Friday, July 29, 2011

A Letter~ by Rachel Melillo

I still have every single card, letter, and invitation sent to me during my life. They’re special, and I can’t bear to get rid of them. There are three that hold significant value to me—more than the rest. One is a postcard from my sister from New Zealand. Another is a letter from my other sister while she was at college. The third is a card from my grandmother.

I also have another collection of letters from a group of people that I’ve never met. They’ve been fashioned together in a book, organized perfectly by my Father. God, my Father, gave me a book of letters, filled with overflowing love. Who am I to ignore them? Letters of love, letters of advice, and letters telling stories of love, courage, faith, and grace.

Reading my love letter from my Creator never gets old. The same words can be taken a million different ways, no matter how many times I read it; I can still take something new from it. When someone I like or respect says something, I’ll often ponder it—some prefer the term ‘meditate’—and think about the many ways that the person could have meant it. My Father in heaven gave me a letter than has so many things hidden underneath—though the cover is appealing and attractive, the meaning behind the lines is even more incredible.

I’ve never ignored a letter written to me. Every time I get something in the mail addressed to me, I get so excited—dancing around my kitchen, squealing with pure joy. Although I’d like to say that I regard my quiet times and Bible reading times in the same manner, I’m going to stay honest and admit that I do not. But when we think about it, the Bible is a bunch of letters written to you. To you. To you. From God—the Creator of the universe.

I’d like to challenge you to mail a letter to someone. Pick up your pen and write out a chapter of the Bible to someone that you care about. The New Testament is a great way to go, since many of those books are letters to the church. Write to your pastor, your best friend, a random person that you don’t know (pick a mailbox and send it there). You’d be surprised at the impact you can make.

2nd Timothy 1: 6-7

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.”

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Jumper~ By Rachel Allen

I'm sitting on the roof of the rec center. I'm looking down at the people looking up at me, a staring contest. Despite the fact that I'm three stories off the ground, I can see the fear and surprise on their faces. I can imagine the whispers rushing through the gathering crow. "It's Rachel." "Rachel Sidowski?" "What's SHE doing up there?" I smirk because I know exactly what they're thinking. They would never expect to see me on the rook. I'm a straight-A student with a lot going for me who smiles at everyone and acts totally normal. They might expect the see the emo kid from my world history class up here, or the cutter from English or the gay kid who always gets teased in algebra, but they never suspected me because I'm not the jumping type.
The cops are here. The flashing red and blue lights add a nice ambience to the scene of panic and chaos and fear. They remind me of the flashing strobe lights at the school dance. I hate dances. My last dance was the Valentine's Day Ball, and I didn't want to go but Cassidy begged and begged and begged, so I went. But as soon as we got there, Cassidy ditched me for some blond dude in a polo shirt and nobody would dance with me. I was absolutely miserable, and even though Cassidy was my ride, I just left. I had to walk home carrying my heels in my hand. I scowl. The lights are suddenly very irritating.

The police are asking around for confirmation that Rachel Sidowski is actually on the roof. A boy from my biology class nods when the a cop points at me. The kid looks like he's about to cry, and I feel kind of sorry for him.

Kind of.

So now they know. Now they're going to call my parents and tell them that their daughter is sitting on the roof of the rec center and my mom and dad are going to jump in the 2008 blazer and race over to join the growing crowd of stunned on-lookers.

I hear the door to the roof top click open behind me. It must be a cop who came up to convince me not to jump. "Mind if I join you?" a male voice asks cautiously.

"Not at all."

The cop comes and sits down next to me, looking nervous. It's the officer that talked to the boy from my science class. He has big, blue eyes, and scruffy blonde hair stick out everywhere from under his cap. "Hey," he says quietly. "What are you doing up here?" He seems young for a cop, and much too young to handle a jumper. I can tell this is his first by the way he bites his lip and keeps glancing over the edge. "My name's Steven," he says, forcing a nervous smile. "What's yours?"

"Rachel," I say in a no-nonsense way.

"What are you doing, Rachel?"

"Thinking," I reply.

"About what?" He seems sincerely interested, like he really wants to know. And maybe he does.

"Not a lot. About how funny it is that all those people down there are panicking about me sitting on a roof."

"Why is that funny to you?" He doesn't sound mad or horrified, but simply curious. I'm surprised. He's handling the situation pretty well for such a young officer.

"Because none of them really care. Well, maybe the teachers, and Bobbi for sure, but that's probably it."

"That's not true," he hastens to assure me.

"Psssh," I scoff. "It is, too. There's not a single person down there who cares heads or tails if I jump. Except Bobbi. And my parents when they get here."

Steven switches tactics and changes the subject. "Which one's Bobbi?"

I point at Bobbi and wave. "The Spanish kid in the black tee. He's in my Ceramics class. We went to the gallery in Denver together."

"Are you two dating?"

I laugh sarcastically. "Oh, please. We're the best of friends and we stand up for each other, but it could never work. We fight like an old married couple." I pause for effect. "So, actually, we're already halfway there!"

He smiles a little. "What do you want to do when you graduate high school?"

"I want to go to an actors' community college in upstate New York so I can be an actress on Broadway."

"How good are you?"

"Well, apparently good enough to get the lead in the school play. The teacher says I've got 'real potential.'"

Steven nods his approval. "You've got so much going for you. Why are you up here, Rachel?"

