Thursday, February 27, 2014

Driven For Jesus

It's a new day, the sun is shining and the Bible Bowl words are flying. Our brains are turning to mush, I'm not going to lie.

My younger brother and sister and I have been studying a ton all day long (at least since we woke up...though I dare say we may have dreamed Bible Bowl last night as well). Learning verses, keywords, Bible stories. My goodness did Samson have anger issues. The man needs serious help.

It's always fun when we get close to a tournament and everything gets kicked up into high gear. We study all month round of course (most of us do anyway) but the week of competition we study as much as we breathe it seems like. And I love the feeling of the tension in the air and how serious everyone gets. I don't know why I enjoy this, but I do. Our lives are almost put on hold as we study day and night, night and day, the week of competition.

We all have a goal that we are striving for, an end that we want to reach. A purpose that drives us every minute of our time. And I was thinking, that's how it should be with Jesus, right? I mean, we should be purposely striving to be like Him, and to obey Him and serve Him and love Him every second of every day. It shouldn't be a relaxing stroll through a field. We don't know when our lives will end and we need to be working for Jesus NOW. With every fiber of our beings.

There's a whole world out there that needs to see the light, and we have it so let's SHARE it!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Busy, Blessed Day

I had a busy day today. I watched one set of kids from 9 to 11 at one house and then jumped to another house to watch another set of kids from 11 to 3:30. What a day. The first set was a boy and a girl, both under six I think. They were sweet and excessively adorable and both very soft spoken. I had a very refreshing time with them. At one point while playing Legos the little girl gasped. "Miss, Miss, I found a Lego!" "Where?" I ask. "In the Lego box!" You don't say. What an extraordinary occurrence. :) When I looked at her though I realized that she meant a Lego man, not just a Lego and it was the first Lego man she had found in the box. Even so it was amusing. :) The second set of kids I watched was a set of three. Two boys, one girl. Ages four to seven. They have much more energy than the first set I watched, but I still had a blast! At one point the oldest boy got cut and the poor dear was petrified of me cleaning his wound. He was also embarrassed to take off his shirt (the wound was on his chest) and I thought the fact he was so modest was very sweet. The little girl wanted to play with my hair, so I took it out of the pony tail I always wear it in and one of the boys says to me "You look much better with your hair up." Thank you. I appreciate that. :)

That's my little joys from today. I also was allowed to borrow a book from a friend...and it is a book I have been dying to read! My life is just full of little blessings. The devotional I read this morning was about having a thankful heart. That won't be difficult today because I have been showered with blessings! :)

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Point? Jesus

"There is no remedy for love but to love more."

"A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1

That is who I want to be. Constantly loving people and never getting angry or riling other people. I don't succeed, but I try. That's how I want people to see me. That girl who loves on everybody. That girl who is slow to anger. That girl who reflects Jesus. That's really who I want to be. Just one big loving mirror. And I fail miserably. Instead people see the girl who yells at her siblings and lies and steals and commits a thousand sins. But I try. I do try. My biggest problem is that I want the spotlight. I have a hard time sharing the stage with Jesus. Excuse me, sir. I want to be the one everyone is cheering. No, Amanda, no. It's about Him. It's always been about Him. He's a better person to be in the spotlight anyway. Put me under those lights and all my failures are there to see. Hide me under Jesus and I'm pure as snow. Because that's how awesome he is. He died for me. Craziness. Who would want to do that? My God apparently. I can't wrap my head around that. But I am so grateful.

