30 Before 30

Cheers to 30

After six years of blogging toward 30, I’m almost there. Tomorrow, I reach this milestone that I thought was so huge when I was 24.

It has been a decade of figuring out who I really am, what I want to do, and who I want to be. I had to figure out how to adult and take care of myself. And now, how to take care of someone else. It was almost a full decade of figuring out how to really love and know someone else. It was figuring out how to really love and know myself.

And it required a lot of trial and error. A lot of change.

When I look back on the past decade, I’ve lived in 5 cities, and at least twice as many dorm rooms, apartments, and houses. I’ve traveled to four continents, somewhere around 20 countries, and met countless people along the way. I’ve lost friends and made friends. I’ve had not only several jobs, but several career paths – all abandoned for a volunteer ministry in Purpose Coffee and the occasional consulting work, stuck in between feedings, diaper changes, and naps. I’ve struggled. And succeeded. Fell on my knees in desperate prayer, and then again in overwhelming thanksgiving.

From sorority girl, to single in the city, to business woman, to farmwife, to stay at home mom. Just when I hit my grove and think I’ve got it figured out, life seems to change pretty drastically.

Through all of this change, I’ve learned a lot about myself. And maybe a little about life in general. As I look back on my 20s, here are some of my biggest lessons learned:

Everyone struggles. Your 20s are hard. No matter what path life takes you on in your 20s – whether you’re married with 3 kids, divorced, single, working, not working, still in school, living on your own, living with your parents, living with three other people in a single bedroom rental – it’s a tough decade. Even though it looks like your friend or that person on Facebook has it all together – I don’t think any of us really do yet.

I heard a theory once that if we could put everyone’s life on a clothes line – with our struggles and joys honestly spelled out – and you could go pick whichever set of circumstances you wanted – we would all go back and pick our own.

So just because you don’t have it together yet, it’s not worth it to beat yourself up – or to pretend like you actually do have it together. Embrace the mess. Be truthful and vulnerable. Connect with people who are right there in the middle of the mess with you.

You lose friends; you make friends. I’ve hurt people, and people have hurt me.

I’m sorry. That we couldn’t communicate. That we didn’t have compassion for one another. That I held onto anger or resentment. That I wasn’t a bigger person.

I’m sad. That we drifted apart. That our friendship ended. That I don’t even know the person I used to care so much about.

But I’m thankful for the season you were in my life. You impacted me, taught me things, shaped who I am today.

I wish we were in a place to just put it all behind us. But, it’s also okay that we are different people now. And sometimes the damage is irreparable – and that’s life.

I’m thankful to start a new decade with only fond memories and no more hard feelings.

There’s power in asking for what you want. This was one of the most important things I learned. In my early 20s, I spent so much time trying to figure out what other people wanted that I often forgot to think about what I wanted. And even if I did know what I wanted, I wasn’t brave enough to say it.

I finally worked up the courage to say what I wanted at work, in terms of responsibilities, hours, and salary. And I said it. Put it into the world. And they said okay. And it came to be. Hmm, that was easy.

Since then, there has been such empowerment in figuring out what I want, saying it, and making it happen. Whether it is through prayer, sending positivity into the world, or making a concrete plan to make those desires come to fruition – knowing what you want and saying it is half the battle.

I can’t force it. Piggy backing on knowing what I want…. I’ve also learned that I can’t force myself to want something. My head can know something is the best choice, but if my heart doesn’t want it, it’s not happening. (For example – I know that exercising is really important and the best choice for my health now and in the future. But my heart isn’t having it. And I cannot force myself to do it.)

So many of my 30 before 30 goals ended up not being in my heart. And they so didn’t get accomplished. I didn’t even try. And that’s okay – I learned something about myself in the process.

And at the same time that I didn’t accomplish so many things, I accomplished a lot in my 20s. When something is in my heart, I suddenly have all the self-discipline and determination in the world. It will happen.

As I conclude this tumultuous decade, I’m proud of what I have accomplished and of the effort I put into learning, experiencing, working, traveling, loving. I’m at peace with what didn’t come to be. And I’m so thankful for the many blessings I’ve had along the way and the help and support from friends and family.

I’m not particularly excited about being 30 tomorrow, but I’m really happy my 20s are coming to an end. I’ll start 30 tomorrow knowing who I am, confident in my marriage, with amazing friends and family beside me, and so thankful for this little life I lead.

