2017 Bullet Journal Setup

I am so late at getting this up on the blog due to travel, illness, and the start of another semester. However, I am really excited about my spread for this year and am pumped to share it with you!

First off, I did a big no-no in the bullet journal world. I did not start in a new journal. I had not filled mine up since I only use it during school and didn’t start it at the beginning of last year. It seemed awful to waste so much space, so I just continued on. I do highly recommend a fresh start though.

Here are some of the items I use in my bullet journal:

  • Tombow dual brush pens (featured image)
  • Micron 05 pens
  • Faber-Castell assorted artist pen set
  • Stabilo fine pens
  • Prismacolor Premier dual brush pen
  • Washi tape
  • Water colors
  • Fun sticky notes

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My first page of the year is a plain old calendar. This is for quick reference and makes a good cover page for the year.

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My second section is the calendex, just like most of the bullet journal pros. This allows me to know ahead of time what each month looks like and keep track of the major events I have in them so I don’t double book. I make sure each month has ample space because  I tend to get very busy very fast.

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I tried something new for my next page. I did a 2016 year in review. This is kind of to see what my biggest battles were and what I learned from them. I had a rough year, but it wasn’t a bad year. And what I learned has the ability to make this year even better.

I took the review and used it to help guide my goals for 2017. I created three categories (personal, spiritual and relational) and created a few goals within them. I also have some room where I can add to this as the year goes on.

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Next, my Level 10 Life spread returns. This idea comes from Boho Berry (one of my favorite bullet journal Instagram accounts). It allows you to assess ten different areas in your life and create goals for how to improve them. The cool thing is that I have mine from last year and could really look at them and think about the progress (or not) that I have made. I ditched the circle design (circles are hard) and went for a bar graph instead. I then color coded and set goals on the next page. The goals turned out way smaller than I planned because I messed up, but it made a cute rainbow effect.

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My next spread is a new one. I found the guideposts for wholehearted living on Pinterest, and decided to turn it into a bullet journal tool of positivity. It is a healthy reminder that the world is going to try to drag you down, but we have the ability to choose positive alternatives.

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For the past several year I have chosen a word of the year. This started with a high school FCA lesson but has stuck. The goal of the word for me is to see where I need to grow in my life and focus on one word to help me conquer the year. My word is faith-based, but a lot of other people use it for other areas of their lives. My spread has my word in big brush-lettered writing and then a list of verses to tackle this year that will help me keep my focus and hopefully grow a little. I have had wonderful success with this practice in the past and am excited to have in my journal this year.

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The final item I included is my 2017 bucket list. The year is just more fun with a bucket list. I actually crossed several items off of my 2016 list, so hopefully that will happen again.

The one spread I did not carry over is my books to read spread. Since I am using the same journal, I felt it was unnecessary to create an identical spread  twice. I also haven’t read nearly all the books on the list I had.

This year’s layout involved HOURS on Pinterest, bullet journal blogs and some of those bloggers’ Instagrams. I highly recommend using these tools to create your own spread. Each person tends to do similar things but with their own spin on it. It’s nice to have examples, but it often sparks ideas for my own designs or spreads.

Hopefully 2017 is organized and wonderful with my bullet journal by my side.

Ready, Set… Grow!

As you all probably know by now, I am the biggest fan of reflections there is. I write about it all the time and you’ll often find me staring off into space living it out. The New Year is a time that a lot of people decide to reflect. It’s a time of goal setting, new ideas, and self-improvement. However, the New Year is also notorious for people failing at everything they decide to tackle.

I don’t like to think of changing in the New Year. Rather, I like to think of growing. It is super important to set goals for growth in the upcoming year, but it is just as (maybe even more) important to see where you grew the previous year. You can’t set goals without realizing what you’re capable of achieving.

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A lot of times we don’t realize where we are experiencing growth. When you’re in the moment, it’s hard to see where you’re being shaped and renewed. That’s why it is important to look backward. Behind you is where you learn.

The key to doing this is not getting wrapped up in the past. I have struggled a lot with that this year. My 2016 wasn’t fabulous. I battled a lot of physical and mental health problems, I lost some people in my life who I loved a lot, and I felt like I was failing myself. I struggled with image, both physically and in what I was achieving (or not). This is the tip of the iceberg, but sums up a lot.

I have been so focused on how hard my year had been and how broken I was that I didn’t realize all the time I was also being fixed and being made better than before.

I learned how to manage stress and look for the joy in every day, I realized who God placed in my life to get me through and to appreciate the people who would no longer walk with me, and I saw that failures were opening doors for bigger successes. I am learning to love myself and working on not comparing myself to others. Through all the junk, I ended the year with my first college 4.0 semester, an officer position in my sorority, and some really incredible relationships.

