Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mary: A Different Perspective

For years, one character in the Christmas story I could not stand was Mary. Honestly. She has been so elevated to such a high state of holiness, and so admired by countless numbers of people that I had a distaste for her seeming "perfection". She was one Bible character I could not relate to, and thus, kept my distance from her.

But this Christmas , I have a different perspective.

While reading the Christmas narrative this year, I was amazed at this young girl's maturity of character. We read in Luke 1:29 after the angel Gabriel greeted her: "But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be." Okay, first point of maturity. She thought before she did anything!

We have all heard the old adage, "Think before you speak", and that's exactly what Mary did. Mary considered things, weighed all options, and showed great discernment. Now, if I were in her shoes, and a great white angel appeared from nowhere, saying, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!", I would have probably started saying, "'Greetings?' Me, favored? Okay, what's going on here? Who are you, and what are you doing?" Or I would have been stunned into a complete brain freeze, or perhaps went into hysterics! (Well, maybe that's a little extreme.) Mary waited for the angel to continue, while a million different thoughts probably flashed through her head.

She quietly listened to Gabriel speak, probably feeling overwhelmed about being the mother of the Messiah...and then totally confused. "And Mary said to the angel, 'How will this be, since I am a virgin?'" (Luke 1:34). Mary was very practical. (Wow, she is reminding of my mom!) How could she be a mother to the Messiah if there was no father? Wow, she was practical. :) She had common sense and a good head on her shoulders.

Next, Mary showed the beautiful character qualities of submission, humility, servitude, and love when she replied to Gabriel in verse 38: "And Mary said, 'Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.'" She humbly submitted to her Lord's will, showing her love for the Lord, and a willing heart to serve Him out of that love.

Here was a young teenager, displaying more maturity than I'll probably ever have! I admire her heart and character, and have found a wonderful role model in this young lady.

So in review, Mary was
  • Discerning;
  • Practical;
  • Submissive;
  • Humble;
  • Serving;
  • and Loving.

What wonderful qualities; qualities I continue to work on, and pray the Lord would give me as I grow in His Word and Love.

I must continune to be discerning in my choice of words and actions in the relationships I have; I must continue to think practically (this can be a feat for blonde, you know!) in my home and in public; submission and humility go hand in hand, and I continue to humble my heart to God and my parents; serving, something that does not come easily to me, is a quality I still am working on; and may I always love the Lord and the people He places in my life.

Merry Christmas!

Taylor

Thursday, December 16, 2010

He's a Personal Savior!


In our morning Bible reading time yesterday morning, we read together as a family Luke Chapter 4. It struck me as we read about Jesus healing crowds of people that He actually took time out of His busy life and "laid His hands on every one of them and healed them." (Luke 4:40b). Wow.

Jesus could have stood at the entrance of Simon's house, stretched his hands over the multitude of sick who had gathered, and said, "Be healed!" The crowds would be healed, but something inside of them wouldn't be fulfilled. But what could they expect? Jesus was a busy rabbi, had places to go and people to see. But no, Jesus made a point to go to each individual who was ill or demon-possessed, place His hands upon them, look them in the eye, and establish a personal connection with them. He cared enough about them personally that He went from person to person, touching them, healing them. What a personal Savior!

And Jesus still takes time today to hear us, to heal us, to work on our hearts and intercede for us. He is still filled with the same love and compassion in our modern world He had years ago in the dusty countryside of Israel. He's a personal Savior!
Take comfort in this truth, my friends. I know I do.

Lacheln,
Taylor

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Peace on Earth?



I recently heard a line on a modern Christmas song that went something like this, "What if December looked different this year?" And pondering that lyric, I realized for many people December looks very different this year. Even for our family, December looks different in light of Dad's recent job loss. Unemployment, illness, death, financial insecurity, strife and conflict afflict families across the nation and world. Doubt, fear, stress, worry steal the joy of Christmas and rob us of "peace of earth". Some people feel like they have nothing to celebrate Christmas morning as they mourn the loss of a loved one or face frightening situations.

Where is peace on earth?

Well, to be truthful, there is no peace on earth. Look around you...wars, rumors of wars, divisions in the church, fighting between family and friends, the list goes on. There is no peace on earth.

But there can be peace within our hearts. God, our loving Father sent His perfect, holy, only Son to save us, to become one of us. Jesus gave it all up: all the comforts and honors of being the prize jewel of all creation. He put aside His kingly garments and clothed Himself with...flesh; He joined humanity and became man (yet was fully God) to give us peace on earth. He made a way to the Fatherthrough the cross and "peace that passes all understanding". (Philippians 4:7) He became our peace. "Therefore since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:1) Through the gift of salvation purchased by Jesus' blood, the peace Christ gives dwells in our hearts.

When we trust God fully and cast our cares upon Him, truly the peace that passes all understanding is ours. Mom used to have this quote on the fridge: "Look at the world and be distressed. Look within, and be depressed. Look at God and be at rest." Yes, only in God can true peace can be found.

"May the peace of God that passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds this Christmas season and always. Amen"

Merry Christmas!

Lacheln,
Taylor

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

GodlyGirlhood.org is Nearing Completion!

I have finally settled on a website design that I like, and I am truly satisfied with it. It is not the previous design I showed you, but a design I was playing with before it, and finally figured out how to create on Dreamweaver. I have multiple pages completed and more half-way done. I can't show the design right now, but here is a link banner:


Lacheln,

Taylor

Monday, December 13, 2010

"Tapestry"

"I want my life to be a tapestry
Woven by You;
Pictures of Your Grace,
Colors warmed by Your embrace,
Intricately designed by the fingers of Your Love.
Images of patience tender upon my life.
Threads of time and lessons learned
Weaved together to create
A tapestry for Your glory."

Copyright November 2010 - Taylor Garms

Friday, December 10, 2010

Alzen Family DVD Giveaway!

Last month, I had the privilege to be a part of a fun project: The Alzen Family Live in Concert.

Our friends, the Alzen Family are an extremely talented and polished bluegrass-gospel family group from Roberts, WI. They are a wonderful family and we really enjoy listening to and spending time with them whenever our paths cross. We recently did a fundraiser concert with them for the adoption of orphan two brothers from Ukraine. (For more info, visit their adoption blog: www.alzenadoption.blogspot.com.)
Mr. Alzen asked me to design a cover for their new DVD last month, and it was so fun to join them and Hannah Kenney in this project. We were able to finish the whole project in about a week before the fundraiser concert on the 19th of November-whew, talk about time crunch! We love the DVD, and I thought I might share an opportunity to win a copy.
Hannah Kenney, who did much of the filming and all the producing/editing (BTW: wonderful job, Hannah!) and also a new friend, is giving away a copy of the DVD at her blog, Glory and Grace. Click on this link for more details: http://gloryandgrace-hannah.blogspot.com/2010/12/giveaway.html.
If you enjoy bluegrass-gospel music, a lot of fun, and some Christmas music as well, you'll want this DVD. It doesn't get much better than this! :)
Lacheln,
Taylor

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Gift of the Scarf

This past Saturday's concert provided me with a surprise.

After our concert was over, I was downstairs in the church, walking to the stairs to catch up with my family. I ran into a lady who was wearing a beautiful silver scarf/shawl and complimented her on it. She then shocked me by asking, "Do you want it?" I didn't know what to say! The lady said she hadn't worn it for a while, and didn't know if she'd wear it again. "Here you can have it," she said as she took it off and handed it to me.

