ‘You are the Girl for the Job’ because it was basically an example of someone seeking to live in obedience to God and trust in His capacity to endure through a heavy journey. David Platt is one of my all time favorite authors and preachers, and it was no surprise that this book was the third one of the year to rock me to my core. Different from his typical book format, this is more story-like as it follows what feels like his otherworldly journey through the Himalayas to encounter people who have never even heard of Jesus, and how it wrecked his soul. While at times heavy, it was an incredible chance to stop ignoring the reality of the broken world we live in. I will say, don’t read this book if you aren’t ready for a solid gut punch that could change your life. Then again, even if you aren’t ready for that, I hope you still do.


The Wellness Revelation: Lose What Weighs You Down So You Can Love God, Yourself, and Others by Alisa Keeton | My Rating: 4 Stars

After three attempts starting in 2018, I finally finished this book last year – not because it wasn’t good, but because it was dense with a lot of truth that I needed to hear and sift through. As I’ve been on a journey to seek health in a way that worships God rather than fueling my own empty, vain pursuits, Alisa provided a countercultural perspective on health and wholeness which helped lead me to even more freedom in this area. The book has an eight week work book format that includes reading, studying the Word, responding to questions, and taking steps towards spiritually healthy eating and exercise. While in the end I didn’t follow the exact format of the “program” for my own reasons, the truths shared within the book, as well as the questions that helped me to deeply reflect, allowed me to shift my motivations and mindset towards my health. This will definitely be a resource for me for many years to come.


More or Less: Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity by Jeff Shinabarger | My Rating: 3.5 Stars

If you haven’t already noticed the trends of books I like to read lately, this is another that falls in line with intentional living and focusing on what matters most. Jeff shares about how he found a variety of areas of life that he had more than enough, and then how he and his wife tried multiple “experiments” to challenge their limits and redefine what generosity can look like as a result. Some were simple and easily repeatable, while others seemed out-there and more challenging. Regardless of if you take on some “enough experiments” of your own, Jeff goes first to share how we all too easily live in excess, and we have more than enough to generously give to others.


Well there you have it – the nine books that I managed to start and finish in 2019. They all challenged my thinking in some way or another, and some of them quite literally changed my life. I’m looking forward to another year of reading that will hopefully do the same.

I hope at least one of these books sparks your interest and makes it onto your must-read list for 2020. Let me know if it does! And I’d also love to hear about your favorite reads to possibly expand my own list. Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

the six questions that changed our marriage

One of the things I mentioned a few times as I recapped 2019 was our new use of the Marriage Journal, and I’ve left you all hanging as to what exactly it is, and how we use it. But today I will end your suspense and finally shed some light on this tool we have been using and how it has drastically impacted our marriage.

I came across this journal last year, and it felt like a direct answer to prayer. Our marriage wasn’t in a bad place, but I was longing to go deeper and connect further. I’m a firm believer in life long learning and continual growth, and I wanted more of that for our relationship. Plus, I had been starting to recognize my shortcomings when it comes to communication. I personally have a tendency to think and feel a lot of things, but I lack strength in boldly, tactfully, or eloquently verbalizing those thoughts & feelings in constructive ways, and I don’t want to be a nagging wife, so sometimes I avoid bringing them up, which then leads to a lack of communication. And I was fearful of ever becoming one of those couples that over the years falls out of really knowing each other (again, not that we were at that point – just wanted to prevent ever coming close to that). So when this practice came to my attention, it felt like a very loud & clear response to my heart’s desires. I immediately ordered a journal as an anniversary gift to Adam, and when I explained what it was to him, he was willing to give it a try with me.

So what is the Marriage Journal exactly? In short, it is an incredibly powerful, yet simple tool to create a weekly rhythm of communication in your marriage. The basic premise of the journal is that you come together once a week to read through a quick devotional thought, get on the same page with any plans for the week, and then ask the following questions:

  • What brought you joy this week?
  • What is something that was hard this week?
  • What is one thing I can do for you this week?
  • Is there any unconfessed sin, conflict, or hurt that we need to resolve and/or seek forgiveness for?
  • What is a dream, craving, or desire that has been on the forefront of your mind this week?
  • How can I pray for you this week?

In addition to those weekly questions, once a month you also add in:

  • How are we stewarding our finances?
  • How is our sex life?

The questions are simple in nature, but they have the opportunity to unlock really profound conversations. For me, it felt like a chance to go beyond the surface and really hear more of my husband’s heart; a chance to have a platform for more challenging conversations without catching the other person completely off guard; and a chance to make sense of what goes on in each of our very different minds.

