Monday, August 26, 2013

The 30 Day Blog Challenge, Day 13: Strengths & Weaknesses, Part 1

Prompt: 5 weaknesses you have.

No one likes to admit their weaknesses, but it's often healthy to do so, and helps us reflect on how they can ask God to help them change their ways.

1. Procrastination
Ah, yes. Even the pastor's kid and the principal's daughter can struggle with the common student issue: procrastination. It's a bad habit that I have yet to completely conquer.

2. Stubbornness
This can be a weakness and a strength, but currently it's been a lot more of a weakness.

3. Worrying too much
Whether it's the fact that plans might not go as expected, or if I might not make it through tomorrow, or if people think bad about me, I worry way too much, and forget that God is with me.

4. Disorganization
Now, I might be quite the organizer at school, but when it comes to my room and keeping up with laundry, I don't know how my parents put up with me.

5. Fear of change
So often now, I am coming to the realization that I can't stay with the same old bad habits forever, because it won't be long now until I'll be going off to college and having the entire world of responsibility on my shoulders. So, usually I deal with the temptation of being afraid to try, because I don't really want things to drastically change.

Question for the Reader: How do you overcome your weaknesses?

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." --2 Corinthians 12:9

Friday, August 23, 2013

The 30 Day Blog Challenge, Day 12: A Day in the Life (As Promised)

I promised that I would publish a "day in the life" blog post as a result of a poll I did a few months back....and I never got around to it. But today, I have no excuse, thanks to the 30 Day Blog Challenge! 

Prompt: Describe a typical day in your life.

5:30am--I wake up and roll myself out of bed, because at this hour I am really, really tired. I then go and wash my face, because it helps me wake up.
5:40am--I try to wake my sister up if she missed her alarm. I grab my Bible, journal, and a pen, and start studying the word. Currently, I've been reading a lot of the Psalms, Isaiah, 1 Corinthians, and a few chapters from the Gospel of Matthew. After I read the word, I pray about what I studied that day and ask God for His companionship in my life as I do my best to apply His word to my daily life.
6:00am--Basically, after devotions, I make my bed, eat breakfast, get dressed and ready for school. 
7:00am--If we're on time, my brother, sister, mom, and I all load our stuff into the car, and drive to school.
7:25am--We arrive at school, and my mom gets set up for work (she's the head of the school), and my siblings and I entertain ourselves until 8:15 when we have to go to our classrooms.
8:15am--I say "bye" to my brother as he goes upstairs to his fourth grade classroom. My sister and I walk to the upper school building and set up our desk spaces in the high school room.
8:25am--Morning assembly with teachers, middle school & high school students. We pledge allegiance, pray, sing a hymn, and listen to important school announcements.
8:30am--Middle school students go to their homeroom class, as us high schoolers take our lunch orders and get ready for study skills DVD lectures and free work time. Since it's not September yet, we prepare for free work time instead of a high school devotion class which will likely start on the 6th.
8:35-10:35am--Free work time (Reading, art projects, planning) and/or study skills DVD lectures
10:35-10:45am--Break with Middle School & High School Students/Eat a healthy snack
10:45am-12:20pm--Continue free work time
12:20-1:00pm--Lunch with Middle School & High School Students
1:00-2:25pm--Finish free work time/DVD Lectures
2:25-3:15pm--This block depends on the day of the week. If it's Monday or Wednesday, I have a live art class that I attend. If it's Friday, I attend a community service class period. If it's Thursday, more free time! 
3:15-4:00pm--I pack up my stuff and get ready to come home.
4:00pm--Depart from school, and head home.
4:30pm--We all arrive home from school, and I unpack all my stuff and spend a few minutes in my room to organize my stuff or get comfortable. Sometimes when I come home and dinner is not happening soon, then I'll take the opportunity to grab a snack if I'm hungry.
4:45pm--Help with dinner, whatever homework I may have, or chilling in my room
5:00-6:00pm--Dinner with my family
6:00-7:30pm--Family time/finishing homework/music practice/chores
7:30pm--Start preparing for tomorrow's school day by ironing clothes or packing a lunch
8:00pm--I say "good-night" to my brother and parents and go to my room to hang out with my sister until we go to sleep at 10:00pm. Sometimes we'll watch videos until 9 and then read or play a board game until 10.
10:00pm--Turn off my lights, straighten up my room, charge my phone, set my alarm, and I go to sleep.

