2021 Goals + Word for the Year

Four years ago, I unintentionally started my own New Year’s tradition. Instead of creating resolutions that would be too easily forgotten or too quickly broken (like giving up fast food completely or working out every single day), I made a list of a few specific, measurable, realistic goals: a list that I could come back to a year later to reflect on and see how I grew. And the idea kind of stuck with me, so here I am, for the fifth year in a row, thankful for God’s faithfulness in 2020, the most bizarre year of my life thus far, and yet still turning a hopeful eye toward the new year ahead!

MY 2020 GOALS WERE:

  • Continue my streak from last year and spend time in God’s Word every single day.
    I missed one day in the Word this year, and it was because I had an emotionally exhausting day and truly just forgot. I am thankful to the Lord for growing this spiritual discipline in me, and I don’t need to include it on my yearly lists to remind myself to work on it anymore. This habit is fully established, and I sincerely look forward to spending time with God every day. ♥
  • Go skydiving.
    Man, we tried. :( Daniel refuses to do it, but I have wanted to go for years, and so have a few friends from church. We finally scheduled the trip and we drove all the way out there, but it was too windy. The place we went to doesn’t do refunds, but they gave us vouchers to come another time. We’ll definitely try again once the weather is nicer.
  • Do a “no-spend” week.
    We did it! We didn’t spend any money for a full week, other than bills that were scheduled to come out of our accounts automatically. It took some planning ahead for meals, gas, etc., but I think it was a worthwhile experiment. It definitely revealed how easily and often we spend money without thinking about where it’s actually going.
  • Visit somewhere new with Daniel.
    SO. MANY. PLACES. Every December for the last several years, I’ve looked back in awe over how many new places we got to go! In 2020, we went back to NYC for my birthday but visited new spots, like the New York Public Library and Battery Park, and we saw a few new Broadways shows and lots more of Central Park. My side of the family took a trip to Colorado Springs over the summer, where we got to visit Pike’s Peak, Manitou Springs, Royal Gorge, and Garden of the Gods. We got to go to San Diego (first time for both of us to visit California!) for David and Courtney Reagan’s wedding, and we planned a last-minute friendcation to Nashville when our group cruise got cancelled because of COVID. I also took a surprise trip to the emergency room for the first time….! (I’m okay now)
  • Call my parents, siblings, and grandparents more.
    Thanks to the coronavirus, I DEFINITELY achieved this goal!
  • Try something new: an intimidating recipe, learn common phrases in a few other languages, geocaching, maybe a yoga pose. Something brand new to me.
    I did more new things than I expected to this year! Some notable favorites were eating authentic Chinese barbecue in Chinatown – ate the whole meal with chopsticks!! – and petting a kangaroo at the Nashville Zoo. And where to start with all of my quarantine things?? I found out what working from home was like, I attempted braiding my own hair, I learned the best way to roast potatoes, I made homemade freaking croissants, and I made my first chicken pot pie, crust and all (AND IT WAS BALLER). On top of all of that, I started attending Kathryn Jernigan’s hip hop dance class at the gym and fell head-over-heels in love with it. I didn’t think I could like anything as much as I liked her step class, but now I look forward to Turn Up days every single week.
  • Go to a drive-in movie.
    Honestly so sad that this didn’t happen. We were supposed to get one in Durant toward the end of the year, but I think funding was delayed because of COVID-19. The closest drive-in theater is an hour and a half away, and we just weren’t ever able to put a date on the calendar once Daniel started his Master’s classes.
  • Make some emergency preparedness kits – one for the car, one for the basement, etc. ✓
    I used a weekend that Daniel was in Dallas for class to put these together! They were not cheap (and I’m already not looking forward to keeping track of the expiration dates for the snacks…) but I know I’ll be grateful for them someday. It feels good to be ready in case something happens.
  • Have at least one TV-free day per week and one social media-free day per month.
    Not perfect, but pretty dang good. This is the first time I’ve ever made a plan and tried to stick to it.
    January: TV ⊗⊗✓✓✓ // Social media 
    February: TV ⊗⊗ // Social media ⊗
    March: TV ⊗⊗⊗ // Social media ⊗
    April: TV ⊗⊗✓✓⊗ // Social media 
    May: TV ⊗⊗⊗ // Social media 
    June: TV ⊗⊗ // Social media 
    July: TV ⊗⊗✓✓ // Social media 
    August: TV ⊗⊗ // Social media 
    September: TV ⊗✓✓✓✓ // Social media 
    October: TV ✓✓ // Social media 
    November: TV ✓✓✓✓ // Social media 
    December: TV ⊗✓✓✓✓ // Social media
  • Shop local more: downtown shops, summer farmer’s market, etc.
    This one wasn’t even hard. I love how much our downtown area has grown over the last year, and it was an honor to support so many small businesses! Some of my favorite purchases this year were:
    • Salted caramel popcorn, a tan and black floral top, and a funny notebook from Durant Mercantile
    • Cookie Monster ice cream from Caked Up
    • Rose boho overalls from The Trippie Hippie
    • Loose-leaf tea from Tiffany Newton and farm fresh eggs and pumpkins from Freedom Acre Farms at the Farmer’s Market
    • Iced vanilla hazelnut lattes and chocolate chip cookies from Opera House Coffee
    • A cream and sienna striped sweater from Sweet Lil’ Repeat
    • Apple pineapple cider from Old Ice House

• 2021 •

Take a class with Daniel and learn something new together.

Finally go skydiving!

Have at least three device-free days per month.

Go a full month without eating out. (I’m scared)

Host a backyard dinner party this summer.

Take a “just the two of us” trip.

Make at least 20 of the 37,000 recipes I have pinned on Pinterest.

Start recording my prayer requests.

Learn how to make my own pasta (and resist the urge to make it every day afterward).

Host another “Favorite Things” party.

Try something different with my hair.


I’m also continuing my tradition of picking a Word for the Year! Since I’ve started, my words for the year have been HopeCourage, Joy, and Discipline. When I chose ‘Discipline’ for 2020 (or more accurately, when GOD chose it for me), I could never have guessed the personal transformation I would experience from January to December. I’m doing things daily and weekly that I never thought I would ever do, like keeping track of calorie intake and looking forward to working out. I can’t believe my life looks like this now, and I am so dang proud of myself.

My word for 2021 is:

P E A C E .