So how has it affected us? Let me count the ways…

  • It gives us set aside time to chat more thoroughly each week. We’ve always been pretty good at debriefing each of our days at the end of them, but we’d end up saving our deeper heart to hearts for date nights, which may or may not happen on a consistent basis. Now we are able to more frequently do a heart check and go beyond the basics. Plus it holds us accountable to not spending every night’s dinner in front of the TV – though we do still enjoy that together.
  • It has impacted the way we communicate day to day. There was a shift after we started getting into this new habit. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but the best I can describe it is more tenderness towards each other in communication. We seem to ask more thoughtful questions in-between these weekly “meetings” that stem from things we had talked about as a result of them, displaying a greater care and regard for each other.
  • It’s empowered us to serve each other more effectively. By discussing things we can do for each other, we can more directly meet a need, rather than assuming what might be helpful.
  • We are each given a chance to speak our minds, while also taking the time to hear each other our. We both get to be heard – and I can bet that is something that matters to just about everyone.
  • It has unveiled our hearts more towards each other. There’s an extra sense of security in knowing, and being known by, your spouse when you lay it all out on the table and you still choose to stand beside, and love, each other.
  • Though we don’t argue too much in a traditional sense (not because we have it all figured out – Adam is just extremely laid back, and I’m so much of an over-thinker that I talk myself out of bringing up concerns), this journal helps to disarm conflict because we either address it more quickly before it builds up, or we prevent it from becoming a conflict in the first place. We have the space to address concerns that the other didn’t even realize was an issue. And rather than getting riled up about them not noticing, it offers the chance to be heard without either party becoming explosive or defensive.
  • It has helped to align our hearts more closely – whether one of us comes alongside the other with better understanding, or we both form a united stance on a situation.
  • We’ve been able to continue coming alongside and supporting each other amidst transitions, challenges, and chasing dreams. We’ve talked through job transitions and Adam’s marathon training, as well as my new unemployment, and even my commitment to this blog. And it always feels good to be affirmed that you’ve got someone on your team.

In all, like any marriage, we are two very different human beings, with different personalities, perspectives, thought patterns, upbringings, and so on. And while there is incredible beauty in that, it also means we always have something new to learn about each other, so we get to adjust the dynamics of our relationship as we do. This journal has helped to do that.

I’d also like to add that we do not use this journal “perfectly,” and each week can look a little different. Sometimes we miss a week, and sometimes we have to shift which day we do it. Sometimes neither of us have much of an answer to a question. Sometimes one of us has a lot to say, while the other has crickets. Sometimes it’s quick. Sometimes it takes awhile. Sometimes we dive deep into a challenge one or both of us is facing, and sometimes it’s very light hearted and simple. The point is that we make it work for us. And I hope to encourage you to make something like this work for you. Whether you buy the journal, or you simply just ask these questions to each other once a week, this could be an incredible opportunity to dive deeper and change your marriage for the better.

I’m a passionate advocate for this tool because of how much of a game changer it has been for our marriage. I’ve shared about it with friends, who have gone on to purchase it and give it a try. I’ve given it as an anniversary gift and as a wedding gift numerous times now, because it’s something that I wish we had from the start of our marriage. And I wanted to share more in detail about it with you here today because I believe your marriage is worth investing in. I believe that when we put in the work, we can reap a bountiful harvest of abundance as we dig deeper and connect with our spouses. Whether your marriage is in a perfectly healthy place, or you are barely hanging on; whether you have been married for 5 years, 50 years, or you are getting married next month – this journal is for you. You can always learn something new about your spouse. You can always go deeper in conversation. You can always become a more united front. And it’s never too late to start.

If I haven’t convinced you yet, you can check out more details for yourself here, where you can also purchase a copy. Or, like I said, maybe just go through the questions each week without purchasing the actual journal. Regardless, I hope you give this practice a try and I hope that through time you see a beautiful impact on the development of your relationship with your spouse.

I’ll leave you with these words from Mark 10:7-9: “‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

P.S. What’s one question from the Marriage Journal that you think would be most influential if you added it into your weekly conversations with your spouse? I’d love to hear in the comments 🙂

NOTE: This post is not sponsored and I receive no compensation if you purchase a copy of the Marriage Journal – I just truly love what this tool has done for me and my husband, and I want you to experience it too!

st. lucia vacation

I am excited to start sharing more about some of our travels and adventures, both past and present, here on the blog. Seeing the world and being out in God’s creation brings life to my soul, and I want to be able to share a piece of that in this space. Plus it’s fun for me to have documentation of some of the exciting adventures we go on.

So, first up is our vacation to St. Lucia that we took in November. We had been saving up to go on a “big” vacation for awhile, and it was so satisfying to finally enjoy the fruits of our labor and relax in this beautiful place. Today I’ll be sharing some backstory on our trip, our vacation mentality, and the highlights (as well as a few lowlights) from the trip.

BACKSTORY

The fun fact about this trip for us is that we have a bit of history when it comes to St. Lucia. Almost twelve years ago, Adam and I both had the opportunity to join our high school youth group for a missions trip to the island, allowing us the chance to experience the people and places from a local’s point of view. It was the first missions trip either of us had been on, so it was an incredible adventure in each of our personal lives, as well as our intertwined story. You see, the summer we went on that trip was the same summer we started dating. Prior to the trip we had acknowledged our interest in each other and we already established a bit of a history together, but we chose to wait until after this trip to really pursue anything further because we didn’t know what God had in store for each of our hearts. But waiting aside, our relationship was in its early stages during that trip, so it felt like something special to be able to return to this beautiful place, now married, all these years later. For nostalgia’s sake, below is a picture of Adam and me on our first trip to St. Lucia in 2008, with our friend Zack who refused to let us take a picture alone (and who also happened to be a groomsman in our wedding 5 years later).

