Opal Creek

Today I went on a hike.


When it’s a beautiful and sunny Saturday, getting outdoors is a must, and today the destination was Opal Creek, a wilderness area located on the border of the Mt. Hood National Forest (at least according to Wikipedia).

A group of us set out at 10 ish this morning, drove for an hour and a half, and then hiked for about four hours in the sunshine.

Since the deadline for me posting this is fast approaching, ( I currently have 8 minutes to post this) I won’t be saying much, but I’ll share some of the pictures I took, and I hope you enjoy them.


Anyway, folks, that’s all I have time to say.

This was Day 15 of the April Blogging Challenge. You can catch Day 14 on Mom’s blog here, and Day 13 on Emily’s blog here




The Spider Story

To all of you out there who are like me in that you’re scared of spiders, this one’s for you.

As I was driving home from school today, just minding my own business, I suddenly realized that there was a spider on my dashboard. Now, this wasn’t the first time a spider had dared to set foot in my car, but in the past they’d always been small enough that a small scream and a few desperate whacks of a wallet would kill them. This spider, however, was made of sturdier stuff. Its fat body bristled with short hairs, its abdomen looked almost bee-like in its stripedness, and you could distinctly see it’s prominent and hairy mandibles.

Immediately I let loose a bloodcurdling scream and nearly swerved into the other lane of traffic. Every nerve in my body was on edge as I assessed the situation. It seemed like the logical thing to do would be to pull over and kill the spider, but I also knew that I wouldn’t be able to kill the spider myself. It’s a common thing for me to have trouble killing bugs of any kind for fear that I’ll miss, and the offended insect or spider will in turn try to kill me.

I decided the best thing to do would be to continue to drive home (I was only a few minutes away) and hope that the spider didn’t disappear or challenge me to a duel before I was able to locate someone to kill the spider for me. With this in mind I quickened my pace. As I drove, I loudly prayed “PLEASE GOD PLEASE MAKE THE SPIDER NOT MOVE!!!!” Then the spider would move and I would scream and continue, “OH PLEASE, JESUS, PLEASE TELL THE SPIDER TO NOT MOVE” A few times the spider would disappear, and I would freak out, only to find it re-appearing a few moments later. I declare, those few minutes it took to get home were some of the most stressful minutes of my life.

As soon as I arrived at home, I threw open my car door and charged into the house, only to find my mother having a tea party with some family friends. Out of breath and nearly to the point of tears I asked, “Is anyone here not afraid of spiders?”

Esther Mae stood up and said, “I’m not.”

“I need your help!” I replied frantically.

So the two of us rushed out to my car, and she calmly killed off the spider that had caused me so much stress and anxiety in the past 5 minutes.

So friends, if you’re afraid of spiders, I recommend you find a friend as awesome as Esther Mae.


This post was Day 12 of the April Blogging Challenge. You can find Day 11 on Mom’s blog here, and Day 10 on Emily’s blog here.





How Poetry Found Me

On my last post, someone commented wondering how it was that I got into writing poetry, so today I decided to post about it.

When I was about 10 years old, or possibly younger, my mom was teaching a writing class at my school to the 9th and 10th graders. Somewhere in there I overheard her talking to her class about limericks. The idea of words having that specific of a rhyme and rhythm pattern fascinated me, and I immediately tried my hand at limerick writing. The poems that came out of that stage were weird and disjointed, but they sparked an interest in poetry that has only grown since.

It was around that time that my sister Amy purchased a book of poems by Emily Dickinson, and sometimes she would read them to me before bed. I loved these poems so much that I would memorize them and quote them to myself under by breath before I fell asleep at night. My favorites were “A Wounded Deer” and “Success Is Counted Sweetest”.

It was Emily Dickinson’s poems that inspired me to branch out of limerick writing and try different poetry styles. However, my topics were still a bit odd. I distinctly remember one poem about a sick girl who danced at midnight and that cured her of her sickness. Another I wrote with a friend, who shall remain nameless to save her from embarrassment, was centered around a girl who loved a boy and basically stalked him, but then he ended up marrying her sister.

When I turned 13 I started going to the ACE Conventions, and I began to write and enter poems there. My first one was about an Anabaptist man named Dirk Willems, and, to my surprise, it placed second. The next year I wrote about my great-great grandpa (you can find the poem here) and I placed first. Our school went to Internationals that year, and I took my poem, and it placed 4th out of 86 entries. Needless to say, I was quite proud of myself.

