Photo by Cheyenne Schultz Photography

2018 was a real humdinger of a year for me. I think the word I would choose to represent my year was fearless. I was fearless in pursuit of my goals and dreams because I had experienced true freedom found only in Christ. I was no longer held prisoner to my idol of perfection and allowed myself to try new things and fail, or at least not be “perfect” at them. A wise friend years ago told me that it was ok if I was just good, because “good” or “great” is something and not trying, well, it led to nothing.

1. Started a Blog

So I jumped right into 2018 and started this blog a few days into January. I told Andy (my husband for those who don’t know me IRL) that after deciding to stay home full time I needed a creative outlet. A place to express myself and I could call my own.

Two days after I created my logo for “Life Curated by Cassie” my up until that day, faithful iMac, flashed the white screen of death and I lost everything. I ran upstairs to my bedroom, cried some ugly alligator tears that it was all some sign I was never supposed to launch the blog to begin with. I had just stopped working and had no idea how we’d come up with the money to buy me a new computer and assumed it must all be over before it even had a chance to begin.

My sweet, unbelievably supportive husband marched right in there and wiped my tears. He called me crazy and that I wasn’t giving up so quickly. He wouldn’t allow it. So he jumped on Amazon and found me an old but never opened macbook air box and my new computer arrived within a few days. Now the pressure was really on to actually create something meaningful because we’d made such an investment in it.

2. Refinished a Craiglist Find

I refinished an old desk I found on Craigslist. It may seem like a small thing but it was important for me to see a vision, work on it for 5 days straight and make it to the finish line. It wasn’t perfect- and almost made it better that way. It was physical proof in my home that it’s ok if something is just “great” like my friend said. Every day I walked by and saw it I knew I took a diamond in the rough and made it beautiful (in my eyes). To me this is probably important for every creative because it gave me confidence to try other things.

2. Took a Vacation as a Family of 4

A few weeks later we took our first vacation as a family of 4 in a really long time. We took the kids to the mountains to go snowtubing and we had a blast. We only had two hours of sunshine the entire weekend but we spent the rest of it snuggling up, playing games, and just soaking up quality time together.

3. Experienced one of the worst days of my life

One horrific day in February both my of grandmothers had massive strokes on the same day. One went to heaven and the other lost her quality of life. I thought my heart might actually rip into pieces as we waited to find out the outcomes of both. Neither lived in Charlotte so I just felt physically trapped and unable to see the ones I loved in their hours of need.

My Granny who passed lived in Denver, CO so I didn’t have a chance to say my final goodbye. I had to live with the knowledge that I would never see her sweet smile in person again. I was completely devastated. As a child she would write me letters each week and send me the children’s crossword puzzle from her local newspaper. She used to work on the daily crossword each and every morning while she sipped her coffee and when I was in town I would do the children’s. As a kind gesture, she’d send them to me each week and I loved it because even though we were geographically further apart it made me feel seen.

My Grandma has been in a nursing facility ever since her stroke. For the first few months she lost her ability to speak but never regained her ability to walk. I cannot imagine how she must feel being so out of control of her own body.  A few weeks into her recovery I had the chance to visit her and bring in some things to brighten up her room: a stuffed llama to snuggle, some art from my kids, a few photos to make her space feel a little more like home. She still couldn’t speak clearly and looked so different it was extremely painful for me to see her that way. Instead of talking, I played some worship music on my phone, held her hand and read scripture through tears out loud to her for over an hour. It was the only thing I knew to do on such a difficult afternoon.

4. Met Ellie Holcomb

A few weeks later I met one of my favorite musicians, Ellie Holcomb, at Charlotte’s BIG Anniversary Banquet for Young Life. I’d listened to her music for years and was floored to meet her and listen to her share the gospel at our banquet. She is a true light for Jesus.

5. Took at Intro to Photography Class

In April I signed up to take an intro to photography class The Light Factory. It’s something I’d had on my bucket list since before the kids were born. To control my camera instead of it controlling me. The class was worth every penny and I loved having the opportunity to see the way others see through their lens.

6. Went Back to Windy Gap

In May I went back to Windy Gap (YL camp near Asheville) for the first time since I was 16. It was a full circle moment and God so clearly demonstrated He has always seen me and heard my prayers. As a teenager I prayed for a man who loved Jesus like I did and for children who know what Young Life did for my walk with the Lord. It was a beautiful time and I will treasure those first memories there with my sweet family for years to come.

