Life as a Wind Rider

Hopes I Lived in 2016 {Part Two}

I lived some hopes this year, hopes I wrote down because I was determined to look forward to them rather than fear their likelihood of happening. Here’s the second part of all 77 of them.

Watching sunrises and sunsets.lake-sunset-3

I saw many sunsets, but I’ll tell one story: on the way home from a barbecue this summer, the sunset I saw in my rearview mirror was just too much. I pulled over and watched it from the covered bridge, accompanied by a dozen strangers who’d had the same impulse. There’s still something in us that wants to stop and sit in wonder at sunsets. I love that about humanity.

5-sunriseI also got up early to hike with friends one day and caught the sunrise; I attempted to paint it later that night.

Having more music talks with my dad.

He’s often called me in to listen to music he grew up with or a random guitar riff. But we had a different kind of music talk last month, one about my place in music. He’s doesn’t fully understand what it’s like for me, but he’s trusting and excited about what I tell him I feel. And that’s one of the best things he’s ever done for me.

Attending the weddings of dear friends.heathers-wedding

Heather and Josh’s wedding had such a contagious sweetness in it, because they have it in them. So happy for my childhood friend.

Randomly running into my professors.

I’m counting this story, even though it wasn’t random. I wrote to my public speaking professor, and we ended up spending a lovely autumn afternoon together a few weeks later, taking drives and having lunch and catching up. She is such an encouraging and adventurous woman, and I love that I’ve been able to keep her in my life.

Catching up with my old art teacher. | Seeing how people decorate their houses to suit their personalities.

I visited her this summer; she showed me her current projects and her art journal, we had tea in her garden, I pet her new cat, and she let me play her harp. The stuff of dreams. Her house is a haven of colors, memorabilia, projects both completed and in-progress, and life. There is a lot about her and her lifestyle that I hope to emulate.

Owning wind chimes and hearing them fill the air.chimes-1

My mom got a set of wind chimes and hung them on the porch, right next to the sliding door. They’re an even greater source of joy than I expected.

Having another birthday.

Birthdays are weird for me. I have this on my lists because I know every birthday has a chance to be a redeemed one; that’s what I truly look forward to. Meeting my hamster on my birthday this year was a nice start.

Filling more journals.journal-shelf

I filled a total of 8 journals this year, with prayers, poetry, gratitude lists, scripture study, and records of my thoughts.

Seeing animals outside and having small moments of quiet eye contact and connection with them. | Seeing bluebirds.

This does not get old for me. Something I’m wildly excited about is our ability to have friendships with animals when the fullness of the kingdom comes (and if you don’t believe in that, totally fine!), so when I get to have a moment with a wild animal now, I get a bit giddy. Bluebirds have a lot of personal meaning for me, so seeing so many of them this year has been a gift.

Drinking hot cocoa.

My brother and I spend a lot of time at home together; tea, coffee, and hot cocoa are being made constantly in our little Oregonian house.

Praying with people.

Sometimes it’s over the phone, sometimes it’s in person, sometimes they don’t even know I’m doing it. But it’s always powerful, and I believe that. I was part of a small church group this year, and we’ve had one or two non-planned prophetic times of prayer. I’m not going to forget those.

Owning a Coldplay album.

Recently got Viva La Vida. A masterpiece, in my opinion.

Having solid interactions with kind strangers.

One of my favorites things about life– getting to know the rest of my family.

Having mango flavored

Dutch Bros has the best mango smoothies. I rarely go, but when I do I always get that glorious smoothie. [P.S., the photo is from when I went on a coffee run for some volunteers, I didn’t drink all of those!]

Dressing as Mabel from “Gravity Falls” for Halloween.dsc07959

I painted the sweatshirt myself (which I now wear way too often) and was so happy to emulate one of my favorite cartoon characters! We’re basically the same person anyway.

Being able to teach people about MBTI.

I wrote a little series about introductory MBTI here on the blog! I also got to chat with a church group about MBTI and our different types; I guessed a few of them and was surprised by others (but I’m secretly pretty sure I’m still right about one of them).

Having confidence in going places on my own.

I’m still growing in this, but I’ve definitely become better at it. I kicked anxiety’s butt in so many ways this year.

Observing the quirks of others.

I hope this doesn’t sound too creepy because it’s honestly one of my favorite things. People are so diverse and wonderful. However, I’ve learned this year that no matter how many things I notice about someone, there is still more; I will never be able to sum anyone up. I’ve also learned I really love that.

Meeting public figures I admire.fleurie

I saw Fleurie in September, and she was so beautiful and kind. She’s doing what I want to be doing– killing it as a female singer-songwriter– so it was exciting for me to get to chat with her, someone I already glean from often.

Having a cat that likes being a sweet companion.sunshine-rub

My cat is about twelve years old and has always been pretty skittish, not wanting to interact with anybody. But the past few years, she’s been mellowing and becoming a bit more affectionate. I’ve had some sweet cuddle time with her.