WHERE WE STAYED

We spent 6 days and 5 nights at the Sandals Regency La Toc resort. There are three Sandals resorts in St. Lucia, and we could have easily visited the other two via shuttle, but we chose to keep it simple and hang around our own resort, so I can’t speak to what the others were like. We were satisfied with what there was to experience where we were. The location was naturally stunning, the staff was extremely friendly, hospitable, and professional, the grounds were well kept and easy to navigate, and I felt safe and comfortable wherever we went.

VACATION MINDSET

Going into this trip I had two main goals: R.E.L.A.X., and refrain from making as many decisions and plans as possible. As much as I enjoy our adventurous and explorative type trips, I had been craving a laidback, do-nothing kind of vacation for quite some time. In our planning process I was adamant that we stayed at an all-inclusive resort to diminish the need to plan out meals or activities and give myself a mental break. THAT, to me, felt like vacation. I was open to doing some adventurous activities, but I also wanted to maximize the amount of time I’d have to sit at the pool with a book and just “be.”

Also worth noting is that we are probably a bit of an anomaly when it comes to vacationers at an all-inclusive resort. We spent the majority of our time tucked away by the resort’s smallest and quietest pool, completely avoiding the “party scene” at the main pool. I couldn’t tell you what the evening entertainment was each night because we were usually in bed by 9pm – if not earlier. We enjoyed some drinks, but I was more focused on staying hydrated in the hot Caribbean sun. I received many confused looks when a bartender would come around taking drink orders and I’d ask for water. We even utilized the fitness center a few times (the one that multiple people laughed at on our welcome tour, because who in their right mind exercises on vacation…). Basically, I wanted to maintain my healthy habits and rhythms on the trip, because I knew that it would make me feel my best throughout it, and therefore enjoy myself more. And I’m so glad that I did.

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

Upon arriving to our resort, we were greeted with a surprise room upgrade, allowing us the opportunity to stay in a two-story suite tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the main area of the resort. This meant more privacy, and getting to avoid any boisterous night life. We were right up on the shoreline, so our view was incredible and the crashing waves were a constant soothing sound. Plus we were located at the center of the resort, so we had easy access to everything around.

Neither of us have ever had room service before, so we took full advantage of it. It came in handy for nights we were too tired to head out for dinner, and for relaxing slow mornings. Our last night we ordered it just so we could get one last bite of our favorite mango cake.

I think my favorite part of the trip was doing exactly what I set out to do: relax by the pool. We fully embraced our ‘old soul status’ and enjoyed many pockets of time lounging quietly at the small pool. We kept to ourselves most of the time, but we did chat with a few pool dwellers on occasion. Adam’s M.O. was lounging on a pool float with a drink in his hand, or staring out over the ledge at the crashing waves. I spent my time going back and forth from reading on a pool chair to hopping in the pool when the sun got too hot (which was often, even on cloudy days).

When we weren’t at the small pool, we made a few attempts to enjoy time by what I’ll refer to as the upper pool. It wasn’t too big and didn’t have ongoing events throughout the day like the main pool, but it did have a swim up bar and some music playing. We would try to get chairs along the ledge facing the ocean because it had some of the best views at the resort, but this pool was frequented by everyone who had butlers, so most of the chairs were reserved before we even had a chance to get to them. Plus the two mornings we attempted to hang out here, we were rained out. So instead, we would return to this pool at the end of our days to watch the sunset.

We only managed to step into the ocean once on this trip. I’m not sure if it was due to the location or the time of year, but the waves on the shoreline at our resort were a bit rough. Most days it was flagged yellow, and sometimes even red, and by our final day we saw some waves crashing that were easily 7 ft high. Our one ocean story involves Adam getting hit by a crashing wave when we first ventured out into the water that immediately knocked his sunglasses off his head. We considered them a lost cause, but a local on the beach noticed what happened and offered to look for them in exchange for some compensation if he found them. The guy searched for about an hour and a half – even after we had left the water – and sure enough he found them, without a scratch. We were pretty impressed. We didn’t stay in the ocean too long because once we got past the waves, the water was steadily moving between tip toe height and out of reach, so it got tiring quickly. Plus, salt water splashing in your eyes is even less enjoyable when you have contacts, so I opted pretty quickly for the pool.

As far as food goes, I was just thrilled that I didn’t have to cook anything for a week, but we did enjoy a great deal of the food on the resort. We didn’t go to every restaurant option available, but we enjoyed the ones that we tried, which included an Italian restaurant, an English pub, local cuisine, the breakfast buffet, and a made-to-order pizza shack.

Apart from getting to relax like I wanted to, our biggest highlight of the trip was getting to hike to the top of the Gros Piton (the second highest peak in St. Lucia, and one mountain in an iconic set of two that we became familiar with on our first trip). As a part of a guided tour, we hiked up just over 2,000 ft across a two mile span. Our group agreed that scrambling up the mountain was a better descriptor of what we did than hiking. Because of that, combined with the humidity, it was one of the more challenging hikes we’ve done. But despite the challenge, it was still a spectacular experience. Not only did we get a new experience of hiking through some jungle-like terrain, but we also saw some beautiful landscapes along the way. For sight seeing purposes, it was unfortunately a pretty overcast day so we couldn’t see much at the top other than the clouds that we were within (which was kind of cool in itself), but we were all pretty grateful for the rain that followed on our hike back down to help rinse off the massive amount of sweat pouring from us all. The entire hike took us probably 4.5-5 hours, so we were all exhausted by the end of it. I enjoyed one of the ‘top 5 best showers of my life’ when we got back to our room and I think we were in bed by 7pm.

