How God Is Teaching Me More Than I Ever Dreamed & Other Updates

I wanted to take the time to write a “lighter” post because I think Iowa is maybe in the clear for lighter days? I pray so, anyways. I’m a summer girl and live for the warmer weather. I can’t stand being cold. And so far I think we’ve been transitioning decently, at least compared to other years! How are all of you doing? As always, I’d love to hear what’s going on in your lives and any thoughts or requests you have for me, whether that be blog post ideas, prayer requests, etc. So please do reach out to me and let me know!

I have a couple things I want to share with you all in this post, and I’m excited about all of them and about the things I’ll be doing in terms of writing this summer, when I finally have nothing but time. The good thing about my classes this trimester is that I’m taking a few English courses, so I’ve been getting to write and develop new stories, and it is so cool for me personally to see how God helps me write based on past experiences, emotions, and lessons He’s taught me. Oh, and hockey also ended on Saturday. :( October is way too long of a wait for me, but our Iowa Wild actually made the playoffs this year! I already miss it, though. I have so many pictures to show you all from hockey, but I’m going to save them for future posts where I’ll write all about it. If you can’t wait (because I never can), you can read this post about hockey here or this one where I talk about lessons you can learn at a hockey game.

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My advice for these final months of spring is to take the pressure off in life. I have heard so many stories over the course of this year of the stresses people feel they have to take on, and I am no exception to this, but please really take the time to be still and know God—a reminder and verse I need to hear constantly. It is so important for your wellbeing to do that. It’s really not His will for us to be stressed and depressed all the time. There are of course medical reasons for that in some cases, but for people where it’s not, it’s really a matter of attitude. It can be so hard to have a good attitude in some circumstances. Journaling has honestly been what God uses to save my life throughout the past couple months. I learn things, then I regress, then I relearn things. Such is life. But without looking back at what He’s done, I probably would still be on the same path, bound to chains He’s freed me from. I’m trying to remember those things and learn from them, even when I don’t “feel” it.

He is teaching me more than I ever dreamed that way. Even with the pain I feel, there have been times I’ve been so upset with why I have to feel pain, but one way God has shown me He’s used it is through some of my writing. Some of the scenes for my stories have been wrote when I feel the most upset, and it provides both me an outlet and the story a real, raw glimpse of pain. And that is what He can use to resonate with people, to relate to them and reach them.

This is also something I will be blogging about more. I learn so much through journaling, and so many of my thoughts go into that. I’d like to start posting some of those entries on my blog. Of course, since it’s essentially my diary, I’ll have to filter some of it. ;) But most of it can be shared. I think there’s no reason to keep it to myself, not when God has given me the ability to write and the insight I need to know Him more. So stay tuned for that! I have some blog post ideas I’ve been promising forever and that need to be wrote, but once I do some of those, I want to start posting more of those thoughts from my journals. I ended up finishing one of my whole journals just from using it consistently from the beginning of the year. Seriously, without it, I’d lose my sanity.

Now… I have a few questions for you all that I really want you to answer. They’re just super quick polls, one word answers you can select, and you don’t have to tell me your name or anything. Unless you want to comment, which I would so love. ;) But I’ve been reading some more stories on Wattpad, which is just where people can publish some of their writing like short stories. I’ve been writing a lot of stories for this creative writing class, and if you all would be interested, maybe I will post some (here or on Wattpad), and continue some of them into stories I write in my spare time. So, are you interested?!

Would you like me to share some of my fiction writing? *

One more question if you all would be so kind to entertain me… I know I asked this on my reader survey (which if you have not already, COULD YOU PLEASE TAKE HERE?), but I’ve been considering social media things and want to know which platform you receive updates from this blog on.

Which social media do you get updates from Sparkles by Ashlee on? *

Unfortunately, that’s all I have for you today. But I really am serious when I say I love hearing your feedback, and if you have not taken my reader survey, it would mean so much to me if you did!! Just click the button below!

