Friday, January 4, 2013

Favorite Things {2012}

Everyone loves lists, right?

Here's a list of some of my favorite things in 2012. Not necessarily things that were released in the year, but just things I discovered, read, or listened to.


+ Dracula : Bram Stoker. If you've never read the old school version of Twilight (just kidding), you're missing out! Suspenseful, frightening, gripping. Obviously it's an older book, and I found the words are more descriptive, the language is deeper, and overall it's very beautifully written. I highly recommend it if you're looking for something fun to read or if you like to escape in a book. It's one of those books where you just have to know what's coming next.
+ Unglued : Lysa Terkeurst. I've always considered myself someone with unusually strong emotions. I feel everything deeply and often my emotions have physical properties, too, which makes everything feel even stronger. There have been many times in my life where my emotions seem to take over and leave me blown over. Lysa teaches how to process emotions in a way that gives you the upper hand and encourages you to get a grip on them before you really need to. So instead of waiting for a stressful situation to come up and test your control, have a plan of attack beforehand.
+ Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close : Jonathan Safran Foer. Oh my gosh, this book. I devoured this book in three days. It's beautifully written and completely heartbreaking. A boy is dealing with the death of his dad and searching for clues to put together a puzzle of sorts that will lead him to more information about his dad's life. It also weaves in stories of his other families members, and it's such a great story about families ties, love, honesty, grief, and moving on. I haven't seen the movie yet, and I'd love to know if it's worth seeing after reading the book.
+ The Crowd, the Critic, and the Muse: a Book for Creators : Michael Gungor. I won't go into much detail here because I did mention this in a list already, but this book is amazing. If you've ever considered yourself a creator or ever wanted to create something (poetry, music, art), you need this book in your life. It's about creating art and the voices we listen to when we create.
+ Beautiful Outlaw : John Eldredge. Recently I heard a bit of controversy about this book and theology within it, but I'm a big believer in the principle: "eat the fish and leave the bones." You can learn something from anything. Just because you read a book doesn't mean you have to adhere to every lesson it teaches. There are lessons to hold onto and lessons to throw away. But I digress. I loved this book. John talks about how we often read the Gospels without taking time to imagine or discern what Jesus' personality was like. I find myself very detached from Jesus because it's hard to imagine him as a real person who lived and walked the earth with quirks and characteristics. His playfulness, his generosity, his humility. He was a real person with feelings and emotions and actions. He is not a list of miracles or a book of words. He is a person who understands who we are and what we feel like. I think I need to read this book again.


+ Night Vision : Imagine Dragons. Easily my favorite album of the year. They were the iTunes free single of the week at one point, and after listening to one song of theirs, I decided to get the whole album. I love a band with a unique male vocal, and I love this album for the vocals and for the rhythm of it. There's something about the drum patterns all throughout the album that get to me. I play this most often at work on Fridays because it always lifts my mood and makes me feel like the day is going to be a good one.
+ Babel : Mumford and Sons. It actually took me a little while to really get into this album, but I do love it. Robert and I watched the music video for one of the songs, Lover of the Light, and we really loved the song, which inspired me to buy the whole album. It's been consistently played at work and is growing on me every day. I like that the songs are mostly upbeat, and the talent this band has is amazing. Just listening to them play their instruments is inspiring. And exhausting.
+ Handmade Songs : Tori Kelly. Oh my gosh, this girl can sing! I found out about her when a friend of mine posted a link to this video of her doing Michael Jackson's Pretty Young Thing. The 2:25 mark will change your life. It's hard for me to comprehend how any one person has that much talent. Her voice is pure, and her control over it is impeccable. She's incredibly skilled at guitar, and her songs are beautifully written. Bring Me Home is one of my favorites. She's definitely one of those artists that is so amazingly talented, she inspires me to pick up a guitar and work harder on my vocal skills. She is endlessly impressive, and I want to be more like her. Please go buy her album.
+ Talk that Talk : Rihanna. Nope, I'm not joking. This was definitely one of my favorite albums this year. I don't love all of the radio singles Rihanna puts out, but so many of these songs for me are feel-good, dance around in front of your bathroom mirror songs haha. You guys do that, right? Admittedly, some of them made me feel unclean just listening to them, she can be outright nasty. But mostly it's a fun album, with two songs that I completely loved: We All Want Love and Fool in Love. I think it's worth buying those two songs at least, even if you don't like the rest of her music.