It was a sweet gift, and I really like the scarf; it adds a classy touch to my outfits. It was a true example of giving the "shirt off of your back"-literally. I was very blessed. Thank you!
Lacheln,
Taylor

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What is Lacheln?


I have had many people ask me what "lacheln" means, as I often fail to make some mention of its meaning. No, it is not Russian, nor Welsh for "sincerely", nor an acronym for "Lost A Crazy Huge Earmuff Last Night" (these are true speculations by confused friends :).

Lacheln is German for "smile". Let me explain.

My family is very German. In fact, my dad's grandfather immigrated from Germany when he was about 16 years old, and came to America through Ellis Island in New York. Many of my parents' relatives also came from Germany and some still reside in that nation. Yes, we have other nationalities mixed-in, most interesting is our Cherokee Indian-but you can see the prominent German influence in us kids (take my blonde hair and blue eyes for example). That being said, I am proud of my heritage.

Now, if you know me, you know I generally like to smile. I have liked making people smile for years. When I was younger, my "card production company" was called "Smile Productions", and I would this title and smiley face logo on the back of every card I would make.

When I investigated starting my own graphic design business, I researched this name and discovered it was taken. Of course, I was sad, but then began to create different names. It evolved into "Taylor'D Designs", but unfortunately, this also was unavailable. Finally, I combined my heritage and former company name to create "Lacheln Designs".

I may not be completely correct in its pronounciation, but with the help of my dad (who can speak some German), I figure it is something like "la-Kiln". (I so want to learn how to speak this language!).

Lacheln is the closure to many of my emails and blog posts, encouraging people to smile.

There, now you know! Is your curiousity satisfied?

Lacheln, :)
Taylor

Monday, December 6, 2010

100th Blog Post!

Let's celebrate! This is my 100th blog post on SurrenderingMyAll.blogspot.com!

I have enjoyed blogging on this site since November of 2008, even though I haven't been the most consistent blogger on the block! It has been much fun to share my thoughts and life with you; I truly hope you enjoy your visits and may benefit from my journey.

Looking back, so much has happened since this blog's beginning: Great Adventure Gospel Band has grown, siblings have come and gone, my dad lost his job, I've graduated, and more. But most importantly, I continue to grow and learn how to surrender my all to the Lord.

Thanks for reading my blog and stopping by. I pray you are blessed by what you find here and that God is glorified above all.

Lacheln,
Taylor

Thursday, December 2, 2010

True Beautiful

(Is this beautiful?)


A little background on this article: I wrote this essay earlier this year for a history project on beauty practices of different cultures. Lily Williams is fictional character, as well as Jonathan Friendly and the Truth Seekers Missionary Organization (Jonathan Friendly was the narrator for many of my projects). I hope you enjoy this perspective on true beauty.



Adventures with Lily Williams
TRUE BEAUTIFUL
By Taylor Garms
Streams of Civilization
Project 15, Chapter 15


Hi! I am Lily Williams, a volunteer at Truth Seekers Missionary Organization. I work with people like Jonathan Friendly in studying the past to enlighten the future. This report is about interesting beauty techniques that different cultures have tried to make their girls and women "beautiful." Jonathan thought it would be best if a girl wrote this article, so he asked me to share with you the unique ideas people have had about beauty.

Girls and women have always had the desire to be beautiful and attractive, because God designed us that way to please our husbands. But the notions and beauty tips concocted over the years have been interesting to say the least.

Let’s say I was a fashion specialist around 400 BC in Maya, located in Central America. You come to me for advice about beautifying your baby girl. I would tell you to wrap the baby’s head tightly with strips of cloth and small boards. This would make your baby’s skull longer and very attractive. Oh, and don’t forget to hang a string with beads from your baby’s forehead. This will make her eyes cross-eyed and especially pretty. She will be the fashion statement of the country! Now seriously, these were practices of the Mayan people and they thought their people were most beautiful.

Consider now the Chinese. For many years, Chinese women bound the feet of their baby girls, bending the toes underneath the foot. The soft bones of the babies soon became set in this uncomfortable position. The little girls would cry from the pain, but the parents did not take off the wrappings. Why? For the sake of attraction. You see, the Chinese thought that the smaller the woman’s feet, the more beautiful she was. Men would not want to marry a girl with large feet, the parents insisted. So China was filled with limping and stumbling girls and women, caused from the pain and instability of their deformed feet.

In England and the early years of America, corsets were very popular. What’s a corset? It’s a stiffened garment worn by women under their dresses with laces to fasten it tightly to shape the waist. It was very uncomfortable! In the Little House series, Laura Ingalls Wilder recalled how dreadful it would be to wear them:
'"I’m glad I don’t have to wear corsets yet," said Carrie. "Be glad while you
can be," said Laura. "You’ll have to wear them pretty soon." Her corsets were a
sad affliction to her, from the time she put them on in the morning until she
took them off at night. But when girls pinned up their hair and wore skirts down
to their shoe tops, they must wear corsets. "You should wear them all night," Ma
said. Mary did, but Laura could not bear at night the torment of the steels that
would not let her draw a deep breath. Always before she could get to sleep, she
had to take off her corsets. "What your figure will be, goodness knows," Ma
warned her. "When I was married, your Pa could span my waist with his two
hands."' -Little Town on the Prairie
Before you say that all these cultures were crazy, wait to you hear about this one. In this culture, girls heat metal to make their hair as straight as a board. They pierce their bodies with lots of earrings, tongue rings, nose rings, belly button rings, you name it, till it looks like they have fallen into a tackle box! If your hair has more color in it, the more beautiful you are. Women, and men, have specialized plastic added to their bodies to make certain parts of their bodies more attractive. Imperfections are removed from their appearance. In some cases, whole faces are transfigured to be made more beautiful. Girls starve themselves to make their bodies thin and slender. Heavy powers and liquids are used to transform faces, eyes, and lips, and to hide flaws.


If you haven’t caught on already, this example is today’s culture. Beautiful in our culture has become so crazy, no one knows what true beauty is any more. Magazines scream out with pictures of skinny women with wild make-up and lots of bare skin: "You have to look like this to be truly beautiful." The picture of the teen-age girl staring into nowhere and wearing miss-match clothing with skull earrings states, "This is true beautiful." How many girls are threatened with death and health issues because of their self-inflicted anorexia nervosa and bulimia? Do you know that 25% of girls diagnosed with anorexia die? That’s a lot! And think, all for the sake of the quest for true beauty.

True beauty should be more of the inner self, not the outward appearance. Beauty will eventually fade away, but a woman's character will last her her entire life. True beauty should consist of a quiet and gentle spirit, willing and helpful hands, a bright smile, cleanliness, and a love for God.

Well, I have a lot more I could say on this subject, but Jonathan says I should get off. Hope you have a different perspective now!

Your Sister in Christ,


Lily Williams
Truth Seekers

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Writings Featured on LYWB.com

Lies Young Women Believe


I'm so excited!! This morning when I checked my email, I found an e-update from one of my favorite websites for young ladies, Lies Young Women Believe. The title was "Meet the New LYWB.com Writers", and I felt my heart skip a beat.

Lies Young Women Believe is a website dedicated to bring the truth to young women who are disillusioned about God, themselves, relationships, the media, and a whole variety of topics. It was started after the book by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Dannah Gresh, "Lies Young Women Believe" was published, and it has been a source of encouragement in my life since I discovered it earlier this year.

Now, I have the privilege to share what God has taught me on it.

A few months ago, LYWB.com extended an invitation to its readers to submit articles pertaining to the website and the book. My interest was piqued and I began to type, sharing some deeply personal stories. I edited them again and again, trying to make my wordy articles fit within the required word count. Finally, after having my mom read them over, they were sent off to LYWB. Then the waiting began.

