Get To Know Me

September 30, 2010

{1} How do you personally define forgiveness?
Forgiveness? Gees, I've really never thought about it before. But what I do know is that forgiveness is Grace, and Grace is of God. I would much rather have graceful forgiveness than sweet revenge. It's a beautiful gift from God to his adopted children!

{2} What object of your possession has the most sentimental value in your eyes?
Now most will probably say "my iPod". a way that might be true. But I find that the most important possession is my Bible. I may not read it often, but there is a deep connection...almost like a bond that I have developed with this book.... Sounds crazy don't it? Hey, it's true! It's more of a connection with the Lord, but the Bible somehow makes me feel closer to him. (Am I crazy for thinking this?) Though I constantly take that book for granted, it's the only book that combines romance, history, action and drama into one....a perfect story told by an even more perfect Savior. 

{3} What song do you consider your personal theme song?
Atmosphere by Toby Mac. Want to know a little secret? Well, I used to be a very unhappy girl. I was always the focus of other kids teasing, back-stabbing and verbal abuse. I wasn't so popular.... I had "friends", but they really weren't my friends. There were times when I was so sad, I wondered if God really cared about me, whether he ever wanted me to be happy and to have a friend. I only wanted one, and I prayed constantly for God to give me a friend--a true friend. 
I  know you keep a journal and every page is rippled
From the tears that you cry, ain't no meanin' to your scribble
'Cause words can't describe what you've been feelin' inside
It's like thousand foot walls, and they're still on the rise
But look up to a beautiful sound
And see for yourself you're not that far down
And know this, I cannot love a little
My promise to you is unconditional
 This song has really helped me. I have always said that God used this song to speak to me, to help me understand that no matter how bleak life may seem, no matter how lonely life is, there is always God to turn to. He is love and his promise and friendship is true. Just after hearing this song, something amazing happened to me...I met and amazing girl at a church in Goodletsville, Tennessee. Her name was Megan Bryant. She was a beautiful soul! And in many ways she was just like me: lonely, hurt, and hungering for a friend who would be true. I was so blessed. I got to spend four years with this amazing person (truly a God send) before I had to move to a new church closer to home. I still miss her. And whether or not she knows this, she saved my more ways than one.
Another one that I have recently added to my theme song collection is a song called Courage by Superchick. I have been going through a lot this past four years that have accumulated into a pulsing mixture of hatred, resentment, and disgust. Unfortunately, the outcome of this isn’t pretty, and it does come with consequences that I now have to face. Along with these emotions that have been bottled up inside of me, I also have a self-image issue. Yeah, I know. I talk a lot about beauty. But this is because I want you girls to see your worth! Those posts are from a girl who’s been there and knows how you feel and has had to learn to accept herself for who she is. And this song “Courage” has also helped me realize that I need to, more than ever, give over my whole life to the Lord. I need to surrender to His love and allow Him to help me through this time. 
I don't know the first time I felt unbeautiful
The day I chose not to eat
What I do know is how I changed my life forever
I know I should know better
There are days when I'm okay
And for a moment
For a moment I find hope
But there are days when I'm not okay
And I need your help
So I'm letting go
I need you to know
I'm not through the night
Some days I'm still fighting to walk towards the light
I need you to know
That we'll be okay
Together we can make it through another day

{4} Do the opinions of others about you really matter to you?
Of course it does, but not in the form of hurt feelings and holding a continual pity party for myself (I've learned how to deal with those feelings). No, the opinions of people—about the work that I do—makes me more determined to succeed and do better; to show them that "Yes, I can do it. You will not have control over the way I feel."And now that some things are being exposed in my life, some emotions and past hurts, I am beginning to realize that even thought I told myself “stick and stones may break my bones, but unkind words won’t harm me”, it was all in vain. It was because even though I told myself it didn’t bother me, subconsciously it did. It really does matter when you get down to the heart of the matter. 

{5} Do you ever make up words?
Yes. All of the time; not intentionally, though. I am famous for making up words...I get twisted a lot). Some of them are just plain funny and have become a new part of my vocabulary. :)

{6} Off the top of your head, do you know what your middle name means? (You can look it up though! :)
Yes, I do. My middle name is Shae (obvious!). The origin of my name is Celtic/Gaelic, German and African which goes every well, I think, with my last name which is Scandinavi: Kirk (meaning From The Church). My middle name (Shae) means: Hawk in Celtic/Gaelic, Beautiful in German, and Esteemed in African. Put my whole name together (meaning wise) and you get: The Industrious Hawk From The Church!
{7} What's something that never fails to make you smile?
My sissy! She's such a goof ball. Everything she does makes me laugh...I know that sounds low, but if you knew her, you'd like all the time, too. It's because she's got such a fun-loving nature about her. :)

{8} What person has touched your heart the most?
My mommy. She's everything I hope to be. She's so loving, accepting and caring.

{10} Who is your personal hero/heroine (fiction or real, or both) ? Why?
My mom and dad are my heroes. I know this isn't very original, but who doesn't consider their parents to be the people they look up to and wish to be? My mom and dad have done so much for my siblings and I that I am eternally grateful for the blessed parents God has blessed me with. 

{11} Are you curious or are you satisfied knowing that "that's just the way it is"?
"Please tell me! I want to know--what do you mean?" Oh, yeah, I can't stand it when people look at me and answer vaguely "that's just the way it is"? Come on people--what's that supposed to mean?!

{12} Do you ever get into arguments with...your characters? (That is, if you write a book :). And if you don't write, do you think you would?
No. I love my characters and let them do their own thing. I think that enables them to develop their own, unique character... rather than forcing them to be someone they weren't meant to be. I don't argue with my characters because that's just pointless. But I do have pep-talks with them!

