Thursday, June 28

sometimes i'd just like a list of good titles to use

Welp...the trip so far has been wonderful, and while I'm not going to post any details here about where we've been and such, I am happy to inform you that my mom has been quite the blogger lately, and has provided all who are interested with fascinating reports of our recent excursions, complete with pictures {compliments of my banged-up camera - not that I took all those pictures, mind you - Mother dear has become a natural photographer, once she learned how to switch my camera from taking videos to pictures, of course - does anyone else out there have family members who tend to do that?}. ;)

So, here is her blog - and, by the way, I'm sharing this with you peoples completely apart from her saying anything to me...I just feel guilty about not telling y'all every detail of our trip - so I'm letting her do that! ;) Haha. of late, I have been looking at C.S. Lewis quotes. Wow - he was certainly one amazing man. And...well, I was only going to share a few quotes, but then I went on a quote-frenzy. Sorry. ;) Please read them, though, and take the time to digest them quite thoroughly. They're all rather short, thus quick to read, but I find that the shorter ones often hit closer to home. I've added a couple of notes to some of them in italics.

“You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”

A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell.This quote is so sad, but think about's so true.

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

“Nothing you have not given away will ever really be yours.” *cough* That one hurt...
― Mere Christianity

“'You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,' said the Lion.”
― The Silver Chair  Just clarifying, 'the Lion' being Aslan, who represents God in the Chronicles of Narnia.

“Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say infinitely when you mean very; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.” This is exactly why I've been trying not to use the word 'love' as much to describe things that I merely like. It's difficult, in this world where that's just what you say, whether you're talking about that person's outfit or that delicious meal, but...I once watched a YouTube video where this guy was (sarcastically) talking about how much he liked grilled cheese sandwiches - "I love grilled cheese sandwiches!" - and how so many people say stuff like that. He went on to say, however (also sarcastically), "I'm sure Jesus appreciates being on the same level with you as grilled cheese sandwiches." Interesting thought, huh? Now, I'm not strictly religious about this or anything (you're a sinner if you say you love ice cream! :P just kidding), but it's just something to keep in mind.

“The great thing to remember is that though our feelings come and go God's love for us does not.”

“God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way.”

“We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito.” I could say this for everything here, but, wow, how true this one is. Definitely reminds me of Psalm 139. Yeah, that's right, go look it up! ;) (And I urge you to look it up in a real, actual Bible instead of Biblegateway or something - unlike I did. ;) haha)

“Do not let us mistake necessary evils for good.” In other words, let us not become so accustomed to the necessary evils in this life that we accept them as good. In the Light of Christ, they are far from it.

“It is a very funny thing that the sleepier you are, the longer you take about getting to bed.” 
― The Silver Chair

Does anyone else totally agree with that last quote?! Oh, c'mon - we've all done that before, when we're so tired we'd rather just sit right where we are on the couch instead of getting up and having to go through getting pajamas on, brushing and flossing your teeth, etc. before actually getting in bed. I had actually read that quote before, in the book where it's from - has anyone else read the entire Chronicles of Narnia? (How about totally out of order, like the weird person I am? I actually might not have read one or two of them, though - I can't remember.)

Anyways...last thing, about my title (amazing, right?), if anyone out there ever comes up with some kind of gadget that scans your blog post and generates a brief list of incredibly creative titles for you to use, please contact me. Immediately. Thank you very much. ;)

Love and blessings,

Saturday, June 23

recent happenings {and a different direction}

Hello, peoples! I've kind of been dreading writing this post, not because I have bad news, but because I have way too much good news to share! :) We've been having such a great time on our trip, and I'm afraid this post will be a mile long! However, I will try to summarize *coughicannotsummarizecough*.

