Friday, May 29, 2015

Faithful Friday: Times of Stress

Do you ever just come into a phase of life- whether it is a year
or a month- where you feel a little hopeless and just stressed beyond
what you think you can handle?

I have just come into one of those times, and it has to do with school
and my studies.  I have a lot to face this entire summer and I think after taking
so many hours this semester that just passed, I am just so hungry for a break.
I feel like I am back in high school again with the intensity of everything
coming up all at once and testing and different things.

I feel so stressed... And these past few days, I have felt a little
defeated as I look ahead at what my summer will be like for the
most part.  But the one thing that keeps me grounded through things
 like this, right now, when I am feeling so mentally tired...

is seeking God and looking to him for strength.

•           •          •

I found several verses that have calmed my heart
 that I thought I would share for any of you who 
may be going through something that causes
you stress, maybe something that you are going through right now.
These helped me heart and my mind so much and reminded me
that when I am weak and tired, God isn't- he is always strong and is
the provider of strength, bringing the truth to me that the
blessings he allows into my life far surpass the stresses I feel.

I hope they can help you, too, and remind you what I need reminding
of this week and will continue to need this summer and after... that the Lord
is my shelter when I am weary.

"Trust in Him at all times; pour your hearts out to Him, for God
is our refuge."
Psalm 62:8

"And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to
his span of life?"
Matthew 6:27

"When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought
me joy."
Psalm 94:14

"Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything in prayer and
supplication with thanksgiving let your request be known to God.
And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you
rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and
lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
Matthew 11:28-29

"Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you."
1 Peter 5:7

As I think of these verses and read them with thankfulness and
amazement at God's care for each of our individual worries and stresses and
situations, I am not only comforted and put more at peace, but I am
humbled... to look at my situation with a perspective that is more pleasing
to God and less stressful to me- one that reminds me that the here and now
and whatever is causing me stress or worry right now is not forever, neither
is it as serious as the trials and tribulations that others are going through.
It encourages me and strengthens me, making me want
to lessen my anxiety about the future and what stress I feel by diverting
my energy and focus from my worries to instead 1) thinking of how blessed
I am in countless ways and how those blessings are greater than
my stress, and 2) praying for peace and relief for those who
are dealing with great heartache themselves.

A final thought I leave you with is something that recently saw that is
 stilling the waters of anxiousness inside me, words that ring so true
 and meaningful...

"Anxiety happens when you think you have
to figure everything out.  Turn to God.
He has a plan."

Wishing you the peace of God in your heart
to replace any stress or worry in your life.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Faithful Friday: Laura Ingalls Wilder's Scripture Guide

Happy weekend!

I hope your week was wonderful.  It seemed to fly to me.
It is funny how, even though I am out of school right now, I would think that
the weeks and weekends would all mesh together, but I still get excited
when the weekend comes because something just still feels
different about it.

Maybe I should start calling "Faithful Fridays", "Faithful Saturdays",
because I think that I tend to get my thoughts out and posted
on Saturdays more often than on Friday ;)  But I have something
I found this week that I am excited to share...
I found this photograph that someone took, likely at the museum honoring
Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family at her childhood or later life home.

I cannot tell you how inspiring and meaningful it is to me to
have found this...
Laura Ingalls Wilder is my favorite author.  She is an inspiration to me
in my writing aspirations, my life and the kind of pure and wholesome
life I pray I can live, and in my faith because of her own great faith
that her parents raised her with that she held close all her days.
I am thrilled and thankful to be able to read what
verses were important to her that got her through trials, a scripture
guide for her life that she wrote herself. Wow.

I found myself looking up the specific verses to see what influence
and beauty they left her with as she faced different things,
imagining what depth and meaning each one listed on her list must
have had to her.  As I started, I thought that this would
be something amazing to get to share, a guide that we can utilize
in our own struggles and our own lives.

Here are some from Laura's guide that especially
impacted me.

