hebrews 12


I have tried to write a positive post a thousand times. I want to give you something, but I cannot keep spitting out negativity. Life is busy and stressful and crazy, and at the end of the day I have to remind myself that it is ultimately good.  God has a purpose for this season and the place that he has put us for this time. At the heart of it all, I believe that. Now is the time for perseverance.  I’ll leave you with these pictures since I have trouble with words now:





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became the stones

Two weeks ago today, I married the love of my life.  It’s hard to describe a day like that, so I will let the pictures do most of the talking.  However, I will say that the things I expected to care about most didn’t matter (aka, all the little details), and certain things took me by surprise.  (When my dad and I walked in during the ceremony, I was shocked to see so many people there to celebrate our wedding–one sweet surprise I will treasure…then all I could see was Cason for the rest of the ceremony.)   Ultimately, the wedding was a sweet celebration of the path we will walk down together.  Here’s a sneak peek of the photos:

never-ending to-do list

Wonderful things happened in 2014: I finished my first semester of graduate school, and I learned so many new things.  I went to Washington, D.C. and Costa Rica for the first time, which satisfied my wanderlust for the time being.  I planned a wedding with Cason, whom I love dearly.  Our precious nephew was born.  Our time away in Texas made our visits with family even sweeter.  2014 was by no means a “bad year,” but it was difficult at times.

Despite all the wonderful things that happened this past year, the overwhelming theme of 2014 was “the never-ending to-do list.”  No, it wasn’t all bad, but there was certainly a constant feeling of taking two steps forward and one step back.  I felt it with my school work, my graduate assistantship, my practicum work, my relationships, and within myself.  I constantly has something I needed to get done, wanted to do better, or wish I had time to do.  Yet, it never seemed like things were finished, even for a moment, an evening, a weekend.  To say that 2014 was a busy year would be an understatement.  Perhaps I let little things get to me more than they should have.  Perhaps there were just a lot of changes to adjust to.  Regardless, the hope is that 2015 will be an improvement upon 2014.

One thing I learned this year is that expectation is everything.  When expectations are too high or fail to match reality, stress builds.  In the next year, my ultimate goal is to manage my time better and carve out specific time to be intentional with personal growth and with Cason.  During the latter part of this year, I spent loads of time stressing over things (mostly school) and not actually doing anything (studying, anyone?).  I stressed out about things so much that I was no longer productive.  The goal this year is to stress less over school and manage my time so that I will maximize productivity.  Better time management and increased productivity in school allows more time to devote to Cason, to family, to friends, and to myself.

Wow, talk about a new year’s resolution.  Time management is a huge task to take on, but I have lots of plans in the works to manage my time wisely and prioritize the things that need more of my attention.  Realistically, there are many more things on the to-do list for the upcoming year, but I want to find joy in all of those things.  I want to learn to set realistic expectations and helpful timelines for myself.  My goal is to grow personally in this area this year, and I hope you’ll stick with me as I walk down this path in 2015!


Don’t forget about my 101 in 1001 list as well!  It runs through 2017, but there are plenty of exciting things that I will be updating about in the upcoming months!

Happy 2015, y’all!

Influenster for the Win

Lots of exciting things are happening right now! We’re just over a month away from the wedding, and we won a beautiful website from Riley and Grey via Influenster.  I’ve been obsessed with their websites from the beginning, and of course I would win a free one now that we’re so close to the wedding.  Exciting still!

Speaking of Influenster, I’ve had nothing short of a wonderful experience with their programs.  I featured one of my favorite boxes a few months ago–the Vow Vox Box.  It had loads of goodies for me as a bride-to-be, including a facial sponge, moisturizer, nail polish, shaving cream, Tide-to-go, and a Riley and Grey coupon. It was through this VoxBox promotion that I went on to win a free Riley and Grey website ($240 value) and 3 Sally Hansen nail polishes.  And the whole process is super easy!  Once you create an account and receive your first box, snap a few pics and share them on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, whatever you have!  The more you share, the better your chances of winning even more free things!  How great is that?