{13}While reading a book or watching a movie, were you ever blown away by an unexpected plot twist? What was it and how did you react?
Not really, I usually catch on pretty quickly to the twist in the book plots. However, there was a movie that I got lost in because the twist to the plot was most unexpected. I can't remember the name of the Movie, but the guy was already dead and didn't know it. He was helping this little boy who could see dead people. He knew this guy was dead, but the guy didn't...until the end of the movie. 

{14} What's your favorite color combination?
 I tend to be drawn to a collaboration of colors. I prefer to the highest degree the following colors in any combination:  neon green, neon blue, neon yellow, neon orange, neon purple, and neon pink. Of course I do like rustic orange, turquoise, custard/country yellow, and a misty green.

{15} As a child, what was one thing that always frightened you? This could be something real or imagined! :)
The boogie man! I used to hide under the covers all night barely able to breath, but at least I felt safe. It didn't help that I slept in a loft and very close to an attic!

{16} What's your life motto?
I have several:
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Eleanor Roosevelt
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." Bill Cosby
"If anyone were to ask me what I want out of life I would say- the opportunity for doing something useful, for in no other way, I am convinced, can true happiness be attained." Eleanor Roosevelt
“Why shed tears on failures long forgotten when hope looms on the horizon?” Charles Casha

{17} What's something that's brought you so much comfort?
My stuffed Elephant and 3 blankets I've had since I was born. Yep, I'm still 2 at heart. :P

Allow me to introduce you to...

September 29, 2010

I am in the process of editing/ rewriting my novel The Lost Get Found. It has been a tedious task in a sense, because I find myself wandering in all different directions. I am completely unable to focus at times, which makes it harder on my to complete the task at hand. 

But, the good news is this: I finally put faces to all of my characters! Yay me! Ha! 

I have to say, this has been a pressing feat to overcome. It was hard to find pictures to match the look I was going for with each character. The faces had to not only match the character's personality, but the name too. 

Whew! Now that that's over, I can move along in my editing/ rewriting, oh and adding additional material to the novel! Gees, when will I ever finish? I writers work is never done, I guess!
Now, let me introduce you to my characters. I don't believe you've met them before. If you have, well, you are about to meet my new and improved versions...

Natalie Steel
Natalie Steel is a hard working farm girl whose life currently revolves around being the most popular girl in school. Little does she know or realize just how effective one kind work or a helping hand can be until it is too late. When her best friend Gracie commits suicide, Natalie realizes that her obsession with popularity has destroyed more than just her perception; it has destroyed her friendship and was quickly destroying her family. Natalie is determined to never let this happen again. But she does not look highly on the idea of having to choose between her popularity and doing the right thing. So, when a new girl enters the school and is being treated roughly, Natalie decides to take a stand a risk loosing everything she has worked so hard to achieve.

Joseph Blair

Joseph Blair is the self-proclaimed 'bad boy'. Although he is a smart guy with great looks, Joseph (AKA: Joe) has not always been, as Natalie puts it, a "freaking ray of sunshine". In fact, Joe has been in the Juvenile Correction Facility for the past three years serving for a crime he did not commit. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Instead of passing the blame on to his friend who rightly deserved the punishment, Joe took the heat and willingly served in his friend's stead. Now, Joe comes out with a new view on things. Jail has hardened him. But he tries to still be his old self by putting on an act. He knows this isn't who he is, and Natalie knows to. So when she confronts him about his front, he spills his life story to her. Now, not only does Natalie have one person she's witnessing to, but now she feels that she must help Joe, who is becoming more interested in this whole God thing, understand as well.

Rachel Raymond
She is the new girl at school. The girl everyone makes fun of for being a adopted and for being 'curvy'. She is a Latino mix with an adorable accent. Her life before being adopted wasn't always positive, in fact, it never was. Her mother had become a heroin addict shortly after Rachel's father abandoned them. Rachel had five other siblings from various fathers and had been verbally and sexually abused by them all. She now lives with two amazing Christian parents who love her, but do not know who to reach her. She is distant and cold, angry and scared. She does not believe in God and curses him daily for making her life a miserable wreck. That is, until Natalie steps in and takes Rachel by the hand, showing her the love of Christ through an unshakable friendship. Natalie will not know how much her being there for Rachel meant, until that liberating Graduation Day when Rachel shares her reflects on the past.

David 'Davie' Adams
David is a quirky, 6'3" tech-geek. Unlike the others, David is very religious: a Youth Leader and popular Bass player at his church. He is often overly excited and gets overly stimulated on soda and sugary snacks if he is allowed to eat them. He has a huge crush on Rachel and often dreams of the two of them getting married. He tries not to, though. His main focus is to remain pure, both mind and body, so he tried to avoid Rachel. But that is hard to do considering they have classes together. With this problem, he panics and goes to Natalie for advice. David is also intrigued by Natalie's determination to be the light and salt at their school, so he decided to ask Natalie if he can help, too. Natalie takes a chance and recruits David to help her reach and witness to Joe and Rachel. 

Carly Lambert
A very preppy teen with a sense of fashion and very rich parents. She is very naive and ignorant-almost to the point of stupidity. But do not let her senselessness distract you from her genius. She has plans on becoming a Christian Teen Counselor and excels in math. She loves to knit, which is not expected out of someone who could care less for wearing anything that did not come from a Banana Republic store. She may be materialistic, but in a sense, that is who she is. However, God has plans for Carly and they do not involve Gucci Bags, Pumps, or Versace. Carly encounter what it truly means to be happy and what it is like to truly help someone in need.

