Blessed Beyond Belief: 2016 in Review Part Deux

Yesterday’s post was hard to write, y’all. It’s difficult to explain to how you are at peace and even find good in such bad circumstances. This isn’t my first rodeo; I’ve been through a very similar season before, so I know to look for what God is doing in the midst of seeming chaos. It’s still no fun, though.

I’m excited to talk about the great things I experienced this year, the things which worked. I’ve had the chance to do some cool things this year. At least, I think they’re pretty cool. 😉

Picture Me

I’ve had a fondness for taking pictures for a long time. Ever since I got my Fuji in 2012, I’ve low key thought I was a professional photographer. I’ve photographed a few events at church and the like, but this year, I got to take my hobby to a completely different level. It all started with a couple from Jersey who wanted to get married at my church. My minister asked if anyone knew of a photographer they could get to do a wedding Saturday (this was Wednesday, by the way). Then he personally came and asked me to prepare a quote to give them to take pictures and record the ceremony. The next thing you know, I shot a wedding!

It wasn’t the last time my camera and I had a professional gig this year. To date, I photographed a maternity session, a house listing, another wedding, and a little girl’s spa day at church. I still wouldn’t call myself a professional photographer. I have a lot to learn. But I loved capturing memories and making money doing something that fills me up.

Traveling Shoes

This year I was even more of a road warrior than last year. When I tell you I took my books to the people, I mean it, honey! This year I went to Brunswick, GA, Birmingham, AL, Cocoa Beach, FL,  McKenzie, TN, Hallandale Beach, FL and a couple fancy hotels here in Orlando to sell my books and prints. I met many wonderful women along the way. I made fast friends with groups of women at ladies’ conferences, workshops, singles seminars, and even the Christian A Capella Music Awards. I was able to spend time with my day and speak about writing a book in a workshop session in Tennessee.

By far, though, one of my favorite traveling memories this year has to be going to Mobile, AL with the ladies from Concord St. Church of Christ for their retreat. I needed this retreat, y’all! I enjoyed playing Taboo in the hotel lobby (and being shushed on every turn), the funniest team building exercises I’ve ever been a part of, the BEST seafood laden buffet, and getting to soak in wisdom from the speakers. Also, the lady at the nail salon in the plaza next to our hotel slayed my eyebrows for all they were worth, and I appreciate her. 🙂

I’ve already paid to go to Georgia again in February and the National Ladies Lectureship held here in April. I’m looking to travel even more in 2017!

Talk to Me

My brother in Christ and I kept missing one another to do an interview on his radio show about my books, but we finally managed to make it happen, and I’m so happy we did! The interview went well, his listeners liked it, and I’ve been invited back to talk about my next release once it’s available. I had never been on the radio before (I was almost on Cocktails with Patrick and Wake Up with Taylor back in the day (2009-ish). It was a fun experience and I can’t wait to do it again!

Learning from the Best

One of my goals for a while has been to create a book women could use in their personal bible study time or ladies classes. Studying the bible is one of the things I’m most passionate about. We have to search the scriptures and test what people tell us against the Word. For real. Women ask me if I have a book for a ladies class all the time. Altered before the Altar is seen as a single sisters book, and while The Season for Getting Serious is full of material I think would be perfect for study and discussion in a ladies class, it isn’t structured as a study.

I wrote a piece for The Season for Getting Serious about the  woman at the well and decided not to use it in the book. There was a line in the piece that invited me to really sit down in the truth of it: an encounter with Christ changes everything. From the time I finished The Season for Getting Serious, I began studying to write my first bible study. The studies I’ve done for this project have been phenomenal in my personal bible study. I’ve found some deep truths in these stories, and I’m excited to see what God will do with it when the study comes out next year. But even if the study never came out, I’ve learned so much and gained so much wisdom and assurance from it myself that every moment spent reading, researching and meditating on this material was so worth it.

My Girl Friends, There Through Thick and Thin

 I’ve visited with my girlfriends so much this year, and it has been wonderful! I caught up with a high school friend, Alex, earlier this year. I love getting to see her and talk to her about where we are in life right now. We’re both different than where we were, but we still get along as well as we did back when we were in school. I’ve been to prayer breakfasts and teas, gone on emergency shopping trips, had holiday dinners, thrown parties, hosted movie nights and fellowships, and gone bowling with a plethora of lady friends this year. I dragged  encouraged Andreana to meet me at events, Jenny to help me pick out interview clothes, and tagged along while my roommate finished Christmas shopping, all accompanied by laughter, good times, and random breakthroughs. I love the women I get to live life with.

Building a Bridge and Getting Over It

My dad and I haven’t always been close. In the past eight to ten years, we’ve made more of an effort to learn about each other and find common ground. This year, my dad and I have spent more time talking and working together than we ever have in my memory. Whether it was helping him with his workshop, him reading chapters of Season before its release, or editing course material for the bible college he is co-founding, we’ve been in constant communication. He’s been a sounding board for my writing ideas (he also steals my writing muse ;-)). Building up this relationship has been an answer to a long awaited prayer as well, and definitely a desired result. As dad says, greater is coming for us in 2017.

What went right for you in 2016?

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