Cheers to 30.

Cheers to 30.

 

rePURPOSE

Can nesting happen AFTER baby comes? Because I’m pretty sure that’s what’s happening.

I worked all the way through my pregnancy, right up until the week Whit was born. And I just didn’t have the energy for true nesting. Now, having been cooped in my house for almost three months – the urge to really nest is setting in. To clean. To organize. To streamline. To simplify. To get rid of. To sell. To donate.

As I look around, I have nice things, that I like, but they just aren’t right for me anymore. Clothes that don’t quite fit right. Shoes that are a little too snug. Purses that I never use. Decor that no longer has a home. Things that I don’t want to just give away – but that I don’t want taking up space in my life anymore. They are sitting in closets, waiting to be loved again. To be given a new purpose.

A few weeks ago, I was telling my mom how I wished someone would host a charity garage sale that I could send my stuff to. And then I realized I’m involved with a charity doing some pretty amazing work around this world. Hey, why don’t I have that garage sale?!

And so, we are having a multi-family garage sale this Thursday, with all funds going to Purpose Coffee and our efforts to care for orphaned and vulnerable children around the world. (There are additional garage sales happening across the street – so lots of shopping to be done!)

Thank you so much to those who have donated to the garage sale, giving us a wide selection of sizes and styles! Shop clothes, home decor, kitchen goods, kids stuff, and more!

Shop for a PurposerePURPOSE

As I’ve gone through my things and found so much that I don’t mind parting with – it really got me thinking. This needs to be a life change for me.

I want every aspect of my life to have purpose and to be meaningful. And that extends to the things I own. I want my home to reflect our style and personality as a family. I want my closet to be filled with clothes I want to wear. I want my storage closets to house loved items.

So, I’m trying a new avenue to clear out these items that don’t quite fit my purpose. The online store, rePURPOSE, will feature only new, like new, and very gently used goods, with all of the funds going to Purpose Coffee’s Child Wellness Fund.

Follow the rePURPOSE account on Instagram for regular updates. I’m happy to ship or can arrange local pickup. I hope you’ll find something and give it a new Purpose in your life.

My first sale is in honor of Memorial Day this week, featuring red, white, and blue outfits, with items starting at just $5!

rePURPOSErePURPOSErePURPOSE

Purpose: Dalhart

Since we welcomed Whitaker to the world just over two months ago, friends, family, and acquaintances frequently ask some of the same questions: “Don’t you just love him?!” “How’s he sleeping?” and “Are you opening a coffee shop?!”

So, let me answer those. Yes, he’s a dream. Sometimes he sleeps wonderfully. And, no – at least not yet.

It’s the last question that needs a little more explanation.

A few days ago, I posted a progress shot of the building we and some friends are renovating to house Purpose Coffee in Dalhart. We hope that this new space will make it easier to shop, sip, roast, and ship. So, it will be a shop. And there will be coffee. But it’s not a coffee shop.

Purpose: Dalhart

Instead, it’s a space to further the mission of Purpose Coffee, and the dreams we have for the company. We will roast and ship from the location. And will have limited hours that we are open so that the community can more easily buy coffee and purpose-driven goods.

It will be a space to organize and host events, tastings, and expand the reach of our annual charity run and pancake breakfast (hoping to host this in September, so be looking for more details!). We will be able to share updates about our projects and the great works that are being accomplished, all because there are a lot of coffee lovers out there.

But, it’s also more than just an office space for Purpose Coffee.

For a long time, I’ve had a dream, a hope, a prayer, that Purpose Coffee could be a tool for individuals to find and pursue their spiritual passions – indeed, to find their own God-given Purpose. And, I’ve dreamed, and hoped, and prayed, that it could be a tool that unifies and excites the various church bodies in Dalhart. That instead of focusing on what differences we have, we can bond over a cup of coffee and focus on the commonality we have in Jesus. So, we want Purpose: Dalhart to be a community space for fellowship, for learning, for prayer, for worship.

Admittedly, it’s a fluid concept, waiting to be molded based on God’s plans. And I can’t wait to brew some coffee with friends and see just what those plans are.