Kevin King
A really shy guy who keeps to himself most of the time. He is also new to the school and doesn't know anyone. He is a nervous and anxious fellow who becomes friends with Joseph and David. He is a natural skateboarder who loves to cook. His favorite dish is Sushi. Hanging out with Natalie and the gang helps Kevin to slowly creep out of his shell and become a more outgoing person. He will need to be more outgoing if he is to ever go out with the rambunctious and bubbly, Carly Lambert-the girl he has his heart set on. While hanging out with Natalie and the others, Kevin becomes more and more interested in knowing more about the Maker of the Universe.

your story is worth telling

September 28, 2010

Not only is your story worth telling, but it can be told in words so painstakingly eloquent that it becomes a song. -Gloria Naylor

Update: Grandpa and Cancer

September 26, 2010

From what I know, Grandpa's chemo and radiation has been put on hold again due to his low white blood cell count. This can be both good and bad news: 1) he's not feeling sick, 2) it may or may not be a good thing when fighting his evasive cancer.

I also know that he will be going in for a Dr. visit some time soon to see if they need to remove his whole bladder or only a part of it. We pray it's a partial removal, but we leave the outcome up to God. He's the ultimate Dr.

Please keep him in your prayers, everyone! He seems to be doing okay, but when we talked with him last on Skype, he was having a difficult time talking about this to us without tearing up. I know this is to be expected from a person who is battling a life or death situation, but I ask that you will join with me to pray for a comforting peace and hedge of protection around him and my Grandma.

If you would like to keep up with his progress, or would like to show your support (I'm sure he'd love followers and people to leave comments) *wink-wink*, he has a blog called A Journey with God and Cancer. He's such an inspiration.

Thank you in advance for all your support and Christian love!

By Faith

September 25, 2010

Listen to the message of Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast.” How many Scriptures does God need to put in front of our face before we get the idea—salvation is not by merit?

If you work, you can understand that having a job can be unquestionably complicated, demanding, and stressful. Jobs require us to work ourselves to death in order to get the results we are looking for--money, power, recognition. We spend our whole lives trying to gain something so futile and then end up loosing it as fast as we acquired it. These are earthly riches...they will not last.

With God, we do not have to work in order to receive salvation, in fact, Christianity is not about how much you can or will work (people will tell you differently) at all. It is all about FAITH. Do you have faith in God that He can move mountains-enough faith that when you accept Him as your Lord and Savior you will have everlasting life?

It really should not come as a surprise to me that so many people have a hard time understanding and accepting that in order to receive Christ, all they have to do is "confess with [their] mouth, "Jesus is Lord,"and believe in [their] heart that God raised him from the dead, [they] will be saved. For it is with [their] heart that [they] believe and are justified, and it is with [their] mouth that [they] confess and are saved" (Romans 10:9-10...[their] and [they] added emphasis).  

One of the many reasons why many non-believers find Christ unbelievable is that we as Christians do not act out what we preach. If we continue to speak, but never put those words into action, then no one will ever believe, understand, or even want to know the power behind what we have to say. From DC Talk's 'What If I Stumble', they begin their song with these very powerful and thought provoking words that tie (give or take) beautifully into the subject of this post: "The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable."

Therefore, when we do extra work in order to try and obtain a more spiritual foundation and standing with Christ, we not only work to receive something that is given freely, but we in turn put doubt into people's minds. "What will happen if I do not work for what I have been given: everlasting life, heaven, Christ, etc.- will I loose it all as easily as it came?"  We have to be careful about what we say, do, and how we act because people not only question our faith and religion, but they begin to question the merit of the Bible and what we say. If they see us preaching on love, but we do not act out that love in which we so strongly spoke of, how do you think the world will perceive us as? 

There is no work involved in becoming a Christian. One must simple believe with their heart and acknowledge Christ with their mouth. How truly and beautifully simplistic is that? And yet, it is so hard for many to comprehend. No wonder people in this world are so lost. They look to us to give them the answer, but instead we give them a stained glass masquerade-nothing that reflects the kind of love, friendship, and acceptance that Christ has bestowed upon us. 

So jobs aren't easy, neither is the Christian life. However, it is a darn good adventure filled with ups and downs that are waiting to be explored and conquered. And, I for one, and ready for that unexpected, unexplainable, and unbelievable rush of adrenalin, sense of Peace, and knowledge that I am bound forever in the blood of Jesus Christ!

The Way Home

September 24, 2010

let me just say this: if you are looking for an action packed Godly movie, then this is for you! If you consider trying to find a lost son action, then there's plenty of that. In fact, it's so suspenseful and the actors (mainly Dean Cain) so good that it makes you want to cry because you can feel their pain.

And when the whole town rallies together in search of this little boy, well, that tends to pull on your heart strings, too. It gives you an inside look at the very fact that through the dimness of this forsaken world, there is still a glimmer of hope and love.

I adored this movie and suggest you go see it NOW! You will love this movie. It reminded me so much of Facing the Giants-with it's Godly message and spiritual content. A must watch for the whole family. :)

I review for BookSneeze

Perfect Peace- Author Unknown

There once was a King who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The King looked at all the pictures, but there were only two he really liked and he had to choose between them.
One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for peaceful towering mountains were all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.

The other picture had mountains too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell, in which lightening played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all.

But when the King looked, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest ... perfect peace.

Which picture do you think won the prize?

The King chose the second picture.

Do you know why?

"Because," explained the King, "peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace."

Addendum -- John 16:33 (NLT)   "I have told you all this so that you may have 'peace' in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."

Get To Know Me

September 23, 2010

{1} Were you named after anyone?
Well, yes and no. My first name isn't connected to any family member that I know of. But my middle name is the same as my aunts. We call her Aunt Shae. And I think it would be cool for my nieces and nephews to do the same! Either that or Auntie Em. 
{2} Do you like your handwriting?
Do I? Um, no! It depresses me just how juvenile I write by hand. It's atrocious and childlike. I don't know how to write cursive and because my hand tends to spazz, it's impossible to write a perfect page paragraph without having to start all over! I'm a little OCD about clean and neat paper and handwriting. It can take me up to 3 days to write just one page of a letter!

