This was the Year of:

It’d be easy to sit here on my couch surrounded by reminders that Christmas morning was just shy of a week ago and think about all the awfulness that 2020 brought. Our family wasn’t free from the clutches of the dreaded Covid-19 and we’ve lost loved ones, friends, and have grieved from afar as people dear to us suffered and wrestled with grief as well. It’d be easy to express countless frustrations encountered over the past 364 days that included canceled plans, quarantines, and grocery pick-ups that took literal hours instead of minutes. Let’s not forget the endless searches for toilet paper and cleaning supplies.

But now that we’ve gotten all the clich√© 2020 phrases out of the way…oh, wait – hindsight is 20/20 and 20/20 is perfect vision…(there we go) – I want to also make note of all the incredible things that happened this year. Because, while 2020 was hard and challenging, it didn’t suck. In the big picture, it’s been a wild ride, but definitely one I want to remember and I believe now more than ever that what we choose to focus on, that becomes the default for where our mind goes in stress.

My friend (we’ve actually met in real life and I feel like this title is appropriate since I’m sure we’d be awesome neighbors and the best of friends) and favorite author, Emily P Freeman, is basically a professional at reflecting. Each week, she shares “These are the days of…” highlights in her Instagram stories and I couldn’t love it more. Basically, she shares some of the small moments that made up that week: baking bread, family walks, book reading, naps, etc. It’s such a sweet practice that serves as a reminder that the days are good and the small moments that make them up are worth remembering. If our focus is on the bad, we’ll often overlook the good and beautiful ones we actually want to remember.

It makes me think of John 1:5 “A light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” While this verse is clearly pointing to Jesus, I think it’s totally relevant here. The good moments shine like a beacon, especially when times are rough, and when we choose to make them our focus, they far outshine the darkness.

I’ve had it on my mind to write this post and I’ve kept putting it off. I was worried that a blog post celebrating a year that’s been riddled with loss and grief and tensions and a whole lot of noise might come across in the wrong way. Then, as I was texting with a friend last night who has had a particularly rough year, it really hit me that sometimes we need someone with a different perspective to remind us that even in the difficult, there are beautiful things worth remembering.

So here it is, friend. My celebration of things I want to remember from this year. Satan, you don’t get to claim this year as a victory. Even when it feels uncertain, like chaos and violence and disease and anxiety are taking control – I’m choosing to remember and proclaim that Jesus is still on His throne and He alone is the One who holds the future. When I am overwhelmed, it is because my sight is limited to such a small portion of a big picture – a mere sentence in an epic story…one that is written, the end has been determined, and no matter what darkness abounds, it will never overcome the Light.

* This list isn’t to say we haven’t had our share of challenges, but is more or less a list for me to look back and celebrate the good that has happened in the middle of the crazy. If reading a list of someone else’s celebrations wouldn’t help your heart right now, feel free to skip to the bottom.

JANUARY was the month of:
* One last trip to Disney World with the OG bestie and Disney bud, Lacey. Those annual passes were the best season, weren’t they?
* A last-minute trip to America’s Mart in Atlanta to support my creative friends! Amy Braswell with PaperFinch Designs, Maghon Taylor with All She Wrote Notes, Amy Kinslow with Southern Fried Design Barn, Rebekah Ison with Doodles by Rebekah, and getting to see Jacqueline with Jac&Row Creative, Alicia with Wondermint Goods, and always up for a spontaneous adventure – my sweet AirBnb hosting friend, Kyndal!
* Celebrated my nephew’s 1st birthday – how do they grow so fast?!
* First youth group trip to Universal Studios with our King’s Cross church family. So much fun! (Crazy we didn’t even know about Covid then.)
* Hosted a lettering workshop at Hammer & Stain and had a blast!
* Celebrated my Bubba’s 6th birthday – Bakugan parties are cool.