I had forgotten about it, until I saw the e-update. Curious, I went to the website, and about fell out of my chair. There was my name among the list of writers!

What a honor, and a humbling privilege. I am so thankful for this opportunity to share what God has done in my life. I sincerely hope young women can be encouraged and learn from what God has taught me. I pray the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart are acceptable to God, and that He will use my stories for His glory.

To read the blog post, click here.

I will let you know when my articles are featured!

Lacheln,
Taylor

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Broken Bridges

Recently someone I love let me down, went back on her word, and left me hurt and numb to her constant rejection. How many times must my heart break? Words don't mean a thing when there is nothing to back them up. "Sorry" doesn't build broken bridges when there aren't actions to repair the damage.

I have to step back, though, and look deep at this person. There is hurt, confusion, self-loathing, emptiness and disillusionment. What can I expect from such a hurting individual? More of the same. Because I can see this person's own hurt, I can rise above mine and forgive her. There are times I haven't desired to forgive, but I must. Healing begins with me. We may never have a relationship like we had before, but I must forgive.

I can have compassion on her because of her struggles. "Lord, give me the eyes of Jesus to see beyond my near-sightedness, and to see the heart." She has a large, God-shaped hole, and I can continue pray the Lord would soften her heart and lead her to Himself, for that's Who she needs.

A while ago, I wrote a poem dedicated to this particular person.

"Seek, but you won't ever find someone just like God;
Who can take you in His arms and calm your hurting heart.
You may search your whole life long, but God will always remain the same.
He will love forever, reject you never.
Seek, but you won't ever find someone just like God."

Just some thoughts for the day.

Lacheln,
Taylor

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

To all my dear friends:
Just a quick post to tell all of you...HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Blessings and Joy in the Journey!
Taylor

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Created for Him

On Monday, Mom presented me with a sweatshirt she found at our local thrift store. Pink, with brown lettering, warm, and cozy. Fits my criteria for a comfy sweatshirt!

But the thing that made it an instant favorite were the words. Written in swirly (oh yes, another immediate selling point; I love swirlys!) letters are the words, "All things were created by Him and for Him" and Colossians 1:16: "For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him."

Earlier that morning, Mom and I had been discussing how I am to use my talents, and this was a perfect reminder for me. My whole self-mind, body, soul, talents-was created by the Lord, for the Lord. I am to use what He has given me wisely, and for His glory, not my own.

Now, when I wear my pink sweatshirt, I am reminded of who I am and Whose I am. I am created for Him, and for Him alone.

Lacheln,
Taylor

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Healing Touch

He staggered along the road, pulling his cloak tighter around his face. "Unclean! Unclean!" The man's disfigured form was covered with a dirty, black robe, and at the sight of him, people turned their faces in horror, children ran or hid in their parents' robes. Detested. Shunned. An outcast.

It hadn't always been this way. Once the man was part of a family, an active partaker of society, worshipping freely at the temple and mingling with the people in the streets. Now he was experiencing a living death.

The white patches on his skin had started innocently enough, but when the priest later announced the dreaded word, leprosy, all his dreams, plans, and life fell apart.

For years, he was exiled into a community of "unfortunates", dying with those who were infected with the same disease. The man watched as fingers, toes, and skin rotted and fell off. Yet, he felt nothing. All sense of touch and feeling had died long ago, and perhaps that was the worst thing of all. He could barely remember his mother's touch, a friendly greeting in the street, the rocky sand under his bare feet, the sting from a slight cut. All feeling was gone, and so his hope for life.

When he heard of the Miracle Maker, a curious hope rose within him. The others saw his eagerness and laughingly scoffed, "It's impossible; stop your dreaming." They turned back to their living graves, while the man continue to hope.

He left quietly in search of the Healer. No one would miss him, and what did he have to lose? He had lost it all already. For days he traveled, hoping he would somehow find this Jesus along the roads of Judea.

His rotten feet bled from the stones and long walks, but he felt no pain. He pressed on, filled with desperate hope.

One day, a cloud of dust rose above the horizon. The man's heart jumped within him. They said great crowds followed the Healer. They said people brought their sick and demon-possessed to the Healer. He quickly picked up his stumbling pace. Then the man stopped. Crowds. Would the Healer have time to see him? Would He heal him? The man almost turned in humilation. What would make this Jesus different from everyone else? Why, leprosy was the most dreaded disease! He probably wouldn't even allow the man to come close to Him. Would He want to heal him?

But lo, the crowds were almost upon him. There was no turning back. He staggered forward. "Unclean!" he yelled in a raspy voice. His courage faltered as he saw the horror and fear. Where was the Healer? Then he saw Him.

He had to be Him. He stood still as the crowds receded in terror, His eyes watching the man with deep feeling. The leper made a few more unstable steps, then fell to his knees, covering his face. "If You will," he croaked, "You can make me clean."

With his face to the ground, he could not see the amazing expression of pity that spread across the Healer's face. The overwhelming silence continued, except for the crying of frightened children. The man's heart sank. Tears came to his eyes as embarrassment filled his inner being.

Suddenly, he felt it.

A touch. A human touch. Nerves that had been dead for years tingled at the hand's imprint on his shoulder. A warm flow swept through his rotting, decaying body, and he was immediately aware of the rocky stones underneath his knees and hands. He felt a dry breeze twist around his humble form. Feeling. Touch. A healing touch. He heard a soothing voice say, "I will; be clean."

He raised his face, his eyes wide. The Healer stood in front of him, compassion and love on His countenance. Quickly, he looked at his skin, his arms, his hands. He touched his face, feeling the stroke of his fingers against his smooth face. "I'm clean," he said softly, shocked. "I'm clean!" he said in a raised voice, unbelievable joy filling his heart. "I'm clean!" He danced on the road, soaking in the warm sunshine. "Clean! Clean!"

"And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, 'See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.' But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter." Mark 1:43-45

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Snow, Snow, Snow!

On Saturday, we all awoke to...a winter snow storm! While the child inside of me was excited to watch the big snowflakes tossing about in the wind, my mind knew it was too early for snow! Thankfully, we didn't have much snow, but our power did go out. We were a little worried as the power did not return all afternoon. God graciously provided for us, His children, when the power finally came on about 6:00 p.m. The adventures of a Minnesota winter!

Sam's snowman.

Meet Frosty!
"Merry Christmas!"
Lacheln,
Taylor

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Request...

Hi Blogging Friends!

GodlyGirlhood has been under construction for quite a while, as I have waited for the opportunity to design GG in the way I have envisioned, using my own design and graphics.
At long last, I am now creating the new GodlyGirlhood.org! If you click on this link, http://godlygirlhood.org.previewyoursite.com/, you can view snippets of the upcoming website, and learn how you can be a part of the new GG.

Yes, I need your help. GodlyGirlhood.org is to be a website for girls by girls, filled with encouraging stories and articles from those who "have been there before". Sister to sister, inspiring each other to seek after God in every aspect of their lives. I want you to share how God has changed your life, how He has convicted you, and how you are still growing.

Young women of today need to hear the great things Jesus Christ has done in our lives; they need hope, refocusing, and encouragement. And who else is better equipped than godly young ladies like yourselves? Let's minister to a broken generation of young women!

