How Racing is Like Life Part 2

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Knoxville Nationals 2k18

Last night *at the time this post was wrote* I had a blast with my family and some friends of my dad's attending the Nationals at Knoxville. I posted a lot of photos on my story (yes...I actually got back on Snapchat, just to have some sort of social media that can help me interact with people my age; my username is "sparklesbyablog"). I got a request to do a recap of the night, so I was thrilled to do that. And when I thought about this post, I thought back to my old racing blog post where I talked about what can be learned from sprint car racing about life. So I thought I would follow up on that post and add some more life lessons I'm learning, since after all, that post was written three years ago... Read the first part here!

With that being said, I wasn't sure at first if I actually had any new lessons to share. Our nights at the races were pretty much the same, though just as fun, so what more could I really have to say about it? Well, the more I thought about it, I thought I was only 12 when I wrote that first post, and now I'm 15, so there are definitely more things I pick up on than when I was 12. Yeah, it was like this one time when I was 12, I watched this horribly cheesy movie about high school, and I knew it had some dirty references at the time. Then one night a couple months ago I was bored and saw that it was prime on Amazon, so I thought well, I'll watch it again and see if my opinion had changed. Well, it didn't, but I was traumatized, because there were so many references that went way over my head when I was 12, and they are so bad I'm not even going into them...

Anyway! This post is not about that train-wreck of a movie. So, life lessons, beyond the fact that if you hated a movie when you were 12, you probably won't change your mind at 15. I definitely had a lot of fun at Knoxville as I always do, but this time there was something different about it. You know how I talked about you just pick up on more when you're older? That's basically what happened to me. I started seeing themes that I didn't like. It wasn't that the races necessarily promote those themes; it's just how people act and was evident at any event I've been to, like the Cyclones football game or hockey games.

I'll go more in depth on that, on just the culture of our society. I also learned some lessons on dealing with insecurity and comparison. And then some about being humble, too. These lessons may not be learned directly from sprint car racing so much as they are just being at the races, because when you go to events like these, you expect them to be all fun, right? Of course you do, and of course they usually are. But you'd be kidding yourself if you don't get moments of reality in there, too.

They're different for each person, but for me that might look like we're walking around, and all of a sudden I see this girl who I think is really pretty, and then I'm insecure and thinking of all the things she has that I don't. It's a fleeting moment, or a fleeting thought, but it just goes to show you that these events can't be an escape because eventually you have to deal with your inner insecurities. I'll talk about those. But I'll also show you what we did, too, so let's get into it.

We walked around for awhile to begin with, and it was insanely busy, but Nationals usually is. We went to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and then ate nearby. There is a lot to see as many people sell various things like clothing. I found this cute place and snagged a t-shirt I can't wait to wear.

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I loved the bag ;)

I wasn't as hungry as I usually am because I wasn't feeling the best due to a wonderful girl thing, but I did get my favorite chicken and the cookies sent straight from heaven I'm pretty sure. ;)

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I really enjoy the time spent with family. What I'm learning is just to enjoy and live in each moment instead of getting lost in my thoughts that lead me to want worldly things and not appreciate what God has put and blessed me with right in front of me. But stay tuned; I'll go more in depth on this in one of the lessons.

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The night itself stretched out pretty long, but the final race was intense and awesome to watch. I love how they had fireworks going on at the beginning of the race.

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Once it was done, we went into the pits as usual. I was dying to see this new puppy that a friend of my dad's had recently got, so when I heard that he was there I couldn't contain my excitement. He was adorable, and it was hilarious because he was chasing my brother around trying to bite his shoes!

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Mom and I usually just follow the boys around the pits as Hunter got pictures with some drivers, and I got a picture with one of my favorites, too. Then on the way home, we had to stop and get gas, and Mom got a Dr. Pepper for my dad, but look at the bottle—one of the best I've seen:

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On the way home, my phone was nearly dead, but there were some thoughts on my heart that were making me want to explode, and my mood was somewhat in a daze as I was contemplating different observations. So the good that came out of that was that I finally wrote on my novel in the notes section of my phone as it was on 1%, hahaha. It made it, though, while I finished! In fact I think it made it all the way home while I listened to Spotify, so phone of the year award. I had these thoughts that were perfect for the scenes in the middle of my book, but suddenly the inspiration just hit me, and I've learned from trial and error that when that happens, I need to write it down as soon as possible or it will be gone. So I'm really glad I got to do that, it really gave me the boost I needed in my writing. I typically write my novels in order, from chapter one to the end, but if I get a great idea for the climax and the inspiration is there, I won't NOT write it. In the past I used to be so OCD about going out of order, but then I realized if you don't write it then it's gone. I'll also talk about some of the thoughts I had as I get into the lessons learned from the night.


Lessons Learned from the Knoxville Nationals

Seeing all the people can inevitably lead to comparison.

