Jan 14, 2015

Elle's 2015 Goals

Last year was an amazing year full of intentional goal-planning as well some unplanned surprises (both great and not-so-great). It was a roller-coaster year with winding (and sometimes looping) slopes: Some days I felt at the peak of the slope (admiring the view from the top), while other times I felt like I was upside down and about to come zipping down full-speed (with nausea, no less). But through it all, I can look back and call it a blessed year. As I have been thinking and planning for this year, I looked back at goals from last year that I wanted to continue, as well as dreaming up new goals that I wanted to push towards. I may likely add onto this list throughout the year, but for now, these are the goals that I will focus on the next twelve months. I will continue to share monthly goals that should be realistic (so I don't give up), quantifiable and specific (so I know when I have reached the goal). This way, these resolutions will become a reality. 

So, without further ado, here are my 2015 goals:

  • Listen to more podcasts (I am currently going through A Beautiful Design by Matt Chandler. Any recommendations are welcome!)
  • Use the 5P model (purpose, perspective, patience, process, prayer) of Bible study presented in Women of the Word (by Jen Wilkin) to go deeper in the Bible this year, even if that means taking a break from structured Bible studies and taking a longer time to camp out in certain books of the Bible). 
  • Memorize and meditate on one verse a month (I don't want to just memorize it. I want to study it and dwell on it throughout the month so it gets rooted in my mind and heart)
  • Pray before reading the Bible, inviting the Holy Spirit to mold my heart and thoughts towards Scripture for teaching, correction, reproof, training (2 Timothy 3:16)
  • Focusing on Selah : pausing, reflecting, resting, praising, and praying. I tend to rush through prayer and Bible study, so I want to slow down and experience selah.

  • Return to a more consistent workout schedule/routine mixed with aerobic (running, elliptical, biking) and anaerobic exercise (weight-lifting).
  • Run a 5K and 10K
  • Sleep: Turn off electronics by 10:30pm on work-nights and get in bed by 10:45pm
  • Nutrition
    • Try Food Elimination Diet again to evaluate if I have any more food sensitivities (I did it last June and found out my body does not like potatoes and beans)
    • Try two new healthy recipes per month
    • Decrease eating out and increase overall healthy eating

  • Continue to regularly open up to trusted friends and community, being honest and open to encouragement, correction, and teaching.
  • Take one month off all social media sometime this year
  • Decrease Facebook and Instagram
  • Restart Emotion Diary, where I journal my mood and things that worked and did not work each day, so I can see trends and triggers for anxiety, worrying, feeling overwhelmed
  • Study what it practically means to "take your thoughts captive" (2 Corinthians 10:5) and then start practicing it.
  • Practice being more mindful of my current season, whether that means my season in dating (an amazing, handsome man, I might add!), my current job, etc. I tend to look forward to future seasons and want to rush through current ones, but I want to be content and joyful in each season I walk through this year. 

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  • Meet atleast once every other month with the teenage girl that I mentor through our church's Big/Little Sister mentorship ministry.
  • Meet with several trusted women who are in various stages of married life and ask them specific questions and then find a way to thank them for making time to meet with me. 
  • Stay in contact with close friends through coffee dates, FaceTime, email, snail-mail, etc. 
  • Write monthly letters to my Compassion child

  • Read atleast 15 books this year with a mixture of theology, biographies/memoirs, historical fiction, and classics (check out my GoodReads 2015 bookshelf)
  • Grow in knowledge about overall health, pathophysiology, and pharmacology related to pediatric and adolescent healthcare to better serve my patients.
    • Attend conferences on related topics
    • Study and research on my own on topics I want to gain knowledge.

  • Continue to use Mint monthly to budget, tract spending trends, and to make a habit of being more cognizant of what I am doing with my finances.
  • Read Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover and implement atleast 2 things.
  • Continue paying off my large grad school loan, one month at a time
  • Prayerfully decide how to give more (financially as well as with my time spent serving others)

  • Clean out my closet of shoes and clothing I do not wear anymore, then donate and/or sell. 
  • Organize and clean my desk area in my apartment 
  • Clean up my files on my computer so it will hopefully help with the overall speed.
  • Clean up photos, text, music on my iPhone so that it will work better and increase overall memory.