I think about it. "I'm up here to get away. I'm up here so I can look down on people, not vice versa. I'm up here because I can see the whole town and no one knows I'm watching." I pause. "I don't belong down there."

"What do you mean?" He's watching me and listening, really listening to what I have to say.

"I'm not exactly what you'd call 'popular,'" I say as I make quotation marks with my hands. "I'm a teacher's pet. A geek. A nerd. My only real friend is Bobbi. All the other kids think I'm crazy." I chuckle bitterly. "This probably doesn't help."

"You know," Steven says carefully, "Taking your own life isn't thie only way out."

I can't help but laugh. "Oh please. I'm much too smart for that."

I stand and roll my shoulders, stiff from sitting in the same position for half an hour. A startled cry comes from below. "She's gonna jump!" There are a few screams. One person even faints. I resist the urge to laugh out loud as Steven stands up ever so slowly so he won't scare me over the edge (or fall off himself, I can't be sure). Instead, I turn around and go back inside. Bewildered, Steven follows me to the stairs and watches me start to descend. I pause about halfway down. "I wasn't up there to jump, Steven."


"I wasn't going to jump. I go up there to think, to get away from it all. When I'm up there, I feel free, powerful. I go up there to be alone. Most days, no one sees me up there. But today, the lighting was just right and one of the teachers saw me. I guess I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

"I guess you'd better be a little more careful next time," he said.

"I don't think there's going to be a next time." I paused. "One more thing; There's going to be press down there. When we get out there, you get full credit for preventing a suicide and saving a life."

It takes a minute for this to register. "But I didn't! I didn't prevent anything! And if they think you're suicidal, they'll send you to a shrink. They'll make you go to therapy, even if you don't need it."

I put my hands on his shoulders. "It's not just about me, Steven. You're a part of this, too. Besides, therapy might actually do me some good. And you deserve all the credit. Just because you listened."

He pauses. He opens and closes his mouth a couple of times.

"And Steven?" I add.

"Yes, Rachel?"

"Thanks." With that, I walk out the door and put on the best performance of my life.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A New Genesis~ By Rachel Melillo

“Valerie, for the last time--I’m sorry! I don’t know how they found out!” Emma shouted out, frustrated that her friend refused to accept her apology.
“Whatever Emma, I don’t care. Just...” Valerie let her voice trail off for a moment until she found the words she was searching for, “Just, please don’t talk to me for the next week. At least.”


Emma was cut off with a curt click, indicating the end of the conversation. The phone, still held against her ear, screamed the painful tone of an empty line; a friendless life. Get over it, Emma. You have other friends, she told herself, hoping to end the mental image of tomorrow.

I don’t understand! No one knew but me! Realizing that, she couldn’t blame Valerie for assuming the obvious—that Emma had betrayed the confidence. It still doesn’t make it true. I didn’t tell anyone.

“Well, that’s not how it looks to the rest of the world.”

She twisted in pain as her inner voice responded. You know, I really don’t need to hear from you right now.

“You never want to hear from me.”

Well, I was trying to be nice by saying ‘right now’.

“Well, guess what, I’m not going away.”

Figures, she groaned. She opened her door and walked across the hallway to put the phone back in her parent’s bedroom.

“Emma, is that you?” She heard her dad call.

“Yeah, Dad, it’s me.”

“Are you busy, or do you have a minute?” He asked.

“Well, um, I have a minute. Sure.” She clomped down the stairs and turned into her dad’s office. “What’s up?”

“Your mom told me that you think you’re going somewhere tomorrow.”

Emma caught the anger beneath the seemingly calm tone. “Oh yeah, Karen asked if I wanted to go to a movie tomorrow.”

“I didn’t hear anything about it.” The frustration rose and Emma winced inwardly, not letting him see it.

“I forgot,” she admitted.

“Then I guess you didn’t really want to go,” he shrugged.

“That’s not true,” Emma countered, panic rising in her.

“You didn’t tell me, so obviously it wasn’t important enough for you to go, otherwise you would have told me.”

“Dad, I’ve been busy!”

“You had time to make plans. Unless you heard about this yesterday, I think this conversation is over.”


“No buts, you can go now.”

He turned back to his finances and Emma knew that the conversation was over. She looked up at her mom, who looked sympathetic.

She turned and muttered to no one in particular, “I’m going for a walk.” Grabbing her I-pod, she stomped out the door. Her dad was already mad at her, so what if she let her anger show too.

The nearly summer, Virginia air was stuffy, even though it was evening. He’s being unreasonable! I don’t understand. Just because I have a slip of the mind and forget to tell him, he won’t even consider letting me go! Emma growled as she stormed down the quiet street towards the beach.

God, I don’t get it!

That seemed to be her line a lot lately.

She sighed and, convicted of disrespect, she continued, I’m sorry, I know I should be a bit more polite to the Creator of the universe, but it just seems like everything’s going wrong lately. Her heart cracked as the scenes of the past month flashed through her mind—Jared breaking up with her, Valerie’s secret getting out, two of her best friends suddenly hating each other. Finally, the one she’d just played out with her dad.

Reaching the beach, Emma kicked off her flip-flops and ran towards the water. She splashed the shallow waves with her feet, disturbing the sand on the bottom.

“God, why don’t you help me?” She murmured aloud.

She stared out at the water, and whispered, “Why now, when I’m at my lowest, are you abandoning me?”

