Fall Blessings

This fall has been full and beautiful. It’s not over yet, I know, but I was realizing the other day how many sweet, beautiful things have happened this fall. I need to write these blessings down, and in the process update this blog (on which I have been a little absent, I’ll admit!). Fall, for me, is full of blessings like…

  • wearing jeans again.
  • striped Old Navy sweaters.
  • playing Tenth Avenue North songs on guitar at 7am.
  • seeing my breath in the cold.
  • overcast days making for beautiful pictures:elijah
  • boys with brand-new walkie talkies, playing spies and wearing everything camo.
  • having such good friends at cross-country I wanna cry seeing the season end.
  • soaking in the last bit of color in the year: leaves
  • putting on a crochet hat, reminding me of sweet friends’ generosity.
  • late night concerts (yay Tenth Ave!) and singing the promises of “Times“:concert
  • friends who will wipe your nastiest tears away.
  • the boys’ last campout till spring, giving us girls a night with Anne of Green Gables (go Megan Follows!)
  • listening to the rustle and fall of the leaves.
  • musicians like Josh Garrels breaking the silence.
  • staying up past my bedtime talking with sisters.
  • breaking my back leaning over sketchbooks and computer screens, just trying to design a 3″x2″ black-and-white card with my blog, email, and phone number on it. Who knew it would take so much work? But with the help of these graphics from AngieMakes.com, I’m pretty happy with the finished product. You all get to see my signature now 😉business-cards
  • singing Christmas songs waay too early…but even as my sister yells at me to stop, I’m still dreaming of a white Christmas.
  • learning songs with augmented chords (like this one) on the piano and loving the way it feels to make the deep notes rumble and the high notes sound like they’re crying (in the best way possible).
  • laughing at small group.
  • wearing fuzzy socks (which make my day).
  • cinnamon, apples, and pumpkins.
  • family walks in perfect weather:fall-walk-3 fall-walk-1 fall-walk-2
  • running with my dad.
  • cheering for my dad when he runs a cross-country race 😀
  • sweet little sisters:anna
  • being reminded that I am clay in the hand of my Potter: “This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘Go down at once to the potter’s house; there I will reveal My words to you.’ So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, working away at the wheel. But the jar that he was making from the clay became flawed in the potter’s hand, so he made it into another jar, as it seemed right for him to do. The word of the Lord came to me: ‘House of Israel, can I not treat you as this potter treats his clay? Just like clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, house of Israel.'” (Jeremiah 18:1-6)
  • getting chills from this quote and beautiful lettering on Beautiefull Things:
  • finishing photography challenges once and for all (yes, it’s been a long wait. Blog posts coming soon!) and having friends who are just as slow relaxed as I am when it comes to being punctual. 😉
  • joining a writer’s club and thinking about stories again. It’s been a while since I’ve let my imagination go on rabbit trails with my pen jotting down every detail I see in this head of mine…but I’m excited about doing it again.
  • taking selfies with sisters:My sister, Sarah (right) and I. :)
  • knowing my little notes can bless friends:
  • remembering the story behind my blog’s name and getting ready to enter the season of gratitude.

May this fall be blessed for you, too! I can’t wait for whatever the next season holds…but I’m savoring this season because I’m only gonna be in it once.

2015 Cross-Country Season Recap

It’s day three of my gratitude posting. I decided to use this as day three, because I’m really super grateful for the way this cross-country season happened. And yes, all of the gratitude posts will be this spontaneous. 🙂

I’ve never been an athletic person. Ever. All my life I’ve thought of myself as “awkward”, “uncoordinated”, etc., so I never would have seen myself doing a sport. But this year, cross-country changed all that.

It was this summer when my friend, Lauren told me about a club of sorts she ran with on Monday nights. She mentioned it to me with words like, “you should come!”, and I actually thought about it. The reason I wanted to go was never because I wanted to run or join a cross-country team, but because I wanted to spend time with Lauren, who I hardly ever got to see.