I want you guys to know that I didn’t just pull this out of thin air, or Google ‘word of the year ideas’ and pick out my favorite. I am confident, as I have been every single year since I started doing this, that this word was given to me by the Lord for a reason. I am genuinely looking forward to seeing how this word connects with 2021. Here’s to another year of learning and growing!

What is one of your goals for this year? Tell me in the comments!

20 Questions for 2020

What was the best thing that happened this year?
A lot of good things happened this year, actually! But what absolutely takes the cake was my 30th birthday. Daniel outdid himself (I don’t know if he can ever top it, honestly) and planned a surprise 4-day trip to New York City with eight of our closest friends. For as long as I live, I will never forget coming around the corner to our gate at the airport and seeing my people standing there in matching t-shirts and holding signs and cheering with way more enthusiasm than anyone should have at 3:45 in the morning. BEST. BIRTHDAY. EVER. ♥♥♥

What was the most challenging thing that happened this year?
2020 has been a doozy. It’s hard to narrow down what was the hardest, although I would probably have to say my ER visit in May and recovery after emergency surgery. I feel like we all went through a lot of crap this year, though – some people had it a whole lot worse than I did.

Who were your most valuable friendships with?
My Lakepoint people. It was true last year, and it’s true again this year. I can’t imagine going a week without seeing them.

What are some new skills that you learned?
Working out consistently. Completely monumental thing for me. I’ve also gotten better at conflict resolution with Daniel, I stopped being scared of making French croissants and just did it (and they were so good!!), and I learned how to be more minimalistic, intentional, and picky when shopping for clothes.

Pick three words to describe this year.
Exhausting. Disciplined. Resilient.

What was your biggest personal change from January to December?
I think for the first time, I truly like myself. I work out because I love my body, not because I hate it. I have felt betrayed by my body several times this year, but it has also taken such good care of me. And I want to take care of it in return.

What was the best book you read this year?
VERY hard to choose one, so I have to go with three: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (kicking myself for not reading this sooner), The Gospel Comes With a Housekey by Rosaria Butterfield, and What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps (and What Really Hurts) by Nancy Guthrie.

What did you do to serve others this year?
Delivered lots of meals to parents with new babies, facilitated and spoke at the Lakepoint marriage retreat, and supported friends who experienced losses.

Name a couple of positive memory-making experiences from 2020.
Hosted a BALLER 20’s-themed NYE party at our house, completed with a hidden speakeasy. Attended the local IF:Gathering. Fancied up for the Crystal Ball with the Wesberrys. Saw Anastasia on the stage with my mom and sister. Went to Colorado with the Simmas and celebrated my brother getting engaged. Planned my second wedding for pay. Celebrated Les’s 29th at the lake. Visited California for the first time for David Reagan’s wedding. Dressed up as Cruella de Vil for Halloween. FINALLY closed on our 15 acres. Took a friendscation to Nashville (House of Cards and Listening Room Café were the best!!). Made a complete Thanksgiving dinner by myself, turkey and all.

What 2020 accomplishments are you most proud of?
Finding a good groove at work, finally getting into a genuine routine of exercise and more deliberate eating habits, and shopping small a lot more often because of the COVID pandemic’s effects on small businesses. Oh, and MAKING FRENCH CROISSANTS FROM SCRATCH.

What are some things you’ve learned to accept this year?
I am the healthiest and most in shape I’ve been in probably a decade. And guess what? I still have hip dips, my stomach is squishy, and I will probably never have a thigh gap. But I think I finally just love myself, regardless of those things.

In what ways did you grow spiritually?
Holy smokes…I feel like a completely different person. I barely recognize the girl from January. I have learned to trust God at an even greater depth, and I don’t feel as ruffled by things as I used to. I also don’t idolize parenthood anymore. It is a glorious gift, and if I get to experience it, I will be eternally thankful, but it is not something God owes me. He (God) is all I want now, and everything else – marriage, family, friends – it’s just frosting. God’s faithfulness has been on display BIG this year.

What did you gain in 2020? What did you lose?
Gained = way more self confidence, and peace that God knows what He’s doing.
Lost = hope, briefly, but it’s returned. ♥

Name a difficult situation you overcame.
Daniel and I experienced some pretty devastating losses this year. But each one strengthened our relationships with each other and with others, and I’m really grateful for that.

What is something you want to do better in 2021?
I want to get off of my phone more often. I want to stop eating out all the time and making frozen pizza (lol) and actually cook more real meals. I also want to get better at using my time to invest in others – I’ve kind of fallen out of that toward the end of this year.

What was the best thing you did with your time this year?
We got to travel A LOT this year, and most of our favorite memories of 2020 are from those trips!

What was the single biggest time-waster in your life this year?
TV, without a doubt.

What are you most grateful for in 2020?
Daniel. In the middle of the storm, in the chaos of what we’ve both called the most bizarre year of our lives, he radiated strength for me, and he told me that he thinks I’m strong. I’ll never forget that.

What do you want to leave behind in 2020?
Ummmmm…..lol. Everything?

Who do you want to be in 2021?
A Proverbs 31 woman – brave, committed, hardworking, and respected.

Maybe 2020 was an amazing year and all your dreams came true! (And if so, you’re delusional and probably need therapy because this was undeniably a weird year for all of us.) Or maybe this year completely sucked in every possible way, and you’re having a hard time remembering anything good that happened. Either way, we can’t successfully walk into the future without making peace with our past, whether it was good or bad. I can’t think of a better way to close the book (or slam the door?) on 2020. Feel free to join in and answer them for yourself, and let this be your final emotional exhale as we toast to a new beginning again.

Fully Known, Fully Loved

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I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I’ve spent way too much of my married life trying to change my husband.

We’ve known each other for well over a decade now and have been married for 8 years, and I love him more than I’ve ever loved anybody in my entire life. But if you asked me what I wish he did differently, I could come up with a list really quickly.

All of us grew up doing things a certain way, and although we may not always say it, we intrinsically believe that ‘our way’ is the best way. But sometimes, it isn’t. Human relationships, and marriage in particular, have this curious way of drawing out our flaws, of revealing the parts of your person that God wants to lovingly chisel away.