In racing, just like in everything else, I can only imagine that it's really easy to compare your team to other people and how you're doing. I may not be able to relate to that, but I can to comparing because I compare myself to just about everything. At the Nationals, sometimes when we're walking around, as I mentioned above, I compare myself to how other girls look or dress. Or if they steal my look a-like. ;) Haha just kidding, although one of my look a-likes was with a girl when I spotted him. (By the way, if you don't know who my look a-likes are, read this post. Even though I call them MY look a-likes, they don't look like me, haha.) I didn't find any look a-likes at the Nationals unfortunately, but I usually don't because it's just too busy. But back to comparison. It's something I'm slowly learning to let go of. How am I doing that? At first I honestly didn't know if I even had any advice to offer on this one since sometimes I fall into the trap and don't know how to get out. But I am realizing there's a way out, and it's not the cliche advice you hear.

You know the kind I'm talking about probably. Like how you just have to STOP comparing and appreciate who you are or that comparison is pointless. That advice is true even if it is cliche, and if it works for you, that's great. But if you get cynical like me and hate cliches, haha, you might need to go deeper.

When I'm trying to think through something, first I have to vent. It's hard to let go of something if you can't even acknowledge something is there (more on that in this post). I try to always vent to God, but I'll be honest, sometimes I feel embarrassed doing that or just don't know how to put my thoughts into words to tell Him, so then what I'll do is just write it out in my notes and then pray over it. That helps a lot. Then I can continue writing about what to do with those thoughts because obviously I can't just let them sit there; I have to learn from them. So when I felt feelings of comparison coming in, I first just wrote those out. I'll spare you the whininess of that rant, but here's what I concluded from it: "I know I'm insatiable, that even if I had...[everything I wanted] I still wouldn't be complete. So I have to be conscious of that and keep turning to Jesus. And just enjoy the right now and tell Him these thoughts instead of obsessing over them."

I can't even begin to count the number of situations where the people who look like they have it all end up in tragic situations where they're in rehab, or they committed suicide, or they got into trouble with the law, or they did drugs, or they just can't make themselves happy. No amount of money or good looks or whatever it is you want can buy you happiness. If you're not happy without it, you won't be happy with it. That's why you learn to rely on Jesus alone to meet your needs. It's a really beautiful thing when you fully submit yourself to Him and don't feel that need of having to fill a void. Of course you still have wants, but they don't consume you. Anything you get is just an added blessing in life that pales in comparison to knowing Him. That's how I want to live. I've done that before, so I know it's possible. It really is all about what you focus on. That's why I wrote that out as soon as possible so it wouldn't be following me around all night. I have to learn to let go and trust God.

You have a choice on whether you want to follow a crowd or be a light.

I've noticed this at every event I attend, from hockey games to football games to the races, and definitely more so as I've gotten older. It's the fact that our culture glorifies things like drinking and partying, at every age, and I think that's really sad. You should've seen the line for the alcohol at the race; it was absolutely insane. But I often think that says a lot about us, like wow, here we're at some nice event which is in and of itself supposed to be fun and entertaining, and we STILL feel the need to drink? It just goes to show that no amount of things or "moments" (because now society is big on experiences and living with no regrets...) can satisfy us. If they did, it should be enough that you're even there and able to enjoy time with family or friends, but nope. People still feel the need to get drunk and party like they're 20. And yeah, you might say that drinking is part of the fun, but why does it have to be? Why isn't it enough just to enjoy the night for what it is?

There's no good reason or excuse to hide what's obvious, that people still feel the need to escape reality, because no amount of events or partying can heal a heart with pain. On the way home as I was writing some of those scenes for my book, a song came up on my Spotify country station called "Drunk Me." I have to admit, I did enjoy the song, the tune and all, but the lyrics basically reiterated everything I previously thought. The lyrics went really well with the story of my book though, so I added it to the playlist for my book, haha.

But the point of my scenes for my book, of any blog post I write, is truly just to encourage you to live for Jesus because He alone heals the brokenness of a heart. I've been thinking a lot lately about what overarching theme I'm most passionate about when it comes to my faith. There are so many messages I wish to share that it's hard to just focus on one, and I want to focus on more than one, but there are a lot of Christian pastors or leaders who focus on multiple messages, but then they sort of have their one message that defines them because that's the one they're most passionate about or knowledgable about, etc. For example, David Jeremiah, a pastor I really like, hits on many different topics of the Christian faith, but he's also known for his emphasis on Revelation and the end times.

When I think about what that may be for me, if I do have an area or topic that I keep coming back to, I think I've finally figured out what it is: the brokenness of people and our need for a Savior. Every time I go somewhere where I'm surrounded by masses of people, this melancholy feeling comes over me, and I'm left wondering about each of the people I see, what their stories may be, what their life is like, how they think and feel, if they know Jesus. I wonder what's on their heart late in the night. And I always think about the whole message of being a light and ministering to other people's brokenness, how one person can affect this person, and that person can affect this person, and there's this whole revival over a broken world. That's what keeps coming back to me, and all of my interests and goals seem to align with that central message. It's why I love writing so much. It's why psychology is so fascinating to me and gets me fired up, you get to study how people think and feel and why they behave why they do. It's the essence of being human. It's why I was so interested in prison ministry.

