Thursday, October 31, 2013

Goodbye, Blogtober...

 It's sad to see this thing come to an end. It has seriously been so much fun and I have loved every certain moments of it. It's been stressful, and crazy, and wild..and yes there has been more than one day that I have nearly been pulling my hair out with the lack of inspiration I felt, for posting. =)
 But in spite of all that here I am-at the end of Blogtober, with 24 posts under my belt, all in just ONE grand and glorious month.
Can we cheer, people? It just seems appropriate. =)

Moving on..to the humble pie. 
The goals.
Yes, yes. 
Don't get too excited. I missed most of them. It feels a little embarrassing.

{THE LIST} 
1) Read three books
missed. totally. I started one and read about four pages of it.
2) Journal every day
yes!! so excited I accomplished this one!
3) Mail four encouraging notes to people
yes again!
4) Memorize Philippians 1
again, missed. I completely forgot about it until last week. This one I WILL accomplish-it'll just be next month instead of this month.
5) Do three sewing projects
I only did one.  And it barely counts, since it was fixing my friend's husband's dress pants. =/ yes, I know-hardly a sewing project. I am qualifying it though since it was a semi-complicated fix and took me a little while. Part of the reason it took so long was that as I was ripping out stitches that I had sewn in wrong...I accidentally ripped out some of the original, "real" stitches. Its kinda hard to describe but that made it more complicated. =)
6) sort through/put away summer wardrobe & bring out fall/winter wardrobe
good feeling to have this done!
7) wash bedroom windows
the bedroom seems bigger!
8) Exercise & drink water more than I did last month
I definitely drank more water. And I definitely did not exercise more.so half accomplished.
9) Sort through/Backup ALL pictures I've ever taken
huge project. hasn't happened yet. will happen soon!
10) Blog Redesign
again, I got in over my head with this one. started talking to a friend who has some brilliant new ideas for me and my blog and all of a sudden I find myself just needing WAY more time to think and process and dream about this. So I'm postponing it til November. My goal is to have it all done by the 20th. Keep me accountable, please?!
11) Spend more one-on-one time with little siblings 
missed it. utterly. thankful for second chances...this will be top priority for next month.

12) Accomplish Boho Blogtober!
YEAH!! 
{as a tip to any of you who ever want to do these "goal posts" on your blog: I would highly recommend printing out the list of goals and posting them above your desk. I didn't. And I promptly forgot most of them until last week when I went on my blog to read over them. at that moment the fact that I do have a failing memory, was confirmed.}

Now to be positive for a while..I thought I could write out a list of all the things I did accomplish, that weren't on the "goals" list. Problem is, I would never be able to list everything. 
I'll just tell you, that I was gone (as in, in another state) for 14 days of this month.
And the other seventeen days that I was home I was in and out, coming and going, and busy with all sorts of personal work, family work, and ministry. 
My life has been so varied that I know I'll never be able to remember everything, so I'm not even going to attempt. 

It has been a great month! And I just want to take a minute here to thank all of you for following along with Hannah and I. 
{Hannah, I love ya, girl. It was WAY too much fun to be together in this thing. You are the best! #mycrazyfriendwhounderstandsmetoowell} 
This  Blogtober has been more fun and more stress than I ever could've imagined. =) But its been a joy, it really has. 
Thank-you all who have commented! You have no idea how fun it is to come into my blogger inbox and find "15 comments waiting to be moderated". =) 
I wish I could've had the time to personally respond to each and every one of you who left such sweet comments, especially on this post and this post. I firmly believe that God has a perfect plan in timing and I was so encouraged to hear how many of you have been blessed by reading different posts on just the days/times when it was a blessing to you to hear whatever I had posted about that day.
Thank-you also to those of you who took the time to email and bless me in my blogging. You are an encouragement!

Y'all think this is goodbye now, do you?
Well, you're partly right-it's goodbye Blogtober.
And hello to November, in which you will find continued posting and a whole bunch of fun features coming to the blog!
I didn't even scratch the surface in answering all the questions that were submitted. So I'm hoping to do more of that in November, along with some things the Lord is laying on my heart and more photo shoots.

