Friday, February 28, 2014

Things I'd Like to Tell My Junior Highers Part 5

Click the following links for the first four parts to the series:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

5. The choices you make now can (and will) affect your future.

You think Junior High isn’t that big of deal. You think your teachers and classes are dumb. You think a little white lie here and there isn’t an issue. You think your parents and teachers just don’t get it. You think that your boyfriend or girlfriend is the most important thing in the world.

I’m sorry (notsorry) to say that your frontal lobes aren’t quite developed, and you don’t always think straight or make the best decisions. #shocker

Stop for a minute (or 1,000 minutes) and think about your future…

Do you want to tell your future employer that you couldn’t pass a JUNIOR HIGH CLASS? Really?

Do you want to tell your own kids one day that you got in fights and partied and tried alcohol and drugs in junior high? Have you ever thought about what kind of example you’re going to set for your own kids one day?

Do you think your parents and teachers are just out to get you, or have you thought that maybe they truly care about your well-being?

Do you want to tell your future spouse one day that you gave yourself (or part of yourself ifthat’sevenpossible) away in JUNIOR HIGH?! My heart breaks imaging that conversation for you…

You have one heart, one mind, one body—what are you doing with it?

Don’t give yourself away.

Imagine this scenario with me for one moment:

Person A and Person B grew up in relatively the same way—same morals, same values, same schools, same church (you get the picture). 

Person A, being one that watched and observed others and learned from others’ mistakes, decided not to go to parties, date around, dabble with alcohol, or give herself away.

Person B dated here and there throughout junior high and high school, and made one simple mistake one night by giving herself away to a boy. Because of that one choice, that one mistake, Person B’s self esteem was shot. She felt poorly about herself and her choices, so she looked to other things to fill her up, namely boys—more specifically, boys that would continue to take and take from her and never fulfill her in the long run.

(Disclaimer: Person A and Person B do not represent two specific people. I know (at least) a few people who would fit into either category.)

Again, the choices you make now can (and will) affect your future.

Whether you’re a boy or a girl, which person do you want to be today AND in the future?

Decide now.

If you have something to work toward and live for, it will be far easier to make wise choices and stand up for what you believe in.

Please know, if you do slip up, or have slipped up, please don’t think that it’s all over for you. You can ALWAYS start fresh tomorrow. You can always take the right path each morning you wake up.

Stop and think. Make wise choices! 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Things I'd Like to Tell My Junior Highers Part 4

    Click the following links for the first three sections of the series:
     Part 1
     Part 2
     Part 3

4. There is more to life than what’s happening this weekend.
Like I mentioned in my introduction post, so much of what I hear from you (my students) breaks my heart. When I look at you, I see innocence, joy, potential, freedom, and an amazing future. But, when you open your mouths on Monday morning and tell me about a party that you all went to over the weekend where there were fights and alcohol and who knows what else, that “picture-perfect image” shatters.

Because of the choices you are making during your junior high years, you are handing over precious and valuable pieces of your innocence, joy, and freedom.
At your age, you should not be exposed to alcohol or drugs. You should not be using profanity like you do. You should certainly not be making out or hooking up with the opposite sex (or the same sex for that matter).

You are in this awkward transition between kid and young adult and you’re sprinting far too quickly toward adult.


You aren’t old enough to deal with the responsibilities of being an adult, so stop trying to act like one. Stop worrying about going to the best party on the weekend. Stop worrying about seeing this guy or getting that girl’s number. Stop worrying about sneaking around and doing whatever your parents tell you not to.

There is so much more to life than that!

“But,” you say, “what am I supposed to do on the weekend if I don’t go to a party? There’s nothing to do in this town!”

Yah, I’ve heard that line plenty. I seemed to survive.

Here are a few ideas for you:

·      Go to a friend’s house and watch an appropriate movie.
·      Go get Jamba Juice and wander around the Marketplace (Get over the fact that it’s “not cool”).
·      Go play on the swings at the park.
·      Go to Target and try on the craziest clothes.
·      Go buy a cheap wiffle ball set and have an impromptu game.
·      Go on a scavenger hunt.
·      Go swimming (with an appropriate bathing suit—don’t even get me started).
·      Have a craft competition with whatever you can find in the house.
·      Make a music video (keep it clean).
·      Buy an Easy Bake oven and act like a kid again (yah, that was you like three years ago!)
·      Invent a recipe and bake cookies.
·      Have a 90s movie marathon.
·      Go on a walk.
·      Play board games or card games.
·      Make up a game.
·      Go to Barnes and Nobel and wander around.
·      Get done up and take glamour shot pictures (girls, obviously).
·      Volunteer somewhere
·      Play a sport
·      Learn something new

 My brother and our neighbor during one of our many random craft nights. 