Sharing pizza with someone I love at a picnic.

I had pizza at a park with my mom and brother over the summer one day; we played basketball afterwards.

Tie-dying a shirt.tiedye-final-product

My grandparents gave me some tie-dye for my birthday and I tried it out on an old shirt from my camp counselor days– I love it. My mom also let me dye some of her socks. In case you were wondering if she’s a cool mom or not, I think you just got your answer.

Owning Dinotopia books.

I got The World Beneath, my favorite one, for Christmas!

Having flowers in the house.roses-from-mom-1

My mom gave me flowers on a bad day; they were by far the loveliest part of it, and brought me happiness for days afterward.

Find part one of the hopes I lived this year here.

Find the lists these hopes are from here, here, and here.

Thank for you listening to my stories. I hope you’re beginning to remember some of your own. Here’s to the new ones we’ll live this next year!

Life as a Wind Rider

Hopes I Lived in 2016 {Part One}

My greatest fear is that what I hope for will not come to pass. There are so many good things I want to experience, and with every disappointment I face I become terrified that they won’t work out. That is why I keep a list.

I have an ever-growing list of things I hope for. I call them my “looking forward to” lists, to keep me trusting. Last year I decided to see how many things I’d lived from them– and found the number was fifty-six.

Dreams are made for life. Sometimes, it really doesn’t look that way. But I still believe it’s true.

And to strengthen that belief, I’m sharing some of the dreams I lived in 2016– of the 77 total. Let’s do it.

Reading more books. | Reading the Jesus Storybook Bible. | Reading more fairy tales. | Reading the Anne of Green Gables series. | Reading If You Feel Too Much.

I set my reading challenge to thirty books this year because I thought, “I was in college half of last year and I still managed to read 18 books! I can read thirty this year for sure!” I didn’t quite realize that I like taking my sweet time to read; I didn’t even reach 18 this year. What I did read, however, was overall wonderful. My favorites were probably The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones, Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale, Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway by Dr. Susan Jeffers (I wrote about it), and the last four books in the Anne of Green Gables series. You can see everything I read this year on my Goodreads Year in Books.

Going to more concerts. | Going to a rap concert.concertssssss

I was surprisingly able to go to a handful of shows this year! Meigan and I saw Rend Collective in February, which was a wonderful time of what felt like a family gathering; my mom and I took a mini road trip to Fish Fest in August with Cindy and Jamie, where we spent all day in the hot sun to see many acts, including Switchfoot (they played the song I secretly hoped they would and my heart soared); and in September I got to take a fun trip with Meigan and Brandon to see NF and Fleurie, two artists I admire so much.

Holding babies.

I did this often because I volunteered in a nursery. I also realized that working with children is not my passion, and stopped doing it. It was a weird discovery, but I think I’m relieved to not be guilting myself into serving a certain way anymore.

Seeing meaningful new movies. | Seeing new Pixar movies.

I’m not as much of a movie person as I once was; I do a lot more rewatching of films I already love as opposed to exploring new ones. But I still got to watch quite a few stories that touched me in some way this year. It terms of new films/Pixar films? Finding Dory was so, so wonderful and Rogue One shocked me with how much it made me feel.

Getting better at painting. | Making art that gets me excited when I finish it. Getting better at art-journaling. artttt

I practiced with acrylics a lot more this year and have become much more comfortable with them. Working in an art journal was a great way to try out different ideas and expand the ways I create. Something I’ve learned this year is that the greater volume of things you make, the more okay you are with making imperfect things, because you know there’s a lot more to come and that you’re getting better all the time. [The prompt journal I’ve used is the Wreck This Journal, if you’re interested in trying it out!]

Hiking a calm little forest trail. | Being reunited with college family. | Having a simple breakfast with people I love.spencers-hike-group

I got to spend a day last month with most of my little group of friends from college. It was refreshing to see them again. It’s also becoming refreshing to feel less tied down to what things were like in college and to welcome what’s here now. I’d never hiked this particular butte, and the view was wildly wonderful even on the cloudy day. I love Oregon. [Photo by Cooper]

friendiverseryIn August, I also happened to be in the same place with the three original friends I met during orientation years ago! We’re still cuties, aren’t we? [Photo by Meigan]

Buying scented candles and lighting them all the time. | Smelling roses and other wonderful smells.

I actually started using a candle warmer this year! I like how long the wax cubes last (much longer than a regular candle), and discovering where to find new scents.

Visiting the coast again. | Camping with people I adore.coastttt

I spent a night in a yurt with my grandparents. It was rainy and cold, but we found graffiti under a bridge and cried laughing while playing Jenga and Bananagrams. The next day was much more sunny; we visited a lighthouse and a lookout point. Oregon, man…

Taking a class from my beloved writing teacher again.