That's something I've finally been realizing, is this deep desire I have to minister to broken hearts. And you don't think you can find that at an event where it's supposed to be fun, fun, fun, but I've learned that's where you seem to find the most brokenness because that's where people go to escape. And it's NOT bad to go to fun events. It's just about your behavior and motives. It's unhealthy to want to escape from reality in the form of getting drunk or partying. Even something harmless like an event like this can be unhealthy if you have the wrong motives for going. I understand that sometimes you just need a break, but needing a break and needing an escape are two different things. And I think that's what people need to be more conscious of.

Lastly, when you are victorious in life, it's so important to remember who deserves the glory.

It also saddens me when people do really well, but you don't hear any mention of God. He's the One who ultimately gives us anything, our talents, skills, etc. So He deserves and will get the glory. One thing I do love about Knoxville is how they pray before every race. I have a lot of respect for that because it just goes to show that of course even as a Christian you can still have fun, but when you're having fun, you don't have to leave God out of it. It's so important to remember God in both the good and bad times. He's the One who gives to you and strengthens you. That's something I've known, but it was a good reminder for me not to become lazy in my relationship with Him. Like any relationship, the effort you put into it is what you will get out of it. And God is no different. James 4:8 says that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. I can tell when I'm being lazy and when I'm really pursuing Him, and it makes all the difference. Of course, He's with me no matter what, regardless of what I do, but being conscious of that is what I have to remember.

Like I mentioned earlier, these lessons are more learned by attending a race versus lessons actually learned from the sport. For lessons along those lines, read my first post here. I had a blast at the Nationals, though, and have enjoyed all the memories made from attending Knoxville races over the years and the lessons learned. Have you ever been to the Nationals? What was your experience like?

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The Best in Faith

Now that I've been blogging for FOUR years (sometime this August was the beginning...you can read my first post here haha), I thought I would round up some of my posts where I share the life and faith lessons I've learned. Chances are that some people have not been following me since clear back then or maybe would appreciate going back and rereading some posts if you missed them before. We all need encouragement, so hopefully by me rounding up the posts where I share my faith can help you.

To Inspire: one of my first posts that talks about my beliefs and mission

2014 Basketball: although this recaps my time playing basketball, it also shares a lot of my thoughts I struggled with and what God taught me

An Honest Post: Me at School: all of my thoughts over my struggles in school and what God taught me

Writers Observe: my thoughts on being real about life and having authentic hope and how that ties into my writing

Rejected: a personal story about a time I got rejected and what I learned through it about our society and the hope

How Racing is Like Life: even if you're not into racing, this post includes the life lessons that racing has taught me that can also apply to you

It's a Beautiful Life: my thoughts on the sin and pain in this world but how God leaves us with hope and how we can enjoy that

A Prayer About 7th Grade: I wrote this out upon entering seventh grade just as a way for me to organize my thoughts and share my own personal prayer to God in hopes that it could inspire you to be real with Him and serve as a guide for getting real with Him, so even if you're not going into seventh grade, you might still find some of the drama or just needing to share your thoughts with God relatable

Show It: a post all about the importance of sharing your faith and how to do that

The Problem with the Media: my thoughts on our media-saturated society and the bad messages it sends us, plus what to do about those

How to Use Social Media for God's Glory: a short guide I came up with on using social media in a healthy, God honoring way, after I saw even Christians' social media where it was something to be desired (I'm being sarcastic...so many people need to actually truly ask themselves if their posts would glorify God)

The 5 Biggest Reasons Why I Believe in God: a short introduction to my thoughts on why I believe in God—hopefully I will eventually go more in depth on this topic

Why Being a Light?: a post on why being authentic and being a light for Jesus is so important to me and why I think it matters

3 Ways to Fulfill Your Dreams: a post on what God taught me about working towards my dreams

Living Your Faith: I Will Not Chill Out: the importance of living boldly for Jesus, some of the reasons why people don't want to, and how to respond to critics

The Dream List: A Guide to Help You Fulfill Your Dreams: more tips on how God wants us to fulfill our dreams for His glory

5 Tips for Telling Others About Jesus: my tips on how to share your faith from my personal experience

The Power of Jesus: a post where I just share my thoughts on living for Jesus and how thankful I am for Him

Jealousy: I Want to Be the Only One: a post I often need to go back to as I consistently struggle with jealousy; includes the only advice that I've learned can really set you free from it

A Prayer About 8th Grade: a more in depth prayer I wrote about all of my fears upon starting eighth grade and how I wanted to glorify God no matter what—I'd really like to do another post like this with tenth grade coming up, so stay tuned

Jesus Died for You: part one of a four part series, an urgent message about the verses God laid on my heart that all tell you about what Jesus did for YOU and how you can find forgiveness in Him

God's Amazing Love for You: part two of the series, this post follows the same format and highlights the powerful truths about God's love for YOU

A Unique, Hopeful Plan Just for You: part three of the series that talks all about God's plan for your life, no matter where you're at

The Ultimate Hope: the last part of the series, all about the hope we have in Jesus

When Running the Race Sucks: a post all about how to persevere and God's faithfulness based on my wonderful cross country experience haha

Is Life Beautiful?: a comprehensive post on all my thoughts over if life is beautiful and how to find true joy in life

Just Do . . . {What God Is Calling You to Do}: my thoughts on being a light for God and just going by what He lays on your heart and not getting hung up on the expectations of society