{4} What's your favorite lunch meat?
Well, I know it isn't bologna. I actually don't really have a favorite because I am not that picky. I love ham and roast beef, and if the occasion calls for it, even turkey.

{5}What's your favorite cereal? 
It's a toss up between Rice Crispies or Cream of Rice. Yeah, I know, what a variety! C:

{6} Do you untie you shoes when you take them off?
Oh, please...I don't even wear shoes! Well, at least not normally. When I go running, on vacation, or drive, I wear some type of shoe, but if I do, I would NEVER untie it....never! :P

{7} What's your favorite flavor of Ice Cream?
I don't have one. I am lactose intolerant. But Tropical Fusion and Lime Sherbet is the bomb! 
{8} What's the least favorite thing about yourself?
I can't just stop and smell the roses. I always have to be active and doing some hard manual labor.  
{9} What are you listening to right now? 
For personal reasons, I am listening to Courage by Superchick. 
{10} Favorite smells?
I love the smell of fresh bread, vanilla, old books & libraries, camp fire, apple pie, nutmeg, lavender & rosemary, the country, and coconut shampoo.

A Writer's Life For Me

September 22, 2010

"A writer's life for me". Those words could not ring truer that they do now. As I sit in my living room, a mood of  melancholy disposition has captured my creative mind. The rhythmical pitter-patter of the rain transcends over my imagination, causing my mind to wander, to dream, to become a place of creativity, composition and spirited flurries of feverish splurges of verbs, nouns, and adjectives jotted aimlessly onto paper. I write these words out on paper with a hyper anticipation of being uniquely spontaneous with the composition of my words, as they slowly form into sentences.

Writing a novel isn't instantaneous. In fact, the configuration of words that make up a novel takes time, thought, and years of collecting and processing the facts that make the novel practical and believable. Outlines are needed to keep one's self organized and on track. It's not impossible to go head-first into writing a novel without planning first. Yet, planning the characters and scenes form beginning to end result in a pleasurable, highly productive, and intriguing experience.

Lately I have found myself lacking motivation to continue on with my expansive collection of unfinished novels that I have left to their own devices. In the back of my head the ideas and plans for these novels, that I have left without a purpose and an end, swarm like millions of little fire flies waiting to yet again capture my attention. The wild ideas that come with each unfinished novel only result in empty pages and a meaningless title.

However, there is one novel of mine that has continued to keep my ever wandering attention. This novel-- a novel about specific experience in my life put into a fictional setting-- never ceases to amaze me as it unfolds into a gripping and beautiful concoction of masterful words, characters, and scenes.

Natalie Steel is a former home-schooler who's stuck in a rut. She's a popular cheerleader at White House High school and really doesn't "fit-in". She's got a rather touchy-feely boyfriend who she can't stand and is pressuring her to trade in her purity for a lifetime of pain and guilt. On top of the pressure to become sexual, Natalie has just found out that her best friend Gracie has commuted suicide due to bullying. Natalie blames herself for the terrible tragedy. Had she been a better friend and stood up for Gracie, she would still be alive. Or would she? Could Natalie have actually prevented Gracie's death by sticking up for her? Would that have even made a difference?
The idea for this novel, which is titled The Lost Get Found, is essentially a book about me. Of course this novel is put into a fictional setting, with fictional characters, scenes, and so-forth. I must confess, the story plot to The Lost Get Found is "perhaps" more exaggerated that the reality, because many of the characters, scenes, names, and some instance have been added to make the novel more interesting to readers. Henceforth, a fictional retelling of what I went through a long time ago. It's just put into a different context and an idealistic plot that I believe is original and unique to the world of novels.

Natalie wants to talk to someone about her feelings, but ever since her Grandma Sadie died, Natalie has become distant from her family. For a long time after Gracie's death, she goes into a transit state of depression--that is until her Brother and the grace of God intervene and pull her out of her grieving and melancholy state of mind. Now, once again Natalie has to face the decision to be God's light or to let it burn out. Which will she choose? There's a girl at school who needs her, but will she be willing to leave everything behind to save this poor lost soul? 
So, the question now is whether or not I will finish this book before it is succumbed to the "grave yard of dreams".  Continuing to write this novel is one thing. Actually finishing it is a whole other story. My dream is to become a published author. I don't particularly want the fame and recognition that comes with the title of author, I just want the satisfaction that all my hard work has finally been revealed to and accepted by the world. Will I have the courage, like Natalie, to follow my heart and allow God to direct my path? Or will I end up one of those people who wish they had done more in their youth? Time will tell what the future holds. As for me, I have to get back to telling Natalie's story of courage, hope and faith.

Love Yourself

It was dark that night. The weather looked promising, even with the few dark rain clouds in the sky. Kayla Boone looked out her bedroom window. It was prom night and she was nervously waiting her guy-friend Chad Bolton to come and pick her up. She looked at her watch and sighed—it was 7:00 and still no Chad.

‘Where is he?’ Kayla wondered.

She ran her hands down her silk, blue prom dress. Her mother had taken her shopping for it months ago. She remembered how she had ached for prom night so she could finally wear the dress of her dreams. And now, she wasn’t so sure she would actually get the chance.

She waited and waited for Chad to come. She looked at her watch again. “Only seven fifteen?!” she said impatiently.

“At this rate I’ll never go to the prom.’ Kayla walked over to a leather chair by the window at sat down.

What was taking Chad so long? Did he forget? Kayla could only imagine what was taking Chad so long. He was usually the last to arrive at a party and always the last to leave. He was an attractive teenaged boy with unattractive manners, but he was Kayla’s friend. What could she do?

Ring! Ring! Ring! Kayla could only dream about who was calling her. “It’s probably Chad.” She was right. She hung up the phone and sat back down in her chair in anger.

