Saturday, August 26, 2017

Living the Teen Life.


When I was a kid, you know 4-12, I imagined that being a teenager would be so. much. fun. I don't really know what I expected it to be like, other than absolutely epic. 

But ya know? It's not what I expected. 

I don't know how I thought teens spent their days, but now I realize that what we really do is school (given), talk to friends (nothing new), have arguments with siblings (see previous notes), and have pointless conversations. 

It's not new. 

And yet everything is new and different. Nothing is the same. 

I'm different, you're different, we're all different. We're stuck somewhere between kids and adults. Too old for toys, too young for marriage. 

Old enough to date, depending on your parents' rules anyway, which is pretty darn frightening when you think about it. Old enough to have jobs and drive cars and take on responsibility. But too young to vote or move out or go to college. 

It's kind of awkward, this stage of life. Deep underneath, I think we all have those same doubts, even if only some of us admit to them. 

We're all trying to figure out where we're going after, in magical moments, we graduate and/or turn eighteen and *bam* we have to make decisions. (I detest decision making.) We have to decide whether or not we're going to college and pursuing a career. Or if we're getting a job and just waiting to see what sort of opportunity God brings into our lives. 

But ya know what? I've realized something about this in-betweenness. 

I kind of like it. 

I don't want to be stuck here forever, but for now it's okay. 

I don't know what next year will bring, besides my graduation and eighteenth birthday, but I know God does know. 

And for now, I'll try to be content in the in-between. To find joy and satisfaction. And to wait and trust. 


~*~ 

What's with this post, you ask? Quite honestly, I don't know. Just something from the mind of Faith. 

Blessings, friends. <33 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

My Last Summer.



At the beginning of the summer – upon realizing that this summer would be my last before adulthood – I titled a draft post 'best summer yet'. 

Call me crazy if you like, but it's like I just knew this summer was going to be amazing. Don't get me wrong – every summer is special. There's something special in every day if you know where to look for it. 

But this was different. In late May to early June, I had this unexplainable feeling that there was going to be things happen between my junior and senior year to forever mark this summer in my memory. 

And there was. A whole multitude of happenings and irreplaceable memories. It wasn't all fun and happiness. I laughed and I cried, tears of joy and tears of hurt. 

God has been good to me in my seventeen years. I've never experienced terrible hardship. No one in my immediate family or I have been faced with a serious illness. With my dad being a pastor, we've left two churches over the years. Neither time was easy, but we survived them both. 

But this summer...it brought about changes and feelings I'd never experienced before, questions coming from deep within that I hadn't even considered. 

To be honest, it was frightening at times. I didn't understand what was happening or why. But I know now. 

As a dear friend said to me, I grew up this summer. Growing up isn't all fun or easy, but it's a part of life, whether we like to or not. Childhood can only last for a season, before we must spread our wings and fly toward the horizon where our futures await. 

I learned many beautiful things this summer. I discovered who I am in Christ – that I am beautiful and precious in His sight, and that above all else, I am His. He has a beautiful plan for my life, a story still in the making. 

I'll never forget the summer of 2017, the special moments and special people that made it up. If you only so much as smiled my way, you had a part in that. May God bless you each and every one. <3 

School starts next week. My senior year. Two months ago, I was freaking out over this. But now? 

I'm ready. I don't know what next year or even next week will bring, but my Heavenly Father knows all that that's enough. He is enough.

And I will always thank Him for giving me my last summer. <3 

Friday, August 18, 2017

SOS Trip 2017 // pt. two

After the unanimous decision was reached that part one was indeed not too lengthy or too much of a photodump, may I present part two. xD If you missed part one, be sure to check it out here!



Wednesday...

Yahoo! We'd reached the middle of the week without anyone a) falling off the roof, b) passing out from heat stroke, or c) dying from an over-abundance of laughter. 



