July 30, 2012

Of Iced Coffees and County Fairs

County fair was here before I knew it, but was over just as fast. The past few weeks have been full of early mornings, late nights, very little sleep, blue ribbons, big smiles, hot days, showing horses, hanging out with friends, and loads of fun. I guess that this is kind of why my little corner of the internet has been somewhat silent for awhile.

Well, as the hottest days of summer roll around {and I'm also living on very little sleep}, sometimes I need a little extra boost to keep me awake and going. I'm a self-admitted lover of coffee products. Mochas. Cappuccinos. Frappes. Frappuccinos. The only thing that I'm not a fan of is the price tags that generally hang on them...that and plain black coffee. But while a hot cappuccino is great for a cold and snowy winter day, it doesn't seem so appealing in triple digit weather. So when my mom suggested coffee over ice, it sounded like a pretty good idea to me! 

After a little bit of experimenting I ended up with a iced coffee that tasted good and was really quite refreshing! I would give you the recipe, but unfortunately I'm still working out the exact measurements. It's currently a "little bit of this, and a little bit of that" kind of recipe, and it also depends on what sort of taste you like! My recipe would go something like this:

1. Dump the rest of the coffee from your dad's coffee pot into the blender (ok, there was only about a quarter inch left in the bottom...)
2. Make a wild guess at how many ice cubes you need and throw them into the blender too
3. Pour in as much milk as you think you'll need
4. Turn on the blender and blend it all together
5. Taste a spoonful of it and decide that it needs chocolate ('cause chocolate makes everything better, right?)
6. Grab the chocolate syrup and add, oh, about a large spoonful
7. Blend it all together again
8. Pour it into a fun looking cup so that you can take pictures of it
9. Add some whip cream drizzled in chocolate syrup to make it even more photogenic
10. Take pictures...lots of pictures
11. Last but not least, pull up a chair, get to work on those 4-H projects, and enjoy a refreshing sip of a cold coffee drink

And that, my friends, is how to make the perfect iced coffee. I've decided that it's one of my new favorite summertime drinks, and is right up at the top of the list along with strawberry banana smoothies.

Any summertime recipe experiments going on at your house? If so, please share!


July 7, 2012

The Land of the Free

I love fireworks. The loud booms and bangs of the fiery bursts of color exploding in the air make my heart thump. Maybe I like them so much because they remind me of the freedom that we celebrate on Independence Day.

Many times we take this hard-earned freedom and use it unwisely. The idea that tends to work it's way into people's heads in one form or another is that freedom equals "the right to do whatever I want". We use freedom as an excuse to live for ourselves. Yes, we take advantage of the freedom to "be a Christian"...we go to church on Sunday, do some community service, or tell someone "Jesus loves you!". But is that really enough? Is that really what Jesus meant when He said to, "Love the LORD your God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength"? I don't think so.

We as Americans are blessed more than we tend to realize. We have the freedom to worship God without fear of imprisonment. The freedom to own a Bible when in many countries it is illegal. The freedom to talk about the Lord freely. Why do we abuse this freedom by not using it wisely?

 Think with me for a moment about being a Christian in a country where openly talking about Christ could cause you to be thrown into prison or even have you killed. Following Jesus in that country isn't exactly what we would consider easy. But you know what, I'm sure that the Christians who are there are deeply rooted in their faith. Their faith isn't just a surface change or a label that they stick on themselves, it effects their whole life.
Has our freedom caused us to become comfortable? Maybe a bit too comfortable?

If we have the freedom of speech, why isn't Christ the center of every conversation? If we have the freedom to own a Bible (and in many cases multiple copies could be found in our homes) why are they often left to collect dust? And if we have the freedom to worship the Lord openly, why aren't His praises on our lips every single second of the day and every action a reflection of Christ?

I don't want to use my American freedom as an excuse to live for myself, but as a opportunity to live for the Lord every single moment of the day. I want Him to be the center of my conversations; the Bible to be the first book I read in the morning, my frequent reference guide throughout the day, and the last thing I read before bed; and praise and worship of my Savior to be automatic responses.

America is the "Land of the Free"...let's use that freedom to live for the Lord.

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action: be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."
1 Peter 1:13-16

July 6, 2012

Standing Strong for the Lord in Your Youth

I know that I don't often post "advertisement-type" posts, but I just had to tell you about several upcoming conferences that I don't want any of you to miss! The Bright Lights ministry is holding Strong in the Lord and Radiant Purity conferences in Topeka, Kansas; Carrollton, Texas; and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. If you live anywhere near any of these locations, I would highly recommend attending either one or both conferences! This ministry has been such an encouragement and blessing to me, and I know that you will leave these conferences encouraged in your walk with the Lord and challenged to not settle for the low expectations that our culture places on us as young women. To learn more about the Strong In The Lord and Radiant Purity conferences, or to register, you can visit their website at TomorrowsForefathers.com.

(You can view a full-sized flier HERE)

July 3, 2012

Horsing Around

When the end of June rolls around, so does one of the biggest highlights of my year. It has something to do with lots of makeup, curly hair, tons of hairspray, sparkling outfits, and oh, I almost forgot....horses! I guess you could say that horses are kind of a big part of this event. If you haven't already guessed, I'm referring to the Cowgirl Queen contest.

Sometimes I can't believe that I put in days of preparation for fifteen minutes in the show ring. It seems kind of crazy, but I love it. This year I'd have to say that the preparation was one of my favorite parts! Three of my friends were competing in the junior division, and since my family was gone for the weekend I got to hang out with them while we all got our horses ready to show. I honestly don't think that I've ever had that much fun getting Flash bathed, banded, and clipped! I've decided that jobs are a lot funner when you've got amazing friends to do them with.

My goal was to do my absolute best and trust God with the results. I didn't win this year, but that's alright. Hayley and her horse did an amazing job, and I'm so excited for her as she goes on to compete at the state level! I love having the chance to compete, even if I don't win. Winning isn't everything...I had fun and Flash and I have improved a lot over the past few months. I can say with complete honesty that I met my goal!

Praise the Lord that the weather was nice, since most years it's either raining or extremely hot. There were chances of rain, but it held off until the very last class of the day. I know that there were a lot of people praying that it would stay nice, and it did. It was amazing to see how God answered that prayer!

So now I'd love to hear from all my horse-lovin' readers...what is your favorite horse event of the year?

Congratulations to Hayley, the 2012 Cowgirl Queen!!

The Junior Cowgirl Queen contestants....who also happen to be three of my amazing (and absolutely gorgeous) friends!

(All photos in this post were taken by my friend Rachel)