December 16, 2014

What Shall I Do With My Life?

That is a big question.
It has a big answer, but not the detailed ten-page-thesis answer some might expect. The answer comes in minuscule instalments.
I answer it every day, in every moment.

What shall I do with my life?

My life is not something that exists in the past, nor does it exist in the future.
It's happening right now.

And how I choose to fill
defines what I desire to do with my life.
See, having a purpose for your life is not something you stumble upon the day you finally grow up.
I'm defining my life's mission right now.  

Each choice, each word, reflects on the object of my passion and projects my life forward
in obedience to God
or in defiance of Him.
In grace
or in pain.

What shall I do with my life?

I'm going to finish cleaning out that cupboard under the sink. And maybe I'll do some dishes.

See, the right answer to that question is not very glamorous. 
In fact, it's downright dirty sometimes.
And hard.

But matter is made of atoms
and mosaics are made of fragments
and cars are made of parts
and cloth is made of thread
and life is made of moments.

Which is why you need to answer that question right now. Don't wait until tomorrow to live your life. Now do it again. And again.
And craft the gorgeous masterpiece your life is meant to be
by claiming life
in the moments
before they slip away.

What will you do with your life?

December 1, 2014

This is the Reason

Hey guys! I'm back! And I want to apologize for that long and uncalled for absence.
But I've brought back a story or two from my disappearance. Last night I was in the car, headed home after several days down South. Lil' brother and I were in the back seat, engrossed in the world of Duck Dynasty. Big brother was tired, driving in the dark, in a traffic jam.
Have you ever been rear-ended by a semi? Well. I have.
It was a fairly gentle rear-ending episode, if there is such a thing. Just a jolt and two scratched up dents on the back of the car.
But a semi hit us. After a second of silent shock, we pulled off the interstate and waited for the semi to do the same. But the driver either assumed that bump was the weight of the two trailers behind jolting to a stop... or maybe the driver was in a particularly frustrated hurry. So we scribbled down the license number and called the police. We'd been driving for the entire day, and I had some pressing matters to attend to at home. Big brother was all worked up about the semi driver who'd left us without apologizing.
Our situation was less than ideal.
Mom and I kept talking about the positive side of our situation: no one was hurt, the car was barely dented, maybe the driver didn't even know what had happened!
But let's face it. None of us wanted to be in that situation God had dropped us into.

It seemed like forever before the police car came, but as soon as it pulled up behind us I twisted around in my seat to look.
I whirled around again and looked to my left, where the traffic was still playing stop-and-go. A car had just run into the back of an old CR-V not 50 feet away. And the car's hood was all crunched up and smoking in the dim light.
I could barely contain my excitement - did you see that? This is crazy! The state trooper is already here and everything!
The state trooper glanced into our open window as he walked past, brandishing his powerful flashlight towards oncoming cars. "I'll be right back," he said. And I grinned. Because it was so awesome, so perfect. Great timing, God.

My eyes were riveted to the scene as the state trooper talked to the people in the crunch. Eventually they drove to the berm in front of us. The state trooper swiped at a headlight and dark skid mark on the road with his foot.
After he'd gotten the accident stabilized (there weren't any major injuries), the state trooper returned to us, got the license number of the semi, then sent us on our way.
As we pulled back into traffic, I saw a whole new dimension.
Yes, God dropped us into a no-fun situation. But that dropping wasn't so much a dropping as it was a placing. A setting. A timing.
Sometimes things happen to us that appear to be thoroughly nasty. Expensive. Embarrassing. Time consuming.
But then God sweeps aside a curtain and reveals the reasons. With grinning faces, we see the worth to the expense. The resolution of the embarrassment. The profit from the time.

And this new situation is so much richer than before.

God is awesome, y'all. No matter how nasty you're feeling today, remember this story. Who knew that a rear-ending event at the dark close of a long, long day could be so sweet?

But God's good at things like that. The curtain will soon disappear and you'll smile incredulous.

November 14, 2014

Blogging for CollegePlus!

Some of you may know that I'm doing this crazy program called CollegePlus. I've been testing out of college credits and taking online classes through CollegePlus, and am hoping to have a BA in English in less than two years! CollegePlus is what is making this possible for me. 
Anyway, I was asked to write a post for their blog! Of course I was thrilled... lots of grins and happy dances ensued in the process of writing this post! Go check it out!