"When very weary"...
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn
from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest
in your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Matthew 11: 28-30

"Lonely or fearful"...
The Lord is my light and my
Salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord
is my stronghold in my life; of 
whom shall I be afraid?
When evildoers assail me to eat up my
flesh, my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me, my
heart shall not fear; though war rise
against me, yet I will be confident.
One thing I have asked of the Lord
that I will seek after: that I may dwell
in the house of the Lord all 
the days of my life, to gaze upon the
beauty of the Lord and the inquire in
his temple.
For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble; he will conceal me
under the cover of his tent; he will lift
me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with
shouts of joy; I will sing and make
melody to the Lord.
Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; be
gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, 'Seek my face.'
My heart says to you, 'Your face, Lord,
I do seek.'  Hide not your face from
me.  Turn not your servant away in anger,
oh you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God
my salvation!
For my father and my mother have
forsaken me, but the Lord will take
me in.  Teach me your way, O Lord, and
lead me on a level path because of
my enemies.
Give me not up to the will of my
adversaries; for false witnesses have
risen against me, and they breathe out
I believe that I shall look upon the 
goodness of the Lord in the land of
the living!
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let
your heart take courage; wait for
the Lord!
Psalm 27

"For inward peace"...
Let not your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God;
believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many rooms.  If it
were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and 
will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
John 14 excerpt {verse 1-3}

I hope that you have a wonderful
holiday weekend!


Thursday, May 21, 2015

From the Heart, Handmade Graduation Gift

Last week, I had the pleasure of going to my 
longtime friend's graduation.

I had looked for a gift for her at the store, but I could not find anything that I
thought suited her or was right for her or for this moment in her life... nothing
that communicated what I wanted to communicate through a gift.

So, I went to the craft store and picked up a few things and did what I love
to do with a passion- look through things and excitedly get ideas about what I could
do with this or that.  
I ended up deciding to make a gift for her that she could put 
in her new apartment when she moves to get her first job or that she
could use for her desk, and I was excited- when I realized what
I wanted to make- to create something that had meaning to her.

I came home with a frame, some pretty specialty scrapbook
paper, and used some things I already had, including stamps.
I have been getting into stamping and love it☺

The day I sat down to make her gift, it was the coziest, loveliest day
for crafting- a rainy, overcast, sweatshirt and cup of hot-chocolate kind
of day... Even in May :)

The items I used:
Picture frame
Black Ink Pad
Lettering Stamps
Gold Nail Polish
Sewing Pin (for dabbing gold polish)
Newsprint/vintage scrapbook paper

The first thing I did was measure where on my paper
I needed the main focus to be, which was this beautiful
elephant.  This was the first meaningful part of the gift...
using my friend's favorite animal as a part of it.
I then cut the scrapbook sheet to be the size of a sheet of computer
paper so that it would fit in the printer, and I printed out this image
of the elephant in the bottom left corner.
Next, I took the frame paper that came inside it and used it
to trace what area I wanted to cut from the scrapbook paper,
doing so so that my elephant would be right at the bottom left corner
and there would be sufficient room to do stamping above.

After cutting out the paper to the right size, 
I took my "tester" sheet that I had printed an elephant on already
and used it as a model so that I could map out my letters that I
needed to stamp prior to doing so... I wanted to do this because I
knew that there was no going back if I ran out of room!

After the words were finished and I was done stamping,
I added some color and shine by taking a bottle of gold nail polish
and using the polish to dot around the letters.
I poured a little bit of polish out, took a sewing pin, and used the head
of it to dip into the gold and dot the paper all over.
I did sort of a fade effect with it by dotting heavily and close
together at the bottom and slowly getting fewer and farther between the
dots as I got closer to the top.

After adding that last touch, it was finished.
Choosing an Irish Blessing to wish her on her way with this
new phase of life is the second part of significance because she,
like me, has Irish heritage and loves all things Irish and Celtic.
And the third meaningful aspect of this was simply the paper... Her major
 was journalism, so I thought that newsprint style paper as the background
 would be fitting.

The last thing to was to write her a card, which I think is my favorite
part of giving gifts to anyone.
And while doing that, I had my helper with me.
She is always nearby when I'm working on something.
She usually sits in my lap and takes a nap when we are in there, haha.
...But every once in a while, of course, she likes to get up and stretch
and investigate whatever I am doing.

Completely finished and in the frame, ready to go with me to
the graduation!

During the internship/field work that I finished this semester,
I was dressing up almost everyday, and since I have been done,
I have missed that a little.  So, it was nice to get a little dressed up to
go to the graduation.
I got to wear my new dress.  I am still figuring out the belting of it ;)
I realized as I put it on before leaving that it had no belt loops
and this is the only thin belt I had, but it worked and stayed put.

Heading out with the gift!

