That's a Wrap // 2016 in Review

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year's Eve! This year was so slow at first, but now I feel like I'm running out of time too quickly as it's spiraling to a close. There has been a lot of talk this year (on twitter, especially), about how lousy this year has been. If anything remotely bad happens, it has been blamed on the fact that it's 2016. But this year, just like every year, people died and people were born. Life was lived at the same pace: a pace of reluctance, because people want to live but they don't want to live too quickly; they don't want this year to be over with before it seemed like it had even started. And yet that's exactly what happened. And what happens every year.

In 2016, there were piles of homework, recitals and graduations, a seemingly endless summer. In 2016, we rejoiced when March came around and it was finally sunny and 75 again; we rolled down the windows and blared music and sang our hearts out. Then we waded through the heat and humidity and relaxed by the ocean or the pool or went some place cooler to wait out the heat wave. And we finally rejoiced again that the cold was back with its usual wave of pumpkin spice lattes and christmas movies and endless celebration.

And somehow, we all turned a year older in the midst of it all.

And somehow, it's all culminating in one famous moment of party poppers ad sparkling grape juice and auld lange syne at 11:59 tonight. Man, what a year it has been. 2016, despite the superstitious protest from the entirety of social media, has truly been sweet. Below are my top ten events from this


I turned sixteen:
They say sixteen is a milestone. They say that when a girl's sixteen, she is introduced to a whole new world of, well, I don't know what. Because this year wasn't inherently different than any other year. It had its good and bad moments, but they were all worth it. I wouldn't trade what I learned this year for anything. Sixteen held the same sweetness that fifteen and fourteen and thirteen did, only with slightly fewer awkward moments.

I saw Ben Rector in concert:
Before I bought tickets to his concert in March, I knew only one Ben Rector song. After obsessively listening to his songs in order to learn them for the concert, I was introduced into a whole new world of music. His songs carry such meaning; they're poignant and relevant and fulfilling. Because of the world of Ben Rector I no longer settle for empty music.

I discovered my love for black coffee:
After becoming obsessed with Gilmore Girls, I decided I'd try black coffee. I've always been a fan of coffee ( it's in my blood ), but never black. After my first sip I was hooked. It's become an everyday staple, and now that I don't put sugar in it I can drink more of it :))) Eventually I found out that Alexis Bledel doesn't even like coffee. When she's shown on Gilmore Girls drinking it black, she's really just drinking soda. So the character who inspired me to drink my coffee black actually doesn't like coffee at all. Go figure.

I became an aesthetic baegel:
The 21st Century is a crazy place to be. The internet still freaks me out. (How does it work???) This year, after an epic pancake vs. waffle war, I connected on instagram with some of the coolest people around, and our group chat was fondly entitled "aesthetic baegels."

I learned to drive:
After much stress and apprehension, I finally learned how to drive. There's something relaxing about sitting behind the wheel of a car and just driving. My morning drive to school is roughly fifteen minutes, and it's de-stresses me to just sit in the quiet by myself. It's one of those little things in life that I can't help but enjoy.

I started my first novel:
I've wanted to write a book since I was eight years old. I've started countless novels, but none of them had a purpose. This year I found my story. In a completely anti-climactic way, I was driving down the highway when  I spotted an orchard in a small valley of sorts, and In Between was born. I'm six chapters in and chugging along slow and steady. It'll be hard work, but I know it's worth it.

I went to Frontier Ranch:

This summer I went to Younglife Camp in Buena Vista, Colorado. It was the best week of my life. Not only is colorado a beautiful place, but the people I met and the friends I got to know better were beautiful, too. And I got to experience the joy of Jesus' endless grace after an almost-year-long struggle with legalism. Sophomore year was one of those in-between years, the years you don't really know why you're doing what you do. But you do it anyway; you push through. I did push through, and the Good Lord knew that I'd need ten days of both solitude and time with friends and time with Him to again realize how beautiful this life can be. And I did.
(Check out my four posts about Colorado here, here, here, and here.)

I started my Junior year in high school:
Junior year's the big year. I knew it from the beginning, but still, it was harder than I expected. I'd never taken more than one AP class a year because it had never been an option before. This year, I'm taking four. Talk about an adjustment. This year has been good, though, because I've realized that I need to find motivation to do well in order to really succeed, and I've found that. Bring on second semester; I'm gonna give it all I've got!!!

I rediscovered my love for the classics:
I've always been a fan of classic literature, but somewhere between 2015 and 2016, I started reading a lot of YA. I was left wanting something more, something deeper, from literature. YA is fine if you're into fantasy and cliche romances, but that's it. This month I picked up The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, and I was awe-struck by its relevance and poignancy. Then I picked up The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, and I cried because of how much I felt Plath's pain, and because of how relevant it was to me. Now I'm on Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, and it is truly a work of art (quite a long one, I might add.) One thing I've been able to distinguish between YA and the classics is the process of story formation: I think classic authors had an idea of what they wanted to say, what they wanted their story's theme to be, before they knew what the story would be like. I think modern day authors write the other way around.

I started teaching myself guitar:
Surprise!!! Just this week, I picked up my older brother's old guitar and decided I would learn to play. My main motivation was my main character, Henry Wright, in In Between. His dream is to be a singer-songwriter. Ergo, he has to write songs. Ergo, I have to write songs. And his main medium is acoustic guitar, though he does write a few songs on piano. So far, I know C, D, G, Em, and Am chords. Hopefully 2017 will give me enough time to learn a few more :)

That's a wrap! What were your big moments in 2016? What are you looking most forward to this new year? Let me know in the comments!
Happy 2017, friends!

On Following Your Dreams

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

It's been awhile, I know.

I'd love to say that life's excitement is what has so successfully inhibited me from keeping up with my little corner of the internet. Alas,that is not the case.

Ya know that little saying about how GPA isn't forever? For the past two months, I've been repeating that in my mind, but it hasn't been working. Junior Year is a big deal. This year is the year colleges care about. Yes, GPA isn't forever, but it sure plays a role in determining my forever. I've tried everything: hours and hours of studying at the local library, a "designated drawer" for my phone when I'm trying to study at my desk in my room, limiting the amount of books I check out so I can focus on school, and, for the past couple weeks, I even gave up on dressing cute because I was so tired all the time from so much studying; leggings with an over-sized t-shirt and Nikes was becoming the norm. And, of course, last but not least, my coffee intake skyrocketed. I didn't even know it was possible for me to drink more coffee than I already did, but it happened. (I was literally at Gilmore Girls level, y'all.)

