Monday, January 31, 2011

SNOW!~ A Fun Article by Rachel Melillo


There’s snow out there!  Well, okay, there’s snow out there if you live in Massachusetts or some other place up north like me.  Although mostly I’m too busy to play in the snow, I always make the occasional time to do so, especially after I’ve worked so hard shoveling it from my driveway. 

Sledding is a standard thing to try whenever there’s a good snow out there, when the snow is light and fluffy.  Find a good sledding hill that’s not too crowded but will hopefully have the snow packed down because packing it down yourself isn’t as fun as just hopping on and sledding.  Bring friends and have some contests while you’re at it. 

Snowmen!! The standard thing to do when you’ve got nice sticky snow.  Through the sixteen years I’ve spent building or assisting with building snowmen, I’ve noticed that it gets pretty boring after the tenth year.  So allow me to suggest another alternative of the same nature.  Don’t stop after you’ve built the snowman, build an entire family and after you feel that you’re an expert at sculpting snow, try a snow dog or kitty.  Soon people will be lining up around your house to observe your snow art. J

Caves!  After my dad is finished snow blowing, I notice that there are several really nice hard packed mountains of snow around the driveway.  Grab a friend and dig through it, not letting it collapse on top of you.  After all, if you’ve ever tried this before, getting snow down your neck is an unpleasant experience that follows a snow avalanche. 

So, instead of sitting inside, playing all those video games that you got for Christmas or reading your books for the twenty first time, get your lazy behind off the couch (or computer)  and start having some fun with the snow that God’s given you.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Silly Willie!~ A Fun Article by Emily Ciszewski

“Please, smile for the camera!” If someone suddenly surprised you with this little command would you smile immediately, or frown in a distrustful attitude?
I am here to encourage you - smile!
Often we Christians play serious, too often we’re party poopers - aren’t we? Okay - if the house is about to go up in flames do to a bag of marshmallows sitting on the stove while your pasta was cooking, your friend has just joined the army at age 15, or your mom is dying her hair purple - I would understand your serious or shall we say chaotic attitude! But since those things rarely happen I encourage a smile, a laugh, a tear or two at a lame joke.
I happen to be a very serious person.
It happens to be a very common trait in the oldest sibling of large families.
I’m not joking.
Anyways, my mom, who is the youngest in her family of five - is a very silly person.
I am so serious!
She is the mom who loves um…shall we say….fart machines….duck whistles….driving around a parking lot blasting Christian rap music while rocking to the beat…. (we don’t normally listen to rap ) ……waking me up with a spray of water…..all that normal mom stuff….yeah.

 ... teenage girl laughing phone |
Mom is awesome.
But I am the opposite.
I don’t find farts, (eww!) dancing in front of the public, and making a nut out of myself.
Mom is usually the one to try and make me laugh.
Now, don’t take me wrong - I’m not your average Scrooge or anything, it just takes a little more than a practical joke to get me laughing…..okay! Maybe I am a Scrooge!

Teen_girlslaughing.jpg |

But I want to be a happy little camper, but….but…but….oh! Fine! I’m just too shy!
And yet, here I am encouraging you to smile and laugh at your cousins knock - knock joke! And do it seriously too!

There are a lot of things to laugh about these days! Take my mom, a silly aunt, the red zit on your forehead! I think we serious ones need a laugh! We need a challenge - and here it is - laugh 10 times a day! Here are some ideas to make you laugh;

1. Buy your dad a duck whistle,
2. Laugh at every single little kid knock-knock joke this new year,
3. Go to the dollar store with your girlfriends - or better yet - the mall in red clown wigs and green nail polish and poke around in the soap department,
4. Dance in the rain with your siblings,
5. Have a pie eating contest - no hands!
6. Write a limerick and share it with your best friend over Grape Crush and an ice-cream,
7. Hopscotch in the snow with one foot and your arms in your coat,
8. Go for a picnic with ice foods - popsicles, frozen grapes and anything else you think of in this winter with your friends in the school yard or at the park,
9. Ask random people at a home game if they know where your flea went
10. Start laughing during a quiet moment - other will join and it’s likely they won’t stop!

So, you have some ideas now - start laughing!
Two teenage girls talking on ... |

Now, on a serious note, be careful when you ask people about your pet flea - people might not be able to look at you straight! 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pursuing a Modest Wardrobe~ A Beauty Article by Madeline Hunt

This culture has most people thinking “I need this or that to be ‘in style.’ ” Because we live in a culture of immodesty it is very easy to fall into habits of dressing immodestly, being flirtatious, and trying to catch guy's eyes. But we don’t need to dress immodesty to be stylish. There are many items that are modest or with layering can be modest. Cute modest clothes are out there you may just have to spend more time looking and possibly more money. If you want to be modest, cute and economical I suggest checking out consignment stores or thrift stores.
Shopping can be a challenge even at consignment/thrift stores, when trying on an article of clothing ask yourself these questions:
  • Would I want Jesus or my future husband seeing me wearing this?
  • Will I be self-conscious or constantly worrying that I am showing too much?
  • Will it draw attention to my face, not my body?
  • Is it comfortable and suitable for the activity/event I’ll wear it for? 
  • Would my parents approve of it?

For the clothes you already own, I suggest that you regularly do a Modesty Check. Do this with a like minded friend or family member. Try on your clothes and have your friend or family member give you their honest opinion.  Is the item modest? Put it back in your closet.  Is the item so-so?  Put in a to-be-decided pile.  Is the item immodest in any way?  Give it away, or sell it to a consignment store.  (Any money you earn could be used to buy modest clothes)  Go through the “to-be-decided” pile with your Dad or brother. Don’t justify keeping clothes if your friend or family member says it’s immodest.
Every time you put a shirt back on the shelf at a store or give away a less-than-modest item, you are showing love to your brothers-in-Christ.