 Swings are still my favorite. 

Two of my high school best buds got me an Easy Bake Oven for my birthday. We had lots of fun with that thing! 

I could go on and on. Honestly, these are the things that my friends and I did throughout high school and college (see above!). We shared ENDLESS laughs. We have some amazing memories. We just loved being together (without the distraction of cell phones and technology). We grew together, had incredible long conversations, and loved life.

And, we don’t have regrets.

Don’t grow up too soon. Be creative. Be wise. Keep laughing.

PS – Part 5 of Things I’d Like to Tell My Junior Highers will be coming up tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Things I'd Like to Tell My Junior Highers Part 3

     If you missed Part 1, click here. For Part 2, click here!

3. You have a voice.

I know you’ve heard people tell you (countless times) not to give in to peer pressure. But, how often do you take that advice?

I don’t just mean with “big” things like saying no to drugs and alcohol and the opposite sex. What about when you’re invited to a party that you probably shouldn’t attend? What about when your friends put on a movie that you know you shouldn’t watch? What do you do when your group starts to talk about someone else behind his or her back?

Do you use your voice as you know you should? Or, do you sink into the background and let it happen? Do you go to bed with a guilty conscience knowing that you should have said something, done something?

Is your voice silent, or does it speak up and do the right thing?

I know it’s not easy to say no or to speak out against what your friends are doing. It wasn’t that long ago that I was your age, in your position (and believe me, some things never change). But, take it from me; it is SO worth it to do the right thing, to do good. I’m certainly far from perfect. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, but I made a series of choices back when I was your age, and I decided to use my voice as I grew up.

I never went to a party—not in junior high or high school or college. Why? It wasn’t worth it to me. I didn’t need to be there. My friends and I could find much better ways to spend our time. I didn’t drink at all until I turned 21 (and now it’s quite rare that I do). Like I mentioned in my last post, I try to stay away from rated R movies, and I don’t listen to music with parental advisories. I didn’t date until after college, and I’m certainly not going to give any part of myself away until I’m married. Call me a loser if you'd like. I'll own it. That doesn't matter to me as much as following my heart (and faith) and doing the right thing does. 

Please don’t misunderstand—I’m not saying any of this to toot my own horn or say in any way that I’m better than anyone or holier than thou. I’m sharing this simply because I want you to know that IT IS POSSIBLE TO SAY NO. It is possible to have an exciting, fun-filled, fulfilling school career without all the crap I mentioned above. I have some pretty amazing memories of hanging out with my friends. We’d get ourselves into some pretty great adventures, and I’d dare to say that we’re happier and more full of joy now partly because of the choices we made growing up.

Because of the grace of God and the decisions I was encouraged to make along the way, I didn’t have to grow up with many of the regrets that most of my schoolmates had to carry. I didn’t have to lie my way through junior high and high school. I didn’t have to be one person at school and another at home. And, I won’t have to enter into a marriage one day (Lord willing) knowing that I’ve already given part of myself away. How freeing is that!

I learned early how to say no and how to be an advocate for my beliefs.

You have a voice.

Use it to say no. Use it for GOOD.

PS - Parts 4 and 5 of Things I'd Like to Tell My Junior Highers coming soon. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Things I'd Like to Tell My Junior Highers Part 2

        If you missed Part 1, click here!

2.  Be careful what you let in.

I am honestly appalled at the video games you play. I am shocked by much of what you watch on TV or in the movies, listen to on the radio or on your phones, browse through on the Internet, and surround yourself with each and every day.

Be warned—what you let in will either start to destroy you or will find a way to let itself out (and certainly not before it does some damage).

You think it’s mindless and harmless. You say it’s just a game. You think it’s funny. You say you like the beat and you ignore the lyrics. You think listening to profanity and watching (nothing short of) soft pornography is normal.

