An Open Letter to Whoever

02 July 2015

To whoever cares –

I feel like I have so many things to say, but I have no idea how to say them. I actually have a small amount of anxiety right now as I begin to write this out. I am getting older and with that comes responsibility – responsibility to find myself and my own opinions, and the responsibility to be able to properly state those thoughts in the most respectable way possible. Over the past few weeks, a few historical things have happened in our nation. Racial hate crimes take place what seems like all the time, and we have made same-sex marriage legal. I don’t know if it’s because I am just now starting to pay attention, but our country seems to be changing into a different one than I grew up in. I get anxious talking about things that are controversial. Right now my face is bright red and I’m sweating. There is always the fear that I will say something “wrong” or “offensive”. As a white, heterosexual, American female there are things that I obviously will never be able to understand. I will never be able to know how it feels to be looked at and automatically be judged. I will never know how it feels to be categorized only by the color of my skin. And I don’t pretend to. But as a person I do feel like I have an opinion on these things. And as a Christian, I have an even bigger one.

It is hard for me to wrap my head around the idea of people being MURDERED, out of hate, in their very own church, a place where you should feel very safe. It is almost impossible for me to comprehend the idea of my Christian brothers and sisters being killed while in PRAYER. What is even more incomprehensible is that a tragedy like this happens and because we want something to fight about, it is turned into a campaign for policy change – as if we forgot that people died and families are now forever broken. It is heartbreaking, it is a tragedy, and no doubt it is the work of Satan. This Sunday, Benjamin Watson spoke at our church and said a lot of things that struck me (which you might recognize from his post here). He says that we do not have a skin problem, we have a sin problem, and, luckily for us, God gave us the answer to sin when Jesus Christ died on the cross. Racism is a symptom of our sin. As Christians, we have the choice to show the grace of God in our actions and in our responses. It is our job, even just as PEOPLE, to live and radiate love to everybody, no matter what they look like. It is our job to talk about things, no matter how awkward and uncomfortable they are. We must engage in the things taking place around us, not run scared at controversy. I believe that this really all starts with conversation, getting answers from the other side – which would probably be a lot easier if everybody didn’t get so dang offended all the time. We need to learn how to distinguish a genuine, honest question from an accusation. There are so many things I want to ask and say but am scared the other person will just get mad at me. We need to respect opposing opinions and thoughts. After all, isn’t that what this great nation is built on? I believe that change starts there.

The Christian faith is fundamentally built on LOVE. Jesus Christ tells us to love everybody – gay, straight, black, white, whether they are a Christian or not, whether they are sinners or not (newsflash – we all are). The sooner we realize that, the better off we will be. We don’t have the right to condemn others for what they choose to do with their lives. We don’t rally and protest the fact that all people are legally allowed to cheat on their spouses, which – guess what – is “against the bible”. This is not a Christian world, and we do not have the right to try and make it one. In fact, it was never even intended to be one. As the world evolves, Christianity and its followers must evolve with it. Not all Christians are the way that people want to make them out to be. We don’t all want to rule the world and dominate this country, despite what you may think. Most of us just want to be an example of the Lord. We want to love others as Jesus Christ loved us. As a younger Christian, it is easy for me to be accepting of things like gay marriage. We live in a different world than our parents and grandparents did, and I understand that they don't feel comfortable with the same things that I do, but my hope is that one day they will. We must be patient as we wait for them to catch up to us. Change takes time. I want people to look at Christians and see a living example of God's grace. We are all made in the eyes of the Lord, and we are all equally as loved and cherished by Him. And in order to properly pay Jesus back for what he did for us (if there is ever a way to do so), we must be an example of his boundless love here on Earth. We are one step closer to loving people just the way they are. Open your hearts to everybody around you, regardless of who they choose to be/love.

Life is not all about policies and government and this and that. It is about the people around you. Not everything can be made into a perfect little article to stick in the giant book of laws...whatever that even means. Love people first and care about all the other stuff later.

I am not an expert on anything, and I don’t claim to be. These are my thoughts as a Christian. I don’t mean to offend anybody, and I definitely don’t mean to make it seem like I know a lot about what I’m talking about. Often times I just feel the need to defend my faith. It is my job as a Jesus follower to spread the word of God and how I believe he would want us to act. The answer to that is always and will always be LOVE. Seriously, if you’re a Christian always always always ask yourself, “what would Jesus do?”