In hindsight, we were very glad that we only planned one excursion for our trip. Not only did it allow us more time to relax without a schedule, but more significantly neither of our stomachs fared too well on the winding St. Lucian roads, so the less time we spent driving anywhere, the better. I’ll spare you the details, but we both put a tally on the scoreboard of roadside vomit as a result of our drive to the Pitons.

DOWNSIDES

We only had a few disappointments with the trip as a whole. The two most significant being the discovery that a local soda we enjoyed on our first trip is no longer produced, and our favorite local fruit, guinep (or St. Lucian ackee), was out of season, so we didn’t get to enjoy two of the memorable tastes from our first go around. We were also a little bummed that we didn’t get to experience more local fruit on our resort, but that’s what happens when you stay somewhere that caters to Westerners.

Missing out on enjoying the beautiful views on our drive to the Pitons because of motion sickness was a downer, as was the shore at our resort being rough and not allowing much chance to enjoy the ocean. It did rain a couple of the days we were there, but thankfully in true tropical fashion, it never lasted too long. But as a whole, none of these things ruined our trip in any capacity. Ok, we might still be bitter about the ackee and soda (RIP Busta), but we’ll get over it.


After experiencing St. Lucia in two drastically different ways, I’m truly grateful for each opportunity. You can’t beat the chance to experience a new place from a local’s perspective, as well as the opportunity to connect with the people and share the love of Jesus. But this trip was also everything I hoped for it to be, and more. It was the relaxing vacation I had been dreaming of, and it ended up being much more timely than I ever anticipated. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to return to this beautiful, lush land. The combination of ocean and mountains is a spectacular one. And the people – my goodness, the people are just gorgeous. After both of our experiences there, I would highly recommend this destination to anyone looking for a tropical getaway.

2020 goals

Well hello there friends,

Today I am wrapping up what has turned into “goals week” here on the blog by sharing eight goals I have set to work on in 2020. In case you missed it, on Tuesday I reviewed where I ended the year on my 2019 goals, and yesterday I revealed my 2020 word of the year, which lays the foundation for some of the goals I’ll be sharing with you today.

Goal setting can feel overwhelming or off-putting to some, but I have found that by starting the year with some fresh focus, I personally am much more prone to live intentionally and in ways that I actually WANT to live – rather than just waiting around for life to happen by chance. Goals help me grow and avoid becoming stagnant, or worse – backsliding. I’m always so intrigued to see what goals other people are getting after – sometimes it’s even helped give me ideas for goals of my own, so I hope you enjoy this peek into what will be guiding me throughout at least the first quarter of this year.

But before you do, I have to give one last shoutout to Cultivate What Matters for the their amazing PowerSheets and how they have helped shape my life to be more intentional and life-giving. This post is not sponsored. I just genuinely love this product and I want you to know about it in case you might too!

Alright, let’s jump in, shall we?

Goal 1: Treat Blogging Like it’s my Job

It’s no news at this point that I’m a new season of unemployment in the traditional sense. However, I feel very confident in God’s calling towards my assignment of this blog right now, so I want to give it my all. And I think a significant way for me to take it seriously is to treat it like it’s my job. So this goal includes things like creating a work routine, creating a content plan, and seeking new knowledge to continue to make this space better, and hopefully reach more people.

Goal 2: Fight for Whole Health (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually)

This goal is especially important for me now that I’m a little more on my own in my health endeavors (a.k.a. I no longer work in a gym environment that has a great deal of built in education, accountability, and resources). I will be creating a structured plan that works for me and that I truly enjoy – that is what is going to be sustainable. For me, this includes pilates and weight lifting, continuing with intermittent fasting and eating what makes my body feel good (while also enjoying indulgences here and there), drinking plenty of water, and having a good sleep schedule. But most importantly, I want to continue my efforts to shift my health journey to be less about me and more about honoring God. I want to continue to shift my mindset about my health, my body, my whole sense of wellbeing so that I can live a truly balanced life – especially one full of grace – so that I can continue to run hard on mission for Jesus for as many years as He has planned for me.

Goal 3: Break Free of my Phone

Like I said in my 2019 goals review, this goal would be something I’d continue to work on this year. I waste wayyy too much time scrolling on my phone, so I really want to lay down the law with it. Don’t get me wrong, my phone is an incredibly useful tool, and I do enjoy many parts about it, but I want to have more control over my phone than my phone has over me. With the use of Google’s new Digital Wellbeing settings, I plan to hold myself more accountable to taking time away from scrolling so I can make more time for the things I want or need to do, and I plan to include more scroll free weeks to really detach.

Goal 4: Re-Simplify

Ever since around the time I started this blog, I have had a growing interest in minimalism and I hold a lot of minimalist values in my heart, but I feel like there are a lot of areas of my life that I want revisit to simplify again – or simplify further. The more I simplify, the less “stuff” I have to manage – whether physically or mentally – and in turn I tend to have less stress. So in a practical sense, I plan to revisit my closet, as well as each room in our home, to evaluate what is worth keeping, and what we no longer have use for. I also plan to create a simplified routine in this season so I can live with greater intention and purpose.