Thank you all so much for reading! Leave me comments below about what you want to hear about and about how you’re all doing. :)

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My Thoughts Lately

Oh my gosh you guys I am so sorry it’s been over a month since I’ve posted….. I’m not on another hiatus, at least certainly not by choice, but I’ve been more busy than I ever have been between balancing the workload of school this year and then taking driver’s ed, too. Thankfully that is about over—I just pray to God I pass ***I DID THANKFULLY—UPDATES LATER IN THE POST***. But needless to say, a lot has happened since then, in my faith and in life. So I’m going to recap all of those things now as well as things I’ve been learning along the way… And then hopefully I can start getting back into all the other posts I’ve been planning, like my second letter to my future husband, and yeah, all that good stuff. ;)

First off, I would be lying if I said it hasn’t been hard, though over the last month, I’ve seen a significant change in my thoughts that God has helped me with, and I’ll go into that later. I’ve been trying hard not to be so stressed because life truly is short, and if there’s one thing that’s been evident to me lately, it is that God always works things out, but there have been some legitimate times that would cause any person stress. In terms of my extended family, we’ve been hit with one of the hardest trials I think any of us have faced yet. It’s led me to do a lot of reflecting on life as a whole as this trial is closely tied with life and death, and that puts things into perspective. Now it’s been a matter of seeing all the things I’ve previously believed about the meaning of life become reiterated on how true they are—and then living that out at a time where it’s absolutely crucial to do so. I know we all would appreciate prayers with this because it’s really hard, but I have been amazed by the faith of people like my grandparents, who are a couple of the people impacted most by this. They have been such a witness to people, as they are true definitions of people with authentic faith. You seriously can tell how authentic somebody is by how they respond to trials. I’m not saying they don’t ever have breakdowns or times where it doesn’t hurt because it absolutely does and would cause any sane person an excessive amount of stress, but it has not stopped them from pursuing their hope in Jesus or from witnessing to others. And they really have, especially to someone like me, where very little goes unnoticed.*

*That may be a half truth. I always thought I’m an observant person, but I went to my friend’s volleyball game, and evidently she tried to wave at me and I never knew, so! I apologize for all the times I’ve blown people off like a snob; my head is in the clouds far too much.

Upon reflecting on some of my own stress and still having to go to school and function like a normal person and meet constant deadlines, here is something God laid on my heart that I took note of:

You know you have the peace of God when everything around you should leave you crying hysterically and unable to function but instead you’re up and you’re not crying and there’s this sense of feeling good inside of you that makes absolutely no sense given the circumstances and moods. It makes no logical sense but it’s there and it’s undeniable.

You get it through humbling yourself, by reading His word, by talking to Him as often as possible. And then He works in your heart and it catches up.
— My note

I have been honestly amazed by the times it feels like any other person my age would lose their mind, and instead I’ve felt downright happy, almost on top of the world, even though my world could be crashing. But that abnormal feeling is exactly what God promises for His followers: it’s the John 14:27 peace He’s promising for anyone who is in Him, the peace that sustained His followers through their darkest times repeatedly throughout history. And even though my trials may feel insurmountable, they’re seriously nothing compared to some of the horrors that Christians before me have went through, yet they acted amazing and did not give into sin or pressures of the world. They are my inspiration, and my prayer is that my life can reflect that, too.

And you CAN obtain that peace. It comes from developing a relationship with God. So many people say they believe God gives that peace and that they personally have tried to find it but still feel incredibly stressed in situations—situations that I think, to be blunt, are just drama compared to what some people go through. And then I look at their walk with God, and I’m like, well, how serious are you, really? Because these are the people who go to church when it’s convenient and otherwise spend no time with God save for their prayers that are purely about their own problems. A) I am not saying prayers about your problems are always selfish, but I am saying when that’s all you pray for and the only time you give God attention and never just because of who He is, then yes, I think that’s selfish. B) If you are not dedicating yourself to God everyday, why would you have His peace? These are the people who just want to use God or use Christianity as a social label or insurance for heaven, and it doesn’t work that way. The very essence of Christianity and the whole purpose of why Jesus died for us is to connect us to God, so we can have a complete, intense relationship with Him. So if you give Him your time when it’s convenient or when it looks good or when it’s fun such as during retreats and games (which again are not bad but can be if that’s the only time you give God attention), then would you honestly call that a relationship?

And if you don’t have a relationship with Him, WHY would you have His peace? His peace comes from knowing and enjoying Him, from the faith when it’s hard, from the readings in your Bible even when you don’t feel like it, from the diligence of praying for things you already have a million times. THAT is when a relationship with Him is built, when good seeds are sowed, and that is when you really develop that relationship through good and bad that sustains you through anything. But don’t think you can give Him attention one day out of the week or between five second prayers about your problems and then experience that peace, because you don’t know God, so why would you know His peace? I know this from personal experience. When I am so stressed to the point where I can hardly think—which has happened to me about thirty different times over the past few months, no lie, about stupid things—it truly is because I haven’t been devoting myself to God. That’s the hard, honest truth, and I’ll be the first to admit it. But when I focus my attention on Him? It’s amazing, the changes that happen. It’s why I can’t stress this authenticity enough. People act so shocked when they fall apart during trials because they claim they had faith, but I’m like, well, if your faith was only as good as going to church every Sunday or talking to God when it’s convenient, that just isn’t enough as the purpose of being a Christian is that you’ve died to yourself and live for God—ALL OF THE TIME. And again, I’m not saying you don’t ever screw up, but your heart is right with God, and He helps you back on the right track because you feel that conviction.