I thought when I started this that I would be writing something about loving people and being gentle and soft spoken when others are angry. And in the end I wrote random thoughts basically. The central point being Jesus. Because he deserves to be the center of everything in my life. And I am trying so hard to keep it that way. I often fail and try to put myself back in the center, but I am trying.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Scrapbooking Family

Whew. The scrapbooking weekend is over. And I am very tired...but also happy. And feeling accomplished! I completed 221 pages, which was over 950 photos...I was known as the speedy scrapper this weekend. I was also called the naked scrapper. Not because I wore no clothes, but because I use less stickers, papers and such frou-frou on my pages than the other ladies. I had a little competition going with another lady (we do this often) to see who would do the most pages. I won! I did have a head start because I worked Thursday night and Friday all day and she arrived Friday evening...she did 90 some-odd pages, and if I only count the pages I did after she arrived I did 190. So I still win fair and square. :) I walked away from this weekend with three more albums than I had when I went. And of course I still have two more years of Bible Bowl photos to do some time in the future.

I realized this weekend (I don't know why I didn't know this before) that all scrapbookers are best friends. It doesn't matter if you've known each other for ten years or ten minutes, you interact like you've known each other for one hundred years. You tease each other and joke and learn to push each other's buttons and you laugh and giggle and share all of your family stories and memories. (It helps that you are all working with pictures that bring to mind stories and once one person starts telling a story everyone else is reminded of something and they tell a story and then something they say reminds someone else of something they once went through so they start telling a story...) We sat around the dinner table for an hour or more just talking after we had finished eating, which reminded me of my own family when we get together for the holidays. We really were one big happy family all weekend. I had a blast! And I love that friendly, family type of environment. It feels like home. (Plus the food at that Bed and Breakfast is over the top amazing!)

Now that I have done all of those Bible Bowl pictures I should pull out my Bible Bowl text since we have a competition this weekend...

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Seemingly Incidental

So I sat at a computer for several hours this afternoon looking through photos and getting a massive headache. I'm trying to print pictures so I can do an album of this crazy thing I do called Bible Bowl. But I had over 2000 photos and I figured that was too many, so I was picking and choosing which ones I would keep and it was taking forever. The saddest part is that I was only doing three years worth of Bible Bowl pictures and I have been doing this for seven years. Right now I feel as though I will never finish this project.

Anyway, none of that is really the point. But as I was doing this my little sister was sitting next to me and we were laughing at shared memories and making new ones as we looked at old photos. It's amazing to me how the smallest moments can add up to make a beautiful friendship. Taking random pictures together, eating a bowl of ice cream together, singing together while doing the dishes. It's in these seemingly unimportant moments that love is born and nourished.

There are so many small things (some of them ridiculous) that I remember doing with my little sister. Like the day we ran around the yard with a camera. She held my hand and led me all over the place while my eyes were closed and my other hand was taking pictures. Those photos look very silly. Or when we recorded ourselves on my mp3 player. We sang, or we pretended to interview each other and we would laugh hysterically. The days when I would read aloud to her for hours on end (I think I may have enjoyed that more than she did. I was very pushy about getting to read to her). I remember the days when we would wrap ourselves in blankets as though they were gorgeous dresses and pretend we were princesses. Or when we pretended we were being baked in a pie to be eaten by giants. (I'm not sure if we were ever rescued...that game never had an ending) Those days when we would climb the cotton wood out back or play Barbies in the basement. All of these fun memories that bring a smile to my lips just thinking about them. That's part of what friendship is.

The other part of this beautiful relationship is those days when I am feeling down and I just want to be with my little sister because she is my comfort zone. We can always tell when one of us has had enough, of being teased, of eating, of being with people, whatever. Sometimes we can read each others' minds. And we're always ready to do whatever we can for each other. We laugh hard together and we hold each other when we cry. And the reason we enjoy the big moments together is because we've lived all the small ones side by side.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


It's truly amazing how your friends take care of you when you aren't feeling well. The overwhelming outpouring of love that they lavish upon you. How they step up and do whatever they can for you. I am so blessed! Today was not a great day for me, I was exhausted, I was in a ton of pain and I was just a grump. But the great love and care of all my darling friends brightened my day and brought a little light and joy to my life. I'm so glad God gave me all these wonderful people to look after me and care for me and tell me they love me. I hope everyone in the world has such people in their own lives.