Goal 5: Take Extra Good Care of the Dogs

This is not to say that I think I’m a bad dog mama (at least I hope I’m not!), but now that I am going to be home more, I really want to give more attention to intentional care for them. I got into a good groove of walking the dogs regularly over the summer, but I’d like to get them out for walks more consistently any time of year. This also includes brushing their teeth more, brushing their hair more consistently (in an attempt to control the shedding), and teaching them new commands to challenge their smart little brains. We love our pups dearly, so I want them to be able to live to their own full potential.

Goal 6: Read 12 Books in 12 Months

This is another repeat goal that I really hope to achieve this year. My starting steps revolve around making a list of books I’d like to read – whether it’s ones I already own, or ones I’d like to add to my collection. I’m still aiming for mostly non-fiction books, but we’ll see where the year leads. The most important action step for this goal is to simply make time for reading. And thankfully it will coincide well with my goal of spending less time on my phone, so I can do more things that I enjoy or that help me grow.

Goal 7: Communicate Better (in my marriage, with friends & family)

I recognized this last year that I’m a much poorer communicator than I make myself out to be in my head, and I’d really like to improve in that. Not only just communicating what I am thinking more clearly or effectively, but also being more intentional about communication – especially with faraway friends and family. This goal also includes maintaining the habit of using our Marriage Journal so that communication between Adam and I can continue its ever evolving growth.

Goal 8: Enjoy God’s Creation (both places & people)

One side of this goal falls in line with last year’s goal of enjoying adventures. The more places we go, the more time I spend outside, the more new adventures we seek, the more I come alive and get jazzed up about this amazing world God has created. And I want to continue to seek more of that. The other side of this goal is to spend time with people. To be really honest, I’ve struggled in recent years to have as much compassion for others as I have had in the past, and it’s time I tried to be more intentional about changing that. Because even though it’s comfortable for me to hermit and fold in, the abundant life God offers me often comes through life-giving relationships with others, and I don’t want to miss out on that.


So that is what will be guiding me as I head off into this new year and new season of life. Each of these goals has the potential to make big impacts on my life journey, and I hope they do. I’m excited to learn. I’m excited to grow. I’m excited to move forward with expectancy and open hands to what God has for me. We’ll see where it takes me!

Until next time friends,

P.S. Have you set any goals for 2020? I can definitely get behind the belief that speaking your goals out loud is a type of accountability because it makes the goal more real. What are you committing to pursue in 2020? Let me know in the comments!

2020 word of the year

Hello friends,

After taking some time yesterday to review my 2019 goals, it’s officially time to shift gears and look forward to 2020! Tomorrow I’ll be giving you a peek into what I’ll be focusing on in the coming year by sharing what goals I have set. But first, I’m excited to chat with you today about my word of the year.

Have you ever chosen a word of the year? I used to feel pretty overwhelmed at the thought of choosing one – probably because I was afraid of choosing the “wrong” one. But as a part of the PowerSheets prep work, I’ve found a helpful process to narrow down what word(s) might be a good fit for my year by noticing the threads of what is on my mind and heart. This is my third year choosing a word and with each passing year I feel a bit more comfortable with the concept. I don’t put too much weight on it, but it was really helpful last year to have a word in the back of my mind to hold me accountable to what I wanted to work towards throughout the year. I’m predicting that this year will be very similar.

This year’s word actually started showing up in my life the middle of last year. I couldn’t tell you exactly what initially sparked it, but the latter half of 2019 was filled with the build up of this word in my life. In hindsight, it not-so-coincidentally became a big theme in a few books I read, in a Bible study I was participating in, and on many Instagram posts I saw. It felt like a whisper in the back of my mind, growing louder, until it kind of hit me like a ton of bricks at the end of the year. I’ve mentioned this word and concept in many of my recent posts and in conjunction with the season I’m in, so it may or may not be a surprise to you that my word of the year is…

OBEDIENCE

To be honest, in some ways this word scares me a little bit. Because for me, it means holding open hands for my life. It means this year I will be trying more than ever to follow God wherever He may be leading me, especially through this new season of unemployment. And while it’s scary because I don’t know where, how, or what that will be, and it requires me to release my total control, I fully believe and trust that God offers me life to the full, and the way to receive that life is to follow Him and obey Him (John 6:35, 40). I believe His ways are far higher and better than my ways (Isaiah 55:9). And I believe He is for me and wants good for me (Psalm 118:6) – He’s proven so time and again in my life – so by faith, I feel confident that I can trust and obey Him in what He calls me to.

In the process of confirming that this would be my word for 2020, it was solidified even further when I came across an article on Desiring God called The Nowness of Obedience. Through this article it struck a chord for me to recognize how easily I am tricked into thinking that my imaginary obedience, or even just my desire to be obedient, counts as actual obedience, when it reality it does not. This inspired me all the more to really start living in obedience NOW – not just thinking about doing so like I have been for a long time.

