2018 goals

1 January 2018

Happy New Year, friends! Isn’t it marvelous that we’re all here for another year? :) Another year to learn and grow and move closer to the people we want to be.

Can I tell you a secret? Sometimes I worry that my goals aren’t big enough or different enough or important enough. Sometimes I worry that I never change, that I’m always just working on variations of the same things.

And you know what? There’s some truth in that. One of the greatest blessings of my life is that I have known who I am and what I want from a young age. I have great confidence in what matters to me and what does not.

You know how I’ve known my spirit age is 36 from the time of about 16? That understanding has given me the freedom to unapologetically craft the life I’ve been envisioning all along. So no, I generally don’t set goals like running a marathon, founding a charity, or selling my possessions and traveling the world at the beginning of the year. I’m not against “big” goals by any means, and if one becomes meaningful to me in the future, I will gladly take it on.

It’s just that in my life, the big things are the little things. I know who I want to be at 40 and 60 and 80. I might not know all the specifics (who knew I’d end up a Southerner??), but I have the general outline — enough to continue filling it in, little by little.

So here we go! Another year of adding color and dimension to this marvelous life. With that, I’m so happy to share my four 2018 focal areas…

2018 vision board

Yes, focal areas, not goals! These are my areas of focus for this year, and I’ll flesh them out with specific, smaller projects and goals each month as I work through my PowerSheets.

1. Hear and do the Word. See and respond to needs. Observe the Sabbath. Listen to God. Be at home at church. Teach my daughter about God’s love.
Why? 2017 was a year of soaking in wisdom, and now I’m ready to put what I’ve learned into action, because that is what He desires for me. James 1:22-25 is my verse here.
How I will feel at the end of this year having made progress on this goal: Proud I spent time on what matters most. Likely humbled.
How I will celebrate making progress on this goal: I will record the highlights in my Life List as a record of His faithfulness.

2. Refine our home. Evolve our color scheme. Carve out distinct areas. Find new solutions for our changing needs.
Why? Our home is the arena for learning, growth, and unconditional love, and nothing matters more than love. If we can make it better, we should.
How I will feel at the end of this year having made progress on this goal: We will feel more at home in our home, content, and reminded of what matters most.
How I will celebrate making progress on this goal: A new home tour on Em for Marvelous!! :)

3. Fuel my body. Revolutionize meal planning. A fruit or veg with every meal. Less sugar. More water.
Why? I only get one and I want it to be capable of doing everything I ask it to.
How I will feel at the end of this year having made progress on this goal: Proud of myself for doing hard things and for strengthening my good choices muscle!
How I will celebrate making progress on this goal: I’ll treat myself to fruit along the way and we’ll celebrate with a delicious feast on NYE.

4. Build our legacy. Strengthen or set habits and rhythms. Record memories. Equip others. Invest in my people.
Why? I am blessed to be a blessing. I have been given much, and it is mine to be given away. I want to spend time on things that last longer than me.
How I will feel at the end of this year having made progress on this goal: Like things are on the right track but there is still more to do!
How I will celebrate making progress on this goal: Maybe a new piece of artwork for our home?

That last one’s a little vague, but you know what? The important thing is that it works for me :) And I look forward to fleshing out all of these more over the coming weeks and months!

And with that, here are my goals for January:
— Set a date for our spring camping trip
— File all paperwork in our blue room
— Make our “areas to be purged” list
— Tackle two areas I already know need help: our closet shelf and pantry
— Walk our home with John and make a list of needs and wants, then rank them
— Browse through The Lifegiving Home online resources (now that I’ve finished the book – so good!!)
— Write June a note on her second birthday (continuing a tradition)
— Set up my Life List
— Order our 2017 photos from Social Print Studio
— Confirm my EFM posting plans for January
— Order my Fruit of the Spirit canvas

There are few things I love more than reading about other’s goals! (Second only to reading other people’s Christmas cards, haha!) If you’ve posted your goals somewhere, I’d love to see – or just drop them in the comments! I can’t wait to take a peek and cheer you on.

