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30 before 30 – Final Check-In

30 Before 30

A few months after my birthday last year I created a 30 Before 30 list. This was a list of things that I wanted to do/accomplish before I turned 30. Some of these things were to help others, some were just completely selfish, and others were geared towards the blog. I just celebrated my 30th Birthday so I am here for a final check-in to see how I did. (Spoiler: terrible)


1. Take a trip somewhere out of Arkansas
Starting off on a bad note here. I did not accomplish this one. Some things came up and I ended up not having the funds to complete this one.

2. Kayak!
I wish I could say this one was done, but not yet… I found a local shop that will rent out Kayaks and one day I plan on going with Kaia to a little river and spending the day learning how to Kayak.

3. Grow my followers (Youtube, facebook, instagram, blog, etc)
Done! I have grown my followers about 500% over the last year. I am nowhere near where I want to be, but I believe in quality versus quantity.

4. Run an official 1/2 Marathon
Womp. Womp.. Didn’t do this. See #18.

5. Perfect winged eyeliner
I decided that winged eyeliner isn’t me, but I am pretty darn good at applying eyeliner to my top now, whereas I used to (and still mostly) only wear it on the bottom.

6. 30 Good Deeds
Done! Out of all of the things I wanted to do, I am the most glad I finished this one. Deeds ranged from paying for the next person in line, to pumping gas for people and giving large tips to waitresses. Of course this an ongoing one.

7. See a show
Nope! Didn’t do it.  No reason why not.. just didn’t happen :)

8. Memphis Zoo
This one was actually planned before my birthday, but never actually happened. It’s still in the works.

9. Run a 5K with Losh
Done! It was so much harder than I thought it would be as our stroller had 3 out of 3 flat tires! Despite being tough, it was fun and I want to do many more.


Ready….set….go…. #running #runchat #wheelchairrunning #orstrollerwhatever

A photo posted by Life As A Convert (@lifeasaconvert) on

10. See an Arkansas waterfall

Not yet..

11. Find a boyfriend?
Done! There was just something about going into my 30’s and still being single that was kinda depressing. While I didn’t go out looking for a boyfriend, one happened to fall perfectly into place in my life.

12. Get a pedicure (seriously, I’ve never had an official one)
In my defense, I did try to do this twice, but each time the salons were closed! 

13. Learn to French braid / cornrow
A month or so after making this list I ended up putting Aybra’s hair into dreadlocks and this became irrelevant (kinda). Once she gets older, if she decides she doesn’t want her hair in dreads anymore, I will take them out (hopefully without having to cut them out) and then have another go at this goal.

14. Increase my emergency savings fund!
Done! I still don’t have as much as I would like, but I am making progress. Baby steps, right?

15. Learn more about photography
I am on track with this one. I’ve been learning a lot about my camera and how to take better pictures with it. I think I want to expand this to say “Learn how to edit” also. I have a lot of pictures that just look boring to me, but know they could be amped up with some editing.

16. Pinnacle Mountain!
No. This is said to be a somewhat steep and rocky trail to the top of the mountain. I have to either go without Losh, or find a backpack to carry him in, and neither of those have happened yet. I’m debating if I want to just take him and carry him in my arms as far as I can, or see if my sister will watch him while I go. I just really hate doing things where he has to be left behind. Then again, I don’t want to put him, or myself, into a dangerous situation.

17. Attend a blogger event
Done! I’ve attended a few. Had a blast. Can’t wait to go to more. 

18. Regain fitness
Major fail here. I started taking some birth control to help with my Endometriosis and one of the side effects was weight gain. I’m talking massive weight gain here! I quit taking it, for that and other reasons. Though, I have slowly been losing weight the past few months, it has been hard (I also have PCOS and it is hard to lose weight, tho I can “maintain” a weight fine..) It isn’t as quick as I like, but I’d like to lose a few more pounds before jumping back into running. It’s just so depressing to not be able to run as fast as I used to!

19. Volunteer at soup kitchen
Not done.

20. Volunteer at animal shelter
Done! This is one of the most fun things to do as volunteer work. Being able to walk the dogs and play with them is a blast. Highly recommend volunteering at your local animal shelter. 

I’m still trying to talk my kids into this one. I want to hold up a FREE HUGS!! sign, but there isn’t really an area around here to do that as people don’t really walk around in our area. I need to travel out of town to do that, which isn’t really a problem, but has been conflicting with schedules. 

22. Start/Keep a Bible Study Journal
Done! I am slightly behind on it, but I have started one, and kept up pretty well with it. I am the kind of person that enjoys checking things off of a list and I created my new planner worksheets to include a little “scripture book” that I can color in when I have read my scriptures for the day, so that is motivation to read and study.


  I started a new journal when I began reading with my new chart. ❤ 📖   A photo posted by Life As A Convert (@lifeasaconvert) on

23. Read classic novels

I did not touch a single one. However, I did read a LOT more than normal for FUN and I still have a little pile of books on my night stand waiting to be read.

24. Record a prank video
Done! I’ve recorded little pranks throughout the vlog, but haven’t recorded a video that only contains a prank.