I also want to be careful with this word, though, because my natural inclination will be to want to obey perfectly. I want to do things right (if you’re an enneagram enthusiast, I’m a solid 1 if that helps explain anything). And sometimes oftentimes, God calls us to be obedient to things we don’t fully understand, or He doesn’t fill us in on all the details right out the gate – just like when He called Abraham to leave his homeland and travel to the land of his inheritance without knowing exactly where it would be (Hebrews 11:8). It’s harder to expect perfection when you can’t foresee every step you are going to take. But the call is just to walk in obedience, not to figure out all the things. God even spoke to this as I was reading just this morning:

“The truth of our reality is that we’re held in God’s kingdom by grace – not by our flawless interpretation, perfect attendance, or impeccable obedience.”

Jess Connolly, You Are The Girl For The Job

Ah, grace. That beautiful, wonderful gift of a concept that I need to be reminded of day in, and day out. It’s not about doing it perfectly. It’s about just being obedient with what I have. Sure, I’ll have missteps and lose course on occasion, but grace is there to catch me and always bring me back to the heart of God.

I have a feeling that the Lord is just getting started with me and this word. It’s still a little scary, but there is also no safer place for me to be than held by God. And I don’t want to miss out on the abundance He has for me on the other side.

So, that’s what I’ll be aiming for this year! Easy, peasy, right? 😉 I’d love for you to join me tomorrow when I will be sharing some more specific ways I am seeking to be obedient this year through my 2020 goals.

Until then,

P.S. Alright, it’s your turn! Have you chosen a word for this year? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

2019 goals review

Happy New Year friends! I hope you all are feeling fueled up to take on the new year and the new decade, rather than feeling bogged down by any pressure to set resolutions that you aren’t all that jazzed up about keeping.

Before I really make the transition to 2020 here on the blog, I wanted to take some time today to look back on the goals I set at the beginning of 2019 and see where they led me by the end of the year. Because it’s one thing to set goals; it’s another to follow through on them.

Now I don’t want to put any pressure on you to set goals like I do; or make you feel guilty for not having any goals in the first place. I am a firm believer in setting goals that work for YOU. And because each of us have been uniquely wired, different things work for different people. And I’ll even go further to say that different things work for different seasons of life. So please do not come away from this putting any pressure on yourself to do more than you are meant to do, or even be more than you are meant to be. However, if you have not figured out a method of goal setting that works for you, I highly encourage you to do some digging for yourself. If setting one goal is all you need, great! If you need an accountability partner to help you through, seek one out. If using some sort of method or tool helps you to uncover your heart’s wildest desires, go for it! The only way to learn is some trial and error.

My method for the past couple years has been utilizing Cultivate What Matter’s PowerSheets* to help me set intentions for the year and then be held accountable to follow through. It’s something that has worked for me up to this point and it has helped to put more heart and mindfulness behind the goals I set.

If you’d like a refresher on what I set out to achieve in 2019, be sure to read these two posts about the reasons behind my word of the year and my goals. If you do, you may notice some differences from the goals I review in this post. That’s because with the PowerSheets, every quarter I do a check in to re-evaluate where I’m at, and where I want to go. A year is a long time – I think that’s one reason why New Year’s Resolutions can be so daunting. So it helps to revisit the goals I set at the start of the year and confirm whether or not they are still on my heart to pursue. I added some goals, made changes to some goals, and altogether eliminated some goals as the year went by, and that is ok.

So without further adieu, here’s how it all went:

Word of the Year: Action

This was my second time choosing a ‘word of the year’ and I found this one to be extremely helpful in holding me accountable to following through on my goals and actually doing the things I wanted to do in 2019. I certainly still battled with stagnancy, laziness, and procrastination with things, but God continually helped me to recall the word He gave me so I would get. to. work. and I’m very grateful for it.

Goal 1: Choose Obedience

I added this goal over the summer as God was continuing to press on my heart the call to blog more often. This was an area of my life that really needed some action, and so I added it in as a goal to hold me accountable. Just setting this as a goal only took me so far, because I still wasn’t actively making much time for this space, but I ended the year with God leaving me no choice but to obey in this area as he stripped away my job (read more about that here). Looking back, 2019 was infiltrated with God preparing my heart for this season, and much of it started with my lack of action coming to light. Part of me is ashamed it’s taken so long and such drastic measures, but God’s mercy and love supersede that and have me motivated to move forward.

Goal 2: Serve My Marriage Well

Within each goal I have some mini goals, and while I didn’t excel at all of them with this specific goal, I am so pleased with where we ended the year, mainly in thanks to the Marriage Journal. I mentioned this in my 2019 recap, and I do still plan to share more in detail about it here in the future, but the habit of coming together to follow this journal once a week has drastically impacted our marriage for the better, and it has opened up doors for us to serve each other better. I am satisfied with where we ended the year, and I am excited to continue to work on growing even more this year, and every year to come.

Goal 3: 2019 Will Be My Healthiest Year Yet

And by golly, it was. I consistently worked out in a variety of ways, and in ways that I have come to enjoy (which is another victory in itself), so much so that I have been able to adjust and continue staying active even after my gym closing. I gave intermittent fasting a try in 2019 and found some new freedom along with it. I was released from physical therapy for a shoulder injury and established a better connection with what feels right for my body. I gave pilates a try and have started to add it in to my new workout regime. And despite having more discipline, I still lived my life and enjoyed ice cream and Pizza Friday without shame. I had more balance and I gave myself grace. I still have some mental battles I face, but 2019 was full of such good growth for my overall health, and it certainly fuels my drive to continue on this journey in 2020.