Please don’t think that I am not tempted to dress immodestly–I am!  (and sometimes I give in) “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23

But we are also given a way to say “no” to any temptation including immodesty. 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man and God is faithful he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear but when you are tempted he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

Let me encourage you to pursue a modest, feminine, and fashionable wardrobe!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Fruits of the Spirits~ A Spiritual Article by Heather Young

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22-23

            To walk in the Spirit is to act on these traits.  Yes, act on them; not to just have them.  The beginning of Galatians 5:22 says, “The fruit of the Spirit.” Fruit doesn’t just grow on a tree by itself.  The tree has to work to get energy from the sun and water from the rain.  We are like trees.  We get our energy from the Son and water from His Word.  In order to bear spiritual fruit, we must look to God and grow closer to Him by reading and learning the Bible.  Galatians 5:19-21 lists various sinful acts and states, “…those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God,” which does not mean that if you sin once you will not go to Heaven.  If you sin many times (as all of us have) you will not go to hell if you believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins and rose from the grave and ask God for forgiveness.  When God forgives you, you become cleaner than snow.

            Even before verses 19-21, verses 16-17 sum up what it means to walk in the Spirit:

“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.  For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”

            The Spirit and the Flesh are opposites.  The Spirit is purely good, while the flesh is purely evil.  Temptations arise from our fleshly sides but we can use the Spirit to resist temptation.  Difficult times will upon you, if they haven’t already.  We can be prepared by walking in the Spirit.  How exactly do we walk in the Spirit? Well, Galatians 5:24 explains that for us:

“And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

            When you become a Christian, it is your responsibility to grow closer to God through the Bible, prayer, and other ways that may help you such as devotional books.  We are God’s children, and when we believe that Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross for our sins, we also crucify our sinful desires.  This does not mean that we never feel the desire to do something bad; it means that we now have Christ helping us win the battle over sin.  Isn’t that a really good feeling? We don’t have to rely on ourselves anymore; we need to rely on God and He will help us overcome our evil desires, no matter how big they seem to us.  Our problems are super-duper teeny-tiny compared to our great, awesome, mighty, glorious God, Father, and Lord, Jesus Christ.

            The Holy Spirit was sent to Earth to live in us.  It is our Helper.  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control come from the Holy Spirit.  When we become a Christian, God sends the Holy Spirit to come and reside in our hearts and help us win the battle over our sinful desires.  “If we live in the Spirit, let us walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25) You can be living in the Spirit but not walking in the Spirit.  Walking in the Spirit means to obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit.  Becoming a Christian means you are now living in the Spirit, but you must act on what God is telling you to do in order to walk in the Spirit.  The fruit of the Spirit are traits that you must act on so you can walk in the Spirit instead of just living in the Spirit.  Remember, God can help you win your spiritual battles, no matter how tough they are.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tron: Legacy~ A Movie Review by Kari Willinger

In the beginning of this film you find out that Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) disappears. Twenty years later his son, Sam Flynn, (Garrett Hedlund) goes in search for his father. After being transported to a digital world were his father has been living for that past twenty years, Sam finds his dads. Alter ego I guess you could call it, he has to survive a string of challenges in order to save his father. With the help of a unique ally quorra (Olivia Wilde) he sets off on his desperate mission. Will he be able to save his father and himself?

This movie contains 4 h words on one d word. Sam is shown taking his shirt off and also being stripped to his underwear and put into a leather suit. This scene does not last long at all.

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Friend, Ryan~ A Short Story by Lea Sadler

One night when I was ten years old, Mom had sent me over to my neighbor’s house for a play date in hopes I would come home with a friend. Instead, I came home with a boy. Mommy didn’t like that very much. “What happened with the Roberts?” She had asked when Ryan had first walked in the door and I had introduced him. I remember shrugging and saying, “I got bored.”
That day had to be the most interesting of my life. I had left home about 7:00 and walked a few houses down arriving at around 7:02. The father had a sickly colored face with little eyes and firmly set lips. One smile and he might crack. The mother looked like an office-manager Barbie doll: perfect and monotonous. Her judgmental eyes searched for any kind of horrendous flaw that she might have unknowingly let into her home. Her hair was always pressed into a bun, every strand in its perfect place.
Their daughter was no better. In fact, she was way worse. I would’ve gladly punched her and had been done with it. But being ten years old and smarter than my fists, I smiled politely and pretended to be interested in a friendship. The first time Ria saw me when she walked into her living room with me on the couch trying to get her parents to talk, she sighed heavily and groaned. “Mom! Dad!” She screeched. “Do I have to play with that?”
Needless to say, her parents sent us to her room where we both engaged in an intense battle of pre-teen wits. It didn’t take me very long to find out I was battling with an unarmed moron. Eventually, she left me there fuming and I took off through their back door to get some fresh air. That’s when I met Ryan.
“Hey!” A voice caught my attention in the midst of my steaming. I turned and saw a face resting on the top of the fence.
“Hey,” I said, unsure of how to react. How long had he been standing there watching me express my hate with a few slugs to one of Ria’s plush animals? What was he thinking about me?
Ryan took a quick glance at the unicorn slumped over my arm, its eyes smashed into its skull and its horn askew. “I see you met Ria.”
Seeing that as permission, I took the liberty to thrust the unicorn into the dirt and stop on it a few times before I answered. Ryan fell back laughing. We both decided we needed to get out. While he ran inside for a coat, I opened the Roberts’ gate and slid out, watching for any sign of Ria or one of the Great Stone Faces. I cleared my route and headed next door where Ryan had been waiting for me in his front yard. We’ve been best friends ever since.
Before we knew it, six years had passed and we are just about ready to take on the world alone. One step at a time, the time had whirled above our heads and sank into our hearts, turning into memories. I went to all his birthday parties, he came to all mine. He hugged me when I cried and I volunteered one of my sister’s stuffed animals to pummel when he was agitated. At school we were teased, but the bullies put an abrupt stop to the insults and kissy-y faces once we showed them they didn’t want to mess with us. High school is tedious, stressful, dramatic, and above all pointless. Guys come to get laid, girls come to show off, teachers come to get paid, and Ryan and me? We come to at least try to get an education. But again, it didn’t take very long to understand that education was only going to be achieved once we left Roosevelt High and faced college… if we could even get into one.
I laid back on my bed with the phone clutched to my chest as I reminisced through the older days when the hardest decision we had to make was whether or not we wanted to eat our vegetables. Now, I am searching for a job, trying to get hours of homework done on time, taking responsibility for a car, and working out for a half hour every day. Why can’t life be simple the way it used to be? When all I had to do to get over my anger was punch something or cry it out?
“Miriam,” Ryan knocked on my bedroom door and is at up. The door flung open as he tossed me a coke and popped his open. Seating himself in my computer chair, he looked at me and smiled gently. “How’re you doing?”
I shrugged and gave a brave grin back. I forgot to mention that the responsibility I’m taking for my car is the expense in damages and trying to get the ticket reduced. My Camaro that I had got for so cheap proved to be too powerful for me, a licensed driver of just over a month. The sight of the pitch black morning and gushing rain streamed through my head, slow and agonizing. I didn’t see the dark car speeding down the road without its headlights. And by the time I was already in the intersection, they were about to blow me and my car to bits. I gunned the gas pedal to avoid a collision, but my car hydroplaned, skidded, and ran head-on into a tree. The smoke from the airbags stunk, and the sting of being smacked in the face was numb. I had to find my sister. I remembered screaming her name and her screaming mine. I remember the terror I had felt because I could’ve killed her. I could’ve lost my baby sister.