I entered poems at Regionals the next two years as well (you can find them here and  here) and I placed first both years. The second one I took to Internationals, and I won first there as well.

But poetry isn’t just something I love to write, I also love to read and recite it. In fact, here’s a list of some of my favorite poems:

“Song of Slaves in the Desert” by John Greenleaf Whittier


“Stanzas on Freedom” by James Russel Lowell


“‘Hope’ is the Thing With Feathers” by Emily Dickinson


“If” by Rudyard Kipling


Of course, there are many more that I love, including pretty much anything Longfellow wrote (at least that I’ve read).

I think what I love most about poetry is that it needs structure. It’s more than just finding words, it’s finding the exact right words, finding words that fit the rhyme, and fit the rhythm, and sound cool too. When I feel like my life is unstructured and chaotic, poetry is the outlet that provides me with some structure, and helps me to make sense of my life.

So, that’s the story of how I started writing poetry, and why I love it so much. If you have any poems that you love, comment and tell me what they are, and I’ll read them and probably love them as well.

This was Day 9 of the April Blogging Challenge. You can read Day 8 on Mom’s blog, and Day 7 on Emily’s blog.

I hope you all have a great day!


Morning Song


For Day 6 of the April Blogging Challenge, I’ve decided to share a poem that I wrote about a month ago, and attempted to polish up a bit today.

I hope you enjoy.


Morning Song

By Jenny Smucker


Every morning I arise

And look to greet the dawn.

And as Earth shed’s it’s dark disguise,

I faintly hear this song.


“Wake up darling, morning’s here,

The new day is a-breaking.

I promise there’s no need to fear

The steps that you’ll be taking.


“Don’t waste a moment of your life,

Make use of what you’re given,

For as you further climb your climb

You’ll only be more driven.


“So boldly go attack the day

And take the world by storm.

Throw your troubles far away,

And love will keep you warm.


“Then carry with you everywhere

That love for all around,

And if you can’t cause love’s not there,

It’s waiting to be found.


“Finally, darling, serve your God,

Without Him you will fail,

But guided by His staff and rod,

No doubt you will prevail.”


So with this song upon my heart,

And love within my soul,

I’ll greet the day with a fresh start

And living as my goal.



That’s it, folks. If you’d like to read more posts from the April Blogging Challenge, you can catch Emily’s here and Mom’s here.

I hope you all have a wonderful day.


The Books That Changed Me (April Blogging Challenge)

Throughout my life, there have been 5 books that I can point to and say, that book changed the way that I looked at and lived my life. So today, I’m going to be sharing what those books are with you, and what it is that I loved about them.

Book #1

The Giver

By Lois Lowry

the giver

This was the one of the first Dystopian books I’d ever read, and it really impacted me. It made me love the emotions I felt, whether good or bad, and the things that made all of us different people. It helped me to appreciate seeing colors, hearing music, and feeling joy and pain.


Book #2


By Jerry Spinelli


This book taught me that being different is okay, even if people hate you for it. It gave me an insight into other people’s minds, and the way they thought, like I’d never really had before. This book gave me another perspective on how people’s minds work.


Book #3

The Outsiders

By S. E. Hinton

the outsiders

This book taught me to never judge other people by how they appear, that even the toughest, meanest looking people can have a soft heart. Also, it taught me that one person does not represent a whole group.


Book #5

To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee


This book, like The Outsiders, taught me about not judging others for how they look. It also gave me an insight into what a racist society is like, and how horrible it is. Having grown up in a Mennonite community in Oregon, I had no space in my head for what that would be like until I read this book.

Book #5

The Book Thief

By Marcus Zusak

the book thief

This book. Oh my. It hits me right in the feels every time I read it. It gave me such a new perspective on Wartime Germany, and why people did what they did, and how thousands of people could believe that the horrible thing they were doing was right. It gave me a portal into another person’s mind in a way I had never experienced before. It was great.


So there you have it: the 5 books that have changed my life. Not coincidentally, they’re my 5 favorite books as well.

If you have never read them, I’d strongly recommend that you do so.

Also, if you can think of a book that changed you, tell me what it is! I’d love to read it.




P.S. Mom, Emily, and I have once again started blogging for the month of April, but this year we’re calling it the “April Blogging Challenge”  and we’ll be posting every day, not just weekdays. You can catch Mom’s posts here and Emily’s posts here.