I love watching friendship and love become so evident in people. Not just toward me, but for anyone. I love watching people take care of one another and look out for each other and share special moments together. It makes my heart warm just to think about it. Friendship is such a special thing. There will always be those people you can forever count on. The ones who will cry with you and laugh with you and love you when you're an idiot.

This reminds me of several poems I've been given written by friends of mine about friendship, and I thought I would share parts of them.

Here are a few lines from a poem entitled Friends:
"A friend is a blessing, a friend is a keeper...He gave us a gift, His gift is our friends...they make the world the very best place to be...and when we are tired, hurt or sad they are there for us...that is why God gave us friends..."

And a few lines from a poem entitled Friendship!! (That is truly what the paper says, including both of those exclamation marks!):
"Friendship is what counts...a true friends is...someone who cares, shows kindness, loves you for who you are. They listen, trust, don't judge...forgive...encourage, build up..."

I love both of those poems and they hang on my wall where I can see them everyday. They remind me of how blessed I am in my own friends and encourage me to be that kind of friend to others.

True friendship is such a pure and beautiful thing.

Monday, February 10, 2014

What Jesus Feels Like

Every morning I wake up with a warm, cozy feeling of joyful contentment and I think, this is what Jesus feels like. I see a sweet, elderly grandma or a smiling small child and my heart warms and I think, this is what Jesus feels like. I see the snow fall and I want to sing and I think, this is what Jesus feels like. I cuddle a warm, fuzzy cat and feel safe and homey and I think, this is what Jesus feels like. Because when I am with my Jesus (when am I not?) I feel safe and warm and cozy and I want to sing. Every good feeling that overtakes me reminds me of how I feel when I am with Jesus. He just makes me feel so alive! Sometimes when I am with Him I feel like I'm curled up in my daddy's lap, sometimes I feel like we should be dancing down the street together. I just feel so loved and special.

That's my random thought for the morning, friends.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Who Is In Charge Here?

Back on the subject of small children again. I can't get enough of them!

I had a sweet moment tonight when a four year old boy I was watching told me I was 'expensive' and then hugged my leg. (well, he leaned into it, but he did not actually wrap his arms around it) Now I feel so very loved! (we came to the conclusion he meant priceless...that's what we're going to say anyway)

I've always been curious: how 'in charge' do I need to be when I watch children? I am firm when I need to be, and I don't let them break rules or be rude to one another...but I sure don't act like an adult! I be silly and get down on the floor with them and tonight I was a 95 year old grandma who was doubled over farther than any person should be allowed to be and I walked about as fast as snail going backwards. I'm loud and I laugh and shriek and giggle and I'll wrestle with boys and tickle girls. I'll help build forts out of couches, blankets, pillows, chairs and whatever else we can find. I go crazy and act about a fourth of my age. And the children love it so it can't be too bad, right? But I always wonder as I find myself doing something utterly dorky, is this normal protocol? I don't remember much about when I was young enough to be watched...but I do remember that one set of teenagers who watched me and a whole passel of children once a week would just sit on the bed and let us play how we wanted but they did not join in. And so I wonder. But the children do know that I am the authority. I mean, when they think someone else should be in trouble they don't hesitate to tell me! Seriously though, they will listen when I tell them not to do something or anything like that. As long as we are treating each other nicely and following all the rules I guess it can't be too bad that I act like one of the kids.

Another problem I seem to encounter is children bossing other children. "so and so you aren't allowed to do that" "so and so you need to apologize for doing this" "so and so you have to go to your room" "so and so you can't have a treat because you are naughty". Now wait one minute. Who died and left you in charge? (oh my! I just used a saying of my mother's...) And then there is the old "Miss Amanda, so and so did this" "Miss Amanda, so and so is doing that" "Miss Amanda, so and so needs to be in trouble". Alright, alright. I don't need ten thousand little mommies. I'm in charge, not you.