Goal 4: Stop Resisting & Start Pursuing Community

While I ended the year feeling slightly guilty for not working harder on this, I didn’t realize how much time we spent with others until I looked back on the year. It’s been a conglomeration of different people we have spent time with (individually and together). We’ve had some game nights and double dates, as well as joined in on some group events with old and new friends. I’ve continued to grow in my relationships with girls from a Bible Study I attend. We joined a new small group with some people closer to our age and are growing in relationships with them. And we had quality time with some long time friends scattered throughout the year as well. It hasn’t all been perfect, because I still hermit oftentimes, but I definitely see the growth and more satisfaction in our community here, and that is what is valuable to me.

Goal 5: Break Up With My Phone

I added this goal to my list in the final quarter of the year because to be honest, I kept getting so fed up with myself for how much time I waste scrolling on my phone. Apart from some fear of failure, it is the number one thing that holds me back from taking action on the rest of my goals. While I had some good days (including some phone free days, and even a scroll free WEEK in November), I’d still have days where I would constantly be staring at my handheld screen. I am definitely planning on carrying this goal over into 2020.

Goal 6: Read 12 Books In 12 Months

Well, I came up short by 3 books, but to be honest, I am still so pleased. I read a few really great winners throughout the year (if you’d like me to share more about them, let me know in the comments!), and I found so much value in the time I did choose to read. I plan to keep setting this goal each year, and hopefully increasing the number of books as well.

Goal 7: Enjoy Adventures

Looking back on the year, I’m so thankful for the adventures we had. While there’s always a desire for more, and we certainly could have tried harder to do more, we had some great adventures together in 2019. I outline many of them in my 2019 recap post here, and I hope to dive deeper into some of them on the blog soon. Some of my favorite highlights are definitely our hike to Sky Pond, our St. Lucia vacation and hiking Gros Piton, road tripping to Montana to visit Air Force friends, and spending our anniversary weekend in Colorado Springs.


All in all, I am satisfied with where I finished the year. I purposely set vague goals with more specific action steps because my perfectionist self finds so much freedom in valuing growth over completion. So while I can’t necessarily say I achieved all my goals, I can definitely say I made progress, and I am content with that. Besides, it just gives me a guide for things I want to work on THIS year.

Which…the rest of this week I will be diving into my 2020 word of the year, as well as the goals I am starting out the year with, so stay tuned if goal setting is your kind of thing – or if you’re just curious what I’ll be spending my time focused on this year.

Until then,

Now it’s your turn – tell me, how did your goals pan out in 2019? What goals did you make progress on? Which goals are you proud of for accomplishing? Which goals did you totally chuck out the window? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!


*This is not sponsored or an affiliate link – I’m just simply sharing a product that I personally use, and genuinely love. If PowerSheets might be a tool that would be helpful to you, it may not be too late to join in on the fun this year. They are sold out of a few of their cover options, but last I checked they do have one left here. Or, if you just want to give a piece of their methods a try, you can follow along with Lara Casey’s Goal Setting Series here.

best of 2019

Hello friends! I’m back for day two of my 2019 review. Yesterday I recapped the year’s most defining moments, memories, and adventures, and today I am sharing my ‘Best of 2019’ list. I saw a couple other bloggers do this, and I instantly loved it. It’s a mix of highlights from the year and recommendations for things I’ve tried and loved. I hope you enjoy!

Best adventure/travel/trip: In November we too a week long vacation at an all inclusive resort in St Lucia. It was the perfect trip full of relaxation, with some adventure. We had been saving up for a vacation like this for a long time, so to finally go on it and to enjoy it as much as we did was incredibly satisfying.

Another outstanding adventure was our hike 8.5 mile hike to Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a perfect day in the mountains, and the entire trek was nothing short of a fairy tale.

Best book: Three books stand out to me as total game changers for my heart and life this year:

  1. You Are the Girl for the Job: Daring to Believe the God Who Calls You by Jess Connolly
  2. Something Needs to Change: A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent Need by David Platt
  3. Imperfect Courage: Live a Life of Purpose by Leaving Comfort and Going Scared by Jessica Honeggar

Each of these books were laced with the right balance of truth, encouragement, and a total kick in the pants. Each of them were a call to something more. Each of them spurred me on in my faith journey in ways I didn’t realize how badly I needed. Each of them are going to be books of lifelong worth to me (I’m already on my second read through of You Are the Girl for the Job since it released in September – it’s just that good).

Best movie: I mean, there couldn’t possibly be another winner for this category other than Avengers: Endgame. Just absolutely epic.

Best album or song: I think this category can best be summed up with the help of my Spotify Wrapped. According to the stats, my sound changed with the seasons (which is usually the case) and the four top songs for each season it identified had me nodding my head in agreement.

Winter: Cringe – Stripped by Matt Maeson
Spring: Waiting for My Time to Come by Colony House
Summer: Live Forever by Mike Mains & the Branches
Fall: Carry Me Away by John Mayer

If you’re interested, you can listen along to what was on repeat for me in 2019 here.

Best podcast: The Balanced Life Podcast with Robin Long. Each week Robin interviews women who appear to be “doing it all,” and she talks with them about what they do AND don’t do to find their own unique sense of balance. Balance is a fairly consistent buzz word in my life, so I have found myself incredibly encouraged and inspired by the conversations in her first season.

