My Daily Essentials

I've been wanting to do a post for awhile over all of my "essentials" and favorite things that help me to be productive on a daily basis or just some things I love to use or have each day. Some of these are actual products, but I've also included some things and activities I like to do on a daily basis that help keep me going and stay positive and focused on my ultimate life goal which is to glorify God in the way I live. So here's my round-up of all those things!

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my first phone...the iPhone 5c—I was thrilled to get one in a coral color haha

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the phone I have now...an iPhone 6s in the gorg rose gold color

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gotta have cute cases, too :)

1. My iPhone

My iPhone is without a doubt the thing I use most. You can do just about everything on it, although there are some things I prefer to do on my laptop any day, like writing, for instance. But I'm very thankful for what a resource it is. I love Apple products. I'm somewhat biased though, since I grew up using those, but I think personally they're the most straightforward to use. I have various different apps I use on a daily or consistent basis.

My favorite apps—

  • Notes: this is built into the iPhone, and I use it so much that at one point I had over a hundred notes... I get a little disorganized, but I love how I can easily jot down thoughts like when I'm in the car or at school.
  • Bible: I love this app because it makes it super easy to read the Bible with multiple selections of which version you can read in, like the NIV, KJV, etc. There's also "plans" that are like little devotions over a multitude of topics you can choose from—they have just about everything and make it very easy to find what you're looking for. I use this when I need a quick boost of encouragement, or sometimes when I'm doing a Bible study where I already take notes in the book, I'll use my phone app to look up the verses.
  • Squarespace Blog: I love this app! I've already talked about that here! I can very easily work on drafts of blog posts, go back and see old ones, and read and approve comments. I don't typically write full posts on my phone, but this app is great for when I need to reference an old post or go through and look at my drafts or write down some ideas or a beginning of a new post when I'm away from my computer.
  • Google Photos: This app is a lifesaver. Or a phonesaver, because mine explodes with all the photos I take. And this lets you upload YOUR WHOLE CAMERA ROLL. FOR FREE. WITH UNLIMITED STORAGE. ISN'T THAT AMAZING. Plus, it makes it super convenient for me when I'm trying to get photos on my computer; all I have to do is back up my photos onto this app, and then I can go online to the website and easily download them to my computer. It's holding all 5,000+ of my photos and videos for free. I LOVE IT.
  • VSCO: This is a cool photo editing app. I use this app a lot, sometimes just for fun and other times to try and edit a photo because they have a lot more options for photos than the camera options that are programmed on my phone. Just recently I figured out how to make my own pink filter that still looks natural! I also use them to try and fix photos that are too dark or have awkward lighting. A lot of the features are free, though a lot of the filters cost money.
  • Spotify: I love Spotify for streaming music, so I have the app on my phone that I listen to all the time.
  • Of course, I'm able to manage my social media from my phone, which is convenient.
  • Evernote: I use this app as a place for me to "dump" my ideas for books, mainly, or to keep track of different things I will want to reference later. I also have the app on my computer, so it makes it easy to keep track of those things I will use for my books or blog. It's also easy to organize, as there are "notebooks" that you can group different notes into.
  • I also have like three email accounts synced to my phone, so it's super easy for me to check all of them. I have like five email accounts, honestly, between school and my personal email and emails for my writing. It's nice to be able to have one place where I can check all of them at once.

2. Relaxing time

I try to always make time to just relax and not worry about any obligations with school, writing, or whatever it may be. For me, this consists mostly of laying in bed while on my laptop, either reading things for fun, taking a million random quizzes, or watching a movie. It could also be me reading a book I've been wanting to. Now that it's summer, I've probably been engaging in way too much of this to the point where I don't do anything, but hey, self care, haha. ;) Bonus points when Mom makes me her ah-mazing cheeseballs!

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3. Time spent with people you love

This is also hugely important, as life is clearly about relationships. I try to make a point in texting people that I am close to like my cousins or going out to do things with people. Just the other day I went to some swimming/fitness classes with my grandma that I've enjoyed, and we went shopping and ate out, too, and that was a blast. I also love my dog; sometimes when I'm getting ready for bed and just laying down looking at my phone or reading, he'll just plop down by my legs and snuggle against me. <3

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4. Devotionals/Bible studies

I love to read devotionals. They have Bible verses with meaningful, applicable ways to apply it to your life. I try to read something in the Bible everyday whether that's a Bible study or devotion. Sometimes I do both, but usually I do one or the other depending somewhat on my mood and what I need. Like for example, if I'm really struggling with a certain topic, then I might read a devotion over that to help me. Or if I want to learn about a certain topic, I'll go do a Bible study over that topic. Like I said, I try to do both or at least one, a devotion or Bible study, each day, usually at night since that seems to be the best time for me personally because with school, I barely have enough time to get ready in the morning...which is mainly my fault, and if I were more of a go-getter I would wake up way earlier to make time for everything...but to be honest, I think way better at night (RIGHT GRANDMA?!!). I'm in more of a reflective, calm mood, and usually if I'm going to be upset it hits me later at night, so it's better timing for that anyway haha.

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Anyway, my favorite devotions—

  • 365 Days to Knowing God for Girls: this one has practical advice that is always encouraging and that helps you learn to apply different truths about who God is to your life and relationship with Him. I've enjoyed it.
  • It's been awhile since I read the devotional pictured, but I remember liking it! I also remember it had call to actions with specific things you could do, so if you like that sort of thing, it'd be really good.
  • Soul Surfer Devotions: Okay I love this one. I was reading some devotions out of this one a few weeks ago, and everything I read I just loved; I agreed with all of it, and it was so relatable. It had just the words I needed to hear.
  • Jesus Calling: another great devotional book. I took notes on this one. The perspective this one is written it, like it is Jesus actually telling you this, was a perspective I'd never read before, and I enjoyed it so much. It felt truthful to Scripture and what He really said. It was definitely one I recommend for anyone at any stage in their relationship with God.
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As for Bible studies, I have many different ways I go about studying the Bible—in fact I plan to write a whole post on it, so I will try to keep this part short. Sometimes I use books to help me study, or sometimes I just read my Bible and take notes myself.

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Pictured above is a Bible study I was doing at church, and I had a notebook I would write things in dedicated solely to my Bible study. The only book I have for a Bible study is Living So That, and I LOVE it. Yeah, this one I wrote about here... The one I got four years ago... And still haven't finished... That's embarrassing. But I was doing other things in my Bible besides that, which I'll get into more in depth in a later post. But I'm really enjoying that book; it's the study I'm currently doing.

5. Bags

I always use some sort of bag on a daily basis: in the summer, it's my purse; in the school year, it's my backpack.

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I used to have a gold crossbody I really liked because crossbodies are by far my favorite type of purse, but unfortunately as I got older I needed to fit more stuff into my purse, and the crossbody I had just wasn't big enough for all of it. So now I'm using this purse I got at Okoboji (I actually blogged about that here), and I really like it despite it not being a crossbody. I have this dream Michael Kors crossbody I want... I don't think that's happening anytime soon, though... I could always ask for a Louis Vuitton purse though, haha!