Have a lovely Monday, everybody.



RSC 2017

The ACE Student Convention has always been something that I really enjoyed. For those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s basically a time when a bunch of schools who use the ACE curriculum get together and compete in different areas, including athletics, music, exhibits, academics, and platform. Every night a rally is held where speaker delivers a great sermon, and everybody takes some time to worship God. I competed at convention for four years, from when I was 13 to when I was 16, and it was always a great experience

This year, my great friend, Janane Doutrich, and I, having both graduated last year, offered/were asked to help with Convention. We worked in Master Control, which is basically the office area. It’s where all the coordinating happens, where the judges forms get processed and filed, and where the powerpoints for every evening’s rally are created.

My job was three-fold. I was in charge of handling Open Events, which are the events that anybody can enter and you don’t actually get a medal for (they’re basically just for fun), and I was also the “errand girl,” running messages all over the Convention, finding people, and helping take pictures for the highlights video on the final night. Finally, Janane and I worked with one of the sponsors to plan a fun activity during the pre-rally several nights.

I had no idea what to expect when I agreed to help with Convention, and I had no idea how much it would stretch me. I was forced to handle what felt like large amounts of responsibility, and interact with people I may never have interacted with otherwise, and although this experience was stressful, I enjoyed it a lot.

For me, this reinforces the belief that staying within one’s comfort zone may be easy, but it limits growth. I never would have made the friends I made this year if I’d only talked to the people that I knew, or only the people that were from my school. I never would’ve realized how much fun the people who ran the Convention were if I hadn’t worked with them so closely. I never would’ve know that I could plan games that people would enjoy watching or participating in if I hadn’t agreed to do so.

I think what I’m trying to say here is, try new things, try things that pull you out of your comfort zone, try things that challenge you. Those are the things that will change you, and those are the things that will help you find what you love to do, and show you what you are capable of.

So go, try new things, find what you love, push yourself. You never know what might come of it.

To finish off, here are some pictures of Convention, from 2013 to now.


The Struggle of Changing Your Mindset

Image result for growth mindsetThere’s an idea that’s been floating around the Smucker household in the past few months or so, and that is the idea of a Growth Mindset versus a Fixed Mindset. You can find an article about it here.

The basic idea behind it is that someone with a fixed mindset believes that their qualities, such as intelligence or talents, are fixed traits, whereas a person with a growth mindset sees them as areas where they can grow. A person with a fixed mindset tends to turn away and give up when he approaches an obstacle, whereas a person with a growth mindset sees it as a learning experience.

Obviously, a growth mindset is the mindset that we want to have, and it’s the mindset that successful people tend to have.

I, unfortunately, tend to drift towards a fixed mindset. I think part of the reason behind that is that, growing up, I was always viewed as smart, and school came naturally to me. I just figured that when you were smart, schoolwork was easy and you didn’t have to work that hard.

Having a fixed mindset really came back to bite me when I started college. There were suddenly all these people around me who seemed way smarter than me, and the classes were harder than anything I’d done before. I wrestle with feeling inferior and stupid because I haven’t yet mastered the art of working at learning instead of just getting through it by being “smart.”

An example of this came in the form of trigonometry. I’ve always been naturally good at math, so I was expecting to breeze through trig, but when the teacher started bringing up concepts I had never heard of that didn’t make any sense to me, I felt stuck. I was stumped on my homework, and I didn’t even know where to begin trying to sort everything out. I didn’t understand a thing, and it made me feel like an idiot. Eventually I figured out that if I wanted to learn what I was being taught, I had to  work hard, study the textbook more than I felt like I had to, practice problems, and ask questions, even if they felt like stupid questions. I still don’t have trig figured out, but I’m getting it better now that I understand I’ll have to work at it.

Thankfully, mindsets are not set in stone, and I’m working at developing a growth mindset.  I have to remind myself that having to work to get knowledge doesn’t mean I’m stupid, and when I’m surrounded by future engineers that all seem to know how all this stuff works and I have no idea what’s going on, it’s okay, I’m here to learn, not already know.

It’s really hard, though, to try to change your outlook on life. It’s hard to see things as learning experiences when they feel like huge obstacles, but I’m beginning to discover that it is possible.So don’t be discouraged if you’re in a situation where everyone else seems to know what they’re doing and you don’t. It doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it’s just a potential learning experience.