We were blessed in spite of all this to still create some special memories, though, and get to do fun things. On one weekend, we went up to Estherville again (read all about that town here) to see my grandparents.

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In the meantime, I became addicted to these. I actually bought these thinking they’d be chocolate overkill and therefore disgusting, but no, they’re actually amazing:

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AND I got the most gorgeous (and most expensive ha) notebook to add to my expansive collection, BUT IT HAS MY NAME ON IT so what’s not to love?! This is actually my writer’s notebook, so it’s a comprehensive notebook consisting of everything from novel ideas to blog post ideas to character development ideas to song inspiration. I’ve been needing a notebook like that, and I’m certainly getting my money’s worth with how much I’ve already wrote in it.

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See, isn’t Estherville beautiful? I had fun getting to see some cousins of mine, and also I spent a majority of my time outlining this notebook, which was a tedious process as I’m a perfectionist and this is the prettiest notebook I’ve ever owned, so it has to be perfect. ;) This is the Swinging Bridge we were on that goes over the Des Moines River.

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There have been so many little things that have stressed me out where God has always remained faithful. I ended up being sick pretty early in the year for multiple days, and missing a couple days with my workload is like missing a month, so that had me stressed beyond measures. BUT there would be times where I may not know exactly what I’m doing, but somehow manage to get a high score on an assignment. I pray for favor, and I know my mom and grandma do that for me as well, and it just goes to show how God honors that. I’ve had to do a lot of reflecting on that because it’s turned into a pattern, where I stress excessively about something and somehow it works out. In fact, one day after learning how to park in driver’s ed (a huge stress for me haha), and it went way better than I thought, a verse I read in Psalms came to mind: “The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all,” (Psalms 34:19 NIV). That has been so evident for me. It oftentimes feels like problem after another, and I just think, well, once I make it out of this, or that, etc. But then I am reminded of what God revealed to me in my prayer here, that life is a series of good and bad and the only joy that can be found is knowing and enjoying Him in the right now. He works the rest out. :)

The next weekend we headed up to the Cities for some much needed and cherished time with family up there. That visit was wonderful, and I loved having another opportunity to connect with my two cousins Kirsten and Amanda, who are like my sisters. Read all about them here in this recap of the fun things we did in Okoboji and the Cities last summer. We were leaving right after school for a weekend, so the downside to that is since it’s a five hour drive it made for a long night, BUT I got to do something I absolutely love: seeing city lights at night. I don’t know why that appeals to me so much, but it always has and always will. Going through Des Moines at night is my fave, too. But I’d never seen Minneapolis illuminated at night. I got some decent pics; what I really need is better camera quality haha. On our way up, we stopped and ate at Wendy’s by Cabela’s (of course the boys had to go there…whoever said men don’t shop has never been with them there for hours ha…).

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And I just walked around being conceited as always and trying to find photo opportunities and expensive clothes to buy and daydreaming about my future husband probably and if I’ll go through the same with him ha. You know, the usual ;’)

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Here are some of the best pics I could manage, even though they weren’t as great as they could be:

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All of that of course put me in a very contemplative and wistful mood because then I started dreaming about where I may live or what job I have, but the whole visit really put life into perspective for me, and I decided, while praying to God on the way there as we passed through the glowing city, that this needed to be my prayer through it all:

I pray that all the success I get in my life may be used to glorify You, God, and that I can have success for Your glory. And help me to have a positive attitude and know that You will use me, I just have to be patient.
— My prayer

We got to stay in a hotel, which thrilled me, because I just all around love the hotel/city life. A random side note is these flip flops I got—they were the only shoes I wore the whole weekend, and I absolutely love them. I picked them up super cheap at some JCPenney store I believe, and for the price they are very comfortable and add that sparkle I need to any outfit. :)

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Another random note is that I think it’s cool they have a Bible in the rooms like this. My brother asked me if I was going to read it, and while I didn’t get around to doing that, I think it’s nice that each room has that. It’s what people ultimately need, and cities often make me think of where different people are at in their lives. Everyone needs Jesus, though, and everyone needs the hope He alone offers, so it is appropriate that they have that. It also reaffirmed my dream to have a job where I can (a) travel to various cities and (b) stay in hotels. I think some job in business communications would be good for me if my dream to be a millionaire author doesn’t work out ;D Luckily an English or communications degree can open doors for both, something I definitely am going to pursue.