Marriage in particular is one of the most intense ways God makes us more like Him: He takes two jagged-edged sinners and uses each of them to refine and smooth the hard edges off of the other. Marriage is NOT putting on the most attractive version of yourself, playing immature games with each other, and only looking to the other person for what you can get from them. Marriage is two people committing to out-serve each other for the rest of their lives. It’s reprogramming your brain to instinctively strive for what’s best for the other person first, instead of putting yourself and your needs first. Mike Mason’s quote from The Mystery of Marriage is absolutely spot-on:

“What is most unique about the tenacious fidelity of marriage is that it allows for such a really brutal amount of ‘sharpening’ to take place, yet in the gentlest way imaginable. Who ever heard of being sharpened against a warm, familiar body of loved flesh? Only the Lord could have devised such an awesomely tender and heartwarming means for men and women to be made into swords. Yet for all its gentleness, marriage is still a fire and a sword itself, a fire which brands, and a sword which inflicts a wound far deeper than any arrow of Cupid. For it is a wound in a person’s pride, in a place which cannot be healed, and from the moment a man and woman first stand transfixed in one another’s light they will begin to feel this wound of marriage opening up in them. The Lord God made woman out of part of man’s side and closed up the place with flesh, but in marriage He reopens this empty, aching place in man and begins the process of putting the woman back again, if not literally IN the side, then certainly AT it: permanently there, intrusively there, a sudden lifelong resident of a space which until that point the man will have considered to be his own private territory, even his own body. But in marriage he will cleave to the woman, and the woman to him, the way his own flesh cleaves to his own bones. Just so, says the Lord, do I Myself desire to invade your deepest privacy, binding you to me all your life long and even into eternity with cords of blood.”

I think the reason I didn’t see my selfishness as clearly prior to marriage is because I was playing a game. The “Look How Great I Am” game. I never would have admitted it out loud, but I was basically just trying to impress Daniel with all of my *amazing* qualities, and it wasn’t until getting married that I realized how little I actually had to offer. My good qualities weren’t nearly as good as I thought they were, and my bad qualities were a lot worse than I thought they were.

Before marriage, I had never had to be that deeply vulnerable with anyone. Sure, I opened up to my girlfriends and shared my joys, sorrows, and sins with them, but they weren’t as strongly affected by them the way Daniel is. The mirror of your spouse is often the hardest to look into, because (in a healthy marriage) that person isn’t your enemy. It’s your best friend, your person, pointing out your weaknesses. They are directly impacted by your selfishness in a way that no one else in your life is.

The really beautiful thing is that because of Jesus, I don’t have to fear that kind of vulnerability. I am fully seen, fully understood, fully known – and yet still fully loved. Daniel is a tangible piece of God’s unchanging love for me, and when he tells me he loves me, it means infinitely more now than it did on our wedding day. I have done things that have really hurt him, and the fact that he still says “I love you” and means it, in spite of my bad choices and unkind words…well, nothing can top that. And I know that Daniel’s love for me is a tiny match flame compared to the blazing forest fire of love that God has for me.

In one of my favorite books, The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller describes this mystery of being fully known and fully loved in perfect detail:

“The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. This is the only kind of relationship that will really transform us. Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us.”

When God shows us the depths of His love for us, it gives a whole new meaning to our human relationships and lays out the map for how we are supposed to love each other. He is the perfect example for us, loving us IN SPITE of the fact that we have done nothing to earn His love, and can’t ever earn it. Loving someone because of what they have done for you is shallow and worthless compared to loving someone because of what God has done for you. That kind of love will change the world, my friends.

Married Monday: 30+ Things People Would Change About Their Wedding If They Could

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Have a first look, or wait until you walk down the aisle to see each other? Invite everyone you know, or keep the event small and intimate? Princess ballgown and a veil, or bohemian sheath dress and a flower crown? There are SO many decisions to make when you’re planning a wedding, and anyone who has planned one can likely relate to the stress and pressure of wanting everything to be perfect.

No wedding is ever completely perfect, of course. Something always goes wrong, or at least turns out a little differently than you had originally planned. But at the end of the day, the most important part of a wedding day is the covenant vows you make to God and each other, and celebrating the love He divinely inspired between you and your new spouse.

If we could go back in time, however, those of us who are married can probably think of at least one thing that we would do differently on our wedding day. Maybe we wish we hadn’t stressed out so much about the font on our napkins (all of which ended up in the trash regardless), or we regret not choosing a better photographer. Never planned a wedding before? Keep reading, and consider taking our advice!


Things People Would Change About Their Wedding

TO ELOPE OR NOT ELOPE:
“I would elope. 🤣 Too much money, time, and energy spent on making other people happy, when the day should have only been about the 2 of us.” — Amber Simon

“Would have eloped! 🤣” — Bri Johns

“Eloped. 😜” — Jalynn Schroeder & Karlie Collins

“Elope 🤷🏽‍♀️🌝” — Laura Robinson


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PHOTOGRAPHY:
“I would have taken your advice and spent the bulk of my money on a photographer!” — Madison Hammock

“Spent money on a good photographer!” — Ashley Caldwell

“Taken a picture with the littles… I don’t have a single picture with flower girls or the little guys. …There’s only pictures of them walking down the aisle.” — Kanda Forbis

“[The] photographer and video to [have] been better – [for the] second one I had the photog for the court house.” — Mary Schmitz

“I would have gotten a photo with my [high school] friends. One passed away a few months later.” — Kacy Hull

“More pictures of Dustin [the groom] at our ceremony.” — Mahalee May

“Have a list of the must have pics for the photog ahead of time. Wish I had a few more fam pics.” — Kate Stitely

“My photos. We went with a family friend photog since she was cheaper and the pics stink.” — Janessa Buckles


THE TIMING:
“I would get married in the Spring or Summer so my Birthday, Anniversary & Christmas weren’t all in a 2½ week span!” — Ellan Edwards

“Starting it earlier in the afternoon, 7pm was too dark for September.” — Kanda Forbis

“I would have made the reception a little longer. We were having so much fun and it went by way too fast!” — Baylee Hundley

“Have a wedding in December rather than August.” — Karlie Collins

“It was perfect! I only wish I had planned ahead & maybe even days or weeks before the wedding done my bridal shots & been up earlier so I could’ve spent more time with guests [versus] taking pictures. However, my pictures are videography are perfect so it was worth it. 😂😍” — Addy Forkum


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THE SIZE:
“I would have done smaller and more intimate. Just very close friends and family.” — Julie Ray

“Destination wedding!!” — Emily Williams

“Amount of bridesmaids and groomsmen. I would honestly love to have had just family (sisters and sister-in-laws).” — Taylor Bryant

