December 15, 2015

I'm Still Alive!!

Hello friends! I've been kind of MIA lately, haven't I? I would say I'm sorry, but honestly I'm not. See, sometimes God replaces one adventure with another, and I've been living a new season of life - a new adventure - lately. Perhaps I'll do an update post on that. Perhaps. ;) In the meantime, hop on over to the CollegePlus blog where they just posted my sixth (sixth?!?! Goodness gracious! It sounds like I'm a writer or something!) post. It's about reading and the fact that I've actually been doing quite a bit of reading lately, which is unusual for me. Anywho. Keep living the journey, friends! 

P.S. Have you read any good books lately? I'd love to add them to my humongous to-read list! Seriously. My to-read shelf on Goodreads is 121 books huge. Better get on that...

November 19, 2015


Characterized by a lack of quiet, repose, or rest. Not able to rest, relax, or be still: a restless child. 

Restless child, that's me. Typically I'm steady at work and school, but yesterday when I managed to get about one third of an essay revised, stared blankly at a post I'm editing, and moved from sprawled on my bed to sitting at my desk to sitting downstairs, to perched on the porch.... I was wondering, quite frankly, what in the world had come over me. I'm self-diagnosing restlessness. 
I'm learning that sometimes it's okay to loosen up and soar with the strange breezes that spring up. So yesterday, after hours of fighting against the wind, I just let it have it's way. Forget school! Forget blogging! Forget my projects! Tomorrow, perhaps, the wind will be in their favor. 

I went outside (which I would recommend as a cure for ailments such as sadness, lethargy, anger, pent-up energy, confusion, and the like), a prime example of classiness in my black athletic pants and horse-manure caked cowboy boots. I admired the rich black soil in a corner of the woods, tucked under inches of fallen leaves. Raked loads into a ginormous black trash bag and trudged to dump them in the garden. My garden's a hoot. Blanketing the soil for the winter is a hodge-podge of hay, leaves, old plants, manure, shredded paper, and cardboard. It's a mess. Like you wanted to know that... :P 
I went for a run in the wind and the rain and listened to music, which I never do on runs. Ran a mile and a half in the rain and the mud in July in Chey - no, that's not right.... 
Then I wrote a few friends whom I've never seen in person (this online college life is strange, but it's wonderful).
Then I read, and went to bed early.

I'm still restless, which is why I'm typing here instead of in a Word document for school. But it's okay. 
It's okay to not be perfect. Because, as my mama likes to say, If we were perfect, then why would we need Jesus? If I was always on task and never procrastinated, then by golly, I'd imagine I was in charge of my life. Which we all know is a lie. So even restlessness has a purpose. Our less-than-perfect days serve to perfect us. 

September 11, 2015

Summer in Snapshots

Crazy to look back and realize all these pictures and the growing I've done around them happened in under six months! I really feel like I grew up this summer. 
Homeschool formal!! I found my dress at Goodwill and altered it a bit (added straps, some extra fabric, and shortened it). My little sis is in the green in the first picture, and my little (or not so little...) brother in the red plaid in the second. 
Yeah, that's me with my pocket knife at the dance.... I mean, what else am I supposed to do when a night of dancing rips my dress a little? This picture might sum me up more than any other. :P
Wherein I actually meet some of my college-mates. ;) We had a ton of fun at the Creation Museum, and ended up spending hours outside playing Settlers of Catan, Apples to Apples, and Liar.
Lauren and I hiked all morning at a nature preserve through four-inch high poison ivy.... but neither of us got it! :D
Gathering hay (ahem, mowed tall grass from around the property) to mulch the garden with! I also failed and then kinda succeeded at backing this thing up in a straight line. Hint: when first learning to back a tricky trailer, don't put yourself in a situation where backwards and turning is the only way out. *facepalm* A super short coupling distance + lack of experience = dad had to come rescue me.
My garden. If you've never tried mulching, you should! It keeps the weeds down, the moisture in, and adds a layer of organic material that turns into fertilizer. 8)
Love those boots! Seriously. Lace-up and waterproof all the way! Much comfier then tennis shoes, but maybe that's because I wear these more than anything else.
Lightning, Eddie, Chance, Valentine, Frisky, Rachel, Joey, Tinkerbelle.....
Trail guiding on Selah
Riding downhill at work, somehow managing to not drop my phone.
Gardening - that's how I roll! 
Summer staff at Gull Lake Ministries - I'm in there somewhere (second row from the front, sixth from the left if you need help)!
Snow cone duty at camp
Hanging out at Lake Michigan on our time off
I made sauce from my tomatoes, onions, and basil! Yum. :)
Becca, our (currently very pregnant) riding instructor and Lauren. This was after our last lesson together before Lauren headed off to college - Becca's been teaching the two of us every week for five years!
Beth (hiding in Lauren's hair), Lauren, and I before Lauren left for college - fourteen hours away! 'Twas a sad day, but I'm pretty excited to see where God takes both of us.
Love this place! Not everyone gets to work in a Christian environment with plenty of awesome people, good hard work, and riding horses in the woods!
Isn't God a breathtaking artist? This is Sundae - she's got one blue eye, and I ride her nearly every week for lessons. 