 Be sure to come back tomorrow, when we'll be celebrating the beginning of November with another giveaway! =) You don't want to miss it!

And just curious-did y'all like this Blogtober thing? Would you like to see it again? =) What was your favorite post?

Til tomorrow!
-chels

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Stop & Enjoy||Coffee & Kindreds

{above: my cousin, myself, my sista, my aunt, and my cousin-in-love}
this was yesterday evening.
My dear aunt {who has always been a stabilizing force for me to dump on =)} 
has such a heart for encouraging and discipling her nieces. 
It has been quite some time since we got together to "dump and dish", as I call it.
I dump my life problems....and she dishes me out some of her wisdom and practical advice. 
Its a great combo =)
Anyway, she told me lately to come over some afternoon for coffee and finally we found a time that worked. The party grew since these gatherings are indeed a little party and nobody wants to miss out. So the sister and cousin and cousin-in-love came too, and we had a lovely time.

These gatherings are so simple, really. You don't have to go to a coffee shop, or restaurant, or anywhere expensive.
Just brew a pot of coffee in your home.
Or if you have an aunt like I have that makes the worlds best iced coffee, then you can have a large glass of iced coffee AND a large mug of regular coffee. =) 
I love meeting in a home, around the kitchen table...its so, personal. So homey. And it just feels so right. So how it should be.
Find some wise women that are older than you, and a few others that are your age and will also benefit from the advice...and have yourselves a blessed time.

-chels

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fall Fashion||What I Wore Today

{this post feels a little weird for me because I don't normally post a lot of pictures of myself. But..giving outfit ideas and fashion advice is always more interesting and easier to visualize when it is actually being WORN by someone. I would do pictures of my sister for this outfit but
 A) this outfit doesn't fit her {we are completely different body types =)}
and
 B) she wouldn't wear it if it did {her style is different than mine. its a good thing-makes a more unique world =)}
So hence this post with pictures of yours truly.}

I'm all about versatile outfits that can be worn in a variety of settings.
Today's outfit was one of those. It was perfect for working at my grandma's this morning (helping prepare food/serving/washing dishes for a group of 35 people)
doing office work at my desk this afternoon, and meeting for coffee at my aunt's this evening.
I love outfits like this, that are classy-looking, but oh-so-comfy and cozy for fall. 
At my grandma's, we work hard and fast to get all those people served quickly. So I always get warm in a hurry. The hoodie was perfect-kept me warm on the way to/from, but I could take it off as soon as I got started working and getting warm. 
This kind of outfit is great for those days when you have the chilly moments of being outside, and the warmer ones of working hard...because you can shed the layers.

And here's a quick "bonus bit" of fashion advice: when planning an outfit, stick to two or three colors. Multiple colors will look wild and uncoordinated. (there are exceptions to this, of course. Like wearing a multi-colored/printed top, or scarf, or something.) 
To give an example: this outfit looks much more coordinated and "put together" than it would've if I would've worn a khaki skirt, yellow top, grey cami, and blue hoodie. You get the idea. =) Keep your colors matching and simple and your outfit will look a lot sharper!
 
You want to know where I got each item?
Here's the rundown:
Brown Tee: $5 {on sale last week @ Gordmans}
Cream Cami: $2 {thrift or garage sale, can't remember which}
Cream Hoodie: $4 {Stuff Etc Consignment}
Khaki Skirt: $5 {Goodwill in Florida =)}
Boots: $4.49 {Crowded Closet thrift}
Necklace: remade by my sister
These boots are a staple for me. I wear them all the time in the fall/winter. 
so, that's me for today!
What is your favorite fall wardrobe item?
And...this is the first for me doing a post like this. (dedicated to an outfit) 
What do you all think? Would you like more posts like this?

-chels

Monday, October 28, 2013

Choosing Praise||Personal

 It's been one of those days.