Why Do We Need to Read the Bible?: the importance of studying God's Word and some tips if you don't like to or are unsure of where to start or what to do

I Can't Sleep: when thoughts of the world steal your peace and how to give them to God, plus a hilarious story of my grandma murdering a lamp hahaha

Darkest Hour, Brightest Hope: finding hope in the dark times of life and what I've learned

Finding Yourself | My Middle School Journey: a huge post covering all of the lessons God taught me through each year of middle school and what I learned above all

Unplugging: my thoughts on how social media is hurting us and why it's more than okay to take a break from it (or not even be on it)

In the Midst of Complex Problems: the overwhelming darkness in this world and how most of the answers aren't easy and how we need to humble ourselves instead of thinking we have them all

Serious Observations You Can Make at the Mall: how people in this society fill their voids with worldly things and my thoughts on that


Thank you all for following along no matter how long you've been here, it means so much to me. I pray that some of these posts can inspire you, and if you have any requests for topics you'd like to see me post over, feel free to do so right here. I feel bad that I haven't been blogging as often; the days just keep flying by, and it still seems surreal to think that already it's going to be my sophomore year of high school. I didn't write a prayer over freshman year because that was when I took a long blogging break, but hey, maybe if I would've done that I wouldn't have felt like I was losing my mind the whole year! All I know is that it's a new year, so I really want to take the time to make sure my mind is in the right place going into it so that I don't get sucked into worldly worries and shallow attention games. I know better than that, but I still struggle with typical feelings like anxiety, jealousy, etc. So if you need some help with that, too, definitely stay tuned for a new prayer I will write out.

There just seems to be so much I want to do between writing on this blog and writing more stories, but I do hope to keep updating here at least once a week. Also with the new school year, I'm hoping it will make me more motivated to write new stories. I definitely want to begin working on a diverse array of short stories as well as keep making progress on my novel. And for whatever reason, I seem to be more motivated during the school year than the summer. I always think it'd be the opposite since school wears me out mentally, but I think it wears me out so much that all summer long I have to lay around and do nothing to make up for it, haha.

Anyway, thank you again for reading, everyone! Feel free to leave me post ideas that you'd like to see! Keep enjoying every season in life and keep looking to Jesus above all.

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The Most Inspiring Music, Movies, and Books That I Love

Around three years ago I did a blog post talking about all of my favorite books that I also found to be really inspiring with life and faith. They were some of my favorite books as well at the time and still are; you can read all about them here! But now it's been around three years since then, and I've had the privilege of discovering a whole genre of music I was oblivious to, various movies that I found inspiring, and of course, more great books! I figured I would share some of my favorites that are also what I think are meaningful; entertainment can be meaningful! In fact, I really think it should be. I have yet to really blog about music before, except for a couple songs in this post here, or movies, so I'm excited to include them on this list as well! Most of these are distinctly Christian of course, but there may be a few on here that are more secular but still have elements of inspiration or faith.

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Music

Okay, so I was oblivious to this whole genre of music known as Christian contemporary music. And it's basically just how it sounds. I always thought that Christian music only consisted of, like, hymns, which I loved but were probably not going to end up on any playlists of mine for, like, everyday things. But enter the world of Christian contemporary music! I BECAME OBSESSED. I love pop music, which basically that's what this is, a modernized version of songs with just as powerful messages as the ones in hymns. I have tons of songs I've found that I love. Here are some of my faves:

"Battles" by The Afters: talks about God fighting your problems and is a great message for anyone going through anything. It has really helped me when I've had particular problems that seem recurring and like they don't go away. It's that boost of encouragement that God is fighting for you, even if you can only see the little things. It's really good, definitely one of my favorites.

"His Name" by Urban Rescue: another one of my favorites that kinda goes along with the song above. This one really goes over personal hurts, and this is very powerful for whenever you may feel depressed or broken about life. There's a lot of people I wish I could forward this one to, so definitely check it out. It's that quiet yet beautiful reminder that whatever you're going through, you're not alone. God will be with you and He alone can heal the despair in your heart.

"Afraid" by Tenth Avenue North: a great reminder for someone like me who worries and obsesses about literally everything, with a great, upbeat tune. It makes me nostalgic because I remember myself in eighth grade and all the things I worried about and how when I found this song, it was just what I needed to hear. Listen to it often; it's a good one.

"Runaway" by The Afters: I found this one working on my latest novel, and not only does it resonate with one of my characters (yes I have songs that go specifically with make believe people; welcome to the life of a writer), it is really good for anyone hurting inside, feeling unloved or unworthy, or anything along those lines. I don't know if this one specifically addresses faith like the above do, but The Afters are really good, and this song is very truthful and can be applied to the faith easily.

"Miracles" by Jesus Culture: WELCOME TO MY FAVORITE CHRISTIAN SONG OF ALL TIME. This song is slow and quiet, building into more power towards the end, but that really gets the mood and message of this song perfectly. I found this song at a time in my life where I felt very broken about the brokenness of other people and our world in general. It was a soft, moving reminder of how God can and will work through that in soft, moving ways, if that makes sense. It's the little things He does, the probing and convicting and soul searching, that are what changes people's hearts and therefore their lives, and this song beautifully portrays His power.

