Joyful & Triumphant

Several years ago I was listening to the Christmas carol "O Come All Ye Faithful" when two words stood out to me: Joyful and Triumphant.

At that time, I was facing some big changes and was greatly encouraged by those words; I was strengthened in realizing that because of Christ and who I am in him, I can be joyful and triumphant in all situations.

A couple of weeks ago as we put up our Christmas decorations, that same carol came on and the two words called out to me again. I scrawled them on our chalkboard in sweeping cursive and put it up in our dining room.

It has been a very stressful month for me work wise. From repeatedly running into red tape when trying to get students help to tight deadlines to frayed communication, there has been more than one night that I woke up at 2 am with my brain whirring. I've gone through my evenings still holding onto the tension and questions that I struggled with at school. I've woken up feeling like there won't be a possible solution.

I've been anything but joyful and triumphant.

Then the other morning before the sun had risen I was taking my dog out in the yard. The moon, the fog, the bird's nest in the tree caught my eye and I remembered: My God is bigger than all of this.

He's bigger than work stresses. He's bigger than flawed systems. He's bigger than conflicts, and unexpected changes, and difficult emotions.

As our Christmas celebrations remind us, Jesus came down to Earth to save us,  and that means we can be joyful and triumphant in all things. Through him, I have already won. I already have everything I need. I need not fret, because in the end I have the most important thing: his love.

I remembered that my perspective and worldview is based upon grace. That though I make mistakes, though I have a lot to learn, God is at work in me. I can learn. I can do better. And there is room and grace for me to fall, and for me to feel less than victory, knowing he will scoop me up in his triumph and joy and invite me to bask in his glory and love.

As you weather the hectic holiday season, whether stress is familial, work related, or something else, remember that Jesus invites you to find triumph and joy in him. Through him, we are already shining brightly, despite whatever challenges we face.


Falling Leaves & Shirttails

Greetings, it has been a while! I took these photos a while ago on an absolutely gorgeous, sunny, leaf-blowing afternoon and have been meaning to post them for a while now. It has been a busy month with work, family, and most excitingly a new puppy! I'll share a photo with my sweet boy at the bottom of this post.


October Friday Favorites

Happy October! Here's an installment of highlights from this month and what I am loving. Today I have the day off and am enjoying a cozy day on the couch, still in my jammies at 11:20 am and rewatching Glee like it's 2010. 


We enjoyed the Hood River Fruit Loop with family. The views of Mt Hood were gorgeous, and it was just a nice day of time together exploring and having fun. See highlights of the fruit loop from my post last year.
I got a chance to take a Jazzercise class from the CEO and founders daughter- she's in front in the black. It was an awesome class and so surreal to meet her, I've watched her on training videos for at least 100 hours!
Being a teacher is a weird job. For our Homecoming assembly this year, we had a lip synch competition. A few staff from my department broke it down to Lizzo's "Truth Hurts" in front of 1200 teenagers. We switched out the lyrics to be about school (i.e. "I'm 100% that teach"). We dressed as the bad asses we are, and before we started I was so nervous but once that spotlight hit my inner performer arrived. There was a live vote and we won!! It was so strange to go back to class after that, I did enjoy the comments from my students like "that performance though". The things we do for the kids!


Fall Flashback

Happy Fall! I hold off until October 1st to go full pumpkin mode with baking, decor, and fashion. Last week my dad dropped off a lot of my childhood stuff (apparently once you own a home ya gotta own your stuff too!), so my reward for getting through some of it was putting up the fall decor. I love seeing how things fit into our new cozy home. 
I've seen many bloggers do a flashback for seasons, and I have a lot of great fall styles throughout the years (almost 5 years of blogging!) so I thought I'd share a "Fall Flashback" today. 


Songs & Stories: Wood floors & Heartaches

About a year ago I wrote about wanting to dedicate more creative energy to my song writing. A goal I've set for this year (as a teacher, years start for me in September, really) to record and share one original song a month. So here is my September song, Wood floors & Heartaches.

The "song" is all there, but I've had a bit of a head scratcher trying to get the "story" across. I wrote this song when I was 16 or 17. It doesn't have a crystal clear meaning or story, it captures more of a feeling or aesthetic. The mood of seasons changing and the uncertainty that brings, apprehensiveness about a relationship and not knowing where it's headed, the concept of how we hope things are versus our worries about how they actually are.