  • Plan a balcony garden and keep it alive for atleast 2 months
  • Try 5 new restaurants in and around the city I live in.
  • Hike 3 new places (last year was Angel's Rest in the Columbia Gorge)
  • Do atleast 2 things that scare me (and live to blog about it)
  • Do random acts of kindness for friends and strangers
  • Take a painting class

Jan 12, 2015

looking back + heading forward

Last January, I decided to be intentional and dive into a whole new challenge: purposeful and transparent goal-setting that was shared on the blog. I didn't really know how it would end up, but I knew that I wouldn't get very far if I didn't hold myself accountable and chose to do this publicly with some of my goals. Otherwise, the initial excitement would surely fizzle as it had in previous years. Although I have always been a planner and an itinerary-happy traveler, it was a whole new ballgame trying to set challenging goals for 2014. Breaking down the goals into reachable monthly goals proved to be helpful, though there was one area in particular that fell through the cracks midway through the year (my physical health goals). Even so, I learned a lot from living intentionally in 2014 and believe it will propel me into an even more intuitional 2015. I am excited and expectant for a year full of surprises as well as hard work. But through it all, I am desiring to lean on God and grow in my trust in Him. May He make this year into whatever He knows is best. And may I hold all the plans and goals for this year with an open hand, willing and asking that He would do what He wills with each of them. 

The year is bursting with possibilities and I desire to learn from what worked in 2014 as well as what did not work. I want to grow in living intentionally in all areas of my life and have chosen several that I will focus on this year. Many of these are similar to last year, so it'll be interesting to see what new changes will occur as I hopefully grow in each area. 

But before I get ahead of myself, I wanted to first start off with reviewing some positives and negatives of 2014 ( Here is my overall review of 2014).

three challenges of 2014
-  Making time for my priorities 
-   My anxiety was really hard this year
-  Staying positive and looking at the bright side

three reasons to be grateful in 2014
+  My boyfriend, G! He is my favorite blessing of 2014!
+ God's faithfulness, even when I was anxious and going through hard seasons
+ Supportive, loving, encouraging community group, friends, family, & blogging community.

three things that  didn't work in 2014
- Physical goals (I did not work out as regularly as I had in 2013)
- I was distracted by social media too much
- I usually did my Bible studies late at night (when I was exhausted) and didn't get as deep into the Word because of sometimes rushing through them to get to bed.

three things that worked in 2014
+ setting monthly goals and looking at them throughout the month as well as inviting people to keep me accountable for taking steps towards the goals
+ I made time for reading this year! I read 20 books in one year, which is a lot for me.
+ I started working through some of my fears and anxieties through trusted community

I believe it is healthy to look back before heading forward. It's an important step I learned last year from Lara Casey's goal-setting series that helped me in my own reflection of what I desired 2014 to look like, so I thought it would help to repeat this brand-new year.  

Last year, I chose a word for the year: delight. I desired to delight in whatever God was going to bring that year and even more, to delight in Him. It certainly was a year of delight, overflowing with gifts and memories that I will cherish for years to come.  After prayer and some pondering, this year's word is:


 I plan on writing a post entirely on this word, but for now, a few words that flow from my understanding of selah that are part of my vision for this year include: "to lift up", "to praise", "to pause", "to rest", and "to value" . . . 

my vision for 2015:
I desire to lift up and praise God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit in all spheres of my life  for mercy, sustaining grace, and guidance.
I desire to to remember to pause from the busyness of life and rest in the arms of my Heavenly Father, trusting that He is able to do all things and has a greater plan for me than anything I could ever dare to imagine. 
I desire to value what God values by loving people deeper, serving selflessly, and being open to whatever opportunities He places in my path to be His hands and feet in my community. 


