Two years ago I picked a fast food restaurant (Culver’s) and a sit-down restaurant (Applebee’s) and decided that I was going to eat through the entire menu for each of them! Food, trying new things, adventure… why wouldn’t everyone do this?
Unfortunately, I did not come up with very good methods for recording my thoughts on the food I tried. I am almost done with Culver’s, and when I pick my next fast food place I’ll find a proper method for keeping track of everything. But for Applebee’s, I have taken a picture of everything that I’ve tried, and while I might not remember all of my impressions since I made no notes after I ate the food, I’ll do my best to sum up my opinions in a short “12 dishes in!” blog.
I actually did 13 dishes this time, though, because the last 2 on the list were tried together, and it feels wrong to separate them. Also, this is mostly in order, but I know that the middle ones have some mix-ups, so just ignore that.
- Bourbon Street Chicken & Shrimp
This was quite a while ago as it was the very beginning, but I thought the picture looked really appetizing. While I am a big fan of almost all kinds of meat and am not a picky eater, I remember this one having a flavor that was disappointing. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as good as I was expecting; it must’ve been the actual taste of the bourbon that I didn’t anticipate. But everything was cooked wonderfully, and I’m sure I would try it again because chicken and shrimp is a hard combo to pass up.
- Spinach Artichoke Chicken Cavatappi
I don’t remember much except that it was very green. I think it was good, but I don’t recall it being particularly amazing, and not one that I would try again over other pasta dishes. But I would eat a LOT of pasta dishes, so that just means I like everything else better.
- Four-Cheese Mac & Cheese w/ Honey Pepper Chicken Tenders
This was a good comfort dish, although I sometimes have a hard time when I have whole pieces of chicken on my pasta and then I have to finagle how to cut it so that it actually works in bite-sized pieces. While this wasn’t anything fancy or anything I loved, it’s certainly a good option for something basic and filling.
- Hand-Battered Fish & Chips
Sometimes I really don’t like fish, and sometimes I really do, and for this dish I really do. I’ve probably over-hyped it in my head by now because I don’t expect to like fish and so when I do I’m pleasantly surprised, but then my mind thinks it was the best thing ever and so the next time I try it it’s not as good as I thought it was, and so finally on the third time I have -both past memories, the good and the bad, which leads to the more accurate “ah this is good but not the life blood of food” reaction. Also, I tried this the night that the cast and crew of Nunsense went out to dinner when our second show got rained out, so that’s definitely a fun memory associated with the fish as well.
- Chicken Fajita Rollup
I have no memory of trying this one… wait, maybe I have one. I think this was really good! I know I tried something with tortillas with my sister across from me who got a similar thing, and maybe we both tried each others. That’s probably what happened with the brisket tacos! Anyway, the event isn’t strong in my memory, but now that I think about it I think the fajitas were really good.
- BBQ Brisket Tacos
See above comment. Also, not a fan of BBQ, so even if I liked them when I ate them I wouldn’t order them again by myself.
- Grilled Chicken Breast
This I also don’t remember… but it’s grilled chicken breast, which is a great way to cook and eat chicken in a really simple way… you can’t go too wrong with that, right? I’m sure they didn’t.
- Chicken Wonton Stir-Fry
I was hanging with a friend of mine when I tried this one. I think it was quite tasty, but it didn’t have gripping flavors that demanded that I try it again in the future. But I also have to try the shrimp version of the same dish, so we’ll see if I can remember what the stir-fry tastes like after 2 attempts.
- “8” Oz Top Sirloin
I remember this being a really satisfying meal. When you just want some good meat to chew into (that’s a phrase now) with some healthy broccoli and a side of seasoned potatoes, something that’s simple and flavorful and doesn’t make you feel like you ate out of a bucket of grease, this is a great dish for that. I tried it medium well, I think, maybe medium rare. I think I would go rarer. We’ll see.
- Caprese Mozzarella Burger
I don’t remember this either. This is one that looked intriguing but I would probably never get on my own, so it was nice to have a chance to try it. I wish I had more of a memory for how it tasted. I think it was okay but not great. How’s that for a descriptive review?
- Quesadilla Burger
This had really good flavor and everything, and it tasted just like a combination of quesadillas and burgers… and yet somehow it didn’t entirely work for me. Like, if I feel like a burger I think I want a BURGER burger. Maybe I should get this when I’m in the mood for American Mexican food? Definitely worth the try, but I don’t think it’ll be repeated often.
- Classic Chicken Parmesan
My sister ordered this and let me have a portion of it so that I could cross it off my list. It would probably have been better if I had ordered it, so that the pasta was hot. But the chicken was pretty good, and I’m sure the whole dish would’ve been lovely. But as I ate, I did remember that while I love chicken and pasta, chicken parmesan with marinara sauce is not my favorite combination of those foods. It’s one that I always think is a good basic food, but one I don’t actually enjoy as much as I think I’m going to.
- Riblet Platter
Got these when my sister was in front of me so she could eat some. For having BBQ flavor, they were pretty good (remember, I’m not a fan of barbecue?). HOWEVER! Who in the world decided that ribs were a great dish to make and serve to people when it is all slathered in sauce? Ribs are ridiculous to eat! You eat them in the privacy of your own home when you can gnaw the bones or where you have a sink right next to you, or else the waiter has to bring extra napkins over because the plethora of bones makes it RIDICULOUS to eat! Who would ever intentionally choose that method of consuming meat over other methods? I barely managed to eat everything with a knife and a fork and was indignant at having to grab it with my fingers. Ribs are NOT going to be on my menu again anytime soon. Worst way to eat meat in public. Get your act together, somebody!
I’ve been having a kind of stressful year. Well, the last two years have been stressful, I guess. Don’t get me wrong, I love owning my house and being on my own and learning about responsibility and all that fun stuff… but ever since I lost my steady office job 2 years ago, I’ve been having a hard time both getting to a stable place financially (which causes a lot of stress when you’re suddenly paying bills and house repairs that you never had to worry about before) and finding confidence in my “work” part of my life.
Through various stresses and situations, I have been struggling with feeling inadequate. It’s hard not to compare myself to people who seem to have their life more together than me, or who have more ambitious goals, or who seem to have fewer struggles with the things that are really hard for me.
Add to that… I’ve been going through a spiritual dry spell for about 4 years, and while I’ve had good moments and am hopefully on the upswing, not connecting with God like I want to has made the whole “life thing” a little bit harder. I keep thinking to myself “if I could just spend more time with God, if I could read my Bible more faithfully, if I could relearn to connect with God in song, then a whole lot of these problems would be easier”. And yet I still haven’t gotten back into consistency with most of those things.
I was sharing some of my inner struggles and worries with some Christians earlier this year, and someone asked me what my biggest fears were. My two-fold answer is the same deep-rooted worry that’s been in the depths of my heart as long as I can remember: 1) I’m afraid that who I am now won’t ever change… 2) I’m afraid that I won’t find my purpose in life.
