Thursday, March 31, 2011

Be Still

Be still and know that I am God... Be still and know that I am with you. 

These are the opening words to one of my all time favorite songs to sing in the church choir. I love the bluntness of them - it's like God's saying "Just be still because you know I'll take care of it!"
Things have been hectic on my side of the world lately - there have been a few family deaths in the past year and my uncle was recently diagnosed with cancer. It's been a long and bumpy road, and sometimes we don't know what God is doing through the journey - but we've got to be still and trust that He knows what He's doing.
Sometimes, when things seem to reach their climax and I just don't know how to respond, I'll go on a "God-walk". I go down to the pond and park by my house and just breathe. I talk to God - tell Him how I'm feeling, vent a little - and just be still and listen. A lot of times I need to just collect my thoughts and ultimately, the right decision shows itself through God's hand.
Are you going through a hard journey right now in your life? Do you sometimes feel like God isn't really showing you anything?
Maybe it's because you're too busy talking at God to hear what He has to say to you. Next time a struggle arises, be still. Listen. Pray. God's still there. He's watching over you and you've got to trust in Him to make the right path unfold for your life.

my quiet place
--Love MCat

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bloom! Staff Behind The Scenes-KyAnn

I also have a personal blog but it is invite-only at the moment plus I rarely post anymore because of my lack of time. So I decided to post my post on the staff blog! :)

1. Your blogging name, age/birthday (if you're allowed to reveal it on blogger), location (as detailed as allowed) and Bloom! staff position: (also - this is a great place to share your picture!)

Hey, ya'll! (Side note: No, I am not from the South; I just adore the word ya'll and relish any chance I get to say it without awkward backward glances! :) I'm KyAnn, the editor/manager and creator of Bloom! Magazine. Nice to meet you-if I haven't yet! I am 14 years old and will be 15 (eep!) on April 11. I live in the Midwest in Wichita, Kansas. Wichita's population is around 300,000 or so people and I love it! I'm not a big city girl, but definitely not a country girl, either! So I love Wichita and I've been born and raised here.

P.S. By the way, I apologize that my picture has a camera in front of my face but I seriously have almost zero photos of me because I'm always behind the camera. The only slightly decent photo I could find at the moment is this one, which, of course, still has my baby in it (my camera). Oh well. If I find one in the next couple of weeks without my camera in it, I'll add that to the post. Does anyone else have this problem?

2.  How many siblings do you have and what are their names/ages?

I am the oldest of four children. I have two sisters-Kenna, 12, and Kessa, 6. I also have a brother, Raydn, 9. I love being the oldest-most of the time! Except, of course, those occasions that I am designated to babysit the "sibs" when I already have plans. But, other than that, it's great! :)

3. How are you educated (homeschool, private school, public school, etc)?

I am currently homeschooled and I love it!! I hope to continue my home school education through high school. Just to give you a little history, I went to public school from kindergarten through seventh grade. At the start of my eighth grade year, my family made the switch to homeschooling and I absolutely love it!! I love the freedom, flexibility, and I definitely enjoy sleeping in later. Lol.

4. What denomination of Christian are you? What are your personal Christian beliefs, in a nutshell? (Realize that I'm definitely NOT trying to start any debates about Christianity here, so be charitable while answering this question or commenting on others' answers.)

Heehee, um, none? Actually, my church is a "non-denominational" church. So I am simply Christian! I believe that everyone who has ever walked this earth, except Jesus Christ, is a sinner and without Jesus would never be allowed into heaven. I believe that God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, down to earth to save me and you from our sins. I believe that Jesus Christ died and rose again. Because He took our sins and died on the cross for them, we have been given unbelievable grace from our sins. Jesus Christ is my personal Lord and Savior! I take every day with Him at my side and I strive to view Him as my best friend. That is something that has been somewhat of a struggle for me, simply because He is obviously not here in-the-flesh. But I'm working on it! So those are my beliefs "in a nutshell" (heehee, love ya, Hannah!). 

5.What are some of your hobbies - such as sports, musical instruments, artistic talents, etc.