And it would’ve been my fault.

I avoided Ryan’s eyes, knowing if I had looked into them I would’ve lost control of my emotions. Those tender eyes knew me so well, and at times like these, the fact was frightening. Ryan set his coke on my desk and kneeled in front of me, grabbing my hands in his and rubbing them with warmth. “Do you hurt anywhere?”
“No,” I whispered. Unfortunately, I wasn’t injured at all. My sister suffered from a tiny cut on her eyelid when the airbag exploded and smashed her glasses, but that was it. But I had walked away completely fine. I would’ve taken a broken arm, a broken leg, a broken anything if she didn’t have to get that small would on her precious face. I would’ve rather been hospitalized than have her suffer in any way.
Ryan sighed and opened my coke for me. “I’m sorry I couldn’t come sooner.”
“No,” I said again. I was relieved he couldn’t. I wouldn’t allow him to see me the way I had been for the past week after the accident. I was drained, drained of self-power, strength, emotion. I was tired. I just wanted to hold my baby sister and tell her how sorry I was, to beg her to forgive me. There was no way I could ever make her understand the pain I felt for her. I didn’t have the energy to put my makeup on, curl or straighten my hair, mix and match cute outfits, or hang out with my friends. Like zombie-girl, I walked to school, did my homework, and slept until dinner where I would munch a few bites then sleep some more. Today I was just beginning to feel like my life might let up on me. Today I felt hope. Today I had sneaked into Bree’s room, kissed her forehead, then got ready to go to the mall with Ryan. “Don’t worry about it.”
He smiled at me again as he helped me up. “You look great.”


Ryan pulled into the parking lot and yanked a list from his pocket. “Ok, so here’s the game-plan,” he said. I rolled my eyes. He was always annoyingly organized. “We hit The Rack then head to Forever 21, Victoria’s Secret –I’ll give you some money and wait outside—maybe get a burger at Orange Julius, get a few things from Aeropostale then head home. Sound good?”
He opened his door and stepped out. “But Ryan,” I called as I stepped out on my side. “Those are all the stores I like, what about you?”
“It’s not about me today,” Ryan put his arm around me and led me into Nordstrom’s. I rested my head on his shoulder and silently thanked whoever had given me such an amazing friend. Anger suddenly welled up inside of me, a stage I had been going through since the day after I wrecked my car. My other friend, Kara, said she was praying for me. If she was praying for me, why did I almost kill my sister and cost my parents so much money? If she actually had anyone to pray to, why did he or she let me ruin this significant part of my life? How could these people claim to have faith in a god that’s done nothing for anyone? I guess Ryan felt me tense up, because his hand pressed into my shoulder and I eased up some.
As we entered, both of our attention was grabbed by the same man and woman. The man was dressed in yellow form head to toe. Yellow hat, yellow coat, yellow pants, yellow shoes, and though we couldn’t see them I would’ve bet he was wearing yellow socks. The woman clung to his arm as they made a point of coming in our direction. “Hello,” The man flashed a smile.
“Hello,” Ryan said as his grip on me tightened.
The woman, tight-lipped and short, smiled at us under her bangs. She pulled out two pamphlets from her purse and held them out to us. ‘Ever heard of Open Arms Church of the Nazarene?”
I had, but I stayed silent as I opened the pamphlet and scanned through the images and little words printed neatly in an easy-to-read pattern. “Yes,” Ryan said. “We go there.”
The man frowned in thought. “Really? I’ve never seen you.”
“We only go for the Wednesday night service,” Ryan began guiding me away from the couple.
The banana man grinned again. “Well don’t’ make yourself such a stranger!” He called as Ryan kept pulling me away. “We’re your family!”
I waited until we were out of earshot. “Why did you lie to them?”
“If I had said we never head of their church, they would’ve tried to evangelize us and it would’ve taken forever. These people are pretty persistent and once you get them going they won’t leave you alone.”
I nodded. It made sense. And I was tired of being lectured about how I needed God. My family were all Christians except for me. I was never the sucker who bought into that stuff. My mother and father made it clear they wished I would come to a service every now and then at least, but I wouldn’t have any of it. My sister wept herself to sleep sometimes because she thought I was going to Hell. My brother would always read his bible out loud while I tried to watch of a movie. I was sick of the whole religion. I didn’t want to have anything to do with it.


