Monthly Archives: December 2015

12/31/15

2015

2015.

It’s hard to adequately encompass all my thoughts about 2015 into one single blog post, but I wanted to take the time to share, reflect, remember, and praise. And for me, the best way to do so is just to write or type it out.

2015 has been the most challenging yet.

This year I lost my first grandparents, one very special Nana and one gentle and quiet Pa. They were extraordinary people who lived extraordinary lives and were extraordinarily loved by those around them. Their legacies live on in each of us, and the lessons that they left behind about the importance of family, faith, courage, hospitality, and standing for what is right even when it’s unpopular will be an honor to live out that example in my life, and the lives of my other family members.

Work is as busy as it has ever been. Not that I am complaining, because I am most certainly not, but this year has stretched me in ways I never expected, presented opportunities I never imagined, and developed areas of myself that needed to be developed and polished. My work family continues to be the most supportive, amazing, encouraging, and personally challenging bunch there is and they make me better every single day.

In my personal life, much has changed there as well. He has brought me through some storms of self-doubt, moments of tear-stained loneliness, times where I felt inadequate, not enough, and undesirable. And He has placed me on a journey that has me filling up journals and having deeply emotional and meaningful conversations with those in my life that I trust the most; my spiritual mentors, if you will.

He has validated me. Reminded me of His good gifts and reignited some long-forgotten passions within me. He has showed me all too vividly my worth and value to Him. I am worthy! It’s simply a matter of the heart like scripture says in John 15:9-11. I cannot rest my heart, my soul, my worth in any hands other than His. In any unrealistic hope that others, that people, that flawed people just like me could make my joy complete. I rest my heart in Jesus only.

I have learned that my labels come from Him, and Him only. This world will try to “figure you out”, try to label you- Single. Married. Divorced. Unemployed. Under-employed. Size 4. Size 14. 4 Facebook Likes. 40,000 Instagram followers. Beautiful. Undesirable. Everything in this temporal world is measured, is labeled, is a comparison, is designed in this grand competition we call life.

BUT…

I am loved by Him.

You are loved by Him.

He doesn’t see me as Jamie, the 28 year old, incredibly flawed, single, incorrectly perceived Corporate America paper-pusher, but as His daughter. And He wants only what is for my good. His very best for me.

Now, this God-nature doesn’t automatically rend my human nature ineffective, but it is shrinking the need of those other labels that I covet.

With that notion of erasing my labels, He then has taken me on a journey of surrender, and of sacrifice.

We find ourselves in the season of Advent, and I have been doing 2 Bible studies simultaneously for the last several weeks- She Reads Truth Advent Study & The Covenant Study by Precept Ministries. In it, we draw parallels from the Old Covenant in the Old Testament between God & Abraham and how Jesus Christ in the New Testament, coming as a baby is the fulfillment of all He promised back in Genesis. Jesus is the true and better Abraham, the true and better Jacob, the true and better Moses, and is our Passover Lamb who takes away the sins of the world!

I am struck each time anew as I read the story of Abraham taking Isaac, his long-awaited son, the fulfillment of God’s covenant to he and his offspring, and offering his son on the altar as an act of incredibly obedience and faith in God. Abraham believed so deeply and so fully that He knew if Isaac was the answer, if He was the seed, that the Lord would resurrect Him. That is how much He trusted the Lord.

And that is the key in all that He has brought me through this year. Trust.

Jamie, trust in me. Abide in me. I want only good for you, nothing to harm you. You just have to trust & obey. 

What is it that we need to sacrifice on the altar of God this year?

What is it that we need to trust Him with?

What aspect of ourselves needs to be slain on that altar for Him to resurrect into something even greater?

Would I be willing to sacrifice the things that I hold the most dear if the Lord asked me to?

I don’t know about you, but I feel like this time of year as we end one year and turn the page for the next, is just about the perfect time to make these sorts of decisions, determine these priorities, and to reset ourselves.

Just as Isaac, Jesus too could have preserved His life and not lay it down willingly, but He surrendered and prayed that the will of the Father would be done. God spared Isaac, but because of His great love for us, He did not spare His own son; a sacrifice abounding in love and mercy.

No sacrifice we can ever make will ever trump the sacrifice Christ made on the cross.