To start off, last Tuesday I had an amazing time meeting Sarah Elizabeth! She and I are both part of the wonderful community of teen girls led by Mrs. Rue at this blog, and for the last couple of weeks we've gotten to know each other better via email. My family was staying near her family, so we arranged to meet up at the Cafe Du Monte (sp?) for beignets - never had them before, but they were delicious! :) Kind of like fry bread, only they're shaped in little squares, with mountains of sugar on top - what could be better? (Unless...they were filled with chocolate! ;) just kidding...) Anyway, here are some pics.

this is Sarah Elizabeth and I...
(not Sarah Elizabeth and me, not I and
Sarah Elizabeth, Sarah Elizabeth and I ;) haha
...and, by the way, if you doubt my grammar, click here)

...and her adorable little brother :)

Here is her blog, by the way, where she posted about our time together (because hers is much better than my pathetic attempt at describing our wonderful time together!). It was really such a blessing getting to meet her, and I had a great time talking with her, as my mom did with her mom and older sister. My dad had so much fun playing around outside, throwing the frisbee and such, with my brothers and her younger siblings - my dad is so great with little kids (and he's not too bad with teenagers either). :)

Oh, and before we went to meet her, we visited a very cool glass blowing and printing place. They were in the middle of a summer camp so there were a bunch of young teens in there making glass beads and shaping metal and making their own ink prints (to print on paper), which was all very entertaining. :) They were not glass blowing at the moment, but they had some amazing displays of tons of different glass creations, which are what the following pictures are (obviously) of (sorry if some of the pictures in this post are messed up...they weren't cooperating with me :P).

Later that afternoon, we drove on the 2nd longest bridge in the world! And...we didn't make it all the way across. It was slightly boring. Beautiful for a couple of minutes, boring after many. So we went grocery shopping and headed home. :) Here is an example of the view from pretty much the whole bridge:

sorry for that annoying black dot :P
it's on my camera lens and I have not
been able to get it off - any suggestions?

The next day we went to a Children's Museum, which was pretty awesome. :) Pictures: 

Noah and Nathan in a bubble
Nathan in a huge bubble (!!!)

Me in a pretty big bubble :)
Here's Nathan standing on...
some sort of blocks that we built up.
we're not sure what they were made of :P

Nathan's pic of me sitting on our little block creation - a very unsteady creation...we felt very brave of ourselves ;)

We found a whole lot of interesting stuff there, and had a great time - unlike the Children's Museum of Houston that we went to yesterday. Oh, trust me, that place was huge and had a ton of stuff - but I was kind of extremely tired, and it was kind of extremely loud and kind of extremely crowded. With little kids. {Today I learned how quickly you can get a headache...just kidding.} Anyway, my mom and I sat on a bench (we soon figured out why it wasn't occupied - it was conveniently placed underneath the AC vent blasting freezing-cold air), and we people watched. Basically, there were a lot of young moms dressed like teenagers (annoying), a lot of young girls dressed like teenagers (very, very annoying), and several grandparents who looked almost as bored as I was. Almost.

But, really, when I say that the dressing like teenagers (and I'm not talking about modest teenagers) was annoying, I don't mean annoying in the normal way you would say annoying, as in describing your brothers' incessant chatter. No, I mean it was saddeningly heartbreaking. My heart breaks for the lack of modesty, morality, and above all, the knowledge of the God Who loves to the point of His death - the lack of this in women in this age. The lack of a relationship with the one true God Almighty, Yahweh, Savior, Who loves more deeply than any boyfriend could, Who makes you more beautiful than any amount of makeup or clothes could, and Who fills and fulfills your life more than anything or anyone else could ever, ever even pretend to.

God has given me a deep passion and burden for the young women of my generation, the lost, the ones who seek security and love and pleasure in all the wrong places, who are ever searching but never finding. What can I do? Where will He lead me? I don't know. But those aren't even the right questions - those questions are focused on me, what I can do. I believe I should sound more like Christ, and how He acted...

"First He {Christ} said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings You {God the Father} did not desire, nor were You pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made). Then He said, “Here I am, I have come to do Your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
--Hebrews 10:8-10
words in {braces} are mine; also, I capitalized pronouns describing God

I don't want to act as if God is a tool for me to use in order to lead others to Him. {paraphrased from this post by Michaela Danielle - "We put emphasis on ourselves...using God as a tool."} I want to be, in every way possible, in Spirit and in truth, a tool for Him to use in order to bring others to Him!