I have confidence in who God is and in His power; I have confidence that He can. I tend to doubt that He will.
I don’t have answers to all this. I have Scriptures to cling to, but I haven’t quite knocked out that niggling, mental commentary that says I am somehow holding God up by my lack of initiative, knowledge, and ability to grow.
You know, sometimes I get jealous of people who have all of the flashy, “draw-attention-to-themselves” talents that some Christians have. But deep down, what I really want is to have a heart like Jesus’. I don’t need attention or awards or accolades. I just want to know that I am moldable, that I am a (wo)man after God’s own heart, that my simple pursuit of Him will bring Him joy and can be used to lift up those around me. I get discouraged when I feel like even that’s not happening, like all the compassion and kindness I wish to live out is somehow less than it should be or selfishly motivated. And feeling like even the simplest of things I try to do is wrong can get discouraging.
But maybe the desire to desire God is enough for today? Here is the chorus of Nichole Nordeman’s song “Your Heart” that she wrote from the perspective of King David:
At the end of the day I wanna hear people say
My heart looks like Your heart, my heart looks like Your heart
When the world looks at me, let them agree
That my heart looks like Your heart, my heart looks like Your heart
Maybe having a long cry over wanting to be more like Jesus is already on the way to having a heart like His. Maybe God is pleased with the way I want to pursue Him, even if I don’t always succeed. Maybe the first step of being like humble, being like Jesus, is by saying that I know I’m not there, but being willing to be willing to be so. It’s not even about trying hard enough, because we can always try harder. It’s about caring about trying. Even that simple desire towards desire, when that’s all I can muster up in a day, that’s enough for Jesus to be pleased with me. Our works mean nothing; God looks at and knows our hearts, and as someone who is covered in the righteousness of Christ because of what HE has done, God loves what He sees when He sees me.
You know what else I thought about the other day? God knows the end of my story. He knows my story arc. He sees every episode of my life, and He knows where all my points of growth are. I had this revelation that, if my life is a TV show that God created… I need to remember that He is NOT impatiently watching each episode in order to get to the ending. God isn’t saying “ugh, I have to get through all of these boring seasons of Bethany being stupid before she is finally who I want her to be”.
God does not look at my life like that. He LOVES watching each episode, because He likes spending time with me! He finds me adorable; he laughs when I’m being goofy and wants to give me a hug when I’m going through a tough time. He relishes the moments that I’m learning, and he sees where all of the story is going even when I’m stuck in the center of the drama. But He DOESN’T make the story just to get to a perfect end goal. He makes the story because He loves the process, and He wants to walk with me through the process. I’m one of His favorite characters.
I don’t know why that analogy hit me so hard, but realizing that God is not just sitting around and waiting for me to get better, knowing that He is walking with me despite all the mistakes and all of the drama and loving every moment because He loves His creation… that somehow really connects with me and give me a new perspective. And yet He loves me so much more than any TV show character, because our lives are real. Thank you, God, for creating my story and finding me adorable.
Who’s ready for another Chris Rice blog? I haven’t blogged in a while and wanted to do one, so this is a previously prepped blog for your enjoyment. If you don’t like Chris Rice as much as I do, well, it’s probably because you haven’t had enough exposure to his songs! So I’m going to help you by providing you with a playlist of how Chris Rice’s songs can get you through your whole day! Let’s get started.
Time to wake up! One always needs a good, energetic tune to get one moving in the morning, so play all three of these songs or pick just one:
-If you wake up “Smellin’ Coffee” after a long night’s sleep, then you should be ready to kiss yesterday goodbye and embrace the fresh morning with a cup of java in your hands and the birds singing out the window.
-If you’re an artistic person, sing an ode to your creative side by listening to “So Much for My Sad Song” and let that inspire you to write something happy!
-As your alarm starts ringing and you rush to beat the clock, let “Tick Tock” set the mood of your day by reminding you to live life to the fullest.
Although this song may not have a lot to do with eating, this pleasant tune IS called “Breakfast Table”, so hum along while you make yourself some toast and imagine what it’ll be like when you can reunite with passed loved ones in Heaven.
Driving to Work
Now it’s time to head off to work, or to school, depending on your vocation. So you turn on your music to Chris Rice singing “On the Other Side of the Radio”! Do you feel that connection? “Maybe this’ll bring us together somehow”? You’re bonding already and your day is just getting started!
Life Goes Downhill A Little
Alright, so maybe you drop a box of glass items when you’re trying to stock the shelves, accidentally delete your work report that you wrote yesterday, or trip over a puddle of spilled chocolate milk in the cafeteria. It’s ok! Just remember that no matter how “Clumsy” you get, God is always loving you and wants to be near you.
You See Your Crush
Suddenly, you spot that person that you like, the one who makes your heart pitter-pat a little bit faster! Do you talk to them? Do you play it cool? Whatever you do, don’t panic! Just take a deep breath and listen to “Here Comes Those Eyes” for some sympathy and understanding.
Going to Lunch
Time for lunch! How did your day go?
-If you’re feeling embarrassed about your clumsiness and your crush encounter, cheer up with the song “Everything’s Ok” as you go out to lunch with a friend, spend some catch-up time with God or connect with a favorite character in a book you’re reading!
-If your encounter went well and you’re walking on air, drink a glass to the song “Lemonade” as you dwell on all the good things in your life. I’m a sucker for happy endings!
Ah, good old social media. It can be both a wonderful way to connect with people, as well as a way to get irritated very easily.
-If you feel like all that you’re seeing is ranting and raving from people who seem set in their ways … it’s time to play “You Don’t Have to Yell”, and make sure YOU’RE taking the time to listen and being wise with what you post.
-If your feed is full of good memories and Buzzfed quizzes about the 80’s, reminding you of simpler times, you can listen to “8th Grade” to remember that you made it through life so far.
-Sick of everybody being on their phones all the time? Listen to “Kids Again” and then run outside to play in your backyard instead!
You finally get a break from your day and have a chance to relax and get a quick power nap! Fall asleep to the pleasant song “Deep Enough to Dream” as you let pictures of Heaven drift you into slumberland. And make sure you listen to “Questions for Heaven” when you wake up, to remind you to store up all the questions for God that you gather throughout your day!
Out and About on the Town
-With Heaven on your mind, you head out to do your end-of-day errands and reflect on the importance of sharing and caring about others. Rock out to the inspirational driving song “Me and Becky” as you go!
-As you pull into the grocery store, you see a homeless person standing with a sign on the sidewalk. Click to play “Face of Christ” as an encouragement to be more giving and less judging as you hand them a gift card or just smile and say “hello”.
-Continue this awareness of other people as you finish your errands; notice the joys and the sorrows of life, listen to “The Final Move”, and remember that love always wins.
Getting a Drink
Don’t forget to stay hydrated… so when you get “Thirsty”, slow down and sip your favorite beverage and listen to this melancholy tune about the journey to find true spiritual water.