I wrote this on my first “looking forward to” list. I wasn’t sure at that point in time if I’d ever go back to college or not, but now I’m sure I won’t (which is completely fine with me; preferable, actually). But when I found it in my lists as I was preparing to write this post, I stopped for a minute and sat in all the emotions that came. My writing teacher died this summer. I’d experienced grief before, but not like I experienced it for her. She was supportive of me and invested in my growth during a time when I could have given up on myself. I still remember what she taught me, both in writing and in being a person, every single day. I love you and miss you, Ms. Lee.

Learning an instrument. | Feeling more skilled in things I currently feel like an amateur in. | Having my passion for music be known by the people around me, instead of bottled within myself.

Last year, if you had asked me what I do, I would vaguely mention art; I was ashamed of my skill level in music, didn’t feel like a true music-maker. That has changed this year. I’ve discovered songs in my ancient Casio’s keys during my frequent playtime with it, and teaching myself to play a few songs through YouTube tutorials has been helping me train my ear and get better at using both hands. I love saying, “I play with piano.” It’s truly like a delightful game for me. I have so much more to learn, but I am learning, and I love it. Music is home.

Setting up my easel and painting somewhere outside. | Having painting parties.artttt-oopsssss

When your best friend calls you asking if you can come over “like, right now” and paint with her from a birdwatching tower, you say yes. Such sweet times with her. Thanks for getting me to dip my toes in the world of oil paints, Sierra. It inspired me to go and paint the lake I grew up next to the next week.

dsc07810I also had a few friends over to play around with watercolor near my birthday. Look at how great they did (mine’s the one that looks like it’s framed by fruit loops ignore that one)!

Getting letters from people I love. | Writing letters.skinners-with-katie

Always writing to Katie from across the country, except now she gets to write about her wedding plans! Love her so much. She came to visit during the summer.

Discovering more musicians I’ll cherish forever. | Growing more associations with albums and seasons of my life.

The most impactful discoveries this year were NF, Fleurie, Anthem Lights, Jeremiah Daly, and Kings Kaleidoscope. You’ll find them all on the playlist I made throughout 2016, which is on both YouTube and Spotify if you want to eavesdrop.

Adopting a pet. | Holding adorable little animals.dsc07779

Jonas came into my life in October. I wrote about him.

Wearing more pretty dresses.

I became a little obsessed with my black and white striped dress, and may have just gotten a navy and white striped dress with longer sleeves because I like the look so much…

 Seeing my best friend again and going on a random little adventure with her.

Our adventure this year didn’t go as we planned. But with all the children’s books, car talks, tea, bad karaoke, borrowed pajamas, and Eloise at Christmastime gushing? We’re still my favorite.

Coloring with children.

My dad had me watch his friend’s granddaughter on the fourth of July; her adventurous spirit and ability to color way beyond her age’s typical skill level were wonderful surprises.

Making notebooks for friends.

I don’t make them for my own school notes anymore, so I like being able to still put them in schools somehow. Having my friends be the vessels is the best way I can think of.

Making prayer-art a regular part of my life.

In high school I met a woman who “prayed in color;” she’d paint in a journal whatever came to her mind as she prayed, and was able to express some of the wordless things she was feeling. I was inspired and wanted to do the same thing, but it didn’t really connect for me like it seemed to for her. I’ve learned that it serves a different purpose for me. When a friend asks me to pray for them in a specific way, sometimes I’ll feel like I’m supposed to paint about it, so I’ll do that as I pray, and will often send them the artwork afterwards with a note about any impression I was getting. I also feel driven to create when tragedy hits the world in some way.

Watching fireworks at our annual Fourth of July barbeques.

I went through a video-making phase during the summer, so I have this year’s fireworks set to music. You can watch it here.

Playing Loaded Questions.

We played for hours at a church group I go to; I laughed harder than I had in a very long time. We’re good at being a bit intense in our discussions, so it was nice to have a light-hearted night and get to know each other’s personalities a bit more.

Making more quote signs.principles-painting

A pretty common practice for me, but always fun. And the past month or so, I’ve been working out some plans concerning my little encouragement posters! Hopefully you will hear about it soon.

Writing about some of the big things. | Finding new things to write about.

I wrote about being kind to myself; about having flaws, and how maybe that’s okay; about forgiveness that doesn’t stop being necessary; about getting defensive on the internet; about using religion as a tool instead of a fence; about being hopeful despite the fear of getting crushed; about not finding a place shaped like me; about love being the cure; about shame, and what it was like to grow up in church; about my pornography addiction and honesty; about God’s revelation to me concerning anxiety and the tools He’s given me to replace it; about my promise to be your friend in our differences… yeah. Some of the big things.

Seeing friendships grow deeper. | Hugging people I love.dsc07791

Two of my favorite things about life. Enjoy this photo of my sister and I near our birthdays.

Finding a purse that suits me.

I haven’t had good luck with purses because I don’t want to lug around something big, yet I want room for a sketchbook or journal amongst my other little things. Finally found something in a good size that’s also pretty cute (and it was on sale)!

Driving in tree-filled areas during the fall.