And, while I wanted to finish there, I cannot. It would be quite hypocritical of me. I want to clarify that I have, in no way, become a perfect tool for Christ. I am definitely not perfect; I am, however, made pure by Christ's sacrificial love for me. And, oh, how often I forget that! I turn from Christ, trusting in myself, my knowledge, my ability - all weakness compared to His Almighty strength. I pride myself in spiritual-sounding language and good deeds, and totally miss out on God's amazing plans for me.

So let me make this plain (to myself as much as anyone else reading this). I have sinned. I will continue to sin as long as I am here on this earth (oh, how hard it is for me to say that, to accept that, that imperfection in me). And yet, Christ has died and rose again in love for what I so often try to justify by my own good works. I have believed in His love and forgiveness and embraced Him as my Savior. And I do this continually, every day - reminding myself that I have been saved by Him, not by myself, and I, in His grace, try to make every effort to live in His.

Thus the meaning of forgiven mess - in a nut shell (a coconut shell, that is, not a peanut shell). :)

In love and peace and blessings in Christ our Savior,

P.S. Well, this post went in an entirely different direction than I had originally planned (guess Whose "fault" that is?). I think it like it.

Saturday, June 16

summer vacation! =)

Well, I'd say we're off to a good start! A good start to what, you might ask? To our summer trip!! I'm quite excited, to say the least. ;) I feel like I need to have pictures or something, but...there's really not much that I can take a picture of. :P I mean, I guess I could take pics of the RV we're's kind of difficult to take good pictures of the inside, though. Maybe in the next few days, m'kay?

Anyway, the RV is really great, despite the small inconveniences we've discovered, just like any home, temporary or otherwise. For example, the closet that we all share? When the slide in the back is slid in, the bed is shoved up against the closet doors, and you can't open it up. Thus, you cannot get into the closet unless the slide is out (which means we have to be parked somewhere). :P Ah, well. One thing, however, that's really, really nice is that we now have bunk beds in this rented RV (as opposed to our other RV, which we are selling) - that way Nathan and Noah share the bed over the cab, I get the bottom bunk, Nicholas gets the top bunk, and my parents (of course) get the "master" bedroom. ;) Also, we have lots of storage, which is quite nice. :)

And there are three TVs in this thing! My goodness, we only have one in our entire house! Who in the world needs three televisions in little more than 200 square feet??! My hope is that we'll be spending quite a bit of time outside - probably even more so when we get up north and into cooler weather.

Oh! That reminds me (don't ask why; I have a weird train of thought) - there is one thing that I have pictures of: my hair! Er, more specifically, the haircut I just got. ;) I got it cut two days ago, on Thursday, and while I'm still getting used to it, I like it. I'm going to donate my chopped-off hair to Locks of Love (3rd time!) soon as we take the time to mail it out, that is. :P Anyway, here are the before and after pics:

Sorry about that 2nd picture - how it's kinda blurry and I'm not really smiling well and all that...we are driving on the highway, you know, and I just took that pic in the bathroom because it was well-lighted in there and I wanted to do it in the mirror, so I had to brace myself against the sink and focus on not pitching into the shower while trying to quickly snap a half-decent picture (wow, was that a total run-on sentence!). :) Ha, I didn't even have my glasses on, either. :P And, as you may have guessed, the bags underneath my eyes are from packing all day and getting about, ah, 6 and a half hours of should have heard Nicholas and I last night. Boy, were we punchy. :D

So, yeah...I like this haircut because it's so much easier to take care of, makes for quicker showers (for which my 3 brothers are quite thankful), and will keep me a bit cooler this summer. At the same time, however, there's not as much you can do with short hair (and today I just left it down because I was being lazy and it's easy that way). And I was hoping that this haircut would make me look a bit older, as it has in the past...well, this time I think it made me look about 2 years younger. :P Ah, well.

Anyways....hmm, reading over this post, it sounds kinda choppy and not all that well written. :P Well,'ll just have to deal with it, ok? :) Hope you all are having a wonderful weekend!

