December 12, 2012

He gives strength to the weak

When I got home I flopped down on the bed, unsure of what to do. I had just dropped off my sister at piano lessons, and I wasn't feeling great. Lack of sleep seemed to have finally caught up with me, and now I ached all over, had a cough, was freezing cold, and felt like I could wrap up in a blanket and fall asleep right then and there. I would have sent someone else to pick her up, but the only problem was that the rest of the family was gone for the day. So I started to pray. I needed strength to walk back out the door. I needed peace. I needed faith that God would provide.

And you know what? He is faithful.

Up until the minute I walked back out the door, I still felt pretty bad. And then the verse came to mind, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." ALL things. Last time I checked, "all things" included climbing into the pick-up and driving into town. I kept repeating that to myself, praying that God would give me that strength. Because right now, I really needed it.

It didn't come down in a flash of lightning. It didn't come like a supernatural zap pumping me up with power. But it came. On the drive there God brought to mind verses on strength and perfect that those were the exact same things I had prayed for.

Right now I'm sitting at the dining room table and eating a piece of toast...something I couldn't do an hour ago. Praise the Lord - all that is left is a tiny headache. Now, some may laugh and say it was coincidence, but I'm going to stand firm and say it was God. Because my God is an AWESOME God. He gives strength to the weak. And I'm not saying it just to say it...I'm saying it because I believe it.

December 1, 2012

Christmastime visits once again

I could describe to you the sound of Christmas music dancing through the house, or the lively chatter of our family as we dusted off the boxes of Christmas decorations that had been tucked away in the attic for nearly a year. I could tell you about all the scrumptious food laid out on the table, or about my little sister tenderly setting up a nativity scene. I could, but every so often it's okay to forgo the words and simply let the pictures speak for themselves.

So here's my basically wordless post of the day we set up our Christmas tree.
What is your favorite thing about the Christmas season?

November 28, 2012

Eighteen Years of God's Faithfulness

Today I celebrate eighteen wonderful years of life.

It's kind of funny how eighteen seemed like such a big number when I was younger, but now that I've reached it, it doesn't seem quite so intimidating. The past eighteen years have been years of learning and growing, and I wouldn't trade them for anything. God has taught me a lot over the years. Lessons on faith, patience, and joy. Again and again He has shown me His faithfulness and love, even though I don't deserve it.

>> He has encouraged me on days that seem harder than others. Maybe it's as simple as a Bible verse coming to mind, an encouraging note from a friend, or a little blessing that reminds me of just how much my God cares for me.

>> I had been praying for a horse for years. When I was twelve I purchased a horse named Buck who lived up to his name, bucked me off, and I broke my arm. Long story short, I ended up selling him and questioned why God would allow it to happen after I had prayed for so long. But then only three months later He gave (yes, free of charge) me a lovely Quarter Horse mare named Flash who has been the best horse ever. And now six years later He has blessed me with yet another horse, a gorgeous mare named Jade. God is good.

>> I have been blessed with amazing friends who love the Lord and encourage me in my walk with Him. Friends to laugh loud with, cry with, talk late into the night with, and snap photos with. Gotta love 'em!

>> I have a wonderful family. Amazing parents who teach me about the Lord, and six great siblings who are so much fun to be with. I love, love, love them, and thank God for giving me such great people to live with! 

I could go on, and on, and on listing all of the blessings that God has given to me. He is faithful, and I know it to be true because I have seen it again and again over the past eighteen years. Getting older brings on new decisions to make, new chapters to open, and new steps of faith to take. But I know that God is faithful, and I trust that He will guide me no matter what I may face. The past eighteen years have been pretty amazing, and I'm looking forward to the next eighteen.