I am still prayerfully and thoughtfully working through my goals for the year and will share some of them, as well as return to posting monthly goals soon! 

What worked/didn't work for you in 2014? What are you grateful for? Have you chosen a word or vision for this year? I would really like to hear your thoughts, friends!

Jan 5, 2015

delighting in 1000 gifts // part 7

2014 was a year packed full of blessings and I am back to reviewing a few of my favorite! 
Here are the first 8 months of the year's:

#785 -#800. The last weekend of August, my home church hosted an annual convention for Romanian Christians throughout US and Canada. I got to see several friends who are from the East Coast who came for the event. It was a weekend full of catching up with old friends along with great church services. We got to explore Oregon's Columbia Gorge, had a sweet breakfast at my apartment with a friend from Michigan, and enjoyed a day at the park with hundreds of other attendees on Labor Day. It was a fun weekend!

#809. Woke up early one Saturday morning in September and decided to go for a jog to pray through some things. It was so peaceful on the trail and was exactly what my soul needed. 

#811. I got to enjoy my apartment complex's pool all to myself  (it's typically swarming with families) since kids were at school! I swam in the pool for awhile and then journaled & read poolside. So refreshing!

#814. A sunset boat ride with the family in my dad's new boat on Saturday and then a tour around Portland from the Willamette River the next Saturday. 

#834. Introvert reading date with my man on FaceTime. We were both trying to read our books, but kept sneaking peeks at each other and would start laughing (I was pretty sneaky and snapped a pic!)

#846-#853. Spent a few days in Seattle for a work-related conference, though I made time to catch up with friends, visit a bakery and stationary shop I love in Queen Anne, enjoy the jaw-dropping skyline from Kerry Park while FaceTiming my mister, and having some quiet time near a lighthouse in Mukilteo.

#855-#858. My two sisters slept over and we watched an Irish comedy (Waking Ned Devine), explored the Portland Art Museum's exhibit on the Tueleries gardens of Paris, and discovered Director Park where locals were playing ping-pong and chess. 

#868. I absolutely LOVED She Read's Truth's Open Your Bible study! 

#871. My BFF from California sent me a care package with CDs of encouraging short devotional teachings by women (including Beth Moore) for my commute to work. So sweet!

#872. My sweet neighbor "twin" friend dropped off some dinner for me!

#896. I took my toddler nephew to his local library for his weekly toddler reading group! It was so fun to see him listen to the story and interact with the class. He even waited patiently for his turn to get instruments to shake along as the teacher read a musical story. It made this auntie very proud!

#890. My mister had flowers delivered to me at my door on a day that I went home feeling sick. It was such a sweet surprise!

Jan 3, 2015

"Making It Happen 2014": Reviewing Goals

  At the end of last year, I began documenting my goal-setting as I went through Lara Casey's series. I made goals in different spheres of my life (spiritual, physical, emotional, financial, intellectual) and tried to make them attainable while still challenging. But above the goals I set, I wanted there to be a higher goal. I wanted this year to be a year where I was open to whatever God wanted to bring into my life. Although I am a natural planner and organizer, I desired to hold my goals and plans for 2014 with an open hand, ready for God to switch anything He deemed good for me (or even remove or add something else, if needed). 
I didn't want to make goals and then give up a few months into it, so I figured that my blog would be a great way to stay accountable. If I posted my goals every month, then I would be somewhat held accountable to continue pursuing them. I also discussed them with close friends and my boyfriend. I created a label (Making It Happen 2014) on each blog post pertaining to my goals so that I (and any readers interested) could follow the journey this year. I chose a song for the new year that I wanted to be my heart's song to desire Jesus all year long. I wrote a vision for 2014 and felt that the word DELIGHT was my word of 2014. I was trying to set myself up for a goal-driven year.

And then, 2014 happened. And boy, did it happen quick!

