Thursday, June 20, 2013

Super Summer Stuff!

Over the past few weeks, I have done a lot of writing for my counseling training. Consequently, I haven’t felt like posting on here for a while because it seemed like too much work. I didn’t have any fun ideas of what to write about. But then I was reading my friend’s blog, Got Crackers? They had a post titled: Things We’ve Never Done… But Want To. That reminded me of how much I enjoy making such lists, so I decided to share with you a list I have been forming of things I want to (or wish I could) do this summer. So here ya go!

~ Go to camp (I’m going to Lamoka in 2 and a half weeks!)
~ Go to Darien Lake or Fantasy Island (two amusement parks near-ish us)
~ Visit botanical gardens
~ Spend a day at the zoo
~ Have a picnic
~ Hike at Letchworth State Park
~ Go to Niagara Falls
~ Go whitewater rafting at Letchworth
~ Fully enjoy the county fair in August (normally we only go for a couple hours and don’t get to see or do much)
~ Go horseback riding… and maybe actually go faster than a sloooow walk! :)
~ Go to the Corning Museum of Glass again before I turn 18 and have to pay to get in
~ Have my graduation/18th birthday party! Woo-hoo!
~ Go to parade on July 4th
~ And let's not forget fireworks!

Hopefully I will be able to do at least a few things from this list. And I can wish for the rest. :) What fun adventures do you hope to have this summer?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Recital Reflections

Okay, I think it's time for a normal life post (not that my life is normal... haha). Last Thursday night was a very momentous, fun, and exciting event: my last piano recital. I have taken piano lessons for nine years from an amazing, godly woman in our church, and the Lord has opened up to me an entire new world through music. It's like learning to read: once your know the basics, you can find out anything you want to know through endless books and resources. In the same way, once you know how to read music, you can play anything, and it is so thrilling!

There were thirty students in the recital, and I got to play three times. Once was a solo piece, Fantasie Impromptu by Chopin. I have always dreamed of being able to play it, but didn't imagine I'd be able to play it so soon. In September, when I started learning it, I wanted to give up and play something easier. But Mrs. Briggs gently pushed me on, and sure enough, through many excruciating hours of practice, I learned it!

I also played a duet of Yankee Doodle with my sweet student, Kameran. This is her first year, and I was so proud to see her playing so perfectly in front of so many people!

And, I played a duet with Mrs. Briggs that was a combination of Shout to the Lord, Lord I Lift Your Name on High, and Great is the Lord. It was so glorious to magnify the Lord with music together!

After the recital, we had a celebration at my house with some friends and family. We had a campfire, sang along to the guitar (not me playing... I fail at that! lol), and walked out in the woods in the pitch black of night! I couldn't get any pictures because it was so dark, but it was so much fun. I didn't want it to end! And, my parents blessed me with a dozen beautiful red roses as well.

 I am so thankful for the years of lessons and eighteen recitals to remember over the course of them. And I will NEVER stop learning when it comes to piano!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Natural Beauty Products: Edible Foundation!

I have another easy, inexpensive natural beauty product for you! And the fun part about this one is that you get to actually make it. Today I am going to tell you about my discovery of homemade foundation powder!

I did some Google searching searching and found a variety of ideas, so I combined them to formulate my own recipe. All you need are three common ingredients: Corn starch, cocoa, and cinnamon.

 Some of the recipes I found online required tings like arrowroot powder and French green clay, and granted, using those ingredients would probably make a better product. But who has those things lying around their house? What I love about this recipe is that it's all common ingredients.

Now, I was a dummy and I forgot to wrote down the proportions I used, but I *think* I used 2Tbsp. corn starch, 1/2 tsp. cocoa, and 1/4 tsp. of cinnamon Of course, your skin tone will be different (mine is quite light), so experiment til you get it just right. :) You can start with those proportions and add more of whatever you need to get the right shade. Cinnamon helps give a more rosy tone, and cocoa is good if you are more tanned.

When you mix it together, it helps IMMENSELY to have a sieve to push the ingredients through so that there are no lumps, especially since cocoa and corn starch tend to clump.  If you don't have one, you can press the lumps with a spoon to get them smooth, but it's a lot more work.