Main Event of the Day
Whether you are heading out to a movie at the end of a long work day, or it’s the weekend and you’re ready to party, there are several song choices according to your taste!
-If you’re heading out to watch the newest Marvel movie, listen to “I Need A Hero” to remind yourself of our need for a Savior.
-Going to see a magician or a carnival? “Magic Wand” is the song for you as you ponder the wonders of magic (or lack thereof) in this world!
-Par-tay!!! While Chris Rice’s music isn’t exactly, well, hip-hop, you can listen to the cheerful and charming “Circle Up” and dance to it!
-Maybe you’re spending the day out on the lake or the ocean with a family member! Reconnect with your relations and have some spiritual discussions as you sway on the water to “Sailing With Russell”.
-If you plan on just staying inside and watching TV, you can appreciate this tribute to fictional characters as you listen to “Cartoons”.
Worried About a Friend
We all have people in our lives that we know are going through something tough… maybe they’ve been in your mind or you got a chance to talk to them today. Listen to “Spare an Angel” and spend a few minutes praying for them, or let the energetic “Love Like Crazy” inspire you to take the initiative and make their life a little bit better.
As you head home for the night, watching the sunset and thinking of your day, it’s time to enjoy some easygoing tunes. Admire the world around you as you listen to “Hallelujahs”, or contemplate which of these songs you enjoyed the most as you imagine when “The Best Song Ever” will be written.
Whether you like to read before going to sleep or have a child who wants a bedtime story, “Tell Me the Story Again” is a great listen while you pick just the right book.
Maybe this is a command from you to your children, maybe you’re experiencing a power outage, or perhaps you just want some low lighted candles to enjoy the quiet of the evening. “Carry Your Candle” around the house while you listen to this song!
It’s the end of a long day! How do you feel like ending it?
-Keep your window open and listen to “I See the Moon” so you can fall asleep to the glowing stars overhead and the people you love on your mind
-Perhaps you have insomnia troubles and tend to stay awake with questions for a long time; go ahead and give your concerns to God as you remember that He is “Big Enough”.
-Spend some time in prayer as you listen to the melancholy “Missin’ You” before falling asleep.
Morning AND Evening Songs
If you like having a song that’s great for both beginning and closing your day, one of these might just do the trick:
-“And Your Praise Goes On” is a sweet and gentle song that sings about how all of creation, from morning to work to death, is all about bringing glory to God.
-You can wake up to the first verse of “Sleepyhead Sun” for a good lazy Saturday, and then end it by listening to the last verse as the sun sets.
-If you’re looking for a reminder of the importance of a simple 24 hours, let this sweet song get stuck in your head and prove that “Life Means So Much”.
(I like how my titles have no consistent formatting for this particular blog series.)
A Book That Was Published This Year
- Judah’s Wife: A Novel of the Maccabees (The Silent Years) by Angela Hunt
I’ve read a lot by Angela Hunt and have gotten into some of her Biblical fiction, though that’s not usually a genre I particularly enjoy. This is the start of her new series about characters in the Maccabees, something that I know absolutely nothing about, so I can’t say anything on the accuracy of her fiction. (Accuracy of her fiction… that feels like it’s an oxymoron?) It was fairly interesting, but not great. It definitely had some good elements to the storytelling, but it dragged a bit too much for me to really get into it. I’ll keep up with the rest of the series, but not very adamantly.
A Book You Can Read In A Day
- Six Kids and a Stuffed Cat by Gary Paulsen
The Time Hackers by Gary Paulsen
The Schernoff Discoveries by Gary Paulsen
I randomly picked an author who had multiple short-enough books that looked interesting. The only one I read in a day was the first, but I’ll give a brief review of each one!
- SIX KIDS: A very short book about quirky kids who get caught in a bathroom during a false alarm storm; a new kid, the narrating kid, and 4 others who don’t normally hang out. They have conversations, ask questions, bond and eventually leave the bathroom as friends. It’s silly but quite fun, and it has a play version of itself in the back of the book!
- TIME HACKERS: This had a more complex plot and right now I can’t remember most of it, but the world set-up is interesting and it’s also a good and entertaining read. I think I was a little confused by the ending but not in a bad way, just in a “time is confusing” kind of way. It had a satisfactory last few pages.
- SCHERNOFF: The longest of the 3, this follows two awkward teenage boys from years ago and their wonky adventures together because of the crazy one’s imagination. This was one of those where you know every chapter is going to end ridiculously and they’ll probably “learn a lesson” about things not to do, but they’ll have fun along the way. This one had a slightly more mature tone to it, as if the author was describing his real life with a slightly adult perspective on it. It was pretty good.
A Book You’ve Been Meaning To Read
- Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson
I loved The Reckoners Series by the same author and have been meaning to read this because all my non-reading brothers love it. Book 1 was definitely enjoyable. It has a great premise with fun characters, even though there were a few that I don’t care about yet. But Alcatraz is a great narrator, like a less sophisticated, more sarcastic Lemony Snicket. (I was going to say “more cynical”, but I don’t think that’s possible.) And the story definitely has potential to have a lot of growth as it goes on. It was a great opening book and I look forward to finishing the rest of it.
A Book Recommendation From A Librarian
- Bunnicula by James Howe
Recommended by Beth, this is a kids book that was also one I read in a day. I didn’t know how dark it was going to be (the cover pictures are kind of scary!) but it was just the right amount of “almost-darkness” followed by a good wrap-up that made it just right for me. It’s silly, clever and the narrating dog is quite fun. I would recommend this to several of my siblings.
A Book I Should Have Read In School
- Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
I vaguely remembered visuals from the movie as a child but I didn’t really remember the plot. This turned out to be an easy read with a good main character and a touching story. I’m usually not that into animal stories, but the author did a good job of getting into the head and heart of the kid and showing just how much the dogs meant to him. The ending was, of course, quite sad; I was a little thrown by the way the parents comforted him at the end of the book. It felt a bit insensitive at first, but I think that’s because I’ve had so much discussion with people around me about how to handle people who are grieving, and for this kid it’s possible that what he DID need was a reason to believe why what happened happened, rather than thinking that it happened for no reason. So I guess it worked out.
A Book Recommendation By A Family Member/Friend
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
This was recommended by my friend Jami. As soon as I started this, I knew it was going to take some work to get into it because the dialogue was written out SO slangy that it was really hard to follow. I can hear and understand this kind of talk all right when it’s in a movie, but seeing it on paper is just a harder process. But I eventually got used to it, and for the most part I enjoyed the rest of the story. It was set in the 30’s about a young woman named Janie who is pushed into marrying for convenience and her regrets and mistakes and eventual happy endings that follow as she starts making decisions for herself. It’s set in the black community so there’s not a lot of content about division between different races (though there are one or two scenes about it), but it has some strong examples of some prejudiced mindsets amongst the community itself and the division between upper and lower classes. It was a very interesting read, although there was a scene that caused an angry rant on Facebook from me about how to treat women. I don’t think I’d read it again because it was so difficult to get through, but I’m glad I have read it once.