And I ended it happy.

None of this would have happened if I wasn’t growing while experiencing the pain.

It has been a lot of steady reflection that has opened my eyes to this. My goals for the New Year are now clear. They’re not to change anything, but to continue the growth that has been placed in my life.

Find the beauty in the chaos.

Know where my strength comes from.

Choose to be joyful.

Build firm foundations.

Do things I love.

Be intentional.

Breathe.

These are a few of the highlights. Simple reminders I will whisper to myself when days get dark and roads get hard. They encompass how I want to continue growing relationally, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.

So, love the pain. Love how far 2016 dragged you down. Because you didn’t realize that whole time you were being prepared for something so much greater. Find that something in the New Year.


“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Wrapping Up

This photo is an accurate description of how I feel about the semester being over so suddenly.

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It all came so fast. I’m scrambling to keep up with finals, holiday shopping, saying goodbye to friends, and packing. All of the things that symbolize the end of the year. Through all of this I have to remember to take time to stop and appreciate everything that happened this semester and the people in my life. Some end of the year reflection (my favorite thing).

I look back on this semester and am grateful for what a turnaround it was from the previous one. I went from struggling with anxiety and stress to being happy and healthy and loving life. I have so may great people to thank for that. My classes went well, my sorority things have been excellent, and I have grown a lot.

I appreciate the people I’ve grown closer to over this past semester. I can’t believe I didn’t have them in my life before. They’ve provided me with a support system like no other and have made this semester so enjoyable.

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I’m also grateful for the people who have been there for me since day one of this college adventure. We’ve been through so much and I can’t believe we are over halfway done.

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It’s the people in life who make it great. I am lucky to have some incredible ones in my life. They help me make it through school and everything else. I am sad to be leaving my college people behind for a month, but love my people at home and can’t wait to spend some quality time with them.

This semester has just taught me to be extra thankful for the people who make me and my goal is to let them all know that as I reflect on the roles they have played in my life.

End of the Year Organization

I have been absolutely awful about maintaining my bullet journal. I watch all these awesome Instagram videos of people doing theirs and I get envious. I just don’t have the time to do it. However, as college finals are basically upon me, I need some stress relief and organization in my life. I made sure to take the time to make my December spread so that I can make it through the endless list of things I have to do over the course of the next week.

Now I sometimes struggle to find motivation to make plans for months like December where I am only at school for a bit. College is my main motivation for keeping the daily spread up. I did not do summer spreads because I was either at camp or nannying, so it seemed kind of pointless. I want to get better at using my spreads to keep my daily tasks organized, whether they’re college related or not.

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So this is my opening of the December spread. I decided to do a fun winter theme because this is the month that seems to officially start winter. And, as you can see, it has already snowed here! (I apologize for the lighting, my room has terrible light and there is no natural light coming through the window today.)

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This has remained my favorite calendar spread for the entire month. It’s cute and leaves room for plenty of things to fill up the days. I only add the biggest things to keep it manageable.

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I have my classic habit tracker which is pretty empty right now because I am in full finals mode. I added a simple note section because there are several things coming up that I will need to note for coming days/months as the year wraps up.

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I brought back the gratitude spread, which I have been really bad about keeping up with in the past months. December is definitely a month to count my blessing in as I wrap up the year and start some serious reflections.

I then have the Waiting On, BIG Verses, Wins, and Learning sections behind this, but they’re not fun and colorful. Spicing those up might be my task for next year, and the habit tracker too.img_1471

And then I go on with my daily spreads. As you can see I’m pretty much working on papers and then studying for finals I have this coming week (and you can see my mistake on Friday where I started to write Wednesday).

So here’s to combatting my procrastination with unchecked lists. Hopefully I’ll keep up on this so that I can stay sane through finals and not forget to stop and reflect.

A Perfect Plan

It is the season of thankfulness and Thanksgiving is just a few days away. I think a lot of times we don’t grasp the full meaning of giving thanks. We always say we are thankful for our family, our friends, and the food on the table. Those are excellent things to be thankful for. But I think there is so much more that we forget to be grateful for.

Sure, the people and things in our lives are awesome. We should definitely be thankful for those. But we should also be thankful for the things that come from those. Such as the experiences we are afforded because of the things in our lives. Everything God has given us intertwines to give us the really rad lives we live.

For example: My mom and dad have made me who I am and have worked to give me opportunities that I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t their child. The things they give me lead to experiences that mold me and introduce me to people who make life special. Those people give me other experiences and people. My parents are more than my parents, they’re my gateway to the world. I don’t know how you even begin to thank someone for that.

