Five Thousand Reasons

5,000 Reasons

The tally is in friends.

I’ve reached five thousand reasons in my thankfulness journal.

That means I’m halfway to my goal. *cheers!*

I’m not quitting, but I am planning on slowing down the pace a bit. As much as I want to be thankful, the 29 reasons a day rule gets a bit overwhelming at times. Take, for instance, when it’s past my “bedtime” (whenever that’s supposed to be), and I’ve yet to write down 29 things that I’m thankful for. That’s always rough.

But I’m still planning on writing down as many wonderful things each day as I can. It’s been a great adventure so far. I definitely don’t want to give up now.

As I shared in a previous post, I enjoy flipping through the journal already. It’s like a diary–a synopsis of the many random, amazing, and hilarious things of each day. I imagine it will get more comical to read (and probably embarrassing) as the years go by. (I didn’t really write that down, did I? *gasp*)

Actually, it’s not that embarrassing for me to read. But like any honest diary, it’s when others peer into it that our cheeks get rosy.

Yep. It’s for my eyes only, that is, unless I choose to share some of my thankfulness with others (which is always a good thing to do!).

So here’s a more recent peek into my half-completed thankfulness journal:

(Note: the brief commentary after each entry isn’t from my journal)

The traveling trio :)

#4,300–Being in Jerusalem–I know…I’m spoiled rotten. It was truly a blessing to visit Israel once again. It is always a life-changing experience. I don’t know how anyone could visit that country and not be affected by it in some way. I haven’t written much about the trip, but perhaps I’ll share more in the future.

#4,721–American Ninja Warrior–We love watching this show as a family. The whole neighborhood has probably figured that out by now, since it gets pretty loud with the seven of us cheering.

#4,825–Josh Groban–This guy’s talent is amazing. I love how he combines classical and contemporary musical styles. Favorite song: Brave. It totally gets stuck in my head like crazy. Good thing I love it.

#4,876–Attacking Punching Bags–After a year and a half of Krav Maga, I finally discovered how fantastic it is to go ballistic on a punching bag. For the first time ever, I wished that the instructor hadn’t called, “Stop.” I was wailing my arms, fists, legs, knees–pretty much everything–at the lousy bag. It was invigorating. Note: I wasn’t even in a bad mood, so go figure!

And to break the halfway mark…

#5,024–The Rainbow Over Jacksonville–There are definitely benefits to rainy days. As we drove through town this past Monday, Dad and I saw a beautiful rainbow stretching across the sky. Dad said it was the coolest one he’d ever seen.

Now it’s your turn. What’s something you’re thankful for today?

The Little Chief Band

Little Chief: Lion's Den

Let me introduce you to one of my favorite bands right now–Little Chief.

As of yesterday, I’m the happy owner of their latest album, Lion’s Den. (But I’ve been pumped about their music for a little while now.)

Even though it’s summer right now, I feel like the album fits the season of autumn the best. I can imagine listening to it while driving through winding mountain roads–windows down, a cool breeze blowing, and colorful leaves falling from the trees towering above.

It’s down-to-earth music, the kind that could be played with only a guitar and voices around a campfire.

That’s the type of music that I’ve been enjoying the most lately–the simple yet amazing stuff.

So if you’d like, you can check out this indie-folk band too, and tell me what you think.

All their music is streamed for free on Bandcamp:

Little Chief–Bandcamp

Three cheers for folk!

Passover 2014

Passover Matzo

Last night was a special night.

It was Passover.

The festival of Passover is special in many ways. Not only does it commemorate the story of the Israelites leaving Egypt, but it also commemorates Jesus’ death upon the cross.

It’s a solemn night to remember the Messiah’s sacrifice, but it’s also a joyful night to remember that His death is not the end of the story. He rose again, conquering death and condemnation once and for all. It’s a night to celebrate that redemption.

Several families joined us in the celebration. It was a wonderful time of fellowship, so wonderful that we never even stopped to take pictures. Thus you will have to trust me that I’m not making all this up.

We youth (me being the oldest) were annexed to a table by ourselves for the Passover meal and were soon laughing far too much. Between pranks with horseradish sauce and cracking silly jokes about Bible characters, it was a hilarious time. One of the guys said it was one of the funniest meals he had ever had. Maybe it wasn’t the most reverent way to celebrate the Passover meal, but we definitely embraced the celebration side of the festival.

After the meal, we had a time of group worship led by my sister and me. Hearing the voices blend together in praise was beautiful. The first song we sang was “Passover Lamb,” a song my sister and I wrote two years ago, followed by “Lead Me to the Cross,” “Oh the Blood,” and “10,000 Reasons.”

