Sunday, August 31, 2014

a month in review // august.

* beautiful golden hour light
* chai latte from my favorite coffee shop
* cupcakes for my birthday
* sunflower bloom

- God is at work, even when i cannot see it.
- making goals is so helpful for a procrastinator like myself.
- and if i don't reach those goals, it's okay. grace over perfection.
- i don't have to wait for the life i want to live; it's here - right now. create it.
- "having a soft heart in a cruel world is courage, not weakness."
- i am not defined by whether or not an item does not get checked off my to-do list.
- the ability to find beauty in the ordinary on a daily basis has changed my attitude.
- when a two-liter bottle of root beer falls on your toe, it will not feel good.
- God puts people in your life at just the right time.

> i started a budget // step one of living simply.
> lots of iced coffees and a few shopping trips with mama.
> wrote out goals for the month.
> indulged in wayyy too many fruit bars.
> friday nights spent with my soul sistah.
> i fell in love with the coffee shop atmosphere and chai lattes.
> snapped [too many] photos of blooming sunflowers.
> cheered for the sooners at the first home game of the season!
> celebrated my twenty-eighth birthday!

write a mini-series about bloggingpart one  //  part two  //  part three
start a budget.  when i looked at my spending over the last seven months, i was kinda shocked. a budget is much needed!
purge the bedroom & closet.  i have a severe form of the i-might-need-this-one-day syndrome. but living with less does not mean i am living less. there is freedom in living simply.
read three books.  i finished two - love does & cold tangerines
finalize new blog design.  i went back and forth all month about a re-brand or fresh design. i'm still debating.
exercise three times a week.  umm... this did not happen, but in my defense - oklahoma heat, y'all. #nuffsaid


into the thirty-sixth hour of labor, mama-bear was exhausted. already passed the due date by two weeks, she was more than ready for this baby to make his entrance into the world. the road to this moment was filled with stops and u-turns and heartbreaks. this baby was a sweet blessing and nothing short of a miracle from God. when the doctor walked in for what seemed like the hundredth time, mama-bear had enough. there would be no more waiting. she grabbed his tie, looked him right in the eye, and told him to get this baby out. a combination of fear and surprise were in his eyes as he grabbed her chart. it suddenly dawned on him that she had to deliver the baby via cesarean section. those painful hours were unnecessary, but she didn't care. the baby would be born in a matter of minutes.

when she came out of surgery, the nurse congratulated her on the delivery of a healthy baby girl. oh no. she exclaimed. they told us it was a boy. papa-bear wanted a boy. the nurse smiled really big and said not to worry because he was already so in love with their baby girl.


that birth story happened on this day, twenty-eight years ago. papa-bear and mama-bear are my parents. i am the baby girl. back in the day, they didn't have fancy ultrasounds to determine the baby's sex, so it was more of a guessing game. i love when my mama tells me that story. it reminds me of God's faithfulness. after years of trying and a heartbreaking miscarriage, He gave my parents not one, but two kids. my brother was born almost two years later.

good grief, i am a hot mess right now.

mama & daddy:  thank you for raising your children in a christian home. thank you for loving me, despite the mistakes i made. thank you for the constant support and encouragement. and most of all, thank you for loving each other. y'all celebrate your thirty-third wedding anniversary on friday. that says something, especially these days.

bubba:  you are one of my favorite people in the world. thank you for loving me. thank you for standing by my side, even when i messed up. thank you for constantly making me laugh. you are the best little brother a girl could ask for. and i'm really glad our parents didn't take you back to walmart like i requested.

friends:  i love you all. whether we are friends in real life or online; whether we've met once or only via social media - thank you. i cannot express my gratitude for the friends i have and this community of strangers-turned-friends. i've already cried twice since writing this post, so i'll end with this:  friendship isn't a big thing; it's a million little things. and friends, i feel like a millionaire.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

on setting goals.

making goals has always been intimidating to me. the what-ifs convinced me that i should refrain. the possibility of not completing a task was equivalent to failure in my mind. and i did not need to add more success to my list of unsuccessful-ness. [that's totally a word... maybe.]

in my quest to create a simple life, i have discovered the benefits of setting realistic goals for myself. life seemed stagnant recently until i made the decision to stop feeling sorry for myself and do something about it. my lack of motivation and procrastination have slightly diminished. writing out daily, weekly, and monthly goals gives me a sense of drive and determination.

i'm learning that almost-successes are often more beneficial than accomplishments,
because those times of almost resulted in crucial lessons that i would not have learned had i accomplished the task at hand.

and i'm learning that sometimes it's not about how i start or finish.
it's about the moments in between - no matter the level of significance - that can make all the difference.

i'm learning to dream big goals,
because when i serve a mighty God whose divine fingerprints are everywhere.   

and more than anything, i'm learning to hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection.
it's not about checking off all the boxes, but about challenging myself and growing into the woman God created me to be.

do you make goals?
how has that impacted your day-to-day life?

