Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mary - Admiring Our Youth

This is the lovely 

Cares for those she loves.
Stands strong for what she believes in.
Pursues living a full life.
Modest in style.

What is your biggest struggle when competing with the culture?
"Competing with society in my life often means defending my faith, and representing the Kingdom of God. I personally battle against being self centered, greedy, and apathetic. The way I approach these personal conflicts is by living and loving humbly, and reminding myself that everything I do is for the gratification of Christ not myself."

How do you define beauty?
"A beautiful person to me is someone who's character manifests the beauty of God's character and revolting against anything that is inconsistent with this beauty."
What makes you uniquely you?
"What makes me unique is that I am not afraid to approach diverse groups of people. I go into friendships head first, negating their past, and seeking to help their spiritual growth."

What is the source of your passion and strength?
"My passion is finding individuals who are mature enough to recognize truth if presented to them, and cultivating them through lax church events. By building lasting friendships in which mirror the identity of Christ, they catalyze their own spiritual growth."

If you could encourage other girls your age, what is one thing you would tell them?
"Advice I would give to other girls my age would be to seek out friendships in which spiritual growth is going to be present. Having friendships without this element also means there is no love being given. In order for there to be love within a friendship/relationship your purpose must be to build the other's relationship with God through the resemblance of your own."

 I have been blessed to have known Mary for a few years and I have loved getting to watch her grow and see our friendship develop. She wants to pursue a career in business management and I could see her doing anything as long as she is interacting with people. Mary is loyal, and I am thankful to know that I can always count on her. A good laugh, great conversation and a cup of coffee is our thing. She is one of a kind.

This is a part of my Admiring Our Youth Series. Click below to view the past posts:

Friday, August 30, 2013

Leilani- Admiring Our Youth

Meet Leilani.

She is 18 and adventurous, outgoing, loving, goofy, inspiring, and full of true beauty that will one day be seen by the world. She is following her heart to be an Art teacher through missionary work. She just graduated and is off to YWAM in Amsterdam, Netherlands. She is led by the Spirit to go and do good work for the kingdom. She has an expression of joy and fulfillment of who she has been created to be that radiates and encourages others to want what she has. She says she finds her beautiful uniqueness in, "The way I express my passion for Christ through art, speech and actions."

What is your biggest struggle when competing with the culture?
Fighting the idea that I need a boyfriend to feel loved.

How do you define beauty? Beauty is treating others with significance higher than yourself.
What is the source of your passion and strength? Jesus Christ is the only thing that has never moved or changed for me.

If you could encourage other girls your age, what is one thing you would tell them? Keep your value in your savior, and remember that you were made beautiful by grace. Don't let the world tell you that you can't or that you're not good enough. Jesus uses the misfits to make royalty!

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Leilani is an artist, as you might have already guessed. I enjoy seeing others express themselves by art, especially those with talent. Here are a few of her pieces that I have found inspiring and are my favorite. 

If you want to read more about what Leilani is doing you can follow her on her adventures at:

This is a part of my Admiring Our Youth Series. Check out the past ones here:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Admiring Our Youth // Choose Beauty Link-Up

I love our youth. Especially the amazing young women of our generation! I remember being in high school and thinking I was struggling and dealing with hard things. But it doesn't even compare to the stories I hear from girls today. They go through tough stuff. I know there are different, mostly negative, stereotypes of teenagers these days and it makes me sad. I have found from years of working with teenagers the more we tell them that they have no future and are wasting their lives the more they will. But if we empower them and encourage them to be all they can be, then I think we will be surprised that they will exceed our expectations far past what we thought. We continually see our "culture" tainting the true meaning of beauty and young girls are affected the most. They look up to their moms, role models, celebrities, and the girls walking down the street, but those girls are affected by it all too. How are they supposed to find True Beauty when those that are guiding them struggle just as much. Through studying, learning, prayer, guidance, understanding, practice and more, many of them, with grace, rise above and learn from their struggles and problems, a lot better than I did at their age. They show character, and even honesty in sharing what they deal with and how hard it is. They are also passionate and have dreams for their future for the amazing things they want to do, they will be world changers.

And because I love them so much, I want to honor them this next week. I want to highlight some of the amazing young women that I have the pleasure of knowing. Each day, starting today, I will introduce you to one of them. I asked them each a few questions and will share their answers with you throughout. I will tell you what I see in them and will show you their true beauty.

To kick it off meet

 As you can tell she is a beauty that radiates when she smiles. But this beauty comes from within. She is one of the kindest, funniest, heart warming, passionate young women you will ever meet.  She is intelligent and a magnificent dancer to top it all off. Kerry is 18 years old and just went off to Baylor University to study Occupational Therapy and desires to work with kids one day. She understands that she is unique,  "My firm belief in the value and rarity of myself and each person makes me unique. I believe each person, whether they realize it or not, is so loved, so special, and so prized simply because God crafted them and was willing to die for them. I allow this belief to free me from the expectations of others, and as a result I can be myself anywhere." 

