Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ministry Stop One : Bahia Honda

We arrive at Bahia Honda shortly after lunch. It is a small island community a short boat ride away from where we are staying. On the boat ride over I am trying to wrap my mind around the fact that it is, indeed, December, and I am actually still in the same hemisphere of the world. It is warm and sunny, I am sunburned (yes, sunburned! We've only been here for two days!), and I am glad there is a breeze outside, even in shorts and a t-shirt. Everything is telling me that it is June. This is what I'm thinking about on the way over.

Finally we arrive and get out and it is just so beautiful. Nothing is fancy, but beauty is all around us. These beautiful kids, the open ocean all around, the boats and trees swaying in the light breeze blowing today.

The kids are shy. I notice this first. They are not running out to greet us, although they see us and come out cautiously, following us to an open play space with their shy smiles. We introduce ourselves,
and the kids see we are ready to play with them as we begin to push them on the swings and kick around a ball.

And we start to play when it begins to happen. I've seen it in so many places we've stopped on missions trips before. They run up at you, and grab your hand, staring up at you with big eyes. They are all asking the same question. Not with words. They don't speak English, and we don't speak Spanish. But this time, we don't need a translator.  Their big, clear eyes stare up at you and ask one thing.

Will you love me?

That's it. Will you love me? Please? Their eyes beg us to answer just that one question. They just want someone to love them.

And we all have the same answer for them.  This is why we came - to love. To show them Christ's love. We will eventually have to leave, but Christ will never leave them. And we can show them how Christ will love them through our love and actions. We reach down and pick them up, smile wide, and give them a huge hug. And now they are smiling too. Because they can see our answer. They can see, even though we don't say anything. They know right away what we are saying.

Yes. You are loved.

Friday, January 24, 2014

I'm back from Panama!

As many of you know, I recently went on a short missions trip to Panama. We left the day after Christmas and were in Panama until January 6th. We started out on the Pacific side of Panama working with some communities there, as well as spending some free time snorkeling and scuba diving. :) We did an evangelistic skit for the people there, played with the kids, and did a toy distribution.

After a couple days there, we traveled across Panama to visit the San Blas Islands, on the Atlantic side. I have been to the San Blas islands before, and I was so excited to go back. We spent nearly a week on the San Blas. We went to a new island for ministry each day, and performed a skit for them, prayed with them, played with the kids, and  gave out toys. It was so much fun to return to a couple of the same islands we had visited last time I was there (in 2012) and see the kids again! They remembered us, and it was so great to be able to connect with them again.

God did amazing things in us and through us while we were there. We had the opportunity to work alongside a Pastor there who oversees 29 different islands! The need for the Gospel is great, as many people there are not Christians. It was such a blessing and a joy to be able to go to these people and communities and show them the love of Christ, as well as present the Gospel to them.

We saw the Lord work in so many different ways while we were there, and I will be posting more updates and stories in the future.

For those of you who were praying for my trip, thank you! We could really feel your prayers and your support the entire time.

More updates and stories to come!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Lauren's Senior Portraits

I had the joy of being able to take the beautiful Lauren's senior pictures on Friday. We had a blast, and she had picked out a great location that she wanted to take them at as well. Thankfully, the weather cooperated and we were able to get some great shots!

Just the shoes!

Lauren really wanted to capture some pictures with her pointe shoes (and so did I!) The dance poses added so much personality.

This is one of my favorite pictures from the session.

I really feel like this picture captures Lauren's graceful and carefree spirit.  Another favorite!

This one (below) ended up being one of Lauren's favorites. It was one of the last pictures we took, and the sun had already gone down, so it was a super dark shot. I ended up loving the way it looked after some editing, though!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Chalk It Up Festival

When most people think of sidewalk chalk, they imagine little kids doodling on their driveways... when the artists of the Chalk It Up Festival think of sidewalk chalk, they dream big!

This past Labor Day weekend, I participated in the Chalk It Up Festival in downtown Sacramento. The Chalk It Up Festival takes place at the same park every year on Labor Day Weekend. Each year, local artists will come and decorate one of over 200 squares of sidewalk with sidewalk chalk. Each square is sponsored by a local business, and the artists will work on their squares all weekend long. The festival is hosted to raise money for children's arts education programs.

Besides walking around and looking at all of the chalk drawings, there are also craft and vendor booths, food stands, music, and activities for kids as well.

Prepping my square.
My drawing took just over two hours to complete. I was able to do a sidewalk square on the inside of the park, a bit smaller than the outer ones, but in the shade!

I used a photo I had taken a year or so ago as the inspiration for my drawing. After I had drawn a grid in my square and over the original photograph, I had to do a little photo editing in my head to figure out how I would make it work with sidewalk chalk, and with the colors I had.
 I'd never done anything like this before, so it took a little bit of experimenting to find out the best way to make things work. I used a couple of towels to rub in larger areas of chalk, as you can see, and I used a few brushes and my fingers to do the smaller, more detailed areas. My fingers were pretty chaffed at the end of the day!

Water also helped in creating different shades of chalk, and spreading it out more. If you mixed it just right, you could get your chalk to achieve a more paint-like quality, which was great for making it look more smooth.

I love this picture!

The underside of the flower and the shadowing were the hardest parts to figure out how to do. I had (mistakenly) not picked out a dark brown or black color in my set of chalks I bought, so I had to figure out a different way to do the shadowing. I ended up using purple and light blue to do it, and I really liked the way it turned out, especially on the petals.