November 18, 2012

Friendship Warms the Heart

The gentle flicker of the campfire softly illuminates the faces of the friends seated around it. The warmth of it's flames warms our chilly fingers, just as the warmth of friendship warms our hearts. Seated on low logs, we chat pleasantly as we gaze into the lively flames that jump this way and that. Occasional laughter rings out through the darkness as we discuss the latest happenings of life while sipping hot chocolate and munching on toasty marshmallows. As the evening progresses, the rhythmic tapping of sticks on a rock begins to set the beat as we raise our voices and lift our hands in worship of the Savior. Gazing up at the dark sky that is dotted with a million shining stars, I can't help but stand in awe of the Creator. We dance through the field, singing and laughing, nothing but moonbeams lighting the ground. As we return again to the warmth of the fire, I notice that the once lively flames are now dying into glowing coals. This perfect evening will end all too soon, but while it still lasts I'll enjoy the uplifting fellowship of friends and praise the Lord for the blessings He has given me.

November 7, 2012

In which I complete the dress quest (fashion post)

Alrighty, as promised, here is the fashion post! 
I'm super excited to have the chance to share with all of you a great product and a great company!

For quite some time I have been on the lookout for a cute dress. During my search I came to find that there seems to be a lack of cute and modest dresses. There are a lot of dresses out there to pick from...but they seemed to have run out of fabric while making them. As a result, they are a little too short at the bottom, and a little to low at the top!

Well, then I discovered eShakti, a wonderful business that solved my hard-to-find dress issue.  Their site is packed with tons of styles, and to make it even better, in many cases you can customize them to your liking! Things such as sleeve type, dress length, neckline style can usually be changed depending on your preferences. You can also have any piece made according to your exact it's a perfect fit every time! This is great news for me because I'm somewhat short (5' 3" and 1/2" to be exact) and have a large many times dresses just don't fit me quite right. In the last year I've done quite a lot of looking around on their site, mentally storing away all of my many favorites into a file, and imagining all of the possibilities :)

When they had a weekend sale last month, I jumped at the opportunity and ordered this adorable navy blue dress. And since it was my first time ordering, I got free customization as well! I am very pleased with the ease of ordering from eShakti, and their customer service is great too! (can you tell that I kinda like this company?)

The one thing that I love about this dress is it's versatility. Wouldn't you agree that it could easily be "dressed up" with a pair of cute heels and a fancy necklace, but it's also an easy piece to "dress down" for a more casual look?

I'll have to say that one of the best bonuses about many of eShakti's dresses is the large, hidden pockets that blend right into the seam. They are plenty big for a phone and any other little items I need to carry around. And since this dress has a pleated skirt, it hides any "bulky" look at the hips (the last place you want to add any extra width!).

The only little things that I would change about this dress is the size of the scoop neck and the length of the sleeves (you can see the sleeve length in the photo below - but it's not too big of a concern for me since I plan to wear a cardigan with it). The neckline slightly lower than I am comfortable with, but I found that a little bit of safety pinning at the shoulders fixes it! In these photos I do NOT have it safety pinned so that you have an idea of the actual neckline. But overall, I'm quite pleased with the fit of the dress, and it's quality too!

So, there you have it. The happy ending to my dress quest.
I'm looking forward to finding new accessories to put with the dress...any suggestions? How would you dress it up for a special occasion? Or dress it down for a more casual day? I'd love to hear your ideas!

If you head on over to the eShakti website, I'd also love to hear what your favorite product is!
Just an extra note...they have really good sales every now and then, so you might want to join their e-mail list so you can stay up to date on those!

So am I happy with my purchase? Totally! Would I recommend eShakti to others? Absolutely!
Go ahead and pour yourself a cup of tea (or coffee...whatever you prefer), snuggle up in a cozy chair and take a visit to their website! I promise you won't be disappointed!
eShakti -

Many thanks to my sister, Hannah, for being willing to let me drag her outside in the cold to take these photos and also for letting me borrow the cardigan...and the shoes. Love ya, Hann!

October 31, 2012

Coffee Shop Inspiration

Not to make ya'll jealous or anything, but as I type away at my keyboard I'm sitting in an adorable little coffee shop sipping the last bit of an amazingly yummy mocha frappe through a big pink straw. Having just finished a lovely chat with a dear friend, I thought I'd pull out my laptop and type out a few things that are on my heart. Ya know, coffee shops seem to hold an abundant source of inspiration. The warm colors, comfy chairs, and calming atmosphere create a great space for thinking. And writing.