+ Makeup : Fortunately and unfortunately, I discovered the joy of using high end beauty products this year. There are times when it isn't worth it to buy the most expensive thing, but honestly, a lot of the time, you get what you pay for. Paying for brands like Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Urban Decay, MAC, etc. get you the very best in quality and value. I will definitely say that I've been buying way too much makeup this year and am trying hard to cut back, but I'll also say that I feel like it's worth it to spend money on quality items. Check out my Pinterest board for some of the things I've been using this year.
+ Blogs :  I've gotten more into reading blogs this year, and there are some great ones out there. I think my favorite has been Momastery. I love Glennon. She's so real and honest and beautiful. I know she is not perfect and never attempts to be, and I think that alone is worth seeing. Sydney at the Daybook is also a favorite of mine. Her blog has definitely shifted focus over the last year, but it's still true to her. She posts great pictures, wears amazingly put-together outfits, and has an adorable baby. What's not to love? Erin at Reading my Tea Leaves has a great blog full of helpful tips for living in a small apartment and inspiring pictures of little moments throughout her week. Finally, Bleubird has been one of my favorite blogs for a long time. Sometimes it's hard to realize how long you've followed someone until you realize you're watching their children grow up! James is an inspiring blogger, her family is beautiful, and her Bits + Pieces feature is my favorite feature on any blog right now.
+ Apps : How can you make a list in this day and age and not include favorite apps? Daily Audio Bible is a great way to get more of the bible in your life without having to carve out time to sit down and stop everything else. I still think quiet time is awesome, but this app really helps me get into the right mindset for the day. I listen while getting ready in the morning or in the car on the way to work. Rob doesn't love the guy who does the readings because he has a "creepy whisper voice," but I find it calming and pleasant. YouVersion is another great bible app. They have so many pre-built reading plans. I'm currently doing a Canonical plan that takes me straight through the bible in a year. They also have devotions correlating to books and plans taking you through the bible in different time frames. Teux Deux is a great list app. It's simple, straightforward, and clean. If you like making lists, this is a great app to use.

Well that's enough, I think. Congrats if you made it through all that! And let me know what your favorite movies, music, books, etc. were this year. I already have a growing list of 16+ books I want to read this year, and this week I bought 4 or 5 albums with some Christmas money that I'm excited to get into hope. I hope everyone's 2013 is off to a great start!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year, New Word

+ condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is
+ the sense of self, providing sameness and continuity in personality over time

Who am I?

Last year my word was love.
I don't know that I learned as much as I was hoping when it comes to love. I definitely learned some things. That love is not easy. That love is not just love on its own. It is also patience, kindness, gentleness, truth, courage. It encompasses much and requires much and is worth it every time.

Throughout the year, I often fell short of my own expectations to love others. And there would be times that I labeled myself as an unloving person.  I would get discouraged and feel like I should be a better person. And throughout the year, I heard over and over that I should find my identity in God and not what I do or who I want to be.

Find your identity in God.

Sounds good.
But how?

Well, I have no idea. That's why identity is my word for 2013. Because it's a journey. One that I have waited too long to embark on.

I know that it starts with soaking up more of Him. In order to learn more about the creation, you should get to know the Creator, right?

I've realized lately that I don't always know who I am. Sometimes I wonder about my feelings and where they came from and how I came to feel them. Sometimes, someone will ask me how I feel about something, and my only response is "I don't know." I don't know who I am. I don't know what I feel or why I feel it. I get nervous when I realize that I believe differently than the people I love. But that's silly because no two people will every feel the exact same way about every topic.

So I'm taking this year to figure it out. Who am I? Who does God say I am? How can I keep that in the forefront of my mind when worry, doubt, and uncertainty all seem to creep in? How do I find my identity in Him?

I'm not sure yet, but I'm excited to see how He shapes me and forms me in new ways this year. I know He is faithful and that if I'm seeking wisdom with a heart that longs to know Him more, He will provide. Here's to discovering new things this year.