January 30, 2011

a bit of a mishmash

Sometimes I just want to ramble on a bit or have things I have to say that can't be fit cohesively into a post. So this post will be a bit of -- okay, pretty much completely -- a mishmash.

[ 1 ] a little about Samuel

Thank you all for praying for Sam! He and my mom came home from the hospital on Thursday night. He's doing better so far, though his body isn't absorbing nutrients like it should. You can read more about him (and other things) on my mom's blog.

[ 2 ] photography vs. graphic / web design

I'm sure most of you know that I do a bit of graphic/web design. And I know that all of you know that I absolutely love photography.
littleturtleMore than that, I've begun to see that the Lord planted this passion for photography in my heart and has been carefully tending it. And now I'm beginning to see the first-fruits of the flower buds blossoming.
gracieI've been shifting more and more lately from a graphic/web designer future and back into the arts -- writing, photography, and music. While designing will (probably) always be a hobby, I cannot see it as a career choice, and do not want it ever to become so.
lemonadeThat being said, I am so excited about photography lately and have been so inspired. I can't even describe how much I love photography -- that feeling when I see a moment or a small detail is indescribable. I love it. So grateful.
caleb man
I'm a photographer, friends. And a writer. And a singer.
You can call me an artist. :)

[ 3 ] So in love.

I am so in love with my Savior. The message at church today and the worship service was incredible. I am so blessed to be saved by grace. How cool is it that we can say that? And (one of my favorite verses) Since we have such a hope, we are very BOLD. (2nd Corinthians 3:12) I haven't read my bible for a few days, because, like I mentioned before, it was in my purse which was in my mom's car which was at the hospital. I made sure to get up earlier in order to get ready for church as well as to take some time to read through a few chapters and write about/dwell upon a few verses. Let me say that it was like breathing fresh air after living in a cloudy smog. I can't express how much my heart was bursting. And, to end a great day, there was a concert at my church tonight that I am so glad I could go to. Our God is incredible! I am so in love with my Jesus.

That's about it! I'm pretty tired right now and my sister, mom, and I are watching Worst Cooks in America -- one of our favorites! ;)

Much love & many blessings.

PS I almost forget, but I wanted to let you know. I'm going to be featured on Monday on Nicolasa's blog, {My} Perspective, for a fun feature she does called Meet and Greet Monday. Make sure to check it out! :)

January 26, 2011

a few more thoughts

Sometimes I like to write just to recharge and clear my thoughts. It helps me to open up a new word document, turn to a new page, or pull up the ol’ blog post creator and just start writing. It doesn’t even necessarily matter if I end up doing anything with it…I just need to write and sort of get it out. It’s hard to explain. With my post yesterday, I just needed to write. So I sat down and let the words come.

I love looking over what I’ve written sometimes. Old posts make me smile and stories from long ago are like opening up my form of a treasure chest and holding the delightful heirlooms of my childhood to my face. There have been so many little gems that I’ve been finding lately—artwork, writings, and so on. Looking at myself back then makes me smile and it helps me to see how I’ve truly grown and changed. I’m not the little girl I once was, and instead, I’m a young woman growing more and more into my own skin—starting to find out who I am in Christ and really embrace, well, me!

Like I said in my past post, this past week and a half or so have been some of the longest days in my life. I’ve been cleaning and doing laundry and cooking and taking care of kiddos and going to ballet and trying so hard to be a Proverbs 31 daughter (like I referenced before). It’s been so crazy around here with everything going on, that I’ve been having a hard time trying to fit in some school—though I have done some English, science, and writing. I miss the normalcy of everyday life and even the mundane that so quickly became obsolete, at least for the present.

It may sound silly, but I’m grateful for this opportunity to grow—as a cook (I will not say chef—am I not chef caliber, as much as I’d like to be), as a helper, a sister, daughter, and really, as a young woman in Christ. This past week and a half has been long, but I’ve been learning some life lessons along the way.

One of them being, if I’m not a good daughter or sister now, how can I someday expect to be a good wife and mother? If my priorities aren’t straight now, how can I believe that someday they’ll just magically be fixed?

I’m starting to learn that life, even though we may want it to be, isn’t always incredibly beautiful. There’s a lotta grit in this life. Things like dirty diapers and sickness and losing your temper and pain and heartaches. But it’s in those hard times that our true character can really start to emerge. Who are you? What do you do when a crisis comes? Perhaps that’s one of the best ways to adequately judge a person. When hardships come your way, what do you do?