Talk about things that make you uncomfortable. Be a better person, a better Christian, and a better American. The world would be a much different place if we all saw each other the way God saw us.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children, and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. || Ephesians 4:32 - 5:2

Knit for Kids

04 June 2015

Hello everybody! Happy almost Friday. A few months ago, I felt the need to just do something for the world. That sounds stupid, but, it's true! I thought about what I personally could do to help this world just a liiiiitttle bit, and I decided I was going to knit some baby things and donate them. I did some research, and I came across Knit for Kids. Knit for Kids is a Christian organization that receives your donated items and sends them to places all across the world, including the United States. I have a personal goal of sending in (hopefully) 100 little hats, with the help of my friends and family who knit around me as well. 

I'm sharing this because I want other people to feel inspired and maybe get involved. You can read more about the Knit for Kids story here. They are currently only accepting hats and basic sweaters. You can browse through the website (here) and see the rules/regulation and decide if it is something you are interested in. There are simple patterns available on the website as well!

If you want, I created a pattern that is fairly easy for a baby hat that you guys can use! It's the pattern I used for the hats in the photo above. It's super simple. 

Chunky yarn
10 1/2 needles (straight or circular)
Darning needle

Cast on 40 stitches
Row 1: Knit
Row 2: Purl
- continue rows 1 & 2 for about 5 inches ending with a row 2 row -

Row 1: K2 *k2tog rest of row* - 21 sts. 
Row 2: Purl whole row
Row 3: K1 *k2tog rest of row* - 11 sts.
Row 4: Purl whole row
Row 5: K1 *k2tog rest of row* - 6 sts.

Cut a long tail, attach darning needle, and weave tail through remaining stitches. Pull the needle out from the stitches and close the top of the hat. Work the seam of the hat using the mattress stitch. Weave ends in.

For a pdf printable version of this pattern, click here

There you go! If there is anything I can do to make the pattern simpler or if there is anything confusing about it, please let me know! It's super easy. Probably easier than it seems. Try it out & let me know :)

20 things I've learned by 20

01 June 2015

Hi! Tomorrow I turn 20. That seems so old to me. How am I already out of my teens??? Don't y'all remember being little kids and looking up at the "adults" who were really just teenagers but seemed like they could 25?? Anyways, I think over my 20 years I have learned a lot about life, so if you want a little insight from lil old me, here you go...

1. Birthdays are just regular days. I'm sure you all already know this, but once you reach like 18, it almost seems like birthdays just don't matter as much. 

2. The sky at night is the most amazing thing in the world. We don't appreciate the stars and the moon enough. Go outside at 11 o'clock at night and just look up. There's a pretty amazing world right in front of you!!!

3. Jesus will always have an answer. Even if it's not the one you want, He always has an answer. You would be surprised how good just praying makes you feel.

4. Your parents don't suck, they are actually pretty cool. Nothing beats staying at home with your family and playing board games all night, or is that just me?...........

5. Pizza is good at any time, any day!!!!!!!! Period.

6. Get you work done first. Do your school work or whatever it is done before you go out. That way you have nothing to worry about!!

7. Crying makes you feel better. I've learned that if you need to cry, just cry. It's cathartic. 

8. Everybody has something important to share. No matter who, every single person you meet has something you can learn from them. All you have to do is take the time to talk and listen to them!

9. Some people are just mean and there is nothing you can do about that. 

10. Getting angry at things you can't change is pointless. This is when the power of prayer is so important. You can't waste your life being angry about things and people that you can't change. All you can do is pray about it. You can help and pray and give advice, but being angry does absolutely nothing. 

11. Do the photobooth. If there's a photobooth, spend the five dollars for it. Nothing makes me happier than a photobooth!!!!

12. If you want to spend money on a nice trip or a nice pair of shoes, do it. Life really is way to short to care. Just do it.

13. Don't compare yourself to others. You can only compare yourself to who you are. Remember where you have came from and what you have accomplished. You are you and you will always be just you. There is no point in being unhappy about that. You are made perfectly and uniquely by God and that is something to be proud of.

14. Complaining is pointless. If you're complaining, you're doing something wrong. Either change your situation or deal with it.

15. Apologize first. Life is too short to wait for the other person to say they're sorry. Just do it first, and you'll be much happier.

16. Read books. There is nothing better than really getting lost in a good book. Don't spend all your time on the computer or watching TV. Enhance your mind and change your perspective some! Your brain matters....nourish it!!!

17. Stay humble. Don't look down on others... Be grateful for what you have instead of wasting your time being grateful that others don't have it. Focus on bettering yourself.

18. Relationships are hard. They're not always fun and they definitely are not always easy, but when you find that perfect way to be happy with someone, they really are worth it!! 