I took a few bites of my burger then set it down. “Ryan,” I said.
“Miriam,” he teased. I rolled my eyes.
“Why don’t you believe in the whole Jesus thing?” I paused, knowing he was going to get all worked up. Instead, he surprised me.
Ryan set his burger down and took a sip of his soda. “Well,” he said, “Why don’t you?”
I shrugged. “It’s impossible,” I started. “Christians claim that their god is a loving god, but if he’s so loving then why does he let such horrible things happen to people? Why do orphans die of hunger, teenagers get sold into sex-slavery, people get murdered, and hearts get broke? Besides that, there’s no way any kind of higher power could exist.
“Scientifically,” Ryan said.
“But what about spiritually?”
I clamped my hands together and Ryan took another bite of burger. What was he doing? “There’s no spirituality, there is no spirit.”
Ryan held up a finger as he finished chewing. “You don’t believe that people have spirits in them? Then what gives them fire, or passion, or love, or the drive to do something they know is right? What gives them an urge to fight for what they believe in or compels them to die for it? If there are no spirits, then why do words hurt more than sticks? If we had no spirit in us, there would be no emotion, no personality, no dreams. We’d be flesh robots. Science can’t touch spirituality.”
“What’s your point?” This wasn’t the Ryan I knew. Every small mentioning of there being any kind of creator usually made him clam up and deny any kind of god watching us. Where was he going with this?
“I’m not saying there is a god up there,” Ryan said, “I’m just saying that there is spirituality because people do have souls.”
“So tell me, Ryan,” I said, feeling challenged. “Where do these souls come from?”
“Where do we come from?”
“Our mothers.”
“Where did our mothers come from?”
“Their mothers.”
“And their mothers?”
I groaned. “Would you please tell me what you’re trying to get at?”
Ryan wadded up his wrapping and shot it into the trash can. “Our souls aren’t physical, our bodies are. Our mothers are physical but their souls aren’t. We can only get the physical being of us from them. So where do the souls come from?”
“And what happens to them when we die?”
Ryan looked away then back at me. “I haven’t gotten that far yet.”
“Ok, so you’re saying there isn’t necessarily a ‘god’ but there is some kind of higher power giving us souls to live with.” Wrapping my head around Ryan’s big logical mind was wearing me out.
“I’m not saying there is and I’m not saying there isn’t. I just don’t know.”
I stared at him, trying to figure out what I had missed. “What changed your mind?”
Ryan glanced at me and blushed. I knew he would be embarrassed to be caught believing in any kind of spiritual existence. “some pretty convincing things were said when I was visiting my family last week.”
Ryan helped me grab my bags then we headed to Aeropostale.


“Mom, I’m home!” I took my bags to my room and set them on my bed. I flopped onto the bed but slid off and was now laying on my back on the carpet. It was almost nicer. Like I was getting what I deserved. I was a spineless little brat who deserved no bed, no shelter, no love, so I lay there and took it. Hot, salty tears spilled out of my eyes and streamed down the side of my face. Ryan’s shopping trip had meant to make me feel better, but all I was feeling was confused. Shopping couldn’t feel this hole I felt inside me. A knock came on my door, but I was crying too hard to answer or even get up. I turned to my side and held my hands over my face.
Mom walked in, saw me, and before I knew it she was stroking my hair while I lay on my bed calming the tears. “Did something happen with Ryan today?”
“No,” I choked.
“She sighed. “Are you still upset over the car accident?”
I rolled my eyes. Of course I was still upset. It was only a week ago. But it wasn’t why I was crying. I shook my head and wiped my face unsuccessfully.
“Sweetie, what is it?” Mom rubbed my arm. “Please tell me.”
I refused. My mouth was shut tight. If I had told her about Ryan’s and my spiritual conversation today, I wouldn’t hear the end of it. She wouldn’t tease me or say, “I told you so,” but she would tell me that I need Jesus, and I didn’t want to need anybody. She prayed for me. But I didn’t pull away.
“Why didn’t you leave?” Mom asked.
I shrugged.
“You never like it when we openly pray for you.” Her fingers combed my hair. “What’s going on, Honey?”
“Mom,” I sobbed, “where do spirits come from?”
“Spirits? You mean like our souls?”
I nodded. “Yes.”
“Well,” she sighed and laid next to me. Wrapping her arms around me she said, “I could tell you but I’m not sure you’ll want to hear it.”
“Tell me.”
“Ok. Souls come from God. They’re the part of us that goes on after our bodies can’t go any longer. And depending on our choice, they either live or die.”
“There’s no escaping it.”
“Escaping what?”
“Having to make that choice.”
“No, there isn’t. But my decision was easy for me.”
“You want to live.”
“I do too.”
Mom paused. I knew what I was saying, but I couldn’t even believe it myself. I knew all the stories about the old testament and the new, about how Jesus was crucified for our sins then lived again three days later. I knew those stories, but now I was choosing to believe them. Mom sat up and looked at me. “What?”
I sat up with her. “I want to live, Mom. I don’t want to be away from God. I know I can’t go on without Him.” I stopped to see if she was getting it. “I need Him, especially now.”
Mom burst into tears and squeezed me, she prayed with me, and for the first time I talked with my spiritual father. I felt at peace. Ryan, an extreme, die-hard atheist had made me realize I was a mere speck compared to the love the one and only true God had for me. That family dinner I ate like a hog. I felt re-energized, revived, alive. I had a whole life ahead of me, and another one after that. My family welcomed me to God’s and thanked Him for bringing me in, and when I called Ryan, he didn’t try to talk me out of it. He said congratulations, the he had to go. Next week I’m going to Kara’s youth group, and I’m bringing Ryan with me.

