Best of 2014

by Lesley on December 31, 2014 · 2 comments

in best of the year


Dear friends,

Can you believe the year is over? We’re celebrating at home tonight and I’m looking forward to a hike and yoga tomorrow to start 2015 on the right note.

Every year (except last year!) I put together a list of some of my favorite things. Without further adieu, here they are! I wish you a safe and happy end to 2014 with hopeful wishes for all the next one brings.

Best of 2014 Reads 

Best of 2014 Music (you can listen to most of these on my Spotify playlist.)

  • California- U2
  • Budapest- George Ezra
  • I Dream of You- JJ Heller
  • A Life That’s Good- Nashville Cast, Lennon & Maisy
  • Greater- Mercy Me
  • Broken Hallelujah- The Afters
  • Oceans- Hillsong United
  • Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
  • Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars
  • All About That Bass- Meghan Trainor

Best of 2014 Movies/TV (please, can I note, I barely even saw any movies this year!)

  • Boyhood
  • Gone Girl
  • Twenty Feet From Stardom
  • About Time (2013, but whatever.)
  • Tiny
  • If there were a podcast honor, it would go to Serial, of course. Maybe next year I’ll add a Favorite Podcasts award

Best Websites/Blogs of 2014 

Best Recipes

Surprising things that worked for me in 2014

  • We subscribed to the Sunday paper. Even though it often takes me until Tuesday to read it, I still get excited when I see it on our driveway each week. I think it helps me to slow down a little bit.
  • I started charging my phone in the bathroom at night. I hated that my phone was the last thing I touched at night, and the first thing I looked at in the morning. Got myself an old school alarm clock, and BAM, some mornings I don’t get on the dumb device until 9:00am. (Note: I still have a long, long way to go with my phone habits.)
  • We got a YMCA membership. This has been key to my health and sanity in 2014. I always thought a gym membership wouldn’t be worth the cost but let me assure you…it is. I took Pilates classes over the summer and now I run on the treadmill a few days a week while the kids play at Kids’ Club. I dropped a few of the pesky baby pounds that were still bothering me, and I feel strong again.
  • I started growing out my hair and re-discovered my natural waves. The result? I’m blowdrying MUCH much less, and using my straight iron just a few days a week. You guys, my primping time has been cut in half! Santa Barbara has me embracing that natural sea waves look, and I love it.

Memorable Moments of 2014

  • Fancy Italian dinner in Tahoe with Zach, Dana and Jonathan after a windy ski day at Heavenly. I needed that night away, desperately.
  • Seahawks Superbowl Party, while potty training Anna. That was funny.
  • Two life changing phone calls from Jonathan, at work, when my stomach dropped and my heart leapt, and I knew we were moving.
  • My last girls’ bible study in Sacramento
  • The “I’ll have two desserts” night on my college girls’ Carnival Cruise weekend
  • Time alone in a Salt Lake City hospital room with my Grandpa Frank, a few days before he passed away. He told me to write, and I will.
  • Giving my testimony at Goleta MOPS
  • Stormy weekday jacuzzi and pool play in the Outer Banks with Jonathan’s family
  • The look on Anna’s face when she saw her birthday bounce house
  • Celebrating Owen’s first birthday at the beach with family
  • Anna’s first day of preschool
  • Katie’s wedding (and finally getting to participate in a flash mob)
  • Post chapel lunch during Homecoming weekend– 10 year reunion!
  • Thai food and Lincoln Memorial night in Washington DC
  • Watching Anna sing during her preschool and church Christmas performances

I’d love to hear some of your favorites in 2014. Write your own post and link to it in the comment section, or, simply leave a few thoughts. Happy New Year!



Completing and Remembering 2014

by Lesley on December 30, 2014 · 3 comments

in goals



“As the year comes to an end, don’t look back at yesterday’s disappointment. Look ahead to God’s promises yet to unfold.”  Buky Ojelabi

Before I had kids, I used to spend the Christmas/ New Year’s holiday in front of the fireplace. I would read for hours on end, watch movies, eat, and work on the following questions. I loved having the time and space to process my prior year and dream about the next one. Of course now that we have young children, my “holiday” weekend isn’t really a holiday. Long gone are the restful hours in front of a roaring fire but I’m still planning on a little bit of alone time. I am hoping to sneak off this coming weekend for a few hours so I can work on completing, remembering and dreaming…and I hope you can too!

Instructions for completing this document: Do NOT let these questions bring you stress. Not sure what to write? Skip it! Depending on the year, some of the questions can feel redundant but most of the time I find they force me to think about my life with new eyes. Also, don’t let these questions make you feel guilty or disappointed in yourself. I have a tendency to dream big, which means that many years I don’t hit my goals. That’s okay! By dreaming big, I find that I do often hit many of the things I set out to accomplish. I also find that God surprises me with bigger and better purposes along the way.

Completing and Remembering 2014

What was your biggest triumph in 2014?

What was the smartest decision you made in 2014?

What one word best sums up and describes your 2014 experience?

What was the greatest lesson you learned in 2014?

What was the most loving service you performed in 2014?

What is your biggest piece of unfinished business in 2014?

Who were the three people that had the greatest impact on your life in 2014?

What was the biggest risk you took in 2014?

What was the biggest surprise in 2014?

What important relationship improved the most in 2014?

What else do you need to do or say to be complete with 2014?


Creating 2014

What would you like to be your biggest triumph in 2015?

What advice would you like to give yourself in 2015?