Alright, fast forward with me several hours, and change locations. I'm now situated in a comfy chair in my living room, no longer all "dressed up" for an afternoon with friends but in sweat pants. Though I didn't have time to get all of my thoughts typed out earlier, my "coffee shop inspiration" still whirls around in my head. It's late, and the house is silent except for the rhythmic ticking of the clock. As I sit here, many things run through my mind, but one thing in particular continues to weigh on my heart...

Change locations with me one last time. But this time I want to take you to the heart of one of the most impoverished continents in the world: Africa. Outside of a small, dirty hut, a thin girl is gathering sticks for their fire, her tiny stomach pinched with hunger and lifeless eyes devoid of all hope. Her mother is dead and her father abandoned her and her siblings several years ago. She now lives with her elderly grandmother who hardly has enough food to feed herself, let alone the four children she now has living with her. All this little girls wants is hope, in a place where none is to be found. She wants to know that she is loved. She wants to know that someone actually cares about her.

While the scenario that I described above is not based off of any particular story, it's an all too common occurrence. Not only in little African villages, but all over the world. There are kids who just want someone to love them and give them hope. Now, I'm not trying to run an "advertisement" or make anyone feel pressured...but one organization that has impacted me is Compassion International. Their program allows you to sponsor a child, but not only by helping to pay for their education and participation in the program. You also having the opportunity to personally correspond with that child! As a sponsor, not only am I able to tell a child that they are loved, but it is such a blessing to me as well! To know that a child on the other side of the world is praying for me? And to know that the Compassion program has given them the chance of finding the only true and lasting hope - Jesus Christ? It's a pretty amazing feeling! All I'm asking of you is that you prayerfully consider how the Lord is asking you to reach those who are looking for hope. Maybe He'll lead you to sponsor a child, or maybe He's asking you to reach out to a single mom in your neighborhood. I don't know what He is calling you to do, but I do know that obedience is an amazing adventure!

Well, thanks for joining me on my little trip around the globe. We stopped at an adorable coffee shop, chatted in my living room, and even visited Africa. Pretty productive evening, wouldn't you say? Or maybe I just have a hard time staying on topic? Whatever the case may be, thanks for sitting down and letting me share my heart with you!

(Be on the lookout for a fashion - yes fashion - post coming up soon! I have a review that I'm looking forward to sharing with all of you!!)

October 26, 2012

Choose Joy

The day before had been a long one, and the night had been short. When I woke up yesterday morning, let's just say I didn't feel like being cheerful. I was tired. I was slightly grouchy. And I felt like going back to bed.

During my devotions that morning, God challenged me. I was reminded that each day I have a choice. A choice between throwing a pity party for myself or being joyful. One verse that came to mind was "Be joyful always, pray continually." I realized that I had a choice before me, and my response to that choice would determine how my day went. So I asked God to help me be joyful, even though I wasn't feeling joyful. And you know what? I had a pretty good day.

God showed me how many things - even little things - that I had to be thankful for. I have the opportunity to learn. I have an amazing family who I love a ton. I have the freedom to worship God. I have a roof over my head and I never wonder if I will have to go to bed hungry. God has blessed me more than I could ever deserve, and has given me so many reasons to be joyful.

And for a little bonus that made my day even brighter, that afternoon my sister Sarah and I made Oreo Cheesecake for her birthday. We laughed a lot and ate way too much cream cheese filling. We made a mess of the kitchen as we measured and mixed, but it was so much fun! (And I'll have to say that the final product of all our work was pretty good tastes as yummy as it looks!)

Life would be dull and boring without joy! So take a look around and look at all that God has given you to be thankful for. Today you and I have a choice...choose JOY!

October 20, 2012

One Life...One Chance

It's a word that scares some people, and yet for others it's something that just seems to come naturally. For some, organizing people, putting on events, and being "in charge" is totally their thing, and then there are those who would rather just follow the leader.