One of those weeks, actually.
I'll be totally honest and tell y'all that I do not feel like writing this post, and that I'm having a moment of wishing that Blogtober had never been invented. 
{sigh/half smile combo inserted here}
My energy is pretty sapped. I feel like I've been behind on sleep all month.
You can keep reading...I'm going to quit complaining soon. =)
I had a lot of built up frustration and tiredness and all sorts of things lately. 
And then our preacher gave a message last night that I'm pretty sure was just tailor-made for me.
It was about praising God.
How we don't truly praise God. So often we get caught up in ourselves and our problems and our crazy lives and we don't take time recognize Him for WHO HE IS. 
I'm preaching to myself here, really. I've been needing this little pep talk for a while now and so here I am giving it to me. Y'all are just listening in for free. =)
My point being, that in these moments when....
-my desk is piled high with papers, letters, and all other manner of things
-all the windows in the house seem dirtier than they've ever been
-I get to the end of my day and I hardly have anything crossed of my list.
-I have the same things that have been on my list for a week and still aren't done
-my camera isn't working properly
-iPhoto malfuctions and my pictures disappear (and I still haven't been able to find them-any iPhoto experts out there?help, please!)
Well, in those moments......I am gonna have to choose to praise the Lord!

 Even when I don't "feel" bouncing-of-the-wall" happy. Even when I am frustrated at my daily failings. Even when...all those things happen. They are really so small in the realm of eternity. So small, so insignificant. And yet, Jesus cares. Nothing is too small to escape His notice. He knows..and He wants my praise. So often I just dump. You know, those complaining sort of prayers "God please help me! Life is falling apart and I just can't stand it anymore!" Why is it that it's so hard for us to change those prayers into this: "God, please help me! Life is falling apart and I'm struggling...but you are GOOD! You are always good! And you're faithful! You're my Counselor, my Prince of Peace, my EVERLASTING FATHER." 

My lifeline song for the last couple of weeks is one written & recorded by friends of ours, the Allen Family.
It's called  "Life in the Storm" and it is just powerful. 
It's not that I'd exactly compare my life to a storm. Goodness, I have such a blessed life. Really nothing to complain of. But still...this song has been ministering to me the last three weeks. I wish I could include a link or something so the rest of y'all could hear it too and it could bless you. It is on iTunes, if you want to hop over and listen to a clip of it there. Seriously, it just blesses me and reminds me so much of God's faithfulness when I listen to it.

I know today's post is a little untypical. Just a bunch of confession and a few pictures of window cleaning the other day. =) 
I had full intentions of posting something big and life-changing. 
But this is real life too...life isn't always perfect pictures and situations. So please bear with my honesty here. It's what I felt led to write today.
If it blesses or challenges you-well then, praise the LORD! 
{comment and let me know!}

Remember to praise HIM today. Praise Him for His goodness, His grace, His awesomeness. Even if you don't "feel" it, still choose to praise Him!

"Oh that men would PRAISE the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!"
Psalm 107:15

-chels

Friday, October 25, 2013

Guest Post||Cooking With Allison

Hello, readers! 
Tonight I am excited to have my lovely sister, Allison, as a guest on the blog, to share one of her fantabulous recipes! All of you that know her know that she is seriously one of the best cooks ever. And the rest of you will just have to come visit sometime and you will believe me right away. =) The very cool thing about all of the food that she cooks is that she has the crazy ability to whip up a super fattening, comforting, and AMAZING triple chocolate cheesecake one minute...and a gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free no-bake cheesecake the next. How does that work, you ask?
Well, she's just amazing like that. Uber-healthy, non-healthy, in between...she can do it all. 
In addition to doing a lot of the cooking for our family, she has done most of the individual cooking for one of my brothers (who over the past five years has been on about every single kind of diet you can imagine, due to some of his health issues) and has taught herself how to make unbelievably good things, out of ingredients that don't sound so great. (to me, if it is minus sugar and wheat and dairy it sounds like sad. but she has made things without those ingredients, that even I liked.)
When I asked her to do a guest post/recipe today, she told me right away that she had this new granola bar recipe to share. I double-checked to make sure that it wasn't so healthy that most of y'all wouldn't make it. =) And it sounds like its one of those that can be more healthy, or less healthy, depending on the options you use (ie. sweetener, etc) So all should be pleased! =) Happy cooking!
Hi!  Allison here......cooking is one of my greatest delights in life, and I'm thrilled to share one of my new favorite recipes with ya'll.  I found the original recipe here, via Pinterest, and changed it to my liking.:) 
  