My days are pretty easy going since my online classes have not started yet. When I get into my class routine with electives and core classes, I will definitely have a lot more in my day. Maybe when that happens, I'll make another day in the life post.

I hope you enjoyed a tidbit of my everyday life! :)

Question for the Reader: What does your day typically look like?

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ." --Colossians 2:6-8

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The 30 Day Blog Challenge, Day 11: Today's Theme Music

Prompt: 5 songs on your playlist today.

1. Crazy Love by Mindy Gledhill
This is a cute song by an artist I really like. Her opening line is my favorite part: "Nobody knows that I am a secret spy..."

2. Piano Concerto No. 2 by Dmitri Shostakovich
I love this piano piece because it sort of reminds me of a fairy tale. If you've ever seen Disney's Fantasia 2000, then you probably know what I'm talking about. (It fits The Steadfast Tin Soldier perfectly.)

3. Hot Air Balloon by Owl City
This is one of my favorite songs. It's on my playlist for today because my sister and I actually saw a maroon hot air balloon right early this morning. :)

4. Symphony No. 5 "The Reformation Symphony," Movement 4 by Felix Mendelssohn
I love how majestic this piece is. It's almost as if Mendelssohn had the ability to compose God's power into a symphony, especially towards the middle and end of the movement.

5. Your Hands by JJ Heller
This is one of my favorite Christian music songs. It's a great, soft acoustic song about God's love and our security in Him.

Question for the Reader: Do you have any songs stuck in your head today?

Praise the Lord
Praise God in his sanctuary; 
praise him in his mighty heavens. 
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre, 
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.
--Psalm 150

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The 30 Day Blog Challenge, Day 10: Storytime!

This is a children's story I came up with. Even though the first day of fall isn't until September 22, I felt inspired by the beginning of the school year to write a short story about autumn. I hope you enjoy it.

Prompt: Tell a story.

Alice was quite little, but not little enough to fit under a microscope. Just little enough to where she was the size of a big sunflower petal. As a matter of fact, that's where she grew up: in a sunflower. One day, however, it was high time for her to leave the house, or in this case, the sunflower, and blow away to find a new life for herself. 

So that's what she did. When all the petals blew away, that's when she blew away to a far away land, called Winterville. Now, Winterville was a very cold, white & blue place where flowers never grew, but instead, only icicles and snowflakes were the closest to a flower that anyone could find!

This was very unsettling to poor little Alice where so many big and cold things were surrounding her, when she was so used to sunshine, clear skies, and everything bright. 

Alice asked the mayor of Winterville what happened. He said, "It was a great and powerful spell that fell upon the land. This used to be a place called Springville, but when everything fell cold and white, we changed the name because it was no longer spring." 

Alice didn't know what to do! She simply had to break the spell. Because she was so sad at what had happened, she went to a nearby tree to rest and weep. All of a sudden, when a small tear ran down her cheek and fell to the ground, a tree grew! It had so many gorgeous and vibrant colors on its leaves that she ran around with her special water from her sunflower house and planted all sorts of these trees. 

And that, friends, is how autumn came to be: all because of a little sunflower girl named Alice.

The End.

Question for the Reader: What is your favorite childhood story?

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew, a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace." --Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The 30 Day Blog Challenge, Day 9: Note To Self

Prompt: What would you tell your 16 year old self if you could?

...I am sixteen. :)

However, that's not going to stop me from giving myself some advice, because I think I could use it.

I need to practice the beautiful act of thinking about others before I ever think about myself, and listen to the words and instructions of the people older and wiser than I am. Finally, I need to stop worrying about the past and the future, or any problems that seem big now. Instead, I ought to focus on God's plan, and in Him, all worries and troubles fade away.