GODLY GIRLHOOD IS LOOKING FOR ARTICLES ON TOPICS SUCH AS, BUT NOT LIMITED TO:

Faith
-Your Relationship with your True Prince
-Conversing with the Father (Prayer)
-God's Word: What's the Big Deal?
-Lies and Truth

Modesty
-Why Modesty is Important
-Fashion Reformation
-Femininity in Dress and Manner

Purity
-Crushes/Emotional Purity
-How God Changed Your Prespective from Dating to Waiting
-Cultivating Contentment in the Single Years
-Boundaries with "Brothers"

Relationships
-Honor Your Father and Your Mother: Honoring Parents
-That's What a Gentleman Would Do: Encouraging Brothers
-Princess: Being a Role Model to Sisters
-Corner Pillars: Transforming Your Role in Your Family
-On the Subject of Friends

Femininity and Reformed Womanhood
-Graceful Girlhood: Refining Your Manners
-Homemaking: An Lost Art
-Becoming a Proverbs 31 and Titus 2 Woman

Ministry
-A Servants' Heart at Home
-The Least of These: Serving Your Church and Community
-Unexpected Ministries

Trials
-When Death Comes
-Handling Rejection
-Standing Strong for Your Beliefs

Submission Guidelines

Send your articles submissions in a Rich Text Format (.rtf) document (otherwise known as a WordPad document) to godlygirlhood@localnet.com with "GodlyGirlhood.org Articles" in the subject line. Articles should be at least 400 words, but no more than 2,000 words.

Articles may be edited for grammar and clarity. GodlyGirlhood.org may not use all submitted writings.

Writers must be mature Christian young women who agree with the below statement of faith. Older, married women who desire to encourage young women are certainly welcome to contribute as well. Writers may include a short bio about themselves and a JPEG/PNG picture of themselves.

Statement of Faith
We believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth;

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty, from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

We believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy Christian church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; and the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. (Adapted from the Apostles' Creed)

We believe every word of the Bible is God's Word, and therefore the Bible is without error. God gave us the Bible to make us "wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus," and to train us in godly living (2nd Timothy 3:15-17).

We believe marriage is instituted by God (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5) and between one man and one woman. Children are a blessing from the Lord, and the family is the foundation of society (Psalm 127).
GET THE WORD OUT
If you are not comfortable with writing, but know of others who would, please share the word! Use the below button and above banner, write a blog post or email to friends, link them to http://www.godlygirlhood.org.previewyoursite.com/ or this blog post. I'll also have more contribution ideas coming soon.



Thank you for your help!
Lacheln,
Taylor Garms

Monday, November 8, 2010

GodlyGirlhood.org in the Works!

Now that I have my long-awaited Adobe Dreamweaver, I have commenced work on GodlyGirlhood.org!

Wahoo!

If you have noticed, GG has been "under construction" for a long time, as I have been waiting to design it the way I have envisioned it. It's taking a lot of work and I have had to start over from scratch multiple times, but I am finally figuring out how to build my very own website.

Here's a snapshot...



How do you like it?

At this time, I am still liable to totally redesign it. I have so many drafts of GG on my computer; it is hard to decide what color scheme and layout I really want...and am I able to do.

FYI: All of the components have been designed on Photoshop CS5 (except for the menu bar, which is a Spry widget.)

Let me know your thoughts!

Lacheln,

Taylor

Friday, November 5, 2010

SPIDERS!

My heart jumped slightly as I opened the cupboard: Eek! A spider! A nasty, icky, spindly, brown spider! It had made it’s home right inside the doorframe of the cupboard, and it started to squirm away from the light. My sudden fright turned into indignation. How dare a spider invade our cupboard and destroy the comfort and security of our home! I rushed to get a paper towel and swiftly exterminated the invader, proud of my victory. (Wasn’t I brave? :)

As I threw the dead spider away, my mind raced to the cupboards of my own mind. How many spiders could I find there? What spiders have invaded my heart and mind? As I searched my inner self, I could see the webs of bitterness, impurity, selfishness, and pride covering the corners of my heart. Eek! They had subtly invaded my mind-no, wait, I had subtly allowed them to invade my mind. Through careless guarding of my heart, I had given access to the spiders of sin and filth.

And what should be my attitude to these, these vile spiders of filth that affect my thoughts, words, and actions? Destroy them! Throw them away! Get rid of them!

I can’t help but think of Hebrews 12:1: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." I am often entangled by the webs of sin and hindered by the spiders of shame. But, praise be to God, I DON’T have to live in fear of the invading spiders; I can tell them to leave and claim the victory through Jesus Christ. In fact, I don’t only have to, I can’t live with the spiders anymore. I am a child of God, saved, and set free from sin and shame (1st Peter 9-10)!

"Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded." (James 4:8b ESV).

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Surrendering My All Series: Trust in the Lord

God has been revealing areas in my life that need to be polished. A servant attitude, going the extra mile, singleness of heart, trust in the Lord, ministry in my own home, and most importantly, surrendering my all.

In this process of "surrendering my all", I have shared with you how God has shown me my most important "sphere of influence", ministry in my own home. Now let me share with you my learning to trust in the Lord. Here's a portion of an email I sent to a friend whose father lost his job a while ago in which I recount what I have learned during my own dad's job loss...

Thanks for your encouragement. Now I can sympathyze with your family's
situation even more! As you said, at first, it was really scarey, and I am sure
we will have more uncertain times ahead for our family, but I KNOW God will take
care of us, as He always has and always will. The day after Dad lost his job, I
went outside to spend time in God's Word. Feeling frightened at the future, I
opened up my Bible to Zephaniah 1:7 and found this verse, "Be silent before the
Lord!"
I stilled my heart and just listened to the beauties of God's creation.
Hearing birds singing all around me, I was suddenly reminded of Matthew
6:25-34:

"Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather
into barns and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value
then they?"

"Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What
shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these
things, and your Heavenly Father knows you need them all. But seek first the
Kingdom of God and His righteousnessm and all these things will be added to
you."

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be
anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

What promises and reassurance! I am confident we will get through this
trial, and am looking for what to learn in it. Also, we are excited to see what
God has in store! Just another part of our "Great Adventure!"

I've learned to trust in the Lord, no matter what comes our way, whether it be chicken pox, unemployment, or some unforseen change for our family. God takes good care of us and always has our hearts in mind. Looking back on the journey of our lives, I see the provision of our Father scattered all over the path. Life is not easy, nor will it ever be, but I know God has a better plan.

I love this encouraging song by the Greenes, "When God Has Another Plan":

Vs. 1
Forsaken by his brothers didn't fit the scene,
Being made a slave, was not what Joseph dreamed;
The coat of many colors was stained with blood and lies,
But from this divine appointment, a ruler would arise...

Ch.
When God has another plan - walk on and just say yes
When God has another plan - be assured that He knows best
If all your dreams are shattered, rest in His sufficient grace
We don't have to understand - when God has another plan.

Vs. 1
Alone and broken hearted, questions fill your mind
Changes can be hard, but come by God's design,
But if you could see tomorrow, with a view from Heaven's throne,
Every unexpected struggle, has led you closer home.

Ch.

Tag
If all your dreams are shattered, rest in His sufficient grace...
We don't have to understand - when God has another plan.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Lacheln,
Taylor

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day - November 2nd, 2010

This is my first year to participate in our country's greatest freedoms: the freedom to vote and make my voice heard. But sometimes I wonder if my voice counts...

Earlier this year I was filled with political fervor as I entered grassroots politics, but the more I was involved, the more disgusted I became with our country's politics. The mudslinging I saw in the campaigning was disheartening and the low standards of some so-called conservative and even Christian candidates dampened my enthusiasm. The more I learned about our country's problems and darkening future, the more helpless I felt to do anything but stand and watch it crumble around me.