First Weeks of School Teacher Style

If it hasn't been clear from my recent posts, I am very, very much a summer girl. 
My whole life, both as a student and a teacher, the one thing that can get me very excited about back to school is clothes.
(A little materialistic, I know.)
But just thinking about shedding my relaxed summer shorts and tees for my favorite dresses, pants, blouses, and skirts makes me giddy! Once I get back on campus the rest of the giddiness starts to set in, too- the smell of new school supplies and the buzz of my empty classroom that will soon be filled with the students I get to encourage. 


It Takes a Weirdo

It takes a weirdo to do what you do.

Have you ever chatted with someone about their work or passions and just been amazed that that's what they love, and how their brain works?

For me that's engineers. What's the opposite of forte? That's what logic is for me. It baffles me that some minds work with such clarity, order, and efficiency.

I have friends who are in politics, nutrition, technology, recreation, art, event planning, medicine... and their passion and knowledge of their field is outstanding. And not something I easily understand.

During the first week of school, I was walking down the hallway with many of my fellow high school teachers and staff. We were all wearing tie-dye for a welcome back assembly, herding hundreds of students to the gym. Many of the staff were wearing sneakers for the busy day of hustling around and being on our feet to teach.

As I stood in the masses it hit me- it takes a weirdo to do this job. It takes a weirdo to care enough about students and school and the community to give so much energy and effort to teens. To be willing to take pee breaks at designated times, stand in front of a bunch of teenagers and try to convince them not to be on their phones so they can learn something, and to walk them through the painful and exhilarating changes that bring them into adulthood.

And it takes a weirdo to do what you do. To have the passions you have, to care enough about your passion to put in the hard work you do. It takes a weirdo to step into the trenches you step into, to tirelessly face challenges and hope for the better despite daily hurdles. It takes a weirdo to pursue the knowledge that you have, to dedicate yourself so deeply to your craft.

Whether you give so much of yourself to students, the community, the people, progress, the environment, change, the church, beauty, the arts, your children, your grandchildren... it takes a weirdo to do what you do.
And you are just the perfect weirdo for it.
You were designed for it.
Your gifts, passions, and tenacity are needed and oh so valuable.
Go do your weird thing, and do it the way only you can.


Fresh & Easy End of Summer Meals

Have you tried wearing sweaters and baking pumpkin muffins when it's still 80 degrees in September?  Me too.

As much as we look forward to the next thing, there is a challenge and a beauty in being present in the right now. Embracing the in between and the bounty it has for us is enriching.

That's what I'm aiming to do with meals lately- continuing to enjoy summer's produce, grilling, and meals out on the porch just a little bit longer. 

Here's some simple, easy, produce-forward lunch and dinner ideas to enjoy these last few weeks before it's really time for pumpkins. 


Roasted garlic chicken sausage, bell peppers, and onions make a great kabob, a side of grilled zucchini makes it a meal. 


Bring Summer Bliss into Your Fall Routine + Braided Bun

If you're like me, saying goodbye to summer is very difficult. At the end of every summer I have a serious case of FOMO. My husband says that I could go swimming and have ice cream and have adventures everyday and I would still be wistful at the end of the summer. I have a tradition of singing and playing on my guitar a Dashboard Confessional song that goes "So Long Sweet Summer" every late August.
I've talked to many friends who feel this way, and it got me thinking: how can we bring some of this summer bliss into the rest of the year with us?


Leavenworth in the Summer

I first heard of Leavenworth, Washington's enchanting little German village, as a Christmas destination. This August my family took a summer trip to Leavenworth, and we agreed it makes a lovely summer getaway too!


My Favorite Everyday Accessory- Gold Necklaces

A signature piece or two in your wardrobe makes a look yours- something you love that makes you happy and makes others think of you when they see a similar look in a storefront, an actor on tv, or someone passing on the street. 

 I have a few fashion signatures: floral and colorful pieces, cardigans, and necklaces. If you just take a quick glance through my 'style' archive, you'll see so many examples of my signature items popping up in new and fun ways. Today, I want to focus on necklaces. I have loved necklaces ever since I started loving personal style. In fact, one of my friends in high school who drew stick figures would always draw stick figure Kelsey with a necklace on! 
gold necklace
You'll find me wearing statement necklaces and dangly bauble necklaces on the regular, but my favorite go-to is a simple necklace. Lately I am especially loving elegantly simple gold necklaces. They are classic, delicate, feminine, and understated all at once.