Dear Whitaker :: 1 Month

Dear Whit,

In some ways, I can’t believe it has already been a month. It seems like just yesterday we were bringing you home from the hospital. But, on the other hand, it seems like you’ve been a part of our family forever – as if we have always been a family of three and you just weren’t here yet. We know your cries and grunts and coos, your squirms, and the many faces you make. You are part of us, and we are part of you.

OneMonth

We love learning what you like and don’t like – even at such a young age. Nothing mesmerizes you quite like a ceiling fan or the big blue sky when we are out for a walk. You certainly love to eat. And to snuggle. You’re not such a fan of putting on clothes or dogs licking your face. And baths aren’t so great at first, but you end up liking them by the end.

You have grown so much in just a few short weeks. You’re no longer wearing newborn sizes and you’re about to outgrow your little bassinet. You used to fit perfectly in the crook of my arm, and now you’re a sprawling baby that takes up my whole lap. It’s amazing to watch you change into the person you were born to be right before my eyes.

Some women are mothers, even long before they actually have kids. Not me. Over the last month, you have made me a mom. You have brought out a kind of love and a new joy and motherly instincts that I didn’t know existed in me. I will forever be thankful for that.

We love you, little one.

Mama

Nesting

When I used to dream about being pregnant, I planned that I would photograph and document and blog the whole journey. I would take week by week bump photos and have cute little signs that tell all about my growing baby.

Well, that plan went out the window about as soon as I found out I was pregnant. And here I am, entering the third trimester, with less than a handful of pictures and no cute signs!

Andrus Williams Photography

The last few months have gone by so fast and so slowly at the same time. After our difficult fertility issues, I’ve barely let myself get excited – telling myself just to get past the next milestone.

And I’ve finally realized that all that’s doing is robbing me of this joyous time in my life. So, like my plan to photograph everything, my plan to not get excited is out the window.

This last month, Russell and I have enjoyed picking out baby’s name (and starting my monogramming obsession), starting his little wardrobe (baby clothes are the CUTEST!), and planning his nursery.

Nursery

A snowy, windy day forced us to stay home and inside today, so it was the perfect opportunity to begin work on the nursery!

In my months of not letting myself get excited, I had started using my spare bedroom as my very disorganized storage room… “I’ll just stick this in here until I start on the nursery…” Well, that meant my “Before” pictures ended up looking like this:

Nursery BeforeNursery Before

(Yikes! I’m almost embarrassed to share those!)

We spent the day clearing the room out so we could start from scratch. My furniture hasn’t been delivered yet – so I’m decorating this room in reverse. Decorations first and then furniture. Let’s hope it works out the way it looks in my head…

It’s amazing the peace it brought to start this project. Even though his due date isn’t for a few more months, it was already stressing me out that his nursery was quite literally a storage space… Even though we don’t have any of the important things in place – like, say, a crib or a changing table – it’s still such a relief to have a little organization and the start of a plan. The power of nesting really is so real!

Here are a few peeks at Whit’s nursery so far!

NurseryNurseryNursery

 

It’s a…

Well, I’ve made no secret out of the fact that I want a little girl. I want bows and sequins in my future, and not just for me.

From the second I found out I was pregnant, though, I was positive that it was a boy. From the moment that the second line appeared on that test, I immediately – almost spontaneously – started praying for this little baby. That HE would grow into a strong and courageous man for God.

Well, the doctor confirmed what I knew all along – it’s a boy. And my dreams of bows and sequins are turning into bow ties and camo and footballs.

And so it begins… like father like son!

Baby WIlliamsBaby Williams
(Thanks to The Pear Tree for the super cute clothes – they made finding out it’s a boy that much better!)

The Happiest Anniversary

For 1,829 wonderful days, I’ve been Russell’s wife.

In that time, we’ve celebrated 5 anniversaries, birthdays, new businesses. We acquired a zoo. We traveled and adventured – a lot. Moved (a few times…) – and made a home, new lives, and dear new friends. We’ve grown in love and in our relationship. For that 1,829 days, we have been unapologetically and unequivocally happy together.

But among all of those wonderful memories from the last five years of marriage, this anniversary stands out as the best. Although we didn’t go any place exciting, no presents were exchanged, and no champagne toast – we got to see our baby move and its little heart flutter. It was pretty dang amazing.

Andrus Williams Creative

Yes, at long last, I get to write these words: I’m pregnant.

So, to my love – thank you for five amazing years of marriage and for the happiest anniversary. I am so blessed to have you by my side in this new adventure and am so excited for what’s to come.