I LOVE my Under Armour backpack, though. It's a bright neon pink, and it is so durable; it has been through years of hauling around my laptop, books, and everything. I've taken it on trips to Estherville and to Canada and everywhere. I love it, and actually I'm sad because it's getting kind of dingy and faded. But I've had it for three years—since the end of sixth grade, jeez—so I'm definitely using it. But I looked up new backpacks from various different places, and honestly, I can say I don't care for any of them. I like my bright pink backpack—you know I'm all about that pink—so yeah, I don't WANT a new one, so pray I can get this one cleaned... If you have any tips please tell me...

6. Mom's cheeseballs ;)

I WISH I could have these everyday, though this summer I practically have. She's going to make them for me tonight though YAY...! *At the time of me publishing this, a day later, I ate them all last night. :(

7. Photos

I try to take photos daily, but I also don't like forcing them either, so I don't all the time, but one thing I do try to do everyday is look through some old photos. There is something about that that really gives your mood a boost; I love looking back at old photos.

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8. Pens

I am addicted to stationary. I have millions of notebooks and many pens to accompany them. I do write a lot, though, about different things, and so I need different colors of pens and styles of notebooks for each purpose because I am OCD like that and because it's more fun that way. BUT THESE PENS... <3 They are my all time favorite; I always go through so many of them, and the black and pink are usually the first ones to die... Surprise surprise... :) These are Paper Mate felt pens, and I love the way they write and the array of colors they come in. I use them for literally everything.

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Look closely at this photo below and you can see for Christmas that I got all those pens in a limited edition with the tropical colors, which I love. <3 <3 <3 And you can also see my dog in the background with his huge rawhide he got, haha.

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9. A diary or journal that is special

I like to pick out a special journal just for my own journaling and diary. I like for it to be pretty obviously, and I also like it to be more like a journal than a notebook. I don't always journal everyday—I used to be way better at this, but when I need to dump my thoughts I will. I have this journal I'm using right now, and it is the prettiest journal I've ever had in my life. I'm not exaggerating whatsoever; it's my favorite, and therefore I feel like I need to be extra careful with what I write in it because I like it so much I don't want to waste it, and so far I feel like I'm doing just that! But I know that's what it's for, so I need to quit worrying about it. Anyway, it's gorgeous. I don't think I'll ever be able to find another one like it.

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In fact, it's kind of funny, actually, because in my first novel I wrote about a journal my character kept, and I described it the way I pictured my ideal journal to look, and part of that description was that on the pages there would be bokeh in the background...

LOOK AT THAT. BOKEH IN THE BACKGROUND ON THE PAPER. I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW SUCH A THING EXISTED EXCEPT FOR IN MY MIND.

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10. A million other notebooks

I love notebooks, but that's merely stating the obvious. And I really do have purposes for all of them—or most of them, but trust me I will find purposes for all of them. I usually prefer composition books for my writing; I have a composition book for notes on each novel I write. For my idea recording and organizing, I use journals. Those I put all of my ideas in just one journal though instead of one journal for each idea because that would be overkill. But yeah, I love notebooks, and I'm really good at finding a million of them and all the pretty ones there are.

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Sometimes I even use matching colors. ;)

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I always love creating new systems with each notebook of how I'm going to color code, haha.

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I'm serious, I have a million notebooks. These photos are only scratching the surface.

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11. Keyboard cover

For my laptop, I consider this a necessity. I learned this the hard way, unfortunately. When the squares light up you can see the dog hair that has floated into the keys. What a view! So yeah, that's probably never coming out, so buy one of these if you don't want that or other things like crumbs getting stuck in your keys. That, and it's pretty and feels awesome to type with, so why not?

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12. Music

I LOVE listening to music everyday. It lifts my mood and even gives me inspiration to write—I have playlists for each of my books. Not a day goes by where I don't listen to music.

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My grandparents have this awesome TV station that plays music nonstop with NO COMMERCIALS and has pictures and facts about the artist singing, and ugh I wish we had that station!!!

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13. Beauty products

I always use a variety of different beauty products on a daily basis. I'm not big on makeup yet, and I don't know if I ever will be, though I do have some things like eye shadow and a couple lipsticks on hand. I have yet to use them, but one day... Haha. What I do use everyday though is some sort of body mist or perfume. I also have a Scentsy thing in my room that I love; it's not from the actual Scentsy brand, I think I got it off Amazon, but it works great, and it gives my room a nice boost of light. My favorite scent that I have for this that I just got at Walmart and have been using currently smells like the ocean and beach, and it reminds me of the books I reviewed here because the series I loved was set at a beach house, so now I always associate that smell with those books, haha.

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What I love even more than this are the body mists I've accumulated. I spray one of those on everyday—I LOVE THEM. I've gotten all of mine so far from Victoria's Secret or PINK just because I have yet to find a scent of theirs I didn't like, so I just keep going back for more. I love to just go through and smell all of them; I have them all set out on top of my bookshelf as decorations because of course I pick out scents by how pretty the bottles are! :)

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My favorite scents:

  • PINK Fresh and Clean: I got this one for a Christmas gift many years ago and finally started using it about a year ago after gym class, and I just love this smell. I think it's my favorite ever, but unfortunately it's almost gone. :(
  • Victoria's Secret Aqua Kiss: I love the fresh smell of this one!
  • PINK Warm and Cozy: another favorite of mine, I bought a hand lotion for this shopping with my friend when we were like 11, because that's really all we could buy from Victoria's Secret at that time, and I always loved the smell, so recently I just got a body mist with it, and it smells just as amazing as I remember it.

I also have a cute little rollerball that I keep in my purse from Victoria's Secret called Crush, and I love using that when I'm on the go!

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Also from Victoria's Secret, I have a cute metallic pink beauty bag that is big enough to hold my lipsticks and eye shadow, the rollerball above, and my millions of hair ties but is small enough to fit in my purse, so I use that a lot. I also have a pink bag in a similar shade of pink as the makeup bag with black polka dots that I love, and I store my tons of nail polish in there. That definitely doesn't fit in my purse, but it's still small enough that it's convenient to take when I travel.

14. Sunglasses and case

For sunglasses, I have gold Aviators that I love. I got them from American Eagle, and so far they've held up pretty well. I also have a pink, glittery case to put them in while they're in my purse. The case came with this cloth for the lenses that is also pink and glittery, but it also has a picture of Marilyn Monroe on it...? I didn't really want that but it came with the case, and I wanted the case...

