Friday, September 30, 2011

The Colors of Fall

My neighborhood is beginning to showcase the beautiful colors of fall . . . .

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Quote Garden: Happiness

My favorite quotations about happiness . . . 

Live so that your memories will be part of your happiness. (unknown)

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise man grows it under his feet. (Proverb)

The secret to happy living is praising God and trusting Him in all things. (Kristina Kroon)

Most folks are just about as happy as they make up their mind to be. (Abraham Lincoln)

It is not how much we have but how much we enjoy that makes happiness. (Charles Spurgeon)
The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything. (unknown)

A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes. (Hugh Downs)

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go. (Oscar Wilde)

Happiness is a conscious choice, not an automatic response. (Mildred Barthel)

You can complain because roses have thorns,  or you can  rejoice because thorns have roses. (ZIGGY)

Being happy doesn't mean everything is perfect. It means you have decided to look beyond the imperfections. (Unknown.)

Happiness is not a destination. It is a method of life. (Burton Hills)

Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. (Mother Theresa)

It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day-to-day basis. (Margaret Bonanno)

To be happy, don’t do whatever you like, like whatever you do. (Mary Engelbreit)

* The above quotations were collected from various sources. I have done my best to quote and credit them correctly. Please inform me if you notice an error.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Biking the Chippewa Nature Trail

As much as I love the mild weather and vibrant colors of autumn, I'm not feeling ready yet to give up the fleeting days of summer. One of my favorite things about the season is bike riding the Chippewa Nature Trail, in Midland. It's a delightful 14-mile round-trip route from my home—

. . . by the country club golf course, past the library, past Dahlia Hill . . .

  . . . through Emerson Park . . .

 . . . on the Rails-to-Trails path, across the Tridge, between the softball fields . . .

 . . . and then onto the Chippewa Nature Trail. . . 

Can you see why I ride this route every chance I get?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Quote Garden: Style

My favorite quotations on fashion/style . . .

Fashion is what you are offered four times a year by designers- and style is what you choose. (Lauren Hutton)

Fashion is what others give you, style is what you give yourself. (Lauren Hutton)

There is nothing spiritual about being frumpy! (Leslie Ludy)

Dress as a daughter of the King, rather than as a product of pop-culture. (Leslie Ludy)

Personal style has nothing to do with fashion.  It's something that resonates from inside of us.  Your style is just an extension of who you really are.  Our clothing is an expression of our style (the one the world notices most), but it doesn't stop there.  It's in the way we frost a cupcake, decorate our home, speak to others, it's in the music we like, the way we fix our hair, and how we throw a party, the way we write, what we like to read.  Whether you know it or not, you have your own style and it is there in everything you touch.  The trick is, figuring out what your own unique style is and loving it.
(Cori from

Wardrobe should be determined by ministry. (Ann Ortland)

Look quality, think quality, talk quality—and expose yourself to quality. (Ann Ortland)

* The above quotations were collected from various sources. I have done my best to quote and credit them correctly. Please inform me if you notice an error.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hearty Breakfast

Every morning my mom treats me to a freshly-made hot egg omelet, accompanied by a dish of fresh fruit and a glass of orange juice. (I know, I'm pampered!) But that's only part of my complete breakfast. As I feed my body, I nourish my soul listening to my newest favorite CD: Psalms by Kevin Inafuku. The melodious songs are directly inspired from specific passages of the Psalms. I can't think of a better way to start my day than with such a hearty breakfast!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Quote Garden: Problems

My favorite quotations on problems . . .

