Friday, December 07, 2012

It's so quiet in my house right now.

Which, wouldn't be so incredible if, perhaps, everyone in the house was over the age of eighteen and quiet. But, as it so happens, I have outrageously loud siblings who's ages are scattered all across the board. They are fun-loving, they are full of smiles and they are full of noise.

And that's okay. Yes, this could have something to do with the fact that I am equally as loud...

In quiet moments like these I just feel like trying to sort through all the thoughts that run about in my head. I try to make sense of all the swirling emotions about different subjects, different places and different people. It's moments like these that I feel like organizing my thoughts and putting each idea into a little box, safely tucked away for later. Then there are other times that I feel like just pouring out words and writing without stopping. Perhaps, in my flurry of words, my life will begin to make more sense. I'll be able to understand things - I'll be able to see more and embrace more. I will be able to live more fully and appreciate the people in my life more deeply.

While sorting through various thoughts and "revelations" that I've had lately - I was reminded of something. I was talking to a very close and very dear friend of mine recently about life and relationships and loneliness. I was reminded once again of my propensity to want answers to everything. I desperately wanted to give this person that I love, words of comfort and words of encouragement. I wanted to say the right thing.

I think, because I tend to be on the talkative side, that people assume that I always know what to say. But, I don't and I don't always have answers. Sometimes, when my friends pour out their hearts to me and trust me with their insecurities, their fear and their pain, I don't know what to tell them. I hate it. I hate not knowing what to tell them. I dearly want to be the friend who knows just what to say and when to say it - the friend who can make someone feel better with their wise words.

I want to be that friend - but I can't - I'm not perfect and I'm not very wise. I want to have the answers because I so very, very dearly love the people God has placed in my life and I desperately want to help them. I want to comfort them like a warm hug on a cold day. I want them to know that I will always be there for them - to help and to comfort.

As I was sorting through my thoughts and trying to understand why I don't have the answers to many of life's questions, it suddenly hit me.

I don't need to have all the answers.

I don't need to always say the right thing. When a friend tells me about their troubles and I tell them that I love them and will always be there to listen and pray for them - sometimes that's all that I can do. Because I'm not outrageously wise. Because I can't pop out smart answers. Because I don't know how to fix every problem that arises in life.

And that's okay. In my quest for what I thought was being the "perfect" friend, I missed the whole point. Sometimes, our friends don't need answers - what they need is a willing ear, a promise of prayer, a reminder of God's sovereignty and the knowledge that they have a friend who loves them and will be there for them - to listen and to try and understand.

I can never solve all of anyone's problems - none of us can. But we can be there for them so they don't have to face their problems alone.

How thankful I am for friends like that.

Friday, October 05, 2012


Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity of writing for the online magazine, Femnista. Full of film,  TV and book reviews, as well as delving into the complexities of various stories, myths, fairytales and true accounts, Femnista will certainly not disappoint.

I've read the magazine for a while and I've loved to read articles from the various authors that write for it. The topics span everything from superheroes to Kings and Queens of the past and from spaceships to fairies!

So pretty please, take a moment to look and then leave a comment and tell us how we did!

Click to view the full digital publication online
Read Femnista Sept / Oct 2012
Online Publishing from YUDU

And don't forget to look at the other past issues of Femnista!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Thoughts on Forgiveness...

I once heard someone say, "To forgive is an act of compassion. It's not done because people deserve it." How true those words are. 

To forgive is a conscious act - and it's never easy. Forgiveness is *not* an attitude of, "Look at those wicked, evil sinners! I will be holy and forgive them." Nor is it an attitude of, "God will pour his WRATH on them, so I'll forgive them." No, forgiveness is humbly realizing that we've failed, just as they have; and we must extend mercy because Christ shows mercy to us. We all fall. We all sin and need to be regularly forgiven.

How can we claim Christ, yet believe ourselves to be so much better than our brothers…those sinners to which we're so quick to dish out condemnation and judgment? They're just like us. Don't we want Christ to forgive us our sins? 1 John 1:10 says, "If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his truth is not in us."

It’s easy to say, “I’m a wretched sinner.” It’s quite another matter to say, “I’ve sinned in this particular way, and I am without excuse."

