June 30, 2014

My New Writing Project

The Old Testament is full of stories of God’s faithfulness to the Israelite people throughout the generations.

And you know what? I think it’s really worthwhile to take the time to remember and reflect upon how the Lord has been faithful in my life and my family’s lives.

Why? Well, sometimes when my life is “falling apart” or in crisis, I confess I don’t take the time to reflect on God’s faithfulness. And sometimes when times are smooth, I’m guilty of stepping away from the Lord in pride, thinking I am fine on my own. And let me tell you, the result is not pretty in either of those scenarios.

I want to be intentional about meditating on how God has been there for me (and the generations that came before me)—so that whether I am traversing life in a storm or on calm seas, I remember to look to Jesus as my rock … because he is the one who faithfully sees me through every day.

As a result of these thoughts, a new writing project idea was planted and sprouted in my brain. I want to create a book full of stories about God’s faithfulness to my family through the generations. And I hope to pass on this book to the next generation someday.

This weekend, I wrote letters to my parents and grandparents (and Dave’s, too!), asking them to contribute their own stories and memories.

I’m hoping to get a strong start on this project this fall!

June 25, 2014

Bad News & Good News!

Okay, bad news first: our tetras died!

I've heard from plenty of people that neon tetras are hard to keep alive ... and boy, they really are! Dave and I did our best, but the final two survivors, Curly and Mo, bit the dust (or should I say, "bit the bubbles") on Sunday afternoon.

The good news? We already have a new fish!

We decided to go with a Betta. At the store, we looked at several Bettas ... but noticed one that really needed our help! He was all flattened out on the bottom of his covered, clear cup -- trying to keep his body below water! You see, his container had a leak!

Dave and I rescued the little guy. We wrapped a paper towel around the bottom (where the leak was) and brought him home!

It's a red fish, and Dave came up with the idea of naming him after The Scarlet Pimpernel. (Loved that idea!) So, our fish's full name is Sir Percival Blakeney ... but we call him "Percy."  :)

June 20, 2014

Yay! New Owl City songs!

Owl City announced on his blog that he's releasing a new EP called "Ultraviolet" on June 27.

That's one week from today! I'm an old-fashioned girl ... I still like CDs ... so now I just have to figure out how to order a physical copy of this EP.  :D

Here's one of the songs that'll be featured on "Ultraviolet":


June 15, 2014

My Sister and Me

My sister, Heather, is one of my most favorite people in all the world!

Besties!

I remember peering into the Tupperware-type container they placed her in at the hospital after she was born ... and getting my very first glimpse of my new baby sister. Growing up, we were each other's best friends. We've had plenty of adventures together. I've been going through some old (and new-ish) photos of the two of us and thought I'd share a portion of them here!

Masquerade! (Our brother, Ryan, made it in on this photo, too!)

Goofin' off together during a day at the beach.  :D

"Eh?"

Photo shoot in the forest!

Frozen. But happy!

My wedding day. Tears. Hugs. Smiles.

June 13, 2014

Selfishness: A Rant To Myself

Do you ever get overwhelmed by all of the problems and needs in the world?

Hunger. Disease. Death. Evil. Homelessness. War.

It seems to be lurking in every corner. And the number of people with basic needs is just staggering. The problems look too big and I feel too small. But I think doubting that I really make a difference is one of the most poisonous lies I ever believed.

"I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will." - Edward Everett Hale

On the day I pass into eternity and come face-to-face with my Creator and my Savior, I don't want to say, "Yes, I knew about the poverty, disease, hunger ... the orphans ... and I did nothing about it. I picked out movies I wanted to see. I got a new phone, a bigger TV, a faster computer, and that car I always drooled over."

Heartbroken, I would realize how much time and money I spent on myself ... and how little I spent on others. In the face of such tremendous needs in the world, how is it that I can so easily justify buying things for myself? I am selfish.

I don't want to stand before God and have to confess that I was so focused on myself that I ignored the incredible needs of the world he put me in.

Like Hale says, "I can do something ... And by the grace of God, I will."

The fact is, folks, this life is temporary. We don't get to take ANY of it with us when we die. The only "stuff" that matters is what is eternal.

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 

But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

- James 1:22-27

June 10, 2014

Vacation: Part 2


During the second part of our vacation, we traveled to the land of windmills and open fields.

Otherwise known as: Iowa!

Why Iowa? Well, Dave and I both have relatives living there and wanted to pay them a visit. Plus, I spent some of my childhood in this state, and I have such good memories!

We just had to stop when we saw this sign:

Who knew that the ice cream capital of the world is in Le Mars, Iowa?!?


