So another year has come and gone. It’s run away from me, this 2015! At the same time, though, it has been a big year, one that deserves several recap posts. Be on the lookout for the following posts:

  • 2015 In Review: Best Music
  • 2015 In Review: Best Books
  • 2015 In Review: Best Photos
  • 2015 In Review: Spiritual Growth

Each of the “growth” posts will have my goals for the new year! On to the blog growth review for 2015!

If you look at this year – and my blog growth – as a timeline, this is what you’ll come up with:

March 2015

I was wrestling with the idea of putting my (then offline) blog online. I was keenly aware of the fact that the blog decision wasn’t really mine to make, but I was trying to get a grip on how I would feel if the blog were online, how I would lay it out, and how I would write. At that point, I didn’t have a real sense of what it looked/felt like to write something public, not something that barely exceeded a journal entry, as far as professional-ness.

April 2015

I got an email from Erin Davis, head of the Lies Young Women Believe blog. Earlier in the year, I had submitted an article for an opportunity they’d opened up for the readers to write on the blog! Since I had heard nothing in reply, I’d assumed they had rejected my article. However. God had other plans, and in the email, Erin said that they wanted to use my article sometime in early May! I was excited, and my imagination saw possibilities of Sunrise, my novel that I had just finished, being self-published soon and therefore the article could promote that. A little voice in the back of my head whispered the possibility of an online blog, brought into being by this article. I was wrong about Sunrise. But I was right about the blog.

May 2015

The day my LYWB article went live, my dad installed WordPress on my site, where you’re currently reading this. šŸ˜‰ Nothing was published on the blog, however, until late May. I was excited, but certain unusual events surrounding the publishing of that article burst my bubble a little. My article had been read by an atheist who was and is fiercely against Evangelicals. He quoted me in an article of his own, not necessarily insulting me personally, but definitely insulting my parents, my way of life, and my upbringing. That was a wake-up to me that though I love and feel passionately about what I write, others might not agree with me, and it could get messy. I’m not ashamed of what I do, but since I’m so young (I think I was the youngest writer to get published on Lies Young Women Believe from that contest!) and because my parents felt I should take some time to get my feet wet with this whole blogging thing, we made my blog pretty private, and turned comments off. These things may change in the future, but I wanted to write and explain a little of why we chose to do that.

June-July 2015

A super busy time for me! I learned that though I had tons of really neat ideas and inspiration, there was just no way I could sit down and write all of them down in my schedule! If you look in the archives, you’ll find that I did publish some posts during this time period, but there aren’t many (like, six articles šŸ˜› ).

August-September 2015

I got back in the game these two months, with a whopping sixteen articles for August, and fifteen for September! I started Music Review Mondays, through which I have reviewed music from artists like:

  • United
  • Lauren Daigle
  • Steven Curtis Chapman
  • Nichole Nordeman
  • For King & Country
  • BarlowGirl

I also reviewed one movie, Cinderella. In August, I also began a ten-week photography challenge with my friend, Lauren. We just finished this December! šŸ˜› I figured out that I love lettering and I wanted to pursue it more, so there were quite a few pictures posted on the blog of that. A milestone in September was my first guest interview with my friend Sarah, who owns Once Upon A OneZ.

October-November 2015

Less articles for these months, averaging about ten each. Overall, I would say the milestones with these two months were the better quality of the photos and design of the images for the posts. I have enjoyed getting better at design and learning more about how to get things to look good! I also had another guest interview, with Petra from Petra Grace Photography.

December 2015

The blog design changed quite a bit! Let me showcase some of the bigger changes:

Screen-shot-2015-11-20-at-7.32.50-PMThe logo!! Isn’t it lovely?! It came out of my itching to change things up a little and to represent what I do here on With Open Hands a little better. I love the hand-lettered font (no, it’s not my original lettering!) and its ability to mix with my beloved Courier-style font that I use for most of my graphics. You’ll also notice I cut the tagline. I got tired of it (haha) and figured it didn’t need to be on there because of the “what’s in a name” page. The “official” tagline is now musings | photography | lettering because that’s basically what’s on here anyway. But enough on that.

Screen-shot-2015-11-20-at-3.26.56-PMThe sidebar category buttons! Aren’t they cute? This is my favorite shade of pink and that same amazing font, combined with the sleek-looking outlines. I love the girlishness of these!

all-my-christmases-shadow

The Music Review Monday stamp! This vintage, distressed stamp was born out of a “vision” I had one day. I love it, and now all you have to look for when you want to read a music review is the stamp. šŸ˜‰

Goals and Changes for 2016

I have a lot of goals for 2016, but some of them include:

  • more guest posts. I hope to have several guest reviewers for Music Review Mondays, as well as my sister with some recipe posts!
  • less stress with Music Review Mondays. I’m probably going to do them every other Monday, or even just once a month, to give myself more time and less pressure to get them done weekly.
  • some more “shop” action! We’re currently thinking about adding a greeting cards/stationary section to replace the “custom Christmas cards”.

Anyway! Thank you for sticking with me this long, friends! I can’t wait for 2016!