Tuesday, December 18, 2012

gift guide: your adorkable and quirky bff.

your best friend loves sporting polka dots and critters. she's classic with a spin of peculiar. think jess day. even as her bff, you can't pinpoint her exactly, but these christmas gifts definitely won't miss the mark. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

thoughts on sandy hook elementary.

it seems that all we ever hear about anymore are senseless tragedies. they seem to happen all the time now. every time i hear about one, i get sad and sick to my stomach... but when i heard about sandy hook elementary school on friday, i felt a different kind of grief. 

even though i'm not a teacher yet with my own classroom, as i am currently looking for jobs, i feel as if i am already a teacher. i went to school for it, have several practicum and student teaching experiences, and just love the students i had. the tragedy at sandy hook just hit home for me. 

and i cried for all those babies who were taken way too soon and for their parents who should never have to worry about whether a school is a safe place to send their children. i cried for the students who graciously lived, but who will have to live with this trauma for the rest of their lives. i cried for the teachers and principal who fought to protect their students and sacrificed their lives. i cried for everyone whose lives are forever changed. 

and today i am thinking and praying for all my friends who have classrooms of their own. i am thinking of them as they try to work through what happened and answer questions and offer counsel to their students. i am praying that school will not be a place of fear for any students, teachers, or parents, but that the perfect love of Christ will cast out all fear. i've always had an admiration and respect for teachers and educators, but now i do more than ever. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012


i am obsessed with quotes. i have a word document of 50+ pages of just quotes. i also used to keep a scrapbook of quotes. i have this tenacious need to share whatever i'm inspired by. here is like .005% of what i've saved. so if you love beautiful words & phrases like me, please be my guest and enjoy. maybe even grab a cup of coffee :)

It is a magical thing for a handful of words, artfully arranged, to stop time. To conjure a place, a person, a situation, in all its specificity and dimensions. To affect us and alter us, as profoundly as real people and things do.
— Jhumpa Lahiri

There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart.
— Jane Austen

There are moments in our lives when we are crying out for grace, not recognizing that we are getting it. We are not getting the grace of relief or the grace of release, because that is not the grace that we really need. No, what we are getting is something we desperately need, the uncomfortable grace of personal growth and change. With the love of a Father, your Lord is prying open your hands so that you will let go of things that have come to rule your heart but will never satisfy you.
— Paul David Tripp

Having faith often means doing what others see as crazy. Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers.
— Francis Chan, Crazy Love (pg. 114)

Oh, me? I’m not 80% water. I’m 80% coffee, and a little bit of sass.
— Zooey Deschanel

Saturday, December 8, 2012

hello toledo.

so our lives have changed drastically within the past few weeks. we recently moved from cincinnati to toledo. and it has been hard. sigh. 

first of all, i am really sentimental and it was hard to leave brian and i's first home together. there are lots of memories there and it was the place we spent the first two years of our marriage. it was also a place where the Holy Spirit showed up and ministered to us and a lot of high school students. it was a great (and not to mention, spacious) first home. 

secondly, my family lived about 15 minutes away from our home and i could go hang out whenever i wanted. dates with my mom, snuggling with some pretty sweet labrador retrievers, and family dinners were easy and accessible. not to mention, i had some pretty awesome girlfriends all around me. 

thirdly, i really took for granted everything there was to do in cincinnati. i have always loved cincinnati and having a coffee shop about every half mile to go chill in was normal. here, not so much. 

it's not that i'm not an adventurous person...i am...i've never been opposed to moving to a new place. but no offense, toledo, you're not exactly included in the hip cities that i dream of visiting or living in. 

that was my flesh just speaking. 

my spirit knows that God has brought us here for youth ministry. that He's going to do mighty things and that we will get to play a part in students flourishing in their relationships with the Lord. i'm really excited for that. but i won't pretend that i am the nice Christian girl who enthusiastically said "yes, Lord!" to coming here. it has been a struggle. and it will be. its going to be a season of choosing contentment when i can already find a million things i don't like about this area. and i pray for the grace to choose contentment and joy.... because wow, is it hard. and i can't do it by myself, but He promises that His grace is sufficient. 

i know the Lord has something great here... and i also know that His definition of "great" and my fleshly definition of "great" are probably a lot different... but i know that He is going to grow brian and i spiritually, and probably in a lot of other ways too. i am excited to grow, but also dread the process, as it can be painful. i am so torn! 

here are a few instagram pics of our apartment here... still lots of work to do, but it's looking homey, what with the christmas decorations and all. my mother in law and sis in law helped us unpack and my mom came up to help me organize and decorate...so thankful for them! 

thanks for reading/listening to my heart! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

you've cat to be kitten me right meow.

kittens are everywhere. and i can't handle it. 

i've been doing some christmas shopping and stumbled across these vintage kitten tea towels on etsy!  i must have them. 

i am also a fan of this one: 

check out these other kitten finds:

and finally, go have some meow inspired fun:

you're welcome! 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Darling Magazine link.

