Friday, April 24, 2015

Life Lessons From the Calf Pen

You wouldn't think it maybe, but I am pretty sure that some of life's greatest lessons can be learned living on a farm. Its a simple country life...but there are such rich truths that come out in just the everyday nitty gritty of living on a farm + working with animals.

One of my first farm chores as a child was feeding our baby calves with my younger brother. We were just big enough to manage the bottles and I remember such feelings of satisfaction knowing that because of our work, those little calves had full tummies. At the tender ages of seven and six, we had such a sense of accomplishment and achievement knowing that we were doing our part to make this farm run.

In the recent years, I haven't been involved as much with the animals on our farm. But I still love filling in for my brothers occasionally with the calf chores. Last fall I took over for a month so they could spend every possible minute preparing for the national Bible Bee. It was such fun to do again...I loved it. 
It just so happened that over this time we had quite a few new baby calves that were born. For those of you farmers reading this, you know about this!
But for everyone else I will explain. 
Getting a newborn baby calf to latch on to the bottle can be a pretty difficult job. Every calf is different, some more stubborn than others, but most will fight this new thing that is being forced into their little mouths. 
There was one particular morning that I was dealing with an exceptionally stubborn baby calf. Try as I might, I could just not convince this calf to take the bottle. It just wanted nothing to do with me or the bottle. 
Now, I knew it was starving hungry, and that it both needed and wanted the milk. The problem was, it didn't realize that the source for its comfort was in this strange contraption I was trying to force into its mouth.
I took the nipple and squirted some warm milk towards the calf's mouth. The poor little baby about went crazy---jerking its head this way and that, trying to find the source of that delicious nourishment. But every time i would bring the nipple up to its mouth, it would shove away, as if determined to find the milk source on its own.
We had a full-fledged battle, baby calf + I. You would think I would have been the easy winner, but this little calf was fully as stubborn as I was and bent on doing everything BUT what I was trying to make it do---drink that milk!
After quite the little battle, I was the winner and the calf finally latched on and started drinking. 

And this all made me think....
You know, I am such a baby calf sometimes. Sometimes I am just so sure that I know what I need to grow. I am the calf, and God is holding the "bottle" of my life. The bottle is that lesson, or character quality, or that something particular that He knows I need to learn in order to GROW. And the only way for me to grow + get the milk, is to latch on to His bottle! He knows that I need this milk in order to grow in life. He has my best interests at heart + He knows that learning this milk is vital to my spiritual growth.

And me? Oh yes, I am definitely wanting the milk. Absolutely! I want spiritual growth in my life. I want God's blessings + instruction. But too often I don't realize that the milk is coming from the bottle. I am so sure that I can find the source for the milk on my own. Even though He is so gently and surely trying to guide + show me, I resist, wanting to find the "milk" my way. 

And so I shove away, and try to make my own way, my own plan. 
And every single time, I just end up hungry, and frustrated, and unhappy, because my way wasn't best, after all, and His was. All along He was there waiting for me, and I was pushing + shoving trying to run my life how I thought it should be, instead of trusting that even though it didn't make sense, His way was the best choice.
What about you? Can you identify with this? Do you struggle too at times with living life like this baby calf?

Next time you + I are tempted to go with our own agenda, may we will remember this baby calf, and its little story of struggle, and be reminded that God's way is best, after all!


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Casual to Dressy in Denim + Black

This post is a little on a the basic side little sister thought it was a cool idea so I thought I'd give this tip a shot and see what y'all thought of it. =)

You can go from casual to dressy without changing your outfit.
Did you know that? Its a lifesaving idea! Makes your wardrobe so much more versatile. You can wear the same items in all sorts of different situations and they will "work" simply based on how you put them together.

How to do this? Its all about accessories, girls. ALL about accessories. 
You've gotta gotta gotta have them, to make an outfit pop. Don't limit yourself!

Now, I know some of you are thinking, "But I don't wear jewelry! How can I accessorize?" 
Oh, you can. Jewelry is super fun and I love it, but your accessorizing is not limited to it. I have a dear friend who never wears jewelry and yet she is one of the classiest dressers I know. Why? Because she maximizes on other kinds of accessories. 
Belts, scarves, lace camisoles, detailed headbands...the list goes on. 
So here we have the first outfit, which was what I wore for a "lots of work to do, running all over the place, I can't be worrying about my clothes, I HAVE to be comfortable" Saturday. =)
You know, that kind of day when tennis shoes are a must and you need an outfit you don't have to worry about. Stress-free, frill-free, and easy.