By the way, here’s an example of the slang writing: “All day Ah’m pickin’ beans. All night Ah’m pickin’ mah box and rollin’ dice. Between de beans and de dice Ah can’t lose. Ah’m gone right now tuh pick me uh job uh work wid de best man on de muck. Before de rest of ’em gits heah. You can always git jobs round heah in de season, but not wid de right folks.”
A Book That Was Published Before I Was Born
- Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
I had not realized that this was written back in 1979, so I was excited to do a lighter book for this category. And for a non-romantic adult book, you don’t get a whole lot lighter than this! Unless everything in here has some deep, double meaning, this was pretty much a Wayside School-style story of just silly jokes, fun sci-fi-ish plot without any real conclusion (did he plan on making the sequels originally?) and him just having fun making stuff up. I laughed out loud a few times. It felt fun but pointless; not in an “why would anyone ever waste their life on this?” way (though some may still ask that question) but more of an “I’m pretty sure he doesn’t mean anything dramatic in there, I think he’s just enjoying whatever’s coming off of his typewriter” way. Anyway, I might have to go find the sequels because while I’m not exactly falling off the edge of my seat to find out what happens next, it was definitely enjoyable and I am curious.
After months of struggling through Don Quixote, taking some time off to catch up on some other books (aka reread LOTR), and then finally getting back into these ones, I finished my Book Challenge part 2! I have finished the original challenge the first time through, so now I just have to do it all again with different books. So here are my reviews for the last 7 types of books I read!
A BOOK THAT WAS BANNED BEFORE
- Grapes of Wrath (by John Steinbeck)
I was rather intrigued by the format in this one, where there would be one regular chapter about the Joad family and their trip, followed by a chapter that’s… kind of hard to describe, but is a fascinating literary trip through the minds of banks, and the folks who have to leave, and the stores that they stop at, and the Californian land-owners; sometimes it was dialogue with no narration, other times it was a rhythmic, verb-filled description of tractors destroying things. It was kinda cool. Other than that, I think the book was written well and gave quite an interesting perspective into that time in history. It got pretty depressing near the ending, but I guess it got across its message. Other than “this is what happens when greedy people push poor people around, don’t do it”, it really had a strong theme of sticking together and the poor helping each other out.—
A BOOK I DIDN’T FINISH
- Wicked (by Gregory MaGuire)
I heard that the book was definitely different from the musical that was based on this, and that I probably wouldn’t like it. Whoever said that was right! It was weird, and really hard to follow, and super political but in a world that I didn’t understand, and I didn’t get either Galinda or Elphaba as characters very much. Parts of it were interesting, and I will always be grateful for the way it inspired Wicked the musical, but this will not be one I will be rereading. It was just too bizarre and unpleasant.—
A BOOK THAT I OWN BUT NEVER READ
- The Fiction Class (by Susan Breen)
I bought this cheap at a book sale because why would I not enjoy a book about a class learning to write fiction? Which sounds like I’m going to explain to you why I didn’t like it, but I actually did. It was a pleasant story with some good conversations in the actual classroom about writing, the main character was fairly complex but not unrelatable, and the chapters had all these different “writing challenges” and “prompts” at the end which really made me want to try them out. It wasn’t anything super memorable, but I’m not sorry I bought it and it would be an easy reread for a “before bedtime” book.—
A BOOK THAT’S INTIMIDATING
- Don Quixote (by Miguel De Cervantes)
Oh my goodness, the notorious Don Quixote which took me 7 months to finish! This book was fairly easy to understand when it was focusing on the action or on the characters telling stories (Don and Sancho were constantly running into strangers who told them chapter-long stories); it occasionally was hard to decipher what was being talked about when the characters had debates about chivalry and politics. Don is an iconic character who is kind of fascinating and Sancho has some hilarious moments. But it was just so long! The unchanging and unreasonable part of Don Quixote’s character got me very frustrated at times and caused it to drag. Also, the ending felt abrupt and kind of really sad. But I got through it eventually, and I made it, and I can say I’m glad I’ve read it, and I am now very worried about my next intimidating book!—
A BOOK I’VE ALREADY READ
- Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Bronte)
I hadn’t read this since high school and only remembered a few vague things about it. This is not in competition with most of my favorite Victorian books for awesomeness in my opinion; I love Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Emma. (Though I’m always biased by books where I grew up watching the movie first.) This one is still pretty interesting; the plot is definitely a bit weird, and I think the ending bit with St. John is kind of fascinating. There are parts that really work, and I think I understood her character. But I have a hard time liking Mr. Rochester; he’s controlling, pushy and grumpy. I’m not bothered by him enough that I think it was wrong for her to marry him; for whatever reason they make each other happy, and it definitely resolves in a way that he learns to chill a bit. But I think it’ll take some movie watching to decide if this is a story I really enjoy/respect or not.—
A BOOK THAT WAS MADE INTO A MOVIE
- The Fault in Our Stars (by John Green)
I quite enjoyed the movie, and from what I remember of it it was a good interpretation of this book. This story has very real characters with plenty of humorous moments, plus it has a good blend of both cynicism and heart. I think I understood her obsession with the author better in the book, too, so that part made more sense. It didn’t get my emotions the way that it did for most people I know, but it was well-worth the read and one I will definitely look for to buy and reread.—
- Cyrano De Bergerac (by Edmond Rostand)
I’ve heard raves about this character from my older sister who’s recommended this to me for years. I definitely think he’s an awesome character; his magical wordplay, audacity and stupid courage makes him super fun, plus his vulnerability with his one thing he doesn’t have the courage to do helps make him more complex than just “the man with all the nerve”. I think this one would be great to see onstage; plays always feel like they go by so fast when reading them, and I feel like I would get more out of the other people and the politics and the warring plot and all that. But this is definitely an important one I needed to have read, and I definitely liked it!
I did another February “Romance Movie Watching” challenge this year; my goal was 5, and I managed to get in 12! I took a bunch of suggestions from Facebook people, and there were only 8 suggestions that I didn’t get to. I also added a few of my own. So here are my reviews!
LARRY CROWNE (suggested by Stephanie)
This movie is well-cast with a fairly simple premise; it’s a pleasant watch, I liked the main characters, and I laughed a few times. It just didn’t have any strong connection for me emotionally. I found myself not understanding the motives of the characters, and while we saw Hanks and Roberts in their individual lives, they didn’t get enough “together/watching them fall in love” time for the ending to be very triumphant. It also kept almost playing around with “taboo” things; the older guy and the younger girl, the (married) teacher and the student… never an actual problem, but kind of distracting. But I think I liked the conclusion. And one highlight was that the girl who plays Charlotte Lu in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was in this movie for a few seconds!
HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN TEN DAYS (suggested by Susie)
While this was not very deep, it was definitely an entertaining watch, with the intentional over-the-top plot making the silliness work and causing me to giggle out loud multiple times. Since both characters had their own agenda, I didn’t have to feel bad for either one, which helped to make the Kate Hudson nonsense bearable as she did a great job of being horribly annoying. I do wish that he had kind of apologized at the end of the movie, since it was both of their faults and I kind of felt like she’s the one who had to “learn the lesson”, which didn’t seem fair. But despite that, I will happily put it down as an enjoyed RomCom.
FRENCH KISS (suggested by Emma)
In contrast to the previous movie, this romance has a subtle humor to it, with more “meat” in getting to know the characters than either of the first two. I enjoy seeing their friendship develop, and they both were realistic but likeable characters. It had a complex enough plot that it wasn’t exactly what I suspected and I wasn’t always sure where it was going, which was a good thing, and the transition from liking one guy to liking the other felt natural. This didn’t necessarily leave a strong impression on me, and I don’t know if the plot or characters or humor will stick with me far into the future. But I did like it, and this is the type of movie that might really grow on me after multiple viewings.
BAREFOOT IN THE PARK
This was a random movie that I watched at 4am, but I’m pretty sure I was awake enough to give it an authentic review. 🙂 I was drawn into this one pretty quickly; Jane and Robert’s banter had enough wit, sarcasm and affection that I giggled out loud several times right off the bat. The pacing was good, the characters were likeable, it was a bit silly at moments but also super sweet. I really liked Robert Redford’s character, and although Jane Fonda was funny, I was kind of thrown by how quickly their fight made her go insane; either I can’t relate to her character at all, or their fight scene was too over-the-top because there was no reason for her to get that instantly mad. But it resolved itself well for the most part and it captured my attention throughout. It also had really cute music!
BYE BYE BIRDIE
Didn’t have super high hopes for this one since I don’t like the soundtrack much, but I needed to see it anyway. It had some good moments; I enjoyed the dance sequence in the teen bar (Hugo’s voice is better than Birdie’s), and the song where they all faint is silly, and Dick Van Dyke is mostly charming in “Put On a Happy Face” even though it’s super cheesy. But I was annoyed by Dick Van Dyke’s entire plot, and although I love him in Mary Poppins and his TV show, I am not a fan of his character or his acting in this; he’s just awkward. I liked Hugo and Kim’s storyline best; they were sweet and fairly believable.
RETURN TO ME (suggested by Susie)
I knew nothing about this going into it, but I started predicting things that would happen pretty quickly. (Though that’s kind of usual in a romcom, so I guess I shouldn’t hold it against it.) It was a pleasant movie, with neither main character being particularly special, but they certainly weren’t annoying. It had funny and sweet moments, and I really enjoyed the group of older men and their banter; they were quite charming. The plot in this has a good blend of sweet and tragic, but I just wasn’t as moved by the execution of the story as I felt like I was supposed to be.
MOONSTRUCK (suggested by Kristin)
Definitely a quirky movie; was I supposed to be laughing at Nicolas Cage’s overdramatic character who is just ridiculous? I am going to think that I am, hoping that it’s a kind of sweet, tongue-in-cheek cheesiness and not supposed to be super serious. The story does have some somber moments, which are a nice compliment to the quirky ambiance of the film. I thought it was sweet and entertaining with a good conclusion, and Cher was absolutely the character she was supposed to be.
I recently reread the book and am planning on watching other movie versions. Obviously trying to condense a Victorian novel into a 1 hour 40 minute movie will take out some content, and I understand that; but removing the majority of the end transition (all the stuff that happens with her while she’s living with St. John) threw me off. I feel like it doesn’t give her enough of a change in motivation before her final decision. I have a hard time liking Mr. Rochester, both in this movie and the book, but Ciaran Hinds seemed to do him fairly accurately. I think I should watch another few movie versions to see how this one ranks in comparison before I judge it too harshly for not getting the book right.
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S ROMEO + JULIET
First “non West Side Story” version of this that I’ve seen. Leo Dicaprio is always super cute, and he is no exception in this movie. Despite the fact that Romeo is a bit of a fickle dweeb, Leo at least plays his character with a lot of heart and charm, and Juliet was good. I wasn’t a big fan of the artistic choices for ambiance, though I liked dramatic opening with the narration and the ominous music.
However, whether it’s the play itself or my misunderstanding of this movie, I have a hard time seeing how the feud actually led to Romeo and Juliet dying. I’m pretty sure they were running away because there was no way her parents would let her marry Romeo, but that was because she was already set up with a rich dude; if he was just poor (and wasn’t a Montague), it would’ve been the same issue, and HE only died because he’s overdramatic and chose to take the poison, followed by her for the same reason! If the whole thing is supposed to say “prejudice leads to all of the destruction”, WSS does a much better job of telling that than this movie.
DIRTY DANCING (suggested by Kristin)
This was the “famous” one I wanted to get in this month. The plot wasn’t what I expected, but I guess I didn’t really know anything about it. I think I enjoyed both the characters; Swayze was more vulnerable and less “punk” than I expected, and the girl was sweet and believable. I really liked the moment when she apologized to her father but was still honest about how he was treating her. And the dancing was fun, with not as much “dirty dancing” as I thought it would have; it had actual DANCE dances, which was great to watch. Overall, I liked it but I don’t have a lot to say about it.
BENNY AND JOON (suggested by Eli)
I saw this YEARS ago and remembered maybe 2 moments from it, so I didn’t even realize until my rewatch that Benny was the brother and not Johnny Depp! Actually understanding the plot on it this time around, I liked it a lot. I loved the cute quirkiness of the music and of Johnny Depp’s character. I definitely get how it was more about the brother and Joon, though; the romance was a conduit for the siblings to work through their issues and for her to gain independence that was leading towards something, and while I was probably more entertained by Sam than Benny (which was the point), the depth of the character dynamics made this more than just a cute romance.
RUBY SPARKS (suggested by Hannah)
This one was super creative! It was done really well and Paul Dano did a fantastic job. I loved the blend of comedy and dark tones throughout; the montage when she wouldn’t stop touching him was very giggly, but then it veered quickly into more serious issues, and the climactic scene in the movie where he’s typing is so eerie and haunting. But the movie also resolves itself well. I had some theories about what the movie means that I don’t think I was necessarily SUPPOSED to think, but I’m satisfied with the conclusion either way.
MY TOP THREE:
Barefoot in the Park
MY BOTTOM THREE:
Bye Bye Birdie
Romeo and Juliet
MOVIES I’LL WANT TO WATCH AGAIN
Benny and Joon
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
MOVIES THAT I HAD TROUBLE CONNECTING WITH
Return to Me
It’s been a little while since I’ve been this sensitive to tearing up unexpectedly. But I cried in the dentist’s office yesterday when they asked me if I wanted to pay the extra $300 to sedate myself in a future surgery; I cried because I would much rather be sedated than see them pulling out my teeth, but I didn’t know if I could afford it.