And the end result will be a smooth, delicious smelling, super-soft make-up powder! I store mine in a container that used to have sprinkles in it - you can also use pill bottles, baby food jars, tupperware containers, etc.

Before I apply it, I dab my finger in my secret weapon, olive oil, and spread a VERY thin coat of it over my entire face to make the powder stick better. Tapping your brush on the side of the container or the cover before bringing it to your face will help keep excess powder from poofing all over, too. (Firefox is telling me "poofing" isn't a word. Well, I think it is!) Also, I use my finger to dab on extra powder around my eyes or on blemishes so that it's more concentrated in those areas that need more coverage.

Oh, and I should tell you that this powder will only give a very light concealing and evening effect - not like thick, store-bought make-up. So if you're a person who wears a lot of make-up, you probably won't like this. But yeah. I am LOVING it and using it every day! t goes on easily, comes off easily, costs peanuts, smells great, feels great, lets your skin breathe, and best of all, you can feel confident about what you are putting on your body. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Natural Beauty Products: Olive Oil

The past couple of weeks I have been on a quest to find natural alternatives to regular beauty and hygiene products - lotion, make-up, shampoo and conditioner, etc. I have not found *everything* I'd like yet, but I have gained some invaluable secrets that I am thrilled to share with you!

But first, there's the why. There are two main reasons I've been hunting down these homemade concoctions: health and cost. Regular hygiene and beauty products are loaded with a staggering amount of chemicals. Remember, your skin is the largest organ of your body - ideally, we shouldn't put anything on our skin that we couldn't eat, because it is absorbed into our bodies. Here's a good rule of thumb: if you can't pronounce an ingredient, it's probably not good for you. And the more of those ingredients, the bigger the problem. Now, I am not an only-organic/all-natural kind of person, but I am learning that these things are important, and I want to do the best I can. For example, did you know that parabens have been linked to breast cancer? And sodium benzoate has been linked to skin cancer. And those are just a couple of examples. These things are in a lot of products! I don't know about you, but that freaks me out! And the second reason: cost. If you want to get products that actually work, you'll have to fork over a pretty hefty chunk of cash, even just for the better brands at an ordinary department store. Could there be a simple-to-make, inexpensive alternative? I'm on the quest to find out!

Alright, so, here is the first awesome secret I have for you: (drum roll...) olive oil! I have found this to be a universal wonder-product. Folks, get yourselves a bottle of cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil. It's liquid gold. And, though it is somewhat expensive, a little goes a loooong ways, so in the end, you'll spend less.

 Here are the uses I've found for it:

1) Lotion
Rub it into your skin and let it soak in until it's totally dried. Your skin will be sooo soft! Tip: only put it on when you can be sure you have plenty of time before touching fabric (i.e. going to bed, sitting on the couch), since it will make oil stains. Oh, and also, it only takes less than half a teaspoon to coat your face, so don't get too much or it will drip and make a mess! Just dip a couple of fingers in and spread it on.
2) Face wash
 Oh yes, you heard me! Now don't close the window yet, I know what you're thinking: "No, I already have oily skin and acne. That won't work for me."
Well, news for you: so do I, and it worked for me! Believe it or not, adding the right kind of oil to your skin keeps your skins from trying to produce its own from the inside, which clogs up the pores. And, olive oil is anti-bacterial so it actually cleans and heals infected pores. My skin has cleared up and looked much more even toned since I've used it! Healthy skin is beautiful skin. Tip: Be sure to put on a head band to assure that it doesn't get in your hair, lest you look like a grimy grease ball who hasn't bathed in a week!

So there is my favorite secret so far - hope you all enjoy it!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

It's Been Too Long!

Okay, so once again, I have neglected posting. Sorry y'all, but, when life gets busy, internet is not exactly my top priority! It's been another crazy month. I keep wondering when life is going to settle down, but it looks like it just keep getting busier!

What I've been doing:
     ~Reading The Christian Counselor's Manual by Jay Adams and gaining invaluable insights about bringing people to hope and change through God's Word,
     ~Continuing to read Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem (hoping to finish it by Christmas),     
     ~Preparing to play the epic song "Fantasie Impromptu" next month in my piano recital,
     ~Visiting my brothers and friends in Kentucky and enjoying Christian fellowship, lots of laughs and good talks, and helping my brother and his fiance prepare for their wedding
     ~Having six girls over for a Bible study/sleepover and doing WAY too much giggling and game playing ;)
     ~TRYING to finish my high school subjects - Spanish 3, History, Literature
     ~Staying busy with about a hundred and one other misc things that come up in life!

