Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Whole New Life


You guys, it has been SIX WEEKS as of yesterday since our move! We are loving our new little house on London Lane! :D It's hard to remember what it felt like back in October, when it seemed as if we'd never get here...

Our closing process was a little hair-raising because some of the paperwork took a long time to work out, especially with the closing agency our buyers were using, but at last everything was finalized and we were good to go!

One minor mix-up we had turned into a major amount of work – originally we thought we had until Friday on the week we moved to get everything out of the house. Well, on Monday at noon, we just happened to be talking to our buyer and she mentioned they were planning to sleep at the house on Wednesday night, even though they wouldn’t move in until months later after selling their other home up North.

You can imagine our shock and the craziness that ensued! My dad drove home with a massive moving truck and we started loading it with our belongings. It is astonishing how much stuff a family of five can accumulate in ten years after moving into a larger home. We were downsizing again, so we had a yard sale before we moved – and we ended up having a second one after we moved in to our new house because we discovered certain things just didn’t fit!

But anyway, back to our 2-day move – thank goodness we had a friend stop by to help my dad and brothers load the piano onto the moving truck, but he was only able to be there for one hour. The whole rest of the time – All day until 1 AM that first night, and then from 5:30 in the morning until about 1:30 AM the next day, we worked hard. Just our family. And I am so proud of us for doing it! First we packed up the rest of our unpacked things into boxes we’d gotten for free from Ingles and the local Deli, AS we threw things onto the truck. Even by carefully stacking everything neatly, it still took us two trips with the moving truck to get it all moved, and two dark stormy nights unloading everything on the other end. But the job wasn’t complete with just that!

Our family is so “Dutch”, we felt we really had to clean the house behind us. After moving out furniture that had sat in place for ten years, there was dirt and dust beneath! So as we moved things out of rooms, we scrubbed the bathrooms and kitchen and swept, dusted and vacuumed the bedrooms, loft, and living room. I have never worked so hard for so many consecutive hours in my entire life!!

After we landed at the new little house on London Lane, we all breathed a big sigh of relief. But there were boxes EVERYWHERE, hampering even the most basic cooking. So we ended up enjoying several meals of pizza from the SAM’s club that is just down the road. The first room we unpacked was our kitchen, and it felt so good when every last scrap of cardboard had left the space. The new gas stove proved to be awesome to use, and I hope to never go back to electric burners again! ;)



Now this is the coolest part of the story. We’d been invited to a party for the neighborhood at the home of our neighbors who lived three houses down, so a few days after we moved in, we went. We didn’t end up meeting too many of the folks from the neighborhood, but our hosts, Randy and Connie, were so warm and welcoming and they invited us to their church on Sunday morning. We hadn’t been sure of where we would find our new church home, so we decided to go and see what it was like.

We. Were. Blown. Away.


The church was so beautiful, fresh and alive, and the people there have such open hearts and made us feel as if we belonged from the first moment we stepped inside. The worship service filled me with awe and the sermon on discipleship was great!  I think all of us knew at once that we’d found our church home. After the service the worship leader and one of the singers, roommates Bonnie and Cortney, came up to us and told us how glad they were that we’d come. The girls and I ended up going out for lunch on a Monday afternoon and had a wonderful conversation getting to know each other and we hung out and shopped until 4:00! 

The next few weeks overflowed with blessings. 
  • Daddy only needs 3 mins to get to work now instead of an hour's commute.
  • Sometimes he comes home for lunch and coffee breaks!!
  • Mama no longer has to climb a flight of stairs every night to get to her room. Our new house is all on one floor and much easier to get around for her!! 
  • Mark got a job spraying weeds for a company called WeedMan, and gets plenty of fresh air and sunshine and walking, so good for him!
  • I got a job working at BATH & BODY WORKS - which has been WONDERFUL! On Black Friday, I even won a little staff competition to see who could sell the most V.I.P. Totes! :D

  • Steven got a job working at a LEGO retail store that just opened... Can you say dream job?!?! :D
  • Yes, this means all 3 of us young adults have jobs now. *happy dance*
  • Mama and Daddy and I joined small groups at church and go to Bible Studies every Wednesday evening (mine has been so enriching! Love the young women and my sweet group leader!) 
  • The guys and I have been going to "Insight", a gathering for young people (Almost like a church service) at Crossroads, every Thursday evening. Over a hundred other young adults come, and we are so enjoying making new friends and meeting like-minded Christians near our ages!

  • We celebrated our first Thanksgiving in our new house - such a special time with so much to be grateful and thankful for!!!

  • It looks like I will soon be serving on the worship team at church, singing, which is a huge passion of mine. I'm very excited about that. 