25. Write a poem for the blog
Done! I was surprised I actually did this one.

26. Create a Painting for the house
Nope. I had it in my head that I would go to one of those painting classes where you hang out with your friends and everybody paints a picture, but one, I have no friends that can go, and two, I have nobody to watch my kids.  I did receive a nice canvas quote from my secret sister and that has been added to my house.

27. Memorize 30 scriptures

28. Geocache!
This is in the works! I’ve gotten some information and we will be heading out on our first cache hunt soon. We will be incorporating these into our school year.

29. Re-brand the Blog (custom header/buttons/etc)
Semi-done. I do not have new buttons/heads/etc, but I did re-brand and figure out my niche across social media.

30. Visit Egwa!
This one changed over the year. It is no longer relevant.

As I finish writing this post, I am thinking that perhaps I should do a “After the Final” check in once I have completed every single thing on this list. Just because I am now 30 doesn’t mean that I suddenly changed my mind on completing these.. It just might take a while longer. I may just have to challenge myself to see if I can finish up this list while I am still 30.

Have you done anything on this list? or.. What is one thing you would like to do before your next birthday? 

Ravished – Cover Reveal (Ayden K. Morgen)

Ravished: A disabled ballerina, a deadly new drug, and one hell of a bad decision will change everything for Tristan Riley…

Prepare yourselves for heat, steam, grit, and one seriously hot alpha male with a dirty side.
RAVISHED, the first book in the highly anticipated Teplo Trilogy, will release on April 5, 2015. The gorgeous cover, unveiled below, was designed by LJ Anderson of Mayhem Cover Creations.
Ravished by Ayden K Morgen
Ravished by Ayden K Morgen
Genre: Erotic Romance/Suspense         
Cover by: Mayhem Cover Creations
When Tristan Riley drags Lillian Maddox onto the dance floor at Teplo, he intends only to protect his cover… at least that’s what he tells himself. But the lovely Lillian would tempt a saint, and Tristan is far from a gentleman. Beneath the bright lights of the Vetrov family’s dangerous club, the weary DEA agent finds himself captivated by the ballerina, coaxing them both into a reckless, erotic encounter.
But Tristan isn’t prepared for the intense connection between him and Lillian, or for the fallout of their tryst. In
a matter of days, their lives careen wildly off course, catapulting them both into a deadly game of hide and seek with the Vetrov family and one of Mexico’s deadliest drug cartels.
Trying to keep his hands to himself while working alongside Lillian to stop Anton Vetrov’s deadly new drug proves almost impossible for Tristan, but what choice does he have when being with her might get her killed? He should know: his entire family was murdered by people just like Anton.
When the stakes are raised and innocent lives are lost, will Tristan be able to let go of the guilt, or will he destroy his chance at happiness with Lillian before it ever truly begins?
Add RAVISHED to your TBR list on Goodreads.
RAVISHED Trailer: in reviewing RAVISHED? Request an ARC here.
About the Author:
 Ayden lives in the heart of Arkansas with her childhood sweetheart and husband of ten years, and their five furry minions. When not writing, she spends her time hiking, reading, volunteering, causing mischief, and building a Spork army. Ayden graduated summa cum laude with her Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and Forensic Psychology in 2009 before going on to complete her graduate degree in CJ and Law. She currently puts her education to use in the social services and CJ field.  Ayden also writes Young and New Adult fiction under the penname A.K. Morgen. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, or via her website at You can learn more about her YA/NA fiction at

Upside-Down Devotion

What would you say if I told you that God despises your worship, doesn’t care about your prayers, and looks past your devotions? You would probably say the same thing I said when I began reading this book. That is insane. At least, that was my thoughts when I began reading this book. I wanted to close it and read something else, but my curiosity kept me reading and I am glad that I did.

Upside-Down Devotion: Extreme Action for a Remarkable God is a book that inspires us to do more for God and for our neighbors.  I often thought about Matthew 25:40 while reading:

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Continue reading

Pretty Little Obsession – Guest Post by Author A.K. Morgen

For months, Khourtniey told me I needed to watch Pretty Little Liars. I’ve never read the books, and had no clue what the show was about so I felt pretty “meh” about watching. And then I ran out of things to re-watch on Netflix, because, you know, I never watch anything new. I re-watch the same ten shows like Dean from Supernatural replays the same five albums. It’s a sickness.

But I had nothing else to watch so I started Pretty Little Liars. Halfway through the first season, I sent the following text to Khourtniey: “I started Pretty Little Liars, and you suck!”

Her response was typical. She laughed at me. Slightly younger sisters are such brats!

This show is like crack for the twentysomething with a love of criminal justice (aka me and Khourtniey). Seriously. I love a good Whodunit, but Pretty Little Liars skipped right past Whodunit and went straight to “I need a crime board because I will figure this out if it kills me!” I may have even tried to convince my husband to let me turn one wall of our living room into said crime board.

Crime Board from TNT’s Southland

He doesn’t get the obsession so he refused. Obviously, he doesn’t have an appropriate appreciation of Toby (with or without a shirt). Or of the insanity of the not-so-innocent protagonists, who make the same mistakes over and over but still make me want to root for them. Or of the fifteen different directions the storyline takes episode to episode. Or of the burning desire to solve the mystery so you can say “I knew it” with all the pent up passion of a sleepless, half-crazed detective working for the six straight month on an unsolved murder.