My situation is a little different from what it was last year, and I was a bit downtrodden when I realized I probably wasn’t going to be able to drive much, if at all, this fall. But I did get to drive a few times. And one particular day, I drove under so many trees that I was able to be in the dance of what felt like hundreds of leaves by the time I reached my destination. Grace.

Owning more band merchandise.

The concerts I went to this year helped! I super enjoy my t-shirt with some of my favorite Switchfoot lyrics, and my NF hat (I’ve discovered a love a good ball cap, by the way).

Watching more episodes of great web series.

Oh my goodness, Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party came out this year and I loved it! Not only is it hilarious, but it’s super well-written with a mystery that I couldn’t nail down until the very end. If you want to see classic authors blame each other for murder in the most hilarious ways, but also be curious and in the dark along with them, definitely check out Poe Party!

Giving and receiving words of love on our message board.

We do this super often now that only two of us are home during the day. My mom writes little notes every single morning; sometimes there are puns…

Making food for people.

I put the frozen pizza in the oven every Monday night. I’m saying that counts.

Drinking strawberry lemonade.gee-katie

I’m not the biggest fan of Roadhouse Grill, but we go there once a year for my parents’ anniversary and I get the strawberry lemonade every single time. Wow it is good. I also had watermelon lemonade at a little picnic with Katie and G’ma Edie this summer.

Writing new poems that express what I want them to.

I’ve written a poem every day this year. Not only has it helped me as a writing exercise (if you’re a writer of any kind, study/read/write poetry; it teaches economy of words and gets your head voice familiar with what sounds right), but sometimes it’s my opportunity to get what’s inside me out and find the starting point of some closure or insight. Gems have come from it, at least in my perspective. I’m working on figuring out what to do with them.

You can find my “looking forward to” lists here, here, and here.

Next week I will be posting part two of the hopes I lived this year!

Life as a Wind Rider

On Reading My Life’s Story

journal and cpr shelfI have this strange habit of staying up until at least midnight because I want to see the memories Facebook saved for me in the “On This Day” app. I’ve been using Facebook since I was about fourteen, so there’s some cringey gold to be found.

But I was also deeply depressed for a little more than two years in high school. And Facebook reminds me of that, too.

Except those things aren’t memories. That’s the wild thing about depression: I am aware, because of photos and journal entries, of the things that happened to me. But I don’t actually remember them. Reading my journal is like reading a novel. I sympathize with my younger self on a human level, but I can’t remember what those moments felt like; I just remember the constant despair or numbness I carried. Looking at photos from that time is like looking at photos of a sweet, familiar teenage girl; it’s like I was friends with her once. Those years are like stories to me, instead of memories. I know they’re my stories. I try to take good care of them.

Lately, the memories showing up in the app have been inside those stories. A song I didn’t remember existed was there yesterday, from when I was sixteen. When I clicked the link and listened to it, I knew every word. It was a song speaking of light, and it had a joyous air in it. Pride for the girl who listened to that song in the dark swelled up in me. I don’t know what made her do it, but I want to be like her when I grow up.

Today, the memory was from three years ago. Three years ago today, I was rejected from the creative arts program at the college I knew the Lord wanted me to attend. I’d auditioned through a video, the first time for me to sing a solo for anyone. A few weeks later, I received a phone call informing me my voice was “underveloped.” I’d been accepted to the college, but not the program I hoped for. I knew I was supposed to go to the school, so I was glad to be accepted there, at least. Yet I also knew I was supposed to make music. Suddenly I didn’t know how those callings could exist together anymore.

I had been scrolling through Facebook when I received that phone call. I don’t vent about personal situations on the internet, but I didn’t know what to do with the news I’d just received. So I typed through my tears:

Didn’t get accepted into the Creative Arts program; my voice is underveloped. Crushed.

People came beside me and exhorted me. Months later, I would go to that college. But my sense of hope in my dreams of making music was gone. My heart was broken over this twist in my story, and my dreams now felt like burdens I’d have to uselessly carry for the rest of my life. It took a long time to heal from this.

Three years ago, I didn’t know that I wouldn’t finish college; that the Lord would lead me to living at home, figuring out how to make music on my own. I didn’t know that my story was to be even more unconventional and wild.

And I didn’t know that I’d eventually love my story that way.

I love that my Father knows me. He knows an easy, conventional story wouldn’t suit me. “Tessa is my unconventional shining star of a daughter.” He declared when He dreamed me up. “She doesn’t do things the way everyone expects her to; she finds new, creative ways that feed her soul and the souls of others like her. She needs a life that reflects that. It’s going to be so unique, such a delight to unfold.”

He’s crafted all of it. Just like He’s crafted me.

I never thought I’d be thankful for that rejection. But I am. I’m grateful for my crazy, messy, gorgeous story full of twists no one can anticipate. All of it is connected, matters, has purpose. I can trust Him with the hardest parts, knowing they’ll make sense to me someday. I can dream again, because He gives me His eyes when I do. Nothing is irredeemable or immovable– not the darkness, not my mistakes, not my circumstances, not my broken heart. It all matters.