“Our wedding party was too big. 7 bridesmaids.” — Kanda Forbis

“Much smaller wedding, much bigger reception / party.” –Tracy Moore-Burnett

“A lot smaller.” — Lucy Newlin


CHOOSE WISELY:
“Different husband first go around. 😂😂” — Mary Schmitz

“My first husband, yep I would have waited on Randy. 🤗” — Pat Moore

“The person.” — Cory Gray (an unmarried contributor 😂)


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THE DETAILS:
“A different dress. It was very large and altered down to fit, the cups didn’t though. [And] more table decor because ours was limited.” — Kacy Hull

“Making sure my mom didn’t have anything to coordinate. She was busy and stressed.” — Katherine Randolph

“When my bustled train messed up at the reception that I would have taken time to fix it.” — Sydney Boyer

“There should always be an open bar…always.” — Dylan Lemons (another unmarried contributor 😂)


HAVING SOMEONE FILM IT:
“I would have hired a videographer.” — Courtney Rhudy

“I would’ve had the ceremony recorded on video. That’s my only regret.” — Tessa Cooper

“I would [probably] say a videographer.” — Ashley McCain

“Book a professional videographer…there is a bootleg video out there somewhere, but I don’t know who has it. 🤦🏻‍♀️” — Christi Gulley

“I would have done pictures after and had more pictures done and video.” — Charity Hill

“A VIDEOGRAPHER. I really wish I could go back and watch the wedding.” — Sheridan Burns

“Would’ve hired a videographer and/or a better photographer.” — Jennifer Briggs


DO WHAT YOU WANT:
“Had the waffle bar like I wanted!!! 😬” — MaRisa Dingler

“Wore the dress I wanted!” — Jalynn Schroeder & Karlie Collins

“Lol I probably would have made myself have a little bit more champagne to loosen up! 😂” — Kassi Wilkey

“To be more in the moment and not stressed over the little things.” — Maddy Haines

“I would love to have had dancing, but weddings were different in the 80’s. Actually, a lot of things were different in the 80’s.” — Dayna Simma

“Caring about everyone else’s opinion.” — Dani Leckie


TOO MANY THINGS:
“We had no $ and got married before things like Pinterest..so I have too many to count. 😂” — Courtnie Whitley

“Lol is there a limit to the amount of things I can change? 😂” — Sarah Hoedebeck


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THE UNICORNS:
“This is gonna shound cheesy, but I wouldn’t change a thing. 😊” — Eliya Bolgrin

“Absolutely nothing! It was more perfect than I ever dreamed! I always tell friends who are getting married, small weddings/eloping is the way to go!! Getting married to your best friend in the mountains with just your closest friends and family is the dreamiest. 😍” — Brittnie Harris

“I’m going to be the annoying person who says absolutely nothing. 😅” — Amelia Helen

“We went to Eureka Springs and only took 3 families plus mine. It was perfect! I [wouldn’t] change anything!!!” –Mary Palmatary-Geary

“Not a thing! We had one mishap that almost resulted in no cake, but my peeps got it taken care of before I knew it.” — Kim Harris-Montgomery


AND FINALLY, THE BEST ADVICE OF ALL:
“Nothing. It was magical. ❤️ Because I had a wedding planner.” — Sara Lin

“I loved my wedding but it was a lot of stress so I kinda wish I would’ve had a wedding planner!” — Cara Crabtree

Would you change anything about your wedding, if you could? Let me know in the comments. And if you’re engaged and looking for an organized, resourceful wedding planner to coordinate your big day, please email lahendricks12@gmail.com!

How to Throw a “Favorite Things” Party

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Remember the beginning of 2020? That magical time when you could plan a party without thinking twice about it? 😉 Back in February, when I was just 12 days shy of turning 30, I FINALLY crossed off one of the last few things on my 30 By 30 list.

I hosted a Favorite Things party!!

Never heard of a Favorite Things party, you say?

Well, pull up a chair, friend – I’ll enlighten you.

Here’s the deal. All of us are obsessed with certain products – a kitchen item you use every day, something you never leave home without, a staple in your makeup bag for years, etc. And I, for one, am always fascinated to learn what brands my friends love so I can try something new when I get bored with what I’m currently using. But a lot of times, those items don’t naturally come up in conversation. I mean…I have a favorite pen, but it doesn’t occur to me to tell everyone in a 10-yard radius when I’m using it, you feel me?

Enter the “Favorite Things” concept.

Let’s say you absolutely LOVE this facial scrub. You bring four bottles of it to a Favorite Things party, where everyone else has brought four of their own favorite things, and you all draw names. Four people go home with your favorite thing, and you get to go home for four new things to try!

IT’S SO FUN GUYS. I already want to do this again. Wrap it up, ‘rona.


HOW TO HOST YOUR OWN PARTY:

THE THEME
Since it was the day before Valentine’s Day AND my first time to host a Favorite Things exchange, I couldn’t resist a Galentine’s Day theme. (And yes, I 110% would have done a Leslie Knope-style brunch if it were possible.) I used lots of floral accents and gold tones to decorate, as well as a few balloons. At the party, several of us were already talking about doing this again for another season or holiday, like fall or Christmas. A Favorite Things party would be fun for a group of moms, a college sorority, church event…the ideas are limitless!

LOCATION
Normally, I would do something like this at my house. But I wanted it to be an open event, rather than limiting it to a small circle of friends, so I decided to host it in a larger neutral space and chose a cute local coffee shop called Opera House Coffee. Depending on a few factors, like how many people you invite and whether you want to have food or drinks, you could host a Favorite Things party pretty much anywhere.

INVITATIONS
The easiest way to send invites is either by creating a Facebook event or using Paperless Post! Both allow you to track RSVPs and see how many people will be attending. The most important things to tell your guests are: (1) the date, time and location, (2) the theme, if there is one, and (3) to bring ____ of their favorite item valued at $____ apiece.

FAVORITE THINGS
At my party, some people brought four different items and some brought four of the same item. Either way is fine! As the host, you can decide what you want the dollar amount per item to be, if you want all of the items to follow a certain theme, and if the items should be wrapped or unwrapped. It’s also nice to provide bags for everyone to use to take their new goodies home. Ideas for favorite things include kitchen favorites, beauty or skincare products, books or movies, stocking stuffer items, home decor, crafting supplies, accessories or jewelry, snacks or drinks, and office supplies.

FOOD & DRINKS
This will most likely be determined by your location. The great thing about hosting this type of party at a coffee shop, restaurant, etc., is that people can order whatever they want. This takes a lot of the burden off of the host to feed everyone on top of cleaning their house and decorating. However, if you are hosting in your home, let the theme guide your menu! For a fall-themed party, for example, you could serve hot apple cider, homemade Chex Mix, and pumpkin cookies.