What is your biggest struggle when competing with the culture?
 "For me, there are two things. The first is competing with the world's idea of beauty. Every woman longs to be and feel beautiful. It's important for us, as christian women, to know our beauty comes from God and his work in us. We are beautiful just because he made us. If we bash ourselves we are ultimately bashing God's artistry. Another struggle that I've dealt with is embracing my identity and unique qualities in God. God has taught me that he made me with certain quirks and in a certain way. Over the years I have learned to be goofy when I feel like it, and ask deep questions when I want to, because those are aspects of my unique and special personality. I try not to listen to people if they think I'm weird, because the only thing that matter is what God thinks of me."
 How do you define beauty?
"There are two types of beauty- External and Internal; however, these two types can overlap. People seem to be more externally beautiful when I realize how beautiful their soul is. True beauty is embracing a pure being that strives to love God and love others."
What is the source of your passion and strength? 
"Simply, Jesus. 2 Corinthians 9:12 says his grace is sufficient for you, for his power is made perfect in your weakness. Without him I would be void of all true passion and strength."

 If you could encourage other girls your age, what is one thing you would tell them? 
"Every morning remember why you are here. Remember what Christ did for you, and let that change and shape your life daily. Do this with complete confidence knowing that nothing and no one in this world can take away the innate beauty you possess because of your creator."

I have known Kerry for 4 years now and am lucky to call her a friend, and I definitely get the better end of the deal.She has taught me so much in our relationship. I have been challenged by her through her loving questions and kind words to look at who I really am and why I am doing something. I have learned to communicate and share what is going on in my life, by her openness to want to pursue relationship with me. Our time from the beginning is valuable to both of us.

(Pictures by Leif Brandt Photography. To see the rest of her senior shoot click here.)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Linking the heart and mind

In a flurry that I have to get ready in 5 minutes. I hadn't realized what time it was. 20 minutes later I am out the door. What?? All I had to do was get dressed! Here is what happened:
My hair was a little crazy from being at the beach and in a visor all day so I began feeling like a mess. I didn't feel like anything was working. I wasn't feel comfortable, modest enough, cute enough, fitting into my clothes right.. UGH NOTHING LOOKED GOOD!

I finally just STOPPED, wearing only my under garments, I stared at myself in the mirror. What's wrong? Why am I being so difficult? I thought to myself. Why do I feel that I need to see something different when I look in the mirror? Why do I let myself get in the way of realizing that focusing on what I am wearing DOESN'T MATTER? 

I had too much clouding my mind to even think about what was really important. I had to realize the damage I was doing in that moment in my MIND. I wasn't focusing on what was really important. What does Jesus say about me? "A wife of noble character, she is worth far more than rubies." What does my husband say about me? That I am beautiful no matter what I am wearing. I had to love myself for who I am when I looked in the mirror- my HEART. No one said anything about what I was wearing all night and yet it took me 20 minutes and a breaking point for me to realize that the clothes I chose weren't a big deal. I had this idea that everyone was going to care what they saw and that there was some sort of bar I needed to reach. LIES. 

I needed to realize that what I was doing that night and the people I was going to be with were what was most important. As soon as I was able to stop and think choosing an outfit didn't seem like such a hassle. And who I saw in the mirror wasn't an outfit but just me- finally with clothes on and ready to go.

Sometimes I have to learn lessons many times over, this is one of them. That my MIND must be focused on what is in my HEART. Caring for it and putting it first on my list of what's important about myself. But I am thankful for each and every time because it help me to refocus and put into perspective what is important, and where my heart is at fault. Where I need more grace and more Jesus to change who I am. Since then, I haven't stopped to change more than once or spend time caring about what I was putting on. I focused on feeling comfortable and myself, and was able to spend time getting ready thinking about what I was doing with my day and the people that were going to be in it. I am thankful for this lesson all over again.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Meet Mason Rhoden

Chubby cheeks and the cutest rolls, new born babies are the cutest. I've known Eric and Erin for a long time and getting to take pictures of their new little boy and see how much they love him already was such a sweet time. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Kick start your day

I do not enjoy eating breakfast first thing in the morning. I love breakfasts food, just not usually at breakfast time. I like waking up slowly with a cup of coffee. But lately in the mornings, since I am running more, I am hungry just a little after I wake up. Smoothies and juicing have become my favorite way to start the day, after coffee of course. I was inspired by a recent instagram picture by @a_toned- check out her insta-blog all about fitness, and eating right, she is great! I picked this smoothie from her. It tastes great, and has been one of my new favorite morning kick starters!

Green smoothie:
2 tablespoons almond butter
2 frozen bananas
Handful of spinach
Coconut milk

If you try it let me know what you think!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Homemade Pizza

I love pizza! It's because I'm Italian. But I hate feeling gross after I eat it. I did a lot of research and I've found it's the white flour and grease that my body doesn't appreciate. But what is pizza without these things? I have found some amazing and exciting alternatives: other kinds of flour, vegetables and different cheeses.

There are many different ways to make Paleo Pizza, the recipe I found (link below) just worked best for me and for the things in my home!