“I’ll be right there!” he had said.

Yeah right! Kayla thought about just going without him, she could drive and Chad wouldn’t care, he was, “to busy watching the MMA fights on the sports channel. Wait, will ya?”

She wanted to burst out and tell him to hurry up, she didn’t have all night! But she couldn’t, it would be rude and her mother would not approve. Kayla waited, but not willingly.

“He won’t come.” Kayla concluded.

Ding-dong, ding-dong, rang the screeching doorbell. Kayla’s heart jumped. She stood up and made for the door, but stopped and thought, “I didn’t hear a car drive up. Mother said not to answer the door when she’s out.”

Ding-dong, ding-dong, the doorbell rang again. Kayla couldn’t resist the temptation to see who was at the door. She slowly and cautiously walked towards the door and looked out the peep-hole.

“Nothing,” she said. “It’s too dark.”

She debated on what she should do. Should she obey her mother, or give into the temptation that was gripping at her? To her own guilt she gave in and opened the door. Before she could close the door, she was body slammed to the ground. There was a great thud and the rustling of Kayla’s dress. She started to scream, but a hand covered her mouth. She started to hit, but a hand grabbed her arm. The attacker was strong—too strong for the extremely fit Kayla, and way too heavy for her to lift. Kayla tried her hardest to wiggle her way out from under the body, but it was no use. How was she going to get up? This couldn’t be happening now, not before the prom! She was worried about her dress wrinkling and the thought of Chad ran though her mind: ‘If Chad had been here already I wouldn’t be on the floor about to suffocate!’

She was about to give a right jab to the attacker’s jaw when the attacker spoke, “Kayla stop!”

At first Kayla didn’t know what to do or what to say. “I—I, um, I am sorry?!”

“Kayla, it’s me Elizabeth!” the supposed attacker screamed, “stop hitting me!”

Kayla gave a loud giggle and smiled sheepishly, “Well, then get off of me!” The girl got off of her smothered friend and stood awkwardly, embarrassed at her sudden and forceful entrance.

“I am so sorry Kayla!” Kayla smiled at her friend. How often do you get body slammed by your best friend, she had to giggle at the thought. Kayla took in a deep breath and released it. She felt light headed, but regained her composer. She looked her friend straight in the eyes with a glittery look in her kind, green eyes.

“It’s okay Elizabeth! All is forgiven.”

Elizabeth Warren was a large girl. She had had weight problems all of her life, she was never considered fat. But with the cruel divorce of her parents and her mother’s constant insults, the insecure girl began to find comfort in food.

Kayla stood up and smoothed out her dress. “What are you doing here?”

Elizabeth looked down at the floor, embarrassed. At first she couldn’t say anything. Her great big blue eyes began to swell with tears. She looked up at Kayla and bit her lip.

“What’s wrong, Lizzy?” Kayla often called the girl Lizzy for short. Kayla walked closer to Elizabeth and laid a gentle hand on the girl—her only guess was that Elizabeth and her mother had gotten into some fight.

“Kayla, I am a beach whale!” Elizabeth said jiggling her belly fat.

For a while Kayla knew the girl had been struggling with her weight. She hadn’t said anything about it because Elizabeth was getting enough of it from her mother. But Kayla didn’t think the weight gain was anything to be worried about. Kayla guessed that Elizabeth had gained about 20lbs, but nothing significant.

“Lizzy, you aren’t fat.” Kayla stated as she had often done before.

“Yes I am, Kayla.” Elizabeth sat down of the leather chair by the window and sobbed. “I am so FAT.”

Kayla rolled her eyes. She had drawn a blank. She had to think of something to encourage her friend—but how? Elizabeth was too hard on herself, she wasn’t any better than her mother when it came to giving herself encouragement.

“Look Lizzy. You are too critical about yourself. Golly! You’re a beautiful girl, but you don’t even see it.” Kayla felt sorry for her friend, she could only imagine how hard it must be to deal with the constant teasing, insulting and pranks placed on Elizabeth. Kayla had positioned herself as Elizabeth’s protector, she wasn’t about to let her friend be abused and mistreated.

“Kayla, you—you are a good friend,” Elizabeth stopped to clear her throat, “Too good. But nothing you say can make me escape the fact that I am overweight.”

“No you’re not! Come on, Lizzy, everyone had a unique body. Some are smaller, larger, taller and shorter than others. You just happen to be a little larger than others. But that’s not a bad thing Lizzy. It’s not a bad thing.”

Elizabeth smiled a doubtful smile and wiped the tears from her eyes. Her round, rosy cheeks were stained and blotchy. “Face it Kayla, I am fat.” Elizabeth said angrily. “Don’t you get it? Skinny people don’t jiggle; they don’t have to worry about wearing a bathing suit or looking like a pig. They’ve got it so easy and I have it so hard.”

“You look here. You are not fat. How many times do I have to tell you? I for one don’t care what you look like in a bathing suit. You’re my best friend.”

“Jeremy told me I was too fat; and that if I didn’t loose weight, he wouldn’t be my boyfriend anymore.”

“Jeremy is an idiotic jerk!” Kayla said outraged.

 Elizabeth looked up at her friend, stood up and walked towards the window.

“You know how long it took me to pick out this prom dress?” Kayla shook her head, confused.

“Hours! Yeah, and guess what, I’ve gained 130 pound in the last four months and I have gone from a size 16 to a size 20.”

Kayla was surprised. She would have never guessed, “I would have never known.”

“Well, Jeremy must have known.”

Kayla was at her wits end. How could she make her best friend see that she was beautiful just the way she was? ‘God, if there is some way I can get to Lizzy, I would greatly appreciate it.’ Kayla walked into the kitchen and got some juice from the fridge. She offered some to Elizabeth, but she refused. Kayla leaned over the counter that overlooked the window where Elizabeth stood. Kayla just didn’t get it. Behind every person there’s insecurity—whether it is about their weight, height, how they look or how they dress.

