The Big 2-9!

It’s the first day of summer! And it’s my birthday! 🎊🎂☀️⁣

To be honest, I’ve kind of dreaded turning 29 for most of this year. Maybe some of last year. If I’m being honest. 😉 (One of the books in this photo seems to be telling me I should be.) ⁣

I expected to be somewhere more “settled” by now. After all, aren’t your twenties the years you’re expected to be figuring life out and progressing to the stages of marriage, successful career, home ownership, and parenthood? I have accomplished one of those things, and I’m pushing toward my thirties. ⁣


But then I stopped to think about everything that I actually have accomplished. I may be struggling to figure out my career, to settle into a new state, and to chase my dreams, but I’m doing it. My husband and I moved across the country to start over and pursue a better life for ourselves. A better chance at some of those other things on that above list. ⁣

I’ve survived trauma and loss, picking out my parents’ coffins at an age when most of my peers were picking out their wedding colors. It was awful, but I 𝘴𝘶𝘳𝘷𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘥. I helped my baby brother graduate homeschooled high school when Mom and Dad were no longer there to teach and encourage him. (He worked so hard and I am incredibly proud of the courageous young man he is!) I ran a marathon before I turned 26. (My boss best friend was beside me the whole way.) I recovered from the anxiety induced by a car accident that broke my leg, and continued to drive. (Who knew driving could be an act of bravery?) I’ve published 2 novels and a children’s book, and I’m working on my third novel. ⁣

This is not meant to be me bragging…I just want to remind myself (and others) that sometimes success isn’t the cookie cutter look we make it out to be. (Seriously. Make a list of the amazing things YOU have accomplished, if you are feeling a little “behind” like me. Also note that none of those things I accomplished were done on my own. TEAM EFFORT, always.) For me, I have spent my 20s loving even when it hurt, pursuing hope even when I didn’t think I wanted to be alive anymore, and fighting for my family. Now I’m entering a period where I get to fight for my dreams.⁣

I am privileged to have experienced so much wonderful love in my life. I am privileged to have the chance to start over, even at age 29. I am privileged to be able to read and write books, to enjoy the bookstagram community, to be breathing today. To know my Mom and Dad loved and still love me more than I can comprehend, and instilled the strength I need to survive whatever life throws at me. To have a God who carved stories in my heart and gifted me with passion and hope and joy. To have a husband who holds me when I grieve and rejoice. To have a close-knit family who united to overcome pain together, and to have friends who are as dear as family and who have walked with me through my best and worst days. ⁣

Yes, 29 may feel like an age when I should have a beautiful house or a thriving career. But I think what I have is much bigger than a pretty home or a fancy job. 💕 ⁣What are some amazing things you have accomplished that might fall outside the “expected” milestones for your age? And which amazing people were there for you along the way?

Just 15 Minutes a Day

The problem with undertaking any big project or goal, including writing a novel, is that it feels massive. (Obviously.)

When I tell myself, “I need to write today,” it’s easy for me to have a long list of excuses…

I’m not feeling inspired right now.

I’m tired.

I don’t have time. 

Maybe later.

It’s hard trying to write books and take that passion seriously, while also working a full-time job. Right? Life gets busy, and it’s unfortunately all-too-easy to push aside what I’ve called a “hobby” for years.

But this year, I want to treat writing as another job. Because it’s not just a hobby to me–it’s a passion. And that means it needs to be a priority.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received for taking my writing seriously is to just carve out 15 minutes each day. That’s all. No matter how busy I get, it’s easy to set aside 15 minutes for something, right?

I mean, I spend more time on my phone at the end of the day, doing absolutely nothing productive. Surely I can sit down and write anything, whether it be writing my book or a blog post or whatever else comes to mind, to keep my creative juices flowing.

And you know what?

It’s totally worked. 

In fact, by giving myself a small, manageable writing goal, I’ve consistently written every day since the end of December, usually for longer periods of time than 15 minutes (because once I start, I realize I do have some ideas floating around in my brain and I do have more than 15 minutes right then to dedicate to writing.

It’s kept my momentum going with my book (Silent Kingdom # 3) and, I hope, will help me continue to strengthen my writing skills. It definitely leaves no room for the “I have writer’s block” excuse.

Because even if I write total crap, I can definitely always write something for 15 minutes, and that means…there is no writer’s block.

If you want it enough, you’ll make the time and find the motivation to do it.

What tips or tricks have helped you accomplish a big goal, writing-related or otherwise?


The Value of Persistence

One of the hardest goals I’ve ever set and achieved was running a marathon a few years ago. The training itself was intense and time-consuming. My best friend and I had to get up while it was still dark on weekends and run for hours. Sometimes we would get home and struggle to get calories back into our bodies as fast as we could, or fight to drag our aching carcasses into the shower before we fell into much-deserved unconsciousness or some other near-comatose state on our couch.

Popped blisters on our feet? Check. Sciatic nerve pain for her? Check. Side-stitches? Stomach cramps? Questioning our sanity? Definitely.

But the part that really tested me was race day itself, when all of our training and planning apparently went out the window, and my body rebelled. Horribly.