Love and blessings,
Nicole <3

P.S. I wrote this post earlier today, but am just posting it now - at, like, 10:55pm...which would be 11:55pm EST time - we're in central time now. Yeah... :P. But, I just wanted to add real quick that we're staying at this wonderful little campsite in the Panhandle, and had such a lovely time walking along the beach earlier, during sunset (we walked to the beach! it's only, like, a 5, 10 minutes walk - how awesome is that?! I'll post pics tomorrow or something). We'll stay here another night, and then head onto Louisiana. Oh, and my mom is updating her blog on our family website (where my old blog is, on Weebly)! Be a sweetie and go check it out, maybe even leave a comment! (Please?) ;) {I'm quite liking these handy little post scripts. I always seem to want to add something but don't know where to stick it!}

Wednesday, June 13

photo/editing challenge and loveliness

Welllll....I just found this lovely little blog, Designed to Inspire, created by the lovely little lady, Britt, "to help others use their talents and creativeness for fun and help them grow and learn different techniques" {quoted from her 'About My Blog' page}. It's positively lovely! ;) (I'm finding myself quite drawn to that word today. Along with the word 'quite'. Just a random fact.)

And, they just happened to be having a photo challenge there! "They" being Britt, Hannah, Hannah Frank, and Ruby (the other contributors) - the photo challenge, however, was posted by Ruby. This is a bit different from typical challenges, however. In this contest, Ruby has posted a picture that she took, and we all have to edit the picture. Cool idea, huh? I thought so, too. That's why I'm taking part in it. ;) is the original picture in all of it's amazing original-ness:

And here is the edited picture in all of its amazing edited-ness!

I used PicMonkey to edit the photo. Tell me what y'all think! (Yes, I'm a bit of a country girl *wink*) Oh, and my wonderful younger brother, Nicholas, helped me edit this. ;) We had fun doing it together....unfortunately, the prize is a blog button, so I can't give him half of that. {Aw, too bad...if I win, I get all the amazing blog button-ness to myself! Mwahahaha! ...ahem.}

Now then, go and take part in this lovely photo editing challenge! (Did I mention it was lovely?)

P.S. My youth group went to IKEA today! Last time I'll see them all before our trip. :( But we had so much was my first time there, along with at least one other person (so I didn't feel too left out). Oh! And I had ligonberry juice. Apparently that is a popular Swedish berry or something, because there was ligonberry juice, ligonberry sauce, etc. It tastes kind of like cranberries. But I digress...after lunch and looking around for couches, rugs, etc. for the youth room, we had a scavenger hunt, created by our very own youth leader - and it was amazing!! I'm not sure who won, though. :P Anyway, we had fun, took lots of interesting pictures - which may or may not come up later. We'll see. ;) Love and blessings to you all!! May you all rest in God's peace and joy...what a wonderful place to be, agreed?

Saturday, June 9

award and such

I know, I know, I know. I am a very bad blogger. Let me ', there is too much - let me sum up (hehe :) Princess Bride quote): it's been about...let me see...5 weeks - over a month - since my last post.

I will wait for your gasps of horror to subside.

Now. Where were we? Oh, yes - the terrors of my blogging habits. You see, the first week and a half or so of my impromptu hiatus, I almost completely forgot to blog. At all. Really, you ask? Really. Seriously. No sarcasm involved. I'm not sure how, but somehow I just about totally forgot that I had a blog, much less that I needed to post on it. I'm not even sure what I was doing that so led me astray!

Once it finally, actually dawned on me that my 13 followers - wait a minute, 13? I gained new followers while I wasn't even posting?! This is slightly leads to the thought that I am more interesting when you don't have to listen to me. Hmph.

Let me continue. *switches to dramatic, theatrical voice* When at last I realized that my questionably loyal followers were waiting in questionable suspense for my next questionably amazing post...*switches back to normal voice*..I procrastinated. Mmm, procrastination - one of the most blissful yet most cursed habits of mankind (blissful, that is, until your friend is coming over in 10 minutes and you haven't even started on your science test; blissful, that is, until you have to leave in a half an hour and you still haven't taken a shower; blissful, that is, until an entire 5 weeks have gone by and you are forced to post because you have been awarded. how pathetic. thus, it is cursed, as aforementioned).