Question for the Reader: What words of wisdom would you give to yourself?

"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." --Philippians 3:12-14

The 30 Day Blog Challenge, Day 8: Passions

Prompt: What are three passions you have?

1. Teaching
Ever since I was little, I've wanted to teach. I love being able to share knowledge or wisdom with people and seeing them realize that the information is helpful to them in their daily lives or spiritual walk. Many people believe that it's one of my spiritual gifts.

2. Writing
Whether it's writing in my student planner, or taking class notes with a pen and notebook paper, or just writing down my thoughts in this blog, I love to write. It's a way to get lost in your imagination, or plan out your life, or keep a record of how God is working in your heart, mind, and soul.

3. Walking with the Lord
If there was one after-school activity that was my favorite, it's church youth group. Why? It's a chance to hear God's Word in a way that relates to the lives of everyone around me, not just my own. One of my favorite habits that I'm starting to develop is waking up early in the morning and studying the Lord's Word. I have always been a child of God, and I am so blessed to be loved by Him and have the opportunity to walk with Him throughout my life.

Question for the Reader: What are your passions?

"Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me." --Psalm 119:133

The 30 Day Blog Challenge, Day 7: My Calling

Prompt: What is your dream job, and why?

I have given this a lot of thought, and even though I'm not quite sure what I want to be yet, I'm willing to share a few of the ideas I have right now, according to my current interests.

1. Secretary/Assistant
I don't really know what the real title for this job is, but you get the general idea. I've always loved the idea of sitting at a work desk taking dictation, planning out schedules on Google Calendar, answering phones and e-mails, running errands, and getting coffee for some weird me crazy. (I make really good coffee with a french press by the way.)

2. Journalist/Columnist
I've always liked the idea of writing a column or article in a newspaper or magazine. I like the idea of a magazine writer better though, because I could write "how-to" articles or interviews by celebrities or something like that instead of the inside story on a local crime or traffic catastrophe.

3. Novel/Children's Book/Christian Book Editor
I like reading novels, christian and children's books and coming up with ideas for them. I also like the idea of going to meetings with writers and publishers, and helping them become great writers and book sellers.

4. Copyeditor
I think this is the job that might be one step down from an editor, but I think I would be happy with it all the same. It's a great opportunity for my spelling, grammar, and proofreading skills to be put to good use, and it might be fun.

5. Professor
This one is really "if-y" because I've never really seen some of my own talents where I find myself saying, "Oh wow! That would be great for becoming a professor!" However, it's a great job to teach the next generation about becoming great citizens and leaders of the world that gets them excited about learning in the areas that they know they want to specialize in.

Now that I have all of the "potential" jobs out of the way, here's a dream job that I have that I think I might be called to do by the Lord. I'd like to become a teacher of English, Literature, Language Arts, the Classics, the Bible, Philosophy, and potentially foreign languages, history, or other areas of the Arts. I would especially like to teach the middle school and high school groups, because they seem to be at the age where they might need the self-discipline to want to learn. I'm also considering getting a counseling degree so that not only would I teach kids academics at the secondary school level, but also counsel them to be mature, intelligent, discerning, and Christ-loving individuals. This doesn't just include kids in the schools of America, but the kids in the church, and the youth all over the world. It would be wonderful to see kids who are my age now, be so excited to love Christ and learn about Him and His world, and receive a great education that prepares their hearts and minds for whatever the Lord calls them to be as His children and disciples.

Question for the Reader: What's your dream job?

"Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established." --Proverbs 16:3

The 30 Day Blog Challenge, Day 6: What an Owl Means to Me

It's been a long time since I last posted in the 30 day blog challenge series, and quite frankly, I'm a bit uncomfortable sharing this sad story as soon as I decided to come back to the series, but I think you will like it all the same, and it might even be encouraging.

Prompt: What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced?

I thought long and hard about the answer to this question, but I came to two conclusions: first, I am EXTREMELY blessed, and secondly, I could only think of one story that fits the description of the hardest experience, and if I couldn't think of any other one, than I guess that's a great sign to share it. 