She felt a warmth enter her heart, slowly mending it together and heard Him whisper the answer into her heart.

“I am always with you. What hurts you, hurts me. I will carry you through it, because I’ve already overcome it.”

Emma swallowed and looked around. “Time to start over. God, here’s a new genesis.”

John 16:33 -- “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Psalm 62~ By Heather Young

Psalm 62:1-8

“Truly my soul silently waits for God;

From Him comes my salvation.

He is my rock and my salvation;

He is my defense;

I shall not be greatly moved.

How long will you attack a man?

You shall be slain, all of you,

Like a leaning wall and a tottering fence.

They only consult to cast him down from his high position;

They delight in lies;

They bless with their mouth,

But they curse inwardly. Selah

My soul, wait silently for God alone,

For my expectation is from Him.

He only is my rock and my salvation;

He is my defense;

I shall not be moved.

In God is my salvation and my glory;

The rock of my strength,

And my refuge, is in God.

Trust in Him at all times, you people;

Pour out your heart before Him;

God is a refuge for us.” Selah

God is amazing. People can be amazing too, but they can also be unreliable. Like the beginning of this Psalm states, God is the only truly safe haven for us to run to when our worldly friends fail us. He is the only thing we should put all of our trust in – not that Christian friends can’t help us in our times of trouble – but as Proverbs 20:6 says, “Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?” No one is perfect; only God is perfect. Eventually everyone makes mistakes and fails one another. God should be our unfailing hope, the only place we put our trust. 

Psalm 146:5

“Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God.”

Monday, July 25, 2011

Blue Sash~ A Poem by Emily Ciszewski

Little girl,

Wrapped in sack,

Twirls across the dust floor.

Knees bent,

Head erect,

As she curtsies at the barred door.

“Dance with me,” says the she,

Then straightens

With a smile.

Clothed in rags,

She lifts her hands,

And hums a minuet.

Eyes are closed,

Thoughts so bold,

As she fingers the soft lace.

Safely bound,

Her waist around,

A wish upon her face.

Her heart does sing,

Fairy bells ring,

As the steps go by they fly.

Higher, higher, higher, high!

Her spirit soars with Joy.

The two small jewels,

Bright colored with liberty,

Scan the tiny room.

Her hands fall limpidly,

Her feet - back on the ground,

Her hair - a royal crown, gleams in victory.

The Dance now done,

The girl swirls on one last wing,

Her soul now sings a Song;

“I am bound eternally,

To this grace that sets me free,

For I have my Father’s love,

That He’s sent down from above…”

The door once barred,

Is now ajar,

The child now -redeemed.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Give-a-Way Winners!!

Hello Everyone!!

We had a very successful give-a-way, in my opinion! I wanted to thank everyone who entered in! And thank you so much for filling out the survey! It is a major help to the LAT staff! We are always looking for ways to improve!

The winner of the knotted bracelet is Sarah!!! Sarah, please email us at and entitle your email I WON THE KNOTTED BRACELET and include your mailing address so we can send you your prize ASAP :)

The winner of the floral bracelet is Hopeful Romantic!! Please email us at and entitle your email I WON THE FLORAL BRACELET and include your mailing address so we can send you your prize ASAP :)

Thank you again to everyone who entered in the give-a-way!!!

Much Love,
Haylie Jo Gregory

Friday, July 22, 2011

Thor~ A Movie Review by Kari Willinger

Created by Marvel Comics comes a very interesting and entertaining movie. When Thor (Chris Hemsworth from 'Star Trek'), a Warrior and the future King of Asgard (the fantasy realm),  is banned from Asgard by his father because of his arrogance and sent to Earth. Thor's world changes. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), a scientist, witnesses his decision and seeks out answers from him. Back in Asgard, Thor's brother, Loki, takes over the throne and slowly starts corrupting Asgard. Fellow Warriors of Thor's find a way to warn Thor by heading to earth. Thor, learning about love and honor on Earth, sets out to help his fellow Warriors in saving Asgard and Earth while destroying the only way back to Earth and the woman he loves.

This movie was rated a PG-13. It has light kissing, nothing too bad. We also see Thor shirtless in one scene. There is light profanity, and only the words d*** and a** are used once along with h*** is used four times. I recommend this movie. I thought it was amazing.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Prom Night for Me~ by Lea Sadler

"Here we are!" Christian led his little car into the driveway where about four other cars were parked and girls dressed like princesses frolicked about with their prince's in hand. As I looked out the window I spotted my best friend and Christian's girlfriend, Chelsea, waving excitedly from the shady strip of the driveway. This was the day she had been counting down for, prom night. We were still juniors, but we had senior dates, mine being just a friend that I had met in guitar class last year. "Let's go take some pictures." Jake, my date, handed me my shawl that he had been holding for me and stepped out to help me. For being just friends, he was acting overly friendly.

"Lea!" Natalie raced over to me along with Chelsea. "I didn't know you were going to be here!"

I didn't know she was going to be there either. In fact, half the people there I had no clue was coming with us. How were we going to fit all twelve of us in the limo? Christian came up behind us and grabbed Chelsea around the waist, an innocent gesture of youthful love I desperately missed, not being emotionally "over" my last boyfriend yet. Natalie pulled me aside, away from the others. "So are you two getting a hotel room after prom too?"