All in all, God is doing such a wonderful work in our lives and I couldn't be happier about it. I've got some awesome DIY projects to share with you, so be sure to check out LifeonLondonLane.wordpress.com to stay up-to-date!

Love & Hugs,

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Exhilarating, Exciting, Extraordinary NEWS!!

Well, with a title like THAT, you MUST read this post, right? :D
I am thrilled and delighted to announce that we sold our house.

WE. SOLD. OUR. HOUSE!

(imagine me dancing in circles right now)



























We really have been wanting to move for about.... six years now? We've lived in this home for 10 years, and loved it so much, but there are several reasons why we desperately need a change. More on that later.

So where are we moving?

A beautiful little spot between two larger spots about 20 minutes south of Atlanta. :D 'suburbs' of Atlanta are cities in their own right, with actual awesome stores (not just super-Walmart) :D But more on that later...

My plan, honestly, was to do a bunch of sweet and cinnamon-esque fall posts on Julia's Journal during September. That got blown out of the water with all the craziness of a HUGE pre-moving yard sale we did and then the mind-whirling week of sale offers, counter-offers, contract terminology, and finally, sheer and utter bliss. :)

But I have another announcement!

I'm starting a brand-new blog, because:

  1. Our new address is so charming, I'm still floating four feet above the ground. Ladies (and gentlemen?), we will be living on... London Lane. *be still my pounding heart*
  2. Our new house needs some updates. It's a lovely home in great shape but it's been lived in for years by an older couple and it needs a fresh look. That's where I come in. :) I'll be chronicling all my DIY redecorating projects, one-by-one. 
  3. I'm really ready for a new chapter in my blogging journey!
Julia's Journal isn't going anywhere, and I'll probably post more personal stories and non house-related things on this blog (including more Singleness Series posts) but my new blog is going to be such fun. In fact, I'm still building it (so pardon the blank corners) but... here it is. 

INTRODUCING:

The address is LifeonLondonLane.Wordpress.com!















I actually have a first post written up for you to read, plus a cute About page --- I can't decide whether it is silly or clever. Probably a combination of the two. But anyway, I just had to let YOU know about it!

Prayers for simple, smooth closings on both our old and new homes would be MOST appreciated!
Love & Blessings,

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Why You Must Read The Mitford series by Jan Karon


I know this isn't the newest edition but it's what MY copy looks like... :)

The Mitford series is, hands-down, one of the best series of stories I've ever read throughout my entire life. I can't fully describe how much I love them! The books have been part of my life for so long that I can hardly remember what it was like not to have read them.

In fact, I've thought about reviewing them before and then shied away, afraid of not doing them justice! (silly, right?) :) This will be a short review, for more information, try looking the books up on Amazon.com. :)

The small town of Mitford and its (HUGE) cast of lovable, realistic characters completely immerses you and you fall in love with every single bit of it as you step from book to book like stones across a stream. The setting is pastoral and peaceful, but delightful humor pops out at you from around every corner and there's plenty of drama among the townsfolk. The books definitely fit in the 'cosy fiction' genre but they always kept me turning pages.

I hunted around on Pinterest until I found faces for some of my favorite characters... (because that's a thing I do) ;)

Father Tim - a beautiful old-soul, wise and gentle, with a wry sense of humor and a love for wordsworth poetry. I wish I could meet him in person!
This is actually an early picture of Jan Karon, the author, herself, but this is always how I have pictured Cynthia Coppersmith, a whimsical and vivacious next-door-neighbor to Father Tim.










Dooley Barlowe is a boy with a difficult past (also he's got red hair, just use your imagination) and from the first page he enters he instantly tugs at your heartstrings. :)
Lace Turner has also had a hard life, poor thing, but a more determined, intelligent girl you'll never meet - think Anne Shirley with much rougher edges.










Have you read the Mitford series? (I cannot WAIT for the next one coming out in September!!) If not, you should. Right away. Really. :)

Don't forget to check out Victoria's Companion Post with her perspective! :)

Blessings,

Thursday, August 13, 2015

DIY Vintage-Style Flower Pendant


Hi Lovely Readers!

I've got a tutorial for you today! I couldn't get pictures of ALL the steps because our camera tripod is out of action (cracked) but I'll make sure to describe it clearly for you, because I know you're gonna want to make one of these necklaces. :)

Also, be sure to hop over to Victoria's blog, Ruffles & Grace, to check out her DIY Notebook Recovering tutorial! I'll definitely be using that one on some of my old, boring notebooks to give them new faces!

All right. Here are the steps to make a vintage-style pendant necklace.