Being the middle of the week, Wednesday is 'half day' or 'free day', meaning we only work until lunch and then get to do something fun with our youth groups. That morning, we began work on the back side of the house we were roofing. One-third of the roof (maybe a little more) was ripped up and re-shingled by lunch. With time to spare. And the old shingles were removed in about an hour. Did I mention we won best crew award? (Ha, kidding. But that should have totally been a thing.) 


Remember the trucks-stuck-in-the-mud dilemma I mentioned in part one? Yeah, well, the conclusion to that saga came about on Wednesday morning. While we teens were slaving away on the rooftop, a big green tractor (get it?! xD) pulls in, rounds the house, and moves the trailer from where the forklift driver was forced to leave it to the gravel strip behind the backyard. Simple enough, right? 

Yup. Except for one thing. As the tractor drove past a tree (two pictures down) which had some kind of metal-something-another laying at the base of it...which popped up and hit the tractor cab door when it drove across it. You guessed it – shattered the door. (Maybe all this is why we didn't get best crew award?) Needless to say, we also spent awhile picking up glass shards. :P 



All the people...waiting on lunch to arrive. 


After lunch, playing with a pulley someone found and killing time until we could return to the school. (Ye, there is a person up there. We're not all just staring up into leaves.) 

All the crews returned to the school after lunch, then we showered and set out to explore the town. Okay, so, we kinda knew our way around anyway because of all the Walmart trips, but it was still fun. The guys on our crew went to do whatever, and us gals went shopping – since Mom was allowed to drive the van her crew was using. #perks 


'Trying on clothes', by just hooking the hanger over your head. xD Between Belks, Shoe Dept., Bath & Body Works, Burkes, and Dollar Tree (yes, the $1 place) we had an epic time shopping. Some of us spent all our trip money, while others *raises hand* spent a whopping $1.07 on a notebook. 


Basically, our opinion by thus far into the week, haha. XP 

After shopping, we ate supper (#CrackerBarrelFTW) and met the guys at an arcade place. We also chanced being able to find it and drove out to my and Tonya's (girl in above picture) jobsite. And arrived back at the school just in time to witness another lovely sunset. <3 


Wednesday night was the first night we really interacted that much with other teens around the school. Since we were one of the first groups back, we changed clothes and sat out in the hallway in view of the doors and watched other groups come in. (Legit stalker mode, y'all.) 

Until much later that night (like minutes until curfew), people mingled between the main entrance and the mailboxes – envelopes taped to the window where you could 'mail' each other encouraging notes (sorry, no picture. *sad face*) – talking and laughing. Fabulous memories though, friends. ^_^ 




Thursday...


On Thursday we finished our roofing project!! :D We already knew we were going to be able to finish a day earlier (with time to spare), so after working all morning and eating lunch, about half of the crew (including myself) went to evangelize in a cul-de-sac neighborhood across the road. We got to pray with several people, including one whole family. One lady, who just happened to have stopped by one of the houses, got out of her car and came over to join us! 





We also mat a doormat-thingy for our homeowners. We each chose a Bible verse to put/have put on it with out names and nicknames. :) 


After working, it was the usual routine. Go back to the schooled shower, talk about how everyone's day went on the van ride to the church for supper and worship. Loved it. <3 Like Wednesday night, there was hangout-spots all through the halls that night as well. 




Friday...

Friday was a good day...but also bittersweet knowing it was the last day. We'd already finished the roof, but we still went back to the same house to clean up and give the doormat and a Bible to the sweet lady we got to work for. 


The only 'planned' group picture I have of the week XD


After cleaning up and all that, we drove to another house, where a different crew had been supposed to go, but they were behind schedule. So we built a wheelchair ramp. ;) 


And met a super sweet dog! Unfortunately, I can't remember this sweet girl's name, but that's okay...because she was legit deaf and couldn't hear thunder. :P (Sidenote – look how dirty my arm is.) 


Also, it was SO HOT on Friday. We were all seriously just like dying and no one wanted to do anything other than lie on the ground under a tree and die. The heat must have been getting to my brain too, because I forgot to get a picture of the finished ramp...but it looked really nice. :) 


The street we were working on the last day. 