It was plain, and simple, and definitely not the classiest outfit I've ever worn. (hehe)
But it worked for my day. And even though it wasn't fancy, I was able to make it look nice by keeping the colors matching.
 (for example, matching the cami, shirt, and leggings, + headband instead of having all three items be different colors)
By adding the headband and a little curl to my hair, I was able to dress up the hairstyle a bit, instead of the traditional "pulled-back-tight" ponytail.
And here is how you turn the outfit to something you could wear out to lunch with friends..without even technically changing clothes.

I swapped out the long leggings for shorter lace ones. The lace on the end definitely added a dressier touch. Then I switched the tennis shoes out for my staple black sandals. The sandals were classy plus the pop of color on my toenails added a little spice.
I left my hair the exact same way it was, but added a skinny black belt + black/silver necklace to the outfit to complete the dressier look.

See how outfit #2 has a totally different feel to it that #1? Both work great in the proper settings. Both are simple + easy.

Happy outfit-planning, ladies!
 I'd love to hear what you do to turn outfits from casual to dressy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Another Roadtrip + Beautiful Wedding

This wedding. This trip. Such special memories. So thankful we were able to experience it.
Even if it did take me half of a year to finally be posting about it!

First of all..the trip. Our friends Hannah + Amanda were the wedding photographers and since we are all from the same general area (within an hour of each other) we got to road trip up together, and stay together at the same hotel. We had a lovely trip. It was pretty short, only about four hours, and I spent quite a bit of it sleeping, believe it or not. =) We stopped for lunch at a sweet little spot about halfway there. (above)

Whilst in that town for lunch anyhow, of course we had to do a little shopping. Of course. Got some fun little deals at a unique boutique next door to the restaurant.
Back to the actual wedding. 
So the lovely bride to be was a very dear friend of my sister + I, and as soon as we got the news of her engagement we knew that this was one wedding we were not going to miss! We were enlisted to do the music for the ceremony, and also do hair + makeup for all of the bridal party ladies.
My sista is AMAZING at makeup. Seriously amazing. I feel so honored to just carry her gear around for her! She did all of the makeup and just knocked it out of the park. 
(confession time: when I want to look beautiful I ask her to do my makeup for me because she is just so good. truth)
Yours truly. My job was running the curling iron/wand, and occasionally helping with styling.
All done + gorgeous!
Alli + I with the four bridesmaids. These ladies were a joy to work with-we had such fun with them!
It was such an honor to do all of the music for the wedding ceremony. We have both played for multiple weddings but haven't had very many opportunities to do all of the music together, just the two of us. We did most of our own arrangements and worked with the bride on selections. 
And with being involved in the wedding anyway, of course we jumped on the opportunity to be part of the car decorating crew. OF COURSE. Most fun ever! Quite a challenge because it was super windy and we kept losing the gallons. But overall it was pretty successful.
So thankful to call these sweet people friends, and be able to be a part of their special day! They have such a beautiful story that God is just continuing to grow, as they now have a precious little one on the way!

Special thanks to Hannah for all of these pictures! Its definitely was a plus to have a friend as the wedding photographer, because then for once I actually had good pictures of us working during a wedding! We usually don't get that.

Also I wanted to mention that we are available (select dates, but we do have a few available!) to do music and/or bridal hair/makeup for weddings, so if you are a bride that is planning your wedding and need someone for these areas, we would be thrilled to talk with you! Feel free to send us an email, at
(remember to head on over and be following Hannah's posts this week as well!)


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Stand Fast

I'm currently working on memorizing Philippians four, and this verse just popped out at me the other day when I was again working on the chapter.
Stand fast. Stand fast. Stand fast. IN THE LORD.

We live in a time and an age when there isn't a whole lot of standing anymore. You can look just about anywhere, no matter what your "circles" are, and you will see people who are falling.
Left and right. The ones who are still standing stick out because they are few and far between.

Even our modern day "heroes of the faith" are falling. I could go into a list but it wouldn't be helpful and besides you all l know exactly who I am talking about.
Everyone from the leaders in the most liberal Christian circles, to the leaders in the most conservative Christian circles. The last couple of years have shown even those of us who thought these people were perfect...that they are just as normal and prone to falling as anyone.

