Friday, October 24, 2014

A Time to Lose Control // Ecclesiastes

You know those times when things just keep happening?  Rereading that sentence, I'm realizing that it's really vague and I may have even made a sarcastic comment to myself in my head along the lines of "As opposed to the times when time stands still?"  So, for those of you who have been blessed with an equally sarcastic mind, I'll clarify: You know those times when bad things just keep happening?   When you've heard so much bad news that you almost come to expect every premature death (it was the flusher for Darnell this week . . . RIP) or national crisis or family struggle or stressful situation?   That's been me this week, and for a little while I was kind of handling it like an autonomous, emotionally stable human being.  I mean, I hadn't screamed at any of my friends or family members for an illegitimate reason, I got my homework turned in in a reasonable amount of time, and I was still eating my vegetables and stuff.  I had it under control, treading with my head just high enough to breath, until something was one thing too much and I slipped and went under, snapping at a teammate and skipping my online class (totally not what I'm doing right now) and switching from salad to chocolate.  I know, tragic.  In all seriousness, though, all of those things were indicators that I was in over my head.  I tried, pretty hard, but I couldn't explain what had happened or say the right words when they were needed, and that weighed heavy on my mind until I couldn't bear it on my own anymore. 

The good and the bad of finally being overwhelmed is that that's what it took for me to go running to God.  I opened my Bible and read and read and prayed, asking for the kind of peace that shouldn't be possible in the midst of hard stuff like this, because I know he can do that.   I came across these words, and that's how God decided to put my heart and mind at rest. 

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

      a time to be born and a time to die,

    a time to plant and a time to uproot,

     a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,

    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

     a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,

     a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,

     a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

. . . He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

I've read these words plenty of times, but I had never really thought about their implications until this last time through.  The fact that there is a specific time for tearing down, for giving up, for uprooting, is, as weird as it seems, comforting.  It tells me that, since our world isn't perfect anymore, the things that God never wanted to have happen to us end up being a part of his plan.  It's not the ideal - that perished a long time ago with our human weakness - but it is our reality.  God knows about every heartbreak that we're going to suffer, and although he allows hard things to happen, he's in complete control throughout the entire wild ride.  He uses tragedy to grow us, to teach us, and to make things happen to his glory.  

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Romans 8:28

The best comfort comes at the end of the passage from Ecclesiastes, which says that "he has made everything beautiful in its time."  I just love that!  It tells us that God has a track record of making our lives beautiful, regardless of how he chooses to make that happen.  He leads the way through the times of laughing until we cry and the times of deep, deep mourning alike, all for our ultimate good and his glory. 


Monday, October 20, 2014

I Do Not Have It Together // Guest Post!!!

You may have gathered from the title that my life is a little bit of a mess today.  I didn't shower or write a blog post, but I did manage  to get some dry shampoo into my hair and send an email to Allison, who is conveniently (for me) home sick today, and beg her to write something for me, so I guess things could be quite a bit worse!  Also, I think I'm going to FINALLY get Darnell later (from Meijer, not Petsmart mind you), so that's a plus.  That, and the fact that Allison's words are on my blog and she's actually good at blogging and pictures and a bunch of other stuff, so you're in for a treat! Here she is! //

Hi, my name is Allison and I am currently listening to Christmas music.

That fact right there probably just made about 53% of you click the little red x at the top of your browser.  But for those of you who stuck around, thanks! I promise that you won't have to read all about chestnuts roasting over an open fire, excluded reindeer, or the joys of riding in a sleigh pulled by one horse.

But first, a little more about me than what's coming out of my laptop speakers.  As I mentioned (but you probably forgot due to the fact that you're in shock because of the whole Christmas music thing . . . ) my name is Allison and I blog over at Something Beautiful!  I know Allie in real life and love being able to call her one of my best friends (awwww!). I was really excited when she asked me to guest blog since today was a #sicknotsick day for me and I definitely needed something productive to spend my time on.  More about me?  I have an extreme case of wanderlust, love a good book, am always looking for new music, and am a novice photographer.  (Read "novice photographer" as "I don't even know what half the settings are for, but I'm trying!") Also, I. Love. Fall.