I cried today right after a phone interview that was cut short because I tried to honestly answer the question “can you stand on your feet for 8 hours?”, and when she sensed that the stand-up job wasn’t what I wanted she asked if I wanted to cancel the interview; I cried because I don’t know if I’m supposed to be picky and only apply for sit-down jobs or if I need to just suck it up and take whatever job might be offered to me.
I know that I’m not in the worst of situations; in fact, I’m pretty lucky right now! My sister and I bought a house last year that we both love living in, we both have steady part-time jobs, I have good friends, and there are plenty of things that I love to do in my community and my church.
And yet I’m super stressed out lately. I have random parts of my body that are always in pain (my feet and my shoulders) and even though I know there are people with much more debilitating and chronic pain than I have, it’s still stressful to have a job that just exacerbates it the more days I work in a row.
I’m also super stressed about finances. God keeps providing in some cool ways, but every time I think I might be able to see my savings grow rather than shrink, I have to fix my car or pull my teeth or something else comes up that takes another large chunk of money out of my account.
And I’m just tired of filling out job applications. I have filled out 73 since February, I’ve had probably 12 different interviews (both for jobs I didn’t really want and for jobs I really did) with no luck so far on either a full-time or a sit-down job. Someone tells me “oh I heard this place is hiring, you should check it out” and I think “maybe this is the one!”… but nothing has panned out yet.
This may not be the most dire of situations, but finding a good job and getting financially stable and keeping my pain at bay are all things that I have no control over. I have this strong, emotional weight over me that keeps coming out in the form of heavy sighs or random tears or just wanting to throw my laptop down and escape from job applications into all the Netflix shows. I keep praying and asking God again and again to “fix this”, but why hasn’t it changed yet?
I have had Nichole Nordeman’s song “Gratitude” running through my head lately. It’s about how we pray to Jesus for rain, and bread, and peace, and yet we still have to understand that He is good even if we don’t get what we want when we ask. When I wake up in the middle of the night with tooth pain and just cry that God would make all my problems go away, I may not wake up with a better job, but I do go to sleep with a stronger sense of God being next to me.
Nichole also does a song called “Every Season”, which talks about how she can see God in every season of life; in the joy of summer, in the change of fall, in the sleep of winter, in the new life of spring. Even though some seasons of life are “prettier” than others, God is still here and a part of it, and He’s working even if we don’t see it.
I don’t know when I’ll get another job; I don’t know if I’ll ever get my ideal job. What I do know is that God has not left me, and He’s not just enjoying watching me flounder. He’s using this season for a reason in my life, maybe to teach me how to trust Him better, maybe to give me stronger character, which I could always use. And at some point I will come out of the hibernation of winter and see new beginnings where it feels like it’s just been blizzarding desert. Until then, I will try to remember who’s got my back, and remember that He loves me more than I can imagine.
“We’ll give thanks to You, with gratitude,
In lessons learned in how to trust in You
That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream
In abundance or in need,
And if You never grant us peace
But, Jesus, would You please?”
A few years ago when I quit McDonald’s, I wrote a blog about 5 things I learned while I was working there. So now that I’m no longer working at CCM, I figured it would be appropriate to do the same type of blog for that job!
To sum it up, CCM is a healthcare sharing ministry for Christians that has a large location in Melbourne, Florida, a smaller location in Illinois and recently opened up one in Colorado. Our Illinois department basically dealt with incoming bills by getting them to the right department and then processing them, which required a lot of focus with minimal distractions. Many employees of CCM are remote employees and work from their own homes.
I first started working at Christian Care as a temp in June 2014; I became the main mail sorter and worked at that for 9 months. In March of 2015, I got hired on full-time and started doing more computer work. In October of 2016 I transitioned to working from home, which I loved… but the work I knew how to do was growing scarce, and my attempt to learn one of the more complicated tasks proved to be much harder than I expected. So they switched me to a seasonal department in December, and when the work ran out in January I was let go.
So after my total of 2 years and 7 months working there, here are 8 things I learned in the office!
- The Importance of Community
It was understood that having many remote employees meant that it was probably going to be harder for them to feel connected to the rest of the workers. Even our smaller office felt out of touch from the larger location at times. So the leaders tried to find ways for everyone to stay connected as a community in spite of the distance!
– We gathered for chapel every Thursday and had devos every Tuesday
– We had food and fellowship day once a month and all our remote area employees commuted in
– There were email groups for prayers and praises
– There were walking, baking and decorating contests throughout the year
– Christmas brought Secret Santas and “Random Act of Kindness” challenges to get to know employees you didn’t know well
– Skype, videos, pictures, conference calls and emails were utilized to bring everyone together at various times
I loved the creativity that led my co-workers and I to make friends with each other and with those that we worked with on the other side of the country. Since the work was often very isolating, it was great to have so many technological and face-to-face outlets for making connections.
- How to Use the Right Hand Keypad
One of the most practical things I learned while working at CCM was how to use the numeric keypad on the side of my keyboard. I had never had a need to type so many numbers before, and was not particularly fast at the keys on the top of the alphabet. So with the speedy data entry I needed to complete, I was forced to learn how to use the numbers on the side… and it wasn’t long before I was an expert at typing away with phone numbers, socials and certification numbers!
- Ask Questions
My learning style is what I’m gonna call “instructional hands on with a guide”; I like being told what to do and then trying to do it while somebody watches me to make sure I’m doing it right. Attention to detail was very important in my work, so in order to learn exactly what I needed to do, it was important that I was able to ask questions.
If you give me the ability to do written communication, I’ve realized that I can be a bit overwhelming with how long and rambly my emails/texts/Facebook messages are. I’m sure I annoyed my supervisors several times with how much I pestered them with questions until I learned how to condense and figure things out on my own. 🙂 But they were very patient, and the “make sure you know that you’re doing it right” mentality served me well. There were times when I had to figure things out based on my own expertise, but knowing when to ask questions and being willing to do the work to get the answers I needed saved me from a lot of mistakes.
- I Enjoy Simplistic Work
As someone who has never had a dream job or a career plan, it’s nice to find something I like to do, and there were 3 distinct times where I had the kind of work that made me say “I enjoy doing this every day”.
The first was the mail table. I liked physically handling the mail, I liked the organization of it, I liked having to rush to get it done and the satisfaction of getting through a Monday; I liked gaining enough of an expertise on it that I got to train the newbies; I liked knowing the answer to where a document went, and having a partner to sit next to and chat with.
After that, I moved to the computer and became in charge of multiple tasks: indexing documents, sorting out the faxed documents, printing medical CDs, logging in received checks, and being the back-up mail person. Occasionally having so many responsibilities was a little stressful because I have a tendency to procrastinate, but I also loved the variety of jobs and the satisfaction of completing all of it.
Lastly, I learned the task of “keying in RXs”, which was processing prescription costs. They were more complex than indexing, but their consistency made it easy to learn the ropes; they were interesting enough to not be monotonous, but routine enough that I could listen to music and still focus on them.
Those 3 different phases of my work were times that I really enjoyed. I like the feeling of doing something that I know really way, and I like simplistic organizational tasks. So hopefully in the future I can find jobs that let me do the same kinds of things!