The afternoon before the evening I’d committed to going to Running Club, I was really, really nervous. Thoughts were running through my head, like I have seriously never even run in my life! Why am I doing this?! I sat on the couch and plucked sad songs out on my dad’s guitar, mourning thinking about how stupid I was going to look in front of all these strangers and how I was going to go anyway.

I showed up with my sis (best moral support ever!) that foggy, rainy night in yoga pants and my mom’s running shoes. Everyone there seemed to know and like each other, and I felt like I might be able to fit into this crowd . . . that is, if I survived the first run. I didn’t feel like I would after the exhausting 15-minute warmup run with Lauren, because afterwards my head was burning and my face seemed like it was as red as a strawberry. Everything hurt. Aside from that, however, I was pretty in favor of this running club thing.

The next day, I couldn’t sit down without cringing, I was so sore. Lesson #1 running has taught me: pain is rough, but you’re gonna experience it, so get used to it and push through it.

Even though this was not normal for me, I found myself coming back and continuing this running thing. Again, it wasn’t because I enjoyed running in the least, but because I enjoyed Lauren’s company on runs where she would talk normally (it was easy for her *winks*) and I would listen as best I could, stopping every three minutes to try and get my breathing under control. 😛 My sister, two brothers, and my dad came back with us. I look back and see the Lord’s complete knowledge of me and my family then in every moment – if Laur had invited me to come to any other sports club but running/cross-country, it would have been a flat “no”, not only from me, but from my parents. My dad ran and coached cross-country and track for a long time, and he happened to know the coach on Laur’s team! What?!

Also, God was working in our circumstances by ordering our time frame so perfectly to grow me and bless me. Earlier that spring, my sister and I were presented with a missions trip opportunity to take place in the first weeks of July. It would have been a very important trip, requiring lots of preparation. We felt God was leading us to do this, though, so we decided to go. However, the opportunity fell through for us, due to safety issues. I had no idea why God had even brought the opportunity to us only to let it fall through, but I had peace about it and wasn’t concerned at the time. I now see a little bit of what God was trying to show me: had we gone on that missions trip, we never would have gone to that first Running Club. We probably never would have followed through for an entire season. I still don’t know why God brought the opportunity before us, but I trust that He wanted to show us His perfect will in this.

We came back for another couple of weeks, then there was a week when I would be gone at summer camp. Before I left, I had a rough moment with my dad because I didn’t have the drive to push myself and do my best that’s essential to a runner. I was frustrated with myself because I didn’t think I would ever develop that or succeed.

Off I went to camp, very slightly angry at my dad and at myself. God, in His wisdom, brought me to a summer camp themed “the Amazing Race”, based off of Hebrews 12:1-13. This is one of those “big-deal” passages of Scripture about endurance & suffering, two of the hardest subjects in the world.

The week went by, and I kept realizing that though running really hurt right now, it would pay off later, and that was a blessing I couldn’t have seen coming. That was just the beginning, because at that point I was only two weeks into running!

We joined the cross-country team. The only thing my dad (who was no longer an object of my wrath haha) asked of us was that we finish the season without quitting. Two weeks into practices, we did a mile time trial (seeing how fast you can run a mile). After running it, I was really physically hurting, and Lauren told me, “races (5k’s) are worse”. siggghhh. Another lesson in persevering even when it hurts!

The first race rolled around. I could barely eat, I was so nervous. The time came to go to the starting line, and all I wanted to do was run off the field and bawl, staying safely on the sidelines so I didn’t have to endure this agony. Turns out, I didn’t do that, and it was way worth it. Racing turned out to be really fun! I love the feeling of running fast, even though it hurts, and crossing the finish line with that complete confidence that I did my best today. I gave Jesus and my team my all.

My running partners, Megan & Hannah, were huge encouragers to me as we ran practices together, raced together (in the bitter cold!), PR’d (personal record, got a new best) together, etc. They were complete lifesavers for me! Thank you so much, sweet sisters!