 If you haven't read Darling Magazine, then you should! I just read this article and since it is closely tied to my post yesterday, I wanted to share. Check out Darling Magazine's "Nothing Sacred: Physical Immodesty" Enjoy and check out other posts as well! 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Objectification of women and how both men and women play equal roles in ending it.

Its all just a big misunderstanding.
Some blame men for objectifying women “because they are pigs.” 
Some blame women for objectifying themselves “because they are sluts and ask for it.” 
So who is really responsible? And how does this objectification end? 
Objectification means to present as an object, or to depersonalize. Women are objectified sexually when they are viewed, presented, or used as a tool for sexual stimulation, fantasy, or pleasure. 
I have come across so many exclusive ideas and attitudes when it comes to this issue. One end of the spectrum: “It’s the woman’s job to dress modestly so she doesn’t tempt a man into anything.” Here the woman is primarily responsible and at fault. Another end: “As a woman, I should be able to wear whatever the hell I want without a guy objectifying me.” Here the man is primarily responsible and at fault.  
Both views are only partly right. 
The truth is, both men and women are equally responsible for our culture’s objectification of females and we have an equal role to play in ending it. When we put all of the responsibility on the opposite sex, we are lessening our role in bringing God’s Kingdom to earth. And isn’t that sexist? So yes, both men and women need to step it up. And since I am a lady, let me encourage the ladies: 
  • If you have been sexually objectified in any way by a man, you are never responsible for a man’s sinful actions, no matter how you dress or act. A man is always responsible for his own actions and if he tries to blame you for “tempting” him into behaving a certain way, he is not a man. He is a coward. 
  • However, with that said, are you objectifying yourself? Do you dress provocatively, to flaunt a particular body part?  Or do you dress to creatively express yourself as a person? What is your motive for wearing what you wear? Modesty is a hard subject to address because there are a lot of gray areas...what is modest to one person might not be modest to another. However, if you are in Christ, you “have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16) and a “sound mind” or “good judgement” (1 Timothy 1:7). You have the conviction of the Holy Spirit to dress in a way that brings glory to God. The Lord is more interested in our motives for wearing the clothes, than the actual clothes themselves. 
  • Please do not participate in objectifying your own kind by mindlessly singing along to songs with lyrics that are degrading to women. Critically evaluate what you listen to, and especially what you sing and bop your head along to. I have been guilty of singing and dancing to popular songs, only to be horrified when I learned the type of objectifying behavior I was encouraging men to engage in just by participating in the song. By participating in such songs, we’re saying that this type of behavior is okay, and it absolutely is not. 
  • I always tell my high school girls that they set the standard for what kind of men the men in their life need to be. Keep the bar high. Most men will try to live up to it. And don't be easily swept off your feet. Many girls are far too easily “satisfied” with being used, because at least they’re getting attention. Isn’t it a tragedy that many girls would rather be used than ignored?
  • While many women are objectified and used sexually, I really believe that women are just as guilty at using men. We use men for emotional fulfillment, attention, and security. Many women do not love a man for the man he is, but for how he fulfills her. It is unfair to accuse men of always using women and not take responsibility for how we ourselves use men. When women stop using men, they will stop flaunting themselves provocatively to get their attention...and maybe that will help men to stop using women.  
  • Your sexuality is beautiful. It is not bad, ugly, or dirty. It is so beautiful and special that it is only meant for a man who will commit himself to you for the rest of his life and lay down his life for you. Hold out for that. If you haven't held out for that, there is grace and it's not too late to change. And men have the same standard to live up to. His sexuality is equally as special and important that he needs to reserve it for his bride. Sex is meant to be shared with mutual pleasure. The husband and the wife should seek to serve the other and to equally give of oneself in it. 
  • You bear the image of Almighty God and you have unique dreams, gifts, passions, and desires to make an impact. And you are so beautiful. On the outside and the inside. And I guarantee if you focus on your inner beauty just as much as or more than you focus on your outer appearance, then your outer beauty will shine all the brighter. 

With that said, your role in ending the objectification of women is crucial. Your role in bringing God’s Kingdom to earth is crucial. When God’s Kingdom comes to earth, brokenness is healed, people are made whole, regret is outshone by grace, sex is sacred, beauty isn’t used (it is revered), and trust in the opposite gender is restored. Don’t you want to play a part in bringing these things about? May His Kingdom come. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

R.I.P Baxter

Dear Baxie,

I am missing you so much. Life without you is not the same. I would give anything for you to be "bad" again...just to have you back! You were the best companion. You helped make the past 12 years of our lives full.