After we finished, Mr. Mike (our van driver) took us all to Chick-Fil-A for ice cream or milkshakes. Which was...amazing after all that heat. ;D We returned to the school, showered, and got ready to head to the church. In a little bit of free time, I started writing mailbox-notes to everyone on my crew, which I ended up finishing after supper and church. 

Worship Friday night was absolutely incredible. Just...I can even describe it. It was an amazing and fitting ending to one of the (if not the) best week of my life. <3 


A random (really bad) panorama of the gym. 

Since worship was longer than usual on Friday night, since they showed the final slideshow of pictures from the week and recognized a lot of people, curfew was backed up until 11:30 – which gave us time to say out goodbyes to everyone. Some groups that didn't live very far away left after worship, but others (including us ;)) stayed with plans to leave Saturday morning. So yes, after lots of hugs and smiles and goodbyes, and with a happy heart, I crashed into bed Friday night for a few hours sleep...




Saturday...


...annddd got up at 5:30 again the next morning to head home. :P The good news? We were home by lunch time. XD 


Instagram post from Saturday morning: Can't believe we're already headed home. This week with #servantsonsite has changed my life, and I don't say that lightly. I've grown closer to God than I've ever been before and met some amazing people – teens and adults alike who I'll never forget. ❤️ #scandalousgrace2017


All in all, it was an amazing week. I grew closer to God than I ever have before, I met new friends and got to better know friends I already had. I learned who I am in Christ, and I was able to reach out to those around me with His love. It was truly a God-blessed week, brought about by His hand and filled with His goodness. <3 


~*~ 

Did you enjoy part-2? Should I do more posts like this whenever I go on other trips? 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Return by Suzanne Woods Fisher {Book Review}



~ Description 
Beautiful and winsome, Betsy Zook never questioned her family's rigid expectations, nor those of devoted Hans, but then she never had to. Not until the night when she's taken captive in a surprise Indian raid. During her captivity, Betsy faces brutality and hardship, but also unexpected kindness. She draws strength from native Caleb, who encourages her to find God in all circumstances. She finds herself torn between her pious upbringing and the intense new feelings this compelling man awakens within her. 


Handsome and complex, Hans is greatly anguished by Betsy's captivity and turns to Tessa Bauer for comfort. Eagerly, Tessa responds, overlooking troubling signs of Hans's hunger for revenge. When Betsy is finally restored to the Amish, have things gone too far between Hans and Tessa? 

Inspired by true events, this deeply layered novel gives a glimpse into the tumultuous days of prerevolutionary Pennsylvania through the eyes of two young, determined, and faith-filled women. 



~ My Rating
5 stars


~ My Review

A beautifully and intricately woven tale of love and loss, faith and freedom. Once The Return tugged me into the storyline, I was hard-pressed to leave. Originally, I'd worried that I wouldn't like this book as much as the first two since it skipped 25 years, but I need not have worried. I had only read 70 or so pages when I sat down with the book this morning, and I finished it today. Charming, heartwarming, and faith-filled. It was amazing. <3 

This book truly is, as the back cover synopsis suggests, a 'deeply layered' novel. Besides the main plot (which is quite complicated in itself) there are several little subplots to add to the enjoyment. There are quite a few characters to keep straight (the list of brief bios in the front of the book helped with that though *wink*), oodles of different things going on, and yet it was never confusing. 

The characters... *happy sigh* Oh my goodness, don't even get me started. I already loved Anna, Bairn, and Felix from the first two books. And I really loved getting to know Tessa, Hans, Betsy, Caleb, and all the others. The family love, the humor and joshing, the warmth and whimsicalness of it all... I'm seriously wanting to move to Stoney Ridge right now. <3 

I honestly can't think of any complaints concerning the book. There was a fair amount of violence when there's talk of Indian massacres and the atrocities surrounding such brutal incidents. I was okay with it, but I would be careful recommending the book to someone younger than 13/14. 