There is no feeling like putting heart and meaning into a gift
and making it by hand to give to someone.

"It is more blessed to give than to receive." 
 -Acts 20:35

I had so much fun putting together her gift, and it was great to be able
 to go to her graduation and support her.  I'm really glad I 
was able to make it.

•          •         •

I am so happy to be linking this post to my dear friend Stephanie's
20th Roses of Inspiration Link-Up on her always uplifting,
beautiful blog, The Enchanting Rose.
Visit her and the wonderful ladies who have joined in on the
link-up by clicking HERE.
And my heart and prayers are with Stephanie as she and her
family deal with loss at this time.  I know God is comforting
 their hearts.  Stephanie's Grandpa passed away this week.  
If you visit her blog, I'm sure it would be a blessing to her if you left 
your condolences and loving words♥

I hope y'all are having a blessed week!!

Hugs and blessings!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Faithful Friday: PRAY Acronym

This is something I saw recently and wanted to share, because
no matter how many times I hear someone say or read someone's words
that say to believe God hears our prayers and to yield to what His
answers are, that is still hard for me sometimes.

Prayer is a driving force for hope and faith in my life and I know it always
will be.  It connects my heart to God like nothing else could and I am
still in awe of how we are given the grand privilege of talking to God.
But sometimes, when you face extreme trials and things
that are just giving you trouble in your heart and mind to the point where
you feel hopeless, it can become easy to feel like God isn't listening or
isn't there.  If you are stuck in the same situation and it feels like it isn't
getting better, it may be our tendency to feel that way.

Seeing this, though, was a beautiful reminder to me in the
prolific ways that God works and that He is working in our lives in manners
that we may not always be able to feel or see at work... but that doesn't 
mean we are alone or He hasn't heard us.
I am inspired by this acronym for prayer because it is such a
meaningful reminder to me- pouring out my heart to God comes easily to me,
but always believing He is working on my prayer concerns and on
the situation of another person I am praying for does not always.

As lovers of the Lord, we must believe!

Always.  Not just when things are going right and we see
 that God is working in our favor, but even when it seems like
He is not.  We have to keep believing.

And there have been countless times in my faith and my life
where, just when I felt lost and hopeless because things weren't changing
or my prayers felt unanswered, then and there I saw them answered.

Having faith also means having patience and
to never quit believing.

I'm thankful for this reminder...
It may seem like a given, but it challenges my heart
to truly live out what I believe in, to believe with ALL of my heart
and not just when it's easy.
And when we are answered, may we walk according to what God
is telling us, even when it is hard and we are driven by a desire or
thought-process to go the other way... because when we pray,
it is for God's will, not our wants.

Believe that the Lord hears you, because He does,
and believe that He will answer your prayer in the way that
is best for you, giving you far more than you could have asked for.

What confidence and faith we can have☺
God says this to us, and he cannot lie:

"This is the confidence that we have in Him that if we ask anything
according to Your will, You will hear us."
1 John 5:14

"Therefore, I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask,
believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted 
to you."
Mark 11:24

Blessings to you!!

Have a beautiful weekend!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Summer 2014 Road Trip: Mountain Streams and Heading Home

I hope y'all are having a wonderful week!
I am in disbelief that we are already in the second week
of May!

I am excited to be sharing some photos that make up "Part 3" of
my summer road trip that I last shared about back in, I believe, October.
Time has just gotten away from me with my studies and
family and the seasons flying by and it hit me about January that I 
still needed to share the third part of the photos from my trip!
Since then, I have not had the chance to finish
going through the last set of photos completely until just recently.
So here I am about nine months after we got back
to share the last of the photos.  
I am sorry for taking so long!
But here they are, the last photos from our
summer road trip to Colorado this past July.

If you would like to see what came before these,
you can find Part One of my photos HERE and 
Part Two HERE.

I hope you enjoy!

Oh, Colorado sunsets.
Last time I went to Colorado and came back and shared
photos, I think there were a good amount of sunset photos.
I took way too many again because the sunsets over this range never
cease to amaze me with their vibrance and glow and the
way the mountains become just an ominous silhouette against 
their light.

At the end of our trip, we drove up into the Sangre De Cristo
mountains... it is always so awe-inspiring to get closer and closer
to them after looking at them from afar for awhile.

And as we drove closer on that country road, I admired
the skies above and the prairie grasses that went on endlessly before the
mountains, making me feel like Laura Ingalls in Kansas as I looked out.