And if that’s not enough for you, hundreds of other users post reviews for hundreds of products daily! Wanting to try that new makeup, but you’re not sure if it’s worth the money?  Check out reviews from other users to see if it’ll be worth it for you!  Leave your own feedback and increase your chances of being considered for trial products and new promotions!

I can’t say enough good things about Influenster and their programs! Need a referral? Let me know so you can get in on the fun and freebies!


a prickly blanket of emotions

Preface: Even though I don’t feel that constant, life-consuming depression these days, there are still moments where it feels like the world could fall apart at any moment.  There are things that I absolutely despise about the very nature of depression, and I just had to share that today…

  1. It is inherently selfish.  I get caught up in how I feel and how I wish things were.  I feel like people don’t “get it;” they don’t understand.  And consequently that makes it harder for me to “get” other people.  I hate this because I love being the empathetic, understanding person I’ve been since childhood. (And I think people may disagree with me here if they don’t understand what I’m saying.  To be clear, I think selfishness is a side-effect, if not a main component, of depression; it deserves treatment, not judgement.  I don’t believe we consciously choose to be selfish individuals, but we suffer with a disease that attacks our reasoning and our concern for others.  We don’t chose that anymore than someone with the flu chooses to sneeze and cough. That being said, we have many tools at our disposal which we can use to fight against this.)
  2. It has no regard for perspective. Depression says, “Oh, other people have it worse?  Well, what I’m going through is the worst thing I am experiencing.”  It goes back to that selfishness, and I hate it.  I really do, because I honestly feel like I am a person sensitive to the plights of others.    I feel like depression steals that from me some days, and it makes me just wanna smack it in the face.
  3. It’s a long-term battle.  Depression isn’t a cold that you take medicine and get over.  It’s a battle and it involves a lifetime of keeping on your toes and guarding your heart.  It strikes at any moment for any reason and it sucks. The second you drop your guard or lean a little less on Christ, depression sneaks in and steals joy.  Is it hopeless?  No, there’s definitely healing, and I praise God for that.  But it’s something to be vigilant against.  There will never be a day that I tell my friends, “Hey, I beat depression forever; you don’t have to pray about that anymore.”  I’ll take all the prayers I can get, even on my best days.
  4. It thrives in the past.  So it’s been a week, a month, heck, a year since you royally screwed up.  You’ve cut out toxic people from your life and vowed never to let them back in.  But what does depression do?  You’re having one tiny bad day–everyone has them–and suddenly you’re in the past thinking of all the things you could of done differently.  Who has time for that?  Not me.  You know what I have time for?  Grace.  Forgiveness. Leaving my burdens at the cross and refusing, no, REFUSING to pick them back up again.

    I don’t necessarily agree with the “good person” part, but I specifically like the last 2 sentences.

I hate that I have to go through it, but more than that I hate that others feel this way and do it alone.

Then, I wonder why we go through life trying to make things more difficult for everyone, ourselves included, when we could be making thingseasier.  I honestly think we try to make life difficult for people.  Why?  We could be encouraging one another.  We could be sharing each other’s burdens.  We could be encouraging others to give their burdens to Christ.  Gosh, please stop picking up that same burden to bear when He’s already taken it upon himself to carry for you.


Have you ever felt that way?  Have you ever thought that someone in your life right now might be feeling that way?  What are we doing each day to make life a little easier for the next person?  Shoot, I get it.  Life isn’t easy.  It’s not necessarily supposed to be easy.  But is there some cosmic rule that because life is cruel that we’re just allowed to contribute to that?  I absolutely don’t get it.