I struggle with getting my priorities straight, and this week has been a real eye-opener for me in regards to how much I’ve grown and how far I still have to keep going. Becoming a better woman in Christ is a never-ending journey, no matter how much I can improve, there will always be a tone that could be sweeter, a heart to be more willing, and a diligent spirit. It’s a process, but just because it’s a process doesn’t mean that I have to give up in the hard times.

In the good and bad times, I will praise Him. And I pray that everyday, my character would become more like Jesus – that my soul would be refined and I would live in the knowledge that in Christ, I am free to soar. In Christ I am forgiven, blessed, saved, loved and redeemed, and I am free to live vividly for my Savior.

Even in the grit, life can be beautiful. It’s those little moments that we often forget in the seemingly mundane or the unspeakably tragic or anywhere between. God’s mercies are new every morning, and each day is a new day. Another chance to fix what’s been broken and another choice to live—for the world or for Jesus. And I’m praying that I would more and more choose to live for my Jesus.

I’ve been blessed by all of your comments and prayers! My mom and Sam are still in the hospital right now, but I know she’s hoping that they’ll know what’s going on by tomorrow, and that they’ll possibly be home then. Please keep praying for him—I know that the Lord is good in all circumstances, but fear in the moment can make it hard. Praying for Him. So grateful for all of you! Thank you for taking a little time out of your day to read some of my words—like I said, sometimes, I just need to get it out. It's freeing to just write.

Praising my Savior today—especially in the midst of the grit.

January 25, 2011

a few thoughts

In the past week or so, I’ve learned a few things. Because of getting sick and then Sam becoming ill and getting hospitalized, life has been anything but the ordinary since January 17th. My mom is still in the hospital with Sam, and will probably be there until Thursday. I'll try to keep you updated. Please pray for him, and thank you all so much for doing so! We've been so blessed by all of you. During this week there have been a few things that have stuck with me...

It’s okay to cry sometimes.

Playing that game with your three-year old brother who desperately needs attention can be more important than getting the dishes done immediately or trying to cram in some literature.

Necessity is the mother of invention. (otherwise known as, even if there’s not much in the house, you can still find a way to make lunch.)

Our family is blessed. People have prayed for us, picked us up, even bought food for us – I’m very in awe of all that the Lord has done for our family and so grateful for everyone who has helped us out.

Getting up early is a must.

Staying in pajamas makes for an unproductive day. I’ve been trying to get everyone dressed in the morning, from Eli to myself. Which leads to…

Wednesday will now be laundry day.

I Love Lucy is everyone’s favorite show.

The Proverbs 31 Woman has been my role-model. I’ve been thinking of myself as a Proverbs 31 Daughter, especially this past week.

Tomorrow I’m going to wake up earlier.

Phone calls from my mom make the day.

Hearing Sam laugh and talk when he hears us talking to him makes my heart happy. And hurt at the same time.

Leaving your bible in your purse, and leaving that in the car that your mom took down to the hospital on Monday morning is not recommended. Even if it’s accidental.

Tack Bread is a favorite, easy treat. Everyone loves the recipe that my sister and I have come up with.

God is good. All the time. And I will praise Him in the storm.

Taking photos is a good way to breathe.

Even though I’m helping to “hold the fort down” I have to remember to take a few minutes for me.

I miss my mom.

I miss Sam.

I miss math, believe it or not.

Gluten free food tastes pretty good, especially when it’s practically all that’s left in the house.

Hand-washing dishes makes me appreciate when we had a dishwasher.

A beautiful life doesn't need to be packaged perfectly.

“Holding down the fort” makes me realize how much my mom does and makes me even more grateful for her.

I miss normal weeks.


Times like these make me thankful for my family and help me grasp how much I love them.

January 24, 2011

please pray

sammy boy this morning

Sam has been diagnosed with Celiac Disease.

Right now, he's very sick and my mom is heading back to Childrens.

I know that she's worn out and Sam even more so. It's so hard.

If you could all pray for him, that would be a huge blessing. He's in so much pain right now -- it hurts to see him like that.

thank you so much -- your prayers mean more than I can even say.

thank you for praying.

( my mom or I will be hopefully updating on her blog :: finding joy )

January 22, 2011

Late night thoughts

I’m typing this into Microsoft word, unsure if it will ever make it into a blog post. Right now, I’m just writing for me and I’m liking it. I started blogging because I loved writing, and I’m afraid that somehow by blogging, I’ve lost the joy in writing – for Me, and for Jesus.