(Key Verse for this story: Jeremiah 29:11)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pac Sun~ A Store Review by Renee Arnold

(Sorry for the size of the pictures. LAT is having some technical difficulties. For a better view, please click the links for each article of clothing.)
I found this top, very feminine and cute 

The 215 Slim Slouch Medium Indigo Jeans 
I like the lighter jeans with this top, these also have rips but they're not immodest.
$42.50 click here for a better look.
These bright blue ballet flats will add a splash of color to your outfit! $19.50 Click here to get a better look.                          
Bow Knot Ballet Flat 
Last but not least this sparkly scarf for $14.50 will top off this casual ensemble. Click here to get a better look!
Sparkle Net Scarf
This whole look totals $96.
As for the store in general, they have some modest clothes and some not. As for the modest, their jeans look perfect and their tops are adorable, most of them can be made modest with a cami underneath. As fot the immodest, their tanks and cami's shouldn't be worn alone but mose of them would look fine with another tank underneath. Don't come to pacsun looking for swimwear becasue all I saw were string bikini's. And lastly their dresses where definetly too short, I think a few would pass as longer shirts!
If you do some searching though, you will be able to find some really cute clothes there!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Princess and the Stable Biy~ A Poem by Rachel Allen

'Twas custom for the knight in armor
To save the damsel in distress
Trapped inside a dark stone tower
With not to wear but maiden's dress
Waiting for a dashing prince
A' riding on a valiant steed
Sword in hand and clad in steel
To slay the witch who did the deed.

Or possibly, a duel was held
Of jousting, swordsmanship, or bow
To win the hand and heart of princess
In which two suitors then would show
Skill with weapons against each other
Until the best man won the bride
'Twas not a matter of love divine,
But of which man was stronger and which man died.

Inside the castle a maiden fair,
And a stable boy of charm and honor.
Two hearts trapped in forbidden love
Seeking the approval of her father.

A gentle hint, a quiet question.
A firm refusal, turned away.
Anger, wrath, and hatred all.
Banished both, sent far away.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Talk of the Town by Lisa Wingate~ A Book Review by Michelle Pell

Lisa Wingate is a inspirational speaker, magazine columnist, and bestselling author of multiple books. The first book in her “Daily, Texas” series, Talk of the Town, contains important life lessons. The book portrays a small town that doesn't seem like much, but when all the townspeople band together to help a young girl, amazing things can happen.

Everyone knows that to make a good story there needs to be conflict. And boy, does this book have conflict. One of the main characters, Mandalay, feels like her life is going okay when all of a sudden life hits her with one problem after another.

An aspect of the book which I really like is how the author writes the story from two different people's points of view: one, an elderly resident of Daily, the other, a young, aspiring TV producer.

You can really get involved in this book because of how the author makes the characters people to whom you can relate. Whether you're a young girl trying to help her family, a young woman not knowing exactly what to do with her life, or an elderly woman thinking her life is almost over but finding out it could be just beginning.

I'm sure that as soon as you read this book, you won't be able to wait to get the next one, just like me.

Monday, January 17, 2011

3's a Crowd?~ An Issues Article by Lea Sadler

Pay attention closely to this article, because I’m sure everyone experiences this problem sometime in their lives. My best friend and my other friend don’t like each other at all. In fact, one had to leave my birthday party last year because she was too infuriated to forget and have fun. There was no way I could find out the truth of what happened between them, and to be honest it was too difficult to even get a glimpse of what the issue was. All I knew was that they couldn’t tolerate even being in the same room together. Here’s how to handle different situations and maybe even to let up on the issue as time goes on.

Let’s just start with the basics. If you are struggling with this problem, or if you’re one of the friends who doesn’t like the other one, then try to pinpoint the exact moment when you started disliking or noticing that your two friends resented each other. Around what time was it? What was going on at that time in each of their lives? It turned out, one of my friend’s mom was really sick, and it didn’t look like she had much time left. On the other hand, my best friend usually just overreacts to everything. So a sideways glance from one person can set her off because she’ll think they’re giving her a look. Now that I’ve got you thinking about that, put yourself in each of their shoes and see the other person from their eyes. Are they a threat to each other for your friendship? Are they jealous?

 Before I knew it, they started attacking each other by telling me stories about what the other one did. If this happens, don’t automatically believe it or assume that it’s true. They might be offended that you don’t believe them because “when have I ever lied to you? Why don’t you trust me like you used to?” Explain to them that you don’t doubt their reliability, but you have two stories that need to be listened to and considered. Reassure them that you’re as much their friend as you were before all this started. Make it clear to them what kind of position you are in and ask them to think about how they would feel in your place. Once they see what kind of problem this is for you, they might ease up and try to make things easier. If not, maybe they’ll at least understand. And after that, make sure to ask your other friend about it later to hear their side. The least you can do is hear them out, if you can’t come up with a fair conclusion, then move on because that side issue wasn’t between you and them, it was strictly between them. Just because they brought you into it, doesn’t mean that you have to continue being a part of it. Make them work that little kink out together.

So what do you do when it’s a Friday night and you want to have some friends over to watch movies but you can’t invite both of them? You can’t choose one over the other, but you can’t not invite both of them either. That night will be brought up sometime and they’ll both be angry that you didn’t choose them (believe me, I did this and it was the wrong move). So if you can’t choose one, and you can’t leave them both out, there’s only one option left. Invite them both. Before people start doing anything, explain to them that it would mean a lot to you if they could get along for at least one night. If they are good friends, they will realize how hard this is for you and do their best to avoid a clash. You might even ask them to step outside and talk to each other calmly to see what the other one is feeling. This would also be a good idea if there is an argument.

I’m not promising you a happy ending where everyone is living in happy-land but these might be some ways to make things easier on everyone. But hey, if they do make your friends finally like each other, or even just accept each other, then that’s even better J

Saturday, January 15, 2011

TWLOHA~ An Organization Article by Abby Massung

(To Write Love On Her Arms)

What I Found Out…
  When I first chose to write about TWLOHA I honestly thought I knew quite a bit about the organization. However, after surfing through their website and various social networking sites’ pages, I realized that I really knew very little about this amazing organization.
  As I read their vision statement and how they got started, I learned about a beautiful group of people who truly proved themselves and their love and devotion for their friend, Renee. What I once thought was simply a group of people trying to raise awareness about cutting, suddenly turned into a group of friends fighting to save the life of a broken friend.
    I barely scratched the surface of what the TWLOHA website had to offer me, but I can honestly say that what I did read took my breath away and brought me to tears at the same time. It wasn’t just the incredible stories or the obvious love that the members of TWLOHA had for hurting people, it was something more too. The statistics they were listing weren’t about people far away I didn’t know -disconnected from me, my family, and my friends- they were much more. Why? Because I know some of the 2-out-of-3 teens who struggle with depression who aren’t seeking treatment; in fact, I can think of at least 3 right now. I’ve seen firsthand how drugs have affected the family of a friend. My oldest sister struggled with suicidal thoughts for years.  I myself am one of the 4% of the population who struggles with self-injury.  The people who TWLOHA are helping aren’t just living on the other side of the world; they’re our next door neighbors, our friends, and even our family members.