First, get your materials ready. You'll need:


  • A chain and a clasp (you can find these pre-assembled in craft stores, or you can attach the clasp to the chain on your own with pliers and a jumpring.)
  • E-6000 glue (better than supergule! Sold at Walmart and most craft stores)
  • A metal pendant disc (Or any thin flat piece of something that has a hole at the top that you can use to hang it on the chain with a jumpring)
  • Stuff to glue onto your pendant - I used plastic molded flower cabochons (Find those on Etsy or Ebay) and glass rhinestones (Hobby Lobby, Etsy) And leftover beads and buttons I had lying around. :)

Let's get started!
Make sure your pendant is hanging from the chain...



OR you can glue your goodies on it first, let it dry, and THEN attach it. Whatever floats your boat. :)


Decide what you'll be gluing on it, arrange the design however you like...

Make sure the placement looks nice on the actual piece...

 Get out your glue... (Note: when using E6000, be sure not to breathe in the fumes from the glue. Noxious stuff! I usually do gluing projects on the porch or out in a well-ventilated area)

 There are two ways you can glue things and they both have their uses. Either put a dot of glue on the metal and then drop your item on top of it and press it in, or put a dot of glue on the back of your flower...
...and then press it to the pendant's surface. Use whatever method you feel most comfortable with!

There you have it! Let it dry - E6000 glue dries quickly and will be permanently fastened in about 15 minutes, although I usually let it sit for half an hour or so.


Now isn't that beautiful? :)

While you're at it, feel free to go crazy like I did and make beautiful, vintagey, scrappy-style pendants with anything you choose. This is an AWESOME way to use up leftover little bits in your bead boxes if you happen to make jewelry. :)
Which one is your favorite? Mine is the upper right with the mauve rose... keeping that one! :)

I hope you enjoyed that tutorial! Thank you so much for all the comments on my post asking what kinds of things you'd like to read on Julia's Journal! :) I can't wait to get started on all those ideas. :D

Love & Blessings,

Monday, August 10, 2015

Stop. Pause. Rewind.

Do you ever feel like you wish you could just PAUSE life and rewind it a little bit? Not just when you do something silly or embarrassing and you wish you could fix it, but when things are beautiful and time is going too fast - and you want to let it just be a little longer?

Maybe I'm the only one. ;)

For instance, I'm thrilled that my childhood best friend is visiting me this week on her way home from a vacation in North Carolina. Then I tried to figure out the last time I actually saw her in person, and my mind went all wibbly-wobbly. It's been at least NINE YEARS. *jaw drops* Wow. It doesn't feel like that long - but at the same time it's been ages. Time is weird.

Anyway, aside from hosting one night this week, I also want to get some more written on Smoky Mountain Serenade. And then plan a tea party. I don't know, something wild and crazy like that. *giggle* While Summer's still here, anyway...

Although the idea of autumn is sounding rather nice. The heat does get a little old after awhile. And I have some beautiful sweaters, boots, and scarves waiting longingly in my closet. Can you believe they're already putting holiday stuff in the stores?! It's barely August, people, not October... :) Maybe it's strange because I'm located in the south. Perhaps seasons change more swiftly up north. Do you think that's the reason, or are shops just hungry for the commerce the holiday season brings?

Okay, blog-readers, I want your input here. What kind of posts are you interested in seeing the rest of this month? Aside from the companion series I'm doing with Victoria, (Book review, DIY, and Fashion coming up)
would you rather read...


  • A post filled with pictures of vintage teacups I recently found at an estate sale
  • A post about the characters in my upcoming novel
  • A post about my experience of being on the Trim Healthy Mama Plan since January, OR
  • A post topic that you shall suggest in the comments section


Please tell me, if you're reading this. I see all sorts of interesting visitors on my live traffic feed from places all over the world, so I know SOMEBODY's out there! ;) Don't be shy, say hi! :D I don't bite. much. ;)

Love & Blessings,

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

5 Very Useful Writing Tips
























{This is a companion post to Victoria's post on Outlining!}

So, before I begin today's post, I have to thank you. YOU, my readers, for sticking with me through all the years of Julia's Journal, since I began blogging in June of 2008. I missed celebrating my blog-iversary this year, but yesterday I had to go through and remove a bunch of images on past posts I'd used from Google due to possible copyright issues (learn from my mistake, dear ones, and just use your own pictures and photographs, or ones that are in the public domain!)...

In the process, I skimmed through years of my writing. Blogging blossomed my writing into something that felt as natural as breathing, and I loved seeing the overall bird's-eye-view of how friendships formed through this platform.

Facebook has stolen some of the shine (and definitely heaping amounts of my free time) and left behind the glory days of blogging, when we participated in ENDLESS "tags" and swapped blog awards and we actually commented back and forth with amazing frequency. But I'm not going anywhere, and maybe, if I am very consistent, I can grow my blog back to the way it once was.