Ultimately, I want to write for myself, and I want my words to glorify my Savior. I came across a quote the other day by Leo Buscaglia that goes, “Your talents are God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to God.” Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing – what am I giving to God?

A friend of mine, Hayley, and I talked for a few hours Friday, and I’m so thankful that we got to hang out. She’s in love with Jesus, on fire for Him, and is living her life for Christ. Her faith inspires me and I’m always grateful for the times I get to spend with her – laughing, talking, and sometimes even crying. We were sitting on her floor, munching on some nerds and gobstoppers and waiting for some homemade pizza to be done. And talking. About life, and faith, and everything in between.

One of the things that came up was that quote and we talked about how everything is our Lord’s. Everything that we have belongs to Him. And that’s something that we as humans can have trouble realizing – because it’s hard to completely understand that nothing is our own. Our Savior has given us all we have, but ultimately, it’s His.

The Lord has given her a Servant’s heart (we jokingly laughed, “Start stacking chairs!” as I mentioned that – if you’ve seen Tim Hawkin’s, you’ll know what I’m talking about) and a heart for missions. She told me that she’s been praying for Mission opportunities. And I’ve been inspired by her.

Something that we talked about was how living for Jesus is anything but easy. As my mom says, “Faith is a day by day, moment by moment, sometimes breath by breath decision to look beyond the current reality and to cling to something greater.” It means that in those little, gritty moments of life when you want to do anything but believe because you’re too tired, hurt, or beaten-down, you grip onto the Lord’s hand and don’t let go.

That’s something I struggle with. Faith is not a feeling. Faith has to be a verb. I know that I’ve experienced moments in church, or on youth retreats where I feel so passionately in love with my Savior. But then in those small moments in the everyday, that passion that I feel seems to ebb away and I wonder, where is my faith?

But faith is not a feeling. It’s believing—to the very core of your being—that Jesus is the Lord and that living a life for Him is better than anything else. It’s knowing that no matter what comes your way, Christ is bigger than anything else, and it’s being convicted completely that our Savior has called all of us to a great purpose. Faith is trusting Him even when we fear death, or pain, or sickness, or whatever life throws at us, and it’s loving Him deeply, passionately, and profoundly even when we don’t feel like it. It’s believing God, even when He is silent, and knowing that even though He may be silent, that doesn’t mean that He doesn’t hear us.

Lately, I’ve been realizing that a change has to happen in my relationship with my Savior and me. I told a dear friend of mine, Jess, that I feel too much like a Couch Christian. Where I’m comfortable where I’m at with my walk with God. “Lord, I know you, love you, and believe you. I read my bible sometimes, and pray, and go to church and youth group. I know that there are problems in this world, Jesus, but someone else will come—I’m comfortable where I’m at. I don’t want to move.

But no more. Living a life of mediocrity can only satisfy a person for so long—pretty soon the sour taste of regret, accompanied by the sorrow of knowing you’ve been passive plagues you and you realize that something is wrong. And I know something’s wrong. Too often I’ve pushed aside my bible and instead, turned on my computer. Or grabbed a book. Or watched a show or movie. Or wrote, or blogged, or danced, or sang, and on and on. Not bad things. But harmful because they’ve replaced my life source.

Faith is not funny—it’s serious. It’s hard and painful and sometimes it feels like it’s not worth it. But it is. I cannot stress enough how much faith is worth it. How much Jesus is worth it.

That sentence there makes me cry, because Jesus is so worth it. He is the breath of life and He is the only thing that can truly satisfy my soul. All else can do naught but temporarily fill the hole in my heart that can only be mended by my Savior. Nothing in this life can ever replace the love of Jesus Christ. Repeat the sentence. NOTHING in this life can ever replace the love of Jesus Christ.

Embrace it. Love it. Live it.

He’s worth it. So much more than anything fame, fortune, or renown could offer. So much more than the love of anyone on this earth. So much more than anything in this world. He’s my Savior, the coming King, and the Messiah.

And He loves us.

Knowing that makes me weep.

Much love & many blessings.

{ Thank you to everyone who prayed for Sam. Your prayers mean more to all of us than we can even say. }

January 19, 2011

Asking for prayer

My brother, Samuel, has been almost completely diagnosed with Celiac Disease.

He hasn't been feeling great for months, and finally, when he couldn't walk anymore without falling down, was very lethargic, not eating right, and just not himself, my mom took him in. She called the doctor on Sunday, and they ended up going into the hospital Monday morning. They came home Tuesday evening.