Well, let's see, I am most certainly not into sports (every time I try it seems that I end up with a ball to my face! Not a good combination, by the way!) and I can't draw-at all. Unless cartoons and stick figures count! :) Some of my hobbies are reading, writing, photography (!!!), graphic design, babysitting, cooking, baking, talking and giggling late into the night with my best friend, running the magazine (of course!), and eating cookie dough or hot fudge sundaes. Love. :)

6. Describe your personality in a few sentences:

Okey-dokey! In real life, I am fairly quiet when I first meet a person. I don't like to make waves or take charge or be bossy. I just like to kind of fade into the background a little bit at first. But, once I get to know you, I will talk a mile a minute, giggle fanatically at crazy inside jokes, and jump up and down and/or hug you like I haven't seen you in years when in all actuality, it has only been hours. So, beware! I am more of a night person than a morning person and if you give me caffeine plus stay up until the wee hours of the morning with me, consider yourself warned that I can get a little bit crazy and wild. We're talking insane laughter at, like, 3 AM for absolutely no reason at all! I have also been told that I am a "go getter" (the magazine is evidence of that!). I definitely try to go after my dreams and goals to the best of my ability!

7. Do you consider yourself more of a girly-girl or a tomboy? Or somewhere in between?

I'm really neither, or somewhere in between. I lean more towards girly-girl, though. Like I said, I'm really not into sports at all and I loathe getting dirt under my fingernails (pet peeve of mine!) and bugs make me scream in terror! I promise, though, I'm not a flaky, princess girly-girl. I wouldn't really say that I'm overally girly-girlish, I'm just not a tomboy. I paint my nails, do my hair (usually for about 5 minutes because I pushed snooze on my alarm clock too many times!), occasionally pick out super-cute outfits (when I haven't slept in too long!), and put on makeup every day. So would you consider me to be a girly-girl?

8. Picture yourself ten years from now. What will you be doing, where will you be living, etc?

Well. This is a hard question because I have no idea what God has planned for me! But, if I were to plan it out, this is what it would look like: In ten years, I would be 24-25. I hope to be married, have at least one child, have plans to adopt, be a stay at home, homeschooling mom, and own our own house. I also hope to still be running Bloom! Magazine (maybe even have the magazine in print?!)! 

9. What is some of your favorite books? Favorite movies? Favorite foods?

Sorry, but I really can't answer the favorite books question. I have too many! Plus, my favorite book changes depending on what book I read recently. I love Amish books and Christian teen fiction. Some of my favorite authors are Melody Carlson, Sandra Byrd, Nancy Rue, and Beverly Lewis. My favorite movie would probably be Fireproof or The Last Song. Chick flicks are my favorite movies!!

10. What got you interested in becoming a part of Bloom?

Haha, well, since I kind of started Bloom! I can't say how I found out about Bloom or anything. But I can tell you how it is that I went about starting Bloom! Will that be ok? I saw the need for wholesome, Christian magazines in the world (online and otherwise!) and felt a tugging on my heart that I should start a Christian magazine. But, at first, I really didn't want to do that. Yes, it would be fun but it would also be a lot of hard work and it would be a stretch for me, taking me way out of my comfort zone. To give you the shortened version, I did (obviously!) eventually respond to God's call and took a step in faith and created this magazine. I have loved this experience and though it has been tough at times, I truly can say that I am super glad that I followed God and created this magazine. Besides, if I hadn't, I wouldn't have met all of ya'll (there's that word again!)! :)

11. What's one way - or more - that you've been blessed, inspired, and/or challenged through becoming a part of Bloom?

Where do I begin?! I have been so blessed by each of the staff members of Bloom! Magazine. Not only have I made some amazing new friends but you guys are really inspiring to me personally. When I see the ways that you are striving to become closer to God, it makes me want to do more of that. Your articles reveal so much about your heart and your character and how you live your lives for Christ! I look up to several of the older girls on the staff and they have really shown me what it's like to live a life fully set-apart for Jesus Christ. Bloom! has challenged me because it has made me really step out of my comfort zone. Like I said earlier, I typically am not a take-charge, bossy type of person (especially with people I have never met!!) but being the editor has forced me into a leadership position. That has really helped me to stretch myself and do some things that I had never done before. I still don't like being bossy but I'm getting to where I can take charge (not in a bossy way, but a kind way!) when needed.

12. What is your favorite thing about Bloom! as well as one thing you would like to see improved behind-the-scenes?

My favorite thing about Bloom! is reading the emails that have been sent to me telling me how much the magazine has blessed, inspired, or challenged them. I love seeing the results of our work at Bloom! Magazine. Another one of my favorite things is getting to work with all of you lovely ladies! I really do love each of my new friends that I have met through Bloom! and it is such fun working with you and getting to know each of you better personally. One thing I would like to see improved behind-the-scenes is staff interaction. I know I need to work on this more! I would like to see the staff working together more, getting ideas from each other, and helping each other out. I really would like it to be like a close family behind-the-scenes. Now I just have to figure out how to make that happen! :) Any suggestions?