7. Spent a rainy week with Micky Mouse

My parents took our family on a trip back to Disney World. When we made our reservations six months before we couldn’t believe our luck, a warm time of year, lower than average crowds, and all the right reservations. We arrived and learned that May in basically monsoon season in Orlando, FL and NOT the sunny vacay we were envisioning. Despite all of the rain, wind, thunder, and ponchos we still had an amazing time.

8. Vacationed in our favorite place

In June we spent 10 days in our favorite place, Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island. My kids have loved this special time with their grandparents every years and can’t get enough of the trolly rides, playground swings, and fun in the sun. Every time we pull in past the gates I feel the weight of world drift off my shoulders.

9. Taught our kids to ride bikes

In July we taught our kids how to ride bikes. This is something we have been hoping/wanting to do for years but neither child was ever interested! Finally we had some momentum going where they both wanted to learn so we jumped right in. After a few weeks Cole was a natural and would literally go on a walk/ride with me every day if we could. Aves is still making progress but has made HUGE strides. I’m most proud of how brave she became during the process.

10. Slept in a tent for the first time

We also took our kids camping for the first time. Andy is an Eagle Scout, something he never fails to mention when lighting a fire, so he couldn’t have been more over the moon at my interest in going with another sweet family. We bought all the budget friendly gear and hit the road to the mountains. Being unplugged for three days with our kids and greatest friends was truly a gift to us all. I can’t wait to start planning 2019’s outdoor adventures!

11. Took our kids on 1 on 1 dates

My love language is quality time and boy did both of my kids inherit that trait. In 2018 we started taking our kids on individual dates to fill their cups and it’s honestly something I wished we’d done sooner. Their faces beaming the whole time- worth every minute and dollar spent.

12. Went to Banff National Park to Celebrate our 10th Wedding Anniversary

Photo Cred: Deanna Rachel Photography

We made it to our 10th wedding anniversary on May 24, 2018. A milestone that a few years ago, I was worried we’d never see or at least would feel more like a sentence than a celebration. I can’t begin to describe what God has done in our marriage in the last 18 months. It’s amazing what can happen when you stop running in opposite directions (careers!) and start running towards connection. It has been hard, there are still lots of tears on the regular, but that’s what marriage is all about. Being vulnerable with one another about how you’re feeling so you can address it and grow as a couple. I can honestly say I’ve felt incredibly supported by Andy in every crazy endeavour I took on last year. At every step he has been behind me pushing me to keep trying and doing new things. He’s made it safe for me to fail and helped me believe I can do anything for which I will always be thankful.

We had an incredible bucket list trip to Banff. The sights were SO beautiful and we met some really sweet people. We had anniversary photos taken during our trip and it might’ve been the highlight for me. As a photographer myself when Andy asked what I wanted for a gift I told him photos that we could look back on- older, wiser, and redeemed. I will treasure that experience and those photos by Deanna Rachel forever.

13. I started cooking!

I started COOKING! Ah, this is probably the biggest gift I gave to my family in 2018. After slaying my idol of perfection, I was able to try and conquer new things in the kitchen. In the past if I messed up a recipe I totally shamed myself. My inner voice screamed I didn’t have the talent or gifts that other women had.  I would never be good enough so I should just stop wasting money on expensive ingredients and just call for takeout. Nevermind, our expanding waistlines and unhappy kids who were just craving more time at home than dinners out.

I was chosen to be an ambassador for Lisa Leake’s 100 days of real food on a budget and haven’t looked back since. My best friend taught me how to chop, roast, saute, and more importantly what tools I needed to set me up for success. In June, Cole and I went gluten and dairy free and these dietary changes have had a HUGE impact in his asthma symptoms. That alone has made my cooking journey so worth it.

Our family wasn’t looking for a “diet” but just a sustainable healthy lifestyle. The recipes from her book are simple, inexpensive, and kid friendly. It was the perfect stepping stone our family needed and literally changed the way we do life because we have to be more intentional with our time and planning. I will always be grateful for my friend’s patience in teaching me and Lisa’s cookbook. I’m prayerful these lifestyle choices will impact our future generations to come.

14. I got a tattoo

15. I followed my mama gut

16. Had 14 photo shoots

17. Started playing tennis

18. Took Risks in my home

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