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15. Laptop

Obviously I use this a ton daily, my laptop that I love. I can do just about everything on this, plus it's synced with my phone, so I can even respond to texts on it!! My favorite apps that I have on my laptop are Evernote, Spotify (which is even better on the computer because you can skip as many songs as you want or just click on the song you want to listen to!), and Photoshop. Okay, I don't have Photoshop, but I had a free trial of it that has since expired, but I LOVED IT. Whenever I get money, I definitely want to invest in that. The websites I use the most are obviously social media and my blog, but I also use Dropbox consistently to back up things, and Wishbin is another cool site I use to keep track of all the things I want, and that definitely comes in handy around the holidays when I can send that to Mom, and she can shop for me easily!

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16. Planner

Last but not least, I love staying organized, so I always have a planner. In high school, this becomes a necessity to keep track of homework and due dates. I'm not even involved in anything yet, and I still use them, so I definitely recommend using a planner. My new planner I talk about in this post has been working great for me!

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Bonus: pop

Okay. I didn't think I was one of those people who needed caffeine to function everyday, but oh my gosh, as I was looking through all my photos to pick out the images for this post, I WOULD SAY LIKE HALF OF THEM HAVE POP IN THEM. Just when I think I'm healthy... ;)

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Seriously. I could make a compilation of all the photos I have with pop in them the same way I could make a compilation of all the times my Grams Marjean has fallen—literally, a conversation I had with her last night. But as she said, I'm still alive! Hahaha.

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What I Learned from My Reading Diet

I finished reading ten books over the span of a week. I had three nonfiction books I had been needing to read, and my OCD forced me to read them before I got busy on the seven books I bought—which was good, because I'd had them for awhile. I decided to spend as many days as it took just reading all of these. Not just for fun, though. This time, I was reading to learn.

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See, this is what happens when your writing goes stale. I have this writer's block chart on my Pinterest that has been a cool resource: whenever you feel stuck writing, it asks you simple questions over what you're stuck with, such as characters, style, etc. And then it gives you simple prompts and exercises to help get things flowing again. My problem was with my craft. It seemed like every sentence I wrote was crap. So for that it recommended writing only to please yourself and not a bunch of people at once—not bad advice at all for an overthinker and perfectionist like me. But that still didn't get me unstuck because my overthinking and perfectionism still took over. So then it recommended going on a "reading diet" because it will help improve your style, or it said to simply just get air and have time away from your story. So I did both, long story short.

As a writer, there's two types of reading: reading for fun and reading to learn. I wanted to do both, but especially reading to learn, that is, to help me improve my own writing. What I was surprised about, though, is how much I would learn not just for that but also about our culture and the things we believe, the messages that are portrayed in these books and what I've learned from reading them.

The nonfiction books were very good, over Christian themes that I could really take to heart. One of them was even over patience. And while it didn't change my life in the sense that waiting suddenly got easier—ha, when is that ever supposed to happen—it was still a good reminder for me. I'm learning, people, slowly, yes, but I'm getting there. Maybe one of these days I will even blog about what I've learned about waiting. Because if I can, then, yeah, there's hope for anyone.

From that point on, the rest of the books I had to read were all fiction, young adult, which is a genre that is written specifically for the teen audience. Besides Christian fiction, young adult is easily my favorite genre because, well, obviously. I'm right in the age group, so it's the most relatable—except when it's not. Sometimes it's not, when they do the little fairytale storyline crap that I hate. But sometimes it is. You have to find the right books. And oh my gosh, that is HARD. Finding the right books. I think I've just gotten so picky, but there's no variety in it, it seems. And then on those rare occasions when I find a book that I seriously love, I can never find any stories that are similar in what I like about it. Ugh. I guess finding what I DON'T like is helping me narrow it down... Slowly...

But anyway, enough on this. Like I said, I realized a lot of things while reading these books. And the books that I'm going to be talking about are the fictional young adult ones. I bought a whole series that I'd read the first three books of and had enjoyed those—clear back when I was in seventh grade, I believe, and the reason I know this is because I had pictured the hot guy as a hockey player I was obsessed with then—as well as a companion book to that series that I'd also already read, and then I bought two books that completed another series by a young adult author I really like. I liked the majority of the books I got, except for the two books at the end of that five book series. They were told from a different character's perspective, so I was skeptical about how much I would like them. But here's what I learned from all of them:

~There's so many stereotypical perspectives. We need new ones.

When it came to that new character, I couldn't relate to her. In fact, she really got on my nerves. It was like that stereotypical female leader type character, in the sense that to be a female leader the female has to tough, dominating, and snarky. Which I disagree with. There are plenty of great female leaders who don't fit that stereotype, ones who are more gentle or quieter. That can be the young adult genre in a nutshell, though, sometimes, is that it is FULL of the cliche characters. Especially when it comes to guys. You get the same bad boy personalities that are supposed to be portrayed as sexy and blah blah blah. One of my favorite YA authors—who was the author of the other two books I got to finish a series—I think she does a good job of creating realistic characters with varying personalities. She even writes young adult romance, but you can still see how the guys are flawed. And her female characters lean on the side of being more innocent and naive, and before her, I had never found a young adult author who wrote their characters that way, and I LOVED that perspective. As a teenager myself, I have yet to find stories that imitate how relatable those were for me, even if they were secular, too. That's kind of one of my complaints about the Christian fiction genre, too: the characters feel too plastic to me. Like it seems like they're gifted with way too much to the point that it's not realistic, and you don't get an honest portrayal of their flaws. There's this one author who seems to give all of her characters natural beauty, and it's like, okay, not all of us are blessed with that... But sure, we'll pretend to be happy for her when the guys just love her... Oh that's right, I forgot real people usually struggle with jealousy, too—that's what it would be nice to see more of.

~I still hate cliche endings.

Agh, those same books also had the worst endings. They were too fairytale-ish. I don't necessarily mind happy endings, but they have to be authentic for me, like I talk about here.

~More than that, I think I hate the way endings are wrote, period.

Okay, this one may be more of a critique of myself than the actual stories. I'm insatiable when it comes to the way endings are wrote. If they're too happy, I don't like that because it doesn't feel real—it's too cliche. But if they're too sad, then I'm left depressed (if you've never been depressed over a book, you don't know what you're missing, haha) and needing more. And, as I found out just recently with the conclusion to this other series by the teen author I love, I don't like it when they're too open-ended. NORMALLY open-ended types are my favorite because they're more of a middle ground: not too happy, yet not too sad. So maybe it was just because this particular series dealt with a hot guy who she only now got back with at the end of the story, and I would've loved to read more of him BEYOND A PAGE...

Endings aren't fun, though, especially when you're super engrossed in a story, and you feel attached to the characters. I have some characters I love so much, I could read book after book with them and never get bored. I suppose it's kind of like certain people, in a way. You have some you love to see and miss horribly when it's time to say goodbye, and then there are others where you're like get out of my life already...

~I would love to know the psychology behind why I get so attached to certain characters.