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That night I did some really deep thinking and deep writing; I’ll have to share some of that in a later post because this one is already turning into a book. I had an awesome visit with everyone, though, and got to see my two fave girls!

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Headed back to the hotel

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I do love working in hotels

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Except I always get distracted with shopping :’)

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My dog while I was sick

The good news is that lately God has helped me get my thoughts aligned with His, which I am so thankful for; it was something I prayed over here. For example, I’ll use body image. That’s something I started struggling with heavily since entering high school, but God has been showing me just the encouragement I need to combat that unhealthy mindset. I read Kylie Bisutti’s book I’m No Angel and have also looked into her blog and interviews, and God has used her to help me immensely. She was a former Victoria’s Secret model who actually left the modeling industry to pursue her faith. The advice she gives about body image and the insight she has on that horrifying industry is exactly what I’ve needed to hear—and essentially what people have been trying to get through to me all along. But it finally clicked, and I’m so thankful. I’m actually learning to have godly confidence—not to be arrogant, but not to always put myself down, either. Going off the example of body image, just because I see another pretty girl doesn’t mean that I am not, necessarily. And that could be with anything: writing, school, etc. God is teaching me not to be so competitive and just to trust Him with opportunities in life. I’m very grateful for that.

Another fun thing—well, fun for the time being—was getting to go to Iowa City to consult with my jaw surgeons. That is unfortunately going to get worse before it gets better, but I was thrilled to check out Iowa City since I’d never been before, and I got to go shopping, so for right now it’s all fun and games, and for right now, just let me stay in denial, thank you.

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So when it comes to the Hawkeyes vs. Cyclones debate, I’m personally a Cyclones fan, haha. Which is totally against, like, everyone in my family… But for whatever reason, ever since I’ve been little, I’ve wanted to go to Iowa State. My grandma and I have had some fun trips over there to this one bookstore I love and just driving by the campus, which I am convinced is the prettiest. But we’ll see… Iowa is known for its writing program, so I might convert… Might…..

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Kinnick Stadium, home of the Hawkeyes

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My mom and I walked around for a little bit after my appointment, which went very well. The downtown and traffic was actually dead for whatever reason, but I know Mom was in heaven because she had been terrified about the driving.

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Then we went to the mall of course :)

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I got these adorable stationary items my mom picked out for me that I can’t wait to add to my collection and a tee from PINK.

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So I suppose I should also talk a little bit about driving. Well, I was stressed to the max every single time, but again, God remained faithful. I did have one traumatic moment… All I will say is that I-80 sucks, but I passed thank God, so I’m more than happy for that part of my life to be over.

And here is Kylie’s book that I got signed!!! She is so sweet and such an inspiration in faith. I would recommend her book to any girl; it sheds so much insight on a world that is portrayed as being glamorous when the reality is far from.

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Another thing we did as a family was attend an Iowa Wild hockey game with some of the Minnesota Wild players in it. Unfortunately my fave Zach Parise couldn’t come see me but whatever… Oh my gosh I don’t even remember if I told you all this, but I actually got to see him!!! Last December, he came down to play with the Iowa Wild for a night to see how he was recovering from an injury, so of course we got tickets on a whim because Zach Parise coming to Des Moines is an opportunity one should never pass up. SO I GOT TO SEE HIM!!!!! <3 I went down by the glass with my brother, and we were so close to the players. He actually waved at this little kid next to me, but of course I got nothing… :’) And Mom with all her practicality of course was like “well he’s married so why would he wave to some teen girl?” Well, some actors have been known for teasing their fans even if they don’t actually mean it, so he could have still winked at me but again, whatever. ;D

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Zach Parise <3

Well anyway I hope he never reads that… The game was still a blast, though, as they always are, and I know Mom enjoyed me badgering her for food and to take my picture by this window I’m in love with because all.the.city.lights.

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This is really random, but I think this bridge would be a good place to be proposed to on. Maybe, I don’t know? I’d really like to walk it sometime, I know that much, and for whatever reason it just seems like an ideal location for that.

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I also want to go driving around at night in Des Moines just to see the lights, which may or may not be a good idea, who knows, but I’ll definitely be having someone drive me haha…

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I’ve loved the fall weather these past months, and one night we got to have a bonfire.