It all started in the late fall of my 7th grade year. I was the "band geek" who played three instruments and was in more bands and music groups than anyone thought was humanly possible. My friends, my family, and I were all happy and proud of my achievements, but I heard about an excellent opportunity that became my big musical goal at the time: The University of Colorado Middle School Honor Band. So many of the older kids in 8th grade were auditioning and entering this band, and it was my dream to be one of the musicians that made it in. 

One day, my school band director and favorite teacher, signed me up as a candidate for going to a recording studio in Boulder so that I could audition for the CU Middle School Honor Band. He gave me all of the audition requirements for bass clarinet, and all I had to do was buy a music book at my local music store, and practice up until I felt like I could earn a doctorate on the piece. So, I practiced for weeks, right up to the day where I got in my director's pick up truck with my bass clarinet and a few friends who were also auditioning, and drove to the recording studio in Boulder, CO.

At the time, I was nervous, excited, and jittery at the thought that this 30 minute audition in front of my director, my friends, and recording studio producers, playing into a microphone for the judges at the University of Colorado to hear could make or break my dream of entering this honor band I had been dreaming about for months. 

When it came to be my turn to audition, I started to play, and all of a sudden, I realized that one of my keys was not working, and I simply could not play the piece well at all. My director tried to help me fix it, the producers gave me suggestions, and we tried every solution possible, and the bass clarinet would just not play the way that it was supposed to. It was absolutely embarrassing and humiliating that I would not be able to audition or play in the middle school honor band that year. My director had one more suggestion which was to take it in to the repair shop that night and later that week, I could go back to the studio and try to audition again. So I did just that. 

I practiced a couple times more on the day that I got my instrument back from the shop to make sure I would be able to audition. It worked just fine, and an ounce of hope still remained, until...

On the day that I went back to the studio, I was well-practiced and ready-to-go for my audition. I was still upset that it wasn't working the other day, but I tried to forget about it and just play the audition piece to get it over with. All of a sudden, again, my bass clarinet simply would not work. Once more, I tried every solution, praying the entire time, "Please, please, please, I simply must audition! Please make it work!" 

But at the end of the day, I was absolutely devastated. I didn't get to audition that day. It was possibly the most devastating moment of my life, when after trying absolutely everything I could, I still didn't get to audition.

My mom took me out to eat at one of my favorite restaurants, and everyone in my family reassured me that everything would be all right, but nothing seemed to make me feel better. On the way home that night, as I was talking to my mom about how disappointed I was, my mom gasped and said, "Hayley, look!" The van's headlights were perfectly positioned so that I could see a big and gorgeous Great-Horned Owl resting on a city sign. This isn't the exact picture, but it's very similar to my memory of what it looked like:
It was definitely one of my favorite moments of my life. It seemed like the owl represented something better than just a cool thing that just so happened on one of the worst days ever. It was an owl that to me, represented how God is bigger and wiser than to "let me" have a terrible experience. Seeing that owl helped me understand that God has His own plans for me, and even though things seem awful in the moment, God is still a God of hope and wisdom that I can't comprehend, and He has great things in store for my life, and the lives of everyone.

The next year, I went back to the recording studio to audition, and I was accepted as Bass Clarinet second chair in the CU Middle School Honor Band. When I auditioned for the Longmont Youth Symphony Orchestra a couple years later, the conductor saw that I had been a member of the honor band, and I was accepted as a bass clarinetist in the orchestra (and I didn't even have to open my bass clarinet case to audition).

I hope this was an encouraging story for you, even though it wasn't exactly a happy story. Remember that God has great plans for you, and rejoice in Him always. 

Question for the Reader: What do you think about owls?

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" --Philippians 4:4

Saturday, August 17, 2013

I Went Nuts Organizing, Part 1: The Student Planner

Several of my friends and family have taken note that in the past week, I have been practically living in my basement organizing, well, everything I could put my hands on. However, I created a few organization systems that I would like to share with you readers, so that maybe it could be useful to you as well.