It’s all part of the story. The one He made to fit me just right.

Life as a Wind Rider

Another 100 Things to Look Forward To

shoes daisies dandelionsI am thrilled to have written another list of one hundred things to look forward to. These are not just trivial lists I create in attempt to make me feel better about the future. These lists are a pair of corrective lenses for me; they awaken me to all the joys yet to be had in my life, all the things I have the potential to experience. Life gets dark, life gets hard, and it’s easy to get stuck in the cycle. These lists remind me that my Father gives me more than the cycle. He gives me countless expressions of His love, every single time I get to experience something that feels like someone switched on the lights in me, for even a moment.

I’ve written two lists like this one already, which you can find here and here. If you’re stuck in the cycle, I hope you find some of your own hopes here, or that you feel the nudge to begin dreaming again. Dreams are for life. Life is for us.

Owning wind chimes and hearing them fill the air.

Going to a rap concert.

Having another birthday.

Owning a Twenty One Pilots cd.

Having friends over for holidays.

Creating photo-a-day challenges.

Wearing red lipstick.

Reading the Jesus Storybook Bible.

Filling more journals.

Taking hipster-y pictures.

Seeing my brother do what he loves.

Watching the toddlers I know grow up into world-shaking adults.

Baking things with friends.

Sitting in front of a fireplace in the frigid winter.

Recording a Christmas album full of nostalgia.

Being a guest on a fun, comfortable web show or podcast or something of that nature.

Making music in collaboration with wonderful people.

Kissing my husband.

Growing my own herbs.

Becoming a vegetarian.

Feeling no trace of sadness.

Meeting public figures I admire.

Running into people randomly at the store.

Feeling noticed in the best way.

Finding a little community of emotional safety.

Starting an Etsy shop.

Learning new ways to make things.

Making memories with my husband before I know he’s my husband, then looking back on them later.

Writing letters.

Being able to closely observe people play the piano so I can learn chords better.

Seeing animals outside and having small moments of quiet eye contact and connection with them.

Drinking hot cocoa.

Retreating completely on my own for a day or two.

Traveling with my best friend.

Running some kind of advice column.

Watching my children be caring siblings to one another.

Sleeping next to my husband and feeling the security in that.

Having a for-real session of professional author/album/promotional photos.

Having a colorful wall in my home.

Seeing a wedding ring on my finger that someone I love placed there.

Praying with people.

Having solid interactions with kind strangers.

Having mango and watermelon-flavored things.

Refining my wardrobe.

Going on a date to the movies.

Going to a drive-in movie.

Sitting in a nook and reading/writing/thinking for hours.

Singing background for a song on someone else’s album.

Making art that gets me excited when I finish it.

Seeing soul-healing happen in people I love.

Going sledding with my family and with friends.

Becoming braver at making conversation.

Feeling more skilled in things I currently feel like an amateur in.

Spending time in a secluded house in the countryside.

Filming a music video.

Dressing as a fairy and as Mabel from “Gravity Falls” for Halloween.

Reading more fairy tales.

Singing lullabies over my babies.

Being able to pay for things.

Seeing my husband be a father.

Exploring quirky shops.

Getting to know the family I marry into.

Rekindling friendships that became distant.

Having spontaneous dance parties.

Holding the children of my best friends.

Writing an amazing love song.

Taking walks in new places.

Leaving notes for strangers in public places.

Being able to teach people about MBTI.

Going on tour with incredible people.

Holding adorable little animals.

Seeing my children react to seeing animals in zoos/wildlife parks for the first time.

Having confidence in going places on my own.

Exploring a wallpaper center for hours.

Happening upon street art.

Dangling my feet over a dock for a calm while.

Seeing blue birds.

Visiting a butterfly garden.

Knowing someone is in love with me.

Seeing someone be someone else’s muse.

Observing the quirks of others.

Spending more time in my sketchbook.

Having a cat that likes being a sweet companion.

Owning a settee and spending a good chunk of my time on it.

Laughing harder than ever before.

Opening my home to people who need it.

Seeing which genetics my children inherit from me and from their father.

Sharing a pizza with someone I love at a picnic.

Having my passion for music be known by the people around me, instead of being bottled within myself.

Holding hands.

Tie-dying a shirt.

Getting food with people in the middle of the night.

Making connections with people going the same direction as me.

Drinking strawberry lemonade.

Finding new things to write about.

Writing new poems that express what I want them to.

Seeing how people decorate their houses to suit their personalities.

Having a simple breakfast with people I love.

Seeing my family interact with my kids, as grandparents and an uncle.

Doing something a little wild on Leap Day.

Life as a Wind Rider

How I Rode The Wind in 2015 {Part 2}

I started writing lists of dreams I was going to look forward to seeing become reality when I realized life on earth is already kingdom life, and worth living. The Lord allowed me to live out 56 of those things in 2015 alone. I started laughing when I counted. He is so kind, so full of grace. I shared the first half of those lived dreams last week; I’m excited to share the second half today.

