March 29, 2012

Sisters (a.k.a. best friends)

My sisters know me better than anyone else. Seriously. They've shared my laughter, seen me at my worst moments, stared blankly at me when I suddenly feel like acting weird, and been there for me no matter what. I'm sure that all of you who have sisters can relate! I love those "sister" moments...precious times that I never want to forget. Ever. 

>> washing dishes, but somehow always ending up doubled over in laughter with tears rolling down our faces

>> listening to the Chronicles of Narnia while washing eggs each evening

>> studying hippology late into the night, yet for some reason not actually getting much studying done

>> just being plain can do that with sisters you know :)

>> working outside together, whether it be cleaning out chicken pens or weeding salad

>> grabbing my camera and dragging them outside for the "perfect" photoshoot

>> heart-to-heart sister talks with the older of my younger sisters

>> a quick trip to the little ice cream shop between errands and piano lessons (only guilty of that far)

>> dancing around the kitchen with my little sisters just for the fun of it

>> encouraging each other in our walks with the Lord

>> training for a 5k together...running is always more fun with a partner!

>> watering vegetables in the garden, but getting more water on each other than on the plants

These are the kinds of memories that will last a lifetime. 
Sisters truly are a gift from the Lord!

Spring has arrived

I love spring.
The fresh smell after a long rain.
Waking up to the song of birds in the morning.
Tiny purple violets turning their heads to the sky.
New growth transforming the cold, bare ground into a lovely green carpet.
Warm sunshine that invites you to come outside and enjoy the weather.
Glorious sunsets that finish off the perfect spring day.

What's your favorite thing about spring?

March 27, 2012

This is my story...what's yours?

Everyone has a story. Their own special story that is all their own because it was written just for them. But sometimes we decide that we like someone elses better than our own and we try to squeeze ourselves into a mold that wasn't meant for us. Sound familiar? You may be able to guess where this post is headed from here, but I want you to know that I'm not speaking about this topic as someone who has got it down pat and has never struggled with it, I'm sharing this as a girl who occasionally needs a gentle reminder...

God has created us all with a purpose in mind...kind of like clock pieces. If there was a clock that was only made out of gears, and those gears were all the exact same size, it really wouldn't be a clock. And even if it was considered a clock it wouldn't work in the way it was intended to. There is a diverse selection of parts that are used in building a clock, and all of them are unique, made for a special purpose. When each part is allowed to do the job it was made to do, the whole clock will work as it's supposed to. The same goes for people. We are all different. We all have a special purpose. We all have a part to play. Can you imagine if everyone looked the same, acted the same way, did their hair the same way, and always talked about the same subjects? That's one way to make the world a boring place! God created you with unique talents and abilities, which is something to celebrate! He gave you those things for a reason and He wants you to use them to glorify Him. If we are constantly comparing ourselves to others we're not only going to end up discontent but we'll also miss out on some pretty amazing opportunities we could have had if we had spent that time serving the Lord.

I think that it's safe to say that this happens quite often in the blogging world, wouldn't you agree? We start comparing ourselves to others, and then try to be like them. Yep...that includes tweaking your writing so that it sounds just a bit more like hers, or trying to copy their style of photography, or maybe copying that blog design just because it's so unique. Your blog is a place for you to tell your story and display your style, not someone elses! Everyone has their own unique story to share yours!!

I'm extending a challenge to the girl that God created you to be. You have been given a unique personality, style, and talents. Don't try to cover up those things and act like someone else - seek to use them to the glory of God!

This is my story...what's yours?

March 25, 2012

Hippology: a day to remember


I've had a dream over the past few years. It was to qualify to compete in Hippology at the National Roundup in Denver, and yesterday, that dream came true.

Let me back up just a little bit. I've been competing in Hippology (the study of horses) for four years now, and have loved every minute of it. Last year our team placed first in the state, which was completely unexpected, but didn't qualify for Nationals because not all of our team members were old enough.