August 29, 2015

Time to Stand

I stood alone in the kitchen, debating the cost. That frozen custard with my name on it? Yeah, it was pulling me hard with an invisible rope. Because what kind of girl would commit to 30 days of crazy-clean eating? Shouldn't an eighteen-year-old be enjoying life a little? These self-imposed fences: no sugar, dairy, grains, or legumes... I put them up, so it doesn't matter if I hop over them for a second, right? 

Except I had committed to this. Told friends, told family, that I was going to do this. My reasons are a story for a different day; the deal here is that I was literally ten seconds away from killing my commitment, seven days into it. After seven days of eggs and salads and sweet potatoes and simple healthy food, all I wanted was that frozen custard. I talked to God a bit, arguing with Him. He told me to go into the gorgeous sunshine and breathe. I said no, I want dessert. I closed my eyes and leaned against the wall. Then I chose disobedience and took a step to the cupboard for a bowl. 
He will provide a way out.
Oh hey, what was that? Dad pulled up to the garage, and my brother strode towards the house. 
Why is it I always want to indulge in secret? Well, scratch that plan....
BAM! God shot a hole in the temptation. A hole just big enough for me to wriggle through. 
I actually breathed a thank-you as I turned away. It's crazy how sin makes us miserable, but sometimes we don't realize it until we're on the other side, hmm?

Friends, listen. No temptation has you in it's grip except what we all experience. And God? He's faithful. He won't let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. When you're tempted, He will provide a way out so you can stand up under it. You can count on that one, because well, it's God we're talking about here. 

Today, I almost collapsed under temptation. But God provided a way out just like He promised. And somehow, I stood up under it.

Folks, it's time to stand. You will face temptation today. It's gonna be hard, real hard. But God will provide a way out. Listen; today, it's time to stand. 

June 1, 2015


Hey friends! I'm pretty excited about this summer, and my latest post on the CollegePlus blog has tons of ways you can make a difference this summer! Check it out here!

May 19, 2015

DIY Whipped Shea Butter

This stuff looks like frosting. Or whipped cream, or something delicious like that. But I wouldn't taste it if I were you... 

Slathering it on your skin, however, is a whole 'nother story. Did you know that shea butter can soothe sunburn, eczema, acne, and insect bites? It's also known for fighting wrinkles and stretch marks! Most commonly, though, shea butter is praised for it's fantastic moisturizing properties for the skin. 

My favorite thing about shea butter is how it soaks into the skin almost instantly, keeping you free from that oily feeling some homemade lotions bestow. And this whipped shea butter is super easy to make! This was only my third batch, and my first and second tries turned out just like this one.  

DIY Whipped Shea Butter

Makes approximately 8 4oz. tins 


  • 12 oz. raw, unrefined shea butter (if yours isn't raw, it's okay. That's just the absolute best kind.)
  • 4.5 oz extra virgin olive oil (same here - regular olive oil is fine too.)
  • 1.5 t. vitamin E oil
  • 80-100 drops essential oil of your choice. I used lavender, but peppermint and lemon sound good too!
  • tins or jars to store your whipped shea butter

You'll also need:

  • scale to weigh your shea butter (at least, I needed one)
  • double boiler
  • hand-held mixer
  • plastic baggie or frosting bag
  • measuring cups and spoons
1. Heat the shea butter in a double-boiler over medium-low heat until it's partially melted. You still want big chunks in there so it looks like this:
The first time I made this I melted it completely down, and although it turned out fine, step three took forever.

2. Add the extra virgin olive oil and vitamin E oil. At this point you might want to transfer it to a mixing bowl with higher sides - you will be beating this, and a pan with short sides will probably send shea splatters all over your kitchen. Which is okay if you like cleaning. :P

3. Whip on high with a mixer for several minutes until the shea butter is cool. When it's done it will be smooth, light, and fluffy. If this is taking too long you can stick it in the refrigerator for a minute to speed up the cooling process, then resume whipping. Repeat as much as necessary. 
4. Add the essential oils and mix on low until incorporated. 
5. Dollop the whipped shea butter into a plastic baggie or frosting bag, and cut a small hole in one corner so you can squeeze the whipped shea butter out in a manageable fashion. I suppose you could just fill your containers with a spoon or spatula, but this looks cooler. Plus, it's fun. :)
6. Fill your tins or jars with the whipped shea butter and stick labels on them so people know not to eat your wonderful homemade body butter! 