Shocked by what I heard, I stared at her, unsure of how to answer. "What?"

Natalie rolled her eyes and placed both hands on her hips. "Alex and I are, even though I'm not sure I like him like that. But I guess I'll find out tonight, won't I?" She offered me a wink but again, I wasn't sure how to respond.

"Jake and I are just friends," I answered. "Besides that, I'm saving sex for marriage."

"Does he know that?"

"He should," I sighed. What had I gotten myself into? "If not he's going to find out if he tries anything."

Natalie rolled her eyes again in that annoying way she has perfected. "Oh, Lea, c'mon, it's prom! You're allowed to let loose every now and then, you know."

"Not that loose," I muttered under my breath, annoyed that someone would even try to pressure me into sleeping with my friend.

Looking back on that night now, I can't believe what I didn't see coming. I never thought I would be stuck in a situation where I was honestly and totally helpless. I never thought I'd be hanging out with the type of kids I've been warned about my entire life and have no control over where I would go. I've done a little biblical research to calm the tears that put me to sleep once I got home that night. Here's what the bible says about situations like this:

Romans 12:2 "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--His good, pleasing and perfect will."

The limo driver opened the door and helped Jessica out first since she was by the door (and sitting on her boyfriend's lap). I took the limo driver's hand as he helped me out and clumsily stood. Jake continued holding my shawl for me as we all entered Sakura's and checked our things in for them to hold. We all took our seats at the sixteen-chair table and ordered as the chef began cooking right in front of us. "Excuse me," Jake mumbled and left for the bathroom with Alex and AJ.

"What're they doing?" I asked Chelsea and Christian.

Christian folded his napkin and set it by his plate as he stood and pushed in his chair. "I don't know, but I'll go find out."

Chelsea looked at me and shrugged her shoulders. "Lea, Chelsea," Sarah whispered in our direction and gestured for us to come to her side of the table. "Ok, Lea," she said in a low voice, "Are you ok with Jake making moves on you?"

"Making moves on me?"

"Yeah, are you ok with that?"

"Um." Of course not! "Like dancing with me and stuff?"

"Like kissing you."

I froze. "No, not happening."

"Ok, then I'll tell AJ to tell Jake to lay off."

Chelsea and I left for the bathroom.

"I told you he likes you," Chelsea laughed and touched up her lipstick while I nervously rearranged my purse.

"I knew he did, it's not like it wasn't obvious. I just thought he'd accepted the fact that nothing was ever going to happen between us."

"Apparently not," Chelsea turned to look at me. "If you're uncomfortable we could always leave. I sort of am."

I shook my head. "Jake's still my friend and I still want him to have a good time. AJ's telling him to not 'make any moves on me' so hopefully he'll listen. Do you want to leave?"

"Not just yet, but I have a feeling we're really in for it tonight."

"What do you mean?"

Natalie chose that moment to stroll into the bathroom. "There you two are! What're you doing?"

"Just talking." Chelsea zipped up her purse and made her way to the door, stopping to wait for me.

Natalie grabbed my arm. "Just FYI, Alex is giving Jake 'advice,' if you know what I mean."

What was happening? What happened to the sheltered world I had once lived in with no fear of every being caught in uncomfortable or tough situations like this? Why was one of my "friends" receiving tips on how to sleep with me? Prom wasn't supposed to be like this, I thought I was going out with his friends for dinner and dancing and then going home while looking pretty and riding in a limo... what happened to that? Anger burned inside me. "Well tell him to knock it off. Nothing's going to happen." I spoke through gritted teeth.

Again, Natalie rolled her eyes. "I know, Jake's telling him to cut it out but Alex is stubborn. He thinks the only way Jake will have a good time is if he gets with you."

"Jake's ignoring him?"

"Yeah, you guys coming back out?"

I breathed a sigh of relief. Jake liked me, but he wasn't going to pressure me into having sex with him. I knew I could trust him to do the right thing. "In a sec."

Natalie exited the bathroom. Chelsea turned bright red and glanced at me. "At least Jake isn't giving in."

I nodded and took a look at my reflection. I felt proud. I looked pretty, but innocent. All the other girls were wearing cleavage-revealing, butt-cheek short, skin-tight dresses that covered as little as they could get away with. My dress was floor length, beautiful, and showed nothing except for a little back that was always covered by my shawl when I wasn't sitting. I was overwhelmed with pride, but also encouragement. I felt God smiling down on me. And anything I was about to be put through and have to resist that night was totally worth that smile. Chelsea put two comforting hands on my shoulders and gave them an encouraging squeeze.

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."

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Actual prom was no better. In fact, it was worse. After checking our bags and coats in again, Jake, Christian, Chelsea, and I got in line for pictures where we all danced and actually had a good time while we were waiting. But after we had taken the pictures, Chelsea and Christian left to dance while Jake led me through the room to introduce me to some of his other friends. And after what I had experienced so far, I wasn't in the mood for meeting anyone else like the people I had just been with. Luckily, the only thing that happened was one of them pulling me into a hug. So Jake and I left to find Chels and Christian again. When an upbeat song came on, Alex pulled me aside. "What's the story with you two?'

"Me and Jake?"

"Yeah, what's going on with you guys?"

I could barely hear him, I had to strain my ears to understand what he was asking. "We're just friends."

"So why aren't you dancing?"

"I am dancing."

"No, dancing like," he demonstrated a grinding motion in the air.