Vision board sources, clockwise from top left: little girl, beautiful home, fruit, sailboat, kitchen table, soup, back steps, PB&J, fruits of the spirit

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2017: A year in review

30 December 2017

What a year, friends. I’ve shared along the way, but it has been an interesting one – probably the hardest of our life together. We weathered major change; we had an unprecedented string of large, unexpected expenses; we got yeses when we wanted nos and nos when we wanted yeses; and most bitterly, we lost our beloved cat Jack.

But as I sit here, I can only end the year feeling richly blessed — a daughter of the King who has been given good things in abundance. To start, my husband is healthy, my daughter is healthy, and our families are healthy. I could stop right there, and that would be enough. It really would be.

But there is so much more, and it is one of the delights of my life to share it with you all. So here we go – some of our favorite moments of 2017, in our lives and on the blog.

In January we celebrated June’s birthday with a kitty-themed party for family and friends! Her birthday prompted a post that meant a lot to me, reflections on our first year together. John and I also celebrated our twelfth dativersary. I plowed through books this year and began including what I was reading in my monthly goals posts. On the blog, I shared June’s buffalo check nursery and the first Marvelous Money post of the year, on making trade-offs.

In February I stepped outside my comfort zone and invited ten neighborhood ladies over for a Favorite Things party. It was a success, and kicked off a year of settling into our community and gaining friendships, for which I am so grateful! I shared one of my favorite posts ever this month, as well as 31 ideas for winter meals (I’ll be referring back to this list in the chilly weeks to come!). I turned 30 and shared 10 hopes for the next decade.

We broke ground on our long-awaited backyard renovation in March! We picked berries and enjoyed being outside, including on a beloved hand-me-down set of wheels. I shared about taking ballet again and paying off our mortgage early.

In April I spent my first night away from June, on a work trip to Alabama and Mississippi where I got to hug two familiar faces! We celebrated the resurrection of our Savior as a family and June was a natural at her first egg hunt. I am SO pleased that I finally got it together and posted my first of several Triangle guides: Durham!

Our backyard project wrapped up in May and we have been enjoying it ever since! I know I owe you an official reveal – hopefully coming this spring! :) At the end of the month, June got to travel with me to Charleston for another work trip, and in June, we logged our fifth camping trip with the Rays!

In honor of Mother’s Day, I wrapped up the first installment of my Marvelous Mama series with the best addition yet — my own Mom. We also filmed June in June: Volume 2 (even cuter than Volume 1, somehow!), and I shared our five must-have baby registry items, a simple trick for developing habits, and wisdom from my Dad.

June participated in her first parade – our town’s Fourth of July celebration – the next month, and we of course also celebrated one of our favorite summer holidays, Cow Appreciation Day! I shared seven tips for new college graduates, a post I loved writing.

The highlight of July was without a doubt our trip to Michigan. We visited John’s family cottage near Traverse City along with 25+ other Thomas family members, and it was the most fun. We were on the water all day, and the cousins (young and old) had a blast!

Just three short weeks later, we made another epic road trip, this time to my family’s cottage in Maine! To be honest this trip had its challenges (ahem, someone I won’t name inexplicably waking up for 2-3 hours every night…), but we were so grateful to be with family in such a treasured place! I wrote about a simple but impactful house contentment hack and John’s 30th birthday book.

September was a full month! We rendezvoused with my family again in Asheville over Labor Day weekend, then celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary with a day at the zoo and a dinner out, just the two of us. I made apple cider scones to celebrate the first day of fall, and we flew to Providence to celebrate one of my best friend’s weddings! I wrote another favorite post from the year: five intentions for our next five years of marriage.

Our ray of sunshine completed a successful first round of trick-or-treating in October (and I congratulated myself on my first semi-homemade costume!). In November, we celebrated the tenth anniversary of Southern Weddings, the anniversary of June’s baptism, and John’s Christmas present (early!) by getting away to Charlotte for the night to see Jim Gaffigan! Our first night with both of us away from her, thanks to my parents :) I shared 26 ways to save money, 10 great dinners for new parents, and all of the articles we read in Articles Club this past year.