I'm so grateful for a Heavenly Father who loves me and shows merciful kindness to me in spite of my many sins. How blessed are we, His children, to have a Father who gently shows us our sin, leads us to repentance, and wipes it all away with the blood of the Lamb. May we be as merciful as our Savior. 

"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." {matthew 6:14-15}
"He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins." {colossians 1:13-14}

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Truffles

If you're hungry, then be forewarned that there are photos of chocolate in this post.

Don't say I didn't warn you!

As some of you may know the kitchen isn't exactly my favorite room in the house. If you know me, then you know that if I had my way (my selfish way. *cough*) I would spend all day cuddled up in a chair with some hot coffee, an over-sized sweater and a big, fat book.

But, I realize that is anything BUT practical for living a Christ-centered life. In living as I've been called, I have needed to learn that being in the kitchen is a way that I can serve my family. So, as such, I've been in the kitchen more and more both this year and the year past. Did I mention that the littles love the deserts I tend to make?

See? Baking pays. Who doesn't want a bunch of ooey gooey "Thank you" kisses from the children (or love. ;)) in one's life? *grin*

So, my latest baking adventure was short & sweet (pun intended.)- a delightful little recipe sent to me by a friend (after I begged it off of her because it was just so incredibly decadent.)!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Truffles...oh. Trust me, love. They're delicious.

If you're like me and love anything that's sweet, slightly munchy and ever-so-slightly addictive, then hit the print button, get up and get started! You know you want to.

In order to make this bit of delightfulness, you'll need the following ingredients:

1lbs. Powdered Sugar
2 c. Peanut Butter
3 c. Rice Krispies crushed (but measured before crushing.)
1 stick of butter, softened
5 Big Hershey's Symphony Milk Chocolate Bars (or melting chocolate, if you prefer.)

Before I go into the directions, I'm going to tell you how to make your own, homemade, wholesome(ish) powdered sugar. Yes, Chéri, you heard that right.

Measure one pound of sugar (I used Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar) and dump it into your vita-mix, blender or food processor. Turn it on. Wait until it has changed to a powder-like texture and VOILA! Your own, homemade powdered sugar! Best thing you've heard all year, isn't it? I knew it would be.

Now put that aside and pull our the peanut butter and butter. Mix them together by hand in a big bowl. The butter should be soft enough to easily stir.

Add the crushed rice krispies and the powdered sugar and mix well.

Form them into little balls (truffle-sized...or larger. But really - however you want, ma chéri.) and place on a cookie sheet. Set aside.

Next you're going to get out a double boiler or heavy-bottomed pot and melt your chocolate. Carefully dip each truffle and roll it in chocolate. When it is completely covered, place on cookie sheet. When they're all covered, just stick them in the freezer until the chocolate has hardened.

I keep them in the freezer until a little while before I'm going to eat them, and then I just let them sit out for a few minutes before eating.

There you go! It's as easy as that! Now don't go too crazy in the kitchen, okay? When I was done I had chocolate on my elbows.

But it was fun. *grin*

Oh, and that extra chocolate in the pot? Slice up some organic apples and dip 'em in! You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Wedding Photos!

Melissa and I shot another wedding of some friends two weeks ago! The photos are up on our photography blog - so please, go take a look, leave a comment and tell us your thoughts!!! :D

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

2011: Life and Other Musings

“This is what the past is for! Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.” - Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place

2011 was a crazy year. When I sit down and think about everything that has happened, I get a little overwhelmed and have to remind myself that it was only *one* year in which all these things happened. It has felt like a lifetime.

But, I learned so much! In spite of some difficulty and stress, I have recognized God's careful, loving hand as He molded and shaped me. Through difficulty the Lord has revealed grace. I've been reminded that this life isn't about *me*. The Lord has been teaching me to take the focus off of myself and to focus more on Him and loving others as He loves. I've learned that I need to stop feeling sorry for myself. Instead, I need to look at Jesus and take example from him. I need to love as He loves. It hasn't been easy...actually, it's been difficult, but I am grateful for the learning - for the process and where it has brought me in my relationship with those close to me as well as with the Lord.