So, I made these granola bars a few days ago to send with the brothers to snack on while they're working in the fields far away from my kitchen.  {side note: it is weird to me to be cooking for only ten people these days.  I cannot wait for the brothers to come home tomorrow night.  I'm already planning some of their favorite foods to make over the weekend while they're home.}

{No-Bake Granola Bars}
Ingredients:
1/2 cup coconut oil (or butter)
1/4 cup sucanut (or brown sugar)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup peanut butter (I use Smuckers or my home-made peanut butter)
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups oats
2 cups puffed rice (I crumbled up some plain rice cakes from Central Discount, but you could use rice crispies or something like that, too.)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips
How to do it:
Put the oil, sweeteners, and peanut butter in a kettle.  Melt on medium heat.  Once bubbling, grab a whisk and stir for about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Stir in vanilla.  Pour into a bowl (or leave in kettle if it's big enough:) and add all other ingredients except chocolate chips.  Dump into a 9x13 pan.  Sprinkle chocolate chips on top.  Using a spatula (or fork, or your clean hands, or all three!), press down all over till well-pressed into the pan (ok, this is sounding weird, but you're getting the picture, right?).  Pop in the refrigerator for a couple hours.  Pull it out and cut into bars.  I like to cut long ones, kinda the shape of store-bought granola bars.  I wrapped them individually in saran wrap, so they're easy to grab, put in a lunch box, and later consume.  You could just throw em in a container, too.  Store in the fridge.  And, I have no clue how long they keep!  I made a batch early in the week and today we finished them off, so I made two pans this time, which probably won't even last a week.:)  
[ all the wet ingredients]
 [stirring]
 [the bubbling mixture]
 [mixing it all together]
 [ready to go in the pan]
 [pressing it in]
 //////////////////////////////////////////////
thanks so much for sharing, sista! 
I'm sure all you blog readers want to hear more from her at a future date, right? =) Show her some love in the comment box, please!

Y'all have a blessed weekend!
-chels

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Home/Singleness/Productivity||Q&A

{photo courtesy of HannahElisePhotography}

Today's post is going to be answering a few more of the questions I received from
this post back in September.
First off, just as a little disclaimer-
I so do not have the perfect answers to all of these. I do not have it "all together" (not even close!)
and some days I wonder what in the world I'm doing even running a blog, period? 
All that said...y'all asked, so you can take or leave the advice of a very simple twenty-two year old girl who still has a lot to learn in life. =)

What you do with your life post school?
this answer could be a book. =) but time is limited.
*work as my father's personal secretary doing all the secretary work for our family ministry. 
this includes processing and mailing all cd orders, answering/sending all emails, booking concerts through email, researching various church websites and venues, getting all concert dates to our webmaster, mailing letters and promotional materials to every concert venue two months prior to the concert, restocking cd/book inventory in the bus before every trip, and working with our photographer and graphic designers for every new photo shoot, album, poster, prayer card, and business cards.
*teach piano to three of my siblings.
*travel with my family half of the year, giving concerts all over the US and Canada.
*study photography and do it on the side as a business.
*create/remake/design clothing for myself, my sisters, and others.
*sing in the choir and volunteer with various other jobs and ministries at my church.
*travel with Bright Lights when I can. 
(which was none last year. =( and just a week this year. I love it when I am able though!)
*make lunch every day for my family
*do all of the laundry for my family
*feed our baby calves every morning
*maintain my blog.

Advice in helping other young girls in the church community?
Your example is the #1 thing. 
As older young women we cannot over emphasize the power of our influence.
It's actually quite frightening, if you actually think about it.
Like when you see a younger girl imitate your hairstyle or something else unique to you and it just really hits you "Wow. She got that from me! What else is she picking up on?"
 You would not believe the things younger girls notice.
Our attitude, response to different situations, conversation, and definitely our dress, 
are all things they  catch onto so quickly.
Make sure that the person you are is someone you would want to see imitated. 
Because if you have younger girls in your life, chances are you will be seeing yourself in a miniature before too long, as they copy and emulate you.

