Merry New Year!!!!!

I haven't blogged in FOREVER!!!

Life is so crazy these days. I'm sure you guys know. Between kids and well, more kids, I'm not exactly sure when I have time to breathe! Lol

Christmas Break is especially hectic. There are four kids running around my house ALL THE TIME!

Nana has graciously offered to take them for a couple days because if I had to hear the whining battle cry of an 8, 6, 4 and 3 year old scream out, "There's nothing to DO!!!!" one more time after we JUST had Christmas and they got approximately 203,840,923,892 new toys, I might not survive the day.

Seriously. I feel like the worst kind of hoarder! Meanwhile they're bored out of their obnoxious precious minds.

I can't complain too much though. I do love that we haven't had homework or projects or all the trips to school and back and the being on time (Oy! The being on time!) and the constant grind of daily school life that puts life on fast forward and makes me feel like a hamster in a perpetually spinning wheel.

I love having these monsters home with me. Even when they try to murder each other... brawl and scream and make giant messes in every room of the house... punch each other in the faces... gently argue or mildly complain.

Plus I get to sleep in every morning!!!! Whoo hoo for that!

I had to write a blog today to tell you all a late MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!! And an early HAPPY NEW YEARS!!!!

I love love love this time of year!!! I mean, there's Christmas. Which is awesome. I have always loved it of course, but the kids make it unbelievably special. And after having four of them, I can suddenly and very sincerely relate to Mary a whole stinking lot.

I imagine her 9 months pregnant and riding a donkey all the way to freaking Bethlehem. THEN, I picture her in a barn, giving birth for the very first time at seventeen to THE SON OF GOD and you guys. You. Guys. I get so emotional!!! I mean, Gah!!!

Christmas has never meant more to me than it did this year. And it was lovely.

I hope yours was too. And that you were surrounded by loved ones and happiness and that you were simply overjoyed.

And now for New Years!!!

I can't even believe that we are days away from 2016. I'm not even sure what happened to 2015. It passed by in a blink and I'm left scrambling and trying to figure out where the year went and how time works and why my kids are suddenly so big.

But honestly, I love the New Year. I love everything that it symbolizes and how much there is to anticipate.

Most of all, I really love resolutions!!! I LOVE setting them. I love setting aside a couple hours and soul-searching, finding out where I want to go and what goals I want to reach. I love conquering those goals. And I really love crossing them off the list.

Nothing feels better than taking my beloved Sharpie pen and making a nice squiggly slash straight through that once never-reached milestone.

And after the year is finished and I've somehow survived 365 days of struggle and life and kids and career and love and sadness and hopelessness and hope and good times and bad, I love looking back at the year and seeing how far I've come, how far I stretched myself and demanded more of myself and accomplished and succeeded and where there is yet to go.

2015 was one of the hardest years of my life.

And one of the absolute best.

Isn't it funny how God does that?

I have never had such struggles with writing and such blessings. I've never had so much success or so little. Until this year, I had never quite seen the farthest depths of those valleys or the highest peaks of those mountaintops.

And in the pain and despair there was such sense of belonging. And in the incredible success and joyous accomplishments, there was fear and unknown futures and intense anxiety.

My job, I'm afraid, is like most everything else in life. There is good. There is bad. There just is...

This is the very reason I set goals. And I am a giant goal setter. I have one year goals and five year goals and ten year goals. I have monthly goals. And weekly goals. And daily goals.

Right now I have an hourly goal of finishing this blog, putting away the folded laundry, doing the dishes and getting ready for our double date tonight.

I don't think I'm going to reach it. :)

I'm all about goals because I refuse to let them make me feel anything but driven and hopeful. I refuse to feel like a failure when my goals go unmet. I refuse to let the easy negativity of human nature steal my joy and give me anything less than purpose.

This is why New Years Resolutions are so exciting to me! I accomplished a lot in 2015 and I cannot wait to accomplish even more in 2016!!!

It's all about perspective. The perspective you choose. The perspective you gift yourself with.

So here's a Top 10 list of Resolutions I reached in 2015!!! Each one is a small celebration! And I cannot wait to write my list for 2016!

1. Keep up with the laundry.

I set a goal to do laundry every Tuesday and Friday. I met it! For the most part... :) I now have a laundry routine. One that I stick to religiously, knowing that if I do laundry on Tuesdays and Fridays, I'll have a blissful few laundry-free days in between! (It should be noted that since laundry is my most hated household chore, I have a laundry resolution every single year. The year before, I resolved to fold every load as it came out of the dryer. I've stuck to that one too!)