After the praise time, we took turns reading the account of the ten plagues in Egypt. My mom and dad helped bring the account to life by tossing rubber frogs and Ping-Pong ball “hail stones” in the air, swatting people with fly swatters, and turning off the lights when the plague of darkness was read.

My dad then shared his testimony and we watched a few videos on the importance of Passover. By eleven o’clock the party was over, but for many of us the festival had only begun.

We now have the seven days of the Festival of Unleavened Bread to celebrate and the festival of First Fruits next Sunday. With the house free of leaven, I’ll be baking plenty of flat bread this week.

I suppose we’re a bit unconventional in our celebration of the biblical festivals, but what’s important is that we celebrate them the best we can according to the Bible.

It’s not that complicated.

And it’s a lot of fun.

Book Review: Ten P’s in a Pod


The book Ten P’s in a Pod tells the story of the Arnold Pent family. Written by the third child in the family of ten, Arnold Pent III, the book gives readers a close-up view into the life of this not-so-average American family in the 40s and 50s. Dubbed the “most unusual family in the world,” the Pents traveled nearly a million miles across North America preaching the gospel and performing as a family band. They also became one of America’s first modern homeschool families and memorized much of the Bible as a family. Ten P’s in a Pod is a humorous, insightful, and encouraging book for all ages that emphasizes the importance of the gospel, family, and daily Bible reading. It holds to the motto: “the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible.”

Favorite Music of 2013

One of the exciting things about every year is discovering new music. It’s always fun to discover a new artist (or rediscover an old one) that you enjoy. Here is some of my favorite music of 2013:

Josh Garrels

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Josh Garrels is definitely one of my favorite artists. I first found out about Josh Garrels’ music last spring, and was able to attend one of his concerts this fall. It was an awesome time, and he was just as good (and I think better) than on recordings.


Another band that I have enjoyed is an alternative/electronic start-up band called Loud Harp. One of the things that I appreciate the most about Loud Harp’s music is its peaceful simplicity. Their music explores the depths of God’s mercy and love in our lives. I find it encouraging and relaxing.

Audrey Assad



Audrey Assad is one of my favorite singers of the year. Her voice is angelic, her piano melodies are beautiful, and her songs are heartfelt and encouraging. Some of my favorite songs of hers are Even the Winter, Restless, and Good to Me.



Gungor is another band that I have enjoyed this year.  I love Gungor’s innovative style and meaningful songs. Some of my favorites songs of theirs are Dry Bones, Crags and Clay, and Beautiful Things.


Another one of my favorite bands of the year is Rend Collective Experiment with their down-to-earth and uplifting songs of praise.  Their latest album Campfire is a masterpiece of beautiful songs. Some of my favorite songs on the album are Movements, You Bled, and 10,000 Reasons.

Of course, these are just a few of the artist and bands that I have enjoyed this year. I am very thankful for all the talented musicians God has placed on this earth. What would life be like without music? Hmmm…that reminds me of a story I wrote once. :)

Amusing Ourselves to Death


“Television does not ban books, it simply displaces them,” states Neil Postman in his insightful book, Amusing Ourselves to Death. Written in 1985, Amusing Ourselves to Death shows the negative side of media and technology, and how it is sculpting and redefining society. Postman argues that it is not George Orwell’s “control of the State” made infamous in his book 1984 that should be feared in America so much as Aldous Huxley’s proposition represented in Brave New World–that people would not have to be enslaved, that they would enslave themselves. Postman warns that by allowing media to infiltrate our reasoning, we enslave ourselves in a world of show business, becoming victims of a culture that is amusing itself to death.

Postman claims that television has placed us in a “peek-a-boo world” where “now this event, now that, pops into view for a moment, than vanishes again.” It is “a world without much coherence or sense; a world that does not ask us, indeed, does not permit us to do anything: a world that is, like the child’s game of peek-a-boo, entirely self-containing. But like peek-a-boo, it is also endlessly entertaining.” Postman, however, is not opposed to the idea of entertainment as long as it does not define our world, as he he quotes someone who said: “we all build castles in the air. The problem is when we try to live in them.”

“Public consciousness has not yet assimilated the point that technology is ideology,” says Postman, “This, in spite of the fact that before our very eyes technology has altered every aspect of life in America during the past eighty years.” Postman argues that media has taken our focus away from reason, has diminished our attention span, and has turned us into an image-centered society, obsessed with amusement. Everything has become a form of entertainment, including education, news reports, elections, and religion.

As Postman says, “we rarely talk about television, only what is on television.” The same can be said about media and technology today. We rarely talk beyond the content of media to discuss the influence that it is making on our society. If you are interested in deeper research on the effects of media and technology, I recommend Neil Postman’s thought-provoking book Amusing Ourselves to Death.