Seriously, it's almost insane. I have some characters I just don't forget, but I suppose if they feel real and relatable, you feel like you know them but yet you don't. After the conclusion of the series I loved, my grandma told me to call her to let her know how it ended because I was worried I would get the ending I did, so then I was ranting all about this guy and how much I loved him and how I didn't want to be done reading about him and how ONE PAGE is not nearly adequate enough. My brother thought I had lost my mind, insisting it was only a book. Well, you should see what his video games do to him, so I think I'm fine, and every other teenage girl would agree. This guy, though... He had finally just come around, and he was so sensitive inside and had such capabilities to think deeply, he was great. <3

Okay, I'll quit now, but I guess I definitely learned lots to put into my own writing. My grandma was telling me that now I'll know how to end my book, since I was so unsatisfied with the other series' ending. Well, I don't know about that, but it definitely got me thinking, especially about the power of good characters. I mean, this fictional guy, is like, awesome to me. He's FICTIONAL, though, but as they say, he'll live on in my heart... Maybe it's because in my head I pictured him looking really hot...? I don't know. Well, what I do know is that when it comes to me personally, I have my physical type of guy all down to a T, but personality wise? I have no idea. I guess I should just create a million male characters and see which one I fall in love with. And then somehow find a real life version. Ha. Like that'll happen.

Okay but in all seriousness, it has made me think even about the grand point of why I write fictional stories as a whole: there is something about them that, when done right, can resonate with people on a deep, knowing level, and that literally has the power to change their life. I don't know how or why yet—I haven't started my research psychology career yet—but it does. It really does, and it's not just because of hot guys, not ALL of the time, anyway. It's because when done right, the characters do feel relatable, and you can learn things from their struggles and pick out themes for all of this—all of the stories in the world—that all lead to something bigger than ourselves. And I know that that's God and what He has done for us.

As far as being done right goes, that really depends; there is no set definition of the perfect way to write a novel. But I think there's something to be said for those novels that are completely raw and honest, that show characters' vulnerabilities and inner darkness, and that depict great themes. That's my goal when I write, anyway, but everyone is looking for something different, which is why, as my writing chart says, it's important first to just write for yourself. And it is pretty amazing, what writing can do for its author. You can explore your own darkness and hurts, your own doubts and attitudes about life, all with your imagination. I can't get enough of it, and now, after reading all these books, I really am itching to write my own. Someone once asked me if I prefer to read or write, which one I liked better. It was a very tough choice for me because I've always loved to read, but as I've gotten older, there's only so much reading I can stand before I have to write my own stories. It's like a necessity, a way for me to release my thoughts and comb through them.

So now I must go do that, ugh, and pray I don't let my perfectionistic crap get in my way... That will come in handy for revising, but I've got to get it through my head somehow that YOU CANNOT REVISE WHAT IS NOT FINISHED...

Okay seriously, like I really need to get on that. But I also want to hear from you! What are your fave genres and types of stories to read? Any recommendations for me?! I feel so weird not waking up to read anymore because I read all my books...but now it's time to write my own, I guess!

Oh, one last thing—for reviews on some of my fave books, read this post here. It's from like three years ago, so I really need to do a new one now!!! That one took an emphasis on Christian fiction, but maybe this next one could deal specifically with young adult? Then you could hear all about the hot guys!!!

Okay. I'm done for real now.

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Bailing on Canada | Estherville & Okoboji 2k18

Long time with no writing! I was hoping to update my blog as much as possible over my vacation spent with family when my parents went to Canada, but we got to be so busy that it made it a lot harder. But I took tons of pictures, so I'm thrilled to recap this now!

I got home yesterday and just finished unpacking a little bit ago (as of 3:44 from June 23, 2018). I had quite the amount of bags to unpack: when I left, I had brought five bags. Yeah, I know that sounds like a lot, but since my mom was bringing her huge suitcase that I normally take for all of my clothes, I ended up bringing three bags of clothes. Yes, I brought the whole summer portion of my closet, and I'm glad I did: I was able to wear a new outfit everyday, haha! And I made Grandma take a picture of me everyday so I can post them all like the wannabe fashion blogger I am! Haha just kidding, but I am saving them for a future blog post on modesty.

I did only end up bringing one bag for my entertainment type things, and for once I brought only the bare minimum for those. So it all balanced out. And then my fifth bag was just my purse, so I don't know if that really counts. I ended up coming home with NINE bags though, but that's because they were smaller bags of things I bought that wouldn't fit anywhere else. I got a lot of good deals and things I bought that I'll go over, too!

First things first, my parents and brother went up to Canada with some friends, and it sounds like they had a good time! I already recapped our first trip to Canada as a family here, here, and here. I never did post our second trip, which was last year, and honestly that's because it wasn't too interesting on my end at least. I determined the fishing life isn't my life, so I mainly stayed at the cabin and read. Canada was still beautiful, though, and I did have pictures that I never posted, so I'll show you them below here:

*we went to Cabela's on the way up, Tobie's with amazing donuts, and attempted to feed deer
**Hunter caught a huge fish right off our dock when our parents were out fishing, so I helped him but he had most of it done himself, and then these guys in the cabin next to us had just come back from fishing and helped us store the fish—it's mounted in his room now
***on the way home, I got Arby's and went by the Xcel Energy Center, home of the Minnesota Wild


I already miss everyone and Estherville so much I could cry. It's always a blast, and I'm already making plans to go up again. I blogged some images of my first day there here. I went up to Estherville to stay with my grandparents a couple days before my family left for Canada. They were spending the night at my uncle's house, also, so I would have a few days to talk to them before they had to battle finding an internet connection. I had fun just hanging out with my grandparents and making the rounds at ShopKo and Dollar General.

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I had ordered some jeans from American Eagle that (finally!) came back in stock, so as soon as Mom and I saw that, we jumped on them and bought them and had them shipped up to Estherville because I would be up there when they came. Also about that swimsuit, that didn't get shipped until after we left to see our relatives up in the Cities, so I hope nobody has stolen it or the elements haven't destroyed it...because I guess Estherville is drowning right now with all the rain...

That night we made it a goal to walk down on their recreational trail everyday, so we headed down.

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This is random, but I was kind of proud of myself because I made it a goal to shower every single day I was up there (because normally when I'm up there I slack off and then always regret it because I have greasy hair in all of my pictures), and so I actually did that, AND I actually rotated through both of my shampoos I'm supposed to be using every other day, so yeah, now if I can just get that disciplined with my writing, Bible study, and fitness routines we'll be good.... I also had had horrible drainage for the majority of my time up there, but it got better with each day, and I had to take these horrible pills that tasted disgusting on your tongue, and they were so big that I about gagged on one of them each time I took them. Ugh. Good memories.

The next day, I went for a bike ride with my Gramps. It was cool in the mornings with a faint breeze, and since I wore an airy top it was bearable. We didn't get to ride bikes much later though due to the humidity and high temperatures. But we went on an extensive ride that day, clear down by the hospital and then headed south down by this church that always greets us upon coming into town. Then we had to find a place to cross the busy highway that goes through downtown, and it was uphill from there. We were definitely shot after that, but I loved it.

