100 Days of Sunlight Blog Tour || (in which I cry a lot) || Book Review + Author Interview + GIVEAWAY!

Saturday, August 10, 2019


Let the celebrating commence, because one of my favorite humans in the entire world has released HER DEBUT NOVEL!!!

You guys have heard me rave many times about the supernova that is Abbie Emmons, but Abbie is a person who's worth celebrating every single day. When she first walked into my life four years ago, I had no idea how much sunlight, encouragement, and love she would bring with her. Abbie is one of my absolute truest friends. She is thoughtful and loving and kind, and I am eternally grateful to know her. (If only Vermont wasn't so darn far away!!)

When she told me that she would be releasing her debut novel this summer, I could not have been more excited or proud. Getting to see one of my best friends realize a dream that she's held so close to her heart for so long gives me ALL THE EMOTIONS. (she posted this video on her launch day and I bawled. it's fine. please watch it and cry with me.) So today, we are CELEBRATING!!! Celebrating this amazing friend of mine, and her incredible debut novel. Abbie, I hope you know how incredibly proud we all are of you. You do so much for so many people, and I have loved seeing the blogging community get to come together to celebrate you and your art. I don't know of a single soul who deserves it more than you. Love you infinitely. ♥

(Also, can I just mention that 100 Days of Sunlight is currently the #1 new release in its category on Amazon?!?!? Oh look I'M CRYING AGAIN.)

So TODAY, we're having a big 100 Days of Sunlight party here on Totally Graced! Read on for my full review of the book, an interview with Abbie herself, and A GIVEAWAY!! (Because who doesn't like a good giveaway?) 

LET'S JUMP INTO IT!

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100 Days of Sunlight tells the story of teenage blogger Tessa Dickenson. After Tessa is involved in a car accident, she finds herself completely blind. Doctors have hope that her sight will return in a little over three months, but for the time being, Tessa is trapped in a world of darkness. She's bitter and doesn't know how to cope with this new way of life. She's no longer able to write, and she doesn't see how life can hold any beauty for her any longer. 

Enter Weston Ludovico. When Tessa's grandparents place an ad for someone to come and help Tessa maintain her poetry blog while she is without her sight, amputee Weston decides that he just might be the right person for the job. He gets what Tessa is going through even when she feels like no one does, and thinks that he can help her. His one condition? Tessa can't know that he lost his legs. 

Slowly, Weston coaxes Tessa out of the darkness she's trapped herself in, far darker than any blindness. But when Tessa's sight slowly begins to return, is Weston ready to be seen?

Going into this book, I had a pretty good idea that I was going to be a fan. My love for Abbie aside, it sounded right up my alley. However, there really aren't words for just how much I fell head over heels in love with 100 Days of Sunlight. 

This book is unlike anything I've ever read before. It was everything I could want in a book and more. From the characters to the setting to the plot to the themes to the aesthetic of it all, I was obsessed. Like, come on. It's a book with a precious hate to love couple that takes place in a small town and involves waffles and poetry and finding hope in the darkness. What on earth is there for me not to fall in love with here? I can quite literally say after reading it that 100 Days of Sunlight is Abbie's soul on the page. There is so much of her within this book, and maybe that's why I love it so. It's so genuine and truthful and real.

Abbie did such a brilliant job with this book. One of my favorite parts is that this book is told in five parts, with each part titled as one of the five senses. It was such a small detail that wove everything together so well. (You'll understand when you read it. Which you have to do. Just trust me.)

Every single one of the characters grabs your heart. Tessa isn't necessarily always likeable, but you feel for her. You understand why she's lashing out even when it's not pretty, and you just want her to get back up on her feet again. Weston is singlehandedly one of the most precious characters I have ever read. If we all had a little more of Weston in us, the world would be such a better place. He's a fighter with a smile that lights up any darkness, and he's filled with more hope and optimism than one would ever think possible. He hasn't had the easiest road, but his strength will both break your heart and warm it, all at once.

Then you have each and every side character, from Tessa's grandparents to Weston's family to Rudy, Weston's beyond loveable best friend. Rudy and Weston's relationship was actually one of my favorite parts of the book. They've grown up together, and they're such BOYS, but they have a really special friendship that I loved seeing the dynamics of.