I really believe that the falling happens when we get sidetracked and start focusing on an agenda. A program. An organization. A formula.

People start focusing on these things instead of Jesus Christ, and then we wonder why they fall.

It can be so easy to look at "Christian" culture around us and wonder if anyone will continue to stand.
It can get discouraging. You can think that you are all by yourself, and that no one else is with you in standing up for whatever it is that God has called YOU to stand for.

I just want to encourage you today with a few thoughts. Some of them are still fresh on my mind from a sermon I heard the other night that greatly convicted my heart.

The first thought is this:
*Don't walk around in defeat, assuming the worst.
Listen, the battle has already been won. The end of the story is already written. Our part is to continue to do the RIGHT thing, to continue fighting, to continue standing. And not just to do it because we "have to", but to do it with JOY! With victory! With assurance of the truth of our cause!

*Don't be discouraged because you think you are the only one standing.
Because first of all, you aren't. There are way more people on God's side than you could imagine. Yes, lots of times it seems like Christians are almost extinct. But never forget that all over the world, there are still pockets of people who have chosen to stand and fight. You might not know them, but they still exist. This world is so much bigger than we think. The church is diverse and spread, but there is still a strong remnant and you are not the only one!

*Don't forget your purpose and your joy.
So often we get caught up in all of the depressing things going on around us. We sit around talking about how everything is falling apart and there is no hope for the world.
That is completely contrary to what God tells us to do. He didn't say "Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown,  so sit in defeat and fear and talk about how bad things are getting."
Not at all! Quite the contrary. He told us to "stand fast in the Lord".

Do the right thing. Live for Jesus. Be bold. Be passionate. Remember that you are not living and working for simply A cause, you are living and working and standing for THE Cause.

I close encouraging you to visit this link and listen to this very powerful song that I believe will challenge + stir your heart to continue standing for the truth.

Let us be faithful and stand fast together....


Monday, April 20, 2015

Feminine Fashion||Cream +Teal

Good morning everyone!
Thought I'd kick off this series with a little fashion post, just for fun....
Outfit details:
*Sandals...consignment/Platos Closet
*Belt...thrifted/somewhere =)
* from a friend
*Headband...Bealls Outlet
*Cream by a cousin
Also today I wanted to share a few tips on how I put outfits together, particularly this one.

*Staying with one "pop" color, and one or two neutral/accent colors, will give your outfit a much more put-together look. 
Stay away from putting together a blue skirt, a pink shirt, a purple necklace, and cream shoes. Outfits with too many different things going will be distracting + look chaotic. You want to make a statement with your clothing, but not the kind of statement that makes people think, "is she color blind?" =)
*Don't over-accessorize, but don't under-accessorize either! 
I will be talking about this more next week, but basically what this means is that you can literally make or break an outfit by the amount of accessories you choose.
For example, if I would've chosen a chunky belt, and a chunky necklace, and a chunky headband, and several rings and bracelets...I would have ruined this outfit. It would have been too much.
The look I was going for was boho, simple, feminine. So I kept my accessories as natural/earthy, and simple as possible.
On the other hand, if I would've completely skipped the jewelry + headband...the outfit would have been boring. =)
Don't worry if all of this is new to you. I'm still learning, too, and hopefully we can all learn together!
Getting dressed properly is definitely a balance + a skill, one that I find (for myself) continues to get perfected with lots of practice, and learning from others.

Hope y'all have a beautiful Monday! 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Announcing the Ten Day Tandem!

Y'all remember Boho Blogtober?

Well, we've decided to do it again...but in April this time! And we're doing a slightly different, shorter version than the previous month-long marathon. That got just a little lengthy for us.
Both Hannah + I love doing this type of thing, to motivate ourselves + also to give our readers a little "blogging spree", but we are discovering that October really isn't a good time for either of us to do it. So we decided to try a different time of year, which meant that we had to come up with a different name! Cheers go to Hannah for coming up with this catchy title. "the Ten Day Tandem".
(ha-you should've heard all the other title ideas that we opted not to use. There were some crazy gems in that list! =))

And speaking of Hannah, be sure to hop on over to her blog and begin following her, if you aren't already!