Today I'd like to start the series with one of my new best friends: my student planner.


  • A 2-inch binder
  • Copy paper (colored or plain)
  • A printer
  • Microsoft Word or Google Drive (I used Drive.)
  • Colorful Paper of some sort (copy paper or standard construction paper)
  • Labels & Notebook paper, Sheet Protectors, or Dividers
  • A weekly planner that works best for you, which has 3 holes down the side, so that it can fit in a binder (My weekly planner was provided by my school, but you can buy them virtually anywhere on the internet or in office supply stores.)
  • 3-hole puncher
  • Pens/Pencils/Markers/Colored Pencils/Crayons
Now this may seem like a lot, but these were all things that I found around the house or were already provided for me. The good news is that it's school supply season, so most of these materials should be reasonably inexpensive. 

Step 1: Reflecting
If you're a high school student like I am, chances are, maintaining a student planner is not your first rodeo. Think about what you've always wanted in a planner that the store brand never has. Answer the question, "What does my dream planner consist of?" Does it have a fitness log or a monthly goals page? Does it have a notebook as a journal or encouraging verses to get you through the day?

Step 2: "Have It Your Way"& Monthly Planner
Now that you've thought about the things that make the perfect planner, make a document in Google Drive or Microsoft Word that starts to fill in all the things you've wanted.
For me, I wanted different sections in my binder that had daily routines, a monthly planner, weekly planner, daily planner, and school-year calendars along with other schedules, calendars, and agendas. So, I started a document in Google Drive in which my first page had the name of my schools, the school year, my name, my grade, my homeroom teacher, and the label that it's a student planner: 
On the next page of my document, I started a monthly planner page. Now, this varies for different people depending on what they want in a planner, but I made a section for what month it was, my monthly resolutions, and important events and their dates. 
The important events section is so that I can write down all of the important events coming up in the month such as big projects, concerts, school meetings, etc. and then write them down on a month calendar that would look like this each month:

Step 3: Weekly Planner
The next step is to make sure you have everything in your weekly planner that you want. If you don't want to buy a weekly planner, then make your own! 

Step 4: Daily Planner
In my document, after the monthly planner pages, I made a daily planner section. This is where I customized the most, because each day is where I make the biggest planning decisions. I started by putting a header and a space for the date. Then I made an agenda table like this:
This helps me organize when I can do certain things during the day. For example, in the mornings and early afternoons during the school year, I have school assembly, class devotions, online classes, and then electives. But then after school, I have things to do such as music practice and rehearsals, youth group meetings, exercise, dinner with the family, and so forth, which makes things difficult to schedule in things like homework.
If you have a Google Calendar account, that might work better for you as well, so that you can see different colors for events, and easily print out your calendars.
After I make a daily agenda, I use the next page on my document for my personal customizations. First, I made tables for practice, exercise, and quiet time with God.
Since I know that I have to practice at least 30 minutes every day, spend at least 30-60 minutes exercising every day, and make sure that I dedicate my life to the Lord in His Word, I make sure that I record those things in my planner to keep myself responsible.
Next, I made a prioritized to-do list section. I have a lot of assignments at my school, and it's often difficult to prioritize what I need to do each day in order to get them done. So, I made a table of 5 items to complete during the day in prioritized order along with a check box on the side, so I can check each item off as they are completed.
My next items are a bullet list table of reminders and chores. Reminders are like my organized sticky notes in my planner so that I don't forget certain small things I still need to do, and of course, what chores I need to do when I get home from school that day.
After that, there are things that I know I still have to do that might not have made it onto the prioritized list that day, but could still get done in time to spare.
Then, I have the bullet list tables of prayer requests and things that I need to ask my parents that day. These are both important because each day we have things we have to come to God for, and then we have to come to our parents for when we need help or support.
Finally, I have a list of free-time rewards. This is one of my favorites, because it helps me remember that after all the work I get done, I can spend some time playing a board game with my family, watching my favorite t.v. show, or even catching up on my favorite blogs.

