My Kind of Average

Thank You, God, for Plants

I have this maternal nature where I like to take care of people. Like, if you live in my town, I’ve probably invited you over for dinner.

I don’t even know how many times I’ve said something like this:

“Just stop by after work. I’ve got chicken in the Crock Pot.”


“Have you had real food recently? Let me fix you some veggies.”


“I’m doing a load of laundry. Got any towels you want to throw in?”

That last one is just for my roommates, by the way. I don’t ask my co-workers if they want me to wash their linens.

It’s in my nature, but I try not to mom my friends too much. That’s why, every now and then, I get this strong desire to get a pet.

Unfortunately, I can’t have a cat in my apartment. I know. Grieve with me.

I could have a fish, but those creep me out.

So I have plants.

(Does this sound pitiful? It’s not supposed to).

Anyway, a couple weekends ago, my sister and I went to this big plant nursery in Raleigh to add to our collections. They have outdoor plants and indoor plants, succulents and air plants, shrubs and bonsais.

They also have these miniature plants, which are, of course, our favorites.

On several occasions, my sister and I squealed, “LOOK AT ALL THE BABIES!!”

We are the people who call tiny ferns precious.

Walking around the plant nursery after a week of work in the office was so relaxing. Although we were in a greenhouse, we were in nature. We oohed and aahed over stunning hibiscus, ran our fingers through the foxtail ferns, smelled the organic herbs, and imagined how we could fit a fir tree on my sister’s front porch.

It was quiet, except for the occasional bird chirp or friendly employee greeting. We didn’t even mind the North Carolina humidity, because we were caught up in everything around us.

It made me wonder: When was the last time I stepped away from my routine and just enjoyed participating in life? When was the last time I went on an adventure after I clocked out in the afternoon, rather than collapse on my couch and scroll through Instagram? How often do I make a point of doing something without a specific point?

Because that time at the plant nursery? It felt like taking a deep, clean breath. Meandering through rows of annuals and orchids was somehow energizing. And the quality time with my sister was good, too.

So that’s my challenge for us this weekend: Let’s find something to do that doesn’t involve a lot of planning or cost a lot of money. Let’s do something that involves the beauty of creation and time with someone we dearly love.

Let’s do something that fills us up, rather than drains us. And, to really immerse ourselves in the experience, let’s not stop in the middle of it to post a picture of it online.

Let’s participate fully in this life we’re given.

P.S. In case you’re curious, here’s a slideshow of my mini plants and my newest additions: basil and parsley.

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My Kind of Average

Back to Me

If we’re friends on any type of social media (except for Snapchat because my roommate and I are still bitter over how it ended our super-awesome streak last year so I’m rarely over there), then you’ve probably heard I spent 10 days in Israel recently. I haven’t blogged about it yet because I’ve got a few other trip-related things in the works, but I am in the process of sharing mini blog-type posts along with some pictures over on Instagram (click here to go to my profile).

Anyway, Israel is 7 hours in the future for me. For example, when the clock struck midnight and everyone rang in the New Year on the East coast, I was already at the breakfast table in Jerusalem. I texted my family and told them 2018 was pretty great so far, but it took them a few extra hours to see that for themselves.

That kind of time-jumping means you end up with a serious case of jet-lag after your trip. For several nights after I landed back in the states, I was wide-awake at 3:00am playing Panda Pop on my phone, and then up before dawn each morning.

On the bright side (no pun intended), I’ve seen a lot more sunrises than usual recently.

One morning after I returned home, I woke up before the sun again. Because the coffee pot wasn’t set to automatically come on for another hour, I decided to spend time doing something the busyness of life had kept me from doing recently: I decided to write for fun.

Not for an audience, not for a product I want to publish, just something in my journal. A poem. A written prayer from my pen to God’s eyes.

As I worked on the poem, I felt myself coming alive. And I didn’t even have that coffee yet.

I was reminded how writing is the thing that makes me feel most like me. The Creator wired me with this creativity as a way to worship and praise Him.