Long story short: I was a mess. If I wasn't studying, I was reading and writing and browsing college websites to find my dream school. Ergo, my family never saw me. I was a turtle, and I was so stressed that if I had too much human contact I would explode.

I thought I was doing fine. I thought I was finally getting on track to become something great. When I got my SAT scores back, though, I was proven wrong. My scores weren't bad, per se, but they were nowhere near where I wanted them; two-hundred points lower, to be exact. That, on top being stuck in an ever-deeper pit of Bs on math tests, was enough to make me go crazy. Because I knew if grades were based on effort, I'd get an A+ easy, but that wasn't enough.

It's funny, because if this year were last year, I wouldn't really care about grades. I'd get As easily in English, History, and Spanish, and high Bs in Science and Math without even trying. Because that's how it's always been. But earlier this year, I discovered a school in Nashville and became obsessed with getting in. Their acceptance rate was only 13% because they strove to keep their class size small. I checked the GPA and SAT requirements and found that I was just shy of them; if I could do just a smidge better, I could probably get in, right? So I chased after that. I chased after it like it was my only hope. In reality, though it wasn't my only hope, it was my dream.

And I hated myself for not discovering it sooner.

If I'd have known what it would take to get in my freshman year of high school, I would have worked harder; I would've had a reason to want to do well. But I didn't discover that reason until it was almost too late. I was in a time crunch. If I wanted to get in, I had to do well now. So in the midst of working hard for this dream of mine, I lost sight of everything else. I wasn't spending enough time with the people I loved and I wasn't spending enough time in the Word; I was spending all my time studying, but somehow I still wasn't making the cut. Why?

I still don't know.

 It's the second day Winter Break now, and I spent all day yesterday recovering from a cold I contracted over exam week. Because of the stress, no doubt. Perhaps the Lord is trying to tell me that despite everything I've learned this past semester, His plan really is bigger. I didn't want to take that to heart too much because I was afraid that if I was too much at peace, I wouldn't do well. Which is true. But I've found that there's a balance: there's a balance between working hard for your dreams and being at peace because the Lord's plan is bigger and better. Even as we chase after our dreams, we have to surrender those dreams to God because if they don't belong to him they have no real stock. And I'm learning this. I'm no expert, believe me, but I'm learning.

NaNoWriMo // Why I Write Episode 2

Saturday, October 29, 2016

It's been awhile, hasn't it? My apologies -- I'm sure most of you know the pressures of high school, especially Junior Year. You have all these voices trying to get in your head, and you aren't sure which one to listen to. How are you supposed to balance it all? Getting good grades, exercising, eating right, and all the things you actually want to do like writing and reading and playing music and actually getting to spend time with people you love. All the while people are telling you that you're not trying hard enough, that life is only as hard as you make it, and you feel so utterly misunderstood because no one gets it. No matter how many times you say it out loud, it doesn't come out right and it never will because words only make sense to you when they're written down.

So, yeah, maybe this isn't really an universal struggle, just my struggle, and no matter what people say, I know they can't really understand because they're not me and they never will be. Lately I've realized more and more that I will always be misunderstood if I can't find a way to use my voice. 

For a long time now I've contemplated writing a novel entitled In Between. It is, essentially, the story of me, told from the perspective of Henry Wright. It's not so much a literal interpretation of my life as it is metaphorical. That is, if you know me in real life, there isn't a character who's supposed to be you. Most of the physical struggles Henry faces are metaphors for emotional and spiritual struggles I've faced, and the characters are, more or less, different types of people I've encountered who have helped and hurt me. 

This is a really big deal for me; I've dreamed of writing a novel for as long as I can remember. But I'm a creative crock-pot. It takes a long time for an idea of mine to take root. I have to mess around with it a bit, test the waters, to make sure it's good enough to spend all my time on. I've toyed with the idea of this one for a good year or so, and I'm proud to say that this is the one.

And as most of you in the blog-o-sphere know, November is National Novel Writing Month. Thanks to NaNoWriMo, tons of writers spend November beginning and finishing their brand new novels. This year, I plan to participate. 

Now, I know some of you are probably rolling your eyes because you don't see any of the things I've just written could possibly be related: first I complain because I'm so misunderstood and I don't have time for anything, and then I announce that I'm beginning my first novel. Never fear, friends, I shall explain.

Face-to-face, out-loud communication, as I've said before, has never been easy for me. My whole life I've struggled with feeling things and knowing things that I can't explain because I can't communicate it.  Do you know how annoying it is when you believe something so strongly or when something rips your heart out and you can't tell someone because you don't know how? You don't know how not because you're stupid or incompetent or empty-headed, but because you do not possess the ability. 

For a long time I thought this meant that I wasn't smart, that I wasn't the right material to be a Christian or a Republican or even a Reid because all three of those things imply that you have strong convictions that you're willing to fight for and that you can readily defend when someone tries to shoot you down. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't still struggle with this, but something has since made me realize that God made me the way I am for a reason. I may not succeed in verbal communication, but that insufficiency has given me a great talent for saying what I want to through my writing. I'm not bragging -- God gets all the credit for that, believe me. What I mean to say is that I write because I'd go completely crazy without it. Words are my livelihood. And, unless I want to be utterly misunderstood for the rest of my life, I need to write this novel. 

No, I don't want to be rich or famous. I want to be heard. No, I don't care if only three people read my novel and decided it's rubbish. I just want my voice to be out there. I just want a chance, okay? That's all I'm asking for. You don't have to like my beliefs or my book or anything I say, but I, as a member of the human race, deserve to be heard. I've spent my entire life listening to other people tell me their stories, but I've never had the guts to tell mine. 

This is me, speaking out. 

Stay tuned, okay? 

About Magic

Saturday, October 8, 2016

It's a Monday. 

I sit in a chair by a window, the aroma of strong, dark coffee rising, intermingling with echoes of laughter. I am alone.