FEBRUARY was the month of:
* A girl’s night out with some of my favorite church ladies and mama friends.
* Alumni Retreat in Seaside, Florida with Creative Founders friends: Janet, Kelsey, Shalondria, Laura, Amanda (heyyy roomie!), Jacqueline, Heather, and Kristin. Met some new friends and got to see Russell and Michelle Harris, too, which was icing on the cake! Literally the BEST weekend!
* Kept up traditions and went to the Rodeo with the fam. Always nerve wracking and such a blast at the same time.
* Watched with so. much. pride. as my sweet husband shared his heart at his childhood church and what it meant to grow up there. So glad I videoed it. Treasures in digital form.
* Celebrated my other nephew’s birthday – a Nerf party!

MARCH was the month of:
* My oldest munchkin getting her new glasses. She’s adorable.
* Drove to Monroe, Ga early one morning so that same big girl could be part of a video for Rachel Macy Stafford. Thanks to Caleb for the invite – she felt so famous and was thrilled to meet a “real” author. (Just like her mama!)
* The kids started horse riding lessons. All the pics. All the smiles. Worth every penny.
* Spent time with friends and sold all the junk at Peaches to Beaches – the weekend the world shut down and the last day our kids went to school.
* Went to pick strawberries one Sunday just the 5 of us and had a blast!
* Did a lot of research, learned a lot of tips, and bought 4 chicks at Tractor Supply. Welcome to the family, Blackberry, Peanut, Lucy Mae, and Louisiana (aka Lou). Chirps non-stop and all the fluff ball snuggles.

APRIL was the month of:
* 10 new chicks sent via mail – like, how does that even work!? Dining room turned into a chick brooder home and LOUD with chirps and cheeps and the cutest little fluffs you’ve ever seen.
* Zoom chats with friends so we don’t all go crazy in quarantine. Seeing faces is life-giving.
* Struggle through homeschool with 3 kids and very little help. Decide we’re done, throw all. the. work. into envelopes and I’ve never been more proud of myself. I can decide what’s best and healthy for my family and kids – even if it doesn’t align with what’s “expected” or I’m “supposed to do.” A spark of confidence.
* Super weird Easter, but thankful for Mimi and Papa and friends who hid eggs in our yard and gave the kids the best surprise.
* Celebrated my sweet girl turning 8 whole years old with an ocean party!
* Started plans to build the chicken coop

MAY was the month of
* Our first Raddish cooking kit! Watched time in the kitchen spark a love of cooking and baking in Cami. All three kids tried avocado, carrots, tomato, and bell peppers without argument because they helped make it. WIN!
* Started making things from scratch: strawberry muffins, peanut butter pie, blueberry cobbler, homemade biscuits, and who knows what else.
* Heartbroken by the fires in Santa Rosa Beach, I worked with friends Russell and Michelle and created a design I had been dreaming of. Launched a fundraiser on Bonfire in support. Hoped to raise a few hundred dollars. Had NO IDEA how it would play out. By the end of May, we’d raised over $3,000!
* Finished the coop and moved those chickens to the OUTSIDE! Praise be!
* Cleaned the raised beds in the backyard with the kids and planted a garden with berries, veggies, and flowers!

JUNE was the month of:
* Partnering up with a high school friend for the Summer Book Club to read through three books that address racial injustice.
* My little guy “graduates” Kindergarten and I’m so proud!
* Design a tee for our youth Summer Camp!
* Get a custom order for the 30A Happy Day design on a tire cover for a Jeep!
* My sweet hubby takes us to Destin for a long weekend. We end up driving to 30A every day anyway. Get to personally deliver a box of tees to Blue Mountain Bakery – my first wholesale order of 30A Happy Day product! Brunch with the Harris fam and Michelle’s parents at Crackings (FAVE! Hey, Kristy!) and a dinner at Grayton Seafood Co and Tab’s kindness to Hank sparks his dream to have a restaurant one day. BEST VACAY.
* Designed a logo for Graytful Goods and my friend, Michelle – realizing that passion projects/design are totally my thing.
* Harvesting jalepenos and bell peppers from our garden!
* New baby colt at the horse stables and we’re all in love.