Again, how could this be happening to me? "You call that dancing?"

He dismissed me with a wave. "Whatever."

He called me something as he turned away, but I didn't catch what it was over the loud music. Fighting my way through the crowd, I found Jake and asked if we could get some water. "Are you ok?"

"I'm fine." Liar.

James 4:4-8 "You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But He gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

Romans 12:9-21 "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good... Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need... Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse... Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position... Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

"You guys want to go to the waterfront?" AJ suggested as everyone piled back into the limo, trying to arrange ourselves to fit comfortably.

"Yeah!" There wasn't a single objection. I breathed easily for once. Under the stars with my friends listening to the waves, what could go wrong? The driver took us to the waterfront and occupied plenty of parking spaces, but no one else was there.

Alex tugged on Natalie's dress. "Hey," he whispered, "let's go skinny dipping."

I felt sick.

The other eleven broke out the cigars and alcohol as they undressed. "Can we go for a walk?" I asked Christian, Chelsea, and Jake. They looked as stunned as I was and unsure of what to do.

"That's a good idea." Christian said as he began to guide Chelsea in the opposite direction of the skinny dippers. Jake led me away.

I don't think I need to explain how I felt or what it was like driving back to the house with everyone soaking wet and sitting on each other's laps making out again. I also don't think it's necessary for me to explain how difficult it was to tell my parents what had happened when I finally got home at 1:00 am even though I resisted everything. Nothing surprised them. They weren't shocked with how the other kids acted, and they weren't shocked by how Christian, Chels, Jake and I had handled it.

I quoted my favorite bible verse Jeremiah 29:11 over and over to myself that night while the tears sped down my face as I tried to fall asleep. " 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' " God made me experience what I did for a reason, even though the purpose is not clear, it is clear that something good is going to come out of it. Maybe the four of us who didn't do anything wrong "planted a seed" for the others. Maybe God would reward us for not giving in. Maybe we had passed a test. When I finally woke up, a sense of comfort and peace had overcome me and I no longer felt like crying. Instead, I felt strong. And like "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13).

Additional Readings:

Psalm 133
Ephesians 4:1-16

Photograph Property of Lilies Among Thorns Magazine. Photograph taken by Tara Willinger.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Storm~ A Short Story by Rachel Allen

It’s late, almost 10:00 pm. I glance out my window at the brewing storm. The town is covered in a wispy haze, like fog. Frost covers the window, frozen steam clinging to the glass. The sky is marbled and, if possible, the gathering clouds make the night sky even darker. I can hear the wind howling, tearing at the trees. I watch the sky throw a hissy fit until I drift off…
…into a nightmare. I’m surrounded by chaos. Lightning flashes all around me, and thunder crashes in my ears. The wind is blowing so hard the walls of the house seem to bend to its will. Trees are toppling over all around me, torn from the solid ground they’ve stood I for many years. Lightning flashes again, thunder rumbles across the sky, and it starts to rain. The water falls in ice-cold torrents, and I gasp as it chills me straight to the bone. I look up into the sheets of liquid ice. The clouds are an angry, swirling mass, and the eye of the storm is focused on me.

I blink, and suddenly they are there. They’re all there. My boyfriend, asking me why I was cheating on him. My two best friends, asking me which one of them I like more. My parents, asking me why I’m failing three of my classes. My track coach, asking me why I’ve been late for practice. All of them are yelling at me at once. I try to scream, but the sound is ripped from my throat by the roaring wind. There’s a flash of lightning behind me. I turn around to the sound of thunder just in time to see the lightning strike at the base of a tree. There’s a tortured groan, a hideous cracking noise, and it begins to fall, straight towards me. I open my mouth to scream as loud as I can…

…and wake up, breathing hard, heart pounding. I look around the room and hug a pillow to my chest like a frightened child, assuring myself that I am, in fact, awake. I tentatively reach at and push the curtain over my window aside. Lightning strikes in the distance and rain hits the window pane angrily. The storm is still outside, and outside it remains.

For now.

Photograph Property of 'Lilies Among Thorns Magazine'. Photograph taken by Jess Mc.

Happy Birthday Kari!!

Hey Readers!!

Today is Kari Willinger's 17th birthday!! Kari writes our movie and TV show reviews! Here are some random things about our Kari!

~ Her favorite color is purple!
~ She goes to the movies almost every weekend!
~She dips her Ritz in water before she eats them!
~ Her and Haylie, the editor, are BFF's!

Send Kari an email and tell her Happy Birthday!!! Click here to send her an email!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wet Seal Store Review~ By Renee Arnold

Wet Seal is an amazing store where you can find all kinds of clothes at a very reasonable price. Out of the variety they have, I decided to pick out an outfit ideal for a hot summer day hanging out with friends.

Floral Asymmetrical Tunic This asymmetric shirt has all the makings of your favorite summer top! It would look stunning with shorts and sandals or even with jeans and wedges for a fancier event. Any way you wear it, this shirt will stand out! If you would feel more comfortable or if a school dress code applies, you may want to buy a tank top to go under it, look for something pink or maybe even white if you go with that idea.

Price Tag $19.50

Porkcop Turn Cuff BermudaWith their 7.5 inch inseam, this shorts are very modest and go perfectly with our top. These shorts are a very unique color and because of their detailing, they are not like most bermuda shorts that you already have in your closet.