Ideas/advice/encouragement in living life as a single woman to the fullest?
get involved in serving. some way, some how. 
no matter where you live or what you do, there is ALWAYS, and always will be, a need for more people with a servant's heart. 
every single community has either a nursing home, or a homeless shelter, or lonely neighbors, or all of the above.
there will always be the need.
the problem is that many people aren't answering the call to give of themselves and fill that need.
For me right now, God has me busy pretty much full time just serving the needs of my family and church. And that is great.
But if I didn't have either of those outlets, there would still be so many other ways/areas to serve in my community.
Think outside of the box. Get a passion for something beyond yourself, something you can do to 
impact other people for Christ.

Advice for living life at home as an adult?
This can be a great thing or it can be a horrible thing.
What's really unfortunate about the whole topic is that there is this crowd of homeschoolers out there that has almost ruined the reputation of us "still-at-home-after-highschool" ers.
When I say ruined our reputation, I mean ruined the way people as a whole think about young people living at home/not going away to the typical 4yr degree, secular college deal.
They've almost ruined it because there is a large number of graduated girls (and guys, but we're just talking about the girls here so I won't get started on the guy problem)
who do nothing but wash laundry, make dinner, and browse the web.
Now, I'm not saying those things are bad. (I do each of them!)
But if that's all you're doing there is a serious problem.
I've seen way too many girls who have done that.
You will look back years later and realize that you have wasted your single years of life pining away, sitting in your house, accomplishing nothing.
We do not live just to subsist! We live to thrive! To be doing things, going places, making a difference!
Now, I'm not saying you can never have a day at home.
I'm saying that you need to find ways to be productive.
Get out and meet people.
-Organize a get-together for your neighbors. 
(Our family loves doing this, although we haven't done it for quite a while! one of my friends' family recently did a very fun activity with their neighbors-read about it here!)
-Volunteer at a local nursing home.
(another friend of mine did this. The staff noticed her joy, love, and genuine heart for the residents...and they offered her a staff position as the activities directer!=))
-Learn valuable skills
(do this. sewing, cooking, first aid, drama, art, jewelry making, photography, fitness, web design, music, interior design, calligraphy, hair design, film. the list could go on and on, but you get the idea. My parents always pushed my sister and I to excel in the areas we loved and were passionate about. We've worked hard on those and at one time we were each running multiple businesses that we had started on our own, based on skills we had cultivated. Due to our increased traveling and us both working for our family ministry now, we have had to cut back a bit on our personal work. But that's okay! Someday if I'm in a totally different stage of life and wanting a part-time job to do on the side, I will easily be able to resume my piano studio, or give more sewing lessons, or things like that.) 
Do not believe the lie that you have to go to college to be successful. 
Because it is just that-a lie.
I don't have time now but if I did I could go on and on and ON listing people I know who are super successful, who didn't even make it past 8th grade. I've seen way too many success stories come from "uneducated" people, to believe the hype that's out there about the "necessity" of having a degree.
From what I've observed, the following things are way more important than a degree.
-love for God
-love for people
-good social/people skills
-a love of learning, literature, and reading (this is vital!)
-a good work ethic
If you have those five things you will be just fine without a degree, and you will also be about $100,000 dollars richer. =)
Also don't buy the argument of "well, what if my husband dies someday and I need to work full-time to support my family?"
Trust me, if you've cultivated some of the skills listed at the top, and you have those "five things" I talked about, you will have no problem providing for your family.
Now, I am not saying college in and of itself is bad. Not at all. I have lots of friends who are in college, with a vision and a purpose and a plan. They know what they're going for, they are studying hard to finish, and they work through the summer to pay their tuition. 
What frustrates me is that there are so many people who go just because its the "expected thing". 
they go with no purpose whatsoever.
And the percentage of people who get a degree and end up doing something totally unrelated to the degree, for the rest of their lives...well, the percentage is high.
I know I'm getting into stuff here that isn't really related to the question, but it all does kinda tie in when you consider everything involved.
When you choose to stay at home, you will get lots of criticism, from both well-meaning people, and from people whose main goal is to make you look stupid. 
(trust me-I've been at home post school for 5yrs and I've heard it ALL)
You need to have a good, solid, intelligent answer when people ask you "so what do you do at home all day, since you're not going to college?"
They want to hear "welll....I'm helping my mom...and making supper...and I do all the laundry!"
That will convince them that their daughters are so much more well-prepared for the "real" world, than you are.
(note: cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry are all excellent accomplishments and I don't want to slight them because our calling as women is caring for the home. but those things should be learned by the time you are twelve. once you are out of high school, you should easily be doing those things every day as well as practicing ministry, building skills, and being involved in church/community projects, etc)  
I love to watch people's expression when they ask me the "what do you do" question
and I give them my answer. 
Usually I don't even go into everything I do. I just have to list a few things 
(ie. listed at the top of this post)
 and they usually tell me "wow, I guess you are really busy!" =) 
I understand that we're not here for approval of man, but at the same time our lives need to be a good witness. 
A good testimony. 
We want the world to look at us and see something different. 
Something that's vibrant and alive and WORKING.
Slowly but surely, people are understanding that just because someone went to college and got a 4yr degree...doesn't mean they know how to work hard. It doesn't mean they automatically are successful.
People are starting to realize that there is a problem with the way "everyone does it".
We have an awesome opportunity to give them the answer to that problem!
"And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy HEART, and with all thy SOUL, and with all thy MIND, and with all thy STRENGTH."
Mark 12:30
This verse is what I'm talking about! We need a heart that loves people, a soul that is sensitive to need and hurt, a mind that is sharp, honest, and filled with truth, and the strength and energy to work hard both physically and spiritually.
So... my biggest advice for those of you living at home post-school:
 be involved in things. be productive, busy, happy, energetic. do things in your community. in your area. in your world! 
study. read. discuss. disciple. make a difference.

