Whew. What a year 2014 has been. As I write this, we are preparing to head to Abilene next week to celebrate Christmas with Chris's family and our new (and first!) baby niece. I'm so ready for two-week-old baby snuggles. I'm wrapping up some projects and going to do my best to keep the laptop closed for the next two weeks... Time to enjoy some rest and relaxation, and meditation on the birth of our Savior.
But before I sign off, I've written you a bit of a love letter. I'd love to start 2015 off right by saying...
Thank you to all of our friends and family who’ve been with Chris and I for our 2014 journey. Chris and I learned so many things from you and value the time we've had with each of you. Whether it’s in the form of an occasional text or an in-person conversation that lasts hours, we love to continue learning and wouldn’t be where we are today without you.
January... A Refresh.
TPA started off the year with a facelift and a new vision. It went through a transformation this year with a bio video, portfolio content, and other details that help tell my story. Before this, TPA was a women's lifestyle blog with a variety of content, but it didn't hold a message that was true to who I am. After praying over the blog last fall (including multiple times when I asked Him to let me know if I needed to let this dream die), God started gently pulling me in the direction where maybe, just maybe, I let Him be in control of the blog. Over the course of 2014, TPA became a home for deeper, more authentic conversation and what came out of that was incredible... here are a few: #TheRubyProject was born. I met so many sweet readers through the comments on the blog and on social media. Freelance design projects started lining up, and that's been such a sweet mission field for me. I love getting to serve people one-on-one and make their dreams (visually) become reality. I had several of you refer to the blog as one you loved (still can't get over that). The profits created from my freelance work enabled Chris and I to more freely give. That alone makes me so teary, because this time last year I would've never thought our budget would allow room to give outside of our church tithe. God has made himself and his provision so evident to us this year, and a large portion of that happened through That's Pretty Ace.
I would share stats about page views and unique visitors to the site or perhaps the number of followers TPA now has on Instagram, but I honestly stopped looking. This blog has become more than a possible source of income and instead has become a piece of my heart placed lovingly (and with risk) out on the internet to serve you.
The branding refresh has served you and I well, and I've continued to do updates here are there. It's no longer the girly-girly, let's host a party lifestyle blog I had imagined and is literally a life blog. You'll notice the About page has been simplified and re-written, and now includes a fancy bio sheet (if you happen to be looking for one). The services page has gotten a bit of a facelift, and colors and details throughout the site are a fresh shade of blue (my very favorite, and so soothing for you). My goal for the branding of TPA is to tell the story – God's story that He's woven in my life – the best and most honest way it can.
This year has held a lot. God has rattled our hearts and our lives in ways we never would have expected. Chris and I became members of The Village Church this year. Taylor and I created and ran a series of workshops. I ran a 5K... and a half-marathon (WHAT). We celebrated our first wedding anniversary. We celebrated the first anniversary of this blog. Chris had the pleasure of working at two amazing firms this summer. Our circle of real, Christ-like community widened. We went to California and spent time fasting and praying together. I met precious little Jennie Allen. I started a monthly dinner group with some incredible ladies. We grew so much closer to God, and in turn, closer to each other. I've never had friends like this before. I've never given like this before. I've never lived like this before.
I've had the honor of working with some amazing people this year. I can’t list everything and everyone, but I would love to share some highlights... #TheRubyProject, art directing the Goodness Gathering, mentoring three wonderful women this summer, teaching several ladies how to use Illustrator and Photoshop, running the TPA shop, designing several incredible branding projects, and photographing a fundraiser for missions in Haiti are at the top of the charts for me. Each of you who contributed your hearts and your skills, or simply reached out to me – I'm so humbled by your generosity. Thank you for blessing me and my family, so that we could bless others.
And A Glimpse Into Next Year
Next year will be an adventurous year for Chris and I. I've been dying to share all of this with you, and now that all the important people know, I finally can!
To Austin! Chris has accepted a one-year-long clerkship under a Judge, and I'm beyond proud of him. This is such a huge honor! God has really given him a gift for mentally processing law and for desiring knowledge. I've loved seeing him learn how to use his gifts to serve. His clerkship will begin in September of 2015, and we are expecting to move at the end of August.
...And Coming Back.
Chris has also accepted a position for after his clerkship finishes, and it will take us back to DFW – Fort Worth, specifically! Chris will be working for the appellate department at one of the firms he worked at this past summer. We were so honored that they extended him an offer, and even in the department Chris was most excited about. We love the city of FW and have made such wonderful friends there. Accepting this offer means we would be settling down in cowtown in July 2016! We also know that, often, our "plans" don't go as expected, and sometimes the Lord leads us on surprising journeys... so we are being open-handed with all of this and doing our best to prayerfully listen where God is calling us to be.
AND... I'm heading back to school.
A complete surprise to me this year was the Lord leaning into my heart to consider attending seminary school. He had whispered it in the back of my mind, but I kept thinking maybe that would be nice in the far-off future. Over Labor Day weekend, Chris asked me if I had ever thought about it (I had.) and he said he had looked into it financially and asked around about several schools, and highly encouraged me to think about it. We spent a few weeks praying about it on our own, and then slowly began asking friends and family to pray over the decision as well. I applied to Dallas Theological Seminary with the request to be considered for the fall 2015 Master of Arts in Biblical Studies program. AND I GOT ACCEPTED! It's a two-year long program that goes through every single book of the Bible, with a basic theological education, and a bit of teaching on writing and speaking. DTS has an extension campus in Austin, and this degree is the only one they offer almost entirely online. I will go through my first year of school while we are in Austin, and my second when we come back to DFW. My heart might burst, I'm so excited.
More than anything, I just want to know the Lord better. If that pours out and leads others to know the Lord better... that's the giant cherry on top. He has truly made Himself my desire, and though I repeatedly fail and seek other things, He has firmly rooted the things He wants in my heart... which is mostly more of Him.
I'm planning to work part-time during school, and will continue taking on freelance projects. With that said, if you have any dreams you'd like to see come to life, please let me know!
For 2015 we have so many adventures on the horizon, and I can't wait to see where the Lord is taking us. I'm choosing to meditate on these verses for the coming year...
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire."
- Hebrews 12:28-29 -
We're ready to continue sharing joy in new and more adventurous ways. Bring it on, 2015!