This time around, I'm not announcing my blog post titles ahead of time.  I already have a lot of material that I've been working on that is saved in my drafts folder, so I will be chipping away at the drafts to bring you some exciting posts that have been in the making for a loooong time. I do promise you this-there will be:
A) Fun Posts
B) Serious Posts
C) Controversial Posts (my personal favorite!)

 However, I would be curious to know what one (or more) of your favorite posts has been that I have done lately? (say, in the past 6months)
Please feel free to leave a comment and let me know-I'd love to get an idea of what type of post you as readers are enjoying most!

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Life Lately

{in all the glamorous glory of hotel spring cleaning. ahem}

Today...I send y'all hello's from the most beautiful place of all-my home sweetest home!

I can't tell you how wonderful it is to be here. On the farm, in the country, in the midwest, in IOWA. To some it is just a simple little state full of mostly hogs and cornfields. To me, those things equal HOME and are simply beautiful. I'm telling you-I'm crazy about the country. Not many girls would let down their car window on purpose while driving past a big hog barn. This one did, though. =) 

Ah, life lately. I will start with last Friday morning.  We arrived home in the morning. There were so many things to go around and see and do that it was almost noon before I finally made it to the shower. I was seriously headed there for almost two hours but kept running into things to do. When I finally made it...I may or may not have been in there for nearly half an hour. Friends, never take your showers for granted. They are lovely things. After three months of military-style showers (i.e. short showers involving very minimal water) I just can't tell you how fun it was to have no time or water limit. What a treat. =)

Honestly the day was just so packed with all the glories of home and farm and unpacking and somehow in the midst of that my regular little get ready routine didn't happen and I never put any makeup on. People came and went and I finally just gave in and let my pride go out the window...because who wants to spend any time at all putting on makeup anyway when there's just so much HOME to enjoy? My thoughts exactly. Thanks to sister dear for telling me I looked beautiful anyway. In my mind, sweats and tee shirt and ponytail and no makeup isn't exactly the definition of beautiful. But people you love see past the outside anyway-so grateful for that. =)

Saturday was more delicious homeness. And lots more laundry, and unpacking, and things of that nature.

Sunday. Can't even describe how my heart just swelled up so big to be back in my church again. Most wonderful feeling ever. Hugs from "my" kiddos and being back in the routine of helping get them ready for church-so wonderful. Sunday noon dinner with our whole big + lively family around our own dinner table. A wonderful service at church again that evening in which God spoke to my heart + I was so challenged. And afterwards...a long talk about life with one of my dearest friends. 

Monday + Tuesday was spring cleaning @ the hotel. (above picture)
We had a great time working together as siblings (six of us) and were excited to get all thirty rooms done in two days.
Last night-heading out to Debuque for the Annie Moses Band concert with my sister. Tickets were her early birthday present. We had such a marvelous time. Talked a mile a minute or listened to music on the way to and from, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the concert while we were there.
I didn't get lost once which is definitely worth mentioning, since I am notorious for getting lost on our various road trips. It was especially surprising since at the last moment we couldn't find the GPS and had to use mapquest directions. Mapquest and I have never gotten along well at all so I was quite skeptical. But for once in its history, the directions actually got us to exactly the correct place with no detours or wrong turns. (miracle moment!) We had a very uneventful and safe trip in which we arrived early, met no sketchy people, didn't get lost at all, and had no catastrophes. Amazing.
The concert was phenomenal. Those siblings are honestly probably the most diverse + talented musicians I have ever seen in concert. Their talent was so stellar---blew us away! They ended their first set with an unbelievably brilliant arrangement of the Orange Blossom Special (watch a sample of it here) and when they finished and the applause had died away my sister leaned over and said to me very quietly, "I shall never pick up a violin again." I convinced her otherwise. =) My personal favorite of the night was their encore of America the Beautiful/Battle Hymn of the Republic. SO GOOD.

And thats a bit of life lately. Its been a full + rich week. So thankful for safety + adventure while out on tour the past three months, and so thankful for April at home!

I leave y'all with this quote today. I love quotes like this. I read them and find myself wanting to raise my hands and yell "amen"! Because it is so true.

"Stop waiting for Friday, for summer, for someone to fall in love with you, for life. 
Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for it and 
make the most of the moment 
you are in NOW."

 So much truth. Live like you believe that.
 Happy Weekend!