29

The cornerstone of this blog is my 30 Before 30 list. Yesterday, I celebrated birthday 29. Giving me just one year to complete this list.

For quite a while, I’ve known that I’m not going to complete it. Not even close.

There were so many things that naive-23-year-old-Julia assumed about her life and her future that didn’t exactly come to be. It didn’t even cross her mind that she might be living in Dalhart; she hadn’t even heard of Dalhart. She didn’t think that both she and her husband would ever work non-traditional, non-office jobs. She didn’t think she’d get tired of her old hobbies, want new ones, or change her interests. She didn’t think it would be so dang hard to get pregnant. She didn’t think that sleeping in and laying on the couch at night would sound so much better than doing something active. I’m not even sure if she thought she would age.

Well, life showed her.

As I look over my list now, there are so many of the goals that are still important to me. And so many that just aren’t. With my last year, there are several goals that I’m excited to keep working on – and a few I’m excited to let go of the pressure to do. Here’s a little update on my progress… and lack there of.

Go on a safari. 23-year-old-Julia didn’t think it would be so hard to get her husband to go to Africa with her. One of these days, I’m going to get him to come around.

Give regularly and substantially to charity. Done. Having always worked in the non-profit sphere, it was easy to throw my support behind whatever organization I was working for at the time. But, it has been so fun and fulfilling to step away from working in that world and be able to give where my heart actually and fully is.

Learn to eat more vegetables. Done. This is one of the goals that I put a lot of time and effort into. I’ve so enjoyed finding new vegetables and new recipes that I can not only tolerate, but actually enjoy. The biggest hurdle – realizing that you don’t have to boil a vegetable to mush (something my dear grandmother never learned).

Learn Latin dancing. Didn’t happen. Probably not going to happen.

Learn a new language. This is the goal that I have the most regret about. I have Rosetta Stone and live with a fluent Spanish speaker. Why is the only thing I can say in Spanish “Yo quiero Taco Bell” ?!? And I don’t even like Taco Bell.

Go to all the continents (well, besides Antarctica. It’s just cold there.) I only have Australia to go! Crossing my fingers to cross this one off the list soon. Maybe for my 30th!

Learn to play tennis. Russell and I totally played tennis several times in DC. Then we moved to the part of the world where it blows 40 mph wind on a normal day, with dirt and cow poo in the air. And that was the end of our tennis playing.

Stop being so dang forgetful. I plead the fifth on this one.

Start and maintain my own garden. We started a garden, and moved, and started a new one, and moved, and so on… And it’s in my plans for my backyard makeover. I’m feeling confident that I’ll have this one checked off by next year!

Become a better cook. Check.

Improve photography skills. Check.

Start scrapbooking again. I haven’t been able to get back into paper scrapbooking, but I have done digital scrapbooking. That counts…?

Learn HTML and Flash and create a website. I didn’t learn too much HTML or Flash, but I have created a website or two.

Find ways to manage my stress besides having a short temper, crying, and grinding my teeth. Unfortunately, my dentist can tell you this didn’t come to be.

Have active savings accounts for each kids’ college and our retirement. Let’s get real… after four years as a farmwife, I still don’t understand farm finances. So, I have no idea if we are planning for retirement. Do farmers retire??

Be able to do pushups and pull-ups. Haha.

Go on a cruise. Completed!

Make a cookbook of family recipes. This is another goal that I regret not happening yet. One year left to get it done…

Do a wine tour of Napa Valley. No tour of Napa yet, but I did tour Temecula, CA

Completely forgive anyone I hold grudges against. True, total, Biblical forgiveness is so hard. You think that pain and resentment is gone – and then one day it rears its ugly head. This is something I am constantly working on and praying about. I know it’s a soul thing, not a head thing – and those just seem to be harder to change.

Move back to Texas! Check. Y’all.

Learn to drive a stick shift. I still have no idea what a clutch is or what it does.

Learn to ski or snowboard. It turns out, I still don’t like the cold. So, I haven’t spent so much time (read: any time) working on this one. And, unless I can find a place to ski or snowboard in Hawaii, I’m probably not going to.

Maintain relationships with my relatives. So happy to say yes to this one. Not only do I still have a wonderful relationship with my family, I’ve gotten to know Russell’s family so much better since starting this list. We are truly blessed to have such wonderful, loving, supportive families in our lives.