PARTY TIME
At the party, everyone displays their items in a designated area. If you have a smaller group of five people and a dollar limit of $10-15, everyone could take home one of everything and you wouldn’t have to draw names. If you have a large group, set your budget a little lower and set a limit for how many items people bring. Everyone writes their name on one piece of paper for each item they brought (4 items = 4 pieces of paper), and then draws four different names out of the bowl. For example – I wrote my name down four times, and I drew Jess, Hope, Janae, and Emalea’s names. The four people who drew my name out of the bowl later took home the dry brushes that I brought, and I took home one item each from the four girls I drew. You could also have each person introduce themselves and the item they brought, draw four names out of the bowl, and then immediately give their items to those four people. There are lots of ways to organize a Favorite Things exchange, so play around and decide what works best for your group!


I got lots of kind messages and tags on Instagram after the party was over, so I’m pretty sure everyone else had as great a time as I did! It was so fun to get to share something I love with others, and to learn about more things I need to add to my shopping list. I hope everyone else was happy with the items they ended up with. Personally, I came home with a bunch of hilarious Office stickers, a fruit-and-nut bar, lip balm, dry shampoo, and a cooling gel eye mask, and I love them all!! And on top of that, one of my friends who came surprised me with flowers to thank me for hosting. Thanks again, Maddy!

Planning events, big or small, is truly a passion of mine, and I would love to put my gifts to work for you. Our lives are full of moments worth celebrating, so please think of me the next time you need to plan a party, shower, wedding, or other event!

When Your Breakthrough Doesn’t Come

2020 has been a weird year, can I get an amen?? Literally every piece of our lives – socializing, celebrating, working, shopping, traveling, exercising, worshiping – has irrevocably changed. I have had to continually remind myself that good things happened this year, like the epic surprise trip to NYC for my 30th birthday before COVID hit, that time I learned how to make homemade chicken pot pie, and the fact that I found a workout that I truly enjoy and have made exercise part of my normal routine for the first time in my entire life. But overall, to me, 2020 has felt like ordering my all-time favorite meal and getting served a big bowl of rejection with a side of failure instead.


I didn’t get accepted into Lysa Terkeurst’s writing bootcamp.

Forced to miss multiple weddings, birthday parties, and other large gatherings.

A cancelled vacation.

No closure for the final school year before retiring for two of the most influential people in my life: my dad and my college mentor.

Receiving feedback at work that was needed but hard to hear.

No baby, for the 7th year in a row, and one less Fallopian tube.


I feel like I’ve had one door after another slammed in my face this year, guys! And I know I’m not alone – I bet you could add your own list of disappointments, huh? I don’t think anyone could have anticipated what 2020 would bring. We’re all at the end of our rope. We’ve spent about 75% of our year scared, angry, disoriented, or just exhausted, waiting for things to “get back to normal,” knowing that they probably won’t, and trying to reconcile our ruined plans with God’s promises about giving us hope for the future (Jeremiah 29:11) and working everything out for our good (Romans 8:28).

It’s a lot.

I wish I could know for sure whether or not I’ll have a biological kid someday, or if I’ll ever actually publish a book in the traditional sense. I wish I could know how it’s all going to work out. I have a master’s degree in convincing myself that if I could just know that things are going to happen at some point, then I could let go of when that moment will be. But that’s a lie. Even if I could have that assurance, I would probably become fixated on how to make whatever it was happen faster and complain “You’re taking too long, Lord! Hurry up!!”

So what do we do in the meantime? What do you do when your breakthrough doesn’t come? How do you respond when you’ve prayed, and cried, and fasted, and asked for good advice, and prayed some more, and you’ve done everything you can think of but you still feel stuck and you don’t know what’s next?

I’m not gonna lie to you…I don’t know.

I’m in a season of waiting for ALL OF THE THINGS TO HAPPEN and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight.

Normally, I would take a step back and ask myself, “Okay…Lord, where am I being disobedient? What have you asked me to do that I’m not currently doing?” Almost every time I start to feel stressed, directionless, or confused about something, I can trace it back to my own lack of discipline and obedience to God in the most basic of areas: prayer, Scripture, and community. God cannot and will not bless other areas of my life if I am living in apathy or defiance toward Him. Why would He allow me to start something new if I’m not devoted to doing the things I already know I’m supposed to do?

This has been my answer in the past. But not now. Other than my day-to-day imperfections and failures (all of which God is continually refining and sanctifying), I genuinely believe that I am walking faithfully in the things God has called me to do. So here’s what I’ve decided:

  1. I’m going to live my freaking life. I’m done imagining a future state that may or may not ever materialize. I’m not saying it’s bad to have goals or plans, but I’m obsessing so much about “What if’s” that I’m missing things that are happening right now. I want to be where my feet are and love the life that I have, instead of lamenting the life that I don’t have.
  2. I’m going to pray for YOUR breakthrough. What are you waiting for? What are you asking God for? Please, please share your heart’s deepest prayer request with me via a comment, email, private message, text, carrier pigeon, etc., because I want to go to the throne room on your behalf and watch as God does infinitely more than we could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

I’m serious. Send me your prayer request. Yes, that one – the one that you’re contemplating in the back of your mind right now. Ignore those dumb lies from Satan like “It’s not even that big of a deal” or “I hardly ever remember to pray about this myself, how could I ask someone else to?” or “We aren’t even in each other’s lives…why would she pray for a total stranger or someone she lost touch with?” Just do it. ♥

What to Say to a Friend Dealing With Infertility

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Infertility is a messy business. So many more people than you realize are struggling to grow their families right now, and it’s hard to know what to say to a friend who is dealing with some form of infertility. But at times, certain sympathetic words can actually be more hurtful than comforting. Trying to make a tiny human and hitting roadblock after roadblock is stressful enough without other people (especially total strangers) offering you unwanted advice.

I want to make sure you guys know up front that this post was not written out of bitterness, not even a little bit. It’s hard to communicate tone sometimes in text form, but I promise I am not venting. Some of you know that infertility has been part of our story for the majority of our marriage, and I have already navigated the rest of the stages of grief many times (denial, anger, bargaining, depression). I am currently very comfortably planted in acceptance, praise God. ❤️ But consider yourself forewarned – this post is not angry, but it is candid. Every single one of these things has been said to me at least once, and I just don’t think people realize what they are actually saying sometimes. I am NOT claiming to be perfect at coming up with the right words to comfort people, and I also realize that some of you might write me off as too sensitive. But I would bet almost any amount of money that most women, and even men, who have walked an infertility path would agree with what I’m going to share.