19. You can never confront somebody the right way. Sometimes, you just have to confront somebody. Don't waste your time trying to perfect what you are going to say. It'll never be easy. It'll never come out right. Just do it.

20. A relationship with Jesus takes just as much work as any other relationship. God is always there for you. He is willing to move you from point A to point B, but you have to be willing to move with him. You have to be willing to give up time in your day to spend time with Him. A relationship with Jesus is just as important as a relationship with your boyfriend. That is something very important to remember. 

Y'all have a good day!!!!

Welcome to My Mind

29 April 2015

Finals are here, so naturally, I'm writing a blog post. But I'm multi tasking! I am simultaneously stressed out while writing a blog post. I'm so talented. I'm sitting here studying and worrying and maybe crying just a little bit, but I'm also thinking a lot about why we college students put ourselves through all of this... and I would like to think it's because eventually we all want to do great things with our lives. We all want to change the world, and with that comes a bunch of school, a bunch of tests, a bunch of stress, and a bunch of worrying. But Jesus tells us not to worry. He tells us that he is there for us.

I truly believe that Jesus has a plan for who we are supposed to be. Such a weight is lifted off my shoulders knowing that. Jesus knows exactly what we are going to do. He knows the mistakes we are going to make before we even make them, yet he died or us and loves everything about us. He forgave all of our sins before we even committed them. That is something that as Christians we should be able to take heart in. In return we must have faith in our actions and in ourselves. God will know what you are going to do before you even think about doing it. That's so scary but so important.

Doesn't that almost making worrying about your big exams seem a little bit minuscule? In return for what Jesus did for us, the least we can do is take what we are given and be thankful for it - instead of continuously wishing they would go away... We are where we are for a reason. Just go with the flow! Everything will work out.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.  
Psalm 32:8

PS: if this doesn't make sense, sorry, it's actually a page right out of my journal....welcome to my mind!

Judah Smith's "Jesus Is"

07 April 2015

Hi!!! Long time, no post! It's April and so far I am on my 5th book of 2015... At this rate, I will never finish my book list, but that's ok! I'm just trying to make sure I make time for myself to enjoy the little things. I recently finished Judah Smith's Jesus Is, and I am so excited to write a post about it! I 100% recommend this book to all Christians, no matter where you are on your journey with Christ. It is eye-opening, hilarious, and full of reminders of God's grace. Judah Smith is so talented at spreading God's word. If y'all have never heard of him, he is the lead pastor of City Church in Seattle. Watch some videos of his to get an idea of who he is. He is amazing! If anybody reads it please please please e-mail me, I would love to talk about it :)

1. Jesus loves you, no matter who you are. Jesus came for the broken, the bad, the addicted, the bound, the deceived, the lost, and the hurting. Judah writes, "Jesus was obsessed with showing mercy to those who least deserved it. He was passionate about giving hope to hopeless people. He was committed to showing grace to the worst of sinners. And if I'm honest, that includes me."

2. Jesus is grace. We often think of grace as a "thing". It is something that we take advantage of because we know that Jesus is full of grace. But instead of thinking of grace as a thing, we should think of Jesus as grace. We would be much less likely to abuse grace if we thought of it as a person, let alone as Jesus.

3. Once you experience God's goodness, sin no longer is appealing. People who aren't Christians look at the concept of grace and think that this is an excuse for Christians to sin, however that is not at all what it is. When we experience God and all that he has to offer, we want to live a life that is good, not one of sin.

4. The gospel is good news. This is my favorite quote from the book. "That's the gospel. It's good news for everyone. It's not good news just for people who are already good, for those who are self-controlled and disciplined enough to have all their ducks in a row. It's good news for the people who can't even find their ducks. They haven't seen some of their ducks in years. Their lives are a mess. But they can come to Jesus and find instant acceptance. They belong long before they believe and long before they behavior."

5. Jesus wants you to be happy. Christians often have the reputation of making everybody feel as if they are being judged, and often, it's not just a reputation. Jesus didn't want you to judge all the people around you. He wanted you to be able to laugh at yourself. He didn't want you to sweat the small stuff. Judah says, "Something is wrong when we call ourselves Christians but we practically have an aneurysm just trying to crack a smile."

6. God loves you more than you love him. When you pray, don't come to Jesus telling him all the things you've done to be a good Christian because he already knows. Tell him that you know how much he loves you, that you know only he can do whatever you need. He is on your side not because of what you have done for him, but because that is just who he is. His love is unconditional.

7. Jesus allows you to live a different life. Because Jesus died for our sins, we can live our lives from a place of peace. We know that God controls our each and every move. Jesus is stronger than any force in the whole entire universe. He allows you to move forward in life without worrying about what is to come.