Is this a real problem, or are you just feeling sorry for yourself? (Susan Shipley)

Solve problems biblically, not just emotionally. (Jo McCray)

God is bigger than your problems. (unknown)

Problems are often opportunities in camoflage. (unknown)

God has no problems, only plans. (Corrie tenBoom)

Life’s struggles are the shortest route to a deep appreciation of our need to know God better. (Carolyn Custis James)

Fretting magnifies the problem but prayer magnifies God. (Joanna Weaver)

When life gives you scraps, make quilts! (unknown)

God does not offer escape from our enemies, but triumph over our enemies. (Nancy Leigh DeMoss)

How often do we attempt to work for God to the limit of our incompetency, rather than to the limit of God’s omnipotency? (Hudson Taylor)

Joy is not the absence of trouble but the presence of Christ. (William VanderHaven)

A woman is like a tea bag: you never know how strong she is until you put her in hot water. (unknown)

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude about it. Don’t complain. (Maya Angelou)

A problem well stated is half-solved. (Neil Anderson) 

People who believe a problem can be solved tend to get busy solving it. (William Raspberry)

Problems are only opportunities in work clothes. (Henry J. Kaiser)

The answer to every dilemma is Christ. (Unknown)
* The above quotations were collected from various sources. I have done my best to quote and credit them correctly. Please inform me if you notice an error.

Introducing my Quote Garden!

“Most collectors collect tangibles. As a quotation collector, I collect wisdom, life, invisible beauty, souls alive in ink” (Terri Guillemet, webmaster of The Quote Garden). Today I am introducing the beginning of my own little Quote Garden. In the coming posts, I look forward to sharing my own growing collection. Enjoy!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Reading Corner: Punctuation Takes a Vacation

Who says grammar is tedious or boring? There are a number of lively picture books that cleverly illustrate rules of proper grammar. No need for punctuation to take a vacation when these fun books are around! Featured here are some of my favorites:

Punctuation Takes a Vacation by Robin Pulver, illustrated by Lynn Rowe Reed (2003).
"Oh no! Mr. Wright's class can't believe it. Every single punctuation mark in the classroom has gone on vacation! What will it be like without question marks, apostrophes, periods, and commas?" (from inside front jacket)

This story creatively demonstrates each of the punctuation marks in action. One of my favorite parts about the book is the post cards that each of the punctuation marks send, highlighting their individual personalities (i.e., their functions in grammar). A possible extension project/creative writing assignment to go along with this book could be to assign students particular punctuation marks and have them write post-cards to each other in the personalities of their given punctuation marks.   

Nouns and Verbs Have a Field Day by Robin Pulver, illustrated by Lynn Rowe Reed (2006).
"It's Field Day in Mr. Wright's class and not just for the students. Nouns and verbs want to play their own games, such as tug-of-words and three-legged races. But wait! No one is getting anywhere. First nouns and verbs will have to learn about the kind of teamwork needed to make a sentence" (from the inside front jacket).

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference! by Lynne Truss (2006). Lynne Truss has also written several companion picture books to Eats, Shoots & Leaves: Girl’s Like Spaghetti: Why, You Can’t Manage Without Apostrophes! (2007) and Twenty-Odd Ducks: Why, Every Punctuation Mark Counts! (2008).

Extension project idea: Students could make their own picture book like one of these by Lynne Truss. Each student in the class could select one punctuation rule to design an original sentence and illustration. Then the teacher could compile all the students’ contributions into one class  notebook. This project could easily be tailored for upper elementary through high school English classes.

If You Were an Adverb (Word Fun) by Michael Dahl, illustrated by Sara Gray (2006).  "If you were an adverb, you would often end in "ly." You could tell people how things happen, how often things happen, and when things happen. What else could you do if you were an adverb?" (from the back cover) This colorful book could be excellent to use in a lesson introducing adverbs.

This book is one of the Word Fun series, which highlight the various parts of speech.

Under, Over, By the Clover: What Is a Preposition (Words are Categorical) by Brian Cleary, illustrated by Brain Gable (2003). Brian Cleary has written a whole series of fun books about the parts of speech.  The cartoon-y illustrations and tongue-tickling rhymes keeps learning about grammar light-hearted.