"Relentless" by Hillsong United: talk about a powerful, urgent message: the message of God's overwhelming, relentless love. The only thing that can change a person's life. Everyone should listen to this song! It's just perfect in every way!

"Because of Your Love" by Chris Quilala: I really like Chris Quilala, and this song by him does not disappoint. This is one of those songs that makes you envision people who really need to hear it, and it just makes you want to forward it to them with an urgency. For anyone who feels unworthy of God's love or who just needs the reminder of it (and don't we all), this is the song for you.

"Forgiven" by Sanctus Real: this is a song I've had to listen to often, as I am truly my own worst enemy when it comes to my relentless perfectionism and thinking I don't deserve things, much less God's love. But this song reiterates what the Bible's core message really is: that Jesus has taken all of our sins and done away with them; we are completely forgiven through Him. I love this one.

"When I'm With You" by Citizen Way: another song that is really special to me. During eighth grade, I had these recurring problems, and remember how I talked about getting my bad thought life and defiant attitude in this post here? Well, this is when some of my defiance really started to flare up, and I began to have these doubts due to my impatience with God's timing (surprise, haha, we all know what a patient person I am—NOT). But of course I didn't want to actually tell God any of this because I think sometimes there's this unspoken message sent by Christians that, well, you don't tell Him your doubts, or your frustrations, and I'm that type of person who is very guarded, and so telling GOD felt very scary. But this song...you just have to listen to it. It's just perfect. If this doesn't spark your prayer life to be completely authentic and vulnerable with God—which IS what He DESIRES from you—I don't know what will. It helped me learn that I can be real with God, that He can take it, and it won't lessen His love for me. In fact, through being honest with Him, even when I don't like it, that's how He can mold me and shape me into becoming better. So thankful for Him and our relationship, it really is the only one that counts... <3

"Love So High" by Hillsong Worship: a beautiful song about the love of God. This would be a good one to fall asleep to, and I've listened to it whenever I need to give my heart a break from the strain and stress of the world. Because seriously people, THIS is what matters in life. To know that God loves you completely. When you learn this—REALLY learn it—it completely changes the way you live your life. Because suddenly it's not all about YOU, because YOU know that YOU are taken completely care of in God. And it makes you filled to the brim with a desire to go tell people this, because what a world that would be... It's the only thing that can save a person's broken heart. But more on this in a book I'll share later in this post...

"Start a Fire" by Unspoken: I love this song because it reminds me of my desire to be a light and help people. Many of these songs were discovered at this time I talk about in this post here, and they were really special to me at that time and still have helped me immensely.

"Say a Prayer" by VERIDIA: another inspiring message about the brokenness of the world but how God can help each of those people and how we have an active role in prayer to help those people. Seriously, don't ever underestimate the power of praying for someone. This song is a great reminder of that.

"At the Cross (Love Ran Red)" by Chris Tomlin: a beautiful song about all Jesus did for us on the cross, THE most important message there is to share. I even wrote some blog posts all about that, here is one over what He did for YOU.

"Real Love" by Hillsong Young & Free: talk about a song that will get you fired up over God's love! I love this one.

"Here for a Reason" by Ashes Remain: okay just when I say this is my favorite Christian song, then I will find another one and be like, NO, this is it! Either way, this one is definitely top of my list. I even shared this for a music class I had to take in middle school in eighth grade because we had to find a song that means something to us. Well, I don't know if it gets any better than this, and it couldn't have come at a more right time for me than when it did: this song is all about knowing your worth and purpose in life. Another urgent message.

"Fierce" by Jesus Culture: like I said, I love Chris Quilala, and he's the singer of this song for Jesus Culture, and this is just another beautiful song that illustrates God's love. I love everything about this one, from the lyrics to the tune to just everything about it.

"Keeper of My Heart" by Kari Jobe: Kari Jobe is a beautiful singer, another fave of mine. And this song is beautiful. I listened to this my first week of starting eighth grade, and based on my feelings which you can read about here, it was the perfect reminder on how God is taking care of me, including the deepest needs of my heart.

"Forever" by Kari Jobe: this song is absolutely beautiful and perfect; it's one of the first Christian songs that really touched my heart in a way I'd never felt before. I can remember exactly where I heard it and why it was so special to me, too. Well, I first heard it at a Christian retreat I recapped here, but I was inspired to look it up again during the summer of 2016, at my grandparents' house, after hearing about a situation that absolutely shattered my heart. Sometimes in broken situations, the only thing that can really give you peace is to know that God is bigger than any of it, and He has conquered and done the impossible, and He can oversee it. Plus you just have to take your eyes off of certain situations like that and focus on Him. That is the only thing that can give you peace with some things—well, with anything, but sometimes you just really need that reminder. And this song was perfect for that.

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Movies

As much as I like to watch movies, I've often found that movies and TV are much harder to find when it comes to having good, inspirational messages. But I have found some good ones.

The Grace Card: I really like the message in this one, and it has an engaging plot. It's about dealing with bitterness and learning how to forgive, something that I definitely need the reminder of.