Besides, without the difficulties in 2011, I wouldn't have a realization that family are the most important people in the world - friends come and go, but family is always, always there for me. I wouldn't have a closer, encouraging relationship with several friends who I hadn't appreciated before as I should have. (I am so grateful for the true friends that the Lord has blessed me with! You know who you are!).

And so many more things that I am unable to write down.

More importantly then anything, though, I have learned that no matter what we may be going through, no matter what tough choices and decisions we face - God is always there, leading us and teaching us and shaping us to be more like Him. When we're in the middle of a hard situation, we don't always see or understand what God could possibly be doing, but when it's over and the worst is behind us, we can look back and see God's hand throughout the storm. He is faithful, dear friends. That is what 2011 has taught me above matter how difficult the future may look, God is in control of it all. He loves us and He holds us in the palm of His hands. Trust in that. Trust in Him.

“At times God puts us through the discipline of darkness to teach us to heed Him. Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and we are put into the shadow of God's hand until we learn to hear Him...Watch where God puts you into darkness, and when you are there keep your mouth shut. Are you in the dark just now in your circumstances, or in your life with God? Then remain quiet...When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else when you get into the light.” - Oswald Chambers

Of course, I don't want you to think that my year has been nothing but difficulty! On the contrary, my hardships have revealed greater blessings! Plus, sooo many wonderful events have happened this year & I have been able to see my sisters who live so far, more often then I did the year before, which was a great blessing to me. Also, James, my oldest brother, got married, Tiffany & Ben had a baby girl, I turned 21, I flew a plane for the first time, I experienced the Northern California mountains up close and personal (cough) and I got to have all of my family together for the Holidays. I call that wonderful. The Lord has truly blessed me. :)

Happy, happy 2012! May this new year of your life be a blessed year and bring you closer to our Savior!

Without further ado, here is a recap of the year in photos. :)

Life Rally 2011
(This is our singing group!)

Twelfth Night 2011

Valentine's Day

Liberty Day!
My first experience with being completely in charge of the household for a week. This includes meals, cleaning, schooling the kids, etc. It was a HUGE learning experience for me! But I was super glad to have Mom and Melissa back home. ;-)

An outing in DeKalb with dear friends!

My eldest brother, James VI asked Jill to marry him and they had a lovely wedding in Peoria! I gained a niece AND another sister this year. :)

Road Trip!
Our big road trip this year consisted of driving all the way out to California. A full, three day journey! It was full of fun & was definitely a highlight of the year. :)

Mom & Mrs. Chapa!
We loved staying with the Chapa family on our way out and back!
We love our Colorado friends. :)

I flew a plane for the first time while I was out in Colorado!
Mr Chapa is a fantastic pilot and let me take control of the plane for a few minutes! It was thrilling & terrifying! And let's not even get into the stalls that we did... :-)

Dad & Mr. Chapa!

Visiting with the fabulous Storrie girls while out in Colorado!

Presbytery took place in the beautiful mountains of Northern California!

Spending some much-missed time with our wonderful, amzing outlaws! I miss y'all!!

Sister & Brother-in-Law! <3

Nic & I were the milkshake makers.
They tasted pretty good if I do say so myself. :-)

I miss my outlaws!!

Moosh & Caleb, exploring the mountain behind the Hectors home!

The baptism of my niece, Lilyana Shapirta Hector!


Back home! This is our Spring Family Photo!

Turkey Festival!

The Fourth of July was spent with dear friends!

Lilyana and Tiff came out to visit for the Ladies' Tea! And she brought SURPRISES: Mrs. Hector, Matthew, Nic & Anthony!!!

My beaaaautiful niece!

We're just missing Christa & Mom! :-(

Shopping trip!

Because we love little coffee houses... :)

Saying goodbye was ridiculously hard...*sigh*

Some dear friends blessed me with this entire Agatha Christie Mystery collection! I am in love. :)

Dad, Caleb & Mr. Vogel built a tree-house. It is spectacular!

Family Camp in Nebraska!

Concert with the Wintons!

Dates with girlfriends. :)


And the family is back to visit again!! Not Justin Bieber. ;-)

Christmas Morning!

Visiting with my little niece was definitely a highlight. :)

Sisters 2011

Our entire family: Christmas 2011