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He also took me for our truck ride!! No visit to Estherville is complete without one of those.

Grams also took me on some rides out to Fort Defiance, and I love being able to talk with her on those.

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My older cousin Kirsten who I'm super close to and who feels like more of an older sister than a cousin called us frequently, which is always fun getting to talk to her, especially past midnight when Grams is ready to kill us both. ;D

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We also went to their VFW to talk with some extended relatives. I enjoyed the company of everyone and was glad I put on that long-sleeved shirt, which Grandma nagged me to change into because it was freezing.

Hey look... It's me with Grandma in her signature pose, on the phone. ;) <3

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All the small town vibes <3

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My family also recently introduced me to Forrest Gump, and oh my gosh, that just may be one of my next favorite movies. So Grams and I watched it at night and only finished it in three days, haha. That's because she was too tired the one night and then too busy on the phone the next, haha.

The next day, we headed over to Spencer because Gramps got his windshield destroyed when a rock hit it when he was going to pick up Grandma after her trip. It turns out they ordered the wrong one, which he was not at all happy about, but we at least got to go shopping down at their little strip mall. It had rained heavily the night before, and thankfully we got back before more storms came, because Grandpa said that if it hailed on his car with all of the damage it already had he was going to drive it off a cliff... ;D

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I went into JCPenney with Grandma, and I found two new summer tops that were both up to 70% off! The material also felt really nice, too, and not at all cheap. Then we went to Hobby Lobby, a store Grandpa and Grandma love that I do also now, and their girly room decor took my breath away! I think it was supposed to be marketed at five year old girls, so I guess I'm still five...? I don't know, but I absolutely loved it.

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Then at Hobby Lobby, I got this frame for my room. It's hard to see completely what it says because I haven't taken the packaging off of it yet, but it says "Live big little girl." I liked that a lot, even though I don't know if I'm so little anymore, but I probably act like one with all of my far fetched dreams and fantasies. ;)

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We did our nightly walk again, and I believe we also went to the Dollar General again. I can't remember what day this was, but on one day Grandma had to go to the Dollar Store so many times—I think five, no lie—and Gramps was so exasperated, he was like, we should move it to our front yard. ;D

Here I'm under the bridge that goes over the trail downtown. It has a weird echo, and every time we walk underneath it I morbidly wonder about it collapsing on us... I'm sure it's fine though, and it is definitely different to walk underneath it, but I like it. The trail is a blast to walk on and so is the Swinging Bridge.

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The next morning I bought six donuts at Casey's because they had some deal going for that. And I ate all six of them over the span of two days. My diet is so good, you guys. I don't even know what to do about it, except keep eating. :D

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I actually did do some sporadic writing on my book, and there were some times just driving around the town, under the perfect sunset, that my heart seemed to just swell with the story and the themes and the thoughts I had that I just can't get over until I write about. If that's not motivation to write, I don't know what is. So I am going to seriously start working on it.

We went to the library later just to look around. I wanted to get a feel for the young adult books, to get an idea of any I might want to buy. I am SO picky about the books I read anymore because they are all so redundant—especially YA. As if teenagers can't handle any deep things of substance. And sometimes they will put deep problems in the books, but you know what is always missing? DEEP THEMES. I don't know if I was in the best of moods after reading all the summaries, haha. I have such a deep desire to make my stories different from the norms, but who knows if that even sells? Even most of Christian fiction is repetitive and fluffy: sure, they give their characters problems—that are all miraculously solved. It's annoying because it's not authentic.

But anyway, enough on that rant. I LOVE their library. While ours is more modern and sleek, theirs is more classic and timeless. I think I like their look more to be honest.

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They also have the best furniture and these cute tables that I loved. I also like how theirs is two stories. The library gives such a fancy addition to the downtown.

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I got to go eat out with Grams at Godfather's again, and then we hurried home to see company and had some nice chats. I always love being able to talk deep with her though. 

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Their town is so pretty, I love committing it to memory. <3

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I did stay up late working on the draft of a letter to you know who that I've been promising on here, but it got late and you know how Grandma gets when it's "too late," and then we went to meet my cousin Kirsten the next day (yay!!!) so I never got time to finish it up there. I will eventually, though.

For a year, Kirsten and I had been planning to go jet skiing over at Okoboji, and we had set money aside to rent one. We also had other plans to do things, and we got mostly everything we wanted to done. Both of us had just recently bought leather jackets, so we wanted to get tons of pictures together. We made poor Grams come out with us to the Swinging Bridge where we bossed her around with different photography commands. I'm sure she was close to throwing us off the bridge, but we made sure to thank her profusely, especially since she actually got quite the batch of good pics haha!

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Then we made Grams take us out to Fort Defiance, too. :)

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We had some downright hilarious photos as we attempted to get this one:

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Kirsten requested that we eat at Godfather's, which of course I wasn't going to deny just because I ate out the night before. We were rowdy when we arrived—we were the only ones there—haha. And then when we went to ShopKo, Kirsten yelled "I gotta go pee!" a little too loud, right by a worker, haha. Memories. Since I'd gotten pizza the night before at Godfather's, I decided to try their chicken. It was so much better than what I remembered it to be; I loved it.

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Kirsten and I also went for a bike ride around the neighborhood.

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We brought Kirsten with on our nightly walks and of course made Grams take more pictures.

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That night we did our nails, and I finally used some of my polish from my large collection of nail polish I've neglected since 6th grade (right Mom?). It was a blast, except I'm so slow and messy when it comes to doing my nails. I need to do it more often.

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We stayed up until three something talking about everything: guys we like and our types of guys, inside jokes, deep questions that are going into my book, psychology, creepy stories, our memories, etc. I love having someone like her to talk to.

The next day was going to be the day we had planned for: jet skiing at 'Boji and all the fun things around there! There was a place to rent a jet ski just off of Arnold's Park. We wanted that so we could have something as a landmark so we didn't get lost out in the lake haha.

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Jet skiing was so awesome. Seriously. It affirmed my dreams to live on a lake and get a bunch of toys for the water, a jet ski now being top of the list. We didn't venture too far away, but we did go out to the center of West Lake Okoboji. Maybe if we're braver next time we'll go under the bridge that we drive over coming into Spirit Lake like we saw some other people on jet skis do. :) We also couldn't have asked for better weather. It was a blistering hot day, but honestly, those are the days you want because the water is cold if not, and the coolness of the water on your skin is that much more refreshing when you're out there. Plus, you do get WET, as we found out, so if it's hotter outside you dry off faster.