A man comes in. He's scruffy, confused, disoriented, wearing dingy rags and an old, knowing frown. He takes a seat in the middle of the coffee shop. It's the only one left. People stare.

I am writing about magic: the magic of the autumn breeze as it carries colored leaves to their death,so they can rise again in the trappings of spring. But I see this man over the frames of my glasses, and he smiles. I look down at my coffee. It is untouched. I smile. 

In a moment, I am outside of myself. I stand up and weave through the maze of chairs, my mug in hand and a song in my heart. People stare. I place the mug in front of the man with the tired eyes and old clothes. He smiles. 


He talks about his late wife and his old job and how he ran himself into a hole too big to climb out of. He talks about how he's always had a passion for teaching but he never got the chance. He talks about that one time he got to visit New York City, how the skyscrapers truly did touch the sky -- but he always preferred hometown dirt over man-made concrete jungles. And then he tells me how he has never gotten to say these things before because no one would listen.
No one would give him the chance. 
Maybe they tossed him an over-the-shoulder look of sympathy or shoved a dollar at him to make themselves feel good, but they never cared. They never once asked him his story, or even offered to tell him theirs. 
I tell a joke -- the one about the bison and the buffalo, or something like that -- and, perhaps for the first time in a long, long time, he laughs. And it is the music of true joy. He finishes his coffee, and I return to my window seat as he waves goodbye. 
I am writing about magic: the magic of people as they leave footprints on your heart.

Make someone smile today, okay?

The Smell of Saturday

Saturday, October 1, 2016

sunlight streaming through the windows.
waking up because you want to, not because you have to.
morning cartoons.
cozy tee-shirts.
the music of the coffee pot.
the brisk morning air.
bare feet.
fresh paint.
three cups of tea with just a touch of honey.
long drives.
cute cafes.
children playing the front yard.
oak trees waiting to be climbed.
the dust on old books longing to be read.
soft piano chords.
shouts of joy.

Saturday smells like peace, freedom, adventure, fullness, mystery, and new beginnings.

Sorry I've been so absent lately. School is busy. Life is hard. But I'm treasuring living in the moment and working for what I want. Life is good.

The Wisteria Writer Tag // Why I Write Episode 1

Sunday, September 11, 2016

I've been passionate about words for as long as I can remember, so when Abbie, the one and only fairy squad mother, nominated me for the Wisteria Writer Tag, I freaked. I've wanted to share my #writerslife with y'all for so long, but I didn't want to throw it in your face. Because, really, I'm quite the amateur, despite the prestige of my blog's title (*wink wink*). So, thank you, Abbie, for giving me the prime opportunity to gush about my oh-so-exciting life of a writer.

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you,
2. Answer the ten questions (provided by whoever you were nominated by),
3. Write ten questions of your own, and
4. Nominate ten other bloggers for the tag! [I kind of broke this one. #rebel]

When I was five or six, I remember sitting at my kitchen table on our old, bulky family desktop writing an approximately ten-paged book proudly entitled The Monkey and the Frog. It was a close cousin of The Tortoise and the Hare (strangely similar, actually. I suppose Aesop stole his idea from me), but I was so proud of it. I even looked for illustrations on google images. 

If I'd been asked this a few months ago, I would've said I prefer a girl's point of view, but lately I've really favored a guy's. I don't know, they're just so much easier. I feel like a girl's POV comes with so much baggage and sass and irrational emotions [lol I'm the queen of irrational emotions, in all honestly] and it's so tiring. Like, no Elizabeth, I don't have time to describe your outfit and the aesthetic of your room and your elementary school crush because I have more important things to write!!! And when I do want to include these things in a guy's POV, it's somewhat unique because (as far as I know -- correct me if I'm wrong) guys don't usually pay attention to them.

In my freshman year English 2 class, we read To Kill a Mockingbird, and I remember our teacher telling us a quote from Harper Lee. I don't remember it word for word, but it was something about how TKAM was the story she was meant to write, the story that was destined to fly out of her fingertips before time ever began. And for a long, long time, I've felt that I have a story to tell. Words have impacted me in ways that I didn't even know possible, and if I have the opportunity to impact at least one person with my words, then my life calling is complete.

Ooooh, this one is hard. I know I've stayed in my room from morning until night before, but I can't exactly recall how many words I've written in a day. At least 3 or 4 thousand, maybe more.

Coffee all the way, man!!! I am not a tea person. Since I like my coffee strong, dark, and completely black, tea has always tasted a little bit bland to me. I drink it when I need to calm down and get some sleep, but that's about it. I drink approximately three cups of coffee a day, and man, it is glorious (and it's good for you, right??).
coffee alexis bledel rory gilmore i love coffee gilmore girl

The one I'm writing right now is definitely my favorite because I think this one will actually get published one day. It will definitely be a long, long process because I'm in my busiest year of high school and will be going to college after I graduate, but I am so excited to write this book and finish it because this is the story I know I'm supposed to tell.

My MC, Henry, can't be my favorite because he's basically me in guy form, and I annoy myself to death. Henry has a friend ("friend" is a relative term) named Max Stewart who is sassy and done with life 25/8, and it comes across as hilarious, even though he doesn't try to be. He can also be very serious when he needs to be. He's a mathematical genius, but he's not too nerdy on the outside. He's probably my favorite solely because of the comic relief he provides.

Slow. and. steady. like. a. turtle. Certain aspects of a story, like the setting, for instance, will come with lightning inspiration, but when it comes to characters and plotting, I am so slow it's not even funny.

Umm... I've a confession to make: I've never written a full book. Aside from the short stories I wrote as a kid, I've never finished a manuscript before. I know, I know. Crazy, right?? The thing is, I can't finish a manuscript unless it actually means something to me. And, before now, most of my manuscripts have been bleh. They've always lacked substance, and substance is what makes a fake story real. That was a roundabout answer, but the short answer is, I don't have a book to burn. (Even if I did, burning books is sacrilege. I couldn't bring myself to do it.)