JULY was the month of:
* Sharing my read-through-the-Gospels reading plan with a lettered verse each day. (Got the idea from Annie F Downs on Jan 1st and loved it!)
* Annual family beach vacay – this time to Ponte Vedra beach! Fun week of strong waves, high tides, tons of shells, and exploring St Augustine! Also got to see our friends, the Colemans, who live close by!
* Created designs for my friend, Ashley Cochrane, and her non profit, Crowned for Ashes!
* Enjoyed frequent visits by the most handsome hummingbird to our bottlebrush tree outside our kitchen window. The kids named him “Chubby Bob” and we loved that he’d perch on the branches and watch us right back.
* Got our first eggs from the chickens!

AUGUST was the month of:
* Surprise 10th birthday trip for my oldest! We went to Disney World and took her friend, Tori, and her mama. They’re the sweetest friends and we had the very best time!
* Celebrated the first corn harvest with Jared and my father in law running the whole farm. We’re so proud and excited!
* Designed a fundraiser tee for friends relocating to Orlando. Love their hearts for serving and seeing those often overlooked!
* 30A Happy Day tumblers are for sale at Crackings in Grayton Beach! Always surreal to have something I designed being sold at a place I love!
* Gather our first BLUE eggs from the girls and are beyond giddy!
* Make the decision to homeschool and got our big boxes in with all of our curriculum! Thankful I have a picture of the excitement on my kids faces looking through it all!
* Prep our upstairs bonus room to be our school room and it quickly becomes our most favorite space in the house.
* The kids literally BEG to start school earlier than I planned because they can’t wait to homeschool. Mind. BLOWN.

SEPTEMBER was the month of:
* Couch shopping. Stressful and hard, but also fun to do as a family!
* Hank goes to shoot birds a couple times and suddenly is in desperate need of more camo. Southern boy!
* Cami roasts two whole chickens for supper one night – almost all on her own (minus the over part) and it’s delicious! Raddish Kids for the win!
* Start weekly small group at the Mangrums’ as we prepare to lead in the new year. Walking through Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith will be one of the sweetest, treasured seasons.
* Hank starts going hunting with his daddy.
* Cami and I bake our first pound cake and it. is. amazing.
* Letter a design for Lisa Whittle – another favorite author!
* Homeschool overnight field trip to Callaway Gardens with Mimi. Fun couple of days – cold and rainy, but thriving with homeschool and loving the flexibility!

OCTOBER was the month of
* discovering green smoothies and Kamut flour. Trying to make healthy choices when all I really want are carbs.
* Make my granny’s homemade chicken soup and it’s so comforting.
* Sell so many dozens of ombre’d fresh eggs. Gives me all the joy!
* Cami enters an original design into a kid’s contest at Blue Mountain Bakery.
* Design a logo for my friend, Chloe, and her new business, Third Bowl Pottery.
* Bake my first loaves of Kamut bread and I’m hooked!
* Preparing for and participating in the Creative Founders Conference At Home Experience as a SPEAKER! So surreal to be invited to speak and teach on Copywriting with Confidence. I LOVE helping and encouraging creative entrepreneurs!
* Family walks down our cul-de-sac street and taking pictures in the cotton.
* Learning and loving the art of watercolor from the best – my friend, Chloe Minyon at English Tea Paperie!
* A late night date night with my big girl, folding laundry, drinking hot chocolate with too much whipped cream and watching Hallmark movies.
* Discovering Morning By Morning Coffee for the first time and immediately declaring it a favorite.
* Impromptu photo sessions of Cate with all her chickens. Especially her favorite: Belle. Might be my favorite picture of her.
* Pumpkin painting party with the kiddos. So much creativity!