I believe this is my favorite book of the series, and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for other books by Suzanne Woods Fisher. A hearty 5 stars! 

**I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for my honest review.** 


~ Click HERE to read my review of book-2, The Newcomer. A mini review with my thoughts on book-1, Anna's Crossing, can be found HERE. ~ 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

SOS Trip 2017 // pt. one

Well, folks, it's finally happening. I've got the pictures uploaded and the stories typed. Here's the first part of my long ramble about my trip, now over a month since. It's random and probably longer than y'all wanted. Maybe no one's even reading this. But here it is, just in case. ;)



Saturday...

Saturday starting off by me getting up around 4:40 AM (before my alarm went off, of course...). We met up with the group (5 from our church + 2 others) and set out on our journey by 6:00. 


And...we sorta kinda arrived at the school where we would be staying before the set check-in time. *cough* We wasted as much time as we could in Chick-Fil-A and still got there 30 minutes early. :P (We were told that the 'prize' for being the first there was cleaning the bathrooms...thankfully that was a joke.) 


Everyone was really nice though, and let us go on in and drop our stuff in our rooms. Me, my Mom, and the two other gals with our group had one side of a third-grade classroom. After claiming our spots (and making sure we had outlets because #phonechargers), we had plenty of time to wander the grounds before the welcome rally, which was originally scheduled for 3:00. 


So we did. We wandered the halls of the school...found the gym, the boys' hall, the showers...sorta kinda set off a fire alarm *awkward coughing*...and then found out there had been a change of plans. 


The welcome rally was postponed until 8:00 (since a group that was traveling a long distance had not yet arrived), but the adults still had meetings to attend and, hey, everybody knows that 150 unchaperoned teens is not a good idea. So we were corralled into the gym and the guy scheduled to preach the following night during worship shared his testimony. 


After the meetings and all that broke up, we were dismissed to get supper. Our group went to Cracker Barrel because we're just that awesome. Later, me and the other girls got the bright idea to head out to the playground and act like the children we are at heart. So we did and it was quite fun. 


I mean, yeah, I did have to text Mom to come let us in (because those doors lock behind you, friends) but that's irrevelant. Totally irrevelant. 


All week there were these serious basketball games going on in the gym with mostly guy participants. Like...its hot enough, y'all. Just watching you makes me tired...and sweaty... 


Have I mentioned that that place has *the* prettiest sunsets I've ever seen in person? <3 <3 (You'll see many more such pictures, I can promise you.) 

Anywho, we got back, attended the rally, learned what was going on (I totally did not know before that XD), and got our orders for the next day. And played charades, laughed until our sides hurt (while Mom was trying to talk on the phone to Dad XP), and went to bed really late. 




Sunday...

Sunday was our first 'real' day – when we would wear yellow shirts, meet our crews, and meet the homeowners we would be serving that week. After everyone donned there bright yellow SOS t-shirts, we had breakfast at the church that served us two meals a day (dedicated people, y'all). We were told that we were the brightest group they'd ever had. "I didn't say the smartest, just the brightest", the guy joked, and everyone laughed because it was 7:00 in the morning and some of us probably weren't even sure why everyone was laughing. But we laughed. 


We returned to the school and gathered in the gym to meet our crews. Which...was kinda awkward for awhile as everyone sat or stood around and tried to get a feel for everyone else (at least that's what I did... :P) 

Unfortunately, I didn't take pictures on Sunday, but it was amazing. My crew of 11 teens + 3 adults got somewhat acquainted, attended church and Sunday school, ate lunch, met our homeowners, and we're back at the school by mid-afternoon. We had supper followed by a worship service at the aforementioned church that night, just like every other with the exception of Saturday and Wednesday. 


And we went back to Walmart. Because...actually, I don't know why we went. But we did...several nights that week, actually. One of the girls on our group got mistaken as a foreign exchange student (don't ask, because I really don't know how the security guard got that from their brief conversation but he did) and we bought coffee and UNO cards and returned to the school. 