Heading out from the road, each time we went somewhere it was always
so fun to see the animals on the ranch at the end of the road.  The little
goats were especially cute.  We actually ran into their owner one day as we
were walking up the road and she said she uses their wool to create cashmere
and knits with it.  I thought that was so neat.

Back to the mountain trip, I enjoyed the scenery and the meadows
in front of the mountains as we made our way to the base of the mountain
that we would be journeying onto.

Tiny- from our view- cattle and those glorious shadows of the clouds on
the mountains that I have come to fall in love with over these
years I have had the privilege to visit Colorado.

And after parking at the bottom, we made our way up,
leaving this behind us.

Nearing the summit...

Hiking in the mountains is always amazing.  I love getting to see the
different species of trees as I look up, especially because they
are so different from anything down here at home.

This mountain creek that felt more like a rushing river because
of its width and how loud it was made the long trek up so worth it.
I could have sat here forever just listening to the wonderful
sounds of it running over every rock and limb.

This was the view on the other side as it ran down the hill into a 
calm stream.

Here are a couple of
of videos I took so you can be transported to this place, too...
even if just through the sounds, because I know that it is appearing
so grainy on here.
(In the first video, the talking at the end is my family.  I think they are
talking about fishing bait, haha.)

Exploring the area around the site on which we day-camped at the top
of the mountain, I found a gorgeous display of countless Colorado Columbines.
What a delicately lovely state flower they have.

Doing some fishing in the stream, we sat on the banks next to this tree
with these vivid blossoms.

And here is the picturesque bridge above the stream.
We stood here to take some family pictures and I spent a good
amount of our time there standing on it and looking down,
listening to the water, as well as admiring the height of the trees
all around us and being amazed at how close they all were.

A group of riders came by on what looked like a guided trail ride.
What an experience that must have been.  The poor horses were so afraid to
go over the bridge, but they eventually got across.

The grandness of the trees in the mountains is just indescribable.
In the South, our trees are huge in their girth where we live, but in the mountains
 it was amazing to stand at the base of these mighty trees and stare up at
their height.

It was such a fun end to the day to roast a few marshmallows at a small
campsite near the stream.

We spent almost all day in the mountains, but I was not ready to leave.
As we made our way down the mountain, we encountered a group of
Amish people who were so nice.  There is an Amish settlement in the
town nearby and we always see them around whenever we visit.
They were headed up when we were headed down and they looked like
they were about to go have a good time camping or just riding the trails.

The beginnings of a storm greeted us at the bottom of the mountain.

Just a few minutes later, it hit full force.

The last photo I took before we headed back was of this wildflower.
I thought it was such a beautiful hue.  I didn't notice until later
when I was zooming in on my camera that, along with it...

I captured this little insect.  His markings are so pretty.
God's handiwork is such a gift to us in being able to see something
so intricate and neat as a little bug or the soft and resplendent petals
of wildflowers like this.

On our last night, we got to eat by the light of this lamp.
I felt more like Laura Ingalls than ever as I sat there and watched the slight
flicker of that antiquated lamp, the cozy feeling of it along with the low, darkening
skies outside.  And then it started raining.  If you have read my blog for even
a short period of time, you know how much I love rain.
It was a lovely evening and supper.

After supper, we went on a walk.
My Aunt, Uncle, and little cousin, who live in Colorado, came up
to see us on our last night.  While the guys stayed at the ranch, we girls,
including my Grandma, and my cousin, went walking up the long road.
The rain had just stopped, but the skies were still looming with the
velvety blue-gray of storms passed.  It was amazing to look out and see
the sun ever so slightly shining behind us in a strange light on the prairie
grasses in contrast to the dark skies ahead and low white clouds
trickling just over the hills.
It looked like twister weather, but at the same time it was a
strangely beautiful, calming sky, and to be so close to those
clouds was surreal.

And this hours after the storm on our way back up the road.
This is my favorite photo I took on the entire trip because of how
heavenly and open and free it feels, taking me back to standing there and
looking out at the Sangre De Cristo range and those amazing 
summer storms.

Heading home!

I have to say that road trippin' ☺ is so different from plane
travel and I love it a thousand times more because every turn of every
corner is an adventure.  There are so many things to see.