Step 5: Academic Calendars
The next page in your document should be a copy-paste page from your school website about important events coming up in the academic school year. If you only got a hand out of this page on the first day of school, then 3-hole punch it and save it for when you put it in your binder.

Step 6: Routines
I made a separate document for this step. During the school year, I tend to be in the bad habit of dilly-dallying when I should be doing something productive. Making routines for the mornings, evenings, and at school can be really helpful if you struggle with this too.

Step 7: Extras
After all of your planners are typed up, maybe you still want a fitness journal or a diary or extra notebook paper in the back of your planner. Keep an inventory of all of the extra things you still would like to have in your planner and make sure that it is doable.

Step 8: Placement & Labeling
The next step is to print it all out and place it in the way you want it into your binder. I kept my routines in the very front, my monthly planner pages next, then my weekly planner book, my daily planner pages next, and finally, my academic calendars and extra materials in the very back. Then, label all of your sections. Maybe you like to put a colorful sheet of paper with "Monthly Planner" on the front in a sheet protector as your label, or you put a colorful tab on the first page, or you use a divider. Do whatever you want to label all of your sections of your planner. 

Step 9: Decorating
Make your binder your own. Put stickers on the front, or color your title page. Be creative!

Step 10: Maintaining
Keep your planner in a place where you know you will check it and use it constantly. All this work to make a perfect planner would go to waste if you never used it! Enjoy. :)

I hope you liked this tutorial on how to make the perfect personalized student planner. Stay tuned for more posts like this one.

Questions for the Reader: Do you have any suggestions on what other tutorials I could do similar to this one? Was this post helpful?

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you." --Psalm 32:8

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What's New (Literally)

Tomorrow is the first day of school.

I've been preparing for weeks in order to be ready for it, but for some reason, my mind refuses to believe that I'll be waking up at 6am tomorrow, bringing a packed lunch and new binders, and getting ready for my attendance to be recorded. This will continue to be a pattern for the next ten months, five days a week, seven hours a day. Goodness...

I think I might be worried about change. God has been changing everything around me like a storm, and yet a part of me refuses to come to terms with how wonderful it is. I find myself only seeing the negativity of change, and therefore, I'm afraid of it. I can't understand why. Change is a great thing. 

I pray that all of you who might be starting a new school year, or maybe a new phase at work may rejoice in the coming changes of your lives. It's a beautiful thing, and I'm beginning to realize that. Behold, the Lord makes all things new.

Question for the Reader: Do you ever dread the first day of school?

"Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." --Isaiah 43:18-19

Friday, August 9, 2013

The 30 Day Blog Challenge, Day 5: "I Have No Greater Joy"

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." --3 John 1:4

Usually I end my blog posts with a Bible verse, but today, it seemed more fitting to start with one. And the verse above is not just any verse that ties in with my post today, but it is one of my very favorite verses. When people ask me, "What is your favorite Bible verse?" I answer with 3 John 1:4, even though I have countless others that rank as my favorite. This is because I love waking up in the morning, and perhaps feeling awful about what might be in the day to come, but 3 John 1:4 reminds me that whatever happens, God loves me, and His favorite thing is to see me live the day for Him, walking with Him, in the truth.

Prompt: What are the 5 things that make you happiest?

Spending time with the Lord
Even though I have lived several days where I refused to do so much as sitting down for five minutes and praying, it is the days where I choose to say, "I'm going to live this day for God" that keep me joyful.

Beautiful Pictures/Experiences
I don't know what it is, but whether it's a picture of the sun coming through the trees, or a fence stained by a rainstorm, or perfectly green grass with budding flowers, I feel really happy. Sometimes it doesn't even have to be a picture, it could even be an experience, like seeing my brother kick a goal at an outdoor soccer game on a spring day or watching my dog try to catch a butterfly. Maybe that's my version of Maria's "whiskers on kittens" and "warm woolen mittens." (The Sound of Music)

Friends & Family
Nothing puts a smile on my face quicker than to put me in a room with the people that I care most about. Every week, I always have something to be grateful for, because my friends and family are always there to help me grow in the Lord and rejoice in His world.