November 13, 2014

Reason vs. Wisdom, the Battle for Your Life

I stood at the dryer, folding my clothes. Dreaming. Cozy-warm shirts and socks matched the thoughts airing in my brain. High ambitions, wild ideas, and sweet hopes I couldn't put into words. 
Do you ever catch a couple voices arguing inside your head? Me too. This brain of mine is a battleground - voices parrying here and there, some defending, some attacking. And apparently whispering dreams are worthy of attack. Hey, hold on a sec, Reason countered my dreams. Before I chase mountain-top achievements and wild-eyed fancies I need to get my life under control. 
I nodded internally. Sounds legit.

A new voice flew by, chasing Reason down. 
I need to let Jesus have control of my life. And this newcomer tackled Reason with a bold twist of her own words. I'm pretty sure it was the Holy Spirit.

That, my friends, was World Reason vs. Wisdom - a classic battle.
I need to get my life under control became I need to let Jesus have control of my life.
This taking, this getting.... it clashes against the giving. The letting. 
Reason said I need to soldier through with my current tasks before I can chase whatever wild things I wish for my future. Reason said, learn to master your life; be in control of it. Then you will be strong enough and free enough to chase your dreams.

Wisdom said I need to surrender. I need to give up control and self defense, baring myself to the power of Christ. To obediently walk His path. Wisdom said, learn to loose your life. Then God's strength will carry you beyond your wildest dreams and into glory. Chase Christ. 

Remember my internal nod at the voice of reason? It's sad but true. World Reason sounds mighty becoming when it's the only force on the playing field. She sounds true - noble, even. 
And if the Holy Spirit and His Wisdom hadn't shown up, I probably would have followed reason. 
I'm a gullible girl, okay? And that's why it's vital for me to be saturated with the Word of God. His Word is where I find wisdom. His word sharpens my ears to His voice. His word is where I find nourishment so I don't gorge myself on empty world-junk-food.
His word is vital to me. 
Without it I pick up this life I've laid down and start hacking it around, chipping off corners and slicing into others. Without God's Word to show me how to lay down my life, I try to control it myself.

So, the Bible. And the Holy Spirit. And Wisdom. They're The Big Deal, guys. 

Chase them down for all you're worth. Lay down your life and chase Christ.

Because Christ? He. Is. Your. Life.

October 27, 2014

A Safe Place for My Love

I'm going to practice a little transparency here and say that fall is not my favorite season. 
I love the warm sunshine.
I love the trees that catch on fire with color.
I love the crunch of leaves under my feet.
I love the smell of the autumn air.

All this might render fall my favorite season if it wasn't for one thing. 
The transient nature of fall.

I'm a steady girl who doesn't like change or unexpected happenings. 

So the warmth of the sunshine is cooled by the knowledge that it will soon be gone.
The fire in the trees is tainted by a wish that they would stay just like that. But I know they won't.
Crunching leaves remind me that more leaves are falling and they'll soon be replaced with snow.
And the deep autumn smell hanging in the air is almost like the countryside's last sleepy breath before it buries itself in snow-white hibernation.

Autumn is beautiful. But I cannot love it as I long to because it leaves me holding my breath, straining to capture every glory before it drifts away. 
And I think every human being aches to find a beautiful thing to love without reservation. A beautiful thing that will not turn ugly in time. But we can't bring ourselves to love with a passion because we know that this glorious beauty will disapear and we'll be left cradling a disintegrating brown shell of a leaf. 
Is there anything I am safe to love?

Only God.

That God who breathed life into Adam? 
He who picked the lowly Abraham, Gideon, and David and changed the world through them?
The God who healed the sick
Who made the blind see
Who loved the little children
Who died without fighting back
And who rose up alive, brilliant hope fulfilled.

And God? He doesn't change like the shifting shadows.
He doesn't cycle like the seasons.
That life he breathed into Adam is still filling my lungs. 
This lowly girl is being used by God in mighty ways.
God heals my sickness
Opens my eyes
And loves this child of His 
To the grave 
And back again.

He's not transient. He will stay. And stay. And stay with me.

Yeah, I think I could love someone like that. 

Because He won't disappear like the glories of autumn. 

He is a safe place for my love.

October 23, 2014

On the Edge | Little Dresses for Africa (part 2)

So I left you hanging last week from two 7 inch pieces of elastic. Let's pick up right where we left off before you loose your grip, shall we? 