Usually I only love a season when I'm not currently in it.  Like, during Michigan's eternal winters, I find myself longing for summer.  You know, the time when I don't have to either bundle on 17 layers of clothing or risk losing an arm or something to frost bite to go get the mail. But after the initial excitement of sunshine and flip-flops, I wonder why I waited all winter for it.

Not so with fall.  Even if the name of the season may suggest otherwise, it never lets me down.  (I'm so punny!) So in case the way you feel about fall is the way that I feel about summer, let me remind you why this season is so great.

|| gorgeous colors || anywhere I look, there are leaves in all shades of red, yellow, orange, and even green, still.  It's just so stinking beautiful all the time, and I love that.

|| cozy sweaters || one of my absolute, most favorite things on earth is my mini-crewneck collection.  Over the summer, I really missed getting to pull one on and warm up.  Well, thanks to fall, I'm pretty much in sweater 92% of the time and I wouldn't want it any other way. 

|| seasonal food || okay, this is cheating a little bit because seasonal food is amazing no matter the season. I love the summer strawberries, winter peppermint hot chocolate,  and spring . . . ummm . . . Easter eggs? But fall definitely takes the cake . . . the pumpkin cake that is.  My Pinterest feed is currently exploding with sweet potatoes, butternut squash, candy corn, and pumpkin variations of every baked good out there. But I'm not complaining; actually I'm repinning as fast as my Internet connection will allow me to. Oh, and who could forget the apple cider and doughnuts? 

|| fall activities! || this category gets an exclamation point because it's just so dang exciting! What other season offers visits to the apple orchard, football games, corn mazes, leaf piles, pumpkin carving, haunted houses, trick-or-treating, and Halloween parties? None? That's what I thought. 

So there you have my reasons for loving fall.  See, nothing about Christmas music at all! What'd I tell ya?  How much do you love fall? 

P.S. There was not a word about pumpkin spice lattes in there, just for the record. 

I TOLD YOU YOU'D LIKE HER! Thanks, Allison!  Be sure to hop over to her blog, Something Beautiful,  and stalk all her posts and just generally enjoy being in her blog space.  

See ya tomorrow!


Friday, October 17, 2014

The Petsmart Police // Fish Tales

Sometimes in life, you just need something to live for; something to keep you going and to make you excited to jump out of bed every morning.  For the last few weeks, the prospect of getting to have a pet fish to keep at school has been that something for me, and I'm only exaggerating a little.  From the day that my physics teacher threw out the idea,  I've been thinking about the kind of fish I want (the big cheek kind) and carefully choosing a name (Darnell).

  I patiently waited while my teacher found a tank, fixed a crack in it, let it "cure" (which I'm pretty sure was just some kind of test, because I swear that thing cured for weeks), and did the many, many other things that have to happen in order to turn a glass box into a home for fishes.   Many, many, many things.  You don't even know.

So, after weeks of waiting, the tank was finally ready and I had a free evening to head to Petsmart and pick up my new big-cheeked fish, AKA Darnell AKA my new best friend.  I had plans to meet a friend there for a regular fish buying partay, because such a momentous occasion shouldn't be experienced alone.  I was headed out the door, keys in hand, when I received a text. 

 "Ok . . . I have bad news, none of the fish have big cheeks." 

Usually, "None of the fish have big cheeks," wouldn't be incredibly devastating . . . except it was.  I had my heart set on big cheeked Darnell AND HE WASN'T THERE.  So I sat down in the doorway and bawled my eyes out in self-pity and refused to go to Petsmart.  Okay, actually we were eating dinner so we agreed to try again the next day and I stayed home and drowned my misery in garlicky chicken noodle vegetable stuff, which worked pretty well.  