Aha! We found the Blue Bunny ice cream shop! 

Inside, Dave and I opted to split a cup of ice cream. The flavor we selected was delicious. With peanut butter and chocolate swirls, I figured we couldn't go wrong! It even had little chocolate-covered peanut butter bites in the shape of bunnies! How cute is that?  :)  

Exploring the history of Blue Bunny as we walked around the shop was really neat. For a little city like Le Mars, being the ice cream capital of the world is a pretty cool claim to fame!

Throughout the shop, displays and videos showed how Blue Bunny makes ice cream and their history in Le Mars.

I learned lots of interesting facts as we wandered around. 

For example, I had no idea that they got their name as a result of a naming contest decades ago!



Oh, a little background before I get into this next part: I love Chihuahuas. I think they're adorable with their big eyes and ears!  :)  Dave knew this about me even when we were dating, and he got me my very first Chihuahua! We named him "Ren."

Ren accompanied us on our trip and made it into quite a few photos. He photo bombed this one of the Iowan countryside:


Ren definitely felt those Iowa winds a-blowin' that day:


Oh, and let's not forget Taco John's! It was my first time eating at one of these restaurants, and the food was SO GOOD!

As you can see, Ren was thrilled:


I'm so glad my husband and I are the same kind of weird. 
It's a joy being married to my best friend!

June 7, 2014

Vacation: Part 1

About two weeks ago, Dave and I strapped ourselves into my little car ... and hit the road.

VACATION!!!


First stop? Chicago!

Dave expertly plotted our travels via train, so we traversed the sprawling city without having to bother with trying to find parking. Woohoo! Also, being transported by train is fun! (Can you see the excitement on our faces?!)


It was Dave's first visit to the Shedd Aquarium ... and I hadn't been there in 8 years. The giant water- and creature-filled exhibits did not disappoint! Here are a couple of snapshots from our time there:

Chillin'.

Dave, "having a whale of a time."

The "Windy City" sure lived up to its reputation while we were there, too!  :D  Notice our jackets, which were sorely needed in the cool, strong breeze. And, of course, our wild wind-tossed hair!


I love vacationing with my best friend.

Next, it was off to The Field Museum. We couldn't help but gawk at the GIANT dinosaur right inside the front entrance! This is Dave looking "afraid" of the T-Rex:


And this is me really excited about our final sightseeing (and tasting!) destination in Chicago: The Cheesecake Factory! I have heard legends of the creamy cheesecake concoctions within. I opted to try the turtle cheesecake. And you know what? It was the best cheesecake I ever had!


But that only covers the first few days of our vacation. Stay tuned for part 2!

June 5, 2014

Finding the Lovely

I think most people these days fancy themselves photographers.

I'm no expert, but I do like how a camera lens helps me sometimes to see and notice beauty in places I had not seen it before. Take this picture, for example. I snapped it years ago on a walk around my neighborhood, and it's still one of my absolute favorites:


That bee happened to hover in exactly the right spot for this gorgeous and colorful photo. Normally, my reaction is to get away from bees -- bumblebees or otherwise! If I hadn't had my camera with me, I likely would have picked up my pace and walked quickly by.

But I saw the scene through a different lens: colorful, vibrant ... and lovely.

It's amazing how a change in perspective can so wholly alter your experience of something, isn't it? Do what you can to find the "lovely" in your circumstances, surroundings, and life today.

June 2, 2014

A 100-word story!


"Brevity is the soul of wit." - William Shakespeare

That is very true, I think.

I've never been a fan of slogging through text to get to the point of what someone is trying to say. As a writer, I delight in taking a written piece and trimming down the words. It's actually something of a game to me -- a puzzle-solving game. I try to preserve the spirit of the piece and not lose an ounce of meaning, even as I chop out word after word. I force myself to keep only the words that truly matter ... that carry the meaning.

A few years ago, I had fun taking some stories of my own invention and snipping words until I was left with exactly 100. Here is the result of one of those experiments:

“Hey, you wanna play tic-tac-toe?” Startled, I glanced up to see a freckle-faced boy. I didn’t know his name, but I recognized him as the kid with bright red hair who had sat to my left in class all morning, picking his nose.

It was recess—and my first day at a new school. “Okay,” I said. He sat down. In the dirt, he rather crookedly drew two sets of parallel lines with his finger. As I played that first game with Andrew, I knew I’d found a friend in my freckle-faced companion, even if he did pick his nose.

What do you think of this story?

Would you like to see more of my writing? My stories? Maybe (if I'm feeling particularly brave,) some of my poetry? Make your thoughts known below.  :)