7. Attach a medium/small safety pin to the end of one piece of elastic, like this:
Now thread it into the little casing at the top of the dress. Right before the loose end disappears into the casing, fasten it in place with another safety pin. You don't want it to slide inside.
Once you get the elastic all the way through the casing, safety pin the other side together as well. It will look all bunched together.
Repeat on the other side.
8. Cut two 38 inch lengths of double-fold bias tape. Find the halfway point of each by folding the strips in half. 
9. Line this middle point up with the center of one armhole and unfold the main crease in the bias tape. Re-fold the bias tape, sandwiching the edge of the armhole inside. Pin in place. Keep working your way up both sides of the armhole, sandwiching and pining as you go.
Repeat on the other armhole. The dress should look like this:
10. Sew the bias tape in place. The seam should be fairly close to the edge of the bias tape with fabric sticking out, and make sure you double-stich over the ends a couple times.
11. The dress is done! Now you just have to include a note stating that the dress is a size medium (additional sizing info is here), package it up, and ship it to:

Little Dresses for Africa
24614 Curtis Drive
Brownstown, MI 48134

If at all possible, enclose a donation of $2.00 per dress to help with shipping costs. 

(Disclaimer: the credit for the ideas and pattern in this post go to Little Dresses for Africa)

October 16, 2014

On the Edge | Little Dresses for Africa (part 1)

I have a ton of fabric. And for as long as I can remember I've wanted to do something meaningful with it. I've got a whole cubbard full just waiting for a worthy cause.

I think I've found it, guys.

It's called Little Dresses for Africa; you can read more about the organization here
Basically this organization is asking people to make some seriously simple pillowcase dresses and send them in the mail. The organization takes care of getting the dresses to needy girls in Africa, and they even have a pattern to follow on their site! These dresses can be made from fabric pieces or pillowcases, and the only extra supplies needed are 14" of 1/4" elastic and 76" of double-fold bias tape. If you haven't sewed much, this would be an excellent place to start!  

So that's what I'm doing with the fabric waiting in my basement. I'm planning on sending a box full of hope and sweet dresses over to Africa in the near future! Here are the instructions for you to join me!

If you're starting out with just fabric, start here. If you are using a pillowcase, simply cut off the short seam on the top of the pillowcase and skip to step 4.

1. Cut a piece of fabric 28 inches wide by 40 inches long.
2. Fold in half crosswise, patterned sides together. It should look like an inside-out pillowcase. 

Sew the long sides together, then zigzag/surge the edges and trim.

3. Pick one unfinished edge of the tube and zigzag/surge all the way around. Turn under and sew a simple hem. This is the bottom of the dress.
4. Turn the tube right-side out and fold in half lengthwise, so it's half as skinny as it was before. Cut a 2 inch by 4 inch armhole at the corner where the unfinished top edge and all the side seams meet. 
When you unfold the dress it should look like this:
5. Zigzag/surge both raw edges at the top of the dress (in between the armholes). Turn each edge under about 3/8" and sew on top of the zigzag/surging. This should make a casing big enough to fit 1/4" elastic.
6. Cut two 7 inch lengths of 1/4" elastic. 

So I'm going to leave you hanging right here until next week... Or you could hop on over to the original directions here and finish your darling dress yourself. :) 

(Disclaimer: credit for the ideas and patterns in this post go to Little Dresses for Africa)

October 15, 2014

Just a Thank You

Dear Lord, 
Thank you.

For girls who catch my eyes and capture my heart
For blazing gold painted hills
Songs on the radio
The smell of autumn
And raindrops turned gems on a dark drive home
For tears
And the relief they bring
For struggles
Uncomfortable days that stretch me
For clouds that scuttle across the dripping sky
For feedback so I know this life is actually moving forward
Worn work boots and the strong-humble people wearing them
For polka dots
And I could go on and on
Because you've blessed me so much, Lord. 
Help me to keep going, 
keep thanking,
as the days fly past.
Help me to snag the smiles and laughter 
In a blessed net of thanks.