I also feel the need to mention that there are a few scenes in the book involving Tessa's blogger tribe that quite literally made me cry. You'll see why when you read the book, but Abbie, I love you endlessly for doing that. You have my heart always. ♥

Tessa and Weston's relationship is so simple and pure and wonderful. Seeing them slowly learn to trust each other as they begin to fall in love is the most beautiful thing. Their growth and individual character arcs were stunning, and their relationship along made me never want the book to end. Because the book revolved around their story, it wasn't very fast-paced, but I quite literally never put it down. I read it cover to cover in the span of an afternoon, totally obsessed. It was two seventeen-year-olds falling in love in the most natural, beautiful way, and I couldn't get enough.

It was also incredible to me how much detail Abbie went into regarding Tessa and Weston's disabilities. It's clear that she did a ton of research, and it paid off. It was so interesting to learn more about what it would be like to be blind, or to be an amputee. I know that making sure that those situations are accurately represented is super super important, and I was so impressed with how it was all written.

Beyond all of this, though - beyond the characters, and the plot, and the research, and the aesthetics of the book, 100 Days of Sunlight is a book about hope. At its very core, it is a book about hope and light and falling but getting back up again. It's about strength and about sunlight, and about realizing that your only real limitation in life is yourself. I can honestly say that I've never read a book as hopeful as 100 Days of Sunlight, and that is without a doubt my favorite thing about it. If you're in a place right now where you feel like you're running out of options, or that things are never going to get better, or that you don't know how to pick yourself back up - this is the book for you. So Abbie, thank you. Thank you for reminding us all that there is still hope. Even when "obnoxious optimism" doesn't feel like it will ever be a reality, this book is a reminder to keep fighting.

I couldn't possibly love it more.

RATING - ⭑⭑⭑⭑ 
(Is more than five stars an option??)

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I had the pleasure of getting to ask Abbie all about this beautiful debut of hers! It was so much fun to get to talk with her about her writing - I always love hearing from this beautiful soul. Take it away, Abbie!


Where did you get the idea to write 100 Days of Sunlight?

One day I was thinking about my own lifestyle and how much I use my sense of sight for everything I do: blogging, writing, making videos, reading, everything -- and then I thought how different all that would be if, for some reason, I suddenly went blind. I pondered this thought for a few hours, and then the idea struck me: blogger girl loses her eyesight, meets a boy with no legs (unbeknownst to her) and he helps her overcome her struggles. That was all I had at the start, but it was enough to totally steal my heart and make me want to write the book IMMEDIATELY.


I know that you've written a lot of different novels over the years - what was your favorite part of writing this one, and what made you decide that it would be your debut?

I knew 100 Days of Sunlight would be my debut novel before I even finished writing it. There’s just something special about it that completely captured my heart. I consider it to be my best work and I just COULD NOT WAIT to share it with the world!! I don’t even know if I can pinpoint a favorite part of writing this book… I felt so inspired while writing the whole thing, it was just a pleasure from beginning to end.


Since this is your first time going through the process of taking a novel from an idea to publication, is there anything that you would do differently?

I would spend extra time editing my manuscript myself before I sent it to my editor. As it happened, I ended up adding a few scenes post-editor and then corresponding back and forth with her about the bits I added. She graciously edited the new pieces and gave me feedback whenever I sent them to her, but it would have all gone much smoother if I had added those bits before sending her the manuscript. Ah well. We live and learn!


Who was your favorite character to write?

Both my protagonists Tessa and Weston were super fun to write, but I would have to say my favorite to write was Weston. I just love him so much! He is my precious darling. I loved writing his backstory and his journey, both internal and external. Also, his sense of humor. Comedy is one of my favorite things to write, and Weston always brought a touch of humor to every scene that needed it.


100 Days of Sunlight involves several physical disabilities. What was it like doing all of the medical research and making sure that you portrayed those issues accurately?

My research process involved lots and lots and lots of reading; it was a super fascinating and educational journey that I really enjoyed. I read tons of blog posts, first-hand accounts, articles, more blog posts, watched vlogs and videos, asked questions, and read some more. The most interesting thing I learned is that every person’s experience is very different. This allowed me to give my characters a unique experience with the disabilities they faced, while still staying true to what I had learned of real-life experiences. Also, my editor had worked as a sighted guide at a center for the blind, so she was able to give some great input on Tessa’s condition and experiences.