Friday, August 22, 2014

exploring freedom.

as i'm typing this blog post, i'm doing something i've always wanted to do: go to a coffee shop + write.

i've only been here for ten minutes, but i can already tell you i love this. the coffee shop atmosphere is delightful - the chit-chat among friends [some louder than others. girl in the middle - inside voice!], the smell of coffee [like heaven], and this chai latte [my first one!].

this experience almost didn't happen though. earlier i was laying in bed, watching an episode of law & order: svu. okay, it was my second of the day. the thought occurred to me - it's friday, get out of the house and do something. as usual, i mentally listed all the reasons why i shouldn't. but you know what? i'm tired of the excuses. i'm tired of putting off tomorrow when today is here; someday may never come.

i want to see the beauty in this life of mine. the journey - it has bumps and curves - but there are still wildflowers on the side of the road. there are places to explore and people to meet and grandeur to discover. i wasn't created to just exist - God made me for His glory and to live & walk in His freedom. i can't do that if i'm holed up in my bedroom all the time.

so here i am - stepping out of my comfort zone. surrounded by people i've never met. writing a blog post i didn't plan out. drinking a new latte. i feel awkward. i'm probably older than all the college kids here. i feel like everyone is looking at me. 

but i must say - it is quite marvelous to throw caution to the wind and explore freedom. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

java talk // 1

there is something about coffee that can turn a simple chit-chat into a heart-to-heart. what is it about having a cup of coffee in hand that makes conversations that much better? [not just conversations - coffee makes life better, hallelujah + amen.] what is it about a latte or cappuccino that awakens our hurts and feelings [and eyeballs] to one another?

whatever the answer, i want to bring that atmosphere to this blog. each week, i plan to share updates on life, little tidbits, and what i'm diggin' at the moment. i've noticed a lot of 'coffee talk' posts floating around the blogosphere, but the format inspiration for this post comes from the lovely ladies at maiedae.

it seems fitting for the first post in this series to be about coffee, so grab a cup of java [or whatever you prefer] and let's chat!


//  keurig + k-cups. a couple years ago, i received a keurig for christmas. it's possibly the best present since my easy bake oven. after months of trying different k-cups, i finally found the perfect blend - tully's french roast. it's an extra bold dark roast with a smoky, decadent taste. i add my favorite creamer, girl scouts thin mint, and it's heaven in a coffee mug.

//  starbucks' caramel macchiato.  i decided to step out of the box and try something different a couple months ago. i am so glad i did because this drink has become one of my favorites!

//  starbucks' peppermint mocha.  this is my holiday drink. nothing screams christmastime like mocha & peppermint.

//  mcd's vanilla iced coffee.  i live in a small town. the nearest starbucks is thirty minutes away. this is the next best thing.

what are your go-to coffee drinks?


i am in the process of trying to simplify all areas of my life. i have accumulated a lot of junk, so my first task is getting rid of the excess. i have spent the last week cleaning my bedroom, organizing my finances, and creating a budget. while i'm purging the tangible things, my prayer has been that God will work on my heart. there's junk in there, too. and God loves me too much to leave me in my mess.

do you have a budget?
any tips for me as i start this budgeting process?


+  the power of story.
+  john mayer singing about a sleeping puppy makes me happy.
+  i [like so many others] am so inspired by this girl's 37-piece wardrobe.
+  i really enjoyed this post from kelly needham about journaling.
+  this blog has been so helpful lately. the writer's guide + writing prompts are my favorite.

Monday, August 18, 2014

blogging // resources.

i love blogging. i love other bloggers and their words and photos. i love this community that turns strangers into friends. i also love the creative process of blogging. there are several resources i use to make it run smooth.

blog journal // after months of dull and repetitive content on the blog, i wrote this post in an effort to find some clarity among the chaos. after pressing the publish button, i grabbed a journal and began to write down potential blog posts. it was like the inspiration floodgates had opened. new ideas and concepts swirled around in my head, filling up several pages of that journal. my fingers and pen could barely keep up with the pace. i now carry that blog journal with me wherever i go because inspiration is everywhere.