Most days I’m terrible about this myself, but I want to grow; I want to be better.  So I’m gonna do my best to cut the drama.  I’m not gonna sit around and talk about you behind your back. If I have a concern, I’m going straight to the source.  I’m not going to hold a grudge; I’ll have forgiveness and grace and compassion.  I’m not going to hold on to things of the past; they’re ancient history.  I’m moving forward in Christ, and I’m going to lean on him, especially when it gets hard.
I’m going to mess up, and on those days, I will receive God’s grace.  On those days, I’ll invite you to show me grace and compassion.  Maybe life isn’t perfect, but we could do more to make it better.  Let’s do that, shall we?

how I survived my first year in graduate school

As I start my second year of grad school, I’d like to reflect on how I managed to survive that first year.  It wasn’t easy, let me tell you.  I constantly relied on God, a wonderful support system of friends and family, and the wisdom and insight of my professors. Here are a few more things that helped me finish my first year as a Baylor graduate student…

I constantly remind myself of why I’m here: At the end of this second semester, a powerful thought hit me: Everything that I learn here applies to real people with real struggles. My first year learning about school psychology morphed the way I interact with people, especially in my graduate assistantship.  I’ve put strategies into place and noticed that I’m already helping people. I pull from articles I’ve read about study strategies and use techniques from my counseling classes, and I don’t know why, but sometimes I’m surprised to hear people say that I’m really helping. Below are just a few examples of things my undergrad students have told me since August:

  • “I hadn’t thought of that before.  That could really work for me!”
  • “What am I going to do without you next semester?”
  • “Thank you for all of your help!”

    While these statements are fairly simple in nature, in the context of all the struggles that my students experience each semester, these statements are huge!


I set aside “me time:” I quickly learned that if I wasn’t careful, I could easily spend all of my free time either working on homework or worrying about my courses. However, it took me a bit longer to realize that I needed to carve out time each day for myself. Whether I’m reading a book for fun, reading other blogs, searching through Pinterest, watching a silly show, or just sitting quietly–I learned to find things that I enjoyed and make time for those.

I share what I’ve learned:  As a school psychologist, I will be an advocate for my students.  The best way I know to do that now is to share what I’m learning in my classes.  I talk with my family and friends pretty regularly about articles I’ve read.  (Sorry, not sorry.) Not only does this prepare me for the real world and sharing information with parents of students, but it also helps me learn the material better.


I set realistic expectations for myself:  Similar to “me time,” I had to figure out what worked for me in terms of study time.  I quickly learned that it is unrealistic to finish all readings for class the night before.  I learned that I had to set aside time to read in advance, and I had to be honest with myself about how much time I would spend on each subject.  As an academic mentor, I’ve seen students who plan to study 20 hours a week and students who honestly plan about 3 hours a week to study, if they’re lucky.  Yet, I think the students who plan fewer hours perhaps have some advantage in that they are more honest and realistic with themselves. For me, it made sense to start by figuring out how much time I was already studying for each class, and then I increased that as needed.

I quit the comparison game: People LOVE to compare, and they will compare ANYTHING and everything.  How long is your paper? Have you started that project that’s due in 4 months? How long have you spent working on this assignment?  I totally bombed that quiz; what did you get?  (When they got an 80 on the quiz and you got a 60.)

I know the truth; you know the truth; everyone knows the truth:  When we ask what others are doing, we don’t really care what THEY are doing.  We just care about how they are doing compared to ourselves.  It’s selfish, and it will destroy your identity as a student and a person.

If I didn’t learn it in undergrad, I definitely learned this in my first year of grad school.  And I realized that it really doesn’t matter how much time or effort others put into their work.  What matters is how much time and effort I put into my work.  Just because others are spending more time and effort doesn’t necessarily mean they are doing better.  And if they are doing “better” (however you want to define that), as long as I’m doing my personal best, that’s what matters to me.


If you haven’t picked up on the theme of this post yet, it’s this: to succeed, you have to know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, your capabilities and limits.  Then surround yourself with people who are willing to appreciate you for you and affirm that (and consequently, people who will call you out when you’re not being the best version of yourself).  Seek wisdom.  Seek growth.  Seize opportunities.  Lean on Christ.  I’m out of short, sweet sentences, but hopefully you get the picture by now. 🙂  This first year has been a roller coaster ride, and the next year is shaping up to be the same way.  But I wouldn’t have it to any other way.  Here’s to more opportunities!

wedding wednesday: the honeymoon

I planned to do a recap of the wedding shower this week, but with the chaos of grad school starting back, that post is on hold until next week (hopefully).  Coming to you this week is an overview of our honeymoon plans.  I booked all of the flights today! Hooray!  So what are we doing for our honeymoon, you ask?  Drumroll please…

We’re going on a 7-day cruise with Norwegian!


to Ochos Rios, Jamaica; the Grand Cayman; and Cozumel!
in the Spa MiniSuite!