Long story short: I love the show, and the wild and often unexpected directions it takes. Everyone is a suspect, but just when you start to suspect them, BAM! You find out they’re innocent, being manipulated, used, or are just clueless victims of the mysterious and criminally brilliant A (or A-Team… who knows at this point?!).

But my love is not all gravy.

Sofa-sized holes in the writing, and plenty of them, have me gnashing my teeth week to week in frustration. The timeline is messy and can come across as preposterously impossible.

Certain plot points end in a no-mans land of unsatisfactory explanation and exposition, like Alex from the first season. Spencer liked this boy, but never even attempted to talk to him after he walked away. That’s not very Spencer-like.

Or the fact that someone had a miscarriage and pretended she didn’t, but then took her parents (during this time of fake pregnancy) with her to visit a specialist, or took the police dude (who sometimes looks like George Zimmerman, by the way) to her baby appointments. And none of them expected anything until weeks later. What?!?
Or the missing page of the autopsy report. When the murder first occurred, the police had said page, and would have, in theory, made the all-important connection then. For some reason, they didn’t, and the page was stolen. When it showed up a year and a half later they automagically (not to be confused with automatically) made the all-important connection. Again, what?!

And then there is the revolving door of characters that seem to exist only to make life difficult for the liars, like the cute, British doctor. He appears, makes life difficult for an episode or two, and then disappears until the writers can bring him back to conveniently mess things up again. The same happens with Sean. He appears only when it will inconvenience the liars, and then disappears as quickly. 

But all of this frustrating madness is a big part of what makes this show so addictive to me. In the real world, complex criminal cases tend to unfold a whole lot like this. Remember the Green River Killer? The police actually knocked on his door when someone followed him home after witnessing him kidnap a prostitute. But the police decided he wasn’t a suspect . . . only to find out years later that he was the prolific serial killer they were hunting.

The police also ran into the Zodiac Killer as he fled the scene of one of his murders in the 1970s, but they’d been given the wrong description of the suspect, so he walked away and the police missed their big chance. He was never caught and his string of murders remains unsolved.

The truth is things don’t always make a whole lot of sense when crime is involved. Timelines are screwed up all over the place. Let’s face it: if someone asked what we were doing on June 19, 2008, the vast majority of us would have absolutely no clue! Heck, if you asked me what I did on any given day last week, I’d be hard pressed to give you an accurate accounting.

When a crime happens, you never quite figure out what this person or that or this lead or that has to do with the case. More often than not, there are more questions than answers, even after a trial. Think Casey Anthony, or the West MemphisThree. We still have more questions than answers in those cases, and so do the police and families of the victims. They also received all sorts of potential leads in both cases, some that still have people scratching their heads trying to figure out if they were or weren’t involved (like the man covered in blood in the bathroom of a truck-stop hours after the murders in the West Memphis Three case).

That’s what makes Pretty Little Liars so much fun. I have a legitimate reason to over think everything because there are a million questions, and more than one possible answer to each. And unlike with Lost, there isn’t a freaking smoke monster, time-travel, or a creepy island dude reminiscent of Satan involved. Instead, you’ve got this mystery that could happen in any town in America, and leave you just as frustrated and intent on solving the crime.

But my love of a good mystery doesn’t end with Pretty Little Liars. Yesterday, my debut young adult novel, Fade (The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book One), hit the stands. And there are all kinds of questions for Arionna Jacobs and Dace Matthews to answer as their story progresses. Like the liars in my new favorite show, those answers aren’t always comforting and they don’t always make sense to Arionna or Dace right away. Not to mention, there’s murder, intrigue, suspects who aren’t quite what they seem, and a possible apocalypse in the book, too!  

If that sounds like your kind of thing, Fade is available now from Curiosity Quills Press. You can pick up a paperback or Kindle copy at Amazon now, at Barnes & Nobles in the coming days, or in select physical bookstores in the coming months. And remember, my publisher and I are donating 10% of royalties received from now until March 2013 to the Ronald McDonald House Charities and 10% to the March of Dimes in honor of three very special preemies in my life – Aloshua, Kaia, and Abby.

You can also enter to win one of two autographed copies of Fade on Goodreads now. If you write, be sure to hop on over to the blog and check out the Perfect Paranormal/Fantasy Pitch Contest, too! Several amazing authors have signed on to offer big prizes, including a chance to have your manuscript read for publication consideration by a submissions editor at Curiosity Quills.
A.K. Morgen (Ayden) lives in Little Rock, Arkansas with her real life hero, Courtney, and their three crazy pets. She has a graduate degree in Criminal Justice and grand plans to save the world someday. When she’s not writing, she spend her time teaching her niece and nephews things their mothers wish they didn’t know, dancing in odd places, and fundraising for nonprofits close to her heart. She’s a volunteer coordinator for her local Ronald McDonald House. You can also find her causing mischief with Khourtniey, hiking, reading voraciously, tweeting too much, and talking a lot.