January Insta-Review

This year I've decided to take an Instagram photo for every day of the year. You can follow me on Instagram: @melissamonte. Here is the January Insta-Review:


30 Before 30

When I turned 25 I decided to come up with a list of 25 things to do during the year. It made the year feel extra special as I was able to keep track of all the new things I accomplished. It also helped me take note of the ways I needed more challenge in my life. Many of them, however, were easy to accomplish in a year or less. As I just turned 26 and I'm now closer to 30 than I am to twenty, I want to take even more risks, develop more disciplines, and find myself just a bit more as I try new things and make many more mistakes. So here are the 30 things I want to do before I turn 30.
  1. Take a road trip. I want to see many new places, find hidden gems, and form deeper friendships as we journey together.
  2. Travel to 4 states I have never been to. This will prevent me from just doing an up the west coast trip (which I want to do). Fortunately I've been to both of the dakotas so don't have to worry about that. 
  3. Visit 30 new places. I really enjoy traveling and taking adventures. I want to mark the many places I hope to visit and explore. 
  4. Get something published. Or least frame the rejection letters. I love writing but it is easy for me to just write for myself. I want to take the risk by sending my work to be published. It may never happen but I'm going to take that risk anyway.
  5. Date. While this may appear to be an easy one, truth is, I don't really date a lot. So I want to step into putting myself out there - feels like a weird a phrase but you get it - and take more risks, initiate more, meet more people, etc.
  6. Nurture a deep friendship with 5 people. It is easy for me to always want to take care of others but it's important for me to also have deep friendships where people are invested in caring for me. This could be coordinating meals, planning fun events, saying yes to drinks or date nights, movie nights, or random outings. 
  7. Use my voice. Over the years I've been frustrated with the fact that I'm still single or it seems many churches don't have a place for single women over the age of 22 or that all my friends seem to be married or birthing children. But there is something unique about the fact that I am currently 26 and still single and I have a voice to share. I want to find ways to use my voice to encourage and to challenge. 
  8. Find my fashion style. As I am entering my late 20's and heading into 30 I want to find my fashion style not as a college student anymore but as a "real adult" (if there is such a thing). 
  9. Run a half-marathon. While I go back and forth about running, I want to develop a stronger discipline for it. I've run a 5k and I found I really enjoyed the actual experience. I think I want to push myself to go bigger. 
  10. Read the whole bible. I'm always surprised at the stories I find in scripture and it's time I know them all. I've read a lot of it, but it's time I see all the great things God has in all of scripture.
  11. Memorize 30 Scriptures. As I read through the whole bible, it is important to memorize and mediate on them as well. 
  12. Learn 30 new dishes. Not just try or make 30 dishes - but learn and perfect them. So this will require making them several times. I'm sure I can find some people to help me taste test. 
  13. Take a class. Maybe it's a sewing class or a cooking class. Maybe it's guitar lessons or swing dancing lessons. Maybe it's a seminary class. I don't know, I don't plan everything out. But I want to learn something new. 
  14. Learn a new language. I want to be able to both communicate with my best friend who speaks Spanish and the large population at CSUN who signs. Maybe I will make an attempt to learn some of both. 
  15. Read 30,000 pages. That adds up to about 30 books of at least 250 pages per year until I'm 30. I love reading so this will be fun to end up reading 120 new books in the next four years. 
  16. Get 30 new InterVarsity Supporters. This will be a challenge to maintain 30 new ministry supporters and take a lot of work but a great growth challenge. 
  17. Bring 30 students to Urbana15. Last year we brought 15 students to Urbana12 and imagine how powerful it will be bring to be at least 30 students.
  18. Serve deeply at church. Like seriously serve in a ministry so I'm one of those crazy people who spend too much time talking about church stuff. 
  19. Create art. To frame, to give away. Not photography but drawing, painting, or something of the sort. Pinterest will be helpful but take a risk and create art. 
  20. Spend time with 30 old friends. Not just a one meal, but traveling together, spending a weekend away, getting back into the lives of college friends I've lost touch with and rejoicing in where God has brought us now. 
  21. Go backpacking. I love hiking, I love camping, I love nature but I have never had the opportunity to actually go backpacking. I want, no I need to make this happen. 
  22. Write 30 letters to 30 different people. Letter writing is a beautiful art and I need to do this regularly.
  23. Meet my goal weight. It's not about being super thin, but about being healthy. Develop exercise and eating habits to feel great in my own skin. 
  24. Forgive 30 people. Forgiveness is a choice not a fuzzy feeling. This will be a challenge to seriously chose forgiveness for 30 people. 
  25. Be a better steward with money. I want to be better at budgeting and saving. Finances tend to stress me out more than most things because I don't like working with numbers. I need to get over my fears of looking at my spending habits so I can be a better steward of the money I've been given.
  26. Pay off credit debt. I'm fortunate to not be in a huge debt but I'm still have credit cards and student loans to pay off. I want to be able to pay off my credit card debt and make a plan to pay off my student loans within the foreseeable future. Working on the previous one should help this.
  27. Clean out and organize my life. I've been holding onto unnecessary junk in my life (both literally and metaphorically) for probably too long. The longer I live in a place then the more I tend to consume. I need to go through and get rid of the stuff I have no need for and organize the stuff I do so I can find it again. 
  28. Design my apartment. Every place I've lived in has been in a season of transition. Other than my parents the longest I've lived somewhere was two years. I'm in a season where I will most like live here for the next several years and I want my living space to reflect the permanence in my life. 
  29. Learn basic car and apartment maintenance: Since it's probably I will be single for the foreseeable future, I want to learn how to keep my car and apartment running. Things like - how to change my oil, how to repair a flat tire, how to fix a minor plumping issue, etc. So when I do get married - I can fix stuff and he can cook.
  30. Try 30 fun new things. It's great that I have all these goals but I want to make sure I'm having fun while doing it all. It could be going out dancing, it could be paintball, it could be skydiving. Ok it probably wont' be skydiving. 



My pastor at church told us to come up with five scriptures that are our "fab five" if you will - the scriptures we have as our armor when the devil tempts us or whispers in our hear to distract us. I thought I'd share mine:

Psalm 40:1-3
I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heart my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the LORD
and put their trust in him.

Isaiah 61:1-3
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion -
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
an a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.

John 15:4-5
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Philippians 4:4-7
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hears and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 Peter 4:12-13
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.


Metro to Union Station

Winter adventures around Los Angeles. I've never ridden the metro before (shocking I know) so my mom and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful day and ride the metro down to Union Station and explore downtown LA. It's my preferred way to visit the city now. Here are some photos from the journey.


Top 5 Posts of 2013

Thanks to all those who have read my blog over the past year. It's been great to share with you the joys and struggles of 2013 - and what a year it has been. I have learned so much over the year and it was a year of great healing, great challenge, and ultimately great joy. I was quite fond of it. So let's take a moment to look back at the the Top 5 Posts of 2013!

5. Sex Ladies Club 

4. May I Listen? 

3. Mountains and Valleys

2. Bed of Pencils 

1. Goals for Year 25