I had to stop and walk. I had to vomit at the side of the course, more than once. I had to douse myself in cold water and accept a bag of ice from some of the people running the race, and proceed to cram it down my shirt.

They worried they’d have to call an ambulance, but I knew I could push through. I was more worried that I wouldn’t finish, that all the training would be for nothing and I’d never finish my bucket list goal. 26 miles before I turn 26! I’d thought so blithely only the day before.

I felt like an idiot and a failure. It’s not fun puking in front of strangers, or having to slow your marathon pace to a crawl. Talk about humbling.

Isn’t this failing? I thought. I’m not “running” this marathon anymore.

But one of the other racers, who had run many marathons in her life, and who slowed her pace to keep me company while I struggled, explained to me that this race actually gave out a prize to the last finisher. Why? Because it takes incredible persistence to keep going when everyone else has finished. 

It takes a lot of endurance and will-power to keep running, walking, or crawling for hours upon hours and not just quit and go home.

And I was determined to finish that race, even if I had to crawl across the finish line.

I was not the last person to finish that race that day, but the lessons I learned were invaluable.

a river cuts through a rock not because of its power, but its persistence.

In life, if you want to achieve your goals, you have to want whatever you’re pursuing more than you fear the obstacles. Pain? Setbacks? Disappointment? Doubts? They will test your willpower, and they will crush you if they find it lacking.

What goal are you trying to achieve? Remember to hold on to the reason you so badly want to accomplish it, and the setbacks will begin to seem small. Remind yourself that the pain of failing will hurt worse than the pain you face along the way to accomplishment.

And if you’re fortunate, you won’t have to throw up in front of strangers along the way.

You’ve got this.

5 Tips to Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions

It’s New Year’s Eve, a time for reflecting on the highs and lows of 2018. The goals achieved or failed. The memories made and the challenges endured.

A lot of people take this time to think about what they want to accomplish in 2019.

I used to think resolutions were a little silly, considering that they are usually abandoned a few months into the new year. But, being a goal-oriented person, I decided to start looking at them in a new way.

And you know what?

I accomplished almost every single goal I made for 2018.

In fact, I blew some out of the water. Some I scrambled to achieve last-minute…yes, here’s looking at you, 5K I ran over winter break. But hey, Christmas Eve 2018 is still 2018!

Here are some of my tips for achieving your goals in 2019:

1. Stop calling them resolutions already.

Resolutions get a bad rap. We think we have to plan them all in December, and we think they have to be huge.

Goals can be made and reset throughout the year. You can set even more goals in June, if you want. You don’t have to wait for a new year to start new ones or start over with current ones. Resolutions are restricting; goals are freeing.

Set goals.

2. Make them realistic.

We tend to set crazy goals for ourselves that sound more like they belong on a bucket list rather than something we want to happen in a single year. I remember watching TV and seeing some of the top resolutions people made, and one was “fall in love.”

How do you even plan that? What if you don’t meet someone in the year that you find attractive or kind or smart or [insert your desirable quality here] enough to fall in love with? Then you fail your resolution and therefore, you feel like a failure over something you couldn’t really attain in the first place due to no opportunity.

Instead, you need to set goals you actually have some control over. Then you can be your own cheerleader as you start to zero in on your ultimate goal. Did you want to read 50 books in the year, and now it’s June and you’ve hit the halfway mark? Way to go! It’s time to celebrate.

3. Start small.

It’s better to start small and achieve those goals, than set a huge goal and grow discouraged. Do you want to run a race in 2019, but you’ve never run before? It might be more realistic to first set a goal to run your first mile. Or sign up for a running app that includes running programs or a coaching feature. Maybe you can commit to running a certain amount of times or number of miles each week.

If you break your goals down into manageable, smaller goals, you will be more likely to stay motivated and achieve your big goals. After all, if you have a lot of mini-goals to celebrate throughout the year, you’re going to feel happy, successful, and confident enough to keep pressing toward more goals. And that’s huge!

4. Keep them measurable.

If you want to lose weight, give yourself a number. If you want to become more fit, set a goal for how many days you’ll go to the gym or workout at home per week. Don’t be embarrassed if you start small. You want your goals to challenge you, not to crush you. If you know in your heart that you won’t actually follow through on a commitment to exercise 3 times a week, try 1 time a week first.

5. Be accountable.

If you need to share your goals with others, or partner with someone else and achieve a goal together, great. But you don’t always need to depend on others to accomplish your goals. Sometimes just writing out your goals in a journal or on a piece of paper can be enough. My 2018 goals are in a notebook. Once I wrote them down, I felt more obligated to complete them, even if no one else ever saw them. Writing them down made them real.

And of course, if you bomb a goal in January, remember that it isn’t the end of the world. You can set new goals or try again for those old goals in February. Or July. Or even December.

So don’t give up. Dream big for 2019. I know I will. But don’t feel embarrassed or lame if you start small. When your friends give up on their diets or workout plans somewhere in mid-February because their goals still feel light-years away, you may have already accomplished a few of yours and be well on your way toward the new goals you’ve set.

Happy New Year!


What are some of your goals for 2019?