You and I have talked quite a bit about our love for MBTI typing our characters - what were the character's personality types in 100 Days of Sunlight? For the readers who don't obsessively type their characters (*nervous laughter*), how do you go about typing? Do you pick types for them, or do you get a picture of the characters in your head and take the test as they would?

Yes!! MBTI typing characters is one of my favorite parts of the writing process! In 100 Days of Sunlight, Tessa is an INFJ and Weston is an ENFP. Being an INFJ, it was pretty easy for me to write Tessa’s voice. But Weston was definitely a bit of a challenge, what with all his “reckless spontaneity” (what’s ‘spontaneity’, again? lol)

How I usually type my characters is by first figuring out what general personality they’re going to have (ie: bold hero, quiet loyal friend, snarky comic relief, etc.) based on their role in the story. From there, I narrow it down further by choosing an MBTI type for them. I know so much about all the types now, I rarely use the test. But I do use this infographic which is super helpful! Okay I have to stop there – I could talk about MBTI types ALL DAY.


Do you have a favorite scene in the novel?

Oh my gosh this is such a hard question!! I have too many favorite scenes in this book. But if I had to choose, I would pick the scene where Rudy visits Weston in the hospital. I got very emotional writing this part because I loved the dynamic of Weston and Rudy’s relationship – how they beat each other up and act like tough guys, but underneath all that, they are really two softies who love each other more than either of them would admit. In this scene, I feel like they both let their guard down and it was very sad but adorable to write.


As someone who has the pleasure of knowing you (crying that I have a friend this incredible it's fine), it was so beautiful to see so many pieces of you and your heart in this book. How epic was it to get to write a book about blogging and waffles???

I’m crying too omg!!! It’s so amazing that we met through blogging – that’s part of the reason why I wanted to include blogging in the book. It has connected me with so many amazing people all over the world, and I’m forever grateful for that opportunity. Also, WAFFLES. Of course! How could I not write a book without waffles in it? And waffles on the front cover? I loved sprinkling little pieces of myself into this novel and I’m so thrilled that you appreciated that!


Between your iconic blog, your epic YouTube channel, and now this beautiful book, you're gaining quite the invested fan base! (That I know is always dying for new Abbie content.) What do you have up your sleeve in the near future?

Many good things!! My next book will be another standalone in the same sort of genre, but I can’t reveal anything else about it yet! I’m also working on some big projects in the realm of my YouTube channel, but that is also a secret for now! Stay tuned, world. ;)


How does it feel to be A PUBLISHED AUTHOR???

AMAZING!! And a little scary, too. But mostly amazing.


And, the most important question of all - what do you like on your waffles?

A very important question indeed!! Waffle toppings must include but are certainly not limited to: real maple syrup, cinnamon, confectioner’s sugar, blueberries, strawberries, and whipped cream!

Thank you so much for having me on your beautiful blog today, Grace Anne! It was an absolute pleasure to chat with you about all things writing! :D

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a Rafflecopter giveaway
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The giveaway is now CLOSED!! Congratulations to Grace, Hannah Smith, and Caroline Breidenbach! You'll receive your ebook copies shortly!

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AND, in honor of the debut, enter to win an ebook copy of 100 Days of Sunlight! Open now through August 21st. Enter now!!

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Anyone who says she's not the cutest human
they've ever seen is lying.
Abbie Emmons has been writing stories ever since she could hold a pencil.

What started out as an intrinsic love for storytelling has turned into her lifelong passion. There’s nothing she likes better than writing (and reading) stories that are both heartrending and humorous, with a touch of cute romance and a poignant streak of truth running through them.

Abbie is also a YouTuber, singer/songwriter, blogger, traveler, filmmaker, big dreamer, and professional waffle-eater. When she’s not writing or dreaming up new stories, you can find her road-tripping to national parks or binge-watching BBC Masterpiece dramas in her cozy Vermont home with a cup of tea and her fluffy white lap dog, Pearl.





FOLLOW

INSTAGRAM   ||   FACEBOOK   ||   YOUTUBE   ||   BLOG   ||   WEBSITE


BUY 100 DAYS OF SUNLIGHT TODAY!