Here’s my hope for this post:

  1. That my friends who are struggling with infertility right now would be encouraged and reminded that they are not alone (and maybe that they roll their eyes in solidarity and laugh while reading along); and
  2. That my friends who have NOT struggled with infertility would have a better idea of what it’s like and be mindful of how they talk to their friends who don’t have kids yet.

With that being said, here’s a few things NOT to say…

“Your time is coming.” // “It’ll happen.”
I know that you’re trying to be nice, and it’s really sweet……but literally every time someone says this to me, the first thought that pops in my head is “But what if it doesn’t??” I promise I’m not trying to be negative; I just wanna be real with you guys about where my brain goes. I know these phrases are meant to be comforting, but the truth is that you don’t know if whatever ‘it’ is – adoption, conceiving naturally, successful IVF cycle – will actually happen. For a lot of couples, one of the biggest steps forward in their infertility journey is learning to accept that pregnancy and childbirth may not or will not happen. Unless you can say with complete confidence that God through the Holy Spirit has given you a specific word for a specific couple, saying something like this is not helpful.
••• Instead, say: “I’m here for you, no matter where this journey takes you.”

“Just stop trying so hard and have fun!”
Hmmm….okay yeah, let me just NOT try to have a baby, that’ll help me get pregnant. *facepalm* Again, I know the intent is good, but not trying is not how this works. The trying is the most important part. Sure, for some people it might just happen, but for couples dealing with various kinds of infertility, there are extra lifestyle changes, doctors, diets, supplements, prayer, and medical intervention ON TOP of all that trying. Saying that someone should ‘stop trying’ can communicate that all the hard work they have been doing either hasn’t been enough or is even KEEPING them from getting pregnant.
••• Instead, say: “You can do this. Don’t give up.”

“I know how you feel, we tried for 5 months before I finally got pregnant.”
This one is actually almost a good thing to say! It’s the mention of how long it took that shoots this comment in the foot. Everybody’s road to parenthood is different, and there are too many variables to try to compare situations. Some couples get pregnant on their honeymoon, and some couples try for 10+ years and never see a single positive test, and every story is frustrating and gut-wrenching in its own way. You can relate to someone’s pain without needing to be so specific about how long it’s been for you or how many babies you’ve lost. There may be a time and place to share that information, but it usually just ends up alienating one or both people. This isn’t about who’s suffered more. Waiting and loss are hard on everyone, and it’s great to share your own experience because it helps your friend not feel so alone! Just consider leaving the comparison out of it.
••• Instead, say: “Ugh, I know how you feel – every month that I got a negative test, I cried and felt like a failure.” 

“You’re lucky you don’t have kids!”
Look, we’ve all seen the kids throwing tantrums in the middle of Walmart (and on planes, and at church, and..). And yes, we the childless people get to go on vacations and sleep late and watch normal TV shows and go out to eat without it being a major production. But I would give just about anything to have my adult sleep schedule ruined by a new baby. We are painfully aware of what we’re missing out on, and it drains us of joy and hope for the future when all a parent does is complain about the exact thing we’ve spent all this time waiting for. Don’t get me wrong – kids are the worst sometimes, and you definitely need an outlet to unload about it. But 9 times out of 10, it’s probably going to be with other parents who understand what you’re going through.
••• Instead, say: “Your patience to wait for a child is so inspiring to me.”

“You need to relax, stress will make it worse.”
This goes hand in hand with “Just stop trying so hard.” First of all, it makes it sound like infertility is my fault, which is incredibly insulting. Second of all, WE KNOW STRESS IS BAD. We are trying desperately to have babies and we can’t. We are already stressed about stressing over stress that doesn’t need to be stressed about. We are doing the best we can to maintain a calm, emotionally stable outlook about this huge, life-changing thing that is completely out of our control. Telling someone to relax is about as helpful as telling an angry person to calm down – it usually has the exact opposite effect.
••• Instead, say: “You’re doing a freaking amazing job handling this.” 

“Have you tried _____?”
Guys, if I had a dollar for every recommendation I’ve gotten…I could probably go ahead and retire. I’ve been told I need to try everything from various diets, to essential oils, to medical procedures, to vitamins, teas, herbs, superfoods, ovulation tracking devices, chiropractics, acupuncture, putting a red ribbon under my pillow during a full moon, doing the hokey pokey with a pillow shoved under my shirt…kidding on the last two, but seriously, the list goes on and on. I am NOT saying it’s bad to share things that have genuinely helped someone get pregnant, especially if the person who used them was YOU. But there are a lot of factors involved with someone’s fertility, and just because your cousin took these supplements for a month and happened to get pregnant the next month doesn’t mean that those supplements are what caused her to get pregnant. It’s okay to share ideas, but please don’t claim that you’ve found THE CURE for infertility.
••• Instead, say: “If you feel like sharing, what have you guys tried so far? No pressure if that’s too personal though.” 

“God’s timing is perfect.”
Can I just tell you something? We know. WE. KNOW. We are reminded of this every single month that the answer to our prayers is ‘No.’ I know that God is control of my life and that His plans are good. I really do. But a constant string of ‘No’s’ starts to hurt after a little while. And for someone who is not a Christian, this phrase can paint God as Someone cruel who enjoys our pain and deliberately withholds joy from us, rather than Someone who loves us, cares for us, and meets us in our sorrow. I don’t know why, but hearing “It’s all part of God’s plan” just is not comforting to someone who is struggling with a loss.
••• Instead, say: “It is so hard to wait without getting frustrated. I can’t imagine how it feels to wait for this long and not know what’s next.”

“You’re young, you have plenty of time!”
Youth doesn’t necessarily equal health. Age does matter when it comes to having kids, but common conditions like endometriosis and PCOS can affect fertility in devastating ways, no matter how old you are. Saying something like this also minimizes a couple’s desire to start a family, and almost makes it sound like there are so many other *better* things they should be doing with their young married years. Another thing to consider is that by the time many couples are diagnosed with some form of infertility, they have already been actively trying to get pregnant for at least a year. Being told you have plenty of time after you’ve already been worried about how long it’s taken can be interpreted as, “It’s stupid for you to worry about that.” Truth be told: (1) It’s none of your business if and when anybody decides they want to have children, and (2) A lot of us DON’T have plenty of time and DO have valid reasons to worry.
••• Instead, say: “I’m so sorry for the stress this has put on you. Please let me know if you ever need anything.”