What I've been learning:
     ~Our pastor is teaching about Esther on Sundays and I'm learning about Esther's wisdom, courage, and faith in God. She used her winsome ways not to charm and manipulate, but to rescue a nation. Also, seeing the contrast between Mordecai's humble faithfulness and Haman's pride and ungratefulness.
     ~Reading in Joshua in my devotions is encouraging me to fight HARD against the "ites" (sin) in my life - even if it takes a long time and isn't a pretty battle, I must let NONE remain,
     ~God is really convicting me about how I treat my family. I am such a "servant" in public, but I'm not a true servant unless I'm willing to serve EVERYONE. Especially my family, since my duty is first to them.
     ~And another big things God's revealing is my critical spirit. Why is it that when I look at something, the first thing I see is what's wrong? I want to see through hopeful - not skeptical - eyes.

What I am excited about:
     ~My brother's wedding in less than 7 weeks!!
     ~The snowbanks in our yard are finally melted and it's warm enough for short sleeves :)
     ~My last recital ever is in 4 weeks. It will be a sad goodbye, but a wonderful finale.
     ~God is not letting go of me and never will. No matter how many times I fail Him, He continues to love, chasten, and sanctify me. He has plans for my life!

So that's my life. Happy Spring, everybody!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Peace in the storm

It's been a busy couple of weeks. Between my counseling course, music lessons/practice, school,, and attempting maintain some sort of a social life, I haven't had much time for blogging. Then, throw influenza into the mix, and life is REALLY overwhelming!

Last Thursday (Valentine's Day) I had three piano lessons - my regular lesson, a lesson I teach, and a practice/lesson with Pastor for Sunday (I'm learning to play off of chord sheets! It's so exciting!!). Friday was full of school, of course, and ended with Bible study, which always one of the highlights of my week. And finally on Saturday I went to chiropractor appointment at eight a.m., then went to counseling class, and had just an hour at home for lunch and a much needed phone conversation with Erik. We were quickly out the door again for a baby shower for one of my closest friends from church (her little girl is due march 29th - yay!), and afterward spent the evening with a friend.Talk about busy! I think all the busyness took a toll on my immune system, because by Monday I was totally incapacitated with the flu. I haven't gotten the flu in a long time, so I had forgotten how awful it is. I was so exhausted I couldn't even watch TV. I could do nothing but lie still, yet I was to achy to sleep. It was especially agonizing for me because I am an on-the-go person who doesn't like to do nothing. For three days I lay in my feverish suffering, and then things started to look up on Thursday. I couldn't go to music lessons yet, but at least I could sit up and do school part of the day. And then by yesterday, I was quite well, and by evening I was able to go to my church's Christian school to watch the girls' basketball teams last home game, and go from there to Bible study. I was blessed with an amazing, long, deep heart-to-heart with Katy, who hosts the Bible study in her home. It was a late night, and I slept until ten this morning. And now finally, after all the chaos, I'm able to catch up on blogging.

So that is my narrative of the past two weeks of my life, for any of my friends who want to know. I also have lots of things on my mind and heart that are either too personal ans weighty or too hard to express. But they are not all burdens; there are also many blessings and exciting lessons filling my heart. God is so good, and he never lets go of me. I'm in awe of that. Life has been somewhat stormy lately, but I have peace in it. Even if I am inadequate, and failing, getting behind in my school, not playing piano in church, and continuing to fail and sin and hurt people daily, HE is sufficient. His grace is sufficient, and His strength is perfect in weakness. I have peace. And I am so blessed!

I love you all; have a blessed sabbath!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Life is Beautiful

My mind is full of thoughts - happy thoughts and random thoughts, mostly.

I'm sitting at my kitchen table with my laptop, and the house is quiet. The sounds I hear are the quiet buzz of my computer, the wind chimes on the front porch twinkling lightly, the chattering of my fingers typing quickly, and the woodstove in the back room.