AMAZON   ||   BARNES AND NOBLE   ||   KOBO   ||   IBOOKS

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Have you read 100 Days of Sunlight yet? I need your thoughts! Send alllllll the fangirling my way in the comments. And if you haven't picked up your copy yet, what are you waiting for? You guys HAVE to read this book - it is an utter work of art in every way. 

Journaling - How I Do It + How I Finally Made a Habit of It

Sunday, August 4, 2019


Anddddddd we're back!!! 

(miss part one? check it out here!)

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about why I love journaling so much, and why I think it could change your life. Journaling has seriously been one of the biggest game changers for me over the years, and I love getting to talk about it here on the blog. Today, we're back with Part 2 of this journaling series, to talk about the logistics of it all - how I journal, the different things that made it less daunting for me, and how I finally made journaling a habit. 

Like I mentioned in my last post, I've always loved journaling, but I struggled for a really long time with consistency. I loved to journal, but over and over and over I would find myself slipping and before I knew it, it had been months since I'd last picked up the pen. 

It wasn't until about two years ago that I figured out what I'd been doing wrong and really managed to  put together a system that worked for me. It's obviously going to be different for everyone, but maybe this will help you figure out what will work for you, too. 

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The biggest thing that changed journaling for me was taking the pressure off of myself - and in taking the pressure off, my consistency soared. I'd been putting so many "rules" on myself when it came to journaling - I had to detail each day in the journal (in order), if I missed a day, I had to catch up, each journal had to serve only ONE purpose, etc. I would become so stressed out and overwhelmed trying to keep up with my own rules that I would end up not journaling at all. It was the most terribly Type A thing to do, and losing that mindset was the best thing that I could have possibly done. 

I used to keep two separate journals - a journal detailing daily life, and a prayer journal. I found out that merging the two was the best decision for me, personally. Some days I just write about life, some days I prayer journal, and some entries go back and forth between the two. It made so much more sense to leave myself the flexibility to use the journal for both. If life is a constant conversation with God, why shouldn't journaling be, too?

In loosening up the restrictions that I was placing on myself, I immediately found myself having an easier time journaling because there was no stress associated with it. I was able to just pick up my journal and write about whatever I wanted without worrying if I was doing it "right". I wasn't writing a novel - I was keeping a journal, and once I realized that everything didn't have to be a perfectly sequential story, there was no turning back. If I could offer one piece of advice, that's what it would be - stop putting pressure on yourself, and just write. After all, wouldn't you rather have pages upon pages of memories, even if they are a bit scattered, as opposed to a couple of pages of incomplete "perfect" journal entries?

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A couple of other things that helped me....

// Find the time that works best for you - and make a habit of it

Some people love to journal first thing in the morning. I've found that I sleep better if journaling is the last thing that I do before I go to bed. Maybe you love journaling when you get home from work or school. Whenever your preferred time is, find it - and stick to it. At the end of the day, if you want journaling to be a habit, you have to be willing to make it one. It's not just going to happen instantly. Habits are built upon consistency. At first, it can be difficult to remember to do it every day. Eventually, though, it does in fact become a habit. For years, I struggled with making a habit of journaling on a daily basis. (The amount of times that I mention wanting to journal more as a goal in old blog posts is a testament to that!) It got to the point, however, where I just had to make the conscious decision that I wanted to make this a priority in my life. Now, it feels wrong if I go to bed without journaling.

Of course, I will caveat this by saying that the world isn't going to end if you miss a day. We're taking the pressure off here, remember? I'm not saying that you have to have a military grade schedule in order to become consistent with journaling. You don't have to do it every day. But routine builds consistency, which builds habit. Remember that. 

// Use the time you have

Let's be honest here. Life gets crazy, and we don't always have the time to write everything that we want to. BUT, if you're like me, you don't want to forget everything. I've found that when I hit points like this, doing one of two things really helps me. 

One option is to write out a quick list within the journal of things that you want to flesh out in full detail at a later point. Then, as you have time, you can go back to the list and write it up later. Again, your journal isn't about perfection, so it's okay if things get out of chronological order. (my perfectionist friends, I know, breathe. It's gonna be okay.) Your future self will just be glad that it's there.

The second option if you've had a really crazy day is to just quickly bullet point your journal entry instead of writing it down in paragraph form. That way, you're writing down the same information, but it gets done a lot more quickly because you're cutting out all of the excess words. Yay for efficiency, am I right?