My new favorite go-with-everything gold necklace is from AUrate, a New York based company which sustainably and ethically sources their materials. This infinity bar necklace has gorgeous detail, yet is simple enough to go with a wild wardrobe statement, or pull together a casual look.
delicate gold necklace

           For some go-with-everything gold necklace inspiration, check out these outfits below.

One (or more, they're fun to layer!) of these simple necklaces is my go-to for comfortable, easy jewelry that looks polished. I especially love ones that mean something special. A close friend and I got a pair of friendship necklaces that say "Love you" and "Love you more" from Old Navy (I always love browsing ON accessories after I try on a zillion things). I have an Oregon-shaped pendant from a local retailer. A few years ago I picked up a tiny compass rose necklace from H&M and often wear it while traveling. I've also eyed many gorgeous necklaces at Francesca's and am on the lookout for the perfect one.

What's nice too is that gold is surprisingly versatile. Classic yellow gold, white gold, or the so popular rose gold all have their own appeal. Find one that complements your skin tone or enjoy all three!

Do you have a gold tone you prefer, or a necklace that means something special to you? What's your signature fashion piece? Let me know in the comments below! Thank you for stopping by.

                                      This blog post is in collaboration with Nakturnal

                                                                                                 linking up with:

                                                                          Fashion Friday
                                                                      Confident Twosday
                                                                 Thursday Fashion Files


Our first home before & after

Ok, this may be the most exciting blog post I've shared thus far. In May, Daniel and I closed on our first home! When we first toured our house, a 1970's ranch, we enjoyed the layout, neighborhood, and big backyard. We intended to make some cosmetic updates but didn't set out to renovate it, but as you can see from the before and after pictures- she's renovated! 


7 Summer Day Trip Adventures from Portland

Wow, it has been almost two months since my last post! That is the longest break I have taken from blogging since I started in December 2014. I have been extremely busy renovating and moving into our first home. It's a challenging and fun project and I will be doing some posts on it soon. Today, though, I am taking a break from house business to have an iced tea at my favorite Canby coffee house and enjoying their wifi.

Summer is the perfect time for day trips- days are longer, schedules are more open, and the weather is great for exploring. I love a day trip to just get away and explore, eat some good food, and see something new- whether I'm in the mood to hike or lounge somewhere fabulous. I'm sharing 7 of my favorite day trip adventures from the Portland area.


Living in Linen

Whew, it is good to have a minute to sit down and post these photos I've been sitting on for a month! It has been such a busy and very blessed few weeks. In mid-April Daniel and I found out our offer was accepted on a house, we closed last week, and we spent this weekend getting started on some updates (there is still paint primer on my arm). It's been a long time since I've had that totally exhausted, worked so hard, but feel so good feeling at the end of the day, but I have a feeling it will become a standard until we move in! I feel so blessed that our home owning dream has come true and we are loving making it our own. I'm sure I will have many a blog post about it coming soon. 


Because God was There

I went on a walk the other day along the path to the river. I love my little town and all the nice places to walk. The path is bursting with spring and, with my allergies, it's a bit like walking through a mine field.  A really beautiful, lovely mine field.

I had my earbuds in and walked at a leisurely pace, listening to some Hillsong United.

In a few days we'll get the keys to our very first house, and the joy is tangible. The week we'll wait to get our keys feels so short, yet infinitely long. As I anticipate this exciting change, I see a season ending: the chapter in our apartment in the trees.

In my adult life, I've always thought of moves as ends and beginnings of chapters. As they've ended, my chapters have always had clear themes. So far. This season seems less clear. I try to gather crucial moments in my mind: I see our living room full of friends, and quiet mornings in the high-ceilinged living room with the sun streaming in.

What really did happen in our two years in the trees? What's the main takeaway? What was God up to? I am so analytical of my thoughts and feelings that I have trouble not having clear answers to these questions.

As I walked along, I accepted that even though I don't completely understand this closing chapter yet, I know it was good because God was there. He's writing a really, really good story. And even if I don't understand what the purpose of each chapter was, even if there's no neat summary or especially iconic quotes, it's a part of his story. And maybe, just maybe, I'll have a grasp of the answers to the chapter's big questions later.

I remembered, and felt a joy in my heart, to see that he is a very present God. In all chapters, in all seasons, on all walks through mine fields... God is here. And he is good, and that makes all my chapters good.

His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. -2 Peter 1:3