When I was really little and didn't know how to write, I drew pictures. I used to draw ladybugs, trees, pictures of my favorite movies (one of my favorites is a picture of Boo and Sully from Monster's Inc.), and Bible stories (I have a picture of Moses as a baby on the river that I still vaguely remember drawing). My parents would give me little drawing books and stacks of copy paper for Christmas, because I refused to draw on both sides of the paper. I think the reason I did that was because to me, every piece of paper was a canvas, and an artist never uses both sides. As I grew older, I learned how to write, and I realized that all I ever wanted to do was to tell great stories, whether it was through drawing or writing. So even now, I still get a smile on my face when I hear the story of baby Moses on the river, or watch Monster's Inc., or read a great book like Pride and Prejudice, because I have always loved wonderful stories.

I was going through my closet last week in order to organize my school clothes for the fall, and I could not believe how many sweaters I had, but the hardest part was to get rid of some of them. I think that's because each sweater had its own unique kind of comfort. Or sometimes in the winter, our family will have just got home from school and work, and we're freezing cold, but when we walk through the door, my dad has on the stove a humongous pot full of soup. And when I feel sad, I'll wear a sweater, sweatpants, and maybe some fuzzy socks or a pair of slippers, perhaps make a cup of tea, find somewhere peaceful and quiet in the house to pray, and think. Some people do similar things like that but won't admit it in fear that they seem vulnerable or pathetic, but really, we're all human beings, and we all find rest and happiness in something when it seems like joy isn't around. That's what I like about comfort. It leads the way to God when it seems like everything is messed up and joyless.

Questions for the Reader: What are your favorite things? What makes you happiest?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The 30 Day Blog Challenge, Day 4: Blog Heroes & Buddies

This is the day where I get to talk about the blogs that I look up to, stalk (just kidding), follow, find interesting, and read because I'm buddies with the authors. :D

Unfortunately I won't get to list all of them, because frankly, I probably have about a million blogs on my Bloglovin' account.

Prompt: Blogs you follow.

I recently created an entire page called "My Favorite Blogs" which basically covers the bases of my favorite ones to follow and also blogs which are written by my best blog-writing buds. So, instead of re-writing every single one of those, I'll just ask the readers to go check it out. :D

On the other hand, I follow even more blogs than just the favorite ones on that page. So without further ado, here are some more blogs that I like to follow that are all well-written too.

...our journey... by Lyle and Paige 
This is cute and inspiring to me because it shows what a godly marriage looks like between two best friends who want to grow a ministry of the Lord together. (Link)

Almost There by Tyler Anne and Holli Anne
I love this blog because it's a real life image of what it looks like to chase after your dreams and encourage others to do the same. Tyler and Holli are both aspiring authors and give great tips in writing and organizing goals. (Link)

Amazing Music by Nathaniel Perez
This is written by a good friend of mine who decided to use his appreciation of music and turn it into a blog. He also makes his own music videos on YouTube! (Link)

Average Christian Geek by Kaylin Threepwood
Kaylin writes a great blog about her life as a Christian homeschooler, who is also an avid reader and gamer. (Link)

Band of Brothers by Davi
This is a blog about a sweet mom of four who writes about the everyday life of being a stay at home mom. (Link

Camp Girl in the Real World by Sarah Card
This camp girl might love the outdoors, but she writes her blog about camping figuratively speaking. She's a Christian and software engineering student, figuring out the real world, its beauties, and its challenges as she goes. (Link)

This is a lot of blogs to check out for now. Maybe another day I'll keep going on this blog following rant, but it's a bit too much to give them all out in one post. ;) Enjoy!

Question for the Reader: What's your favorite blog to follow?

"Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance..." --Proverbs 1:5

The 30 Day Blog Challenge, Day 3: Family

Sorry that I'm a bit behind on this challenge. I had to do an overnight babysitting job on Sunday and I've been pretty sick this week. I hope to do a bit of catching up today, but I might be a little behind over the next few days. So sorry!!! :(

Prompt: Describe your relationship with your family.

