My Advice for High School Juniors

     Somehow summer has flown by once again and it’s already August, which means it’s time for Back to School posts!  Back to School posts are always some of my favorite posts to write, I love sharing advice and inspiration for a fresh start in the new school year!  Read my Back to School posts from years past here.  Each year I write something along the lines of “My Advice for…” or “10 Things I Wish I Knew Before…” in regards to the grade I just completed, and today I’m sharing my advice for high school juniors!  It’s no secret that junior year is one of the hardest, and today I’m sharing some things that will hopefully help you out in this intimidating year!  I also have a post called “10 Habits of a Successful High School Junior” scheduled for August 22nd so if you’re a junior and think you could use all the wisdom you can get be sure to come back!  Without further adieu, let’s get into the post!

  1. Go into the school year with a positive mindset. – I’m sure you’ve heard the most terrible horror stories about junior year, but like the wise Hannah Montana once sang, “life is what you make it.”  If you go into junior year dreading it and assuming it’s as bad as people say, you’re going to get off on the wrong foot with your teachers, then it might actually be the worst.  It’s all about perspective!  This year is important and will be challenging but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be all that bad.
  2. Know that your identity isn’t in your grades. – While junior year isn’t necessarily the worst, there’s a good chance that you’ll create a pretty overwhelming schedule for yourself between academic courses you believe your college of choice will notice and extracurriculars both that you want said college to see and that you’re genuinely interested in.  The times that I noticed myself and friends truly drowning in the stresses and struggles of the year were the times in which we found our identities solely in our academics.  If you forget that the best part about you is that your being is a collage of great qualities and interests and you begin to find your worth completely dependent on your GPA or AP U.S. History grade, your self esteem and happiness will fluctuate with the numbers.
  3. Actually do your homework. – Whether you’ve done it every single night of your school career so far or rarely open a textbook at home, this is the year to make sure you’re doing your homework.  Homework is often the only assignment you can guarantee a good grade on and no matter how little the grade counts, every little decimal point contributes to your average so it’s important that it’s always the best grade it can be.  Even if your teachers don’t check homework, it’s always important to do the assignments because homework is where you find out if you really know the material or not and from there you can ask for help with specific topics.
  4. Remember that boys are not everything. – For whatever reason, I feel like a lot of girls’ desperation for attention from guys rises dramatically junior year.  Maybe it’s the need for a distraction from all the AP work or validation somewhere else when the academics get tougher.  There’s obviously nothing wrong with having a boyfriend and I can’t tell you how to live your romantic life, but please remember that boys are not everything and you aren’t defined by any guy’s opinion of you.
  5. Surround yourself with people you actually want to be like. – This piece of advice goes for all of high school and even all of life.  It’s so important to remember that whether you like it or not, the people you hang around are going to contribute to your character and personal behavior.  This could be as simple as picking up some odd phrases they use or as significant as beginning illegal drug use.  To stay safe, make sure the people you spend the most time around are people you’d like to be like!  Over the past year or so I’ve begun to hang out with girls who’s character I genuinely like because I know if they rub off on me I’d be pretty happy about it.

Thanks for reading, I hope you found this advice helpful!  Have an awesome junior year, I’m praying for you!

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August Playlist 2018

     After a month of listening only to what our Work Crew bosses chose to play in the dining hall and laundry room and the worship music we sang in Work Crew meetings and club, I somehow haven’t been able to listen to much of anything else.  You’ll notice this month’s playlist has a much greater saturation of worship music than my typical playlist, but I promise each worship song I added is really that good, especially considering the fact that I’m usually not one to listen to a lot of worship music on my own.  My absolute favorites from this playlist are “Come Thou Fount,” “High Tops,” “Testify,” and LANY’s newest release that I missed while I was away, “Thru These Tears.”  Enjoy!


Tap on the name of a song below to listen to it on YouTube!

Come Thou Fount // My Friend // O Come to the Altar // High Tops // Testify // Reckless Love // Awake My Soul // Lonely Alone // Thru These Tears // Rescue // Shots (Broiler Remix) // Drive // In the Blood // Oh, Love That Will Not Let Me Go // Waiting

Thanks for reading!