It is an awesome series of perfectly lined up circumstances that brings us to where we are today. It’s these circumstances that I think we often forget we should be grateful for, both the good and the bad.

Maybe you’re not happy with where you are right now. Maybe life has got you down. But there have been a lot of awesome ups to go with the downs, and we have to remember that. If anything, an awesome series of perfectly lined up circumstances are allowing you to be breathing right now. That’s pretty incredible.

I like to reflect on the series of events that get me to certain points in my life. It’s interesting to look back and see where the decisions you and others made got you to where you are. A lot of times I can see this when I go back and read my journal entries. That’s a good place to see where things that went wrong in my opinion ended up leading me to some even better things. You know, one door closes and another opens or whatever the saying is. Too often we miss how closed doors lead us to better places.

So this holiday season I encourage others to think about the people and the things in life you’re thankful for, but also the circumstances surrounding those that have made you who you are. And then take that beyond just the season. We are some lucky people to have a temporary home here on earth with some incredible experiences in store.

In the end, the plan for our lives is perfect, and we have to be grateful for that.

*Header photo courtesy of Carlie Ross

Handle With Care

One huge thing I have learned from camp  it is that people are oh so very broken. Everyone puts on a happy face to go through their day. We live in a social media world where people only put out their very best, and everyone feels miserable because they think everyone else has got it way better than them. Our society believes it’s not okay to not be okay.

But friends, every single one of us is very very broken.

I’ve seen a lot of really hard things at camp. I’ve watched my friends admit that they’re walking through terrible trials and temptations. I’ve had young girls tell me that they’ve never felt loved, even by their families. I’ve watched guys struggle with pornography and girls with terrible lust. I’ve seen families struggling when they look like the perfect picture of love on the outside.

My heart has been broken for what breaks The Lord’s.

Yet I continue to pray that He breaks it daily.

It is so very important to remember that we are intricate and fragile creations. We aren’t created to be perfect.

We as a society need to stop expecting people to hide their brokenness. It’s okay to battle mental illness, to come from a broken home, to feel lonely, to wrestle desire and pride. It’s okay to struggle. This life isn’t easy.

It’s okay to admit you’re broken.

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Want to know why? Because there are people who want to love you and help you heal. If we don’t admit we are broken and hurting and weak, then the people who matter in our lives can’t come alongside us and walk through that with us.

As  a camp counselor, I got to come alongside so many broken young women. Both campers and other counselors. And I also got to spend time with people who would come alongside me.

I wish everyday life viewed brokenness the way that camp does. Camp is a place where the downtrodden come to find rest. The point is to facilitate that rest and that healing and send stronger campers back home. But why can’t we do this for our friends and family every day?

We need to start asking people if they’re okay. And really meaning it and taking the time to listen. And if we get asked if we are okay, we need to be transparent and say how we really feel. We have to battle the hurt with unending love.

This year has been extremely trying. And I have been hurting bad. I tried to stuff it down for a long time, but it got too far. My mental and physical health was at stake. Admiting I was broken and lost and that I didn’t know what to do allowed some very wise people to speak truth into my life. This hard year has made me stronger.

Our world is a broken world, but we can’t begin healing it until we are transparent about that. And when that happens, we can only heal it with love.

Psalm 34:18

Read and Reflect

I think everyone knows by now that I am a huge advocate of reflection in order to grow. I love journaling and quiet time to work through my thoughts and seek self-improvement. However, I think there are more ways than these to work on reflection and better oneself.

Books.

That’s right. Reading.

I struggle big time finding time for leisure reading these days. My free time is consumed with college events and homework. And I hate that. When I do get free time, I often squander it on my phone or watching TV because I feel I need a break. I take for granted the type of break reading a good book can bring.

There’s something refreshing about leaving your own thoughts and entering those of someone else. It’s also a space where you can learn a lot. Seeing how someone else approaches their thoughts can boost your reflection.

I have a few books that I’ve been working on (when I have time). They’re mostly Christian literature. This genre of literature often blatantly prompts the reader to reflect, so I love them.

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Echoes of Eden by Jerram Barrs

This book is about getting in touch with art as a Christian and appreciating the world around you. The main message is that we can not boast in our art, but exemplify Christ through them. Barrs looks at popular works of art like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Shakespeare works, and C.S. Lewis and Jane Austen novels.

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Prayer by Timothy Keller

This selection goes in-depth at what prayer looks like and how to revolutionize your prayer life. This piece definitely pushes you into your thoughts as you are pushed to think about how you communicate with God. Keller teaches how to approach things like loss, love, and sadness in your prayer life.