Is my voice important? Is there hope for our nation?

I'm only one voice, but I am a voice. I can still call for justice, godly morals, the protection of life, and the sanctity of marriage. While I have the ability to stand up for the Lord's ways, I will stand up. It is my duty as an American and a Christian to vote and protect freedom. The cry for freedom minus multiple"one voices" will slowly die out. Yes, my voice is important.

As for our nation...if we turn to the Bible as our guide and allow the Lord to rule our everyday lives, our families, our churches, and eventually our government, we can regain ground given to the devil. The revival of America needs to start in the individual lives and the home. Our government and country is made up of individuals who have homes, and if the heart and home is right with God, then our nation will be as well.

The future is unclear for America, but we can make our voices heard and start revival in our own lives and homes. That is where it all begins.

VOTE!

Lacheln,
Taylor

Demo CD Design and More

We completed a demo CD for our band this month, and I had the privilege to design the insert and label. Want to see them?


Here's the CD insert. This, by far, is my favorite CD cover design for our group.


Here's the CD label. This was fun to make, but frustrating to print!

I created both of these on Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 (before I really made the transition from Elements to CS5). The whole package turned out nicely.

Here's some other designing projects I've done recently:

This is a poster I did for an upcoming Fundraiser concert with our friends, the Alzen Family. I did this on Photoshop CS5. Note the reflection techinque.

A CD cover I did for my brother Ben, who wanted a picture for his Lord of the Rings music on our Apple IMac. Again, this was done with Photoshop CS5. By the way Ben, PC is better than Apple! (We're love arguing about which computer is better.)

My most recent designing project. I created this header for the new Godly Girlhood website last night. I think I am satisfied with this color scheme and I like how the header turned out! (Photoshop CS5).

I love designing!

Lacheln, Taylor

Monday, November 1, 2010

Surrendering My All Series: Your Sphere of Influence

Walks are the perfect time to think, refocus, pray, and of course, get some exercise. While I do not walk enough, I do enjoy strolling down our Quail Street and clearing my mind. It is so refreshing!

A couple of weeks ago, I needed to refocus my brain...and get some fresh air. Heading outside, I took off on our gravel road. As my feet moved swiftly, so did my mind. Engaging in "self-talk", I began, first quietly in my head, then gradually, outloud for the silent country road to hear.

"Who am I?"

"I am a daughter to my father and mother, a sister to Whitney, Ben, Uli, Leesha, Sam, Jayme, and Caleb, friend to Mal, a grandaughter, a great-grandaughter, a niece, a cousin, a friend, an acquaintance, an influence. This is who I am."

I then reminded myself of my responsibilities to each relationship, mainly, my immediate family relationships. Going through each member of my family and considering their individual personalities, needs, and love languages, I thought of ways to encourage them, to fulfill my duties as a daughter and sister, and to minister to them. It was rather overwhelming looking at how I have been, well, not failing, but lacking in my role as a daughter and sister.

These are the golden years of my life. Newly graduated, at home, unmarried, with many opportunities to grow and learn, healthly, able-minded, and impassioned to serve my Lord. All great ingredients to be the best corner pillar I can be for my family. Why waste these years dreaming of when "Prince Charming" stops by?

I may never be married and have a home of my own. But I am okay with that. "Seriously?" you ask. Yes, seriously. I am a daughter and sister to seven siblings! What a fertile field for me to work in! I dare not squander these precious years. Sam, Jayme, and Caleb will not be the tender young ages of 10, 8, and 7 for much longer, there may not be much time left with Ben and Leesha, and Whitney and Uli are already away from home. I have already wasted away years by not investing in my siblings lives. No more!

Also, what a great chance to assist my mom! After the many years of sacrifice and hard-work she has done for our family, I can step up and be a servant to her. Not a minute to lose!

And, I need to help bring my dad's visions to life, using my gifts and talents to further his goals for the family. It is my purpose as a daughter to be a blessing and joy to my parents.

What is your sphere of influence? Are you wishing your days away, while ignoring the greatest relationships in your life? Challenge yourself, examine your relationships. What's lacking? What do you need to be doing? Be who you are today. Just do it.

Lacheln,
Taylor

Friday, October 29, 2010

"Through the Valley"

I like this song by the Isaacs. The words are relevant to me at this time in my life.

V.1
So you're looking for a way to quench your thirst
To ease your mind, to cool the burn
It's hard to face the road you're going down
And your tempted to turn around.
Don't give up, just keep on putting one foot in front of the other,
and just keep walking

Cho.
Through the valley , up the mountain,
Toward the river of sweet redemption.
It's a measure of strength, a shadow of grace, a matter of faith
That'll keep you going.
Just gotta keep on, gotta keep on movin'
Through the valley

v.2
Love is waiting on the other side
It calls your name, don't break your stride.
Freedom is gonna taste twice as sweet
When you get to where you need to be.
Don't lose hope, just hold on with all of your heart
And just keep praying

Cho.

Bridge:
It's a measure of strength, a shadow of grace, a matter of faith
That'll keep you going just gotta keep on, gotta keep on, gotta keep on movin'
Through the valley.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Crutches

"Hey Stacie...wha-what?"

Michaela stood in the doorway to Stacie's room, staring at her younger sister. "What in the world? I thought your leg was better!" Stacie hobbled toward Michaela on a pair of crutches. "Yeah," said Stacie, looking at her crutches, "it is, but I just got so used to walking with these that I decided to use them again."

Okay, a little ridiculous, right? But how often do we act the same way?

When the Lord Jesus saved us, He gave us a new life, a fresh start. We are chosen, adopted, redeemed, and forgiven (Ephesians 1:4-8), but somedays we forget who we are. We go back to crutches, allowing our sin to cripple us. Yelling at our siblings, rebelling against our parents, succumbing to peer pressure, living totally opposite to God's Word...we almost go back to "crawling" sometimes.

Consider the man sentenced to 35 years in prison. When his time was up, he hesitated at the door to his cell, and then turned back, reluctant to leave the cold familiarity of the jail he'd lived in for so long.

Your friend hands you an ice cream cone (vanilla for me, thank you!). You push it away, saying, "Ah, not right now. I've got some delicious dirt I'd rather eat instead." What! Your friend may call the insane asylum! Yet we reject the freedom of new life in Christ for old ways of living and stubborn sin.

Many Christians today reject the freedom of Christ by continuing in their former lives. But though we come just as we are, sister, we can't stay the way we are. God is constantly beckoning us to higher places, to Himself, calling us to leave our crutches behind. "...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (Hebrews 12:1b) He gives us the Holy Spirit Who works within us to say "no" to sin.

With the power of God, we can bite our tongues when we feel like yelling at our younger siblings. Through the strength of the Holy Spirit, we can submit ourselves to our parents' authority. And, reminded by God's Word, we can say to friends who encourage us to sin, "No way, I'm not who I was, I'm a child of God. I cannot do that anymore." God will provide what we need to stand. There is no need to use crutches any longer.

So say "goodbye" to crutches. You can walk, girl! Step outside your prison cell; you aren't locked up anymore. You are free, free to be a child of God, what you were meant to be.

"Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; lives as servants of God." (1st Peter 2:16)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Surrendering My All

Our family posing at Arby's in Iowa.

We just returned from a trip to the Midwest Quartet Convention in Des Moines/Altoona, Iowa. What fun! Visit our family's blog to see pictures and read the stories.

