4 Things to Remember on the Fourth of July

1. We are so blessed to live where we do.

It seems like our country is getting worse by the day, and since we are drifting from God, I'd probably have to agree with that. But our country still has lots of good. I don't think there's any other place I'd want to live on earth. I have the freedom to write this blog. I went to church on Sunday without any problems. We have some incredible opportunities in this country. I agree with those who say America has been blessed more than any other nation.

I'm so thankful for the freedom we have. It is a great thing, but like pretty much everything, you can take advantage of it and use it the wrong way. God gives us free will, but we're going to choose the wrong things. Look at what we're doing with our rights today. We're legalizing gay marriage, abortion, and more. I've definitely made wrong choices, so we need to repent. Which leads me to the next point.

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2. Our country needs prayers.

We need to pray that we become one nation under God again, for godly leaders, for our leaders to make good choices according to what God says is good, for safety, for our rights, and that's just the basics. Where there is freedom and blessings, people can get greedy and arrogant. And our country is pretty much exactly that. We keep trying to get more things to be legal, and the worst part is, the things we want are sinful. But do we care? Apparently not. We are totally turning our backs on God and going our own way. That is a dangerous path to take.

So we need to pray. God hears the prayers of His people (Psalm 34:17).

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
— 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV
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3. This home is only temporary.

Modern Christians that don't do anything to pursue Jesus like I talk about here are wasting their lives. They're doing all these things for THIS life not realizing that one day this life is going to be absolutely nothing. I believe we need to have an abundant life here and still work hard, but don't get too comfy.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
— 2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV
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4. Jesus is our hope.

With that being said, don't place your hope in anything but Jesus. I've been there, placing my hope in things of the world, done that, and it doesn't work. Your family is going to die and betray you. The world is going to end, and there goes our country. Friends will betray you. Beauty fades. Popularity fades. Money fades. Now that I've depressed you.... Run to Jesus. It's not bad to have those things or enjoy them, but Jesus needs to be the center of your life. The hope.

I pray that you all have a safe and fun 4th of July! It's not a sin to enjoy the freedom of our country, or the cute patriotic clothes we're wearing, or the fun times with our family, but just make sure you know it is all fleeting except for Jesus and his promises. That is an amazing thing to cling to, though. I'll leave you with some of those promises. Oh and leave me tips for getting good pictures of fireworks!!!

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 8:37-39 NIV
‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.’
— Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
— 1 John 1:9 NIV
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
— Romans 8:28 NIV
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
— 1 Peter 5:7 NIV
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
— Isaiah 41:10 NIV

What is Christmas Really About?

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This day in age, it seems like nobody knows what Christmas is really about anymore. All those gift guides and red Starbucks cup pictures... I've forgotten: what is Christmas really about? I'm going to take a journey through my photos to find out.

Oh yes, I remember now. It's about going to Walmart and admiring all the pretty decorations.

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Actually, it's about testing your photography skills on them and buying new lights.

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Oh, heck no. It's actually about decorating your house.

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What's even better than that is attending amazing Christmas concerts. That's the reason.

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Or snow. Definitely snow.

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Snow is a reason, so is being cold. Then you get to have reasons to take selfies and wish for Uggs and sweaters and hoodies.

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Um, forget all of the above. I've found the real reason. It's DEFINITELY so that you can curl up inside and blog, drink amazing hot chocolate with marshmallows AND *most importantly* take perfect pictures of the two of them!!!

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And it's also for taking beautiful winter pictures.

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Wait, wait, wait. Nothing beats food. Thanksgiving and the holiday eating is the purpose.

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And then taking naps and getting fat. Yep. It's definitely food.

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OH, MY GOSH. Forget EVERYTHING. OBVIOUSLY it's decorating the tree!

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...and taking pictures of the tree...

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...or talk about them presents... *I realize ours doesn't have them yet, but wow, use your imagination* -_-

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Or taking selfies with the tree. That's a must.

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Or, or...maybe it's a Christian holiday where we celebrate the birth of Jesus, our amazing Savior. Sarcastic notes aside, that is what this holiday is for. Appreciating your family is awesome, too, so are them presents and selfies with the tree, but Jesus is the reason for it all. Don't put him last this holiday season, because it's easy to get caught up in the worldly side of Christmas. Other than that, I pray you all have an awesome Christmas with your family doing all of the fun things mentioned above, but remember to keep Jesus first.

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And no, I don't mean putting little people up under your tree is all for keeping Jesus first (-_- <-- my not amused face), although that's another fun thing you should do.