So with all the snow we're getting I had an idea. How about I create a snowman around one of my little people? Wouldn't that be just adorable, with his head and arms sticking out? I can totally see it in my head, with various small children I watch, and the picture is just too cute!

Friday, February 7, 2014

My Good, Full Day

I had a good, full day today. I'm not sure that any of you care to actually hear about my good, full day...but I love to share! So now I am going to bore you with a few details of my good, full day.

It started with school. Unfortunately I slept late today, so I started school late today which meant that I ended later than usual as well. And that meant I ate later too (I was starved!) because I like to get all of my school, or at least the better part of it, done before lunch. So if I am having a slow day or I start late, I eat much later than normal. (For me. I don't know what is normal for you.) For those of you who don't know, I'm homeschooled. But that doesn't mean I have it easy! So anyway, my school went longer than normal because I got up late. I also put up another cheesy saying on the magnet word puzzle on my wall. Way to go me. And then we had to go to town, first to the store (that's always an adventure), then to the bank to deposit some checks and then to the church where we sorted a million cookies and then waited for girls and their parents to come and pick them up. Yep, it's that time of year again. We lifted a bunch of boxes until our arms and legs ached and we carried them to cars, vans, trucks...most anything really. Some girls were eager and excited to get their cookies, some looked bored to death. By the way, this whole time it is freezing outside. We got a million autographs from parents so their girls could actually take those cookies and then after several hours of that fun we came home. So that's the full day.

Now on to the good day. I love school, and I particularly enjoyed today. Mostly because in Geography we are currently in Africa and that continent has always been very dear to my heart. I can't explain why. But I am in love with those countries and those people. I believe God placed this love in my heart but as of yet I don't know why. Then at the store I had some good laughs with my little sister as we wandered around trying to find things for mom. Always entertaining. We also picked a horrible cart that listed terribly to the left and so my left shoulder started to burn from the effort of keeping the cart straight. Which in turn made me laugh for some reason. And then it's still snowing outside, which just makes me want to sing and shout anyway. And then we get to the church and I actually get to help with the sorting of cookies and carrying lots of boxes. Yes, I was overjoyed to join in the work! That was one of the best parts of today! Perhaps I should take this moment to explain that I have been very sick lately (for practically two years) and I am weak and tire easily and don't get to help out much. And I hate that! I love serving and helping and doing things and I absolutely hate sitting on the sidelines being lazy watching other people work. So anyhow, I got to help today and that was great! And add to that I got to spend time with a great friend of mine who always makes the sun shine just a little bit brighter and my day was perfect. Can it get any better than this? Actually, yes. For me anyway. Because I also got to sit with a  younger friend of mine and we colored princesses in her coloring books and that just made my heart sing a tiny bit more too.

So that was my good, full day. I'm ready and excited for tomorrow! I truly believe God spoils me. He really does. He gives me all these little blessings that make my day so much better and I just think "you're amazing, God." How could the God of EVERYTHING care so much about tiny little me. It makes me want to dance and sing and clap my hands and hug every person I see. God is awesome, people. And He loves you too!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

I always want to write something profound and inspiring, wherever I am. I want to move people. I want people to read what I have written and go "wow." And I never can reach that mark. I have this magnet word puzzle hanging on my wall and every now and then I will make a sentence or two to try and inspire myself and the people who enter my room. But everything I put up there sounds cheesy. Why? Perhaps I try too hard. I want to sound so great, so intelligent, so wonderful, so whatever that it just turns out bad. When I speak to people sometimes it just sounds dumb despite my efforts to come across as brilliant. The only place I don't have trouble with this is when I write my novels. But here's the thing. I don't write my novels. I close my eyes and just let God write the story and I watch from the sidelines. Well maybe that is what I should be doing in all areas of communication. When I'm speaking to my friends, the neighbor down the street or the cashier at Walmart I should just close my eyes and let the Holy Spirit take over. Because it's not about me being brilliant. It's about Jesus. I want him to shine through every word I speak and write. I want people to read what I write or hear what I say without seeing me. Just see Jesus. Because He is what life is all about, not me.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Enjoying Cold Weather