It was a great year, but it was a hard year. I had no idea last January what 2014 would look like. Yes, it was a goal-driven year overall. It was filled with lots of joyful gifts that I have enjoyed remembering recently as I finished my 1000 gifts journal. But it was also a year that included anxious thoughts that threatened to steal my joy, peace, and hope. There were days when I was driven and pumped, but there were also days when I wanted to ignore goals and just roll into a ball and cry. And throughout the spectrum these two extremes, God was so faithful in 2014. By His grace, I was able to walk through hill-top experiences of joy and sweet new experiences but also feel His presence in the dark valley moments when I was lonely, confused, and felt unlovable. 
His hand held me all the way. 

So as I look at my goals, it is obvious that I did not meet all of them. But I do not see failure. I see a year that was a beautiful mess. It didn't fit perfectly in the goals I set out, but then again, I had a feeling that this would happen. It was a year of taking one day at a time.  And it was a year, yes, as I had hoped at the outset, of delight.

Elle's 2014 Goals

GOAL: Go deeper in prayer and studying the Bible
WHY: Bring God glory by learning more about His character and delighting in Him; learning more about Him will help me learn to trust Him in all circumstances
HOW: 1. Memorizing more Bible [Ann Voscamp's #MemoryProject, 24 verses in 6 mo.] 
    •  UPDATE: I memorized 7 out of the 24 during the first 6 month of the year, then switched to memorizing verses corresponding to #SheReadsTruth studies I was doing (such as Ruth 1:16, Titus 3:5, Nehemiah 9:17; 8:10). I also picked a few verses to meditate and memorize with my boyfriend (Proverbs 3:5-6 and Isaiah 26:3).
            2. Bible plans to keep me focused 
            3. Reviewing sermon notes the week after I hear it at church
    • I have been doing this on and off as I review what I learned in sermon over FaceTime or phone with my boyfriend.
GOAL: Maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating well, sleeping more, and exercise 
WHY: If I am physically fit, I have more energy for all the things I need to do daily. I will also be able to be more emotionally and mentally prepared to deal with different difficulties if I am well-rested and taking care of my health.
HOW: 1. Run a 5K and a 10K
    • I was able to run a 5K (finally got back up to 3 miles!) this summer, but was so busy, that I never got around to signing up for a run! Then I stopped running altogether after summer ended. Sad! 
           2. Turn off electronics at 11pm and do devotions before sleeping
    • I have been trying to work on this throughout the year. Some days are better than others. On work nights, I have been shutting off electronics most nights between 11:00-11:30.
           3. Cook more [more crock-pot and fresh recipes]

GOAL: Limit anxious thoughts and daily be more thankful of all I am blessed with
WHY: Hope in God's goodness; if I have a grateful heart, I am less likely to be anxious
HOW: 1. Daily write 3 "gifts" in my 1000 Gifts journal at the end of each day.
    • Yes! This has been helping me focus on positive things rather than only the negative about each day. I recently finished the journal. Check out my favorite gifts from the past year.
            2. Memorizing scripture 
    • Yes! It has been so helpful in times of stress. I love the screensavers from She Reads Truth (like this one!)

GOAL: Reflect Jesus' love through compassionate relationships and serving others
WHY: Build deeper, more intentional friendships, point others to Jesus, dealing with hard things together/sharing the burdens.
HOW: 1. Snail mail 
    • Yes! I sent letters and postcards to friends and my boyfriend, but it was not as consistent as I had hoped.
           2. Call/skype with a friend each month
    • Yes and no. I have been trying to keep in contact with close friends, but it was harder this year since it was such a busy year. 
           3. Prayer team at work: Each of us have a day to keep the clinic and families who enter in our prayers that they would be encouraged and full of hope.
    • This never really took off. So I pray on my commute to work for the clinic and for compassion to serve the community well.
          4. Big Sister Mentor: Meet monthly with my "little sis"; text her; pray for her
    • We hung out a few times in the last year, but I have not been as consistent in 2014 as I had been in 2013.
          5. Hang out with my younger brothers more routinely and have deeper conversations/get to know them and encourage them to be men of valor
    • Have not done this as much as I'd like, although I do feel we have had deeper conversations this year than before. 