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Summer Velvet

     As trendy as velvet has become over the past couple of years, I’ve heard more than once that it’s meant to be worn exclusively in winter and fall.  While I agree that velvet is perfect for holiday parties, I don’t think its wear should be so limited!  Today I’m sharing a summery styling of my favorite crushed velvet skirt.  This look is completely appropriate for a summer night or even a fun day out on the town!  Enjoy!

     I adore the versatility that comes with the blue velvet skirt’s dark hue, but to balance out the dark color for a brighter look I opted for a fun pink tee with ruffled sleeves.  This pink happens to match one of my favorite pairs of tassel earrings almost perfectly, so I thought they’d be a fun addition to the look!  Because the tassels are pretty loud on their own, I kept the rest of my jewelry pretty understated with my white pearl Kendra Scott Elisa pendant necklace, a few everyday bracelets, and my gold Kate Spade watch.  I decided to coordinate my shoes to my gold jewelry and reached for my gold Jack Rogers sandals.  I love this look’s contrast in colors and textures, how fun for a summer day!

top (similar) // skirt (similar) // sandals // earrings (no longer available in pink) // necklace // watch (similar) // MantraBand // cross bracelet // rose gold ring // gold stacked rings

Thanks for reading!

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Saranac Village Work Crew 2018

     I just had the best month of my life (so far, as my Work Crew bosses continuously reminded us…God has even bigger things planned) on Work Crew at YoungLife’s camp in New York’s Adirondacks; Saranac Village.  I spent a month of my summer, June 23rd through July 21st to be exact, cleaning bathrooms, worshipping, and living alongside forty-ish strangers that were all about my age, and as weird as that statement might sound, it was the best of times.  I’ve been trying to get this post together since I got back and I’ve found that there’s truly no way to recap or write a travel diary that would come close to encompassing my time on Work Crew at Saranac Village.  That being said, today I’m just sharing a few thoughts, memories, and lessons from this insanely memorable month as well as a ton of photos and a video I made.  Enjoy!

     As strong as I felt my faith had grown to be over the course of my high school years, I never truly found my strength in God or talked to Him as frequently as I did on Work Crew.  Yes, Work Crew was a ton of fun, but there comes a point when you’re picking the hair off of what feels like your trillionth shower wall and you just can’t find the will to keep going within yourself, that’s when it comes from Jesus.  Suddenly the reminder strikes you.  The reminder that everything, every single meticulous and disgusting thing you’re doing is for the purpose of showing high school kids like you the unconditional love of God.  Then cleaning toilets become less about how disgusting the bottom of the seat is and more about how you can pray for the open heart of every camper that sits on it.  While from the outside looking in Work Crew seems to be a voluntary service to show campers the best week of their lives at YoungLife camp, being on Work Crew does just as much for the individual volunteering as it does for the campers on the receiving end.  Being on Work Crew gave me a front row seat to some big miracles.  Being on Work Crew gave me a community like no other, one that prayed over people whenever anything went wrong and encouraged people no matter what they were doing.  Being on Work Crew taught me how to be patient with people that I don’t see eye to eye with and how to love people the way God does.  Being on Work Crew gave me new outlook and mission for my community at home.  Being on Work Crew enabled me to grow my faith in ways I didn’t even know where possible.  I can confidently say that I will never be the same.

     I only briefly mentioned that sweet community, but I could talk about each person on Work Crew for days on end.  My love for these people is endless, and I’d do anything to hear Kayla’s loud laugh or see Derren dance in person right now.  I don’t know what I did to deserve such an amazing group of people, but I know God planned for each and every one of us to be on Work Crew at Saranac for session two from the beginning of time.  There’s no other explanation for how every person on Work Crew clicked so well, like puzzle pieces.  God is too good to us and showed up in everyone on Work Crew in the coolest ways this month.  From our cabin huddling on the guide house dock in silence to watch the sunrise at 5:00 a.m. to the housekeeping crew’s late big cookie on Sunday nights, His presence was so clear in every moment.