We rented a jet ski for half an hour, and I made Kirsten drive. ;) I think she was worried about it, but she did a great job. We rode it as fast as we could (only like 7 mph...for some reason I thought they could go up to 70 like a car and I have no idea why I thought that haha). She was also smart about her driving, too, though, because the last thing we wanted was to tip over! And there were some solid waves out there because it's a very populated lake. We made sure to slow down for those, but I absolutely loved each second of it. I let my arms dangle around Kirsten's waist and made sure I stayed snug against her so that I wouldn't fly off, but I really think that's harder than one imagines. Both of us agreed we would do it again, and hopefully we can! We didn't think we would get as wet as we did but wore a spare change of clothes just in case, and I'm glad we did. The water temperature was just right: my bare feet were getting scorched as we walked down to the jet ski, but letting my feet rest on the sides of it where the water collected felt amazing. Kirsten took the brunt of the splashing waves, haha, while I ducked behind her. But being the back, water would spray up from behind and splash me, too. I absolutely loved it. I wish we would have gotten more pictures of us on it, or that we had a Go Pro. We both agreed that if we ever become rich like a lot of the people over here, the first investment we're going to make is a photographer who can follow us around and take pictures, haha. :D

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At first we didn't know if we'd be able to get to go jet skiing but had a backup plan of going canoeing if not. I'm so thankful we got to go jet skiing though. I'm very thankful that God blessed us with those moments together. For years we've driven over the lakes, and I've watched as all of the people had their fun on the lakes, and so it was really special to finally be able to get to be a part of that. I hope we can do something like that again next year, and who knows, maybe one day I will make my dream come true of having a lake house on 'Boji. ;)

Okay, then there were these pictures when we were done that Grams took. They crack me up. I just love how our movements are completely identical to each other—in this picture we look like zombies or something, and then Kirsten has an even better one of us where we're looking over to the side and we LITERALLY look like the real BigFoot. Yeah, I can see that one: two BigFoots spotted live in action on the coast of Arnold's Park.

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The lake life in 'Boji? Heck yes. Canada? Sorry, but I had my two years and was more than ready for this change of pace. ;)

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We went into a nearby restroom to change into drier, fancier clothes. And then got pictures!!! Duh.

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They've been making some new changes to the park, which look awesome. I thought it would've changed in appearance a lot more than it has, but I'm okay with that because I wouldn't want the look to be unrecognizable. But Kirsten and I went walking through all of the shops, and there was this new museum for rock and roll and a new fun area with this huge slide we might try one day haha. Then up at the Emporium, they have a brand new Lilly Pulitzer store. OH, MY GOSH. I died, because I've always admired Lilly Pulitzer from afar and wish I had the budget to splurge on their clothes. The shop was so cute, and I found two tops easily I would've loved, each only $100! Not. I totally don't have a budget for that right now, but maybe one day... Nonetheless, I'm glad they have the store; it's adorable.

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We also did the free Mirror Maze and Tipsy House inside the park, which are always fun. We got gum balls from the golf course I've always wanted to golf at and even won a yellow gum ball, which means a free round for one person to golf there! So then we made Grams take this picture, too:

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We went to go eat at the Spirit Lake Dairy Queen (it never fails). Originally we had wanted to eat at a restaurant on the lake, but they were unbelievably crowded. Kirsten and I tried to check out one, and you could barely walk.

We actually got Gramps to go mini golfing in the park with us! Since it was Father's Day, he got to go free. It was actually way cheaper than I expected it to be but very crowded. It wasn't horrible though. I really enjoyed it, except it got a bit long after awhile especially with the heat. Every once in awhile there was a breeze. Ha, actually there was a breeze a lot, because our balls kept going all over the place, and Kirsten's and my hair kept flying everywhere during pictures. It was fun though, and I'm glad we got to do it. Grams kept score for us; I don't think golf is her thing. We always joke with Gramps about mini golf because a long time ago he went mini golfing, got mad, and hit the ball clear over the highway! Normally that's how I feel because we went mini golfing the year before, and I did absolutely horrible. Gramps beat us by a lot, and Kirsten and I almost tied for last, but Kirsten lost by a couple more points. Kirsten's ball really liked her: it kept coming back down the hill to the starting point hahaha.

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Gramps also took us for truck rides, too, which we enjoy. We went on the Swinging Bridge again, too.

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On a ride around town, the sunlight peeking through the clouds was an awesome sight:

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Kirsten wanted to watch Forrest Gump with me since it had been years since she'd seen it, so I was more than happy to because I'm obsessed with it! We stole some of Grandma's M&M's from her food she was saving for circle at church the next day, and I sprinkled them on my popcorn. We paused the movie for awhile though to talk with Grams, which I loved. Kir and I had some honest talks that I loved getting to talk with her over, like our unfiltered, raw thoughts on different types of people. It felt good to be able to connect like that. You know, the more I think about how lonely I feel, what God has lain on my heart is that I'm not as alone as I thought. At school, yes, and in my faith, yes. But He knows how to send just the right people, like my cousins. Getting to talk with Kirsten is like getting to talk with the older sister I wish I had or the best friend I've been wanting. I appreciate that so much. I also love that we can have our own inside jokes, jokes that are better off not told with Grams in the room...haha. :)

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The next day, Grandma had to lead circle for church. We were planning to go to Spirit Lake afterwards just to check out Walmart. Kir and I went for a bike ride while we were waiting. Grams had to be at church early to get ready, and the route we took led us by the church, and we saw her car. So we were like, let's stop and say hi! So we did. The church was quiet and black, with hardly any lights on. Kirsten and I were trying to find her, but we couldn't. Evidently she was outside and then tried to hide from us with one of her friends. It was funny. Their church is decorated really nice. What was even FUNNIER, though, is what happened a half hour after Grams said it would be over. We wanted to hurry and get over to Spirit Lake because Kirsten wanted to check out a consignment shop that would be closing soon, so we decided to walk down to the church since it wasn't that far away. On our way over there, I made the comment that what if Grams drives right by us? We were hoping we could find her and then just get a ride back.

We got down by where the church was, and then Kirsten and I couldn't remember which road it was we took that led us to the front of the church. We started down one road, but then we realized that it would probably take us by the back of the church, so we'd have to walk around. I told her to keep her eyes peeled for Grandma, just in case. Then all of a sudden from the road over a block, I see her driving by. I quickly yell to Kirsten that that's her, so we actually RAN to the end of our road to go meet her. Mind you, Kirsten and I do not RUN, and we were certainly not dressed in running attire. We must have been a sight: running as fast as we possibly could right down the middle of the road, waving our arms and yelling. And Grandma? We watch as she drives right by us, not even slowing down. Kir and I were exhausted, and then we had to walk all the way home. Haha, good times...

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Shortly after we made our way over to Walmart in Spirit Lake. I sucked on gum balls that we got from trying to get a bunch of yellow ones for mini golfing, haha. Mom says this looks like my tongue. Yeah, I wish I had a pink tongue, that'd be interesting.