Watching movies with dear friends.

From emotional bursts with Sierra because of The Amazing Spiderman 2; to filling an apartment with college friends to watch Finding Neverland; to giggling at How to Train Your Dragon with Meigan, her brother, and his friends; to experiencing Treasure Planet with Karli as we waited for cookies to bake– I had solid movie experiences with my people.

Painting pottery.shakers yay!

I went with Amy and Meigan over the summer. We made lovely pieces, and got to have yogurt with Kayla afterwards. Win all around.

Getting letters from people I love.

My friend, Katie, lives in another state now. Her letters are such bright spots in my days.

Having painting parties.i was home

Sierra and I are pros at painting parties. I love having them with her, and the conversations we have during them.

Playing Loaded Questions.

Such a fun game! I played it with some of my best friends close to my birthday and it was a blast. The week afterwards, I played it with my brother and his friends, and it was equal parts hilarious and horrifying. Oh, man. Those boys… yikes. I just played it on New Years Eve with some wild people, too, which was a wonderful time (I accidentally confessed my celebrity crush to everyone, but eh).

Making more quote signs.Chesterson

I joke that even when I make visual art, I still have to say something; I nearly always end up adding words to my paintings (although I’m working on being a little more ambiguous; who doesn’t love discovering meaning in art for themselves?). Now, since I try to make art as often as I can, I end up painting straight up quotes all the time. It’s a deep breath for me.

Seeing friendships grow deeper.

This has to be one of my favorite things about life. Connecting with the souls of people is one of the biggest parts of kingdom life and it is true life.

Visiting the coast again.glitter tattoos

I visited the beach with Meigan and Candy, and we had a lovely, comfortable day together. We even got matching glitter tattoos (I’m pretty cool, in case you didn’t know), and they surprisingly lasted two weeks. [Photo from Meigan]

Eating an orange creamsicle.

My mom reads my “looking forward to” lists, and she got a box of orange creamsicles because she saw it on one. Do you guys love my mom yet? She’s the best, right? Shout out of shout outs to you, mom.

Driving in tree-filled areas during the fall.

The feeling of leaves jumping down to meet me as I drive is exhilarating and a simple, pure joy.

Hugging people I love.

Hugs are the best. They’re just the best.

Watching more episodes of great web series.

Season two of Green Gables Fables is underway! Oh, Gilbert… precious, precious Gilbert…

Re-reading old cards from friends and remembering how extravagantly blessed I am to have the people who wrote from my box

I keep a box of cards, letters, tickets, and little memory-laced papers to look through every once in a while. It makes me smile. I smile even more when I realize a lot people don’t write cards anymore, and my friends still do it for me.

Talking to my counselor-friend again.

I’m in counseling again as of last week, and I’m so excited about it. I had to fight some stigma that existed inside myself, but now I’m shamelessly pumped to dive into some soul-healing. You don’t have to be desperate to ask for help every once in a while; I hope you know that.

Finally beating Spyro: Year of The Dragon, 117%.

This was the video game of my childhood, and I’ve beaten it many times, but I would always ask my brother to complete the most difficult levels for me. I played through it again last month and completed it, including the bonus world, on my own. Finally. Adulthood unlocked.

Spray painting objects to make them look modern and trendy.DSC02830

Okay… I attempted this, but I’m going to have to try again. Because it’s been over a month and my chrome Loch Ness monster is still sticky. It lives under my easel on a sheet of newspaper; I took this photo like an hour ago.

Watching people I love perform.

I got to attend a dance performance featuring multiple beautiful, talented friends of mine. And yes, I cried.

Watching sunrises and sunsets.sunset Collage 2015

I ended up watching the sunset almost every night in September this year. I don’t know what it was; I just felt His love in them. sunrise

I didn’t plan on watching a sunrise, but I ended up meeting Meigan and Ashleigh for breakfast so early in the morning that I got to see it anyway. Glory.

Making and wearing meaningful jewelry.

Every item of jewelry I wear means something to me– a friend gave it to me, my grandma made it, it reminds me of a story that matters to me, I got it while traveling, the list goes on. I love wearing stories. Wearing an Eiffel tower necklace after the tragedy in Paris was a big one.

Having more music talks with my dad.

My dad loves exploring the internet to find his favorite music from the past. I love hearing him get excited about it, even if it means sitting through a solid thirty minutes of 70s hits. I can’t hate on The Mamas & The Papas.

Smelling roses and other wonderful smells.peachy bloom

I love things that smell fresh and sweet and nostalgic. I’ve heard that smell can trigger memories more quickly than any other sensation we have; I think I believe that.

Owning the new Chris August album.

My mom surprised me with it! It is so lovely. I recommend him highly. I’ve been listening to him from the beginning and he has not disappointed me; the sweetness and honestly remain.