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Willy has also been doing a good job hunting. <3

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It’s also worth mentioning that I embarrassed my mom with this picture in the middle of the grocery store aisle. ;)

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And though you can’t see it very well in this picture below, over the summer I got this strawberry pink winter coat that I adore:

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AND these booties that Mom thought were quite obnoxious, but once I saw them I knew I had to have them… :) I am SPARKLES by Ashlee after all!

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I also want to start trying makeup haha. I bought a lot last year but never use it because I’m too lazy to get up in the mornings to do it. I’m also unsure of exactly what type of makeup I should use…like blush, foundation, bronzer…? I know a lot of girls are way more knowledgeable about this than me, so leave me recommendations please! :) My mom was trying to put some mascara on me in the below picture, but I can’t hold still because I thought my eye was going to be gouged out, so I ended up wiping it off and then taking this mirror picture like the conceited girl I am. :’) But seriously, leave me makeup recommendations that don’t break the bank please, and I’ll let you all know how that process of me doing makeup turns out…

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But I ALSO HAD ONE OF THE BIGGEST HAIR WINS OF MY LIFE… You know, God is very good at surprising me with the little things, and He totally did with this. I left my hair in that bun pictured above and slept in it like that, and then the next morning I pulled it out and got my dream blowout hair… It didn’t last long, but if I would’ve used hairspray then we might’ve been onto something… I took about two thousand pictures of myself with it, because oh my word, it made my day. I’ve wanted curls like this since I watched Big Time Rush as a kid and saw some blonde with curls like this…

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I also got a whole stash of pink ornaments I’ll be putting in my room eventually, because my room can always use some more pink as you can see! :D

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My mom and I also got to spend a nice day together for an appointment. We want to go to an Altoona outlet mall in November for some Christmas shopping, and I’m thrilled for that. Getting Mom to shop with me is a hard job but is always worthwhile!

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And so of course while we were in the city we did do just a little of this…

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And I think this recaps about everything. I would love to hear from all of you now: what have you been up to lately? What are you struggling with that I can pray about/write about? What future posts do you want me to write? I love and appreciate your feedback, and thank you so much for following along with my thoughts and adventures! xo

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The End and the Beginning

So this is kind of a dramatic title for a hockey game recap. Unfortunately, it was our last game for this season! We got to go to three games this year, and they were all a lot of fun!

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click here to see a recap of my FIRST TWO HOCKEY GAMES ever from back in spring 2015: Let's Catch Up: Hockey Games

click here to see game #1 we went to this year: Reasons I Love Hockey

click here to see game #2 we went to this year: 11 Things We Can Learn About Life from a Hockey Game

and keep reading for game #3!


Hockey

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The Pictures

So the first thing I did was take pictures; I know, I never would've thought I'd do that either. If you keep reading, you can see all the {bright} pictures I took + writing updates!

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The Food

Patience DOES pay off! I got ketchup with the fries! If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you need to read the game #2 recap. And you know did you actually eat them if you didn't get a picture of you eating them.

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So whatever I was trying to do here.... It didn't work.

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We played the Manitoba Moose, an AHL team of the Winnipeg Jets. Their goalie was actually in the NHL playing, but then he got moved down, so that was cool to see.

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Writing

At the beginning of the game, when we were driving into Des Moines, I took some pictures (I mean duh), and yay for daylight savings because it finally wasn't too dark!

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Being in the city just creates this feeling of longing in me - longing for Jesus and longing for others to know him because it's a dark, dark world. And as I watch all the people drive by, I wonder if they know Jesus. I wonder if they're living for him. I pray that Christians would stand up for Christ and that they would start being a light. Then we could start something amazing. Click here to see why I believe in showing your faith.

Also, I finally finished my book. I mean, I TOTALLY finished it. It's completely done being edited, and now I have to work on getting everything ready. I have to transfer my book to Word since I had previously typed it on Google Docs, which will be a major pain in the butt since it strips away all the formatting. But it's worth it - agents read it in Word, or so I'm told.

I could be worried about querying. I really want to publish my book NOW. Sometimes I have to straighten out my motives, though. I want to publish it now because why wait? This life is too short to wait. However, sometimes I catch myself wanting it for my glory; I want to publish a book young so that people will think of me accomplishing so much. That isn't the goal, and I have to remember that.

But I'm really not worried about querying. I'll probably get rejected. A lot. I only have ONE agency I've decided to query to. I can't really afford to be picky, but yet this is the place in charge of my writing career, so they do need to be someone I can see myself working with. But I'm not concerned.

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Life

I'm not concerned because in life, I'm learning fear does absolutely nothing except break what isn't actually broken. The other day, I had three incidents where I was really worried, and all of them turned out fine.