Crust recipe:
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil (any kind)
- 1 1/2 cups almond flour
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. oregano
- 1/2 tsp. dried basil
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
Gather toppings you enjoy on your pizza (ours are listed below)

1. Place the eggs and olive oil in a small mixing bowl and whisk until well combined. Set aside.
2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl and stir with a fork to break apart and clumps and to combine well. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until well combined. Set aside for about 5-10 minutes and then split the dough in half and form two round balls.
3. Preheat the oven to 375F and make sure the oven rack is in the middle position. Using a rolling pin on flat surface or cutting board, roll the two balls of dough separately between two pieces of parchment paper. Form a circular or rectangular shape, rolling the dough to about 1/4" thick.
4. Place the two crusts onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking mat. Bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is firm.
5. Remove the crust from the oven. Spread the sauce thinly across the pizza crust (too much sauce will make the crust soggy). Add the rest of your toppings.
4. Return the pizza to the oven and allow to bake for just a couple minutes, or until the cheese begins to melt. Remove from the oven, slice and serve.

Toppings #1:
Chicken cooked
Cheddar cheese
Tomato sauce
Bacon cooked

Toppings #2:
Tomato sauce
Feta cheese
Bacon cooked

It's who I am!

I told my friend a few weeks ago, that has known me for about 13 years that I was an introvert. She laughed (her lovely, crazy, can't help but make you laugh - kind of laugh). It's true though, I am almost 99.99% an introvert. But most people don't belive me (except my husband who knows it to be true).

I love people with all of my heart,  it's a gift that I love having. And this caused me for a long time feel pulled within myself because the more time I was with people the more drained I felt, but the more I learned about myself the more I realized I loved people... what was I to do?

The first time I was introduced to the concept of  introvert vs extrovert was in 2008 at a staff conference at North Coast Church. Learning about personality traits changed my life for the better and sparked a passion in me to want to know more (I became a psychology major which makes total sense and is my excuse to geek out on who people really are).

I love being an introvert. I love intimate conversations,  not being the life or loudest at the party, finding the other people who feel like me, relaxing with people, talking about things others are passionate about and things that I'm passionate about, being able to work alone and with a team, and of course spending some time alone- just not too much time. It's just who I am and I love that every person is different.

I hope that we can know ourselves and accept who we are and are proud of it. Don't let anyone tell you to be someone you're not. And then accept who others are and love them for it. We are all uniquely made- ain't it great!!

On my reading list is a book called Quiet all about my kind of people! I cannot wait to read it, I hear great things. Plus check out this awesome read about introverts that love people:

Choose beauty- a beautiful you for who you really are.

This is a part of the CHOOSE BEAUTY blog hop. Join in my choosing"Click here to enter" below.
Read more on how it started here!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ahi Poke

I have been wanting to try this for a while now and finally found all the supplies to do it! I first tried it in April from Islands and really enjoyed it. I like that no matter where you go it tastes the same, a simple and wonderful recipe, but of course can always be made your own.

Ahi Poke ingredients:
.75 lb of Ahi tuna steaks (Sashimi grade)
1 whole shallot, finely sliced
1/4 cup yellow onion, finely sliced
2 TBSP sesame seeds
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
5 TBSP coconut aminos
2 tbsp sesame oil
sea salt to taste

1. Chop your ahi into bite sized pieces, set to the side
2. Chop and mix all your ingredients
3. Add ahi and let sit for 30 mins
4. Serve with a bed of rice or lettuce!

And enjoy!

I used the recipe from:

It's just my thing

What's your thing? Your I-Cannot-Live-Without. Your But I could always use another one. Your it was on sale and I couldn't say no. Your I'm just browsing the same isle, like I did yesterday hoping there was a new one I could get. Some people love shoes, bags, tops, bracelets, necklaces, rings, colorful pants, stilettos ect.

Mine is EARRINGS. Since I was a junior in high school, I have found a fascination with earrings. Big, small, colorful and plain. I have more than one pair to go with every outfit I own. I even went through a stage where I wore a different pair every day. If a friend needs earrings, she comes to me. They are simple and expressive and can be worn in every situation. They don't cause me to have to change my natural looks but add a little pizzaz. This is what I enjoy about them.

It's just my thing.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Double down

A few weeks ago I posted about getting to do my first twin Growth Charts (check it out here).

I am happy to say that they are both completed and the second one will be shipped tomorrow! I had a lot of fun getting to try something new and be creative and in the process got a new order for another twin growth chart! Since I continue to realize how much I enjoy making them, it always excites me when I get a new order or something creative to do. 

After completing the first two I was able to have a blank board and try anything I wanted with a few parameters. Colors and a theme for the room. This is what I came up with: 

If you'd like to check out all my products, visit

Monday, August 19, 2013

Senior Pictures- Sarah Class of 2014

This girl has a contagious laughter, goofy personality, deep roots, amazing story, beautiful on the inside and out, a lover of life and people. There are so many wonderful things I could say about this lovely woman and I was so privileged to shoot her senior pictures! Here are just a few...

A day at the park

This cute little girl is 15 months old and my best friend because we spend a lot of time together. She is energetic, intelligent, goofy, self confident, friendly and always hungry. I get to nanny her Monday - Friday and we get to do so many fun things together. One of my favorites, and hers, is the park! This was our Friday Funday last week!