This month, my darling friend Victoria and I are doing a series of matching blog posts, and this week the topic is WRITING.

So here are Five Very Useful Writing Tips, if you go in for that sort of thing. :D


1. SHOW, DON'T TELL
"Don't tell me the moon is shining. Show me the glint of light on broken glass." 
-Anton Chekov
This is so crucial! Your story will be bland and lifeless if you lay everything out for the reader like a game of hopscotch. Steps 1 through 12, there you have it. Yawn! Give us the details of the surroundings, the sights, smells, tastes, feelings, aura, atmosphere. Plunge us INTO that story until it's more vivid than a movie could ever hope to be. 


For a great explanation of this, check out this really awesome post by K. M. Weiland.



2. WRITE IT DOWN!
This one is sort of two-part. Part one: if you happen to have a wondrous idea that strikes you breathless, do yourself a favor and write it down RIGHT AWAY. Do not be embarrassed if you need to dash out of the room and find some paper and a pen. If you're in the shower, keep repeating it to yourself until you can dry off and grab a pencil in your still-damp fingers. :D You may think you'll remember it until later, but 90% of the time... NOPE-A-RAMA. Brains are silly things. So take copious notes, dear. Fill up notebooks with your ideas.

Part two: You must write to get writing done. Profound, I know. Ha. (Preaching sternly to myself on this one) If you never sit your fanny IN that chair (sidenote: make your writing space organized and welcoming, it will energize your writing life) and actually WRITE, nothing happens. One page at a time adds up. Do it.

3. YOUR CHARACTERS MUST. BE. AWESOME.

I don't know how many books I've started that had stale, insipid, ordinary, boring characters in them. They lacked life, they had no detail, they had no flaws or quirks and were about as personable as a mannequin in a shop window. Yuck.
Love your story and your characters enough to really dream up every detail about them. Write down their backstory - but don't use it in the book. Let it bleed through into your tale and give it untold richness. Ask yourself how you can make this character DIFFERENT from all the other people in the world. What do they love/hate/enjoy/long for? Steal quirks from people you know! (but not all at once. Pick and choose like you're shopping for produce in the grocery store.) :D

Also read this inspiring post. So much goodness there.

4. DO YOUR RESEARCH AND MAKE YOUR SETTING SPARKLE
You've heard the expression "write what you know", right? If you haven't, you just did... :D I believe this saying was invented before Google and Wikipedia, but it holds true. If you have been somewhere and soaked up the essence of a place, you'll be able to write it in a way that your readers can fully grasp the feeling of it. But the next best thing is dedicated research. 

For a TON of information on that, read this. :) Oh and also this. Basically, you need to read Kristen's blog, She's Novel, because it's stellar. End of story. (Haha - but there are always more stories!) 

5. OUTLINE. 
[insert fifty million exclamation points] I cannot stress how important this is. Victoria's post today is all about her experience with Outlining and how it's changed her writing for the better. I know it's certainly rocked my world and made my books so much better. DIAMOND was way easier to write (especially in the dreaded middle) than ASHBURN and my other previous novels - which shall remain hidden until I can blow off the dust and bring them back to life - and it is making Smoky Mountain Serenade a breeze. Every time I sit down to write on it, I know exactly where I am in the plot. It practically writes itself! :)

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND: Outlining Your Novel, by K. M. Weiland. SO worth the price.

But for a wonderful, comprehensive, slightly-less-about-why you should be outlining-take on the subject, a condensed version... read Kristen's blog post here, for free. :D

That's all for today! Chime in below in the comments section! :)

Monday, August 3, 2015

August Goals | Before Summer Ends

























Hey lovelies!

Okay I was just reading a blog post somewhere that said "Summer's nearly over" and I was like - WHAT? Already? Does it feel like 2015 is galloping past to anybody else, or is it just me?! :)

All right, here in the middle of the Deep South, I think we're safe for at least another two months. August and September will probably still be quite warm. Autumn doesn't properly begin until October. So I can breathe a sigh of relief. :) I love Autumn, but Winter is another story. I need a sweater that says "My favorite part of Winter is when it's over". :D Side effect of growing up as a beach babe! :)

But anyway, I don't plan to let August slip away from me without getting some wonderful stuff done. Time is precious!