Grace Unplugged: this may be one of my most favorite Christian films, ever. I think this one hit close to home for me because it's about this girl who feels like she's being sheltered when it comes to her dreams by her parents, and maybe she somewhat is (that's not what I'm talking about when I say it was relatable though haha), but then she decides to abandon her faith and take matters into her own hands by going to Hollywood, pursuing a music career. I've often felt similar desires of wanting to take my own dreams big like that, and I've been guilty of craving the fame and fortune aspects of it. But I really liked how this movie offered a truthful insight on how that life isn't all it's cracked up to be. I also have the book that ties in with it, which is also wonderfully done.

I've seen some other good Christian films, but I don't know if they were my all time favorites like these ones were, just due to some inconsistencies or other small things like that. And I'm by no means a big TV person, so I don't really know of any inspirational TV shows, but if you have any recommendations, feel free to comment!

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Books

My favorite of them all... I have quite a few new ones to add to the list!

God Loves You by David Jeremiah: EVERYONE in the WHOLE WORLD needs to read this book. I'm not exaggerating at all. There are some books I've read that have changed MY life, but I know they wouldn't have that same effect on everyone. But this one... Wow. I don't care who you are, you really need to read it. It's one of the most urgent messages you could ever hear: the truth of God's perfect, unfailing love. I also love David Jeremiah's writing style. I've read various Christian nonfiction books by some different pastors, but I think his is my favorite. He has a way of being scholarly while still being understandable for people who aren't as into that. And if you ever read a book in your life, even if it's just one, it really should be this one. It is literally a whole book on God's love, and whatever you think you know about His love, this book will stretch your knowledge of it. I promise. Plus, one thing I really liked about it, is that he goes over some of the commandments and rules that God has set for us and how those reflect His love toward us. Because yes, you can be loving while still having boundaries and rules, something this society has forgotten. Rules are meant to protect you, and he talks about that more in the book. He also talks about some hot issues in society, like abortion, and where God fits into those and even how His love applies to that. Seriously, you just have to read this book. It's over the most urgent message this world needs. I also have a blog post about God's love for you here.

Ten Questions Christians are Asking by David Jeremiah: like I said, he's a great writer, and I read multiple books by him during eighth grade. This was another really good one of his. I bring a free reading book to all of my classes just in case, and I remember one time I had it just sitting out on my desk, and one of my teachers asked me if they could read a summary of it, so of course I was like go for it. With some of my teachers, I may know them outside of school or have heard enough to know that they are Christians, but then there are others where I don't think they are, just because of little things I pick up on that say otherwise. And this was one of those teachers where I didn't know where they stood in faith, but if I would've had to guess I would've said probably not. But I won't forget how there seemed to be this genuine curiosity in it, almost like that type of soul searching you hear that people do. And I just wanted to say, READ THE BOOK! You will LOVE it. Because the truth is, the questions in this book aren't JUST asked by Christians. They're a great introduction to the foundation of the Christian faith, questions like how you can find forgiveness or is there an unforgivable sin? In all honesty, that's why I bought the book, is because I wanted to know about an unforgivable sin—if there was one. Remember my worry about that I talk about in this post? Anyway, I just loved this book; the answers are far from generic. He answers each question thoroughly and precisely. I highly recommend it. And like I said, this is another one that is good for anyone: people with no faith or people with a serious faith.

Fifteen Minutes by Karen Kingsbury: this book reminded me a lot of a story kind of like the movie Grace Unplugged. It is about a guy with a very strong faith in Jesus, and he has a great singing talent. Anyway, he tries out to be on this singing show—called Fifteen Minutes—and his family is worried about what his new life of fame may do to him and his faith. I don't want to spoil anything, but I'll just say that it was something I needed to hear. I oftentimes find myself with a rather innocent desire like this kid—to be famous so you be a light for Jesus to as many people as possible—but that innocent desire can easily turn into something worse and bring bad consequences. It really shows you how the world of fame isn't all people dream of. I liked this one a lot.

Disappointment with God by Philip Yancey: a book I got at my retreat, I have to be honest with you: I don't remember as much about this one. It was two years ago I read it, BUT I do remember really, really liking it. It answers the tough questions people press against God in what I remember to be both theological and relatable, and it made me think of things I have never thought of before. And I actually shouldn't say I don't remember this book because there are some parts I do, because it shifted some of the ways I thought about God—in a good, more informative way. The one thing I will say about this book though is that I had my mom read it after me, and she wasn't as big of a fan of it because she thought it was a little too scholarly/theological than what she normally looks for, and I agree. Though I was like, oh I thought it was perfect to understand—BUT eleven year old and younger me also read through Revelation and thought that was easy to understand, so! I later found out how wrong I was, and sometimes I think I just act like I get the gist of things and I don't, so make what you want of that!

But in all seriousness, I did pick up on the fact that he does have a different style, and he's definitely more theological/scholarly than David Jeremiah; Philip Yancey requires more thought to be put into what he is saying, if that makes sense. It's not so much that he is smarter or anything because they're both very insightful; I think their styles are just different. But if you really like to dig deep into theological, deep matters like he does, then I think you would really like this. I loved it, personally, but I really like going deeply into things and having to concentrate on what I'm reading. However, my mom said there was a part near the end she really liked, where he basically summarizes everything he goes in depth into in the book, and so if these are questions you struggle with, I still think you should give this a read because you may find some good insight from it.