October 10, 2014

On the Edge | Conversation

Some of you may know that I work as a trail guide. I get to spend a whole hour with strangers on horseback in the middle of the woods. Most of the time these people respect me because I know more about horses and the trails we're taking than they do, so it's a perfect opportunity to have some good conversations. You know, about God and life and such. 
But they're strangers. 
And I'm terrified of talking to them, to tell you the truth. But. (deep breath...) Today I'm stepping out to the edge. I'm going to make a concerted effort to hand my fear to God and start a meaningful conversation with someone on a ride today. You can do this too! Even if you aren't on horseback, make a point of stepping beyond the small talk today and showing someone you love them by talking about things they need to hear. Ask them how you can pray for them, or tell them about what God has been teaching you lately. 
For some of you, this will be easier than it will be for me. But let's take a deep breath, step out, and make a difference today! 

God completely blessed my socks off. You know how scared I was about this? Well, I prayed about it a bit, but I honestly didn't expect God to make it any easier than I imagined. But He's God, you know? He doesn't live in my expectations. 
I started talking to a girl behind me on a trail ride, wracking my brain to bring up something about God or church without sounding awkward. It wasn't working, so I ended up just chatting with her about the horses. She asked me if I knew the story behind any of the horse's names, so I told her about one story I knew. Then I remembered the ponies named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I mentioned them, but it took a second for my mind to adjust to the glaring opportunity staring me down. 
"Do you know the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?" I asked, fully expecting her to know it. 
She didn't.
And then God convicted me and worked everything out at the same time.
See, I know the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. But not well enough to rattle off at a moment's notice. So God convicted me to learn that story well, as a tool in future conversations. 
But He worked everything out anyway.
When I mentioned that the story was in the Bible, the girl told me that she was actually reading through the Bible! This led to a conversation about her Wednesday night church group and about the Bible. 

God showed up, guys.

He showed up when I was terrified but when I stepped out in faith anyway. 

That. was. awesome.

October 6, 2014

This Thing Called Grace

"Are you sure you don't want me to press that piece?" 
She asked it like she was desperate to iron out the wrinkles in this life. To smooth the valleys and mountains and make time run silky-straight. 
Grandma has had lots of hills in her lifetime, I think. 
I handed her the fabric with a smile and a shake of my head. 
I guess we young ones don't understand what it's like to have a mess of wrinkles behind us. 
I don't feel the pain of each jarring bump like my grandma does.
She sure could use a good blanket of grace to wrap herself close in.
Because where she comes from, God lives at church and a Bible is a book and grace might be a dancer as easily as forgiveness. 
That life has been awful bumpy. 
And it makes my heart hurt when she frets about being a pain to us and she wishes she didn't cause so much trouble.
So I stretch out my grace blanket, try to pad some of her pain.
"Grandma, we love you. We want to do things for you because we love you.
And she feels this grace touching soft and her face goes happy sweet.
She brings back the fabric, crisp smooth and warm, and I'm thinking about how a wrinkle doesn't make a dress bad.
But maybe she doesn't see that a dress is a dress no matter how creased. That this dress will get folded and wrinkled and dirty and worn but will remain whole and loved in the eyes of it's owner. 
Life can be like that sometimes. 
No matter how hilly or wrinkled it is, life is still life. 
And we can choose to see it with the padding of grace as a beautiful masterpiece to be loved and worn out. 
Or we can see it as something that needs to be fixed - this life that keeps growing mountains and folds no matter how hard we press our troubles away. 
For some people, each bump just hurts to much to see the beauty of this thing called a life. 
But there is hope. It's called grace. 
And it doesn't numb the pain but it gives a new perspective and a new heart to this life. 
Today I'm choosing grace. You too? I'm glad. This journey is a whole lot sweeter wrapped in His arms.

(tutorial coming soon on little dresses for Africa - my new favorite project with a purpose!) 

October 3, 2014

On the Edge | Homemade Cards

I don't think I've ever gotten a card in the mail completely out of the blue from a friend. As in, not for my birthday or because we're pen pals. But I know if I did get a random card with an encouraging note inside... I'd have a grin plastered on my face for a while! 
This week's outreach is actually something for people I know who are Christians. Unlike some of the other outreaches, this week I'm focusing on encouraging and exhorting fellow believers. It's much easier to share the love of Christ if you've just been encouraged in your faith, yes? So this activity is an outreach... just in a roundabout way. :) 

To bless four people? It takes just two pieces of card stock and a pile of scrap paper. 
Cut each piece of card stock in half. Fold each new rectangle in half. Grab your wild side and make a collage of scraps on the front of the card. (This part was hard for my perfectionist nature) Let pieces stick out on the sides - we'll chop them off in a second. 
Cut off the extra paper on the sides, and admire the beauty that came from a bunch of unwanted leftovers! Think for a second about how God is making your life into a masterpiece that is far better than perfect. 
Now write encouraging notes in each and send them out to make someone's day!