// Enjoy it

At the end of the day, what's the point in journaling if you don't enjoy it? Journaling should be something you look forward to - not a chore. If writing isn't your thing, maybe you'd like keeping an art journal instead. Maybe you don't want to write pages and pages, but you like to do a quick daily recap at the end of your daily page on your planner or bullet journal. Lose the stress, and just journal for yourself. You're not perfect, and your journal doesn't need to be either. Just write!


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So, are you ready to give journaling a shot? Hopefully now you feel a little less intimidated, and are ready to give it a go. Have you been journaling lately? What's the hardest part of journaling for you? What's your FAVORITE part? Let me know!







The First Impressions Project #4 // Kate

Sunday, June 30, 2019


My favorite adventurer ♥

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Despite the countless hours I've spent in the blogging world, reading posts and finding new blogs and interacting with bloggers, I still remember the first time I landed on The Goodness Revolt. While I don't remember specifically the post that I was reading, I do remember my thoughts, in this specific order.
  1. Dang, I love the aesthetic of this blog.
  2. This girl's photos are ridiculously cool, she looks like she goes on so many adventures. 
  3. How is her writing so good???
  4. She sounds SO NICE but she's just too freaking cool and I have never been so intimidated in my life help. 
Then, somewhere along the way, Kate went from being "that ridiculously incredible human who I have absolutely no business talking to because she's amazing", to one of my absolute dearest friends, and I could not be more grateful. 


Kate Emmons is singlehandedly one of the most incredible human beings I have ever come into contact with. She is fierce and kind and is filled with so much passion for people and for her art and for life. She tells stories of her adventures so vividly that you feel as though you were there, and she asks questions and listens as though your own stories are so immensely important. The photo above is one of my absolute favorites, because it captures Kate so well - her beautiful smile and wonderful laugh. She talks with excitement about her third novel (coming out THIS SEPTEMBER!!), and I adore seeing just how much she loves what she does. I will forever stand by the fact that this girl is going to be the female C.S. Lewis of sci-fi. She has such a way with words, and I love seeing her take over the blogosphere with her stories.



Kate has the most wonderful gift for really being present. It's something that she talks about a lot on her blog, and something that is so evident in her as well. She makes you feel seen, and I think that's such a beautiful trait in a person. She is caring and wise, and just radiates so much joy. Time with her is so refreshing, because she reminds you of all of the beauty and possibility that there is in the world.



She is the best person to take on photo expeditions because she is fully prepared to strap her camera to a tree at any given moment to get the perfect group photo. She has the best travel advice and tales, and lets us all swoon over the story of how she met her husband. (They're precious and make me cry happy tears it's fine.) Her movie taste is spot-on, and I wish that we could have sat in that little pizza shop talking about characters all night. In short, Kate Emmons is a gift, and I feel so beyond lucky to have her.

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I love her, I love her, I love her. What's your favorite thing about Kate? And if you've yet to have the chance to get to know this incredible human, check out the links below and give her a follow. I promise, you'll be better off because of it. ♥

↠↠ FOLLOW HER↞↞

B L O G

Y O U T U B E

T W I T T E R

I N S T A

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In case you missed it - check out my previous First Impressions Project, featuring Katie's amazing sister, Abbie. 

Why I Love Journaling + Why It Could Be The Game-Changer You Need

Saturday, June 22, 2019


I've been scribbling words onto the page for as long as I can remember. When I was little, I had a thousand different diaries, the proof of which can now be found on the top shelf of my closet in the form of around 45 notebooks, ranging from spiral bounds to dollar store notebooks covered with Disney princesses. Most of them are sporadically filled up, the pages of my life littered with sketches of flowers and games of hangman and tic-tac-toe. As I got older, the scribbled doodles became more infrequent as the pages became filled with stories about school, my friends, ideas, worries, and everything in between. Every now and then, I grab the stepladder and haul the piles of pages down from that high up shelf and sift through them, laughing and cringing and remembering. 

I don't know if it's always been the writer in me or the memory hoarder (or perhaps a little of both), but I have forever been a firm believer in the importance of journaling. The day that I graduated high school, I had to give a speech. That speech is a whole story in and of itself that I really ought to share sometime, but I ended up choosing three things that I would encourage my friends still in high school to do. One of those things was to keep a journal. I still stand by that, perhaps even more strongly than I did then. 

