November felt like it completely whizzed by, and it held so many fun events that kept my heart feeling full and thankful the whole way through. Here’s my review of my favorite month of the year!

What I did

Celebrated my 25th birthday. I went out to dinner with my closest girlfriends and then came back to my house for presents, cake, games, and conversations based on questions from a writing prompt journal I was gifted and these cards from Morgan Harper Nichols. It was really cool getting to witness a good and civil conversation on controversial topics happen between my friends who have differing views, and it reminded me that I’m friends with some of the very best people. I realized at dinner that the attendees consisted of two friends from each stage of my life thus far – childhood, college, and post-grad and that if I’m ever a bride that these girls would be the ones I’d want standing beside me on my wedding day. I love celebrating my birthday because I can selfishly and unashamedly get my closest girlfriends together to spend time with me, and it’s just the sweetest gift ever.

25th Birthday Celebration

Attended a live speaking event. I saw Scott Erickson for his Say Yes: A Liturgy of Not Giving Up On Yourself tour, and it was really cool! I went by myself and didn’t really know what to expect from him or his audience since I only know him through his art, and I left with questions to consider and ideas to think more deeply about, along with some art and books by him and Justin McRoberts. It was also so nice to be at a live, in-person event again.

Say Yes Tour

Went to my church’s annual Women’s Christmas Brunch. My church didn’t have the opportunity to host its annual Women’s Christmas Brunch last year because of the pandemic, so it was even more of a treat to get to attend this year! I was able to sit at a table with women I don’t usually get to speak with and was really encouraged by them and the whole women’s ministry team with the direction they’re heading in the coming year. And of course, all of the tables were lovely!

Went to another trivia night with an old friend. I only get to see my friend Lauren once a year since she’s moved out of state, so every time we get together it’s always a blast catching up! We ate delicious Asian food from Marietta Market and played trivia; I’m still horrible at it, she was stellar!

Trivia with Lauren

Spent a day with some great kids. I watched some friends’ kids while they went out of town for an arts and crafts show to sell some of their new merch (check out their business here!), and it was a blast! Kids’ imaginations never cease to amaze me and I loved getting to see them play and just be kids.

Day with the Nelson boys

Celebrated Thanksgiving with my mom’s family. I love holiday gatherings where all I have to do is show up (a gift and privilege, I know). I took some simple cookies to share and had a lovely time catching up with my grandmother, uncle, and cousins!

Thanksgiving 2021

What I discovered

Red (Taylor’s Version) album. I was a sophomore in high school when the first version of Taylor Swift’s Red album came out, in the middle of the most cliche, overdramatic, and heartbreaking relationship, and in the throes of the mess of teenage emotions. Needless to say, this album resonated with me on a deeply personal level back then, and now the re-release has given me major nostalgia and gratefulness that I’m not in that season anymore. My favorite songs from the vault are “Message in a Bottle”, “Nothing New”, “The Very First Night”, and “All Too Well(10 minute version)” – of course.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings movie. I have a deep appreciation for all-Asian casts in American movies, and this movie was absolutely spectacular! The storyline was engaging and the cinematography and music was beautiful. I enjoyed it so much that I watched it twice in the same week!

You’ve Got Mail movie. One of my favorite Instagram follows is Annie B. Jones, and her bio mentions that she is “channeling Kathleen Kelly.” I had no idea who that was until I found Annie talked about and posted a quote from her in this movie, so I was compelled to watch it and I’m so glad I did! It’s charming, wholesome, and just plain good entertainment!

Savannah Locke. I listened to an interview with Savannah on the 10,000 Minutes podcast and was really captivated by this notion she talked about of being awake to others. I then cyberstalked in my usual cycle, finding her Instagram, website, and Substack (to which I’m now subscribed to and loving)! I love her thoughts and ideas she presents in her writing, and the way she invites me to think about things in different ways.

