Monday, April 14, 2014

Sequins & Twinkle-lights | Twenty-Three

I turned 23 last week, on Thursday.

I was expecting to feel old. I mean, fifteen-year-old Julia envisioned that I would be married, with two children, the perfect little house, and driving an aquamarine VW Bug by now.

You know what? I don't feel old. I feel YOUNG, vibrant, colorful, fresh, and blessed-blessed-blessed. (The last one needed repeating for emphasis.)
I'm unmarried, yup, but I have a savior who cherishes and loves me tenderly. I don't have children yet but there are sweet little kids all around me at work and church. I live in a gorgeous log home with two marvelous parents and two handsome brothers who are becoming charming gentlemen before my eyes.

The past month, I've been out and about so much for one reason or another that there hasn't been two days together that I've been at home all day! It's crazy! It's hard work! But it's fun. :D I love 'doing things' and I've certainly done my share lately.

So what did I "do" for my birthday? Ah - well, on the actual day, I enjoyed a delectable dinner with my family of the best. lasagna. ever. And I had my sweet friend Allison M. over and we watched Persuasion and drank chamomile-lavender tea and ate homemade strawberry cheesecake and she created a show-stopping hairstyle for me, which she then replicated two mornings later, when in the evening, we both attended ... an English Country Dance BALL.

Yes. I went to a ball. It was thrilling and lovely and splendid! *happy sigh*

And this... is what I wore...
I really did feel like a princess.

Hugs and love to my wonderful mom who finished my dress just how I wanted it!
 See? There they are. The azaleas, right on time for my birthday. God telling me "Julia, you are precious to me, and don't ever forget that." :D

And just a FEW pictures of the ball - I have way more, and videos besides, but that will have to wait until I can edit them all! :D
Delightful chitchat - this is just in one small spot of the lovely barn.

Twinkle lights and polished floor... (this is only a fraction of all the dancers that were there)

And now... *drumroll please*... 23 things I've learned in 23 years:

1. A smile fixes {nearly} everything.

2. Always check to see if someone left the parking brake on (really, we live on a hill...).

3. Mom and Dad give THE best encouragement and counsel. period. 

4. Strawberry anything, anytime, anywhere, for the win. And Chocolate. Yes.

5. There is always a silver lining. Look for it. (In other words, be grateful. There is always something to be thankful for!) 

6. Do not, under any circumstances, buy a piece of clothing without trying it on first, and hang on to the receipt for at least ten days in case of buyers' remorse. Also - shop thrift stores! One gal's leftovers are another's gold mine. 

7. Drink lots of water, eat lots of fresh fruit and veg, and go on long walks in the sunshine whenever possible.

8. Take zillions of pictures, write in a journal, and make a million memories. The best moments in life deserve to be remembered. 

9. Stay true to your standards, faith, and convictions, you won't regret it. Don't let the world tarnish your shine!

10. Music can turn a dreary job into a dance par-tay.

11.There are a terrible lot of shop assistants with flirtatious manners out there, but do not let it ruffle your feathers. You're holding out for a real gem. (Perhaps Mr. Collins has a cousin.) ;)

12. Brothers make great friends and shed valuable insight on occasion. Also, they are hilarious. Respect and honor them, and never let the sun go down on a disagreement. 

13. Do not be superstitious (see what I did there? #13) or fearful. God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. He's already got your story written out so beautifully, even if you can't imagine what the next plot twist will be.

14. Find your best color (mine is peach!) and wear it whenever possible.

15. Embrace the gifts and talents you have, and work to overcome your weaknesses. There is always room for improvement, but there is only one amazing, unique, and wonderful you. 

16. Always be prepared. Bring a sweater, pack a lunch, wear sunscreen, read up on the subject, practice beforehand, do your research. It pays off big-time. 

17. There are inevitably going to be people who are jealous, bitter, angry, rude, unkind, unfaithful, and annoying. Ignore them, and forgive their foibles. Worrying about what someone else thinks of you is not worth your time.

18. Work HARD. Play HARDER! :D Be amazing and awe-inspiring, if you can. But always be kind, gracious, and humble. You are a mirror that reflects the image of Jesus Christ.

19. Never, never, never give up, keep calm and carry on. :D

20. Do something enjoyable, something you love, something inspiring, something refreshing, every single day. Have fun! But don't forget to take some time to be still, rest, and soak it all in. 

21. Spend as much time as you can with family and friends. They are priceless. So answer their emails, letters, texts and phone calls, and listen when they talk. :)

22. Try not to spend your entire life scrolling through Pinterest. ;) 

23. God will always come through, and he is literally the only thing you'll ever need.

I should totally make that into a tag. :D If anyone wants to write their own list of things they've learned in their own number of years, I'd love to read it. 