To Kayla her friend never seemed to change. Elizabeth was always beautiful inside and out; whether she believed it or not. She even looked beautiful in her midnight blue prom dress. So what if she had gone up a few dress sizes, that’s was nothing to Kayla. But Kayla didn’t face the same problem as insecure Elizabeth did. Kayla was slim and trim, muscled and athletic. And well, Elizabeth wasn’t. Kayla sipped her juice slowly so she wouldn’t get any on her dress.

She offered to make Elizabeth something to eat, “Maybe a small sandwich?” But Elizabeth refused. “We’ve been friends since fifth grade right?”

Elizabeth nodded; a corny smile appeared on her face. “Yeah, we’ve known each other for ever! But listen. You need to hear this—from me—as a friend.”

“Great! Even you’re going to tell me how fat I am.” Elizabeth said in defense.

“Look Lizzy. This may be hard to hear—you’re never going to believe me.”

“No go on. Say what you have to say.” Elizabeth crossed her arms in annoyance.

Kayla cleared her throat. “I’ve been trying to tell you this for ages. But you never listen to me. Lizzy,” Kayla stopped to think about what she was about to say. She knew Elizabeth wasn’t a God person and could care less about what He did for her and all of Kayla’s ‘Mumbo-jumbo Bible verses.

Kayla was skeptical to say what she wanted to say, but she knew that if she didn’t she would most likely loose her closest friend. She closed her eyes, aware that Elizabeth was starring her down. ‘Lord, give me the strength to say what you have laid on my heart. Amen.

Elizabeth was getting pretty steamed and started for the door. “I don’t have time for this. I know where you’re headed.”

Kayla’s heart sunk. “No! Hear me out Lizzy—please!” Kayla rushed over to her friend and led her to a sofa adjacent to the leather chair by the window. Kayla sat and forced the large girl to follow. Kayla placed a genteel hand on Elizabeth’s shoulder and took in a deep breath.

She was scarred to be rejected, to loose the friendship she had—they had worked so hard to obtain. “I am not going to repeat myself anymore. Either you listen to me or you don’t. Lizzy,” Kayla started, “you are not a small girl by any means. But you never seemed to care until now. Jeremy is a jerk; and if he doesn’t like you for who you are, then he isn’t somebody you should be wasting your time with.”

Elizabeth wrenched away, clearly hurt. “I am not wasting my time with him. I am wasting it listening to you. I thought you were my friend.”

“I am your friend Lizzy!” Kayla said trying to keep control. “You are my dearest friend and I do not want to see you hating yourself because your mom, boyfriend and people at school call you fat. So what if you went up a few dress sizes?! Don’t you know you’re beautiful?”

“Who in their right mind thinks me beautiful?”

“I do and so does God. Lizzy—God loves you the way you are. You are a special girl. I have tried to make you see that, but I think it’s up to you to see how special you really are. You are beautiful, talented and the best friend I could ever ask for!”

“You mean even if I am an embarrassment? You don’t mind being known as the fat girl’s friend?”

“No—and I don’t consider you fat. Proverbs 237 states, ‘For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.’ Lizzy, you are not helping your situation by putting yourself down. You have to think positive, think ‘I am beautiful just the way I am!’”

“I just don’t see it.”

“You have an identity in Christ, not in the world. God doesn’t care what you look like; he wants you to love yourself, because he loves you. God had a plan for you before he created you. Psalm 139:16 says, ‘You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe.’ You weren’t meant to be skinny, but to be a strong, independent girl who shouldn’t care about the way she looks— just because her boyfriend and mom can’t find any other way to release their anger.”

“Thanks Kayla. I am sorry for being so mean. I know you mean what you say. And only a true friend would come right out and tell her friend what she needed to hear, even if it hurt.”

Kayla smiled. “You truly are a beautiful girl Lizzy. Don’t forget that—don’t forget God created you the way you are.”

“You’re right. I need to stop wearing my feelings on my sleeve.”

“No. You need to come to terms with yourself. Some people weren’t meant to be skinny—you need to love yourself before you can become confident in yourself, and stop wearing your feelings on your sleeve. It takes time.”

“Okay.” Elizabeth said energetically. “I will try my hardest. But I will need your support and the help from God.”

Kayla smiled a bright smile. ‘Thank you God! You truly are amazing!’

“Now, let’s got to that prom, I’ve got a certain boyfriend to talk to.”

“Yeah, I think Chad just arrived.”

It was a Cinderella themed prom. The whole student body wore fairytale type prom clothing along with a glittery feathery or masculine mask to hide their identity. Kayla and Elizabeth made their way though the large crowd to the punch table. There they talked a while before they decided to dance. Chad and Elizabeth’s boyfriend Jeremy came walking up to the two girls and asked for a dance.

Elizabeth had a sly smile of her face and Chad and Kayla could only guess what she had up her sleeve. ‘This is going to be interesting.’ Kayla thought to herself. Chad and Kayla followed Jeremy and Elizabeth to the dance floor. The music was fast paced and Kayla had a hard time keeping up with the beat. Elizabeth was a natural at dancing, but her dance partner fell short of her expectations.

“So, have you been thinking about what I said to you yesterday?” Jeremy asked watching the ridiculous movements of his two left feet.

“Yes—yes I have Jeremy.” Elizabeth stated firmly. “I know every blond hair, blue eyes girl is supposed to be skinny and on the cheerleader squad, but not this girl. You can go a head and dump me because I am not changing myself for a person who can appreciate the real me. This is who I am Jeremy. Luscious, curvy and beautiful—just the way God created me. Take it or leave it.”