I have lost count on how many Bibles you have eaten...somewhere around 13 I think?! You were always hungry for the Word of God ;) ...you were also always hungry for bananas, razors, cantaloupe, plates of chocolate brownies, onions, even cat poop...you were ruled by your stomach! I can't believe the time came when you were no longer healthy... but even in your sickness, you still wanted to be naughty and get into things you weren't supposed to, always making us laugh :)

There will never be another doggie like you. And even though some said you were a "bad dog," and even though we called you this from time to time, you were such a GOOD BOY. I love you so much! I really believe I'll see you in heaven someday.

Peace, Love, and Bananas,
Courtney aka Big Sister

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


hello lovely friends,

it has been awhile. i havent written anything nor have i even been reading blogs. theres really not an explanation, other than that sometimes a girl just needs to withdrawal herself. i never want to be someone who posts things just to please readers. i only want to blog when i am inspired or when the Lord puts something on my heart that needs to be shared. 

i am in a season right now where i am trying to limit my activity. i feel that i am just going going going and i really just need the Lord to minister to my heart and fill me up again. you understand this, i'm sure. i do have a couple posts i want to share maybe in the next few days, a farewell post to our family dog and another post that God burdened my spirit with... and we'll take it from there. although i havent been reading many blogs recently, i really do think about you all a lot and keep up with some of you on facebook. you all are awesome :) 

Friday, August 24, 2012

a late post of another macaron adventure.

and the macaron craze continues! about a month ago (sad that i am just getting around to posting) allison, bekah, and i made some delicious macarons. we all love nutella, so we thought that it would be the perfect filling to sandwich the cookies together. it saved a bunch of time because we didn't have to make the filling, we simply used a trusty jar of nutella! click here to see allison's post ((and the full recipe)) about this baking adventure!

macarons can be fussy...we made our first two batches without any cracks in the shells, but ours came out cracked this batch. experts say these french cookies are very unpredictable because any slight change in humidity can cause them to crack while baking in the oven. we're unsure why this happened this time, but we still thought they were cute! even more importantly, they were completely delicious. 

we paired these delicious treats with macaron branded pinot noir...the perfect combo for an afternoon with your girlfriends. ((add in some pink lipstick to match your macarons.))


Friday, August 17, 2012

secret agents, tea tree oil, & the days you have an overwhelming desire to look like lisa frank.

1. due to my recent “alias” kick, i have dreams where i am a secret agent all the time. so far, i have been successful on all my missions...i even threatened a bad guy with a knife. it felt pretty good, because then he left me alone. not only do i have the dreams, but when i am alone at night, i actually (silently) dare any creepers to try and attack me (but not really) because i think i have a shot at taking them down.
**disclaimer: when a woman dares you to do something, she’s really saying, “do this and you’ll be sorry” which is what i mean when i say i “dare” someone to attack me. i do not actually want anyone to attack me, ever. didn’t think i needed to clear that up, but you never know. 
2. tea tree oil is the remedy for everything! it cleans bacteria and soothes skin. when i had my nose pierced, i used it to prevent infection. currently, im using it on my nail beds to sooth pain from hangnails. my pain instantly goes away when i apply it. i got my bottle from whole foods market. it always comes in handy!
3. let’s face it, every little girl wanted the latest lisa frank folders, pencils, “trapperkeepers,” and accessories. going back to school was bearable for me as a child, because at least all my school supplies would be lisa frank. secret: i still love her. and sometimes i just want my world to be swirling with rainbows and hot pink cheetahs. enter hair chalking. i found this lovely trick on the glitter guide. you simply get some oil pastel chalk (i got a huge pack from hobby lobby for $7) and wet your hair. then color random strands of your wet hair until you get the desired color. then blow dry so the heat will set the color. this is great if you want colored tresses for just a night, because it washes out with shampoo! and yes, you can look like a character from lisa frank! 

so to sum it up... if you are a creeper, i might distract you with my rainbow hair and chuck a bottle of tea tree oil at your head and then sprint away. you have been warned. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

"i look up to the sky and say 'You're beautiful.'"

date night at the loveland bike trail...God's glory is all around! 

marveling at the wonder of the Creator... and sneaking in a smooch or two when the bikers have cleared the path. 

eating brick oven barbecue chicken pizza! nom. 

after all this fun, we went to kroger. when you're married, sometimes you have to add grocery shopping to your quality time together. ((warning: when you take your husband grocery shopping with you, he will intentionally embarrass you in front of as many people as possible. you will also buy much more junk food when he is with you. however, he'll let you ride on the end of the cart and push you around...this makes up for everything else.))

we ended the night with some ice cream, a comfortable couch, and "alias" on dvd... a recent obsession thanks to my friend allison! 

date nights are my favorite night of the week. i love ya, boo! 