Life continues to be busy, thank the Lord! We are doing well, free from health issues-finally!-and God is providing for us in this time when Dad does not have a job. God is opening doors with Great Adventure in ways we didn't think possible and we look back amazed at seeing His hand so intricately involved in our lives. The adventure continues!
I am still trying to utilize all my Adobe programs. Trust me, it's a little overwhelming! More news on plans for Lacheln Designs later.
It's been interesting to see all the lessons I have been learning these past monthes since my graduation. God has been revealing areas in my life that need to be polished. A servant attitude, going the extra mile, singleness of heart, trust in the Lord, ministry in my own home, and most importantly, surrendering my all.
After graduation, I unconsiously slipped into the mindset that, since I was done with school, I could have the free time to do anything I wanted. Are you shaking your head at me yet? It's totally the opposite that I should be doing! I need to be seeking how I can really help my family out! Serving, sacrificing...surrendering my all. This is truly what a young woman of the Lord should be doing. It's time I pursue ministry in my home, focusing on others. I believe this is a battle all of us Christians have to face (the dying of self), but I know I have to personally fight hard. Selfishness is a sorry sin, unbecoming to a girl striving to be a "true beautiful" woman.
Well, enough said. Life is quite the learning experience. I am grateful to see how God has been changing my life over these years. I know I have come a long way, thanks to Jesus Christ, and know I further still to go.
"Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." Philippians 2:4
Surrendering My All,
Taylor

Friday, October 22, 2010

Oh, To Be a Kid Again!

> Decisions were made by saying "eeny-meeny-miney-mo."
> Mistakes were corrected by simply exclaiming, "Do over!"
> "Race issue," meant arguing about who ran the fastest.
> Money issues were handled by whoever was the banker in Monopoly."
> Catching fireflies could happily occupy an entire evening.
> It wasn't odd to have two or three "best" friends.
> Being old referred to anyone over 20.
> It was magic when Dad would "remove" his thumb.
> It was unbelievable that dodge ball wasn't an Olympic event.
> Having a weapon in school meant being caught with a slingshot.
> Nobody was prettier than Mom.
> Scrapes and bruises were kissed and made better.
> It was a big deal to finally be tall enough to ride the "big people" rides at the amusement park.
> Getting a foot of snow was a dream come true.
> Abilities were discovered because of a "double-dog-dare."
> "Oly-oly-oxen-free" made perfect sense.
> Spinning around, getting dizzy, and falling down would cause giggles.
> The worst embarrassment was being picked last for a team.
> War was a card game.
> Water balloons were the ultimate weapon.
> Baseball cards in the spokes transformed any bike into a motorcycle.
> Taking drugs meant orange-flavored chewable aspirin.
> Ice cream was considered a basic food group.
> Older siblings were the worst tormentors but also the fiercest protectors.

Taken from the Gospel Greats Weekly E-newsletter

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

True Woman Story: Part Two

This is part two of my "Journey to Freedom".

The young woman’s inner anger and disillusionment with herself began to show in intense rebellion against her parents and outbursts in her family. She planned to run away on a cold, dark night, never to see her family again and to throw away life as she knew it. She later changed her mind, but still the emptiness grew and the hidden sin gnawed at her heart. Satan had a stronghold, and the young woman was trapped. But, there was something she could do, and it was the only thing she could do: to start tearing down the walls.

The young woman knew the great distance between her and God, and her and her parents, had come about because of the secret idols in her heart. She had been trapped in a secret fantasy life, mastered by lies, and had been self-serving for many years. The young woman realized, with dread and shame, she had to confess her idols and sin to her parents. It was the only way to overcome the distance.

Through notes, long talks, and many tears, the story came out to her parents. They forgave her, encouraged her to delve into her Bible, reminded her of God’s promises, and supported her. This began a path of healing for her heart.

The young woman took steps to purge her heart of idols. The only thing to conquer her thoughts was to put new thoughts into her mind: God’s thoughts and words. She had to keep reminding herself that she was God’s child, a follower of Jesus Christ, and couldn’t go back to her former ways.

The young woman is me. This is my journey into freedom.

Some days I have victory, other days I relapse. But I have learned to live in God's grace and forgiveness daily. God teaches me new lessons in life and my relationship with my parents and siblings is growing. I am learning to be a servant and that life is not about me. I am learning to treat young men as "brothers" and cultivating "singleness of heart". I am learning to tell myself the truth always. I am grateful to Lord for showing me mercy and bearing with me through the years. He is continually smoothing the rough spots in my heart and making me a young woman of God.

I have embraced Ephesians 5:1-2 to be my life verse: "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."

Sisters, never give up hope. If you let God take total control of your life, you will see amazing things happen in your personal life and the lives of those around you. I can look back and see how the Lord has been changing my life. God is faithful. I wish for all of you to experience the peace I know now. I am praying for you and know God is working on your hearts. What's your journey to freedom? I'd love to hear how God has transformed your life!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

An Undivided Heart

{From earlier this year}

"I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." Psalm 119:10-11

Do you ever have problems concentrating on one thing, and one thing only? I do! When I was still in school, my mind constantly wandered: I was always thinking of what I could be doing, or dreaming about the future. Or while I am doing work around the home, I’m liable to leave it unfinished as I scurry off to do another pressing task or write a brainstorm. In fact, I am writing this thought while I should be doing dishes!

In Jeremiah 32:38-40, God speaks of giving His people "singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them." Our hearts and minds are easily swayed and we get distracted from what we should be doing. Our thoughts often wander into worry, fear, bitterness, or impurity. We need new hearts, as our old, sick and dying ones are too weak to withstand temptation and the troubles of this world. We need to be focused on the one thing, the right thing. "I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh." Ezekiel 11:19

Are you ready for an undivided heart? I wasn’t, at first. I stubbornly held onto old thoughts and old ways. There were days I chose not to even try to battle myself. The lies I believed and sins I committed were difficult to shake because of their familiarity and comfort.

Honestly, God’s light of truth hurts our eyes and His Word cuts through our hardened hearts like a double-edge sword. Ouch! When the Master chips away at our sore and sinful hearts, the pain can be excruciating. This is why we like to avoid change in our hearts-it hurts! But until we lay our hearts bare or God wakes us by calamity, we will never become who He wants us to be in Him.

God knows we will never be satisfied apart from Him. He wants us to be focused on Him; He wants to give us an undivided heart. He wants our full attention! Our Loving Father desires to show us the way to go, but we often miss it because our thoughts are preoccupied with our own way.

Be aware this is not a easy road and the battles are long and difficult. But don’t get discouraged! Patience and perseverance pay off in the end. What takes your focus off the Lord? Lies? Stress? Guys? The past? Trace it, face it, and erase it. The Lord wants your "undivided attention". Are you paying attention?

Friday, October 15, 2010

ADOBE MASTERSUITE!


The time of waiting is done, the time for learning has begun! Through my sweet aunt Janelle, I was able to get a WAY discounted price on the Adobe CS5 MasterSuite. This includes Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Flash Catalyst, InDesign, PremierPro, Soundbooth, Acrobat, etc. etc. This thing is "huge"! I am so excited to delve into all the cool programs and to start creating!
Can you imagine the big smile on my face?
Another goal for 2010 accomplished!
Lacheln, Taylor

Go Eagles!


Last night, Mom, Leesha, Jayme, and I were able to attend my cousin Ashley's last "at home" volleyball game. I have attempted to play volleyball, I think, once. I say "attempted", because I know NOTHING about volleyball compared to Ashley, her team (The Eagles), or even my mom! What talent and stamina it takes to endure sports-that's something I don't have! It was fun to watch the Eagles play and to see my aunt and uncle and several cousins again.
Ashley
Leesha, Jayme, cousin Danielle, and I.
Ashley on the court-a fabulous player.
THE EAGLES WON!