I'm starting this church project with one of my friends, and we wanted to do it during our lunch time at school. There's a room we can go to, but we needed permission, and I was so worried we wouldn't be allowed to do it. But it turned out fine, and that is something I see repeatedly. Whatever you're worrying about, let it go. Don't waste time blaming God or doubting His plan because we only see a part of it. If you pick up a book and read a random page, you'll probably be lost. You have to read the entire book to understand it, and God is in charge of our stories.

We may not know that now. It might be awhile before we finally realize what it was He had in mind, but He is working. And you can trust Him until then, which will make your life so much easier.


for more on trusting God: Why You Can Totally Let Go and Let God


Also, at intermission, last year with Dad we went upstairs in Wells Fargo and got some awesome pictures of this bridge and river outside along with the Capitol in the background. This year, Mom and I didn't figure out how to get upstairs, but there was this hallway off the main hallways, and the wall was practically glass, so we got some gorgeous pictures.

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When the bokeh is on point.... You all know I love bokeh!!!

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The panorama would've been just perfect if the dumbo window didn't get in my way... I mean, look at that ugly thing! RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE!

By the way, pictured below, that gold building is the Capitol.

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See that huge yellow blob in the picture? That's where something blew up. I'm kidding. The only thing that blew up was me when I saw how yet another thing got in the way of my pictures.

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That will be the end of hockey games for awhile, but it is only the beginning of my writing, and I have work to do, so I will let you go.

Actually, pretty please with donuts and such...

It's over short stories and me posting them and what your opinion on that is. Thank you - you guys are the best. What's going on in your life?

11 Things We Can Learn About Life from a Hockey Game

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I like taking real life events and taking away lessons from them that we can use in our lives. Clearly. I already did a post over how sprint car racing is like life. Now I'm going to tell you what we can learn from a hockey game referring to the game I attended just a month ago for my birthday. With all the pictures, of course. So here are 11 (important) life lessons we can learn from a hockey game.

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1. God's plans aren't always your plans.

And we learn this at a hockey game because have you ever tried to take a photo of the arena, but it's too dark?

Just me...? Fine. But sometimes things don't go your way. I mean, I wanted that picture. But daylight savings occurred instead. And I'm sure there are reasons behind that just like there are reasons God allows things to happen. But you have to remember...

"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." - Isaiah 55:9 NIV
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." - Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

Are we really going to argue with God? I mean, seriously. He knows all things, and He promises a good plan. And He has kept His promises.

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2. Always give thanks; let the good overrule the bad.

Then I got the picture up above that I really, really like. And I have a choice to count all of the horrible pictures I've taken in my life or - worse yet - all the missed opportunities I've had for good pictures, or I can be grateful for the pictures I do have. And this is related to hockey because...pictures.

But the thing is, we all have a choice to be grateful. I could of laugh at myself as a kid because on bad days, I would repeatedly make a list in my head of everything that went wrong. For example, let's say I forgot something important. Then I got dirt on my shoes. Then one of my friends blew me off. The list would continue, and then I'd keep track of every bad thing that happened and pout.

But why didn't I turn that around? Instead of counting everything bad, why didn't I make a list of everything good?

For example, I woke up. I'm healthy. God sent His Son for me. I have nice clothes. It continues.

We, as humans, tend to always look for the bad. And doing so, we miss out on so much good. God tells us to be thankful in all situations, and this is something I still work on.

The other day, my dad hit a deer on the way to work. It totally killed the grill and some other stuff on the front of our car. And I'm not an idiot, I know that won't be cheap to fix. But he's okay, and that is huge. He still made it to work that day.

Count the good.

K, we'll actually talk about hockey now.

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3. Life is fast paced, but make sure you stop and slooow down.

This relates to hockey because: Umm, have you seen how fast paced hockey is?!! Even trying to get food and all that stuff, there's like five million people, and everyone is in a hurry. Hence, why this photo IS BLURRY.

But you have to stop and slooow down and focus on what matters. Even in hockey there is intermission which means a) they get a break so they don't die, b) I got food so I don't starve, and c) I got clear photos so my blog doesn't die. Everybody wins! And do you miss much by stopping and taking a break? NO. And breaks are important.

Back when I saw Trans-Siberian Orchestra, I had to pee so bad. But I didn't want to miss the concert. I had to go so bad, though, that my dad eventually caught on, and I went to the bathroom. No, I didn't really WANT to miss the concert, but it was necessary. And sometimes it's like that in life, too. Our society can be so fixed on getting everything done and getting wrapped into our busy schedules that we forget to take time for God or their own mental health. But I promise if you do this, nothing will die. In fact, you'll feel much better. I certainly did. ;)

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4. Persistence pays off.