Newsflash: You’ve been desensitized (look it up).

You have no idea the impact this media (and in turn, the conversations you have with your friends about it) is having on you. It is simply frightening.

Images that you see once, CANNOT BE UNSEEN. Read that again (and again and again and again, please).

Words and conversations you hear CANNOT BE UNHEARD.

The experience you have with your “shoot um up” game, CANNOT BE UN-EXPERIENCED.

Eventually, these things will change you. Profanity will start running through your head and/or pouring out of your mouth (and it does not make you sound cool or mature). Obscene images will play through your mind like a flipbook, taking a piece of your innocence with each turn. Violence will begin to seem normal and your temper may (and probably will eventually) change. I don’t even want to think about what else may happen as a result…

No, this is not just my opinion. This is not just me babbling on because I’m lame and not in touch with what’s really going on today. There are some shocking statistics to prove some of the points that I’ve already made.

From the article, “Facts and TV Statistics” on

·      Children spend more time watching television than in any other activity except sleep. - Huston and Wright, University of Kansas.  "Television and Socialization of Young Children."
·      66% of children (ages 10 to 16) surveyed say that their peers are influenced by TV shows
·      62% say that sex on TV shows and movies influences kids to have sex when they are too young
·      65% say that shows like The Simpsons and Married… With Children encourage kids to disrespect parents.
·      Witnessing repeated violent acts can lead to desensitization and a lack of empathy for human suffering
·      According to the American Psychiatric Association, "The debate is over… For the last three decades, the one predominant finding in research on the mass media is that exposure to media portrayals of violence increases aggressive behavior in children."
·      "In a national survey by Public Agenda ("Parents feel they're failing to teach values," USA TODAY, 10/30/02), 'about 90% [of parents] say TV programs are getting worse every year because of bad language and adult themes in shows that air from 8 to 10 p.m.'
·      By age 18, a U.S. youth will have seen 16,000 simulated murders and 200,000 acts of violence. - American Psychiatric Association

Need more convincing? Check out the entire list of statistics.

Is it easy to keep yourself unstained from such inappropriate and harmful media? Of course not, I get that! BUT, it is POSSIBLE. You have a CHOICE, and you have a VOICE. Go watch Frozen instead of sneaking into some thriller movie. I do. I honestly try to stay away from rated R movies for these very reasons. Just because I can go to a rated R movie doesn’t mean it’s good for me or I should go see it (the same goes for music and video games). Choose music without parental advisories. Put down your video games and GO OUTSIDE!

For now, be wise. Protect your eyes and ears and mind and heart. They are precious.
I rest my case.

PS –If you have a Bible, read Ephesians 5:1-21

PPS—Stay tuned for parts 3-5 of the “Things I’d Like to Tell My Junior Highers” series.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Things I'd Like to Tell My Junior Highers Part 1

Since I’m a bit on the younger side, I find myself hearing about much of the goings on of my students. Some of the time it’s endearing. Some of the time it completely breaks my heart.

If I had an open platform, there are so many things I’d like to share with them. I throw in bits and pieces here and there when I can, but I’d like to elaborate on a few ideas here.

1. What you post on the Internet (or send in a text message) will be there forever.

Think you can simply delete it later? Nope. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. Someone will be able to access it if they really want to. Be careful what you say/write. Just as words can’t be unsaid, letters can’t be un-typed once posted, and pictures can’t be untaken.

If you think you can get around this by writing about your “friends” anonymously, think again. Everyone knows exactly what you’re doing, and your “friends” will find out (although they may not remain your friends for long).

If you post a picture of yourself (or text a picture of yourself), make sure it’s one that your parents, pastor (or priest or whatever), future employer (they will check!), and future children can look at and will be proud to see. Always think twice (or 5,000 times) before displaying something on the Internet, Snap Chatting it, or texting it out.  If you doubt it for a second, don’t send/post it! And, don’t think for a moment that it’ll disappear in a few seconds—ever heard of a screen shot? Once it’s out of your possession, you NEVER know what may be done with it.

Your value is not wrapped up in the number of followers, likes, or comments you receive. You are SO much more than that! If you post something simply to get attention or a reaction, it’s not worth posting. Think about your intentions before throwing yourself out there.