GOAL: Grow in knowledge in different areas such as work and theology
WHY: To learn more for work/gain useful info to benefit my patients; to learn more about Jesus from Bible-focused resources
HOW: 1. Read 12 books in 1 year
           2. Review old powerpoints from my PNP coursework
    • Haven't done this more than a few times.

GOAL: Become more responsible & intentional about budgeting and saving
WHY: Learn how to be a good steward of the money I have so I can use it effectively & responsibly no matter the season.
HOW: 1. Continue to use Mint to budget and manage spending
    • Yes! Using it almost monthly!
           2. Read and study Dave Ramsey's financial planning materials
    • Have not read this yet, but its on my list for 2015!
GOAL: Try new things I've always wanted to do and improve things I always hoped to get better at.
WHY: I have more free time now than I will in another season
HOW: 1. Learn to use the sewing machine that has been collecting dust in my closet
    • I had a fun morning in April catching up with a friend while figuring out how to thread and use my sewing machine. I then tailored a few bathing suits that were too large for me. I have not done anything since then
           2. Plant a tiny garden on my balcony this spring
    • Yes and no. I planted a hanging basket in March and it died one month later when I got really busy the one week it was really sunny all month.
           3. Learn to swing dance again
    • Not yet.
           4. Travel:  I am SO excited to explore and have new adventures!

GOAL: Use my blog to encourage, inspire, and uplift others while pointing to Jesus.
WHY: To use the time that people choose to spend visiting { Beautiful Hope } intentionally and purposefully, pointing to Jesus with any post that is written. 
HOW: 1. Pray before posting
    •  I have not done this more than a few times. 
            2. Plan series 
            3. Meet some of my blogger friends in person or Skype [I've already met a few and have been so blessed, so I am hoping to chat via Skype with more]

So there you have it! My 2014 goals! I am now taking time to review the aforementioned goal-setting series from last January and prayerfully set new goals for 2015, which I will share within the next few weeks. 

Lake Wenatchee in Eastern Washington during our family trip last month. 

Jan 1, 2015

2014 in review


2014 was an incredible year full of surprises as well as hardships.
It was a year full of joy and giddiness while still a year that had it's share of tears and pain.
It was a year where I accomplished certain goals I set out the first few weeks of the year, but also a year where I left certain goals untouched because they soon were less of a priority than I had originally thought.
It was a year that a handsome mister entered my life and became my best friend and my love.
It was a year that anxiety tried (over and over) to steal my peace and joy, yet God did not let go of me, but rather, walked with me through the valley and brought me closer to Him through it.
Oh, 2014, you were a year I will never forget!

"Come & see what the Lord has done . . ."
[Psalm 46:4-11]

Here is a snapshot of some of the memorable events, moments, blog posts, and books of the year!

>> I was super goal-oriented and documented the process [here] and then started setting goals monthly and documenting them as Making It Happen 2014.
>> Travelled to San Antonio [travel posts: onetwothreefourfive] to visit a close friend and ended up meeting my handsome mister!
>> Reminisced the beautiful Eze-Village ( from my 2013 Europe Trip) during Travel Tuesdays 
>>  blog-coffee date with ladies from The Circle
>> BOOK I READ: Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius 

>>  Winter wonderland in my city. It took my 4 hours to get home from work due to the snowy conditions on the first day of the snow. I wanted to tear out my eyeballs, but eventually calmed down once I walked around my apartment complex at night.
>>  Travelled to SoCal to visit my BFF & enjoyed quality time + beach time with her! Also got to meet  & have breakfast with the sweet Katie from Hope Engaged!