This relates to hockey because: duh, have you seen them try so hard to score? Some nights it doesn't come, or it doesn't come right when you need it to, but persistence does pay off.

Especially when you are persisting in prayer. God works through prayer, and He hears us. Sometimes He doesn't answer when we want Him to. Sometimes the answer isn't what we want, but lots of times it's what we need. And in the end, we'll see that. He is looking after us. Don't give up. Trust in Him.

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5. It's easy to get wrapped into Satan's lies.

How this relates to hockey: there's temptation everywhere. You can see it at a hockey game, too.

Fights, swearing, beer, etc. It's everywhere. And Satan will go out of his way to make you believe sin is okay and cause you to never change.

Don't fall for it.

God calls us to be holy, and while we'll never be perfect, we need to grow and strive to change. We can't just make excuses to stay stuck in our sin - we need to grow. I'm not very tolerant when it comes to the excuse "it's their life, let them be happy" as people say about homosexuality, drugs, etc. I mean, in a way, it is their life, but it's not. As Christians, our whole lives need to belong to God, meaning that we surrender and want what He wants, which is to take care of our bodies and do what He says.

But He did give us free will, and in that sense, we can't just shove things down people's throats. They make their own choices, but we don't have to agree with them. So I'm not going to be the typical blog over here that shouts at you happiness, happiness, happiness. As Leonard Ravenhill said, "If you want to be popular, preach happiness. If you want to be unpopular, preach holiness."

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6. There will be bad days, and there will be good days.

This relates to hockey because ohhh myyy goshhh have you seen the Wild lately? Let me just say it's not good. But then there are the days they kick some butt! (Ah...glorious Stadium Series memories.)

Whenever Hunter tries to tell me the Wild suck, I always reply to him saying, "Two words: Stadium Series." This presumably sends him into a rant about his "great team" and my "horrible team", and I sit there laughing, reiterating "Stadium Series". It drives him nuts. That's the point.

Anyway, I guess you could call this a bad game for the Hawks. (Clearly. Somebody said at the end it was a bad "start". I'm like, the score was 6-1, I think we can say it was more than a bad "start".)

On the bad days, your faith will be tested. Don't let it get you down. Greater things are coming, and God has a plan for you. The bad days DO NOT last, so please don't let them get you down or compromise on your faith. God will carry you through. Just like you shouldn't let a bad game define you as a hockey player (unless you're the Blackhawks ;).

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7. You should be taking lots of pictures.

This relates to hockey because one day you're going to look back and have all of these memories from hockey games.

That's all I have to say. You can't ever tell me I take too many pictures because I'm going to have tons of memories to look back on. ;)

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8. Appreciate your family.

I mentioned this in how racing is like life, but I need to say it again because you are stuck with your family for the rest of your life unlike friends. So appreciate them. If you're in a bad situation with one of your relatives, don't give up on them! Pray and pray believing because God turns broken messes into something beautiful!

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9. Sometimes you have to compromise; have a good attitude and make the best of it.

This relates to hockey because I wanted these fries, okay? I got them, but then there was no ketchup.

And Mom would not take me back to get some. So I had to eat the fries plain, and they were actually pretty good. But I never would've known that if I pouted and decided to boycott the fries.

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10. God will use anyone who's willing.

This relates to hockey because there are some pretty basic pictures you can take that turn into something awesome, and while going to a hockey is a rather simple event, a lot of memories can be made.

If you're willing. The first time I went to a hockey game, I was pretty skeptical. I knew hockey existed but had no knowledge of it and really no desire to go see a game, but my dad had tickets and wanted to take all of us, so I had a positive attitude and tried to make the most of the night.

And now hockey is my favorite sport to watch.

Also, look at the picture above of my fries. A simple picture of fries, yes? Right. But look in the background. There's BOKEH. And if you don't know what bokeh is, I give up. I have had to explain it to so many people, so just google it and take advantage of the technology we have.

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BONUS! Dippin' Dots are the best things ever.

Don't leave without them or pictures of them.

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11. Be grateful.

If you get the opportunity to go to a hockey game, be thankful.

Appreciate the little things in life. Be grateful and praise Jesus.

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And one more thing!

If you are able to get a picture with Crash,

DO IT.

But don't trust him to be your friend. ;) One time he kissed my hand, and ever since he's dissed me. I guess he realized I'm way out of his league. ;)

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Have you been to a hockey game? [You might also like: Reasons I Love Hockey and Let's Catch Up: Hockey Games!] Tell me about your experience!

