November 26, 2013

Confidence, 101

    I felt really good going into my CLEP test today (those are tests that allow you to bypass college classes if you can pass just one long test on each subject... whoo-hoo!) I knew the material, and better yet, it came naturally to me. Even though I'd never taken a test that included two mandatory, timed essays before, I was more confident than ever before. Confident to the level I had not asked anyone to pray for me, or even prayed much myself about it. This will be easy, I thought. 
    Heart thumping out an excited rhythm, I settled in a swivel chair before a glowing screen, ready to plow this test out of the way. Clicking impatiently through screens of explanation, I waited for the first section of the test - a fifty question multiple choice test on grammar rules, editing, revising, and rhetorical analysis. It never came, and I soon found myself staring at a blinking cursor, beckoning me to write the first of two essays. Bewildered, I forced my eyes to slow their scanning and read "College Composition, Part 2" at the top of the screen. 
    The next thing I saw was my precious time, the half hour allotted for a five paragraph essay, draining like sand through my fingers. Wha...???? I thought. Why did it skip the whole first section of the test?
     Panic bubbling, I speed-walked for help and found that the help was unable to help. Somehow, I had expected the test to be formatted like previous ones, and had ignored some vital screens, accidentally skipping right past the whole first section.  It was blocked off with a great cyber wall; I was unable to go back. 
    I had clicked right past my strong point, and was faced with twenty four minutes ticking down: essays; write or die. Confused, I managed to eke out a nominal essay, and my second one was also less than amazing. Heart drooping, my test closed itself out. I had gotten a 0 score on the multiple choice section, and probably a mediocre one on the essay portion. Not enough to pass. 
    Turns out we may have to wait up to six months until we can drive an hour away to once more take College Composition, and I may or may not have to pay the $80.00 registration fee again. Yuck. 
    My mind lay stunned, stars swirling around my head like the pictures in old cartoons. This day totally, completely, 100% did not go the way I had planned, the way I had confidence in. So I wallowed. I wallowed in despair and pity, and blame of myself. Then I realized something... God is good. And He works out all things for the good of those who love Him. For my good. My good. So, God. What's up? You mean to tell me that you have something better in store for me than passing this test, first try? So my heart wiped its tears and lifted the corners of its mouth in confidence. This time, though, the confidence streamed straight from God. That's the good kind, my friends. And please, please, learn a lesson from my mistake - too much confidence in myself - and just find your confidence in the one who is the source of life. 

November 20, 2013


    If you asked me if I consider myself a perfectionist, I would say yes. And a couple years ago, when I developed a love for healthy food and herbal remedies, I never guessed that my perfectionist nature would mix with an onslaught of new "health food" and exercise information I've found from the Internet to create a problem.

    Do you know how confusing it is to have read at least ten different articles about the best way to handle exercise? Or how about reading tons of blog posts about getting fit - all written by fit people who took totally separate roads to get there? And then there are some who count every calorie they consume, while others advocate vitamins and supplements for health. Should I work out twice a week, every day, or not at all? And what exactly is the perfect "work out"? 

    As an impressionable young lady, all this information swirled around in my head, then manifested itself through my perfectionist tendencies and caused me to start worrying - about my image and weight. Although I was in the ideal weight range for a girl my age and height, for some reason I couldn't get out of my head the fact that I was still gaining weight. Prone to over-thinking, I managed to figure everything out - or so I thought. Forgetting the fact that I was still a teenager, and meant to grow in more ways than vertical, I decided to take pieces of advice from various older ladies floating around on the web and concoct my own fitness plan. While trying to exercise more, I tried to eat less "bad food" and ended up eating less of my mom's good, wholesome meals and more of my own smoothie concoctions. I started snacking between meals and tended to eat too much dessert and peanut butter (a weakness of mine) at random times. With all the changes I had subtly made, I didn't feel satisfied in my belly or my heart. On top of all that, I wasn't seeing the results I had secretly hoped for. 

    Instead of keeping my weight the same or less, I was startled to see that I was still gaining weight. Confused, I ended up confiding in my mom (best idea ever, by the way), and she asked me her go-to weight question: "well, do your pants still fit fine like before?" Yes, they did, I said. So we concluded that with all my exercising I was gaining muscle (which weighs more than fat), and that I was probably snacking too much. That said, my mom suggested I stop eating my mini meals and just eat more of her hearty ones less often. We also decided that I needed to put a stop to my "health research" on the Internet so I could focus on listening to my body instead of other's opinions.

    And you know what? I've realized through this process that my body isn't meant to be the weight I had set for myself as "ideal." And I have a feeling I'm not the only girl who this is true for. My heart hurts when I see girls who are far to concerned with their weight and appearance, and also when I see others who have let their weight get out of control. 

   Then there are the hidden gems that make my heart smile so big. Those are the ones few and far between who have found the balance of self-control and peace with how God made their bodies. Those are the girls who can say no to a second dessert but who don't sweat the first. Those are the girls who understand that a tiny waistline doesn't define beauty. Those are the girls who eat when they are hungry - not before, and not after. 

