Before Everything Went Right…

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Good afternoon, you all!

I don’t know whether it was the shards of desire in my eyes leftover from this morning searching for more beautiful things or whether it was the getting up at four a.m. drowsiness altering my brain, but today is the most perfect day I’ve seen in a while. A few minutes ago, I was enjoying the sun and breeze outside with the sun just warming the bricks in my backyard and the breeze drying my hair and bringing the faint scent of barbeques and Gatorade. I have been rather busy as I know I still have to explain, but I have also been making time to read my thousands of books because I make more time than I should. I am currently reading two stories, but the one I want to mention, Little Beach Street Bakery, is a dream. Side note: I finished it today and it is an adult book, I skipped a few scenes and words. (So I cannot actually recommend it.) It’s essentially about a girl who moves to this tiny little island that depending on the tide, is completely cut off from the rest of the world. It’s a beautiful book, the girl, Polly, starts up her own bakery by the end and fixes up an old home. It completely flows with my mind right now.

This entire week, possibly even month, has felt like it was all going wrong. I was depressed to begin with at the start of the month because, as some of you might know, I should have been in France from the start of July to a beautiful close-to-the-end-of-July. I was crabby and frustrated this whole month, but this week was bad in particular. I had extra hours requested of me at work, but I wasn’t able to fill them and felt awful even though it’s allowed for me to not be available. I had an overload of work that I pretty much gave myself, from applications to Calculus homework (for fun). I was stressed about Thursday because I had to work, then rush to Sport Chalet and rent gear so that I could leap into a suit and attend a three hour pool session for diving. I skipped workouts and felt like I slacked off to my main sport, swimming. I had a run-into with an old… something. I don’t even know what. We were friends a long time ago, but he quit talking to me and left, so I held a grudge for at least three or four years. And he wanted a hug when he recognized me…. (I reluctantly did.) So I had to face the feelings resurfacing and through it all, I was angry with myself for being angry, for caring about it all, for making everything such a big deal when he probably doesn’t even remember us being friends all that well, let alone how he left. And through realizing all this, I kind of just cracked this morning.

I am in the process of becoming diver certified. Most people want their driver’s license, but this summer I decided to go for diver instead. We had a ton of homework over a three week period so far, although it extends into next week. We have had classroom days with quizzes and pool sessions that last for three hours ending at nine p.m. with everything practiced over and over. Today, practically yesterday with how early I had to wake up, we attempted our first dive outside a pool. We had to cancel, the surf was too strong and the ocean was too murky at the bottom with sand. I suppose most people would be annoyed or feel like they wasted a day, but it was one of the best things that’s happened to me. Getting up at 4:30, we sneaked around the house and stole away to the beach, arriving an hour and a half later. Seeing the empty street and the tiny shops brought such an odd sense of peace. The air and smell of sea urchins and seaweed relaxed me even more. The sky gained more and more light as the morning went on and we practiced breaking out past the surf zone and coming back in. God gave me such peace this morning, diving under waves and bracing myself against the surge. I realize He always has a way for us to get past the wave, whether over or under – He has a way. Sometimes, I have to be shoved off my feet to learn, but fortunately, there’s always God or, in today’s case, a divemaster to right me again.

Reflecting on the success today was for me, I came to a calm with some of the things I have been frustrated by. Although I didn’t get to dive today, I got to practice entry through the surf and I got to enjoy the beach with my brother and group today – we were a fun gang, my head instructor especially. The beauty of the waves, air, and empty cove made me rethink some of the problems that I struggled with this week in particular. For work, it’s a main priority, but I was not, despite my feelings, letting anyone down. I already had plans and I worked extra hours already this week. Sometimes I need to just let it go, I can’t always be the willing, able, and available girl I’d like to be. For work and stress, I just finished reading a book about doing things that God has told me to do. That really means, as the book said, not saying yes to everything. I know I managed my schedule and workouts to the best I could. Thursday worked out just fine. Everything ran smoothly and I had fun joking around with my friends at work and with my family and brother at diving. Dealing with my grudge was the most difficult; I had the hardest time letting it go, but I did. Because in all honesty, I need to practice forgiving, I don’t think he remembers, I most likely will never see him again because it took years to run into him and in a year we will be in college, and also, it was just stupid – a grudge leftover from when I was 12-13. It ran deep, it was hard to stop, but I think I’m pretty much okay. God hasn’t given me many chances to practice letting grudges go, simply because I don’t have many (thankfully), but I’m now grateful for the chance.

So like the book, I know what it’s like to have your life personally changed by the sea and, unlike the book, by God. He never stops blessing me with moments like today that leave me with peace and understanding, but today was just so wonderful that I had to share. So as a note, when things are really seeming to go wrong, just wait it out and rely on Him. Visit the ocean or what gives you peace. When the huge wave is being created, right in front of your face, turn to your buddy, brace each other, and let it crash over you. Because I promise, that when it passes, you’re stronger and happier than you’ve ever been before.