This year we weren't sure how it would turn out, but we trusted that God had the results in His hands and gave it our best. The team that I was on with two of my friends ended up getting Champion in the senior division, qualifying to represent our state at the National Roundup, and I also placed as first individual. The senior team that my sister was on got Reserve, and my other sister's team placed first in the junior division. God is good. He alone gets all the glory, because without Him it would have been impossible. We had already met our learn and have fun. He threw in the championship just because He can.

Through Hippology I have learned so much more than just horse knowledge.
I've learned what it is to work together as a team.
I've learned to trust that God is in control, even of our placings.
I've learned that even if I learned just one thing about horses, I've accomplished my goal. Placing well is just icing on the cake.
I've learned that winning isn't everything. It's about glorifying the Lord in whatever we do.

I've been shown over and over again how much I've been blessed. I have an amazing coach, two wonderful teammates, and a whole bunch of horse crazy friends to study with. How much better can it get?!? God has blessed me so much more than I deserve, and I pray that through everything my life is just a reflection of Him.

I'm sure you can guess...we're a pretty excited group :) I'm continually amazed at how God works.  
How great is our God!

March 19, 2012

The Promise

"God hath not promised
Skies ever blue,
Flower-strewn pathways
All our lives through;
God hath not promised
Skies without rain,
Joy without sorrow,
Peace without pain.

"But God hath promised
Strength for the day,
Rest for the labor,
Light for the way,
Grace for the trials,
Help from above,
Unfailing sympathy,
Undying love."

  Annie-Johnson Flint

I apologize for my lack of posts this month! I've been quite busy and in my "free" time I've been trying to study as much Hippology as possible :) The contest is coming up this weekend, and I've been cramming in all the last minute topics that I need to work on...

March 5, 2012

Peace Through the Storm

April 15, 2012 marks one-hundred years since the sinking of the Titanic. It was on that cold night of 1912 in the middle of the Atlantic that hundreds of people lost their lives. Across the decks of the ship rang the cry, "Women and children first!" as the lifeboats were filled and lowered down towards the cold, icy water. This year, Vision Forum Ministries had an essay contest in which you were supposed to write a story of the Titanic, based on that phrase. Though I don't often write stories I decided to go ahead try it, just for fun. After hours of editing, researching, and editing some more, I finally completed "Peace Through the Storm". Even though I didn't win (which is fine with me) I would like to share my story with you. I hope you enjoy it!

|| via Google images ||

      It was a beautiful summer evening and seventeen year old Elizabeth strolled along the shore of the Atlantic. The gentle breeze blew her long blond hair into her face as she stopped to gaze at the sunset. Her thoughts went back to the night of April 15th, 1912; the night that changed her life. Though the sinking of the Titanic had taken place eleven years earlier, Elizabeth remembered every detail as clearly as if it were yesterday...

      The day of April 10th, 1912, was coming to a close. The soft glow of the moon illuminated the faces of a brother and sister who were standing side by side on the deck of the RMS Titanic as it sailed from port.
      “How much longer until we get to...what's it called?” six year old Elizabeth looked up at her older brother with a puzzled expression.
      A broad smile spread across Daniel's face as he looked down at his little sister, “New York. It will take us about seven days to get there if we don't experience any problems.”
      “And then we get to see Mama again! I miss her a lot.” said Elizabeth as she looked over the calm water towards the shores of Cherbourg, France, the only place they had ever called home. Their mother had left for America seven months earlier to care for their elderly aunt, and Daniel, who was eighteen years old, promised that they would join her in New York once they had enough money.

      The first four days aboard the Titanic were quite uneventful. Elizabeth met a couple of other young girls close to her age, and passed many long hours playing with them. Even though she enjoyed being with her new friends, her favorite thing to do was to sit with Daniel as he told her stories. She loved it when he would read to her from the Bible, just like her father used to do.