How They Got Started…
  TWLOHA got started in the least likely of ways. No one had some huge grand plan to save the lives of hundreds of lost and hurting people or just randomly thought “hey, lets put ‘to write love on her arms’ on a t-shirt and see if we can get someone to buy it!”.
   In 2006, it started out with just a group of friends trying to tell the story of and help a friend. In no time, they were selling t-shirts to help pay for their friend’s treatment, and starting up a myspace page to tell the story.
  After that, they began learning just how many other people out there had similar stories and could relate to their friend’s struggle. They began receiving messages from people telling about the struggles they and their friends faced, others who were looking for help, and still more people admitting to knowing very little about the issues TWLOHA brought to the light. 
What They’re Doing Today…
  Today, TWLOHA holds conferences and speaks at various places not only in the USA, but in other parts of the world as well. They reach out to those struggling with addictions, self-harm, depression, and suicide in an attempt to show them they’re not alone, that there is still hope for them, that they can turn their lives around, and that they are loved.
  Their vision may seem simple enough, but it packs a pretty powerful punch at the same time. Finding myself incapable of trying to reword it and still have even a fraction of the same meaning, I decided to offer you a direct quote describing their mission from off of their website instead:
“The vision is that we actually believe these things…

You were created to love and be loved.  You were meant to live life in relationship with other people, to know and be known. You need to know that your story is important and that you're part of a bigger story.  You need to know that your life matters.
We live in a difficult world, a broken world.  My friend Byron is very smart - he says that life is hard for most people most of the time.  We believe that everyone can relate to pain, that all of us live with questions, and all of us get stuck in moments.  You need to know that you're not alone in the places you feel stuck.
We all wake to the human condition.  We wake to mystery and beauty but also to tragedy and loss.  Millions of people live with problems of pain.  Millions of homes are filled with questions – moments and seasons and cycles that come as thieves and aim to stay.  We know that pain is very real.  It is our privilege to suggest that hope is real, and that help is real.

You need to know that rescue is possible, that freedom is possible, that God is still in the business of redemption.  We're seeing it happen.  We're seeing lives change as people get the help they need.  People sitting across from a counselor for the first time.  People stepping into treatment.  In desperate moments, people calling a suicide hotline.  We know that the first step to recovery is the hardest to take.  We want to say here that it's worth it, that your life is worth fighting for, that it's possible to change.
 Beyond treatment, we believe that community is essential, that people need other people, that we were never meant to do life alone.

The vision is that community and hope and help would replace secrets and silence. 
The vision is people putting down guns and blades and bottles.
The vision is that we can reduce the suicide rate in America and around the world.
The vision is that we would learn what it means to love our friends, and that we would love ourselves enough to get the help we need.
The vision is better endings.  The vision is the restoration of broken families and broken relationships.  The vision is people finding life, finding freedom, finding love.  The vision is graduation, a Super Bowl, a wedding, a child, a sunrise.  The vision is people becoming incredible parents, people breaking cycles, making change.  The vision is the possibility that your best days are ahead. 
The vision is the possibility that we're more loved than we'll ever know. 
The vision is hope, and hope is real.
You are not alone, and this is not the end of your story.”

                              -TWLOHA Vision statement as viewed on

How We Can Make Their Mission Our Own…
  To my surprise, I learned that TWLOHA really leaves the door wide open for the rest of us to be a part of their mission. Unlike with some other groups and organizations out there, you can truly become part of their team. Here are some ways we can help out:
  1. The Street Team: You can join the TWLOHA street team by going to or by going to and searching “TWLOHA”. Through joining, you’ll be able to help support TWLOHA and be apart of the TWLOHA movement in your own part of the world. You’ll be able to perform various tasks to earn activity points and store credit to receive free merchandise from the TWLOHA store. Also, you can communicate with other members through the online forum and membership groups. Finally, it’s a great way to get exclusive TWLOHA info such as chats with the team, opportunities to volunteer, behind the scenes videos, and even a street team t-shirt.

  2. Purchasing Merchandise: You can buy t-shirts and other things from the TWLOHA web store as well as Hot Topic, Zumiez, and Ron Jons. This not only supports the organization, but also spreads the TWLOHA story, sparks up conversations, and may even lead someone to seek help with their own personal struggles.

  3. By using good search, a yahoo powered search engine, you can choose to have half of the advertising revenue they make from your searches (about a penny per search) donated to the charity of your choice (TWLOHA) for whenever you use their search engine. I haven’t yet used it myself (yet be the highly operative word), but I would suggest checking it out and at least trying to use it as a secondary search engine now and then if nothing else.

  4. Social Networks:  You can find and follow/friend TWLOHA on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Myspace.

  5. Donating to TWLOHA: You can also support them by sending cash, checks, and/or money orders to:
                       P.O. Box 206
                       Cocoa, FL 32923
  6. Benefits & Fundraisers: You can have a benefit or fundraiser for TWLOHA by doing a fashion show, penny drive, 5k walk, concert, or whatever you want to raise money for them. Simply email: and let them know what you want to do so that they can help with the planning process, or ask them for ideas of what you could do. I can guarantee that they’ll be more than happy to offer ideas for a benefit that you could do and help you out with promotions and etc. (be wary if you live in a hundred mile radius of them though, cause they might show up on your doorstep with a pizza one night to have a planning party. Just kidding…I think).
 I would also strongly recommend checking out the “move” portion of the TWLOHA website to see the rest of the many other different ways that you can offer them support.