blog book // this is where i keep all my blog-related papers. in our technology filled culture where there's an app for everything, i am the nerd who still likes to write & plan on paper. [see my EC journal] organization is key for me in writing new content. without it, my words would be a jumbled mess with no clear purpose. i use two free printables to plan out blog posts:
- monthly blog planning sheets
- blog content planner pages

pinterest // boards and pins and pretty pictures constantly keep my creative juices flowing. pinterest is a great resource for bloggers. [if you're looking for a good blogging pinterest board to follow, this pinterest board is the best for blogging resources, articles, etc.] my favorite thing about pinterest is the option to create secret boards. as you can see above, i have five secret boards just for blogging -
-blogging resources: for printables and tools to assist in the creative process.
-blogging articles: information about skills, techniques, and lessons on blogging.
-future blogging posts: i'm always inspired by other bloggers. [this also keeps their link so i can reference it.]
-writing: my biggest hurdle with blogging is stringing coherent thoughts together.
-blog design: i am gathering inspiration for a new blog design or possible re-brand.  

blog life e-course // it's no secret that i'm a huge fan of a beautiful mess. i am currently working through their blog life e-course. i have been blogging for over two years now, and by no means am i an expert. but i am a firm believer in constantly learning and soaking in knowledge every day. if you are thinking of buying this course, DO IT. i was already highlighting new information just in the course introduction pages!

APPS // there are a few apps that help with the blogging process.

  • VSCOcam & afterlight for editing photos. lately, i use my iphone for every photo, so these apps are a must.
  • rhonna designs. i use this app for adding text and shapes on my images. 
  • simplemind. i am completely obsessed with this mind mapping app. it is so, so helpful in creating and outlining posts.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

blogging // how i got started.

when i read other bloggers' "how i got started" posts, i laugh to myself [and at myself.] most bloggers set out to document their college experience or their wedding planning process or their first years of marriage or the lives of their adorable kids or their DIY home projects.

i, however, do not have an elaborate 'how i started my blog' story. i didn't go to college. i wasn't married at the time. [not even a boyfriend!] i didn't have any kids. and i still lived with my parents.

truth be told - i randomly stumbled across sydney's blog one day and instantly fell in love with her impeccable style and witty humor. i spent all the free time i had that weekend obsessively reading her entire blog all the way back to her first post [that's not as creepy as it sounds.] by the end of that weekend, i made the decision to start my own blog. the only previous online presence i had was writing little posts on myspace [flashback!]. i really enjoyed writing in that space + sharing little snippets of life and what's on my mind.

my first blog - beauty in humble places - was a learning experience. [mostly on what not to do with a blog]. but that experience equipped me with the knowledge to make the most of my words + photos online. i could write a quick post with fluff words + slap a few photos in there or i could put some time + effort into what i really want to say, which could have an impact (however big or small) with someone else.

when i started fresh with this space, blogging quickly became my favorite creative outlet. it correlates with my passion of photography. i can share my photos + thoughts + opinions + happenings. there are ladies out there who can relate with my joys and sorrows. blogging is a form of art. it's not understood by some, but that doesn't decrease its value.

Monday, August 11, 2014

weekend photo diary.

 sunflowers make me happy.

 chick-fil-a's new iced coffee with vanilla is SO good.

 went for a walk after dinner.

 celebrating bubba's 26th birthday at cheddar's.

 journaling bible.

 blackberry mojito tea lemonade & minimalist nails.

 current read.

an early birthday present for myself. ( ! ! ! )

Thursday, August 7, 2014


all photos shot with my iphone 5; edited with VSCOcam.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

blogging // year one.

a year ago today, i launched this blog. [if you want to celebrate with fro-yo or a cupcake or a pint of ice cream, go on with ya bad self.] during the month of august, i am sharing a mini-series about blogging - the how, the why, and the process.

blogging is fun and creative and awesome and sometimes weird. my first blog was more of a what-not-to-do learning process. with UTOS, i have created a space that better reflects who i am. but even now, i feel a shift. i know what i want this space to be. i know where i want it to go and grow. in a world of instant everything, i am reminded that the process [of anything] is beautiful. valuable lessons are learned in the waiting. blogging has taught me a few things:

- i have developed friendships with people i've never met in person. there are a handful of ladies who hold a special place in my heart. their constant words of wisdom propel me to see beyond my circumstances and look to the One who holds it all in His hands. the blogging community is the best part of curating this online space.

- i found my voice. for the better part of my life, i shied away from stating my opinion. my need to please everyone and keep the peace resulted in silence and smiles. somewhere along this journey, i discovered that i have my own voice not influenced my outside opinions. it won't always be popular; others will disagree. but i am free to be open and honest.

- vulnerability is beautiful. scary - yes, but so beautiful. there's always at least one person who can relate to whatever i'm going through. and if not - there are ladies who will simply offer prayers. [though prayers are anything but simple, in my opinion.]

- comparison robs creativity. it's one thing to be inspired by a blogger; it's another to magnify our shortcomings and their highlight reel.

the words and photos i've documented in the last twelve months are full of good memories and hard times. and i'm thankful beyond measure.

favorite posts from [year one] of under the oklahoma sky