Reasons I Love Hockey

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I think you all know by now that I really like hockey. Ever since the two games I went to last spring, I've loved it. It also helps when your favorite player is really good plus he's HOT. It makes it all that more fun to watch... Despite my brother saying I only like hockey because of that, that's not true, and here's why based on pictures and videos from the hockey game my family went to last weekend.

Most of the games are around seven, so you have to eat beforehand, AND THEN you also get snacks there. Really, I just needed to show you these pictures from a restaurant we ate at before.

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And...this on the bathroom door. Nice.

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I think going outside in stadiums and what not can be fun at times, but I actually prefer arenas like Wells Fargo. That's what the picture is supposed to be of. I'm hoping the iPhone 6s has better night picture quality.

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I like how they skate on ice. I think it makes the sport that much more entertaining to watch, and the hockey rinks are pretty cool to photograph.

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Yay beer right?! No just kidding...but they sure have plenty of it and other awesome food/drinks like DIPPIN' DOTS.

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Okay, now for the real fun. I love their dramatic little openings. Not to mention how awesome the rink looks with the lights dimmed.

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Let me just tell you - the intro was amazing. The music was great and even just how they presented it. I have an awesome video of it, too.

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I'm thankful that I like a team that has a really cool name that offers great uniforms and an overall great theme. The Wild? Heck yes! To be honest though, all the NHL teams have pretty great themes - there's not very many who don't. I like the Wild theme the best, though.

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Hockey also keeps my interest because it's a very fast paced sport that features tons of action. It's also better being there in person than TV ANY DAY.

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It also bonds your fam together! That's kind of our thing, just like racing is our thing. Now we all know Hunter doesn't do selfies or pictures at all, right? Well, he actually took this selfie with me. No whining, no bribes, NOTHING. WOW. I was very happily surprised.

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Between the gaps, I also took some good videos of two things. 1) THEIR GOAL HORN. It's the best in the entire NHL. They're actually an AHL team, but they share with the Minnesota Wild because they are affiliated with them. When I go to an actual Minnesota game, it will be the best day of my life. I can't go now, because my fave player ever -Zach Parise- has been out forever because he has a sprained MCL. It's a tragedy, and watching my team IS NOT THE SAME WITHOUT HIM ON IT.

Also, check out Dad's face in this picture. #popcornproblems Oh, and that other video? A FIGHT. Yes, there's fighting in hockey. I'm not exactly sure what my mature side thinks of that, but I would be lying if I didn't tell you my immature side loved it! I got the whole thing on video, and it was a pretty good one. I'm still not exactly sure what to think of it, but I am keeping that video for, you know...just in case for reasons I'd ever need it...

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The food, in case I haven't mentioned it. Hockey food is amazing. They have churros, nachos, Dippin' Dots (my faves), delicious popcorn, and more. We also managed to sit two different places during the night - once near the ice where our tickets were, and then near the exits where there were lots of open seats. It's nice to get two different perspectives, but I personally prefer being right by the ice (and there is glass, if you did not know). Especially when I go see Zach play. Oh, my gosh, yes...

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And also, if you want to please fill out this very short survey. Whether you like it or not, I love hockey, and it will be a future part of this blog. You may as well have some say in what type of posts I write about hockey then right? Good, so fill out the survey pretty please with Dippin' Dots on top.

Name *
Name
Which one is you? *
BE HONEST PLEASE!
Which posts would you like to see over hockey? *
Select all or none. Yeah too bad, you have to pick at least one.

Oh, aren't you the bestest! Thumbs up for you for filling that out. If you didn't, well, I am going to look at you like my mom is in the picture.

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Hunter and I went down closer to the ice with our neighbor. The game ended up going into overtime and eventually a shoot out too.

Shoot Out = when nobody scores during over time, it's like taking a free throw in basketball when you've been fouled except with defense. The goalie is there, but there's only one player unguarded trying to shoot it in the net. The net is still guarded, though.

It was hilarious because somebody was teasing the goalie from the other team, and he sprayed the glass in front of them with his water bottle. See, you never know what can occur during hockey. Oh! And don't forget those hardcore fans. One time "Shut Up and Dance" played (oh yes, they play tons of hits in between, it's awesome), and one of the fans was like "Shut up and play hockey!"

The opposing team ended up winning the shoot out. Gosh danggit. But anyway, it was a great night. I've found the sport I really love watching, and I can't wait for more games.

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Thanks for listening to me ramble about hockey! What do you think of hockey? How 'bout the Wild?! Any questions or specific posts you want to see me write about it? Have YOU been to a hockey game? Tell me about it!