Fast forward 24 hours to the second attempt.  We both made it to Petsmart without any break downs, (okay, that was only really an accomplishment for me) and I got right down to the business of picking out Darnell.  There weren't any huge cheek fish, but I was kind of expecting that so it didn't set me back too far.  I'm assuming that you don't really want to hear about the whole fish-picking process, so I'll just tell you that it's harder than you think because apparently some fish are jerks and like to eat their tank mates, so you can't buy them no matter how pretty they are.  I mean, you don't want all of the other fish owners to hate you.  The bottom line is that I settled on a super cool clear fish and started calling it Darnell and bonding with it.  That was my mistake. 

I had my fish all picked out and couldn't be happier, so we went and found the fish lady and asked her to please scoop Darnell out of his fish prison and send him on his way to a much happier life.  That's when the real trouble started.  The fish lady apparently wasn't parting with Darnell without a fight, because she proceeded to interrogate us.

"How big is the tank?"

"Does it have water in it?"

"Are there any other fish in there?"

"Are you ready to become a fish parent?"

"Have you ever been to jail?"

And I mean I haven't ever even been to jail, but that woman would. not. let. me. buy. THE FISH.  I was all "Can I have that super cool clear one named Darnell down at the end there?" and she was all, "NO because I don't trust you and 10 gallons of water is obviously not big enough for more than one fish are you crazy?"  At which point my memory started to become more clear and I recalled that the tank miiiiight be 20 gallons instead of 10 . . . or were there actually two tanks instead of one?  No matter what I told her, fish lady held her ground.  I mean, Darnell must have been her favorite fish out of the 500+ that she was responsible for, because she was not letting me have him.  And so we bought this buggy eyed black goldfish and I didn't get Darnell and we left.  You guys, it was so disappointing, and now all I can do about it is sit here fishless and pour my heart out.  And also warn you all to never, ever, EVER try to buy a fish from Petsmart.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Things Boys Do // Can We Not (thursday thursday thursday)

It's Thurssday, Thursssssday, gonna get down on Thursday!  And with that, my last blog post ever is concluded, because I'm a Youtube sensation now and I'm on to bigger and better things.   Jk, and also jk about it being Thursday, because I wrote this on Thursday but it'sclearly not Thursday anymore.   But, if we pretend that it is Thursday, that would make it time for some #canwenots, right?  Right.  Today's #canwenots are focused on the male half of the population because, well. . . let's just say that there was one too many farting incidents on Monday and I'm taking it out on my blog.  Guys, just a few things that I could live without.

Thinking farting is hilarious.  I have news for you: it's gross.  It smells bad.  It sounds bad.  And, even if it were not remotely repulsive, it definitely would still not warrant 20-minute laughing fits.  #canwenot

Asking girls if they are sick/tired.  I mean, if I really was sick or tired, I'd probably be really touched that you cared enough to ask.  However, I'm usually not.  Most of the time, I'm just unpretty and don't want to be reminded of it.  Gentlemen, it's probably safer to just not ask. #canwenot

Taking up the whole entire bathroom (looking at you, Dad and Jonah.)  I mean, what are you even doing in there?  I could probably do your hair with my eyes closed, so you should definitely be able to take care of that somewhere other than the bathroom.  The nerve.  #canwenot

Eating all of the food.  My brother has recently become a teenager, and I've since learned that teenage boys can eat an inordinate amount of food.  I mean, I feel like we could feed myself and five friends with the food that my brother eats by himself.  Speaking of which, why does he not weigh three hundred pounds?  I love my brother and I don't want him to be obese, but he deserves to be fat and he's not and it isn't fair.  #canwenot

Touching everything.  Hitting ponytails and taking my stuff and sticking tape to my sweaterm. Mine.  Guys, it's really not cute anymore, if it ever was.  (Disclaimer: Zac Efron, you may tape my sweater any day.)  Hugging waayyyyy more aggressively than is necessary (coughcoughJonahandDadcoughcough.)  And, evil of all evils, tickling.  Being tickled makes me feel like I'm dying or being tortured and so I don't really like it, surprisingly enough. #canwenot

To avoid alienating every male that ever happens across this space (although, let's be honest, how many guys read blogs?) and because I don't feel like I've been completely fair, let's talk about the stuff that boys/men do that are extremely helpful.