Monday...

Monday was when everything really set in. Getting up at 5:30 and going to the church for breakfast. Loading onto a bus with the crew, after the send-off rally, and driving to the jobsite. 


And it was a good day. It was pretty obvious right off that everyone on my crew was there for the right reasons. Not to goof off and let others carry the load, but to work hard for Christ's glory. 


Not only did we unload a trailer of supplies, and rip-up and re-shingle one whole end of the front of the roof (pictured above before work began), but we got done with that in time to rip up a strip across the top all the way down and put it back! And we still got back to the school before we were supposed to (4:00). Somebody called somebody who sent somebody and...yeah, we got let inside pretty quickly. Which meant first crew to the showers and no standing in line. Very important. XD 


A random picture of my very dirty jeans. It doesn't even do justice to how positively filthy I was. It's a good kind of dirty though, ya know? The kind that comes with a feeling of accomplishing something good for someone who appreciates it. <3 


I snuck a picture of my pretty momma while we were waiting for everyone to get together so we could head out for supper and worship. ^-^ At worship on Monday night, my crew's leader (who's also a pastor) gave the message. 


Oh, look. Three days in and Faith's stuff had already exploded into a messy mound. *beams* 




Tuesday... 

Oh, yes. Tuesday. An awesome day with lots of stories to tell. ;) On Monday night, Mom talked to Dad and he was like "tell Faith to take lots of pictures!" So on Tuesday, Faith (like the obedient daughter she is) took lots of pictures. Be thankful y'all are only getting about 1/3–1/4 of them. :P 


The house we worked at...with a crew member (also a gal from my youth group <3) photobombing. 


People unloading ladders...and people watching people unload ladders. *winks because I was apparently a watcher* 


On Tuesday, we took off the remaining old shingles on the front side of the house, which was mostly two valleys and the porch roof. 


When putting down the new shingles, the valleys had to be 'laced', so that made for slower growing, but also the chance to learn something new. (Okay, okay, so the whole concept of shingling a house was new to me, buuuttttt... :P) 


Tuesday was also the day that the incident began. #storytime 


Okay, so, the A/C was out at the house where we were working and it was HOT, y'all. So Tuesday morning, some guys came to work on it (actually, I think they replaced the entire unit, but that's irrelevant). And as they were leaving...they got stuck...in the yard. *points to below picture*


Someone brought this to our leader's attention and was like "um, they keep looking up here. I think they expect our help". Yeah, probably...but I think they were also wondering why a bunch of teenagers were on someone's roof. xD 

So after watching them only get themselves into a worse mess, the guys went down to help them try to push the truck out of the ruts they'd created...but that wasn't happening. Mr. John (our leader) said he guessed he'd "have to go pull them out". Only...it didn't happen that way. Instead, he too got stuck in the yard...before he even got to the other truck! 

A bit later, the wrecker the A/C people had called for arrived and Mr. John went down to ask if they would pull him out too. Quite the excitement! And there's more of that story to come. ;) 


Us girls got a break while the guys were helping with the trucks. ;D 



Guys on their phones... Ya know, just to break the 'girls are always on their phones' stereotype. 




Five people trying not to stroke-out from the heat. XD 


Muddy truck tires...and a blackmail picture. XD 

Tuesday afternoon, reinforcements were called in. The trailer was still in the – very wet – front yard. And since the truck got stuck without the trailer, Mr. John surely wasn't going to try to drive back into the yard to get the trailer out. So...someone came with a forklift. Drove in, hooked up to the trailer, pulled it halfway around the house, and...started spinning. The trailer was abandoned and the forklift left before another wrecker had to be called in. :P 


Tuesday we were...not the first ones back to the school. Probably more like the last, since at 4:00 (the earliest time we were supposed to return) we were still on the roof. :P 


~*~*~ 

Part two coming soon! Have you ever been on a trip of this sort? Did you enjoy the post? Was I too rambly? :P

In Christ, 
~Faith