“Have you been praying about it?” // “Just pray about it.”
I’m iffy about this one. I know that everyone who has asked this or said this has only had the best of intentions, and bringing up prayer is totally appropriate when it comes to conversations about fertility. Prayer has been my most powerful weapon against doubt and anxiety. But instead of wording it this way, it might be better to ask how you can pray for them – and then do it, right then and there. Asking “Have you been praying about it?”, although well-intended, can be interpreted as “You’re not praying enough or you’d be pregnant already.” Trust me, I have already heaped plenty of guilt on myself over this exact thing, and I don’t need anyone else telling me that I’m not spending enough time asking the Lord for a baby. But asking me how YOU can pray for me or actually praying for me in that moment will cheer me up faster than anything else.
••• Instead, say: “How can I pray for you about this?” And then do it!!

“It could be worse.” / “At least (it’s not ___, it isn’t ___)”
I mean….you’re not wrong….but how exactly do you expect me to feel after saying this?? My feelings are totally invalidated. Of course it could always be worse. But who exactly is the final authority on what ‘worse’ is, anyway? Is ovarian cancer worse? Is a stillbirth worse? Is a total hysterectomy at 22 worse? Is an ectopic pregnancy worse? Like I said earlier, this is not the time to try to one-up people with who has the sadder story. Whether we are sad, angry, discouraged, or numb, our feelings are real, and we are allowed to feel them.
••• Instead, say: “I wish I knew what to say to fix this. You are so strong.” 

“Why don’t you just foster or adopt?”
Okay, first. JUST??? When did fostering and adopting become *JUST* fostering and adopting?? It is a sacrificial, heart-consuming, lifelong process. Those children are more than “just” a consolation prize for people who can’t have kids on their own. Fostering and adoption are AMAZING, and I have the utmost respect for people who pursue them. But they are also not an immediate fix-all solution for anyone who is dealing with infertility. Having the option of fostering/adoption doesn’t mean your desire to be pregnant and give birth goes away. And for some couples, fostering and/or adopting doesn’t feel like another option. It feels like another risk. Hoping for the chance of getting pregnant and carrying a healthy baby to term is scary enough, but imagining taking someone else’s child, and raising thousands of dollars to do it is completely terrifying. Pregnancy is scary because of the risk of miscarriage, and fostering/adopting is scary because of how many stories you hear about the endless waits, financial stress, and the risk of it all falling through. After awhile, you start to feel like there is no such thing as a secure option.
••• Instead, say: “Families come in all shapes and sizes, and any future kids you guys have will be so lucky to get you as parents.”

“You’re being disobedient by not having kids right now. Don’t you want to ‘fill your quiver’ and glorify God? Aren’t you ready to start your family in whatever way possible?”
First…technically, we already have! We are a family of two right now, and it’s really, really great. We’ve gotten to spend almost a decade together, just us, and sure, I thought we’d have kids by now, but I wouldn’t wish a single one of those days away. Second, you better have a really good relationship with someone before you try to assume the role of Holy Spirit and rebuke them for not having kids. And finally, having kids isn’t what validates our marriage. I have wanted to be a mom all my life, but guess what comes first? Being a wife. And I chose him. No matter how many kids we have or how they come to us, someday, they will all leave the house and it will be just Daniel and I again. If waiting for a baby means I have more time to fall in love with my husband and nurture a strong marriage, I think I’m okay with that.
••• Instead, say: “I am praying for God to give you peace in the waiting and direction for what to do next.”

Whew! Kudos to you if you’ve made it this far. ❤️

I really hope this was helpful to someone! Again – I mean this 100% out of love, not bitterness. Also, I am not claiming to be perfect at comforting people, and I’ve even said some of those things to other women myself. Sometimes we don’t know what to say, but we want to be helpful and comforting, so we grasp for whatever words we can find at the time. I feel like I should also point out that there are exceptions to almost every rule, and one of the biggest exceptions for most of those phrases is how close you are to the person you’re saying them to. For me personally, it’s completely different to hear “It’ll happen” from one of my best friends, compared to hearing it from a total stranger who doesn’t know my story. The bottom line is just be sensitive. “Think before you speak” is good advice in any situation, not just this one. Consider how your words could come across to the person who’s hearing them, and know that it’s okay to not know what to say.

For my buddies who are dealing with infertility: even though those phrases are probably not your favorite things to hear right now, remember that almost every time, they are being said out of love. Become someone who is easily encouraged. I am praying for you, and know that I care about you even if I don’t always know what to say to make you feel better.

Thanks for reading!

It’s Okay to Believe in Impossible Things

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Traffic conspires against you and makes you late for work the day of your big meeting.

Your kids are unyieldingly defiant, no matter what tactic you try.

Your car is stolen in broad daylight.

No medical explanation exists for the infertility waging war on your desire for children.

You don’t get the job, even though you were qualified.

Your spouse makes no effort to have a healthy relationship with you.

A global pandemic affects your ability to get basic necessities at the store, takes away your source of income, steals the joy out of planning your wedding, forces you to deny yourself all physical and social interaction.

We’ve all been there.

Every single day, unfortunate things happen to us, through no fault of our own, and we don’t know why. Even more unsettling is the reality that we may never know why. After awhile of being continually disappointed, we start to feel suffocated and disillusioned by our own expectations, and we may even start to wonder why we ever thought things might go our way. In those moments of doubtful wondering, if we aren’t careful, we take the first step down a very steep, sloping hill toward a valley of bitterness.

Why, God?? Why me?
How could you let this happen?
Don’t you see my suffering?
Don’t you hear my cries for help?
Are you ignoring me?
Do you even love me?

Does this sound like you? If so, I have two things to say.

#1. First, God is not scared of your big, hard, scary questions. You can’t intimidate, overwhelm, annoy, or stump him with your Whys and your What Ifs and even your Where Are You Right Nows. …………BUT. Even in your most hurt, angry, lonely places, He is still the God of the universe with ultimate power and authority over everything in existence. And if you are a Christian, you are still expected to exercise control over your tongue. Yes, even when you’re mad. There is a difference between coming to the Lord in brokenness and asking Him to heal and restore your bleeding heart, and coming to the Lord in malice, hurling insults and blaming Him for things that go wrong.