Can you see how great this book is?!!? Please, read it!

DIY Brown Sugar Scrub with Vanilla

03 February 2015

You will need //
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup of olive oil (some people use coconut oil, which I probably would have liked better but because I was impatient I just used what I had!)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
Mason jar or some sort of sealing container

Here's how //
Measure in a large mixing bowl the 2 cups of brown sugar. Slowly, while mixing, pour in the olive oil. Use your hands to mash it all together. Once all the brown sugar has been mixed with the oil (you may need a little more oil but not too much), mix in the vanilla. Once it all seems saturated (not too goopy), spoon it into whatever container you're using. You may need to drain a little oil out over the sink or bathtub if it seems to "water-y".

Using it //
I've used my scrub in the shower multiple times now. Scrub the mixture on in the shower then wait about 5 minutes under hot water. Your hands may feel a bit oily at first, but if you allow time in the shower for the scrub to rinse off, it won't be an issue! Your skin will be super super smooth hours after your shower, and it's super easy to make with things you have just laying around your house.

Let me know if y'all try it out!

Life Lessons From Amy Poehler's "Yes Please"

28 January 2015

I finished my first book off of my 2015 reading list! A little late in the game, but whatevs. Amy Poehler's Yes Please consists of 327 glossy pages full of humor, dirty jokes, and just a liiiiiitttle bit of insight. Okay, I lied, a lot of insight. Here are 14 things I learned while reading Yes Please

1. Pick your currency. There are things inside of you that will get you far in life, you just have to decide what it is. "Decide what your currency is early. Let go of what you will never have. People who do this are happier and sexier." 

2. Always apologize. Don't not apologize because of your ego or because of shame or because you're embarrassed. "Shame makes people abandon their children and drink themselves to death. It also keeps us from true happiness. An apology is a glorious release."

3. Famous people knit too. Knitting is cool. Period.

4. The pudding isn't what is important. Amy talks about being nominated for awards. She discusses how you really think you don't want the pudding, then you get nominated and you begin to want it, then you don't win it, and you're upset over something you didn't even want in the first place. She talks about all the fun stuff she's done at award shows. I don't know, I guess you would have to read the chapter to understand this part. (READ IT!) "The lessons? Women are mighty. George Clooney loves bits. Doing something together is often more fun than doing it alone. And you don't always have to win to get the pudding." 

5. One night of good sleep can change your life. "Sleep can completely change your entire outlook on life. One good night's sleep can help you realize that you shouldn't break up with someone, or you are being too hard on your friend, or you actually will win the race or the game or get the job. Sleep helps you win at life." 

6. You have to work for what you want. "The reality is, most people become 'famous' or get great jobs' after a very, very long tenure shoveling shit and not because they handed their script to someone on the street...People don't want to hear about the fifteen years of waiting tables and doing small shows with your friends until one of them gets a little famous and they convince people to hire you."

7. Creativity is your life line. "Creativity is the stuff that lubricates our lives and helps us feel less alone in the world. It is a really warm Hispanic lady who has a beautiful laugh and loves to hug. If you are even a little bit nice to her she will make you feel great and maybe cook you delicious food." 

8. Time travel exists. People, places, and things can take you back to a time that you thought you could never go back to. "Time moves too slow or too fast. But I know a secret. You can control time. You can stop it or stretch it or loop it around. You can travel back and forth by living in the moment and paying attention. Time can be a bitch if you just let go of the 'next' and the 'before.'" 

9. Death sucks. Death teaches us a lot of things. "I realized that life is not fair or safe or even ours to own."

10. Take time to look at the moon. Isn't there something special knowing that somebody a million miles away is looking at the same moon that you are? "Every time I look at the moon, I feel less alone and less afraid. I tell my boys that moonlight is a magic blanket and the stars above us are campfires set by friendly aliens." 

11. Parties with famous people aren't that great. The end.

12. Helping out is helping out, it doesn't matter why. "I wondered if I was doing this for some kind of ego trip. Then I decided I didn't care. Not enough is made of the fact that being of service makes you feel good. I think nonprofits should guarantee that giving your time and money makes your skin better and your ass smaller. Why not? There are so many people in the world with so little. Who cares why you decide to help?"

13. People are very bad and very good. A little love goes a long way.

14. Our phones and the internet are trying to kill us. "So far, the only good things I have seen come out of this recent technological renaissance are video-chatting with your grandparents, online dating, and being able to attend traffic school on your computer." 

I really think I'm in love with her, for reals y'all. You can get Yes Please here on Amazon. READ IT!