And then, for the last, oh, 3 weeks, I had a topic bouncing around in my head that I refused post because of my stubborn laziness. I hesitantly checked up on my ailing blog every now and then, while still eagerly following other blogs....until the day that my blogging world was changed. That day was the day when I was....awarded. ;)

So, here I am, humbly presenting myself to you and apologizing for my lackadaisical neglect, and hoping you could somehow forgive me for my horrible misdeeds. (And realizing that I did not sum up. I most definitely explained, in a quite superfluous fashion. *sigh* Another thing for which to ask your forgiveness...)

And now I am putting my dark past behind me and am moving forward - to thank Ireland from A Pearl of Great Price for awarding me!! :)

1. Thank the person who awarded you.
2. List 7 random things about yourself.
3. Award 15 others this award.

So, #1 - just in case I did not make this clear: thank you so much, Ireland!! That was so sweet of you! ;) As I was telling her, I'm a bit embarrassed that she viewed my blog in its sorry state, and I was explaining how un-award-worthy my blog is, when it dawned on me - my blog fits one of the (lesser known) definitions of the award!

ver·sa·tile (adj.) - 1. Able to adapt or be adapted to many different functions or activities. 2. Changeable; inconstant.

Inconstant - describes my preferred pattern of posting perfectly! :) I mean, I suppose could start a new trend on this blog of mine and start posting more regularly...maybe...think it'll work? It would take a miracle. Goodbye! (sorry...another Princess Bride quote :) ya think I've watched that movie too many times? my family quotes it all the time...)

Now for the 7 random things about me....

1. My eyes are blue-green, like my dad and my older brother.
2. I finished (home)school last week!! Next year, highschool...(still homeschooled)
3. I am taking Spanish on an online class over the summer, my choice. I'd like to one day be able to speak Spanish just about fluently.
4. My family is leaving on either the 15th or the 16th for our trip! So excited!!
5. My dad's birthday was yesterday!! We had such a great time, and I made this delicious dessert for him! Only instead of chocolate frosting, I made and spread ganache on top (my friend's idea), stuck it in the fridge, and then we ate it later. Yum...
6. I'm looking forward to, Lord willing, getting my permit this year, as I am turning 15 on November 16th!
7. I - er, my mom coupons. Well, I help. :) Any fellow couponers out there?

And I award....

1. Alisha at Mercy's Miracle
2. Anna at f a n a t i c a l
3. Chloe at Blooming in Christ
4. Emii at Girlz 4 God
5. Melody at Rejoice Always!
6. Melody at 100 Things to do Before College
7. Rachel at What Do You Expect?
8. Sarah Elizabeth at Learning to Trust God
9. Sophie at My Happy Place
10. Talia at Girlz of God
11. ...
12. ....
13. .....
14. ......
15. .......

Um, OK, so I didn't make it to 15. :P I tried really hard, but I only made it to 10. :( Ah, well. I already knew it would take a me a while to round up even just 10 people to award and then comment on their blogs letting them know I've awarded them...which is why I put this post off for a day or two. :P BUT, anyone else who wants to do this - I award you! ;)

Anyway, I hope this satisfies y'all for now, because I right about now, I feel satisfied just writing! I need to write more often (as my record of posts clearly shows)...

Love and blessings to you all! May God's peace guide us throughout the day as we serve Him...and be reminded by Him to serve Him - not others, not ourselves, but Christ, our Savior and Lover. <3

P.S. My friend and I sidewalk chalked the rain. ;) It was quite amusing, and I'm very sorry I was too lazy to take pic of it. :P We were very proud of our (slightly smudged) balloon and flower and tree and butterfly and teddy bear and - our best - the earth with purple, pink, orange, yellow, and white children circling it, holding hands. ;) When was the last time you sidewalk chalked? Or...have you - *gasp* - never sidewalk chalked?!