In Conclusion…
  I wish I could offer a better picture of TWLOHA to you, but time (and my extremely patient boss who’s probably about ready to kill a certain procrastinator) limits me from being able to research and write everything I’d like to about the awesome TWLOHA team. Therefore, I’d like to suggest that you invest some of your spare time in doing a bit of your own research about the organization for yourself. I can promise that it’s definitely worth your time and that they won’t disappoint you.

sidenote: check out the music that they have up on their site and pages. I can't help but be attracted to the music wherever I go, and I found several new favourites among the songs on their playlist.

Friday, January 14, 2011

What a Guy Wants~ A Dating Column by Haley Oscar

This month I asked some of my christian guy friends what they look for in a future wife, or what they would like to see in christian girls today. I asked them to be totally honest and speak from their hearts. Some of these men are married, others are not. They all have the highest respect for us women and hope that what they had to say will give you something to think about and pray on.

Steve, 19 said: "The hard thing to ask for, but it is something that we all probably wish for as men, is that women would tell us how they feel rather than making us jump through hoops and read signs that they think are clear as day, whether they are or not actually.

"Modesty is for sure appreciated in dress and how women act. It is better for a guy to earn a woman's heart than for her to just throw herself at him.

"Women are beautiful and don't always need makeup. It's hard hanging out with a girl that thinks she is fat or ugly just because of what people say, especially when they aren't. I think women need to be appreciated more and told these things more than they are, and respected.

"And finally, women need to respect themselves more, which also ties into the modesty factor. Just because you got it doesn't mean you should flaunt it. It's very distracting, and for young Christian men like us, the last thing we need is temptation of impure thoughts and just seeing things we should see in general. Especially coming from young Christian women."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Winter Fashions~ A Clothing Article by Renee Arnold

Winter fashion is in full swing! Wondering what is in this season?  Tall boots, chunky sweaters, ripped jeans and asymmetrical tops are! You can pull off all of these trends in a modest and downright stylish way!

  From Uggs, or knock-offs if that's your thing, to ankle boots. From tall boots with big heels to short boots with itty-bitty heels, they're all in this season! Your fuzzy, suede boot can work with almost any style. It looks great with jeans for a cute, wintry look or even with sweats for a layed back, casual look. Boots with heels look great with dresses or over skinny jeans for a more dressed up outfit. If you're shorter, boots with some type of heel can give you a little boost and make any school outfit! 

For us girls who love modesty, seeing the turtleneck come back into style is very pleasing. Sweaters are perfect for chilly days! You can match it with a scarf or necklace to add a little touch of you to it, and they can go with almost anything. Turtlenecks can be so versatile,  as you can pair them with jeans or a pencil skirt.

Ripped jeans are everywhere! As long as they're not crazy and show too much skin through the rips, they're so cute. You can find them almost anywhere in all different washes and styles. They can be matched with your casual boots, if you are being more laid back, or can be matched with a heeled boot, if your are going for the more dressed-up look. Check to see if your school has a policy about your jeans before you wear them to school because some schools have rules about them. This can also help you decide how many pairs you want to have. 

Asymmetrical tops are so cute; they come in all different shapes and styles. Some are one shoulder, some have a wrapped or draped look and others flow out at the bottom and create a triangle-like shape. Be sure to make the right, modest choice when buying asymmetrical shirts. Most of them are one shoulder, so if you buy one, make sure it can be made modest. These tops can be either casual or dressy, depending on what style you get.

Winter weather fashion is very cute and it's somewhat easier to find modest pieces. I hope you have fun winter- weather shopping!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Unstoppable~ A Movie Review by Kari WIllinger


From director Tony Scott comes another heart-stopping action movie. Frank (Denzel Washington) and Will (Chris Pine) set out on a terrifying mission. They have to stop a train going full speed, with toxic fluid in the back, from running down a city. Bulldozing anything that gets in it's way, this train is truly terrifying. Panic, not knowing how to stop the train, infuses everyone. Two men come to the rescue, making plans, deadly plans, to stop this train then moving into action. Will they stop the train before it's too late? Guess you will have to watch to find out.

Though let me share with you my four favorite things about this movie; action, Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, and Chris Pine!  Denzel Washinton is such a great actor, with hottie Chris Pine and action included!

This movie has a few things to watch out for. Frank's daughters work at Hooters, meaing we get to see there 'uniform'. Also, Will is seen in just his underwear and his wife is seen a in cleavage-bearing top. The langauge in this movie is a bit harsh. The F word is used once and God and Jesus's name is misused quite a bit. Also, a rude gesture is made. I'd take some consideration before seeing this movie.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Letting God's Plan Be the only Plan~ A Spiritual Article by Rachel Melillo

I’m a planner.  I want to know what I’m going to do and when.  I’ve known what college I want to attend, what kind of a guy I’m going to marry, how many kids I’m going to have, and what I want my career to be.  That’s just who I am, and I’ve never really had any problems with it, until now.

Recently, I got a rejection notice from the college I’ve wanted to go to since I was fourteen.  I applied early decision and they said now; that they would reconsider me for regular admission.  I got this news and I fell apart. All my plans, all my dreams, were gone for the moment.  I had backups, but they were mostly for show, and I didn’t really want to go there.  My immediate future got thrown into the unknown, and I’m going crazy. 

During the month I’ve been waiting for this letter, my mind has been plagued with “what ifs”.  Those “what ifs” have now become reality, and that, my friends, was NOT in my plans.  I went through shock, major disappointment, and anger.  I took my dog for a walk and just vented at God, telling Him all the things that should happen in my life, and halfway through that walk, I realized what I was doing. 

I was telling God what to do.  Note to everyone reading this: telling God what to do isn’t a good idea.  My mind immediately flips to Job and how he and his friends were talking about how life was supposed to work, and what God says is “Don’t tell me what to do.  I know more than you, idiot,” except God was extremely more eloquent. 