A Favorite Artist


I will admit it. I wasn’t exactly taken by his music the first time I heard it, but after listening to his album Love and War and the Sea in Between, I knew there was something special about Josh Garrrels’ music. It’s rare to find an artist who delivers authentic music and lyrics void of overused rhythms and rhymes. To me, his songs are just that–alive, meaningful, biblical, and powerful.


One of my favorite songs of Josh Garrels’ is Pilot Me,” perhaps because it is one of the first of his songs that I heard, and also because I love its lyrics and simple melody. Another favorite song is Garrels’ remix of the old hymn All Creatures with a new melody and added verses on the themes of creation and redemption–a common river running through Josh Garrels’ songs.


Josh Garrels’ music is not easily confined to a genre. His creative, unique, and unpredictable style can roughly be described as a mixture of folk, electronic, and a rambling form of rap that resembles spoken word. His music is down-to-earth and inspirational, portraying the sorrows, struggles, joys, and triumphs of life in a beautiful and masterful way.

Summit 2013


This summer I attended the Summit Worldview Conference in Tennessee. It was an amazing experience–two weeks of lectures from remarkable speakers on a plethora of challenging ethical, biblical, and cultural subjects. I was in heaven.

One of the things that I appreciated the most about Summit was its pro-learning environment. The speakers were open to discussions and encouraged us students to think about what we were learning and to ask questions. Being around so many speakers and students that were intelligent and devoted believers led to many deep conversations about God and the Bible that encouraged me and strengthened my faith.

Summit was not all lectures. I also enjoyed the numerous activities and excursions that Summit offered. I played several games of ultimate frisbee, rafted down the Ocoee River (for more details, you can read my White Water Rafting story), and spent a day at Fort Bluff. Another highlight of my Summit experience was the outstanding talent show put on by fellow Summiteers.

I also thrived in the musical atmosphere of Summit. I met many musicians and enjoyed jamming on the piano with my new friends. I also enjoyed the worship services led each night by Josh Bales.

Summit was encouraging, enlightening, and challenging. It helped me to view the world in a clearer and more beautiful light. It challenged me to not only believe, but to think about what I believe and to live it out–to influence the world and not let the world influence me. Summit was a life-changing experience that I will never forget.


P.S. Big thanks to all of you who helped make Summit an amazing experience for me. To everyone in my small group, thanks for being so encouraging! Krystiana, you were a wonderful counselor! Hope, you were an awesome roommate! Brittany and Bridget, I loved conversing in Hebrew with you: “aten sababa!” Jenna, you were–and still are–a blast! Sarah, Missi, and Julie, thanks for being my buddies! Peyton, you’re fantastic, and everyone else–I can’t even list all your names–you were amazing!

Also, here is the link to the session video: Summit TN 2013 (You can see me for a split-second on the water slide. Or, at least, I think it’s me! :))


Blood, Sweat & Burpees

Krav Maga

Burpee 2

Been there, done that, and yes, I’ve even bought the T-shirt.  As a Krav Maga student and proud owner of a “Blood, Sweat & Burpees” T-shirt, I will hereby testify that although Krav Maga classes don’t always demand blood, they are never without sweat and most definitely require plenty of burpees. It’s hard-core self-defense; and I love it.


For me, Krav Maga is fun, challenging, and intense. I love the thrill of fighting though a mob of “attackers” in class and the excitement of strapping on my head gear before sparring. One of the features of Krav Maga that I love the most is its practicality and focus on real-life scenarios. I learn simple and effective techniques that I could use anywhere and anytime to defend myself and others.

I also love how Krav Maga focuses on teamwork as we split into groups and perform the techniques together. Even though I am now in level two Krav Maga, I still enjoy attending the level one classes. There is no hierarchy. We are all a team, or as our instructor likes to say, “a family.” We all sweat, laugh, hurt, and feel like we are dying together, and somehow that makes it all bearable.


Not only do I love how Krav Maga has taught me self-defense, but I also love how it has propelled me into an active lifestyle. Before Krav Maga, I had never run more than half a mile, was unable to do pushups, and could hardly do situps. Now that I am approaching the one year anniversary of my first class, my strength and endurance have increased dramatically. Thanks to the exhaustive workout portion of each Krav Maga class, I now run 5K races and do pushups and situps with ease.


I have been awarded many Krav Maga “badges”–bruises, scrapes, and at least one scar–that show my dedication to Krav Maga. Krav Maga  has made me stronger, more determined, more confident. Simply said, Krav Maga has changed my life.