So, why is journaling so important? Why bother?

There are a thousand reasons that I'm a firm believer in the power + value of journaling. (If you ever talk to me about this in person, beware - I may never stop talking.) But let's get to the root of it.

1. Journaling is the best way of storing memories.

There's no better way to remember a season of your life than being able to pick up an old journal and read through exactly what you were thinking and feeling. Tiny details that you don't think anything about now will be so much fun to look back on, and it's fascinating to see how you've grown and changed as a person in ways that you're unable to really see without actually getting back into how your brain was working a few years back. I can't tell you how many times I've been looking through an old journal and been so happy to find stories of various adventures I had that I'd completely forgotten about. It's such a special way to store memories to last for a lifetime. I'm so glad to have so many of my crazy high school adventures written down, so that I'll be able to look back on them. It's also a way to see how many prayers have been answered, and how much I've grown and how much the Lord has done in my life over the years. Being able to look through a journal and see how God wove everything together is also singlehandedly one of the most incredible things in the world. You literally get to read your story, and as someone who's madly in love with words, I think that's pretty amazing. 

2. It's such a stress reliever. 

I don't know about you, but I keep a lot of stuff in my head. My brain is constantly going a thousand miles a minute, and after a while, it can get exhausting. Especially when I have something stressing me out - my brain never shuts off. It just spins and spins and spins until I am so beyond drained. What I love about journaling is that it gets the stress and overwhelm out of my head and onto the page, helping me to breathe a little bit easier. It's truly one of the best forms of self-care, and one that I've found I'm able to do without feeling guilty for "wasting time". (Not that self-care is a waste of time, but my perfectionistic, Type A brain doesn't always want to believe that.) It's not that it gets rid of the problem, but there's something about tangibly writing your thoughts down that can help you to stop obsessing. I struggle a lot with anxiety, and when I'm not in the greatest place mentally, journaling can really help to calm down my thoughts. And not to sound like a cranky adult, but there really is something about stepping away from screens and doing something more tangible that helps in ways I can't describe.

3. With that being said...it can help you work out your issues.

A lot of times, things look a lot clearer when they're sitting in front of you as opposed to tangled up in the web of "what ifs" that your brain tries to feed you. There have been a multitude of times where I've been stressing and stressing and stressing only to start to journal my thoughts and realize halfway through that the answer has been in front of me the entire time. When you take the time to take a step back and pick up the pen, it's amazing how much clarity you can gain. 

4. Journaling can help you to understand yourself better.

In writing down your thoughts, you gain the ability to better understand yourself. Maybe it's just the self-reflective introvert in me, but I've found that journaling has helped me to understand different aspects of myself - my stressors, why I react the way that I do to certain things, what's actually upsetting me about a situation, where my priorities lie, what really brings me joy. Journaling helps me to slow down and process, which is important.

5. The freedom is infinite.

You can journal however you'd like. Want to write down a detailed description of your day? Do it. Need a space to vent? Go for it. Exhausted, but want to remember something? Jot down some bullet notes and head to bed. Need to process something? Explain it in the journal. Can't get into a consistent rhythm of praying regularly? Prayer journaling might be just what you need. Your journal can be whatever you want it to be. It's completely up to you and your needs. 

But, Grace Anne, I've tried. I half eight half-filled journals on the shelf that I know I'm never going to finish. I try and try and try, but it's never worked for me. 

Believe me, that was the story of my life for the longest time. I wanted to keep a journal, and I would sporadically go through periods where I would do great with keeping up with it, but it really wasn't until about two years ago that I really figured out how to be consistent and what had been messing me up for so long. Since then, however, I haven't looked back, and I promise you won't either. 

Journaling has singlehandedly been one of the biggest game-changers for me, and I want to show you how it can rock your world, too. SO, if you're ready to dive into the world of journaling with me, stay tuned for part 2 of this post, where I show you just how easy journaling can be, and how to make it work for you. Trust me - you're going to want to give it a shot. 

So tell me - where do you stand with journaling? Are you as big of a fan of it as I am? Been wanting to give it another shot? Never journaled before? Stay tuned, my friends, and let me know your thoughts in the comments! (Like this post? Check out part two!)





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