September 26, 2014

On the Edge | Compassion Prayer Walk

This is so easy. So so easy. Today I'm hopping over to Compassion's website, trying something new.
It's like a prayer walk, but online. 
In my own house. 
If you've got even two minutes, you can join me! Compassion has pictures of needy children waiting for a sponsor all over their website. I'm going to click a few sweet faces and pray over their lives. I'll beg God for a sponsor to help each one. I'll pray over their health, families, and for their salvation.

See? This is one of those easy baby steps towards the edge that actually, for real, makes a difference. 
Because I believe in the power of prayer. 
Join me, will you? I'll be over here!

September 22, 2014

It's not a Balance Thing

I'm not an easy-going person. If I had to describe myself as either "laid back" or "up tight" it would definitely be the latter. Which means I'm very punctual, precise, self-motivated, and driven. My energy is either directed 100% towards a cause... or not at all.
So I've always struggled with this balance thing. 
See, I've read a lot of words and heard a lot of talks
that I've walked away from thinking that a "good Christian life" is a balance. 

The area that's on my heart right now is that of health, eating, and exercise. I believe many people are caught in idolatry - myself included - in this area. We either obsess over health and being fit - or throw our health out the window and obsess over eating. And remember how I said I'm an all-out driven person? So I find myself parked in either of these idol camps way, way, too often. Seeing as these two temples are located at opposite ends of the spectrum, it would seem that a healthy God-honoring place is in the middle. In the balance. 

But guess what. God talked to me. I was begging Him to be a good father to me because I'm such a lost little girl sometimes. I'll have to beg more often in the future, because He left me silly-stunned, blessed by Him.Thankfully I had my journal handy. This, my friends, is what I wrote. Raw from my journal, a shard of my heart.
I've been trying to find a balance between obsessing over food and obsessing over health/skinniness, but God just told me something. What if it's not a balance at all, but an all-out feast on God? What if the key is not controlling my actions/desires, but letting myself be controlled by Him? 
BAM! Mind blown. 

Because of course God isn't in the middle of this spectrum of idol camps. He's God, for goodness sake! And God's not in the same dimension as idols. He's got nothing in common with them. 

I refuse to believe that God is in the middle of a row of idols. 

If that thought weren't horrifying enough, I've found that I wasn't created to stand steady in the balance-middle-tightrope place. God made me with a drive to run somewhere far, and the legs to get me there. Remember my 100% or nothing tendency?
It's really that simple. Huh. 
Not money....God.
Not food.....God.
Not appearances.....God.
Not health......God.
Not friends....God.

But all those other things? God's word says they will be given to us after we seek God (His "kingdom and his righteousness") in Matthew 6:25-34. So we get to feast on God and get our physical human needs fulfilled. 

This anti-balance principle is written all over the Bible, now that my mind has been sufficiently blown. Take Colossians 2:21- 3:4, where Paul admonishes the Colossians for sticking to the dimension of this world, following it's rules, self-imposed worship, and harsh treatment of the body. He goes on to tell the Colossians to set their hearts - their want-to and motivation - on a different dimension. The dimension above this world, where Christ is. 
Guys, I'm sick and tired of this balance thing. I'm on a mission, 100%. An all-out feast. 
Towards God. 
Want to join me? It's gonna be a wild ride!

September 19, 2014

On the Edge | Hope in a Bag

Many times I feel like I should be doing something "worthwhile" with my life. You know, feeding starving children on the streets or starting a bakery that sold only products made with fair trade ingredients. 
In my heart I know these are noble things and that they would be powerful tools to grow God's kingdom. 
But I also know they aren't realistic for me. Right now. 
And that makes me feel a bit guilty and un-motivated as I step glibly through my little life, sitting for hours reading or spending my time and sweat on an awesome workout. 
But what if I could do something worthwhile with my life? Not that reading or working out or having fun or holding down a job aren't worthwhile; on the contrary, the Bible says that everything - eating, drinking, talking, working - should be done to the glory of God. And I believe that God works mightily through everyday moments. 
But somewhere inside I have a desire to do something more. To not only live these everyday moments for Christ, but to also stretch my little life and step closer to the edge. Where I can see the view of God's power sweeping over the earth. 
And I believe that God has given me opportunities to do just that. I just need to take a step forward and take them!