Along these lines, a book that is highly beneficial in this area is "Preparing to Be A Helpmeet".
 I've never recommended this book here on my blog before because there are a couple things in it that I definitely don't agree with. 
But for the sake of the part of it that is really, really good, 
I'm giving a little endorsement, 
without totally endorsing it. (if that makes sense =))
On the topic of the importance of preparing yourself, and spending your single years wisely, this book is the best I have read. So many books on this subject don't deal with the problem in a practical way.
But this book is all about honesty and practical application.
(if you know anything about Debi Pearl, you know that blunt truth is her specialty! =))
Again, I'm not saying I agree with everything in the book. So don't read it and be shocked if you find something that you don't think I would agree with. Cause chances are, I don't. =)
But for sake of the topic above, I really wish all girls could read it, and apply the truth to their years at home.

I'll end with one of my favorite quotes of all time, that really sums it all up:
"Wherever you are, be all there!"
-Jim Elliot

Anyway, that's it for today. I'd love to hear thoughts back from y'all!
-chels 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Of High Heels & Surprise Parties

Last week Alli & I helped two friends of ours throw a huge surprise birthday bash for our preacher's wife, Charity Brown.
Hannah designed the awesome invites for us, based off an idea found on pinterest. Aren't they awesome?
The party was a smashing success. 
The dear ladies we were helping went ALL OUT with the decor. I wish I could take credit but it was honestly all them. Their creativity knew no bounds!
Given Charity's great love of high heels, the color pink, and candy...each of those items were at the party in abundance! 
Everything turned out incredibly and was amazing. Such a fun theme, seriously.
Below is the party in pictures, including:
the candy buffet, the regular food buffet, the tables, cake, centerpieces, prizes for winners of the games, the actual games taking place (the games were super fun. in one, all the ladies took off their shoes and placed them at one end of the basement, and then stood at the other end. When they heard "go" they all ran toward the pile, found their shoes, ran back to their table, and put their shoes on. the table with every lady seated with her shoes back on, first, won. 
the other game involved each table having one of their people wear a pair of high heels (provided from a previously collected pile) and see who could find certain items in their purse and run them up to the head table first. both games were hilarious. you have to know our church to understand-the ladies are all super ambitious and competitive and our preacher's wife is chief among them. So both games were wild, loud, and just a touch violent. =))
gotta love girl parties! And there's just nothing quite like blessing someone else with one.

-chels