Jeremy was repulsed and left, face smoldering red. Kayla and Chad walked over to embrace their friend, encouraging her and telling her how proud they were of her standing up for herself. “Feels good doesn’t it Liz? Chad asked with enthusiasm.

“Yes! After Kayla’s talk, I think I am going to enjoy being big and beautiful. No mater how I look I am beautiful to God.”

“Don’t forget you’re beautiful to us, too!” Chad said quickly.

“I am so proud of you Lizzy!” Kayla said with a huge grin on her face.

The three hugged and walked out of the room with the feeling of accomplishment for their friend Elizabeth. God was slowly changing her perspective, and with the support of her friends and her own effort, she would fight the battle of her insecurities and win.

Pie In A Jar

Pie in a jar is just that — it’s a small single serving of fruit pie made and baked in a tiny mason jar. These pies are frugal to make, awesome to gift, tasty to serve, and fun to sell at bake sales
Anytartytarts, I’ve even given a few jarred pies to friends in need of a little cheer after a bad day. We’ve all had those days, and sharing a belly laugh over a tiny pie in a jar is far cheaper than visiting a shrink.

pie in a jar

Not only are pies in a jar fun to make, but they are a flexible food to serve too. Bake up a fresh batch today or freeze a bunch for later when unexpected company arrives. These little marvels don’t take up your freezer space like traditional baking since they stack up nicely.
So to get you in the mood for some summer sweet and frugal pie, let’s get some mason jars, turn on the oven, and get baking. If you’ve got some kiddlets looking for a fun project, get them into the frugal fun too by teaching them to bake. Watching little ones eat tiny pies is kinda cute too.

pie in a jar recipes

Step One: Get the right ‘wide mouth jars’

Making pie in a jar is simple with the right canning jars. If you don’t want to have pie on your face, then skip the super cutie narrow-necked jelly jars and get the still super cute 1/2 pint wide mouth canning jars. You’ll thank me when it’s time to line the jar with dough and when it’s time to plate your pie. Besides, the wide mouth jars make it easier to label for a gift, or eat out of with a fork.

cute pie in a jar

The 1/2 pint wide mouth jars yield a pie around 2.5 inches wide and 2 inches tall.

apple pie in a jar

Don’t forget to wash or sterilize your jars before making pie.

canning jars mason jars

Sterilizing is important if you plan to freeze your jarred pies for baking at a later date.

Step Two: Press in your pie dough

I will not lie to you. Filling these little mason jars with pie dough is not easy. When I had the patience I rolled out a little doily-shaped crust, fit it into the bottom of the jar, and then pressed it in to form the perfect (cough) crust. I also found that taking dough pieces and pressing them into the jar worked well too.

homemade gifts in a jar

Jarring Revelations:
  • Greasing the jar with butter before lining it with dough helps to remove the pie (in one piece) after baking.
  • Leave 1/2 inch of pie crust above the edge of the mason jar. This extra dough lets you roll and crimp the bottom of the pie crust to the pie top.
Now don’t give me the stink eye over my next admission — I used store bought dough for my pie in a jar. Making pastry is not my talent. If pastry is your passion then check out the Smitten Kitchen’s Pie Crust 101 tutorial and recipe. For everyone else, just buy three or four pie crusts from the refrigerator section at your grocery store. You’ll need around three pie crusts to fill six mason jars, but chances are you’ll make a mistake or two, or three. If you prefer thinner crust, then just roll out your dough and use two pie crusts. Easy.
As an alternative to pastry or for those on a gluten-free diet, swap out the dough and try my Homemade Granola Recipe as a pie crust. It’s tasty.

Step Three: Add some pie filling

Are you hankering for some apple pie or do you crave a nice sweet cherry pie? The choice is yours. I have a simple pie filling recipe (below), but I must be honest with you again — I used canned cherry pie filling for the pies in this post. Don’t hate me because I felt lazy today. Love me ’cause I’m honest. Smile.

mason jar recipes

Simple Pie Filling Recipe:
  • 4 1/2 cups cherries, berries, or diced fruit
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter, divide between the pies
  • spices: nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, or to taste
Or better yet, hop on over to my Fresh Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with Apples and try that filling since I’m stuck in a can today. It’s tasty and healthy.
Jarring Revelations:
  • Only fill the jars to the 3/4 mark. Filling to the brim will make it tricky to top and crimp your pie. Also, the pie might bubble and boil over if over-filled. It happens.
  • Add a little flour to the mixture if your fruit is super juicy.
  • Top your filling with a little pat of butter. Yum.
Now on to the fun part.

Step Four: Create a pretty pie top

I hope you kept your mason jar lids handy because the inner ring makes the perfect pie top cutter. Just use a knife to trace the inner ring circle and voila — instant pie top.

mixes in a jar

Now personalize your pie top by using a small cookie cutter to create a little vent. Once you’ve placed the pie top into the pie jar (it’s tricky I know), go ahead and carefully crimp the pie crust bottom over the top. Put the lids and rings on each jar until you’re ready to bake.

Step Five: Freeze your pies (optional)

If you have cold feet or you’re not ready to bake your pies today, then go ahead and freeze them until needed. I keep a few jarred pies in deep freeze in case I need a quick gift, or for when company comes over. Ok, Ok, sometimes I just like a little tiny tart treat too.

frozen cherry pie

An unforeseen bonus to making pie in a jar is the mason jars protect the pies in the freezer. No more dented pies! Also, the jars make it super simple to stack many pies without ruining the tender crusts — so you can optimize your freezer space and save the room for stocking up on grocery sale items.

frozen pies in a jar

One little trick for dealing with slippery mason jars is to wrap each pie jar with a little tin foil to get a better grip. I dropped one the other day and made a little mess. My dog was happy though.