Life is full of change and disappointment. God’s the only one that knows the outcome of our lives and our actions.  He’s the only one that needs a plan for us, because He knows what’s best and He’s in control.   I have no idea what He’s got planned for me, but for now, I’ve simply got to live by faith and trust that God knows what’s best.  Are you willing to do the same?

For this new year, what’s something that you need to give to God?  What’s something that you’ve been holding on to, not willing to realize that by holding onto that. You may be keeping yourself from fully experiencing a life dedicated to living for Christ?  It’s not easy, but ask Him to help you let go, and if you’d like any of us to pray for you, please email us and let us know.  I wish you the best of blessings.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Interview with Ashley Mays!

Last month, I had the great opprotunity to interview Ashley Mays, formor staff writer for Brio Magazine. Read this interview to find out how Ashley's life has changed after the discontinuing of Brio, how she feels about God and some fun facts about her!

1) What has inspired you to be a writer?
It's just how God made me. Some people have a passion for animals and become vets. Some people have a passion for acting, so they go into theater and movies. Some people have a passion for music and do the recording artist thing. God just gave me a passion for writing. For me writing is an extension of who I am.
2) What we some of the hardship you had to face during this journey?
Breaking into the writing world can be difficult and discouraging at times. I've submitted things and been rejected, just like every other writer out there. You just have to keep learning and getting better. It takes a lot of time and a lot of work to become a writer, but it's not impossible!
3) How did you land your job with ‘Brio’?
I went to the Focus on the Family Institute (now the Focus Leadership Institute) in 2006. When you attend the Institute, you're given an internship. I was selected to be the intern for BRIO because of my writing experience and my love of working with teen girls. After I graduated college, a job at BRIO opened up and I applied for it. I interviewed for it and ended up getting the job! I moved out the day after I graduated.
4) How did your life change after ‘Brio’ was discontinued?
I had to find a new job. :-) It was really difficult for all of us who were on BRIO staff. We'd become a close family during our time as coworkers, so it was hard not to see each other every day. We were also sad because we loved every single one of our readers. We didn't want them to feel like we didn't care because BRIO had ended. So Susie, our editor, started a brand new magazine called SUSIE. I contribute articles every once in a while, as do the other girls who were part of our BRIO team. If you were a fan of BRIO, you'll definitely enjoy SUSIE magazine.
5) What are some exciting things that have happened in your life this past year?
I got married about a year and a half ago, so that's pretty exciting. Other than that, the most exciting things going on in my life have to do with making edible meals and getting a new vacuum cleaner. :-)
6) Are you still working on writing?
Of course! Like I said before, I still write every once in a while for SUSIE magazine. I also have a few projects tumbling around in my head. Writing is a passion of mine, so you rarely find me without a pen (or laptop) in my hand.
7) How do you stay grounded in your relationship with God?
By remembering all He's done for me, and making sure others are able to see that in my life. It's very humbling to catch a glimpse of all He's given me. I'm extremely blessed and I'll spend the rest of my life working to share those blessings with others, hopefully showing them the love of Christ through my actions.
8) What is your favorite attribute of God?
His trustworthiness. He is who He says He is. I don't have to wonder if He's going to switch things up on me or fudge the truth to make me feel better. I might not always be able to trust other people 100% of the time, but I know I can trust God. He never changes.
9) Do you have a favorite place to go and be alone with God? If so, where?
Not really. :-) God tends to grab me when I'm serving other people. When I'm able to take a step outside of myself and pay attention to what other people really need, I feel like my heart's much more open to what God wants for me. One day I do really want a nice room with a rocking chair where I can sit and pray and read my Bible, but right now my life is more conducive towards keeping my Bible in my purse and reading it when I have a quiet minute.
10) What were some things you struggled with when you were a teen? How did you overcome it/them?
I didn't fit in very well when I was in high school. I was the kid who'd sit and eat my lunch by myself in the hall. I had great friends from camp and from church, but I didn't feel like I connected with any of the people I went to school with. I felt so different from everyone else. It was a really difficult time for me and I had some stretches where I felt very depressed. But I was able to remember that high school wasn't forever. And I tried to make a concentrated effort to focus on the great things I did have in my life, like my relationship with the Lord, my fantastic family, and the friends I did have. Eventually things started looking up, and I came away from it all as a stronger person.
11) Who are some people you look up to/admire?
My mom, of course. She's my best friend.
12) Who in your life has helped you in any aspect of your life? Tell us about them is you wish.
My mom's always been there for me. I know I can talk to her about anything. She's always given me great advice. And of course, my dad's a great encouragement as well. He's reminded me of my goals in life when I have wanted to give up. My parents have always believed I can do great things. It's really empowering to have people who believe in your dreams.
13) How did you meet your husband? (Sorry, I tend to like to know! LOL!)
At his sister's Halloween party. My roommate and his sister were friends, and my roommate invited me to go to this party with her. I went. It wasn't love at first sight, but he and I did become great friends. We started hanging out on a regular basis. When he asked me out, I decided to give him a chance and we fell in love.
14) What are some of your favorite hobbies?
Writing. I'm also a really artistic and musical person, so I like to draw, paint, and play the piano and guitar, too. And if I have a free minute, you'll find me with a book in my hand.
15) What is your all-time favorite movie?
"The Emperor's New Groove"
16) What would be the perfect day to you?
Sleeping until noon. Going horseback riding. Then spending the rest of the day just hanging out with my parents, brother, and husband.
17) Coffee or Tea?
Tea. I'm not a coffee fan. Even if it's Starbucks.
18) Cake or Pie?
Ice cream. :-)
19) What are your plans for the future?
I don't know. I'd like to do some traveling, write a few (hundred) books, and live closer to my family. Maybe get a puppy. :-) I try to hold my plans with loose fingers, though. God tends to think a little differently than I do, and His plans usually trump mine. :-)
Visit Ashley on her blog!