Attending the weddings of dear friends.weddings 2015

I got to do this three times this year! Holly and Jadon, Amy and Jaron, and Kayla and Bradley all had weddings that were unique to them and that filled the atmosphere with the purest love; I felt the Lord there with each couple. Weddings are so special. They make kingdom life feel even nearer.

No longer having to clean a fish bowl.

I feel like I shouldn’t be celebrating that fact that my goldfish died. But I’m certainly not complaining.

Giving my art to more people. | Making notebooks and greeting cards for friends.collage notebooks

I got to do this many times this year. When I put out a random note saying, “Hey, I’ll make you a collage notebook if you want” a little before school began, I didn’t expect so many people to want them, but it was such a delight to make something inspired by each of those individuals. I think that’s my favorite part of giving art to people– it’s something we’ve shared, having to do with both of our cores.

Giving my textbooks away.

I don’t know what makes me so excited to give away my textbooks, but I love it. I got to deliver a few this year.

Going on a book picnic with my with Ariel

So special. We didn’t read because we just wanted to talk, although we did go to a bookstore and nerd out about psychology afterwards. I love her so much.

Find the lists these items came from here and here. And here’s to all the dreams we’ll live in the years to come.

Life as a Wind Rider

How I Rode The Wind in 2015 {Part 1}

A year and half ago, life seemed hopeless to me. I knew there would be good things again, but I knew bad things would come back, too. I was beginning to realize life was a mountain-and-valley journey, and started listening to the fear that the mountains were not worth the valleys that would inevitably come back. If I would never be fully better until I was in the kingdom, what was the point of being here?

I didn’t know that the kingdom is already here. It’s in me, it’s in you.

Someone who’d had thoughts like mine, who couldn’t stand to be in the valley any longer and entered the fullness of the kingdom, left music behind. And as I listened, I could hear him. He was telling me I didn’t have to run to eternity to live in the kingdom.

That God was just as near to me on earth as He was to him in eternity.

I chose to stay on earth. And I live in the kingdom now. And no mountains or valleys can mess with the level, steady, gold-paved ground of kingdom life.

After deciding to stay, I began writing lists. Lists not of things I hoped would happen, but things I was looking forward to in faith. Because I knew, after He surprised me with a train trip, that my Father wants me to use my dreams to live. I’ve written two 100-item lists like this, and I continue writing them. I don’t think there’s a better way to look back at this year than seeing all the dreams He brought to life.

Reading more books. I KEEP BUYING BOOKS.JPG

I read some good books this year (although I was in college for half of it, so not as many pleasure-reads as I would have liked). Probably the best were “One Thousand Gifts” (I wrote about it) and “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.” You can check out my Goodreads for all my 2015 books if you’d like!

Going to more concerts.

I attended two little coffee shop concerts– Madison Cunningham, and the local university’s acapella groups. I hope to attend bigger, more festival-like concerts in the future.

Holding babies.

I work in a nursery so I get to hold babies often, but it’s a huge source of joy for me every single time.

Seeing meaningful new movies. | Seeing the final Hunger Games film. | Seeing new Pixar movies.

Inside Out and Mockingjay Part II were huge for me this year. Both so well-done and thought-provoking in their own unique ways. I also got to go to those movies with people I love. Win. There were additional movies this year that I didn’t see in a theater, but that I saw for the first time and was touched by, most of all the new Cinderella movie; I wrote about it.

Getting better at painting. steady life

I’ve practiced acrylic paints more this year, and I’m better than I was, but I’ve discovered watercolor will always be my love. My lettering skills have improved much in both mediums.

Having flowers in the house.

A few times this year, a friend would pick me a flower and I’d let it live in a little vase for a few days. Delight.

Dying my hair red. red hair 3

I finally just went for it, and I might do it again soon because I ended up liking it so much. It made me think about identity and value, too, so I wrote about it.

Writing lyrics again.

I came to realize that I never stopped; I’d been writing daily poetry for over a year. It just isn’t something I can shut off. But now I’m writing words with the intention of making them lyrics once again, and it is… it’s home.

Sketching based on illustrations from the fairy books by Andrew Lang. finished sketch maybe yeah maybe

I finished one and hope to create many more. The name of Lang’s illustrator is H.J. Ford, in case you were curious.

Visiting a mountainous national park. | Visiting the mountains up close. | Going on a road trip.DSC00132

I love everything about the mountains (even though trails with such high elevation are killer for this sea-level girl). I never expected to be able to say I’d done these things so soon, but my grandparents invited us to join their road trip to Yellowstone, so of course we said yes! The thinking and music-listening time was invaluable; I wrote about it. Grateful. He loves to surprise us with joy.

GOPR1151_1435351086771_lowMeigan and I also took a mini road trip to visit our friend, Cooper, over the summer. We got to explore with him and his family, and it was a blast. [Photo from Cooper]

Buying scented candles and lighting them all the time.

I mooch off my mom’s candles so I didn’t really buy them, but you bet I lit them. Discovered tropical scents and clean (rain/cotton/etc.) scents are my favorite.