To finish out today’s post, here’s a recipe for cookies that I altered from a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook ( I highly recommend the New Cook Book). The batter will seem all wrong, too soupy and slightly lumpy, but it will turn out fine. I made these for the first time this week and looking at the batter before cooking them, I was thinking I was going to have to add them to the list of failures for the week, but they were beautiful once cooked.

Fudge Cookies

Ingredients:

Use what chocolate types you like, but I used:

2 squares semisweet baker’s chocolate

12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)

2 large pats of butter (about 2 Tablespoons)

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon vanilla (I love vanilla; I add more)

about 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

3/4 cup of chopped nuts (optional)

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Melt the chocolate squares, half chocolate chips, and butter. I prefer to use a heat-safe bowl over a pot of boiling water, but a microwave works too. Stir chocolate-butter often.

3. Add sugar, flour, vanilla and baking powder to chocolate mixture, stir until it’s mixed fairly well. Whenever the chocolate cools enough it won’t cook the eggs (warm/slightly hot), add the eggs and mix everything as smooth as you can.

4. Add nuts and remaining chocolate chips to batter, stirring in. Now, it’s soupy, I know, but dribble it into cookie shapes onto a prepared cookie sheet. For the cookie sheets, I like the double layer trays with a sheet of spray-buttered parchment paper on top. (I’m all for having clean cookie sheets and cookies that don’t stick.)

5. Bake the cookies for about 8-12 minutes, depending on what size you make them. Cookies will have dull shell-like top with cracks.

Hope you enjoy those if you make them! Have a wonderful week! I know I will enjoy mine. 🙂

I quite understand now why some people are in love with the ocean and the beach. I think I’m a beach bum in the making, definitely already a sea freak.

Lovingly,

Your Ocean Girl

xx

Your Sacred Yes // Book Review

Hello everyone!

Here is July’s book review:

23583854[1]Your Sacred Yes by Susie Larson

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ –

four out of five hearts
(picture from GoodReads)

GoodReads Summary:

Popular Author & Speaker Equips Women to Live Focused and Free
Women today are stretched thin, worn weary, and tired of living hurried lives. And nothing drains us more than signing up for things God never asked us to do, even if they are well-intentioned. Yet, all too often that’s exactly where we lose our way.
In “Your Sacred Yes,” Susie Larson shares personal stories and biblical insights to help you:
– Learn how–and when–to say “no” without guilt or shame
– Say “yes” to “life-giving,” not life-draining, activities
– Find joy and abundance, fulfillment and freedom, each day
When we can’t, or won’t, say “no,” we become captive to our commitments instead of free to respond to God’s invitations. Here is your chance to say no to others’ obligations and yes to the One who will rejuvenate your weary soul. Will you say “yes”?

 

My Review:

Pros:

I really liked this book, it was telling me something important, but the whole book was encouraging. Even though the book was telling me I might be spinning my wheels and wasting energy on something I didn’t need to be doing – it just pushed me to figure out why I’m doing what I’m doing and if I should be doing those things. I never felt like Ms. Larson was criticizing me for getting into that situation or for doing something I’m not called to do. That’s a really critical point for me, because self-help books don’t work well for me if they are only negative.

This book has a lot of scripture, proving points Ms. Larson makes, as well as quotes from different people and even stories from her own life. Oh my goodness, and that bonus chapter! It includes spiritual and physical challenges, I encourage all readers to consider doing the challenge because it’s a great why to move forward and change your life based on what you’ve read. This book was fantastic, giving great suggestions on how to change your life and reasons why you should.

As believers we know we are not saved by our acts, but sometimes we end up doing so much extra work that we can’t stop and rest in Him. Ms. Larson was the first author I’ve come across who really explained and assured me of the importance of resting in Him. I knew it was important, but I guess I kind of thought that God would just be pleased that I wasn’t being lazy. I realized through this book that He wants me to have the time to come to Him and not just pass out at 11 every night. Your Sacred Yes had a message saying to me that life is short and so we should make sure that we’re sure that we’re doing the work He calls us to do.

Cons:

I have none!

Overview:

I cannot wait to go back and dissect this book to pieces! I would suggest this to anyone, but especially those who reply, “Oh, I don’t have enough time to read a book right now…” 🙂

I received a free copy of Your Sacred Yes from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a 100% honest review.

 

xx

Hearts Made Whole // Book Review

Hello there, everyone!

I’m sorry for the lack in posting. I was going to post much earlier, because I had some great news, but something happened and my life got kind of crazy for a bit. I will share more about that after this. So, anyways, I read another book for review today, this one is called Hearts Made Whole. Hope you’ve been enjoying the fiction lately. 😉 Friend me on GoodReads, if you haven’t already because I’m reading a crazy amount right now – finishing books all the time.