Best follow on Instagram: Jess Connolly has been a consistent source of encouragement and truth on my instagram feed for years now. If it’s possible to be discipled by someone you’ve never even met, then she’s certainly done that for me. I’ve also followed Elise Cripe for years now and I find myself loving her real-talk attitude about goal setting, balance, and just living your life in a way that works for you.

Best date: We’ve had a conglomeration of date days that revolve around heading down to Fort Collins to explore or adventure. They’ve included going to the rock climbing gym, browsing REI or Trader Joe’s, wandering around Old Town, landing at some yummy restaurants with nice ambiance, and usually finishing with either Insomnia Cookies or Churn ice cream. Every time we have a day like this, I find myself enjoying the adventures with the company of my husband. Also noteworthy: we’ve never gone wrong with going out for a hike or doing an escape room.

Best faith grower: Two things stand out to me this year, each having to do with our jobs.

The most recent has been the gym I worked for going out of business, and then determining what my next steps would be. The road leading to closure was bumpy and challenging, and I found myself falling at the feet of Jesus each morning as we navigated through it. As a result, He provided me with so much peace and hope in His faithfulness amidst the feelings of turmoil, and He took it even further and revealed His plans for me in this next season. I dive more into this story here.

The other would be deciphering the right steps with an opportunity Adam could have had in his career. The decision making process had us going back and forth over the course of a year as we took our logistics, preferences, and past experiences that affected the decision into consideration, and for awhile we weren’t getting a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ from God. It not only drew us towards each other to process the decision together, but amidst the uncertainty of what to do, I again spent a lot of time handing it all over to God and trusting Him to lead us to the best decision. In the end, Adam decided to not pursue the opportunity and we both have been united and at peace about the decision.

Best trend you tried: This summer I gave intermittent fasting a try during our staff fitness challenge, and it was a total breakthrough for me in my health journey. I’ll likely be sharing more about my story with it here in the future.

Alternatively, I don’t know if you’d consider this a trend, but since it’s been a popular TV show for the last 10 years…despite my strong distaste for reality TV, Adam somehow got me hooked on Survivor this spring, so I decided to start from the beginning and watch all the way through. I’m currently on season 21, which is just past the halfway point as season 40 will be airing in February. Needless to say, I got into a much bigger commitment than I realized.

Best beauty purchase: I think I technically started using this in 2018, but I will still rave about my favorite dry shampoo more than any beauty product I use. This one actually makes my fine hair look and feel clean on days that it certainly doesn’t start out that way.

Best family memory: There’s not one specific day that stands out, but some of my favorite moments have been the simple, mundane ones. The evening summer walks we’d go on with the dogs, laughing hysterically at one of the dogs for something ridiculous they did (usually it’s Rizzo), playing in the snow – which just led to the dogs eating the snow. I think of those times and think of how one day I’m going to look back on moments like that and think “those were the days.” I love this simple little family of mine.

Best habit you created: Slow, quiet mornings with Jesus. I have usually spent my time praying, journaling, or reading my Bible in the mornings, and I have tried different routines to really maximize that time. What seems to work best for me is starting my day with Jesus before anything else. This led me to start getting up even just a little bit earlier to make sure I’d have time to take it slow before I jumped into my day. Even now that I’m not working, I have continued with the habit of starting most of my days with downing a glass of water, and slowly sipping a cup of coffee while I pray or read.

An honorable mention that I can’t quite claim as a habit because I don’t do it consistently enough – but definitely want it to be – is phone/scroll free days at least once a week. On those days I avoid time wasting habits on my phone (usually Instagram and Facebook), so that I can actually do the things I think about doing. Each time I do it, I’m always very glad I did.

Favorite blog post written: In honor of 10 years having passed since I graduated high school this year, I wrote a letter to my 17 year old self. It was cathartic to look back upon my younger self with grace and tenderness, and it was fun to reflect on how much I’ve grown and how much my life has changed since receiving that diploma.

Best new recipe: This instant pot chili recipe has been on repeat since the weather turned. An easy, hearty meal that we usually pair with some honey cornbread.

Best life hack: Two words: Pizza Friday. Most nights I’m not overly thrilled about the process of cooking dinner, but at the end of the work week, I was all the more over it. So on Friday nights we started spending the night in with two Jack’s pizzas and a couple TV shows (& usually some Ben & Jerry’s to go along with it). We started doing this sometime in the summer, and basically haven’t stopped. I’ve dubbed it my “Sabbath meal” because it allows me to rest from the work of planning and preparing a meal. It’s become a time of rest that we look forward to every week.

Best home improvement: This summer I got an outdoor rug and some string lights for our back patio, and it made my summer days even more joyful, and my summer nights even more magical.

Best little luxury you’ve enjoyed: On Amazon Prime Day we took the plunge and got ourselves a robot vacuum. While at times we both can have mixed reviews about the one we have, I’m thankful to have a little help at trying to keep the dog hair tumbleweeds at bay.


And that’s a wrap, on this post and on 2019 – though some reflections may trickle into the new year as I discuss goals for the year ahead. It’s been a good year in the real life Pruim life, and I hope that 2020 has some beautiful things in store for you all!

Happy New Year,

P.S. I’d love to know – what are some of your “bests” from 2019? Let me know in the comments!