Love to all my blog readers!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

"And Oh, You Electrify My Soul..."


I've begun to not take blog post titles that seriously. :D They don't have to perfectly describe the post like a newspaper headline! :) (FYI: The title is a line from a Natalie Grant song that I got on iTunes recently. The last half of the line is ... "and you're bringing the dead to life!" Love that victorious note in there!

 So yeah! Look at me, coming through on a promise! I did go out and snap some shots of the beautiful spring blooms... it just happened on an unexpected day off instead of Sunday. It was raining so hard on Monday that they canceled all of the events at the Rock Ranch.

On the one hand, I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to go to work, I love that place, but on the other hand... yay for not having to work with muddy ponies!! :D Feels like I dodged a bullet with that one! ;)

 You know... my post title does go with this post. Looking at these pictures electrifies my soul with some sparks of awe at the grandeur and majesty our Creator displays even in the tiny veins of a dogwood blossom petal. My God, how amazing you are!
 I will admit, there is a hint of a photo filter in these pictures, I about gasped when I clicked the button whilst editing them and saw the result. WOWZA.
 My faithful readers are welcome to pin these to Pinterest, but please don't take them for anything else. (You'll notice I actually watermarked them this time!) :)
Noticed this little fellow and got right in his face for a close-up, marveling at how he matched the flower center exactly!
 I hope my grandma Pat is seeing this blog post - wish I could show her our sweet GA spring season in person, she has always had a great appreciation for flowers!

Oh... and we also have azaleas.

I know!! Aaaagh, I love them so much. I will take more pictures as soon as they hit peak bloom, there are only a few at present.

My faves are these "Peppermint Azaleas". They look as if they have a bright brushstroke on each crisp white petal!

Take care, lovelies! I shall write again soon...

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sunshine Sprinkles

Hey guys!

Whew, what a week!! So much sunshine, fresh air, getting out and working that my body is still trying to catch up with the pace. My brain is top-notch, I LOVE going places and talking to people and smiling at little kids and just doing things. But when you do them non-stop every day, it takes it outta ya. :D The spirit is willing, but the flesh isn't as buff as it thought! LOL. :P

Seriously though. The Rock Ranch? A ton of fun, people.

The Pony Rides are probably the most physically demanding job I've done at the ranch. The endless walking in circles isn't bad, but the lifting of kids onto horses' backs is tough because I'm not used to it. I'm built very strong (A good Dutch girl, Jah!) but those particular muscles don't get used that much. Today I encouraged most of the riders to use the stirrups and give me "a good jump" to help hoist themselves up, which seemed to be a much better way of going about things! :)

The horses have been a bit grumpy as they're getting back into the swing of things - I would be too if I'd come off a nice winter of doing nothing at all and then I had to start a routine of carrying squirmy, noisy kids around for 4 hours. But we're getting the kinks worked out pretty well! :) 

Yesterday I got to work with my brother, which was nice. We're usually working in separate places on the ranch, as he usually works food and I work events. And it's awesome having someone close at hand that you know you can totally rely on. :) Today I worked with a new friend and she and I just chilled and chatted when there weren't any kids wanting rides. All the people who work at the Rock Ranch are really nice, it's amazing. They always get tons of feedback about their "WONDERFUL" staff. :)  

I got VERY sunburned this week when I was watching the giant jumping pillow, so the next day I got some heavy-duty sunscreen (and used it!!) and wore my enormous rice-paddy-worker hat. It did the trick, I didn't re-burn! I was able to stay in the shade for the most part too, which helped immensely. 

The shade I stayed in happened to be the steps of "Miss Nancy's Boarding House" - one of the fine establishments of Tiny Town. It's an actual little village, constructed in miniature, just the perfect size for your average 6-year-old, and full of tiny furniture and props. The fire engine has tiny firemen's uniforms, the church has tiny pews and a tiny Bible on the pulpit, the dress shop has tiny accessories and gowns, the diner has tiny play food and dishes, and the theater has a tiny stage. And the tiny jail seemed quite popular, as the place was apparently rampant with tiny thieves that needed "locking up" by their gleeful friends. 
SO. much. fun. 

Yes. I did explore each and every single building while I was turning on the tiny air conditioning units in each one that morning. Can you blame me?? I just wished I was still that small so I could enter each tiny place without ducking down under the 4-foot door-frames. :D 

Tomorrow I've got more work to do and then Sunday (after I play bass, that is) I get to crash and rest. Hopefully I'll pop outdoors for a few moments to capture some photos of the SPRING that is happening at my house while I'm away... delicate pink dogwood blossoms, cheerful violets, baby mint-green leaves everywhere, and even the very first Azaleas... which, like clockwork, always arrive in time for my birthday.

'Til then, TTFN, ta-ta-for-now!