It’s so easy to get distracted by social media or texting or Netflix. It’s so easy to let time slip by and all we’ve done is stare at a screen. So this year, I want to change that in my life.

I don’t really do New Year’s Resolutions – I’m more of a Word of the Year person – but in 2018, I want to take more time to do something creative. Maybe that looks like a poem, maybe that’s digging out my painting supplies, or maybe that’s scribbling some dialogue I overheard to work into a story later.

The main thing is that it’ll be a way for me to worship my Creator in a creative way. Because when I’m making something out of what God has given me, I feel like I’m truly getting back to me.
What about you? What makes you feel the most like who God created you to be? What excites you or makes you feel alive? How will you prioritize that in 2018?

My Kind of Average

Adventure Awaits

This week, next week, and probably the next one after that, I’m taking a break from the blog. I’m traveling out of the country for a couple of weeks, and then two days after I return home, I fly off again for a family reunion up North.

Let me hear you say JET. LAG.

So it’s going to be a little wild for a few weeks.

I’ll be sure to fill you in with stories and pictures once I’m back in the South and caught up on my sleep and sweet tea. In the meantime, I’m off to start packing because, although I’m not a big procrastinator, packing is one of my least favorite activities and therefore I’ve put it off as long as possible.

Have a wonderful second half of June, friends!

P.S. My sister Abby got married last Friday. I was going to leave you all with a post about that, but goodness knows I’m still way too deep in my emotions to write something heartwarming without crying all of the tears. So that will probably come later, too :)

~ Anna

My Kind of Average

Summer to Me

I need to clean my room. It’s a problem. So I poured myself a second cup of coffee anddecided to write a blog post instead.
Memorial Day marked the unofficial start of summer, and it made me stop and think about what comes to mind when I think of this time of year. Growing up in the South, humidity and high temperatures are toward the top of the list, but there’s so much more I associate with this time of year…

  • Stargazing
  • Watermelon
  • Reading by the pool
  • Bare feet
  • Cool grass in the evenings
  • Rocking on the front porch, watching the sun set
  • Summer freckles
  • Tan skin (“tan” being a relative term, of course)
  • Ice cream trucks
  • Shorts and t-shirts
  • Beach trips
  • Windows down, volume up driving through the middle of nowhere
  • Slip ‘n slides and water balloon fights
  • Lake days
  • The tropical smell of sunscreen
  • Late nights
  • Grilling
  • Thunderstorms
  • After dinner walks through the neighborhood
  • The smell of fresh-cut grass
  • Camp fires and s’mores
  • Fireworks
  • A chance to breathe

I could go on, but I want to stop and ask: What about you? What sweet memories or traditions do you associate with summertime?
Let me know in the comments!

~ Anna

My Kind of Average

Hey, 2017!

I know, I know. We’re 20 days into 2017 already, and I’m just now welcoming the new year to the blog. By now, y’all know I’m fashionably late to all the best parties. (For those of you who hang around me in person, remember when I finally watched Gilmore Girls for the first time? Oy with the poodles already).

But I did have my yearly New Years Resolution chat with my dear friend Emily, and I did journal about how I saw my word for 2016 play out in my life (we’ll have to talk about that one soon, because it’s a lot). And I did journal about my new word for 2017 (might have to talk about that at some point, too).

And of course, copious amounts of sparkling grape juice were consumed.

But in the middle of it all, the blog sat patiently waiting. Don’t worry, though. I have so much to tell you over the coming months of this new year. So many hopes and dreams and prayers to share with you all. We’ll talk about joy and heart growing pains and new seasons. We’ll talk about change and letting go and learning to trust. We’ll talk about the past and the future and how both of those affect the present. We’ll talk about uncertainties and things that are even more certain than the sunrise.

We’ll probably chat about my cat, how the characters in whatever story I’m working on have minds of their own, and grad school life.

I’ll for sure sing the praises of my crock pot, and I’m almost positive I’ll give shout-outs to some of the amazing books I’ve been reading recently.

So…lots of stuff still to come. Stay tuned as I celebrate the blog’s 6th birthday (!!!) next month, and as I continue being Anna and learning what, exactly, that looks like.