13. What brings you inspiration?

Nature brings me inspiration, seeing God's glorious creation every single morning. As you know, I am a photographer and a writer. Photography helps me to see beauty in even the most simple things. I can go outside and find a blade of grass with dew sprinkled on it and that is beauty to me. But, ultimately, it is God's nature itself that brings me inspiration. Wonderful things in nature inspire me to capture a photo in a new and more creative way. Nature inspires me to script beautifully descriptive words into a notebook, describing the glory and awe-inspiring creation of our Father.

14. If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go? Who would you take with you and how long would you stay?

If I could travel anywhere in the whole entire world, I would go to Paris, France. Or on a cruise to the Bahamas. It's a toss-up; can I go to both?! :) I have always wanted to go to the Bahamas as well as Paris, so that is where I would choose to go. If I had to choose only one, though, I would probably pick Paris. Ah...the city of love, with its twinkling lights, magnificent views, impeccable fashion, and delicious food. Who would I take with me? Why, of course, I would take all of you with me! If I could choose anybody, I would honestly choose to take all of you lovely ladies (so I could meet all of you in real life!), my best friend (who is actually on the staff, anyway!), as well as her mom and sister, my mom, and my sister. Wouldn't that be super fun?! I agree! Let's start planning it! *wink* If only...

15. What's your favorite dessert/treat?

Hot fudge sundaes!!!! And cookie dough. And fudge brownies. Enough said.

16. Coffee, tea, or soda?

Soda all the way! Although, we call it pop here (haha, I love all the discussion on whether to call it soda, pop, or coke!). My all-time favorite drink is Dr. Pepper!! So, if you ever happen to have me over to your house and would like suggestions on drink selections, go with Dr. Pepper. :) I'll drink tea, but I don't adore it. And I really don't like coffee-at all. I know, I know. I do enjoy the "froofy" drinks at Starbucks, minus the coffee (another Hannah quote! Gotta love her!). :)

17. What's your favorite color combination? Or combinations? ;-)

Green and blue, orange and hot pink, and grey and light pink. :) Although I don't really think about it that much, only when I'm designing something on the computer. Or picking out something for my room. Or randomly drawing smilie faces and doodling. Ok, so maybe I do think about it occasionally.  

18. What's your favorite time of year? What about least favorite?

Honestly, I always say that winter is my favorite time of year during summer but then I say summer is my favorite time of year during winter, soo... I think I'll go with fall and spring because it's nice and cool, but not freezing and not blazing hot! :) I really don't know, though, I'm very confused about the subject.

19. Would you rather have one very close best friend or a group of close friends?

One very close best friend. But, I would love to have both! Right now, I have one very close best friend (you know who you are!) as well as quite a few close friends and several just "normal" friends. The best of both worlds!

20. Who is a role model for you in your life today (could be your mom, grandma, family friend, celebrity, etc.)?

I actually have a lot of role models! My mom is a role model for me for sure but I also have several older friends and ladies that I know from my church and such that are role models for me. I don't think you have to have just one. I think it is good to have many people that you look up to and can go to for advice. Just my little opinion.

21. Share a favorite quote or Bible verse. Why is it your favorite?

My favorite Bible verse is

Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future."

I love this verse because it reminds me that God is in control and that He has a perfect plan for me. He knows exactly what He is doing and He has every day planned out for me. It shows me that I just need to trust and rest in Him.

22. What is one thing that you've been trying to accomplish in 2011?

One thing that I have been working on lately is spending quiet time with God every morning. Reading the Word, praying, and just being still and listening for His quiet voice. Let me tell you, it is not as easy as it sounds! Just being quiet and still is actually quite challenging. But I'm working on it.

23. What is one way (or more!) that you are trying to strengthen your relationship with Jesus right now?

Right now I am focusing on reading God's Word more and spending time in prayer. Also, I am going to start memorizing more Scripture than just what is required of me for school and such. Memorizing Scripture is a great way to get to know more about Christ, grow closer to Him, and it is definitely an amazing tool (especially when talking to non-believers!)! I totally recommend it.

Bloom! Magazine is an online, Christian magazine for tween and teen girls. It is geared towards 11-20 year old young ladies. It features inspiring articles, recipes, an advice column with questions from our subscribers, amazing interviews, and much, much more in each issue! If you are interested in subscribing to Bloom! Magazine, visit today! You won't regret it!

This has been great fun!! I really enjoyed doing it and I love reading all of the posts! I can't wait to see more as they pop up each day! :) Thanks again, Hannah, for organizing this! You are an amazing, super sweet girl. And so are the rest of you. Love you all! :)


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Staff Behind the Scenes - Allison

 Hannah and KyAnn, I think this is a marvelous idea. (I do have a blog, but it's an invite-only blog. I hope you don't mind if I put up my post here.) I look forward to getting to know my fellow staff members better.