I want to give credit to Organic Authority for the gist of this recipe. I used theirs as my base.

May 13, 2015


I could feel myself loosing it. I was tensing, preparing, focusing on those poles dead ahead. Canyon did too, his stride quickening and head bobbing up high. Nervous. 
My instructor - she's so wise. How an person can know just exactly what I'm doing wrong is beyond me. It's like she's the one riding, not me. Just in time she spoke:
"Don't even think about the poles. Just focus on your canter,"
My mind twitched, rerouted. The poles were there, approaching fast. But they were of no consequence. For three crucial seconds I focused on Canyon's canter, not the poles. 
I relaxed, gathered my reins, pulled Canyon up under me. 
Then they were behind me; not perfectly done, but done well. 

Get a horse in frame, collected, listening to his rider.... and the obstacles, the jumps, and staying calm around spooky raincoats... they just happen. And they happen so much better, so much simpler, than when the rider sees the jump, the jump, and only that jump. 

My God - He's so wise. How He can know just exactly what I'm doing wrong is very much beyond me. It's like He's the one living, not me. And just in time, He speaks.
Child, don't even think about your mountain-struggles. Just focus on your walk, your ride, your relationship with me.

Because when we focus on Him - loving Him, obeying Him, adoring Him.... everything else fades and it just happens. Those impossible problems, that unraveling to-do list, that dying relationship... God will take us over. 

So trust Him, my friend. Trust Him and take your eyes off that mountain. Focus. Focus on Him. And you're gonna fly.

March 22, 2015

The Broken Beautiful

Don't give up on the ugly parts of your life: the things that make you cry at night or make you go numb on the inside. The broken bits of our lives may seem jagged and useless, but know that God is a stained-glass maker. He crafts masterpieces out of our shattered messes. And He is the sunshine streaming through the glass, bringing to life what once was dead and dark. He's got your pain, your life, your family, your future... it's all in His hands, being painstakingly fit together - the broken beautiful.
I am a mess. But my God crafts masterpieces from messes. Therefore I have hope. 

March 10, 2015

Shh! A Secret Learning Tool Revealed

I've been blessed to write for the CollgePlus blog once again! The post is about the one thing that made my service-learning course truly come alive. Even if you're not in school, this tool is versatile and can be used to improve a myriad of experiences. Any guesses? Hop on over here to find out what it is!

March 3, 2015

A Thank You Note

You're too good to me, Lord. Thank you. 
For plaid - blue and pink.
Garden plans
Pens like the rainbow
Rag rug braids
Polka dots
And a manger scene. In March.
For this little nuisance 
And her teeth....
Thanks, God. You're too good to me. 

February 17, 2015

Like a Little Kid

He climbed up the back of the couch and tumbled backwards into my arms. He danced on top of an upside-down toy that sang him a song. He threw a tiny ball into the air time and time again, tirelessly toddling to pick it up and grin. He made tractor sounds when his parents headed off for a date - no worry here! He bonked his head two or three times, but the dazed look cleared from his face in seconds - on to a new adventure!

Such an adventurous spirit! Such joy! Such bravery! When was the last time I did something unusual and uncomfortable and new - for the sheer joy of discovery? It's been a while. 

This little man inspired me to start discovering again. He inspired me to do something uncomfortable because it will be fun and I'll learn something. He inspired me to keep going, keep moving, keep picking myself up again

It might be a hard life, a tiring life. But boy... it's a good life. 

Yes, let me be like a little kid again. 

February 10, 2015

...but what for?

I'm passionate about being healthy. Believe it or not, I enjoy researching health food (real, whole foods like fruits and veggies, raw dairy, grass fed meat, chia seeds, the list goes on), GMOs, and herbs. I love working out too. Then sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself - and wonder. Here I am, completely wrapped up in healthiness and becoming the best I can possibly be..... but what for? To what end? In a word, why?

Why do I spend so much time learning about "healthy food?"
Why do I eat salads instead of sandwiches?
What's the reason behind the hours I spend working out?

Today I didn't like the answer.

Why do I chase a healthy life? To be beautiful and to live long and to feel good about myself of course!

And I say I'm passionate about Jesus and about His work but today that wasn't what I saw. I'm His child, yes. But I am still far from perfect. That's why He's working on me, sanctifying me.

Today He uncovered my motives and I've got a feeling that's what He'll be working on for a while.

Child, be passionate. Chase health. Be strong and beautiful and wise. But do all that.... to My end. Do all that... for Me. Let Me be your reason. Let Me be your "why."