Recently I've come to realize an important thing about leadership. It doesn't just come with being a certain position of authority or having a certain personality, it's a lifestyle. Whether you like it or not, you are leading people by the way you live. As Christians, people watch the way we act, how we talk, and even how we dress. Yikes...that's kind of a lot of pressure if you ask me! Even if you are the type of person who is scared out of your mind by the thought of having to lead something, people are watching you. Not in a creepy sort of way, but I think you know what I mean. Your younger siblings, that neighbor girl across the street, those you come in contact with throughout the day...they are looking to see if you really live out this "Christian-thing" you claim to have.

You don't have to be in a position of "importance" to lead. As Christians, we have the responsibility to not only proclaim that we love the Lord, but then to show that to be true by our actions. People take note when they see us living a life that is different from that of the world. We only have one life. And that one life has one purpose - to glorify God. How are we handling that responsibility? Leadership isn't just a's a lifestyle.

1 Corinthians 10:31
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

October 6, 2012

>> Cheesy Potato Soup >>

Nothing tastes better than a bowl of steaming soup on a chilly autumn evening. Vegetable soup, tomato soup, chili, chicken noodle soup, clam chowder...I even had a chance to try pumpkin soup a couple of weeks ago (and it was really good!). But of all the soups that I've tried, my all time favorite remains cheesy potato soup. I was sort of craving it a few days ago, so I volunteered to make it for supper. It's the perfect blend of cheesy-ness and tender veggies on a chilly evening. Only problem is that I accidentally put in way too much cheese...instead of doubling it like I did with the rest of the recipe, I quadrupled it. Still not sure how that happened...

So, if you're looking for an idea for supper tonight, here's a suggestion. It doesn't take a ton of effort, and it's quite delicious :)

Cheesy Potato Soup

- 2 or 3 cups potatoes, diced
- 1 1/2 cups celery, diced
- 1 1/2 cups carrots, diced
- 1/2 cup onions, chopped
- 3 cups milk
- 1/4 cup flour
- 6 oz. Velveeta cheese
- 2 cups water
- 3 chicken bouillon cubes

Bring water and bouillon cubes to a boil. Add first 4 ingredients and cook until vegetables are tender. Add milk, flour, and cheese until well blended. Serve hot. Can use broccoli or cauliflower if desired.


September 26, 2012

Fall Is...

//  the sound of crisp brown leaves as they crunch beneath your feet  //  toasty brown marshmallows squashed between fudge striped cookies  //  a cup of hot coffee in the morning  //  curling up in a big, comfy sweatshirt with a good book  //  the last of the colorful veggies waiting to be preserved for the winter  //  warm campfires on a chilly evening  //  bouquets of flowers in shades of orange, red, and yellow  //  the quiet lapping of water against the shore of a lake  //  the smell of banana muffins fresh from the oven  //  the slow change from the vibrant and bright colors of summer to the warm and relaxing colors of fall  //

>>  What is your favorite thing about fall?  <<

September 17, 2012

And they just keep on growing

I've come to the conclusion that time just flies too fast. I mean, really too fast. Just this past week my little brother, Joshua (who is actually not-so-little anymore), had his tenth birthday. It seems like only yesterday he was turning three...can someone please tell me where the time went? I look around at all of my siblings and realize just how much they are growing up. With each passing year I'm reminded that they can't stay little forever....they just keep on growing. All too soon they will be all grown up, and I want to treasure these precious moments that I have with them now.

Joshua is a total boy - he loves bows and arrows, Legos, playing baseball, building intricate creations, and working with dad. He's got an engineering mind that can design and created complicated and detailed Lego machines that boggle my mind. Tenth birthdays happen to be a special occasion around our house, as they are the year you get to have a "big" birthday party. So he invited over our cousins and a few friends for a fun evening of baseball, a campfire, and any other activities they could find to do around the farm. It was great, and all the boys had a blast! And I learned something need a lot of food to feed lots of boys - especially hungry boys that just played baseball!

Just to forewarn you...I took 573 photos. Ya, that's a lot, but when you are the "official birthday photographer" you do what you have to do in order to capture the special moments from the day. Besides, I love to capture those moments that may soon be forgotten in our heads, but are kept alive by a photo. I only posted a few of my favorites here...but remember that I did give you fair warning...

And last, but certainly not least, my favorite photo from the day...