Mom and Dad are visiting my brothers for the weekend, so Zach and I are on our own. It's very quiet, but so far I don't mind. It's peaceful.

There's snow pouring down outside, and it looks beautiful. I have an intense delight in all of nature - it is so beautiful and refreshing. I can't imagine living in the city, separated from all of God' glorious natural creations! I'd rather be outside than inside any day.

Last night I made chocolate chip brownies that taste incredible.

I have so many good friends - old and new, near and far, kindred spirits and friendly acquaintances, all of whom I am very thankful for. I never cease to be amazed at how blessed I am to have so many wonderful people in my life.

My piano teacher is in India on a missions trip, so I am playing the piano in church for the next month. It's a big stretch and at first I didn't want to do it. I am reading about Moses in my devotions, though, and how he refused to do something that God placed in his lap and really missed out. I don't want to be that way. So, if the Holy Spirit can speak through our mouths, I'm sure he can play through my hands. I'm excited at another opportunity to grow up and accept responsibility!

I love reading and writing and thinking. It seems my desire for these things is insatiable!

I also love people. And I love animals. They are just fabulous.

I think pretty much, I just love life. It's so wonderful! Without Christ, I truly could not enjoy any of these things because they would have no purpose and I would be wracked with fear and despair. But with him at my side, life truly is beautiful.

June 2012

Friday, January 25, 2013

Less of me.

Lately God's been convicting me about how I'm full of me. I guess I knew, in theory, that all human being are prideful and thus I must have some pride issues, but I didn't see how self-focused I really am.

Here's an example: my resolution/goal for 2012 was to basically "discover myself." (Talk about psychology nonsense!) I was shy and insecure, and wanted to stop changing who I was based on who I was with. Well, it's true that we shouldn't fear man's opinion, but the cure is fearing God - not being more confident in ourselves. But my goal was to build SELF-confidence... and sadly, I did just that.

Another example: As of February 2012, the 5 words I wanted to describe me were: godly, beautiful, smart, lovable, and capable. I summed up of the attributes I should have been focusing on in just one spiritual-sounding word, and then listed the ones I was really after...  ones that built my image. Notice I didn't say I wanted to be loving, I wanted to be lovable. It was about me. 

Yeah.... ouch. So, why in the world am I admitting to all my readers how proud I am? Well, for one thing, it's good for me; for another, it helps keep me accountable and transparent with my brothers and sisters in Christ. And as for people reading this who don't really know me... well, maybe you'll leave encouraged somehow. 

So all that to say... I'm so sick of me. I need LESS of me. I need more of Jesus!! I am truly so grieved at how much I love me. And I have some different goals now. My number one goal this year: to make Jesus Christ shine building others up in Him. I want to accomplish that by being a listener, an encourager, a person who sees the inside of people and loves without partiality, and by not talking about and thinking about ME.

The 5 words I want to describe me: humble, loving (God and people), prayerful, servant, and (even though it's not one word) recklessly abandoned to Christ! So friends, encourage me and be the same to me! I'm so far from what I should be, but so encouraged to work towards the goal in the power of the Holy Spirit. He is so faithful!

"He must increase, but I must decrease."
John 3:30

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Grow up!

This morning I went to a meeting at our church's biblical counseling center to begin to pursue becoming a certified IABC biblical counselor. This is something I really didn't expect to find myself doing a year or two ago... I was sure that when high school was done I would marry Prince Charming right away so I could raise my 20 children ASAP, or maybe head to a Bible college and then head off to be a bush-whacking single missionary to uncharted jungles and tribes.

But God had other plans.

For one thing, He showed me that Prince Charming is not just waiting at my door to sweep me off my feet. He (if he does indeed exist for me) is off fighting the Lord's battles and becoming the Lord's man, while the Lord grows me up and teaches me to be a selfless woman who loves and serves the Lord and doesn't expect Prince Charming to be the answer to my problems in life. The Lord is showing me that a relationship isn't his plan yet - He has work for me here and now.