Extension project/creative writing assignment idea: Students could compose their own tongue-tickler rhyme about one of the parts of speech they have learned.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Shadow of Your Wings

Shadow of Your Wings: Hymns & Sacred Songs by Fernando Ortega is another one of my all-time favorite CDs.  My friend and former supervisor, Jordan, introduced it to me last year when we were working together in the kitchen at Verity. I have fond memories of the two of us singing along heartily as we chopped vegetables.

Day or night, I love listening to Fernando Ortega's soothing musical arrangements of Scripture. Whenever I have trouble sleeping, I turn on this CD. As I meditate on God's word so beautifully expressed in these songs, my restless tossing and turning eventually gives way to peaceful slumber.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Reading Corner: Fresh Flower Arranging

It's obvious here my blog that I love flowers. As many of my posts showcase, I'm very fond taking pictures of flowers growing in nature. Alongside my mom, I've also grown up enjoying arranging flowers. Even though we have only basic-level skills, there's a lot that both Mom and I enjoy about designing delightful fresh flower arrangements to display in our home and to give to friends. Here are several of my favorite books about fresh flower arranging, that are excellent resources for amateurs. Each of these books contain helpful information and creative, accessible ideas for beginning enthusiasts. =)

Fresh Flower Arranging
by Mark Welford and Stephen Wicks

Flowers: Chic and Cheap by Carlos Mota

Fast Flowers (paperback version, 2000)
and Fast Flower Arranging (hardbook version, 1998)
by Jane Packer

Wedding Flowers by Sharon Naylor

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Style Secret: Second-Hand Style

Whenever a new season rolls around, I'm always a little baffled by my wardrobe. Why do I see my closets filled with clothes yet feel like I don't have outfits to wear? This season I've told myself I don't need more clothes--I just need more creativity. This Anthropologie-inspired ensemble (a shout out to my brother-photographer for capturing such great back lighting!) is second-hand style at my best: The navy and gold sash is vintage, borrowed from my mom's collection. The crotchet sweater is thrifted. And the navy skirt I recently refashioned, updating an old skirt I hadn't worn in years. Cheers!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Isaiah 40

I took this picture on my favorite bike path, the Chippewa Nature Trail, in Midland, MI.
This scene illustrates this Scripture verse very personally to me because much of my thinking,
daydreaming, venting, praying, and planning takes place along this path.

Poetry and promise—Isaiah 40 is an especially beautiful chapter of Scripture that has always been one of my favorites. Just recently I came across an outstanding message by Joshua Harris, entitled "Behold Your God," based on this powerful passage, inviting God's people to behold His majesty, glory and faithfulness. You can listen here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Style Secret: Fall Florals

Now that the beginning of fall has come to Michigan, I'm starting to transition my wardrobe. I'm excited about this floral skirt, which I found at the thrift store. I love the unusual color scheme and huge floral print! Roomy side pockets are an added bonus. =)

[shirt: Marshalls; belt: Kohl's; skirt: thrifted]

P.S. My brother was so kind to take these pictures, in the middle of watching a college football game! Isn't he terrific?! 

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Today is a landmark day for me! For a long time (like six years!) I've been deliberating about getting myself a little point-and-shoot digital camera, in addition to my SLR. I love my SLR, but there are many occasions when it's just not practical to lug around a clunky camera with gear. Consequently, I find that I miss out on recording a lot of wonderful things in life, because I don't have my camera on hand. Today I finally bought myself a Nikon Coolpix. I am so excited to think about all the beautiful things and happy memories that I'll get to capture with my Coolpix! I look forward to now being all the better equipped to documenting God's goodness around me: "I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works" (Psalm 9:1).

Monday, September 12, 2011

Blooming Flowers Beckon

When life is full of frustrations, I find that taking a few moments to intentionally enjoy the beauty and order in nature helps direct my focus back to my Wonderful Creator and Sustainer. Blooming flowers beckon me to join with their grateful praise that He holds all life in His wise, powerful, tender, faithful hands. Needing that reminder again this afternoon, I took a study break from my grad research papers to go on a brief photo-shoot at the Dow Gardens. Here are my favorite pictures from today. . . .