Price Tag $24.80

Patent Leatherette Flip Flop These patent leather flip flops are durable and comfier then average rubber flip flops. They are available in more than one color so go with white if you're looking for versatility or pink if you want the ideal color for this specific outfit. Either way, these shoes will be the perfect choice for a casual day.

Price Tag $5.80

Normally a necklace or a bracelet is good to finish off an ensemble but since the shirt is so beautiful it doesn't need any help from jewelry to enhance it. Also, since this is a casual outfit, jewelry usually gets in the way and is unnecessary.

The final price is $50.10 for the entire outfit!

Wet Seal has a great selection of clothes, not all modest, although they have some great shirts, some are tight and revealing. Wet Seal has a variety of bermuda shorts and Capri's that won't disappoint! They do however have some shorter shorts that might be too short on some body types. They don't have true one-pieces or tankini's but they do have monokini's and full coverage bikini's so it just depends on what you are comfortable with through Jesus!

As always, remember to pray about your standards and stand firm to what you believe!

Monday, July 18, 2011

A New View On The Old Me~ By Emily Ciszewski

I've often heard people say things like, "I feel so different this year!" or, "I've changed, and I don't know how...." but me? I don't know if I could say I've changed. I think I've always been this way....the same old me. But more than anybody I know - I really wanted to change. Like really, really, really wanted to change.

I felt so boring.


Just Allyson Carter, the one no one could ever, ever remember. The one no one ever noticed. The one who was always asked "Oh....yeah...are you so-and-so's friend?". The one who was always somewhere in the crowd except the in crowd. Little ol' Allyson Carter. Just me.

Not that I ever threw any big pity parties. Nothing like that. If I did it was up in my room while I ate Oreos and gummy worms while tears rolled onto my cheeks giving it all a salty flavor.

But I, Allyson Carter, wanted to be different. I wanted a boyfriend. I wanted to be invited to prom. I wanted people to just be cool and say "Hey Al - how's it going?". I wanted people to want me around. To miss me when I didn't show. I be noticed. I wanted to be different. To change.

Last year, my sophomore year, was my year of, well, depression. Self pity. I hated myself because I was sure nobody loved me. Until I met Mike and Anna - they joined my youth group that year, having moved to my town from Arkansas. Mike, 16, and Anna 19 - she loved to come to group, even though she was more college then high school.

At first I thought that they were stuck up or something, always so into themselves and fine-and-dandy. Until we started talking. There was something so easy going...confident. Real.

And the coolest thing? Mike didn't even like me and would come sit next to me when I was sitting alone. Anna was 19 - me 15, and she would ask to get together. Soon I started to wonder; was it me they liked? Really me? Or were they just trying to be nice, good Christians? One day, during snacks at youth group, Anna was sitting across from me, we were talking about guys, and how they are so unintentionally rude. "Yeah. Honestly, one minute I think a guy likes me, the next I realize they were only having a good day. Besides, no one would like me. No one can even remember my name."

Mike must've been listening with one ear, three seats down from me, Anna was about to comment when he spoke up; "Why would you say that? There's no reason anyone wouldn't like you." I felt uncomfortable - whoa - did he actually just say that?

"Uh...and is there any reason they would like me anymore then the next girl?"

"Al - seriously - why do girls have such low self-images? Just because someone doesn't have a boyfriend doesn't make them a loser. People still notice you."

"Sure......" I wasn't sure what to say to that; was he saying he was noticing me, or commenting on the general public?

"Yeah Al, you've got great qualities - really. You're a cool person." Anna said smiling honestly.

"Uh-huh. That's why no one can remember my name. Why people are always bumping into me and not giving me a second glance. Why I've never ever been asked out on a date or invited to parties besides my closest friends."
Mike's face changed, his eyebrows scrunched together, and his mouth veered off to the right. "Allyson, you're a quiet person. Jerks forget your name - so why should you care if they remember you? And do you seriously want to date? I thought I've heard you say you were waiting a couple years - till after graduation? Guys can tell sometimes when a girl would say yes - we're not that clueless. We notice things Al. Sometimes, it seems like you girls think we're mindless creeps who only care about looks and sex."

Anna and I were quiet.

"Again - why can't you girls just accept yourselves and live? Allyson - you always remember people, you're always inviting people over - talking to the 'nerds', what you say here in youth group during bible study you live out on the school grounds - you're cool. People do notice Al. People notice when they see you care."

I felt tears in my eyes - I blinked a couple times, trying to fight them. I couldn't think of a single word worth saying. He was done - his questioning but confident look gripped me - "Thanks Mike....I...I needed to hear that...."
"Anytime. I think you did. Don't forget it either Al - you are great, you really are, and maybe you should know - you aren't unattractive."

Leave it to guys to be so blunt.

After that, my life changed. It really did.

I feel so much brighter. Mike said that I was being noticed - that people did care about me. And now - it's almost a hppily ever after - but then of course- I've yet to find my Prince Charming, but I think now, I might be able to wait for that date.

And to be honest - people seem to remember my name now - maybe it was just me before. God brought Mike and Anna into my life.

And Mike was right - why do girls have such low self-images? That low self-image is noticed just as much as the one that says "Look at me! I'm Miss Popular! Listen to me!" people do notice.

Mom asked me about my attitude soon after, and dad, and my younger sister Lea - they all noticed something new in my step.