However...our whole family (minus my mom, dad, and Samuel) ended up getting sick (as in, vomiting) from Sunday night till Monday night. I won't go into the details, but everyone got sick twice. I couldn't get off of the couch till late, late Monday night. Everyone's feeling a bit better right now, though understandably shaky and slightly dizzy. Samuel is our main concern.

He might be going into the hospital today, and having surgery tomorrow. We're not sure. If you could all keep him in your prayers, that would be such a huge blessing. I know that if he does have Celiac Disease (which is almost completely positive) that there's going to have to be a huge change in our life, especially with our diet. Samuel can't have gluten. That means if we make a peanut butter sandwich, put the knife in and spread the peanut butter, then put the knife back in the jar once more, he couldn't have that peanut butter because it would have bread crumbs in it, which would have gluten. He can't have rotisserie chicken, because the breading has gluten. And if he does have gluten, he could get very sick, and possibly die.

It's a little freaky, especially thinking about all the food that contains gluten. That's a bit overwhelming. I am so scared for Samuel right now, and I just want him to be okay. It's been a pretty hard past few days. As my mom remarked this morning, "this has been the longest week of my life ever."

If you all could pray for Samuel, and our family, that would be a huge blessing. If you want to read more about it, you can check out my mom's blog. (she's also got a super cute photo of Sam that she snapped in the hospital that will totally melt your heart -- I mean it) Thanks friends.

Much love & many blessings.

January 14, 2011

Organic Bloom Frame Winner!

First of all, I want to say that I'm sorry that the giveaway winner announcement is a bit late. I haven't been feeling well lately and just felt downright awful earlier today. BUT, I'm a bit better now, so that's good. Prayers would be loved and appreciated though. :)

And now, onto the exciting news -- the giveaway winner is...
Karen of Stairstep boys!
Congrats! You've got a gorgeous frame coming to you, Karen...can't wait to hear what kind you choose. Head over to the Organic Bloom website and pick out a style + color and then email me at aspireblog[at]hotmail[dot]com with your info, and I'll send it along to the Sooters.

Thanks to everyone else who entered! And many thanks to the Sooters who generously donated one of their amazing frames. If you haven't liked them on facebook yet, go do so! :)

January 12, 2011


Before & After
Hello friends!
I'm so excited to finally unveil Aspire's new look for 2011. I've worked on it for a bit and couldn't wait any longer to put it up. Of course, I had to keep that blue color that I love, but added some reds and a few light pinks. Some other of the main changes...
  • The font is different (did you notice?) ;) While I looooooved Century Gothic, I've been waiting to switch over to georgia. There's something about serif fonts, but then again, I love sans-serifs as well. Which font is your favorite? And I'm talking about generic ones here. ;)
  • The main-wrapper & sidebar are different sizes. Pretty self-explanatory. Same large posting area, just a bit smaller than before in order to give a larger sidebar.
  • There's a background paper. Another obvious one, but I couldn't resist putting a little background to this blog. Hee hee...I do love the pattern though, and wanted it to be brown with some grays, so I edited it a bit. (it was originally a bright yellow!)

So what do you think friends? I'm excited about the look! Have a redesign for your blog coming up? Let me know -- I'd love to see it. :)

much love & many blessings. ♥

PS Organic Bloom Giveaway ends Friday...you have until 11:59 tomorrow night to enter!

January 9, 2011

my word is...

My one word for 2011 was hard to find

I was getting upset about not being able to find it

so I surrendered my word to God

even if it seems simple

and then one day

I was praying one day after reading my Bible & a devotion book

and suddenly stopped because

while I was praying

one of the words that I said made me immediately go


because it was my word

and I had to laugh, because after I surrendered it

the Lord showed it to me

my word for 2011 is


I want focus on being rooted in Jesus.

always, always, always.
"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." - Colossians 2:6-7

linking up to focus52 and one word.

January 7, 2011

Organic Bloom { Giveaway ! }

Giveaway now closed.

Okay...I'm SUPER excited about this. Especially considering that I know a lot of you LOVE photography. And even if you don't really like taking pictures, I know that you're gonna love this giveaway. You ready? Here it goes. A week or so ago, I received this ginormous package. I mean, huge. Inside was this amazingly lovely object...
my frame from the Organic Bloom

Still trying to figure out which one of my photos to frame...I'm thinking one of my nature shots, or one taken in December. Also...please excuse the fingerprints! :)

graceandmyframeAnd the best part is? You can win one. The Organic Bloom is generously sponsoring this giveaway. They've offered to give the winner any 11x14 style frame, in any color. They only sell wholesale exclusively to professional photographers now, so here's your chance to win a gorgeous, custom made frame from the talented people behind Organic Bloom, the Sooters!