Always remember:
·      Think before you text/post.
·      Think about why you’re texting/posting.
·      Don’t put anything out there that you wouldn’t want your pastor, teachers, or parents to see.

·      You are MORE VALUABLE than the amount of followers, likes, or comments you get.

** Stay tuned for more posts coming this week.**

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Green Smoothie GOODNESS!

If you've been around me (or my Instagram or Facebook) since the beginning of the year, you'll know that I've been embarking on a green smoothie adventure.

How did it all begin??

Honestly, I can't remember exactly. I remember looking over at my lonely blender one day at the end of last year and thinking about using it to make smoothies--it had never done such things before. I believe I posted something on FB asking about smoothie recipes. Never in my WILDEST dreams did I think I'd give GREEN smoothies a chance, but Marcie posted this website onto my FB, and I couldn't stop scouring it. I read something about a 30 day green smoothie challenge, and I just decided I would do it.

Me? GREEN LEAFY THINGS? WHAT?!?! I still don't know what possessed me to decide to do such a thing, but I did, and then Mom did, and guess what? It IS AWESOME.

As most of you know, I don't eat leaves unless they are cooked. They make me ^@#*%! But, blend them up quite nicely with other awesome things, and I can do it!

The first trip to the grocery store was a bit overwhelming, but each subsequent week has been quite easy. We buy our greens, measure them out, and freeze them. We cut up bananas and freeze them and use frozen fruit for the rest of our recipes. Mom and I make our smoothies at night and store them in mason jars in the fridge. Talk about an easy "grab and go" breakfast!

There are a TON of awesome recipes on the Simple Green Smoothie website, but my FAVORITE is spinach, water, bananas, pineapple, and mangos  (along with some flax seed and hemp protein powder). It is seriously SO MUCH better than Jamba.

I have to admit, when I first starting drinking green smoothies, I had to disguise them in a dark cup with a dark straw, but now I can gulp them down in a clear cup with no problem.

So, I drank a green smoothie for breakfast every day in January (along with giving up soda and sweets), and now I drink one every day during the week (and the soda and sweets are cut to a minimum, but not altogether out of the picture). On the days that I don't have a green smoothie, I actually crave it.

The first question most people ask is, "Have you lost weight?" Honestly, I don't know. I don't weigh myself on a regular basis (if ever--and the Lyrica makes that next to impossible anyway). But, I do feel better in the mornings. I don't get hungry like I used to mid morning. And, I know I'm giving my body tons of awesome nutrition that it needs and craves. Isn't that good enough? I'd say so. 

Check out the website! Give green smoothies a try. If I can drink these things, ANYONE can! 

Let me know what your favorite recipes are!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Help Me Find It...

This song is one that resonates so deeply with me lately. I can't get enough of it. I sing it. I shout it. I pray it. God has used it to touch my heart and grant me peace, so I want to share it with all of you. The lyrics are in bold, my comments are italicized. The music video is below. 

Help Me Find It 

I don't know where to go from here
It all used to seem so clear
I'm finding I can't do this on my own

The next step in life has always been "clear." After elementary school, I went to junior high. After junior high, I went to high school and college. After college, I got a job. There was never a question about the next step--until now. What's next? For the first time in my life, it's not set out before me… 

I don't know where to go from here
As long as I know that You are near
I'm done fighting, I'm finally letting go

Letting go--a seriously difficult but incredible thing. I have no idea what the next step is, but my God does. He has each of my days written in His book, and I can wait patiently on Him. The next step doesn't matter as much as serving, loving, and living with my God. 

I will trust in You
You've never failed before
I will trust in You

He has NEVER failed before. Why would I doubt Him now? My God has brought me through the most difficult times in my life, and I know that I can trust in Him no matter what. 

If there's a road I should walk
Help me find it if I need to be still
Give me peace for the moment
Whatever Your will, whatever Your will

"Whatever Your will" has been my prayer. If I'm to stay exactly where I am and continue serving as I am, then I'll be still. If there is something else ahead for me, I'll embrace it with God's help. 

Can you help me find it?
Can you help me find it?

I'm giving You fear and You give faith
I giving you doubt, You give me grace
For every step I've never been alone

Yes, I am content. Yes, I know that God's will is good. But, does that mean that I don't have bad days? Does that mean that I don't have moments of doubt? Of course not. However, my God is a God of AMAZING grace, and He is always quick to give me grace when I struggle with fear and doubt. He will never leave me or forsake me. 