Bug killing.  Any girl who is a strong, independent woman who don't need no man: 1) you go! 2) but you probably wouldn't mind having someone to kill a bug every once in a while, right?  Especially those disgusting, purely evul things with 4839583 LONG legs that have been known to fall out of the ceiling.  I don't know about you, but I'm not dying to deal with that all by myself.  #guysftw

Reaching stuff that's just a leeeettle too high.  I'm not short, but when my waterbottle is on a ledge that's way out of range, I can usually count on a guy being tall enough to help me out. (Even if it's the same guy who put it up there in the first place - see the #canwenots!) #guysftw

Laughing at things that aren't even funny.  (As long as it's not farting, because yuuucccck.) Yes, please do laugh at my terrible knock knock joke or even something I say that wasn't necessarily supposed to be funny.  Either way, it'll make it easier for me to pretend that I'm a comedic genius, and that's always cool.  #guysftw

Doing things that most girls would never, ever, not in a million years, do.  I don't really want to jump off a building or spray tan myself orange when I lose a bet,  but watching someone else do it is almost as good.  #guysftw

This is normally a link up, but I'm not on top of things sooooo . . it isn't.  Next Thursday, thought, it'll be here!  Write up your own list of #canwenots and bring it here!


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

When Little Things Get Too Big // College Visiting

Hey, everyone!  It's Tuesday, and I'm enjoying yet another day of long weekend so I'm not anywhere near complaining.  Like any chronic procrastinator, ahem, I mean responsible high school senior, I'm spending my two extra non-school days (thank you, teacher conferences) walking around college campuses, eating their food and filling my purse with their free stuff and otherwise doing highly revealing evaluative research in an attempt to try and figure out what I'm going to do with my life in the next year.  I must say that the whole college search is going pretty well; I'm no longer fighting change tooth and nail, threatening to live at home forever or get married as soon as I graduate while refusing to fill out college applications.  Go ahead, congratulate me.  I'm also offering classes on how to be a stellar prospective college student for a small fee because, hello, student loans.  

Anyway, as I followed our tour guide around the pretty campus of Saginaw Valley State University yesterday, I started to get really, really excited.  (Note: For you aspiring college campus tour guides, please don't walk backwards the whole time.  It gives guidees the feeling that they're constantly backing you into a corner and also inflicts so many mini heart attacks as the guide almost runs into people / trees / trash cans / buildings.)
Look at it!  I didn't take this; it's from here: 

Pretty soon, all I could think about was the fitness center and the Starbucks and the brand new indoor track and the free home football games and the thousands of new people and the really interesting classes and all of the other glittering facets of college life.  I could picture myself sitting and eating dinner with my friends and buying coral and mint decor for my tiny dorm, maybe applying for the honors college or getting involved in campus ministry or club sports.  Also, did you know that the boys in college are more attractive than the ones in high school? Go figure!

As exciting as life is right now, full of novelty and branching with roads untraveled, it's also so confusing.  Choosing between college and taking a gap year to do mission work in Africa is hard enough, let alone trying to get my heart and mind to settle on one particular school and - gulp - a major.  It's times times like these, when my vision is clouded my a kaleidoscope of all that seems bright and beautiful, that I'm so thankful for the absolute clarity that comes from God.  Take this, for example:

"You, God, are my God, 
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for You, 
my whole being 
longs for you,
in a dry and parched
where there is no water.

I have seen you in the 
and beheld your
power and your glory.

Because your love 
is better than life,
my lips will glorify

I will praise you as
 long as I live, 
and in your name I 
will lift up my hands.

I will be fully satisfied
as with the richest 
with singing lips my
mouth will praise you.  

Because you are my help, 
I sing in the shadow
 of your wings.

I cling to you;
your right hand 
upholds me. "

The way I see it, these words are a verbal blueprint for how life's supposed to be, and I don't know about you, but that's really comforting.  I don't know right now whether I'll end up sleeping in a tent in Africa or playing a sport at a small private school or going to a huge state university and pursuing a PhD, and those possibilities would be so stressful if I didn't have an anchor in the words of that Psalm.  Regardless of which path I take, I already know that I have a love that can make my life more meaningful than any college experience.  I know for sure that I'm made to praise God with myself, and if that's all I know, I'm good, you know?  I just thought that was so cool, and I had to share! 


