What Web Design Has Taught Me About Life and God

I do not consider myself a professional website designer by any means, but ever since the creation of this blog I’ve had to learn how to do it. It’s a hobby and passion of mine I don’t talk about as much, save for the fact that I redesign this blog constantly and have lived to tell about it here. I have been thinking more about this hobby of mine, though, especially as I consider college programs and potential careers I want to pursue. And I have been reflecting on just how much I’ve learned through life by embracing this hobby and through having fun redesigning my blog countless times over the years.

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My calligraphy skills need some work, though, as you can see

I have countless memories of the joy and frustration—staying up late at my grandparents’ house experimenting with new color combos and new templates, trying to see how many looks I could create while still sticking to my branding, spending all my free time on the weekends in my early years of writing this blog mainly working on the design, more so than anything else. Was that really necessary at that point? Uh, no, but I loved it, and I began to develop an eye for what worked and what didn’t. I also learned more about myself and my “brand” and how I wanted to be reflected through seemingly more shallow things like color palettes, web templates, and fancy graphics. I also remember the deep frustration I would feel when I first began—when I was following tutorials, checking and re-checking each step I made to implement some new code, and it just would not cooperate. But I also have such fond memories of the rewards it really brought to me when I would finally figure something out I had been struggling with. I think life is very much similar to this process.

And then, looking back, you realize how you are gaining so much knowledge and new skills that have not only made you happy to practice but also have practical, meaningful use. I never saw myself as a coder or web designer or anything remotely technical like that, and I don’t think I even knew that’s what I was learning until I had. But I felt like I had to learn because things did not work out with the person I had hired for a website, and I got bored in the waiting process—figures—so I began doing things on my own. It just goes to show how God was preparing me—for this. When you need something, He gives it, oftentimes before you even know you need it or that’s what you want.

So I guess if I’ve learned anything from embracing this unexpected hobby, it reminds me of that. How God knows what you need and want long before you even figure that out. I have seen many examples of that in my life I will write about in later posts. I used to be terrified of uncertainty and always thought I needed to know exactly what I want in life, but I’m learning to relax my grip. I took every rejection so personally when now, looking back, I see how it is a blessing, even if I don’t exactly know why. Because God has worked everything to my good for His glory, and He can do the same for you, too. I talk about this here, but this hobby actually came to be when something else I wanted fell through for whatever reason. But how much better is this? I did not think I would be a blogger, but I thank God I can be for His glory. I never thought I would do this in my spare time while I wait on becoming an author, but I cannot imagine my life without it now, because it as an outlet God has used to help others, and that’s what I want more than anything.

It definitely wasn’t what I imagined or would’ve chosen as my plan, but God knew it would fit me better, even though it took some heartache for me to realize that. But it’s also proof that He does care about what you care about—who knew there was a purpose in me creating a bunch of pink, glittery images?

And as for web design? That was the first step He took in preparing me. Follow His prompting like that and what He’s laid on your heart, and you don’t know exactly where it will take you when you trust Him with it! As for me, I’m sure I’ll be redesigning this blog another twenty times over the next five years. ;)

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Back in Estherville + Life News

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

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

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

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

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

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

#WorthIt.

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

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Let's Catch Up Again

I am so thrilled that it's summer. The first few days have been lazy days for me, which I probably needed. I have been a bit productive though, especially in terms of my room. I've been blogging about the process of redoing my room forever: here, here, and here, just to name a few. It's been a slow process, but finally it's just about completely done!

I was able to find a new white dresser that was both affordable and in good quality. I was shocked at how many dressers weren't in good quality despite having an expensive price tag. Finally I found one I loved at a local furniture store, and they delivered it for free. That simple change has already made my room look much better.

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I also have a chair that I sit in for most of my days; it's furry and velvety and a crisp white like the rest of my room (despite the rosy walls haha, but some pink is an absolute necessity). And I got everything rearranged and cleaned—I think I have approximately twenty notebooks inside my nightstand. The life of a writer! And I use each one of them haha.

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I'm also finally getting A NEW MATTRESS!! The mattress I have is close to a million years old and has been killing me, so I'm thrilled to get a new one. The one I picked out is super plush, my favorite. I'll probably never leave it.