I needed to hear Mike that night, and I've realized, maybe others need to hear Mike's message too.

Because really - not much has changed about me - except that I've realized I don't need to change.

Maybe that's what all of us girls need - to know we're cool - just the way we are. And yes - it's cliche - but cliches are usually the closest to the truth.

God made you special, and He loves you very much!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Last Day for Give-a-Way!!

Hey Ladies!!

Today is the LAST DAY to enter into the give-a-way!!! We will announce the winners later the next week! Click here to enter in!! Good luck!

Much Love,

Haylie Jo~ Editor

Friday, July 15, 2011

What If We Were Real- Mandisa~ A Music Review by Michelle Pell

Mandisa, who's albums have hit top christian charts, was in the top eight of the fifth season of American Idol. Recently, on a talk show, Mandisa shared an experience she had with one of the judges, Simon Cowell. Before she went of the show to audition, she felt like she would be okay if they critized her about her voice but not her weight. Simon did not make fun of her heaviness to her face but after she left the audition, she later found out that he insulted her to his fellow judges. Later in the the show Mandisa was able to go to Simon publicly and tell him that she forgive him. And that she can show him forgiveness because of the grace and mercy that Jesus showed her. Since then Mandisa has lost 121 pounds!
Mandisa has also published two others albums, plus a Christmas one. True Beauty and Freedom contain some of my favorite songs ever and are must-haves.

A song of encouragement, Mandisa sings that all the struggles that we go through in life will truly make us stronger.

2. What If We Were Real
Mandisa starts out singing about her frustration with the pressure to always look perfect. Then goes on to sing about "what if we shared our brokenness, what if we were real?"

3. These Days
A song about all the hard and not-so-fun days of our lives and learning to find joy in each one of those.

4. The Truth About Me
She sings about what could happen if we learn to view ourselves through God's eyes and truly believe the truth, that we are beautiful works of art.

5. Say Goodbye
With the love of Christ we are able to say goodbye to all the guilt, our past, and the pain and learn to say hello to the freedom, grace, and peace found in God's love.

6. Good Morning (feat. TobyMac)
Everyday is new, and with God everyday is a good morning, full of sunshine and birds singing.

7. Waiting for Tomorrow
Mandisa sings about seizing the moment we have to further Christ's kingdom instead of "Waiting for Tomorrow" to do it.

8. Just Cry
Very heartfelt, Mandisa sings that it's okay to just let it flow sometimes and pray those tearful prayers.

9. Temporary Fills
This song is a little different sounding with a rock feel, about not wanting all these "temporary fills" but a life filled with Jesus' love.

10. Free
The chorus of this song is straight from John 8:36, "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."

11. Lifeline
A praise song to Jesus, telling Him that He is all we need to keep us breathing and living.

I highly recommend this album. Every song is so fresh and different. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dear Nadia

Dear Nadia,

Any advice on helping me feel more at ease around guys? Right now there are only a few that I feel comfortable around. Not including the ones younger than me.


Dear Uncomfortable,

Boys are really confusing and I think you'll hear that from any girl you talk to! We are all a family in Christ (Romans 12:5) and I think we bless them by being there for them as their sisters. We can just be friends and to become more at ease with them there are a few things you can do:

Be yourself - I know that sounds really cliché, but just being yourself around guys will help, both you and them, feel more comfortable. If you are confident in the beautiful person God made you to be (Psalm 119:13), people will see that and be at ease around you. Along the same lines, it's clear when a girl is trying to conform, jump on the bandwagon, or be someone she's not, and that kind of turns people off. It is really beautiful when your heart is set on God, and you are rooted in Him (Proverbs 3:26). When your foundation is on your Father, that shines through (Proverbs 31:30b). That will set you at ease,and living a life for Him asserts your values. That might set some guys on edge, but the ones that are worth hanging around should respect you and your beliefs, and will admire your love for the Lord.

I also went straight to the source and asked one of my guy friends for tips. He said that guys enjoy being around girls they can talk to. Talking about something you are passionate about, or something that you and the guy have in common - a shared hobby, favorite musician, etc. is a great way to start a conversation. Also, asking the guy questions about himself - his likes and dislikes, how his day was, etc. - will encourage him to keep talking, and make him feel special and loved (in a brother-sister way). Guys are really blessed when they find a good sister in Christ who is truly cares for and listens (James 1:19) to them. We can be those caring sisters! Remember, kindness is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)!

So next time you are feeling awkward around a guy, remember 1) chances are he is also feeling nervous/uneasy, 2) be confident in the beautiful girl you are and 3) stay true to yourself. The God-light in your heart will shine through and that is definitely something that most guys admire, 4) ask questions - it's a great way to spark a good conversation.
Good luck and God bless you!

:) Nadia

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Hey Ladies!

Don't forget about our give-a-way!! It ends the 15th!!!! Hurry up and enter! Click here to enter!!!!

Haylie Gregory~ Editor

Soul Surfer~ A Movie Review by Kari Willinger

When I went to see this movie with my mom, all i could think of was how much it showed me that God can take even the worst things and bring something good from it. This was such a great and moving story. It really impacted me and hopefully it will impact you too.

Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb from 'Bridge to Terabithia') is a greatly gifted teenage surfer, with the dream of becoming a pro. She lives an amazing life, surfing all day, everyday, until her world suddenly changes like never before. A shark attack leaves her without her left arm. She shows amazing courage in returning to the water and continuing to surf. Unfortunately, she is unable to do well because of the loss of her arm. She quits surfing and joins her Youth ministry leader Sarah Hill (Carrie Underwood) in a missions trip to Thailand. There, she learns of how she can inspire people . She understands that the loss of her arm can also be taken as a gift and decides to use that gift.

This movie is PG. There is no sex or nudity in the film, though girls are wearing bikinis throughout the movie. Bethany's parents, Tom Hamilton (Dennis Quaid) and Cheri Hamilton (Helen Hunt) kiss playfully in the movie, but nothing remotely graphic. I think this is a great movie and I hope you do too :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Shoes!~ by Haylie Gregory

Shoes are a girl's best friend! Wanna know why? Because they are always faithful! Even if you gain a few pounds, they still fit! No wonder we are so in love with them! Here are some cute shoes I found at Payless!

Womens American EagleSerendipity Gingham High Wedge
Fry up some chicken and head to the lake, we're havin' a picnic! These wedge heels are a must for this July! They come in, not only red, but also in blue and black! For $12.99, we all can have a fun day at the lake! Click here to view them!

Womens American EagleYacht Bow Espadrille High Wedge
After the picnic, why not go out on the yacht? These cute, summer yellow wedges are a fashion statement! No one will care how your hair looks when they see these babies on your feet! Theses 4 inch wedges are also available in navy blue! They are only $11! Once you have finished reading this post, go out and buy them! And if you are feeling generous, buy me a pair too! I'm a size 8! Click here and order two now!

Womens Montego Bay ClubPiper Ruffle Flip Flop
Ell Wood would buy these shoes in a heartbeat, so why can't I? These pink, ruffled flats go great paired with white! They also come in turquoise, white and black. For only $19.99, I'd buy the turq pair too! Click here to check them out!

Womens DexterAhoy Boat Moc
Fishin' off the dock? These shoes are perfect for it! These plaid, dock shoes are super cute and look great on any girl with a fishing pole in her hand! For $19.99, you can look cute with that big mouth bass in your hand! Click here to check it out!
Womens FioniLockleer Flower T-Strap Sandal
How cute are these shoes?! 4 inch, platform, brown (which goes with EVERYTHING!) and the lovely flower design, how can you go wrong? And for only $19.99, they can be yours! Click here to check them out!

If you'd like to check out more shoes from Payless, click here and have fun!

Happy Shopping!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Christian Concerts Events~ By Heather Young

There are various Christian events occurring during the summer. At least 13, in fact! These lists and links will display many concerts and festivals all over the U.S. The hard part will be deciding which ones to go to!

Lifest – July 6-10th, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Laura Story
Matthew West
 and lots more!

PLUS many speakers and comedians!
Purchase Tickets here!

Sonshine FestivalJuly 13-16, in Willmar, Minnesota

Tenth Avenue North
Lincoln Brewster
Francesca Battistelli
Family Force 5
and more!

Purchase Tickets here!

Creation NorthwestJuly 20-23, in Enumclaw, Washington

Chris Tomlin
Chris August
Francesca Battistelli
Brandon Heath
Jamie Grace
and tons more!
PLUS some amazing speakers, including Nick Vujicic and Susie Shellenberger!

Purchase Tickets here!

Ignite FestJuly 29-31, in Zion, Illinios

Sanctus Real
Matthew West
Francesca Battistelli
Rebecca St. James
Thousand Foot Krutch
Jars of Clay
Building 429
Stellar Kart
and more!

Purchase tickets here!

Heaven Fest – July 30, in Loveland, Colorado

Sanctus Real
and many more!
Purchase tickets here!

Kingdom Bound – July 31- August 3, in Darien Center, New York

Chris August
Paul Baloche
Jeremy Camp
Casting Crowns
Hawk Nelson
Kari Jobe
Manic Drive
Britt Nicole
and others!

PLUS great speakers!
Purchase tickets here!

Soul Fest – August 3-6, in Gilford, New Hampshire

Chris Tomlin
Third Day
Sanctus Real
Jars of Clay
Tenth Avenue North
Britt Nicole
Kerrie Roberts
and more!

PLUS two guest speakers!
Purchase tickets here!

Spirit West Coast, August 4-6th, in Minterey, California

Francesca Battistelli
Sanctus Real
Tenth Avenue North
Matthew West
and more!

Purchase tickets here!

Rock the Desert 2011, August 4-6, in Midland, Texas

The Afters
Aaron Gillespie
Stellar Kart
Remedy Drive
and tons more!

Purchase tickets here!

Purple Door 2011, August 12-13, in Lebanon, Pennsylvania

House of Heroes
Ace Augustine           
Aaron Gillespie
and more!

PLUS seminars by Andrew Schwab and Bryan Kemper!
Purchase Tickets here!

World Pulse Festival, August 13th, in South Bend, Indiana

Third Day
Jars of Clay
Dara MacLean
Lindsay McCaul

Purchase tickets here!

New Song Music Festival, August 19-21st, in Leitchfield, Kentucky

Family Force 5
Hawk Nelson
The Afters
Chris August
Me In Motion
Steve Barnum


PLUS seminars and a keynote speaker!
Purchase tickets here!

Photograph Property of 'Lilies Among Thorns Magazine'. Photograph taken by Tara Willinger.