     I honestly don’t even know what else to say about this month, other than that I’m ecstatic to reunite with everyone on Work Crew in Heaven.  I made the video below to a remix of one of the songs they played on repeat in the dining hall while bussing tables (I loved the song before Work Crew too but that sentimental connection is an added bonus) and I’d be lying if I said the quick flashing of happy faces around the two minute and thirty second mark didn’t bring tears to my eyes every time.  You probably won’t cry nearly as easily as I do since you don’t actually know these people, so I recommend you watch the video in HD by clicking the HD button in the bottom right corner of the video.

This video was created using iMovie.  All the clips were taken with a Canon EOS Rebel T6 and a Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC HSM lens.  The background song is “Take It All Back (BRKLYN Remix)” by Judah & The Lion.

     Below are twenty-four photos from Work Crew.  Yes, I know that’s probably an excessive amount but I was there for a month and the property was stunning and I couldn’t leave any of these memories out.  Sorry!

This might seem strange but I’d really like to close this post in a prayer if that’s alright with y’all.

     Hey God, thank you for my month at Saranac Village.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet and serve alongside some of the best friends I’ll ever have.  Thank you for showing me what it means to be a servant, what it means to be a disciple, and what it means to be a friend.  Thank you for the peak of our Sabbath days and the dirtiest camper bathroom and every moment in between.  Amen.

 Thanks for reading!

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Achievement Report on My Goals fro the 2017-2018 School Year

     In September of the 2017-2018 school year (my junior year), I included a post about my goals for the year in my back to school series (read that post here).  I updated y’all on my progress with those goals before going back for second semester in January (read that post here) and today I’m giving you a final report!  When I wrote the original post I intended to write this followup within a week after finishing the year, but seeing as a couple of my goals revolved around AP exam scores, which aren’t released until July (while I was on Work Crew), I had to wait until after Work Crew to write this.  I hope you like seeing my accomplishments this year, posting the goals for y’all to see at the beginning of the year was a great way to hold myself accountable!  The original goals are in italics under their categories and my end of year responses follow each one in plain print.  Enjoy!

Academic Goals

  1. Complete the school year with all A’s and B’s. – I did it!  A couple of my B’s were lower than I would’ve liked them to be but overall I’m pretty proud of my work!
  2. Be somewhat successful in AP Environmental Science (Science isn’t really my best subject.  It’s not that I’m really bad at it, I just typically don’t perform as well in that subject as I do in my other classes). – I finished with a B in AP Environmental Science and got a 4 on the AP exam, so I’d say I was pretty successful!
  3. Get a 100 on a test. – As far as I can recall I didn’t receive a 100 on a test, but I had several A’s and even had a 99 on an essay!
  4. Make 4’s and 5’s on my three AP exams at the end of the year. – I received all 4’s on my AP exams!

Athletic Goals

  1. Attend as many preseason lacrosse practices as possible. – I attended all of the preseason lacrosse practices and conditioning workouts offered!
  2. Work out more. – I’m not going to lie, this was a goal I didn’t really fulfill.  I didn’t prioritize my fitness amidst the craziness of junior year, good thing I play a sport to stay in shape!
  3. Play more in lacrosse games than I did last year. – I played a little bit more in games than I did last year but not a ton.
  4. Make the varsity lacrosse team again. – I did make the varsity lacrosse team again this year!
  5. Score a goal during a varsity lacrosse game. – This year my coach switched me to defense, so this goal was a little more impractical than I expected it to be and I didn’t achieve it.