It is cold and blowing and snowing outside today and I love it. I really enjoy this weather, at least from inside the house. The snow is so beautiful, both on the ground and in the air that it makes my heart sing. The cold weather is not as pleasant, but then it's just warm enough inside that you want to curl up in a blanket with a mug of hot chocolate and read a book. What could be more perfect? Well, personally I would say a cup of warm vanilla chai tea would be more perfect than hot chocolate, but both give you that cozy feeling of home. To add to my cozy, homey feelings I have a warm fuzzy cat curled up near me. That is, she's curled up only when she isn't trying to lick the window to death. Even the cat enjoys this weather, because it means there is more moisture on the windows to lick. I always find it amusing when the window freezes over and she tries to lick it. One of these days she is going to get her tongue stuck and I am going to laugh. 

We don't usually get a lot of snow where I live, so when we do all I can think of is Christmas. And right now I really feel like putting on some Christmas music and reading The Christmas Hope or The Little Drummer Boy or watching How The Grinch Stole Christmas. I'm personally hoping to get snowed into my house by all this blustery weather, but I doubt that will happen. It isn't snowing quite that much, unfortunately.  

I don't know about you, but I have always preferred the cold to heat. When it is hot you just feel lethargic and bored and want to take a nap. But I somehow feel energized when it is cold. I want to jump and shout and sing and run in circles. I also find it easier to warm up than I do to cool down. You can always bundle up more but there is only so much you can take off.

Saturday, February 1, 2014


For those of you who don't know me, I'm a writer. I live to write. So today I'm going to talk a little bit about what writing is like for me.

 When people talk about hearing voices in their heads I know what they mean. I am surrounded by many friends inside my head. And yet it does not feel inside of me. When I get locked away in that inner space it suddenly widens and opens until I have been completely transported into their world. I can see them, I can talk to them, I watch them live their lives and I live it with them. And I have no control over what happens to them. Some writers seem to actually have some say in their stories. I do not. My characters just take over and do their own thing and I have to sit back and watch. I feel as though I am only reading the book when truly I am writing it. I never know what is going on even moments before I write it. And the friends I have made writing are very dear to me. I've watched them struggle and thrive and fail and mature and grow in their faith in the Lord. We've grieved the deaths of loved ones together and together we have been overjoyed at the birth of children. Sometimes, despite the fact that I know they aren't real, they feel as close as family.

Sometimes when I write I am at the computer, furiously typing. Sometimes I am sitting on my bed with a pencil and a notebook writing until my thumb is bruised and I have a dent in my finger. Sometimes I pace and pace, dreaming up a story in my head. At those times it unfolds like a movie playing in my mind. Often when I am completely engrossed in the story inside my head I will respond to something someone in my head says or does. I will say something or gasp or groan and suddenly be brought back to reality by that. If this happens when I am with people they either laugh at me or stare at me as though I am insane. I cannot help it. Sometimes I feel like I am really there and it is not until I speak aloud to the people inside me that I remember it is only a dream. Many times I do not hear what people say to me because I am lost in the world in my head. I'm plotting against the Sheriff of Nottingham or cuddling a baby in Africa and I have no idea what is going on around me. People may sometimes be frustrated when I do not hear or comprehend what they say and they have to repeat it to me. I am sorry, but I have no control over this. When I am in my head I forget about the world around me entirely. The pictures inside my head are most clear when it is dark around me. Often my little sister or my mother will find me pacing in a dark room and wonder what is wrong with me. I will also listen to loud music as I dream. The music drowns out the voices and noises of the real world so I can be totally lost in my own world without being distracted and brought back to reality.

I could not live without writing. It's as vital to me as breathing. And it is so much fun!