- My Handwriting Is Really Recognizable
Since I did mail I had things that I wrote on, so people who did mail alongside me caught onto what my handwriting looks like. Which meant that, during our Secret Santa’s, I had to try and disguise my handwriting on cards and such by writing in different fonts or using my right hand. But even when I did that, there were people who could always recognize that it was mine. So whether that means that they have good eyes for handwriting or that my writing is so distinctly “me” (and if it’s the former whether it’s a compliment or not), I am not sure. But I will have to come up with some new tricks in case this type of thing happens in the future. *starts collecting magazines and newspapers for cutting out words*
- Take The Initiative
Being in the new job, it took me a while to feel the freedom to jump in with chitchat or share during devos without being specifically addressed. So when I started to feel myself getting closer with my co-workers and finding my place in the group settings, I wanted to get into the practice of taking the initiative.
I’ve been working on improving my friendships the last few years, and “initiative” is one thing I’ve been focusing on. So I tried to send people emails to thank them if they said or did something encouraging. I tried to tell people what I appreciated about them when I thought of it. If I had an idea to make another person laugh, I tried to follow through on it. I am not always the best at conversing with people I don’t know super well, but remembering that I was half of the relationship helped my perspective. I made some great friends at CCM, mostly because they are super nice people and take the initiative themselves… but I am glad that I put the effort in that I did because I know we’ll still get together as friends even though we’re no longer co-workers.
- Stop Being Afraid
Another thing I was focusing on the last few years was to not NOT do something because I was afraid. Not that I had to do everything that was scary, but if fear was the only thing holding me back, I had to find another reason or go through with it. I didn’t live by that entirely (there are lots of things I wish I had done or need to work on) but it did help me a couple of times. I had several opportunities to lead activities and teams during my time at CCM, and I enjoyed jumping into those even though it was a little intimidating.
The thing I learn about not being afraid is that it doesn’t mean whatever I do is going to be perfect; being courageous doesn’t always pay off with a flawless performance or without being rejected. But taking that step and being willing to accept the outcome of the risk is something I can always learn to be better at. It’s something I’m going to keep in mind in the future, because even when I audition for plays or jump into a temporary job offered to me or initiate a conversation with someone who intimidates me, being willing to do it even if I make mistakes will help me become more courageous anyway. And that’s worth it.
One day as I was sitting at home in my kitchen in the year 2014, Elizabeth came up to me and said, “Hey you and I both have jobs, cars and are adults who are interested in independence… wanna buy a house together?” and I said, “Yes!”
I’m paraphrasing (obviously I don’t remember the exact conversation… it was over two years ago!) but that’s pretty much how this journey began. We both decided that we were ready to think about moving out… we knew that going in together would be cheaper, easier and less scary… and we had confidence that we could live in the same house without trying to kill each other! So thus began….
THE PLANNING PHASE
We knew pretty quickly that we wanted to get a house instead of an apartment. Neither of us liked the idea of spending several hundred dollars every month that never went towards anything. With a house we could do all of our own decorating and remodeling, we would be making an investment that would return our money in the long run, and if we got one that was big enough we could consider getting a roommate to help cover the costs. And since our parents let us continue living at home until things were settled, we had the time to save up for it.
Step 1.) We built up credit! We both got credit cards and made sure we paid off our car insurance and phone bills monthly. We needed at least a year’s worth of multiple payments for each of us in order to get a loan.
Step 2.) Save up for a deposit! I told my work friends that I wanted to save up $10,000 to cover deposits and immediate move-in expenses by the time we were ready to buy a house.
For almost two years we saved money, spent money, paid it off, and talked for many hours about all of our house plans. Finally, when Elizabeth was home from Haiti and we were all set financially, we jumped into…
THE HOUSE-HUNTING PHASE
In the spring of 2016, after getting an approval for a loan from the bank, we went to Re/Max Realty and met with Tim McCaslin to discuss our house-hunting plans.
We wanted a 3-bedroom house that was $85,000 or less; we wanted large living spaces that could comfortably seat a lot of people; we needed a long room that Elizabeth could use as a photography studio, and I needed a workspace as well; we also wanted two bathrooms, a garage, and a decent sized kitchen. We needed it to be fairly live-in ready, but we were okay with doing some cosmetic work (painting, flooring, that kind of thing).
Elizabeth, my mom, Tim and I looked at dozens of houses. We would give nicknames to each house that had potential, and list the pros and cons for each one. There were some houses that were instantly given a no, but we had a few favorites that we considered:
The Mexican House- A stucco house that kept getting cheaper but had a tiny kitchen and not quite the living room openness we hoped for.
The Kilgore House- A nice house in a good location that was right at the very top of our budget.
Elizabeth’s Favorite- Our favorite from our first round of online shopping that had large living rooms, but only one bathroom and tiny bedrooms.
The Metal House- This house was all metal on the upper level with a nice, hardwood basement; it was like living in a filing cabinet on top of a mahogany dresser. In another life we might’ve bought it and decked the top floor out in Star Trek and nerd décor, but the style was just a bit too bizarre for us.
The Auction House- This was a nice tri-level that we almost bought, but it was being auctioned off online and we couldn’t coordinate that with the bank.
We found a lot of “almost” and “if only” houses, but no “Yyyyes!” houses. But finally, one day, all that changed…
THE “WE THINK WE FOUND IT!!!” PHASE
When we walked into the house owned by HUD for the first time, Elizabeth and I loved how large the living room was. The main floor had a large living space with a side nook, which connected to a long carpeted room with a fireplace, which connected to a long “conservatory” room with tall windows, which connected back to the living room! I literally ran in a circle around the whole area, falling in love with the unique but appealing setup. It also had 3 decent sized bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a large back porch, a big kitchen, and a mostly finished basement that had a closed-in room that was just perfect for Elizabeth’s studio!
Walking out of this house, Elizabeth and I both knew that this was one that we could really see ourselves living in. This was the first one that I was emotionally excited about; we didn’t really even nickname the house, we just started calling it by its address.
Once we knew this was the one we wanted, we got a second opinion and figured out the estimated cost up front for necessary repairs. Knowing that we could make it work, we got ready to go in that Saturday and put a bid on it… but on Friday I got a text that somebody else had put in an offer, and the offer had been accepted.
We were disappointed, but Elizabeth and I decided to pray and wait for two weeks, waiting to see if maybe, maybe, the deal would fall through and the house would be up for sale again.
More than two weeks went by, and we looked at a few other homes, but this house still said “pending” online. So we kept waiting.
One day at my work we were having our Tuesday devotionals and the discussion was about miracles. During the whole discussion I was thinking about how THIS was the house we really wanted and I was silently praying that God would do a miracle and work it out. And when I got back to my desk, I had a text from Tim: “Guess what, the HUD house is back on the market; the buyer financing must have fallen through”.