2. Church.

I wanted to make church more of a priority in our lives. And I am happy to say that as a family we took this step together. Sunday mornings are something we look forward to and I started teaching a Bible Study on Thursday mornings.

3. Finish the Siren Series!!!

My goal was by February... The Heart didn't come out until June. But it did finally come out!!!!! I am so super proud of that series and I'm so happy it's finally finished!

4. Write Two Adult Contemp Books!

And I did. The Five Stages of Falling in Love came out in January and Every Wrong Reason released in September!!! Those books have brought me some of my biggest success and I cannot believe I actually wrote them. I'm still trying to wrap my head around adult contemp and yet I have two to my name! What?!?!

5. Reach 5,000 Facebook Likes.

This was a huge career goal for me. And it might sound silly to other people, but I was so happy to reach 5k Likes!!! What does it mean in the grand scheme of something?? Maybe nothing. But for me, it was a milestone that I had been working towards for four years. It was quite an exciting day for me! :)

6. Go to Signings!

Before 2015, I had only one signing under my belt! But during the year 2015, I signed at 5 different events and made my way around half the country!!!!

We also picked up a lot of beer on these road trips! :)

7. Make More Time for Family.

I have workaholic tendencies. They can get bad. I am super task-oriented, despite what this blog is telling you. When I start a project, I can only see that project and it takes a huge jolt to my system to break me out of tunnel vision. This is especially true with books. I can easily write for 12-15 hours a day if I'm not interrupted. But my kids are little and they're beautiful and I miss so much of their lives when I put my head down and focus only on work. I made it a point this year to slow down with my projects and focus on family. I only released three full length books this year and a season of Love and Decay. In some ways that feels like disappointment when I think of all the other books I wanted to publish this year. But then I pick my head up and look at everything else I got to do instead. Like swimming with my kids over the summer. And spending time with good friends in a book club. I got to take girl trips and focus on beloved friends. I watched TV with my husband and played board games with him and went on dates that will mean everything to me as we grow older. I focused on extended family when they came to town and I learned to balance life and work. Even if that means I didn't publish everything I wanted to. Even if that means I had to slow down and remember how to be a real person and not just a blurry image of one.

It was surprisingly hard.

But so worth it.

8. Hit a Bestsellers List.

This was an impossible one to me! It was one of those far-reaching goals I didn't actually expect to make. I'd set the goal before and for years it had gone unmet and unreached. And yet, middle of 2015, I was asked to be part of a box set that went on to hit the New York Times Bestsellers list AND the USA Today Bestsellers list. I was beyond shocked. I still am. And this is why I set goals. So I can surprise even myself!

9. Win an Award.

I had only ever been nominated for one literary award prior to 2015. And yet 2015 happened and I was nominated for four awards!!! And I won two of them!!!! See??? Goals people!!! Aren't they beautiful.

10. Personal Health.

I have a lot of these goals. And it seems that days pass and I never even remember I wanted to improve my body. But I took major steps this year when I started a serious campaign to take care of my skin. This might seem silly to you, but when I set resolutions, I make sure they encompass Body, Mind and Spirit in both Personal Places and Professional Aspirations. I have a lot of Body goals. And most days I give them up because I love soda and chocolate and I forget to take care of me in the middle of taking care of my house or my kids or my husband or my writing. But this year I started seriously taking care of my skin. I found products I love and a system that works for my busy schedule. This truly feels like an accomplishment and I cannot wait to tackle my next goals.

The best part of setting goals is knowing you have the power to reach them. It might take years. Or they might manifest in different ways than you expected. But we are humans. And humans can do anything they set their minds to. Sure, it takes self-discipline and irrepressible drive, but we have those beautiful things inside of all of us. They're just waiting for us to use them. They're dying for us to simply try.

I encourage you to set Resolutions this year. I encourage you to look on them with optimism and hope. I encourage you to push yourself beyond your limits and out, way, way, way out of your comfort zone.

Because that's where the best of life is waiting for you.

The very best.

And don't get down when you fail or struggle or the year goes by and your accomplishment list is far shorter than the list you set out to conquer.

I shared ten happily met resolutions. But that was a list out of thirty. And for every goal met, I failed at three.

But the ones I met were pretty amazing to me. They changed my life in the biggest ways. And now I have a head start on what to hope for for next year!!!

So, here's to a year gone, a year past, a year that we were our best selves with our best lives. And here's to 2016, where we will go forth with vigor and passion and a drive to conquer the hell out of it.

Here's to the best self we have yet to be and the best life we have yet to live.

And to the best of everything just waiting for us to try.


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