Step Six: Get Baked

It’s time to get bubbly, tarty, flaky, and tasty. Start by removing the lids and rings from each jar. If you own a Silpat Nonstick Silicon Baking Mat, then place each jarred pie on your Silpat (on a cookie sheet) to prevent slipping. Sliding hot jars filled with boiling pie are not safe. Just a safety warning. I’m a safety girl.


  • To bake from refrigerated: Preheat oven to 375-400 degrees and bake for about 45 minutes or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly. The bonus with glass jars is you can easily see if the crust is getting too brown.
  • To bake from frozen: Follow the same instructions from above but preheat oven to 350-375 degrees and bake for around 60-70 minutes.
Oh, and don’t worry about baking in jars. Canning jars are very resilient when it comes to heat — they are meant to be boiled — so baking pies straight from the freezer is fine.

Step Seven: Serve or Decorate

Removing the pie from it’s jar can be a tricky situation. I’ve had some good luck by sliding a knife around the inside of the jar and using gravity to remove the treat inside. Eating the pie while it’s still inside the jar is easier, and lots of fun at picnics and when company drops by. For some reason my guests have loved being treated to a single serving pie. It’s a novelty. It’s fun.

cherry pie

pie in a jar gift

If you’re gifting the pie, decorate the lids with pretty paper, jar labels, or add a little bit of ribbon for style. A decorated pie in a jar goes over very well at bake sales and fund raisers — so putting in a little creative decorative effort can make you some money too.

White Chocolate Clusters

1 (12-ounce) package white chocolate chips or morsels
1 (6-ounce) package Ocean Spray® Craisins® Original Sweetened Dried Cranberries or raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, cashews, almonds, or pecans (optional)
1/2 cup cheerios
1/3 cup shredded coconut, (optional)
  1. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil; set aside.
  2. Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on Medium-High (70%) power for 1 minute; stopping to stir. Microwave an additional 10 to 20-second intervals. Remove and stir until chocolate is completely melted.
  3. Add remaining ingredients. Stir until thoroughly combined.
  4. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Let harden at room temperature or chill in the refrigerator, about 15 minutes.
  5. Store in a tightly sealed container and refrigerate. Store refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
Makes16 clusters.

nurture the seeds

September 21, 2010

No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, & the roots spring up & make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves. -Amelia Earhart

Healing Begins by Tenth Avenue North

September 18, 2010

My life sometimes feels like I'm going in circles and never getting anywhere in particular. I'm doing the same thing over and over again. Nothing productive is being produced and I feel dead. But, God has been working on me for some time now, and all I can say is this: there has been a tremendous breakthrough. 

The Trials and Tribulations of my life have, to some extent, held me hostage. This was mainly due to my lack of faith. However, as soon as God took control and helped me, I felt a sense of freedom that I had never felt before. This song from Nate Sallie pretty much sums up what I have felt God doing in my life lately. He's been doing some incredible things! 

Get To Know Me

September 16, 2010

{1} If you could host a Reality TV show, which one would it be?
Kitchen Nightmares with Chef Ramsey! He's got a dirty mouth, but I like watching the show because of the crazy people who actually think they're better than the Chef himself and can run a successful restaurant...even though their food stinks!

{2} Do you put your seat belt on before or after you start the car?
Well, when I remember to do it, I'll put it on before. But, since I usually forget, I do it after.

{3} Shave or hair removal cream?
Gees! Um, this is kind of a personal C:

  {4} What's your favorite feature in a house?
A fire place. Not because of the romantic rap it has, but because it reminds me of Christmas, family, and security (that's an odd one ;)).
{5} What is your favorite "Fall" scent?
Raw Pumpkin

{6} What TV show are you looking forward to seeing the most this Fall??
Since Drop Dead Diva, Hell's Kitchen, and American Idol aren't going on during fall, I have no clue what I'm looking forward to watching...maybe holiday specials?

 {7} Personal Shopper or Personal Chef?
Personal Shopper. I HATE to shop :D

{8} What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of "Fall"?

Mansker's Musings (Day 3)

September 15, 2010

Dear Journal,

Today I decided to make a large cast iron pot of hardy soup for the folks down at the Station. It was a combination of whatever I had around the house: carrots, cabbage, sausage, onions, peppers, bay leaves, salt, pepper, beef broth-all the ingredients to make a soup that would warm even the coldest of souls.

Being at hot as it was Tuesday, I can hardly believe that I actually slaved over a hot fire for four hours making the soup that only myself and one other ate! It was, however, very good and worth the work. As my Granny always says "Deliciousness never happens without work and the labor of love".  At least my soup made someone happy.

While making my soup, I was practically alone for the course of the six hours I work at the Station. It was rather quiet and lonely, but I had my stitching (I'm working on a new petticoat) and the fire to tend to. In all honesty, this was my first fire. I tend to help my Ma, but never have actually attempted to start one myself. It was an experience, and if I do say so myself, I was rather good at it!

I did meet an old friend. Mrs. Joy stopped by to see me as I finished the weeding in the corn patch behind the Station (I finally finished the weeding, thanks to Miss Laura and in part to Mr. Bill). She had moved from Virginia (my home land) a few years ago to the Cumberland settlements with a group led by Mr. Robertson. (She is the one that wrote to us a while back telling us of the fertile land that Pa could cultivate; and where he could grow his abundance of corn and tobacco. That's why we decided to move to the Cumberland area-now known as Middle Tennessee).  I was completely thrilled to be reunited with her again! She has taken a linking to gardening, and has begun several projects over at the Bowen Plantation not but a mile and a half from Mansker's Station. So, I hope to see more of her in the near future.

The Lord keeps revealing to me His many blessings. Though I didn't see it before, I am starting to understand God's purpose for me working at the Station. I have been reunited with long-lost friends and have, in all hopes, made and will make new ones as time progresses.

'Till next time I venture to write,
Charlotte Ephraim