The first opportunity I've decided to grab onto is "Hope in a bag." It addresses the problem of homeless or begging people who are needy for food, items for everyday life, and - most of all - Jesus. This project takes all these things and packages them in a ziplock, ready to change a person's life at a moment's notice. 

There are tons of options to stock your bag with, but here are some ideas. This is not an extensive list! Just think about what you'd need if you suddenly found yourself out of a home, job or food... mostly it's cheap, everyday things I already have around my house. 
Grab a gallon ziplock bag and pick about ten of the following: (you're stepping forward with me, right?)

  • Bar soap
  • Small stick deodorant
  • Hand warmers 
  • Pen
  • Small pad of paper
  • Comb
  • Pair of new socks 
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Small pack of tissues
  • Chapstick 
  • Granola bars
  • Trail mix 
  • Nuts/seeds 
  • Bottle of water
  • Small Bible/New Testament

Use your imagination - I bet you won't even have to step outside your house to fill a gallon bag! You will need to devote some prayer and thought into the most important item in that bag, though. Write a short note that offers encouragement and an invitation to accept God's love and salvation, and stick it in there. 
Hope in a Bag is meant too be kept in your car, and whenever you pass a homeless person or someone who is begging, you will have something powerful to give to them. 
Because I believe there is power in that note you wrote. 
I believe that God honors even the little ways we shine with His love.
Congratulations, you have just stepped with me onto the edge... where we'll be stretched and vulnerable... but where the view of God's power is so, so worth it!

September 15, 2014

Five Minute Peanut Butter Soft Serve

Once and a while I'll come across a healthy dessert recipe that is easy and that actually tastes good. On an even rarer occasion, I'll find a recipe that I love with a passion and that is healthy enough to eat for breakfast. Like, every day. And recipes like that are worth sharing! Thus, I present to you my Five Minute Peanut Butter Soft Serve!
This peanut butter ice cream is so rich and creamy I often have to give myself a little pep-talk: it's just like eating peanut butter and a banana with a glass of milk! Relax, and enjoy your ice cream! Because it's seriously that good. Mom and little brother approved. ;) I use a Magic Bullet, which is probably why this recipe takes just five minutes, but it would probably turn out in a blender as well.

Five Minute Peanut Butter Soft Serve

Serves 1

  • 1 frozen banana, in chunks
  • 1/2 c. milk or cream (raw if possible; cream makes it so so much richer but milk is still delicious)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. peanut butter (I use the natural stuff you have to stir up - the less processed, the better)
  • Pinch salt 
  • Dash vanilla

Dump everything in a Magic Bullet or similar blender and blend until smooth. I usually have to stop the blending and shake it up a few times to get everything moving around. If the banana chunks won't go away, add a bit more milk/cream. 

Variations: The salt and vanilla are optional. Try adding cocoa powder for a chocolate peanut butter version! I have also added chia seeds or powdered herbs.
I often eat this for breakfast after my workout (actually it's more like every day...), because it's important to replenish your body's carbohydrates (banana) and protein (peanut butter and milk) after working out! I also love peanut butter with a passion, so I will take almost any opportunity to enjoy it! Let me know what you think, or if you try it in a traditional blender... or come up with fantastic new variations!

September 2, 2014

How to Turn This Shaking Life into Something Crazy-Beautiful

Sometimes my life seems to hang by a thread. This life - the one life I've been entrusted with - grows thin and shaky. Devoid of the fullness Christ died to give me. I struggle through my days, hoping circumstances will change. Because then my life will be robust and full. If things were different, I'd be happy. If things were better, my life would be worth so much more. 

Sometimes I look down and tell God that this thread I'm dangling from isn't enough. That it won't hold me, this fragile leaf of a life. 
Sometimes I squeeze my eyes tight closed when the wind spins me in crazy circles and I wish for calm. 

But in those moments of fear, I don't see the kolidescope of colors flashing around as I twirl dizzy. With eyes closed and wishing, I forget that Christ is holding me. I forget that this life, it's Christ. And Christ isn't a spiderweb that is likely to snap. 
I gave my life to Him, and now He's asking me to throw open my arms and laugh along with the winds that spin me to see God's grace all around. He's asking me to forget how thin my thread of a life looks and to remember that Christ gives me abundant life - because He is life Himself - and all I need to do is open my eyes clenched tight and see it. To forget my fear and live with abandon. Right now. 