But, daily, we must come to that cross, to that crossroads of trust. Over and over. In the midst of the known and the unknown. In good times and in bad. We can safely surrender and find complete rest in God’s great and unfailing love.

May we all choose that in 2016, and every single day, week, month, and year moving forward.

Blessings to you and yours!

xoxo…

“God Himself will provide the lamb…” – Genesis 22:8 

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12/29/15

52 in 52 Weeks | My Year in Review

Inspired by fellow blogger and style icon Ray at Four Seasons Fabulous, I challenged myself back in January of this year to the “52 in 52 weeks New Years’ challenge”– a mini-bucket list of sorts of things I would like to accomplish this next year.

The goal was to cross one off the list each week of the year.

Items ranged from self-improvement, health & wellness or beauty. Things I wanted to learn, places I wanted to visit, things I wanted to do, or explore. Try a couple of firsts, then try them again! Do some things just for fun or for no reason at all… just because it was on my list! Do some things for others, make a difference, be a force for good.

At the end of the day…. Just be me!

So, here it was. Typed out in Black & White. {I have crossed out and italicized the items I successfully completed this calendar year.}

  1. Read Gone with the Wind. 
  2. Finish counting my 1,000 Gifts journal, challenge from Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts study {I’m a little over halfway there!}
  3. Take a pastry class at Cook’s Warehouse. Always wanted to know how to make the perfect pie crust!
  4. Run in Disney Princess 5K this February. What fun Katie & I will have! Plus, it’s at Disney World. Brings out the inner-Princess in all of us.
  5. Continue to run. (pt 2 of the goal above) Don’t give up! This is more about introducing another activity for life-long fitness.
  6. Visit Fantasyland while at Disney theme parks
  7. Lose weight, feel great, feel confidant. It’s so much more than a number on a scale.
  8. Visit a new state.
  9. Take up knitting… yet again.
  10. Make plans to return to Europe in 2016. Start saving!
  11. Develop good financial plan for myself – have a better grasp of healthy finances & finances that honor God.
  12. Introduce a new food to my diet. Maybe kale or cauliflower. For instance, these last few years, many have been added to the ranks- grits, butternut squash, quinoa, salmon, avocados, etc.
  13. Re-organize my closet.
  14. Donate clothes I am no longer wearing/will not wear.
  15. Get a massage.
  16. Go for a hike on Kennesaw or Stone Mountain.
  17. Go to a yoga class.
  18. Try going vegetarian for a month or so.
  19. Get on Instagram.  
  20. Complete teeth whitening system.
  21. Rock vintage shade of red lipstick.
  22. Plan a weekend away for my sweet girlfriends.
  23. Learn to bake bread
  24. Try a new restaurant every month of the year- 12 new restaurants!
  25. Make effort to blog 3-4 times every week for the entire year.
  26. Buy a DSLR camera
  27. Take up photography- not seriously, just as a hobby.
  28. Unsubscribe to all my junk emails
  29. Get ahead for busy work weeks by prepping food and dinner ideas over the weekend.
  30. Go see a musical at the Fox Theater.
  31. Finish hanging all my artwork in the apartment.
  32. Take a Zumba class.
  33. Give up Coke Zero for a month!
  34. Host a casual dinner party. Or two. Or three.
  35. Collaborate with another blogger this year.
  36. Have daily quiet time
  37. Journal more!
  38. Paint my nails once or twice a month.
  39. Treat myself to regular pedicures in the spring & summertime!
  40. Send 10 notes this year to friends, family, coworkers, girls in small group just because you want to say “hi”, encourage them, offer them advice or solace , or just because.
  41. Pay for a stranger’s order behind me in line
  42. Read a biography. Queen Elizabeth? Abe Lincoln? Audrey Hepburn? I haven’t decided. Suggestions please?
  43. Make it a habit to work-out in morning before work rather than in the evening.
  44. Unplug for one solid period of 24 hours— no phone (only in case of emergency of course), no internet, no facebook, no nothing!
  45. Learn how to tie a tie.
  46. Update to new iPhone.
  47. Start a new blog series (any suggestions of what you would like to read?)
  48. Mail a care package.
  49. Plant herbs.
  50. Increase my daily water intake.
  51. Cut down on amount of TV watched. Limit yourself to 2-3 shows to watch per week.
  52. Visit a holistic healer about my allergies.