How to Survive Doing Something Haunted and Other Halloween Festivities

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I realize I'm way late on this, but better late than never. Plus, you never know when you're going to get sucked into something haunted, ESPECIALLY when you live with MY DAD... So I've lived and learned and am going to put together some tips for you, and then obviously we must go over the other things I did for Halloween. But enough about me, I want to hear what you did for Halloween too, so link your posts in the comment!

On Friday, the night before Halloween, I went on a haunted hike. My dad was even one of the actors dressed to scare people. The hike took place around a lake, and my mom and I went. Hunter does not get into that stuff at all, so he stayed home with Willy and watched the Wild vs. Blackhawks hockey game. THE WILD WON, PEOPLE! Just like I knew they would. Because they're the best. He even called me to tell me that one of the players on the Wild scored, which had me like... That's also my favorite player Zach Parise by the way. The two main reasons he's my favorite? Well, anyone with a brain knows he's an outstanding hockey player, and two, well, look him up under Google images. You can figure out that one. Kidding not kidding about that one, but I really just think he's a great role model.

Now, on to serious business here.

Tip #1. Be warm. Wear layers. The only thing that's worse than being scared? Scared and cold at the same time. Thankfully I took my own advice on this one and wore my warm athletic leggings, boots, a hoodie, and my winter jacket.

Tip #2. Don't wear boots, though. I got crap in them like leaves and what not, and then it gets uncomfortable to walk let alone RUN. And believe me, you will run.

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Afterwards we picked up food. I thought you would want to know that. Next.

Tip #3. Go as a group. I don't really care what people say against this one, if you go just two, you're gonna get the crap scared out of you so bad you'll cry and die. If you have to go in a group, it means you're already a wuss and will still be scared, so just do it. Don't be afraid to ask, either. Typically they make you go by your friends and family, but we asked to go with someone else, and they let us.

Tip #4. Look around. There will be people hiding everywhere. Be observant so you know what's coming.

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Time for the next photo break. Halloween is my mom's birthday, and to celebrate, we went shopping together and picked up some basketball stuff for me. She got herself some things, too. Thankful for her.

Tip #5. Don't get too wrapped up in the decorations. That's what they want you to do, and guess what? While you're busy figuring out the dangling skeleton, a dude with a chainsaw is going to come at you or some other scary person. Glance at the decorations, and move on, people. Trust me on this one.

Tip #6. Know that the monsters are actually just actors. It's all volunteer or jobs or whatever. They can't actually touch you. They might get pretty close, and if that's the case, proceed to #7. But nobody attempted to touch me the entire hike. My parents went to a very popular haunted house place called Sleepy Hollow in Des Moines which had tons of actors, and they're still alive with no bruises or scars. I think you'll be fine. But in doubt, tip #7 will come in handy. Right after this photo break.

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The Tanger Outlets is a great place to shop! Just saying. There's your commercial. I limited it. You're welcome.

Tip #7. So when in doubt, run. You should just run every time someone comes at you, but that's just me? Alrighty then. If somebody ever were to grab you and not let go, then scream for help. ONLY if they grab you and won't let go. That won't happen, though, but I'm a drama queen.

Tip #8. The middle is the best place to be. The lovely people in front of you can endure the terror first, and the lovely people in the back can get followed by it.

Excuse the interruption, it is now time for another photo break.

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I am going to be a food photographer when I grow up, and then they will give me free crap my body doesn't need, but my tastebuds will love. Life goals.

Tip #9. Just keep going. No matter how scared you are, just keep going. You'll reach the end, and then you can lay down in your bed and laugh and/or cry about it. I bet you'll laugh about it, especially if you follow my tips.

Tip #10. Have fun. Because that is what it's supposed to be. Trust in God, know they're actors, and just laugh at them. Not the guy with a chainsaw, though. Run like heck, and don't look back at him.

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It was also a good night trick-or-treating. I don't do it anymore, but Hunter did, and I walked around with him and Mom. My dad was out hunting, and he shot a huge buck. I really enjoyed holding the flashlights for him while he skinned and basically tore its guts out. That is a life lesson I will not forget, and unfortunately despite it being a good way to get food, it's one I wish I could forget. That came after trick-or-treating.

Like I said, I am trying to forget about that, so we're moving on. I dressed in layers again, so I was nice and warm and walked around with Hunter the Blackhawks hockey player. Hunter doesn't know anything about picking a team, as you can see. We all know the Wild is the best.

After trick-or-treating we found this awesome house with amazing decorations. We saw it last year and found it again this year!

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Thanks for tuning in today for my surviving something haunted tips! I hope you survive, you'll have to let me know if you can...

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Now Willy says we are done with photo breaks, and until next time...

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See, I can be scary too.