Danielle and the ball she caught from the game. She got all the players' signatures. :)


Sisters! Mom and Aunt Janelle.


Me and my "little" cousin, Ashley. (I am several monthes older than her, but she is 6 ft and I'm 5' 6 1/4"!)
Lacheln!
Taylor

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Join Me at LinkedIn!


Hey Friends!
If any of you have a LinkedIn account, feel free to connect with me or our family!
Lacheln,
Taylor

You've Got Mail!

You’ve got mail!

You know the feeling: opening the mailbox and finding an envelope addressed to, of all people, you! You snatch it up quickly and tear it open, only to find it’s an organization asking for money or a bank statement. Your heart sinks and your excitement dissipates. But, then it could be a response from a famous celebrity, or a note from your grandma, and perhaps a letter from your fiancĂ©. Your heart beats even faster as your eyes scan the page to drink in every word and pen mark.

Consider the last example of a letter: a letter from your fiancĂ©. The man whom you adore. The guy who you are always dreaming of. The man who loves you more than anything else in the world. This guy who is always seeking to win your heart. And he just wrote you a letter! Faint! Sigh! :) Don’t we all dream of that day when we find a love letter, for us only, from the "one and only"? I do! (Don’t mind the pun.)

Think with me for a minute. Don’t you already have a love letter, written just to you? The life story of your Prince, the who is so in love with you that He sacrificed His life so you could live with Him, forever? Now you are like, "Oh, I know what you mean. That story. But it’s not the same." No, it isn’t. It’s much more amazing, because Jesus’ love will always be forever. You may never get married, may never have "Mr. Right", and your man will not last forever. Jesus Christ will always be there with you, always wooing you, beckoning you to read what He has to say in His Word, to spend time with Him in prayer and conversation.

Get your Bible out and open it up. Feel the breath of God on your face as He speaks to you. Read the story of your salvation again, and soak in the promises of heaven and the marriage supper of the Lamb. Love has written you; you’ve got mail!

Lacheln,
Taylor

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pick a Few Flowers


"Mom, we have some flowers for you!" my youngest brother called out to our mom. He and my other little brother stood in the foyer of our home, each boy carrying a flower in his hand. Because of their dirty shoes, they got down on their knees and "shuffled" to where our mom was in the kitchen. They proudly lifted their flowers to Mom and gave her one of the greatest gifts kids give their mothers.

It has always been touching when people gift me with flowers, whether it was the nine roses from my grandma on my ninth birthday, or the bouquet of daisies and wildflowers my parents gave me for my eighteenth birthday, or the dandelions my siblings give me occasionally. Each time I receive these beauties of nature, I am thrilled that someone cared enough to give me that gift.

Though, often times, I overlook the "flowers" my Heavenly Father sends my way, whether if it’s actual flowers spread out on the lawn during summer, or the little blessings throughout the day. We so often walk by flower beds of God’s goodness and don’t even realize His gifts. And if we do, how often we thank or praise Him for what He has done?

I challenge you today to look at the flowers around you and thank your Father and Creator for His provision in the small things of life. Also, pick a few flowers for someone today.
Lacheln,
Taylor

Monday, October 11, 2010

Countdown Till Thursday!

I am counting down the days until...I GET MY SOFTWARE!! Adobe Master Suite CS5; photo retouching, graphic designing, web building, Flash creating, video editing, here I come! WAHOO!

Can you tell I'm excited?

Lacheln,
Taylor

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Wish I Was Crafty...

This Sunday, the church we sang at held a silent auction, and I participated, just for fun. :) There was a cute, silver crocheted/knitted scarf and hat set, and my bid was the winning bid. Yeah!

Aren't they pretty? Anyway, as I examined my new scarf and hat set, I began to remember when I crocheted. My grandma, aunt, and sister all taught me this art and I used to dream of starting my own crochet business. I created a special doll hat pattern, and wanted to someday market doll head-wear. I wanted to make baby blankets like my older sister and make clothing as well. But somewhere along the line, I lost my interest and now we have a basket, filled with yarn and needles, collecting dust.

Somedays I wish I was more "crafty". As I type, a warm, fleece blanket, a graduation gift from the women of our church, surrounds me. I wouldn't know how to make one for myself. Sewing, while I can do minor mending, is a nightmare to me, and knitting is a foriegn language. Is there something wrong with me?

On the other hand, I love to doodle and draw with pencil, pen, or mouse.











(These are some of my cartooning doodlings. :)

Well, I guess God has gifted me in other areas, though it is good to have knowledge in handywork. :) I admire and am truly amazed by the talents many women display through crocheting, sewing, knitting, quilting, etc. God has blessed them greatly!

Just some random thoughts for the day. :)

Lacheln,

Taylor

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Spotlight on Visionary Daughters

The most life-changing book I have read, except for God's Word, of course, has been So Much More by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin. Filled with amazing encouragement for today's young women, So Much More offers challenging principles from the Bible for Christian daughters and sisters.

Here's the review:
This book is not another Christian-teenage-girl “survival guide.” So Much More shows how Christian girls can wage war with the world and win. The Botkin sisters focus on how young women can rise above their God-hating culture and change it for the better.

Today, countless young ladies face difficult problems and challenging questions. While many long for godly purpose in their lives, their bewilderment mounts when they observe broken homes, distant fathers, overwhelmed mothers, degrading college courses, and a lack of spiritual guidance — both at home and at church. As hope for security and stability fades, it is no wonder that many young ladies feel orphaned, unprotected, and without hope for their futures.

Within the pages of this book, discover practical, biblical solutions for the young woman who wants to do so much more than just “survive” in a savagely feministic, anti-Christian culture. Find the answers a girl is not likely to get from her church, her peers, or her culture.


Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin

The Botkin sisters started a website several years ago and it is just as inspiring as their book. I love checking it out from time to time and finding an article that meets me just where I am. Their desire to present a picture of godly womanhood to all women is evident through their writings. The sisters are not afraid to stand on God's Word and clearly share their opinion on many subjects.

From the website:

In this new website, we would like to present a brave new vision for daughterhood. In light of the two views of womanhood subduing young Christian women — womanhood dedicated to useless ambition, and womanhood dedicated to useless langour — both leading girls to squander their youth — we would like to recall to daughters’ minds one of the defining aspects of biblical womanhood: useful womanhood.

The purpose of this site is to condone practical, purposeful, productive, dominion-oriented femininity.

Young ladies need to understand the significance of these years before marriage, because this unique season of life is a special gift from God.

You have but one lifetime to spend in our Lord’s service. How you spend these years of your life will touch the course of history and change it forever. We hope this site will give practical advice on how to be good stewards of these very important years.

So Much More was not a survival guide, and this site is not a service to provide survival tips to teenage girls. Visionary Daughters.com is dedicated to helping young unmarried women understand how they can wage war with the world and win.

We want to provide resources that will encourage and equip young women to do God’s work God’s way; in particular, to become greater blessings to their families, more effective arrows in the hands of their fathers, and better ambassadors for Christ.

I encourage you to visit their website and be inspired to be the visionary daughter you have been called to be. (Also check out the documentary, The Return of the Daughters; my sister and I just love it! What a encouragement!)