1. My name is Allison. I'm thirteen, with a birthday in the middle of November. I live in Texas, and I'm a photographer on Staff 2.

2.  I have nine siblings - five sisters and four brothers, ages six months to seventeen years. They're fun. They're goofy. They're creative. They're blessings.

3. I have been homeschooled my whole life, and I'm thankful for it. When I grow up, I plan to homeschool my kids, as well.

4. My church is what is called "Reformed Baptist;" I am, too. Let me pull out some of my preacher's-daughter phrases for you. I believe in the complete sovereignty of God; in baptism of believers; that God chooses those He is to save, not us; that Christ Jesus was all God, all man, and our only hope of salvation.

5. I enjoy almost any sport, and I love to sing. I'm going to start piano lessons this Friday, something I had been wanting to do. I also want to learn the violin someday. I love to write, and, obviously, photography. I love to take unconventional pictures, especially of people, and to edit them.

6. I'm rather quiet - I tend to keep my thoughts to myself around most people - and quite shy. I'm very much a night person; I like to design things; my favorite board game is Clue and my favorite card game is Nerts. I love to be outside, especially in wide, empty spaces when it's windy and warm. I'm something of a perfectionist.

7. I'm a girly-girl. I like clothes, shoes, hairstyles, jewelry, the works. Sometimes I'm afraid I focus too much on those things; my beauty is to come from the inside - "a meek and quiet spirit" - and not from them. At the same time, it's built into girls to be feminine, and we should embrace that.

8. In ten years, I'll be twenty-three. (That's seeming really far away right now, but I know I'll be there before I know it.) Obviously I don't know what God's plans are for me, but I see myself getting married somewhere around that time. I want to have published a book by then - we'll see whether that happens or not! As for college, I'd like to look into online courses.

9. Some of my favorite books are The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Hiding Place, Mara, Daughter of the Nile, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Great and Terrible Quest.  I love the movie versions of The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Chronicles of Narnia. As for my favorite foods, I love almost any Mexican food, spaghetti with lots of cheese, supreme pizza, and chef salad.

10. I received an email forward sending out the news when Bloom! was just beginning last year. It included the website and KyAnn's email, if I'm remembering correctly. I applied for a position on the staff of either photographer or writer, and was accepted as a photographer. I was attracted to the project because I very much agree with the vision and goal of KyAnn and everyone else involved, and I wanted to be a part of it.

11. Through Bloom!, I have been convicted to be more active in my faith. I've also been challenged to achieve a greater excellence in my photography by seeing others' work, and learned lessons about deadlines and promises through dealing with sweet KyAnn each issue that I help with.

12. My favorite thing about Bloom!, quite frankly, is the finished product. That may be obvious, but it's really a great thing to see so much time, effort, creativity and faith come together in such a wonderful magazine. Each issue, I'm grateful for the work being done through this organization!

13. I'm inspired by the wind. Besides being amazing and beautiful in itself, it's a powerful example of God's ultimate control over every detail.

14. If I could travel anywhere in the world right now, I'd like to go to England. I would take about eight friends and three sisters, and stay out in the country for a while during the spring. So many books set in England describe the springs that it makes me want to see for myself, and then everything there is so old compared to things here in America.

15. My favorite dessert is vanilla Blue Bell ice cream. (*Faints.*) I also love homemade apple pie.

16. Coffee, tea or soda? - Well, soda, except that here we call it Coke. =)

17. My favorite color combination is dark pink, light pink, light blue, and white. I also like light green, light blue, pink, and black as a combination.

18. My favorite time of year is summer, although I love spring as well. My least favorite time is January. Cold. Gray. Uneventful.

19. I would rather have a very close "best" friend than a group of good friends, although I'd love to have both.

20. There are about four ladies in my church who are role models to me (one of whom is my mother). Together they make up the picture of who I'd like to be.

21. I think my all time favorite Bible verse is Hebrews 13:5, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." It's pretty obvious why - it's an explicit assurance of God's faithfulness and love. I also like some of the verses in Ecclesiastes which tell how it is for man (and woman) to work hard and enjoy his rest when he gets it.

22. In 2011 I've been trying to speak gently. I can't say I've had much success, but I'm trying. Maybe by the time I'm fifty I'll have it down completely. Until then, it's one of my New Year resolutions.

23. I'm trying to strengthen my relationship with Jesus by building up a habit of prayer. I usually pray for about fifteen minutes a day, and while that's good, I still try to do more, not because I think it's vital to my salvation or anything but because of what it does for me.

Thank you, girls! I had fun.