To be honest, I’m not sure Winter actually existed in Alabama this year. It’s currently February and the high is 78 so, I mean, is February the new May? The Florida-girl in me loves flip-flop weather but it legitimately makes me sad to pack away all the baggy sweaters and scarves I didn’t get to wear.

Alas. Here we are, saying goodbye to the Winter that really wasn’t and waving hello to March while wondering how in the actual heck are we three months into 2017 already?! (Is that just me? No? Okay.)

As one season begins to fade into the next, my friend Emily invites her readers to share a list of what they’ve learned in the past three months. If you’ve poked around my little corner of the Internet for more than a minute or five, you’ve probably seen a few of my lists (they’re all right here). Recording what I’ve learned has been a helpful practice/discipline as I attempt to slow down and appreciate each day instead of flipping the calendar page and moving on to the next to-do.

Today I’m joining Emily to share the big and small lessons + fun facts I’ve discovered since sharing with you What I Learned This Fall. Apparently Winter 2016/2017 will go down as the season I learned about losing my creativity + upcoming movies + good music + the power of prayer via an Instagram post.

What I learned this winter...

1. Bob Ross is on Netflix.

I could actually end my list right here and feel like I’ve served you well by sharing this information. “Chill With Bob Ross” might be the most relaxing show I’ve ever watched.

Maybe I should be embarrassed by how many episodes my roommates and I have watched this Winter, but I’m just not. Bob is an inspiration and I say that with 0% sarcasm.

2. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days was a picture book that turned into a movie.

3. The Revelation Wellness podcast turns working out into worship.

Thanks to a recommendation from Jess Connolly, I downloaded the 1 Peter 2:9 podcast episode. And then I discovered that working out is a whole lot better when you have a voice in your ears telling you to keep going because your body is a temple of the Lord. Throw in great worship music and suddenly exercising becomes worshipping and I don’t hate it quite like I used to.

exciting news: the book we've been waiting for is finally here, a book for the broken hopefuls...

4. I can format an ebook.

I admitted the truth to my newsletter friends (you can subscribe here, if you’d like – a new edition will be going out this week) but I’m going to say it here, too: It’s almost embarrassing how scary ebook formatting felt. In fact, I put it off for an entire year. But here’s the thing, y’all…

We’re meant to share the story that we’ve been given. And for me personally, in this season, I knew that obedience meant turning the print version of Even If Not into an ebook. Because if you receive emails from people around the world who want to purchase your book but can’t afford the shipping (the price is set by Amazon, sorry y’all), and if God is stirring hearts and providing opportunities for you to give Him glory by sharing what He has done in your life, then offering Even If Not as an ebook is the logical thing to do, the next right step to take.

With a lot of deep breaths and several “Help me, God” prayers, I did the research and put in the work to create a truly beautiful ebook that I’m proud of, one I pray will bring Him glory. It releases this Thursday (!!!) but is available for preorder already.

I’m putting the finishing touches on all sorts of giveaways and freebies (#StayTuned) but if nothing else, here’s what I know: 1) Obedience isn’t always easy but it’s always worth it 2) I can add “ebook formatting” to my resume.

5. Letting go of control might mean sitting still in the midst of chaos.

No doubt about it, I’ve got a good amount of OCD going on inside me. But this Winter I sat on the couch in our living room day after day, admiring our lit-up and decorated Christmas Tree, and I didn’t rearrange the ornaments.

Candles lit, cookies baking, Christmas music playing...

Reading back over that sentence, I realize that I actually sound ridiculous and wonder if I should even include this. But it was a big thing for me, to let things be and appreciate them for exactly what they are instead of organizing and putting everything in its own place so that it looks the best that it can.

Or, to really get at the heart of it, letting things be instead of reaching for some idea of control. So I’m sharing it here because although it certainly didn’t change the world in any way whatsoever, it was a good daily practice for me. By the time the tree was packed away, I appreciated the haphazard look (which only I noticed, of course) and was proud of myself for letting go and sitting still.

The past year has been incredibly chaotic at times and truthfully, last Winter I struggled to be still in the chaos. When everything around me felt flipped over, spinning wildly out of control, the ornaments being “out of place” was just too much. (Silly, I know. But it’s true.) This year, though, I’m more at home in what feels chaotic. For that, I’m grateful.

6. I will watch (and re-watch) movie trailers and also maybe cry every time.

Umm, so, Beauty and the Beast is coming. Do you know how much shame I have in the fact that I’ve watched every trailer I can find? None. Absolutely none. Because listen, I’ve always loved Belle the best and you can not stop me from attending the premiere. (You can, however, judge this photo. It’s fine; I’m judging myself. But if it’s “dress up like a Disney character day” this is 100% going to happen.)

Beauty and the Beast

7. In other movie news, Pitch Perfect 3 is coming (12/22/2017).

8. I struggle to find my creative side when I’m home.

More than ever before, I had a difficult time with anything even remotely creative during a recent trip home. After a lot of thought, I think it comes down to a few factors mixing together (wanting to be with my people more than wanting to write a blog post + old memories that always rise to the surface in familiar places + less independence aka briefly saying goodbye to my regular daily/weekly rhythms).

To be clear, none of these are bad! But when combined, my creative side shuts down and I feel less like my whole self. For me, this looked like a lack of focus, a battle with guilt, and two weeks of regular rhythms before the words returned. This is good to know, since I’ll be going home soon for a short(er) trip. I’m really excited to see my people(!), but this time I’ll implement a few different rhythms.

9. I will still declare Him to be good.

After briefly sharing about finishing the ebook formatting for Even If Not, I wrote these words in a February 17th Instagram post

“The funny (ironic) thing about God’s timing is that I made it to the formatting of Chapter 8 on Valentine’s Day. Which doesn’t mean anything, unless you know that chapter is about choosing to say God is good even if our dreams don’t come to fruition. The one(s) I write about? Marriage and motherhood. Happy Valentine’s!

floral ampersand

But really, honestly, it was such a good challenge to read my own words and decide if I still believe it all, if I’d still declare Him good. I would.

We’re all living in an ampersand (&), between one thing and another, but even here God is good. February 23rd will be here soon, the day my book released. And then the ebook will come and I’ll celebrate and want to throw up all at the same time. But today is an ampersand, just like most days. I’m learning this part of the story is valuable and beautiful, too.”

10. The Hillsong United ‘Of Dirt and Grace’ (Live from Israel) CD actually doesn’t ever get old.

Sorry, dear email subscribers, for gushing over this CD once again. I know, I know… I already talked about it in my newsletter. But guys. I can’t quit it. It’s literally playing while I type these words to you because you know what’s always playing? This CD.

11. The power of prayer via an Instagram post is real.

You people, those of you who follow over on Instagram, are some kind of wonderful. I shared a little bit in the caption, but I’ve been working on a few writing projects for LifeWay (!!!).

If I can humbly ask...

As the final deadline loomed, I found myself overwhelmed and struggling to put words down that will be held in the hands of thousands of women around the world. And so I turned to Instagram, shared what I could, and then asked for prayer.

And now I’m here to tell you that the power of prayer is real always, everywhere. Including Instagram. The projects are turned in and I’m grateful — for the opportunity, yes, but even more so for community.

(The next What I Learned post will come in May… for now, visit Emily’s corner of the Internet for more fun facts + inspiration.)

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