VISIONARY DAUGHTERS
www.visionarydaughters.com

Friday, October 1, 2010

Reflection Creation Revealed

This post is for Miss Kathryn at www.maidensofvirture.com (and for anyone else who is interested), revealing the steps to creating yesterday's random Photoshop example. Enjoy it, Kathryn!
First, I put some text down on my canvas, choosing a bold font, Impact, for my artwork. Looks kind of boring, don't you agree?
Then I added from the Effects Palette on the right two effects: Translucent Glass and Drop Shadow. Makes the font come alive a bit, right?
Next, I added a gradient, using the Gradient Tool on the Tool bar to the left.

Using the key-shortcut "Control-J" or ("Command-J" on a Mac) to duplicate the text layer, I then flipped my new text layer upside down, below my original font.

I changed the opacity level (found in the Layers Palette) of the new text layer to 37% (you can tweak it to whatever fit your preferences).


Then, taking my Eraser tool, I erase the bottom (or top) of the new text layer, making it look like a reflection. Again, erase until you get the result you want. Wah-lah! The finished product!


I was not able to do it exactly as the book says, as I don't have the big program and the actual method requires layer masks, but I came close!
Any questions?
Lacheln,
Taylor

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Random Photoshop Example


Here is a cool effect I just figured out last night, with the help of my brother Ben (who actually read the directions :). This came from a brand new HUGE book I purchased at the Photoshop conference called "Photoshop CS4 Bible". It is full of great information and I love it! It will take forever to read it, but that it's okay-I want to learn!
Lacheln,
Taylor


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another Statistic?

As most of you have probably read, my dad's job was terminated yesterday.

Wow.

We have become a statistic, another family whose provider has no means of providing. It is weird. I know some of you have experienced this before and have/are surviving, but this is still scarey...if I think about it too long. But then, if I consider all God might have in store for our family, I get excited. How mixed are my feelings!

It is odd to wake up on a Tuesday morning and find Dad here with our family. It is great, don't get me wrong...but I know Dad can no longer provide for our family like he used to, so that gives me a slight chill.

I think of all the families who have gone through this same trial before, and I know most of them make it, and they grow closer together through the hard times. I then think of the innovative ways we kids have come up with to cut costs. Take out light bulbs, unplug everything, eat bean soup for the rest of lives, etc. :) You know, really, this could be a neat adventure for our family.

Actually, the more I think about the future, the more excited I get, for I know God has great plans for our family. After Mom heard the news from Dad, she went to their bathroom and opened up the Bible she has in there. Unaware of where she turned, she began to read,

"Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 'Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I have sent you into exile." (Jeremiah 29:4-7,10-14)

What comforting words, so familiar, but so true. I will trust in the Lord and just buckle up my seatbelt: it's going to be an unforgettable ride!

Again, please pray for us. I know we will be okay, because we are the Lord's hands, but we certainly appreciate your prayers of support.

Lacheln,
Taylor

Monday, September 27, 2010

Good News, and Bad News

I don't have time right now to explain what has all happened to our family over the course of this weekend, but I have written two important blogs at our family's blog: http://www.greatadventurefamily.blogspot.com/. Visit there to get an idea of the rollercoaster we've been on. Up, and down, and...

Lacheln,
Taylor

Friday, September 24, 2010

True Woman Story: Part One

This series is based on a blog from Lies Young Women Believe. Erin Davis said, "In the meantime, I would love to hear your true woman story.What has God recently taught you about what it means to be a girl? What questions do you still have about His design for your femininity? What do you think He wants to change in your heart and life in the next ten years?" This is my true woman story...

She sat side-saddle on the fallen log, her blonde hair being tossed in the slight breeze, her blue eyes were turned toward the book in her hands. Her young, growing form was slightly pudgy, her face dotted with acne, her movements sometimes clumsy, but she dreamed of being beautiful, graceful, like a princess. The newly turned 14-year old was on the start of a new adventure that had just barely commenced the year before. It was the journey of true womanhood and discovering what God wanted for her life.

In her hands she held a challenging book, So Much More, by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin. The concepts and stories told in the book intrigued the girl and she found herself wishing to blossom into godly womanhood as described in the book. The ideas of purity and modesty weren't strange to her, but being a daughter thriving at home and cultivating a servant heart and submission were slightly foreign. Giving her heart to her parents? That was difficult to imagine. But she wondered, Was that possible?

As she read these wonderful ideas, taken straight from God's Word, she felt a desire to share these same concepts. But how? A website, of course! Hold on, what did she know about websites? Nothing, but she soon brought it up to her parents, and the rest became history.
Soon articles, poems, recipes and more popped up on the little website. The girl wrote with conviction, but her articles were unpolished and filled with typos. Even so, young women and mothers seemed to benefit from her writings.


But as the years went by, the girl was bothered by the growing unrest in her own heart. She fought her own temper, was plagued by subtle lies that dominated her thinking, bothered by her impatience with her siblings, troubled by her disrespect toward her parents, weighed down with bitterness toward certain people, filled with doubt and confusion about God, and struggled with hidden sin in her heart. Each time she wrote another blog about purity and crushes, her conscience was stung. One day would find her writing an article about helping mothers and then, the next day found her slacking in her responsibilites and provoking her own mom. Her heart was in doing good and living for the Lord, but she kept messing up and she felt like she wasn't worthy to be maintaining a website about godly girlhood.

She struggled with idols erected in her heart: guys, lies, wrong attitudes, and at the center, herself. The young woman knew they had to go if she was to be a true follower of Christ and they would only hinder her in her journey of true womanhood, but it was so hard to get rid of the idols that had ruled her life so long. God was beckoning to the young woman, and she knew what He offered, but the passing pleasures called louder.

Toward the end of her 17th year, the young woman was sinking into a depression. She had clutched so tightly at the things she thought satisfied, but now their gleam was dimming. It did not feel good to be always looking for true love and going from one guy to the next in her mind. It did not feel good to tell herself the old lies, "Nobody loves me. I'm not good enough. I'm always causing problems. The world would be better without me." It did not feel good to rebel and cause disruptions in her family. It did not feel good to be distant from her parents. It did not feel good to be so distant from God. What was wrong?

To be continued.

Another Photoshop Example (And New Blog Design)!

Okay, all my photography/designing friends, here's another example of how great Photoshop and Photoshop Elements are...

First picture, not bad, but it could be lots better:

Second picture, edited with Photoshop Elements 7.


Using the Burn tool, color/ lighting correction using levels, the Blur tool, the Healing Brush tool, the Details setting on the Smart Brush Tool, I was able to create a nicely polished picture with a professional look (I think those are all my steps :). The only problem is that on our family's computer (which I am using now) it looks a bit too yellow-green. On my laptop it looks a bit different. But otherwise, I am pleased with the overall effect. What do you think?

If you love photography and want to make your photos look better, or want to start designing, get Photoshop Elements (version 7 or 8 will do just fine). It's typically around (if I remember correctly) $80, and worth the money if you know how to use it. Photoshop is definately for the serious user, as there is SO much on the program and it takes SO long to find out what it all is. Of course, this program is quite a bit more money, but I know I surely want to get it! Elements is simpler to use and easier to edit photos with, as Adobe provides some quick tools for fast editing. I have LOVED it and it has helped me grow my talents in this area.

By the way, how do you like my new blog design? The buttons, banners, and photos were all created and edited in Elements this past Wednesday. This is what I originally envisioned for my blog (I designed this on Elements Wednesday night too):

I like how my blog is now different, and not a generic looking spot in the blogging world. I like the elegance of the colors and fonts. GRAPHIC DESIGNING IS AWESOME! :)

Lacheln,
Taylor