Worst failure? My own name. My pet peeve is when people spell Shelley with one e instead of two, and one time I misspelled it and left it there for like a day. Also, I misspelled parallel in my fifth grade spelling bee. It was my first word. Everyone else got cat or dog or something easy for their first word, but no, I get parallel. I'm still bitter, as you can see.
Best victory? I couldn't tell you. The only reason I was remotely good at spelling in elementary school is because I spent a great deal of time on Microsoft Word. And today, I still rely on auto-correct.  
Image result for spelling bee gifs


1. When was the first time you realized you actually enjoyed writing?
2. What is your favorite genre to read and your favorite genre to write?
3. Who is your biggest inspiration to keep writing?
4. Can you listen to music while you write? If so, what are some of your go-to songs? (I know, I hate the "favorite song" question. My apologies for torturing you.)
5. What are some of your favorite words? Least favorite? 
6. Where do you usually write?
7. What's the best thing about your #writerslife?
8. Is writing how you plan to make a living? 
9. At the end of the day, what is the most rewarding thing about writing?
10. Talk about anything that has to do with writing! Just let the words flowwww!!

I TAG...
and YOU!

Wanna join the convo? Comment your best writerly thoughts below! And stay tuned for more Why I Write posts!

Colorado Diaries // Episode 4

Monday, August 22, 2016

1 July 2016 // Frontier Trip: Day 8
Yesterday as we hiked in the cold, pouring rain, something inside me felt so alive. I was so numb and so cold a so wet, but I was so incredibly alive. For possibly the first time, I can understand why people chase after pain.

If they don't have Jesus, then they don't have joy, and if they can't feel joy, they have to feel alive through pain. Because even if they hurt, they're feeling something, so that must mean they're alive.

That's what it felt like hiking: I was miserable, but there's a certain kind of rush that comes from being miserable. I was pressing myself to the limit, and it felt good.

I think it's this obsession with pain that makes me run away from God so often. I like the way it feels to press myself because it reminds me that I am alive. Instead, I need to find life in the joy. I need to be so out of my mind with joy that people wonder why.

Later that day:

Last night's club was when Glenn presented the gospel. Afterwards we did our 20 minutes. For the first time in forever, I started talking to God like a friend. I'm sure to anyone else, what I said would probably be incoherent ramblings, but I knew that God understood.

During my prayer, God made the sky light up. He sent two flashes of what looked like heat lightning, but it wasn't hot. In fact, it was cold, and I'm convinced that those two flashes of light were sent by God as a message to us campers. It was probably a different message for everyone, but to me, it was a reminder that God is here. He's with me at Frontier ranch, and He'll be with me when I go home.

He's not gonna leave me when I do something bad, and he's not gonna love me more if I do something good. He always feels the same way about me. He is the epitome of consistency, and as much as I don't like to admit it, I need that.

Do you see it as much as I do? People chasing thrills just to test their breaking point, people abusing relationships just so that they can feel something, anything to make make them feel just the least bit alive...

This recklessness is all over society today. So many prefer pain of joy because they've never really tasted real joy. American Christianity has fallen short of showing what true joy looks like. If we don't chase after the joy, if we don't show people just how beautiful life can be with Jesus, they won't want to follow him. Because if our life is just the same as everyone else's, why should they even want to try out life with Jesus.

I believe that we are called to be the people of joy. Joy, contrary to what the world thinks, is not a shallow emotion. Joy is understanding God's plan even when life is tough and rejoicing because of that understanding. Joy is looking back at everything God has done for you and thanking him for the hardships. Joy is dancing in the rain because you know you'll come out purer and more refined. Joy, contrary to what the world thinks, is not shallow, but is probably the deepest emotion you can ever feel. 

Joy is often quenched by the world, but it also is quenched by something all too real that very often comes from within the church: legalism.

The account you read about in my above journal entry was probably one of the coolest moments in my entire life. At every Young Life camp, the speaker allows at least one night a week when every camper can sit outside and look at stars and pray for twenty whole minutes. In a world that is obsessed with artificial light and never slowing down, this time is truly a treasure. Before going outside, Glenn, the speaker, told us this: You don't have to use any fancy words with God.

For someone who loves fancy words, that really hit home. It was during my twenty minutes that God made something so inexplicably clear to me: God's opinion of you does not change based on what you do. 

So many conservative churches inadvertently teach that we must earn grace after excepting Christ. By imposing unbiblical rules, such as dress code and music preferences, churches are essentially telling teens "Yes, grace is initially free, but to stay in God's favor you must do this and this and this." 

My week at Frontier Ranch made me realize that I had imposed this mindset upon myself. Through a series of events I won't elaborate on, I was convinced that God's view of me changed based on what I did. Long story short, I tried to stay in God's good graces and failed (because I'm human), and I eventually gave up. I soon adopted an attitude of, "If I can never stay in God's good graces, what's the point of trying?"

Legalism does this. Legalism not only quenches joy, but it also kills it. The Christian worldview is reduced to any other worldview when we put the rules at the center. When grace is placed in the center, however, that is what makes us different. If we do not base our very lives on the principle of grace, we are no different than any other religion. 

Contrary to what some churches teach, God's view of you never changes after you accept him, because when he looks at you, he sees Jesus' perfect righteousness and not your sin. Jesus took on your sin when he walked this earth, lived, died, and rose again; therefore, when you accept Christ, you take his righteousness. The very purpose of him dying is so that you don't have to try in vain to stay in God's good graces. Jesus died to give you his righteousness, because he was the only one who could conquer your sin. 

This doctrine of grace should be the very center of our lives and the very center of our worldview. This realization of grace produces the most joy because we realize that we are forever in debt to Jesus Christ. It is this grace that motivates us to please God, whether it is with basic biblical principles or personal convictions. Personal convictions, the ones that aren't necessarily black or white, are not things that should be imposed on others just for the sake of following the rules.  Instead of imposing your rules on someone else, you should ground them in grace, because without grace, there is no point in following the rules.

How do we escape the legalistic trap? Preach the gospel to yourself daily. Remind yourself that, as Jerry Bridges writes in The Discipline of Grace, on your worst days, you are never beyond the reach of God's grace, and on your best days, you are never without the need of God's grace. Every day you need grace as much as you did the day before and as much as you will the next day. You need grace just as much as a reformed murderer or a previous atheist. 