You excited now? I thought so. Want to know how you can win it? Here's how:
Mandatory Entry:
Comment and let me know something (new) that you're going to do this year. Gonna try sushi? Take a ballet class? Cook a gourmet meal from scratch? Skydive? Grow cucumbers and then make pickles? Whatever it is, let me know, and you're automatically entered to win!
Extra Entries ( each entry is +1 ) :
  • Like the Organic Bloom on Facebook
  • Follow Aspire (if you're already following, it already counts -- just let me know!)
  • Tweet, facebook, or blog about this giveaway. (each worth one entry.)

Please leave a separate comment for each entry. The giveaway will be open until the 14th; entries will close on Thursday, January 13th, at 11:59 CST. You have until then to enter away! So what are you waiting for? :)

Good luck and have a lovely week! :)

January 6, 2011

Winner! ( and some rambles... )

The winner of the Aspire Photo Challenge, Beginning to look like Christmas is...

Ambrosia Clark


By Ambrosia Clark. I love the colors to this photo -- so many gorgeous golds and beautiful rich tones. And look at that bokeh! You had me at the bokeh.

Congratulations, Ambrosia! Your photo was beautiful and the colors were absolutely stunning. Send me an email at aspireblog[at]hotmail[dot]com with your mailing info to claim your prize! And thanks to everyone who entered -- looking at all the different pictures was a blast! :)

Now for a few updates and rambles...
  • For the time being, there won't be any more Aspire Photo Challenges. I LOVED having them and was amazed by all of the gorgeous photos that you all entered, and you can still find many other fun photo challenges on other blogs. Maybe I'll throw one in sporadically, but for right now, they're done.
  • I know what my one word is for 2011!

    Want to know what it is? You'll have to wait to find out. Any guesses? :)
  • Giveaway coming tomorrow that I know you'll all love! Stay tuned. I'm so excited about it...:)
  • Just wanted to take a moment to say that I am SO grateful for my camera. I'm so excited for this coming year and am so very thankful for my Canon. I don't want to ever stop being grateful just because I've already received that which I've waited for -- instead, I want my heart to become even more thankful because I've been blessed.

Now it's off to tidy the kitchen, finish the rest of my school (almost done!) and later on, head off to ballet. See you all tomorrow, sweet friends! God bless your day and year abundantly. :)

January 5, 2011

Aspire Photo Challenge winner voteoff!

For the Aspire Photo Challenge, Beginning to look a lot like Christmas, there was a tie between two incredible photos. So today, (and today only), will be a vote-off to determine which one is the winner. Which was your favorite? And why? Which one did you vote for?

The two photos sitting at 132 votes each are...


By Ambrosia Clark. I love the colors to this photo -- so many gorgeous golds and beautiful rich tones. And look at that bokeh! You had me at the bokeh.



By Carlotta. I'm not sure what it is with this photo, but whatever it is, I love it. The colors, simplicity, and amazing clarity. Beautiful!

Voting will close tonight at 11:59 CST and winner will be announced tomorrow. Have fun!

PS And stay tuned...super fun giveaway coming Friday -- I KNOW you'll love it! :)

January 4, 2011

My word is...

I've been reading about one word for a week or so, and have been meaning to put mine up. When I saw it in 2010, I thought, oh, I'm going to do that. I've been praying, looking through my bible, writing lists, thinking of words, searching for my word.

I've seen amazing words that people have put up to focus on this year, words like authentic and breathe. I've always loved words and so I was especially fascinated by this challenge -- chose one word to focus on in 2011. That's it. Sign me up! I'm extremely excited and completely ready...and now, I'm just waiting for my word.
But I haven't found it.

"I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right." - The Book Thief

My mom suggested that maybe I don't have a word. Her words froze me for a second, but I don't think that that's the case. I feel as if my word is waiting for me, hiding somewhere completely simple. Perhaps it's laughing at me and my blindness in seeing it. I have a feeling that it'll be a light bulb moment, where I'll go, "oh!" and there it will be, my 2011 word, waiting.

But until then, I'm going to keep praying. I'm so very excited about this, and I can't wait to find out what word I'll be focused on for 2011.

Which reminds me...what's your word?

Until then --

[ Changes are coming to aspire, friends! Also, a giveaway coming up that you don't want to miss. Stay tuned! :) ]