What is the major effort are you planning to improve your financial results in 2015?

What would you be most happy about completing in 2015?

What major indulgence are you willing to experience in 2015?

What would you most like to change about yourself in 2015?

What are you looking forward to learning in 2015?

What do you think your biggest risk will be in 2015?

What relationship do you want to improve in 2015?

Who is a friend you’d like to intentionally pursue in 2015?

What about your work are you most committed to changing and improving in 2015?

What is one as yet undeveloped talent you are willing to explore in 2015?

What brings you the most joy and how are you going to do or have more of that in 2015?

Who or what, other than yourself, are you most committed to loving and serving in 2015?

Are there any commitments I need to break in 2015 because I’m too busy?

What one word would you like to have as your theme in 2015?


Together, as a couple:

What are the things we are grateful for this last year?

What brought us the most joy in 2014?

What is our best memory that we created together in 2014?

How did we best serve each other in 2014?

What are we most proud of accomplishing together in 2014?

What do we most want to improve in our marriage in 2015?

What do we want to do to improve our financial situation in 2015?

Are there any big purchases we need to save for?

What do we want to do to support each other spiritually? Physically? Emotionally? Work-wise?

As parents, what is the most important thing for us to focus on this year as we raise our children?

What hopes do we have for our children in 2015?

Recap (one sentence each):

My spiritual goal(s) for 2015:

My physical goal(s) for 2015:

My parenting goal(s) for 2015:

My professional/work goal(s) for 2015:

My/our financial goal(s) for 2015:

Our marriage goal(s) for 2015:

My/our travel goal(s) for 2015:


Let me know if you complete this document! And if you’re really brave, I’d love to hear a few of your goals or big “ah ha” realizations after finishing.



The plans not in my heart

by Lesley on December 29, 2014 · 2 comments

in goals,lessons learned


Every year I like to do a self-check of sorts. Did I accomplish the 582 goals I set at the beginning of the year? What were some of my best accomplishments? Where did I fail? Usually I share some these musings on the ol’ blog, but this year I’ve decided not to do so.

In 2013 I wrote a post called Is There Anything Wrong With Making Plans? In it I argued we can and should make plans for our life, but we must never forget that we are the first mate, not the Captain. She knew that many were the plans in her heart, but that God’s purpose would prevail. Proverbs 19:21

Instead of writing out what I accomplished this year, I thought it would be fun to write some of the ways that God’s purpose prevailed in my life over the last year. Here are a few things that we didn’t plan for, or cross off, a bucket list. 

God uprooted us from Sacramento and moved us to Santa Barbara (never saw that coming!)

I became editor at Kidaround, and began a new chapter in my writing career (never saw that coming either!)

We became home group leaders, and I joined the MOPS table leader team. (Love these ministries so much!)

Even though I don’t usually love children’s ministry, I’m an activity leader for Anna’s church class. (And, I’m enjoying it!)

Despite my plans for 2014, God had much bigger ones, yes? If you are finishing this year with regrets or failed dreams, I want to encourage you. Not every year is full of big changes such as a move, or a new baby, or a job change. Not every year will go down in history as life changing. But we can count on God to be present and working every single year of our life. Put your plans and dreams in His hands and let him surprise you along the way. 

Over the next few days I’ll sit down and work on my Completing and Remembering document. I plan to post these questions on the blog tomorrow (check back!) in case anyone wants a new goal setting sheet for 2015. (I’ll also be back with a 2014 BEST OF post!)



Christmas in our hearts

by Lesley on December 20, 2014 · 0 comments

in christmas


I entered December with one MAIN goal: NO Christmas stress.

This year, and the years to come, I want joy to be on our lips and peace in our hearts. I know some Christmas seasons will be easier than others when it comes to not stressing, but so far this year has been truly restful and magical. We’ve done lots of fun activities like the Westmont Pickle Tree lighting, Santa parade, cookie baking, gingerbread house decorating, and viewing Christmas lights. We’ve also worked through a queue of Netflix movies, gone on beach walks, and read our advent book each morning. The sweetest part of my month has been listening to Silent Night in our car, and watching Anna do all the hand motions in the backseat. (She’s working very hard to prepare for the Christmas show at church…and if she has her parents’ lack of vocal skills, then she’s a very wise young lady to focus on the hand movements.)

A few Christmas books we are enjoying:

Humphrey’s First Christmas (Gorgeous illustrations and a funny and touching read for parents and kids. It tells the Nativity story from the perspective of a self absorbed camel.)

Little Blue Truck Christmas (Because my kids can’t get enough of Little Blue Truck!)

A few posts I’ve written that might inspire you during this season:

Do something with your Christmas guilt

The world is waiting

A few of my favorite Christmas posts from others:

Christmas with a baby (This video is SO funny, especially if you have a human wrecking ball baby/young toddler this holiday season.)

Mary & Jesus Christmas video  (Makes me cry every time I watch it.)

Also, not Christmas related, did you catch my post about Serial over on Her.meneutics? I’m so happy to be back there posting after an almost 2.5 year hiatus! 



Motherhood + Writing

by Lesley on December 16, 2014 · 0 comments

in motherhood,writing

MW Lesley

I’m over on Emily C. Gardner’s site today talking about motherhood and writing. For any fellow creatives who struggle to make art in this busy season of child raising, I hope a peak at my life might help you feel less alone. Make sure you read many of the other posts in her motherhood + writing series from other writer moms.

Thank you, Emily, for having me today! Read more…

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