Here are my main goals for this month:

  • Pray first thing in the morning and last thing at night. 
  • Achieve a powerfully effective daily routine (streamline it!)
  • Write the first draft of Smoky Mountain Serenade (about 40,000 words to go at this point)
  • Blog post every Monday & Wednesday, and do a 4-part series with my friend Victoria on Writing, Books, DIY, and Fashion!
  • Try new trim healthy recipes and keep doing Ballet Beautiful Exercise routines
  • Plan both family activities and friend get-togethers (including a tea party)
  • Launch my secret project (Shhh! Coming soon!) 
  • Soak up as much sun as possible (While Summer's still here!)
  • TIME my facebook usage - only 15 minutes MAX at one sitting!
  • Finish various Graphic Design projects for church and our home businesses

Whew! I think if I can manage all of that, I'll be doing well. :) I'm glad I shared that now, so you all can help keep me accountable. :)

Stay tuned for a post coming soon all about writing - what's worked for me and why I do it. I'm excited to be talking about that!

What are you hoping to do before Summer ends?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Beautiful People

Well, I had hoped to have some exciting news to share with you all, but that will have to wait for a bit longer. Looks like I need to order some prototypes first! And that's all the tantalizing hints for today.

In the meantime - I've been thinking a lot this week. About many things. A side effect, perhaps, of having your mind stimulated by lovely friends coming over for dinner and conversation, and dynamic messages at church.



I have a question for you today. (No, make that two.)

Am I beautiful?
Are you beautiful?

Did you know that no matter your bone structure or skin tone or weight or color of your eyes or age, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL?! Because GOD SAYS SO AND HE'S NEVER WRONG.

Pardon me while I interject a bubbly pop song sung by five British boys.

*raises hand* I have a confession. I have listened to this song and bobbed my head until my hair flips in the air - and danced with abandon. :) This is an amazing song to listen to when you're feeling blue about yourself and the enemy has been whispering in your ear.

Picture this - God is the one saying these words right now:

If only you saw what I could see
You'd understand why I want you so desperately
Right now I'm looking at you and I can't believe
You don't know...
You don't know you're beautiful.

Did you know that when you say something along the lines of "I HATE the way I look!" - you are criticizing God's handiwork? You are fearfully (amazingly) and wonderfully made! Psalm 139:14!

What if you're angry at God because of your acne? "Why me, Lord? Why can't I have perfect skin like Mary Jane and Alicia and Penelope?!" The Lord looks at you and he doesn't see acne. He sees perfection that he paid the price for at Calvary. You are his priceless, one-of-a-kind designer creation that he was in love with before you were even in being. He sees the YOU that was meant to be, without spot or blemish or stain, pure and holy and beautiful. So beautiful.

Rabbit trail ahead:

My brothers and I were talking about prissiness and tomboyishness on a recent evening and Mark declared that I hadn't ever fallen into either extreme. "I mean, growing up, you weren't a tomboy, but you wouldn't scream at a lizard either" (hahaha #butactuallyi'mflattered)

My heart goes out to the young women who don't feel like they fit the stereotypical "WOMAN" mold. Perhaps they have broad shoulders or are six foot three or could never get their hair to behave. They don't know they're beautiful - a glorious creation of God.

My heart goes out to the young men who don't feel "MANLY" enough. The ones who never win the football games, who feel small or weak or unworthy. Don't they realize how much God loves them? If only they saw what HE could see.

I think this is one of the huge reasons for gender confusion in America these days.

So tell me - do you know you're beautiful? Seriously - how do you feel about yourself? I'm all ears.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Wonderful Things




July has been a fun month! Aside from the heat. And the stress of designing and building a bombdiggity website from scratch. I'm really loving my jamberry nail wraps (^those up there are the ones I'm currently sporting) and I've even done a few things with my hair - gave it a trim, lightened it a tad with Sun-In, and curled or braided it a couple times. And I'm really loving the Ballet Beautiful workout DVDs. Huzzah for lean, toned muscles!

BUT OK THE MOST EXCITING THING.....

WarfareByDuctTape.com is DONE!

 This website was a HUUUUGE endeavor, and Mama and I worked tirelessly on it for about a month. I did the graphics and page assembly and she did the nuts and bolts of how the shop worked and everything else that made it come alive.

We make a good team if I do say so myself. ;)


Hop on over there and tell me what your favorite page is... each one has a cool header. I think perhaps the Armor of God, the Beginner Book, My Novels, and the FAQ page are my favorites.

My dear friend Victoria and I have been discussing doing a series of "Complimentary" blog posts - each week in August we're planning to each do a post that mirrors the other, and our four categories are Book Reviews, Writing Tips, Fashion, and a DIY craft, so stay tuned for that! :)  

Monday, July 20, 2015

Flawless? | The Singleness Adventure

Hey Readers!

I didn't post as regularly through July as I would have liked - between the heat and the busy-ness of my life, blogging got shelved. But I have another post following on the heels of this one with more newsy updates.

First though, some thoughts on our many imperfections.



























Sometimes I feel SO MESSED UP. I continually fail in my mission to be sweet and kind and meek and gentle-spirited to everyone in my circle of influence, especially those closest to me.