“Hiking” a calm little forest trail.hiking 2015

I got to explore trails with friends twice this year. Those memories are treasures I hold close. [Photos from Meigan and Bradley]

Sitting by the lake in the summer.

My family went camping in August, and we got to be outside at the lake often. I love the water.

Swinging at my favorite childhood park.

I got to bring friends to the park, and swing and talk with them for hours. It was wonderful. I love that little town and the warm air it always breathes on me.

Being part of more photo shoots with friends.12241346_911838315518760_2097723516758480792_n

Sierra and I explored her college campus to make leaf crowns, and it was glorious. I felt like a woodland fairy. [Photo from Sierra]

Using a journal small enough to carry in my purse.

Being able to write in my journal wherever I am during a moment of quiet is so valuable to me. I’m very grateful to have an easy-to-carry journal, and for all it carries in it.

Going to Generation Unleashed again.with the horse

I went as a chaperone. Such a rich weekend of being able to share love with people and retreat to a spiritually-focused place for a weekend. I shared my notes from it. That weekend was actually when I finally stopped saying no to the Lord, and declared: “Okay. I will leave college to make music.” Wild. I never expected this would be my story. [Photo from Tiffany]

Wearing more pretty YAAAAAS

I just love dresses. I actually got to wear one to a fancy dinner this year, which I didn’t expect I’d ever say because I simply don’t do fancy. But my people make everything better.

Taking a tour of the cathedral in my city. | Seeing my best friend again and going on a random little adventure with her.11796289_865882600114332_5610140246423129118_n

Sierra and I visited the lovely Catholic church on the corner of the street in our hometown (on the hottest day of the summer, by the way; we downed an entire pint of ice cream afterwards). We vocalized our struggles, prayed for each other, and found beauty in liturgy. I wrote about it. [Photo from Sierra]

Owning a Wreck This Journal.

My mom just got me one! Now to begin destroying, creating, and discovering. I’m excited about it.

Being reunited with college family.

It helps that I live close to my college town, but I’ve been still able to spend time with people I was terrified to leave. I may have left college, but I didn’t leave the relationships. I’m so grateful I got to keep them.

Throwing darts at paint-filled balloons like in The Princess Diaries.12107101_1012372312156163_4174250602515515772_n

My parents surprised me with the supplies to do it for my birthday! I got to make art with some of my favorite people on earth. It turned out legitimately beautiful. Mom, thank you so much for reading my lists and caring about my little dreams.

Watching fireworks at our annual Fourth of July barbeques.4th of July 2015 Collage

I’ve always loved Independence Day because of how much my dad loves our traditions. Also, please note my mom and my brother making the exact same expression in the top left photo, because I crack up every single time.

Find the lists these items came from here and here, and find part two of this round up here!

Life as a Wind Rider

Week One of Sophomore Year (as told by art)

11-15-14 sunset[I wrote this nearly a year ago but never posted it. It made me chuckle to read it today and see the irony that this year I feel so similarly about not returning to college. The little encouragement past-Tessa gave ended up being for me now. And knowing how many joyous things ended up being part of last year at school… it gives my heart a tiny hope-flutter. That it will all make sense someday.]

“Winds of Change” by Russ Taff. Reminded me that when I feel like I’m just floating around in life, maybe I’m riding the wind He sends to take me on our adventure.

August 24, 2014–
Drive with me.
Wherever we go, I want your hand to be over mine.
I want you to fiddle with the radio to find a song we love.
I want your laughter to travel through the car.
I want you to make me feel safe.
I just want to be with you.
Drive with me.

“Hope in Front of Me” by Danny Gokey (or Gurkey, as my mom once called him). The first song I heard on the radio as I drove to school, not seeing one piece of anything exciting to come. There is hope in front of me, even when it’s hard to believe.

August 26, 2014–
I didn’t feel your arms when I cried on the highway today.
But right now I remember the moment,
And I see you.
Can I just rest in you forever?
Even if this storm passes?
I won’t make it without your arms

“Multiplied” by NEEDTOBREATHE. Words me and Jesus shared on the way home from school.

August 28, 2014–
Just love, he said.
Love and serve and love again,
And it will all make sense soon.
I knew,
But had somehow forgotten.
This is why I know we need each other.

“Glorious” by Colony House. Buy this beautiful, life-changing album! The whole thing speaks to my spirit every day.

I want to be sappy for a second and deeply thank everyone who encouraged me this week. Beginning my sophomore year of college still not knowing what my future looks like is a little hard, but so many have reminded me of what’s important, of the joys that are all around me, of the promises I’ve been given, of the fact that I can ask God the same question as many times as I need to, of my identity. I need community, and you are the best I could ask for. Thank you!

And to you who are grown up but still feel like you’re just floating around– ride the wind. He knows where He’s taking you, and He’s completely willing to just sit with you and hug you when you’re scared. He did that for me all this week, and the last few days I was able to walk around campus still feeling the warmth of Him. You’re not alone.