May God bless you between now and when we talk again soon,



P.S. You may notice the links on the blog have changed a little bit. They now link to my website! Please go exploring and let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to add to the site!

Another P.S. Told you I can’t go long without showcasing my cat. He’s my favorite.

My Kind of Average


So it’s summer and I find myself forgetting to post blogs (oops).

I read a lot of “currently” blog posts from other people, where they talk about what they’ve been doing recently. So for today, since I’ve got a book deadline and  homework, I thought I’d toss together one of my own.

Here we go!


The Selection series by Kiera Cass.

A couple years late to this party, I know, but when these books were published I was doing stuff like surviving college, getting into grad school, publishing a book, etc. BUT NOW I’m reading it and liking it so much. It’s like Esther meets The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games without all of the carnage. It’s worth reading.

I’m also excited because book 5 just came out, so I can eat the whole series this summer, rather than waiting for the next one to come out. Currently, I just finished The Elite.

Listening to…

Podcasts! Love a good podcast!

Right now, I mainly keep up with  “That Sounds Fun” (Annie F. Downs) and “hope*writers” (Emily P. Freeman and others).

They’re free and automatically download to my phone, so they’re waiting for me as soon as they’re released. I listen to them while I’m getting ready to leave the house, cleaning, or driving around town.


The sequel to All of This!  My goal is to have the first draft finished by the end of June. Oh my word.


Netflix, of course. But I’m currently re-watching a series I’ve already seen (trying to study plot and character arcs and all that stuff…and calling it “research”), while looking for another series to watch.


A couple weeks ago, I went to a friend’s apartment for lunch and we had iced peppermint tea. I’m pretty religious about drinking Southern sweet tea, like, always. But iced mint tea sweetened with honey is unbelievably light and delicious. And healthier!

Here’s my method:

  1. Bring water to a boil and brew tea bags (for a half gallon of tea, I use 4-5 regular teabags).
  2. Pour into pitcher.
  3. Add honey and stir (I guesstimate on the amount. A couple of tablespoons, probably).
  4. Fill pitcher the rest of the way with cool water.
  5. Stir again.
  6. Serve over ice.

That’s it! The main thing to remember is to mix in the honey before you add cool water, otherwise it globs up and doesn’t mix well. #experience


NOT jeans and cardigans! It’s been chilly at school pretty much since August, and the classrooms are chilly too, so that’s all I’ve worn. I’m extra appreciative of t-shirts and gym shorts right now.


Weird category, I know. But listen: I got an essential oil diffuser for my birthday last month, which was perfect timing because I was recovering from a bad cough. I’ve got several oils, which I alternate between at night. My current favorites are peppermint and eucalyptus.

I’m not obsessed with the whole essential oils movement, but I’m a big-time fan of my diffuser.


So there we go.  A quick recap of what’s been going on the past couple of weeks.

Until next time,


Let’s talk: What have you been up to recently?

All of This, My Kind of Average

On Book Tours, Awkward Encounters, and Being an Adult

So, it’s been forever since I’ve blogged. Life has been crazy-busy between school, book stuff, and all of the adventure that comes along with being  Anna Schaeffer.

But I made a vlog recap! Here you go:

Off to go climb that homework mountain (per usual).

Until next time,


God Talks, My Kind of Average

Greener Grass

My family has a secret grass competition with the neighbors. I say “secret” because the neighbors don’t know about it. If you happen to be one of my neighbors reading this: you’re going down your lawn is lovely. Keep up the good work!

Last year, we won by yards and yards (fair warning: puns are coming). This was mainly because our neighborhood was still developing and we didn’t have much competition. BUT THIS YEAR the stakes are higher. Much higher.

The competition:

The guy who lives down the street is the reigning champ. His house is several years older, so he’s had some time to get it right. In the Spring, he burns his grass so it can start fresh, then he’s out weeding every Sunday. One day, I left in the morning, came home that afternoon, and he’d planted a little flower bed complete with a tree in the middle of his grass and that just made it more beautiful. His house sits on a hill, so his lawn is like this blanket of green softness. It’s nice.