On a bigger scale? It is my personal conviction that church kids must be grounded in grace before anything else. Church leaders need to preach grace to kids so often that it spills out of their ears, and that's why I love Young Life. Young Life has taught me what my sixteen years in church couldn't: it's not about the rules. It is only through glasses of grace that we humbly wish to please God. It is only with God's grace in mind that we will treat others with love and compassion, not discriminating them based on where they are in their spiritual walk. It is only through grace that we can exhibit true, unwavering joy. 

Are you looking for the "life to the full" that Jesus promises in John 10:10? Hop on the grace train, and I promise you'll find it. 

Back to School Tunes for the Everyday Grind

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

As of Tuesday of this week,  I am officially a high school Junior! Whew, time flies! It seems like just yesterday I was riding the school bus home and singing "Miss Mary Mack." (I would also spend those bus rides thinking up my very first book ideas.) But, as Ben Rector sings, life keeps moving on. And don't we all need a little playlist of the school bus of life? (That was a bit of a stretch for an analogy, I know.)

Never Gonna Let You Down // Colbie Callait
"Never gonna let you down / Always gonna build you up..." 
Because we all need to heat that sometimes

I Won't Give Up // Jason Mraz
"I won't give up on us..."
Because most of the time, school stinks, and we need motivation

Ophelia // The Lumineers
"You got big plans, and you gotta move..."
Because you should pursue those big plans of yours! Make a move!

East Bound and Down // Jerry Reed
"We're gonna do what they say can't be done / we've got a long way to go and a short time to get there..."
Because you're gonna blow everyone's mind with your vast intelligence, even if you've got a long way to go :)))
[I'm kind of a country music junkie. My apologies to Abbie and Aaliyah.]

Losing You // Tim Halperin
"So darlin' give me something I can hold onto / Let's put this back together / 'fore we come unglued..."
Because you feel like you're losing summer, and you just wanna scream DARLIN' COME BACK.

You Will Find Me // Andrew Ripp
"You wrote the rain / You wrote the sun in / You called my name / I'm tired of running..."
'Cause Jesus is always here for you!!!

Shades of Blue // Ashton Edminster
"All my shades of blue / Go away when I'm with you..."
Because even though sumer is great, fall is coming, and it makes all your shades of blue fade away.

Where I'm Going // Tim Halperin
"I'll be content just waiting for now / I'll take in these emotions while I figure out / Where I'm going..."
Because sometimes waiting is hard, but it's part of life. I promise you'll figure it out.

Thanks for reading, y'all! I may potentially get a little behind schedule this school year, but it's only because I'm taking four AP classes, and all of them have a big workload. Hope everyone's school year goes well! Stay tuned for Colorado Diaries // Episode 4!

Colorado Diaries // Episode 3

Monday, August 8, 2016

Each night at Frontier Ranch, we'd have this thing called Cabin Time. Every girl in our cabin would sit in a circle, and we'd just get real with each other. Each night after cabin time, I'd have this immense sense of peace. This is what we're supposed to do, I said to myself. This was the purpose for Christians on this earth: to share our burdens and point each other to the only one who can take away those burdens, Jesus.

29 June 2016 // Frontier Trip: Day 6
Last night during cabin time, several girls opened up about their "dark corners." The speaker encouraged us to be transparent, and I really tried. But in reality, the only dark part of me is sin. and everyone knows that exists. I haven't ever contemplated suicide, and I have a loving family that most kids would be jealous of.

My life is good. Really good. And the fact that I desire something outside of that comfortable goodness is so selfish. 

So I guess my dark corner is pride. I've got a lot of it. I'd rather leave the people I love than risk hurting them, which only hurts them more. I'd rather live in a comfortable bubble than put myself out there and do what I'm called to do: love. It disgusts me that I'm so comfortable loving myself and not others.

So there. There's my dark corner... It's just me; everything below my skin is a dark corner. I'm so full of pride that I cannot even empathize with others. I can't weep with those who weep or rejoice with those who rejoice because I can't even put myself out there...

Western Night (excuse the double chin)

I found out a lot about myself at Frontier. There were dark places discovered that I didn't know existed. I was hesitant sharing this because I don't know if I've ever been this transparent on the blog before, but I think it's important to show y'all that I'm just a person. I struggle and sin, too, every day in fact. 

I find myself wishing every day that I'll find more today than I did the day before. I want to be bold, audacious. I want to take risks and see places and meet people, but all the while, I'm scared to step out of what I know.

True life, I think, is found outside of our comfort zone, and that is why I desire so much more than this little life I'm living. I can't quite make sense of it even now, a month after camp, but I know more is coming. Jesus promises us life to the full in John 10:10, and I believe, before my days are through, I'll find that life. Some way, somehow, somewhere, whether it be Tennessee or Australia or anywhere else, I have to find it. But, I think, before God allows me to find that, I have to find a way to really love others instead of just tolerating them. God is teaching me something big in this In Between, and though he can't guarantee I come out unscarred, he can guarantee I come out better, brighter, cleaner. And so that promise is what keeps me going, that this isn't for nothing. In John 13:7, Jesus says, "You don't understand what I'm doing now, but someday you will." Hold on to that with me, will you?

Pinterest Recipe // Scrambled Egg Breakfast Muffins

Friday, August 5, 2016

I spend way too much time on Pinterest (don't we all??) so I thought it would be cool to actually use something I've pinned. The other day I was home alone and we had virtually no ready-to-eat food in the house, so I thought, why not? After a little searching, I tried these scrambled egg breakfast muffins from Surprisingly enough, my family actually liked them!

Most of the ingredients (besides the eggs, of course) are pretty pick-and-choose. I didn't use everything in the original recipe; I added some of my own ingredients and substituted what we didn't have, mainly because I was hungry and didn't want to go to the store. Also, I didn't really measure anything and they turned out great, so it's not super critical that you're accurate with the measurements. I'll share with y'all what I used, but basically you can use whatever you like to put in an omelet.