He also showed me that, as a woman, I should be embracing the protection and ministry of the home. I don't need to run off across the country to learn from people I've never met, and then venture alone into the darkness of the world, when I have a godly mother to learn from right here, and a local church that's full of ministry potential and teaching to edify my soul. Single women can fully recognize their role as women, just as much as married ones - the role of helping and serving, under protection and headship. My goal is to honor the authority and wisdom of my parents and serve my family, while I continue to grow spiritually and in every other way. (That's not to say college is wrong - it can be an excellent tool of the Lord! But it shouldn't just be what we default to because it's what everyone does.)

So here I am. When I went to the meeting this morning and learned the requirements of becoming a certified biblical counselor, it was a bit scary. It will demand maturity and commitment. I may have to sacrifice some care-free excursions with friends and some weekend lounging. I will have to work diligently to start something so big while still finishing my primary schooling. But I'm willing. I accept the challenge. It's time to grow up! In America, childhood is excused and continued into the 20's and 30's many times, under the excuse of adolescence. 

But here's what the Bible says: "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways." (1 Cor. 13:11)

So friends, let's rise up. Let's reject the poison of our culture that tells us we have time to waste. No matter how scary it may seem, let's grow up. And lets' follow God's plans for our lives - not our own - as we grow up.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Rising Radiance

When morning gilds the skies, 
my heart awaking cries, 
"May Jesus Christ be praised!"

This past week I've really enjoyed getting back to school. Christmas break was wonderful and restful, and charged me up for the other half of my final year of homeschool. On Sunday, I sat down with mom and planned out a schedule (yes, another one - I love planning!) that works for both of us, and I have really enjoyed it. Each morning I get up at 6:30 and have my morning devotions. Oh, it is incredible to watch the sun rise through the leafless trees, splashing color across the sky! It's like a painting; it doesn't even seem real. It's as though the sky is a colorful piece of translucent stained glass and the sun is behind it, making it glow. And it encourages me, because it brings to mind all the verses in the Bible about the rising sun.

"For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, 
and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering.
 For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts." 
Malachi 1:11

"From the rising of the sun to its setting,
the name of the Lord is to be praised!"
Psalm 113:3

"The Mighty One, God the Lord,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth."
Psalm 50:1-2

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
his mercies never come to an end; 
 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness."
Lamentation 3:22-23

"For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning."
Psalm 30:5

Our sovereign, holy God is reigning, and deserving our praise - let us remember to worship Him with our lives every waking moment. Let's praise Him early - don't wait! Let the rising sun remind you of His attributes and cause your heart to reverence Him. May we be able to say with David,

"I will sing of your strength;
I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning."
Psalm 59:16a

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Resolution Vs. Goal

Last year I made a lot of resolutions. I was so sure that this would be the year that I would become, well, perfect. Part way through the year, though, when I was still doing very well at keeping my resolutions, I realized how petty they were. As if banning movies and facebook would make me a better person! As if meeting my personal standard is what makes me righteous! As if I could ever be good enough through my own actions! As if I could ever be perfect enough to meet even my own requirements, much less God's! I realized that I was setting myself up for failure.

So I made a new resolution. No, actually two.
1) Nullify all previous resolutions.
2) Never make another resolution.

Now you're saying "What is wrong with her? She's flown to the opposite extreme!" But really, I'm not. Bear with me. I'm definitely NOT saying that we shouldn't set goals to try and meet. Without goals to strive toward, we don't make progress. But there's a difference between a resolution and a goal. With a resolution, you either succeed or fail. There's no in between. Even if you almost succeed, it's no good - you still failed. With a goal, you work toward achieving a desired result. And, no matter, how slowly you achieve it, how many times you mess up and start again, or how far from perfect you are, it's still worth doing!

For example, one of my goals this year is to memorize the Westminster Shorter Catechism. If it's a resolution, it's only worth doing if I memorize it all. But as a goal, it will be valuable even if I only memorize a quarter of it.

I believe this is a biblical concept. It's in line with the biblical model of progressive sanctification, in which we never "arrive" but we are always moving forward. No matter how many times we sin, it's still worth it to strive for righteousness! And, Ecclesiastes 5 warns us against making resolutions we can't keep.

So friends, let's be careful not to make rash vows this year. Only God can make a promise and be sure to keep it! We're not perfect. We simply cannot guarantee to anyone, even ourselves, that we will certainly do or not do anything. Rather, let us make goals, and move on to godliness!