Then there’s another neighbor who paid top dollar for the best grass he could get, but that backfired and now it’s all patchy and strange. We didn’t worry about that one too much last year, but the other day I saw a lawn care truck in the front yard, so he’s back in the game.

Next to us, the neighbors have new sod, so they hired a professional team to get it going. So far, so green. Other than Man on the Hill, this may be our biggest competition.

Most of the other yards surrounding us are fenced, so we don’t have to worry about those lawns looking better. But my room is on the second floor and gives me a great view of all kinds of stuff, so I keep an eye on it all just in case.

A few days ago, I looked out the window and said, “Dad, you need to step it up. I think the neighbors are winning.” And he said, “What are you doing to help out?” And I said, “I keep an eye on the competition for you.”

I fit so many writer-who-lives-upstairs stereotypes, by the way.

But the other day, I didn’t go to work until later in the afternoon, so I decided to contribute to my family’s most humble cause of having the best grass ever.

I’d never cut the grass before, as yard work has always been my dad’s turf (literally). But I went out there and took one for the team.

We’ve had ridiculous amounts of rain recently, so the grass was tall and thick…and deceptive, since we have a dog. I’ll let you finish that train of thought on your own.

But I got busy on it. And let me tell you, our front yard is basically on par with the Augusta National now.

Golf pun. I warned you.

We still have work to do if we want to stay in the running, but the grass is looking great. Except for the little hill that separates our yard from the neighbors’. I scalped that.

And the random mohawk-looking patch in the front.

And that area on the edge of the neighbors’ yard where the mower got caught for a minute. But it’ll grow back and it was a total accident. Not like I’d try to sabotage or anything.

People always say, “Pics or it didn’t happen,” and I didn’t take any pics of those issue areas, so…we’ll just say they didn’t happen.

But other than that? It’s going to be an interesting summer. And believe it or not, rallying around this cause is one of my family’s more normal bonding activities.

Of course, we’re joking in all of this (mostly). We’re not really in a huge competition, and we’re not focused on beating the neighbors at the grass game. It’s just fun. But I can’t help but see a metaphor in this (I had two cups of coffee this morning, so hold on tight).

With this whole grass thing, it’s all about looking good on the outside. When people see the yard from a distance, they’re like, “Wow, that’s a nice lawn!”

In theory.

But up close? There are some weeds, some patchy spots, some uneven ground, some evidence of our dog’s existence.

That’s not what we want people to see, though. We want people to see how nice it looks, not the imperfections.

Hey, Christians, that’s us. Or me, at least.

Sometimes, I get so caught up in wanting to look like I have it all together. I’m going to seminary, so shouldn’t I look like I’ve got life figured out if I want any chances to help others?

When people see me, I want them to see joy and light and God’s grace shining through me. Like a glow stick. A neon green one.

It’s so easy to get caught up in appearances and making sure we look like we’ve got it under control that we forget to give God the control. We forget to let Him work inside of us, making us different before we can live different.

If I’m really wanting to be a glow stick of God’s grace, I need to actually accept that grace. I need to know it’s not about my efforts or how “good” and “put together” I look, but rather about how good God is and how He is the one working all things together.

That’s grace. It’s God giving us what we don’t deserve and don’t earn. We don’t earn it. We. don’t. earn. it.

No. earning.


“For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:9, NLT).

Our lives are lived holy when we’re living in His grace. When we’re surrendering our attempts and efforts and ideas of “goodness” to Him. When we let the Holy Spirit do what He’s in our lives to do – teach us wisdom, reveal His truths, give testimony to His glory.

We can’t earn His grace, but we want to live holy lives because we love Him.

When I’m honest, in the deepest part of my heart, sometimes I get caught up in the display rather than the discipline. I get caught up in looking holy rather than learning holiness.

There may be short (very short) times when I seem to have it together on my own, but then the rain comes and someone spills the birdseed and weeds grow and my dog shreds a piece of cardboard all over the yard. And suddenly? It doesn’t matter how straight those lawnmower rows are.