Finishing up...
  I almost ran out of white chalk towards the end, but thankfully, I had just enough to finish up. My fingers were definitely tired by this point, but I was pleased with how it had turned out.

 I also discovered just how messy sidewalk chalk can be! Both of my rags were completely blue (they looked as though someone had tye-dyed them!) and my feet, knees and hands were covered in blue chalk as well. It took a couple of days to completely wash out the blue stains from my hands.


Overall, though, I was happy with the way it came out, and I had a great time doing it. I'm definitely going to try and do it again next year.

You can view more photos of the drawings from the Chalk It Up Festival online at .

Monday, September 3, 2012

Seven Reasons Why I Like Pinterest

It's a time waster, really, it is.

If you've never heard of Pinterest, in short, it's a social media website which acts as a giant corkboard. After you make your account, you can begin sorting through images and "pinning" them (saving them) to your own boards. It's the same concept as tearing a picture out of a magazine and stashing it away in a file or notebook for later.

1. The difference between Pinterest and all of those magazine cutouts that are stuffed away in a box in my drawer is that Pinterest is... organized. *angels sing* I love organization. Everything is sorted into categories (DIY and Crafts, Education, Books and Movies, Food and Drink, etc) or you can search for something specific. As for what you are pinning (saving), you can create as many boards as you like, allowing you to be as organized and specific as you want.

2. Pinterest is typically a gold mine of ideas. Notice that I didn't say good ideas; you'll need to do a little searching and looking and clicking and reading to find exactly what you're looking for, but you can find some really great ideas on Pinterest. I admit that using their search engine can be difficult at first, but once you get the hang of it and find the right phrasing for your search, you are almost guaranteed to have more ideas then you know what to do with. Need a new recipe? Check. A craft to do for a rainy Saturday afternoon? Check. A knitting pattern for a pair of socks? Check. Ideas on how to paint your nails? Check. Photography tips? Check. Want to make your own soap? Check. Need a new exercise plan? Check. I think you get the idea.

3. Pinterest is a time waster. Why is this something I like about it? Not sure. It just happens to be handy for those days and times when you don't really feel like doing anything.

4. Pinterest is a time saver. I know, I know ... didn't I just say Pinterest was a time waster? Ah, yes, yes I did, but it actually can be both. For example, imagine your birthday is coming up in just a couple of days and you have invited all of your friends over for a party, but you still have no idea what to do. Just search "birthday party ideas" or "birthday party ideas for teens" or something similar and you have instant ideas. Again, remember what I said earlier in #2 - they might not all be good ideas, but you certainly can get a few good ideas, or modify what you find to fit what you need. Any way you go, you've just found something (hopefully) that will help get your creative ideas flowing.

5. Pinterest is easy. Its a simple idea and a simple design. There are just a few basic things you can do... create your own boards and pin things, comment or like something someone else pinned, or browse and search for pins... it doesn't take long to learn how to use it, and once you do, there's really not tons of hidden features and programs.. just one simple idea and purpose.

6. Pinterest is endless. This is part of why it's a time waster - the pages go on forever, or so it seems. You can just keep scrolling and scrolling and scrolling and scrolling and scrolling and scrolling. I thought once that I had reached the bottom of the page and then a little bar popped up at the edge of the screen that said "Fetching More Pins" and suddenly, there were more pins on the page and I was no longer at the end... or what I had thought was the end.

7.  Pinterest helps you create a reference of good ideas. Once you pin something, it stays on your board forever, or at least until you move it or delete it, so you can consistently go back and scan your boards for ideas and inspiration. I use Pinterest to store recipes, craft ideas, quotes I like, traveling tips, little odds and ends, scrapbooking/art pages that I like, and so on. 

So there you have it. My top seven reasons why I like Pinterest. Want to give it a shot? Sign up here, or check out my boards here.  

Do you have a Pinterest?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

I've been waiting to find this recipe for a long time.

A recipe for chocolate chip cookie dough that is meant to be eaten unbaked, with a spoon. Yes, that's right. As in shoveling it into my mouth RAW. I believe that is the best way to enjoy it.

 It's not as though I don't eat raw cookie dough that is meant to be baked, I do. It's just that with an eggless recipe, with a recipe that is meant to be spooned into your mouth with absolutely zero bake time ... well, now I have an excuse. :) I tried a number of different recipes... and this one was the first one I found that actually tasted like cookie dough. In fact, I am beginning to crave it now as I type.

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
A pinch of salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (you can use a little less if you're not big on vanilla.)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


In a medium-large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Then stir in the flour, salt, vanilla and chocolate chips. Add water one tablespoon at a time, stirring between each, until it has reached a cookie dough consistency.
Makes 1.5 - 2 cups of cookie dough.

And that's it! You're done, just like that.

It's almost too simple. Who can resist a big bowl of cookie dough just waiting to be consumed with a giant spoon? You could spread it on graham crackers or pretzels or plop a few chunks into your ice cream (that is really delicious!) ... but I usually don't take the time. I just start scooping it out of the bowl and straight into my mouth. YUM.

*This recipe was first found in Family Fun Magazine.*

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I've been doing some updates...

I've been in the process of importing my blog from Ecuador (2011) and my blog from Panama (2012) into this blog, so everything can just be together. It will just be easier.
They are all being backloaded right now, so they will be up soon, and then I'll probably delete the original blogs I had for them. You'll be able to view all of the posts from each trip under the tags "panama 2012" and "Ecuador 2011".

More regular posts coming soon!