I have to remind myself that abundant life can't be found in tomorrow. Abundant life wouldn't be life if it was in the yesterday, dead and gone. So somehow, I need to keep finding Christ's life - abundant, vibrant, giddy with joy life - in the now. 
Because this life...
is beautiful.

August 22, 2014

Because I Forget

I've been learning to remind myself lately. To remind myself of God's goodness, of my reliance on Him, and to remind myself that this life is just a passing breath - my one chance to let Christ change eternity through me.
I've realized that I don't have time to forget. 
I don't have time to learn and relearn - then relearn again - every lesson God teaches. 
I need to remember them. I need to remember the truths that help my heart to beat in tune with the Spirit.

I'm stumbling through this, guys. So far I've tripped and fell upon two ways to remember. 
I write myself notes on my hand some mornings, notes from scripture - life words inked dark on my hand. It reminds me twofold: because sometimes I need to forget what others think. I need to forget fitting in and remember that Christ didn't go with the flow. To me, that scripture-scrawl is worth a curious glance or two. Those words from the Jesus book can change my day because living words on my hand spread to my mind and heart. 

The second thing I do to remind myself is to make signs to put up on my bedroom walls. These signs are quotes, Bible verses, and thought provoking messages. This way I am literally surrounded with encouraging and challenging messages. Here are a few of my favorites:

Reminding me who He is and who that makes me:
Reminding me to surrender everything I am to Christ:
On my mirror to remind me that true beauty isn't what's on the outside:

How do you remind yourself of God's truth?

August 11, 2014

This Living Land

Picture an epic battle: good fighting evil. The noble king of light owns the turf, but the lord of the night has a heart blacker than death itself. He covets the beautiful and fruitful plot of land. The attack has been long, for the lord of the night is cunning and persistent, constantly bringing new strategies and weapons into play. His spies circle overhead, searching out weak spots in the defensive line. The battle, however, is not going as he hoped. Just like every other gorgeous pot of land owned by the king of light, this land is living. 
The lord of the night's eyes narrow and he grinds his teeth, staring at his minion Vaain tumble into a gaping crevice in the earth that had cracked open with a brilliant flash of light. Yet another, taken captive. He spins on his heel, cloak brushing a standard-bearer with flames a color deeper than black. The creature yelps and glowers, slinking away from his lord. 
"Send Leyzi to that weak spot on the north end," the lord of the night barks.
"You can count on me to keep things from getting done, my liege," purrs a creature nearby. He hoists two sets of shackles over his shoulder and slips metal pebbles labeled "x-cusiz" into his pockets. 
"Just don't get taken, you hear?" 
Leyzi bows and slinks away. 

Meanwhile on the side of light, the living land is busy pushing waves of the living water from its source - the words pouring from the king of light's mouth - to every drying acre of ground. The water heals, satisfies, and energizes everything it washes against, creating a mosaic of vibrant green flowing from the source - the king. Every time the ground pulses or shifts, guiding the living water to thirsty corners, it knocks dark agents of the lord of the night off their feet. The very force giving life to the land sends waves of confusion through the ranks of snarling black minions. 

If you were watching this battle from afar, your eyes would be drawn to two things. One is a glowing cloud hovering over the whole battle. This cloud is the very spirit of the king of light, and it sends messages enclosed in glistening raindrops to the ground, pointing out areas the enemy has broken through and encouraging the land to take as many captives as possible. This leads to the second noticeable thing - flashes of light that dance over the battlefield. Every time the cloud pricks the land with a prompting to fight or to take a minion captive, the land responds, splitting open to capture the enemy. And inside, underneath the land, there is light.

The land is very busy, you see. Very busy fighting and growing and listening and being... And have you figured it out yet my friends? That living land is very real, that king and dark lord and battle are closer than the air we breathe. The living land is my mind. (And yours if you are a child of God) The battle is raging inside of me, and I've heard the very words of the king of light: For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every prevention that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5)

It's the reality, folks. This living land. 

August 4, 2014

Confessions of a Writer who hasn't been Writing

I've been lazy.
Telling myself I have no words to write
But really I've just failed to dig them up out of my heart.
For me, writers block is a frame of mind
That comes in the summer.
Lazy days and
No deadlines.