I texted my sister and mom immediately! We raced to his office as soon as we were off of work and put our bid in. A second night of waiting and adjusting our bid, and two days later they had accepted our offer!
We then endured approximately a month of just waiting on paperwork to go back and forth… but finally, finally, FINALLY we got together with Tim and a representative of HUD on October 27th of 2016, signed a million papers, and OFFICIALLY BECAME HOME-OWNERS!
THE REMODELING PHASE
Elizabeth and I each excitedly posted a Facebook status at the same time with our great news, and we received our housekeys the next day. Immediately we started calling businesses for repairs and services that needed to be done in the house, and we went into full-blown remodeling mode.
We walked through the house and talked about what we wanted to paint, where we wanted to carpet, and what each room would be used for. Elizabeth, who has a great natural knack for style, came up with most of the ideas for how the rooms should look, and together we put our house together in our head.
Over the course of the next month we had three painting parties, took a trip out to IKEA for lamps and chairs, cleaned some carpets, replaced others, moved furniture from my old office that was closing down to our new house, had various plumbing and lighting appointments, bought a stove, and made CONSTANT lists. Well, at least I did; I actually had an official “New House Notebook” where I kept all the lists of our To-Dos, To-Buys, appointments and ideas.
On a fun side note, as we started to name the rooms we ended up with a Conservatory, a Study and a Lounge. Realizing that these are all rooms in the board game Clue, we tried to find ways to put the rest of the room names in our house: Kitchen, Dining Room, Billiard Room, Ballroom, Hall and Library. On top of that, we found a way to decoratively hide representations of each Clue weapon in our house: the Revolver, the Rope, the Lead Pipe, the Candlestick, the Knife and the Wrench. So if you ever visit our house, see if you can find all of them!
On Dec 3rd we had our super fun Housewarming Party, and on Dec 8th we officially moved into our home. We’ve been living here for almost 3 months now, and we love it. We’ve got several home renovation projects to look forward to this year, and we are anxious for the weather to get warm again so we can start working outside.
Late note added: about 2 months after we moved in, I got let go from my full-time job, and I have been hunting for another one ever since. I’ve had some moments of panic, yeah… but I saw God so clearly working with Elizabeth and me in this house-buying process that I know He’s going to take care of this financial aspect and provide the right job at the right time. This whole last year has been a good reminder of His faithfulness, so I continue to trust Him in my renewed season of job-hunting.
Thank you so much to everyone who was involved in this lengthily-blogged-about process! We look forward to hosting you in our home for years to come!
It has been ages since I blogged… and I have no idea if I will do any better at it this year. But I’ll get it started by writing two blogs for the month of January. Here goes the first… my 2016-wrap-up-and-2017-resolutions blog!
What Were My Goals Last January?
My Blog Goals: To reconnect with God, to find contentment in this season of my life, and to learn financial responsibility. I also added a blog later on about a 24 Book Reading Challenge I wanted to complete in the year.
Non-Blog Goals: To not let fear be the reason I don’t do something new, and to buy a house.
What Did I Do Last Year?
-I hit my 1 year mark of being an employee with CCM.
-I auditioned for the Polo theater and got to spend one of the most fun summers I’ve had in years acting in Godspell.
-I read a million books, but completed less than half of the books on my challenge.
-I was frugal and spendy and frugal and spendy, and then Elizabeth and I spent the entire last half of the year being spendy-spendy-spendy because WE BOUGHT A FLIPPIN’ HOUSE! (Not meaning a house that we’re going to flip, rather one that makes me flip out because it’s so awesome.)
-I went through a lot of change with my work, as I transitioned to working from home, and then joined a new department in the same company; some of it was stressful, and some was good.
Did I Complete the Goals?
Spiritual Goal: I did not do a great job of reconnecting with God this year, at least not the way I’d hoped to. But more on that later.
Contentment Goal: I think I did pretty well with contentment in this season of my life so far. The house was definitely an upside, and working from home has been great; considering the fact that there have been so many changes in my life, the last half of the year I have felt more excited and stressed than “content”. We’ll see how it goes now that I’m getting settled.
Financial Goal: Considering the fact that my sister and I bought a house and it is going to be entirely furnished by the end of the month with plenty of food, bills being paid, and my savings account getting filled up again, I think I can say that I completed the financially responsible goal. 🙂
Reading Goal: I was so confident that I could do my 24 Book Challenge, or at least most of it… but then I started it 3 months late, and I kept seeing other books I wanted to read or finding new challenges at the library that I couldn’t say no to, and then at the end of the year I got majorly stuck on Don Quixote… so yeah, that overachieving didn’t end very well. But I still read a whole lot of books, so it was a successful year for reading.
Fearless Goal: The past two years I have had the mantra of “don’t let fear be the reason not to do something new” in the back of my head, and so I drank some water to calm my butterflies in my stomach and headed out to Godspell with my brothers to audition last year… and it was extremely worth it. I also got to work backstage on the play following that, which was another fun experience. I’m not going to audition for everything, but I have definitely rediscovered my love for acting, and so I am going to keep an eye out on plays this year and hopefully find a good one or two to audition for.
House Goal: And lastly… I moved out. As everyone knows, Elizabeth and I accomplished our goal of buying a house, and I am so excited. We’ve been living in it for about a month, and some days I still find myself surprised that we actually did it… it’s no longer hanging over our heads on a to-do list… it’s done! That was for sure the highlight of my year.
What Are My Plans for 2017?
I don’t have a list of resolutions, but I do have a goal: I want to have the best year of my life so far.
Everyone who knows me knows that my ultimate goal is to “get married, have kids, be a stay-at-home wife and mom who homeschools her children”, yada yada yada. But whether that is or isn’t in my future, it is not my life right now. And right now, I’m in a great season! I am independently living in my own house with my sister… I have a good job that has helped me get this far… I have an area of ministry that I’ve been involved in for years at my church… I have friends aplenty who like me and enjoy doing fun activities… I have an adventurous spirit… and I’m single! I want to actively enjoy this season that I’m living in.
However, the only way to truly do that is to get back on track with God. If I am seeking and listening to God, then the rest will fall into place. So, my main goal this year is to actually, literally and practically make changes in my spiritual life. I have been apathetic for the past 3 years about that with the hope of changing, but I want to be proactive about it this year. My most important resolution will be to jump back into regular quiet times, study Scripture, pray for the girls in my ministry, and spend quality time in worship.
Other goals to make this the best year ever include:
…continuing to be socially initiative and hospitable to my friends and family
…being financially wise on a regular basis so that I have opportunities to do spontaneous fun things without going broke (weekend roadtrips, meals at Olive Garden, seeing a show, etc)
…getting an exercise bike and using it regularly in my living room, as well as learning healthy eating habits
…investing more strongly into the lives of my ministry girls
…and continuing to enjoy my creative outlets, such as blogging, acting, singing, dancing, reading, writing and cooking.
This is my plan! I don’t know how far I will make it, but I am going to do my best to make this a fulfilling and giving time of my life. Happy New Year, everyone!