      “Can you please read me just one more story?” begged Elizabeth. It was now the fifth night of the voyage, and Daniel was tucking her into a comfortable bed in their third-class cabin.
      He grinned and let out a small chuckle, “Alright, one more. Which one will it be?”
      “Jesus calming the storm! That's one of my favorites.” she said with excitement, and then snuggled down in the blankets to listen.
      After he had finished, he asked, “Did you know that God still calms storms today?”
      Elizabeth gave him a questioning look and he continued, “You were quite young when Father died, but I remember how God gave Mother and me an unexplainable peace. He comforted us in the middle of our storm and gave us the strength to move on. No matter what storms we may have to face in this life, we can be sure that God is right there with us and will walk with us every step of the way.”
      Elizabeth nodded sleepily, not fully understanding everything Daniel had just told her. She gave him a hug, and after thanking the Lord for all of His blessings, laid her head on the pillow and fell asleep.

      It was about 11:40 when Daniel awoke to a slight jolt of the great ship. Wondering what had happened, he silently slipped out the door so as not to wake Elizabeth, and made his way to the upper deck. After questioning a few of the people who had begun to gather there, he learned that they had struck an iceberg but no one was sure how much damage had been done. The captain decided that the lifeboats would be sent out, though most passengers didn't realize the gravity of the situation.

      Daniel made his way back to their cabin where he dressed Elizabeth warmly and then carried her to the boat deck. Some of those who had gathered began to think that perhaps the Titanic would never finish her voyage, while others believed there to be no danger. As the lifeboats started to be filled, Daniel silently helped Elizabeth into her life jacket and then picked her up in his strong arms. Elizabeth squeezed his neck hard, not wanting to ever let go. He carried her to the nearest life boat and carefully loosened her grasp.

      Looking down into Elizabeth's blue eyes, Daniel took a deep breath and gently said, “Elizabeth, I need you to be very brave. Mama will be waiting for you in New York. Tell her...” his voice caught as he tried to choke back tears, “tell her that I love her.”
      “Please,” Elizabeth sobbed, confused by why she had to go alone, “please don't leave me. I want you to come with me. Why can't you come too?”
      “Father taught me that women and children are first. As much as I want to be with you, I need to stay here and make sure that everyone else gets a place on a lifeboat. Please don't cry for me. Remember that God is with us, even in the middle of a storm.” With these last words he drew Elizabeth into a big hug, tears silently rolling down their faces.

      As the lifeboat was slowly lowered over the ship's side, Elizabeth kept her gaze fixed on her brother. “Be brave,” he called as the lifeboat drew closer to the cold, icy water, “I love you.”
      His voice faded away as the cries of women and the rushing of water drowned out all other sounds. Elizabeth looked back at the great ship, straining her eyes to catch one last glimpse of her brother. Yes, there he was, handing women and children into the lifeboats. An arm gently slipped around her shoulder, and a young lady of about twenty-five quietly said, “Your brother is a fine man. Not all of the men willingly stepped aside and let others go first.”
      Elizabeth started to cry and laid her head on the lady's shoulder, eventually falling into a fitful sleep. Several hours later they were picked up by the Carpathia, a ship sent to rescue those who survived. As Elizabeth stood on the deck, staring back towards the water which the Titanic had sank beneath, she wondered if her life would ever be the same again. As she stood there, a peace that is hard for a six year old to understand came over her. Maybe this was what Daniel meant when he had told her that God would be with her, even through the storm.

      She never forgot Daniel's bravery. As she grew into a beautiful young woman, she realized that it was on that tragic night that her brother truly became a man. He was determined that the women and children should be saved first, and in her eyes he was a hero.

      Elizabeth continued her walk along the beach, remembering that cold night when her world was turned upside down. She turned her tear filled eyes towards the sky and a smile spread across her face. Yes, she would see her brother again some day. And until then, she would remember the night that God calmed the storm and gave her a peace that surpassed all understanding.