So, this truly was the ultimate in accountability. I have had a few of my friends ask me this past week, “How’d you do on that 52 in 52 this year?” I laugh and tell them pretty good, but there are definitely a few items that will have to roll over to 2016.

In fact, a few of the girls in my ladies small group and I met up a few nights ago and went ice skating at Piedmont Park here in Atlanta. And while resting after our “rink time”, one of the girls suggested we all choose one thing we wanted to do or try next year and we would all do it together. So, we have 6-7 new adventures already planned for 2016! And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

So, to backtrack to 2015, here are some of my highlights from what is now being called “The List.”

Katie and I ran the Frozen 5K at Walt Disney World back in February of this year and we plan to return this January for the 10K and Half Marathon.

frozen 5k

Any adventure with this one is a good one! And running has been a real challenge for me and I hope to continue getting better & better in the future.

I seriously don’t know how I went so many years without reading this…

gone with the wind

Gone with the Wind is without a doubt one of the greatest American novels of all time. It was an absolute pleasure from cover to cover.

I was immersed in pre and post Civil War South.

I visited 2 new states this year — Missouri & California!

marroon 5

This crazy roomie of mine and I went to Kansas City, MO for a girl’s weekend in April to see Maroon 5 in concert. All I can say is anytime Adam Levine and I are in the same room together- it’s money well spent.

BEVERLY HILLS

Beverly Hills 2

And Beverly Hills & Orange County, CA with these two precious people… what can I say?!? Ridiculous amounts of both work & play and it’s always fun when we are together!

Beverly Hills hotle

Beverly Hills 3

And we all piled in one room at the Beverly Hills Wilshire {Umm hello?!? Pretty Woman!} and that was an experience I will not soon forget!

And not on my “list”, but was certainly a highlight from the year…

CHARLES MARTIN

Mom and I attended a book signing with one of our favorite authors, Charles Martin, and it was such a pleasure to meet him, listen to him speak and share his heart and what he’s been working on. And as an added bonus, he came to my place of business the following week and I hosted he and his boys for lunch and a guided tour.

Thankful for his voice in contemporary fiction! If you have never read anything of his before, you should pick up one of his books right away. They are always deeply moving and touching.

I joined Instagram this year!

IG

Yep, Instaless-Jamie no more! And I have really enjoyed sharing everyday life with my friends, family, and followers. Follow me @jamiek924.

I did successfully try at least 12 new restaurants this calendar year, one per month, if not more. And they are all over the US of A!

But, just maybe I could share a few of my personal favorites for my local Atlanta readers?

Gio’s Chicken Amalfitano 

Wow! Amazingly fresh, classic Italian comfort food served family style. A real treat on the Westside.

Don’t miss the Sicilian Lemon Chicken, their signature dish! But, bring someone along that you love as their portions are huge and can easily feed 2 people. A great crowd-pleasing meal.

BarTaco

An inventive and creative Mexican meal with an amazing outdoor and indoor seating area right in the heart of midtown! Don’t miss their guacamole with salsa verde & chips, their Baja Fish taco, or my absolutely favorite, the grilled corn with lime, cotija cheese, and cayenne pepper. A spicy treat!

Bellina, in Ponce City Market

Ponce City Market is a recent discovery of mine & I am absolutely hooked! It is the heart of the Atlanta retail & culinary scene with purveyors and vendors alike. Where else can you get a hot Hop’s Chicken sandwich, a King of Pops popsicle, and buy a pair of Frye boots?

Come to Ponce!

But, I must say, Bellina is something to experience with its hand selected charcuterie, cheeses, handmade pastas, sauces, and soups. Absolutely delicioso!

Yeah Burger 

I appreciate a really good, honest, well-made hamburger. And when it’s done right, there is nothing I crave more!

My favorite burger in Atlanta is at Yeah Burger in the Virginia Highlands off Highland Ave and I fix it up good with pimento cheese and a savory bacon jam. Absolutely mouth-watering! And their sides? How about Hand-cut kettle chips, fried pickles with spicy ranch dipping sauce, or crispy brussel sprouts topped with goat cheese? Forget about it!

Supper Club 2016 anyone? Sign me up!

Can’t wait to see what 2016 bring our way… many more adventures in store!

xoxo

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