We are so excited to go on our fist big vacation together!  I think a cruise is the perfect way to spend the first week of married life together! We love food and spas and adventure, and we can’t wait!

Wedding Wednesday: A guide to our registries

I’ve had lots of family and friends asking my mom what Cason and I want, to which my mom replies, “Well they are registered at Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Kohls.”  However, I’ve heard that the response usually goes something like, “Yes, but what do they REALLY want?” So, I thought I would make a quick guide for the guests who want to know what we REALLY want.

A few quick things to give you an idea of us as a couple:

  1. I am the sentimental one.  In ten years, Cason and I will be standing in the kitchen trying to get rid of old things and the conversation will go something like this:
    C: “Jess, this wooden spoon has a crack down the middle.  I will buy you another spoon if we toss this one.”
    J: “Yes, but my aunt so-and-so gave that to us for our WEDDING gift. Can we frame it?  Keep it in a box at least?”
    Moral of the story: I will cherish any and all gifts and attach sentimental value to everything.  However, I am a fan of the personal gifts–the ones that we will use forever and likely not have to toss.
  2. Cason is the memory-maker and story-teller.  He likes to experience life and look back fondly on memories.  So even though including a check in a nice card may seem impersonal, he’s likely to look back on our honeymoon in 5 years and say things like, “Remember how much fun we had zip-lining on our honeymoon?”  And he will be thankful that our family and friends contributed to that experience.
  3. We both like things that are practical and good for everyday use.  And we both love food!  So, organization and kitchen items are always a good fall-back.

For the Sentimental Gift-Giver:

For this type of gift, our Etsy registry is a must-see!

For the Practical Gift-Giver:

Many of these items can be found on our Target and Bed Bath & Beyond registries.

For the Best of Both Worlds:

These are probably some of our favorite gifts on the list, and we will likely use them for years to come!  Check out TargetBed Bath & Beyond, and Kohl’s registries for more details.
As a footnote, please feel free to take advantage of each store’s savings programs!  Sign up for 20% off coupons from Bed Bath & Beyond, and use the Target and Cartwheel app for extra savings!

Wedding Wednesday: Invitation Sneak Peek!

My future mother in law* has done it again!  Y’all, she blows me away with her talent!  Check out this sneak peek of the wedding invitations she designed just for us:


I am so thankful that she was willing to take time out of her busy schedule to create these custom invitations!  I love how they turned out, and I can’t wait to see them in print!

*Side-note, I hate the term “in law.”  Why isn’t there a super special awesome term with a positive connotation to designate the family you’re marrying into?  I don’t even like to say Cason’s mom/dad/sibling/etc.  I like to think of them as my family, too!
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wedding wednesday: our venue

Though I always thought I wanted to get married in a church, when it came right down to it, this place was it!  The vision that Cason and I (mostly the latter) had dancing around in our heads was perfectly fulfilled in Vinewood Plantation.  Let’s take a quick tour, shall we?

Vinewood Plantation’s house is the first thing you see when driving onto the property. If you think the outside is gorgeous, you should see the perfectly decorated rooms on the inside! It’s going to be perfect for getting dressed with the ladies and taking lots of photos!
The back of the house is just as gorgeous! It houses rooms for the groomsmen to get ready in without spotting the bride and her bridesmaids. Also a great spot for a photo op!
The barn is the perfect place for a rustic-glam reception! I’ve seen all the fabulous ways to decorate this spot, and I can’t wait to walk in after the wedding and see how everything comes together for our special day!
Here’s one example of the inside of the decor inside the barn. How fabulous is the draping and the chandelier?
One of the many fabulous details at Vinewood includes their eclectic collection of perfectly mismatched wooden chairs. I can’t wait for my guests to sit in chairs as unique as they are! I think it’s a great image of many different people coming together to support us on our wedding day.