Even when it hurts, You'll have Your way
Even in the valley I will say
With every breath, You've never let me go

Sometimes it does hurt. Sometimes there are tears. But, my God is always good and just. 

I will wait for You
You've never failed before
I will wait for You

In God's grace alone, I will wait. 

If there's a road I should walk
Help me find it if I need to be still
Give me peace for the moment
Whatever Your will, whatever Your will

Can you help me find it?
Can you help me find it?

I lift my empty hands
(Come fill me up again)
Have Your way my King
(I give my all to You)

And as I wait, I will worship and learn and love. 

I lift my eyes again
(Was blind but now I see)
'Cause You are all I need

If there's a road I should walk
Help me find it if I need to be still
Give me peace for the moment
Whatever Your will, whatever Your will

Can you help me find it?
Can you help me find it?

Can you help me find it? 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

My SLO Day.

It's been far too long since I've been to SLO, and I really wanted a chance to see Bailey again (she was on my Romania team last summer), so I thought I'd head over for the day today.

My day began (far too) early for a Saturday, but after the initial hatred of my alarm clock, I got up and going. I knew it would be worth it.

I headed out of town with my green smoothie in hand (more on that in a later post) and a book on tape playing. I must say, unless you're trying to stay awake, a book on tape is an excellent way to pass the time. Today I chose When Helping Hurts by Brian Fikkert. Check it out here on Amazon. I'm only a couple hours into it, but I really like it so far.

I got to SLO without issue and headed over to Aimee's house (an added bonus after I texted her yesterday to see if she was free). I loved seeing her adorable house. It brought back quite a few college apartment and roommate memories.

We headed over to a new, super cute coffee/tea shop in downtown SLO (Scout) where we ran into Jen Stangland. I seriously love unexpected meetings like that. It just warmed my heart. It was so good to sit down and catch up with Aimee and hear a bit about Jen's life as well--not to mention, my sparking tea was AWESOME.

After a while, we headed over to Poly to pick up Bailey--again, SO good to see her. We headed to none other than FIRESTONE (complete with a basket of fries) for lunch. How can you not, right? Delicious!

After lunch, we wandered around downtown and ate some TeaBerry Yogurt--umm YUM! Since I was wearing my LB sweatshirt, and since I didn't have a Cal Poly sweatshirt (even though Brother went there), I decided it was time to make a purchase. I pretty much fell like deep like with a beautiful green sweatshirt (and Aimee just happened to have a coupon--score!). Needless to say, I put it on immediately. I felt like I fit in a fit better.

Like it? I hope more than you like Bubblegum Alley! As iconic as it is, it really is DISGUSTING! Poor Bailey was a bit worried about her hair (understandably). 

Love these girls!

Aimee hung out for a bit longer before heading back home to study. Bailey and I continued to hang out downtown (as it began to rain a bit more). We found an AWESOME used book store, and I had to restrain from buying a few awesome books. 

Bailey, isn't it a pain growing up?? :)

As we were wandering through the record store, I get a text from Kurt asking if I was in SLO. And guess what? He came to hang out for a bit. So fun! My heart was happy with all of these friends around all day. 

As the rain got progressively stronger, and I began to whine a bit more about my hair turning curly (to which Bailey just glared at me), we decided to head back to Bailey's dorm. 

See that? It was a starting to spiral curl in the front while the rest under the hood stayed straight. Add some frizz to that and you have a great look--not!

We arrived at her red brick, and let me tell you, the crazy memories came FLOODING back. It looked JUST LIKE MY DORM! I was thrown back (cough cough) almost ten years. WHAT? She lives on the 3rd floor, in the very first room--same as I did. Weird! 

Aaaand, know what's weirder!?! I met the older sister of one of my students! No joke. She's friends with Bailey and lives in the same dorm. We live in a seriously small world, folks. 

I hung out for a bit before heading back home. No book on tape this time--Old School Jams playlist all the way. Talk about memories! 

Although it's a lot of driving, and my feet weren't super happy with me the whole time, it was all worth it. God not only blessed me with seeing Aimee and Bailey, but with a few unexpected surprises as well. Love that! I can't wait to go back!