November was the month of:
* Christmas trees going up and bringing joy and magic to our home.
* Our new sectional delivered just in time for the holidays.
* Casting votes.
* Friends visiting the farm.
* Friday lunches at Carver’s Country Store.
* 30A Happy Day ornaments!
* Finding out that my 30A Happy Day design is in the top 5 finalists for the Best of Bonfire 2020! Blown away and stumbling over my words sharing on IG stories!
* Overnight trip with Mimi and Papa to see Chris, Ashley, and Blakely and cheer on the Roswell Hornets! Super cold, hard loss, but still so fun!
* Buy all the pottery from Third Bowl Pottery and it makes me happy.
* Design a logo for our family farm – cotton, peanuts, and corn are a must.
* Declutter our upstairs toys!
* Sign up for English Tea Paperie’s watercolor kit subscription to make sure the new year has no excuses for not creating for fun!
* Messaging randomly with author/friend Becky Thompson and discover she remembers me from her book launch team YEARS ago and still has an ornament I made her. She encourages me to write and I’ll treasure those words for a lifetime.
* Making Kamut turkey rolls for Thanksgiving that stole the show and tasted delicious.
* Turning 38 and laughing at how I thought was 38 2 years ago. Birthday dinner at Props – my favorite!

DECEMBER was the month of:
* Making all the candles.
* Dreaming up a new 30A design and seeing it come together in about 48 hours. Sharing it on social and getting all the excited feedback fuels the fun of creating what I love.
* Getting the news that I WON best Typography Design in Best of Bonfire 2020! BLOWN COMPLETELY AWAY!
* Finding out Cami’s design is one of two chosen as WINNERS for Blue Mountain Bakery’s kid design contest!
* Hank and Daddy get their first deer!
* Getting a packet of sweet pictures from a friend. Images of my grandparents and myself when I was my girls’ age. Stood in my kitchen and cried tears of joy and grief and love. My childhood was wonderful because I had the best grandparents.
* Had a Creative Entrepreneur interview published with Shoutout Atlanta!
* Took a chance and hand painted/lettered ornaments. I loved the process and sold a lot of them!
* Selling at a pop up shop at Mini Dixie Donuts with friends and being so thankful for the support I have all around – friends and family.
* Hosting Christmas small group and feeling a little sad while celebrating our group. Thankful just doesn’t do this feeling justice.
* Creating Putz Houses with Liza Snyder via her online workshop! New tradition – no doubt about it!
* Getting the most beautiful gift from my friend, Valerie McKeehan – her stunning art of a beach inspired by one of my pictures of 30A!
* Seeing the Christmas Star and wondering what the wise men actually saw. Thinking of that Christmas and what it looked like, while gazing at the heavens with my own sweet babes.
* Visits from friends who love my kids – lookin’ at you, Chantell!
* Making the most of family time, even though plans weren’t what we expected.
* Dreaming of and praying for what 2021 holds.

Make no mistake – this year held a lot of challenges, disappointments, and sorrow. We watched from a distance as friends and loved ones battled Covid, cancer, and the like – some of them lost. We’ve grieved not being able to be together as much as we wanted. We’ve worried about exposure, quarantines, CDC guidelines, and every single current event that splashed across the news screen. We’ve wondered what’s okay to say and what is not and whether silence is needed or speaking up is needed. It’s been hard to not see friends or meet for lunch or spend a day strolling Target or to just throw my things in the car when I want to comfort a friend hours away. I’m sure your year has been that way, too.

But let’s not forget to look for the light. Let’s not dismiss the importance of clinging to what is good – especially when it’s far easier to let the sorrow and sadness of an unexpected year surround us. There’s space and necessity to feel the grief and anger and disappointment, but resolve that feelings don’t get to steer the wheel in the direction you’ll go.

We serve a God greater than any heartache, than any loss, than any darkness we encounter. The Light has not been overcome. The darkness doesn’t have that kind of power.

If you’ve reached today and still find yourself disheartened at what the past 12 months have brought, take some time and make a list. Maybe aim for one good thing from each month to start. Scroll through your pictures in your camera roll. The posts on your social media. Take note of what brought joy, what makes you smile, what was meaningful and special and treasured.

As Lara Casey says, there’s nothing magical about January 1. Today is no less significant than tomorrow. Do what you can today to set yourself up for a brighter tomorrow.

This is our story. Tomorrow may be the first day of a new year, but it’s really the same story, new chapter. May the Lord find us grateful.

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