This is an easy and tough one at the same time, because while my family consists of people that I feel I couldn't live without, they have their flaws, and they have the capability to drive me nuts. I think all families are like that. While we all have our bad days in our families, our family is the people that we love for everything that they are.

I am in a family of 5, plus a dog. Dad, Mom, Me, Moriah, Caleb, and then Ace (the Jack Russell Terrier extraordinaire). Dad is the wisest in the family. All he ever asks of us is to listen to his words, to follow his instructions, and obey him, which is the way that he receives love. (God says the same, by the way in John 14:15, "If you love me, obey my commandments.") He's the administrative pastor at our church, and works from home, acting as the parent that is constantly available and prepared to suit our needs. Mom is the Wonder Woman of the family. She has a full time job as the head of one of the biggest and best classical Christian schools in Colorado. She's also a mother of three and director of the Family Ministry at our church. I look up to her every day as a teacher and a beautiful, intelligent, and godly woman. I'm the eldest of the three kids in our family. I have the faults of trying to be a peacekeeper, but that immediately turns into being the wallflower. On the other hand, I'm a junior in high school, a hard worker, good student, musician, teacher, and writer. (But some of you know enough about me already to figure that one out...) Moriah is the spunky, creative, pretty, and tall lady in our family. She's 14, and has a beautiful smile that lights up an entire room. She loves the Lord and praises Him everyday with her lovely singing voice. (Link to her blog: Caleb (bless his heart) is the youngest boy in our family, a sweet gentleman who has as much patience as a dog waiting for a bone (because of his living with three women and everything.) He's very smart, especially with math, and loves to play soccer. 

My family is the group of people that I care most about in the world, and I'm glad I got to share them with you all! :)

Question for the Reader: What is your family like?

"But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." --Joshua 24:15b

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Summer Bucket List Update--8/06/13

I've been scratching off a few more things on my summer bucket list, so I thought I'd give you guys a glimpse on my progress. :)

  1. Do a vlog post.
  2. Post frequently on Victorious Heroine
  3. Get an awesome gift for Father's Day
  4. Go to Disney World
  5. Take lots of pictures
  6. Color in a coloring book or on a coloring page
  7. Play in the rain
  8. Pick flowers
  9. Write some poems or stories
  10. Give a person/people a present and/or a care package
  11. Wear a sundress
  12. Fro yo!
  13. Fly a kite
  14. Launch a rocket
  15. Bake cookies
  16. Create a chalk art masterpiece
  17. Sip an Arnold Palmer (sweet tea and lemonade combined!)
  18. Blow bubbles
  19. Go to the library
  20. Play in the park
  21. Play hopscotch
  22. Play foursquare
  23. Game night
  24. Fireworks
  25. Do something out of the ordinary.
  26. Watch movies never seen before and movies that I haven’t seen in awhile
  27. Summer of Blimey Cow
  28. Listen to BCAN
  29. Photo a day challenges
  30. Grill out
  31. Make homemade ice cream or sorbet
  32. Go shopping
  33. Eat a slice of watermelon
  34. Bowling
  35. Get a pineapple dole whip at Disney World
  36. Conquer my fears at Disney's Haunted Mansion and Rockin' Rollercoaster
  37. Go to the Beach!!!
  38. Go to Water World
  39. Go on a hike
  40. Have picnics
  41. Go for neighborhood bike rides
  42. Eat a fruit pop
  43. Buy a mocha coconut frapuccino (for yourself or someone nearby) This one had to be replaced with a Chai frappuccino, since Starbucks didn't have a mocha coconut frappuccino this summer.
  44. Movie marathon
  45. DIY crafts
  46. Stargazing
  47. Water balloons
  48. Youth Group Activities
  49. Make homemade cherry limeade
Only 14 more to go! (And 4 more on my August resolutions goal.) May all of your summer bucket lists be accomplished as well!!! :)

Question for the Reader: What's your favorite summer tradition?

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end." --Ecclesiastes 3:11