What You'll Need:

1. A dozen eggs
2. 1/4 cup tomatoes, diced
3. 1 cup choice meat,diced (I used leftover bratwursts)
4. 2-3 tablespoons of onions and mushrooms, diced
5. 1 cup shredded cheese (I also added about 1/4 cup of Palmetto Cheese spread)
6. Choice seasoning (not pictured)
(The original recipe suggested baby spinach, which we didn't have. But add 1/2 cup of that, finely shredded if you want something green in yours!)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
2. Grease muffin pan. 
3. Beat the eggs, and add in all of your ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
4. After mixing the ingredients, scoop the mixture into the greased muffin pan.
5. Cook for 20-25 minutes.

These were super duper easy! I'm no gourmet chef, and I was able to make these without any help. Although they're technically breakfast muffins, I ate them for lunch. Thank you to Pinterest and for the recipe! I hope you'll try these and enjoy them! 

Favorite Summer Reads // 2016

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

What is summer without reading? I mean, seriously, I think everyone reads at least one book every summer. I didn't get to read as much as I wanted to this summer (I had a list about seventy books long), but I do have a few favorite from the young adult genre that I would like to share! Put these on next year's summer reading list, or better yet, read them now :)

1. Bone Gap

Bone gap was a strange, strange novel, but I was thoroughly wowed by the writing. From the very first page, I was enthralled by Laura Ruby. And the characters. Don't even get me started. Everyone, from Finn to Sean to Petey (a girl whose real name is Patricia) to The Dog That Sleeps in The Lane, was so intriguing. Finn's a little far-off and aloof, and so is Petey. Figuring them out was so fun. The other thing I loved was the somewhat fantastical aspects that could be read as both literal and metaphorical. If you wanted it to be metaphorical, you could let it, and if you wanted it to be literal, you could let it. Laura Ruby created a world that I wouldn't mind living in myself. Someday I'd like to write a book as intriguing and well-written as Bone Gap.

2. A Study in Charlotte

For any of you Sherlock Holmes fans, this is for you. (I confess, I've never read the books; I've only seen the BBC television series.) This novel follows the story of Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes, who are both British teenagers living in America. The only real complaint I have is that for the first half of the book I thought Jamie and Charlotte were at College in America, but in reality they were in boarding school. But that's more of a fault on my part because I wasn't paying attention. I liked it so much because it was too gory and crime-ish. It's a mystery novel but it doesn't include too much violence. Once you get to the end, you'll find that's it's a little cliche, but, let's face it, I'm all about the cliches. If you're looking for a fun read (I read it in maybe two days, probably less), then A Study in Charlotte is for you.

3. The Glittering Court

I don't normally like fantasy, but I loved The Glittering Court, mainly because of the character development. Adelaide is a countess who wants to escape from an arranged marriage. She poses as her maid and finds her way into the Glittering Court, a place where lowly servants learn to attract high-end suitors in the New World. She ends up falling for Cedric, whose father is in charge of the whole Glittering Court process. It's forbidden, of course, because what is a fantasy novel without forbidden love? My one complaint is that is was quite boring at parts because it was so long, but overall I really liked the storyline and the characters, and, like I said, the character development. And, while it's technically part of a series, it could be a stand-alone novel as well, and I liked that. This book probably isn't for everyone, but it was better than most fantasy novels I've read. 

4. Ink and Bone

Again, this one is fantasy. The writing is gorgeous, and the whole storyline is centered around books. How could I not love it??? I was a little iffy at first, because Rachel Caine's novels always seem to be a part of long series, and I'm not a fan of that. But luckily this one was the first of probably three or four (I have yet to read the second installment). I thought that Rachel Caine wrote from a guy's point of view quite accurately. I found myself at times face-palming because of Jess's male stupidity. Accurate male characters are hard to find, and Rachel Caine pulled it off and made it stellar, to say the least.

Colorado Diaries // Episode Two

Monday, August 1, 2016

One month ago today I was still in Buena Vista, Colorado having the time of my life. The whole trip was surreal. I know of people who haven't even been outside their own state, but I got to ride a bus across the country with a bunch of really cool people. I still amazes me that God provided the funds I needed for the trip.

Summer camp is very often a time that church-going teens use to get their hearts right, a time when all distractions are put away and you can just live. Most every day I tried to sneak away during some time or another to write in my journal and get my thoughts together. Several people told me they admired me for my dedication in journaling. I only smiled because, really, I journal to survive. Without it I'd probably go crazy. To go along with the last post, I'd like to share an excerpt from my journal. Again, my brain is a messy place;I hope you find it at least partially accommodating and can stand to look into my thoughts for just a few minutes!

26 June 2016 Frontier Trip: Day 3

Today was one of the longest days I've had in a long time. My legs ache and need shaving and my back hurts, but it feels good. It feels good to have done something and to have seen people and to be part of something greater than myself.

The speaker tonight said that everyone has a purpose, and everyone is searching. He hit the nail right on the head, I think. I'm definitely searching for my purpose. I don't know what it is yet, but I'll find it. 

I'd have to say that this is the biggest, longest in between I've ever been in. Granted, it could be the only in between but still. All I've ever wanted is to get away, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that I live in a bubble. I want something more, but I'm ignoring what's right in front of my face. I keep setting myself up for a fairytale life, one where I have everything I want and need. That's not a reality, though.

Life is hard. People are complicated and sometimes stupid. I probably will never make it to a home in Tennessee. I probably won't be successful in my writing. I probably won't travel to Europe or Australia.

But I do have a purpose. I have to hold on to that, or else I have no will to live. I have to believe that someone will read my words and benefit from them. I have to strive for greatness or else I'll settle for mediocrity. There's gotta be something beyond this.

And till my last day, I'll search for that something.

One of the biggest lies that humans are told is that they are insignificant. Scientists tell us to look up at the stars and realize how small we are, and God does, too. But the difference between the two is that scientists tell us that because of our size, we don't matter, and God tells us that despite our size, we do matter. It's revolutionary, really.

This lie that is so popular, that includes the lie that we're gonna live and die and that's it, leaves us with a watermelon sized hole in our hearts, and that can't be good. With all these voices screaming YOLO at us, we've gotta focus on the one voice telling us that we've got a purpose on this earth that's bigger than ourselves. We don't have to chase after money and fame because we've got a better, eternal reward waiting for us.