Want to know something honest? I didn’t cut the grass earlier this week because I wanted to join the game we’ve got going. I did it because I was having a hard day. I was stressed about something difficult I’ve been going through, and I needed to get out some energy instead of sitting inside and being sad. Ironically, I chose an activity that’s all about keeping up appearances.

“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” (James 4:6, ESV)

So I want to learn to live my life in humility, knowing that anything good that comes from my life doesn’t actually come from me – it comes from Christ in me. And I can live with honesty and truthfulness so that I’m not covering up the grace work Jesus wants to do in me.

My front yard’s grass—my life—doesn’t have to always be green. It just has to grow in grace.

And I’d rather grow in grace than exhaust myself with the effort of keeping it all together. Because God’s way is like fertilizer – it grows strong, healthy grass. The other way is like getting the mower stuck on top of a hill…and trying to spread the clippings over the bald patch.

By His grace,


Blog Stuff, My Kind of Average

The Updates

Want to know something crazy? I’ve had this blog for 4 years. It started back when I was 18, the second semester of my freshman year of college. My first post: “Yes, I Started a Blog.” Because everyone knows I’m crazy-creative at naming things.

So my 4th blogiversary technically happened on February 26, but I was slightly preoccupied with the flu. By “preoccupied,” I mean I spent three days in bed doing stuff like taking medicine and reading novels and forcing myself to drink some liquids other than coffee.

I was under house arrest for about a week and a half, and by the time I could leave, I was so desperate for civilization that I went grocery shopping for my mom. I was so excited, I even fixed my hair to go to Kroger.

I clipped my coupons, put my MASSIVE PUPPY (tiny Millie is around 30 pounds now) in her crate, and climbed into my car.

Only to discover the battery was dead.

I’m not exaggerating when I say I wanted to cry. Freedom was oh-so-close…but no. So I waited around until someone could come jump the car and follow me to the auto parts store. Springing for a new battery wasn’t exactly my idea of retail therapy (some therapy definitely wouldn’t have hurt at that point), but I got that taken care of and drove off to Kroger.

Then, when all of the sickness didn’t leave like I told it to (despite my bossy oldest sibling complex), I went back to the doctor for more prescriptions…and they gave me a tetanus shot.

Y’all, I felt blindsided. Apparently, my system was due for a refill, so the doctor asked if I wanted one. I said, “Might as well.” Then when the nurse came in, I was like, “Um, it’s actually been a really, really long time since I’ve had a shot, so I’m not really looking forward to this.” And the nurse said, “It’ll be okay.”

Such sympathy.

Not gonna lie, a big reason I got the tetanus shot was to surprise my mom because it’s so uncharacteristic of me to willingly submit to stuff like this. Then, later that day, I casually said, “Did I mention they gave me a shot today?” And she was duly impressed.

She was proud. My arm was sore. I’m finally healthy.

Then I participated in back-to-back D-Now weekends with a local church and my own in between book publishing stuff, grad school application stuff, interning at church, and other exciting things that I absolutely love. It’s been busy, but the these things are such big blessings in my life and I thank God daily for these opportunities.

So to make a long story, well, long, that’s where I’ve been the past few weeks. But as I think about how I’ve had this little piece of the internet for four years, I see not only how I’ve settled into a writing voice, but also how much God has He has taught me more about Himself, other people, and myself.

I totally don’t have everything figured out, but it’s fun to retrace my steps as they’re recorded on the blog. And I’m seriously so excited to blog about what’s coming up next…especially updates on All of This. I absolutely can’t wait for you to meet the girl named Sadie who’s lived in my head and heart for the past couple years. I hope you’ll become great friends with her like I have.

Now that I’ve started talking about a character like she’s real, I need to go figure out some details about how I’ll introduce her to you.

Thanks for sticking with me through all the crazy, ridiculous, sentimental, deep, contemplative, random, and all the other blog posts I’ve written over the past few years. And thank you for coming back and reading more even though my immune system decided to take a vacation for a little while and kept me from updating.