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Hearts Made Whole by Jody Hedlund

♥ ♥ ♥ – –

(three out of five hearts)

GoodReads’ summary:

After her father’s death, Caroline Taylor has grown confident running the Windmill Point Lighthouse. But in 1865 Michigan, women aren’t supposed to have such roles, so it’s only a matter of time before the lighthouse inspector appoints a new keeper–even though Caroline has nowhere else to go and no other job available to her.

Ryan Chambers is a Civil War veteran still haunted by the horrors of battle. He’s been given the post as lighthouse keeper, and the isolation where he can drown in drink and hide from his past is appealing. He’s not expecting the current keeper to be a feisty and beautiful woman who’s none-too-pleased to be giving up her position. They both quickly realize he’s in no shape to run the lighthouse, but Ryan’s unwilling to let anyone close, ravaged by memories and guilt. Caroline’s drawn to this wounded soul, but with both of them relying on that single position, can they look past their loss to a future filled with hope…and possibly love?

Characters:

I really liked Caroline’s personality. She seemed really down to earth and realistic. I love how she argued for her job and tried to keep the lighthouse together even when it technically wasn’t her job anymore. I would say the only thing about her that I didn’t care for was her easy fall into love with Ryan. They acted too close too soon. They barely knew each other, but they acted as if they had known each other for forever. I would also say that their first kiss was wayy out of personality for both Ryan and Caroline.

For Ryan, I found him to be a pleasing character, but not all that interesting. He didn’t capture my attention the way he captured Caroline’s heart. His friendliness with the twins was cute though. I was unhappy with the lack of thought put into marriage by Caroline and Ryan though! Their relationship went really far and at that point they were surprised and seemingly put off by the thought of marriage. About Ryan in general though, he was sweet, but I wish his drinking/drug problem had been wrapped up a little better.

Plot:

I have to mention Tessa, even though technically she should fall under the characters topic. She was horrible! Supposedly she got along with Caroline sometimes, but every scene with her in it inside the book was just her fighting with Caroline. I wish she had had a few scenes with her in a good and agreeable mood towards Caroline.

The plot all in all was really good! I loved all the intense scenes because they were gripping, but never too scary. The writing style in this book is great, it lends itself towards a quick-read but keeps you interested the whole time.

Overall:

I liked it, I found a few reactions/scenes a bit cliché, but so many others were unique as well. A few things made the characters seem inconsistent, but I liked all of them except the bad guys (and perhaps Tessa). I would suggest this book to anyone who likes clean, Christian romances or mild intense action. The funny thing is though, even though this book is classified as Historical Fiction, I wouldn’t recommend it for that just because not a large amount of history was mentioned. All the same, as long as the reader wasn’t set on getting a lot of history, I would suggest it anyways.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

xx

Inspire – Research

Hello everyone!

Oh my goodness, I’ve been up to so many different things lately!

First of all, I have a sort of “summer job”. It’s not an actual job in the sense that I’m not really paid for the work I do; so it’s more of a volunteer shift. Some of you may know that I work at a library every week, this is an extension of that shift – this summer I’ll be working a minimum of 60 hours. Which will include everything from artwork to setting up for events to putting on puppet shows to crowd control. It’s super fun and I’ve already begun working.

Another major thing is going on this summer and I am going to tell you about it, but. BUT! You have to wait just a little longer because it will involve you if you want and I have to straighten out some details before I tell you all!

Other than planning the above mentioned things, I’ve been coaching and swimming and reading whenever possible. I somehow always forget how stressful school and tests are around this time of year, it’s kind of like the Lord lets me purge it from all memory until it comes around again next year. I’m grateful for it, but at the same time I never feel prepared. So lately I’ve been studying like crazy, working on projects, signing up for more craziness like the SAT, and more. I wanted to share a few super cool favorite pictures that I came across while researching things for different projects.

 

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French Fashion

 

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I do not own any of the pictures and I in no way take credit for them. I don’t have all the links, but if you have the links, I would be happy to post them.

Hope you enjoyed!

xx

Quote // From the Start

Hello all!

First of all, I’m going to explain the last few weeks very shortly! This weekend is going to be busy so I may not get the chance to post, but I will explain my accidental blogging spring break that just happened to occur on my school spring break. Today, I wanted to assure you I’m alive and share a favorite quote (or two, or three) from the book From the Start. You may have read my review, (I posted it just before this post) but if not – it’s just a cute story about an ex-football star named Colton, and a struggling writer named Kate, who happen to meet. They meet at hard times for both of them, both are trying to restart their lives, but something draws them together. The two of them find that they will have to choose between their original plans for their futures or each other. On to the quotes…

Colton brushed past Kate, reached for the drink, and handed Megan a ten. “Keep the change.” He turned back to Kate.