Buy myself a nice piece of jewelry. Check!

Stay fit. Ugh. This goal hangs over me every morning when I sleep in instead of getting up and going to the gym. Right now, this one is a fail.

Be a better reader. Sometimes this is true. Sometimes it’s not.

Become more aware of current events and politics. I’m a total political cynic since leaving DC and so disillusioned by our government, its leaders, and our society in general. And I avoid the news as a result. So much so, that my recent Google searches include “What is ISIS?” I wouldn’t say I’m too aware.

Enjoy life with Russell. So much, yes. Life with him is a ball.

Be genuinely at peace when I turn 30. Life has thrown a lot of curve balls and tough times over the last few years. I could have never pictured this life that I’m living – and I sure wish there were some things that I’d done differently along the way. But today, at 29, I have the most amazing husband, a wonderful and entertaining zoo of pets, a lovely home, and Purpose for my life. And I’m at peace with that.

 

Hello Fresh Review

When I worked from home, I was such an adventurous cook. I constantly sought out new ingredients, new recipes, and new cooking methods. My blog was full of new and old recipes and the occasional successful experiment. “Become a better cook” is one of the 30 before 30 goals that I’ve really gone above and beyond to try to accomplish! I guess that’s what cooking three meals a day does to you…

When I transitioned back to working outside of the home, my adventurous culinary spirit took an extended vacation. Now, dinner is all about what is the easiest, fastest, or requires the least thought to make. And, as a result, I’m kinda bored with my cooking.

I’ve had friends who sing praises about Plated… but they don’t deliver here. Recently, another friend recommended Blue Apron, but they had a long wait time. So I googled around for other similar services and found Hello Fresh. I’ve gotten two boxes so far – and I think it’s pretty great!

Here’s how it works. Russell and I are signed up for the couples box – but there’s an option for families too. I go online and pick 3 meals from a menu of 5 options for the week. Then, the following Thursday, I get a box delivered with all of the ingredients for 2 servings of the 3 meals I picked. It comes packed on ice, with the meat separate from the rest of the ingredients. And, a booklet is included with the recipes and information about each meal!

Hello Fresh Review :: Andrus Williams CreativeHello Fresh ReviewSo far, we’ve had Smoky Adobo Chicken Tacos with Mango Slaw (yum), Brioche Shrimp Rolls, a Charred Scallion and Corn Flatbread (SO good!), and Thai Pork Laarb Burgers (can’t wait to make again!). And I have the ingredients for Steak with Summer Vegetables and Crushed Beet Spaghetti waiting in my refrigerator.

When I signed up for the service, I read some iffy reviews online. So I was skeptical at first. But here are my honest thoughts… The ingredients all came totally fresh and packaged well – as good or better than what I can get locally. The recipes have been delicious and easy to make. But, my favorite part – the meals are pretty different than anything I would make normally. Considering how limited my culinary options are here in the middle of no where, this kind of service makes such a huge impact on our meals and my cooking.

Hello Fresh is doing a promotion right now, and I can give away FREE meals to 3 people! The first ones to contact me get it. So leave a message or get in touch on social media if you want to try it! Or, you can use my referral code to sign up – G5TGQH – and get $40 off your first box!

 

Backyard Makeover :: Day 1

After – um, 3 years – of talking about expanding our backyard, the project is finally underway! A bit ago, we bought the lot next to us so that we can have more room for our zoo and better outdoor living. Russell and I both grew up in the country, and we’re craving a little more space and a few more trees.

If you know me at all, you know I think big. So, this backyard makeover is really a 3 phase project. And, at the rate we tend to move, the three phases will probably take place over the next 10 years. But, at least we’re finally making progress!

In this first phase, we’re fencing in the new lot next to us, landscaping, and planting trees. And I can’t stay away from home renovations… so we are turning our existing patio into a sun room. I’m so excited to have better access to outdoor living space! I’m dreaming of trees, and sunset views, and evening breezes. (And, yes, I know, flies and dirt and 40 mph winds.)

I can’t wait to see the area transform…  I hope it turns out at least half as awesome as it looks in my head.

Here are a few pictures from Day 1. Stay tuned for more as the project progresses!Andrus WilliamsAndrus WilliamsAndrus WilliamsAndrus WilliamsAndrus Williams

 

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