So yeah. This could be a long journey, because God's got some serious motive-habits to melt away in me. It's probably good to start with some concrete goals:

I will research and learn about health - so I can teach others and improve their health, pointing them to Christ - the true Healer - all the while.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition....
I will pursue excellence in my fitness so I can be strong to help others and to spread the Gospel. So I can point to Christ as my strength.
...or vain conceit...
I will eat healthy, real food to be an example of the self-discipline that comes from walking in the Spirit. Also to live the longest, most productive life I can in order to chase God's calling on my life with energy!
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.

February 8, 2015

On Posting, Shards, and an Artist

What do I really have to share with you guys?
Just fragments of a stumbling story, sanctification slowly breaking through the cracks of me.

Sometimes I wonder if my words really make a difference. I mean, I know God is working everything out for a glorious purpose. But what if He wants me to close this chapter and get on with life? Because I really don't write much on this blog.

I have this notion that it takes too much time.

That I need some lightbulb-revelation flecked with gorgeous word pictures if I'm going to ask you to read my posts.

But now that I think on that a bit, I don't think that's the truth. God was pleased with the poor widow's offering of two small coins and not with the rich people's heaps of money. Because she gave all that she had.

Yeah. I don't have much - sometimes my spring of words is all dried up. But God hasn't closed this blog's door yet so He must still be crafting a masterpiece. And these words are still paint on His brush.

So I'll keep writing. But instead of hoarding my coins until I've got a decent offering to bring, I'm going to start giving all that I have. Like the poor widow.

Just the little lessons. Short, honest, messy things. I'll be offering up the bits of this sanctification story as they emerge, smudged and worn like my journal that time I cried as I wrote.

So I'm going to stop trying to bring great offerings for God, trying to help Him out by teaching you some important lessons. I'll leave that to the rich people. This is now God's studio and you'll be seeing the chipped and broken things - all I really have to give.

Because God? He's fantastic at making stained glass. You know - that gorgeous art made of fractured misfit shards. 

Yes. A stained glass studio. My life is the broken being made beautiful. And God? He's awesome so He's both the artist and the very light that will make me shine.

January 24, 2015

To Make it Modest | Swimsuit 2015

So it's the middle of winter and I'm doing a post on bathing suits. But I figure if I put it off until the weather is warm, my motivation to write this post might have melted away.... ;)
My brothers can't understand why I spend so much time and brain power looking for the perfect bathing suit. They don't get how hard it is to find one that is pretty and modest! 
I typically order a top from Lands End then alter it so it fits my modesty standards. My bathing suit ends up being modest, but sometimes not necessarily cute. Next summer, however, that will not be the case! I found a pretty tankini that I'm almost comfortable in just how it is!
The neckline, however, is a tad low and the tankini is almost too short. I decided to add a ruffle on the top and bottom to add length both ways. 

I measured around the bottom hem and did some math; because I wanted a full ruffle, I multiplied that measurement by 2.5. I wanted a 1 inch ruffle, so I made a strip 2 inches wide and as long as my calculation (hem circumference x 2.5). My piece of fabric wasn't very long so I ended up cutting two strips I sewed together to form one long strip. You could do it either way - one long strip or two shorter ones sewed together.
I turned my strips into a big loop by sewing the short ends together, right sides of the fabric together. I ran two rows of gathering stitches - stitches set to the longest setting - along one edge of the loop. 
Then I pinned the right side of the ruffle fabric to the wrong side of the tankini hem. I matched up the side seams on both the ruffle and tankini, as well as half way between those spots and then halfway between those. The ruffle looked super huge at this point, but that was quickly fixed!
I pulled those gathering stitches tight and gathered all the way around, spacing the gathers and pinning as I went. 
It looked like this when I got all the way around:
Up close - my gathering and pinning job:
I decided to sew the ruffle in place by hand, because I have had trouble keeping the tension smooth when I've added fabric to the bottom of tankinis when I used my machine before. The hem of the tankini had a double row of stitching, so I zig-zagged my stitches on the inside, alternating between each row. It turned out to be a good choice, as it provided stretch and a smooth finish.
At this point I was getting pretty excited - ruffles are a new level of cuteness I've not experienced before on my swimsuits!
I measured, calculated, cut, gathered, and sewed the ruffle for the top edge just like the bottom, but it actually turned out a little over-the-top. The 1 inch tall, intense ruffle was just too much right by my face. So I ripped out the stitches and trimmed the ruffle. I don't have exact measurements, but it was probably 1 1/2 inches tall instead of 2. And I made the strip shorter - not sure how much - so the ruffle wasn't so pronounced. Then I sewed, pinned, gathered, and stitched it back on again, and was happier with the results! This is the second version of the ruffle:
I am very happy with how it turned out! Paired with some navy board shorts, I'm all set for summer! 
Have you struggled with finding a modest bathing suit? Ever altered one to make it more so? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!