Monday, October 13, 2014

How to Get VIP Access at the Apple Orchard // Photo Journal

Happy Monday! I hope you're spending it in a big, comfy chair with a book and a big cup of something hot and delicious, maybe with a cat on your lap. Oh, and also your laptop / tablet / phone so that you can catch up on blog-reading, because what else are long weekends for?
We spent a day of ours at the apple orchard, where we spent an hour waiting in line to spend 10 minutes picking apples.  We are really efficient apple pickers.  The best way to get backstage apple access, though? Talk to the owner!  Mom ran into him while she was buying doughnuts and asked him if there was any way we could avoid the line that was waiting, probably for eternity, to get into one of the tractors and be hauled out to the apple picking. 

"You're not supposed to," he said. And proceeded to direct her to the path that would take us to the apples by foot and away from the world's longest wait.  Line jumping for the win!


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How to Take Painless, Beautiful Homecoming Photos // Photo Journal

Hello?  Anyone there?  Like, oh, I don't know, the blogger who is supposed to be responsible for posting words here five days a week?   I don't know what you might have heard, but I am not dead, sick and about to become dead, or even without internet access.  You were worried, I know.  Let's just blame my little hiatus on homecoming week and not get to exasperated with me for it, okay?   Life got a little full of hallway decorating and football game attending, and then Saturday I obviously had to spend the entire day getting ready for homecoming: nails, hair, make up, Pinterest, chocolate . . . it's all part of the process!

Actually, I didn't really care that much about what I looked like at the dance as much as I did pictures.  Those pictures are going to be around forever and ever, and darn it if I wasn't going to do my part to make them perfect!  I called on a few Youtube tutorials for a makeover, had a friend over to do my hair, and spent the morning painting, removing, and retouching nail polish.  I tried on my dress fourteen times.  Pictures were bound to be, well, picture perfect, right? I kind of think so.  Since I'm kind of a pro at pictures now, without further ado (drumroll, please) my guide to on how to take painless, beautiful homecoming pictures.

Start things off right by arriving to pictures with gum in your mouth.  That way, you can have lots of pictures with an I'm-sticking-my-gum-to-the-roof-of-my-mouth face.


The key to a gorgeous pictures is a natural, relaxed smile.  You can accomplish this look by either by actually falling asleep for maximum relaxation (left) or casually laughing with a friend while having absolutely no idea that your picture is being taken (right).

A few candid shots always make a nice addition, and pictures taken while you're speaking flatter just about everyone.

Posture is everything.  Options range from the skinny arm pose (left) to the squatting / preparing to throw leaves pose.  

 Make sure you like your date.  If you don't, it will definitely show up in the pictures.  Fortunately, my date was pretty fantastic.

(I didn't really go with my little sister.  We're not allowed to bring anyone who isn't at least in high school.)

Be an original!  Everyone else is looking to the center as requested? Look to the outside.  It's that easy.

Bring props.  Prep a serious face for some seriously good photo ops. 

On the other hand, if you're not a serious-picture person, admit defeat and embrace it.

At the very least, try to take some cool jumping pictures.  I, for one, love a good jumping photo, and they're really fun to take!

When you succeed, make sure to be as immodest as humanly possible.  In front of all of your friends' parents who show up to take photos.  And their grandparents, it they chose to bring those.  And their brothers' girlfriends.  And all of the people who happened to be walking through the park.

Just know that jumping photos are risky.

If you're someone who has a short attention span, bring along a friend who also has a short attention span as well as a form of entertainment.

Okay, I promise that not all of my pictures involved me with gum on the roof of my mouth or avoiding taking pictures with my actual date my little sister.  They actually turned out really, really well (don't act so surprised; I'm obviously a professional with a bright future in the modeling arts) and homecoming was a blast!  It was definitely the perfect last homecoming of my high school career.  Um, now please excuse me while I go cry about that for the seventeenth time.


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