Wow, I think that does it! I'm so thankful I get the opportunity to learn and be inspired in my faith through other talented people. Let me know if you check out any of the things I listed and what you think!! Also feel free to send me recommendations! :)

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Summer Fashion & Modesty

Okay, I have loved fashion and wearing pretty things for as long as I can remember. It's obvious that my sense of style has definitely evolved as I've gotten older—despite the pink and sparkles, which is never going to change I promise. When I'm picking out new clothing, I try to focus on these three things mainly: how pretty it is (duh, you know I care about my aesthetics), how comfortable it is (I try not to sacrifice this no matter how pretty something is, but of course there are exceptions because I, like, really care about how pretty some things are), and then the last would be how it looks on me and if it remains true to my values. Since style is an expression of who you are, I try to make sure mine is consistent with the person I am, and that includes making sure I'm not conveying anything that goes against my beliefs.

There is, of course, numerous debates in the Christian world over what is modest or not on girls. I have even found myself asking questions like how much is too much, questions like whether I should buy a bikini or stick with a one-piece. I definitely think it's wise to consider modesty when making clothing decisions, because the Bible says our bodies are meant to glorify God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), so we definitely should consider what messages we're putting out there when we dress. Unfortunately, I really haven't found Christian blogs to be that helpful when it comes to advice on modesty. I'd love it if they could just give me clear yes or no answers on whether it's okay to wear a bikini or not, but of course, you get this big long post that tells you just about everything but, instead leaving the decision up to you at your judgment. Which is fine. I understand that with a lot of these, there is no clear definition on what is too much, which makes it that much harder.

Personally, I think there are two extremes when it comes to modesty and fashion, and I don't agree with either one of them because I think both are degrading to women. So the first extreme is that women can't wear ANYTHING that is the slightest bit revealing or form flattering. I think that's degrading because there comes a fine line where it's like, that's how we're made, and trying to conceal that to the extreme is acting like we should be embarrassed or ashamed of how we're made. Yet then you get the other extreme, where women can dress anyway they want and just, you know, leave it ALL out there practically, and I think that's degrading too, because it's like have enough dignity for yourself to not just put it all out there for attention. So like most things, I think it's about finding a balance that works for you and your relationship with God. Like most things—and I know this is another cliche but just hear me out because it's true—it really does come down to your motives and attitudes for wanting to wear something. More often than not I see a lot of girls taking the second extreme where they are so flippant about what they wear, not caring at all about honoring God or themselves in their fashion choices, and they just throw out excuses like how He doesn't really care or it's not that important. Well, maybe these little choices aren't as important as some, but I can assure you that God still cares because the little choices you make on a daily basis are what end up defining you as a person whether you like it or not. I've been very disappointed with a lot of supposed Christians who repeatedly wear very revealing outfits even though they claim modesty is important, and I don't take their advice for anything in the faith as a result, because seriously, talk about hypocritical. If you're gonna talk the talk, you have to walk the walk, period. So that's something I try to be conscious of always, is making sure that I live up to what I believe.

Anyway, here are some of my summer outfits that I've put together. I figured I would post these so I have an excuse for making Grams take all of these pictures of me besides me being conceited. ;)

Well, first, I should show you what I used to wear—four years ago, so like when I was eleven and started this blog, I was obsessed with the store Justice haha, and so I had all the sets of tops and shorts to match... Oh, those were good days. I do miss some of their fashion pieces honestly because as I said earlier, PINK AND SPARKLES. You really don't find too much of that in the women's clothing, but don't worry, I'm going to scour everything to find out because you know the saying... If there's anything pink or sparkly, of course I want it. :) My dog was only a baby in this photo, too... Like where does the time go.

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I loved these sparkly shorts... I have yet to find another pair like them.

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Then I also started wearing a lot of sporty outfits because that was the big trend, but now I read fashion blogs so... Haha. They give me a lot of ideas, but above all I try to buy outfits that reflect my own style and not somebody else's because that's the fun in it, and you don't need to worry about being just like somebody else because you have your own personality.

Also, can we just take a moment with this photo... This was me in SIXTH GRADE, the night before it started. Also the first month of me writing this blog (read my first post here!).

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This is me on the first day of sixth grade. This was actually one of my fave outfits; I would still wear it if I could. For summer, my style largely consists of blouses or tees with jean shorts and sandals. I'm not big on accessorizing, but I have my ears pierced and so really I should be wearing different earrings because I have a bunch, but you know, maybe one day I'll get around to doing that...

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summer 2k17

So during this whole week I was with my grandparents last month (read all about it here!), I made Grams take a picture of me everyday because I brought my whole summer closet basically, so I had a new outfit to wear everyday. Some are more basic than others, but for simple days going to town those work fine. If I'm going to a dressier occasion, I definitely wear sandals instead of flip flops, and I also have a pair of dress pants that I'd pair with a summer, dressy top. Or I also have this dress I have yet to wear because I can't find an occasion that warrants it, but I could also wear that with sandals, too.

This outfit is one of the more basic ones with the simple black flip flops (they have glitter on the straps though!!!). I just wanted a basic pair to match outfits like these, and I think I got these ones on DSW for a really good price.