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Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

This book is a classic. It can either teach you about the basic thoughts of Christianity, or reaffirm your Christian foundations. Lewis makes readers rethink their moral foundations and what values have made them who they are. It’s also just a brilliant reminder of the perfect pieces that make up the Christian faith.

Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller

In this book, Keller helps readers explore where their priorities lie and what they value most in life. It’s a rude awakening to where we place our money, time, and thoughts. This is the ultimate guide to reflecting on life.

Seasons Change

I was walking in the woods with two of my favorite humans today. We started coming up with cheesy sayings about life and the leaves changing color. But while I was napping in my hammock amongst these trees, I started seriously thinking about it. I am in a season of change, and I am slowly learning to embrace it.

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I’m over the halfway point of college and people are starting to expect me to know what comes next. But I don’t. I’m in this weird limbo of not quite being a kid, but not quite being an adult. All my friends are in this limbo too, so we’re a hot mess of stress and confusion.

What I can be thankful for is that we are in it together. I can’t express enough how lucky I am to have the people I do in my life. The constant encouragement (or commiseration) that I receive from my fellow students is incredible.

I am a person who hates change. But this weird limbo is slowly forcing me to embrace it. I am learning that sometimes change is good. Change is scary, but it’s making me who I am. This is the realization I had while enjoying the fall colors today.

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Over the past few months I have gone through a lot of changes. They didn’t all seem so good at the time. I began classes that made me happier and less stressed, I made some really incredible new friends in some of my classes, I also left some friends behind. I had a relationship end that taught me a lot, I moved into my first apartment and had to start doing things for myself, I improved a lot of my routines to keep me happy and healthy.

This semester has been a growing up experience for me so far. A lot of times I feel like I can’t get a grip on one thing before it hurtles by. It stresses me out beyond belief. But when I take the time to look back, I realize how far I have come.

I am happy and healthy this semester. And this is a change I am okay with.

Cheesy, but change can make a person better like seasons changing makes leaves more beautiful.

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#Awkward

I think one of the greatest qualities camp experiences gave me was confidence. If you know me, you know I am a big introvert. Being dropped in a room full of strangers in a new environment is my worst nightmare. Icebreakers and name games never fail to make me cringe because I prefer to avoid being the center of attention at all costs.

That has all changed a little since being a camp kid for so long (mostly thanks to student council camp). I still cringe at the idea of name games, but I don’t loathe them so much anymore. I am more bold about meeting new people and starting fresh relationships. I learned that if you just embrace the awkward, it’s not so bad.

College has been an endless void of awkward experiences. Some that have happened recently (inspiration for this post). I’ve tried to work on changing my perspective though. Instead of being painfully embarrassed or uncomfortable, I figure I might as well take it in stride and learn from it.

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I once had an interview where they asked me to write a hashtag that describes me on a whiteboard in the room. When I stood up to walk over to the board and turn around to the line of people sitting across the conference table from me, I should have wanted to hide. Instead, I picked up the marker and wrote “#awkward.” The perfect description of myself. I went on to discuss how I always find myself in awkward situations, but that’s where I have done the most growing. I got called back for another round.

Being in camp-like situations, including news classes or project groups, where you have to build some bonds with total strangers is really an excellent opportunity for personal development. You get the opportunity to learn about yourself. It also shows you where you have room for improvement.

We often fail to realize where the uncomfortable experiences in life are making us better people. Sometimes it takes being forced out of your comfort zone to have an experience that causes you to grow.

A lifetime full of awkward moments is why I am the person I am today. Embarrassing accidents, uncomfortable dates, and failed conversations all add up. We just don’t always realize it. Human beings are awkward creations, but it’s each person’s awkward that makes them unique and builds their confidence.

So, embrace it.

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Gucci Bars

So lately I have been missing Kanakuk dessert a LOT. When you work in the kitchen you have a love hate relationship with camp food. But never ever Gucci Bars. There could never be any dislike for them. This chocolate and caramel dessert was the highlight of my week and there was never enough to go around. So, I decided to give them a shot.

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. oats
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 c. brown sugar
  •  1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 c. butter
  • 10 oz. caramel
  • 1 c. chocolate chips

The process:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Soften the butter
  3. Mix the oats, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, butter, and flour togetherimg_1453
  4. Spread 2/3 of the mixture in a 9×11 pan and press it down
  5. Spread the caramel over this “crust”IMG_1454.JPG
  6. Add a layer of chocolate chips
  7. Add the remaining 1/3 of the mixture to the topIMG_1455.JPG
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes
  9. Let stand in the refrigerator for about an hourIMG_1456.JPG
  10. Cut in and enjoy

These bars are SUPER rich and go best with a glass of milk. The company of a good friend is also suggested.

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Recipe courtesy of Kanakuk Kamps