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Door, with a capital D

It’s been said that when God closes a door He opens a window.

I don’t completely agree.

Rather, I choose to believe that when God closes a door He opens another Door—Himself. He is the Door (John 10). Door, with a capital D. That’s one of His names, a facet of His character, part of His very essence. I love the way Elisabeth Elliot puts it: “It is in the acceptance of what is given that God gives Himself.”

Recent closed doors in my own life, ranging from irritating inconveniences (a broken blender when I’m trying to make a fruit smoothie) to major frustrations (unraveled plans for student teaching) to deep disappointments (a relationship not turning out as hoped), quite honestly leave me gasping for air. When multiple doors are slamming on me, forget a window; I need the Door.

I choose to believe that in His goodness, wisdom, power, and love, God, the Door, makes every closed door a wide open invitation—an invitation to trust Him more, to get to know Him more, to love Him more, to identify with Him more (see Romans 8:28-29). Ultimately, He knows how to use those maddening closed doors to open His glory to us.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Reading Corner: Ansel Adams' Examples

The photography of Ansel Adams is legendary. In Examples, Ansel Adams features 40 of his photographs and lets readers in on the behind-the-scenes story of each one. “As he talks about his work, you'll find Ansel the most informative and entertaining of guides whose insights shed light on the ultimately mysterious process by which creativity and craftsmanship fuse to produce a work of art” (from the inside jacket). As a photography enthusiast, I am inspired by the thoughts that Ansel Adams discloses in this book. Here are some of my favorite quotes from his commentaries:

“I trust that the creative eye will continue to function, whatever technological innovations may develop.”

“Either the photograph speaks to the viewer or it does not . . . . I believe that if I am able to express what I saw and felt, the image will contain qualities that may provide a basis for imaginative response by the viewer.”

“The photographer should not allow himself to be trapped by something that excites him only as a subject; if he does not see the image decisively in his mind’s eye, the result is likely to be disappointing. . . . I drove for many miles and saw much beauty around me, but no photographs.”

“Unless I had reacted to the mood of this place with some intensity of feeling, I would have found it a difficult and shallow undertaking to attempt a photograph.”

“Allow the eye to rove and experiment; I had to make many adjustments in composing the pictures. There is a moment of ‘intuitive rightness’ that clears the way for release of the shutter, but I often examine my photographs later to explore the possibilities of improvement in visualization and craft.”

“The creative process represents a combination of the intuitive and the logical.”
“I always encourage students to photograph everything they see and respond to emotionally.” 
“Immediacy is one aspect of photography; contemplation another.”
“It is impossible to explain or comprehend the miracle of the eye and mind in such feats as anticipating a “decisive moment.” We are concerned not only with a single aspect of the image, but with the complexity of the entire experience, a matter of the moment but also involving the realities of light, environment, and the fluid progress of perception from first glance to release of the shutter.”

Monday, September 5, 2011

Hide 'Em In Your Heart

When I was a kid, one of my top favorite audiocassette tapes was Steve Green’s Hide ’Em in Your Heart (vol. 1). Nowadays, I still love listening to the catchy Bible memory songs, on iTunes. All three volumes are so lively and joy-filled that sometimes I can’t help myself but sing and dance along. ;-) What a great way to learn and meditate on key Scripture verses!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

In the Land of the Living

I love how the Psalmist expresses his life experiences and his faith in God, in Psalm 27. Today I feel like I can definitely relate to him when he said, "I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living" (Psalm 27:13). Like the Psalmist, I've learned that when life doesn't seem to make sense, I need to search all the more determinedly and intentionally for God's beauty.

One of the best ways I cope with frustration, confusion, and disappointment is grabbing my camera for a photo-shoot—"Do not worry about your life. . . . Why are you anxious? . . . Consider the lilies . . ." Jesus woos (Luke 12:22-31). These pictures were taken this afternoon "in the land of the living"—specifically, at the Dow Gardens in Midland.