The lessons I’ve learned from this season are endless. A big one was learning how to be real with myself and with my teammates. I’m not perfect, and so sometimes I’m going to take a race off. Sometimes I’m going to sob at night, thinking my best is not good enough before I remember Whose I am. I love cross-country and feeling like a success in my own eyes, but the main goal I want to keep in mind while running is that I’m here to glorify God. If my best is not perfect, that’s okay. I just want to serve Him with a whole heart. Running is really about a mindset, and for me, I had to learn how to put my races in the Lord’s hands. My coach was huge in teaching me this, and I’m not going to forget it or stop learning it anytime soon.

cc-pics-collage

Photo captions, starting with the top left:

  1. Group huddle before our last meet. Photo by Mr. Moll.
  2. Well, doesn’t this pack look legit? This is us at our last meet! We were together for pretty much the whole first mile! Ha but my face though. Thank goodness the photo is pretty little so you can’t see real well. Photo by Mr. Moll.
  3. Megan and I running a really cold race! Photo by Mr. Stanhope.
  4. (bottom right) I love these girls so much! My devotional group. Photo by Mr. Stanhope.
  5. All of us with our Coach. My face is hilarious, so I grant you permission to laugh. Photo by Mr. Stanhope.
  6. An impromptu group pic by Mr. Stanhope.

So, I guess you could say I’m a little depressed that the season is already over, but I wouldn’t go back and change anything for the world. God has a plan, and He worked it out completely for His glory and my good. I remember writing here at the beginning of the summer,

“To admit that I am His and not my own is so hard, because not only does He thwart the plans and the kingdoms of others, but He thwarts the plans and the kingdom of me. He tears down my walls, my expectations, my comfort zone, my heart’s desires, and my will, all so that I might be more like Christ. It is hard. So this summer, my plans might get a little messed up, but you know what? I’m okay with knowing they will be.

Every time my plans have ever been messed with, glory has been given to God. It’s hard, but I will trust Him. May your summer be the best yet, and all glory be to God!”

He has truly messed with my plans, but they’re the most beautiful mess ever. For the team and for the Lord.

Foggy November Mornings

foggy-nov-mornings-collagePhoto captions, starting at the top left:

  1. The hazy morning sky was so gorgeous with the silhouetted goldenrod (not sure that’s what it’s called?) against it.
  2. Tangled branches, all bare of leaves.
  3. Droplets.
  4. Drops from the rain on thorns. I love the detail on this one.
  5. Vividly colored thorns.
  6. The fog made the sunrise look magical.

The second day of my #WeChooseGratitude posting. I love all of these photos. A few mornings ago, I woke up to the fog and decided to go out in the morning chill and capture this. It was worth the foggy glasses when I came back inside. I love how God paints beauty in the everyday so well.

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

I get lost in the mystery of who God is when I take a photography walk like this. All I see in Creation shows me how to worship the Creator more fully by calling out to Him. Calling out brings me to a deeper knowledge of Him. Choose to call to Him today.

I’m linking up to Petra’s great post about Ohio’s November beauty right now. 🙂 Amen, sister!

Elijah's 1-Year Photo Shoot (highlights)

We needed a 1-year photo for Elijah, and after three tries on my part and one on my dad’s, we finally got a photo of him . . . a month late. 😉 Here are a few of the funny photos that came out of it:

elijah-1-year-photo-shoot

Mini Update

collage-dec-14

(click collage to view the pictures larger)

From the top left corner over:

  1. Lauren (right) and I posing for a selfie one Bible study evening. She’s fun 🙂 .
  2. Christmas cards! I got an order for a bunch this week that I filled today. They do look snazzy, even though I don’t have any ribbon so I had to use yarn 😉
  3. It’s beginning to look a lot like . . . anytime but Christmas! The weather has been phenomenal this year! Not any snow yet, just 60+ degree days that bring tons of smiles, like the one I captured on my brother, Caleb’s, face.
  4. More Christmas cards! I feel like I’m made of them these days! 😛
  5. A frosty morning! I felt like I was walking in a world Elsa had touched with her lovely ice. So much beauty.
  6. Dead branches kissed by the sunlight.
  7. Another Christmas card. I’m guessing you know now what’s pretty much always on my mind.
  8. A bunch of Bath & Body Works goodies Sarah and I got for friends this Christmas!
  9. Elijah. He is up to trouble, as always. 🙂 This was one of the only pictures I got of him this evening, because he is always. Moving. I can’t get a clear shot of him very well, but I’m happy with the ones I do get 🙂

I have been . . .

  • listening to Jillian Edwards’ All My Christmases. I’ve reviewed it, here, and yet I’m still listening to it though I can lip sync all of the songs. Pretty much perfectly. My library holds haven’t come in yet (cue the tears), so the fresh Christmas music has been low.
  • reading The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay. This was a fun read, if a little uneventful. I suppose it would make a good stress-relief read, but I have been enjoying thrillers lately. 🙂
  • studying The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp for Advent. And loving it. Every day really challenges me and overwhelms me because it’s packed with the character of our God. Wow. This is a must-read Advent devotional.
  • playing piano and trying to make a point at practicing reading music more often. I’m fairly good at sight reading . . . but not nearly as good as my classically trained friends who make me look like the oddball! 😛 I’m used to pretty much being able to play all the songs I like through improv, so reading music is . . . *hem* uncomfortable at times. But I’m trying! Give me some credit!
  • lettering a ton of Christmas presents. So many, in fact, that I think I’m going to take January off for lettering!
  • babysitting kids a lot! By “kids”, I mean “siblings”. They can be quite a handful, especially since there can be quite a few of them around at once! It’s taught me more and more about mothering, though, so hey. I can’t complain.
  • cutting a ton of Christmas cards. This is irony, considering I can’t really cut straight lines, even with a paper cutter, and yet here I am cutting 100+ Christmas cards, one at a time. Maybe I should just pay the extra money to get Staples to cut it on their supercool laser cutting machine that does it all at once. *drools* *sighs at grossness of drool*
  • feeling moody and happy all at once. Lately my head has been kinda running at a hundred miles an hour (which is a lot faster than my legs can go, even at their fastest), which creates sort of a fog. Which makes me very moody. I’m hoping I can get a grip on my life soon so my head stops running!
  • writing bits and pieces of a new novel. I’m excited about it! More details coming soon.
  • finishing Algebra 1!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!
  • talking and de-stressing (new word?) with my girl Petra. I got to see her this past weekend, and she hung out with me while I cut Christmas cards (big surprise there) and she folded them (like a boss, you guys!). I was tired, and she noticed (lol). But she was there for me and we talked cameras and ISO settings and auto focus. Thanks, Petra! You’re one of those girls who reduces stress, rather than add it. 😀
  • dreaming about getting a DSLR. I have big dreams, guys, and this is one of the biggest for me. But it also means I can’t really spend much money anymore. 🙁 Bummer.
  • wasting time obsessing over the details of my Christmas cards. Wowzers.
  • singing a song I know of Revelation 7:10 and 12, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb. Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” I’ll embed the amazing song at the end of this post 🙂
  • grinning because I met someone who finally speaks my tech language (that is, someone other than my dad!). She designs and prints t-shirts, and I’ve actually known her for a while, but we started talking dpi’s and vectors and Adobe Illustrator. It’s nice to know someone I see face-to-face actually gets this stuff, not just the countless people on Pinterest.
  • stalking this amazing blog, The Postman’s Knock. I love it and really want to learn modern calligraphy in the new year. When I can actually spend some money. *sighs*
  • laughing at the fact that I got one of my best friends the same thing she got me for Christmas 🙂
  • eating lots of Christmas cookies that my baking-genius sister makes. 🙂 Mmm…

Merry Christmas, everybody! Have a great week!

Psst! My Christmas cards are still available, here!