Regardless of circumstance, God is faithful. He was faithful when I was an eighteen-year-old nervous to tell people I had a blog, and He is faithful now when I am a twenty-two-year-old nervous about sending a book out into the world. His plans are good, friends. And I’m excited to blog about them as they happen.

In His love,


P.S. This is Millie, as of  a week ago:


My Kind of Average

Of Facials, Fruit Flies, and Finishing Summer

It’s the last week of summer before I go back to school for the last time as a college kid. I’ve refilled my purple kidney bean-shaped Scotch tape dispenser (which really needed to happen, since Despicable Me minion tape is super fun but not very discreet when you don’t want someone to notice you accidentally broke stuff). I’ve purchased new notebooks, paper clips, and those clippy-things you use when paper clips aren’t big enough. What are those called, anyway?

Update: A friend told me they’re called “binder clips,” and a quick Google search for “what do you call the big paper clips” agreed. I guess that makes sense. My sisters and I used them as Barbie purses when we were younger. But binder clips it is!

I’ve washed my trusty JanSport, which has been with me since the first day of high school and has faithfully carried all of my textbooks, crochet projects (yeah, I’m that girl…), and Little Debbie snack cakes. And given me back problems. 

I’ve also purchased my campus parking permit and all my textbooks, although I’m still holding out on the Shakespeare anthology two-pack. The Bard knew his stuff, but not enough for me to pay a hundred and fifty bucks for interpretations of his creative genius. Still bargain-hunting that one.

I returned from my family’s last summer hoorah this past weekend. I spent a week hanging out in the middle of the ocean and visiting cool Caribbean places. I also spent the week with other people cleaning my stateroom twice a day (dear, dear souls), bringing me extra cheese bread during dinner, and  building animals out of my towels. Cruises rock.

But now I’m home and I just can’t justify talking my youngest sister into making my bed for me. Although she was so inspired by the on-board shows from the cruise that she’s decided to produce her own. Earlier today she was looking for a sash she could hang and twirl from. This promises to be quality entertainment. Although I’m hiding my scarves…

In the midst of all this, we’re waging a war on fruit flies. We don’t even know where they’re coming from because our produce isn’t mushy. So this morning, one of the sisters decides to take action and rig this booby trap involving cherries, a mason jar, a paper cone, and some unidentifiable liquid. But the fruit flies are smarter than the internet leads you to believe, and my sister has caught a whopping two-and-a-half flies all day.

But then my other sister came home from the store with some face mask made of charcoal and sugar (it’s kind of a sister bonding thing to smear goop on our faces in the name of healthy pores whenever we’re all together). I considered standing near the counter and letting the flies come to me because they supposedly like sugar, but all that led to was a fly in my eye. And revitalized skin.

So while the fruit flies continued to be, well, fruitful (seriously, they’ve gotta be more prolific than rabbits), there were all kinds of covert operations clapping and slapping and smacking as we tried to rid the kitchen of this problem.

And then there were quotes like these:

*smack!* “Look at my trophies!”

“Go sista!”

“I keep thinking I have cataracts, but it’s just fruit flies.”

“Get-it-get-it-get-it-get-it-GET IT!”

“Woap. One just went up my nose.”

And during all of this, the littlest sister hosted her performance, telling us it was called “Love Never Comes.” One of my other sisters smiled, leaned over, and patted my knee when the littlest sister announced this. Because she’s kind like that.

So basically, this final week before school promises to be interesting and go by way too quickly. And I have a strong feeling this upcoming semester will be the same way. But you know what? I’m excited. Life is random and hilarious and annoying and confusing and surprising and…a gift. A beautiful, beautiful gift. And I don’t want to miss a single minute of it.

I’m off to go contemplate why in the world the latest spam in my inbox thinks I’m a mommy blogger. Like, please. I had fake fish to raise and they managed to grow mold. I’ll stick to blogging about college life, facials, and how not to catch fruit flies.

– Anna

P.S. In case you can’t tell, my sisters rock. I’m kind of obsessed with them.