Sometimes I feel like a nasty, awful, horrible person.

Sometimes the bright sunlight catches on my shattered self and my flaws are glaringly apparent.

But. There is One who says to Him, I am Flawless. The filter which He views me through is grace. He has made me whole, completely without flaws - PERFECT.

He's my God.

And only He could do this. Because He truly is perfect. And He paid the ultimate price for me.



We saw this video in church on Sunday and it was heart-moving. I nearly teared up when the labels changed to read "FLAWLESS" over every single individual.
Now how does this relate to singleness?

Good question. Let's see... well, marriage is a partnership between two people who ARE going to mess up at some point. There will need to be generous heaping helpings of forgiveness served. And you know what? Before you can live with, love, and forgive a man...

You're gonna have to live with, love, and forgive yourself. And the ONLY way you can do that is to ask forgiveness from God first, and then you can be released to forgive yourself. And it feels so freeing!

I'm talking about the stuff that's just between you and God that nobody else knows about. NOBODY. But he knows. Everything. There's no hiding it from the one who knows your innermost thoughts. Why not give it a try and ask him to forgive you from that yuck? Then you don't have to carry around that self-hatred anymore.

Your singleness journey will be so much sweeter if you stop beating yourself up and start loving yourself, learning and growing into a deeper, richer relationship with God.

And can I say I needed to hear all that just as much as you needed to read it? Wow. :)

Have you experienced the healing power of God's forgiveness?

Love & Blessings,

Monday, July 6, 2015

Locked-up Hearts | Letting Go

























I think God's trying to draw my attention to forgiveness this week.

We visited a charming little church on Sunday and the pastor preached an amazing down-to-earth sermon on forgiveness. He said some things that shot straight to my heart like arrows.

God's view of forgiveness is radically different from our own. 

Past pain is a tool the enemy uses against you - 
because he wants you to cling to that heartache. It'll keep you from the glorious future that God has for you. 

The enemy wants you to believe that there's no way - 
that you're unable to forgive. (But that's not so. You are.)

Even Christ-followers will hurt each other. 

Sometimes God will allow and even orchestrate offenses, to separate relationships he never intended to happen in the first place. If God's not in it, it ain't gonna happen. 

Forgiveness does not = Reconciliation. You can forgive someone without having to allow them back into your life to constantly abuse or mistreat you. 
You can simply forgive them, and move on


Don't get me wrong, reconciliation is a beautiful thing. But it's true - sometimes God moves us away from situations (or people) that he doesn't want happening (or being) in our lives. And sometimes that hurts. Really bad.

If you're going to have any kind of relationship, ever, you have to open yourself up to the possibility of hurt. To be vulnerable. But we will always have the love of God supporting us, there for us, when people fail us. And they will, inevitably. But that's okay.

We can't lock up our hearts, safe from any cracks or bruises.

We can't hold on to heartache and miss out on the glorious intimacy of a relationship with God... and beautiful relationships that reflect a picture of the love God holds for his church.

The important thing is to forgive, and to discern when to let someone go if that's what God shows you is right.

After I got home from church, made lunch, and was washing up the dishes in the warm sudsy water, listening to a christian radio station - the radio announcer randomly starts talking about forgiveness, and then plays a song all about forgiveness. Haha. Okay, Lord. Message received! :)

I'm curious. Have you had to forgive someone for something serious?

And am I the only one God talks to using the radio? ;)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Of Warfare, Web design, Wraps, and Wistful Words

Good Morning!

Hey look, it's Thursday already! Wow!

I've been crazy busy with the release of my new novel and getting my schedule all organized AND this week I'm spending every minute at our desktop computer, designing and building the all-new Warfare by Duct Tape website. (I've mentioned WBDT before, right? :D)

My brothers have an amazing business selling instructional books and ebooks showing you how to create historically-based duct tape weapons and armor such as swords, shields, helmets, spears, and all sorts of cool stuff! :)

Trust me, soon as the new site is done I'll be splashing links to it everywhere. :D



Once I accomplish that goal, I have a new project in the works....

A story that's wistful and dreamy. 
A tale of woods and mountains, 
fireflies and campfires, 
streams and cascading waterfalls, 
the wind blowing through the pines and the chestnut trees, 
of love songs and traveling and the open road, 
of family and hearth and home, 
of longing and hopes, 
of friendship and adventure. 

This, my friends, is Smoky Mountain Serenade. And I literally cannot wait to get started on writing it over the summer.