What made me smile

Watching the Atlanta Braves win the World Series. I just became a fan of watching baseball last year when going to games in-person wasn’t happening, so it’s been a blast attending games this year! It was even more exciting getting to watch my home team win the World Series!! I stayed up way too late against my better judgment for those boys and I’m glad they made the sleep deprivation worth it, ha!

What I wrote down

“Somehow, second by second, we move forward. And miles down the road we look up and find life is beautiful again, because we’ve found a thousand other ways to see it.” Autumn Duran

“You’re going to grow in directions you couldn’t imagine because suffering has a way of redirecting you like nothing else can.” Savannah Locke

“Sadness is a way of honoring what we love.” Savannah Locke

“Sometimes it feels like I’m ten steps behind where I ought to be, like God is disappointed with me for still being “in process.” But submitting to the process without a timeline produces fruit. Otherwise, you’re just in a pressure cooker of perfection.” Savannah Locke

“Maybe it’s all just a gift from God for the sake of being a gift. Maybe it’s purely the joy to be able to return to your Ebenezers and remember where you’ve been, and to see the now grey hairs of the faithful who stood with you every step of the way.”McGee Nall

“I want to live a life that my heart can handle.” Mike McHargue

“You are the art. The artwork is the evidence.” Emily P. Freeman

“The work itself is the blessing. Not the result of the work. Being faithful in the process is what God wants. Not how it ends up.” Jeff Bethke, To Hell with the Hustle

“Sadness will not swallow you whole when you honor it. I promise.” Jessica Fralin

“Being single often means contending with doing the things solo or not doing them at all and sometimes that’s just not the choice I want to make.” Kimberly Inwrdly

“I need to address whatever I’m feeling at this moment without needing a solution.” Mattie Selecman

“Sometimes I write because I have something to say, and other times I write because I want to remember how to see.” Emily P. Freeman

“I am thankful for the grace of letting expectations go and riding the wave of what is needed for this time and this place.” Christine Keegan

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” – Epicurus

“We hurt so much because we know this is not how things are supposed to be.” Kaitlyn Schiess

“All writing is precisely this, the human’s way of achieving everlasting life.” Seth Haines

“I’m so grateful our words can remind us who we were and where we’ve been, who we are and where we’re going.” Annie B. Jones

“I always come limping into Advent, desperate for light but almost too tired to look for it. Then I remember: The Light came looking for me, and that’s the whole point.” Annie B. Jones

“Don’t let it go without recording it for yourself.” Annie F. Downs

“Maybe another part of getting older is learning to accept what is regardless of what isn’t, to be present, and yes, to be truly grateful.” Annie Parsons

“Much of life is doing the things you don’t want to do, so maybe just do them without the anticipatory angst, if you can.” Annie B. Jones

“I love that I get to be a role model for young girls and that I”m able to model a godly single life.” Looking for the Middle podcast

“My thoughts are like dayflies but I like to put them down.” Hannah Cao

Where I saw God

My favorite thing about my birthday is bringing all of my people from the different stages of my life together. It always reminds me of the goodness and faithfulness of God’s provision through other people to walk through life with, and the beautiful gift and grace that deep and lasting friendship is.

The beginning of the Advent season arrived this month, and I could not be more ready to slow down and intentionally focus on the beauty, wonder, mystery, and gift of the incarnation of Christ. I know it will keep my soul grounded as the busy holiday season approaches and the mixed feelings and tension of living between two advents feels heavy. I love that the liturgical calendar reminds us that our God works and does everything in seasons, and I especially felt this shift at the end of November.

What I’m looking forward to

I am so excited to be able to celebrate Christmas with all of my extended family this year! I am also looking forward to going through the She Reads Truth Advent Study: The Everlasting Light and finishing up the Bible reading plan that my church has been reading this year! I’m planning to spend a good bit of time with friends and church family as well, and can’t wait to tackle all of my favorite end-of-the-year practices – reflecting, goal-setting, and planning for what I’d like to do in the new year. The end of this year is close, time is going to feel like it’s simultaneously slowing down and moving too fast, and I cannot wait.

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