We returned just yesterday from our Thomas Christmas celebration in California, and now have a few quiet days at home before going back to work in the new year. We’re heading out for our end-of-year celebration dinner soon, and I’m looking forward to finishing up my PowerSheets prep and setting my goals for the year over the next few days. I’ll be sharing more on Monday, so keep an eye out :)

I am so grateful for this year we’ve had, friends, and I am truly so grateful for all of you. I often stop to think how crazy it is that such smart, kind, thoughtful people come hang out here and have stuck around for so long. It is one of the biggest blessings of my life to share with you, and I am SO excited to continue doing so in 2018. I think it’s going to be a good one :) In fact, I know it is, because in the second week of January I’m kicking off a nine-week series with Nancy. It is centered around the most-requested topic from my 2017 blog survey, and I think you will love it!! Can’t wait to share :)

2016 year in review
2015 year in review
2014 year in review
2013 year in review
2012 year in review

Christmas Cards 2017

25 December 2017

Merriest Christmas, friends! Since I can’t hug all of you in person, I’m sharing our Christmas card here today…

Minted Christmas card

He brings joy in all circumstances, and it is our joy to celebrate that in this card!

photo Christmas card

There were just too many cute snaps of our little JBug this year, so we squeezed a few more on the back :)

2017 Christmas card

One change this year? In the craziness of the last two months, I decided to let go of printing and sending our annual newsletter. It was a tough decision, because I already had it designed, but in the end I’m glad we chose simplicity. There’s always next year! And as a consolation prize, y’all can enjoy it here! :)

I’m writing this post a few days early, and by the time you read it, I’ll be celebrating the holidays with our beloved family! I am sending you all lots of love and wishes for a cozy Christmas filled with delicious food, comfy pajamas, and laughing until your cheeks hurt with the ones you love. I will see you back here on Friday for my year in review – one of my favorite posts of the year!

Gifts for Em

12 December 2017

Hi friends! Argh, I was hoping to have written a couple posts between my goals post and this one — so much good stuff to talk about in December! But, life calls, and here we are :) My family arrives for an early Christmas celebration today (YAY!!), so I’m not sure how much time I’ll have for another post until next week — but hopefully we’ll be able to catch up then, because I still want to talk about generosity, how I’ve done on my 2017 focal areas, our Christmas cards, and our home’s Christmas decor. Plus, of course, there will be my annual year-in-review post post-Christmas!

But today, I thought I’d share a few things on my personal Christmas wish list. I was so honored when my friend Victoria gave me a sweet gift guide shout-out last week. If you’re still shopping, hopefully you’ll find something fitting here or on a previous guide!

For Sisters, Moms, and Best Friends
Kind-Hearted Picks
Parents, Grandparents, and In-Laws
Your Favorite Kids

gifts for em

A Patagonia | The time has come for a new fluffy fleece. I think I like this one, but I haven’t tried it on in person yet! Anyone have personal experience with this model?
Colorful magnets | You can never have too many! Love these colors. Perfect stocking stuffer :)
A Christmas pyramid | This is totally a sentimental pick! My family had one of these growing up and they bring me right back to sitting around our kitchen table at Christmas. Full disclosure: my parents have already gifted this to me and June is OBSESSED :)
Salad serving bowl | A big salad bowl is one thing we missed out on from our wedding registry. I’d love one for bigger friend gatherings or family dinner parties!
Liberty spreaders | These could not be sweeter! I wish they had better reviews, though!
Holiday plate | Future cookies for Santa plate? :) Every family needs a few Christmas plates, yes?
Bamboo dish rack | I feel like this would be kind of a strange gift, but I really love this to clean up our counter a bit, so it’s going on the list!
More plates | If I collect anything, it’s probably china, and I’d love to add these beauties to the crew.
Blush napkins | We use cloth napkins every night, and I’d love to add these into the rotation!
Gift stickers | My preferred present palette – hard to find!
Scalloped baskets | I think these would be just as fitting in an adult space as a kiddo one! I’m not sure yet where I’d use them, but I know I would find the perfect spot :)

What’s on the top of your list this year? I always get inspiration from what others are wishing for!

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