But for now, I'm having a party to celebrate DIAMOND! On Facebook! If you like clean, funny, thrilling spy stories with a hint of romance - this book is for you. And if you happen to have great fashion sense and are interested in nail gorgeousness without the harmful toxins, you'll love Jamberry nail wraps. Check out the group on Facebook here and I believe you should be able to request an invite. The party will run until July 8th, so come on and join us! :)

Time to run! So much to do today... determined to keep my peace throughout it though! :D

Thursday, June 25, 2015

DIAMOND is Published!


Get it HERE: http://amzn.to/1e57RaG  
Hey readers!
I am beyond excited to tell you that my second novel, DIAMOND, is ready for purchasing in the Amazon store, in both paperback and kindle versions!  http://amzn.to/1e57RaG

Here's the back cover description again:

 Penny’s last love story ended tragically, so she hides among her paints and brushes while keeping a bubbly fa├žade firmly in place. Could a dashing realtor with a sidesplitting sense of humor be the first step of her fresh start?

Blake has always lived in the shadow of his older brother, using jokes to mask his insecurities and uncertainty. Searching for purpose and direction, he runs into a red-headed stop sign, and wonders if she might be the key to open his locked doors.

When calamity hits Cara, Penny’s best friend, and Bryce, Blake’s brother, they’ll have to lean on each other and race to the rescue, and a bitter billionaire planning a major terrorist attack on America might turn out to be the smallest of their problems. 

Let me know via the comments section if you're interested in getting a signed copy directly from me!




Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Five Problems with Social Media - Post Prompt

Hey Guys!

Life's been good the past week, though I didn't manage to blog regularly. I promise I'm not going to leave you hanging again without advance notice - it's been so humbling to hear from those of you who have been following me for years and were sad when I stopped blogging for a really long time. :)

I found a little thing on Pinterest - a writing challenge with prompts for 30 days of topics. It looks interesting, so I think I'll give it a go along with my Singleness posts as they arise. :D

Day 1: Five Problems with Social Media.

*steps up on soapbox*


























#1 - Artificial Relationships
Social media can become a replacement for real-life encounters and experiences. Sometimes the friendships you have online are false, built on vanity and not really made of stronger stuff. Flimsy, even.
(However, I don't feel that way about my blog followers or facebook friends! :) But I only have about 150 facebook friends, some people have thousands! Can you imagine trying to keep track of all of that?!)

#2 - TIME-SUCKERS
Scrolling through Pinterest feed. Need I say more? I could waste hours on there having so much fun... and I have. And Pinterest certainly has its purpose, but it and Facebook are huge black holes where my time disappears. I don't want that to happen anymore - I think I'm going to set a healthier goal of more like 15-20 minutes a day on those sites and see how much more I get accomplished in real life!

#3 - Competition Arises
My baby is cuter than yours! Here, see? These 1,000,000 pictures will convince you. My vacation was better than yours. I take the best selfies. I have better friends than you, look how awesome my life is!!!!!! - Not everyone on social media is like this, but the trap is there to fall into! We present the best side of ourselves, and sometimes feel pressured to compete with friends.

The solution? I dunno. Only post 1,000 baby pictures? Especially if the baby really IS cute. :D Maybe encourage more honesty and sharing? Reach out instead of put on a show like everything's perfect?

#4 - Breeding Grounds for Arguments
Something bad about social media is that people feel more free to argue and 'debate' and rant and criticize MUCH more boldly, rudely, and outspoken-ly than they would if there was a real person standing right in front of them. We have to remember that these are real people, not just names and duck faces. ;) I haven't noticed this among my friends, but out there in article-land people tend to get vicious and vile really fast.

#5 - Misunderstandings. "Say WHAT?" 
Tone is so hard to convey with just black words on a white screen. It's far too easy for people to get mixed up or offended. Most of human communication (I think I read somewhere that it's about 90%!) is non-verbal. That means we're only talking with roughly 10% of our abilities on social media, and it's often things get taken the wrong way.

So there you have it! However, I am an optimist, and therefore I believe the benefits of social media outweigh the bad. How else could I keep in touch with friends in other states or countries? Where would I find all those amazing DIY projects, inspiring quotes, and wonderful info for my novels?

Speaking of novels, I have one coming out soon. And there's going to be a facebook party to celebrate! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Becoming a Woman of Worth | The Singleness Adventure

Huge thanks to a certain reader named Ashley Rose who left me a super-sized comment on the introduction to this series, because she totally sparked the idea for this post in my little head! :)

Have you stopped to think, in between adding more things to your "Future Husband's Must-Have Qualities" list... that perhaps there is work to do on YOU? That it isn't all on the guy's shoulders to make himself ready for your marriage, preparing and improving himself?

*Nods* I'm sure you have. I have too. But all the grand intentions of the world come to naught if they're not followed up by actions.

For example, let's talk about becoming a woman of worth.