Maybe you're like me. Maybe you don't know what your purpose is. Maybe you keep waiting for life because you're not finding it where you are right now, and, boy, do I know how agonizing that is. And what I've learned is that, maybe, if you open your eyes a little and look for your purpose around you, you'll find just what you're looking for. I promise you that investing in God and people is the most promising task you can ever take up on this earth, and if you pursue his will for you, you'll find the out exactly what you're supposed to be. Stop trying to figure it out on your own. God's got this!!

Hey, guess what????? I can tell you for real that I'm BACK for good. You know how I know that? Because this afternoon I just planned ALL of August's and September's blog posts! So stay tuned for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday posts through all of August and September. If you need help keeping up, just subscribe by email to all my posts on the sidebar to your right!

Also, I wanted to thank you awesome readers for keeping me going! I blog because y'all exist! Have a great week, and see you Wednesday! 

Colorado Diaries // Episode One

Saturday, June 25, 2016


Greetings to everyone! As I write this, I am on a bus heading to camp in Colorado. Once camp begins on Sunday evening(ish), I won't have my phone or any other electronic, so I wanted to do a quick post for y'all before I go. What you're about to read are actual thoughts from my brain that I recorded in my journal. My deepest apologies if they are completely incoherent ramblings. 

25 June 2016 | Frontier Trip: Day 2

Not too long ago we crossed the border of Kansas and Colorado. Kansas is truly flat. I was amazed at the beauty of it all. It's flat, indeed, but it's also gorgeous.

It makes me wonder how the first settlers felt when they made their way from the east cost to the Midwest. They must have been awestruck by the barren beauty of the land, truly unsettled and unkempt in every way. 

For some reason, I've felt more at home on this trip than I ever have in Clemson. I feel like this is what I'm supposed to do. I miss my family, but I know I'll see them again soon, so it doesn't really hurt. I hope I'm not so shallow of person that I'd be content to live my whole life alone and traveling, but right now I truly have a sense of peace. 

Maybe it's the lack of obligation. Maybe since I'm not being told to clean my room and feed the bird and do the laundry I feel like I'm at peace. If that's the case, I'm not only shallow, but naïve. I'm shallow because I enjoy an obligation-free life, one where nothing is pulling me, where I'm comfortable; I'm naïve to believe that any sort of life can be found as a wanderer. 

I suppose that is that case, and since that's the case, I don't really deserve life at all. I don't deserve peace or assurance  or security. Really, I deserve to wander and never find what I'm looking for. But somehow, for some unexplainable reason, God still gives me peace. He still gives me assurance. He still offers security. And, in the process, He gives grace for when I fall short. He's patient when I think my way is best and have to figure out otherwise. He's loving when I run to worldly things and come back to Him with a broken heart. He never once has said I told you so, and that amazes me.

What really gets me is that God has everything. He made and owns the same world that I run after instead of running to Him; and still, He wants me.

I don't know why it took me two days on a bus to figure this out, and with that I'm reminded all the more of my depravity. 

Long ago, the settlers must have spent so many sleepless nights wondering how they would find a life in a place that had so little. They must have sent so many prayers up asking for abundance. And, in the long run, God delivered. In the same way, I know He will make something beautiful and abundant out of me. I'm empty, a wasteland, seemingly worthless, but God makes beauty for the ashes. 

(This is the part when my pen conveniently ran out of ink.)

I'll be back July 4th! Don't miss me too much. :) 

The Saga of Sophomore Year // what high school really taught me

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

As of one week ago today, I am officially finished with my sophomore year of high school. This year was a strange one -- it sort of fizzled off into nonexistence. There was no fanfare, no whisper chanting of "summer, summer, summer..." from the back of the class, and no jumping out of chairs when the final bell of the 2015-2016 year rang. It was all very mundane, actually. 

I learned a lot this year, but not just academically. In fact, I'd be willing to argue that the non-academic lessons are probably more important than graphing a quartic function or learning how to titrate chemicals (lol that's probably not even the correct terminology because I don't even know what that is really. Sorry, Jennifer.) 

Most people are really just normal.

In movies and books, you hear about cliques: jocks, nerds, musicians, etc, etc. But really, at least where I'm from, I've learned that most people are really just normal. Under all that makeup, football talk, cute insta posts, and popularity, people really are just people looking for life on the same journey as you and I are. There is no reason to fit them into a box just to satisfy your insecurities. I've learned that, with people, there is infinitely more depth than we imagine there to be.

Disney Channel is inaccurate.

First of all, dress code -- I cannot count the number of times I've seen Selena Gomez or Miley Cyrus walking around their fake high school in mini skirts and spaghetti straps on television. That's not actually how life goes. Dress code does indeed exist (I could rant about the double standard, but I won't), and it's not fun. 

Second, on a more serious note -- nothing is ever black and white. This is probably more of a continuation of the first point, but I want to reiterate something: there aren't just heroes and villains. And the people who appear to be villains always have a backstory. There are reasons people become like they do. It doesn't justify it, but it helps us better understand it. The girl who shames you because you're not pretty enough probably feels that she's really the one who doesn't measure up; the guy who puts you down because you study too much and have "no life" outside of school probably feels that his grades will never measure up to yours. 

Dexter tells Tracy in High Society, "You'll never be a wonderful woman, or even a wonderful human being until you learn to have some regard for human frailty." There are no super humans in real life; everybody hurts somehow. And I am reminded of a verse Mark when Jesus sees the true frailty of the rich man in front of him: "Jesus looked at him and loved him," it reads (Mark 10:21). We as a human race will never get anywhere until we look at people and love them instead of looking at people and judging them. It doesn't matter how much sin they're living in, because it's likely that you've got some sin in your life, too. It amazes me that every time I read through the Gospels, I see just how much compassion Jesus had for people. When are we going to start living like that? It's never black and white. Remember that.

Chemistry is awful.

I want to say that I had the best chemistry teacher ever, but words cannot express how much I really hated that class. I, as a future English Major, find no use for it in my life. That is all.

Crying is okay; sometimes, it's even mandatory.

I am a very emotional person, but I don't often share those emotions. Most of the time, they get bottled up and explode everywhere when I can't hold it in anymore. My freshman english teacher told our class once that it's good to watch sad movies because you can get a good cry out to let out all those bottled up emotions. I am a firm believer in that. I am also a firm believer in crying even when you're not watching a sad movie. 