Spiritual Goals

  1. Make lots of new middle school friends as a WyldLife leader. – I loved leading Wyldlife this year and I’m so glad I decided to be a leader!  My two trips to camp with my eighth grade were two of my greatest YoungLife camp experiences.  I’m excited to continue leading this coming school year!
  2. Go to YoungLife club every week that I possibly can. – I don’t think I missed a single YoungLife club this year!
  3. Feel refreshed after fall weekend at Windy Gap (a YoungLife camp in North Carolina). – This trip to Windy Gap was the best yet (read my Windy Gap travel diary here) and I’m so sad this fall’s trip will be my last!
  4. Read the Bible daily. – I didn’t really pick up the Bible much first semester but I did an awesome job with this throughout second semester as y’all saw in my “Bible Time” Instagram stories!
  5. Pray more often. – I definitely started praying more throughout junior year but since YoungLife Work Crew in July I’ve begun praying all the time.
  6. Use my devotional daily. – Sadly I didn’t use a devotional at all in my junior year, but I’ve begun using a couple this summer after Work Crew!
  7. Go to winter weekend with Wyldlife campers as a leader. – I had the greatest time on winter weekend with my Wyldlife girls at Carolina Point!  I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to go with them not only to winter weekend but also to summer camp (read my post about winter weekend here and my post about summer camp here)!
  8. Apply for a session of YoungLife Work Crew. – I applied and was accepted to be a part of YoungLife Work Crew at Saranac Village second session and let me tell you, it was the best month ever.

Social Goals

  1. Make five new friends (or at least acquaintances). – I definitely made more than five new friends junior year between the yearbook staff, my prom group, and lacrosse season.
  2. Do something really fun one weekend with a friend(s). – I attended Music Midtown (read the recap post here) in September with a couple of my friends and also went to Charleston with my two best friends in January (read the travel diary here)!

Blog Goals

  1. Post at least twice a week every week. – This goal wasn’t reached due to a couple busy weeks and a blogging and social media hiatus from mid-April to mid-May as I focused on AP exams!
  2. Reach 20,000 total site views for 2017. – This goal was reached and surpassed, thanks to you all!
  3. Collaborate with a big brand. – I collaborated with lots of small brands and spent another whole year as a Jadelynn Brooke high school ambassador, but didn’t collaborate with another big brand.
  4. Host at least three giveaways. – I reached my goal and hosted three!

Thanks for reading!  I definitely recommend making yourself a list of goals like this at the start of the 2018-2019 school year!  Would you like to see me do this again?  Let me know in the comments below!

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Five Favorites; July 2018

     There are no words for how quickly July flew by.  I spent the majority of July serving as a housekeeper on Work Crew at YoungLife’s Saranac Village (check back on Thursday for a post on Work Crew including a video!), then shortly after coming home I went on a weekend trip to North Carolina with my friend, and now I’m spending the final two days of the month at a yearbook workshop.  As a result of the chaos contained by July, this month’s edition of “Five Favorites” includes a lot of things that have been critical to my month of service and travel.  This is my sixth “Five Favorites” post, so if you’re interested in reading my favorites of January, February, March, May, and June you can check them out herehere, here, here, and here!  Enjoy!

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  1. Bath and Body Works Twilight Woods Fine Fragrance Mist – I’ve bought this body spray over and over again and I never tire of this scent!  Having it while I was on Work Crew was a total lifesaver, it was perfect to freshen up in a short break between work and an event in which I didn’t have time to take a shower!
  2. Kendra Scott Danielle Gold Statement Earrings in White Pearl – I’ve had these gorgeous earrings for almost two years and I’ve always loved them, but I’ve especially loved using them to dress up my fancy night outfits while on Work Crew!  They’re super versatile and add so much to an outfit.
  3. Voluspa Macaron Candle in Rose Petal Ice Cream – My sweet little sister bought this candle for me as a late birthday gift while we were in San Diego and I’m obsessed.  I don’t even know how to describe how it smells, it just smells amazing!  The gorgeous pink candle jar is an added bonus.
  4. Candy Cane Chapstick – This chapstick is my absolute favorite!  It lasts for a pretty long time and the flavor’s a little sweeter than your typical peppermint!
  5. May Designs 40 Days of Prayer + Gratitude Journal – I’m going to be honest, prayer doesn’t come super naturally to me.  In my time on Work Crew, I learned to turn to God in prayer with everything, and this journal played a big part in that!  Writing down the things I want to pray for as well as the things I’m thankful for has really helped me get into a habit of constant prayer and reminds me of all the blessings of the day, even when it feels like a bad one.  After my YoungLife leader gave me this journal as a birthday gift, I waited to start it on day zero of Work Crew (arrival day) and am almost finished with it!  I absolutely recommend this journal no matter where you are in life right now but I think it’s an especially awesome tool to have while on Work Crew!

Thanks for reading!

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