>> I started a blog series about the background stories behind cherished hymns, Praising Through the Pain
>> Travelled to Seattle for an old roomie's wedding & got to see some of my favorite sites [ Gasworks Park & Fremont Troll ; Green Lake ]

>> Started a new series called Cooking With Elle, where I shared paleo and gluten-free recipes.
>> My handsome mister came to visit me for the first time. We took explored downtown Portland, visited the coast, and learned history at Fort Vancouver.
>> BOOKS I READ: Open Your Eyes by Jake Olson   

>> Studied Nehemiah through the study by She Reads Truth
>> Shared one of my favorite soups for a rainy day, Healing Vegetable Bisque
>> Enjoyed spending my mornings at a new coffee shop on Sundays
>> Explored sunny Saturdays in May on my cruiser and with a book by the river

>> Travelled to San Francisco with 4 siblings and explored the Redwoods, biked from Fisherman's Wharf and over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausilito, oohed & ahhh'd in Napa Valley, and beach-hopped  from Carmel to Monterey.
>> Travelled to San Antonio to spend my birthday week with my Texan friends and my handsome mister. 

>> Celebrated 4th of July at the beach for a family beach trip! 
>> I shared a 6 month update on the goals I set in January
>> Grieved the passing of my sweet grandma and took comfort that God gives more grace when burdens grow greater. Spent lots of time with extended family and took a short weekend trip to an uncle's beach house with my grandpa, several aunts, several cousins, and parents.

>> Started a new series called All of Nature Declares, where I shared lessons about the Creator from His beautiful creation.
>> Went through She Reads Truth's Justice study. Such a great study of God's desire for justice in every sense of the word
>> My handsome mister visited me. We took a trip to Seattle, went boating with the family, explored the Columbia Gorge, and relaxed at the beach. Such a great trip!!
>> BOOK I READ: Desiring God by John Piper

>> Wrote a guest post for my blogger friend, Natalie [from Heart Stirrings], called God of the Lonely. It was likely my favorite post of summer/fall. 
>> Started working part-time rather than full-time to help me deal with some anxiety that was stealing my peace and joy. I felt so blessed to work in a clinic that encouraged me to take care of myself & supported me in my decision.
>> Travelled to Seattle for a work-related conference on mental health & I visited nearby Mukilteo's beach & lighthouse
>> Had (what I called) an "introvert date night" with G as we both read on FaceTime :)
>> Enjoyed weekend boat rides on the river with the family
>> Studied Hosea with She Reads Truth. It was raw and hard to read at times, but so needed!

>> She Reads Truth's Open Your Bible study was SO good! It helped me see ways to dig deeper in Scripture and challenged me to pray before opening my Bible. 
>> Finished my 1000 Gifts journal (I started writing 3 daily gifts in Oct. 2013) & shared them in the series Delighting in 1000 Gifts (which I will finish in the next few weeks)
>> Visited my handsome mister in Texas. We biked through a historic neighborhood, had a fancy dinner at a steakhouse, kayaked during a day-trip to Austin, and went to our first wedding together.
>> BOOKS I READ: Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist and Leota's Garden by Francine Rivers

>> Helped my sister lead our church in Operation Christmas Child. 315 shoeboxes were collected!
>> Surprised my mister with another trip to visit him. The previous trip was great, but so packed with events that I wanted to come again for more extended quality time opportunities. It was such a sweet time of rest & joy for both of us. 
>> BOOK I READ: Bianca's Vineyard by Teresa Neumann

>> Paused through the busyness of the holidays and did She Reads Truth's advent study, O Come Let Us Adore Him.
>> Braved the freezing cold to look at the Christmas lights at our local zoo & got to see my nephew's adorable reactions to all the lights . . . it was worth nearly getting frost-bite :)
>> My mister visited for a week and we got to visit a bavarian town (Leavenworth) that is filled with christmas cheer with most of my family, went to my first NBA game, read and journaled at a cafe by the river, and watched Elf.  
>> BOOK I READ: Domenico's Table by Teresa Neumann (the sequel to Bianca's Vineyard)

What a year! I am so excited to see what 2015 has in store!