To get home, early in our trip we passed through the Texas panhandle
and got to experience being on Route 66!  That was so exciting.
We stopped at this amazing restaurant in Amarillo that was such a fun,
touristy spot, and it had one of the best burgers in all of Texas, in my
The huge bull outside definitely catches your eye and makes this
place, The Big Texan, hard to miss.  So, if you're ever going through Amarillo,
I highly recommend stoppin' in.

Inside, it has an old West, old saloon kind of feel that is so neat.

And most fun of all is the fact that they have a 72 oz. steak challenge
where they have contenders sit at this table on a stage in front of everyone.
It is called the Route 66 72 oz. Steak Challenge!
The challenge is to eat the entire steak in an hour. If 
you don't succeed, you have to pay for it, but if you do you get it 
free and I think you get your name up on their wall of fame.
Which is pretty neat!  I love things like that that are fun and challenges
like this, but as far as this one, I liked watching just fine.  I cannot even
imagine eating that entire steak.  I was having trouble just finishing
my burger as I sat in our booth and watched the one guy who was up
on the stage taking on the challenge.  He did not finish.

And the decor above the stage and the entire restaurant?....
Only in Texas.
I kind of felt like that longhorn skull was a little scary to be
sitting under.  That would not put me at ease if I was trying the steak
challenge, haha ;)

The hotel right across the street from the restaurant was so
interesting and colorful.  I loved everything about The Big Texan.
From the food, to the feel of the entire place, to this hotel across the
street, everything was fun and colorful and just something
so neat to see on vacation.

Next, we made our way to our last major stop before heading to our hotel
for the night...
Palo Duro Canyon.  This was an example of something we've flown over
so many times and never got to see that made me so thankful for the
chance to be traveling on the road.

So breathtaking to look out on.
We are hoping to make a trip back here this year or next to actually
hike through and spend an entire day experiencing what it is like
down in the canyon.
But even from the lookout point where we got to see it briefly,
it was gorgeous.

The last stop before making our way home the next day was our hotel.
I think I will always and forever continue to feel five years old at hotels.  I am
never any less excited when we get to a hotel.  This one was absolutely
The lobby had this seat in the middle that reminded me of an old, classy
hotel I saw in a Doris Day movie once.
And the Koi ponds and waterfalls throughout made it so relaxing
 and lovely, too.

We enjoyed our stay so much.

I am so grateful to have seen the scenery we did and enjoy the glorious
 nature on this vacation!!  The land out West is truly an area of the
 country that leaves you speechless.

I wanted to share one experience I had, though, that was most
memorable for me on this trip.... something that actually was not about
the topographical scenery, but instead the scenery skyward.
The stars.  The stars as they appear when you are out
near the mountains are like no sky of stars I have ever seen anywhere
else.  They are like a dream, like something unreal.  There were
absolutely no lights, no hint or glow of light from cities near
or far- we were literally out in the middle of nowhere, and that
made for the most amazing view of the stars ever.
They were incredibly luminous and made me feel closer to God,
like I could touch heaven and those stars and the sky because 
it was SO clear.

One night while we were there, I decided to go sit outside on
the back deck, which faces the mountains.
There were no outside lights on.  It was just me, the pitch black
night, and, an open prairie of grass stretching for miles ahead of me.
That was scary, in a way, because I had no idea what was out
there in front of me... all I could see was the faintest line of the
tops of the mountain range miles away.
But I went out and sat there by myself for about an hour.
Just looking up.  I have never felt closer to God in my entire life.
It was an experience I will never forget.  I prayed, just talked to
God, dreamed, wondered, and just sat there alone with my thoughts.
And those stars looked down on me.

This was also an emotional time because of my aunt being sick
and this was only about a week before she passed. So, I had a
lot on my heart and mind, and sitting out there was indescribably
beautiful and a blessing to me to get that time.

As long as a I live, my heart will forever be left in that spot
on that night in July, when I sat there, just me and those stars and
the night.  And God.

.            .             .

That was my trip!
I am so delighted to share it with you.

Can you tell I was quite camera-happy on this trip?
Or should I say, on every vacation I take ;)

Blessings and hugs!

Wishing y'all a wonderful day!!


I am so happy to be linking up for the second time
to my dear friend, Stephanie's, beautiful blog link-up,
"Roses of Inspiration".  You can click HERE to visit her lovely
blog and see all of the amazing posts of the ladies participating!

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