Y'all, crying does not make you weak. Jesus wept, and I don't think any of us would call him weak, would we? We can't be strong all the time. When life is overwhelming and you feel like crying, cry. Cry and remember that there will soon enough be a day that no tears exist because you'll forever be in the presence of Jesus. 

Escaping reality only dulls the pain and doesn't cure it.

I like books. A lot. And I like escaping through books. There were times in my life that I didn't listen to anyone, and God chose to speak to me through the books I read to bring me back to him. But in real life, escaping only dulls the pain. Forgetting about it does not make it go away, and when you're forced to remember it again, it usually hurts worse. I've learned to cast my burdens on the Lord because he really does care. I promise. When he promises to cure your pain, he will. Every time. You've just gotta learn to let him in.

So-and-so from whatever class is not gonna remember what you wore last week.

You wear those sweatpants, girl. Even if, gasp, you already wore them that week. Because in the end, during school, anyway, your comfort means more than those you impress. Now, I'm not giving you an excuse to look sloppy every day of your life because I am a firm believer in dressing cute, but if you rolled out of bed with five minutes to get ready, wear those sweatpants and that messy bun and don't feel bad about it.

It's not all for nothing.

I know that high school does matter, because I know that God would not put me through anything that is irrelevant to my growth and well-being. He wants what's best for us (Romans 8:28, remember?) and if this route you're on was not what was best for you, you wouldn't be on it. Rest in that and push through.

People are really awesome.

I'm an introvert. (Most bloggers are, to tell you the truth.) A lot of times, people scare me. A lot of times, I go to the self check out at the grocery store just to avoid talking to anyone. A lot of times, I turn down an invitation because I want to stay at home and read a book. But this year, through organizations like Young Life, I've learned that people really are awesome. And you were made to have real, thriving relationships. Humans are relational beings, and without those relationships, we'll eventually lose our fire. Form real friendships with real people. I promise you won't regret it.

Being yourself is infinitely more rewarding than trying to fit in.

Please be yourself. Please, please, please, don't try to change your personality to make someone else happy. God made you who you are for a reason. If there were seven billion Mary Shelley Reids walking around this earth, the world would undoubtedly die or boredom. In fact, that would happen if there were seven billion of any one person walking around. We need diversity to thrive, guys. So be diverse!!!! Please!!!

You're not super woman. (Sorry.)

I once wore a super girl costume when I was little. (I think it was my sister's but that's beside the point.) And, surprise, when I put it on I did not do anything to save the world. I know we all want to think of ourselves as super-epic people who surpass everyone else in our epicness, but we're not. (Sorry again.) You can't do everything. If you set your sights on one tasks instead of setting an impossible goal, I know you'll feel much more super. When you complete that goal, move on to another small one. Don't set a super huge goal that Captain America himself could not accomplish. Baby steps, y'all :)

June Goals

Friday, June 3, 2016

Hello, my beautiful friends. And happy National Doughnut Day to you, too.

Alas, June has arrived. It kind of just popped up out of nowhere, too. But that's okay because I like surprises. I love them, in fact. And, to you, this blog post is probably a surprise. Because I, Mary Shelley Reid, do not make goals. I simply fly by the seat of my pants and see where life takes me. But for a month like June, I decided that since life is so structure-less anyway, I should probably make a few goals so I don't turn into a blob of motivationless nothing.


My dear friends over at Go Teen Writers have begun their summer "100 for 100" challenge. They are super rad. They are the reason I'm not afraid to write anymore. Go Teen Writers is this whole group of teen writers who are actually reaching for their goals, not just sitting around and dreaming about them. I wanna stop just dreaming and start doing, because dreams aren't real if there is no action to back them up. 

And since it's summer, I actually have time to write one hundred words a day. And, really, one hundred is like nothing. One hundred words, really, is like a paragraph or less. I can do that. I will get this book written one hundred words at a time. Every single day, Clara Stewart and the whole Apple Grove gang will come closer to their resolution. And I could not be more excited for them.


For some reason, the Gospel of John is my favorite of the gospels. I recently described it as the little red one hundred emoji, and it totally is. It is the raddest of the rad. Hopefully, this month I'll finish going through it and begin whatever chapter I'm reading next. And I haven't decided that yet because decisions are my worst enemy. 


Ha. I'm funny, I know. But once upon a time I ran cross country, and since I'm not on the team anymore I actually feel like a potato on a regular basis. But GUYS I actually woke up yesterday morning and went for a run. Surprising, I know, and there was this one point when an old man was definitely going faster than me. My cross country days are definitely long gone, but I think I can get back into regular exercise. P.S. If anyone has a really good ab workout they wanna tell me about, I'm all ears :)


This one is quite comical as well. It's actually half-way working so far, though. (Though I'm only three days into it. Say a prayer for me, pls.) I also feel three years old because this is actually a really hard goal for me.


GUYS. I'm oh so close to actually getting my license!!!! I have the classroom portion of driver's ed tomorrow morning, and hopefully I can do my driving hours soon and get my license soon after camp. It's so exciting because soon when I need to go to the library (which is like every day) I can just drive there!!! Also, my permit is almost expired because I've waited so long to get my license. But it's no big deal.


I'm not really going anywhere this summer except Young Life camp, so I'll be home most of the time. And while I'm home, I wanna really just be there instead of wishing I was somewhere else. When I hang with my friends I wanna act crazy and laugh and fall in love with life, and it's hard to do that when I'm wishing I was in Australia. This is my in between, and I've gotta live it up before it's gone.


Like I said, I'm going to camp this summer, and I don't want to limit myself to just hanging with friends from school. I want to actually put myself out there and be crazy and have the time of my life, and sometimes that's really hard for me, because I'm too worried about what I'm wearing or if my voice sounds funny or the fact that I don't know half the songs that come on the radio, and people might make fun of me for that. I need to learn to apologetically be myself. And if people don't like me for me, I have to be okay with that.

What are y'all's goals for June? Are you going anywhere special that you're excited/nervous about? Do you also have a really hard time keeping your room clean??? (If you do, I know what you go through. I feel your pain, yo.) Let me know in the comments section!