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I've been keeping up my usual diet of eating all the time and haven't done a workout since the end of PE class. I found these things at Walmart and have been eating them daily as a nutritional breakfast—they're wonderful ;)

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And we've also been to one race already at Knoxville. We tried something new; we went into the pits because evidently kids can go in there with parental permission, and we tailgated right by this fence nearby one of the turns. It was a new experience that I highly enjoyed!

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I also have a blog post on life lessons learned from the races, and you can read that here.

A Writing Update

I have something that I will be sporadically working on, and I'm going to announce it here as soon as I get it going. I've been talking about doing it for awhile, and I actually did attempt it once. Hint: you should follow me here. :)

I think that's about everything new going on with me. Next week I am going to see my grandparents because my family is going to Canada. I bailed on that; two years of the nonstop fishing life was plenty for me. I will blog as much as I can up there; I already have one post idea in mind because I did it up there a couple years ago. Hint? Read this post first. :)

What are you all up to? I'd love to hear! Remember, if you ever have any questions for me or any specific blog post requests or topics you'd like to hear my thoughts over, you can simply ask me on this page right here!

P.S. In terms of the shopping world, I have been doing my research and finding good deals on things I need. I don't think I've mentioned this before, but I've been desperately needing a new swimsuit for a year now. The last swimsuit I had bought had been for my trip to Florida, and then in spring 2017 we went to a hotel to spend a couple days swimming for spring break, and I needed a new one because I had obviously outgrown the other one. So when we were up in Des Moines at that time, we stopped at Scheels to find one and were not so pleasantly surprised at how expensive they turned out to be. I got the cheapest one there, which was $60. And it was cute in its own way, until I actually wore it. Then its functionality seemed to disappear, and plus I didn't care for the way it fit on me. It was a two piece, and the top kept floating up, which I didn't like because that's not comfortable when you're swimming. Plus, every now and then I go with my grandma nearby us to some swimming classes that are a blast, and so I've been wanting a new one, all of this is to say. And so I did research online, only to find that the vast majority of swimsuits are, on average, $100! I have this dream swimsuit here (it's called the One Way Ticket and is a one-piece) that I fell in love with after I saw it on a fashion blog, but at almost $120 I knew I wouldn't be getting it anytime soon.

Plus, I generally prefer one-pieces. I'm not huge on bikinis due to the modesty (or lack thereof). I know there are modest bikinis, but I just lean towards wearing a one-piece because if they make them and they look cute, then why not? Plus I think they're more functional anyway and can be worn as a cute bodysuit if you pair them with jean shorts over it. Anyway, when Memorial Day sales were going on, I saw that J.Crew was having special discounts on their swimwear. I decided it couldn't hurt to look as I was almost out of options, and I wanted a new swimsuit badly. I was shocked to find this swimsuit here, that looks nearly identical to my dream swimsuit and had only a regular price of sixty something—I probably would've payed that—but then it was on sale for thirty something. It's mainly sold out now, but I was thrilled. It was also backordered when I bought it, so I hope I get it eventually. I actually had it shipped up to my grandparents' thinking that maybe it will arrive when I am up there—hopefully. It'd be fun to wear when I go jet skiing at 'Boji!

All of this to say that it definitely pays to do your research. I have this Wishbin account that lets me keep track of all the items I want or need, and periodically I go through and check for good deals. You'd be shocked at how many you can find if you just give it time.

I'll keep you updated on any more deals I find and will also let you know when I get this swimsuit, haha. :) Maybe even I can be a fashion blogger? Haha, we'll just have to see.

Thanks for following along! ♥*♡

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Another Blogging Recap (Over a Year at It)

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It's so hard to believe that a year ago, I wrote this post of a blogging recap (and also my five million and one blog designs). I mean, wow. I've learned so much through blogging. Some of it was the blogging tips everyone constantly throws out there. But a lot of it was just the purpose of my blog in general and trusting in God.

I learned...

Why I do what I do.

I've always had an idea, but finally I wrote out the exact purposes of my blog and brand. Read why I do this.

What my blog goals are.

Also how to make myself lust over laptops. Read that story here.

Blogging changes your life.

It's funny to think about how my life was before my blog. I practically can't do it. Being a blogger is quite a different life from others. Read all about how blogging changes your life.

Now... Ready for the blog designs?!