I think I sometimes cheat myself out of deep words spilled out on the page
Because I fear the currents
Tugging beneath the glittering surface.
I see the sun reflecting off the shining water 
Pretty shallow thoughts
And Pinterest-perfect quotes.
I sit on the bank ignoring parched lips
And dirty hands,
Content somehow.
I need to force myself to step into the water
Break the smooth shining surface 
I need to drink deep,
Dip in
And find strong currents.
Dangerous waters.
Because there 
In the scary place
In the dark mystery
I find Him.

And when I find Him
I find words.

I'm gonna try to write more, guys. 

July 21, 2014

Easy Party Chip Dip

So I've got another recipe for you today. It could be because I love food or it could be because I've been cooking for a graduation party... Or maybe a bit of both? ;)
But this recipe is seriously the momma of all chip dip recipes. It is uh-ma-zing. Sweet, rich, and tangy. It tastes complex, but it only has three ingredients! So so fantabulous (that's an actual word!). 

Easy Party Chip Dip

      2 pkgs. cream cheese, room temperature
      10-11 oz. pepper relish (I used sweet, you could use hot or any other type)
      1 can crushed pineapple, undrained (20 oz.)

Whip the cream cheese with mixer until fluffy (a minute or so), then mix in relish and pineapple. Store in refrigerator. It's delicious right away, but if you're feeling fancy you can let the favors "intensify" and "mingle" in the fridge for 24 hours. ;)
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July 11, 2014

Dream Come True

Guys. I am so excited. So so excited!!!!! One of my dreams has officially come true! See, there's this blog called and I love it. It encourages young people to soar above the low expectations our culture has loaded on us. If you haven't visited it before, I'd strongly encourage you to check it out! 
But yes. Back to my news. I wrote a blog post and submitted it to and they published it on the blog!!!!! Like, there are actually a LOT of people reading this crazy post I typed up! I am so honored. But really, God gets the glory because he kinda dumped the words into my head. So yeah. Hop on over to Therebelution and check it out! 

July 1, 2014

Brownie Cupcakes

My family has not made a boxed brownie mix for years. And I'm so so so glad, because we get to eat brownies that are even better! Have you ever made real homemade brownies? You should. Definitely. The recipe I use makes a 9x13 pan, but today I made a bunch of brownie cupcakes instead! Don't you want one?!?! Me too... they're pretty awesome. ;)
One of the best things about this recipe is that you only have to use one pan to mix it up in! So choose a large saucepan that will hold a whole batch of brownies. First, combine butter, cocoa powder, and oil over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally until it's all melted together. While you're at the stove, turn on the oven to 350 degrees to preheat.
Remove from heat, then add the sugar.
Oh yum...
Stir in vanilla, then add all the eggs and stir. You may have to use a fork to get the eggs adequately incorporated. ;)
Add flour, baking soda, and salt and stir well.
My favorite part - a mountain of chocolate chips!
Put cupcake liners in cupcake pans and dollop the batter in! I didn't put anything on the liners to keep the brownies from sticking, but you could if you want. For tall brownie cupcakes like mine, fill the liners about 3/4 full and you'll get 18-19 cupcakes. If you want smaller cupcakes, fill them 2/3 full and you should have enough batter for more than 20. 
Bake for 26-27 minutes... and enjoy your delicious cupcake brownies! 

Brownie Cupcakes (with a gluten free option)
    Makes 18-21
    2/3 cup butter
    3/4 cup cocoa powder
    1/4 cup olive oil
    2 cup sugar
    4 eggs
    2 tsp. vanilla
    1 1/2 cup flour*
    1 tsp. baking powder
    1 tsp. salt
    1 heaping cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir first three ingredients in large saucepan over medium-low heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Add eggs and stir. Add vanilla and stir. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix in chocolate chips. Put cupcake liners in pans and fill 2/3 full (for smaller, flatter brownie cupcakes) or 3/4 full (for tall brownie cupcakes) of batter. Bake for 26-27 minutes. 

*My mom makes this recipe gluten free by using an all-purpose gluten free flour mix instead of flour. It still tastes delicious, and I typically can't tell they are gluten free! :)

To make traditional brownies with this recipe, just grease a 9x13 pan and bake for 33 minutes. 
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