Friday, August 3, 2012

i thank my God every time i remember you...

the end of this summer for me is so bittersweet. being in youth ministry, graduating seniors and sending them off is a norm. but these specific girls that are leaving for college are so special to me. these precious girls have been coming over to my house every friday to study the Word, talk, laugh, and pray together for a year and a half. it has been amazing watching God grow and absolutely transform them. i am humbled and blown away that God would allow me to be a part of what He is doing in each of them. 

last night was our farewell celebration as it was our last meeting with everyone together before they start leaving for college. we celebrated with some salsa dancing on fountain square (they do this for free every thursday night during the summer!) and eating at a delicious mexican restaurant, nada. the food there is so yummy!

((they are all so beautiful!!!))

after some great food and dancing (attempting to/watching), we came back to my house for a sleepover. the girls sat me down and surprised me with this beautiful scrapbook! each girl created a page with an encouraging note and pictures. i am so blown away by it... this is truly one of the best gifts i have ever received. i will cherish this forever :)

i also wanted to send the girls off with something special, so i put together a little somethin' for them. 

i wanted to give them some items to remind them about their identities as daughters of the King. each item represents something about who they are in Christ. the above description may be hard to read, but says: 

A reminder about who you are...
Jesus has ERASED your sin (eraser) and made you a DAUGHTER OF THE KING, also known as a PRINCESS (princess wand). He has MARKED you with a seal (tattoo), His promised Holy Spirit. He is WRITING a beautiful story (pencil) that He asks you to be a part of. POUR OUT YOUR HEART to Him (journal) in thanksgiving, gladness, and joy. The King is enthralled with the perfect BEAUTY He has bestowed upon you (mirror). 

after exchanging gifts we prayed over one another and indulged in a yummy purple ombre cake. 

each of these girls have walked through some hard times and have never wavered in their faith and pursuit of Jesus. this is so encouraging to me. i have a crazy amount of confidence in their walk with Him and how they will be used to impact the Kingdom. He will be faithful to complete the good work He started in each of them! i am so thankful.

"i thank my God every time i remember you." philippians 1:3

Sunday, July 15, 2012

blueberry cheesecake macarons.

thursday my friend allison and i tried our second hand at macarons, but instead of making a basic vanilla, like we did the first time, we tried making blueberry cheesecake. we couldn't be more happy with how cute and yummy they turned out to be!

so we gathered our ingredients (including the adorable macaron book allison sweetly gave me!)
3/4 cup ground almonds
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 extra large egg whites
1/4 cup superfine sugar (we just used regular sugar here)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
blue food coloring paste or liquid 

1/2 cup cream cheese
2 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp confectioners sugar
heaping 1/2 cup blueberries 

to make the "shell," or the "cookie" part of the macarons, follow these steps: 
first, we used a food processor to grind up our almonds. you will want to make sure your almonds are ground up as fine as possible. 

while allison did a fine job grinding up those almonds, i started whisking together our egg whites and sugar. the trick is to beat them "until holding soft peaks." this will take awhile, but if you have a handy dandy mixer, she will make a gorgeous, glossy meringue for you. once the meringue is nice and glossy, add in your vanilla extract and food coloring. we used a couple drops of wilton "sky blue" to help us achieve the "tiffany blue" color that is so fabulous!  

next, you'll need to combine your confectioners sugar and ground almond and sift. the. crap. out of it. this definitely is the most time consuming part of the whole macaron baking shebang. neither of us own a real sifter so we did it manually...but don't worry, it's a nice arm workout. sifting=nicely toned arms.   

once the almond and confectioner sugar mixture is completely sifted, fold it into your pretty blue meringue, 1/3 at a time.

the batter should have a "thick, ribbon like consistency."

pipe your batter onto a baking sheet using a piping bag and a 1/2 inch/1 cm plain tip. 

use a spoon to help even out your circles if you need to. let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. meanwhile, preheat your oven to 325 degrees. after macaron batter has sat at room temperature, put in oven and bake for 10 minutes. we kept a pretty close eye on them  in the oven so we could take them out earlier if needed, but 10 minutes worked perfectly for us. 
let your cookies cool completely on a cooling rack. 

to make your filling, simply beat your cream cheese, sour cream, and confectioners sugar together until very smooth. crush your blueberries and fold into your cream cheese mixture. when your cookies are completely cool, use this mixture to sandwich your cookies together! 

we are so proud! 

of course we had to sample some to make sure they were adequate. i planned on giving mine as a gift so i needed to make sure they were yummy enough ;) sure enough, they were!   

side note: macarons really do make awesome gifts! i gave mine to my best friend for her birthday, whose favorite color is tiffany blue. find a pretty way to package them, and voila! sweet and personal gift. 

i think allison and i may have started an obsession. first the vanilla macarons, now these...i wonder what flavor we'll try next?! check out allison's post about our macaron experience and let me know if you try making any for yourself :)

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