I've had 8 since the old post. So really, nothing has changed because I think that's how many I had in my previous blogging recap too.

This one was an okay design. I think I was trying to recreate one of my very old ones. I was really content with it for awhile, but then I think I thought it didn't look enough like a "website", and I switched to a template that I thought did look better.

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Which led to this one. I really like how this template, Marquee, displays content, but it didn't look good on the blog. The blog page made the images huge, and it was just hard to read.

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This is actually a design with the template I'm using now, but there are some changes I made. I think I was desperate with this one because none of the other designs had worked.

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I was experimenting with new templates, and I kind of liked this one, but it wasn't "it" either.

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Then I was looking into blog designs I really liked, and I wanted the layout one site I liked had, but needless to say, it looks better on their site haha. This design wouldn't have been that bad if it had a sidebar, but I don't think it was for my brand.

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I went back to the first design I showed, but I changed it up. I still really like this design, but it was pretty basic. It looks like just another blog, so I kept on trying different things.

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I also tried this design, and I definitely still like it, but I felt like it was more like somebody else's site and not my own.

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I've always liked the template I have now. I like the imagery and just the layout. It's different, but I've always felt like this one says my brand the best. We'll see if I actually stick with it haha. Thank you all for following along!

P.S. I've added a new page for FAQ's and blog post requests! Ask me/request something here!

5 Big Tips for Getting More Blog Readers

Let's face it: blog readers are something we all want. It's important, though, to humble yourself and wait for God's timing. However, I can understand wanting some tips to help you grow your blog and reach more people. Today, Brooke from Live the Prep Life is going to be sharing five {important} tips she's learned!

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Sometimes, it can be very hard to gain readers, especially when you're new to blogging, and you're just figuring everything out. Luckily, today I have some tips for you to help gain readers that will love your blog and keep coming back to it!

Be authentic

I know this is such an obvious tip, and everyone says it, but this is honestly one of the most important parts of blogging. People can tell when you're being fake and fluffy, and that is the perfect way to get them to never visit your blog again. Don't make things up, don't lie, and write about what is true to you. Not only will your writing be better if you're writing about things you truly love, but people who love the same things as you will be truly interested in what you have to say.


What I learned about getting real through a movie: What God Showed Me Through a Worldly Movie


Post good quality

Don't just spontaneously publish random things with blurry pictures and only a few sentences. Make sure you take a few hours to sit down and write a good post that people will want to read. Make it have a purpose. Make sure it is clear and understandable. Ask yourself: would I want to read this? Would I want to share this? If the answer is no, you need to revise and edit some more.

Be friendly

Nobody wants to read a blog if the author's not friendly. There are so many ways to engage with other people whether they be readers or fellow bloggers. You can share other bloggers' posts, collaborate with them, and participate in link ups to engage with bloggers. Don't forget to engage with your readers too, though! I always like to leave a question at the end of my posts to give a prompt for the reader to leave a comment. Whenever someone leaves a comment on my blog or Instagram, I always reply to them. While it may seem like a small thing to do, it's very crucial to the growth of your blog!

Share your posts

If you follow the first three steps, and you write a good post that has a purpose and meaning, you want other people to read it, right? Then you have to share it! I always pin all of the images on my post to Pinterest, and I will tweet the post a few times throughout the day. Often, I will post a picture on Instagram that goes along with the topic I'm blogging about. Then, a few weeks later, I might go and tweet that post again, so it can be seen again by new followers or people who might have overlooked that post before. Sharing through all of these ways allows other people to find your posts and possibly share them too.

Make your website clean and aesthetically pleasing

This is one of the biggest turn-offs for me personally. If your website is full of clutter, has a million and one things going on, and has literally every color of the rainbow as the background, I'm going to close that tab. But if your website is inviting and clean, I'll stick around and read a few posts. Make sure your design reflects your personality, too. If you're a very bright and bubbly person and the purpose of your blog is to spread inspiration and positivity, you don't want your website to look very dull and depressing. That sends mixed signals, which can be confusing and will make a potential reader want to leave.

What are your tips for gaining readers?

Brooke is a Dallas teen with a love for writing, photography, and fashion. When she's not blogging, she loves to play soccer, shop, and explore the places around her. You can find her over at Live The Prep Life!

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