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I also have quite a few sheer tops in my wardrobe. I don't necessarily mean to buy them that way, but some are definitely more sheer than others, and usually the white ones are a lot like that. I can't remember where I read this, but if you're looking to get away with wearing a sheer top without anything underneath such as a cami (because I hate layering, especially in the summer), wear a nude bra. Seriously, it works; you can't see anything. I tried wearing white ones thinking that if it matches the color it would work, but really, wearing a nude one is the way to go. Also, with bralettes being a huge trend right now, you could also wear one of those underneath a more sheer top. I think this is also one of those situations where using your best judgment on modesty comes into play, too, because some sheer tops can easily not be modest—in fact I've seen girls wear completely sheer tops that are made just for the purpose of showing off a bralette, meaning you can easily see what they're wearing underneath. And I don't think that's very modest, but I think if you get a top that's more concealing with some sheerness and then want to wear a bralette, I think that's fine. I have a new bralette I have yet to really break in, but I think I do have a picture where you can kinda see the straps of it that I'll show later.

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Here I'm wearing a more casual outfit with my favorite pair of flip flops that are on the fancier side, they're Michael Kors! Haha. Unfortunately they're about shot, though, because I wore them so much.

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This is one of the more dressier tops below, along with the sandals. In fact I think I wore this exact outfit to a special event and just swapped the jean shorts for a pair of dress pants.

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So this top was kind of a struggle for me in the outfit below because I think I got it from my cousin when she asked if I wanted it, but it's just a little too big on me, but I liked it so much I took it anyway and thought, oh, I'll just make it work! Anyway, it does work well for the most part, but since it is a little big on me and I'm moderately tall, it's one of those awkward situations where if I pull it up, it's like a crop top on me, which I don't like, but if I pull it down too far, it shows too much in the chest area. So if my body looks like it's at an awkward angle in this photo that's probably why... But I was so happy I found a top to match these pink flip flops I'd had for awhile AND my purse!

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This is that same outfit except with my leather jacket over it. It adds to any casual summer look, if it's not 90 degrees out haha like when this was taken.

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Sometimes I'll also wear crops or capris. I like my pants to fit tight; I don't know why, but I've just always preferred that. I think that as long as your clothing covers what it needs to, I wouldn't be as critical about how tight or form fitting something is. I know some people have a fit over leggings and whether those are modest or not. Personally, I wear them everyday in the wintertime basically, and I'm okay with doing that because I usually wear chunky sweaters over them, so it's more a means of comfort than hey, look at my legs! Again, I think it really comes down to your attitudes on why you're wearing something and using your best judgment on something. I don't think there's any excuse for wearing clothing that is super revealing because MOST of the time those things aren't unintentional where it just kinda happens. Like if you happen to wear a larger v-neck shirt, that may be unintentional, but then are some tops that are low cut on purpose, for the point of showing off and revealing more. That's what I don't think is okay. And trust me when I say that you can tell the difference between people who are unintentionally wearing a top like that or people who are deliberately doing it. I remember seeing this one girl who wore what I thought was a really revealing top, but I decided to let it pass because I thought maybe it was just one of those tops where she couldn't really make it cover more. But after seeing twenty more pictures of her in various different tops that were all like that and some you know were designed for it, that's how I knew she dressed like that on purpose, and I thought that was upsetting because she was a Christian and even MARRIED, so it was like what are you trying to prove?

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Below is the photo with the bralette I mentioned earlier, where you can sorta see the straps. I think it adds a nice pop of color to an otherwise rather dull look.

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That's all I currently have on summer fashion, but if you enjoyed posts like this with fashion, just let me know and I could always do more! I'm by no means a fashion blogger, but I do like to buy what they tell me to. ;) I try not to break the bank either; I've gotten pretty good at finding designer items on sale if I do say so myself. Now if I can just find this dream Michael Kors crossbody I want on sale...

Also, hopefully my views on modesty make sense. If you're confused about what I mean by some of my views, just let me know, and I'll try to clarify. I also want to say that I'm NOT trying to act overly judgmental or nit-picky about these types of things. At least, that isn't my intent to make you feel that way. I don't want to be one of those Christians who makes up rules or goes by man-made religion along those lines, but I don't think modesty is about following a set of guidelines, I think it's about making pure choices that will best honor God and yourself. After seeing so many "Christians" completely not care, I just had to shake my head because it sets a terrible example. Knowing Jesus is about having a relationship with Him, but everyone knows that relationships are a two way thing, so to just not care about the little choices you make because you think He won't care is, first off ignorant, but it's also taking advantage of grace. And it's ignorant because God DOES care, but does that mean you're going to hell if you wear a top more on the lower cut side? Um, no, but again, use good judgment. If a top is way too low and you can pick a better one, then why don't you? Being modest is also about knowing your own worth in Christ, too, though: when you dress modestly, you're showing respect for yourself because let's face it, immodest clothes are designed for attention, but that cheap attention is not the meaningful kind you want—you want to be valued as a whole person and not just for your body, so I think we should dress like that. But hopefully this post can also show you that dressing modestly isn't some boring chore; you can still dress trendy, cute, and stylish while being modest at the same time.

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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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