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I think Kir was kind of disappointed in their Okoboji clothing selection. I stayed by her to help her pick something out, but she couldn't find anything really. Then we went to the makeup section together and talked about some of our fave makeup brands and which ones we haven't found to be the best. We really waned to look at the nail polish in particular. When we did our nails, I had let Kirsten borrow a gold color I had, and so she wanted to find one like mine. We also wanted to find a rose gold color, and I wanted a bright neon pink color. She found her gold, and I found my colors, too. Then we did self checkout, which I just LOVE.

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It was our last night to walk, so we enjoyed doing that together. Grandpa would always drive us down and drop us off by the Rock Garden, where the trail begins, and then he parks down by the Swinging Bridge.

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We finished watching our movie, and Kirsten and I got preoccupied making food Instagram accounts. It was her idea; we decided that since we have so many pictures of our food, we should make accounts for them, haha. You can follow mine here!

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After that we had to take Kirsten back. :( The time with her flew; I wish we had a lot more. The three of us, my grandparents and me, were headed to the Twin Cities to see relatives. My other older cousin, Amanda, just graduated this year, so we were going to help them get ready for her graduation party. I am also very close to Amanda like I am Kirsten. I love getting to talk with her, too. We had a blast together and got to do everything we wanted to do. On the way up, Kirsten wanted a donut from Casey's, so we got an awesome breakfast.

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When we made it up there, Amanda and I convinced Grandpa to take us to Marshall's. Kirsten introduced me to that store last year, which is a store with expensive stuff for really cheap. I got this plain black tee I'd been needing from Ralph Lauren for half its original price.

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We had Wendy's for supper, one of Gramps' faves. He also likes Hardee's, and when we were back in Estherville, I introduced him to their shakes, which he didn't even know they had.

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Amanda and I had fun going on Pinterest looking up pins of hot guys, looking through her collection of books, and bugging Grams by keeping her up until two thirty. On our first full day, we decided to go to Barnes and Noble, our favorite.

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Afterwards we went to a nearby mall and checked out some stores. I got a few things there that were on sale from my fave store, though not as much as I thought. So I had a lot of money left over, even after buying three books. They also had the cutest puppies there in a pet store!! We had been to this mall last year, and I fell in love with them then. I wish they would let you hold them...

Two out of three books I got I liked. One was from a series I had already read and loved, but I wanted to buy it for myself. Another was the first book in a series by an author I loved because of their other previous series. And that series is actually being made into a movie on Netflix, and I'm already cringing over it. I've never read books first and then had movies made after them. Usually I see movies first, and then I go read the books. I know some people think that's weird, but my reasoning is that I can't stand it to go to all that work visualizing people in my head and having everything ruined by the movie. Which is happening with this! I was telling one of my older friends this clear back in December when I saw who they had got casted for all the people. They're, like, slaughtering everyone in my head. There's supposed to be this boy in the books who's like your stereotypical hot guy, right? And the actor they got to play him, oh my gosh, I just can't. I love his hair, but that's it. It just goes downhill from there. And then there's supposed to be this nerdy guy who's also supposed to be cute that the girl likes, and the actor they got for him literally looks like he has the face of a five year old. I know that sounds awful, but I'm serious. I had to do a double take when I saw him, like what character is he even playing?! And then there's supposed to be your boy next door guy who's supposed to just be average looking...and he's hotter than all of them combined. It's a mess. But I'm going to watch it anyway, and probably cry over the fact that the boy next door is cuter than supposed hot guy. You just don't make that mistake. It's unforgivable.

Anyway, that's super off topic. The last book was a new one I had bought, over a girl with mental illness and who meets this cute neighbor. I already had my concerns about it because I absolutely hate it when there's someone with a ton of problems and then someone else comes in to save the day. It actually wasn't like that though, it was way too slow and almost didn't even have a plot I thought. But you know, being a writer, I don't think reading a book is ever wasted, even if I didn't like it. A) It still helps that I'm reading, no matter if I like it or not. It's good practice. B) If I don't like a story, that helps me narrow down what I want to write about. Like okay, I wanted to read this book about forgiveness, but I felt they didn't dig in deep enough, so in my book I'll go way deeper, for example. The more I read, the more I want to write. This sounds bad, but I think it's because I honestly don't like the way books are wrote anymore. Like I mentioned earlier, they are all the same thing practically. It inspires me to write my own books, books that are diverse and interesting and authentic and deep. I really do need to get writing, I miss it so much.

I still have a blast reading, though. Amanda and I were holed up in her room, me sitting on the bed or floor with a blanket and her on the opposite end reading on her phone. I finished all three books in the two full days we were there. It was so much fun; it gives me so much joy. Then with my leftover money (and her family gave me money as a late birthday gift, thank you!!!), I bought five+ new books on Amazon last night because they're much cheaper on there, so you can buy more. I can't wait. I wish they would come sooner.

We also went with Grandma to the store, and Amanda and I were just a little embarrassed when we were checking out, and they tell us that you can get another box of donut holes free since we bought one. We were already done checking out, so Amanda and I said to just forget it, but Grams goes running back to get one, and then we're just left standing there when someone is supposed to pay... The guy behind us made some joke about how he would have bought them too or something. It was amusing.

On our last full day, we went to Target. I bought this planner I needed for next year, for $16... It was pretty and thick with lots of space to take notes and places to record specific times, which my old planner didn't have. However, I'm that girl who uses a planner diligently for the first few months until gradually by the end of the year I don't use it at all. So I hope this doesn't happen with this one. But $16, that may be motivation to not slack off...

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That night we went walking down to Walgreens together with Grams. By their busy road and everything...

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That night, Kirsten called Grandma, and Amanda and I put her on speaker so that all three of us could talk. Honestly, how do you even describe the warm feelings you get in your heart from moments like that? From being understood and just getting to goof around over inside jokes and everything? They're like the best friends I don't have, and I'm so thankful God has put them in my life.

The last day, my family came home from Canada and was going to stop and visit with their family for awhile. The visit was really nice, and I enjoyed getting to see everyone. The week flew by, but it was a great start to my summer.

On the way home, I was heading back with my family. Going through the Cities, we passed this big, sleek building that had to do with neuroscience. Sometimes I am filled with a sense of longing as I contemplate where I'll be in my future. I don't know why, but sometimes I think of myself dressing professionally, working in a big city in a pristine building like that. It's probably a shallow desire—after all, that's the American dream, and I hate to be one of those people who wants the cliche things everyone else does. But only God knows, and if I can give Him glory through a position like that, then I'll do it. More Christians need to be in positions like that, and I'd be more than willing to do it.

Here is back in Iowa... Man, I do love my state, though. I have a hard time thinking that I'll move away from it, but I know that all depends on jobs, my future family, etc. But no matter where I end up, I'll be thankful I was raised here.