“Trying to buy her off?”

“What are the chances she spit in this?”

 

“Kate, this is where I’m going to need you to remember I’m your sister and you love me.” Suspicion plunked in.

 

“I’m serious. You can write them off if you want, be your own harshest critic. But they’re pieces of you. They’re something you created, and that gives them value.” He dipped his head toward her. “Plus, from what I hear, they’re pretty great stories.”

“They’re love stories, Colton.”

“I like love. Most people I know kinda do.”

 

Hope you enjoyed those! Those are all direct quotes from the book From the Start by Melissa Tagg, I do not own any of it nor did I change it in any way. Enjoy your day!

xx

From the Start: Book Review

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From the Start by Melissa Tagg

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ –

(four out of five hearts)

 

Synopsis: (from GoodReads)

Kate Walker used to believe in true love and happily ever after. While her own love life may have left her brokenhearted, it hasn’t kept her from churning out made-for-TV romance movie screenplays…until a major career slump and a longing to do something meaningful send her running back to her hometown of Maple Valley.

Permanently sidelined by an injury, former NFL quarterback Colton Greene is temporarily hiding out in a friend’s hometown to avoid the media and the reminders of all he’s lost. Maple Valley seems like the perfect place to learn how to adjust to normal life. The only trouble is he’s never really done normal before.

While Kate plays things safe and Colton is all about big risks and grand gestures, they both get what it’s like to desperately need direction in life. An unexpected project gives them both a chance to jumpstart their new lives, but old wounds and new dreams are hard to ignore. Starting over wasn’t part of the plan, but could it be the best thing that’s ever happened to them?

 

My thoughts:

Being honest, at first I was unimpressed with From the Start. I was excited to read it, but once I started it, the characters were too typical, I could predict scenes, and the characters’ reactions. I felt that Kate was a bit cliché, because she had been hurt but was obviously going to fall for the ex-football star who was also struggling. As I kept reading the book though, the characters all became deeper and a little more complex too. I was happy with the ending too, which is sometimes the hardest part to please me. Going into details…

 

Characters:

I liked Kate once I felt like I knew her better, she was a little quirky, but very funny and dedicated to her family. I think she was a little shallow in certain scenes, but I think her character was supposed to grow a lot during the time the book covered. Colton was funny, the humor between the two of them was great. Colton struggled with his past and present situation, but he was not so involved that he chapters weren’t interesting. I think he really owed Kate an apology at the end of the book, but I don’t want to give anything away. Surprisingly, my next favorite character is Megan, she was kind of sassy and closed, but I like that she opened up a little. (I do wish that everything regarding her hadn’t been so mature, but it was okay.)

 

Plot:

I liked the romance between Colton and Kate, they were in denial a lot of the time, but they cracked me up. One thing though – the rest of the book’s plot was sort of just about one bad thing happening after another. I felt like the disasters were just piling up.

 

Writing:

I loved the way the book was written. It was told from the point of view of both Colton and Kate, but it was almost in third person so I never felt like I needed to know what the other character was feeling. The book was an easy read and the plot moves quickly, there are almost no down moments.

 

I received a copy of From the Start from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

xx

Facing the Blitz : Book Review

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Facing the Blitz by Jeff Kemp

♥ ♥ ♥ – –

(three out of five hearts)

 

Overview:

Facing the Blitz was written by an ex-NFL football player and the whole book explained it’s three strategies for overcoming trials. Each strategy is thoroughly explained in several chapters, it’s divided up enough that it’s easy to understand and doesn’t skim through important topics. Mr. Kemp writes with many different life examples – ones such as in football, his home life, marriage, in fellow teammates’ lives, friends’ lives, as well as outside sources.

Pros:

This book was fantastic. I really can’t wait to go back through it and mark passages that really stood out. Even if you are not currently facing a blitz, this book goes into morals and tips for assessing your own life. Early in the book, Mr. Kemp writes that in times of hardship you can’t tell people to just stop being upset, but instead he writes to you when you need to move on and when it’s okay to be struggling. The strategies are like close friends, comforting you, but pushing you forward and towards Jesus. If you don’t know that much about football, it’s okay, because the examples are all pretty easy to understand. (Even if you don’t catch one or two examples, you will still get the idea/purpose.) Football does not dominate the suggestions/conversation more than it should. Facing the Blitz supplies tips to people who aren’t facing problems just by giving exercises that require you to check your morals and motives for the way you live.

Cons:

I really did like nearly everything in the book! I would say the only few things I would change if I could would be: a few more examples aimed towards home life. Just because I felt like we got to know more about the teammates than his own family in some chapters. Certain chapters were also mildly mature, so the book is probably best for adults and possibly young adults based on the individual case – I would recommend this book to any adult though, it’s a great book.

I received a free copy of Facing the Blitz from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

xx