(absolutely no mention of that woman in that certain 31st chapter of a certain book in the holy scriptures will be contained herein this blog post. Ya'll have read that over and over again. We know, already. ;) I'll try to keep this fresh!)

When I think of a woman of worth, the person who instantly springs to my mind is my mom. She has incredibly desirable qualities and it's no small wonder my dad was instantly drawn to her like a moth to a candle flame. For one thing, when they met she was a slim beauty with a mass of golden hair and a dazzling smile.

But the real catch was her character. This lady is a go-to gal. She will GET THINGS DONE. Her attention to detail, organizational skills, born teaching talent, and selfless servant's heart are huge benefits in a helpmeet. She's also an inventive entrepreneur! Time and time again she has made our household flourish because of these many gifts.

If I can be half the awesome wife my mom has been over the years, I'll be doing well! No pressure, right?! ;)


Me, on the other hand - I still have work to do, although in all fairness I've been attempting my whole life to learn and do things that will benefit my present and future family. Just the other day my dad was enthusiastically saying "Mmmm!" over a meal I'd cooked (Lemon-Rosemary slow-roasted crockpot chicken) and told me the fellow I marry will be a blessed one. May those words be true!

I'm glad to be able to know how to plan a menu, cook delicious and healthy meals, clean + organize a house (We've got Dutch ancestry, so cleanliness is highly valued) and I can tackle any load of laundry with confidence that I won't cause something to bleed or shrink. All of these skills are things my own mom learned after she was in college. (Therefore, I have hope) ;)

But is there more? Oh yes! I am grateful for many talents that I've pursued with equal energy. Graphic design, photography, writing, jewelry-making (for profit) and several other hobbies have all had the nice side effect of giving me skills I can use in the future.

But no, I haven't really thrown myself full-steam into learning as much as I can while I'm still free and single. But I am now. 

These are some things I'm working towards.


  • Treat my body like a temple (Stay hydrated, active, eating well, and getting better sleep)
  • Draw closer to my Lord (earnestly seeking wisdom through daily morning quiet time)
  • Be a Christlike, uncomplaining servant at every possible opportunity
  • Earn more money to save for my future (and save more than I spend!)...
  • Start a wedding fund for someday
  • Make my writing career flourish, publish more novels
  • Blog regularly again (check!) 
  • Get into more graphic design projects
  • Run a successful Etsy shop for my jewelry (coming soon!) 
  • Take self-defense classes and get a concealed carry permit
  • Take regular voice lessons from my mom (instead of sporadic coaching)
  • Take photoshop lessons from my brother (Using photoshop is a valuable life skill!) 
  • Dance again
  • Crochet things to donate to worthy causes
  • Branch out, be social, make new friends


Be doing. Be learning! Don't be like me and excel in procrastination until you're of the age of 24! :D

I do have a small word of encouragement in the opposite direction. (Balance is everything!) NOBODY IS WONDER-WOMAN. (Except my mom. But she's the only exception.) You will not be able to learn 100% of all the great wifely skills out there by the time you get married. Unless you put it off to, oh, about age 75! But do this - give it your best shot!

Pray about what the Lord would have you learn to best assist YOUR future husband in your delightful future together. Not every man is going to need a woman who knows how to fix the plumbing, but maybe yours will find that a very beneficial skill for some reason we don't know now. (I do advise learning how to cook, though. I have two grown brothers and one father and they all very much enjoy their meals).

Get out there. DO things. Meet people. Forge new friendships. Share with the body of Christ, and be edified likewise by their heart-stories.

 But all that great work of polishing up your resume and everything on the outside PALES in comparison to the job of refining your character.

 To anyone who has read or seen Pride & Prejudice (the real version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle) that ^ is a powerful kick in the gut. We do not want to be a Lydia, laughing and snorting and cavorting with any red-coated Officer that casts her half a glance. We want to be the witty, principled, courageous Lizzie Bennet, who captivated Mr. Darcy, a man of estimable judgment and high character.

I don't know about you, but I want to be a prize worth winning!











Saw this on Pinterest and had to share it. It's so true. Great guys are looking for girls who have hearts of gold and are doing wonderful things. 

Also, girlies, I have a Pinterest Board dedicated to the topic of "Becoming" - everything inspiring in any way that molds me into a better version of myself. I thought some of you would enjoy perusing it! Find it here. :D

I hope this post encouraged and challenged you today. I tried not to "slap you upside the head" with the thoughts I was attempting to share. But I know for sure I needed a little fire lit under me, so here I come with my matchbox to help my fellow fair maidens! :D

Now - get thee to the comment box and fire away! Is there a particular point of The Singleness Adventure you are curious about/struggle with/want my perspective on? What are some new goals you'll be working on?