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My dad picked out a souvenir for me from Canada. I never did get a souvenir from Canada when I was up there because I never found anything that really caught my eye. However, what Dad got me far exceeded my expectations. I don't think I could've asked for anything better. This pretty dreamcatcher is a representation of the Native American culture up there, and it's so gorgeous that it will definitely be used as a decoration in my room.

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I am so thankful for these memories. It has been the perfect boost to my mood after freshman year. I regret spending the better half of freshman year being such a baby about things and letting myself develop mindsets I never wanted to have. But I am so thankful that God is faithful and that He never gives up on me. I hope I can get right with Him this summer, too, back into the healthy thought patterns He's helped me have. And I know He will. I had to do a lot of growing up during 9th grade, but I'm thankful for that. Looking back on it all, it was worth it.

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Head over Heart

I don't know if I've ever been one to just follow my heart, a common cliche line that this society loves. This Bible verse alone should make you hesitant on following that advice:

The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
— Jeremiah 17:9 NIV
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Lots of people just rush into decisions based on the spur of the moment. They use quotes such as "live for the moment," "you only live once," and "no regrets" to justify it. Well, yes, you only live once, so I would advise you not to live like an idiot or else you WILL have regrets.

I was having a conversation with my grandma the other day about love. As I'm writing my new book, one of the themes it looks at is just that, specifically in a dating relationship. Something that I notice a lot of people doing, especially kids my age, is rushing to be in a relationship with someone when they're not ready for it. They only think they are because their brain is clouded by hormones, fuzzy feelings, and everything else. And they say it's just part of having fun or being in love. I'm not trying to undermine being in love, but there's a smart way to do it, too, without having to compromise your brain, something I don't ever think you should do because the heart and what it wants is fickle.

Sometimes it's difficult to make the right choice but always worth it in the long run. People have to think about who they fall in love with in an analytical manner—sure, doesn't sound very romantic, but hating each other down the road ten years because you were blind to their obvious faults isn't romantic either. Same with a job or any opportunities or activities people do. We've gotten so caught up into this heat of the moment mentality, and then you wonder why so many people can't make good decisions to save their life. More thinking needs to go into it.

There of course comes a point where you can think too much. I definitely lean more on that side, being the overthinker I am. Because nothing is going to be perfect in life, so you just have to do the best you can, always consulting God for His wisdom. I just read a few chapters of Proverbs today, and that was what it talked about: the importance and value of wisdom. I can't stand it when people degrade wisdom, especially based on age. They say that wisdom or maturity can come later, when you're older, and that when you're young you should just be wild and free and all that crap.

That right there shows the value of wisdom so that you can call stupid advice when you see it, which that is. Seriously? Just WAIT to learn what is right and good so that you don't have to end the fun, that's what they want. But God is not about ending your fun; He cares first and foremost about caring for you and making you righteous because only then will you prosper in life (Proverbs 2:7-8).

Yeah, you might have to sacrifice some things. You might have to sacrifice a fun party. Or a cute guy. Or an opportunity that comes at the wrong time.

But look at the big picture, the consequences of rushing into things without thinking. Would you rather have the fun now and have the rest of your life be hell or go through some tough periods of waiting and reap the rewards?

God is faithful, and He blesses His people for doing the right thing. So I challenge people—regardless of how young or old they are—to actually THINK about the choices you make. I hear people complain about their behavior and wanting to throw in the towel because they just can't seem to change, and you know why that is? When you look at them, they never seem to actually stop and reflect on what they're doing. They live by sudden urges and emotions without fear of God. That's not how we're intended to live, though.

Use your head first to consult God and think over the right decisions in life. Your heart can catch up—which, coincidentally, it always seems to when you make the choices that honor God. I hear people who are trying to justify sin but deep down there's this unsettling feeling in them that they're trying to battle in their attempts to excuse it. And I just want to say, you know what, there's a reason it hurts. Sin should never be justified; it will always stay in your heart and hurt it in the long run, after the pleasure dissipates as quickly as it came. Coincidence? I think not.

We can't and aren't meant to live off of our emotions, chasing finite pleasures. Fix your mind on something greater—living for Jesus—because trust me, your heart WILL catch up (2 Corinthians 4:18).

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Back in Estherville + Life News

Hi everyone, sorry for my lack of posting the past few days. I've been sick with some viral thing and allergies, but finally I'm starting to feel better! I am up with my grandparents now—YAY—and so I should be able to write a lot more now. We put the finishing touches on my room before I left, and I hope to take some more pics with my Instax camera this week to add to these new lights I got!

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And since I was sick, that meant I had plenty of time to break in my new mattress THAT I LOVE!!! It's also so much higher up than my old one, which I really like.

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We met my grandparents in our typical spot (read my whole post on spending time with them and being in their town here) and got the usual pictures!

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I always love the car rides up getting to talk with my mom. Lately we've been talking a lot about college and my options there. I love talking about that because I find it fun to think about, and I don't think it's too early to start figuring out what it is I want in a college or major. And speaking of which, the other day I had an orthodontics appointment where we look at my annual pictures and x-rays of my jaw and teeth. I have the worst possible teeth and jaw ever—clearly, if you've ever seen my pictures. And unlike just about everyone my age, I haven't been able to get my braces on (or off, which many my age are already getting off). We've had to wait for so long because my jaw has kept growing, and so of course they didn't want to start anything with braces or whatever only to have it grow more and then need to redo things. But, and we expected this, it looks like I'll be needing jaw surgery.

We've heard about this potentiality since the beginning. When you have a jaw as bad as mine, it's probably inevitable. But my orthodontist was so sweet and assuring, promising that we could work with whatever I decide. I think that I am going to get the surgery done, though. The way they have described everything sounds like without me getting the surgery, getting braces could do something with my bites, resulting in me looking really weird without the surgery. I just hope getting the surgery doesn't make me look uglier, but that's why she explained that we could go meet with the surgeons, who are down in Iowa City. She said they're really good and the ones they collaborate with, which I can believe because Iowa City has a good reputation in the medical field. I go meet the surgeons where they'll examine me and give us more information, and then there would be more talking with my doctors after that. She said that more than likely they won't even take me for surgery until I'm 18, so it would be awhile, but then they could finally start working on my teeth.

It wasn't the ideal news. I was hoping to avoid surgery, especially since 18 is an inconvenient age to have it considering you're a freshman in college, but there are ways to schedule it in, like the summer before or after. To be honest, I think it will be kind of fun getting to go down to Iowa City to meet the surgeons, especially since the building is on campus, a college I've been considered (it is known as the "writing university"). I've never been on campus or to Iowa City, so that should be fun. Also, my orthodontist told me that they have cute residents and interns there so...

#WorthIt.

Okay, well, I am going to blog deeper posts in the coming days, like my letter to my future husband in which I can warn him about his competition in Iowa City I guess ;) So read the first one here (from 3 years ago...)! What have you all been up to? Has anyone ever had jaw surgery before?! I'll be on a liquid diet for one month... I can't imagine how that is going to go!

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