    Those girls know that beauty comes from inside, but self-control shows up on the outside. I respect them deeply because they understand how to glorify God with their bodies. They understand that there should be a balance between striving to be fit and just living life. That, my friends, is how I want be when I grow up. I don't care if I don't have a supermodel figure, if only I am beautiful on the inside. 'Cause it's the inside that counts, in God's book and mine. :D 
Any thoughts? I'd love to hear them in the comments below!

November 12, 2013

Grocery List Holder Tutorial!

Now, I don't know what your families do as far as grocery lists go, but this brilliant (ahem) piece of ancient artwork has served the purpose and resided on our refrigerator for ages:
Beautiful, huh? ;) 
Well, yesterday I started REALLY early on my mom's Christmas present, and was so thrilled with the result that I had to give it to her early. Way early. :) Anyway, here is the finished product: a new and improved grocery list holder!
Much better than the old one, right? The exciting part is this... it's extremely easy to make! And I don't know about you, but I'm pretty excited when I find a cool homemade gift to make for my mom... so you may want to keep quiet about this and have an early Christmas-gift-making session in the depths of your room! Let's get started, shall we? 

First, gather your supplies: 
pretty piece of paper the size you want your finished product to be
thicker piece of paper/card stock the same size
Scraps of paper in corresponding colors to your main paper
Glue stick/double sided tape/Elmer's glue
1-2 notepads
Knife (x-acto knives work well)  
Magnets (strips or circles) 
Glue gun
Fancy punches, string, sparkles, embellishments, etc. (optional)

1. Glue/attach both large pieces of paper together. The strong one is merely to give the pretty one extra support.
2. Lay out your design. Personally, I wanted two notebooks, and I staggered them to strengthen the design and paper.
3. Measure the width of each of your notebooks, and mark on the back of the contraption how wide the notebooks are. You will be cutting a slit through the paper to stick the stiff back of the notebooks through, but you don't necessarily want to cut a slit where you want the top of the notebook to go, so get familiar with your notebooks so you know exactly how they will hang when you stick the back of the notebook through the page. 
4. Cut slits through the page that are the same width as the back of your notebooks, and try to fit the backs through. If they're too tight, cut the slits a tiny bit wider. 
5. You may want to tape/glue the backs down... I did on my smaller notebook.
5. Glue labels, tags, embellishments, and anything you like on to make it pretty!
6. Use a glue gun to attach magnets to the top two corners and a pen. Originally, I was going to tie a string to the pen and attach that to a magnet, but my little sister (brilliant sidekick that she is) suggested doing it this way, which I like a lot better. :) 
That's it! I'd love to know if you try this, and how it turns out!

November 5, 2013

Gossamer Trails

    This is honestly the third blog post I've started today. Just not feeling the creative word juices flowing, but that's okay. I've done plenty of writing in this past week... like a seven page "personal plan for leadership" for a college class. Three thousand, four hundred and forty-one painstaking words. So glad it's over with, yet I loved writing it. One of those things that stretch a person in a good way, I guess. :P
    Now I'm studying for a College Composition CLEP test, and will be writing 2-4 essays each day for the next few weeks for practice... so, yeah. Pray for me!!!

Do you know what that is? 

Yup. Spiderwebs! Believe it or not, that was what out backyard looked like one morning a week or so ago. It was one of those "wow" mornings. 

Can you imagine? That was either a huge shindig of an Arachnid-party, or hours and hours and hours of crawling. 

    It's beautiful, but also a poignant image to roll around in our heads: what if all the words we spoke trailed out behind us as we lived our lives? Would the world behind us be beautiful or shamefully ugly, decked out in words never to be erased? In a way, we actually do leave a record - in the lives of those who hear us. The Bible commands followers of Jesus to not let any unwholesome talk come out of our mouths. We are to only speak words, to only leave trails to build up and benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29) Were the the lives of the last five people you spoke to made more beautiful because of the web of words you wove around them? 
    I know I'm feeling convicted right now, as I write. I may never see spider webs the same way again! They are a fantastical reminder to only leave shimmering gorgeousness behind me as I speak my way through life. Because, truly, our words stick around. 
    Friends, make someone's life beautiful today because of the words you weave. 

November 1, 2013

Operation Chipmunk Child

How many of you want to put a huge smile on a needy kid's face this Christmas? Anyone want to spread the Gospel? And last but not least... do you love Duck Dynasty? Well, friend. Now that we have identified all your hidden desires, you'd better hop on over to Samaritan's Purse and check out a crazy-funny video featuring Uncle Si here!
Now do you understand "Operation Chipmunk Child"? Thought so. ;)

Will you join me in Operation Christmas Child? If you want more info, invade their website or ask me some questions! 

Many churches I know of provide shoeboxes and packing labels, making it super easy to give some Jesus-joy this Christmas. Pack a shoebox, Jack!