#2. I can’t speak for you, but when I start to spiral into an angry valley, it always boils down to the same thing: I don’t trust God. I don’t trust that He’s good; that He’s still on His throne; that He’s controlling every moment of my existence; that His way is better than mine. I stop believing that He genuinely loves me. I stop believing that He can do impossible things.

To tell you the truth, I think we’re all scared to believe in the impossible because we’re too prideful. We just can’t stomach the idea of being caught off guard, of looking foolish, of praying in expectation for something that doesn’t end up happening. We don’t want to get our hopes up. We’d rather protect ourselves in safe, comfortable layers of realism and acceptance of what we can make sense of in our own minds.

But therein lies the question. Since when are our minds the pinnacle of knowledge and wisdom?? Are we really so naive that we would spend our entire lives only believing what we can see and feel?

Take a walk with me, faith family. Let me take you a few thousand years back and remind you of a few impossible things you already believe.

I’m not talking about believing in things that are simply improbable.

I mean things that are literally not possible.


An obedient man built what was probably the largest boat that’s ever existed in human history without having any idea of what a flood was. And that flood ended up covering the entire earth.

A husband and wife who were 100 years old and 90 years old, respectively, conceived their first baby.

An exceedingly deep body of water, as deep as about five Empire State buildings stacked on top of each other, parted in half for people to walk across on bone-dry ground.

A man was swallowed by a whale and lived.

During one of Israel’s battles with the Amorites, the sun and moon stood still in the sky without moving for almost an entire day.

A man prayed for a drought, and no rain fell for more than three years.

The same man completely drenched an altar, wood and all, with gallons upon gallons of water, prayed again, and fire instantly consumed the sacrifice, the wood, the water, and even the stones.

A woman’s flour and oil continually refilled themselves in the midst of a famine.

A man spent an entire night in a pit of starving lions and survived.

Three men were thrown into a furnace so hot, it killed the men throwing them in, and they came out without a single burn or scorch mark.

An army of 300 men defeated an army of over 135,000.

A virgin conceived and gave birth to a baby.

People who had been blind, deaf, or crippled their entire life could inexplicably see, hear, and walk.

A couple loaves of bread and a few fish fed tens of thousands of people – twice.

A man’s ear was cut off and then immediately put back on, fully healed.

People who were really truly 100% dead took their second first breath and came back to life.


Can I tell you something? It’s okay to believe in impossible things. It’s okay to get your hopes up. It’s okay to know that the odds are stacked against you and still choose to trust that even if you don’t get the happy ending you’re asking for, God is able and He loves you. Our God is unstoppable. What He shuts, no one can open, and what He opens, no one can shut.

Just for today, will you let these incredible, historical, real events give you hope for the impossible things in your life?

 

 

 

The Scattered Thoughts of a Busy Brain

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I just found out a few weeks ago that cows have best friends, and they get sad when they aren’t together, and my heart is exploding.

For the love of Pete, why do we feel safe under blankets?? It’s not like a murder is going to come in and go “I’m gonna ki….ahh, DANG! She’s under a blanket.”

A surefire way to get humbled when you start to get too big for your britches is to try to turn on someone else’s shower.

Does anybody else lock your car door twice just to let any nearby robbers know you mean business, or is that just me?

I wish I could drop my body off at the gym and pick it up when it’s ready.

Magazines convinced me that knowing how to “go from day to night” was going to be V important…I’m still waiting for an opportunity to use those sharply-honed skills.

Sometimes when I pass a line of extremely nice cars on the highway, I secretly wonder if they are really Transformers.

I’m weirdly obsessed with “last words.” I try to always make sure the last thing I tell someone before I leave is something sweet, just in case one of us dies that day. *I know, I know, I’m damaged*

I am 30 years old and I still check for murders behind my shower curtain.

If you’re reading this and we grew apart as friends, there is a 100% chance that I am cheering you on from afar and I still love you with all my heart. ♥

I wonder what percentage of people actually grow up to be what they wanted to be when they were 5. And I wonder what percentage of those people actually love what they do.

Anything involving raisins would be 10 times better with chocolate chips in it. For example, cookies…trail mix…a box of raisins…

As a kid, I thought I’d have to deal with the Bermuda Triangle and quicksand a lot more often than I have in my adult life.

No one is going to stand up at your funeral and say “She had a really nice car and great shoes.” We shouldn’t make life about stuff.

One day you’re not old, and the next day you have a favorite cleaning rag.

Life is too short to pretend you don’t like catchy Taylor Swift songs. Quit pretending. Everyone else is having way more fun than you just being themselves.

I don’t want to brag or make anybody jealous…but I totally still fit into the earrings I wore in high school.

In the midst of the crazy, the chaos, the pandemic….don’t forget to laugh. 😘

That Time We Threw a Roaring 20’s NYE Party

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YOU.

GUYS.

O M G .

This party was SO much fun, AND it was the first themed party I’ve ever thrown that wasn’t for someone else!! Dara graciously let me steal her thunder and host this year’s get-together at our house. She and I teamed up to throw the most epic New Year’s Eve party ever, and I couldn’t be happier with how it all turned out.

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For the food, we made a few snacks and asked friends to bring something to share if they wanted. I made a large-batch, booze-free drink for everyone and called it The Bee’s Knees, and we had a big group champagne toast at midnight and sang Auld Lang Sayne.

When Dara and I started talking about what we wanted to do, a Great Gatsby party was the obvious choice. I knew that 20’s-themed parties would probably be all the rage this year, which would make it easy to find decorations. But I also knew that our house held the secret to making our party unique, something extra special that not every Roaring 20’s party could include. And that secret was…

OUR BASEMENT.

I’m willing to bet that tons of people went to Gatsby parties for New Year’s Eve. But how many of them had a hidden speakeasy??

Only a few of our friends even knew we had a basement, and we spread around a rumor during the party that there was a speakeasy somewhere and they needed the password to get in. To amp up the drama, I drew a message on our downstairs bathroom mirror in lipstick, directing people to find “The Vault.” Our basement door is halfway hidden behind another door that we typically keep open, tucked in a dark corner under our stairs, and I attached a small, discreet sign on it next to the lock. Down in the basement itself, we set up a poker table and surrounded it with wood crates full of bottles.

It was a huge hit!

So many games, so many Boomarangs, so many laughs, so many snacks, so many group photos, and so many wonderful memories!

Don’t have enough words for how much I love these people. ‘Til next year, pals ♥